Avoid Some of the Shock

During my parents’ last few years of life, I was able to visit them at least every week or two. Although I could see how much they had declined from previous years, I couldn’t see much of a change from one week to the next.

When my mother called one day to tell me my father had fallen in the bathroom and couldn’t get up, I left work to try to help. But whatever was wrong, he couldn’t help himself at all. So we called the Rescue Squad to take him to the hospital. That was on a Wednesday.

I drove my mother to the hospital daily, but Father barely seemed aware of our presence. The doctors hadn’t been able to find the cause, and he wasn’t getting any better. So we weren’t terribly surprised when we received the call that Friday afternoon–just minutes after getting home from the hospital–that he had died.

It wasn’t really a shock. We’d seen the decline just over a period of several days after a more gradual decline over a period of years. So we were as ready for his death as we could have been.

My mother suffered from a number of health issues; diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and rheumatoid arthritis are the ones that come to mind. Life for her the year after Father’s death was challenging, but she was hanging on.

Then came the Wednesday night when my (former) wife called me at church to say she hadn’t been able to get in touch with Mother all day, and that was extremely unusual. So I left choir practice and drove to a darkened house. Not even any porch lights were on.

Fortunately, I always had a key to the house with me. I started calling for my mother as I turned on lights and went through the house looking for her. I found her lying in bed with signs of a probable major stroke. No telling how long she had been dead. Presumably since the previous night.

Yes, finding her that way was a shock, but because of her multiple ailments and obvious decline over the years, her death itself wasn’t a shock.

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We’re getting ready to go on vacation. Going back to a place I used to live. I’ve made plans to visit at least three old friends and to worship at the church I’d belonged to then.

Two of the additional people I hope to see are former ninth grade English students. I quit teaching at the end of 1974, and I haven’t seen either of them since. Because I haven’t seen them growing up and growing older, I can’t imagine I’ll even recognize them easily. The changes in their appearance over that period of time will probably be immense.

Several of my friends in that town–people I haven’t seen in thirty-five years or more–have severe health problems. I’m trying to prepare myself for seeing them that way, but it’s not working very well. After all, when I last saw them, they were not only younger, they were much healthier.

If I’d still been living in that town, I wouldn’t have trouble recognizing old students or seeing the decline in health of other friends. But I’m not.

Maybe that’s why I feel the need to advise you to stay in close contact with the most important people in your life. Even if it takes a little extra effort.

Otherwise, your decline might be a shock to them when your time comes.

As always, your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next 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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Why Write?

When I tell people I’m an author and have three published novels–I rarely bother to mention that I also have two self-published books of my shorter writing–they think it’s pretty nifty. I suppose the average person hasn’t met many authors, much less actual novelists. Even a writer friend at church who I think is very good at writing nonfiction admires my writing and admits he could never write a novel. He  doesn’t have the imagination.

Strangely enough, however, I don’t recall anyone ever asking me why I write. Of course, people who know I write Christian fiction probably assume my writing is an outgrowth of my faith. Although that’s accurate, there’s more to it than that.

It’s easy to dismiss the reasons for writing that don’t fit.

I don’t write for fame or even recognition. Yes, it MIGHT be nice to walk into a bookstore and have some shy individual approach me cautiously and ask, “Aren’t you…?” Then he struggles to remember which well-known writer I am.

No, that wouldn’t work for me. I’d rather be a nobody. Like Emily Dickinson. (If you don’t get this reference, look up the poem “I’m Nobody, Who Are You?”) My writings are more important than I am.

I don’t write for money, either. Yes, I received a decent advance for each of my first two novels, but sales never paid back those advances. Truth be known, because so much of book marketing falls on the shoulders of the author, The Devil and Pastor Gus has not only earned less than $2o in the two years it’s been out, whatever royalties it has earned have gone back to my publisher to help pay for their marketing efforts.

Nope, money’s never going to happen, and I’m just as happy. My wife and I are not overly materialistic, and I don’t want to become addicted to THINGS the way I was when I was younger. We’re not rich. Nowhere close to it. But we’re comfortable. We have what we need–everything we need–and a little bit more. God sees to that.

So why write?

God has given me writing talent and helped me to develop it. He’s also given me creativity and an imagination. Failing to use those gifts would be a slap in His face. He’s never led me to believe He wants me to become a success as the world sees it. But He has given me a number of spiritual insights I didn’t have when I was younger, and He seems to want me to express them through fiction. It’s as simple as that.

When I sign a book, I typically write, “I pray this book may both bless and entertain you.” I mean it.

When I started writing this post, I had a couple of other things I wanted to talk about, but I’m at a comfortable stopping place now. I’ll use my next post to talk about what I’m leaving out now.

What about you? Do you write? If so, why? If not, why not? Has God given you some other talent that you are using for Him? Or one you should be using for Him? 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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Links you might be interested in:

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

On Being Recognized

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One of the interesting perquisites (did you know that’s what “perks” stands for?) of being a published author is the possibility of being recognized when going out in public. I’m not famous enough—okay, make that “not famous at all”—to have a problem like that, but it’s an interesting prospect.

At a writers’ conference a year or two back, I was talking to an unpublished novelist—someone I’d never met before—about my two novels. “Oh,” she said. “My daughter has read those. Loves ‘em.”

Okay!

At church some months back, a fellow I’d known for a while was introducing my wife and me to a couple of his adult kids. “Roger is a writer. What’s the name of those books again?” I told him, and one of his daughters got so excited. Again, she loved the book, but had no idea her dad went to church with the author.

Then there’s the time more recently when a fellow choir member stopped her mid-teen daughter while they were walking through the sanctuary one evening. “Meg, did you know Mr. Bruner wrote Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams?”

This super-quiet girl was thrilled to meet one of her favorite authors, and I was just as thrilled to meet her. This gal has got one heck of a lot of hair, and I’m jealous.

But what would it be like to be out in what I’ll call the “real public”—places where I wouldn’t expect anyone to recognize me?

I’ve met any number of well-known Christian novelists. That is, they’re well-known to people who’re up on Christian fiction. Despite the fact that it seems to be a growing genre because so many readers still want clean, decent books to read, I’m not sure many of them have encountered a privacy problem.

Let’s face it. We writers are not pop stars. How many authors—even in the secular market—would you recognize if you ran into one of them in an elevator? Definitely a different matter from someone I once knew who ran into Mick Jagger somewhere.

And maybe the lack of facial recognition is appropriate. After all, many writers—perhaps most of them—are intensely introverted. Our words represent us, and we’re happy to leave it at that. I am.

But you know what else? My three favorite Sonic employees know me. The folks at the bank do, too. And let’s not forget the manager at the local Sweet Frog. And a handful of checkers at the grocery store. People in my neighborhood may not know me by name, but they know me by our miniature dachshund, Happy.

And those folks don’t care whether I’m a big-time author or not. They know me just because I’m me.

That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

Oh, and just in case you’re curious about who I’m with in those pictures…

From left to right on the top row are  Deb Raney (author of women’s lit that even a man would like), Terry Burns (my agent), and Jim Rubart (probably the best author of speculative around).

Bottom row is Jenny Rogers Spinola (excellent writer of women’s lit and someone I consider my little sister), Brandilyn Collins (“Seatbelt  Suspense” writer extraordinaire), and Cec Murphy (did the actual writing of Ninety Minutes in Heaven).

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

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger