18 November 2008

Quantum of Solace, Bros. K, and a little about writing

Neither Dave and are the biggest of Bond fans, but we saw the new movie last weekend with friends. I'd heard a lot about it beforehand, that it didn't seem like a Bond film, was extra violent, that there wasn't much emotion in it and that Bond seemed so cold.

In order, I'd say, true, sort-of true, completely false, and definitely true.

Honestly, I don't quite know what I think of the movie. In some ways, it reminded me of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. I think that's the only book I ever read at 100+ pages an hour (I read it for school, back when I kept track of how fast I was reading). It whizzed by, and it tore out my soul and shredded it as it went. There was something about that book, how it was written and paced and how the story went, that made me feel like I was there. I became each anguished character in turn, not only seeing and understanding their feelings but feeling them almost like they were my own. In some ways, it was bliss; only a truly gifted storyteller can get you so far inside a character's head that you have to look up and blink a couple of times when you put the book down before you fully absorb that the story isn't your reality. In others, it was torture; there aren't exactly many happy people in Bros. K, and not anyone to really root for, either.

Quantum of Solace was a little like that. It wasn't that Bond (once again, superbly played by Daniel Craig), wasn't emotional, it was that he was traumatized in the last movie and had to work it out in this one. He was cold, but it was because he held so much feeling, not so little. I left the theater with a bit of that sick feeling that intense self-doubt and revenge always give me, and yet I felt, with Bond, the relief that he'd worked it out (even though I hope to never need to work something out in his way). It was intense and very well done and a little sickening at the same time.

The day after I saw the movie, I began to wonder about the ethics of art, particularly as it pertains to my writing. I aspire to intertwine the emotions of my readers with those of my characters like this movie and like Bros. K. At the same time, I wonder if it's wrong to show certain things, or if there are certain emotions that my readers just don't need to feel along with my characters. Are certain things too evil or too dark to show? Where is the line between real and gratuitous when it comes to these sorts of things?

I don't have any answers for you, but I think the questions are important. I probably won't see Quantum of Solace again, but I'm glad I saw it once, if only for theses questions it raised.

12 November 2008


Somewhere along the way, I lost the Quiet One.

She was so beautiful, and so sensitive. It tore her to shreds to watch the movie version of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. How her soul hurt for that other little girl, so far removed from her own world, who suffered and tried to live and died anyway. We killed her, Mama, she said, but no one else saw it that way. She cried herself to sleep that night.

She was so special, making friends with the tiny, perfect violets when they grew all around where the old tree had been cut down. She missed the tree, but the stump made a perfect seat for violet-watching. I think they thought it strange that one girl, so small, could occupy herself with flowers for so long. Come on, they said, let's go, and so she tore herself away.

She was so sweet, her wide eyes and shy smile endeared even the ones she wished would go away. Loved faces brought so much joy, she could hardly contain it. Why can't you go to sleep? someone asked. My mama and daddy aren't home yet...I want to see them.

She wasn't always sweet. Anger poured over and through her just like pain and joy, and poured out her mouth and her hands. She never pounded or hit or bit, though I won't tell you about the times she wished she could.

She was so creative, riding the stairsteps with the curving banister like a train and making all the dolls she could find sit up for school. Sometimes, those dolls got in others' way. Make us a path, we have to get through, they said, but school wasn't any fun with people walking through the middle of the classroom.

I think a lot of people missed her completely. They mistook sensitivity for weakness, shyness for inability, intense emotion for stage-worthy overkill, and creativity for something that got in the way. And to such a sensitive, little soul, being mis-taken burns inside like cold fire. Is it me? became How do I fix it? and when she found that she couldn't, she went away.

What else do you do when it seems like the whole world hurts?

You know, I don't think it's right to say that I lost her. More like, I spirited her away, hiding her somewhere where she couldn't be found. She's too special, too loving and sensitive and wide-eyed and precious, to have to suffer not being understood. If no one else would value those things, I'd put them in a place where only I could see them.

And yet, she's sometimes lost down there, beyond the place where interfacing with the world becomes coping and coping becomes that-thing-you-do-without-even-thinking. She got lost because she got forgotten, in the hurly-burly of trying to figure out life without her.

The thing is, I want her back. Not just the little bits here and there, when I remember her or see her in my conversation or when she starts to tiptoe out because the people I'm with are safe. I want her to come home, to be the me you see when you look in my eyes. I want a second chance, with her and for her. I want her back.

Has anybody seen her?

**Do ya'll even require the disclaimer anymore? This came to me last night when I was falling to sleep, and it encompassess so much of my journey here on earth, my journey towards God, myself, and others, now and in the past and probably in the future, too. Right now, I'm not overly sad, depressed, angry, or anthing else you could come up with from reading this. I'm just holding this, nodding, saying, "Yup...'s all true."

06 November 2008


This is one of those things I do. It's one of those things I've always done: I doodle. No one ever believes me (except for those few who've found that their brains work the same way), but doodling helps me focus. It helps me listen to a speaker or participate in a meeting that I might otherwise zone out on. Instead, I doodle and I get the information I need. It's like I have to occupy a particular part of my brain or it takes off to LaLa Land and beyond before I can stop it. Some people call it ADD; I don't know what it is, but sometimes I get some fun pictures out of it.

I did this one in a meeting today and I like her. She looks carefree and cute. Clearly, I could use some pointers on drawing arms, and also on transferring pen drawings to the computer. But she looks so happy and sweet and free in that cartoon-y sort of way that I had to share her with you. May your day be something like hers.

03 November 2008

Take a look at Soloman Summaries

My friend Heather is doing something awesomely cool, and I want you all to know about it. She's passionate about books and her husband, Chris, is a techie/business guy. Together, they've started Soloman Summaries. Basically, they're reading and summarizing Christian books and then passing those summaries on to busy people who don't have time to read the books for themselves, or who only have a certain amount of time and aren't sure which books to focus on.

I've read the first summary they did, of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, and it's right on. I taught Mere Christianity to high school students for three years, so I know it inside and out, and the summary I read not only captured Lewis's argument but also the flavor of his writing (which is a real treat, if any of you out there haven't read Lewis).

Beyond the summaries, I find myself wanting to cheer on the vision that Heather and Chris have for this venture. They not only want to help others gain knowledge and wisdom, but they have a vision to touch hearts and lives. At one point, in a statement about their business, they say, "...we have opportunities to help people see the Bible and God as relevant issues from practical everyday decisions about weekly financial and church life to bigger questions like purpose, calling and gifting." Later on, they add, "We hope these books will spark discussions that will cause us to peer further into our own lives and will give us opportunities for Christian impact in a hurting, lonely world."

If you know me at all, you know that these are things I care deeply about: discussing the big questions, seeing God in everyday life, discerning vocation, and impacting lonely, hurting people. So I applaud Heather and Chris for taking these things on, and for doing so in such a winsome way.

You know, I finally remembered where I'd seen something similar to this (albeit for business books) advertised before--SkyMall magazine. Maybe someday we'll see Soloman Summaries there!

*Heather and Chris are offering free subscriptions to Soloman Summaries until December 1. So click the link and see what its all about. Really, you don't have any excuse not to ;)

**A couple weeks back, Heather and Chris had a blog tour for Soloman Summaries that I didn't get to participate in because I had The Killer Flu. If you want to check out what some other people had to say, you can find a master list of participants here, or click one below.

AKA Lewis Theodore
A Peek at My Bookshelf
A Prisoner of Hope
Aspire 2 Blog
Bible Dude
Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene
Gatorskunkz and Mudcats
Geaux 2 Girl
High Calling Blogs
In the Dailies
Leap of Faith
Michelle Pendergrass
Morning Cup of Coffee
One Glory
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted
Relevant Blog
So You Wanna Be Published
The View From Here