Separate Sides of the Creative Process

Style and Story. The difficulty lies in attempting both simultaneously. A path best left uncharted. If you want to keep sane and healthy. 

I find myself divided between those two realms. 

Style and Story. 

Plot...

Flavor...

Character...

Dialogue...

A matter of patience--or none. 

Grab the necessary pieces and players first--then suffer in the style of perfecting their placement together. 

 

Sound the Alarms

The liberal and conservative media eagerly accept and play their role as a perpetual outrage machine. 

Truth is diluted and cut to incite the masses against each other. 

Damn the liberals! 

Fuck the conservatives!

Men like Hannity and Jones; the peeps at WaPo and CNN want your money and eyes.  

Why do we believe their lies? Shit layered with a candy coating is still shit. 

By their fruits you will know

So turn off the box

Darken the screen

Get on your knees and beg, 

"God, wake me up!" 

 

 

Current Difficulty

It is difficult to ignore the current political landscape created by those who should have known better. I believe these men and women did know better, but instead of settling for a Democrat or voting third party, they sacrificed their morals and convictions to put in this used car salesman. 

Right wing media has lowered itself to ignoring any evidence of possible collusion with Russia that they insist everyone, even fellow Republicans in charge of the damn investigation, are simply out to get the man in orange. 

The name of Christ is being tossed around and mixed with the crude oil of lies, rape, molestation, greed, and theft. If it is easy to sell one's soul, how much easier is it to sell out one's country? 

The ridiculousness has become so great, that even though a voter does believe Moore fooled around with underage girls, he has to be a better candidate than any democrat. That's fucked up. If I had the choice of voting between a democrat who sexually harassed or molested someone and a Republican who, by all accounts, appears to be a man or woman of good standing, I'm damn well going to vote in the Republican. 

Enough of a rant. I had to get it out and wasn't about to post it as a short blurb on Facebook. I mean, yeah, I'll share a link to my blog, but people don't seem to place much or any effort to make a comment on a blog. If it isn't as simple as a quick/snarky response on Facebook, it must not be important. 

Ha!

I also had to get this out because in Oklahoma, I am hard pressed to find another person with which I can discuss such matters. 

We walk among immortals, and yet, we find it difficult to discuss matters of importance. 

Social Expectation and Self Identity

November 19th marked two weeks since deleting Facebook and Twitter from my phone. As we near week four I figured I would crank out an update.

Honestly, I haven't felt this light and clear in Lord knows how long. Reading more. Writing daily. Contemplating and crafting constantly. Working on a way to remove adverbs from the English language.

I learned something about myself during this time. For some reason (probably acceptance or to feel normal) I made myself participate in what a majority of people see as normal social interaction. Talk about your day, post pictures, share stories of your crazy kids--or job--or neighbor--or who the hell ever. The urge to share this intimate aspect of myself does not exist. At least not with many people. And with those it does exist, it is not often. Ask my wife.

It does not occur to me that someone might care to see pictures of my family and our activities. I've only posted pictures/stories in the past because I've observed other people do it. I would think, "Okay, I guess that is how you are supposed to do it."

Society demands it. That is the only reason I can think of as to why I do a fourth of what I do. Keep my blog as up to date as possible. Pitch the novel when I remember. Tweet or Facebook a reminder that I am here and doing stuff. Honestly, I'd rather just be doing the stuff. If you want to read my work or participate in a conversation, give me a ring. If I do not ask you directly, to read it, I apologize because it is nothing personal. 

Now I am going to work on some more Spiral Effect...

toodles! 

 

Social Media Break

Two weeks ago today I deleted my facebook and twitter apps. So far, I don't miss them. Will that change? I am sure, during some drull, tired weekend in the future I will feel a tug and then pull, but for now, I will enjoy this free time for my mind and attention span and continue to write.

Flowing well. Averaging 3 pages a day. 

Reeading novels and books instead of blurps and outrage posts. 

If you happen to see this on facebook, I'll let you in on a secret. My website posts on twitter and facebook for me the moment I post. Very helpful in regards to that whole temptation thing.

Remove Distractions

Late last night, around midnight, I deleted distracting apps from my phone. Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Smartnews, ESPN, Watchespn...those little goodies that hook and gut my attention. 

Social media distracts with a false sense of friendship, conversation, and discussion. Words flare in 140 characters or more, depending on your platform of choice, and glares across the screen. Who is reading? Who is responding? Do we listen? Do we care? Do we try to understand?

Or are we satisfied with the clanging of our own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, unwilling to hear the prophet God just might have placed into our lives? 

The people of Israel, often deceived, believed themselves living right until a lone figure told them otherwise. Like so many today, ears refused to hear--they followed distrustful feelings and misleading ideas from those wealthy and in control. 

With sports, I get caught up in the fanfare and intensity. Unchecked, I find myself caring too much. Over a game? Over different color shirts and mascots? I think God intended more for us. 

The news--oh the media. Propaganda from both sides to keep us in a perpetual state of outrage.  The rich bastards in control have placed us in a car with the gas pedal stuck and break lines cut. All the guilt cannot fall on them. We willfully climbed into a car with an unlicensed driver. 

God is more than we can ever know. Neither male nor female. Beyond matter and unrestricted by time. Far greater than any description on a two thousand year old page. 

 

A Confession of Sorts

For years, people have perceived me as timid, compromising, and passive—resistant to all sorts of conflict.

Decades of being like that—holding in my frustrations—holding back words that should have been said but remained locked into my heart to harden—nearly led to a gun in my mouth and a bullet blowing out the back of my skull.

A little over two years ago, I said no more and accepted myself for who and what I am.

I’m ADD

I’m OCD

I’m a Christ Follower

I’m a husband

I’m a dad

I’m Cherokee

I’m Lebanese

I’m Irish

I’m English

I believe education is important.

I believe people should speak for what’s right and against what’s wrong.

I believe in a world unseen—greater than any country or ideology.

I believe an innate goodness dwells in man because we are God’s creation.

I believe a toxic cancer rots our souls.

I believe we have a choice.

I believe friends can tell each other to “fuck off” and hug it out later.

I believe fairness is important to a fault.

The people who piss me off the most are the same people I expect better.

I believe the US church has sold its soul to money and TV.

I believe music can help us see God

I believe we should be more transparent

I believe humor is the best medicine

I believe we should be wary of the rich and powerful

I believe we can be better

That we should be better

But it won’t happen if we willfully leave on the blinders. If we don’t listen to those bleeding hearts that cry in the night.

Lord, spare our souls from the wrath our false judgement and prejudice beget.

A Frustrated Heart and Heavy Soul

"Til it happens to you..."

I first heard those lyrics sung by Lady Gaga last year (I think, don't hold me to that timeline), and I cannot help but think that the Lord spoke through her and Diane Warren when the duo wrote it. Moved by the holy spirit in a psalmist fashion to melt our hearts and listen to the voices of the oppressed and victimized. 

At one time, before I took medication for ADD and OCD, before I suffered and considered ending my life due to depression, before listening to the story of loved ones who had experienced rape, I acted as if I could see more clearly from my spot outside than from their spot on the inside.

I remember once saying that with the right attitude, good prayer life, and the correct amount of discipline anyone could get over their mental disorders. Until it happened to me, I could only assume--incorrectly at that. I told depressed friends to pray more and think happy thoughts. Interpretation: "Get over it." How well do you think that worked? 

Just two days ago I read a Facebook post from an upset mother. The post involved a 1st grade phonics assignment. The content, from her perspective, was body shaming to little girls. As a guy who used to teach English, I did not see it that way and wondered what the big deal was. My wife read it and had the same reaction as the mother on Facebook. However, when I showed it to three of my male friends, their first reaction was like my own, each one asking, "What's the big deal?" After I explained why the mom was mad, my three friends could see why it would be considered distasteful and not appropriate material for an elementary school assignment. I even asked one if he thought parents would have been upset if the character's name in the assignment had been Seth instead of Beth. His reply, "Probably not."

The three of us could not fully understand the mom's frustration and probably never will. Why? Because we are men and not women. In the US men rarely have to worry about body image. Women on the other hand, well, every magazine rack shelves plenty of covers showing the "perfect" female form. 

I wish the Church could apply "Til it happens to you..." before we speak for or against anything during this political charged atmosphere. Until centuries of slavery, racism, Jim Crow Laws, lynchings, segregation happens to the majority of American men and women (who are white) then they will never understand why a black man and woman do not feel safe around police. Why a black man would kneel for the national anthem. Why a black man or woman would start or join groups like BLM. Until a white person experiences racial profiling...until a white person is assumed guilty before judged innocent...then the white person will never know. Otherwise, you--a white member of the Church of Christ--sound insensitive, uncaring, unloving, unsupportive of your fellow Christian and American. It sounds like you're saying, "I'm better than you." even though you can never truly understand because it has never happened to you. 

As Christians, our first response should never be chastisement or judgement. I'm sorry to say that I have used satire and sarcasm to try and condemn the condemners. In the past and present. But let's turn it around. Let's listen to why our black brothers and sisters are upset. Instead of throwing skewed statistics or "explanations" at them, let's give our brother or sister a hug. Let's ask, "How does this make you feel?" or "What kind of racism have you experienced?" I promise you, each answer will be different but honest. 

Until you have a customer look at you warily because you're black, but immediately change her facial expression the moment she hears your voice is like a "white guy" and thus "not intimidating," don't feel compelled to give advice on the right way to protest or deal with anger. Instead, ask questions. Show support. 

Until you have a guy slip something in your drink and then have his way with you without your consent, please refrain from telling a victim to get over it--or to forgive her trespasser. Just love and support her. 

Until you have doctor's tell you that your wife will die if she continues to carry the baby, don't condemn prochoicers. 

Christ said people will believe the gospel because of our love, kindness, and generosity to one another. Are you surprised then, that more people are leaving the church? More turn to atheism or agnosticism? I'm not. 

People are more important than a flag. 

Christ is more important than a country. 

The soul is more important than a creed. 

God is bigger than our interpretation of a book. 

So, my fellow Christians, until we experience the same hate, disgust, injustice, and pain others do daily, let's step inside their world and give comfort. Because until we go through the same ordeal, we will never understand. And until we can understand through our own experiences, our opinions holds the same value as fool's gold. 

 

A Lone Disciple?

As I read through some subreddits today, a disappointing fact occurred to me. U.S. Christians walk alone in faith. 
 
What do I mean by that?
 
Is this a sweeping generalization?
 
I ask the question because of the topics posted on the Christianity sub. A lot on the feeling nervous about going to heaven or hell. Questions about whether or not this or that is sin. Of course, each question or original post is followed by a response from a stranger. The responses are typically mixed because different denominations and Christian viewpoints exist. 
 
How did we get here? 
 
The appeal of Christianity was never the strict theology or doctrine, but the renewing of life through the Holy Spirit in Christ. 
 
Through Christ we finally see what God is like. That was the age-old question for the ancients. Christ showed us He wasn’t this angry, vindictive God the priests would describe. He wasn't a Lord with unrealistic expectations of duty as other priests would proclaim. 
 
What we should take away from Christ and the Gospels is a renewal. That God wants to bring all of Creation into Himself and perfect us. That even though creation boils with corruption and decay, a Light shines. We are to reflect it. We can only reflect it when our heart bends to the Lord. 
 
I'm no theologian and I prefer to refrain from debating religion. More times than not one or both sides of the debate miss the entire point, prepare a retort instead of listen, and merely provide validation for what each side already believed. 
 
We should stop and reflect on how quick we are to proclaim (with confidence and gusto) our own understanding of truth. Yes, we finite beings are that cocky and absurd. 
 
Food for thought. I hope that despite the glowing distractions of social media, we take the time to shut down our electronics and contemplate. 

The Ever Internal War with Relevance

While I cannot speak for the entire population, I'm certain a great deal of you struggle with the need for acknowledgement. Size or scale depends on the individual, but if social media has taught us anything, we crave (to a degree) some sort of recognition. For each one of us it's different. Could be humor; beauty; music; art; intelligence; spirituality; wealth; family. Ton of shit from which to choose. 
 
Acknowledgement and recognition provides a measurement of success. If we define ourselves by these "gifts" or "talents" then the only way to know our true worth is by our measurement of success, right? 
 
How many nights have I wasted worrying if I am posting on Facebook enough? Updating my status and reminding all of my friends and family that I am working on a novel or posting a new piece on my website. Perhaps this temptation, the Ying to my writer's Yang was inevitable. A story teller needs his audience. A writer needs her readers. Without you, the story fails to fully form and serve its purpose. 
 
Comedians need laughs
Musicians need listeners
Teachers need students
Pastors need a congregation
 
And so on and so forth…you get the point. 
 
For myself, and I'm sure many others, an internal war wages. The never ending struggle over the greater focus: Content or audience. 
 
I've discovered that when I am at my most insecure and have not written consistently for over a month, I fall into that internal battle. My mind gravitates toward the audience and if I should make my presence known. Remind them I exist and am wonderful, creative, cool, funny, smart, and all of that other bullshit. 
 
The close bonds of friendship help. I've noticed the less time I spend with friends, the more I attempt to find relevance with strangers or acquaintances online. 
 
 
 
 

Comissioned

My boy Brandon "Juice" Kirts recently asked me to write a short story/fable/mythology as an introduction to a concept album on which he is currently working. I'm beyond stoked and honored at the privilege to write something for not only a talented artist but someone I call friend. 

Since Friday when he asked ideas flow and zip with the speed of information and light caught in fiber optic tubes. Each day new visions and worlds populate in this mesh of gray matter and electrical sparks. 

On to Work!

I Struggle

I struggle each day now, since becoming a dad--a husband--a responsible citizen--to grasp the decisions of some, blindness of others, and refusal from the rest.

The decisions of some who go against, teach against, preach against Christ's teaching and instead push agendas, ideas, and "morality" that contradicts the Master. Our Brother. Our Savior. The decision to be anti-abortion, yet cut programs that assist poor children. The decision to focus on economics over people. To expect each person to think, and act, and respond, and learn the same way a successful businessman (or the progeny of someone successful) would. I struggle to see why so many Christians in American (through deed if not word) place politics, money, success, laws, and established comfort over the souls of fellow people. People--not just Americans--not just Christians.

I struggle understanding the blindness from other Christians who want to walk and talk as if this is all normal and fine. Nothing to see or worry about here. Move on and let the parade play its part.

I struggle with the fact that even one Christian, let alone a large group, would refuse to hear the opinions of others. Who would claim that a Christian who does not share the same idea of atonement is, in fact, not a real Christian. That a group of Christians exist who would judge to hell any who believed in evolution--or that homosexuality is not a sin--or that maybe Christ is more important than any political party.

I struggle with remembering to give all of these concerns to my Brother. To focus on God and will my will to His. As Christ did over two thousand years ago. To remember that Christ lived under Roman rule, high political and religious strain between opposing Jewish factions.  Yet, His focus, will, heart, duty, love, entire being was God and God's will. So, Christ's actions show us a God who loves, forgives, takes care of the poor, and gets rather pissed at the teachers, lawyers, priests, preachers, and others who should have known better than to steal, kill, bribe, and nitpick every facet of the Law.

May this struggle turn into something positive. A desire to grow close to the Christ. To set aside myself or my own views on what is right or wrong and instead allow the Spirit to lead this imperfect heart.

 

Love to you all, even in our minor and major differences.

 

This Agonizing Process Requires Baby Steps

Why oh why can I not complete a perfectly structured story in a moment. Why must the brain contain restraints?

Now now now now now

All my life...the small steps to create the bigger picture...have seemed the most insane and asinine concept teachers and parents have ever presented to me.

Messy room...I only see the need for an end result without the steps to get there.

Math equations...I was the kid who never showed his work. Why, when I saw the work in my head, did I need to present it on paper?

Plot lines and acts. Subtle transitions. Why...why must I see them at the same time?

Controlled madness.

Baby steps...baby steps.