Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas

Despite the miserable cold, snow, and ice many of us experience in the northern hemisphere in December we who celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day are filled with the warmest of feelings. This annual reminder of the Messiah's arrival, His purpose in our lives and the importance of our faith offers us hope in a world when things often seem to be going awry.

In other words, Christmas fills us with inspiration.

People of other faiths may even be caught up in the excitement of this Christian holiday even though their religious beliefs are different. At least this is possible in the United States where Christmas is a VERY big deal since most of the population is Christian. Even government offices close for this important religious holiday.

Not only do we Christians get caught up in religious Advent and Christmas activities, we also dearly enjoy the secular celebration of Christmas. Trees decorated in red, white and gold scent our living rooms, wreaths hang on our door, and all of us with small children in our lives eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus.

"It's a Wonderful Life," "White Christmas," and little Ralphie's "Christmas Story" vie for playing time on our televisions with National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" and the Maureen O'Hara version of "Miracle on 34th Street."

Those of us who live in large cities may take in the local ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker." The rest of us hope to see a church's or college's production of Handel's "Messiah" or "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

If we aren't put off by bad weather, we'll attend local Christmas lighting festivities, our town's parade or we'll go caroling with friends.

Hot chocolate, peppermint, apples and cinnamon, fresh-baked pumpkin pies, colorful cookies, the scent of gingerbread, laughter, smiles, hugs, bright-eyed children, rosy cheeks, snow or sunshine--the baby Jesus--whatever fills your house and your heart during the Christmas season, God bless you with a joyous, healthy and safe holiday.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Monday, December 6, 2010

Does Hard Work = Success?

Working hard may not guarantee the achievement of a goal, but not working hard to achieve a goal will likely bring failure.

A person in the music business said essentially this recently. He said whether you're a singer, songwriter, artist, etc. (in the creative industries) a person should rise each day, work all day and at the end of the day, maybe you'll have something good, maybe you won't. And that's okay. His point was, judging by the snippet I heard, was that creative people shouldn't wait for inspiration.

I couldn't agree with him more. While inspiration is a tremendous help with one's creativity, an artist in every creative field needs to work everyday in order to achieve goals whether they are "in the mood" to work or not.

Creating when one isn't inspired is difficult work. The words don't come easily for a writer in this position, but they will come. They may need to be rewritten over and over, but they will come.

The only time an uninspired writer is completely unproductive is when she refuses to work.

Whether a person is in the creative field or not, I believe he can benefit by paying heed to this: Work hard towards a goal and success is achievable. Behave mediocrely toward the achievement of a goal and failure is at hand.

Good luck with whatever your goals are now and in the New Year.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author