Camp NaNoWriMo

I failed to mention in my previous post about NaNoWriMo that a second event – titled Camp NaNoWriMo – is coming up shortly in August. This write-athon is the same in every possible way to November’s NaNoWriMo, but, as November was the original competition, I see this August as more of a “practice run” for the following event. Needless to say, however, the torture will be the same as ever, trying to reach a goal of 50,000 words in one month.

The logo for Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, there is one difference – you have thirty-one days in camp to finish your novel. But I don’t count that as a differentiation between the two competitions.

So, I’m excited, and I’ve finally been given an idea. John Sawatazky ov, who will also be participating in Camp, has challenged me to write a survival novel. That is, a boy is stranded in the wilderness, and must fight for his very existence against nature and all the dangers it engenders. As an additional condition to completing his challenge, I must refrain from using ANY supporting characters – the main protagonist must be the only person in the entire story.

He did offer me the right to use ONE supporting character if I deemed it necessary, and I’ll probably cling to that as my one lifeline to get through this next month, but I’ll try to refrain from using it unless the circumstances necessitate it. Suffice it to say that it will be a challenge either way 🙂

As I see it, I now have two strikes going against me as I enter into August:

1. The novel will be a survival story, and I’ve never written one of its kind before. There will be a LOT of research involved as I discover what one must do to hunt properly, prepare meat, start fires, construct tools and shelters, and fight against bitter cold (provided that the story is set in winter). There will assuredly be more elements than these involved, but I offer them just to give you an idea of how difficult it will be.

2. NO SUPPORTING CHARACTERS. This will be the most difficult challenge for me, as I’ve never written stories with just one character before. How I will fill eighty to ninety pages with a boy’s thoughts and actions as he essays to survive in difficult circumstances is unknown to me at present 😀

BUT, I’m excited; perhaps more excited than I was last year. August will present plenty of arduous tasks for me to complete and a plethora of obstacles to surmount, but it will all serve to better me as a writer.

That, or it’ll crush me. I’ll leave up to you to conjecture which will occur 😀

God bless!

In Christ,

Ryan

NaNoWriMo 2011

Who knows why I put myself through this torture? I suppose it’s a kind of crucible that molds me into a seasoned writer; but it might also be construed as self-inflicted pain….

The National Novel Writing Month logo

You probably don’t understand a word I’m saying. Well, I’ll elucidate, of course; just have to get my thoughts into order before I begin.

NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month”, and is a November event where novelists all over the world write a novel (the criterion in this competition being fifty thousand words).  People from Africa, Europe, Australia, South America and the United States stretch their fingers over their keyboards

and set to writing masterpieces in a mere thirty days. Needless to say, this gives a participant an excellent sense of community, since you know that, everywhere else, people are suffering through writing 1,600 words a day just like you are….

I participated in this event last year and, with a lot of help from the Lord to get me up every morning at 6:30 to write, I managed to reach a novel one day before the deadline. Suffice it to say that I was VERY excited. It had been a long month, but it was all worth it in the end. I learned a great deal about writing itself, and about the rewards of persistence and dedication. Ecclesiastes 9:10a reads, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” I couldn’t agree more 🙂

But it’s hard. Getting up early every morning, sitting down, and writing 1,600 words can be a difficult goal to achieve, especially when you’re exhausted from the previous day’s labors. But with a little help from God, and the willingness to persist, anything is possible through Him who gives you strength 🙂

Wish me luck! If you happen to be interested in participating this year, drop by http://www.nanowrimo.org; they’ve got plenty of information on the particulars of the competition, some articles of encouragement to writers embarking on the torturous journey of making a novel in a month, and plenty of tips for those determined to get involved.

In Christ,

Ryan

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II

So. This was it. Today, my Harry Potter experience ended. Having read the books and seen all the previous movies, and this being the final film in the series, it was all about to end. I was nervous walking into the theater – excited, yet anxious, worried that they wouldn’t meet the many high expectations fans had as they took their seats.

But they did. They met every single one of them, and it couldn’t have been better.

So, what more can I say, except that this was an excellent film?

There are reasons, though, of course. This final installment is brimming with brilliant lessons and desirable virtues: Love, sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, and the price that sometimes must be paid to defeat evil. These, and many more, are the backbone of the entire series, and came to fruition in the end of it all. It’s one of those beautiful things that you can barely describe that touches hearts and resonates within deep resovoirs within ourselves. There is truth in it – in love and friendship, as there is in good’s ultimate triumph over evil.

But, accolades asside, I really wanted to address all the criticism Harry Potter has been receiving of late. The constant accusation I’ve been hearing is that, “It’s entirely un-Christian” and, “It defies the Bible” and, “It advocates witchcraft and the occult”, and I’ll be the first to tell you that this is not true at all. I’ll quote first Charles Colson, a columnist for Christianity Today, who says, ” [The magic in Harry Potter is] purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic. That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don’t make contact with a supernatural world. [It’s not] the kind of real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns.”

In other words, the Bible is talking about the sort of magic that requires you make contact with demons, and derive your power from them. In Harry Potter, nothing of the sort happens. It is a fantasy magic, just like that which is present in The Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. I’ll bring one instance forward from the latter; the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia. Many Christians like this series, and there’s plenty of magic in it, both good and evil. Aslan talks about the “deep magic” that governs the land, and it is presented as good, since it’s on Aslan’s side; there is also the evil magic which Trumpkin the Dwarf tries to use to resurrect the White Witch with the blood of a Son of Adam – something which, consequently, Voldemort happens to do in Harry Potter as well, and he is one of the users of “dark magic” as described in the book. It’s the SAME thing.

“Good magic” is supported in Narnia and Harry Potter alike. “Bad magic” is denounced and rejected in the same manner. The “good magic” and “bad magic”, as above discussed, are the same things in both of the series. So, wouldn’t a novel that condemns “bad magic” (Harry Potter, in this case), just like it is condemned in a Christian novel (The Chronicles of Narnia, for example), be a Christian novel? I certainly don’t see why not.

So, why dislike Harry Potter? Because it wasn’t written by a Christian? Well, that isn’t a good reason at all. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are good no matter who writes about it, and there’s plenty of all the Fruits of the Spirit in the Harry Potter series. And, J.K. Rowling was, in fact, raised in a Scottish Episcopalian church, and includes Bible verses in her final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. To be precise, “The last enemy that shall be conquered is death” and “Where your treasure lies, there will your heart be also”, both of which were inscribed as epitaphs on tombstones in the novel.

Another comparison I’ve seen used between real-world, demonic, un-Biblical magic, and fantasy magic is “invocational” versus “incantational”. Referencing wikipedia.org, John Granger, in his book Finding God in Harry Potter, puts it this way:

Wikipedia: “The American academic and Orthodox Christian writer John Granger has analyzed the literature in a positive light. Granger, a Christian classicist, has defended the books in his book, Looking for God in Harry Potter. Granger argues that the books do not promote the occult because none of the magic is based on summoning any sort of demon or spirit; he contrasts occult invocational magic (calling up spirit beings to do your bidding) with literature’s common incantational magic (saying a set phrase to use power from an unspecified source). Indeed, says Granger, the themes of love triumphing over death and choosing what is right instead of what is easy are very compatible with Christianity.”

And he’s right. The fact that the world has accepted these books – books that are filled with blatantly Christian elements: Love, sacrifice, friendship, loyalty – should be a comfort to all of us! It’s a truly remarkable and beautiful series, and I don’t believe that J.K. Rowling should be referred to as one of Satan’s advocates on earth – or criticised by saying that her books bear the mark of the king of darkness – because she writes books about virtues which God clearly upholds in His Word.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friendship in Harry Potter? Check. Sacrifice in Harry Potter? Check. Love in Harry Potter?

Check.

All excellent pure, right, lovely, and admirable, right? Well, all of them are in Harry Potter. If these really are Satanic books, how could LOVE be present, when God Himself is love? How could sacrifice be present, when Jesus was sacrificed to save us from our sins? How could friendship be present when the devil isn’t interested in a relationship, but our destruction and isolation from others?

So, I liked these movies, and will definitely watch them again, because they contain so many virtues that God Himself has declared to be good. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind about them, though, as I am just one person in a war that has been raging over these stories since the first was written. I’m not going to make a difference. But I hope this makes you understand why I believe what I believe, and why so many Christians like this series: Love.

The most excellent way, right?

In Christ,

Ryan

 

 

Much Ado…

Hey everyone! In case you haven’t noticed, I have not blogged in awhile. This can be attributed to the wild circumstances in which I have been living for the past two weeks! What with Driver’s Ed, Driver’s Ed, Driver’s Ed and my church’s VBS, my time has been completely occupied by events other than blogging. I give my sincerest apologies to everyone, and hope that I will do better at maintaining a constant stream of posts in the near future. We will have to see what comes, though! I shan’t guarantee anything, since circumstances change so quickly.

Driver’s Ed has been the biggest culprit in depriving me of my opportunities to write. In the wee hours of the morning, I read it. From 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, I am taught it. From 1:00-4:00 – and other times – I drive it. From 9:00 PM-11:00 PM, I read it some more. And it’s been this way for two whole weeks, without end.

Don’t construe this wrongly, though! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a great deal of things about the art of driving. It’s drained me, though, and I’ve had next to nothing in terms of energy this past week. This morning was the first morning this week that I’ve been able to sleep in!

Couple that with my church’s VBS, and you have one tired fifteen year old who needs a cup of ice water and a bed to lie down on for twelve hours…

But, now that this ado has passed, I can finally rest. I have not for one moment, though, regretted one day of the past two weeks. It was all good for me, and I enjoyed it. But, being a human, and being tusly limited by my physicality, I still need an extra few hours of sleep now and again. So, good night to you all!

In Christ,
Ryan