Archives For Awards

Writing Awards

April 21, 2012 — 8 Comments

It’s good to be appreciated. For a lesson I’m teaching later this week I’ll be using a profound song entitled “Legacy,” which was written and recorded by Nichole Nordeman. I’ll place a link for it at the end of the blog. (Wouldn’t want you to get distracted and not return to this page!)

Nordeman’s anointed words remind us to treasure what is truly important, and to consciously ponder the legacy we desire to leave when we’ve breathed our last. She acknowledges that it’s nice to receive praise, but suggests there is so much more to life. What follows is only a portion of her inspiring ballad.

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me

And I enjoy an accolade like the rest

You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery

Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best

At such’n’such . . . it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights

We all need an ‘’Atta boy’ or ‘’Atta girl’

But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides

The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to You enough

To make a mark on things?

I want to leave an offering

A child of mercy and grace

   who
 blessed your name unapologetically

And leave that kind of legacy

It’s in this context that I mention I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. It’s nice that someone wanted to pat me on the back this way, and I like the title of the award, so I decided to accept it. I guess the confirmation of your acceptance (and the actual awarding of the accolade) happens automatically (but presumably not supernaturally) when you post seven points that illustrate your personal versatility. I’ll do that, momentarily.

The gifted C.S. Lewis was noted for his own versatility. Few other people have excelled in such diverse literary fields. Very few. Lewis was a brilliant author of fiction and nonfiction. He was a preeminent literary historian and critic. Much of his poetry was inspiring, although it never attained the measure he desired for it. He is also one of the most highly regarded Christian apologists of the twentieth century. He had few literary equals. Very few.

While Lewis was the recipient of various awards, and accepted them gracefully, he remained quite modest. (One of his most noteworthy honors came in the Carnegie Award, the United Kingdom’s highest honour for children’s literature.) The desire for accolades didn’t sway Lewis from his course.

Likewise, I’ll remain on my course, and not pursue awards or praise. That said, I am pleased to see so many people enjoying this modest blog. (Thank you all!)

Seven quick things about me:

1. I was Thespian of the Year my senior year in high school.

2. While stationed in the Republic of Korea during the 1988 Olympics I watched the United States fall before the Soviet Union in soccer.

3. Although I never played a musical instrument in high school, I joined the University of Washington Husky Marching Band while in college.

4. First car was a 1961 MGA sports car. I’m not quite as old as that sounds; it was already a classic when I got it. (Sure wish I still had it today.)

5. I wrote a Master’s Thesis on the Odes of Solomon, the first Christian hymnal.

6. I once served on a Christian conference committee with Jim Otto, the greatest center ever to play in the NFL.

7. Speaking of awards, in addition to Air Force and Joint medals, during my military career I also received medals from the United States Army and the United States Navy.

P.S. – I promised a link to a Nichole Nordeman’s ballad “Legacy.” Here it is: Legacy by Nichole Nordeman.

Literary Words

April 9, 2012 — 13 Comments

I must confess that I like words. In fact, it’s not excessive to say that I delight in brilliantly witty “turns of phrase” and elegantly painted landscapes that allow me to clearly see what the author is painting with his or her words.

I’ve grown convinced that loving words is a handicap to becoming an excellent writer. Yes, scribblers like me can become adequate or even appreciated writers . . . but to stand in the highest ranks a writer must be willing to ruthlessly slash and slay excess words that impede their perfect vision.

Self-editing is a discipline. It’s something that can be learned and refined through practice. That it forever remains a bit painful for some of us is clear evidence we are overly attached to the words we have put to paper.

C.S. Lewis addressed this general subject in a 1932 letter to his good friend Arthur Greeves. While he was not a slave to the number of words required, he aimed for simplicity and clarity. Lewis wrote:

I think I see, from your criticisms, that you like a much more correct, classical, and elaborate manner than I. I aim chiefly at being idiomatic and racy, basing myself on Malory, Bunyan, and Morris, tho’ without archaisms: and would usually prefer to use ten words, provided they are honest native words and idiomatically ordered, than one “literary word.” To put the thing in a nutshell you want “The man of whom I told you,” and I want “The man I told you of.”

I smiled as I typed Lewis’ remark about “ten words.” He used that to illustrate his willingness to use excessive verbiage to communicate clearly. Brevity was, however, an admirable goal. And brevity is a virtue I’ve seldom been accused of possessing.

In the military, comrades and associates are frequently presenting plaques and remembrances to those who are “rotating” to new assignments. Having served in a dozen different “permanent” assignments, I have boxes full of such memorabilia.

Two of the few I display are genuinely precious. The first is an icon of Saint Athanasius, presented to me by the best “boss” I ever had, an Orthodox priest by the name of John Stefero. The reasons for the personal gift were theological and I accepted it with genuine appreciation and humility.

The second prized gift is a gracefully curved etched glass keepsake featuring the seal of the United States Air Force Chaplain School where I served for three wonderful years. The commandant was speechless as he presented the plaque to me, reading for the first time the inscription that my closest companions had composed for me.

He says in a book what others say in a sentence.

The commandant (later our Chief of Chaplains) was stunned. I was delighted. I led the gathering’s laughter and bellowed, “Yes, and it’s a book well worth reading!”

Jack Lewis may have chided me a bit for the underlying reason for the accolade, but I am confident he would have delighted in the affectionate friendship and esprit de corps with which it was presented.

So much for my shortcomings. For all other writers (including, perhaps, you?) . . . I would recommend following the master’s example, rather than my own.