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Archive for the ‘A Quick Word’ Category

Hell Is A Blank Page

An author who had won three Pulitzers, along with a Nobel Prize, died suddenly and was sent to Hell. Instead of being struck with whips or burned with brimstone, he was shown to a small white room with a desk and chair. There were notebooks of every description, all beautifully bound with the best paper, numerous fountain pens of all sizes, and inks of all colours. Here he was chained and told to write until all the books were filled. When he was finished, the notebooks were taken away and new blank ones were brought in.

If the above description does not sound like torture to you, you have never tried to write anything.

I have a sermon, an in-depth book review, a short story, and an upcoming essay for a poetry class this summer — all yet to be begun. Not to mention a novel that’s nagging for attention. The only way any of it will get done is if I sit at this desk at some point every single day and write. And it feels exactly like torture.

I want my writing to speak of the things of Heaven while I’m still here on Earth; so why does it feel so much like Hell?

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Project Bluebook

Notebooks

I love notebooks. I love having all my thoughts and sketches and jottings about a project in one place, and the sense of focus that brings when I sit down and open one to work in it.

Focus has been a wonderful gift these last couple months. In June I was feeling bottlenecked: too many story ideas vied for my attention and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to work on. Exactly what happened next is something I can’t quite remember. I suppose some synapses fired off and crashed into others. The next thing I know, I’ve decided that one of my projects would make a great novel to work on and shop around as my first serious effort at publication — and can also be connected to one of my other projects over here, and that this third project could also be a kind of sequel.

The ideas merged, not into a series exactly, but more like different aspects of a shared universe. At least I can’t find a better way to describe it without spoilers. And I’m playing this one close to the chest for now so don’t expect to hear what it’s all about.

The main novel, the hub around which everything else revolves, is being worked on in a blue notebook. Hence the “public” title of Project Bluebook (the actual working title is also something you shouldn’t expect to hear for awhile). There might be a joking reference to the US government program that studied UFOs, but I can tell you I’m not writing about little green men…I think.

It might sound like it would lead to the same problem: multiple projects, multiple notebooks, and the dissipation of energy. But in fact my enthusiasm hasn’t waned a bit since I started two months ago. I’ve been steadily writing, making notes, experimenting in these pages. Moving between stories and notebooks doesn’t seem like a weakness anymore, but a strength.

Focus has been a wonderful gift. So has diversity. In the space where they overlap, my creativity seems to be thriving.

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The Other Blog

I have another blog.

No, this is not a confession of infidelity to The Scriptorium. This isn’t the reason I haven’t posted on here in awhile. There’s just another blog I have that I’m trying to figure out what to do with.

It’s called The Spirit’s Breath. It was started with the purpose of blogging my thoughts and reflections as I read through the Bible in a year. While I finished the Bible, I never finished the blog. It sort of withered away as other writing commitments (like The Scriptorium) took hold. But it’s still there and still has my insights on it. Now I’m just trying to figure out what to do with it.

Preaching and studying the Bible is gradually taking root in my life. It’s become something I do on a regular basis. And I think The Spirit’s Breath has a role to play in that. I just don’t know what.

Don’t suppose anyone has any suggestions?

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Neglect

Writing is supposed to be what I do instead of surfing the internet for hours.

Writing is supposed to be what I make myself take a break from.

Writing is supposed to be what I decide to do when I’m bored.

Writing is supposed to happen a lot more than this.

Writing has been neglected. I constantly check Facebook instead of opening the notebooks. I handle the mouse more than my pen — or my keyboard even. And writing has been neglected. A certain occasional publication has been neglected. This blog has been neglected.

That is going to change.

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The Best of 2013

The end of another year has come, and I always like to look back on the best books and movies I read and saw during the previous twelve months. There were actually quite a lot of excellent stories in both categories. So without further ado, here’s my best picks of 2013.

Happy New Year!

BOOKS

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott

After Chapters And Verses by Christopher R. Smith

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie (Audiobook read by Hugh Fraser)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

King’s Cross by Timothy Keller

I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zuzak

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

RASL Written and Illustrated by Jeff Smith

Doctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts

Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter

The Ocean At The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Revenge of The Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean

The Road To Samarcand by Patrick O’Brian

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

Love And Capes Written And Illustrated by Thom Zahler

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale (Audiobook read by Simon Vance)

The 13 Clocks & The Wonderful O by James Thurber

The Complete Don Quixote Adapted and Illustrated by Rob Davis

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists Written and Illustrated by Seth

A Series of Unfortunate Events (The Complete Series) by Lemony Snicket

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

***

MOVIES

Lincoln (dir. Steven Spielberg)

Stranger Than Fiction (dir. Marc Forster)

The Red Shoes (dir.  Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)

Les Misérables (dir. Tom Hooper)

The Way (dir. Emilio Estevez)

The Men Who Stare At Goats (dir. Grant Heslov)

The Ladykillers (dir. The Coen Brothers)

Moonrise Kingdom (dir. Wes Anderson)

The Way Back (dir. Peter Weir)

Hitchcock (dir. Sacha Gervasi)

Monsters University (dir. Dan Scanlon)

Three Kings (dir. David O. Russell)

The Artist (dir. Michel Hazanavicius)

The American President (dir. Rob Reiner)

Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuaron)

The Sting (dir. George Roy Hill)

Spirited Away (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

The Gods Must Be Crazy (dir. Jamie Uys)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (dir. Peter Jackson)

Forgotten Silver (dir. Peter Jackson & Costa Botes)

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The Paper Artisan

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What good is a writer without something to hold the words?

My mom has been making paper as a hobby for a few years now. She uses all kinds of fibres and raw materials for her art, pulping them and dyeing them and transforming them completely.

bits and pieces

But there’s more to this than just producing blank sheets. She also sculpts paper into different shapes, adding movement and dimension to something that was flat and static.

She even paints with paper, with colours and textures that you can literally reach out and touch — and canvases that are just as much a part of the art as they are the medium. Greeting cards also get decorated with unique paper collages.

There are now a few different ways to keep up with my mom’s hobby — which she’s slowly turning into a side business. First, there’s Facebook. The official page for The Paper Artisan is here. She also has a Twitter account (@thepaperartisan) as well as Instagram (thepaperartisan).

What you see here are some of my favourite pieces. I think they’re pretty beautiful. What about you?

art cards

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Best Films of 2012

Without further ado, here’s a list of my favourite films from the past year. Note that not all of them were actually made in 2012, it’s just when I finally saw them. And they’re arranged in no order but that.

***

Hugo (dir. Martin Scorcese)

Rise of The Planet of The Apes (dir. Rupert Wyatt)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson)

Jane Eyre (dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga)

Brave (dir. Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman)

The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)

The Cabin In The Woods (dir. Drew Goddard)

Secondhand Lions (dir. Tom McCanlies)

The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon)

Tangled (dir. Nathan Greno & Byron Howard)

Groundhog Day (dir. Harold Ramis)

The Adjustment Bureau (dir. George Nolfi)

Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes)

Angels With Dirty Faces (dir. Michael Curtiz)

Our Man In Havana (dir. Carol Reed)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson)

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