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Mur Keeps It Real

A couple months ago, I replied to a tweet from Mur Lafferty (@mightymur). I went on with my day. A few seconds later, my phone buzzed. I looked. She had replied.

I think I giggled out loud with joy. It was a fanboy moment.

My friend Nick recommended I Should be Writing to me a few years ago. The name struck me; I’d said the phrase a thousand times. I gave a listen, and never turned back.

Mur is definitely a gifted writer. Her story concepts, in particular, are awesome. Playing for Keeps follows a group of friends with truly mediocre superpowers. Marco and the Red Granny features the most creative use of synesthesia I’ve read since Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. But all this I learned later.

What kept me listening to her podcast is the fact that Mur is real. She talks – frankly, but professionally – about the frustrations of dealing with the publishing industry. She holds herself accountable to her listeners, admitting when she doesn’t follow her own advice. She admits when she’s a noob. Somehow, she manages to write, take care of her family, and then do several podcasts and blogs in which she discusses how to juggle writing, family, and other projects.

And she often repeats that phrase I need to hear again and again: you’re allowed to suck. She reminds me that I don’t need to nail it the first time every time. She reminds me that they key isn’t to only write good stuff: it’s to write, and keep writing.

Preachers could learn from her humility and willingness to get personal. Perfectionists like myself could learn some grace. And we could all learn perseverance from her.

I appreciate what you do, Mur. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration.

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FAIL.

Missed a post! Lapse in discipline. Devotion fail.

Stuff like this usually happens on a day off.

You’d think it would be easier to do Bible reading and journaling and such on a weekend, since there’s so much more time readily available. Ah, but that’s thinking logically.

Historically, days off have been days of extravagant laziness for me. I haven’t wanted to do anything important. I came to expect that after a while of getting away with it.

That has ceased to be practical, but my mind still goes there. I’m fighting it. If I don’t fight it, I’ll neglect basic household chores, Bible reading, and other daily necessities. It’s not pretty. Thankfully, I’m generally winning the fight.

Besides the day-off mentality, I also forget things when my routine gets thrown off. I took a vacation day yesterday so we could go see some family in Yuba City. Apparently, I’m easily distracted by cool people.

So, I forgot. Broke the writing streak. Messed up my Lenten observance.

Nothing to do but pick it right up again.

I’ll write a post tomorrow – partly because I want to catch up, partly because I have something I really wanna talk about.

FAIL isn’t the end.

Early Bird

I woke up this morning fighting inertia; that is, trying unsuccessfully to get my limbs to move. I was apparently trapped in some quantum Monday gravity well. Rough stuff.

I immediately started weighing my options. Summon my will and just get up? Hrrk. Okay, plan B. Hit the snooze for a third time? Tempting. But what could I cut out of my morning routine? Writing? Showering? Making myself lunch?

I stared at the ceiling for a while. No appealing options.

It took me a bit, but I got up and wrote.

My problem with mornings comes when I give myself the option of sleeping in. I’d roll out of bed 20 minutes before I had to leave every day if it weren’t for my commitment.

See, I know I’m supposed to be writing. It’s just awfully hard to find the time. I’m a dad, a husband, an associate pastor, and a full-time state worker. And I need to rest sometimes, too.

I realized — to my dismay — that the best time for me to consistently write was in the early morning, before work.

And I knew that if I just tried to write “whenever I had the time,” it would never happen. I heard it from people who know, and I knew it from experience. The only way it would work is if I decided in advance to actually do it.

I wrote half of this post at six in the morning, half after six at night. Whatever works, right?

Is there something you need to commit to? Something that’s been bugging you for a while? Maybe a long while? Try it. Lose some sleep if you need to. It might just be worth the sacrifice.

And if this blog post was worth the sacrifice, lemme know in the comments! Heh.

When Your Powers Combine…

I have a pretty low idea-to-action ratio. I’ve had lots of ideas for stories and other creative projects through the years, but very little success in seeing them through.

Now, that’s just on solo projects. When I’ve pitched an idea to a friend, something we could work on together, my track record is… well, much worse.

As soon as I start a sentence with “dude, we should totally…” it’s pretty much guaranteed that it won’t happen.

How do they do it?

The sad thing is, I’ve got some seriously talented friends. I know several outstanding musicians, a bunch of great artists, and a few accomplished local actors. Most of my friends are able storytellers besides.

I’ve talked to a couple of my friends about creating comic books. I keep thinking about a podcast. And I keep hoping that, one of these days, something will stick.

That’s one thing I’ve loved about being a pastor: seeing people work together in ministry. It’s amazing to see how much work from so many people goes into putting a Sunday morning service together. It can be a truly beautiful thing.

The other place I’ve seen it work is in school projects. That is, the ones that are adequately planned, that had cooperative group members. I’ve been in that kind of group, and the other kind. Remember the kid that got stuck doing all the work? Yeah. That was me.

I’ve even written an entire short story with a friend. We took turns writing, passing it back and forth, then edited into something pretty decent. We tried a couple of times after that, but didn’t have the same luck.

I’d love to get another creative project going with some friends sometime. So, I’ll ask you: who out there has made it work?

Who has taken a cool idea, batted it around with some friends, and actually done it? What was it? How did you get from concept to reality? Tell me about it in the comments!