Category Archives: Creativity

Yet–A Little Word with Big Implications

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Before I start, I need to give credit where credit is due: the inspiration for this piece comes from a post on Bryan Hutchinson’s blog “Positive Writer”. Tamar Sloan wrote the guest post, “One Word with the Power to Defeat Writer’s Doubt”.

To me, the word yet means possibility. I think of it this way: “Yes! It can happen–yet! or “It hasn’t happened–yet!

There are ideas out there which may bring “it” into reality; the ideas haven’t come forth–yet.

“Yet” means all is not lost; yet means there is still hope. Yet means Do Not Give Up–YET!

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–God’s Gift of Creativity

Photo Credit: P. Booher

This week I found out I didn’t get the job I really wanted. I had the type of experience required, and of all the jobs I applied for recently, that was the best fit for me. But I didn’t get it, for whatever reason. Am I disappointed? Oh, yeah.

Last evening I spent some time on my new hobby—sketching. I took a notebook and a picture of my cat Babe, sat down on the front porch, and drew to my heart’s content. I found with practice I can do a decent cat’s head. (I’m still working on the body). By “decent” I mean someone else could look at it and recognize it as the head of a cat, instead of asking, “What’s that?”

While out on the porch I sketched Babe, a tree, clouds, a rock, and chimney swifts. I discovered with patience and the boldness to shut down my perfectionism, I can produce drawings which actually look like what they’re supposed to look like.

Last evening I realized something else, too: doing creative activity helped blunt my disappointment about the job. Working on creative projects is forward motion, whereas dwelling on an unwanted outcome is at best static; at worst, it’s heading downward fast.

God unleashed His creative energy at the beginning of time. Since we are made in His image, each of us has the gift of creativity inside us. I’m thankful for the way that gift helps me cope with sharp emotions which come with the bumps, bruises, and jolts of life.

If you are dealing with negative emotions, why not give yourself a break and exercise that creative spark God placed within you? Chances are, you’ll feel better for it.

Some Scriptures: Genesis chapters 1 and 2; Exodus 35:25, 26, 32-35; Exodus 36:1, 2; I Kings 7:13, 14; Psalm 104:24; I Corinthians 4:12, Colossians 1:15, 16; Revelation 4:11

©P. Booher

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Shout-Out to Blogs

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Today I’d like to give a SHOUT-OUT to blogs which help me in various ways. I know I will miss some, but here is my list, in no particular order:

Devotional Treasure by Alan Kearns

The Journey to My Father’s Kingdom by Bethany Marinelli

Mustard Seed Living Blog by Jill Mcllreavy

Kristin Kieffer’s Well-storied Blog (www.well-storied.com)

David’s Daily Dose

Joshua J. Masters.com

Hannes van Eeden (formerly Wandering Ambivert)

Sue A. Fairchild

The Write Conversation

Gracespeak

Long-View Living in a Short-View World

Books and Such Blog

Steve Laube Blog

Lessons from a Lab

The Faithfood Blog

Christian Freelance Writers

Writing Investigations

Inspire Writers

Erin Wright Writing

JPC Allen Writes

Forever Young Aussie Mom

Don’t Lose Hope

Paulson Pulikottil

Gary Fultz

 

Over the years I’ve found help in each of these blogs. For some, it was help in dealing with anxiety, gaining encouragement, learning how to study the Bible, or simply enjoying what God is doing in others’ lives. For others, it was in showing me how to handle pesky writing problems, letting me know I am not alone in the writing life, or enjoying beautiful pictures. 

These blogs all add value to my life. If you haven’t checked them out, try them! If you have a suggestion or two, please add to my list in the Comments.

©P. Booher

 

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Nature Books

Photo Credit: P. Booher

Photo Credit: P. Booher

This post is for the nature lover, as I list different books featuring nature—either ones which help identify flora and fauna, or ones where the author draws from nature to express a deeper truth. Please note: these are all older books, but it may be possible to find them on used book sites.

  1. Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife—An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals. I have spent time just looking at the beautiful pictures and illustrations in this book, let alone reading the text. The book not only shows what the plants and animals look like, it shows where they are found, and in the case of birds, it shows on maps where they are summer residents, winter residents, or live all year around. While this book is too big to take into the field, in my opinion, it’s wonderful to sit and look through and enjoy all the diversity shown. It’s also an education in environmental awareness, as the first part of the book describes various wildlife communities.
  2. Homeland: A Report from the Country by Hal Borland. I enjoyed reading this book by Mr. Borland, who was a nature columnist for the New York Times. I also have Hal Borland’s Book of Days. I must confess I haven’t read it yet, but believe I will enjoy reading it as much as Homeland. I’ve skimmed through Book of Days enough to know that, like Homeland, Mr. Borland relates nature facts as well as his thoughts about nature. Besides Homeland and Book of Days, he wrote many other books, most about nature in some way.
  3. By the River of No Return, by Don Ian Smith, is his first book about living in the mountain country of Idaho. 
  4. Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails, another book of devotionals by Don Ian Smith, celebrates living in the rugged, beautiful high country of Idaho. As with By the River of No Return, Pastor Smith does a wonderful job of using nature to illustrate eternal truths. His appreciation for the country and the animals in it shines through in this volume and By the River of No Return, and because of that, these books are a joy to read.
  5. Pathways To Understanding—Outdoor Adventures in Meditation by Harold E. Kohn, speaks about nature reflecting the Creator. Pastor Kohn also did the brush and ink drawings which illustrate his writing. 
  6. Country Chronicle by Gladys Taber, is drawn from the author’s life in New England. Gladys Taber’s columns used to appear in Family Circle or Woman’s Day magazines.

©P. Booher

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Character Study in a Movie

Lately I’ve spent some time reading different posts and articles about writing characters—how to write them to make them come alive for readers.

All that reading led me to thinking about one of my favorite movies. It’s a favorite because not only is it a Western, but it also has a subplot with a wonderful character study in it. Rio Bravo, from 1958, stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and Ricky Nelson. The plot revolves around Sheriff Chance (John Wayne) defending his town of Rio Bravo against gunslingers intent on springing one of their number out of jail. Dean Martin and Walter Brennan play his deputies. Ricky Nelson plays a young man itching to prove himself by joining the deputies.

The character study centers on Dean Martin’s deputy, who’s been drinking to excess ever since a break-up with his girl. Known to everyone around as the town drunk, the deputy encounters ridicule everywhere he goes.  As the days go by and tension in the town increases with the impending arrival of the gang of outlaws, the deputy wages his own private battle with alcohol. At first, the alcohol seems to be winning. There is a long scene in which the camera shows the deputy struggling with the “shakes” of withdrawal. Eventually the deputy overcomes his enemy, just in time to lay his life on the line to defend the town.

I’ve watched a lot of movies with a lot of characters in them, but only Rio Bravo sticks out to me as having scenes I could call a “character study”—scenes which focus on one particular character and show the changes the character goes through.

Here’s a question for moviegoers: Any movie stick out to you in that way?

©P. Booher

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God Can Use Anything He Chooses

Years ago I attended a church whose minister didn’t think people should read novels and short stories because they weren’t true. Since I loved reading short stories and novels, I was surprised; I saw nothing wrong with them!

While there are particular genres of novels I’m not interested in reading, I don’t see anything wrong in reading fictional pieces. I believe God can use fiction to reveal truth. For me, it’s often easier to accept a truth when it’s presented in fiction; I discover it for myself. I experienced this afresh not long ago after I finished reading a mystery.

One of the characters in the mystery, a model wanting to get rid of competition, reaped what she sowed. She made lipstick and poisoned a tube, intending it to be used by another model. Instead, in an ironic twist, the makeup artist inadvertently used the poisoned tube on her, and she collapsed and died on the runway.

After I finished the book I realized that particular part of the plot illustrated verses in the Bible which speak of wicked people falling on their swords. “The wicked draw the sword…to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts,…” Psalm 37:14, 15 (NIV) Since the novel was not sold as a Christian novel, I’m guessing (although I have no way of knowing for sure) the author didn’t realize the Biblical lesson underlying it, but it was there.

Yes, the novel was the result of the author’s imagination, and was not true. It didn’t happen in real life. But it did reveal a portion of God’s truth. The people who plot to do harm to others end up paying for it, one way or another.

To me this shows God can use anything He wants to, whether it is “Christian” or not, to broadcast truth He wants people to know. He is not limited by labels.

©P. Booher

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A Victory Over Perfectionism

Since childhood I’ve had a perfectionistic mindset. I regret the day I picked that up. It provokes much needless anxiety.

But one day last summer I came across a technique to use against my enemy. Oddly enough it occurred when arthritis flared up during a humid, rainy spell, and I didn’t feel strong enough to fight against anything, let alone a dug-in mindset. My right hand and left knee complained loudly. A couple other body parts, in sympathy, felt tender/achy too. This, plus other concerns, upped my stress levels.

In search of something to take my mind off my achiness, I fell back on the childhood activity of coloring. The day before I’d bought an 8-pack of jumbo crayons, which are easier to handle when arthritis bothers my fingers. I took the crayons and a coloring book of nature scenes, put a bag of ice on my cranky knee, and settled back on the couch. I prayed to God about my anxiety and started coloring.

I discovered not only was I losing the stress but I was also gaining over perfectionism. In prior times, perfectionism would have demanded I use the “proper” colors, color within the lines, and generally destroyed my peace of mind. What was different that day last summer? I was able to keep my main objective in mind. What was that? To reduce stress and get my mind off my sore knee. As long as I did that, I was happy. I accomplished my objective and perfectionism took a back seat and shut up.

©P. Booher

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List of Writing Resources I’ve Found Helpful

Photo Credit: Kaitlyn-Baker

Here’s a list of writing resources I’ve found helpful, either in matters of craft, the writing life, a look into the viewpoints of editors and agents, or for prompts.

Books:

Build Your Best Writing Life by Kristen Kieffer (among other things, offers help for many common writing obstacles, such as procrastination)

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont

The Forest for the Trees–An Editor’s Advice To Writers by Betsy Lerner

The Soul Tells A Story by Vinita Hampton Wright

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen M. Story

Edit Your Novel For Less by Sue A. Fairchild

Blogs:

Well-Storied.com (Kristen Kieffer’s website)

Books and Such Blog

Steve Laube Literary Agency Blog

Writers Write–Write to Communicate

The Christian Freelance Writing Network

Inspire Christian Writers

JPC Allen Writes

Golden May Editing

©P. Booher

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Writing Resource–Review of Edit Your Novel For Less

Photo Credit: Kaitlyn Baker

In Edit Your Novel For Less, editor, writing coach, speaker and writer Sue A. Fairchild gives information and tips on the editing process. She shares basic information, which is fine with me. Right now, I feel better dealing with the basics. I want to know the basics before going on to more advanced matters. 

Sue describes the different types of editing—content (or substantive), line, copy, and proofreading. She tells what each does, and what it doesn’t do. She also tells what to look for in an editor.

She has chapters on spelling, punctuation issues, and the most common errors she’s seen in the manuscripts she edits. Some of the material may seem mundane, but errors are bound to crop up, and the more a writer can catch, the less money the writer pays an editor.

I particularly appreciated her information on P-O-V (Point-Of-View). I’ve read other descriptions of it, but it was still on the murky side. I got a clearer understanding after reading her explanation.

Sue gives information on critique groups, along with suggestions for finding or starting one. She tells what beta readers are and gives suggestions for finding people willing to be beta readers. 

In the chapters about working with an editor, critique groups and beta readers, the author points out these are relationships with people wanting to help you with your book—so handle with respect, and courtesy. 

The author makes a good case for spending some money on having a professional edit your book, if you want your work to reach as many readers as possible.

Sue includes a list of further resources, a beta read/critique sample sheet as well as a critique checklist you can use when critiquing someone’s work.

Although Edit Your Novel For Less is brief (53 pages, including acknowledgements), it is packed with information written in a friendly, easy-to-understand style. I expect it will be on my reference shelf for quite awhile, especially as I want to try my hand at writing fiction.

Edit Your Novel For Less is available on Amazon.

©P. Booher

 

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A Surprising Benefit to My “Favorites” Notebook

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Years ago I bought an 11×8½ spiral notebook with a photograph on the cover of a creek running through woods.  I decided that notebook would be my “Favorites” notebook. On the inside I wrote, “Favorites—things I liked when I saw them”. 

My “Favorites” notebook starts off with the poem “Refuge” by Lew Sarett, and is followed with passages by Faith Baldwin from her book Living by Faith, and Robert Traver from Anatomy of a Fisherman. The notebook includes other poems; bits and pieces which stuck out as I read different books and articles; newspaper clippings about nature, history, movie reviews; song lyrics, and people stories—people following their creative muses, and people acting in commendable ways towards people and animals. 

I have a few scrapbooks, too, but those I meant to keep in order, and that order got lost in the shuffle of the years (and never taking the time to sit down and arrange photos properly). Most of the scrapbook pages are faded, and not appealing to work at. Somehow it’s easier and more pleasing to me to keep my favorites notebook going. Plus spiral notebooks are meant to be written in, so I can add my thoughts to something I read. The scrapbook pages are not good for writing on.

I found a surprising benefit to keeping a favorites notebook: when I’m in a bad mood, my nerves are on edge, or my spirits are low, taking the time to look through or work on the notebook improves my disposition, calms my nerves, and raises my spirits.

©P. Booher

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