Your Blog Is a Big, Friendly Dog

Once upon a time, blogger Judy Dunn and I had several exchanges concerning the concept of a blog as a lab.

Here we go again…

No, no, no. As you’ll see if you click through that link above, I don’t really mean that a blog is a big, friendly (and apparently put-upon) dog. What I mean is that a blog is a laboratory where you get to make a splendid mess in an effort to see what happens when you mix a bunch of stuff together that most people wouldn’t dream of mixing together.

My Latest Blogging Dog Experiment


          
I don’t know why this idea popped into my head.

Well, that’s sort of a lie. I’m pretty sure that this idea popped into my head because I subscribe to sci-fi writer John Scalzi’s blog “Whatever”. Mr. Scalzi blogs every day. This triggered in my head the thought:

Now, the part I honestly don’t know the because for is the part where I think I might be able to do this just because I see Mr. Scalzi doing it.

I guess it’s because of reasons, yet again.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Ooh aah. I deserve bananas.

So. I shall embark upon an experimental adventure: For the month of August, I shall attempt to blog every day.

Because I obviously don’t have enough to do and I am a crazy person.

I don’t know what shall come of this, if anything. Maybe it will result in things most glorious. Maybe it will serve only to highlight my lack of an inkling of a conceptual hypothesis of reality. Maybe it will break me forever of stringing together prepositional phrases.

Zounds.

So, we’ll see. Josh has indicated that he might consider joining me in this venture, though I have yet to hear from him a definite yea or nay. On Twitter, @AstridBryce has offered me incentive as follows (click to embiggen!):

My dearest, most darlingest readers, prepare yourselves for pulchritudinous cramazingness.

Or a zombie-ish apocalypse.

Why I Believe I’m Created to Create

This is pretty much the essence of how I feel about writing:

“It feels like a gift from the universe to you. And maybe it is. …(Y)ou’re so far into the thing you’re doing that in that moment, everything else doesn’t matter. I’ve gotten this feeling from other things, but where I get it the most is when I’m writing.

“It’s a relationship with words, essentially. I have one and it manifests itself through my fingers, usually onto a computer screen but occasionally with pen and paper. It’s a relationship in which I feel defined, in no small part because in the act of writing I have been able to define myself, to myself and to others.”

–John Scalzi
The Thanksgiving Advent Calendar, Day Eighteen: Writing

 

Having a Little Faith

In my Twitter bio, I tell the world that I am “created to create.” If you search my blog for that phrase, you’ll find a bunch of posts in which I use it. It’s a phrase that’s near and dear to my heart lodged at the very core of my being.

“What’s the because?” you ask.

(Or maybe you use proper grammar and cock your head while stroking your chin, saying, “Courtney, dear, do please elaborate: What is the reason that this phrase resonates with you so?”)

 
At the end of this post, you will find a link to my Confessions of my creative sins. In these Confessions, I talk a lot about my faith and its effect on my life and my art. Some of this effect has been, on the surface, horribly detrimental to me as a human being and to my expression of my creativity — on the surface. Two things of great import are worth noting here:

1. The detriment was a result of my misunderstanding of “faith” in general and of the principles of my own faith in particular.

2. The detriment has proven itself superficial because I’ve learned so much and grown so much stronger as a result of the dark times. The surface was deadly…but the depths are invigorating, rich, fulfilling, and teeming with life.

I don’t often discuss my faith on this blog; I know that’s not why most of you come here. But if you’re interested in my writing and/or in me as a writer/human, I suspect that hearing the occasional tidbit about my deeper beliefs isn’t going to drive you away. Feel free, though, to correct me on this if I’m wrong. ; )

And, yet again, “What’s the because?” What’s the connection between all of this faith stuff and the Scalzi quote above?

Created to Create

Well, here’s the connection in one shelle du nut:

I believe in God.

I believe in the very first statement of the Christian Bible’s Old Testament: “In the beginning, God created….”

I believe that it’s no coincidence that God-as-Creative-Being is the first thing we learn about him.

I believe that being “created in God’s image” means, in part, that we each are created to create.

I believe that “to create” means to put something into the world that wasn’t there before. That might be a story. Or a painting. An etching in wood. Something made of construction paper.

Or it could be an encouraging conversation with a friend. It could be a hug.

A kiss.

A smile.

When I watch my cat, I see her being exactly what she’s been created to be: She plays, she stalks, she hunts, she revels in sunshine, she interacts with her humans. In every facet of her being, she Is exactly what God created her to Be. When I watch her, I marvel at how easily she expresses God’s creativity at work in her. She doesn’t think about it, doesn’t analyze it, doesn’t worry if she’s “doing it right.” She doesn’t even do. She simply Is, and that is enough.

Pippin and sunshine

Me, I have a hard time being that simple. I have a hard time simply being. But my roots are digging ever deeper, and I am growing. I understand one thing for certain: I am created to create. The cat is Cat when she’s in the sunshine, on her back, with all four feet in the air, looking about as ridiculous as a feline can.

Me, I am Human when I’m in the sunshine of creativity, exposing my belly, baring my vulnerable heart to the world, making a fool of myself by letting others read the secrets of my soul in my written words. When I am Writer, I am expressing God’s creativity at work in me.

Scalzi says, “It’s a relationship in which I feel defined, in no small part because in the act of writing I have been able to define myself, to myself and to others.”

Me, I’m engaged in an ongoing love affair with my Creator. That affair, that Love, manifests itself in many ways — but one of its most significant manifestations is my Writing. When I am Writer, I am being exactly what he created me to be. This defines my Self — to myself and to others.

If you want to read more about how I came to these conclusions — if you want to see me bare the darkest times of my soul — my Creative Confessions are here.

___________

What about you, dear inklings? Any thoughts to share on faith and the writer’s relationship to the written word? Do you agree or disagree that every human is inherently creative? Whatever the roots of your own creativity — whether you call those roots spiritual or not — I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

He Made Me Loose, and 5 Other Shenanigans

Or: How You Spell Dis?! Part Deux

Greetings, O Fearless Writerly and Readerly Ones! I come to you today bearing tidings of great joy. And those tidings are that you, too, can learn to communicate clearly by improving your spelling and your grammar! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

*ahem* You don’t have to answer that.

C-A-L-C-U-L-U-S

So, moving right along! Once upon a time, I regaled you with the tale of Riku and his encounter with a terrible, flying M-A-T-H. Aha! And there we’ve arrived at my first point, which is a reiteration of the moral of Riku’s story: If you don’t spell things correctly, people ain’t gonna know whatcha mean. How easily does Riku’s “math” become “moth” (which was the true source of the poor kid’s terror).

For the purpose of emphasis (and to make this post have something to do with its title [Yeah, we all see what I did there. {I don’t apologize.}]), I’d also like to restate one point from the Riku post:

THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOOSE and LOSE.

He made me lose. = He caused me not to win.

He made me loose. = He turned me into a slut.
(Notably through no fault of my own.)

PLEASE STOP DOING THIS WRONG.

*ahem again* Thanks.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move on to happier things like lightning and cat pee.

Yes. You read that correctly. Lightning and cat pee. Here we go!

5 More Spelling/Grammar Shenanigans: How do you spell…?

1. THEY’RE, THEIR, THERE.

INCORRECT: They’re cat peed on my porch. = They are cat peed on my porch.

Now, if you’re trying to insult someone, you might say, “They’re (They are) cat pee on my porch,” but that wouldn’t be very nice of you.

“Their” is a possessive pronoun. A possessive pronoun is a word that replaces a name and indicates ownership of something. Instead of saying, “The Smiths’ cat peed on my porch,” I replace “The Smiths'” with “their.”

Correct:
THEIR cat peed on my porch.

INCORRECT: I saw the cat pee their.

What we’re looking for here is the word that shows where the cat peed. Remember, “their” is a possessive pronoun; it shows ownership. As-is, the sentence isn’t complete. I could say, “I saw the cat pee their coffee beans,” but that certainly wouldn’t be very pleasant for the cat.

Correct:
I saw the cat pee THERE.

THEY’RE = THEY ARE
THEIR = ownership
THERE = location

2. IT’s and ITS, YOU’RE and YOUR.

INCORRECT: I saw it’s mischievous look when the cat peed on my porch.
= I saw it is mischievous look when the cat peed on my porch.

INCORRECT: I saw you’re mischievous look when you peed on my porch.
= I saw you are mischievous look when you peed on my porch.

I saw it is mischievous look?
I saw you are mischievous look?

No, no. The “mischievous look” belongs to the cat — or to you, for shame! — so, once again, I am looking for a word that indicates ownership. “It is” and “you are” do not fit the bill.

Correct:
I saw ITS mischievous look.
I saw YOUR mischievous look when you peed on my porch. (Tsk, tsk, tsk.)

BONUS:
mischievous (MIS-chuh-vus) = CORRECT
mischievious (mis-CHEE-vee-us; rhyming with “previous”) = INCORRECT

3. LIGHTNING and LIGHTENING.

INCORRECT: When the cat peed on my porch, I saw lightening flash across the sky.

(This is quite the apocalyptic cat.)

LIGHTNING (noun) = those bright bolts of electricity you see during a storm

LIGHTENING (verb; well, technically a participle, but that’s more than I want to get into here) –> from TO LIGHTEN
= to change gradually from dark to light; opposite of TO DARKEN

Correct:
When the cat peed on my porch, I saw LIGHTNING flash across the sky.
The lightning highlighted the mischievous look on your face as you allowed your cat to pee on my porch.

4. INDEPENDENCE or INDEPENDANCE?

INCORRECT: Your cat peed on my porch on Independance Day.

(You really should control your pet’s behavior a bit better, you know that?)

I don’t know what the Indepen Dance is, but if someone wants to teach me it, I’d be more than happy to learn.

Correct:
Your cat peed on my porch on INDEPENDENCE Day.

(This is grammatically correct but conceptually quite bad form.)

5. WHOSE and WHO’S.

INCORRECT: I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who’s cat peed on my porch.
= I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who is cat peed on my porch.

Mr. Smith who is cat peed?

No.

If I wanted to insult Mr. Smith, I would say, “I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who is cat pee on my porch. The worthless slime.” But again, that wouldn’t be very nice. And, again, I am searching for a word that shows ownership of the mischievous and apparently incontinent cat. “Who is” does not work.

Correct:
I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, WHOSE cat peed on my porch. AGAIN.

OR:
I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who’s (who is) the man whose incontinent cat won’t stop peeing on my porch.

DISCLAIMER: Neither you, nor my porch, nor urine of any sort, nor any cats were harmed in the making of this blog post. Nor, even, Mr. Smith.

However: Terrible, flying maths will always be swatted.