Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do You Need to Edit Your Life?

Recently a friend of mine asked my advice regarding her 15-year-old daughter and the concept of Christianity. Unfortunately, my friend's daughter thinks like the majority of people in the world. They think that "being a good person" is good enough. It's not. Sure, the 10 commandments are a good starting place, but can anyone truly abide by them? No. Maybe you're not a murderer, but have you thought, "I wish he were dead!" in your mind? You're guilty. Maybe you don't worship Allah (the god of Islam), but have you ever given anything in life a higher priority than God (money, relationship, job, fun, etc.)? You're guilty. And don't even try to tell me you've never lied.

If you've committed one sin, your penalty is death--eternal separation from God--eternity in hell. Hell is a real place. It is cut off from God. It is the absence of love. There is no compassion. There is no relief. There is pain. There is sorrow. There is grief. There is torture. Think of the worst thing you've ever seen or heard of on earth--it's worse and endless. Satan is a real person/creature.

Romans 3:23 tells us that we're all guilty, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 tells us the cost of that sin, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." But here's the relief, Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Are you familiar with John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." This is all you have to do, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Is that so hard? For a lot of people it is. They don't think it's necessary. To them, I pose this question: What if you're wrong? If you're (the unbeliever/doubter) right, then it's all for nothing. None of this matters. But what if you're wrong? What if everything I just said in that last paragraph is right? What if you miss out? What will it hurt you to believe me? If you're right, you've lost nothing. But if I'm right, and if you reject salvation, you lose forever.

Is it time to edit your life? Do your beliefs need revision? Don't delay. Your next breath is not guaranteed. Get your life's rewrite done NOW!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Be or Not Too Be

Too be or not too be? That is the question without a definite answer.

Not long ago, I advised in a post that commas are no longer required to set apart the word "too" in a sentence. Little did I know pointing out this issue would spark much controversy.

Most publishers prefer to follow the style rules established in The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Well, CMOS does not address this matter directly. It does, however, provide some clarity in the online Q&A at Their answer simply states that commas are not necessary with the word "too" unless the sentence does not make sense without them. They say "it puts too much pressure on the comma" to give the minute punctuation mark the great responsibility of thought clarity. Hello? Isn't that the purpose of the comma in every instance?

My formal advice would be to check the style guidelines of your target publisher. If they want commas, use them. If they don't, don't. Whatever you do, though, be consistent! I doubt the appearance or absence of a comma will be the deciding factor for a publisher's acceptance or rejection. Present your best work and let the writing speak for itself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: The Great Eight, by Scott Hamilton (with Ken Baker)

I recently signed up to be a book review blogger at Thomas Nelson Publishing, Periodically, I will review a selection here on the Aim for Perfection Editing blog. Not every text will apply to the topics of writing or editing, but I hope to help you glean some insight about the writing process from the books I review.

My first choice was The Great Eight, by internationally renowned figure skater Scott Hamilton (with Ken Baker). I ordered this book with my mom in mind. We both enjoyed his skating and his cheerful, upbeat attitude. Mom would call me whenever she noticed a Scott Hamilton television performance in the TV program. Whatever my mood, to see Scott flipping or running across the ice flashing that big grin, would perk me up in no time. His happiness was contagious.

Well, this book arrived in my mailbox the day my mother passed away. Ironically, Scott’s theme is “How to be Happy (even when you have every reason to be miserable)”. Plunged into misery, I set the book aside for a few weeks to finish a Kathi Macias book and to read Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven. I didn’t really feel like reading a book on happiness.

As I read The Great Eight, I wasn’t real impressed with the writing style. It’s a bit redundant, doesn’t flow chronologically, and is all over the place with point-of-view. As much as I love Scott Hamilton’s bubbly personality and vivacious skating, I must admit I was bored by the book. Until, that is, I realized the message is valid and the advice pertinent. The chapter titles sum up Scott’s happiness strategy: Fall, Get Up, and Land Your First Jumps; Trust Your Almighty Coach; Make Your Losses Your Wins; Keep the Ice Clear; Think Positive, Laugh, and Smile Like Kristi Yamaguchi; Win by Going Last; Learn a New Routine; and Stand in the Spotlight.

Scott explains that we will not find true happiness until we accept our God-given flaws and reminds us that how we deal with our experiences defines our character. We can choose to let life smother us, or we can choose to let our experiences enhance our lives and provide opportunity for growth. Despite what I would consider relatively weak writing, The Great Eight effectively inspires readers to follow Scott’s “great eight” principles, to take charge of their circumstances and commit to goals, so they too may find lasting happiness.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Words are Marred

I am marred. I am flawed. My body is imperfect and ailing, but it is still useful to the Master who created it. God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to receive the Lord’s message. He saw the potter working the wheel, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jer. 18:4).

I am malleable, pliable. Perhaps I thought I was meant to be a flower pot, but the Lord determined I’d make a better water vessel. “’Can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand’” (Jer. 18:6). He created me, and He can make of me whatever He wishes. He can build me up and tear me down over and over again until I reach perfection. I am His vision. He knows what He needs me to be. Sometimes I need to be reshaped in order to carry out His plan.

We writers shape words not clay, but sometimes our creations need to be smushed, spun, swirled, and shaped into an entirely new production. Sometimes an article or a chapter that looked like a flower pot might actually work better as a water vessel. Can we not do with our writing as the potter does with the clay?

Sometimes what we write is marred and flawed, but words are malleable and pliable. Don’t be afraid to form your work into a different pot, shaping it as seems best.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jesus, Get Him

Ok, friends. I'm bored with these editing posts. Don't panic! It's just that I'm not a very talkative person, so I find it difficult to say very much on a specific editing topic like, say, commas, that hasn't already been covered at length in Chicago Manual of Style or The Elements of Style or any of the numerous grammar books out there. I plan to continue to provide valuable information, like how it is no longer necessary to offset the word "too" with commas. However, I also want to provide you a better grasp of the grand scheme of things and writing's proper placement in our busyness.

The purpose of the comma is to clarify a statement. When placed correctly, the comma brings understanding of a thought. If you want to "quote a phrase", the comma is placed outside the quotation marks. However, if you say, "I already knew that," then the comma belongs inside the quotation marks.

Likewise, the correct placement of Jesus provides clarity to our lives. He should always, ALWAYS be placed inside our hearts! When He's left outside, we find ourselves in confusion. Nothing makes sense. We struggle to complete a thought and our days jumble into frustration. But when Jesus lives within us, oh what a difference! Our days are "numbered aright" (Psalm 90:12), as schedules fall right into place. Our direction is clear, heavenbound. Our purpose is revealed, to bring glory to the Father and to lead others to Him.

While we may not understand everything life hands us, after all, our thoughts are not His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and inviting His Holy Spirit to live within us allows us to "get wisdom, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:5).

Have you misplaced the Savior of your life? Study God's style book, His Word, the Bible, and you'll find out just where He belongs.

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)