Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clean Your Plate, Mate!

Did your Grandmother or mother ever say this to you? "Clean your plate. There are many children over in Africa and other lands that would love to eat that food." I used to think to myself, Well, then give it to them!

Funny, though it is now upon looking back, there was a point to be made. Let nothing go to waste.

The truth is that in the American diet, much food goes to waste, one way or another. It either is wasted or goes to one's waist! Americans have an abundance of food. Just compare the serving sizes in local restaurants with the "daily recommended" portions and you will see a huge gap already, let alone seeing what people in other countries have to eat. And the leftover-food bins at fast food restaurants here are full of fare that could be better used (even just as compost) and not thrown away. Of course, in the southern states this might promote bug infestation issues BUT...I'm sure there is some way to use that leftover food and not waste it. Some college cafeterias used to give away the extra scrapings to local farmers for their pigs.

"Waste not" has been applied to food but what about words? Are there any old manuscripts just sitting around in a notebook wasting away because you either gave up on them or never submitted them in the first place? I know I have some. Those words took great amounts of time to accumulate and they aren't going anywhere on their own. Some of them, perhaps might not find any suitable place but the circular file (IE. rubbish can). Yet, other manuscripts could perhaps be re-written and sent to another publishing venue. But why let them all go to waste?

Christian writers, did you know that the Bible tells us that we shall give an account for every idle word? (Matthew 12:36). Wow, I have too many to account for. The word idle comes from the Greek word, ARGOS which means "not busy, idle, inactive, doing nothing, and sterile." OUCH!

The word account is derived from the Greek word, APODIOMI which means to "give an answer."

This is an intriguing revelation of the power of words. Other passages say that death and life are in the power of the tongue--meaning that our words are not just words. They need to serve a purpose and accomplish something. So, does this mean that it is a sin for someone to use humor in speech and writing? Some people might try to say that about comedy because "it serves no good purpose" and is full of silly words. Are these people right? Does comedy serve a purpose?

Proverbs 17:2 tells us, "A merry heart does good like a medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones." In other words, words of humor can bring healing to a person whether it be to a soul or the person's health. I am living proof. When deep in the throws of Systemic Lupus several years ago, I immersed myself in the Bible, praise music, healthy life choices and HUMOR! The last item was a HUGE part of my healing, I believe. I rented videos from the library (sending someone to get them for me) or watched them on Dish Network or the Internet. Here's a glimpse of the comedy I watched every day: I Love Lucy, Mark Lowry, Ken Davis, Chonda Pierce, Bananas Comedy, Dennis Swanburg, Bob Smiley and many other TV Comedy Classics. Humor uplifted me and brought me out of the "doldrums" as my dad used to call it.

So, if idle words are not referring to humor, then to what could they refer? I believe it refers, in part to words which are either said without thought and/or words that are not given the right venue to be heard and are thus wasted words. You may feel free to do your own research on what this means but for me, I take it as a warning to make use of the words that God allows me as a writer to use. I plan to think more before speaking and writing as well as to dig out my old manuscripts and see if I can salvage anything to be used for a good purpose.

As a person gifted with gab, I need to take more time to think before acting and to use the gift to the best of my ability so as not to have any idle words. In other words, I don't want to waste time talking about things that are not profitable to anyone but to write quality work with an intended purpose. Even if I have to ramble to find those words, the words I publish or speak aloud will be used to the fullest extent possible, with God's help. This is my prayer.

Well, perhaps it is reflective of the hour in which I wrote this (IE. late at night) or it may just be that the Lord is speaking to me louder through His Words so I will finally "get it". I know I will mess up here and there. That is inevitable. I just pray that I will make more of my words count than ever before, even the words that could sit in the "waste" basket. One man's junk is another man's treasure. So pull out that manuscript you have up trying to publish and find something salvageable in it. I aim to do the same. Let's come back in a few weeks and compare notes, okay?
P.S. There is another application. Good cooks prepare food with the highest number of nutritional calories without any unessentials because they want their food to be utilized by the body and not turned into fat or waste. Writer's strive also to write their message in the least amount of words possible while using the strongest verbs and fewer adjectives and adverbs. They don't want to waste words and make readers miss the message while choking on the extraneous words. Just a thought and a challenge to us all. Please leave your comments on this. What do you do with your leftover words or manuscripts that did not pass the critique or editor test? Do you waste them? Or find some words to remake into another story? I'm curious to know if you are like me or not. Do I have any others on the same wavelength here?


JoJo Tabares said...

Excellent post! I, too, strive to be succinct. That's often an exciting challenge, especially in the world of Facebook and Twitter where we have only 140 characters!

His Study and His Scribe * Karyn Brownlee said...

I may be the queen of wasted words. I have a 167 page, single-spaced Bible study that was "printed", but never published. God used you, a fellow late-night owl, to gently kick me in the behind. Thanks!

Keep writing!

BeckyJoie said...

Thank you, ladies! I appreciate your comments!

Sandra Heska King said...

Agree with JoJo. Excellent. I've been thinking about a children's story I wrote years ago that's buried in the bottom file because 2or 3 publishers weren't looking for anthropomorphic animals. My kids and granddaughter love it. Maybe I should dust it off and see if I can resurrect it. Thanks BeckyJoie.

Damaria Senne said...

Wow! What an inspiring post. And yes, I do have a number of manuscripts, mostly essays and articles, that are sitting idle. Best I dust them up and send them out, so they fulfill their purpose. Thank You.