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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."
A Hand Writing on a clipboard

A REASON TO WRITE

 Dave E. Hoyt

 Part 1: BEGINNINGS

Word Pictures

I was ready to talk it out – but Chuey’s dog ‘Fang’ stood in the doorway crazed, torn between sharp angry barks and snarling. His snout exposing sharp teeth dripping with saliva as he lunged from side to side toward me, yanking his chain to its limit.


A broken front door and fresh blood on the carpet made my adrenalin peak.


 The long awaited letter had finally arrived. I carried it a bit tighter not wanting a wind gust to snatch it away. Walking down our long dirt driveway, I studied the post-mark and handwritten addresses. Entering through our green screened-in porch I made my way to the kitchen and placed this single piece of mail on the center of the table and sat down.  Pausing, I braced myself for whatever news it might contain. Nervously I reached and grasped the letter opener—my palms wet with perspiration.   . . . 


Mandy lay still, eyes closed, barely breathing.  A fall from the barn loft was the cause.  We hadn’t noticed she’d slipped away to play with the baby kittens.  It happened so fast.  A small yell, a thud and our five year old daughter lay unconscious on the barn floor.


 A flat tire in the south Bronx at night was the pits as three street-thugs approached; now standing ten feet away – watching my every move.  


Emory had the strength of an ox, brain of a genius, was a gentle man, full of good nature and humor.   He was endowed with many gifts but not faith, or religion.  To the contrary he prided himself in scoffing the religious in the community, out-arguing his case for atheism, so much so that he ruined many of his relationships with childhood chums and good neighbors. His fixation to ‘always be right’ led to a godless stubbornness and dwindling group of friends who could put up with him. 


   The previous night he and his son had the row of rows, and his son told him point blank, “I’m leaving in the morning and there’s no use trying to stop me.  I’m done with living here!”

Distraught, Emory began rethinking his opposition to God. “What if his only son did leave for good?  How would he stand up to this heartbreaking blow with the Mrs. now in the grave?”  What would become of the farm and business?  What would the end look like for a man who turned away from God and belittled his neighbors for trusting and practicing their faith by kindly deeds?  Was it too late for this overgrown boy, full of quick thinking, to humble himself and pray?  Would the bully of the faithful be welcome at the feet of God the Father and Jesus Christ his son?

Turning his head he saw his son, backpack-on, a hundred yards away nearing the road by the plowing fields, leaving.  

A Writer’s Beginning

My earliest days of writing were poetic. The theme and topics were centered on what I was thinking and going through, living away from home in youth correctional institutions.

Preston School of Industry
THE  MAKING  of  a  COLD  HEART

Marching units and orders rule – hiding feelings of  aloneness
 -Shutting love-emotions down – acting tough
Waiting for occasional mail
 -Searching for any gift – music, art, writing
Something to quiet the monotonous hounding of
 -Peer pressure, games and noise
Scared on the inside – calloused on the outside
 -Cautious friendships in rowdy places
Race and gang loyalty – clique-names and tattoos
 -Intimidation and power leverage
Fights and blood – unified hatred of snitches
 -Somewhere inside – the person God created
Disappeared – lost in a maze of angry choices

Lonesome Stone book Cover

Later in life I decided to write about my journey through the court system and what followed. I did so in hopes of deterring teens and young adults from leading a destructive life that could side-track their potential and ruin their future. 

My first attempt at writing a book was titled, “Lonesome Stone – Wars of the Soul”.  The first half of the book contains my story growing up in Los Angeles County and a long tour through correctional facilities with brief stints of freedom. The story portion concludes with an unexpected miracle.

The second half of the book contains a “Helps Section” that deals with practical things about staying out of trouble. The reason I was able to write on this subject with conviction is because I lived it—and by the grace of God, found a way out.

Backpage Info "Lonesome Stone"

Not all writing has to be from personal experience, but it’s not a bad launching pad. 

Authors are Born Every Day

A goal in writing this article is to encourage readers young and old to give writing a try.  There’s a growing number of young writers who are being published and finding success.  The same is true of older writers who hit their stride with more life-experience under their belt. Here is a short bio example of twin girl authors now age 17 and an adult who began writing in her sixties. Taking a leap of faith – they came up with plenty to write about. 


Brittany & Brianna Winner   

Winner Twins

Best known for: “The Strand Prophecy” the first book in a sci-fi trilogy that the identical twins completed by age 12.  The book was initially self-published until Howler Publishing partnered with the girls.  Publicity and notoriety followed, along with being picked up for national distribution by Barnes & Noble. The young duo writers were awarded the Best Young Adult Fiction and Best First Book Fiction by the Independent Book Publishers Association.  They were also the recipients of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Adolescent Fiction. Their first book garnered additional attention when it became part of the Accelerated Reader Program in 65,000 schools nationwide. By the end of 10th grade, Brianna and Brittany had completed 4 novels, a screenplay, a comic book, and a guide to writing.  The second book in the Strand Prophecy series ‘Extinction's Embrace’ has been published and the third ‘Red Moon Rising’ is soon to be released – all before they graduate high school.

Brittany and Brianna have founded a non-profit, 501-C3 organization, Motivate 2 Learn. They created the organization to promote youth literacy and education and to inspire children with learning disabilities.  They’ve also developed a free instructional seminar for schools titled, “If You Can Dream It… You Can Write It!”  By the way–they’re dyslexic and dysgraphic!

Definition of Dysgraphia:  Being dysgraphic is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing extremely difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.  

Discovering a way around their disability was the challenge that launched them into writing their first novel.  Since then, they’ve taught their creative writing method to hundreds of thousands of convention attendees, teachers, and students across the country. They won a 2012 Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) for this teaching and writing method. 


Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

First published in her mid-sixties, Wilder is probably best known for her "Little House" series. There are museums dedicated to her, schools named after her, and even a TV show based on her books.

So why did Wilder start so late? It took years of hardship and struggle before she came to a place in her life that allowed her to focus meaningfully on her stories, with help and encouragement from her daughter. When experience and creativity combine, the results can be amazing.


The Benefits of Obtaining Writing Skills

One way to see if writing might be suited to you is to invest think-time and energy, and begin writing.  Trying something new is fun and challenging at the same time. Writing, like most things, takes practice.  I will show how writing provides an artistic platform of expression that’s both inspirational and practical in today’s world.

Being able to write in a clear and understandable way is a powerful tool which helps students complete class assignments and secure good grades throughout their educational life. Beyond the world of education, there are a multitude of vocational opportunities for an individual who has developed writing skills. 

I’m excited when I see students embrace and tap into and discover their writing abilities while simultaneously exploring the amazing world of literature.  Some of you will go on to be teachers, authors, newspaper and television reporters, film and media writers, editors and leaders who write and communicate effectively in the world of commerce, education and the media. Others will discover an important gift that will help in numerous applications of study and personal communication. 

Having gaps in my education due to being shuffled around the juvenile court system and placed in a variety of youth correctional facilities—I played catch-up a lot. Everything related to my studies was doubly-hard when I fell behind.  Learning to think and write out my thoughts aided me in closing the gaps in my education and enabled me to complete high school. My earliest writing attempts were not impressive, but staying with it – I gradually improved and gained confidence. Being able to write makes life a lot easier when navigating through subjects that require written reports, summaries and essays.  If you feel unable to write – it drains your confidence and can shut-down your ability to move forward in classes that would otherwise not be a problem. 

For those of you who struggle with everything to do with English, reading, writing and personal expression—whatever is causing this, can be overcome.  Being challenged can be an important ingredient that motivates and propels us forward to discover how we can get past an obstacle. There is something required of us.  Inventors and scientists are a good example of how important determination and personal effort is.  After numerous trials and failures—an inventor or scientist achieves a break-through in a given area.  The same principle is true in gaining writing skills and ability. Confidence will follow our hard-work, diligence – and sticking with it.

The Plus-Factor of Becoming a Reader
Woman reading

Becoming a consistent reader of good writing is a beneficial practice.  My lovely wife, Ginny is pictured with the quote to the right.  Reading provides us with a useful tutorial on how another has developed their writing craft. A bonus is this translates into the good habit of learning, discovery and personal enjoyment throughout our entire life. The amount of authors and reading material that is available today is daunting.  Choosing what and who to read is like choosing what movie to view in the cinema.  The styles, genre, content and readability of authors run the gamut. Reading shorter works of famous authors in multi-author short story collections may be helpful.  In time we begin to zero in on the types of writing that best connect with us.

 


Light Bulb with small cross in element
A Light-Bulb Experience 

In this 2 part article I will pass along insights, exercises and creative ideas that have helped me.  The learning-curve has been steep and challenging at times – but that goes with the territory of making strides ahead.  I consider myself a life-time learner – in education, in work, in relationships, in respecting the world around me and in ‘giving back’. 

Have you ever had a light go on in your mind and heart?  Gain insight about something important and a clearer understanding about an area you’ve be wondering about?  This happened to me when I was a late teen.  The light that came on was:

“No one can do for me, what I should be doing for myself.  It’s my responsibility to make something of my life and reach my potential.  Teachers, coaches and mentors can do their best to inspire me – but I have a pivotal role to play.   No person can give me will-power, self-discipline, determination, heart, faith, courage or love!  I need to search for these qualities and gifts with every ounce of energy and strength I have.  Doing my part and exerting personal energy and effort is crucial if I hope to become a better person, tap into my potential and discover the role I am to fill in this world.”  

Where does this strength come from, when it’s beyond our current life experience? I contemplated this question as an older teen locked up in Preston School of Industry.  The means of change seemed out of reach.  On occasion I’d read the Bible out of boredom.  One day I stumbled on the passage below, quoted by Jesus Christ:

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  (Matthew 22:37-38; Deuteronomy 6:5)

What hit me was the focus of undivided attention, to do something with all your heart, soul and mind – with every bit of life-energy possible. I knew the context referred to love for God.  I wasn’t able to do this, though I tried.  I didn’t see myself as having “love” to give to anyone.  I was angry at the world.

In spite of this, I realized a focus was needed—something to get me moving in a positive direction “away from a life of trouble”.  I needed to find tangible goals to work toward.  Some things needed to die that were holding me back.  It was time to face and understand my obstacles and discover a way to conquer them. One goal I decided on was to complete high school. Another was to gain vocational skills.  Small steps, but important.

Parables

I first learned about parables while reading the Bible.  I noticed that Jesus used them regularly to teach by illustration, using a story to aid his listeners in grasping truths that were useful and practical.  On most occasions he would give a summary explanation at the end. Jesus’ parables are amazing, extremely varied and able to cut to the heart of a life-lesson.  A parable is a fictitious story that illustrates one, or more important truths.  At first glance a parable might seem simplistic. On closer inspection we may discover a number of truths, insights and wisdom that could change our attitude and re-direct the way we think and live. I’ve written a short parable with this purpose in mind.

 Parable of Transporting a Treasure

One day a student was chosen to transport a valuable treasure of $ 5,000 worth of small diamonds from one destination to the next, one mile in distance, in daylight hours. The student was warned that there would be a number of con-artist, robber types who were going to attempt to steal these jewels while in route, employing different methods – minus a physical attack.  The student was excited to be chosen for the assignment, at the same time perplexed about how to accomplish the mission successfully.  Thinking it over, a plan emerged. 

The plan was: Secure the diamonds in a thin plastic bag and tape it around the inside of an upper thigh underneath pants. Take a public route.  Anticipate a verbal or emergency situation arising that would be a con.  Stay focused, adapt as needed and side-step diversions, cons and temptations while protecting the treasure. Don’t engage in any conversations with bad or dangerous people, or get entangled in some emergency con plea. 

What Could this Parable Mean? 

Our life and future is the ‘valuable treasure’ you’re transporting and your job is to guard it.  People or circumstances will try and rob you of what is valuable, who you were created to be and what you were born to do. 

"Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is worth fighting for"

Guard your life. Don’t let anything, or anyone divert you. Be aware of influences, good, passive, manipulative, or dangerous.  You know what a con is, shut-it-down!  Develop personal character, strength of heart and mind, resolve and vision. Choose a plan of growth and service – making adjustments as needed to keep your life moving forward in a healthy way.  Resist side-tracks and temptations that could foil and rob you of your treasure and keep you from achieving your God-given potential.  

The following are some obstacles and temptations I’ve encountered.

Laziness and Procrastination

The word ‘passive’ is sometimes an invisible or cloaked type of influence.  One of the greatest deterrents to achieving goals and setting new ones – is “passive laziness” and its relative “procrastination & excuses”. These obstacles must be dealt with. Rest and relaxation is important to our overall well-being – but laziness and procrastination can cripple, leaving us in a comatose state of inaction. The only thing I’ve found that works is, get rid of them. Avoid getting into the habit of putting things off and making excuses about it – which leads to us feel terrible, mad at ourselves and feeds the lying-cycle—to ourselves and others in justification.

Bear running at viewer = motivation to run

Motivation is mysterious, invisible and powerful!   It’s what nudges us along in life.  It’s what works in harmony with insight, determination, courage, discipline, will-power and having a vision and goal we go after.  Where does it come from?  It can originate from any number of core sources.  Wanting desperately to find a way out of “a life in trouble” was an initial motivational catalyst to get me moving.  Self-preservation is a strong motivator. I like the image of Mr. Bear to the right who reminds us – it’s not a complicated matter.  It’s time to decide to get our lazy butt in gear!

Making a “plan” doesn’t equal ‘passive-laziness or procrastination’A plan usually helps us achieve goals if we follow-through.  Thinking things through by addressing the pros and cons, safety, cost etc. all contribute to success.  Somewhere in the mix we need to add “taking steps of faith”.   We don’t have a magic-ball that is going to reveal what starting a small business is going to look like—and all we’ll encounter.  The same applies to any adventure we set out on in life.  The unexpected, unforeseen, obstacles, sacrifices, hardships and successes will all be present.

A few days ago, I was asked to spray a tree laden with hornet nests. I purchased 3 large containers of insecticide in advance. Before setting out to the location, I covered my body with heavy clothing and wore boots. I’d waited till dusk, when the insects would be calm prior to approaching the tree with caution. On arrival at the location I secured netting around my face and neck with a hat. After emptying 3 canisters of insecticide I examined the tree finding only dead insects. The mission was accomplished successfully with a plan.

Someone once told me: “Write one page at a time within the given subject / chapter you’re working on and try to complete it.” This has proven to be helpful, practical advice. It doesn’t mean I can’t scribble out germ ideas that might apply to another chapter, or entirely different project and subject.  What this advice said to me was, “stay with the task at hand as your main focus until confident you’ve nailed it” – before moving on to the next chapter or project. When someone considers and contemplates writing a book – it can be overwhelming.  Thinking and beginning to write “one chapter at a time” is more doable—less intimidating.  

Peer Influences

Dangerous and bad influences cause train-wrecks!  How strong is the influence of someone we consider a friend?  In boyfriend and girlfriend relationships the influence can be strong. The same is true among same-sex close friends.

"Don't look back; you're not going that way"

With this in mind – a true friend might support us in becoming the person we were meant to be. A less than true friend could influence us to a detour with them. We need to be extremely careful about who we hang with, what kind of activities we allow ourselves to participate in and what type of advice we take to heart.  Revisiting the parable of ‘Transporting a Treasure’ we easily see the implications.

Among gang members, group pressure is dominant alongside friendship. Growing up I had close buddies through my teen years who were as lost and screwed up as I was. To what extent did they influence me, or I them on a scale of 1- 10?  About 8 or 9.  Did it help me?  No.  Peers can be selfish and jealous, wanting us to be involved in whatever they’re doing – no matter how illegal or dangerous.  Innocent peer relationships can detour us as well, if it is a manipulative friendship – employing guilt and time demands that leave us no time to pursue a life-goal.We too, play a pivotal role. We can be “our worst critic and enemy.”  Negative self talk and put-downs has crippled many a gifted and talented individual.

Our job is to be aware, alert and focused on achieving goals that we know in the deepest part of our being are a match for us—what we were meant to be about.  Vocations and life-directions do change in our life-stages.  A professional athlete has an allotted number of years of being at the top of their game and begins transitioning to what’s next.  The same applies to many vocations that require heavy physical work. In time a change is necessary.     

‘The skill of writing’ has the potential of lasting us well into our dinosaur years. Its longevity of usefulness should be factored into its intrinsic value.  Writing has less physical demands than many hobbies, vocations and pursuits – with the exception of back and butt related pains from sitting which can be caused by any number of other sedentary interests. 

Cutting Some Influences Loose

As interested as you may be in improving your life and future, or learning how to write, or doing better in school by applying yourself – you’ve got some hard decisions to make that will be deal-breakers if you don’t cut loose bad influences and some people, no matter who they are.  This can be hard.  Some of us are willing—some of us are not. If we don’t cut loose some people, we’ll continuously be caught-up into their destructive drama.  

Temptation

Lots of inner-city students have low levels of support at home and destructive peer-influences that are constantly bombarding them with pressure and temptations. It may come from substance abusing family members, gang buddies, pimps, drug-dealers, local criminals with a con; they are out in force in many neighborhoods.  On routes to and from school – low-lifers are recruiting.  Dealers have no conscience about sucking in elementary, middle-school and high school students to be their ‘mules’ – selling drugs to other students.  

With more money than these young student-dealers have ever seen in their lives and the new found ability to buy things—some get hooked at a young age. Their supplier tells them, “If you get popped – it’s only a juvenile offense.  You’ll be back on the streets in a few days.”  They forget to mention that most judges only give juveniles a warning for ‘dealing’ once. From then on – it’s off to juvenile hall and some type of youth correctional program to serve time, with probation or parole following.  Many kids never resurface except for brief stints on the streets and eventually go on to prison.  

Let’s say one of your closest childhood friends has become a heroin, crack or meth addict? He carries a gun, robs, steals and threatens people, hits you up for $, pushes you to get high with him and has become crazy and dangerous?   When are you going to cut this person loose?   How about now?

Welcoming Constructive Criticism

Constructive words on the other hand, will be honest, tell us what we need to work on, but encourage us to keep learning and growing. They may come in the form of a reality check that reveals ‘our inflated ego and obstinate attitude”.  In my estimation our willingness to remain teachable – will have a strong bearing on our success in reaching our potential.  Constructive criticism is incredibly helpful.  Teens and young adults often don’t want to hear anything from an older seasoned adult.  This is serious blind-spot.  I cringe when I see someone try out for ‘American Idol’ who can’t carry a tune.  Some family member or friend should have told them they’re not ready.  Perhaps they did and the contestant wouldn’t listen. With the absence of being able to hear honest feedback, some ‘wanna-be singers’ have faced embarrassment on national TV unnecessarily.  Ouch!  


Writing Mentors, Teachers & Friends

Every writer has a starting point. An inspiring teacher, parent or mentor who introduces writing in a positive and creative light will often be the catalyst that helps us get past picking up a pen, pencil or computer keypad and staring at it.  Most of us benefit by inspirational, constructive and supportive assistance.  Add grammatical and other writing tools and there’s a strong possibility of success. 

My dad was an avid writer who encouraged me to start thinking and writing at a young age.  He was a good role-model choosing lots of fun topics to write about. He predominately wrote poetry, humor and short stories and made writing a daily practice. He encouraged me to write and draw on napkins at restaurants while we were waiting for our food. “Thanks Dad, for nudging me to take these early writing and artistic steps.”

Writing is most definitely a craft, a skill and a ‘gift’ which can be developed and fine-tuned with practice.  Some writers are self taught – while others gain their training in a class setting.  As a person continues to write, there is an ebb and flow of what you’ve learned from a variety of literary sources whether identifiable or not.  Ideas and influences are abundant.  In time our own writing style and voice develops. We are not copying anyone.  We choose the topics we wish to write about and words we wish to employ. Hopefully this will result in our ability to communicate through writing in a clear, interesting, informative, or inspiring way.   

Do I Feel Safe?
"You are ACCEPTED"

Support and a safe setting in any new learning experience can make or break our willingness to stay with it. To write a poem, article, story, or prepare and give a speech can be extremely stressful.  We’re opening up and becoming vulnerable by expressing our thoughts and ideas, putting them before others to hear, or read – for possibly, the first time in our life.  We may not have a clue what to say and it scares us just thinking about it.  What will others think? Will it be cool enough? Will I end up embarrassing, or making a fool of myself?

A safe and friendly environment takes the edge off being apprehensive about taking part in most things. Feeling at ease helps us take risks knowing we’re not going to be smashed by someone’s cruel words.  When the rules of a ‘Writing, English, Speech, or Specialized Writing or Media Workshop Class’ don’t tolerate cruel put-downs – it enables us to take larger steps forward.  A friendly environment or mentoring setting that’s non-threatening – gives us the strength to fight-off our self-conscious inclination to retreat from expressing ourselves because of fear of failure, or peer harassment.

When the hindrance of what others might think, or concerns about being judged is removed – we usually experience ‘creative freedom’.  When we sense support—turning in a writing assignment and sharing something we’ve written with our classmates, is less threatening.

Structured Guidance

There are benefits to writing in a structured learning setting with a teacher.  The greatest musicians, singers, actors, painters, writers, dancers have all had teachers and instructors that inspired and helped them develop their skill.  Most successful athletes have specialized coaches while other vocations have mentors, or life-coaches.

  Teachers, coaches or mentors will often see what we can’t.  They can spot our strengths and know how to build on them – and identify our weaknesses and help us make corrections to bolster these areas making them stronger.  We’re not left on our own – to figure it all out.  When studying Hebrew in graduate school, I had a first year professor who raced ahead of the class. One third of the students dropped the class after our first session. I had no choice, I hired a tutor and was able to keep up with the accelerated pace our young instructor had employed.  Tutors, like teachers, coaches and mentors are valuable resources. Sometimes we need them, to get our head wrapped around a subject enabling us to advance to the next level.

Poem: I Think

In a writing class setting we’re given assignments and opportunities to begin practicing our new skills alongside others who are on the same learning curve.  Our teacher gives us insights, inspiration, practical tools, guide-lines and exercises that strengthen our ‘writing muscle’.  We revisit the English basics and are given assignments to make sure we’re grasping the principles.  What comes next is practice and more of the same.  I’d hate to tell you what my first writing attempt at dialogue looked like.  

Skill, ability and confidence come with time and practice.  Most young writers stare at a blank page for longer than they would like to admit – trying to figure what they want to write about, or say. It happens!  That’s where smaller incremental assignments from a teacher can help us get into the flow of starting and completing a writing project.    

Accelerated improvement in our writing ability will come as we apply ourselves and pursue writing beyond assignments.   As runners get hooked on the adrenalin and endorphin release that happens during and after a good run – in a similar way authors are often inspired and motivated in unusual and amazing ways when they let their passion for a particular writing subject flow like the strong currents of a river in springtime.

When a writer is caught-up in the inspiration of writing there’s an inner drive and quiet magic going on. Completing a project there’s an equally freeing feeling of inner-satisfaction when we’ve nailed a subject and know it.  Beyond this there’s significant personal fulfillment when what we’ve written goes to print. 

A Deeper Support

For some students who are in school and trying – being at school may be the safest environment you have.  If you have a teacher who cares about your future it may be the most important source of support in your life.   Let’s say you’re in a class with a teacher and other students in the class who develop a bond of support and friendship. This encouragement could easily propel you forward in achieving some of your educational or vocational goals.

Beyond the Lines

Sincere teacher, counselor, mentor, or peer support within the community has the potential to alter the future of multitudes of struggling kids. The drop-out rate among many students could be reversed. This might translate into completing high school, college/university, enrollment in a vocational or specialized school – with some going on to obtain a masters or doctorate degree.  Positive mentor and peer support can turn the head, heart and mind of anyone who is struggling to find their “place in this world”. 

We may gain the courage to start our own entrepreneurial endeavor/business, or take on a humanitarian project / mission that changes the lives of others for the better.  Who knows what will come from the spring-board of those who believe in us?

An Idea and Deterrent to a “Failing Educational Model”

Teaching to test, better teachers, a national unified standard in proficiency – is in hot debate and will be for years to come.  The solutions could be right in front of our noses.

What about putting the spotlight on the absence of invested parents?  How about paying teachers more, honoring creative teachers that teach out of the box – and those who teach using methods that students can more easily learn by? Why is an advanced country like the USA ignoring right and left brain learners? What about more emphasis on paid mentors?  Almost all academically successful countries have parents who are extremely invested in their children’s education. 

The lack of parental involvement, nurture and discipline is a substantial problem when attempting to hold students accountable.  The overload of media entertainment and games distracts students from thinking, studying and completing their homework.  With an absence of monitors and time-limits students are allowed to spend on entertainment and games – how can we expect to reverse a national crisis in the education system? 

How Do I Know that Writing is My Gift?

It’s hard to know exactly where ‘good writing’ may take us and how far.  Every student who aspires to go on to university and beyond will need to know how to write proficiently. Most higher education classes require written reports, essays and papers.  The clarity, writing skill, accuracy of content and research sources are all factored into a grade.  Numerous positions in business and industry which require written and verbal communication skills compensate their employees with higher pay packages.  With the explosion of the computer and internet in most working environments – writing skills are a valuable asset in all places of commerce and business.  Personal correspondence and written communication on computers will not be replaced by robotics.  On the other hand, computer software tools like “Dragon” are a huge blessing to those who for any number of reasons are unable to type on a computer. Voice recognition software is gaining momentum and will be around for a long time to come.

It’s not easy to know if writing is one of your strongest ‘gifts’ in life – but it should become apparent after you’ve been at it for awhile.  A teacher or someone you know will recognize this gift and affirm you.  When this is multiplied by others encouraging you to pursue and further you’re writing talents—it’s a strong indication you have something of value that could be a ticket to a good job in this field.  Either way, writing like any of the arts, brings personal satisfaction.  So, keep an open-mind as you explore the world of writing – knowing it’s a valuable tool, skill and possibly a special gift that could one day become part of your vocation.  

Difficult Things to Revisit

Our primary human needs are real. Several are—to belong, feel significant and be understood. Most would agree with these basic human needs.  We desire to express ourselves, communicating our thoughts in writing, speech, music, art, dance, or some other gifting.  Our expressions reveal what we think, feel, see, have learned, believe and like. We do this naturally and frequently within a family unit, or support group of friends where we feel safe.  If we don’t feel affirmed and accepted – we keep our thoughts, feelings and expressions to ourselves.  Though the desire for expression is strong, we quickly learn it’s not a good idea to reveal our inner world to some people.  The cost is too high. Who wants to have a new talent, interest, or expression crushed by cruel words?  We choose to save self-revelations for a supportive setting.

Dragon

When wounded or abused, we’re fearful and self-conscious.  Avoiding further rejection is a good idea.  Emotional wounds can take years to recover and heal from – if ever.   It’s understandable and wise to be cautious in sharing things that are embarrassing, painful and deeply personal. Trust takes time.  

If you asked me to write about ‘my home life’ and I come from a dysfunctional family that was abusive – it’s probably not going to happen. I don’t want to go there! I don’t even want to think about it most of the time.  Fictitious Example: I don’t want my peers to know my dad is obsessed with gambling and my mom is a drunk.  I’m still angry they spent my college savings on their nasty little “habits”.  Get it?
 
When I started writing about my teen and young adult journey into darkness, that literally choked everything good out of my life, it was depressing.  While writing – I found myself reliving nine years of being on an emotional roller-coaster while incarcerated in and out of youth institutions.  Going back to this time-period forced me to dredge the bottom of a dark pit where I’d been trapped. When fresh emotions resurfaced, I was surprised.  I forced myself to keep writing, until I got past these bad memories. The truth is, I needed to record this journey and face these giants from the past.  In writing about bad things, sometimes there is a catharsis release of gentle healing that takes place.  The anger, fear, or hell we felt and what actually happened has the potential to cleanse our emotions – ridding us of the past’s power over us, that can attempt to impede our present life.  Be truthful and avoid exaggerating if you are writing biographically.

You’ll know if it’s the right or wrong time to revisit anything in your life-history, that’s not somewhere you want to go in your thoughts.  I fully understand.  Keep in mind that things you’ve seen and lived through whether positive or negative are the stuff that interesting stories and characters are made of, because it’s the real-deal. 

Happier Memories 

Most have some happier memories we can draw from, which is a lighter place to begin. How about the simplicity of feel-good memories like: A best friend you did fun things with, a loving and wise grandma who took you in for part of your summer vacations, water skiing at the lake, camping out and exploring, a loyal dog that saved your life more than once?  I’m a sucker for best friend, summertime, camping and animal stories.   

Sandias Magenta sun set over hills sillouette

If I were asked to write something fun and personal – I’ve got several good choices. 1. Summertime fun with friends and family.  2. Weekends at the lake learning how to water ski. 3. Camping in the desert with incredible skies and terrain, or hiking and exploring in the southern California foothills with my little buddies.  4. Walks with my dog Cree and all the fun stuff we got into. 

Some young writers enjoy letting their imagination soar by creating an environment and characters that fill the pages with everything from hysterically funny episodes from their imagination to alien super-heroes and villains from some galaxy light years away like the Winner twins. Other budding authors will gravitate to writing poems, or short stories.

One of my daughter’s first writing endeavors is a favorite I’ve revisited for over twenty-five years.  I like having it out where I can see it from time to time. It’s ten 3x3 inch pages with drawings and pencil printed text.  It’s a quick read taking only 1 minute. It is her first book.  This same daughter Marianne graduated university with an English major.  After university she enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York City and has continued as a successful executive chef, mom and entrepreneur business owner of a company called ‘Mess Hall’ that produces a line marinated cherries. She’s provided inspiration in the culinary world for young chef friends, as well as authors who’ve written reviews and feature articles about her in Chicago’s magazines.  I love thinking about her tiny little book that was one of her springboards of confidence and achievement! 

Child running down path in grassy field

The cool thing about writing is – it’s not restricting or confining. We have the freedom to be ourselves and express our thoughts in our own way.  We can write about anything!  We could research and write about what it’s like living on a paradise island, or at the foot of Mt. Everest. We could find out what it’s like being a sixteen year old in Moscow Russia, or investigate and write about the most practical energy- saving devices that are being introduced in Europe, or write about the latest successes of young people under the age of twenty-five who’ve started successful businesses that are meeting a unique need in society and the world.Nothing is off-limits!

To Be Continued 


A Reason to Write – Part 2 

(What’s Coming Next . . .)

Writing and the media / movies

Valuable writing exercises

Clarity and word-stringing

Writing style and voice

Top 7 bestselling authors

Top 10 American authors from 1860-present

Top 10 books of all time

10 most influential authors of all time

Most widely owned book of all time


Dave Hoyt

Dave Hoyt and his wife Ginny reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up a troubled teen in Los Angeles. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco’s ‘Haight District’ seeking truth and God. Reaching a crisis of belief in eastern religions – he turned to prayer and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He was an early participant in the Jesus People Movement in the USA and Europe. He returned to school earning a master of divinity degree. Beyond, for 25 plus years he’s served as a pastor, chaplain to struggling teens and hospice chaplain.  He is semi-retired self employed doing graphics, photography, writing part-time and endeavoring to be a representative of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in this needy world.

 

 

 

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Last Update: 2016-09-01 12:26