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Friday, November 28, 2008

Favorite Book Birthday Party Reading List

My birthday was the day before Thanksgiving. This year, I threw a favorite book birthday party. Everyone had to bring a favorite book, share why they liked it, and a favorite passage. At the end, my good friend Amy Klein (the "confessions of an on-line dating addict" in the sidebar) read some of her work about growing up in a devout Jewish home.

It was a wonderful party. Here's the reading list that evolved from everyone's choices. We had a pretty eclectic list by the end. I thought you all might be interested in reading suggestions:

American Primitive by Mary Oliver (Poetry)
Godric by Frederick Buechner (Fiction)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Fiction)
Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Fiction)
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Creative Nonfiction)
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Fiction)
The Dot by Peter Reynolds (Children's)
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Creative Nonfiction)
The Shack (Fiction)
Kite Runner (Fiction)
Cather in the Rye (Fiction)
The Power of One (Bryce Courtney)
Inside Steve's Brain by Leander Kahney (Nonfiction)
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Fiction)
Free Food for Millionaires
Anything by Christopher Moore

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Memoir By February

November was National Novel Month and my friend Carrie Arcos joined a writing program in which they write a novel during the month of November. The last I talked to her she had churned out 40 pages in a week. Mind you this is a windy draft. A piece of work that is intended to get the writer started, not necessarily be a finished draft.

I am more than impressed by my friend because she is a mother of three and she teaches a class at Biola University. So I'm feeling extra motivated to get to work and write my own book. Okay this sounds ridiculous to me in one sense, but in the other I feel really ready.

I've been working on short pieces for as long as I've been writing. And I'm haunted by the question, "Can I do it? Can I write a book length manuscript?"

While I was pregnant with Noelle I churned out a feature length screen play in six months. I did this because I had the same itchy question, "Can I write a hundred pages of film?" In the end I wrote 180 pages.

During that same six months (I was on bed rest, so I had alot of time to work), I wrote a book proposal and began the submission process. It's been rejected five times and while I'm not entirely sure if it's "THE" story I've been waiting all my life to write, I'm feeling like I need to begin somewhere. I can't keep waiting for the right time or the right story. I have to just write what's in front of me to write.

So I've made a decision. Inspired by Carrie and motivated by my nagging question, I've decided to take this Christmas break to write the rough draft of my book. While I'll still be plenty busy with family visits, travel, church activities, and Noelle, I won't have class, and that's a big portion off my plate.

Classes end on Dec. 18th and I don't go back to work until Jan. 26th. So wish me luck. I'm going to try and get something done. I'm going to hold my own feet to the fire and see if I can be as productive as Carrie.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Got Past the First Date

Holy Moly - It happened again! Relief Journal. This time it's my first publication in a print journal. I've searched the site, but can't figure out when this issue is slated to come out. But I know you can pre-buy it!

Since my last name is Taylor, you'll have to scroll down the list to see me. Sorry, they give only author info, not the actual writing. I guess it's a way to get people to buy the journal. But I guarantee it will be well worth your money! My poem aside, this journal is full of delicious writing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What's With all the Doom and Gloom?

From the classroom to the telephone, I've been hearing some pretty gloomy sentiments since the election on Tuesday. What I've heard has been coming from the Evangelical demographic. On top of the general doom and gloom, here's what I've heard:

That the world's coming to an end.

The election of Obama is the beginning of the end times.

Obama may be the anti-christ.

We better pray for Obama because we're living in a depraved time.

What are churches going to do with people who voted for Obama?

I've found myself speechless in the face of such reactions and words, not only because I find Obama's election to be an incredibly uplifting and historic moment, but also because I believe that we're in a time of immense hope and opportunity. Not at all the kind of picture being painting of the end times.

I disagree with these doomsday prophecies for two reasons:

When I look around, I don't see a "depraved" generation that signals the "end times." I see a generation rising up full of character, dreams, and immense potential. I wish you could meet some of my students. They are so bright, intelligent and hard-working. I know that where ever these students end up they are going to make their sphere of influence a better place, and as a result the world will be a better place.

I wish you could also meet the people in my church, Mosaic, who are changing the culture around them through their art: film, music, spoken word, theater.

I wish you could look into my daughter's big blue eyes and tell her that the world she is growing into is a doomed place.

No don't! That isn't fair, not to Noelle, or any of the students and young people who are poised to lead in the future. To them the world is as bright as it's ever been, a wide open canvas ready to be whatever they make it.

I find the doomsday prophecies hard to stomach for one final reason, they steal the beauty of this moment in US history. We are standing in the middle of an amazing milestone in our country's growth. Another wall has fallen, another chain has been broken and I find Obama's election to be quite redemptive. Something that has happened today that would have never happened fifty years ago. I am so proud to be alive this moment. I'm so proud to be American.

I find the doom and gloom talk coming out of the Christian camp, distasteful. We of all people should be rejoicing and celebrating beautiful moments. Instead, we are warning the world that God's wrath is coming, the recession is his judgment, and the election of Obama is proof of the end of things.

I can't escape the image of two kids playing. One wins, one looses. The looser, rather than being disappointed and moving on, turns the whole thing spiritual. He shuffles away grumbling, "Now you've done it! The world's coming to an end!"