At the end of basic training we got to ask the Drill Sergeant questions. Mine was what he thought of me as a soldier. His response was very candid; "You are a pretty good soldier, but you tend to slack off when you think no one is watching." Not exactly what i wanted to hear, but now that i have had over twenty five years to think about it, i know he was right.
It reveals two things in my own heart that i still struggle with today. One is a fear of man. I want others to think well of me. I want to be liked. So, when i am being observed i make sure that i am doing the things i am supposed to be doing. The other is, i am a sloth if i feel like i can get away with it.
I can almost hear a reader out there, "that's a little extreme". I can hear it virtually, because i've heard it in person, but what standard are we accepting as "normal". If Christ says, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28 ESV) If i alter my behavior simply because i think someone is, or isn't, watching me - that is a fear of man, and that is placing something/someone higher in my concern than God, and that is Idolatry. If i don't do the things i know i should do for, "...a little folding of the hands to rest...", that amounts to laziness - aka slothfulness. It is something that God is working on my heart of late... well, for a while now.
"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him,'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" (John 9:1-3 ESV)
Even the Disciples had their own issues. I need to avoid looking at the why i can't/shouldn't/etc., and focus on the how.
About a month and a half ago, i spontaneously entered a writing contest on-line. All i asked of the judges was that they provide some feedback to my submission. This is what i received back:
Thanks again for the submission. Your story was good and well paced and you chose probably the hardest 40k race to write about but did so well.The main feedback I can give you is keep it simple. At times it feels like you’re trying to be sophisticated in your language unnecessarily, which actually makes sentences a little clumsy to read and breaks up the flow of the action. No writer you admire ever failed for speaking plainly.If writing is something you enjoy and want to pursue the four things to always remember are:
- Read. A lot. Even if it takes you weeks to read a novel, keep at it because you’ll naturally identify what makes for good writing.
- Write. A lot. And never throw anything away. Keep a journal, whatever, but keep writing down ideas and playing around with them. A 10 page aborted novel could turn into an outstanding short story.
- Edit. Keep getting others to read your work. Because you’re so close to it you often miss mistakes or over indulge in a particular scene.And a run on from that is grow a thick skin. Not everyone will like what you write, or even think you’re wasting your time. Take on board the useful comments and ignore the rest.The next Shell Case Shorts competition starts on Feb 1st so make sure you enter again.All the best and keep at it.