All About Writing & Reading, & Everything In-Between

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

QUOTES ON WRITING

I am currently reading an e-book titled About Writing by Michael LaRocca. It’s a great book for those who want to improve their writing. In it are some quotes by writers. Some are instructive, some comical and some downright ludicrous. I had to go on the web to check out the bios of some of those writers and see what made them impressive.  Enjoy the snippets.
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"Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) 
An American writer and essayist, she was an important voice in American literature. With two novels, 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries, her Complete Stories won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. She was named the "Best of the National Book Awards" by internet visitors in 2009.
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  • I write fiction because it's a way of making statements I can disown, and I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself. Tom Stoppard
  • It is always a good idea, in any type of writing, to imagine what it's like to be the reader. Carl Dickson
  • An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff. Adlai Stevenson
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Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. T.S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) 


I encountered his writing for the 1st time at the university when we read one of his well-known plays, Murder in the Cathedral (1935). An essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry."
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  • It has been said that there is no great writing, only great rewriting. Michael LaRocca
  • It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write. Sinclair Lewis
  • When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. Enrique Jardiel Poncela
  • Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. Sholem Asch
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I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright(June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959)

He was known more as a reknown American architect of his time. He was also an interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1000 structures and completed 532 works. Wright authored 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. He was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time. one of his most popular architectural designs was the Falling Water.
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  • I can't understand why a person will take a year or two to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars. Fred Allen
  • Writers have a rare power not given to anyone else; we can bore people long after we are dead. Sinclair Lewis

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DISCOVER YOURSELF
Many people are walking corpses, roaming the earth without knowing who they are.                

Image Courtesy of Master Isolated Images/freedigitalphotos.net
Ask yourself these questions:
1.      Who am I?
2.     Why am I here?
3.     What do I have in me? ( Gifts, Talents and Abilities)
4.    What am I to use them for?
Try answering these questions.

I have found out, in my years of teaching and counseling, that many do not have these answers. That is why successful people are much fewer than the unsuccessful.
Until you discover yourself, you cannot uncover your destiny. The best thing you can do for yourself in your youthful season is to know who you are. No one can do it for you; it is a personal responsibility.
No one knows who you are
Only God can tell you who you are
Only you can find out from Him who you are
You lose your personal identity by letting people tell you who you are or by imitating others.
Go to your maker and let Him show you who you are and why He created you, it is only then you can move on to the future on the right path.
 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

You Are Made To Excel
Grace Greatman

Monday, February 10, 2014

EASY WAY TO LEARN

I love life stories.
History and literature were my favorites in high school. I’m interested in people and their history. I have been, since my teenage years, when I started reading autobiographies of celebrities. It made me feel like I knew them personally. I also love to ask questions and learn about people; what they do and how they do it. When I was a kid, I would ask so many questions, my mum would scold me. It was only natural that I ended up a broadcaster and I enjoyed all my ten years of working in the media.
The habit remains. I still ask lots of questions, just to know and learn, and my husband sometimes nudges me discreetly when I switch into the interviewer’s mode with people. 
I have learnt so much from all the stories behind people’s glories, defeats and struggles. It has not only helped me to be a good counselor and life mentor, I have applied some of these lessons personally. Life stories, orally or written, present to us a lifetime of experiences and lessons in a few hours of reading. It may be in the form of a profile, memoir, diary or autobiography. 
Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer says, there are three ways to learn:

The Easy way - Learning from other’s mistakes;

The hard way - Learning from your mistakes;

The Tragic Way - Learning from neither;”
No wonder the bible is an encyclopedia of biographies. God wants us to learn the easy way, from bible heroes and villains. His laws and principles are better understood through the lives of these characters.
Some advise you read biographies of successful people only while some recommend you read the good, the bad and the ugly as long as your objectives are clear. You learn from the good how to be good and from the deficient, how not to fall from grace. You learn from people’s great exploits as well as their failings.
Former UK Prime Minister

Instead of learning life’s lessons the hard way, you could take an easier route by standing on the shoulders of those who have gone ahead.
Here are some values I have gleaned from reading other people's stories.
MARGARET THATCHER
"If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and you would achieve nothing." 
"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's day you've had everything to do and you've done it."
"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions, he had money as well." 

NELSON MANDELA
"There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
"I have learnt that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." 

ANNE FRANK
"I think a lot. I don't say much." 
"No one has ever become poor by giving." 

MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensely and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."
JOYCE MEYER
"You can suffer the pain of change or suffer remaining the way you are."
"The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday." 

We are a most blessed generation with the crowd of leaders we can learn from. Why not pick up a biography of someone you admire and want to pattern your life after. It's a less difficult way to grow into greatness.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Saturday, February 1, 2014

STAY MOTIVATED - CLARIFY YOUR MOTIVES

When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone.
-Scott
We hardly do anything without a Motive. That’s what drives us and defines who we are. Mimi’s story shows that our motives have the power or energy to drive us to achieve our goals. Motive Power is the driving force behind an action or activity. The force pushes you. It puts pressure on you. It keeps you aflame and committed, even in the face of challenges.
This is why it is crucial for us to consciously identify the reasons for our goals and pursuits.
I mentioned in the last article that my Writing Group decided that for us to record more writing successes this year, one of the things we have to do is purify our motives.

CLARIFY YOUR MOTIVES
We need to make the reasons we want to write very clear by being specific and explaining it in detail. Mimi’s initial reason to become a successful author was imprecise and general. Everyone wants to be a successful ‘something.’ You must have a reason more personal and relevant to your need.
Personalizing your motive means, you are not doing it because someone you know succeeded at it. That’s a warped reason to pursue a goal. That your friend won the annual writing competition and got a huge prize for it does not mean you can. You have to discover what God created you for and the gifts he deposited in you before you can rightfully chart a path to your future.
The weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him, and which worthily used, will be a gift to his race forever.
-Ruskin

PURPOSE DRIVEN MOTIVES
There is no road to success but through a clear, strong purpose.
 -Munger
Your motive must leave the realm of want to a realm of need. It must leave the realm of indifference to a realm of passion and obsession. It must be a do or die matter.
Until Mimi got to that point, she didn’t take her dream serious. At the slightest distraction, she abandoned her goals, because she had not understood the purpose. This brings to mind, Myles Munroe’s saying that when purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.
More men fail because of lack of purpose than lack of talent. Don’t you think that if Mimi had realized early enough that pursuing her desire to write would be her saving grace in future, she would have been more assiduous?

VALUE ADDING MOTIVES
No one is happy or free who lives only for himself. Joy in living comes from immersion in something one recognizes to be bigger, better, worthier, more enduring than he himself is.
-McGeehon
Your reasons for writing must be beneficial, not only to you, but firstly to others. Until you have a tangible, valuable motive for doing something, you may not succeed at it. Our goal must be people oriented and selfless. It is in investing in others that our profiting appears.
Mimi eventually decided that her book will help her increasing patients and others gain necessary knowledge on healthy diet. This is a clear value-adding motive than being a successful author

God has given us two hands - one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.
-Graham
In coming up with motives that are value adding, you must also have very clear self-ideals. What do you believe in and stand for? Until you define this and stand by it, you will continue to compromise your aspirations.
I have personally found out that when your purpose is for yourself, you can easily give up, but when it is people focused, you are motivated to continue, because of the many lives that depend on it.

Do you need to re-assess your goals and aspirations?
Do you need to clarify your motives for better productivity?
Let’s do it together. Drop a comment please.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Thursday, January 30, 2014

STAY MOTIVATED - MIMI’S STORY

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/ freedigitalphotos
Still talking about staying motivated, you need more than Willpower, you need a strong motivation.
What is motivating you to do what you do?
If you want to write a book; why?
If you want to go to school; why?
If you want to get married; why?
You should not decide to do something because others are doing it, you need a stronger motive than that or you will quit before you finish.
 Mimi is a dietician. About seven years ago, she told me of her desire to write a book on Healthy Eating. I asked her why and she said she wanted to be a successful author.
 Do you think her motive was vague and weak?
She started with so much zeal, and wrote the drafts for five chapters in a week. Then she met Paul and this hot romance started. She soon put the desire to be a successful author on the back burner. For two years, her job at a high profile hospital and her love life with Paul were enough to make her forget her goal.
What happened to her aspiration to become a successful author? 
The affair broke up and she was devastated especially by the fact that Paul left her for a well-known former beauty queen. That dealt a fatal blow on her self-esteem. When she recovered, the desire to be that successful author came back with full force.
Why did the desire return with a vengeance?
How long can the steam last? 
At an amazing speed, she finished the first draft of the book and sent it to me for editing. Her goal was to get the book published in a month. I was so busy then I didn’t have time to see her manuscripts and she harassed me so well I had no choice but to leave every other thing to look at her job. I made some corrections and observations, sent it to her, expecting to get it back in a few days. But it didn’t come. Two weeks later, I called her and was surprised at her response.
She and Paul had reconciled and she had been too busy to see the manuscripts.
Why and how did her desire evaporate so fast? 
Four years and two kids later, a sack letter and divorce papers from Paul, Mimi became a shadow of her former self.
Faced with raising her two kids alone, no paid employment and not only a broken heart but a shattered self-image, Mimi had a strong need to pursue her abandoned dream of writing a book.
She had converted the ground floor of her duplex to a Clinic and started a private practice as a Nutrition Specialist.
As her clientele increased, she found it necessary to finish her book to help her patients and others gain necessary knowledge on healthy living. 
How would you compare this motive with to the first one? 
So, she updated the book and within a few months published it. It was an instant success. She started a blog on Healthy Living that soon began to thrive. This increased her clientele. She wrote two other books within a year and became a co-host for a television health show.
What motivated Mimi to eventually realize her desire to be a successful author? 
What motivates you to do something is what keeps your Willpower on. The stronger your motive and desire, the stronger your Willpower.
The first assignment we have this year in my Writing Group is to purify our motives by making it clear, personal, purpose-driven and value-adding.
I will talk more about this next.
In the meantime, why don't you work on purifying your motives for some of your goals.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Monday, January 27, 2014

STAY MOTIVATED

When we set goals, we are excited. We start to pursue with zeal and make good progress for a few weeks. Then gradually, other things come up to distract us. After several failed attempts to continue, we get discouraged, abandon the project and don’t even bother setting goals anymore.
But goal setting is important in the school of success. It is God’s principle. Before He does anything, He says it. Check the bible; from the beginning, His goals were set, before He started to create the Heavens and the earth. All through the bible, God would always lay His plans out before He executes them.
We cannot achieve the kind of success we desire if we don’t make our purpose and goals clear before pursuing them.

The Truth About Willpower
Willpower is determination + self-discipline.
These two factors powers you to do something despite the difficulties involved.
Every day, we set goals and try to achieve them using Willpower. This is great, but Willpower, though very important in the school of success, is not just enough.
I read about the more than two hundred studies into human psychology and neuroscience, which revealed the limitations of willpower.

Cookies & Radishes

Here is one out of the many experiments carried out at the University of Albany. 
They presented two bowls to a group of students. One contained warm, freshly baked cookies and the other, cold radishes. The first group is to eat the cookies and ignore the radishes. This did not require any willpower because it was very easy to do.
The second group was instructed to eat the radishes and ignore the warm cookies. Now you and I know this will require a lot of willpower.
Afterwards, they gave a difficult puzzle to the students to complete. The result was that the students, who had already used up their willpower trying to resist the cookies, gave up on the puzzle much more quickly.
The researchers concluded that the students resisting the cookies had already used up their willpower and didn't have any left to work on the puzzle.

Limited Human Effort
Willpower is a very limited resource and it quickly runs out.
I’m not surprised at this conclusion because anything generated by human effort is limited.
This is why many of us (studies say over 88% of people) give up on our goals. When you have used up your Willpower in one area, you are likely to give up on the rest of your goals. For example, if you have a hard day at work or a tiff with a loved one, you may likely break your fast, your diet or abandon your plan to write that one chapter.
So if willpower is not enough, what is?
We discussed this recently in my writing group. Here are some proven ways we arrived at that will help us stay motivated this year and achieve all our writing goals.

The God Factor
We all agreed that these scriptures would be our greatest motivation.
“… A man can receive nothing (he can claim nothing, he can take unto himself nothing) except as it has been granted to him from heaven. John 3:27 AMP

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency) Philippians 4:13 AMP

“…apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing. John 15:5 AMP

Paul said in Acts 26:22, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day…”
No matter how strong your will, we all need the help of God. Every other thing will work, when we are in God’s Will and Plan. We must daily commit ourselves and our goals into His hands. Only then can we receive the grace that we need to achieve them.

Next article, I will share with you the other ways my Writing Group will stay motivated this year.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ONE SENTENCE AT A TIME

It was like a blink of the eye and I’m not exaggerating. Before I knew it, 2013 had bowed out.
And most of my writing goals were still on the first page of my journal, neatly written and unachieved.
@ I will post an article everyday on my blog
@ I will write an article a day for the two Christian blogs I subscribed to
@ I will finish the two books I started years back and publish them… and many other lofty goals.
I started well actually, like we all do in January. I finished one book and sent it to my editor. I wrote a couple of articles and then…Welcome 2014!
One of the many keys to success is assessment of past efforts. I had to review how well I did with meeting these goals. Did I achieve them all or fall by the wayside? What was responsible for the setbacks or failures I experienced? What lessons have 1 learnt from them?
I know that honest answers to these questions will help me set new realistic goals for 2014
I assessed myself and fell below average.
I failed at many writing tasks I had set for myself, like writing an article each day for the websites.

I could not go beyond the writing and editing of one of the two books.
And I completely abandoned my blog since January 2013! I miss this blog and the interaction it provides.

I could go on and on with my writing failures. Not that I idled away the year, I was just so busy doing other important things, and the irony was, I was mostly writing, but for other purposes - church commitments, editing other people’s jobs, teaching, and other important and not so important things.
I did not do well achieving my personal writing goals, period.
But I’m not giving up. 2014 is a new year, a new beginning with new opportunities. Should I be discouraged and not set new goals?
No.
If I fail to set new goals, then I’m setting myself up for more failures. So, I will go right ahead and set my goals. I will make them realistic. I will pursue them with vigor. I will pick up from where I left off in 2013, which is what I’m doing by writing this article. I will take it one day at a time; one sentence at a time. Every day, I will write a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a page, but I will not stop writing.
So help me God.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens…” Philippians 4:13

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

What are your Writing and Reading Goals for 2014?