David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Blogging”

147 Blog Posts–A Reflection (2015-07-10 Daily)

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

—Thomas Edison

 

I have to admit: this writing thing ain’t easy. Writing is as much an exercise in mental conditioning as it is in physical execution, and many times I’ve taken to heart Jesus’ lamentation to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41b KJV). Yeah, I’ve got some weak flesh, but don’t we all?

After I pressed “Publish” last Tuesday on my 147th blog post, almost twenty-three months after I launched post #1, I wondered about my sagging spirit as I continue to persist in this vocational marathon. Even though I have a reputation for dogged perseverance (just ask my wife), recently it’s taken every drop of motivation to coax my imagination toward the finish line . . . wherever that is. But yet I go on because I don’t want to miss the blessings—I love how God lines my path with hidden treasures for me to find along the way, some big, some little, some subtle, some downright amazing. God is so doggone good!

When my seven-year-old daughter, Hannah, was a competitive gymnast, she spent 25 hours a week in the gym honing her skills and building her body. Her goal was the Olympics and Mary and I promised we’d never stand in the way of that dream. We always assured her that somehow we’d manage both the time and the financial commitment. Her job was to work hard and have fun. For six years she persisted under the determined tutelage of coaches who believed in her more than she believed in herself, and in November of 2014 their hard work and perseverance paid off: Hannah became the North Texas State uneven bars champion for her age and division.

Throughout the years leading up to this accomplishment, the coaches constantly reminded Hannah and the other budding Olympians to scratch one word from their vocabulary: “Can’t.” “You can do it,” the coaches would admonish the girls when they used the “C” word. “Just keep trying.” As a result, many of the young ladies placed well in local, state, regional, and even international competitions. They trained despite the soreness, despite the desire to give up, despite splitting the beam or over-rotating a back handspring. Always they brushed themselves off and finished the routine. Always they smiled through the pain and embarrassment. Always they demonstrated perseverance and validated the timeless words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans: “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3b-4 NIV®). And the fulfillment of hope does not include the insidious word “can’t.”

So when I pushed that “Publish” button in WordPress last Tuesday, I sat back and reflected on what I can do—what we all can do—and how building this blog has helped me to persevere in my call to write. Here goes . . . .

 

  • Writing is difficult but worth it.

    For a season I managed to write full time, and in that time I cranked out two blog posts a week, wrote and published two books and edited several other books, one of which became both an Amazon.com and a USA Today bestseller. As the jaws of financial reality began to close on me, however, the Lord provided a stunningly well-timed (and blessedly flexible) opportunity to re-engage with my inner electrical engineer, preventing my family from selling the house and living in a second-hand refrigerator box under a bridge.Even after 38 years of writing, though, the road to publication (and sales, especially sales. Like Pi Patel screamed onboard the lifeboat: “I surrender! What more do you want?”) continues to be a most challenging, tiring and thrilling byway to navigate. Writing is the second hardest thing I’ve ever done (marketing is the first and most mysterious), but it’s truly the most difficult thing I’ll ever love. As Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

 

  • It’s a great way to write a book.

    If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve had the opportunity to read most of the original manuscript for The Epiphany of Joy, half of The Other Side of the Covers and, in some form or another, the entire manuscript for A Matter of Perspective (you probably didn’t recognize that one. Now you’ll have to wait for it to come out to see what I’m talking about!). Blogging is a great way to write a book. Why? If you’re anything like me, once I commit to doing something, I usually do it. I do my best to walk the walk and talk the talk.Two years ago I committed to posting regularly, and that commitment keeps me coming back to my desk, sitting down, turning on my computer, and writing. There are days I don’t want to do it, but I do it anyway. There are other days I don’t feel creative, but I write anyway. And there are days the prospect of cleaning commodes is more appealing than researching an article, but I reluctantly put down the toilet brush, pick up a pen and dive into the world wide web anyway. And before I know it, I’ve got a manuscript, and what’s even better, it’s been test-driven by readers in real time. It truly is a great way to write a book.

 

  • It’s an excellent way to keep you writing rather than simply talking about writing. 

    I’ve discussed this before, in my “Motivation and the Writer’s Life” series (first post 27 October 2014), but I’ll reiterate: writers write. Simple, eh? But how many writers do you know who talk about writing all the time, but have never written a darn thing except their signature on the rent check? Are these folks worthy of the moniker “writer?” I think not, but that’s just my humble opinion. And you know what they say about opinions . . . .Regularly tending the garden of your blog site cultivates not only a commitment and a desire to write regularly, it also plants the seeds of creativity, experimentation and—dare I say it?—fun! And who knows? Maybe the fruits of your labor will inspire another person to put their hand to the plow and begin tilling their own field for the benefit of others. Okay, enough with the gardening metaphor . . . .

 

  • It’s a fun place to experiment with different writing styles.

    Way back when Sonny and Cher were still a couple and dirt was all we had to play with, I wrote humor in the style of Erma Bombeck. In fact, my ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Carr, once told me I was the Erma Bombeck of the adolescent generation (this was in the late ‘70’s). I relished her comment so much I neglected to point out to her that I was a guy, not a girl. Being compared to Patrick F. McManus of Field and Stream fame would have been way more appropriate.As I grew in my craft, I experimented with writing and illustrating a comic book, then I began delving into horror after I discovered Stephen King, Robert McCammon and Dean Koontz. For years I wrote horror, poetry, newspaper articles, and a monthly column for an industrial newsletter. Later I dipped a toe into essays, then finally jumped feet-first into Christian inspirational writing, children’s picture books and chapter books. I love experimenting with different styles and forms, writing in first, second and third person, telling stories from both female and male points of view, and writing prose poetry. I can’t get enough of it! And what a better place to play with words than in a blog post?Blogging in different voices, styles and forms is not only good practice to keep the creativity muscles flexible yet strong, it’s also a fun environment to let loose your wild and whacky. As Erma Bombeck once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” Amen, sister Erma!

  • It’s inspiring and exciting to receive comments from readers all over the world.

    As I’ve mentioned before, when asked “Why do you write?” my response is always the same: Because I have to. I write because that’s what I’ve been built to do. In my younger, more idealistic years, I told my parents I’d write even if I ended up selling my work out of the trunk of my car. Now that I’m older I sell the work out of the trunk of my SUV. I’m still hoping for a 1967 Ford Country Sedan. Sure did love those station wagons back in the day.I’d be lying, though, if I said I didn’t give a wit whether or not anyone read what I wrote. First of all, I couldn’t make a living giving everything away, no matter how altruistic that may sound. But in reality, I’m in this not only because it’s my calling, but also because I have hope that one day I can make a decent living at it. What did the writer of the Book of Hebrews say? “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NABRE). And I’ve seen lots of evidence indicating I’m living out my calling. Just look at my smile! And my 98/67 blood pressure. I sure didn’t have that when I worked for the aerospace industry.That being said, I appreciate it when readers not only take the time to read what God has moved me to write, but also when folks type up a comment, a word of encouragement, or an opinion to contrast or complement (or compliment) my post. Those little sacrifices of time remind me that I’m touching at least a few people out there who took a moment to read my heart’s outpourings. After all, words are the most powerful force in the universe (just look at what God did with the Word!); I write not only because I have to write, but because I also hope to inspire my readership and somehow touch their lives in a positive, life-changing way.

So there you have it. Blogging has kept me consistent, structured, focused, inspired, and persistent. It fits well with my personality of fierce commitment and quiet perseverance, and it has been an anchor upon which my writing determination is moored. It has opened the door to being creative, and has closed the door on the fear of failure. It has provided a platform to present my talent and a tool to promote my work. Above all, blogging has given me the opportunity—even permission—to let go and let God in a very powerful, very real way. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If blogging allows me 1,000,000 ways that won’t work and one that does, then it will have all been worth it. After all, I have no doubt the next blessing—and blog post #148—is just around the corner.

 

Copyright © 2015 by David C Hughes

 

100 Blog Posts and the Art of Self-Discipline (2014-10-21 Daily)

Yesterday I spent some time with Chad Michaelis, owner of Vertex Electronics, troubleshooting one of his newest commercial products. After successfully resolving the issue, we decompressed a bit and chatted about the prospect of increasing my hours at Vertex, an opportunity that’s both exciting and nerve-wracking as I’m very protective of my writing time. As we talked, the conversation swung toward the challenges of owning a business. Leaning back in his chair, Chad folded his hands behind his head and looked up at the ceiling. “I’m convinced that the majority of businesses fail because of lack of discipline,” he said.

I nodded. “After I was let go from my job last year,” I told him, “I still get up at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, walk the dogs, then go to work. I need that discipline to keep me focused or I wouldn’t get anything done.” For me, organization and self-discipline are second nature, but even so, I’ve found that working from home sometimes takes monumental effort to stay focused and remain on track. Spending hour after hour in my office with my plans on one hand and reality (aka, family life) on the other has managed to crumple my inflexibility and polish my forbearance. But it’s still dang hard! And amazingly rewarding.

A couple weeks ago I posted my 100th blog post, two months after reaching my blissful one-year anniversary with WordPress. In these past 14 months I’ve cranked out and published about 100,000 words on the blog alone—that’s two modern books, or about 1/6th of War and Peace.  That’s self-discipline.  My good friend, Robyn Conley, is a writer, book doctor, and speaker (http://robynconley.com). Before each speaking session, she passes around a small box filled with an assortment of buttons. After each of the participants takes a button, Robyn explains the symbolism: It’s a reminder to keep your “butt on” the chair. Because, for a writer, the button position is the most important position to assume and the most imperative to maintain.

At the moment I have no set writing schedule, just a goal to post at least once a week and to make progress on the six book projects plus the school curricula I’m juggling at the same time. Flexibility has never been my forte, but I’ve found over the years that I actually prefer the freedom to write “organically” as opposed to sticking to a rigid outline and schedule; it keeps my muse much happier. And if my muse is happy, I’m happy. But with greater freedom comes much greater responsibility; no situation will test you more than being turned loose to make a living under your own auspices. It’s sporty but oh so exhilarating. As Chad Michaelis told me yesterday, “No one’s writing me a paycheck.” Our lives are what we make of them, and this writing thing suits me just fine even when the inner engineer wants to do the math on everything, especially the checkbook balance. So I write, I post, I turn the crank with diligence and fearlessness.

Practically every day I plant my butt on the chair and either tap away at the keyboard or write longhand in my journal. Some days I work on a blog post, other days I design power supplies or oscillator circuits, yet other days I sit down with my wife to plan book signings. I’m getting ‘er done. Why do I subject myself to this self-imposed, beautiful torture? As I’ve said before, it’s what I do. It’s what God created me for and I honor and glorify Him by walking obediently in my calling. I choose to write. I have to write! And 100 blog posts and two published books later, I’ve found that I write “despite.” Despite the mornings I’m wrapped in apathy and discouragement, despite the days my muse decides to sleep in and not show up for work, despite the weeks nothing I’ve set out to do gets done. With purpose and determination, it happens.

I’ve managed to generate and upload 100 blog posts with the hope and prayer that something I’ve written will touch someone’s life for the better. Like yesterday, when our dear friend Bridget Brooks posted the following on Facebook, regarding The Epiphany of Joy: “‘I know this will be a lifelong adventure, a continuous education, and a reminder that Joy is a gift planted in me by the Spirit of God. I need to remember to unwrap that gift and receive it daily in my heart.’ – David C. Hughes. I’m just getting started and already know what a blessing this book will be!!!! Thank you for your obedience.” Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,” the Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV®). This is a verse Mary and I quote to Hannah when she tells us she’s scared of something, but how often I’ve whispered this scripture to myself, reminding myself that, first and foremost, the Spirit of God empowers us to walk in our callings with self-discipline.

I left Chad Michaelis’ office last night with a renewed sense of destiny as I remembered God’s faithfulness and all the “coincidences” I’ve experienced in my relationship with him, his family, and with his company. God created this opportunity to work for Chad as a demonstration of His continuous provision, confirmation I’m walking in my giftedness. By faith I continue to step out despite the fear of failure. In love I accept the challenge, knowing God will guide my every step. By the Spirit we are all empowered, and by self-discipline we all proceed. As the Apostle Paul reminded us in his letter to the Romans: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31, 37 NIV®).

Now to conquer the next electronic design challenge. And the next 100 blog posts!

 

 (NOTE: Starting next week I plan to post a six-part series on motivation for writers. Until then, many blessings!)

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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