Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Year Reflections

It's a fairly natural thing to be reflective during the season of the New Year. It's a traditional time to think about what one is doing with one's life, and to assess whether one should keep doing the same things, or do things a little differently. I have definitely been spending a fair amount of time engaging in that kind of reflection, and I can't say I'm done yet. But at least in regard to the blog, I think that I'm ready to start posting again.

I've had to spend some time thinking about what I want out of this blog, and not only whether it should continue, but if I should again refocus my efforts on what I want to write about. Several friends have recently discontinued their blogs in light of recent life-events. Although I'm sorry to see them go, I certainly respect their decision. For myself, I'm not really in the midst of any major life-changes at the moment, but I'm very much in a place where I know that I need to do at least some things differently than I have been.

In reflecting about the nature of my blog, I often find that my ambitions outpace my ability. There are so many sites out there that I respect. Slacktivist, for example, may well lean further to the left than I'd like, but nonetheless has a gift for turn-of-phrase and witty commentary on current events. NPR sports commentator Frank Deford does a weekly radio message that's kind of like a blog, and although I'm not really a sports fan, he makes me take interest in the various goings-on in the sports world with his insightful and often philosophical musings. Scot McKnight is able to bring people of divergent theological perspectives together to discuss often contentious issues, yet generally maintain a civil atmosphere where people are able to learn how to understand each other better. I would love to have the kind of skill they have at regular commentary, but I'm just not there... at least not yet.

One of the professors at Montreat College is science-fiction/alternative history author William R. Forstchen. Although I never actually took a class from him while I was there (he joined the faculty about mid-way into my time as a student), I did have the opportunity to get to know him. His advice for writing was simply to write. Keep writing. You only get to be good at something by working at it. This isn't just meaningless advice for Forstchen, who has dyslexia. He has to work at reading and writing. But it's who he is, and what he loves doing, so he keeps at it, and has a fairly solid reputation as a result.

But it's not just about "trying hard" and working at the task of writing. All of the people I've cited here have jobs outside of their writing. Jobs that involve them doing research into their favored fields. They have a steady source of information that they can write about. My current job doesn't really fit that bill, and I'm working on improving that aspect, but I still have to pay the bills. In the meantime, what I find I enjoy the most is posting and commenting on what's going on in the Transformers world, and although I don't have (and don't expect to be able to find) a paying job in that area, I do have some connections via the Transformers club which are giving me an ability to "hone my craft" in that area, so I expect that the blog will focus more on that in the coming weeks (although the little tidbits of "news" I occasionally get from the folks behind the club are contingent upon the promise that I won't disclose them ahead of time, so I can't use that stuff here; only the news that's already been made public). I won't be able to leave the other stuff (goings-on at Fuller, politics, Christianity, current events, game shows, and life in general) behind entirely. These are all things I care a lot about, and at least some of those areas are more likely to provide lucrative employment than my love of Transformers. But, for now, this is something that I enjoy, and I do want to get better at my writing. So I'm going to keep at it for a while longer.

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