Friday, January 18, 2008

what happens next?

"As I sit at my computer... I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next."
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002)

What a great reminder to writers. It's about the Story. Period.

Perhaps it's really the only question to ask as you write: what happens next? It's maybe even more crucial when you're writing for children since the moment they're bored, they'll stop reading. There's no wiggle room. You have to keep their attention.

What happens next? What if you don't know and you're the one telling the story?

A wise editor once told me, "put your characters in a room and listen to them." The job of storyteller, then, is to just turn up at the computer every day (or campfire) and wait to see what your characters do. And then follow them.

So in that sense, the writer is also one who listens to the story. And is the scribe who writes it down so others can hear it, too.

In the end, it's really not about being an "Author", I don't think. It's about being someone who tells a good story. The writer should always be the servant of the story. Not the other way round.

The act of writing, then, can be a generosity, not an ego trip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Al and Sock Monkey Dark and Stormy Night

Continuing our Al and Monkey series here's some background. Johnny Vegas and his knitted sidekick Monkey were catapulted to fame thanks to the commercials they did to launch ITV Digital in the UK. (I'll post one of those later.) Now they're doing PG Tips ads. (You saw them interviewed in an earlier post.)

PG Tips first introduced teabags in 1930. Its advertising was traditionally featuring real chimpanzees engaging in human activities. Today, it's a stuffed sock that's being the refined human. click here to watch one of Al and Monkey's fabulous adverts. I think it's living proof that the Brits really are the best at adverts (and silliness).

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Reason For God

The End of Faith. The God Delusion. God Is Not Great. Letter to a Christian Nation. Bestseller lists are filled with doubters. But what happens when you actually doubt your doubts?

Dr Tim Keller (pastor of my church here in NYC) has a great new book coming out (February 14). The book not only received an early review in Publisher's Weekly (no mean feat in itself) but it's a good one:

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
Timothy Keller. Dutton, ISBN 978-0-525-95049-3

"In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author's encounters as founding pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller's most provocative arguments is that 'all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs.' Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God's existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller's condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author's encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to reevaluate what they believe, and why." PW

Very cool. I highly recommend him to you. I'm constantly challenged and inspired by his teaching... and best of all, if I'm lucky, left doubting my doubts...

For more information here.

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