Super Secret Squirrel Project

I’m working on a new project that I’m feeling pretty good about. It’s still in the “secret” development phase, which means I’m telling a few people but not too many. I’m not sure why this is, except that I want it to be a bit of a surprise when it becomes public, and talking about it a lot in advance undermines that.

The whole thing has me feeling better about life. It has given me some direction and some inspiration, and I’m actually doing work on something that satisfies me creatively. It’s a good feeling.

Anyways, hopefully I’ll be able to announce it in 2-3 weeks. Not much going on here other than that, but stay tuned for more 🙂

What I’m working on

Is SilverPen Publishing an actual company? No, not yet, but I do stuff anyways.

Herbert the Trillionaire

I’m not really sure what this thing is. It’s a short story, and I’m publishing it as I go along, and I think it’s kind of fun. Herbert is a really rich guy who seems to have lost his memory and, with it, his hate-filled personality. Now he’s pretty easy-going and likes to help people. That seems nice?

Upcoming Story-a-Day

I don’t have a title for this yet, but I intend to begin publishing a story serially, at about 500 words a day, Monday through Friday. I’m developing the first couple of months worth of story offline before I begin posting it just in case I hit some writer’s block or horrible illness or something that prevents me from keeping up with my writing schedule. I’m not going into details of what this story is yet, but it’s

  1. filled with stuff I know about, and
  2. something I’d enjoy reading

so hopefully it’ll be OK. I’m having fun at least, which I kind of think is the point.

Building the Modern Help Desk

I’ve had this project shelved for a while, but my outline and notes are coming together more fully now. This short work of non-fiction will be a book about how to keep your job in IT, especially in regards to providing support to users. I see a lot of rigidity in a lot of people’s thinking that is probably going to lose them their jobs before too long–this book will share some theories of user support that will help make you more valuable to your place of employment.

Book about college ministry

This will be a short book (as I hope most of my books to be) about what I think college ministry should look like after being involved with it for five years. Semi-autobiographical, it will highlight strengths and weaknesses of current/traditional college ministry and lay out a vision for how college ministry could be better.

Spiritual Warfare Recap

Weekly podcast about spiritual warfare and anything pertaining to it, mostly focused on my own thoughts/studies and questions/conclusions that arise from them. Right now, I’m reading a series of books by Walter Wink.

60 Second Book Reviews

Randomly scheduled book reviews, video recorded and posted on YouTube, that essentially give a thumbs or thumbs down on a particular book. You can get the description of the book on Amazon, so all I focus on is whether I liked it or not, and a little bit about why I formed that opinion.

Picking a path

These are the things I’m actually working on, not just the things I want to work on. I’ve also got a few other ideas and projects percolating, but those are less concrete and not being actively written/developed.

It helps me to write these things out sometimes to give myself some direction and goals. I hope to have first drafts of both the help desk and college ministry books completed by the end of August 2010. I hope to begin publishing Story-a-Day (whatever that ends up being called) in January 2010.

As for Herbert, I’m kind of thinking about turning it into a children’s book with illustrations. We’ll see how that turns out down the road. For now, I’m just enjoying writing it every now and again.

Why I Should Stop Doing Web Development

MAMP does make my failure come faster, at least.
MAMP does make my failure come faster, at least.

A few weeks ago, I got home one evening all jazzed up to hack the Carrington Theme on a local web server I set up on my Macbook. I had some definite ideas for how I wanted the front page to look, so I wanted to edit the theme and achieve my vision.

Three hours later, all I had to show for the effort was having cut it down to a single sidebar and moved that sidebar over a bit.

It all makes me feel pretty stupid, because I work with computers for a living and feel like I should be able to “just get” this.  After all, I’ve built numerous web servers, personal computers, and am experienced with a variety of different operating systems, programs, and web platforms. But when it comes to coding a page, once we get beyond HTML, I’m practically a goner.

That’s the main reason I began using Content Management Systems (CMS) after all. Beyond a simple, relatively ugly page, I can’t create that good a website.  I should just stick to creating the content that the management system manages.

One of my resolutions this year is to write and publish a book, and I’ve got a few other projects that will hopefully come to fruition that I’m not ready to reveal yet. I’m not going to get all this work done if I keep screwing around with stuff I’m not good at, though. If I invest all of my time and energy into something I’m not good at, like web development/design, then there’s no time/energy left for the things I can do well, IE writing what I want to write.

It has become a guiding philosophy for me in the last couple of years that one should gauge and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, learning to get the most out of what they can do, rather than trying to exceed their limits or waste time doing things poorly. The only metaphor I have for this is in regards to fantasy fiction and wizards: a low-level wizard who knows how to use their power well will be able to apply it creatively and to great effect. In so doing, they may outperform a significantly more powerful wizard who is not creative and doesn’t use their power wisely; instead, the more powerful individual wastes their power because they don’t know how to use it, and the comparatively weaker of the two outshines them.

I can accept not being that great at something, but it means that I need to stop focusing on those projects that I just can’t do well. I’ll produce content, and if I have to someday, I’ll hire someone else to do my web development. For now, WordPress and Alex King’s contribution is good enough for me, and with the few minor tweaks I’ve made to it, it’ll manage my content just fine.

Unique Influences

One Sunday afternoon, April and I were talking about a young married couple we know. Their relationship has been a little rocky and strained, and invariably we couldn’t help but compare our experiences to theirs.

As the conversation continued, however, it occurred to me how impossible, or at least unfruitful, such comparisons were. We were talking about working on this book, and trying to figure out how we would write about certain situations and what advice we would give. In a lot of situations, what worked for us simply won’t work for other people, and it would be ridiculous for us to give advice based solely on our experiences, because such advice would probably ruin other people’s relationships. April and I are just very different.

Part of that comes from my childhood, which was relatively unhappy. My parents fought a lot, my dad kidnapped me once when they were separated, our family when we moved to Missouri (my dad’s side) was less than awesome, I was bullied at school, my parents were divorced when I was 11 or 12… as you can imagine, these experiences left me with quite a bundle of neuroses and issues, but they also inspired me with certain desires and the drive to be a better person. I wanted to give my kids more than I was given.

I first remember thinking deeply about this subject when I was nine years old. At that time, I decided I wanted to be married, to provide a good life for my family, and to take care of them and be a good husband and father. Since the age of nine, that has been my primary motivation and goal, and everything in my life has been focused towards that end. Decisions I make, lessons I learn, and where I spend my time is often all filtered through the lens of how it will help me reach these goals.

But that’s not something you can teach. My experiences led me to that committment, and it works well for me in strengthening my relationship, but I can’t just tell someone to make the same committment to help their own relationship. It is simply unrealistic. A nice ideal for someone to pursue, but to focus your life so completely on something requires something more than a mental decision that it might be a good idea.

A strong blade is forged in a hot fire. Being somewhat unhappy with your relationship and wanting it to be better just isn’t hot enough, so the advice of “commit everything in your life to being a good husband/wife and father/mother,” it’s just not helpful. We have to meet people where they are and give them advice that is applicable and useful to them. Something they can implement.

So, how do we translate our unique influences, our specific experiences, into something that will be helpful to our brothers and sisters? Well, I suppose we start with prayer.