Archive for ‘Just Thinking’

November 19, 2013

How Writing is Like Acting

I was doing some personality research on characters for my next novel (which is really my first novel) yesterday.  I want to be able to write these characters and do them justice, so I do this research to get out of myself and into them.  I can’t be writing and say, “How would I respond to this?” Rather, I have to ask, “How would Character X respond to this?”  It’s much like the acting process.

In order to better understand the reactions of the four main characters (the characters through whom the story is expressed) in my novel, I did something I’ve never done before.  I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test for each of them. For all sixty-some odd questions, I had to abandon who I am and what I would do or prefer, and ask who these characters are.  It was a great exercise, and the results were accurate.

Now, if I ever lose their voices, I have great reference points to regain them.

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ISFJ: The Nurturer

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ESTJ: The Guardian

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ENFP: The Inspirer

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INFP: The Idealist

I am definitely a character-based writer.  I think I love writing characters more than I love writing actual stories.  I am always looking for better ways to make my characters more real, more relatable.

And isn’t that what actors do too?
(Originally Published on Wilderness Adventure by Lydia Thomas).

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July 25, 2012

I Give Up

I wish I could walk you through what has been going on in my life since the beginning of this year, before the FortyOne20 Ministries blog was even launched. But I can’t. I wish I could help you understand that I’m not really giving up or walking away, I’m just at a God-0rchestrated standstill. But I can’t. I wish I could hang on to all of the people who are going to walk away from me because they don’t understand. But I can’t.

I wish it all boiled down to my circumstances. But it doesn’t. I wish it was as simple as my not having enough faith. But it’s not. I wish it was because I’m being sinful and disobedient, and hey, I just had it coming. But that’s not quite how it is. I wish you could help me. But you can’t.

Before I say what I have to say today, I want you to understand that I know exactly what this looks like. Please believe me when I tell you that under the surface something completely different is happening, and I can’t tell you about it because it’s between me and God. I’m a naturally transparent and vulnerable person, so I want to tell you about it, but this time (and perhaps only this time) I have to keep it close – it is that personal.

I want you to know I am at peace with what is happening. I do not entirely know why things are happening now the way they are – but… they are. I recognize that God is always good, all of the time, and that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I love Him and am called according to His purpose, so like everything else, I know this cannot be bad. As with everything else, God is bringing me through the transformation process.

Lastly, I need you to know that this is not about you. I’m not sure it’s entirely about me. I’m not trying to hurt you when I do (or do not do) things – it’s just not personal. It’s about my relationship with God and drawing closer to Him as He strips distractions away. Please understand that there are days when it is excruciatingly painful, and I may just need to be alone with God. I love you all, welcome your encouragement and exhortations, but some days… Some days I may not receive it the way you intended it to be taken.

***

For month of August, there will be no content on the FortyOne20 Ministries blog. I am doing a guest post at Barefoot Hippie Girl sometime next week reviewing The Dark Knight Rises but otherwise there will be no content. I am hoping to use this next month to build content, re-vamp our online presence, design a logo, enlist some co-directors and develop the production proposals for our upcoming video projects. It is my intention to be back with content three times a week and our production plan in the beginning of September, but God may have another plan and direction for FortyOne20 Ministries, and I will wait for Him. I will update you towards the end of August if this is the case.

Right now, though, God’s mandate to me is simple: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

It’s funny because I always thought there must be something horribly wrong with a believer who is sitting still. Shouldn’t we always be going and doing? The story of Mary and Martha just came to my mind, when Jesus tells Martha that she is troubled about many things, but Mary chose the one important thing – sitting at the feet of Jesus.  I was also reading in Exodus 14 earlier this week where God leads the Israelites out of Egypt into a place where they are blocked in and can’t move. Moses tells them to stand still and wait for the Lord’s deliverance. There was simply no other option.

I know some people will mistake stillness for stagnation, and to be honest, I am a little worried about those people. I have to trust God, and do and be what He wants me to do and be – even when it looks like nothing.

Later!

-Lydia-

July 12, 2012

Everyone’s A Critic

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

 

I honestly don’t care about Miley Cyrus’ newest tattoo, but it did get me thinking about Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena speech and how incredibly easy it is to criticize.  Pointing out others’ flaws and shortcomings – in their personal lives, in their ministries, in their art. With online social media expanding, anybody can be a critic. In fact, most people are. Including me.

The problem with criticism is exactly as Mr. Roosevelt says: many critics aren’t actually out there making their own mistakes … just criticizing the people who are brave enough to go out and try, come what may.

With almost every film I analyze, I analyze in terms of how it deals with gender. (Just go look at our Artist’s Picks and you’ll see what I’m talking about).  Most of the film theory classes  I took in college dealt with gender on some level, but it was always from a humanist perspective. At the same time, God was dealing with me personally on His ideas about gender, and I became extremely dissatisfied with how men and women are portrayed in movies. I genuinely believe there is reason to be concerned with these portrayals.

However, if you watch the movies I’ve made, none of them address gender issues. I have a lot of thoughts on how I would approach gender in my movies, but I haven’t actually put them into practice yet. That has to change.

I’m really excited about the launch of FortyOne20 Ministries’ Video Production division because I’m really hoping to change not just the way we analyze movies, but how movies are made. After our introductory project we have plans to produce a fiction miniseries for the Internet that will address some of these gender issues. Maybe once I’m in the trenches I’ll have a different perspective, not to mention critics of my own.

Now I’m not suggesting we don’t need to be analytical of the art we’re observing, because we should be. We should consider it through the lens of God’s Word and be discerning about the art we’re consuming. Additionally, God tells us to “think about how we can spur each other on to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), and I believe this includes art consumption.

We also need to be practicing the standards we apply to others’ art when creating our own art. We need to have grace with other artists who maybe do things a little bit differently than we think we would in their situations. And as artists, we should put ourselves out there, even when it means opening ourselves up to the critics.

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas where she studied film theory and video production. She is passionate about reaching and equipping artists for Jesus Christ.

May 31, 2012

Muse: Drawing Inspiration

It’s a vocab lesson this week, folks. 😉

Muse v. to think about something in a deep and serious or dreamy and abstracted way; to say something in a thoughtful or questioning way; to gaze at somebody or something thoughtfully or abstractedly.

Muse n. someone who is a source of inspiration for an artist, especially a poet; the inspiration that supposedly visits, leaves, and suggests things to an artist, especially a poet; the particular gift or talent of an artist.

The concept of muse originates in Greek mythology.  The muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne: Calliope, muse of epic poetry; Clio, muse of history; Erato, muse of tragedy; Polyhymnia, muse of sacred poetry (yes, that’s where we get our word “hymn”); Terpsichore, muse of dance; Thalia, muse of comedy; and Urania, muse of astronomy. Clearly, muse has been associated with art from the beginning (or very close to the beginning). Through the ages, it has come to be known as an artist’s inspiration, and now holds connotations of deep thought, meditation, and reflection.

Muse is what we as artists are dwelling on as we create.  Muse can take the form of another artist, a piece of art, a lover or love affair, a life circumstance, or any combination of these.  Muse can be ever-changing or perpetually-constant.  Regardless of the form it takes, muse represents the deep connection on the part of the artist to who or what is being thought about.

Muse is personal, perhaps even private to some.  You can see the product of muse and the artist in the art, but you may never know what is behind the art.

Many times the muse relationship fluctuates through auras of painful and joyful. I can think of about twenty break-up songs that illustrate the painful side of muse: a relationship that once caused happiness has been shattered, and the artist draws from that experience. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know is in between on the muse front: it’s good that the romantic relationship is over, but when the friendship and civility disappear, it’s painful. In sheer joy, a poet can exclaim, “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45). In Psalm 45, dwelling on God inspires art of praise. Muse can dictate the outcome of art.

Artists should be inspired by the pain and joy in their relationships and circumstances. The art this produces resonates with art-observers. But if the fluctuations of life are all there is to our art, I am afraid it will be detrimental to us as artists. Think about it: if I look only to myself and my experiences, what happens when there is nothing left to draw from? What if my art only ever reflects my feelings and my circumstances? Emptiness is the product of self-centered and victimized (others-centered, circumstance-centered) muse. (Trust me).

I write poetry (although I would not call myself a poet). When I was around fifteen or sixteen, I wrote a poem called Journey to Nowhere.  It reflects much of the emptiness and nothingness I felt at the time. I was pretty much numb to life. My muse was nothing tangible, just an enemy I’d wrestled with (and still wrestle with sometimes) – but an enemy I’d kept close. That was undoubtedly one of the darkest periods of my life.  I’ve never shared the poem with anyone, and I’m not planning on sharing it now, but I do keep it around.

I was lacking something when my art was dictated only by feelings, circumstances, relationships. I had no personal relationship with God or His Son Jesus, and had wrong conceptions of Him. My God-view affects my world-view and art-view, and believe me, how you view God also affects you and your art. 

I recently wrote another poem. (I should qualify that I have written many poems during the interim). It’s about how I view myself, and God’s answers to my views – how He views me. It stems from things God has been growing me in since the beginning of my senior year in college. It deals with painful things, it asks hard questions. While I still have an imperfect view of God, dwelling on Him and how He sees me based on His Word, sets this poem volumes apart from Journey to Nowhere.

When writing it, I was not necessarily dwelling on my feelings, circumstances, and relationships, but I acknowledged them. They’re important. More important, however, is what God has done and is doing through these feelings, circumstances, and relationships. In order for my art to have right perspective, He has to come first in the muse process.

So my challenge is to artists. Will you think about what you’re thinking about when creating art this week? I mean, seriously engage. What is it that’s fueling your creativity?

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film. She is also a prolific writer and the facilitator of FortyOne20 Ministries. She desires to see artists come to know Jesus and be as artists committed to knowing Jesus and making Him known through art.

May 18, 2012

Integrity

“Lord, I know this is going to hurt, and so I hesitate to ask it – but Lord, I ask that You will make me an artist of deep character and high integrity for the cause of Christ.”

And from this prayer, along with many other things, FortyOne20 Ministries was born.  Asking for integrity is like asking for patience: God is going to put you in situations where you are tested and grown. I asked anyway, and whenever I will catch myself in a situation that’s particularly challenging and asking why, God? Why?, God points me back to this prayer. This is exactly what you asked for. Humph.

Integrity.  It’s a loaded word. Most people have heard of it at one time or another, but very few people have a clear concept of it. Webster’s defines integrity as “uprightness, soundness of character, moral wholeness; the condition, quality or state of being complete or undivided.” When I worked as a cashier, the company explained that integrity is being who you are whether or not someone is watching.  That may be stating it simplistically, but it’s to the point: hypocrisy cannot exist with integrity. Pretense destroys integrity.

When I think of a person without integrity, I think of the storefront facades in old wester towns: ornate and elaborate on one side, but not much of anything on the other. They appear to have great character, but it’s all an act.

Integrity is a struggle for me as an artist. (I can’t say whether it’s a struggle for all artists, but I’m betting there are at least a few others like me, so I’m going to share it anyway). You see, I want to be liked.  I want my art to be liked.

When I am making a movie, writing a poem or story, or singing, the end result is the overflow of my heart. I literally put myself into what I create. When it comes time to share my art with other people, I am putting pieces of myself “out there.” So every time I sit down and create, I make a choice: I can either put myself “out there” the way I want to be seen (or the way I think people want to see me) or I can put myself “out there” the way I actually am.

Can I be honest for a minute? The way I actually am is not usually pretty.  Until about a week ago, I had kept up a personal blog for about three years. It was mostly my thoughts in response to a trial I was going through at the time. Anybody who read it can tell you that there were days when it was encouraging and uplifting, but there were also days when it was hurt, sad and angry. It wasn’t an outlet, wasn’t even me processing, it was just me.  About a year ago, the tone of my blog changed because I suddenly felt like some people didn’t like the real me. So the real Lydia took a blogging vacation, and happy/joyful/positive/fine-just-fine Lydia started writing. My readers may not have noticed, but I sure did. Suddenly, there was immense pressure to perform. I had let go of my integrity.

Before graduation last summer, I remember crying out to God in pain – many times. I remember the day I had a breakthrough. Very clearly, I felt the Holy Spirit convict me: Why are you deriving your worth from what people think and say about you? Why do you need their affirmation? Let Me affirm you.

And I began to slowly to tear down some of the walls I had built.  I think it had been going well – not too easy, not to hard (haha) – when I asked God to make me an artist of high integrity. (What was I thinking???) As a result, the old struggle of performance over reality especially in creating art has popped up again.

I want me art to be God-honoring and excellent, but I also want it to be honest. I don’t really have a solution, but I do believe it is possible to create God-glorifying, excellent and honest art. God is still teaching me how. I think I need to begin with honesty – being real before God and others – and pursue excellence from there. But it’s a journey.

“The integrity of the upright will guide them…”

Proverbs 11:3

No challenge with this one, folks. Just think about it… 🙂

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film.  She is passionate about reaching artists for Jesus Christ.