Thursday, October 28, 2010

That's WREE-mo?

NaNoWriMo is in two days and I'm not sure what I want to write.

My last four novels have centered around some really depressing stuff: suicide, troubled youth, family division, drugs, abuse. As though I actually know anything about any of those things. I feel as though I ought to lay the melodrama aside.

Okay, so be honest, I have an idea. I have a whole plot line, with plenty of flexibility and room for angsty rambling. Right in line with the stuff I usually attempt. But again, the premise is so dark! I wonder, if it's not right to dwell on, or if I could possibly describe the scenario without making a mockery of people who have actually endured it.

I just hear Mr. Harrison in the back of my head. "I'd write a story once in a while. I'd write of people and places like I knew, and I'd make my characters talk everyday English; and I'd let the sun rise and set in the usual quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains at all, I'd give them a chance." And Gilbert, too. Write what you know.

I learned last year that the best way to sustain my writing pace is to have something I could literally rant about forever. I've learned from my fellow participants to avoid overly complicated and structured plots that will work you into a dead end. But these wise stipulations leave me with even fewer ideas. I like stringing words together. I don't care for crafting a story. I lack the imagination.

Oh a little part of me just shriveled at that confession.

I find such relief in the knowledge that a story about everyday life can be a legitimate novel, but I also think it's a really bad idea to imitate Virginia Woolf. Just because she could pull it off doesn't mean anyone else should also give it a try.

I don't know, I don't know, my lack of a plan is definitely setting me up for failure. I'm running in danger of tilting my 2:2 ratio towards the "losing" side. Though I previously thought I had already hit this low, I am now looking forward to writing the crappiest novel-in-a-month ever!

[If you haven't already, add me.]

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grumble, grumble, politics.

I ran a big stack of idealism through the paper shredder today. I sat down with my absentee ballot and an internet connection and proceeded to Google every single name. 58 names. And my ballot is still blank.

See, the questions were easy. They were all asking for money. One even actually directly affected me--a request for higher education bonds that would pay for a new chemistry building at my school. Of course, I voted no. That's power, people. I felt powerful.

But I felt helpless over the rest of the ballot. There was no way, no way at all I could know everything necessary to make an informed decision about for whom to vote.

I'm not sure what's worse: completing an arrow based on shoddy first impressions and deceptive campaign jargon? Or not voting at all. I really don't understand how anyone has the capacity to vote without hypocrisy. Except, perhaps, the candidates themselves.

I hate seeing my idealism in papery shreds on the floor. I feel stupid. Cynical, jaded. And I'm only a youth! No, it's okay, really, mostly I just feel badly about my self-righteous indignation at my perception of apathy in the voting pool. Now, I just feel empathy. Voting is hard.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The coldest winter I ever spent--"

I was at the bank yesterday. The bank and I are getting real friendly. I heard a voice behind me, "Have you been to San Francisco?" My head whips around, yes, that man is definitely talking to me. It is, of course, the vinyl black & white bag on my shoulder that prompted his observation. So I smile, and affirm his speculation, and he talks. About how he's never been, but he's heard it's lovely, just a wonderful climate, such a wonderful corner of the world.

He talks and I think of what Oscar Wilde said, "It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world." He asks me if it's true what he's heard, and I tell him the week in June I spent there was the coldest June of my life, but that the clement year-round weather is the reason it's the homeless capital of the States. It's my turn at the counter now, but before I go he asks why I was there, I tell him I went with my youth group to do homeless ministry.

And then I walk into a pole.

True story.

I wonder if there's any San Francisco in my future. I only spent six days there, but I feel as though I know it on an intimate level, and I miss it. [Have I forgotten . . . ?] Boston, DC, Providence, Williamsburg, I love me some East Coast. No place has charmed me more than New England and my own backyard. But it's possible I left a little of my heart in San Francisco.

I know the kind of people who talk to strangers at the bank about places they've never been. In my cynicism I try not to get excited. But oh it was nice to have a conversation, even if he was only talking to hear his own voice!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Live from the Union computer lab!

No blessing is meaningless.

I'm not sure if this is explicitly biblical or not, oh, I'm afraid I assume so many things that aren't explicitly biblical, it's just, a very thick book and I, have a very transient memory, but I'm trying, trying . . .


I was driving home from school. I guess, home is the Bankstons' house, part of the time; quite strange, but still quite true. I was driving home and I was listening to KLove, and, they're in the middle of their fall pledge drive, which I try not to resent too much, because it's a legitimate ministry and they have to pay the bills somehow, and I try to empathize with it all as best as I can. So, the DJ is give a request for donations and he said, "Maybe you're wondering why God has blessed you in the economic downturn -- perhaps it was for the purpose of supporting KLove."

Or something like that. Here something clicked. I ask that a lot, mostly. Why have you blessed me, God? It's dumbfounding, really. I have honest confusion and awe at the reality of the sheer volume of blessings that have rained down on my short life. The greatest family, the greatest friends, the greatest church, the greatest opportunities, even just in terms of socio-economic standing: a white middle-class female in the United States. In the worldly order of things, I am immensely privileged and I didn't even have to d0 anything. And so I sit here feeling very uncomfortable, wondering why.

To whom much is given, much will be required . . .

So no blessing is meaningless. While I imagine it brings God joy to bless his children, I also know whose movie I'm in. The plot isn't about me. I'm barely even a townsperson #24 in the cast. My function on the set? To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. Ultimately every blessing He has given me as some function in reflecting the glory back to Him.

I wonder how much I just absorb and file away until the memory disintegrates. I take things in with the intention of sorting them, dwelling on them, referring back to them, but sometimes I just hold them in so long that they fade away and I forget those thoughts ever exists or that those things ever happened. Fickle transient memory. Sometimes my reluctance to self-disclose detracts from my duty and purpose, though. My mom told me once about a popcorn prayer in service, when she held in a prayer only to hear someone else in the room shout it out. She told me that God will be glorified with or without us, but there's so much more of a joy in fulfilling our purpose and testifying of His goodness.

So, I'm learning. A pat lesson for the day. Articulated that I might remember. I have been blessed because my God is good and must be glorified. Go now and walk in it.


Friday, October 8, 2010


On the one hand, stories must be shared. It seems so wasteful for wonderful things to happen and so few people to hear and appreciate them. A great story, even if it features perfect strangers to whom I have no connections, is still a great story. I have heard some great stories in my time, and I would be robbed of great enjoyment had I never heard those stories, from the riotous ones to the inconsequential ones.

Still, I feel as though I cheapen stories in the telling. Once I articulate them, it feels as though I've cleansed my system of them, they've left my mind in the form of words. And naturally this is distressing. If I keep the story to myself, it blooms as I internally explore all the facets of what happened, and I take a certain delight in having my own secret story, my own private joke.

Also, sometimes I am certain no one will appreciate some stupid story as much as I do. Which, honestly, through no fault but my own, is often the case, because I am most often amused by stupid and inconsequential things.

I've noticed, effective speakers often tell stupid stories, but somehow, they make them so hilarious while also so meaningful. So I guess it's all in the telling.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Blessed are the hungry--"

On Friday, oh, on Friday . . .

I want to return to what is comfortable and familiar, what I know and trust, not just because I am afraid, but because I am desperate to rest in something I can depend to be true. But my old understanding isn't satisfying anymore. I am so hungry. Something is pushing me forward. "My sheep listen to me, they follow my voice, no one can snatch them out of my hand."

We were sitting on a ratty couch in a college coffee shop, opposite some terrible sketches of a lumpy nude woman. Clearly there was truth somewhere in this scenario. Jessie was smiling at me, and nodding in empathy, and saying, "Perhaps we are afraid of His power, because it is so much stronger and yet so separate from our own feeble abilities. We have to decide to trust that He is good, that He is who He says He is."

What can I do but listen to the Spirit, and do as He leads? ["Else, wherefore born?"] Whatever that looks like. [Without getting hung up on technicalities of charisma?] I'm trying not to be so afraid. My faith is so small. [And yet His grace is so big.]