Thursday, April 18, 2013

A New Kind of Kryptonite

Recently I’ve been juggling a lot with school, personal progress, and extra curricular activities.  I wrote a post for another blog that I contribute to that spoke of some very vulnerable feelings.  I’ve been doing a lot with my life that I am definitely proud of.  My friends old and new tell me that they're proud of me and that I’m amazing or remarkable.  I believe them and I truly feel that confidence within me.

And because I’m human, I’m feeling pressures to be perfect.  I’m feeling pressures to be an unstoppable superhero.  Even in writing this vulnerable post I spoke of I saw how I was striving so hard to be someone I’m not.  Trying to be a better version of me to the point of putting so much energy into it that I’m wearing myself out.

I really wish I was better than I am.

Last night I prayed for and of a lot of things.  I started crying because I wanted impossible things in my life.  I wanted things that are mutually exclusive to the plan of salvation.  I felt shame in the desires of my heart.  I felt shame knowing that even in these contrary desires I can’t help but feel goodness and spirituality.  I can’t even call them evil because it doesn’t feel right to me and yet anything that is unable to coexist with our Heavenly Father must be.  This also troubles me.

I feel like Superman with a new kind of kryptonite.  He still can fly, is invulnerable, and yet he finds himself unsure of this piece of krypton.  This piece of his origin planet doesn’t bring him to his knees.  He feels drawn to and likes this kryptonite.  But it’s far removed from a place that no longer exists and makes Superman miss his origin planet, a planet he never knew.  This kryptonite takes away from the joy he could be experience on his home planet, earth.

I didn’t come away from the prayer with any answers.  I’m still just as clueless as how to fight out of my trial and resist the strange power of this unknown kryptonite.  But I came away from my prayer knowing the I am a son of my Heavenly Father who loves me.  In the dark time of my life He’s just told me, “Stay close to me.”  He loves me despite my weaknesses because I’m His son.  He would want me to enjoy my life even when in trial.

The big step for me to enjoy my life in the storm isn’t to have the acceptance of others, I have plenty of that.  It’s not just remembering how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  The step I’ve been struggling to take is accepting and loving myself despite my weaknesses simply because my Heavenly Father does.

So here I am seeing that, yeah, I got some stuff I don’t understand.  And right now, I don’t need to. That understanding will come in time.  I know that I’m doing everything I possibly can.  My Heavenly Father wouldn’t want me to get down on myself because I’m not meeting some expectations I’ve held myself to.  He would want me to accept me where I am as I am and just keep moving forward and staying close to him.

Photo credits by Rob Johsnon.
It’s then at that point that I stop worrying and start enjoying.  That’s when I start finding joy even in my endurance of whatever it is I’m facing.  Children exemplify this beautifully.  A child could come out from the wreckage of a tornado.  He’s sad because his home is in ruin.  The neighborhood he remembers is gone.  He may even be afraid of the future with it’s uncertainty.  Yet as he walks through the rubble there he sees a slightly dirty bike.  It’s still in good condition and survived the disaster like he did.  With a joyous laugh the child jumps on the bike and he finds joy despite his trial.

Too often I forget to seek after this joy like this little boy.  If I want to find joy despite my struggles, I need to take a break.  I need to let myself find joy in the company of family and good friends.  I need to draw, design, be creative, and do something spontaneous.  What I’m discovering about this new kind of kryptonite is that only has the power that I give to it.  It doesn’t need any more attention than what is necessary.

I know that we can find joy even in trial.  I know part of that is accepting ourselves as we are in whatever place we find ourselves in.  We don’t justify unrighteousness but we don’t shame ourselves either.  We love and accept ourselves as the savior does.  Thanks for reading everyone.  I know I talk a lot about trials but hey, nobody is perfect.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Write Away

Have I ever told you that I like to write? I'm sure there are some of you that are here because you know me in a writing community and are interested in seeing me in my geek world. And there are others that are like "Woah, you like to write. Are you published?" To that question let me say this: if I was a published author, I would definitely be shamelessly self-promoting on this blog. Duh!

A lot of people try to tell me how easy it is to be a writer. (I'm sorry, I don't see your book on any shelves.) It really isn't. Writing science-fiction and fantasy, or speculative, in the modern term? Well that's just making stuff up, right? (That person needs a swift kick to the pants.) I really like what my brother-in-law once told me about writing fantasy. He said that's gotta be so difficult to come up with a brand new world with all its own laws, rules, and cultures. I envy his intelligence. (We're talking about my redneck brother-in-law at that.)

Anyway, as a writer, I discovered the awesomeness that are writing conferences. Here is where I hang out with and meet nerds, geeks, and, by all means, dorks. Ever since I attended UVU's Book Academy (it may be UVU's The Book Academy) in 2009 (which was its inaugural event), I was hooked.

Even though I met very few people at that first conference, I still loved going. A few months later I attended LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything) in Provo and enjoyed it. I did feel more alone at this conference because I didn't know anyone and had too much introvert energy to get me talking.

But then I went to LDStorymakers in May 2010 and that really changed my perspective of being a future author. I even picked up on some rules on getting your book finished and becoming an author. I'm gonna share with you 5 of my favorite rules I've picked up over the past few years. Pay special attention to rule #1 because that's my absolute favorite. (Also, look at that cool guy holding the Dr. Pepper bottle. Wow, I wish I could be him.)

Rule #1: There Are No Secrets to Being Published
What? You mean Brandon Sanderson and Stephanie Meyer aren't keeping something hidden in a spiral notebook inside a treasure chest buried five under their backyards? Yeah, everything you need to know about being published is basically all over the internet: the good and the bad. I once heard a guy at a signing for Brandon Mull ask "What's your secret?" Brandon Mull replied with "I don't have any. I just wrote and wrote and revised and edited and found a publisher that picked me up." This guy looked disappointed. Now there are things we can learn from other authors to be better at our craft. But there really isn't an underlying secret to landing a big deal with a big house publisher.

Rule #2: Read What You Want to Write
This is actually from Stephen King. He's even scarier because he's right. If you're wanting to write a fantasy novel about a troll, then reading Jane Austen is not gonna help you. Exception: if you're trying to see how to incorporate arrogant pride or smug prejudice into the story. (Oh yeah, these rules aren't absolute.)

Rule #3: Going Fanboy/Fangirl On An Author Will Not Help Your Publishing Path
Okay, maybe it will. But authors are people. These aren't Kardashians. They don't want to be treated like they're better than everyone else, generally speaking. Here are the two thoughts here. If the author doesn't like being treated the same as a rockstar, they will think you're weird and annoying. If the author likes the ego boost, they're gonna take your ranting and raving as that, an ego boost. Nothing more, nothing less.

Rule #4: What Works For One Author Doesn't Always Work For Another
There are authors that say "The only way to write is with an outline." There are others that say, "The only way to write is to sit your butt in front of the computer and let your thoughts/ideas flow." Guess what. They're both right...minus this "the only way" business. No, there isn't an only way. One of my favorite things about LDS author Elana Johnson is how she says "This is what works for me" in her presentations. She knows not everything she does will help someone else. She's just sharing what she does.

Rule #5: Being A Published Author Does Not Mean You've Arrived
If your goal is to write one book, and only one, and get it self-published and never write another thing, then this rule isn't for you. There are people out there that believe once you're published everything you write will get published. That has happened for very few actually. Not everyone is John Grisham, Danielle Steel, and a handful of others. Yes, I'm sure you can name about 50 authors that have shelves of books out there and everything they write gets published. Guess what, I can go to the books store and find about 20 authors for each one of those 50 that only has a few books out. There are a LOT of authors competing for publishers' time and booksellers' shelf space.

So there you have my rules. Am I right? Of course I am. But if you don't believe me, go ahead and do it your way. If it works, sweet, you hit the exceptions list. If it doesn't.....well....I told you so. (Yes, I'm immature sometimes.)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.