Wednesday, January 11, 2006

JC: I Am A Blog Virgin


Our final Charis Connection Encore . . . Who can forget Jack Cavanaugh's debut post?

I am a fifty-three year old blog virgin.

There. I said it and I’m embarrassed.

But the fact remains, I’ve never blogged before in my life. So why now?

Two words. Peer pressure.

All my friends are doing it. It’s all they’re talking about. Blogging and websites. Am I the only writer who’s not doing it?

Still, I’m hesitant. After all, stories are rampant about the dangers of indiscriminate blogging. Aren’t bloggers concerned about viruses?

So I promised myself I would never blog unless I could practice safe blogging, which meant waiting until I could make a commitment and blog with someone for whom it would be special and meaningful.

And now you’ve come into my life.

I love writing. I love writers. Let’s blog.

Having studied the art of fiction for twenty-five years, and having spent more than a decade writing fiction full-time with twenty published novels bearing my byline, you’d think I’d know what I was doing, don’t you?

You’d be wrong.

The truth is, writing my twentieth novel has been more of a challenge than writing my first novel. Surely the old adage, “Ignorance is bliss,” has something to do with it, but having a sieve for a brain figures into it too.

So I surround myself with notes to remind me how to write. Some of the notes currently staring me in the face are—

Solvitur Ambulando

It’s an ancient Roman saying. It means, “The solution comes through walking.” Actually, I see a double meaning in these two words.

First, the solution comes once you get started. A journey begins with a single step. Every novel begins with a single word. Quit putting it off, get started.

Second, walking loosens up more than your muscles. There’s something about mindless activity that spurs creative juices. For me, it’s walking. For mystery writer Agatha Christie, it was washing dishes. For many novelists in the Christian market, it’s taking a shower. (See all the fun facts you learn by attending writers conferences? I wonder why Christian publishers are hesitant to use this intriguing bit of trivia in their advertising?)

Solvitur Ambulando. Take a walk. Do the dishes. Jump in the shower. Limber up your creativity and get started.

“The more the words, the less the meaning.” God, Ecclesiastes 6:11

Do you realize how hard it is for a Baptist preacher to admit that brevity is good? But according to God, good writing means eliminating all unnecessary words, so it must be true.

“That my words might be the mirror of the thing.” Dante, Divine Comedy.

The classics are classics for a reason. I gleaned this tidbit of inspiration from the 14th Century poet. My daily prayer is: Lord, make my words mirrors.

“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” Joshua Reynolds, English painter.

The great inventor Thomas Edison had this quote printed and framed and posted throughout his labs. It’s a valid observation for both inventors and writers. Writing is hard work and we’ll do just about anything to avoid the difficulty that excellence demands. Don’t take shortcuts.

Don’t settle. Writing is hard work. Do the work. Give God your best.

And my all time favorite note—

“Torture the reader to the end.” Dean Koontz, author.

Readers are a masochistic lot. They love to be tortured. Indulge them. They will be tempted to put the book down at the end of a chapter. Don’t let them. They’ll try to figure out what’s going to happen next. Surprise them. If there is an unforgivable sin in storytelling, it predictability.

Tension and suspense are the storyteller’s best tools. Master them.

Well, there you have it. Our blog honeymoon. How’d I do?

--Jack Cavanaugh, with Dr. Bill Bright, the author of Proof

We hope you've enjoyed these special encore editions. Tomorrow we take you back to our regularly-scheduled bloggers . . .

14 Comments:

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Robin Lee Hatcher said...

Great job, Jack, for a BV (blog virgin). I loved all of these quotes. And so great to see you here at Charis Connection. Been too long without "hearing" your voice. ~Robin

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Gina Holmes said...

You did fantastic. I think I'll post those words to my computer: Torture them till the end. Love that.

And the shower thing is too funny. And I thought I was uniquely clean. Huh. Thanks for the great blog.It is a blessing.

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

I like that line "torture them to the end" too. Great reminder as a writer, no matter the type of writing.

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous lisa said...

Sometimes I'm afraid I take the "torture your reader" bit to a whole new level! Way to go Jack!

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Angela said...

ROFLOL! You did so GREAT! Loved your lines and just might use the Latin phrase in my WIP. Love those Romans!

It's always wonderful to hear from you, Jack!

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous BJ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin said...

Terrific blog entry, Jack. Congratulations for entering the world of blogging. I loved seeing your thoughts and voice. I look forward to reading them often. Terry The Writing Life

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous BJ said...

Absolutely great, that's how you did, Jack--VNM! (Virgin No More!)

BJ

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Jeanne Damoff said...

I was tempted to begin this comment with, "YES!" But I don't really know you, so . . .

Great quotes! I'm more guilty than I care to admit when it comes to letting "expedients" lure me away from labor. Like reading blogs, for example. Yeah.

Some of my best inspiration comes to me while jumping rope. However, I've discovered it's a bad idea to try to take notes and jump at the same time.

Clever metaphor for a first blog. You're obviously a natural. :)

Jeanne

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Mike Duran said...

On your statement that, "walking loosens up more than your muscles," I was reminded of a quote from Spurgeon in his, "Lectures to My Students." It went something like: A long walk in a stiff wind will not impart grace to the soul, but it will bring oxygen to the brain, which is the next best thing. Hmmm. Guess I'm ready for a shower and a long walk.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Sara Mills said...

Jack,

I've been waiting to finally see your post on here and all I can say is...
YOU ROCK.

Sara

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Katie Hart said...

I've been anticipating your post here, Jack, since I found out about Charis Connection (since you're one of my MFAs - most favorite authors). I did notice your torturing technique in your writing - you seem to do the same thing to your characters. Great post.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

I enjoyed your virgin blog. You said, "So I promised myself I would never blog unless I could practice safe blogging, which meant waiting until I could make a commitment and blog with someone for whom it would be special and meaningful."

K: I enjoyed your virgin blog. I love reading what authors have to say about writing so I can glean and grow. Great play on words in the above paragraph! I'm glad you waited to do it. :)) Speaking of "it," I'm discussing The 40-Year-Old Virgin movie on my blog, christianlovestories.blogspot.com.
God bless--

 
At 7:48 AM, Anonymous vasthi said...

Copied the quotes.
Will post around my computer.
Every little bit helps.
Thanks.
VAsthi

 

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