Thursday, February 29, 2024

Imaginations Demonic Counterfeit

 I don't often admit to anyone when I'm anxious. It's embarrassing to expose your weakness to everyone.  I used to sit in philosophy class, being eaten alive by panic. I have a funny habit of trying to yawn when I'm nervous because it feels like I can't take a deep breath. Once, a professor got mad at me because he thought I wasn't paying attention because I yawned about 50 times in an hour. I've met a few other people who have this problem; maybe you can relate too. 

When I was four years old, my mom's sister took her own life. I don't remember much of her, but after she died, my mom was a former shell of herself for about a year. That was the first time I remember feeling fear. The fear of death and loss at four years old. That's why I think I found Jesus so early in life. My aunt Ruth took her life in January, and that Easter Sunday, my mom took me to a church that was having a resurrection play. The man who played Jesus came back from the dead, and I loved that about him. I remember looking at my mom and just saying, "I love him." 

She replied, "Who?" 

"Jesus," I said. She then asked if I wanted to be saved, and I got saved right there. The memory is so vivid. It's all in full colors in the theater of my mind still 16 years later. After being saved, I dreamed of Jesus and just talked to Him. He was my refuge from the demonic forces of terror that tried to eat at me. 

Then, in grade school, I had the irrational fear of choking to death, drowning, or any kind of suffocation really. I have no idea where this fear came from. I've always been a creative person in that way of finding new ways to scare myself. I was so afraid of this that it became hard to eat food my whole fifth-grade year, and I lost a ton of weight, which was not healthy at all. For years, I had so many random fears that just seemed to come and go, bouncing from one thing to the next. 

Right after the pandemic, I was told I had PCOS. It was terribly painful and so random that it had just come up all of a sudden after I got COVID. I had so many doctor appointments for it that my new fear became doctors. I had blood taken four times in 2021, and I'm terrified of needles. Every single OBGYN had no answers, so I just had to pray and seek Jesus for comfort. Those were actually spiritually some of the sweetest days of my life. I spent hours before the Lord because He was the only person I could ask for help from. I still have PCOS, but praise Jesus, everything eventually balanced out, and it ended up just being a side effect of having COVID-19. 

I lived in Chicago for the last few years and I was always surrounded by people. People were just always everywhere. Then, when I came back to Texas, I found the loneliness to be terrifying. It seemed so foolish; I had always loved being by myself in the past, and now it filled me with such terror. Driving to work filled me with unkept panic. I'm still battling with this fear, waiting for it to pass, but when I was reflecting on this spiritual warfare, I had a realization while reading a book by Sheldon Vanauken.  

I've always loved imagining new and beautiful things, but I've come to realize that for every beautiful thing the Lord created, Satan has a demonic counterfeit for it. And the demonic counterfeit of imagination is fear. I've been searching for peace my whole life, but peace isn't the opposite of fear. The opposite of fear is love. 

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear." 

Sheldon Vanauken wrote in his memoir, "Goodness and love are as real as their terrible opposites, and in truth, far more real, though I say this mindful of the enormous evils like Nazi Germany. But love is the final reality, and anyone who does not understand this, be he writer or sage, is a man flawed in wisdom." (A Severe Mercy, Ch.7). 

While on a walk this week, I was reflecting on this. Imagination is a wonderful gift from the Lord. I use imagination to build science fiction worlds and create characters people can enjoy. Imagination lets me dream and make goals for the future. But it's fallen like the rest of the world in which we live. Imagination in its fallen state is fear. Fear seems to be so much stronger than joy and love, but it's not true. Love and grace do not fall as fast as the castles of fear and animosity the world builds. For those who are in Christ, love is the final reality not fear. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Delving Into Your Creative Writing Topic

     If you have ever seriously considered writing any creative writing project with the hopes of one day publishing, you likely realized that a tremendous amount of discipline and motivation is required in this process. However, in order to construct a piece of creative writing worthy of publication,  you will need much more that determination and a strict writing schedule, you must research the topic of your writing. 

     The word research has the connotation of long hours spent hunched over library books, but creative research does not necessarily fit into this mold of traditional research. In fact, creative research is one of the most fun and exciting aspects of the brainstorming process. Creative research is an adventure that has the potential to challenge your preconceived notions and allows you to see your topic in a new light. Creative research is an exercise of empathy and a journey into the unknown. 

These simple steps are here to help you delve into your topic and incorporate them into your final manuscript.  

πŸ“–  Knowing What You Need to Learn 

    The first question you must ask yourself is what is my topic? The topic of your story is the focus of the entire piece of your creative writing. Once you have considered your topic, write it down in a neat one-sentence description. This short description will help you visualize where you must start your research, and will help you organize your research plan.  

Here is an example of a short description I have written out: 

The topic of my novel is over how totalitarian governments have and will use propaganda to motivate and govern entire societies. 

    Once you have your unique topic fleshed out on to paper, you can begin to ask questions regarding your topic. Remember, to ask yourself the Who, what, where, when, and most importantly why. These questions will lead you to find resources. 

πŸ“– Question Driven Resources 

πŸ“˜ Who could help you with your research? 

- Interviews, recordings, primary sources

πŸ“˜ What information to I already know about this topic?

-Personal experience, photos, academic/non-academic articles you have already read about your topic 

πŸ“˜ Where is the setting of my creative writing?

-Maps, movies, even take a trip and walk the geography of where your story takes place 

πŸ“˜ When does this story or article take place? 

- If your story is set in the past, use the Library of Congress to access historical documents, photos, and works of art to inspire your prose 

-Here is the link to that resource 

- If your story is set in the future, it is important to study scientific advancements that are currently being undertaken to get a sense of what the future will be like. You can locate scientific journals via your local library or via google scholar for the most up to date information. 

πŸ“˜ Why do I want my audience to know more about this topic? 

- Researching the demographic of your target audience will ensure that your writing is tailored to fit your intended reader. The knowledge you assume your reader has on the topic will influence the type of research and the level of research you must conduct. 

πŸ“– Know It's Credibility 

    Although creative writing sources do not necessarily have to be academic, they still must be credible. Using reliable source will not only bolster your writing it will also make you look like a professional writer. 

    This checklist is a great litmus test to see if the source is credible or not: 

πŸ“˜ Is the source timely (meaning published within the last five years)? 

πŸ“˜ Is the website, author, and/or publisher reputable? 

πŸ“˜ Does the information found in this source logically flow with other sources in this area of research. In other words, are there related sources that tell similar accounts?  

πŸ“˜ Is the source written professionally with proper grammar and appropriate language?  

If your source checks these four boxes, there is a good chance it is a credible resource to use in your creative writing project. 

πŸ“–  Incorporating Your Research 

    Please do not put in-text Chicago-style citations into the final manuscript of your fiction novel. In creative writing, research is incorporated in the details. The point of research in a fiction piece of writing is to make the sights, the characters, and the scenes of a novel more accurate. Doing a good amount of research will also help to prevent writer's block because it will provide you with enough information for inspiration. 

πŸ“– Helpful Resources 

This is a quick-list of helpful resources to use for your research journey 

πŸ“˜A website the generates citations: 

πŸ“˜Your schools online library: this is a great resource for reliable information

πŸ“˜Encyclopedias are a great place to start your research journey. Although, Wikipedia is not seen as a scholarly source, it can be used to start your research. 

I wish you all happy research. May the knowledge you learn inspire the prose you write! 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

How to Get Better Grades Using Your Imagination

     I always hated school as a child. Growing up dyslexic, I could never read or write well. I always found myself lagging far behind my classmates in grade school, because I was such a slow reader. 

    Although I never enjoyed reading much as a child, I loved to make up stories in my mind. I used to write stories in my notebook during class and act like I was taking notes. I entered my freshmen year of high school as a failing student. That year I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a real writer, I would have to earn better grades. 

    My motivation was not making good grades, but rather working towards my career. I turned my academic career around from a failing student to a 4.0 GPA holder. 

    Motivation is the key in getting a 4.0 GPA. I encourage you to dream big. Use your imagination and dream up your future career. Try to keep a journal of your ambitions. Then, work hard at it. Treat every assignment in school as a steppingstone to reach your destination.  

    This is how you will get better grades using your imagination. 

Imaginations Demonic Counterfeit

 I don't often admit to anyone when I'm anxious. It's embarrassing to expose your weakness to everyone.  I used to sit in philos...