Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Christmas Carol

Though I’ve always been familiar with the story, this year was the first time I actually read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

The story is, unsurprisingly, just like any of the films (even the Muppet one), with only minor changes to relatively insignificant details.

Scrooge, of course, is the stingy old man whom everyone hates. When he is visited by a ghost and three spirits, he is presented with the opportunity to have a second chance at life, and become a different man.

On the whole, it’s a more cheerful read than my annual Christmas book, “The Christmas Shoes.” And even though I had watched the Muppet Christmas Carol just a few days before, it wasn’t tedious reading the story too.

It’s easy to see why this has become a Christmas classic and tradition. It’s short and sweet, and carries a good message.

If you’ve never taken the time to read the story, it’s worth doing, at least once. It’s the same characters you already love, and probably takes the same amount of time to read as it does to watch. I’m very glad I took the time this year to add it to my list.

The road to publication is paved with good intentions

It may not be obvious to anyone reading this, but I haven’t done as much writing this month as I intended.

In fact, all I did was write the final chapter of my Nano story and a few hundred words on the project I’d been working on prior to November.

It’s not how I intended to spend my December, but aside from work, I couldn’t quite tell you what I’ve been doing. I can’t really remember (and that sounds really bad).

But for this final week, I’m going to challenge myself to write every day. Whether it’s one sentence, one paragraph, or one chapter, I’m going to be purposeful in writing each day. And maybe that will establish a good routine that I can maintain. And if it’s still a struggle, maybe I need to change projects and find something I’m a little more excited about. But for now, I’m going to stick with the story I meant to finish in October.

So, here I go again, making plans and hoping I have the self-discipline to follow through.

And I’d better get to work, before all the mid-winter and spring TV shows start up again…

Uninvited

When I first saw Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, “Uninvited Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely” I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Who among us hasn’t felt that way before? And more than that, it seemed to be meeting me exactly where I was/am in life.

I’ll admit, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be that kind of book, I had brief visions of writing a snarky blog post armed with TerKeurst’s words to defend why others are wrong in making me feel unwanted and unloved.

I’m glad that instead, I’m here writing a blog post about how “Uninvited” helped me start to understand how to help myself. I can’t control how other people treat me, view me, or what they think about me. What I can control is how I respond to realities and perceptions, and how I let them influence me.

“Uninvited” is all about rooting yourself in God’s love, understanding that it’s nothing we’ve earned, but something He freely gives and it should be the basis of how we view and understand ourselves. This reading was timed perfectly with a sermon at church that touched on fighting the lies of the world, lies about myself, by being regularly exposed to the truth.

TerKeurst talks about forgiveness as a response to rejection and feeling unloved: “Grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitter rot.” She also talks about using your experiences to see and understand what others might be feeling.

She has so many great bits of perspective and she uses them to bolster her message that there are two ways to handle rejection, of any kind. Either by allowing it to define us, or by allowing it to grow us.

“Uninvited” was a great challenge for me, a moment to consider how I’m reacting to life, and whether I’m helping myself along, or just hurting myself more. And, honestly, I’ve been part of my own problem (and, I knew that before I read the book). The challenge, of course, is the quote above, choosing to extend grace and love when it feels least deserved–to others and to myself.

I read this book very quickly, but it warrants a second, slower read, for sure, to be able to really think on the wisdom and pinpoint specific ways to deal with the lonely and left out feelings that come along so regularly.

 

Touched by an Angel

The second story in my Doctor Who book, Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris, was obvious by the title, a story about Weeping Angels.

Weeping Angels are some of my favorite “monsters” because they are very different than others, and in this story, Morris made them work together to attempt to orchestrate a paradox that would allow them to gain a lot of strength.

Morris’ writing also fit in with the Doctor Who style, having very much the feel of an episode of the show, but for some reason I didn’t find it quite as engaging.

Maybe it was, in part, some of the faux pas, such as, don’t interact with your past self, but Rory does exactly that with no visible repercussions, and with the Doctor’s blessing.

Or maybe I just had a hard time connecting with a character who was built mostly out of past memories, because although we meet Mark in the present, we mostly get to know him through a collection of past events that his present self goes back in time to watch and make sure they play out correctly. I think I wanted just a little more development from the character.

So it was good, but not as good, in my opinion, as Abnett’s story. But that in itself is in keeping with the Doctor Who flow,different writers, different styles. And, if Morris’ story was the only one I’d read, it wouldn’t stop me from tasting more of the written Doctor Who.

The Silent Stars Go By

I love our Barnes and Noble classic editions, even if non-classic stories.

The Silent Stars Go By, by Dan Abnett, is one of two Doctor wWho stories in this book, and I’d been eyeballing it for a while. The one thing that always held me back from purchasing was the fact that it is, essentially, fan fiction, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it.

But Abnett’s story read like a true episode. Per usual, the Doctor and the Ponds end up not quite where they intended to be, this time on a planet being terraformed by humans. But the process seems to be going wrong, and instead of being an ideal climate, the winters are becoming harsher, and monsters are on the loose.

Abnett captured the banter between the Doctor and Amy, and the reserved and resigned nature of Rory in their misadventure. The story is complete with multiple layers of mystery and was a fast-paced read, which felt right for Doctor  Who.

In short, this read just like an episode of the show, which I think marks talent in Abnett, that he can capture the essence of not just a show, but the creation of other writers, and create something unique that still fits perfectly in with the rest of it.

I’m not sure I’ll be a die-hard Doctor Who fanfic fan now, but I certainly am not opposed.

Post-November plans

So I hit the goal of 50,000 words for my NaNoWriMo project. I, naturally, did not finish the story, however. I’ve got one final chapter to write, and everything to wrap up.

It’s hard to believe that is has only been about a week since I hit 50k, it feels like so much longer. I intended to start writing again yesterday, to get the final chapter knocked out and then start on a preliminary editing phase. But then I didn’t. Surprise, surprise.

But I’m going to. I’m at least going to finish the story and give it one read through.

For the month of December, I’m going to commit to doing some work on it, then, come January, I’ll give myself a status report and plan what to do next. Maybe I’ll do some editing, returning to old stories and projects. Maybe I’ll put myself to writing and finishing other old projects. What I do know is that I will hold off starting anything new, at least until November again. It’s time to make some progress with what I’ve already got and decide if any of it is going any further.

It will be hard, though, not to start a new project based on an idea I came up with, that actually came from a dream. That will probably be next November’s project, and I’m very excited to start planning and to see where it goes. But it’s not time for that yet.

Right now, it’s time to pretend that I’m not already a week into December with nothing to show for it (writing wise, anyway).

Elon Musk

A few weeks ago (OK, maybe a month) I stared watching Mars on the National Geographic channel. I have only watched the first episode, but it was enough to get me interested in the person of Elon Musk.

I knew the name, knew he was linked with Tessa and SpaceX, but I was curious to know more.

In her book called “Elon Musk” journalist Ashlee Vance provides a detailed look at Musk’s life. He fee up in South Africa and always dreamed of making it to America. Once he did, he found himself constantly partaking in a variety of start-up companies.

In addition to SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, Musk was involved in Zip2, a kind of MapQuest meets Yelp, as well as PayPal.

It is quite interesting to read and get a peek inside the man who has his finger in so many different but related fields of engineering and technology. You get a feel from Vance’s writing that Musk has two speeds: stop and go, and he doesn’t usually stop, even when every rational indication is saying to.

It’s also easy to read about him and big into his big dreams. Somehow, after reading Musk’s history, a colony on Mars doesn’t feel like a sci-fi story anymore.

In her reporting and writing, Vance speaks to a variety of people, and gives voice to all their opinions, good or bad. She does not paint a picture of Musk one way or the other, she shares her observations and the comments of Musk and others.

Overall, reading the book, one gets a sense of thorough research and evenness. And though Musk deals in very technical fields, the book is not bogged down by either jargon nor lengthy explanations.

For anyone interested in Musk or any of his companies, I think it’s an interesting read. It’s almost a case study of how hard work and dedication can allow for the seeming impossible to become a reality.