A Poem Response to The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

Orange tulips in captured streets

wave against Germanic tyranny like nature’s flag.

“Holland,  holland.

My beautiful country”, whisper the children of hope.

But winter comes, and winter starves, and hunger wins over patriotism.

Orange tulips are clipped for stews,

and flavored with the salt of humbled tears.

Holland, holland.

What has become of you?

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Why Writing About Vampires Isn’t ‘Unchristian’

I attended a workshop once where the man teaching said something along the lines of,

‘this is what’s wrong with America- even inherently evil things like vampires are now portrayed as being good! There is no evil anymore. Where do we draw the line save the children ahhh’

Thereafter, I was pretty confused on the subject and wandered around with the idea that writing any ‘originally evil’ creature as neutral or good was absolutely wrong. I agree with the man on the fact that evil is often portrayed as good, which is an issue. But I disagree on the definition of evil. I don’t believe certain creatures are evil- I believe certain qualities and abstract motivations are.  Thus, vampires in themselves are not evil. Maybe even their bloodthirstiness isn’t, I’d argue- it’s merely how they act on that urge, and whether them giving into it is portrayed as good and romanticized, or not. Evil is a quality, not a creature.

I’d argue that the man’s argument against writing vampires is portraying vampires from such a non objective and rather humanistic standpoint. That is a subjective view of evil which comes entirely from the perspective that humans are the great superior and their needs are first. Which may be true in reality, but it’s not keeping in mind the fact that vampires are fictional and therefore fluctuable, as are the fictional worlds they show up in. It’s like saying ‘well Frodo was a good hobbit and therefore portraying hobbits as bad would be double crossing a universal truth.’ Which is ridiculous.

Why Writing About Vampires Isn't 'Unchristian'.jpg

They have a presupposition to an ‘evil’ quality, yes. They are intrisically blood-sucking creatures. Well, humans have sin nature, which combines many God-defying and undermining behaviors, doesn’t it? Yes.

Vampires are an example of a human struggle against a monstrous nature. It begs the question ‘are any creatures born unredeemably inherently evil?’

See, these creatures are a deattached look at the same fundamental issue we have. Accepting a wrong nature or learning to live against it, really. Redemption. Seeing oneself as a monster for what one cannot help. There are so many possibilities here. Though vampires’ bloodthirst can be portrayed in a far too positive light, there must be balance with everything, and using the bad examples as the end all be all is simply overly cautious to the extent of foolishness. There is a great amount of potential for writing on this subject, and I hope the Christian community learns not to underestimate that.

 

A Very Belated Announcement

Well, here it is at last folks. The belated link sharing of my poetry book, Flutterfly.

You can see some reviews in the ‘What Are Readers Saying’ page.

Along those lines, here are a couple interviews about Flutterfly. (While you’re over there, you should totally check out their blogs. Story Forger has some amazing world building stuff, and A Pen for the King has lovely reflections on life.) Story Forger interview here. A Pen for the King interview here.

 

 

Click here to see a purchase link for Flutterfly.

[poem]: Road Trips

 

Road trips consist of

 

looking at the billboards and wondering about the people who drive here everyday and have the ads’ redundancy memorized

eating gas station peanuts like they are the best thing I’ve ever tasted, and getting the salt out from the bottom of the bag with my fingers

playing mix tapes, staring out the windows, and pretending like I was first at thinking the thoughts now being sung to me

watching the raindrops splatter down on the glass, eating each other up as they drip, until just a few gargantuan drops roll to the bottom

being content with your hands resting quietly on the wheel and us saying nothing. me, being glad that the silence isn’t awkward

 

Things to Remember Mid-NaNoWriMo

WHAT TO REMEMBERFor those of you who aren’t familiar with the term NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is a challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. That’s about 1600 words a day. You can find more information about that here if you are interested. I’ve participated in NaNoWrimo since 2013.

Well, it’s hitting the middle of NaNoWriMo. The honeymoon period is over, and we aren’t yet close enough to the end to have a second wind. It’s the slumpy time of NaNo. Here are some practical ways to make this stage less slumpy, and to help you stay consistent.

1. Remember why your story excited you.
See if you can remember that feeling that made you write this story. If you never had that moment, think back to a good writing day. A good reading day, even. Think back to a moment when you truly loved to write. The best thing you can do to survive NaNoWriMo is not to get a timer or to find a word war buddy, or any of those useful things. The best thing you can do is rekindle the passionate reason you write for. Once you have that driving force, you will have the drive to make other things will fall into place.

2. Make a playlist for your novel.
(My favorite ways of doing so are youtube and soundcloud.)
Creating a playlist is a way to get inspiration, and to create habits. I have a certain short playlist, unrelated to my novek, that I listen to as I get ready to write. When I hear it now, my brain knows that it’s writing time.
In terms of ‘novel soundtrack’ type playlists, having certain songs for scenes or chapters can definitely get those creative juices flowing.

3. Check in with your novel buddy.
I’m blessed to be part of two incredible writing forums, and through that, I’ve been assigned a literal novel partner every year. We check in with each other’s stories, making sure they are still in progress, send each other trashy first drafts, and chat about painful plot bunnies. I find this writing fellowship extremely helpful and encouraging.
Whether this is someone you word war with, another writer or blogger, or a sibling, it’s important to have accountability. I know not all of you have someone like this, and I do encourage you to find a writing partner if possible.
So if you do have a writing community, check in with each other about your stories during this mid-NaNo period. See how other people are having a hard time, too. Feel hopeful when you notice other people’s success. Find encouragement and offer encouragement.

And a P.S
I’ve heard it said many times that no good drafts come out of NaNoWriMo. That’s nonsense. The point of NaNo is to get a first draft, and first drafts are not supposed to be great. That said, did you know The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer, all originated as NaNoWriMo novels? This being one of my favorite series, I felt quite encouraged to hear that Meyer is a Wrimo as well. (I was able to see her on a couple panels this past weekend at the YALLfest book festival, an event that I will be posting on shortly.)

A Drabble on School Progression

I am blessed to be part of a very wonderful writing group full of wise women from many different backgrounds and age groups. Last Saturday, our 20 minute prompt was a time and memory slideshow prompt; something vague, obviously, but it got the wheels in my head turning, and this is what I wrote based on that. 

///
My last day at school. Normal school, third grade, I was 9. Private Christian school…well, not so normal school, I suppose.
I was glad to go. “Kids are so mean”, I confided to my mother. My third grade grudges managed to last much longer than the elementary school era.
She laughed. “It’s just third grade, and you’re sheltered. Your life hasn’t even started yet.”
That slightly dissapointed me; I had just learned to like this kind of life.
I liked recommending books to the teacher, for her to read to us, and I liked weaving friendship bracelets out of the pine-straw in the playground.
But real life wasn’t in these moments, right? Real life is in…oh, whatever grownups do. Insurance and taxes and 9-5 work shifts. Yeah, that’s where things get validated.

My first day at my new school. Homeschooling, fourth grade.
Preciously, I was one of the kid who reveled in being alone. In independence, I had found my identity. This was my philosophy: you don’t seek out friends, and the cold fingers of rejection will stay off your neck.
Once I spent hours at my dining room table churning out math tables, repeating the process for days, leaving the house once a week, I realized what undesired aloneness was like.

My first day at my homeschool co-op. 5th grade. The start of middle school. 150 students meeting in a church building, and calf long jean skirts were everywhere. I found the group with the black skinny jeans and stuck with them. We all laughed about things that weren’t funny in an effort to look cool, and we stuck our noses up at people who laughed at actually funny things, because they were clearly the ‘shallow’ sort. Which shows how much I knew about people in middle school, eh?

My first day of 10th grade at my homeschool co-op. 15 students in each of my classes. 8 diverse and close friends at my lunch table were wearing whatever we wanted and discussing what a Shakespearan rap would be like. We laughed at whatever we wanted. We laughed because everything was funny, and everything was funny because nothing was anymore.
I looked around the table. Each person is an unmined plot; now, how could that be so if life hadn’t started for us yet?
It had always been valid.

My first PSAT. I go to my old school to take it. I see my still begruded friends from third grade sighing as they pull out #2 pencils and bubble in answers, same as I am. They don’t see me. They don’t remember me. I just smile.
I wonder what their story has become.

Poem: Play Me Something

Play Me Something

 
The guitar strings pling as they are plucked
faster and quicker, like a dance around the maypole.
scream to the rhythms
smooth down the grit in us
the waves move up the strings, a deep echo
like the distanced resonance of a man’s voice
Your eyes close as they get lost traveling in the music,
and sometimes they stay open, the crinkles in the corner
strong as ever
Callused fingers play stinging strings.
a relationship of co-dependence
is the player and the played.

The ‘Great’ Outdoors

My family and friends have long considered me a ‘bah humbug’ person in the terms of the outdoors.
First off, let me explain something. I live in a extremely beautiful place, where I see untouched forests and sunsets over bridges and water rippling between the marsh grass.
And let me also tell you this.
I’ve shielded my eyes from the sunrise and complained about the mosquitoes over the water so many times I’ve lost count. It’s hard for me sometimes to see the big picture beauty of nature when I’m too busy swatting away bugs. I long to have a “Lucy Pevensie staring into the fire and seeing Aslan” moment, but the smoke of the campfire always seems to blow in my eyes.

The thing about the outdoors is this. To experience the truly pure, natural ‘great outdoors’ in modern culture, you have to go out of your way. It’s a let down. It’s a wanna-be of polaroids past. It’s a ghost echo lingering on; it’s the disappointment of reading Little House on the Prairie, walking outside to pick wildflowers, and then re-realizing the concrete block around you.
At least, that’s what I used to tell myself. Those were my excuses. 

when the great outdoors

You see, accessible nature for the common man is not picture-perfect Instagram posts of sunsets over rippling water. It’s the sitting in traffic on the bridge while listening to the news report, and being able to glance over and see a pink sky.
The great outdoors is not always the National Geographic covers of mountain peaks. It’s a little kid taking their piece of cardboard to the top of the grassy hill in the playground and surfing it down to the bottom. It’s weaving pinestraw into friendship bracelets, and stacking little pebbles into castles.
The great outdoors is not always scuba-diving into the barrier reefs. It’s catching tadpoles in a backyard stream with your brother, or watching a pet beta fish’s fins flow through the water like a silk scarf in the wind.

Nature isn’t always listening to birds chirping in the morning, or sitting in the middle of an aviary and charting breeds. It’s gallivanting through the mud and underbrush in flip flops to feed the family chickens before mom gets home, because you forgot again.

If we expect our own ‘Great Outdoors’ to be one big, glorious National Geographic cover index, we’ll get disappointed time and time again.

In some cases, all the integrated that the common man can access is a houseplant. A potted plant, resting on a coffee table in the middle of a living room with carpet stains. That plant has uniquely serrated leaves and rich chlorifil greenness nonetheless.

I agree that traveling the world and practically living in national parks would definitely bring about some deep thoughts and meditation, probably a lot of growth as a person, probably some good experiences to draw from. I do hope to travel the world and visit several national parks in my life. I do love the big things in life, relating to nature. I’m happiest visiting the mountains as I ever am.

Just, that’s not where ‘we the common man,’ should always have to find our love of nature. Because it’s not possible. If you are the type of person who craves beauty and nature and all these things as an emotional, mental and spiritual boost (and that’s not bad. Hey, I’m looking at you, INFPs.) then you will have to learn to find those things elsewhere. Small things in life, as they say.

You know what I find most inspiringly beautiful? A little dandelion sprouting out of broken cement. Even in the trodden down paths of a city’s downtown, a dandelion still pushes its way through, waiting to be a deadened wish, waiting to be tucked over an ear, waiting to be looked down at and smiled upon. Maybe that little dandelion is waiting for the person who leans down to look at it and thinks, yes, this is something real- then continues walking. No photo with a #authentic post needed to validate the complete realness of something like a flowery weed in a sidewalk.

Will I ever be a nature girl? Who knows, maybe. I love the outdoors when it helps me focus; I find sitting in the woods can get my introspective side kicked up more concisely than me sitting on top of my bed does. I love the smell of crisp air.

But I’m also a girl of stubborness, oversensitivity and practicality. When I have my fits of poetic sentiment and decide to go tromping through the woods, a bug flying in my face snaps me out of it pretty quick, and puts me in a worse mood than before I left. When I see photographs of the beautiful blueridge mountains and decide to visit them, getting sick in the airport and having a completely shot bank account kind of makes me wonder what kind of ‘appreciating nature’ trip this is anyway.

That’s why it is so essential, to me at least, to find nature’s beauty in everyday life. It’s not a separate world to escape to- it’s our world, and it refuses to leave us in a complete concrete block. The dandelion still stays.

The days where there are blue skies, not a cloud in them- they are nice.
However,  I’ve always loved the whispy, blanketing, whipped pillows of grey-blue-dirtywhite clouds myself. Nothing is perfect, not even the sky; but there’s beauty in the imperfection.

Poem: Admiration

I Admire What I Cannot Yet Be
I admire the resigned bareness of trees after a storm
even as their bark is strewn upon the ground

I admire the softness of a baby’s cheek
warm to the touch, smiling

I admire the journal laying unwatched on the counter
a freshly capped pen aside it

I admire all these open and vulnerable things.
I guess that’s why I still am struggling to love myself.
[because
open is not
me.]

I am not the warmth of a baby or a brave journal or a bare tree

I am the irrational storm that ripped away the bark of the saplings,
the calluses that the child grows on torn soles after playing on rough ground
and I am the neglected pen, run dry of ink