Tag Archives: platform

Top Ten Posts

I’ve been making an effort to reach out to more people online, and as a result (no surprise) I’ve had more visitors.

With an eclectic mix of topics, I fear people will show up and discover that a blog isn’t what they expected. It’d be better perhaps if a viewer could get a quick idea of what content they’ll find.

So here’s the (slightly revised) Top Ten blog posts on my site, part based on views and part based on interaction, with a little explanation for each.

1. D&D Next: Character Creation – I play RPGs, and a friend and I started testing the rules for the new system of Dungeons & Dragons. I posted my experience creating a character, and it receives attention every week. <em>But those rules are out of date!</em> I’ve posted a new synopsis of my experience with 5th Edition rules at this link. If you’re familiar with D&D, and curious about 5E, check it out. If you’re not familiar, maybe take a look and see why this game is the most popular RPG of all time.

2. Yes You Can – This post’s success, I think, is a fluke based on the title. It also gets views every week. I wrote it during a Democratic National Convention, so the “Yes We Can” slogan was constantly in my ears. But this is only an inspirational post about determination in achieving goals. Hey, if you need a little encouraging pick-me-up, there you go.

3. So Help Me God – The interplay between faith and politics is of interest to me, because sometimes it leads to amazing frustration on both sides. Case in point: the Air Force recently tried to prevent an atheist from reenlisting to defend our country because he would not say “so help me God” at the end of his oath. This caused a big stir among my atheist friends, and it also garnered some emotional responses from “patriotic” believers out there in the Web. I made a case in this post that requiring this phrase in the oath was an absolute waste of time.

4. 40th Anniversary Poem – My parents recently celebrated their 40th anniversary, and I was asked to write a poem for the occasion since the military was going to move me overseas months prior to the event. I struggled for a bit, but all the Sunday School stories in my youth paid off. I was blessed to be able to deliver the poem in person.

5. Pride – This is a short story I wrote–completely fictional as an event, but something I’d hope I’d actually be able to live out. Certain songs reminded me that Christians are too often known for what we’re against than what we’re for, and this was my response to those thoughts. It starts off with a bit of stereotype that would have been best left out. But that’s what I wrote. As-is, it’s the post that has garnered the most comments & interaction on my site.

6. Who is My Neighbor – This was born out of discussion about illegal immigration, when proud patriots were stopping buses full of people shouting “We don’t want you!” and when people heard about some of these poor immigrants being given money to acquire food at Wal-Mart. Immigration reform is a difficult, multi-faceted issue. But there’s something to be said for mercy, and I hope I said it well.

7. Song: My Savior’s Love – I modernized a favorite hymn and added a bit of a chorus to it. Lyrics are provided, along with a link to SoundCloud where I have an amateurish recording of the song.

8. Elements of Critique: Appearance – This post started my 2014 A-Z blog challenge, covering topics related to critiquing writing. My favorite experience of my recent 2.5 years in the States was the special Critique Group I joined. I learned so much from each member, and my writing improved drastically.

9. D&D Next: Skills – If you still aren’t sold on the kind of fun and creativity that D&D and other RPGs can inspire, here’s the second-highest-viewed post on my D&D playtest experiment, covering how a character’s skills can get them out of (or into) trouble in the game.

10. Free Critique Group Guide – As I said before, I loved my experience in Critique Group… so much so that I made it the focus of 30 posts for an A-Z Blog Challenge this year. These were well received by my writer friends, so I compiled them into one 64-page PDF and put it on my site as a free gift. Why? Because nothing–no seminar, no discussion, no online article, no book–<em>nothing</em> has made the difference in my skill and passion as an aspiring writer so much as being in a good Critique Group. If you’re in one, this may give you new ideas on what to look for, what sort of feedback to give, and what pitfalls to avoid. If you’re not in a group but wish you were, the last three chapters are all about how to run your own. Free gift. Enjoy. Because I know I have.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you find something you like. Let me know if you do, because I’ll be visiting your site looking for something fresh and new for my blog reader as well.




Horse on the Cart

A friend was teaching our writers’ group about building an online platform, and she gave us a demonstration to make a point. Everyone in the room was given secret instructions with a message to speak out. Some were told to speak normally, some to shout, some to add in arm motion or other ways of gaining attention. One person was given a bullhorn. Some were given the same message, but most were told to say whatever came to mind to fulfill their instructions.

The point of the demo was that the more people you have saying the same thing, the more that message will get out. The online world is a constant clamor of voices shouting, “Look at me!” And ten people together are louder than one person yelling at the noise.

On the spirituality blog I recently shut down, I wrote some blogs about the concept of our platform as writers, and the parallels I see to spirituality.

Platform is about shared vision and combined effort. So is spirituality.

I was thinking about this while watching our worship team on Sunday. I’ve been the lead worshiper (in smaller settings than our current church) trying to cooperate with a team to make sure we’re communicating the same message, and then trying to get the attention of a congregation asking them to get on board with where we’re going in the music portion of worship. It’s a challenge, getting everyone on the same sheet of music. (Couldn’t resist!)

With a big church like our current place of worship, we have enough musicians to rotate and give everyone time in the congregation, time to worship on my own, time to worship with the body of Christ. It’s beneficial to see both sides of that equation often.

Horses are tied together to pull a cart, and each lends its strength to bear the load. Similarly, as Christians, we all can play a part in carrying and communicating the message, each of us contributing our small efforts to add up to something greater. So long as we have shared vision.

Sometimes, I fear that I show up to church functions or look at my spiritual life not as a horse adding my strength or as a voice communicating the message, but as a passenger jumping aboard the cart the horses are pulling, saying “Ok, where are you taking me?”

I picture the carriages designed to transport horses, and some Sundays I might as well be the horse inside the carriage, added weight that everyone else has to drag along for the ride. “Take me somewhere, and it better be good.”

What’s the solution?

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26 NASB)

In other words, I need to hitch up and pull weight when I show up for a church function or volunteer activity. I need to grab the vision and communicate it. It’s not my job to sit and be taken somewhere like the audience in a movie theater.

Just like the goal of having a platform is to get many people talking about the same message, one of the goals of our spirituality is to work together to communicate God’s heart to the world. The story of God’s grace impacting humanity is ongoing, and it’s on each of us to speak up and share that same message, so that our noisy world will hear.

What ways can we find to make sure we’re pulling the cart instead of sitting on it?