Saturday, January 30, 2016

Goals in Writing

Why do we write? Why do authors feel motivated to tell a good story? Why do writers pick up their pen (or computer nowadays) and want to write day after day?

I have been working on my next book, a mystery novel, and it made me think about this question, why do I write? I absolutely love mysteries, but sometimes you hit a roadblock and have to stretch to come up with the next chapter. When you feel like you don't have ideas at the moment, there still has to be motivation from somewhere. Where does it come from? What does an author want readers to feel reading their books?

We should have specific goals not just in writing, but also specific reasons why we do what we love. The first should always be to please God. But, in pleasing Him, why do we choose our specific occupations? Why do certain professions suit us, other than they may happen to be our talents in life?

I think this is because we find in our work a way to be who we truly are, and also hopefully a light to others. For instance, in my own writing, one of my main goals is to give readers a chance to think about something lighthearted that eases their worries, frustrations, and cares in life. Not to escape from reality nor shrug off responsibilities and sufferings, but to find a way to deal with them by reading something that is simple, inspiring, or just plain fun. 

Some may wonder why a Catholic author focuses on the fact that they are a Catholic author and then doesn't write something specifically Catholic. This is because sometimes something that isn't even spiritual can bring us to the thought of God just as well. For in reading about fictional characters and their various situations in plots, we are drawn out of ourselves into a world that isn't real, but that is very realistic. And seeing life through our favorite characters makes us feel that we can face our own challenges too.

I think that in reading material that is lighthearted and fun, we are able to focus on what is really important in life. For example, when we do something we really enjoy, say like your hobby is ice skating. When you go ice skating, it makes you forget about your day-to-day cares and realize "life is good." Then when you have to go back to those cares, which you always do, you see them in a different light. It's like nothing changed, but everything changed. 

I hope that my books will obtain this goal. That readers will walk away from my writing and say both, "I can live my life to the full and chase my dreams too," and "I can face whatever comes in life and not be overcome by it." 

Look forward to my second book, which is my first novel, planned to be available July 1st (subject to change of course)!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Value of One Life

Today we remember the fateful decision of Roe v Wade in America. The decision that we all know made legal the killing of innocent children. There are many ways I could comment on this subject, whether about the decision itself, the offense against God, the harmful effects on women, the murder of babies, the reparation needed, the horror of the whole situation.... But, I want to focus particularly on the value of a single life, which is at the heart of the matter.

Whether we are talking directly or indirectly about abortion, many people can feel like their life is meaningless or has no value. They may think that moments, days, weeks, months, and years drag on to no end and nothing they do has any significance. However, we know the contrary is true for "Between God and the individual soul, there are no insignificant moments." This means that every moment of every day has value, which in turn means that every life has immeasurable value.

Realizing that abortion means killing off life in its earliest stages should make us think about, what if that was me? What if someone made the decision that my life didn't matter. That what God had planned for me was of no consequence. Or what I could offer to the world would make no difference. This is the attitude, consciously or unconsciously, of those who perform or choose to have abortions. 

But, then you realize, that wasn't me. My life was not taken away, but someone else's was and continues to be. Was my life more important than theirs? These questions really make you think about the value of a single human life. And because it wasn't you means you have to do something meaningful with your life. You can never waste a single moment or opportunity of loving. 

This comes to the root of the problem with abortion. Choosing not to give your baby life, i.e. killing an innocent child, is the most selfish and horrible act that exists. You are devoid of love in that moment and fail to understand the value of a single life. You come between God and the individual soul. For love entails sacrifice, generosity, and simply put, thinking about someone other than yourself. 

"Life is precious" may sound cliche because we have heard it often as a pro-life slogan, but rightfully so. God gives us life on earth that we may have the chance to win life eternal. We have no right to take away life because it is a gift. Let us make the most of that gift and fight for those who are defenseless. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Having a Job: Hard or Easy?

They say at the end of a long day, if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. Is that really true?

Yes and no.

When you work for a desired goal, you probably work twice as hard in order to achieve it. Yet, you are probably striving for something you long to see completed and in this sense work is easy because you are enjoying it. 

But, having a job can become tiresome.

There are so many moments that make you long for the day of retirement. Those instances where you feel like you want to run away and are counting down to Friday on a Sunday night before work. Sacrificing those vacation days you know you deserve, but your boss won't give you. Or smiling and nodding, when you are thinking to yourself, I can't stand this guy. You have to think hard about your income and supporting yourself, as well as spending/saving wisely. You may have to work random hours or beyond 40 hours a week, including nights and weekends. 

At the same time, you have a great sense of security. You probably have benefits and insurance. You are "bringing home the bacon." You don't have to feel the weight of unemployment. You can feel like you are truly accomplishing something great.

Thus, having a job can become fulfilling. 

Many people do not have a lot of options of the job occupations they can take. But, if the chance comes to you, go for what makes you really happy. A job that can make you feel fulfilled, one you find enjoyable amidst difficulties (because every job will have those hard times), and one that you can say at the end of the day you were able to put your best into it, is the job truly worth pursuing.

For who really works the hardest? The person who is doing what they are doing for the right reasons. That means you may love your job, or hate your job, (which you will at times even if its the best job in the world), but you are working for a purpose. And that promotes diligence, which is one of the noblest of virtues because it means you persevere. 

There will be your good days and there will be your bad days. The thing to remember is you are doing something worthwhile, and hopefully it is something you feel proud of. And when it feels as though the days are dragging along, when it comes down to it, all this is passing anyway. One day you won't have to worry about money coming in, or hear one more complaint from a lousy boss. The day will dawn after you have been faithful, God will reward you for your pains. And that will be a great eternal day.

So, if you love what you do, will you never work a day in your life? I would say, ultimately yes. Yes, if you can say that what you do makes your day. Work most of all for God.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Stop and Smell the Roses

As we feel the Christmas season passing and we are returning to the "busy" of our daily lives, we tend to become absorbed in duties and worldly cares again. Certainly fulfilling our state in life is our path to holiness and we must complete our tasks well and with love. Yet, we seem to lose a sense of the sacred and peace of what Christmas reminds us. 

Here is something I know I am guilty of. Always checking my phone. For texts, emails, social media updates, etc. For myself, I know this is way too many times a day. And it isn't necessary. Think, if I/we took those opportunities during the day to rather say a short prayer or perform some charitable action, wouldn't our lives be all that more worry free and filled with the peace of God? Then our cares would become His cares, and they would seem not so much like cares at all. 

These methods of technology are not bad in themselves. Certainly don't be someone who waits days to respond to people, or who ignores messages received. That is the worst. What I am saying is that we tend to be overly absorbed in the affairs of others and it often makes us feel lousy about our own lives. For example, if you see a picture of someone on social media who is doing something you've always wanted, you become jealous. If someone was supposed to meet you, but here's a picture of them at a party with other friends, you become angry.

1 Peter 5:7 says: "Be you therefore humble under the mighty hand of God . . . casting all your care upon Him for He hath care of you." God wants to take our day to day worries, anxieties, frustrations, and occupations upon Himself. If we let God have a little more control in our lives and try not to hold that grip so tightly that everything has to go the way we want, we would experience that release called freedom.

Freedom is the ability to choose what is for our highest good, or also that leads us to our greatest end in God. And who knows this better than God Himself? If we surrender to His will, which manifests itself throughout the day, we shall find that inner joy that comes from knowing we are doing our best for God. This could be in simple things by taking care of our house like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc, which are all necessary things that irritate us but can be changed into a beautiful offering to Heaven. Or the frustrations of work and people who bother us and coffee spilling on us, which may not be God's direct will, but He permits these things for our growth in holiness. They are opportunities for virtue.

I am certainly not good at practicing these things myself. But keeping them in mind helps us to remember that peace comes from God's will, and we discover this best by maintaining an attitude of prayer. So next time you are going to check to see what all your friends are doing on social media, instead don't turn on your phone and rather say a simple prayer to God for all of those closest to you.