A Little Farther Down the Path: The Road to Character

When I recently reviewed my book purchases from Amazon for the past few years, I was surprised to note how many of the titles I had ordered after I watched Charlie Rose’s interview with the author on his PBS talk show. I also observed that, while an interview with the author could prompt me to purchase a book, as a motivation to actually read the book, it was decidedly less effective. That was a major reason, then, for undertaking this series of fourteen special posts during Lent, each one referencing a different title from my “new books” shelf.

When I selected the fourteen titles for this series, I had not yet read more than half of them, but I had purchased them because I felt fairly certain they would help me move, to quote E.M. Forster once again, “a little farther down the path” in the direction my life has taken over the past few years. After I published the list on Facebook and here on my blog, I had second thoughts about one or two of the titles. Not about whether they would be worth the expenditure of time to read, but about whether they would illustrate forcefully enough the principle of moving me a little farther down the path. Continue reading

A Note to Former Students and Other Courageous People

This is my first blog post in more than six weeks. After I published a post every day during the month of October, I hit the wall, so to speak, and have found it difficult to generate the energy and enthusiasm required to sustain this endeavor.

I’ve been here before. Call it writer’s block or just apathy spawned by a sense of the futility that comes from trying to do something that so many others are doing, with most of them doing it better than me. In the past, one pervasive thought has provoked me to throw off my self-pity and get back to writing. I’m happy to say it has worked again, and that is what I’m sharing in this post. Continue reading

Introducing October Potpourri

Somewhere along the line, I heard or read that writers who find satisfaction in their craft, whether through the number of readers they reach or simply through personal fulfillment with the very act of writing, do so by way of the disciplined practice of writing something 1virtually every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words. Even if it is mainly editing something they wrote earlier. The most accomplished and most fulfilled writers know that they need to write something every day.

For some time now, I’ve been engaging in that discipline. I write something every day. A blog post, a Facebook post, a page or two in the book I’m working on, a homily for a worship service, a lengthy email. At least half of what I write is just random thoughts, collected in a notebook, never likely to be published, or at least not intentionally written for that purpose. I do not want to be known as someone who cannot entertain a thought, even commit it to writing, without insisting that somebody else read it too. Continue reading

The Insidious Evil Of Smugness

Just when I thought I had gotten over my hang-ups about what my aspirations to become a published writer might really be saying about my character, along comes David Brooks with an op-ed column that reinforces my self-doubt and suggests that my earlier hesitancy might have been a sign of prudence after all.

I am a pretty good communicator. In some respects, it is a natural ability or, some might say, a gift from God. Even when I don’t work at it very hard, I am still better than average in the communication department. When I do work at it, I can be very good. Continue reading