Friday, May 30, 2008

Thinking About the Future . . . Again

Today we'll be traveling from Huntington to Lewisburg to attend Mary Ann's sister's graduation from Med School.  Cari will soon be starting her internship across the river in Ashland, KY (if she hasn't started already--I'm not sure how that works).  This graduation, combined with my brother Aaron's ongoing attempt to get into the PhD program in Communications at Ohio U, has really made me think about my future.  I know, I know.  Posts about 'my future' comprise about two-thirds of the writing I do on here, but bear with me one more time.

Cari's finishing up her DO, Aaron's (hopefully) about to start a PhD.  I'm working on my MDiv, which is a good, comprehensive degree, but I still worry over the possibility of academic work.  Specifically, I worry that I won't get into a decent school.  I know God is in charge of what happens, but I also know that I'm a sinner who can easily mess things up.  God doesn't automatically remove the negative consequences of my sin, after all.  I have to battle that hardened habit of laziness that keeps me from really writing that excellent research paper, or studying hard for that test.

Even if I do conquer my lazy habits, what about the past?  I can no longer control that I did not go to a prestigious school.  I don't think that's a necessarily a killer problem, but if a guy with a degree from Duke and a guy with a degree from Tri-State Bible College are competing, the Duke guy has the edge.  I'm hoping to balance that out a bit with my GRE scores.  Aaron is my model there.  He really busted his butt and got the score he needed for his program and more.  I admire that, and I've already asked his advice on how to go about it.

I'm excited, though, because I'm going to take an independent study with Dr. Anthony Bradley in the spring.  He advised me to do this because he said the papers assigned in typical classes at CTS aren't designed to show doctoral potential.  He said that he took independent study courses to see if he had what it took, so that's what I'm going to do.  That means extra reading and writing, but I, along with Dr. Bradley, basically get to pick the topic.  Pretty cool.  If I can parlay that paper into a sparkling writing sample, I will have done all I can.

Where does this leave the fiction writing I've been harping on lately?  The same place its always been:  one of a few options.  I intend to keep pursuing fiction hard and also pursue PhD studies.  As Dad would say, you always need a back up plan.  But let's just ignore the fact that both of my plans are risky and have a high possibility of falling through.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

West Virginia Livin'

So here I am in Almost Heaven, West Virginia.  It's good to be back in the 'home country.'  The sojourn in St. Louis will continue for at least two more years, and even when that ends I doubt we'll be returning to WV, but I'm always glad to get back.  I tell people how wonderful West Virginia is whenever I get the chance, but I also tell them how jacked up the government is here.  It's a beautiful, welcoming place, but I wonder how it will ever recover from its economic woes.  People tend to elect the same leaders over and over, and those people do the same things they've always done.

Another problem for West Virginia is the strong union presence.  Don't get me wrong, I think unions serve a noble purpose in the right context, such as early the 20th Century coal mines, but so many of them have become bloated bureaucracies that they can't provide services to their members as they ought.  Even so, many West Virginians remain devoted to their unions.

Still, the draw of West Virginia life is strong.  I feel tied to the state in a way that is unlikely to be matched by any other place.  If I got my PhD and was subsequently offered a job at Marshall University I would have to seriously consider returning.  That possibility is only slightly less likely than me becoming an astronaut, but there's no harm in a little day-dreaming.

You'll have to excuse me now . . . I have a song to sing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ah, it's good to be back!  The end of the semester seriously cut into my blogging time, but I have returned.  It's funny, I've been working and studying for these papers and tests for a good while now, finishing my last one at two o'clock today, and suddenly I have nothing left to do.  No papers.  No tests.  There is nothing for me to put off until tomorrow.  I can't even procrastinate.  It's as though I've been robbed of my identity.

Here I stand, paralyzed by a pulchritudinous pile of possibility!  I even did half of my summer reading during the semester, so Godric and The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay do not beckon.  That's the price I pay for using them to divert myself from schoolwork, I suppose.  But I'll always be able to find new books to read.  Or new old books to read.

I think I'm starting to ease into things, though.  I picked up a copy of Danny Gospel by David Athey the other day, and it's pretty good.  I thought the first chapter was a little shaky, but I'm into chapter three now and it's moving along well.  It's not "Good Country People" or anything, but so far it's the best fiction to come out of the "Christian Fiction" world since . . . well, I don't know.  I haven't read any official "Christian Fiction" since the first book of the Left Behind series.  Danny Gospel leaves that in the dust without breaking a sweat.  It's been getting good reviews from others as well, so I recommend it.

Of course this reminds me that I need to revisit my own fiction before my trip to Dallas on June 12 (to the Trinity Arts Conference, for those who don't know and can't be bothered to scroll down a few inches).  I haven't even read my chapter of The Brown Sisters (a working title) for a few weeks.  Finals have a way of demanding your attention.  I'll do that, work on some new parts and hopefully by the time the conference rolls around I'll have a nice fat chunk of prose I can be proud of.  I mean "a nice fat chunk of prose of which I can be proud."  Yeah.