When pajamas and an iPad are the tools of the trade

Today's Writing Station - Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

Today’s Writing Station – Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

My thoughtful blogging friend Jody Louise invited me to participate in a ‘blog hop’: a pyramid scheme of the very nicest kind. In it, we get to answer a few questions about the how and why of writing, and I also get to introduce you to three writers who I enjoy reading. I LOVE recommending other writers, so how could I turn this down?

I must confess that I found the questions a little intimidating: they seemed formulated for people who were much more intentional and organized in their writing than I am. However, the process of thinking through the questions was worthy in itself, and I hope that the answers about me, as a haphazard writer, are interesting for you, gentle reader 🙂

(So without further ado, here is a drumroll….)

What am I writing or working on?

I do not plan very far ahead in my writing (see question 4 on the writing process). I do not have a writing plan for next week, or next month. But I do have a few ideas I am rolling around with: I have an “ask me anything” question I’m mulling over before I answer, and two pieces I am working on for other publications.

After I wrote the Screwtape Letter after the World Vision fiasco, a friend suggested I should write a sequel in the Screwtape/Wormwood genre, focused on some of the lies that women believe. I love this idea and have been thinking over it and reading about it, but I have yet to write a single word on it.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hmmm. This question assumes I know what genre my writing is. I find it hard to categorize: my “genre” is really whatever I am thinking about/talking about on any given day – which means my blog covers a gamut of things that make me laugh and things that make me think. Sometimes it’s parenting, or body image, or theology, or literature. Sometimes it’s a hot topic, sometimes it’s just something I thought was funny. Certainly my most widely read genre are the things I have written about marriage. I find this astounding: I would NOT consider myself to be a marriage expert. We have more than our share of struggles, and yet it seems that being willing to share what I am struggling with and learning in the process has found something of a niche.

One thing I have found as I have been writing is that I am not really a lifestyle or mommy blogger, which I thought at first I might be. As it turns out, my writing has much more spiritual content than I expected it would. It kind of surprised me how, when I started to dig deeper on any given topic, there was almost always a faith-root exposed.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s what I am thinking about and talking about anyway.

Because I like the process of writing. (And it’s a ministry I can do in my pajamas with an iPad at home.)

Because people tell me I’m good at it.

But mostly because I hope that somewhere out there, the words I write might have a positive effect on someone: whether to make them smile, feel understood, or to understand something a little better. I write to bless.

How does my writing process work?

I am a post-by-post, article-by-article kind of writer. In general, I am fairly haphazard: I write about what I feel like writing. I think about it, and then I download it into a blogpost and hit publish. I was quite mortified when I attended the writing festival in April and discovered that the norm in writing is to write drafts and to edit one’s work… oh yikes. I am so much more impulsive than that.

However, I’m trying to build a little more discipline into writing and take this seriously, as it does seem something that I feel a modicum of ‘calling’ to do right now. To that end, I’m waking up 1-2 hrs before my children to read, pray (and write, if I get to it) in the morning. Some nights, I put an hour in too. But the rest of the time, I’m a full-time-mommy, and the writing thoughts congregate and coagulate in my head until I find the time to try and force them into more concrete, wordy shapes.

Which other writers would I like to introduce you to?

Gosh! I’m so glad you asked 🙂 Readers, I’m thrilled to introduce 3 bloggers to you – maybe they’re a voice you’ve been missing all along!

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Profile pic 05.14 Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African pastor and spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace (and plenty of chocolate) to homeschool their three children by day, and freelance by night. Kate writes for iBelieve.com and Ungrind Webzine, and has contributed to several other publications including (in)courage, Start Marriage Right, Thriving Family, MOPS, Radiant Magazine and Young Disciple. You can read more from Kate at her blog, Heading Home, or on Twitter @k8motaung.

I knew Kate long before either of us started writing, and it has been so wonderful to be on this writing journey with her. Kate wrote a fabulous guest post for this blog here.

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1424377_2486623925114_1440151646_nBriana Meade is a millennial writer and blogger. You can read her millennial-focused blog here or follow her on Twitter @BrianaMeade. She has published online at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, The Christian Post, and Forbes and is currently working on her first book, Love In Fast Cars, which explores the heartbreak and nostalgia of growing up–a book about millennials and for millennials.

I got to meet Briana in person at the Writing Festival in April, and liked her 1000% from the word go. Briana guest posted in the Words that Changed my World series with Running in the Rain (ICYMI – read it!)

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SarahBWCloseLaughSarah Siders is a social-working writer and church planter with her husband in a Midwestern college town. She is working on her book, Dream or Die, a primer on recovering dreams and vision for our lives, which will release this year. She laughs and thinks out loud on dreaming, relationships and the hilarity of parenthood at her blog home, www.sarahsiders.com, or you can find her on Twitter: @sarahsiders.

Sarah and I both write for Start Marriage Right, but we really got chatting one day on Twitter when we were comparing notes about who the worst potty trainer in the world was (I maintain I am worse. Sorry, Sarah). We got to follow up with a lengthy and hilarious skype meeting, and I for one was cheering for her this week as she had to return to work after the birth of her second kiddo. Read her lovely post about that here.

Oh autocorrect. Tsk, tsk.

What I meant to say to my newly-moved friend was “I’ll surprise you with some unpacking assistance.”

What appeared on my iPad screen was “I’ll surprise you with some napa king ass.”

Oops.

It’s not the first time the iPhone/iPad autocorrect function has blitzed my intentions. In my experience, about 20% of the time, the autocorrect guesses the word I was aiming for correctly. About half the time, it comes up with something annoying and nonsensical (‘a radium’ instead of paradigm, ‘go goth’ instead of ‘going to’), and the rest of the time it comes up with something hilarious. I present ‘napa king ass’ as exhibit A.

It’s this latter category that fuels comedy websites devoted to autocorrect fails. I confess that reading autocorrect sites is a guilty pleasure – a little like watching the TV Series “Friends”. Some of it is hilariously funny, but I’m also aware that much of it is ribald and distasteful humor. Above-the-belt gems such as this one are rare:

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To be honest, I don’t spend much time on the sites anymore, because the jokes have become offensive, and the theme of the autocorrects is too often sexual and distasteful.

And yet it’s not just that those websites are collecting the “worst” of the autocorrects. In my own typing, I notice that rude words often appear because I was typing too fast. Body parts and swear words seem to be very quick and easy replacements for regular words. It has almost seemed at times like my iPad really has a mind of its own, and its a very dirty mind at that.

Recently I’ve been thinking though that the default settings on an iPhone are not that different from our default settings as people. Given a slight mistake in communication, a slight error in judgment – I know my default setting is to take advantage of the mistake. I cringe when I think of my college years and how many jokes I made at others’ expenses, at how quick I was to point out others’ weakness and how much I wanted to have the last word. My own internal “autocorrect” was is as faulty as my iPad’s.

Caught in a tricky situation? My instinctive response is to cover my tracks.

Embarassed? My quick draw response is anger or seeking to embarrass another.

In fact, we are a lot like our iDevices. We are iPeople. I am an iPerson. And my autocorrect is horrible.

But the good news is that autocorrects can be trained.

My iPad’s default settings may have sexual innuendo at the ready, but with time the software is “teachable”. After typing a few memos, I can teach it that my misspelled “lasagne” should not be autocorrected to name a woman’s body part, but should in fact autocorrect to describe an Italian dinner dish. It now knows how to spell my children’s (somewhat unusual) names – I’ve “trained” it. It now recognizes (and will autocorrect correctly) to spell South African classic words like “lekker” and “howzit”. It has even learned some Christianese (it no longer corrects “shepherding” to “sherpa ding”.)

And the good news too is that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, my own faulty autocorrects are slowly being trained too. I lose my temper less quickly these days. I can’t say I don’t say mean things anymore, but I do thank God that I can see I say them less frequently than I used to. I swear less (I aim for never, but sometimes when you drop a trampoline on your foot, shoot happens.) My soul is even learning some Christianese – learning to say “thank you” instead of whining. Learning to pray instead of prattle.

It’s a slow process, but it’s hop panning.

Oops: I meant happening.

 

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