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First Draft Blessing

**Note – I’ve got a GoFundMe drive going to make some updates and improvements to my music studio and live sound rig. If you’d like to know more, click this link. And thank you for checking it out! Now, let’s get on with the fluffy goodness!**

Creative folks know something that the rest of us don’t – the blessing of the first draft.

(Ok – “blessing” might be a bit of a stretch. Maybe words like “agony,” “struggle,” or “circus of doubt, gloom, despair, and general angst” might be more appropriate.)

But in my slogging, limping, stuttering, inconsistent creative life, I’m just starting to see the blessing of the first draft. And it only took me 58 years to get there.

Woo. Yay me.

In writing, remembering that the first draft is ugly, imperfect, incomplete, and should never see the light of day, is key to keeping one’s sanity.

Not that any creative human person is sane. And since I believe that everyone is creative, well, y’all all cray cray up in here. *raises hand in three finger movie franchise solidarity salute*

The rule of the first draft is just get the dumb thing out there. Get it out of your head and into some sort of place that doesn’t vanish the second you look at a squirrel. Or a puppy. Or anything on the interwebthingie anyplace. Get whatever it is out of the seething chaos of your head and into some sort of tangible mess that you can play with. Get it out there.

Which is why the first draft really isn’t meant to be seen by anybody else. Nor all the angst, eye rolling, hair pulling, moaning, or other self-inflicted behaviors engaged in when you compare this *thing* you’ve brought into being with what you thought it looked like in your head.

Ew. To da max, man.

So, slowly, I’m coming to believe in the first draft – even though the process leaves me cringing and sobbing. Getting something – anything – out of my head and into the world really does help.

(After all, there’s only so much room in my ol’ upper room. More like a upper closet, actually. And not one of those walk-in, deluxe dealios – I’m talking barely enough room for nothing. That’s me, baby.)

And I’m learning that there are many, many things in life that are “first drafts.” Indeed, life itself is a big ol’ first draft. The good thing is that first drafts give us opportunities to edit, to refine, and to slowly make what exists in this world come closer to what it looks like in our minds.

The bad thing is that most of the time, this first draft of life is lived out in front of a live audience. #wellthatwasawkward

No opportunities to do all our hand wringing and eye rolling in private. No chance to wander around the house, questioning our vocation, our calling, or our very existence, without someone wanting to get some concerned professionals involved. Our first draft gets lived out right in front of everybody.

So, maybe, we ought to cut others a whole lot of slack. After all, it’s just a first draft. It’s beautiful in places, it’s more than we could have ever dreamed in places…

And it’s bug ugly in places. Many places. Many, many, many places. It’s a first draft, folks. Beautiful, ugly, unfinished, raw, and real. Give grace to others, and grab some for yourself as well. Believe me – it will get better. Time and work – that’s all it takes to turn a first draft into something else…

A masterpiece.

** And yes, there was indeed a first draft of this little piece of fluffy goodness. And yes, some editing and general crapola removal did occur. And yes, the stuff that’s left is better than what I started with. And yes, that is pretty sad when you think about it. **

This Is NOT A Test…

“Here Comes The Sun, and I say, Rowf rowf rowf!!!”

Dear Fellow Michiganders,

(Though applicable to other northern climes, I’m specifically addressing my fellow sojourners in the Land of the Hand and da UP, eh?)

Please proceed to the nearest window and observe the outdoor situation. If the same old ball of grey and dismal greets your optical perception, disregard, head to your kitchen, grab snacks, and carry on.

However, if your optical sensors are assaulted by blinding fiery brilliance, the likes of which you have dim memories of ever beholding, Do. Not. Panic. This is not “the big one, Elizabeth.” (Bonus points if you heard that in Redd Foxx’s voice…) This is not the End of the World as we know it, and I’m feeling fine. (Or however the song goes…) We have lived through this before, and we will do so again. Please take the following actions:

1)  If the outdoor temperature…
     a) is 35°, please dress in jeans, and either long or short sleeves. Sweatshirts are optional, depending on your body fat percentage and metabolism.
     b) exceeds 40°, sweatshirts are not an option, and short sleeves are recommended.
     c) exceeds 45°, short sleeves are mandatory, t-shirts are highly recommended, and shorts are very appropriate.

2) Immediately proceed outdoors. If you are at work, simply inform your supervisor that the sky is on fire and you want to spend your last moments with those you love. They will immediately understand and may even do the same.

Maybe.

Go with your families – your sons, your daughters, your wives. Go with your slaves and servants. Take your flocks and herds, your belongings and your goods. Take with you all the spoils of Egypt that the Lord your God has given into your hands…

Hold on… We’ve just gotten through Exodus in the Daily Audio Bible. I think that might be influencing me a tad. Sorry. Take everybody and go outside – just that. #wellthatwasawkward

3) Stay outdoors while the fiery orb remains above the horizon. If your skin begins to turn pinkish or becomes sensitive or painful, seek some shade, but do not, DO NOT retreat indoors. Remain outdoors – this is for your good, and will encourage those around you.

4) Take pictures, especially selfies of your clan, reveling in the brilliant glow outside. Go to the beach, go to a park, go downtown – go anywhere as long as it’s outdoors. If wearing shorts, be sure to take plenty of pics making note of that fact. Frolic, eat foods, play, dance, engage in tomfoolery, and generally be silly.

5) Post many, many pictures of your outdoor escapades on all social media outlets. If the temperature has not exceeded 50° yet, be sure to make note of this, emphasizing your lack of insulating layers and exhibiting your proud northern spunk and hardiness. Huge bonus points if you tag friends and family living in southern regions who have been rubbing your nose in it all through the dark frozen wasteland of the last few months. Make sure they know you’re running around in shorts in temperatures that would cause them to weep. This is your moment. Make the most of it. Break whatever commands necessary to make them ever so slightly envious. And remind them that this is just a small glimpse of what the wonder of a Michigan summer will look like…

When it gets here in late June.

Now get out there and make it count. Godspeed, my brothers and sisters.

Breathing Again!

And, as the Lord tends to work things out, just as I posted my “Lessons Learned” list., I discover I’ve had the honor of being published on the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference blog! Oh my heart – it’s always such an honor to be among writers who I admire, and whose sandals I am unworthy to untie.

But I’d totally refill their coffee cups. ’cause I can do dat, yo.

Anyway, if you’d like to check that article out, head here: When We Speak by Cal Olson

Wowsers.

You Have To Believe

If you create, at some point you have to actually believe in what you create.

A long while ago, a friend asked me to consider writing a post for a blog. And at first, I was totally thrilled that they would ask me, then besieged with all manner of ideas, then actually began writing three different posts from little idea seeds that had sprouted…

And then the whole thing died a lingering, slo-mo death. Read more

What Lies Beneath

So, I sent my resume off…

To St. Louis.

Missouri, not Michigan.

Wha?

I know – I don’t understand either. And I’m the one that dun did the deed, so I’m really in it deep now.

In all fairness, the job description is such a fit for me that you could put my picture next to it and it’d be a match.

On the other hand, that’d drastically reduce the amount of interest in the position, so no, probably shouldn’t do that. Read more

Random Conversations

Don’t look up… For the love of doggie bacon strips, don’t look up.”


It’s amazing the things you hear (and see) in a coffee shop. The full range of interaction and conversation, from loving and happy to moody and snarky, from impatience dripping with teenage angst to hackles raised over political and religious debate.

It’s fun, and weird. As long as one is sitting on the sidelines and isn’t drawn into the danger zone, that is… Read more

Looking Through Their Eyes

This is dedicated to friends who have taken the call to go into the world literally, either full-time or short-term, including such folks as our dear Hannah, the Z’s, Baby Sister, Madman and his family, the Guatemala team from First Cov, the Barbers, Bubba and his bride, Mr. Z, Wally and the amazing folks from Compassion Int’l, and the whole host of others who have left home to see the world through God’s economy.

Also to that great group of friends, the Living Witnesses, who traveled to Jamaica for 21 days of concerts, and having our eyes opened in ways that stay with us, 30-some years later.

Thank you. Read more

The Invitation

This is my iPad. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

A thought occurred to me this morning, as I put out my bits and bobs to do my writing thing at my beloved North Office. (That’s CalbertSpeak for Biggby – the one near Celebration Cinema, and my favorite upon all the earth.)

The drill usually goes like this: Get out the writing stuff – keyboard, iPad, stand, extension cord, etc. Then plug stuff in, connect the keyboard, etc. Go get my beverage of choice. (A muffin or goodie is optional, but highly not recommended – they’re delicious, but not Calbert approved…

But once in a great while…

Well, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?)

Anyway, all the bits are bitted, the bobs are bobbing, and the event is ready to begin…

And that’s when I done thunk the thought –

“When do I take the time to invite God to this little wordfest?” Read more