Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Well, He did see things through, but they got very messy there at the end, and I didn't like it. Now that it's all over, I think maybe I misapplied. It's the nature of the spiritual life that we learn as we go, receiving the concepts in Bible class, then being set loose to try to apply them to our lives. We have success or fail entirely or maybe experience a combination of both. Probably that more than anything else. We thought we understood what the problem was, but as time and events unfold, we have second thoughts.
So it's been with me and... (I'm embarrassed to write this)... schedules. That's the drawback with writing a regular blog: all your foibles and misapplications come back to haunt you. Oh well. At least there is one thing of which I am sure: I am not alone when it comes to foibles and misapplications.
I have wrestled with this whole idea of routine and schedules -- for housework, for home schooling, for writing -- for more years than I care to recall. I've had schedules and I've followed them and they've fallen apart and I've fretted and fumed and become a slave to them. Not good. I've thrown them out the window and become a slave to my emotions and/or whatever person or events come along in my life. Also not good.
My pendulum tends to swing between scheduling and no scheduling. After the last year of virtually no scheduling, the pendulum seems to be swinging back. "Well," says I, "I sure didn't like the way that turned out. Let me try the schedule thing again."
But this time I want to think it out a bit more.
The Lord's already shown me that I was trying to do too much, and I've been making adjustments, pulling back from the networking and marketing which were the biggest time consumers... But that's not all that needs to be done. I think there does need to be a schedule -- to my housework, to my days, and maybe... to my writing. But I'm not going to tackle the latter until later.
Though we aren't to be enslaved to a schedule, I think the Bible is pretty clear we're to be organized, and routines -- schedules -- are part of organization. Recent lessons about self-control have brought this up, so I've been contemplating it. Asking myself why I think it's going to work this time when it's never really worked before. Wondering if maybe it worked better before than I realized, but that nothing is ever going to be perfect... Wondering if there might have been other reasons for the failure (my sin nature, the oppostion of the kingdom of darkness which will do whatever it can to destroy the routine in a person's life). Maybe I shouldn't have given up on it so fast.
Then, in going through the piles of paper in my office I came upon my notes from a class I'd listened to in October of 1999, buried among nonstops about Return of the Guardian King and writings about generating a storyline. Totally random. And not random at all.
It was exactly what I needed: the first thing those notes mentioned was that having self control means you have an organized life based on the fact that you recognize what is important. Those words leaped off the paper at me. Yes, I knew that. You set up your routine based on what you deem important. I thought I knew what was important. But now I realize I need to think that through a little more.
To be continued...
Monday, February 26, 2007
For one thing, front paper loaders that have to fold the paper around the rollers as it's moved through the machine just don't work well for envelopes or heavier stock. I went through probably five envelopes for every one I actually got to print out right. Also, HP is known not to have reliable software for getting the labels and so forth to line up properly. Again, I don't know how many labels I wasted trying to get the thing to print right, and even when I found a combination that seemed to work, the next time it wouldn't. It was awful. I think it was a combination of the front loading/roller issue and the flaky software.
Another thing I like about what I got (Canon Pixma MP530) is that it has single ink cartridges for each color so you don't have to throw out the whole cartridge when only one color has gone dry. At least I like it all now, on paper. We'll see when I get the thing and try to use it.
Anyway, I ended up ordering it from Amazon, my first time to do anything like that. It's supposed to come this week.
As for the blog, after last week's post, I got several emails from readers asking me not to stop, that it wasn't marketing, but ministering. I have long thought of the blog more as a ministry than a marketing tool -- I never really intended it to be a marketing thing when I began it, actually. But when you dabble your toe in the water, you suddenly find there is this entire system under the waves: almost a force that urges you to read other blogs and comment on them so they'll comment on yours, to link to others so that your own will get linked to and noticed, the need to write appropriately interesting copy so that it will get popular, the idiotic fixation on "Did I get any comments?" that sets in, etc... That part was killing me. If I can keep all that at bay, and keep my thinking from going off into "ooh! that would be a good blog post!" when I'm supposed to be concentrating on the book, then I think I can stay with this. At least once a week, and lately I've been thinking maybe more, but we'll see.
Until next week (or sooner, if I am so moved)
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Two weeks ago our Sunday lesson included a mention of the problem of leaven. Our pastor was speaking of the connections between the Passover and the Communion ritual that has replaced it -- how in the Passover the bread had to be unleavened and furthermore that the Jews had to first clean out their houses so that there should be no leaven in them when the ritual was observed.
Leaven in the Bible always refers to forms of evil, either the leaven of the Pharisees, which is the evil of religion and legalism, or the leaven of Herod, which is the evil of materialism, hedonism, worldly thinking, etc. (Mark 8:15) "A little leaven," says 1 Co 5:6, "leavens the whole lump..." It's a little thing, a little bit of anti-grace thinking, a little bit of human thinking. A little area that is taking you away from fellowship with God or from the calling He's placed on your life. It's like the little foxes of Song of Solomon 2:15 -- they are ruining the vineyard. They are cute little things, babies even. They seem benign, playing about, having fun, but they are ruining the vineyards while they are in blossom.
We have to step back and ask ourselves, "Are there areas of our lives where we've still got bits of leaven that are hindering us from being dedicated and devoted to carrying out God's plan for our lives?" If so we must get rid of them.
That lesson resonated with me and I think the Holy Spirit was telling me even then that my problem was greater than just too much involvement in groups, magazines and so forth. He dredged up the whole marketing issue again... suggesting that perhaps this was some of my leaven. I balked, but the next day with a passage in Joshua (5- 8) He nailed it down solidly. I have often said I do no marketing and am relying on the Lord for that. But that day He made me see I wasn't being entirely truthful with myself: I was still holding on to bits of it. Little areas of marketing that I thought I had to do. Things that not only ate up my time, but that I believe have stood in the way of the Lord doing His work. He's a gentleman, after all. If we insist upon doing a thing, He'll step back and let us...
Things like sending out postcards (which I'd been in the process of designing), like increasing the subscription numbers on my newsletter. Like the local booksigning I was in the process of setting up -- which had already started out badly. The contest. My blog and the blog tours. All, when taken together, ate up inordinate amounts of time, not to mention mental, creative and emotional energy. But when I considered backing out of all that, I found myself facing the fear that if I did, everything would fail -- and already it wasn't doing so great. If I did that, why ... readers would forget my books! New readers would not be found. Everything would only get worse. How could I do that?
But the Spirit nagged at me. "Are you going down to Egypt for help?" He asked. I went to the Bible to look up that passage in Isaiah. But as I took it up, the book slid out of my hands, and opened itself to a passage in Joshua that I had previously boxed: the conquest of Ai in Josh 8:24 - 26. That gave me a chill for I recalled at once that the stories in the OT were written for our instruction and example, and that the fortresses the Israelites had to conquer and subdue are physical illustrations of thought fortresses we have to subdue as church age Believers. Everything physical in the Old Testament is a type of the mental and spiritual battles we face in the New.
When the Lord gave the Jews instructions for taking Jericho, He was very clear that the people were to take from it nothing for themselves. All in it must die -- men and women, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey. Everything in the city represented our old ways of thinking. Human thinking. The old things we relied upon -- human assets, human ways. Human help. Those were not to be taken. They were to be destroyed.
But of course one of the Jews did take something and so when they next attacked Ai, they were chased off. When Joshua went to the Lord in chapter 9:13, he was told, "There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst."
The words leapt off the page at me. I had not removed the forbidden things from my life. I was still, in my thinking, relying on human help. On my efforts and those of other people. He'd told me from the start that I was to write and He would see about the distribution of it. I've always wanted that, but the world has told me that writers cannot do that. We must market and network and get out there. There are a million things we have to do and if we don't, why we're unprofessional! We're flakes! We're dreamers! We're unrealistic. We're doomed to fail.
Maybe. But if we do all that, some of us cannot write as we ought. I can't write the way I want to write. The kind of books I want to write. In the face of that, the concern of no one finding my books fades to unimportance. What good is a bunch of people finding my books, if I haven't done the best I can as unto the Lord who called me to it? And it only makes sense that the thing I know I am gifted in, the thing I know I am called to do, the thing I want to do, and carry out as compulsively as I breathe, should be the thing that I do with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. If God has called me to do that, and given me the desire and the ability to do so, shouldn't I do the best that I can and not eat up my time trying to assure success? Especially when promise after promise tells me not to?
Proverbs 23:4,5 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth (success?). Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
I want to write. I don't want to do any of the marketing. I think there's a reason I don't want to: because I'm not supposed to.
And I'm going to act on that belief. One by one I've cut myself off from all the tasks still awaiting my attention. I'm not going to send out postcards and I'm even thinking of deleting my snail mail address file. This month will be the last contest on my website. I will do no more about the booksigning. I went into the store and left my card. If the woman calls me back, I might say yes. I'll see how the Lord leads. But I no longer believe I HAVE to do any of it.
Perhaps some of you are wondering about the upcoming blog tour. Since it's already in place and I know that Bethany House is sending out the books and such, I will certainly go along with that, because that's not really something I initiated or have to orchestrate and maintain. The newsletter and this blog remain in question. For awhile I argued back and forth on them, but then I wearied of it, and put them in the Lord's hands.
He's not made those issues clear to me, yet, so I'll make no decision on them for now. I'll simply trust Him to work it out as the days pass. If things fell into place, I'll do them. If not. I won't. I think this is where I've been supposed to be since the day Steve Laube called me with the news of the Publisher's Weekly review of Arena and the marketing department's sudden, unbelievable interest in "how soon they might see something new from Karen Hancock."
It's been a week now since I dropped it all. I cannot believe the peace that I have enjoyed in that time. The increasing clarity of my thinking. The work I've gotten done around the house, the time spent with friends, going to a rubber stamping class, reading (slowly and taking notes so that I'm learning as I go). The heavy, wooden-headedness that gripped me at the end of the writing of Return of the Guardian-King has lifted. I'm thinking more and more of the next book now. In a playful way. A fun way. I feel set free, actually.
Until next week,
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Well, the Lord has answered and there have been a number of threads to consider. None had anything to do with my writing methods.
Anyway, I had my finger in way too many things. And the only way I can cut back is to get away entirely. I'm like an alcoholic or an ex-smoker. If I don't get entirely away, pretty soon I'll be back at it. I guess I'm just naturally curious, and can rationalize way too easily. But I'm not the butterfly sort that flits from flower to flower sipping a bit of nectar and moving on. My personality is more the type that finds a flower and then wants to tear it apart, to see what it's made of, to look into its structure, to find the pistil and the stamen and the little bugs that are always inside there... That's a lot of information to fill up your mind with. If you're going to do that, you aren't going to be able to do it with very many flowers...
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Mat 7:13,14 Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
Obviously the majority here is not right.
How about Rev 12:9? And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.
Since he's said to be in the process of deceiving the whole world, then again, the majority must be deceived... and not right.
Jesus told his disciples on the night before His death, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15: 18,19) World would refer to the majority, and the system of thinking held to by that majority...
Although our system of government is based to a degree on majority rule, it didn't really start out that way. The founding fathers limited to the voting franchise to men with property, and thus to people with a vested interest in taking that right seriously, especially as it relates to taxation. The Greeks demonstrated that when you go with a simple majority and let everyone vote, all you end up with is a bunch of irresponsible have-nots trying to take from the haves. It's human nature. We have sick heads and deceitful hearts (Isaiah 1:5,6 ; Jeremiah 17:9). We are filled with insanity and evil (Eccl 9:3)
If you add up the sick heads, the deceitful hearts, the fact that there are ways that seem right to us that end in death, that we don't even know our own motives half the time. That we are easily deceived and led about by our emotions and lusts, that there is a deceiver at work, with schemes and plans to lead us astray... how could you ever think the majority was right? How could you ever think that consensus is the way to go?
Because, I suppose, it's hard for human nature to go against consensus...
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
So all that stuff is passe and now it's global warming. I just... can't believe anyone would believe in this. That our cars and our factory emissions could seriously cause this? Do you have any idea how this compares with the emissions of a volcanic eruption? Is there any actual proof? (oh, hey, I remember when there were all those oil spills and everyone was predicting gloom and doom for the environment -- I was actually part of a team that rescued oil-slicked seabirds -- only to find out there are these bacteria in the ocean that actually eat the oil and transform it into something benign) I digress. I was talking about proof, which never seems to be put forth in any kind of objective terms. It's always "everyone agrees Global warming is true." Why, they did a poll of the American people (expert climatologists, all of them, I'm sure) and yup. The majority of them believe it's real. So it must be real, then.
It's always, look at how hot it is. The east coast hasn't had a winter. Oh, but then I think it got really cold for them, too. And if it was warm there, we had snow in Tucson. Denver's having a mini ice age, avalanches on the highways and such. And remember how global warming was supposed to have produced ever worsening hurricane seasons, so that last summer should have been worse than the Katrina summer before? Did we even have a hurricane last summer? I can't recall. Certainly nothing like the one the summer before.
Okay, enough of me. I'm no climatologist either. That speech by Michael Crichton I cited yesterday is long, but excellent in laying out how we got to global warming using all these calculations involving variables for which we have no hard data. (Which is also how they calculate the probability that there is life on other planets). If every variable is something someone arbitrarily assigns... what use is it?
Here's another article that I found interesting, on American Thinker. It's called Why Global Warming is Probably a Crock, by James Lewis and starts out...
As a scientist I've learned never to say "never." So human-caused global warming is always a hypothesis to hold, at least until climate science becomes mature. (Climate science is very immature right now: Physicists just don't know how to deal with hypercomplex systems like the earth weather. That's why a recent NASA scientist was wildly wrong when he called anthropogenic warming "just basic physics." Basic physics is what you do in the laboratory. If hypercomplex systems were predictable, NASA would have foolproof space shuttles --- because they are a lot simpler than the climate. So this is just pseudoscientific twaddle from NASA's vaunted Politically Correct Division. It makes me despair when even scientists conveniently forget that little word "hypothesis.")You can read the rest here.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Margaret Thatcher in a lecture at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in the early nineties said, "To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies. So it's something in which no one believes and to which no one objects."
It is, as it were, the absence of leadership.
Then Michael Crichton said in a lecture entitled "Aliens Cause Global Warming" given at the California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA on January 17, 2003:
"Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
"Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
"...Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way."
What I love about this quote is that so often the defense of evolution is ... consensus! "The majority of scientists today agree that this is not a theory, but a fact." In fact, I think that Crichton himself used that exact justification in Prey, the novel I read a few months ago. And, in an additional failure of his criterion for true science, I don't believe that evolution has ever been "reproduced," observed in progress or anything else "scientific" beyond a cataloguing of the similarities of phenoypes among organisms.
The Bible doesn't have much support for consensus as a concept either ... Caleb and Joshua said they could take the land, while the other ten spies and all the Jews disagreed, screaming all night in fear of the giants at Kadesh Barnea; later, the majority of the Jews rejected the Lord as their king and asked for a human king like other nations (so the Lord gave them Saul); then, later still, the Jewish army was freaking out over Goliath and the consensus was that no one could stand against him. Elijah was definitely outnumbered by a consensus of the 400 prophets of Ba'al. And of course, it was consensus that sent Jesus to the cross...
Just some food for thought...
Monday, February 05, 2007
We watched The Illusionist over the weekend, with Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. I am dangerously close to raving and burbling. I LOVED it! I want to see it again. I might even want to own it. And I don't like magicians. I don't watch David Copperfield or any of the others. But this one is cool.
The movie is a mystery, a love story, and an adventure. I've never seen Edward Norton before (my son says he's often in quirky movies I wouldn't like -- and this is the first time he's seen him as the good guy) but he was fantastic. Mesmerizing. Mysterious. Powerful. I am amazed at how I just wanted to watch him walk down the street (in character in the movie, that is).
Then there is the story itself and the way it's presented. I am fascinated by illusions, the ones people have about themselves, the ones people have about each other and the world in general, the ones the world foists off on all of us. The cosmic system is constantly dealing in illusion, and it is our need as Christians to learn to see through it all, so I suppose that's why it fascinates me.
This movie has layers upon layers of illusion. It is complex, it's thought provoking -- We are still talking about it. And because of that, I don't want to say too much, since it would destroy the effects of the illusions. Besides that, it was visually intriguing, elegant, mysterious, delightful. Even the magic performances...
It's rated PG 13, for sensuality (though the sex scene is done in such a way that it only gives the illusion of what's going on, not the down and dirty details) and violence (which is really minimal). Those aside, I'm not sure how much children would like it. You have to pay attention, you have to think and while I found it riveting, I like movies that aren't in-your-face obvious. Kids might not follow the story line easily.
Here are some reviews:
"Fascinating parable about art, religion and politics, and the misty boundaries between them. If The Illusionist approaches the realm of art, its spell is heightened by a subtly mesmerizing Philip Glass score and cinematographer Dick Pope's flickering, sepia tinted visuals, evoking early motion pictures and 19th century daguerreotypes." Jim Emerson - CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
"Riveting from start to finish. "The Illusionist" is true movie magic. A beautifully crafted and mysteriously fascinating dramatic experience. Stand out performances from Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti." Pete Hammond - MAXIM
For more check out the official movie site.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Today I went across town to pick up my new glasses, which it turns out I can't wear, though I tried for a couple of hours, had to take them off, tried again for a few more hours and finally my head was hurting so much, my eyes were aching, and I felt so sick and dizzy I had to take them off again and call the eye doctor. So tomorrow I have to drive across town again. When you have a mountain of things facing you (clean the bathroom before plants begin to take root in the dust, pay the credit card bill... uh... find the credit card bill, get groceries, vacuum, etc, etc) two hours of driving doesn't really fit into the schedule. But I've learned nothing last year if not the fact that I do not rule the schedule. Flexibility is the word of the day. Every day. At least when I go I can drop off some bookmarks at the Christian bookstore on that side of town. If I can remember to bring them...
Anyway, once home, while trying to wear those glasses, I started in on getting my contest winners notified and the books readied -- I'll have to get some mailers before I can go any further, though. After that I started looking for printing companies to print up the post cards that I want to send out for Return of the Guardian-King (henceforth, RotGK). I could use the online printer I've used for the bookmarks, but it occurred to me that if I stay with a local business I won't have to pay shipping. I think. That's what I'm looking into.
I also want to change newsletter services, so that means I'll have to look into that. The prospect of moving my mailing list to a new service is scary, but at the same time the service I have is very annoying. It's a pain to use and I keep having subscribers who are getting only a paragraph of the newsletter. Did I mention that I'm going to have to write up another newsletter for February? Soon? That's just at the head of the very long list of "book promotion" things I want to do. As I'm contemplating all this, I'm realizing it's very likely more than I can hope to do. It might help to approach the mountain with that in mind... I tend to think things will take, oh, maybe half an hour at the most. I have no idea why I have this delusion. It never turns out that way. Well, rarely.
This is the part of the writing life that I think I'm still trying to deny. I'm a writer. I should spend my time writing. When I finish a book, I should get some time to relax and fill the well with reading and puttering around, get caught up on housework and home projects. Reaquaint myself with friends and relatives. Yeah, yeah, there's a bit of the promotional stuff to do -- the post cards, the giveaways, email. But that stuff, that's minor. That should only take a half an hour. Max. So why am I here in this chair again? And why have I spent an awful lot of hours today sitting in it, when I haven't really been writing?
I definitely need to rethink all this... It probably has something to do with the human mind's capacity to hold two completely antithetical thoughts at the same time. That is, at one point in in time you can absolutely believe that "A" is true, and three hours later, in a different contest, absolutely believe that "Anti-A" is true, even though you would still adhere to A if asked. You just never think of A and Anti-A at the same time, so you don't realize what you're doing.
Or maybe that's just a long, wordy way to describe denial.