Every day, it seems, I find myself looking up words and their etymologies, trying to get at the root of what something I've just read means. Sometimes it's a word in the Bible, and I end up wading my way through ancient languages I've never studied, searching for clues. Other times it's just words from daily life that suddenly pertain to some matter I'm struggling with or considering. Often the word has changed over the centuries; I find such words particularly fascinating—particularly when, as is often the case, the word's current meaning is at odds with what it once meant. Some of these word studies find their way into my writing projects. My goal is to post new words weekly, sometimes brand new material and sometimes excerpts from my books.

20 December 2006

A Christmas Present for the Writers on Your List

I just received the most encouraging email about my writing from a fellow writer--a current blogger seeking to publish--who is reading my book. He was interested in improving his writing and lamented that he didn't live near enough to the university where I teach to take my class on writing about one's faith. I took this wistful remark as an invitation to tell him the few things I have to say to the writers in my classes. It's so hard to pass up the opportunity to give advice!

In my next blog, I'm going to give you part of my response to him, which I thought might interest the writers among you. But before I do, first let me encourage you to do what this man did for me. His encouragement came at a time when I was feeling negative about my writing and frazzled about my upcoming deadline. (31 December: Pray.) Whether you are a reader or a writer, remember the other writers out there--published and especially unpublished--whose writing you encounter and admire, and follow this man's lead. Be a fan of others' writing.

This is as much advice to myself as to anyone else. As a teacher of writing, I have so many opportunities to encourage others in their writing, but I routinely fail, concentrating instead on what all went wrong rather than on what was working. Even though I know they need encouragement more than criticism. Even though I know I need it myself. Even though improving in this area is my semesterly prayer. You know that remark of Paul's about how he does everything he knows he shouldn't do and never does what he knows he should? That's me, in this matter, as in so many others. In any case, the best Christmas present you can give a writer is hearty praise of his or her writing.

Also, if you want to be opportunistic about it, getting in the habit of praising what you like about someone else's writing can help you as a writer, too. You learn what works by examining and articulating what works in others' writing and then putting it into practice in your own.

That's all for now. (And so preachy. Yuck! Oh well.)

11 December 2006

The Puppies Are Here!

Seems to me when there's a birth in the offing, that's all the news there is. So, although this is my first real blog entry and my first book and it seems as though what I say here ought to be about the book or at least a topic of interest to visitors to this site, I have to tell you that there were nine fat lab pups born to us last Friday. We've been waiting and waiting, and even when our good Tessi dog went into labor, it seemed they would never come. And they didn't. It took a trip to the vet and a whole nother day of thinking/feeling/praying, "Veni! Veni!"

But now they're here. Five chocolate and four black. Out in the garage. Safe.

09 December 2006

Confessions of an Amateur Believer

Author: Patty Kirk
Book Description: An entertaining collection of inspirational, gritty, challenging writing that follows an unwilling atheist's first encounters with God, her ensuing struggles and progress as a reluctant believer, and her ultimate discovery of contentment and rest in faith.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books

Now available at your favorite bookstore!