I’m Still Alive

Life has definitely taken a few twists and turns for the McMullen Clan.

In June, we packed up and moved from the cornfields of Indiana to the sun-baked beaches of California. The transition was more intense than that, but I’ll spare you the details and skip to the part about living in “paradise.”

The family has adjusted well, we’ve done a bunch of cool stuff and school is right around the corner.

Unfortunately, in the transition I’ve gone through yet another dry patch with my writing. It is what it is – with all the traveling, starting a new job, looking for housing and soccer programs – there just isn’t time to focus on other things. And without fail, writing, exercise and sleep fall through the cracks…

But this week something changed…

I’ve been thinking about writing again. I’m getting excited about the possibilities, and every day I have new ideas to add to my toolbox. I still haven’t cracked open Scrivener, but the gears are turning and it’s just a matter of time.

Part of my hesitancy is the intimidation factor. It’s been a long time since I last put words to paper. I’ll have a lot of catching up to do, and I really need to go back through the entire thing to make sure it matches where I’m at in life right now.

But it’s all good stuff. And I can’t wait to get back at it.

Life gets in the way – but you can’t use that excuse forever.

I have a book to write!!!


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The Truth Hurts

I came across a couple articles the other day in my research. The topic was busyness, and its impact on our lives, and the lives of those proximate to us.

Both were written by Omid Safi, columnist for the online social enterprise blog/podcast called On Being with Krista Tippett.

The first article, The Disease of Being Busy, hits at the heart of what it means to be “American.” This desire to check stuff off lists, make progress, get ahead, and keep up with the latest trends. But just because that’s how we operate, doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for us.

In summary:

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

The next article, The Thief of Intimacy, Busyness, took the same theory and applied it directly to our close relationships.

We live in a culture that celebrates activity. We collapse our sense of who we are into what we do for a living. The public performance of busyness is how we demonstrate to one another that we are important. The more people see us as tired, exhausted, over-stretched, the more they think we must be somehow… indispensable. That we matter.

But what happens when we give in to this pace of life? Safi explains his struggle in being a father to his daughter:

I am a good baba, I know I am. I know it every time her beautiful face lights up when she sees me. I work hard. I try to be a good colleague, a good son, a good friend, a good partner, a good sibling. It’s not about how much I love her (“right up to the moon and back”). It’s about the time that she has my undivided attention. It’s about the quality of time in which I am wholeheartedly present. She, my love, is always present.

The struggle is real…

Photo Credits: Brittany Randolph, SJA Photography

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Help From Donald Miller

A good friend of mine (Tim Burkey) sent me the link to an Author Launch webinar on writing. It’s an interview with Donald Miller, author of books like Blue Like Jazz and Scary Close.

He had a fun take on what it means to write, and how to get started in the biz. I also learned about a good writing tool called Scrivener – which I purchased in the App Store and am loving so far. It is definitely made for people like me who need everything to be well organized…

Webinar Replay

On the webinar page there is a link to a PDF called Tips For First Time Writers. This was helpful as well.


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On Writing by Stephen King

I spent my Spring Break on Florida beaches reading the book On Writing by Stephen King.

The book is broken into two distinct parts. The first is a simple autobiography about King’s upbringing and ascension to recognized author. The second is a short toolbox of literary wisdom for the aspiring author.

In college I went through a Stephen King phase, reading five to ten of his more recognized works. I formed an opinion of him which shattered after reading about his childhood, life hardships and how hard he worked to realize his dream.

I really enjoyed the book as it made me want to be better, both as a person, and as a writer. King pulls no punches when he explains what it takes to become a good author. Talent, hard work and an attention to detail are just a few of the traits one must possess.

Upon completion of the book I made a conscious decision to read back through my work with fresh eyes, looking for sloppy, lazy writing. I’m hoping it is easy to recognize, and even easier to stay away from in future chapters.

Learn from your mistakes – right?


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It All Started In High School

It’s hard for me to remember if I liked writing in elementary school, or even middle school for that matter. It wasn’t until high school that I can clearly remember the act of writing on purpose, for the fun of it. It probably began as a time-filler when I was bored. Classes weren’t the most exciting thing in the world so I’m sure I used it at first to keep me from falling asleep or getting into trouble during long lectures…

I recall two things actually: doodling and writing.

I’m not sure if I had the obligatory Trapper Keeper or if I just had a spiral notebook, but whatever it was, it was filled with drawings, designs, graffiti style font work, logos and short stories. Doodling came off the top of my head and often started with a few lines, curves or dots. From there an idea was sparked and the complete doodle emerged.

Writing, on the other hand, worked the opposite way. I would create a scene in my head and then try to describe it as intensely as possible on paper – yes loose leaf paper… A scene that stands out to me is one where I was in a neighborhood in the middle of the night trying to elude either the police or bad guys… Can’t remember the specifics, but I think I still have it in an old box somewhere. Would be hilarious to post a page or two from it just to see where I started…

From there writing stopped being fun and just became life as I knew it in college and grad school. Paper after paper on things I didn’t even care about. But there is a good chance this made me better at the craft. I learned various forms of writing, the ins and outs of citation and probably enhanced my library of useful words at the same time. I’ve never been the type to use $5 words in normal conversation, but when reading, there are few words I come across that I don’t know the meaning of (if that means anything…)

Upon graduating, my writing went from papers to clinical documentation – charting on patients/clients as a therapist in the mental health field. Oh the thousands of pages I probably wrote during this phase of my life. However, this life as a therapist led to my first complete manuscript. Controversy Theory was birthed out of my disillusionment with the field of counseling. I was a Christian working in a field where pop psychology was the only “allowed” form of clinical care. Sure you could hang your own shingle and offer “Christian counseling” to the masses, but most jobs required you to leave your beliefs at the door and only use tried and true clinical modalities.

Controversy Theory was me working through the process of merging my spiritual beliefs with my traditional clinical practice skills.

Around 2002, my creative side became activated again as the Internet grew and web design software became readily available. I purchased Macromedia Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks, and began the process of teaching myself basic web design. This led to volunteering at my church and eventually landed me a job there as the Web Director. Shortly thereafter I began a professional blog where I posted on my role, advancing technology and best practices in web design. One more phase of my life that I’m sure honed my skills as a writer…

And that brings us to 2012 when TH3 TRILOGY came to me in a dream one night. I pursued it hard for a few months, then life took over. It wasn’t until this year that I revived a desire to work on the book and see where it could lead.

So we’ll see…

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Welcome to My Rest Area

Next week we’re heading to Florida for Spring Break – twenty plus hours in a van with three kids and a lot of beach stuff… But one of things that will get us through, are the rest areas along the way. We’ll get off the busy road, hit the restrooms and stretch the legs for a few minutes before jumping back on.

This is what writing does for me. I’m on a crazy highway with marriage, family, travel sports, work, freelance projects, home ownership, yard work, etc. At times it can feel like I’m doing a thousand things, but doing none of them well. So when I find the time, writing is the “rest area” that allows me to pull over and relax. It’s in these moments, working on the book or blogging, that I find the most peace. Somehow I’m able to shut everything else out, stop multi-tasking and just focus on one enjoyable thing for a brief period of time.

What’s your rest area? Do you have one? If not, you might want to stop for a minute and ask yourself what it is that allows you to rest and replenish. If you don’t start adding those little things into your life you’ll keep heading 70 miles per hour straight toward stress and eventual burnout.

Give yourself permission to rest and stay healthy. Other people can benefit more from the healthy version of you…

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