The Joy of a Husband When His Wife Gives Birth

There’s a lot that husbands and new dads go through when a baby arrives. It’s easy to look at what lies ahead and feel overwhelmed, even ill-equipped. Your wife or the mother of your child has done the bulk of the heavy lifting while you have been twiddling your thumbs. But you don’t have to keep twiddling those thumbs. There’s real joy to be had for the father who invests. This article is an attempt to talk through that narrative and begin that discussion.

Link:here

The Writer’s Lens REVIEWS: Stranger Things – Season 3

Ah, Stranger Things. The biggest franchise on Netflix and one of the most highly anticipated binge-worthy shows of 2019. So how does Stranger Things do in its third go-round? Is it the best ever? Or is it the worst of the bunch?

This episode is all about the good, the bad, and the ugly of season three. Full disclosure: SPOILERS are ahead. You have been warned.

Reflecting on the “Seven Deadly Sins (and Writing)” Series

On The Writer’s Lens, I recently finished up a seven-episode series on the Seven Deadly Sins. You may (or may not) know them as Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, and Pride.

And since I’m a writer, I covered how each of these famous vices pertains to writing. But I didn’t do it as a means to talk about how to avoid common grammar mistakes or haphazard editing. Rather, I wanted to cover how each of these sins can affect our mindset and our motivations. The entire exercise turned out to be a real punch in the gut. For the sake of transparency, here’s a few of the things I learned (and re-learned) from doing this series:

Nobody is immune to selfishness 

As much as we try to cultivate a selfless mindset, we are always going to feel that draw towards self preservation. It’s ingrained in our DNA. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept that and continue to indulge the impulse. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins exposes how human beings lean into their own well being before they consider another’s. And while our self preservation isn’t inherently a bad thing, it can certainly spiral out of control quickly if left unchecked.

Taking that into our creative pursuits, it can truly become a hindrance. Many times I’ve thought I had the right answer and found out later, I didn’t. Why? Because I was giving into Pride (I thought I didn’t need help); I was giving into Gluttony (I was in love with my own work); I was giving into Greed (money is no object, even to the point of bad spending) or I was giving into Envy (I wanted to be better than the next guy rather that looking at what I had to offer).

Being selfish gets all of us. Because it’s in all of us from the start.

Creative gifts are best used when they are used for others

Writing can be purely therapeutic. There’s no intent to share with anyone else. And that’s fine. But when it comes to writing for an audience, the connection we are trying to achieve shouldn’t be centered on personal gratification alone. Our message is meant to inspire, if not challenge, those who have yet to hear it.

Recently I had been feeling defeated in my creative journey. My podcast had been growing, but my writing and published work had slid. I was beginning to feel like I was not performing well due to a Sloth-like attitude. My Shadow of Mars project, for instance, has been repeatedly pushed back for creative reasons and honestly, from getting distracted too often.

But then something really amazing happened. Someone reached out to me with a note of encouragement that said what I was doing was inspiring. That was enough to put wind back in my sails – just what I needed to hear when my spirits were low.

What we produce matters. It matters to us, but it might matter even more to someone else.

No matter who you are, there is always someone doing it better (and faster too) 

Let’s say you’re good at shooting free throws. You do it in your backyard regularly and have been doing it for a long time. You make six out of 10. Or you sometimes make seven out of 10. So you think you’re pretty good. Then one day, another kid comes to play and as it turns out, he’s even better than you. He makes 10 out of 10 consistently. You’re miffed by the situation. Here you thought you were the best on the block, but looks like your perception was not reality. It’s enough to make someone want to quit. I’ll never be that good. I practice all the time and I can’t even make it 10 out of 10 times! 

Dreams begin and end with failure. If our spirits get crushed, then we might feel the impulse to turn tail and never try again. The fear of looking like a nobody makes us recoil into safer spaces.

But if we truly feel like we have something to offer, then we ought not give up. I’ve been self-publishing material since 2012. That’s seven years! And I’m still learning the best ways to get my message out there. Better and faster too. It’d be easy to bow my head and give up, but as I’ve seen my platform grow and my writing improve, I know that I’m still cultivating the best version of my message.

As for the ones around me that I used to Envy, I can turn away from that inclination and focus on what I’m doing instead.

Look at yourself for too long and you’ll lose sight of your vision

Every sin I covered had a common attribute: a propensity to turn inward.

Rarely do our visions come to fruition on their own. We need each other. Not just for the sake of having a robust audience that’ll follow our work and buy our artwork (that’s always nice!), but for the sake of building each other up; keeping us honest; and helping us bring our vision to completion.

When I first started writing books, I was completely on my own. Here’s the thing though: I thought that’s how it was done. Writers are supposed to be reclusive, self-made entrepreneurs. If anyone was going to help me, it would be an agent. Or a major publishing house. Not a community of like-minded thinkers.

My first two book launches taught me otherwise. Doing it on my own meant creative suicide. I needed a community of fellow writers and publishers. I needed editors. I needed a team to make things move forward. Even more so, I needed to be willing to invest in them as much as I wanted them to invest in me. By taking the pressure off of myself, the burden of creative success didn’t feel so daunting. But first, my Pride had to go – as it does for all of us.

 

Granted, these are only a few of the takeaways. I’m sure there are more. I’m sure there are some you could take from these insights as well. We all have our demons that we are fighting. It’s best not to feed our own if we can help it.

 

 

Why Cursing is Not a Sign of a More Realistic Story

Here is a link to an article I did on this subject. Of all the vices, cursing tends to be the sexiest and the most socially acceptable. But does it add anything to a story? Specifically in the area of realism?

That’s what I’m trying to explore and engage with in this discussion. What do you think?

A podcast episode will be soon to follow unpacking this idea further.

Narrative Wars 06: We Are Told We Can Change The World – Can We?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been told I could “change the world”. And like most writers-in-training, this concept spoke to me deeply. If my words were delivered well, then perhaps I could make that dream a reality. I could “change” the world for the better. I could be of influence. I could be of some impact in this place while I’m here.

But who says the world is bad to begin with? Is there truly a responsibility we have to fix the world if it is? These are some narratives I’ll be exploring with this episode of the #NarrativeWars on The Writer’s Lens.

Podcast Guest Appearance: Despite Popular Belief with Erik Marti and Stephen Lauterbach

On The Writer’s Lens, I am usually the one doing the interviewing, but this past week, I got to be a guest on another podcast, Despite Popular Belief, with Erik Marti and Stephen Lauterbach. Erik and Stephen discuss Biblical worldview on a variety of cultural hot topics like, self-love, bumper sticker evangelism, and even alien abductions.

More recently, they did an episode on being the image bearers of God – what does that look like? Why do we create what we create? And do our expressions have any correlation to this idea of being “image bearers”?

I was fortunate to give my own two cents (and more, of course) on what that looks like through the lens of a creative writer.

You can check out the full episode and interview here. And if you like what you heard, be sure to check out some of their other episodes too via Soundcloud, iTunes or Spotify.

You can find Despite Popular Belief on Facebook and Instagram too.

Narrative Wars 05: How Do We Develop Our Worldviews?

You may or may not know the story of the Hitchens brothers – Christopher, the elder, and Peter, the younger.

Christopher was a prominent figure in the anti-religion, pro-atheistic worldview camp while Peter is a well-known voice for the pro-faith, Christian community. Their philosophies would have them at odds, but both men share the same mother and father. Their bloodline could not be tighter. And yet, each man arrived at a very different way to interpret the world.

How did this happen? Aren’t we all just slaves to our DNA? Or is there something else at play rather than blood and guts and bone?

On this episode of the #NarrativeWars, I begin to unpack what causes us to formulate our worldviews. And how stories tend to reflect and / or challenge our personal ideologies in the process. Keyword here: personal.

The Writer’s Lens – E55: Pride Before The Fall, They Say

Episode 55: Pride Before The Fall, They Say

I’m proud to consider myself a writer. I throw ideas into the abyss and see what others think. It’s fun, if not terrifying, at times. If you have something you enjoy, then you’re likely to have a sense of pride about it too.

Which is why we don’t think of Pride as being a negative; it’s almost always associated with something positive. Our mainstream attitudes view Pride as something which gives us strength. It gives us identity, even. But as I’ve explored with every other vice, Pride doesn’t always yield positive results.

So to wrap up my Seven Deadly Sins series on creativity, I find it fitting that I cover the sin of Pride last as it’s the one we’d least like to part ourselves with.

The Writer’s Lens – E54: Needing To Clarify Some Things About My First Two Books

Recently, I’ve been talking about my first two books – the Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts… series and I realized that I need to address a couple of things.

Namely, 1) why I stopped writing them and 2) why I am not ashamed of them either.

Like any other writer / artist, we all have growing pains, but sometimes the growing is something a little more drastic than changing a couple sentences. Here’s my explanation.

The Writer’s Lens – Interview 16: Jordan Raynor, “All Writers Are Entrepreneurs”

Jordan Raynor is the national bestselling author of Called to Create, a book that was birthed out of Jordan’s desire to speak into the reasons for why we create what we create. You can find our YouTube interview here.

Over the course of several years and even more interviews, Called to Create was released in November of 2017 and will now be followed up by Master of One, due out in January 2020.

Jordan is a speaker and self-described serial entrepreneur – a title he says applies to anyone who writes; for all writers are entrepreneurs at heart. My interview with Jordan was a special treat as I have read his book and felt strongly impacted by it. We discuss a wide array of topics including how to be more disciplined, our identities apart from work, and Jordan’s path to publication.

For the audio-only version of the podcast, you can check it out here.

And you can find out more about Jordan by visiting his website at http://www.jordanraynor.com and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.