The Perrine Journal

A Publication For Music, The Arts, and Theology

A New Story. 

Thinking about a story line. I only have ideas, actually just fragments of ideas. 

Reason for this hodge lodge of ideas is that I’ve been seeing a lot of what’s called Dystopian fiction. At Barnes & Noble. On Netflix. Etc. etc.

There is in fact, at the time of this writing, a table display at our local Barnes & Noble consisting of Dystopian novels such as “1984” by George Orwell, “Atlas Shrugged” and “Anthem” by Ayn Rand, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, amongst others. 

On television and film, Dystopia runs amok. “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Welcome to Leith,” along with a new made-for-screen version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” are all the rage. 

After watching an episode of one of these shows, I turned to my wife and thought out loud: “What would it be like to create a Dystopian/Utopian/whatever story where life DIDN’T suck?” We both, of course, laughed that one off, because there’s no way for that to exist. 

But… What if it could?

As you can see from my last few posts, I have been attempting to at least research what it is that makes for good writing. I have never been very good at writing;  and as you can tell, my grammar still needs some coaching. 

But this idea of a “Doesn’t Suck” Dystopian story (guess you’d call it a Utopian story then, right?) keeps coming back to me.

So, I’m going to at least give it a go, just hope I don’t give it up too quickly. 

For starters, I found a book on writing at the basic level entitled “How to Write a Sentence” by Stanley Fish. 160 pages of probably the best boot camp for writers ever published. This work, as well as another textbook, “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster, both mention a novel by Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier. I knew about Ford from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast which I read during my two week career at the Chandler Wal-Mart during March of 2015. Hemingway talked mostly of Ford’s putrid breath and what a liar he was; Fish & Foster both praised The Good Soldier for its narrative genius. So I purchased a copy from the Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard during vacation, and have been trudging through it. Although the writing is magnificent, it’s a puzzle to figure out where it’s narrator, John Dowell, is at any given moment. Couple that with page after page of 1915-era adultery, and the whole business soon becomes a chore. The Good Soldier, has however, given me a model for the narrative writing style. The way that Dowell is “at the same time…completely believable and therefore pathetic” (Foster, p.215) shows the genius of Ford Madox Ford.

My initial story line is thus:

Our narrator, Mr. Joe Everyman, finally has enough vacation time saved to actually have one. He visits his local travel agency, and asks for the best bang for the buck. He’d like white beaches, blue water, and to be completely wined, dined, and lavished upon.  The travel agent then suggests a small island between the Cayman Islands and Cuba called Omorfi (Greek for “beautiful”). Cheap fares, and it’s in the off season, so not many Americans there at this time of year. Joe likes the idea, so he settles for a week in Omorfi.

When he gets there, he finds Omorfi to be an experience he’d never dreamed of. 

Sounds like an advertisement now, I understand. But there’s more here in Omorfi than meets the eye..

More coming soon.


Research and Writing.

At this time, I am reading the following:

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

Plato, The Republic

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

John Stott, Romans: Encountering the Gospel’s Power

Along with these, I am doing a study of the five Solas of the Reformation.

I am doing research for a possible story, or set of song ideas. Yes, somehow these are my reasearch materials at this time. Don’t have any clue what this will produce, if anything.

Any input, help, criticism, etc. is extremely welcome. Just make it real and constructive, por favor.

God is good. His goodness is always there, even when I do not recognize it and end up blaming him for things that go wrong.

I need to stop, and recognize God for the great Life giver that He is.

Colossians 3:1b

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above”
Seeking things that are not of this world, things that we cannot fully comprehend in this world or in this life. Things which are too wonderful for me, things which I cannot attain here.
Things above “which designates the transcendent heavenly realm at the center of which is the exalted Christ” (O’Brien, 158).
Things
Things
Things I cannot attain to
Things too wonderful for me
Things I can’t imagine
Things one day I’ll clearly see
Sweet Things
(Center of the heavenly realm)

Just a noodle while pondering the wonder and splendor of this awesome text.

Colossians 3:1a

“If then you have been raised with Christ”

If I have been raised. Being raised is something I cannot do on my own. It must be Jesus who raises me. Calvin rightly states on this verse that “Ascension follows resurrection: hence, if we are the members of Christ, we must ascend into heaven, because He, on being raised up from the dead, was received up into heaven (Mark 16:19), that He might draw us up with Him.”

Have I been raised? Why am I questioning this? Do I not love Jesus, the one who died in my place and was raised so that I might have eternal life with Him? What am I basing this upon? My natural bent is that I might base this upon my performance, how I look to the world, whether or not those around my see my piousness, my righteousness. This is not right, in any way. If Jesus has not raised me to walk in newness of life, I am still dead in my sins and bound for an eternity separated from God, aka Hell.
You & I cannot look at my “performance,” whatever that is. All we’ll see is hypocrite. In fact, I cannot look at myself at all. I must keep looking at Jesus, and desire to share in His sufferings. (Phil 3:10).

Happy Hemingway Day!!!

To celebrate Ernest Hemingway on his 116th birthday, I am just now finishing the newest edition of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s memoir of his time in Paris during the early 1920s.

In A Moveable Feast, we get to see a glimpse of how Hemingway worked, as well as who and what influenced him. 

One of the habits Hemingway began during this period was that of reading other authors after working on a story. “I learned not to think about anything I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day….To keep my mind off writing sometimes after I had worked I would read writers who were writing then,” he explained. (58) Gertrude Stein acted the part of mentor to Hemingway during visits to her shop at 27 rue de Fleurus. 

A Moveable Feast also introduces us to other authors who were working in Paris   during this same period: 

Ezra Pound, a good friend and one who was “kinder and more Christian about people than I was.” (88)

Ford Madox Ford, “… an ambulatory, well clothed, up-ended hogshead.”(75)

And of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald – 

“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings.” (125)

Hemingway’s style is best summed up by James Salter, in today’s New York Review of Books: “simple declaratives seemed somehow to break through into a new language, a genuine American language that had so far been undiscovered, and with it was a distinct view of the world.” This “new language” was more about Hemingway paring his writing down into what exactly needs to be said, and no more, much like the way Miles Davis would only play the important notes of a melody. 

For example, as he was finishing a story, instead of writing out the ending, it “was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.”(71)

Genius!!!

My main objective in purchasing A Moveable Feast was for a model that I could build my memoir on. But this is not the case. I instead found the inner workings of an author’s author, and a benchmark model for exceptional writing.

July 1st 2015

There’s a lot I have been wanting to write about lately, and just have not had time. Sorry.

Been going through quite a spiritual struggle these past few months, and I haven’t brought it to anybody’s attention, including all those close to me. I’m still in the process of playing Lone Ranger.

I have to come to terms with many sins and other things that are holding me down like weight that needs to be cut and let go. Things like blaming God for my circumstances instead of relying on His grace and peace of getting me through it. I need to finally understand that I am put into situations in order to strengthen my faith and let God show me the lesson He wants me to learn.

We have a plaque in the living room which reads:

“The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.” This is a true statement.

I just need to trust God in EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING.

I keep reverting to the ignorant thinking that God puts me into a situation where I will fail, and after that, the judgment.

And all this while I’m trying to do an in depth study of Colossians 3. Wow.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

I desperately need to seek that which is above. Not on my circumstances whatever they be. Keep me in your prayers.

Setting Our Minds on Things Above

At my church, we are starting a new sermon series on the section of John’s Gospel commonly referred to as the Upper Room Discourse (John 13 – 17).

Our pastor decided to preface the series with a look at Colossians 3:1-4:

          “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

After looking at this passage more than a couple times, I have been drawn to the verbs that Paul uses here. Notice he begins with the word IF. IF you have been raised, etc. We must be sure of our calling and make our election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Then the verbs:

  • Raised – If we are Christ’s, we have been raised from death unto life, from sin unto salvation. We can only glimpse it here while we are yet breathing, but afterwards will raised by Him to enjoy Him forevermore.
  • Seek – look for those things which are eternal. I am so preoccupied with things that are here today and gone tomorrow, that I am not worthy to be called a Christian. I am in terrible need of repentance in this area. Are you?
  • Set your minds – this is how to free ourselves from the point made above. In Romans 12:2, Paul shows us how to proceed – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Died – We have died to our former selves and our former ways of life. We can see that everything here on earth is temporal, and that we cannot put our trust in anything here in this life.
  • Hidden – What we will see and be is hidden with Him who places His Holy Spirit within us. But –
  • Appears – When He appears we will also appear with Him in glory. A glory that is beyond time and space, beyond any of the constraints we experience now.

This passage is a humbling education in our position in Christ. Studying it has brought me to repentance and humility, showing that it is Jesus who holds me in the palm of His hand, and will not let me go.

“A Moveable Feast”

Today I will start my vacation to Paris in the 1920s with Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a posthumous publication (1964). Truth be told, I have never delved fully into Hemingway before, except in high school when I tried a couple of attempts at For Whom The Bell Tolls, mostly because I found war stories quite boring during my teens (I was also assigned All Quiet On The Western Front my junior year, but never made it past chapter one. Tried to fake a book report on it, but Mr. Jackson was way too keen for that). 

Reading this because I am finally starting my own memoir in order to bore the world. I needed a good model, and through another book was introduced to A Moveable Feast. 

Will let you know how it turns out as soon as I can.

New Stuff for 2015 (finally)

Given a swift kick in the rear, finding the muse, becoming inspired, etc. etc. Whatever you’d like to call it, I’m becoming interested again in the art of Writing. Along with the art of Literature.  Seems that I never get too lazy that something (or Someone) will get me back in the swing of things.

Trouble is, for how long will this continue? Take a look at this publishing date and the last one where I promised my blog reading audience that I was coming back with a vengeance. Yeah, right.

In the meantime, however, I will attempt to keep up this blog, The Perrine Journal, as best as I can.

What incredible circumstances have led me to write again? Well, first of all, I’m in that most splendid of life statuses known as UNEMPLOYMENT. This means I’ve more time than I used to have. Second, I long and pray for a certain job where writing would be my main task. Third, my lovely wife letting me tag along for a geneaology conference where the last session was about using non-fiction technique to tell your family’s history through stories.

This latter seminar was presented by a lady who’d been in the business of both authorship and geneology over the past twenty years or so. The first work she read to combine both arts, therefore her first inspiration? In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Guess what will be my next novel purchase?

And yes, reading books have played a major part in my returning to writing. Here’s a few works prompting me at the moment:

  • How To Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster. I suggest reading this one just to get yourself into READING.
  • A newer novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan.
  • An classic memoir, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  • Another classic, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. An example of how a great story should be written.
  • On Writing, Stephen King, along with his historical fiction novel, 11/22/63.
  • On Writing Fiction, David Jauss
  • The Art of Nonfiction, Ayn Rand
  • Writing to Find Yourself, Allison Vesterfelt
  • Why I Write and On Keeping a Notebook, Joan Didion
  • On Writing Well, William Zinsser. This one I just picked up tonight at Barnes & Noble. A classic in its own right.

These, and a book on personal application of theology and doctrine by Tim Chester, You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions. The title makes it sound like nothing more than a glorified self-help book, but it is very intense and has enough writing prompts at the end of each chapter to warrant its own blog.

So again friends, I intend to keep this blog going for longer than I have in the past. Any ideas, please comment below. Thanks!!!