Wednesday Hodgepodge - Last Day of January Edition

January 30, 2018

I stumbled across this weekly challenge by the blog From This Side of the Pond. What better what to join back into the blogging world than joining a weekly writing challenge? I love it! Feels like the blogging days of yore.

Anyways, you basically answer questions posted to the host's website (go here!) and come back to the post and share your thoughts.

1. Speaking of your wit's end, at loose ends, a dead end, burn the candle at both ends, all's well that end's well, or no end in sight...which 'end' phrase might best be applied to your life lately? Explain.  

Ugh, at my wit's end. That's my theme lately. I'd rather not get into why but I'm praying constantly that I am able to get beyond this stage in my life.

2. What was a must have accessory when you were growing up? Did you own one? If so tell us what you remember about it.

One thing I remember was those pencil boxes that were SO popular with Hello Kitty! Anyone else remember those? I had a pink one in 5th grade and I loved it.

3. Something that made you smile yesterday?

For me, right now writing this, yesterday means Monday. So this actually made me smile yesterday! Anyone 90s kids in the room? Remember those old Nickelodeon commercials that had songs? Well here they are if you have forgotten -

4. January 30th is National Croissant Day. Do you like croissants? Sweet or savory? We're having chicken salad for lunch...would you rather have yours served on a croissant, a wrap, a bagel, bread, or a roll of some sort?

Croissants! Ah, well. Hm. So I loved them back in the day, pre-gluten interolance/wheat allergy era. But sadly I can't enjoy them anymore. If I was having chicken salad for lunch, I'd have it in a gluten-free tortilla wrap!

5. Sum up your January in fifteen words or less.

My January has been part of my ongoing process to grow spiritaully and creatively.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

My random thought? I'll end with two songs. One faith song that speaks to me with it's first line, "Truth is I'm tired..."

And then this one from the movie Better off Dead. Wow this guy's laugh in this scene is so funny and I'd love to have this kind of reaction to someone making fun of me! 

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Can You - Should You - Attempt to Bring Back a Time?

January 28, 2018
photo credit: Lise1011 Passing time via photopin (license)
Have you ever seen the movie, Splendor in the Grass? It's with Natalie Wood and her character is in love with Warren Beatty's character. Yet, the relationship doesn't work out due to their parents viewpoint of the relationship and Natalie's character ends up dealing with a mental breakdown amidst her heartbreak.

Well, it's a movie I watched several years ago and one poem quoted by Natalie Wood in the movie has stayed with me then and does now. The poem is called "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" by William Wordsworth. And the part Natalie Wood reads in the movie (at the beginning and at the end) goes, "Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind." Anytime I am met with this idea of recreating a previous good experience and it doesn't work out, I remember this quote. It's one of my favorites, actually. (Check out the rest of the poem here).

Not to mention, there's scripture from the Bible I've read that jumped out at me (God's nudge to me, I'm just know it) that is in Ecclesiastes 7:10, "Do not say,“Why were the former days better than these? For you do not inquire wisely concerning this."

So, this all came to me tonight as I was looking back over my blog, attempting to read and comment on blogs I used to be more faithful visiting and getting familiar in this blogging community again. It used to be so much easier for me and my removal from it was due to a variety of circumstances. Personal life stress, a general feeling of losing interest, my writing changing, me changing, writing communities changing, you name it. Sometimes...things just change.

But coming back to it has felt foreign to me. It feels a little bit like I've grown beyond it, yet I've never been able to let this blog go. I was looking back over some old posts tonight and am proud of the work I did when I first started. I was energetic, hopeful, and creative in my approach to writing about writing. I started this almost 7 years ago, can you believe that? I talked about my inner child, inspired others, talked about fear,and weaknesses. I even did a writing prompt weekly that inspired others.

I am trying to bring this blog back as well as bring myself to a better place with my own writing. Can I recreate the energy that I had for this blog seven years ago? No, likely not. First of all a lot has changed in my life since seven years ago. I've changed, gotten older, matured. I've also rediscovered and renewed my Christian faith and my relationship with God is closer than ever before. Things change. And change isn't necessarily bad. I don't want to go back.

So, while I may not be able bring back that hour of splendor in the digital grass, I'll have to find strength in what remains behind. I can't look back at the early days of this blog and wonder why it was so much better. It was just different for me then as it is for me now.

Today begins something new. I'm not sure what it is and maybe next week I'll be talking about this same subject again. But I'm here now and I'll try. I'm feeling called to, so we'll see where this goes. 
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The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor - A Book Review

January 14, 2018

I'm a sucker for a good whodunit. Especially one that spans time. What was an unsolvable mystery in childhood becomes a must-solve mystery as an adult.

That's what happens in The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor. Five friends who stumble upon a mystery that consumes the whole town. We follow along with Eddie and his friends in that weird pre-adolescent stage that can't quite let go of childhood yet isn't ready for adulthood yet. Using their own secret code to talk with each other in chalk, this ends up leading them to the body of a young girl found in the park who's body was dismembered. Nothing was ever really the same after that. It isn't just about a mystery and a murder. It's about morals. What's right and wrong. Faith and hypocrisy. And secrets they all are hiding.

So what did I think? Well, this was a mixed bag for me if I was being completely honest. First, the crux of the mystery - the dead body - didn't really hold me as much as Eddie's desire to discover what happened did. I think it was that, actually. Eddie held me in the story. This main character who eventually became a lonely 40 year old man, who was not quite ready to share the burdens of his own issues with another woman, was a likable character who couldn't leave the past alone. Especially when it lands on his doorstep. I like those kinds of characters. Who just can't let something go.

The thing that I didn't enjoy as much as I probably should have was the way it spanned across time. It jumped back and forth between 1986 and 2018. It was well told in some ways but in other ways breaking it up the way they did left me pulled out of one problem and having to jump in another too much. I almost would have appreciated the section of 1986 as one whole and 2018 as another whole.

As for the ending, both satisfying and unsatisfying in some ways. Loose ends are tied, which is always nice. At the same time, there's a bit of mystery left hanging with the main character that didn't do too much for me.

If this book sounds like it's right for you, make sure you purchase it on Amazon. Check out Goodreads for this book as well and add it to your must read list. Be sure to follow the author C J Tudor on Twitter as well.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. This post also includes an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase this book via my link, I'll receive small compensation. 

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My Writing Past and My Writing Future

January 5, 2018

dit: markus spiske neourban hipster office workstation via photopin (license)
It's funny as a writer how much we change without realizing. As the New Year moves along, I tend to look back over old notebooks and half way finished stories, plot lines and ideas and think about how I've changed as a writer. While I haven't found "the one" book that I would finish that would lead to me getting published, I've always been writing. Like my favorite doll "Baby," who would go with me everywhere as a child, that is the life of my notebooks these days. They are with me everywhere, whether it's the tiny notebook for ideas or the tattered 8 1/2 by 11 spiral bound notebook for longer stories. However, so far, none of them have experienced the same troubles as my favorite doll Baby often ran into (such as being left in the library overnight, forgotten at restaurants, etc).

 And as I go through these notebooks, along the way I have learned things about myself and my writing. I've uncovered the stories that are now too weird for me to return to, others that are partially done but show so much potential, and a few ideas that are shelved to the back of my mind so I can return to them later. My stories also reflect where I'm at in my life. I have been Christian all my life, but over the past two years I have really gotten more serious about my faith. In fact, my faith and relationship with God is so much closer for me now that I can't believe I've never blogged about this before.

And to be honest, I also haven't really introduced my faith in my fiction writing either. It's like wearing new shoes as I weave my writing side with my faith. These two areas are no longer separate for me and it's been an interesting journey to uncover what that means for my writing. Lately I have been keeping my eye out for examples of fiction writers who have used their faith in their creative writing. As I find them, I take these scraps and morsels with me on my journey to reflect on while I also let go and let God guide me through this journey.

 As the New Year brings in change and promises of better habits, I'm realizing how important it is for me to be open to change and letting my writing change. Many stories I've written in the past no longer fit me just like attending my old high school doesn't fit me now either. We grow, we change, and our stories do too. For me now, it's also about giving my creative side to God, which isn't something I expected to do nor is it entirely that easy all the time. Even blogging about it feels weird (I can't help but think to myself, "Am I really writing this for people to read??"). With every brave step forward, though, it will get more and more comfortable for me to write about, talk about and introduce into my creativity. And I know God is with me, every step of the way. 
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