Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Do You Need Me to Read You a Story?   2 comments

If you’re an adult you’re probably reacting to that question in one of two ways: either you are rather grumpy that I should ask you a question that’s for babies and children, or you are curious and ready to find out where the question leads.

Those of you with analytic minds may be wondering why I chose the word “need” instead of the more traditional “want.”

I love those analytical minds because you are already traveling toward the destination of this blog!

My daughter, almost an adult, has experienced a great deal of angst over the past five years about what she wants to do when she grows up.  What path should she chose?  Our culture demands that you know what you want by the time you are fourteen, and heaven forbid if you don’t have a firm career path mapped out by the time you’re a junior.  Also that career path will involve college; there are no other options.  If you haven’t already been busting your butt studying for the ACT/SAT, it’s too late; you won’t be able to get into a good enough school or pay for it, and then where will you be?  And, if you aren’t choosing a STEM major, what’s the point?  We all know that technology and medicine are where the high paying jobs are.  You’d be an idiot to pursue anything else.

At least, this is the message she’s been taking in.  I’m not 100% sure that’s the main message out there, but I’d agree that it’s pretty strong.

So, she’s graduated and is still feeling her way toward the future, while I remind her that life is what is happening right now, and as Allen Saunders famously remarked, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  As next steps, she’s working on life skills and has enrolled to take several courses at our local community college–a very practical and wise choice.  She’s considering a couple of paths in the liberal arts that involve art, writing and film-making, but has not been certain enough to commit to them yet.  So this is a good place to begin.

But here’s what I want to tell her, as she contemplates the practicalities of life in our society, the realities of someday making her own living, and as she thinks some more about what the interface is between what she loves doing and what our society seems to demand.

There cannot be a society without storytelling.

There cannot be a city, a community, a culture, a civilization.  It’s literally impossible.

No interrelated group of people can create a world together without having a shared story, and of course, having many of them.  We by definition need stories to tell us who we are and where we’re going.  I don’t know how one can get paid for writing a story.  Our culture doesn’t reward storytelling in the same monetary ways it does STEM fields.  However, the entire civilization we have rests on stories.

Stories are a very good place to begin.

Posted August 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in writing

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Wrapping up November   Leave a comment

My plan to blog daily did not work out.  As in my daily life itself, I made a plan, not thinking of things that could possibly stop me from fulfilling it.  I assumed my dedication alone would make it a success.  And–surprise!–things came up to stop me from doing it.

However, I feel that the experience was a success.


I have quite a few blog ideas to go that I can’t wait to write about.  Alas that they didn’t get written about in November, but they will.

Writing every day taught me –I can write every day.  It wasn’t too painful.

I had plenty of ideas.

I haven’t written this much since grad school–I think.  And it was much more fun.

I’m really happy that what stopped me from writing was not writer’s block, lack of ideas, or anything remotely like that.  It was getting sick and needing to go back to bed and sleep.  It was making Thanksgiving dinner and celebrating it.  Those are good reasons to not write.  I accept them as valid reasons not to meet my goal of daily blogging without guilting over it.

Happy December, everyone.

Posted November 30, 2014 by swanatbagend in writing

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Why We Love Stories   Leave a comment

I went to the Word and Words conference two weeks ago.  Before I went, I did some thinking about the questions the conference description provided. Why do we love stories?  Why do we tell them?  And how do stories inform our lives as Christian believers?

I wanted to brainstorm first to see if I was resonating with the speakers’ thoughts already.  But I wouldn’t say these questions got directly asked or answered by any of them.

Why do I love stories?  and why does it matter?

I have always loved books.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love a book–the smell, the feel of the paper under my fingers, the varied fonts on the pages.  The rush when entering a bookstore.  The peaceful must of the basement stacks of a library. The glorious realization: a great author has a new book I have not read.

I read to my stuffed animals in the living room. They encircled me and the book of the day.  One of my early memories is the view of a book, wrapped as a present for me, on top of the dresser in my parents’ bedroom.  At summer sunup on my fifth birthday, I was begging for my book.  I can still see my mother’s head rising sleepily from her pillow.

And now I read throughout the day to my children.  It’s probably one of the main reasons I keep homeschooling them.  I just love to read, and we’ve found some fantastic books to enjoy together.  I read the Bible and one other book at dinner.  And I read at bedtime.  Right now the four of us still at home are taking turns with the demigod characters of Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus.  Yeah, there’s a whole lot of stories going on at our house, and that’s how it’s always been.

So, why do I love stories and storytelling?

As I made my way downtown the first night of the conference, these were my speculations:  Maybe we could better steward our time and energy if we didn’t spend them on something as simple as storytelling.  Maybe we should only meet needs, share the Gospel and work to change the world.  Wouldn’t that be more direct?  In a world so painful, wouldn’t that ease more wounds?

And what if storytelling is dangerous?  Stories can lead us to the wrong source; they can propel people toward empty cisterns.

At the conference, however, I was plunged into a gathering in which all loved words, stories, fairy tales.  Nobody appeared to feel the need to defend storytelling.

Aside from a religious pitch or a moral fable or a lecture on what we should do, it seems we can hear stories better.

I think we were made that way.








Posted November 25, 2014 by swanatbagend in literature, writing

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It’s Been Easier Than I Thought It Would Be   Leave a comment

Starting with this project of writing every day in November would have sounded impossible a few years ago.  If you look in my archives you can see that I did not write much in 2011 or 2012.  Only a few months have links.

That was back when

1. I had three students in our homeschool program and one of them was in senior high and

2. I was laboring under the delusion that every blog entry I wrote must be perfectly crafted and amazingly insightful.

As you can see, I have put that goal aside.

I do love my first blog entry from October of 2011, quite fond of it (“I do so love this scene!”) but I have managed somehow to get from that Point A to this Point B, where I’m not afraid to just write.  I am actually using an online thesaurus now (very handy) and revising as much as ever (mostly) but despite a higher word count to mess with, I’m just not afraid any more.


3. About six months ago I realized that most of what I was posting on Facebook would, with a little extra time and thought, actually make a pretty decent blog entry.

So–here I am.  Two and half years later and way more actual writing going on.

A lot less feedback from Facebook friends, but greatly increased satisfaction levels.


Posted November 7, 2014 by swanatbagend in writing

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I’m blogging and I can’t shut up   2 comments

I just can’t stop thinking of things to blog about.

This is so bizarre!  I have spent years trying to think of good article ideas, and now that I’ve started writing a lot more in the past two and a half weeks, as I said I planned to do, the floodgates have opened.

I keep thinking of things I want to write, and there’s not enough hours in the day.

What has opened things up?  I haven’t been like this for years.

It’s kind of fun to ride the wave. Who knows what will come next?

Maybe the novel I’ve always wanted to write will come to me.

That would be great!

Posted December 17, 2013 by swanatbagend in writing

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