Monday, March 4, 2013

Inkblots and Marathons--Writing and Endurance

Writing and Running
We chatted quite a bit (yes, yes, usual fire crackling in the fireplace, Girard Petite Sirah 2010, four men with one ultimate purpose, and a subordinate one: writing). We prayed for Tammie Battle, our dear neighbor whose cancer has returned.

Carl read a piece relating his preparation for running his second marathon (he's so down-to-earth about this and everything) and the challenges of and endurance needed for the Christian life. It was an winsome piece, written with honesty (I'm not a runner, no sponsors will line up to equip me with new tennis shoes...). Patrick made comparisons with the running metaphor and prayer. Carl totaled up the training miles between day one and when the race is over, 506.2 miles in 16 weeks! Rewards? Race day itself is the reward. I think I might read a subsection of a chapter from Grace Works on rewards, if time. Carl may use this as sermon illustration or blog posts. Surprisingly, his largely rural, farmer congregation are internet connected. Carl has contacted RC Jr about preaching at his smaller country church when he's out for a conference in October (I was just emailing with Jr today, who just sent me an endorsement for Grace Works), so I emailed him and put in a good word for Carl and his congregation. Hope this works out.

We discussed God and evil in the world, and why God has things he emphatically does not like in his world. Patrick told us he was sort of depressed after our critique two weeks ago, but then it began to germinate, and pick up on the VanTil-ian/Kantian idea that either Christianity is true or we're all insane. Our input about making it into story developed in Patrick's mind so he has a plan to have a third protagonist who will interact with both Kant and Rorty and devolve into despair and seek the truth elsewhere. He sees the biggest enemy of Christianity as fatalism, and referenced Bruce Waltke's commentary on Proverbs where he argues that wisdom literature was specifically designed to counteract Egyptian fatalism. He took the theme of we're all insane or Christianity is true and started writing a graphic novel. Things just started pouring out of his pen.

Patrick's graphic contrasts fatalistic paganism beginning with the Epic of Gilgamesh and act 2 is about Puritanism. Written as a screen play. Opens in a Sumerian cultural context with subtle hint of temple prostitute, post flood devastation. Remarkably, Patrick got the idea for this and wrote it thus far in a pretty short time. This reminds me of Till We Have Faces, by CS Lewis, not content so much as tone and feel. Carl asked about the genre, graphic novel; is it age specific or just a genre in its own right. Carl is trying to get at the target audience, and he admitted to never having read one (same here). Patrick has read a number, sort of the literary version of comic books. Sandman, 300 all began as graphic novels. "He should belong to me but his madness keeps him sane," graphic novel Sandman classic line.

John read last time from his Russian novel underway. John worked this week on refining his descriptive language. This chapter is called the Abyss, the secret room in her father's study. Blacker than the Devil's own heart, revolting things--try making your reader feel the revulsion with touch, okay the spiders is better. Hated spiders more than soldiers--that's good. Then it shifts, but don't call the soldiers evil soldiers, show them being so. Avoid overdoing the simile tag, like. Cracked open my eye, not sure that verb works best; try her too terrified to open her eyes, and gradually her curiosity won out and her eyes popped open, wide, darting, hungrily searching the room for... Laughing hard, doesn't work to my ear; it sounds overstated. Describe the sound of her laughter, compared to some other sound, maybe the taunting cries of the cows overhead. Sad look on her soiled face, is too much S alliteration, and maybe too many adjectives period. This is a huge improvement over last times reading. For the most part, I felt like I was seeing and feeling what was going on. Vivid, graphic description that we can hear, feel, see, smell (maybe a bit more smells). Significant progress on this; I like it. Endurance in writing, being persistent, pressing on when you're discouraged (as Patrick admitted being, and any of the rest of us who don't admit it are a pack of liars), is like training for and running a marathon (though I have only ran one once, back in the 80s). John reads to Vicki and she gives him feedback, that's really sweet.

I shared with these guys the progress on the possible film based on my Crown and Covenant Trilogy. But first I am thinking about developing a unique character who is my first person lens to the history, a young man who doesn't actually get any of it, can't understand why all the vein-bulging vitriol? Does he become a Christian, maybe seeing a friend he grew up with martyred and it deeply affects him, or he goes into business and finds himself drawn to the movement for temporal gain, but then the risks are too high. Finally he just doesn't get it. Why would people die, willingly give up everything for this thing they call the gospel?

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