Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lent and POC

I've been thinking about Lent since before Advent started, because if I'd waited until now I'd only have a couple weeks to prepare. The usual round of activities will be featured at the church, which I'll talk about at another time.

For now, there is that matter of some kind of Lenten discipline. When I really began taking this aspect of Lent seriously, I was mainly of the "give something up" camp. I've given up TV, fast food, alcohol, the internet, and blogging, not all at once. In more recent years, either in addition or as an alternative, I've added a spiritual discipline of some kind, usually a routine prayer time. A few years ago I took on the discipline of lectio divina and made my way through two of the Gospels, which I found quite meaningful.

This year, on the one hand, I'm taking a pretty traditional route and giving up fast food, because it just needs to happen. But I also wanted to add something. The more I thought about what I wanted to add, I realized that I wanted it to involve writing. I wanted to buckle down a little on my writing and see what a little more discipline and effort could add to what I offer on this blog and to my writing in general.

It was a recent Internet Monk entry that inspired this thinking, wherein he writes:

1) A person who does as much work on a blog as Mr. Challies or yours truly actually harbors dreams of being a real writer. Shocking, I know, but the truth is out. Ask us to write a real book, and ambitious fellows that we are, we’d say yes. We want the limos, the adoring fans, the blog tours…

2) Blogging is appealing to aspiring writers precisely because the medium levels and simplifies the playing field. All of us, from the President of Iran to my blogging dog Van Til, are sitting in front of a screen doing the same thing. We write it. We post it, and the world comes to read it. Or not.

I’ll never forget when I got an email from a “name” who had read my blog. It freaked me out. It still does. When Time called me for a quote, I thought it was a goof. But when you’ve worked hard at this “thing,” it is great to get whatever comes back to you that says “we’re reading!”

3) Mr. Challies’ and I persist in this hobby out of a set of motives that are quite similar, I’ll wager: We love to write. We love to be read. We like working for ourselves. We like knowing there’s someone out there reading and being encouraged or entertained or informed. We have too much of a real life to do all the things real writers have traditionally done to be published, so we love our blogosphere. When it turns, as it has for Tim, into a book, we love it even more. In a way, Tim or any one of us who experiences some success via the blogosphere has all of you to thank.

Or consider that blogosphere staple, the RealLivePreacher, who carts his laptop to coffeeshops not necessarily to write sermons, but just to write. Just to write. And then when he feels he's worked a particular piece over long enough, he posts it or Christian Century pays him for it. Oh yeah, and he scored a book deal a few years ago.

A lot of the stuff you read on here is pretty off-the-cuff and written in a single sitting. There's a certain raw quality there that I know some people appreciate, but at other times it shows. My best shot at a book is self-publishing, which for me has been on the table for as long as this blog has existed, mostly because I'm vain and impatient. But a lot of this stuff isn't book-worthy let alone magazine worthy. Christian Century once told me so. I have scored a few magazine appearances, but it's because I put in the extra effort to begin with.

So here's what's happening, CoffeeNation. This Lent, I'm going to put in the extra effort. I want to see what my blogging would look like if I put as much time and sweat into my entries as iMonk and RLP seem to. I want to produce a few entries worth publishing. I want to dream big and to take my "aspiring writer" bio thing seriously. I'm thinking two of these Big Serious Blogging Entries a week, plus the Pop Culture Roundup.

I'm already regretting that I'm going to do this because of what it will involve. But that's why they call it a discipline, right?