The Need to Succeed; the Craving to Create

In my writing want to emulate Rich Mullins in his musical vocation.  Smith writes of Mullins –

HIs decision to go into the music business was not to impress people, not to make a name for himself, and not to make money. He did it so that he could minister to people, and making music was the gift God had given him to use.

To read more, click on the title below:

“The Need to Succeed; the Craving to Create”

Rich Mullins
(photo of Rich Mullins from nanonymous in Music)

Tilling the Soil and Telling the Stories

James Bryan Smith, in his book from An Arrow Pointing to Heaven: A Devotional Biography of Rich Mullins, describes the motivation Rich had to write songs –

Rich believed that the desire to create comes from God and is a duty for all Christians. ‘I think creativity is a very Christian thing. I think if we are created in the image of God that means we’re going to have an impulse to create.’

The first two things God told Adam to do were to till the garden and to name the animals. We were created to create.

To read more, click on the title —

“Tilling the Soil and Telling the Stories”

Analytical Creative Work for a Savvy, Connected Man



Yesterday, I was actively pursuing my career as a “writer for hire”.  In addition to the connections I mentioned (“God Speaks Through WordPress, G-mail, LinkedIn, and Facebook”), I developed a draft of a business website and recruited some feedback from a few faithful followers.

I was so revved up when I went to bed last night, I couldn’t sleep.  I stayed online sending messages to current and prospective LinkedIn connections.  I went to the job postings page and my eyes fell on one particular listing.  It began like this –

Job description:  Convince. Inspire. Educate. Entertain.  Are you the perfect blend of creative and analytical? I bet your friends even describe you as savvy and connected.

I immediately thought after reading the first line – hey that’s me.

Though I scored a 720/800 (before grade inflation) on the Math section (analytical) of the SAT, I valiantly pursued and obtained a B.A. in English and theology and completed a novella (creative).

For 18 years, I studied ancient texts for their essential meaning (analytical) and brought them to life in story-sermons (creative) that were engaging for all ages.

After leading 4 church organizations in faithful community building and fruitful mission funding (analytical), I am now devoting my talents to crafting a spiritual memoir and sharing stories to reach people around the world in unique ways (creative).

A perfect blend of creative and analytical?  Well, nobody’s perfect, but I’d say that fits me to the tee.

As for “savvy” and “connected”…. well, it depends how you define the terms.

As I’ve written before, I graduated from college well before Al Gore invented the Internet, back when you could only store about 25 pages of material on a 64-inch floppy disk.  Over the years, I met the tide of e-mail, Internet, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, etc., with a mixed measure of irritation and glee.

I’ll admit I sometimes get extremely frustrated with simple technological instructions and quickly yell “Help!”  I have the “Happiness Engineers” at WordPress on speed-link.  But, in many ways, I am a quick learner.

In just about 6 months of blogging, I have built up a faithful following of over 400 engaged readers, resulting in 100+ views a day and often over a dozen thoughtful comments.  One lesson I carry over from my days as a pastor is the importance of maintaining your following with intelligent content, not just rushing after the latest trends or posting regularly about your most recent satisfying bowel movement.  (Once is enough.  Well, this makes twice.  Twice is okay.)

So, I applied for the job.  I even proposed doing an Internship at a reduced salary so I could enhance my skills and demonstrate my value.

This may seem like a step in the opposite direction – away from freelance writing.  My plan, however, is to do both.  I may not be the best at balancing, but as I read in a piece by a very wise woman, it may be more about integrating than balancing (thanks Leanne Sype).  My day job can stimulate my freelance work and my freelance work can inform my day job.

In the meantime, I will try to get to bed a little earlier so I can get a good night’s rest and wake up refreshed for whatever God has in store for me that day.  You never know what it’s going to be, but I will do my best to meet each challenge with analytical creativity as a savvy and connected man with an unquiet mind who has a way with words.

(image above “Perfect Balancing!” from Colin Dean in Beautiful Outdoors)

Nomination #3 (will it be assassination or failed revolution?)


I have been nominated for this “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by Veronica of charlottesville winter.  I accept this award with much fear and trepidation.  It is my third blogging award, so it puts me right up there with “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables” – and look what happened to them.  Assassination.  And a failed revolution.  Nonetheless, I accept (both this award and my fate).

The conditions for acceptance are –

1. Display the award logo (see above)

2. Link back to the person who nominated you (also see above)

3. State 7 things about yourself (see below)

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them (see further below)

As for 7 things about myself, I thought it would be good since this is about being inspiring and my blog is about writing if I were to mention 7 persons who have inspired me to write.  (There have been and continue to be many more, but I’ll limit myself now to 7).

1.  Larry Roberts.  Growing up, we would visit my Uncle Larry and Aunt Linda (and their daughter Leah) in Chicago.  Larry would often break out his guitar and sing songs.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the music, but my favorite songs were the ones he wrote himself.  I hope to convince him to let me publish a sample in upcoming posts.

2. Ivan Lancaster.  Mr. Lancaster taught 5th and 6th grade English at Nineveh Elementary.  After lunch, he read to us from classic books (I remember Johnny Tremain).  He also encouraged each of us to write our autobiographies and this 30+ page bound notebook with line sheets written on in ink was my first sustained piece of writing.

3.  Robert Waldon.  (Joe Rossi on “The Lou Grant Show”) I was captivated by the character of Rossi – his persistence, his commitment to truth, his courage.  He made me want to become a journalist.  One episode was about book banning.  Rossi was appalled that his favorite book – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was on the list.  Immediately, I checked it out of the library.  It became my favorite book and redirected my focus from journalism to creative writing.

4.  Kevin Ballard.  Mr. B. filled in in the English department one semester and I took his class on “Contemporary Drama.”  He wasn’t the best lecturer, but he was very accessible and showed an interest in my ideas and writing beyond class.  He introduced me to a good friend from his college days – Jim Leonard – a playwright who has won awards for “The Diviners” (which he wrote while at Hanover College).

5.  Buran Phillips & George Love.  I list them together because together they helped keep my creative juices flowing while at seminary as co-creators of our satirical newsletters – “The Institutes” & “Rude Dogma”.  While we wrote most articles separately, we developed concepts together and I was inspired just by our shared laughter.

6.  Alice Roberts.  The woman who would become my wife of over 20 years was for many of these years my most prayerful and careful editor.

7.  Veston & Connie Roberts.  A few winters back, my dad and step-mom offered to type my up 500+ sermons and catalogue them on the computer (and on CDs).  Dad in particular has been my most devoted blog follower.  As I write my new novel (on their computer), I debrief after every finished chapter by telling them what it was about (then Dad goes to read it).

Now, to share the “Inspiring Blogger Award”, I nominate the following (in no particular order)…

russellboyle posts classic, inspiring poetry that helps soothe the troubled soul.

Defeat Despair offers inspiring quotes and brief reflections that lift your spirit.

Teacher as Transformer suggests insights on education, leadership, life, and transformation.

larrywtrimm writes on the blessing of being a Christian author.

Confessions of a Bookworm celebrates the inspiration found in reading good books.

The One Thing I Know for Sure presents thoughts and pictures intended to inspire deeper reflection.

writing young adult lit… and the occasional face plant explores the creativity behind a writing life.

liveconsciously publishes inspiring, life-enhancing, mind-altering books and media.on

Write here, Joel reflects on life, faith, and laughter.

The Twenty Something: An Ordinary Girl Serving an Extraordinary God shares her faith passionately.

Dreams Will Catch You provides refreshing perspectives on life and faith.

todaysdailyword brings God’s Word to life in fresh ways.

hankrules2011 provokes thought for an examined life.

I’ve Got This Friend reveals the personal side of a relationship with Christ.

a surrendered year looks at what it means to give in to God.

Check these out and see let them know they have “A Way With Words” on their side.

Writing Posts Worth Reading on a Saturday Night

writing desk

There are probably better ways to spend a Saturday night than searching WordPress for good blog posts tagged “Writing”, but I couldn’t think of any.  So here goes…

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose” (The Garden of Clio) provides a succinct review of a book that explores good writing through quality reading.

The Biology of Grieving” (charlottesville winter) blends a familiar poem and brief dialogue into a nice piece of microfiction.

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–X (A Precious, Mouldering Pleasure)” (Verasimilitude) continues a series of posts (described here) reflecting on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and what it has to offer us today.

92 year old blogger, calls the shots early, pulls blog” (Jeffrey Newton) shares the story of one man who blogs to tell the story of his grief over the loss of his wife, only to give it up when it intrudes on his personal life.

Get Published Or Die Trying… Or Would You?” (Bottomless Sky) includes a number of quotes from gifted writers and raises the question of our motivation behind writing.

Reading & Writing with Passion” (chrismcmullen) draws a poignant extended analogy between reading a book and going on a date.

All creative endeavors are, to some extent, selfish” (Cristian Mahai) points to The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling as a prime example of a book by an author courageous enough to admit she has selfish motives in writing.

Man Killed By Refrigerator While Grabbing Beer” (Richard Thayer’s AuthorWriteUs) reflects on a tragi-comic recent news story.

(image “My Writing Process” from alist, some rights reserved)