Exploring the future through the present. One day at a time.
I hope I stay within budget
My website: http://www.almarquardt.com
|A short conversation on Twitter:
Big release of Gitmo detainees reportedly in the works.
Santa Obama is giving a BIG lump of coal to the world this Christmas.
And that lump of a coal seeks to kill us. Huh. That actually sounds like the plot of a horror movie by Tim Burton.
I might have to write it, and perhaps include the finished story in my Christmas cards next year (no way I could make it this year. I write fast, but not that fast!).
"Interesting" trips to the bathroom.
Thoughts of food -- shudder.
Symptoms of . . . possible flu.
Now for symptoms of a different sort.
I was dabbling in Twitter today and a gal commented on another person's feed:
"Please go away. Like forever."
I responded thusly (I'm a bit cantankerous when I'm not feeling well). "Um. How about you go away? No one is forcing you to follow her."
The young lady's response (right before she blocked me [as if I was interested in following her]./, m) to the original poster "take stupid @almarquardt with you."
That didn't bother me; it made me laugh.
I did notice the profile of one person who liked the insulting tweet reads: "Mother, daughter, sister, skin care junkie. Love my family, friends and kindness.'
It's the last word that made me pause. What's 'kind' about calling someone stupid?
I get it though. Our political climate is so polarized, people don't think before they speak or write. It's like they see red whenever someone says something they disagree with, and they have to spew whatever nasty comment that pops into their head. I know I've done the same (the tweet above could be considered one such example).
Politics really does bring out the worst in us; we tend to ignore and forget what means most to us for the momentary good feeling of putting somone "in their place."
|Since I decided to avoid Facebook for a year, a few people have warned me that I will lose friends due to lack of activity, and potential publishers won't want to publish my novels, because I'll have a reduced online presence.
All valid concerns.
If I used Facebook to market my books, absolutely taking a break is a bad idea. Since I have no books to market, it's really not an issue. All my friends are literally that (and family), so short of death, I doubt I'll lose any of them. The nice thing is, I've had more positive feedback than negative when I posted my intention. If it were mostly negative, then I'd rethink my decision.
As for an online presence to potential publishers, sure taking a year hiatus is a risk. Facebook isn't the end-all-be-all of social media, however. There are a slew of others such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Even if it were, there comes a time for a person to prioritize, and in doing so, sacrifices need to be made. To keep myself focused on my spiritual journey as well as my writing, Facebook is one such sacrifice. Will I regret it in the end? Maybe, but I doubt it. I need to look at life and my actions in terms of eternity, not simply the here and now -- or a mere one year in the future.
Lately I've tried to model my own life after Jesus'. He, too, had to take a break now and again to renew his strength and spirit. Maybe not for a year at a time, but his ministry didn't start until he was 30 years old. Before that, I'm sure he spent many of his adult years learning and growing so he could have the best ministry possible.
Writing is my ministry, and I feel that my ministry has suffered because I'm too busy delving into the daily details and distractions of life. There's nothing wrong with taking a step back and taking stock once in a while. I'll still be writing. I'll still be posting entries here and my other blog on my website. I'll be sharing those entries on Twitter and LinkedIn. I may even set up a Pinterest account.
I'm not disappearing, I'm merely closing one window in a room full of them.
|This is a repeat of my other blog. I add it here, because I want it to be a reminder to me to avoid Facebook and other social media. My goal -- to not use Facebook for an entire year. Do you think I can do it?
With only one month left to 2015, I can’t help but mull over the previous eleven. Was it a good year? What have I done right? What have I done wrong, and how can I make 2016 better?
A few weeks back, people shared how many hours they spent on Facebook in the past year. I avoided the calculation myself, knowing it was embarrassingly high.
And for what? Is my life better for it, or have I spent more time frustrated and angry rather than joyous?
I fear the former.
The worst part is not how I felt while there, but how I made others feel. Have I brought more laughter and joy, or anger and frustration?
I fear the latter.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. If I want or need to make a change, now is better than later. A date shouldn’t determine when I do something good or right.
A few days ago, I engaged in a discussion on a Facebook group with one person, and after a few exchanges another person stepped in and said, “I think you’re talking past each other.”
I stopped and realized he was right. I responded, “That’s what happens when people are more interested in talking and not listening — of which I am as guilty of as anyone.”
All my anger and frustration is the fault of one person. Me. As I considered this, a particular scripture popped into my head:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Since I didn’t know the exact wording of the verse above, I performed a word search. In doing so, I discovered this one:
Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.
This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus.
(2 Timothy 2:14-17)
I’ve been so busy arguing over minutia, I’ve lost sight of the big picture, and my role in the world. My anger and frustration, and making little to no headway in my arguments, should have made me realize much sooner the error of my ways. I am not here to move people to my side of the political or ideological aisle. The world is what it is, and politics is a force in and of itself that no bloviating by me will alter its course. I cannot save this world anymore than an ant can dig an ocean. My job is to explain the word of truth as well as live it. Not argue about it.
It seems that’s all social media does: foster arguments. Starting today, I will no longer participate, especially where politics and current events are concerned (which will only worsen next year due to elections). Imagine the hours I will gain. I will actually have time to catch up on my reading, and my writing. Heck, I may even find motivation to publish something.
So here's the plan (we'll see how long it lasts). This blog will be more about my personal journey. Yippee for you. I'll try not to be too depressing. My other blog I will adhere to its original intent which is to write about my writing journey. Perhaps knowing what it's for will help motivate me to do something -- writing and/or publishing-wise -- worth writing about.
Time will tell. I hope you continue to join me as I give this a go.
|I've started many a blog entry lately, but every time I get down a few sentences or paragraphs, my motivation dies. It's partly due to fatigue. I think I'm entering perimenopause, because sleep has become more elusive than normal. That, and my attiude isn't what it should be. I'm emotionally blah.
I can't finish any entry, because a little voice says, "Why bother? No one cares; no one listens. They're too busy believing they are right and everyone who disagrees is some kind of -ism and full of hate."
Have you ever wished you would get a nasty cold, so you'd have an excuse to stay in bed instead of going to work? I've been wishing for about two weeks now. And yet, frustratingly, I remain healthy.
Except I did have a nasty stomach ache the other day. It's the third time I've had this particular pain in the last four months. It's only in the stomach, happens at night, lasts about 4-5 hours, and there's no nausea involved. I finally concluded I passed a gall stone each time, because the symptoms matched perfectly. I'm not worried about it, because (according to what I've read), as long as my waste looks normal and the pain doesn't last past 5 hours, there's no need for medical intervention.
With bad knees, (assumed) gall bladder problems, possible perimenopause, forgetfulness, graying hair, slowing metabolism and saggy skin, I've concluded that I am quickly reaching the end of my 50 year/500,000 mile warranty, and God's not giving me an extension.
Everything that breaks from now on is coming straight out of pocket.
I think it's time I quit trying to write a blog and preaching to the deaf, and instead pick up an unfinished novel or two. Maybe my doldrums is my brain's way of telling me I need to escape reality in favor of fantasy.
We do need that sometimes, because reality is too darned depressing.
Writing fiction is my adult way of playing, because I don't have to worry about breaking a hip.
|Articles are making the rounds about a study by the World Health Organization proclaiming that processed meats (and some non-processed including red meat) cause cancer.
My grandparents ate all kinds of meat, died in their 80s, and not from cancer. Vegetarians and Vegans have contracted cancer having never or at least rarely eaten meat.
I'm not buying, especially not from an organization founded by the United Nations. Nearly everything they say or do has a political motive.
I'll give you a few statistics that are 100% accurate:
Every single one of my grandparents (and parents) signed up for Social Security and subsequently died. I know others now living who are currently on or will soon take Social Security will also die.
Therefore, Social Security causes death.
Every single person who ever lived drank water. Lots of it. They also died. I can say with utmost certainty that drinking water causes death.
We need to create a petition banning both Social Security and water. I'm sure the UN will help us out with that.
|I want to pull out my hair and scream.
This be one of those days.
The moment I heard about the mass shooting in Oregon, my reaction started with horror to a deep sadness and ending with a frustration that led me to the desire to do the above.
Social media responses went exactly as you would expect: Sincere horror, to prayers for the victims and families and of course, the calls for more gun control laws, blaming the firearm, the NRA, the Republicans, white males and anyone who thinks the Second Amendment is an important addition to the US Constitution.
Every politician runs to the nearest microphone to express their horror and anger and describe how only they have the solution to the problem.
Every media talking head does the same.
The shooter and the victims become the latest tools in pushing for someone's political agenda.
Which is why I won't give my opinion on why someone would want to kill so many innocent people, or what laws are necessary or unnecessary, or how we can prevent evil.
Because I have no answer. No one person on this planet (or even a million) can change all 7.3 billion hearts and minds to the point evil does not grow so we don't have to worry about even one of them going on a murderous rampage. Nor can any law or multitude of laws prevent it.
That is the downside of free will.
|As some of you know, I despise the memes that say, "Click like or share if you love Jesus" and other variations thereof.
So if I don't click, I don't love Jesus?
They're nothing more than chain letters of old that threatened horrible stuff if I didn't send the letter to other ten people. I don't think Jesus is going to bar my entry into heaven because I didn't like a specific meme on Facebook.
There's another type of meme going around lately where it shows a picture of a child battling cancer, or an animal struggling to survive something horrendous. They all say, "Scroll past if you're heartless. If not, say Amen." Or some variation thereof.
I scroll past every one. I refuse to be guilted into commenting on someone's feed, especially someone I don't know who -- it seems to me -- is only looking for more likes and comments. I'm all for supporting those who are hurting and struggling, but don't try to make me support them by telling me I'm heartless if I don't. Provide ways I can actually help, such as donating to an organization dedicated to eradicating cancer, or providing help for families struggling to keep up with the costs of their child's care.
To me, it's no different than the fire-and-brimstone preachers pounding on their podiums and screaming that I'm destined for hell if I don't repent right this instant.
It's not attractive, and it's not helpful. Certainly not to the people who get a thousand amens, but don't have the money to pay for the medications their child needs to survive.
On Wednesday, we studied the book of Exodus. The Israelites reached the Red Sea, and they saw the Egyptian army overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord and wished they could return to Egypt because, "It's better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness."
But Moses told the people, "Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!"
I laughed when I read the last line, because it seems so unexpected, and was a direct contradiction to what Moses said. But it's also apropos to my own complaint. There are times we need to stand still and cry out to God, but there are also times we need to get moving. I've said it countless times before; if we want to make a difference, we need to actually do something. Typing amen and sharing Facebook memes accomplishes next to nothing.
In short, don't try to guilt-trip me into doing something. I will act because it's the right thing to do, and for no other reason.
|When I was younger I had no qualms about taking classes in drama and performing for hundreds of students. I twice joined a Salvation Army summer evangelism group where we sang and performed skits for hundreds of people.
Nowadays my skin crawls at the thought of speaking in front of people – whether they be a dozen or a few hundred. Even the idea setting up somewhere such as a bookstore for a book signing makes me shudder.
Do I not believe my words are worth sharing with others? I used to be able to perform in front of audiences, and never once died from it. Yep. Not once. So where is this fear coming from?
A part of it is fear of rejection. If my books get rejected in person, it'd be near impossible to not take it personal. To see my books not sell online, I can chalk it up to not advertising enough, not because no one is interested.
It's also fear of success. One reason I took so long writing this entry compared to the last is meeting the expectations of my readers. What if I can't continue to deliver on the promise of interesting and thought-provoking stories time and again?
There's also the tendency toward laziness. Promoting takes work, and at times (often) I don't want to put in the work necessary to gain more readers. I want other people to do it for me.
Each year, Tom's school picks a scriptural verse for the year. This year it's Isaiah 6:8:
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
I don't claim to be a messenger of Isaiah's caliber, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be one. I love to write for a reason. I do feel (mostly) that my words can and should be shared.
God has shown me more than once that he wants me to share them.
One instance in particular was in 2010. Tom was two years old, and I was content on being a mom. I hadn't written much past the occasional entry, and I certainly hadn't started a new book or tackle editing an old one. Searching for publishers wasn't even on my radar. I seriously considered quitting my dream of publishing my books, perhaps even quit writing fiction as a whole. And I was okay with that.
I received an email from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) about how they were accepting entries for their Genesis Contest (the first 15 pages of an unpublished novel by an unpublished writer).
I thought, “Okay, God. Here's the deal. I'll submit my first novel. If it doesn't make the finals, I'll take it as a sign that I should quit. If it does, then I will continue.”
Fast forward a few months. I received a phone call (which I didn't answer because I thought it was a wrong number). The caller (I forget her name) left me a message stating that my book had made the finals, and was in line to possibly win in the speculative fiction category. (God took it a step further; I found out at the conference a few months later that my novel won).
Was I excited and elated? Sure. For about twelve seconds. After that appeared disappointment. Making the finals and winning meant God wanted me to continue the frustrating and arduous path of writing fiction – worse – pursue publication and – ugh – promotion.
Telling God to send me is a scary thought, because there's no way of figuring out where he will send me. He never says until the moment he needs me to do something. I'd give a few examples, but this entry is long enough as it is.
My pastor is doing a sermon series called “Fruitful Living.” The basic premise is that in order to truly be God's servants, we must act – produce fruit. Hiding my words is not bearing fruit. God does not give us certain talents and certain passions to keep to ourselves. What good is that?
So how does one exercise bravery? It isn't about eliminating fear, it's about moving forward in spite of that fear.
I can't allow fear to rule me and my actions:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
That one verse convicts me on my fear, my timidity and my laziness (which is a lack of self-control). If I'm feeling fearful, timid and lazy, I need to turn to God for his help – to give me his spirit to overcome all three. Without it, my words cannot succeed.
And I do want them to succeed.
It simply can't happen until I lean on God and get to work, trusting that he will guide me in a way that I need not be afraid.
|If there is anything that will seriously tempt me to quit my (currently pipe) dream of publishing my books, it's this:
In short, the article describes how in order to succeed, writers must emulate musicians and become more publicly engaged.
For a wall flower like me, those words are like sunlight to a vampire. I want to hiss and cower into a dark corner.
I know it's true, and something I definitely have to work out if my books are to succeed. It's how to go about it I find both intimidating and terrifying.
My books came from me and my imagination; they are not me. I want them to stand on their own. "Performing" for my books' audience makes it less about the books and more about me.
Plus there's the added voice inside me that says I am simply not interesting enough to attract an audience and keep them engaged long enough to read my books. I'm not smart enough, I'm not witty enough, I'm not pretty enough . . . and a million other excuses.
Which I will discuss in my next entry (I planned on writing it before running into the link above, but haven't started, yet. This entry seems a perfect introduction, so I hope I have you curious and engaged enough to return when I do have it written).