Today — a few thoughts about writing contests. I think entering your writing in a contest is a great idea. I also think it’s really important not to pin too much on winning these contests, because the entire judging process is so subjective, and full of things you can’t control — like the quality of other people’s entries. In this video I talk about being on both side of the contest-judging fence, and what I’ve learned.
My cousin Jennifer Morgan and I are doing an artist talk together this Wednesday evening at the Red Ochre Gallery here in St. John’s, where Jennifer has an exhibit of prints based on the same collection of Coley’s Point postcards that inspired my book That Forgetful Shore (enough links in that sentence fer ya?). We were interviewed on CBC Radio’s Weekend Arts Magazine about it, and I put together this video of the postcards and some of Jennifer’s prints to accompany the audio of our interview. Hopefully it gives you a little foretaste of what you’re doing and perhaps, if you’re in the local area, you might want to drop down and see us this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
… and a parent brag.
My favourite teenage singer with one of my favourite songs.
It’s a lovely idea, isn’t it? Ah, animals, they are so wise in their simple ability to focus on the here and now. Our human minds are cluttered with distractions and to-do lists, while the dog is entirely in the moment.
Except, has the person who drew this cartoon ever actually taken a live dog for a walk?
I can tell you, when Max and I go walking, my brain is exactly like the brain of the human in the cartoon — full of a crazy tangle of thoughts, ideas, worries and trivia. But Max’s brain is full too. Instead of trotting placidily by my side like the dog in the cartoon (OFF-LEASH might I add — is this dog well-trained or lobotomized? Max wouldn’t even be in the cartoon without a leash!), Max is sniffing every plant, rock and blade of grass (or, if we’re walking in our neighbourhood as is more usual, every car tire and fencepost). I assume his thought bubble would be saying something like “Oooh, someone peed here! Who peed here? Can I pee here? Or over there? Yes, I’ll pee there! Wait, who peed here? What was that? WHAT WAS THAT?! Should I chase it? Will it chase me? Am I predator or prey? I can’t remember!!! Oooh, someone peed here!”
My dog is, in fact, a lot more like Allie Brosh’s “simple dog” (please, please read her Hyperbole and a Half cartoon about the simple dog if you haven’t already) than like the Zen dog in the cartoon — he’s “simple” but not in the “mindfulness” sense.
My dog’s brain is full of thoughts that are presumably useful for canines in the wild, where it’s important to know what’s prey, who’s a predator, and whether this is your territory or has been marked by another animal. All this information is completely useless (though, I hope, entertaining) to Max. No matter whose territory we walk through or how many bushes he pees on, he’s coming home with me. He can bark at the neighbour’s cat and scare it up a tree, but when we get home he’s still getting dry dog food for his supper despite his best attempts at hunting behavior. His mind is chock-full of utterly pointless information.
What’s the best way to write the opening scene of a book?
Many thanks to my kids’ old Tickle-Me-Elmo, who was unearthed and put in a give-away bag just before I made this video. The video gave the opportunity to bring him out for one last hurrah as I needed a co-star.
… but it’s unlikely. I don’t even go to that many movies, and I have a full-time hobby just reading and reviewing books. So it’s unlikely I’ll branch out into movie reviews anytime soon.
But occasionally I see a film and think, “More people should see this!” and want to share about it on my blog. One such film is Seventh-Gay Adventists: A Film About Faith on the Margins. Check out the trailer, below, and then I’ll tell you why I think you should see it:
1. If (like many of my friends) you’re a Christian who believes in the traditional view of marriage and you’re worried about the growing trend in society to accept gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage as normal, you should see this movie. Why? Not because it will change your mind; it almost certainly won’t. It’s not an argument or debate-type movie. You should see it because it tells the stories of gay and lesbian Christians whose lives have been affected by traditional church teachings and beliefs about homosexuality. It puts a human face on what might otherwise just be the “Other Side” in an intellectual or theological debate. Since your religion (and mine) calls us to love, we owe it to ourselves and others to think hard about how to love those with whom we disagree. You can’t love people theoretically. You have to see their faces, hear their voices and stories, before you can grapple with what love looks like in a particular context.
2. If (like many of my other friends) you’re a completely secular person who takes it for granted that LGBT people have the same rights as straight people, and can’t understand why religious people are dragging their heels, you should see this movie. Even if (perhaps especially if?) you’re gay or lesbian yourself, and have no ties to organized religion — maybe even have a great deal of contempt for it. Yes, religions (all religions!) have a pretty bad track record with the LGBT community. Watching this film may give you a different perspective, might help you understand why some people choose to cling to their faith, what an important cornerstone of life it is for them, even when it brings them into conflict over their sexuality.
3. If (like me) you are a Christian who questions the traditional definition of marriage (or at least the often hypocritical way in which it’s applied in the church), and you want to be an ally for your LGBT brothers and sisters, you should see this movie. Especially if your LGBT brothers and sisters are literally your brother or your sister — or your uncle, or your mom, or your best friend, or anyone you care about. Maybe you’ve heard stories like the ones in this movie many times. Or maybe you haven’t, because the people you love haven’t talked to you about their experiences. Hearing these stories will open your heart even further, and make you realize how important this struggle really is. Maybe, like me, you’ll emerge from the experience realizing that you need to be more outspoken, more pro-active, in supporting those who are truly “the least of these” in our congregations and church fellowship halls, or on our missing-member lists.
While it’s a film set firmly within the context of the Seventh-day Adventist community (and there are definitely some SDA in-group references, like “What’s not to love about haystacks?”) this film is relevant to everyone who’s ever been part of any faith community, because gay and lesbian people exist in every church and temple and gathering place, and as this film clearly shows, ignoring “the problem” in hopes that it’ll go away, isn’t enough.
Particularly if you’re in Category #1 above, I urge you to see this movie — not because I expect it to change the way you read Scripture — it doesn’t even attempt to do that. But because I believe listening is so important, and love is impossible without it. It’s possible to love people and sincerely disagree with them, about lots of issues. It’s not possible to love people while ignoring them and refusing to hear their stories.
There are lots of ways to get hold of this movie. If all else fails, I have a copy. Borrow mine.
I did sort of a fun thing this past week. The local paper, The Telegram, runs a weekly feature in which they select someone from the community — an artist, a businessperson, someone who works with a community agency, anyone at all — and throw twenty random questions at them. I find it an interesting little get-to-know-you piece each week, and this week I was honoured to be the “20 Questions” person. You can read the piece here.
It got me thinking: there are other, equally random questions that I’d like to answer, but rarely get asked. So I decided to interview myself for this week’s video — questions I would have liked to answer but didn’t.