The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Breathe Writer's Conference 2013 - Enter The Rookie

My view of the world, from my favorite table at Biggby, with my favorite fur baby

Through God's grace, I attended the Breathe Christian Writer's Conference. And I'm going to run out of superlatives to describe it.

So every time you see the word, "Wow," insert the over-the-top exclamation of awesomeness of your choice. Thank you.

Here we go... reviewing, in writing, a conference for real, honest-to-goodness writers. And (maybe) even letting them know that I did.


The whole feel of the conference was nice. More relaxed than I expected, but exactly what I needed as I try to wade into the water of writing.

I'm sure there was networking going on, hobknobbing, some "have your people call my people" and other connections being made, but it wasn't so "in your face" that it made a rookie feel like either 1) a second-class citizen 'cause I don't roll in those circles (Word to yo word processor); or 2) a little slimy because everybody there is attempting to make power connections, kind of like sharks circling a big ol' tub-o'-chum.

Om nom nom.

Perhaps the networking movers and shakers were using secret hand signs, to separate the peeps worthy of connectage from the clueless noobs who barely know how to tie their shoes, writing-wise. If that was the case, I want to say thank you. This rookie felt right at home.

The Lord kind of stacked my schedule so that I knew the one, and only one, workshop I was supposed to be at for each session. Because, in His kindness, He knows that if He wants me somewhere, He simply takes out all other choices, thus improving the chances that I'll get the hint and show up. "Sit! Stay! Take notes! PAY ATTENTION!... Good Calbert."

Pat pat pat on the head. Calbert pants, drools, and scratches his ear with his foot.


So the first day seemed to be all things for me to "take in" - things to look at, things to consider, and assistance in getting a view of what Calbert looks like as a writer:

A fun but serious look at my blog, thanks to Susie Finkbeiner;

Help in finding space, time, and nourishment for writing from Erin Bartels;

And some great illumination on learning styles with Jolene Philo.

Three workshops to turn my eyes inward, consider how writing works in my life, and some things to work on, especially in that great pile of fluffy goodness I call my blog.

The final day was where the Lord gave me some tools to start using, prompting me to type along and make so many notes that I could see fingerprints in the shape of a keyboard on the iPad's screen.

- I hadn't been eating anything greasy, and I did wash my hands, so it had to have been the note taking, right? -


"Creative Emergence" with Don Perini - inexpressible levels of *Wow.* Rattled my brain, gave me concrete things to work on in the abstract realm of creativity, AND made soap chalk move to the top of my shopping list.

*Wow.* And TMI, for the record.

Then the one that pretty much rang my bell in a positive, heart-warming, Quasimodo sort of way...

"Short Forms: Playing With Nonfiction" from Cynthia Beach. (TWO Cornerstone professors in a row! Way to represent, professor peeps!)

Anyway, Cynthia exposed this tuba player, who never even thought of going near writing and literature, to beautiful examples, amazing tools, and the freedom to play with them. I was challenged, moved, and encouraged.

*Wow* (To the 10th power, or whatever someone who isn't mathematically challenged would add to make the inserted exclamation of awesomeness much, much larger...)

The last workshop was the one that I knew I would be going to, regardless of the topic...

Amelia Rhodes is not only amazing, kind, sweet, and writes in the same genre I sort of do (only really well), but she'll even admit in public that she knows me.

A saint. Truly.

A great ending to a day of "Take notes, and expect there to be many quizzes in days to come."

Breathe was where God led me, where God met me, and where God told me, "Will you finally believe Me? You're a writer - now GET TO IT."

Yes, Lord. I have no idea what to do with it or which way to point it, but, yes, I'll go write.

"Good Calbert. Good boy."


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Girl At The Coffee Shop

It's unusual for me to be at my North Office on a Sunday morning. (More properly known as Biggby Coffee on the E Beltline near Celebration Cinema, so the hordes of groupies know where to convene...) Usually my hiney is rockin' the bass at First Cov, or making an attempt at rockin', at least as far as this mid-fifties bass boy can rock. Oh, and dancing around a tiny bit, which is just wrong on so many levels, but I can't seem to stand still, so I just go with it.

It beats the days I had to sit to play, so there ya go.

So, on this Sunday morning I had a week off from worship team, and I decided that instead of going to the service, I'd spend the morning at Biggby, listening to the Bible, doing a little crocheting, but mostly spending time in front of the keyboard, seeing where the Lord and I might go.

I'm an introvert, a people watcher, and an amateur ADD guy, so needless to say my eyes roam around even as I'm typing away. And my brain clicks in and out of focus, as Steve the mental hampster has a field day, running all over the table and pooping with extreme prejudice.

Don't you SO want to sit down with me at my table, just to take it all in? Of course you do...

Said nobody, ever.

So have you ever sat someplace in public, seen someone else, and tried to figure out their story? You're looking at them, trying not to get caught looking at them, searching for visual clues that will fill in the blanks. With practice, you can get really good at those passing glances that take in a few more details without them actually catching you in the act, lest they make eye contact and let you know in one look that they're packing pepper spray and aren't afraid to use it.

I think this is especially true when a person of the male gender persuasion is trying to discreetly ponder a person of the opposite female gender persuasion, innocently looking for clues as to the deeper story, and the person of the male gender persuasion happens to be way, WAY older than the person of the opposite female gender persuasion.

This could potentially give the mistaken impression of an old guy, who wasn't a picture of hotness even in his prime, being creepy and scoping out a young filly, when he has absolutely no business doing such a thing. And really, if he is the sort to engage in such behavior, perhaps he should be humanely neutered at the earliest opportunity.

(Help control the surplus "creepy old guy scoping out young chick population" - have your old guy neutered right away.

And if he's married? Off with his head. No judge, no jury - just cold steel. Or cold, rusty steel. Or, even better - cold, rusty, DULL steel.)

(Can you tell I have issues with middle-aged men acting like idiots, creeping out both young fillies and other gentlebeings as well? Yes, I thought you might have noticed that.)

So, with great stealth and caution, I engaged in this sort of thing this very morning.

Not the creepy stuff - the "observing someone else, trying to ponder their deeper story" stuff. I'm a little shocked you'd even need that explained - you ought to know me better by now. Granted, my sentences usually ramble so much that basically NOBODY can follow my thoughts from one end to the other, but still...

Never mind. *sigh*

So, the young lady sat down at the next table, right in my line of sight to the window. (Sweet - she'll just assume I'm looking out the window...)

That was borderline creepy - sorry.

She had her bagel sandwich and beverage, along with a ponderous handbag and an even larger tote bag. I assumed that she was waiting for someone - the seat across from her was empty, and she seemed to be waiting. Charging her phone, checking various and sundry things.

Some sniffling, indicating either a slight cold or some other seasonal issues. Kind of a down expression, looking around, almost seeming a little lost. And so it went for the next 45 minutes or so.

Took a couple of little bites from her sandwich, then threw most of it away.

I kept getting an overwhelming sense of "alone." She was looking, she was waiting, but she was very much alone. She wasn't sure what the next step was... a car stalled at a green light.

I'm prepared to be told that this analysis is a whole bucketload of hooey, by the way. I'd be totally NOT shocked to find that I am, as is so often said about my existence, clueless.

But I also felt quite sad for her. As I said, she felt so alone.

I couldn't engage her in conversation - refer to the aforementioned references to "creepy guy" to understand why, so there wasn't an opportunity to learn her story, to look into her world, or to try to bring some light into darkness.

Or at least the darkness I was perceiving. Like I said, it could all be hooey too.

So, I simply prayed. I asked the Lord to meet her where she was at, and to bring His light into her world. To speak into her sadness, to invade her loneliness, to bring hope to her since I had to remain silent.

Could I have spoken? Could I have tried to reach out? Was I dodging my job by using the "she'll think I'm a creepy guy" excuse?

Honestly, I don't think so. But it made for some great dramatic tension in this little thingie.

Just kidding. I crack meself up, I do I do...

Truthfully, I was trying to keep my heart and ears open, to see if there was a window, an opportunity to speak. There was none - or at least none that I felt or saw. I'll admit I'm not the sharpest tool in the drawer, so I could easily have missed something, but it seemed to me that all I could do was observe, and then pray.

And sometimes, that's all we're asked to do. At times I think we actually do damage, we actually harm instead of help, by pushing into situations where we're not being given a green light to go.

Sometimes, we just notice, we observe, we watch...

And we pray. Like for the girl at the coffee shop.