Ash Wednesday

The unexamined life is not worth living

Socrates is credited with that saying, and the circumstances under which they were uttered are as worthy of consideration as the saying itself. According to Plato’s Apology, Socrates said these words during his trial for impiety and corrupting youth.

So, here we have Socrates, bucking up against the government in power, having to defend himself, his actions, and his philosophy. Roughly 400 years later, Jesus Christ would come around.

Before Jesus underwent his own trial, he went on a legendary “life examination” in the desert, fasting for forty days and forty nights, and facing down the devil and his temptations. And initiated the very first Lenten observance.

Being an introspective sort, Lent is never a hard sell for me. Truthfully, a big part of me kinda looks forward to it every year. Life is a cumulative thing, and it’s not like the bad habits, thoughts, or attitudes I may have focused on in prior Lenten seasons have miraculously disappeared. Or cured themselves.

No, more often than not, they reassert themselves when I’m not paying attention.

I hate that.

Using Lent as a means to examine my life seems to have taken on greater importance, especially these last seven years or so. It’s in these last few years that I’ve “found” my vocation as a writer, thus I’ve been writing more than I ever have at any other time in my life. I could go so far as to say that “the unexamined word isn’t worth reading,” but I would only be speaking for myself. I wouldn’t want anyone reading something that I haven’t thought through.

(Believe it or not, I do think through these blog posts.)

So, here I find myself at the dawn of another Lenten season. Resolving to: limit my sugar intake, seek balance with family/work/home, and carve out the time to finish The Tremors on the PCH. Because very recently, I was reminded of what it would take to accomplish this. I have to work on it every day. It’s something I know works, because I’ve put it into practice before. But certain bad habits reasserted themselves when I wasn’t paying attention.

Or rather, when I was paying attention to the publishing and promotion of my first novel. I convinced myself that those tasks “count” as writing. But they definitely don’t. What counts is when I’m immersed in the story, and I can see things start to take shape, things that I only had an intuitive feeling about at the start of the process. And some things that come up out of the blue, but make so much sense for the story that I can’t believe I didn’t think of them in the first place.

No—that kind of stuff counts as writing. Because the only thing that produces a first draft, and all the subsequent drafts, and eventually a final, is immersing yourself into the thing and just writing it.

I lived in this desert (well, in an apartment in that desert, mostly) for nine years
I lived in this desert (well, in an apartment in that desert, mostly) for nine years

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