Friday, October 21, 2016

Whom to Schmooze If You Wanna be a Writer

If you want to be a writer, it's all about who you know. 

In this dog-eat-dog world of literary prowess, even those with intimidating writing chops beg for someone on the other side of the fence to throw them a bone. Sure, it starts with having something interesting to say and an incredible knack for cleverly stringing words and phrases together. 

But it also helps to have friends in high places. Or friends in low places, for that matter. Like that old Garth Brooks binge-drinking song. 

If you're gonna be a writer, you have to get cozy with a few particular bedfellows. Because if you don't schmooze with these guys, you lose.

Introduce Yourself to Inspiration. If you don't know him, you're toast. But he's really kind of a player, so when he leaves, just let him go. You can't force him to come back to you. You can't make the guy commit. He likes to be in charge. He likes for you to submit. He winks at you from a distance. He likes to tease because he can. He likes to watch your body rise beneath his masterful hand.

Become Frenemies with Frustration. Inevitably, you will invite inspiration over to Netflix and chill and he will stand you up. You will wait for him and wait for him and he just won't come. Or, he will come so much that the rest of your life goes to shambles. You will be SO full of inspiration that your kids will have to ransack the pantry for snacks because YOU forgot to cook a meal. The laundry will pile up and no one will have ANY clean underwear. But you won't care because you're a freaking writer. You will rationalize this insane behavior by telling yourself that you're sacrificing for the sake of your craft.

Make Waiting Your Wing-Man. Let's say you write something earth-shattering that will enlighten the masses. You don't want to be flying solo when you make your approach to pitch it to an editor. And even though you might feel the need for speed, editors are not necessarily shaking their tail-feathers to get back to you any time soon. You're gonna need someone to play Goose to your Maverick so they can talk you up a smidge while you're waiting to be shot down. 

Ride Shotgun with Rejection. Even though it's the best thing you've ever written. Even though you had to dig down to the very depths of your soul to beget such brilliance. Even though you can't possibly fathom ever writing anything better than that  ever again. It's still simply just not good enough. So, buckle your seat belt, put on some road trip tunes and do some car karaoke with your old pal rejection. But be sure to use your GPS so you don't lose your way. It's gonna be a LONG drive.

Count on Criticism. She will always be there for you. Ride or die. Come hell or high water. She's in it for the long haul. She's the friend who will tell you if you have food stuck in your teeth or toilet paper on your shoe. If your zipper is down, she will notify you. Do not be offended. She's just being constructive because that's what besties do. 

She really does love you. Just the way you are. 

She just loves you too much to let you stay that way.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Staying Salty

One perk (or occupational hazard) of teaching high school is staying current in modern slang.

My students often tell me I talk like "a preppy white girl" and take it upon themselves to teach me all the latest lingo they think I should know. 

I will admit: Sometimes I have to consult to fully comprehend the language of the modern-day teenager

Most recently, I learned what it means to be salty:

  1. exceptionally bitter, angry, or upset 
(i.e. She's salty because she just got played.)

Before you take this definition with "a grain of salt" (sorry), I should probably point out that The American Dialect Society gave the word "salty" (with the above definition) the Most Likely to Succeed Award at its 25th Annual Word of the Year Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

No. I am not kidding. 

Don't believe me? Check out this article in The Wall Street Journal
Also worth noting is the winner of Most Creative Word of the Year


Kind of apropos since Monday was Columbus Day.

By the way, columbusing is a term used to describe white people "discovering" things already known to minority cultures. Guilty.

Jesus had a lot to say about staying salty. 

But he wasn't using the new award-winning definition of the word. 
Even though he was the word made flesh, Jesus didn't have Jesus was old-school. 

He meant the kind of salty that adds just the right amount of flavor to a dish. 

The kind of salty that preserves. The kind of salty that heals. The kind of salty you fling out over the roads to clear a path for safe travel through the snow. 

He dubbed His early followers "the salt of the earth" and urged them to stay salty. After all, what good is salt that has lost its flavor? 

But, to be honest, some of us have lost our flavor. Some of us have become useless. Instead of clearing a path through the snow, we have become the frozen chosen. Others are so salty, they completely ruin the main dish. There is nothing to do but toss it in the trash and start again from scratch. So, how do you know if you're still tasty? 

Here's some food for thought to whet your appetite:

1. You're too salty if you don't have any unchurched friends. 
Know what you get when you have too much salt all in one place? Sardines. It's good to have friends who share your beliefs, but if you don't have any friends who aren't Christians, then you and your crew are like a can of smelly sardines. Take a big whiff.

2. You're not salty if your friends don't know you're a Christian.
If you do have unchurched friends and they can't figure out you're a Christian just by being around you, then you're as bland as can be. There should be something inherently different about you. We are called to be in the world but not of it.

3. You're too salty if you have an agenda. 
WWJD? He would love people. All kinds of people. The sinners and the saints. But mostly the sinners. And that's exactly what we are called to do. Love people. Just as they are. Not because we want to bring them to church on Sunday. Not because we are trying to convert them. Not because they are a soul we want to win and hang on the wall above our fireplace. Just genuinely love people like Jesus did. Your saltiness will naturally make them thirsty. Then you can lead them to the well of living water that never runs dry.

4. You're too salty if you are easily offended. 
If you are appalled every time you see a tattoo and hear profanity escape from someone's lips, and if you unfriend people who are voting differently than you, do us all a favor and take a chill pill. You're too salty if people have to walk on egg-shells every time they are around you. You might be on the spice rack, but you won't be invited to the table.

5. You're too salty if you don't have a sense of humor. A little bit of self-deprecating humor and laughing at the occasional dirty joke goes a long way when it comes to making you an approachable and relatable bloke. If you always take things too seriously and can't laugh at yourself, people will think you're not worth your salt.

6. You're too salty if you think you're better than other people
So what if you go to church every Sunday and never miss a prayer meeting? That doesn't make you better than everyone else. Get down off your high-horse and mingle with the commoners. You might learn a thing or two. Like humility.

7. You're not salty if you're bitter.

Trying to be salty when you have unforgiveness and resentment in your heart is like using a clogged salt shaker. Even though you know it's in there, nothing's coming out. You might be a valuable commodity, but your vessel needs a good cleansing. 

Stay salty, my friends.

"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt that has lost its flavor? 
Can it be made salty again? It is not good for anything except to be 
thrown out and trampled by men." ~Matthew 5:13~