Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Not too shabby

Over a thousand words in one day. For me that's not too shabby.

Sometime after I picked up writing my story again, I got obsessed with word count. I searched around the internets to see if other people who write (notice I didn't say 'writers', for one, because I am not a writer, and for two, because people who talk about writing are not necessarily writers*) have similar obsession. As it turns out, quite a few people are talking about how much they write in a day in terms of word count.

I have heard everything from the more (seemingly) normal 500/day to the outrageous 10k/day. One lady (who is published, btw) said she writes between 10k to 15k in a day. That is pure insanity. Even if you are a published writer who writes that much, you could churn out fifty books a year at the rate.

I've also heard of authors who write only a handful of words in a day. What they do with the rest of the day I don't know, but I imagine that it takes the majority of the day just to pen that handful of words. I also imagine them laboring over a single sentence, writing and rewriting and finally deleting it all together.

As for me, I do set goals for word counts, but those goals constantly change based on what kind of writing I'm doing. If I'm making something brand new, I generally shoot for a low 200/day mark. (I have a full time job after all). But I also set goals for the week too, what I want to have written in terms of story, or how many chapters I want to have edited, or what 'act' I should edit that week. But my favorite goals always involve word counts. I am beefing up the entire word count of my current story (doing some much needed fleshing out of the characters) with a goal of adding 10k words in the final act alone. I am well on my way to meeting that goal.

I like keeping a log of word counts too. When I started my first entire edit, I went from 46k to 54k in three weeks, which for me, again, is incredible. I surprise myself often when I write. I also keep a log of word counts for each chapter and I love seeing the increases on a smaller scale. Sometimes the increase is only twenty words and other places it's almost a thousand.

I could go on and on about my obsession with word count, but instead, I'll just leave this weeks goal here and come back at the end of Saturday to see if I met it.

64k total by the end of Saturday.

*I personally only know one writer (my friend Cherrie) and probably a hundred people who write. I consider a writer someone who is published. Not anyone can lay claim to that word. And that is why I'm not a writer.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I'm respect you.

I just returned from a dinner of various seafood with Sunday school teachers and pastors and family from my church. These are some of the nicest people you will ever meet should you come to Ulsan. I told my friend Grace that I finally feel like I belong (though I expect I will never feel like I fully belong in Korea) and thanked her from the bottom of my heart for always making me feel at home there.

It was Valentines Day on Friday, and in Korea, that means the women give chocolate or gifts to their significant other. I am the only male in my office at work (and one of two on the entire floor of my building). So my coworkers surprised me with a chocolate cake (which I shared with them of course). It was a very kind thing for them to do. However, the most special thing to happen that day, and to happen in the last month really, was a receiving a small container of chocolates with this note on the back from one of my fifth graders:

This particular student, a girl named 유진, also goes to my church and I occasionally teach her Sunday classes. If this is the only student who ever says "I respect you" (or in this case, "I'm respect you," but hey, close enough) then I will be secure in knowing I have done something right.

So many days I have so many doubts. I wonder about my future. I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. More than anything else in the world, I just want to do the right thing. I am so grateful for something so simple as this note. It helps take remove some of the doubts.

These students will have so many native English teachers over the long span of their schooling as children. So many will come and go and it's very likely that most will not remember me. So I am reminded of my pastoral training at this time: we should never go after the multitudes, but instead look for the one or two that we can be friend and mentor to. 

I want to make a difference in just a few lives. Besides, the multitudes will forget you. They will not remember what you said or even what your name was. But the individuals, they will remember how you live. They will remember you by what you did for them.

And you will be changed by them too.

Forever, your friend, Jeremy

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two posts, One day.

This is something I never do: 2 posts in 1 day. There is a reason, however, as I have two themes running in my life right now. My real life, and the one I push the pencil...er...keyboard to. My real and the story that runs through my mind always.

So this post is just an update for my eight readers.

As you know, I am involved in a Presbyterian Church in my neighborhood. It's a big church as church's go, though the people that attend regularly will say it's not big.
I don't attend service because it's in Korean and well, I don't know enough Korean for it to be worth attending. I do however, volunteer every Sunday.

You can find me in the building next door, 2nd floor, teaching Sunday school classes in English to fourth and fifth grade children and then leading a Bible study for the adult teachers of that same Sunday school. I really enjoy it. I enjoy hanging out with the kids and some of my students from my school go to the Sunday school, so it's a great way for me to get to know them beyond the once or twice I see them in school and in the halls. The Bible study is also great. We are studying through the book of John. I make handouts with questions, and we talk about the questions and any other questions that come up as we go along. There are really some amazing people who give their time at this church and they have really made me feel like I belong. I am very grateful to them. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to do this, seeing as I don't know enough Korean to truly be a part of this culture. (On a side note, I don't think I could ever learn enough Korean to be a part of this culture. No amount of learning would ever make me feel like I truly belonged, but that's another post entirely).

So I have been given other opportunities to volunteer but I have to turn them down. There is only so much I can do with all that I am trying to do.

If you have any specific questions, I invite you to email me or facebook me. I love questions. Don't hesitate to ask. Thanks for your support and prayers. I appreciate them very much.

Learning the hard way.

I want to live life to its fullest every day.

That is so hard to do.

I recently reached over 50k words in my story and have brought it to its close. I need to smooth it over and then send it off, because my fear is that I will get sick of it. Before I can do that, I must make sure it makes sense to the reader. That, I think, is the hardest part. So the hardest part lies ahead and just when I thought the hard parts of writing were behind me, I have yet another task to complete.

I make writing sound like a chore. Well, sometimes it is. Other times its enjoyable. I vow to make my next story writing experience a much more enjoyable one. It's not that this one was so bad, but I just didnt have the discipline or the know-how. This was my first book after all.

I have learned a lot since then. I will learn A LOT more, too. As I finish this story, I will learn so many more hard things, but that's okay. It's how I've always learned. The hard way. Like that DC Talk song. Man, what a song that was.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The end of time well spent

Tomorrow I go back to teaching regular classes. The old routine of trying to get students to speak English and afternoons of deskwarming. I dont mind it, it's just that I got so used to the way life has been, for the most part, for the last six weeks.

I got to experience life as a full time writer. I wrote almost every day, with a few days off deservedly so, as I wrote nearly six hours every day. I never actually kept track of the time, but I do know that it was a minimum of six hours a day. My brain is a whirlwind of thoughts and at times all I had going through my mind was this darn story.

I also spent my first Christmas and New Years ever away from my family and friends. That was unusual. I hardly had that Christmastime feeling I get that time of year. In some ways it was sad, in other ways it just made me realize that I place to much emphasis on traditions. I missed my family and friends of course.

Finally, I experienced God's peace in the midst of a lot of questioning. How long do I stay in Korea? What will it take to make my life after Korea successful? I have decided that, as long as my school rehires me, I will stay in Korea one more year. I know my family will have a hard time accepting this, but I know its the right thing to do. I have peace about it. For those who might struggle with this, I will pray He gives you peace as well. And remember, nothing is ever definite. Things can always change. We just have to be open to the Lord's leading.

Well, I'm off to bring my story to its conclusion. After which I will spend the next week or so editing before I finally send it off to my brother. It'll feel strange to not be working on something that I've invested so much time in.