Not Every Good Idea Is Mine

          

          

I’ll be seventy-one next month, and I hate to admit it, but I’m running out of fresh ideas regarding anything and everything. I not only don’t have any idea what my next book will be about, I’ve almost reached the point of not being too concerned about it. After all, I still have a number of unpublished manuscripts to get published one way or another.

I hope I’m not the only person in the world who grew up thinking that his ideas were the best. And resenting the fact that not everyone agreed with me. And wondering why. Like why my former agent saw the great value in all of those manuscripts he was never able to sell but publishers didn’t.

This blog post isn’t about writing or publishing, though. It’s about accepting the fact that other people have good–sometimes GREAT–ideas, too.

In particular, a couple of years ago our pastor shared with the congregation the idea of building a first-class picnic pavilion on our property across the road from the church building proper. Interesting idea, I thought at the time, but we don’t really need that, do we?

I didn’t express opposition to the idea, though. I’d matured enough by then to realize I could be wrong, no matter how much I thought I wasn’t.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think the pavilion project required anything from the church budget. Different people contributed time, talent, and materials to making the pavilion happen amazingly fast.

I opened my eyes one day, and there it was. Complete and ready for use. Not long after that, our choir director, who’s also in charge of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) at our church, held a church-wide meal to raise money for OCC. Although our members contribute enough items to fill around 2,000 shoe boxes a year, it costs thousands of dollars to pay for shipping them overseas.

The event was a huge success, and my wife and I won a fantastic gas grill we couldn’t use and gave to someone we thought could use it more. Maybe this pavilion wasn’t such a bad idea.

But this summer has really proven its success. Rather than have the normal evening worship services at 6:00 p.m. and then go home, the church held shortened evening services during the month of July, followed by a special event at the pavilion. One featured hot dogs, chips, and cookies. Another was watermelon. For a third, the church actually paid a snow cone vendor to bring his truck and provide free snow cones for everyone. And of course there was a homemade ice cream social!

The attendance at those evening services was amazing, and we were able to meet people who normally attended the opposite morning service from us. People who–by no fault of their own–we hadn’t even seen before because we weren’t normally in the same place at the same time. Quite a time of much-needed fellowship.

Yep, I think I may have been a little short-sighted about the picnic pavilion, and I don’t mind admitting it. I’m sure glad the world isn’t dependent on my good ideas alone and is willing to overlook my bad ones.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Who Are You?

I wonder how many times I’ve listened to The Who singing “Who Are You?” at the beginning of every episode of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation television show. “Who are you? I really wanna know.”  I can hear it in my head now. Can’t you?

Kind of a weird song, but the part used on the show is highly effective because it has a double meaning in the context of a crime show. Since each episode involves identifying the murder victim, that person’s identity ultimately answers the “Who are you?” question. The question can also be addressed to the killer, though, who desperately needs to be identified and stopped before committing any more murders.

I was talking with my wife, Kathleen, about that recently. More specifically, I asked her how she would respond to the question “What are you?” and what she saw as the difference between “Who are you?” and “What are you?”

I foolishly thought she would respond the same way a man would when meeting someone new and being asked, “What are you?” Surely she would answer “a telecom analyst” or “a crocheter.” Or maybe “Mo and Trina’s mother.”

Nope. Not how women think. Instead, she got down to basics. “I am a human being.” The rest of our discussion was too confusing to go into here, but it was interesting. So much for writing about the difference between “Who are you?” and “What are you?”

On the “About Me” page on my website, RogerBruner.com, I have a link to HowManyOfMe.com. It’s a nifty place to enter your first and last names and see how many people in the United States have the same name.  There are actually thirty instances of Roger Bruner, but 520,918 of Roger without regard to the last name, and 18,475 of Bruner without considering the first name.

So identifying myself only as Roger Bruner doesn’t automatically eliminate confusion between me and some other Roger Bruner. HowManyOfMe.com doesn’t allow for checking middle names or initials, but if it did, searching on Roger E. Bruner would probably come close to confirming me as an individual. And searching for Roger Ellis Bruner might really do the trick.

Then again, since there are 40,444 people having Ellis as a first name, I suppose it’s possible one of those other Roger Bruners might have Ellis as a middle name.

But you know what? All of that really doesn’t matter. They say no two people have the same fingerprints. And they say no two people are exactly alike otherwise.

God could’ve created people who were exactly alike, but that wouldn’t have reflected well on His role as Creator. Using a cookie cutter method to create people wouldn’t require any creativity at all.

But God is creative. More creative than I–or you–can ever imagine. No matter how much alike we are in various ways, I enjoy knowing that I’m truly one of a kind. Before I was conceived, God knew who I would be and what I would be like. So I thank Him daily for every one of those characteristics that distinguishes me from other people. Characteristics that are far more important than my name.

And that helps me to accept myself the way I am more easily. Yes, having more hair would be nice. Being permanently slim would be even nicer, and I could go on listing things about myself I might be tempted not to like. But the bottom line is this is the way God made me. I shouldn’t dishonor his handiwork by complaining about any of my characteristics.

Do you look at some of your traits with regret or do you accept yourself as you are–totally? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

To Copyright or Not?

CopyrightYears ago I heard about a song writer, possibly Woody Guthrie, famous for “This Land Is Your Land,” who supposedly stood on a street corner handing out copies of his songs to anyone who would take one. He–maybe it wasn’t Woody–said that when somebody actually stole one of his songs, claiming it as his own and having success with it, he’d know that he himself had arrived as a song writer.

That’s a bit how I feel, too. Okay, I’m not going to stand on a street corner and give out songs or novel manuscripts, but I do provide a number of free lead sheets (words, chords, and melody) on my website as well as a number of my short writings and samples from my unpublished manuscripts. (I’m specifying “unpublished” because my publishers copyright the published ones.)

I don’t put a copyright symbol on any of those, and I feel certain some people probably look at them and wonder why.

Let’s back up forty years or so to the time when I wrote several musical dramas and a number of more songs yearly than I do now. I had high hopes that my music would go somewhere, and I went through the copyright process for some of them.

Nobody ever wanted to publish or record any of my music, though, and–to the best of my knowledge–no one ever stole any of it, either. You might say I got tired of standing on the street corner, figuratively speaking. So why bother to copyright? Creative works are automatically protected without doing anything official, but proving the ownership of a work might become an issue that only the proof of creation date could establish.

One very special factor affected my decision not to worry about officially copyrighting any of my works. Because all of my songs and novels have Christian themes and because I want them to have an opportunity to influence other people, particularly non-believers, in a positive way, I consciously decided not to copyright anything not published by a traditional publisher.

Authors wanting to quote Christian lyrics in their writing are apt to have a tough time of it. It’s basically illegal to quote any of a song’s lyrics without the author’s or publisher’s express permission. That can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Even though my songs aren’t familiar ones an author would be apt to have ever heard of, I created my other blog, As I Come Singing, specifically to give authors a free source of potential lyrics.

I’d like to hope some Christian musicians–maybe just kids learning to play guitar or Christians in another country or even Christians in a highly restricted country, where being a Christian is more dangerous than most of us can imagine–will find the songs on my website and perhaps use them or at least draw inspiration from them.

I suppose my attitude wouldn’t make much sense from a business perspective, but I’m not in business. Not to make money, anyhow. But sharing my faith through the creativity God has blessed me with is infinitely more important than any amount of money my uncopyrighted works could ever earn.

What about you? Would you be willing to give away the products of your creativity if you thought they might help someone? How about leaving a comment.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

If I Should Lose My Creativity

Nursing Home Drawing       Nursing Home Drawing 2

In December of 2012–it seems more recent than that, though–I wrote a song called I’ll Just Keep Praising the Lord. It talks about various blessings I could lose and yet still be thankful for the other blessings God has given me. One stanza says this:

I thrive on smiles and words of good cheer.
My hopes and dreams keep me looking upward.
My creativeness fulfills me and keeps my mind alert.
But even if I lose those blessings, I will not complain.
I’ll just keep on praising the Lord for being so good.

Creativeness. Creativity. One of the most important talents God has gifted me with. Especially for writing, but also for music.

I wrote my first poem in elementary school. And a few years later I wrote a satirical little poem based on the poem Trees. I don’t remember all of it–thank goodness–but it started out something like this:

I think that I shall never see
Anyone else who’s quite like me.
I think that I would surely faint
Unless he be some earthly saint…

Creative for sure, although probably worth forgetting.

As a pre-teen I wrote a short little book about turtles. I wanted to be a herpetologist–a biologist studying reptiles and amphibians.

In high school I wrote my first song. The folk trio I was in used it for our theme song. I started writing additional songs after graduation. I even wrote some musical dramas and a rock opera. Not to mention poetry, short plays and monologues, and a few other shorter writings.

Over the last nine or ten years I’ve written a dozen novels, three of which have been published. Info about all twelve is on my website. Amazon carries the published books.

I’m not boasting about what I’ve done. I just want to show you how important my creativity is–to me even if to very few other people. If I were to lose it, I hope I would still feel just as thankful to God for the blessings I hadn’t lost, but it would be tough.

I’ve mentioned in several other blog posts that I participate in a weekly nursing home ministry. I sometimes wonder what each of the residents was like before ending up in a nursing home.

But I wonder about one lady in particular. You saw the colored marker drawings at the top of this post? She did those, and I have them on my refrigerator–just as if they’d been done by my daughter when she was young. I have no idea whether she used to be visually creative, but I think it’s wonderful that she’s able to express herself in what many people would consider such a childish way.

If I should ever lose the kind of creativity I currently enjoy, I pray that I may find some other kind. Just as the lady at the nursing home has done. But if I don’t, I pray that I may lose my memory of ever having been creative.

What do you think? If you lost one of your talents, could you handle it well? How about leaving a comment.

 

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger