The Writing Process: Part I

Hello Heroic Catholics!

This marks the first post in a series I’ll be doing that explains and explores the process of writing Heroic Catholic books. The main subject will be the writing of How to Become A Heroic Catholic: Volume 2 (title still undecided), so follow along for updates and progress reports!

Today we’re going to look at what went into the rough draft I finished last week.

So, a rough draft is the first draft of a book. It’s one that is meant to be done with as little looking back and editing as possible, the main goal being to get it done. There’s a lot of “free-writing” involved, at least for me, but also a lot of thought and research goes into it. I created a virtual ‘Sticky-Note Board’ on my computer, where I could stick ideas and reorganize them before transferring the text to my book’s document, and I had several other documents that I stuck quotes into or Bible verses to reference, etc.

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Thank you, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google for helping me find the quotes I needed!

Because, like with baking or cooking, you can’t get started until you have all the ingredients in front of you. Granted, you might discover that you forgot an ingredient (or in the book’s case – a major source I wanted to use) until you’re halfway through, but at this stage all mistakes are easily fixed.

This rough draft began back in spring of 2016, when I copied the text from a talk I had given into a clean, fresh, Pages document on my computer.

The talk was ~5,000 words long and needed a lot of help if it would become a book. I split it into sections and started fleshing out the parts I wanted to keep, deleting other parts that wouldn’t be relevant to readers. At this point I also started to form my structure, the plan for how the book would proceed. It was something like this:

  • Open with a Saint’s quote
  • Give an introduction with either an analogy or metaphor for holiness to grasp people’s attention.
  • What is holiness?
  • Lives of Saints as Pathways for Us

Very basic. Very general. Good enough to begin with. Also something that would change a lot, because as I kept writing I knew I was missing something major but I couldn’t figure out what. I put the project aside and let my mind work things out with it for a few months, because if I kept trying to force the words or force the structure – I was going to regret it.

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When I picked it back up, at the end of summer/ early fall 2016, I opened up my virtual sticky-note-board and did some major reorganizing. I was starting to figure out my structure and how I wanted things to go, but it still wasn’t quite right. I reached over 20,000 words in August and then once again put it away. There was something missing, something still not right, and I was just getting mad at the keyboard for not typing out exactly what I wanted when I didn’t know what I wanted myself. It stayed put until spring 2017. I worked on some videos, put together presentations, got busy with school and other writing projects that felt more pressing.

By that point I was debating if this was even a book I needed to be writing, or if it was a project I had given myself to make myself feel good or feel like I was actually accomplishing something in life, since it seemed everything was slowing down. Rough drafts are rough! On both the mental and spiritual levels.

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When I decided to open the document again in early spring, I reorganized my Sticky-Note-Board once more, adding in a theme of virtues to go with the Saints. I’d hit some virtues more than others, but I wanted to include them all! I spent more time on that than I had on writing in weeks, but it felt good to get something done. Each Saint, I decided, would have a virtue and a simple message associated with them.

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Research = Lots of Sticky Notes

Then, in late May, it finally dawned on me. I figured out the structure and organization I needed! I found the last Saints I wanted to add in, figured out which ones I needed to cut out, and spent a week reorganizing (yeah…I broke the rule of ‘no looking back’ while writing a rough draft, but it was worth it.) and formatting the document.  There would be an introduction, 3 major sections (Faith, Hope, and Charity), and a closing.

I reached my word count goal for the rough draft in a matter of weeks, (~31,000), or about 130 unformatted pages, and printed out a copy on the eve of my 20th birthday! That was the best present I’ve given myself in years, because having this monstrous project actually done (well, one stage done anyway) took a huge weight off my shoulders and gave me a clear plan for the next months – which is something I’ve needed.

So that, is how the rough draft of Heroic Catholic: Volume 2 came around! It took over a year to complete, countless reorganizations, too much editing-while-writing, and a whole lot of prayers.
Now for the real job to begin. My first book took 14 drafts before proof and publication. I’ll expect something similar for this! Watch for the next post, where we’ll look at what happens in the all-important first round of editing! IMG_4364.JPG

In Christ,

Catherine

 

Smile.

 

 

Saint Teresa of Calcutta. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4th. This amazing lady, who died a few months after I was born, is now a canonized Saint. It’s incredible!

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I know many people who have had a devotion to her for years, and that’s awesome.

She’s someone who I’ve grown up hearing about, how we know the priest who gave her the Last Rites, how she won the Nobel Peace prize, how humble she was, how amazing she was, and the list continues for a mile.

Do you know what my favorite thing about (St.) Mother Teresa is though?

Mother Teresa had many fantastic messages and she shared lots of words of wisdom, yet there’s one I found while I was looking up quotes from her for a talk I was asked to give that I found astoundingly awesome, and incredibly simple.

She spoke about smiling. The power of a smile.

How a smile is the beginning of peace:

“Peace begins with a smile..” – St.  Teresa of Calcutta

How powerful is that? Do you think peace can really begin with a smile?

Have you ever had a bad day, and then someone smiled at you and the day became better? Was your heart more at peace after the tough day at school when you came home and saw your mom’s smile? Maybe. Maybe not. Thing is – your smile is powerful.

Why is a smile so powerful?

Let’s ask St. Teresa…

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

A smile, as she so eloquently put, is an action of love, a truly beautiful thing to behold. It is a gift.

Often we wish we had more to give. Yet we hold in the simplest gift of all. That of a smile.

Maybe you can’t do anything for somebody but smile and show that you care. Maybe you’ll touch someone’s heart by smiling at them as you commute to school, work, or wherever. Think about how much better a place the world could be if we all shared smiles instead of frowns.
I think it’d be beautiful.

If that’s a lot to ask, then maybe start with people you interact with. Teachers? Classmates? Coworkers? Your annoying sibling?
If we desire to share a gift, an action of love, with those around us – we become the living expression of God’s kindness, as St. Teresa puts it…

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

And when it’s difficult to smile – smile all the more! Why?

“Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.” 

Smile when it’s difficult. Your smile might make other people smile. It might be the one bright spot in somebody’s awful day. A smile is a gift. It is a sharing of love – and therefore a sharing of God and God’s love with one another. 

We should greet one another with a smile.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” 

And when we give, we should give with a smile too:

“The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.”

 It is something so simple that we might not ever think of it.  Have you ever thought about how your smile could transform someone? She speaks of the way smiles can bring peace, love, beauty, and not just bring  those things but spread them. 

Smile. I love that.

So, smile at someone tomorrow. If they ask you why you’re smiling – say you’re following Mother Teresa’s advice.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

~
Catherine

A New School Year

Hello, Heroic Catholics!

I’m wrapping up my second week of my Sophomore Year of college. So far, so good. My classes seem simple enough, not too much homework, and I’m starting to make some cool friends.

With the start of a new school year here, it’s important that we’re ready for everything the year brings. Dealing with teachers, annoying classmates, traffic on sidewalks (Thank you, Pokemon Go players!), and the ways people challenge your faith.

It’s not always in a big way, but it’s there. So far this year 2 of my classes have brought up the Catholic Church and its impact on various things. Some of the information they said was correct, some was stretching the truth, and some was flat out wrong.

How do you handle that? Or if a friend starts talking to you and attacks or questions your faith, what do you do?

What you don’t do is this:

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Or this:

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(#WHOLOCK)

And DEFINITELY not this:

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Okay? Cool. Let’s talk about the first situation I mentioned. The professor/teacher says something about Catholicism that is flat out wrong or partially true…

 

 

You can sit there and do nothing.

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You can raise your hand
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and politely ask for clarification:
“Prof. Sherlock, when you said that 2+2=5, are you talking about an extremely large value of 2 or did I hear you wrong?”

 

You can email your teacher/professor after class, politely asking for clarification and explaining your knowledge on the subject:

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“Dear Prof. Sherlock,
Today in class you wrote on the board that in the year 1995 the first Harry Potter book came out. I’m a little confused – for the release date online and everywhere I’ve looked says 1997.
Thanks,
Doctor. Who”

If your class is discussion oriented, bring it up if it fits! If you feel comfortable talking in front of the class about it and explaining it, fantastic. But that’s not most people. That’s not even me usually. I’d go for the email route or meeting with the professor after class.

Remember to be polite, sincere, and know they might just ignore you or choose to not do anything.

If you consistently have an issue with a professor or teacher about incorrect information, or if they refuse to listen or anything, your’e done your job so you can walk away. Maybe drop the course if you just see it as being one that will do nothing for you except make you mad. Turn up your collar and walk out:

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Now for friendly fire….you’ve been friends with this person since day one of classes, or maybe you met them at lunch, maybe they’ve been your friend since kindergarten – and now they’re attacking your faith. What do you do?

This?
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I’d highly recommend not.

Maybe this?

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I don’t know the dynamics of your friendships – but I wouldn’t recommend this either.

Just talk to them. Be nice about it. Find common ground if you can – if they’re asking you about Papal infallibility, you can agree that the Pope is not infallible when talking about who is going to win the next Quidditch match, he might say Hufflepuff when really..
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Common ground. Cool?

Then ask for clarification. As if that’s what they mean, did they mean they thought the Pope was infallible in all matters? They might go:
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Then you have your chance to figure out what they meant, and explain the truth of the matter – the Pope is only infallible when talking on matters of faith and mortals, as shown in scripture and carried down through the tradition of the Church.

They might go:
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Because your awesome Catholic geekness was, in fact, awesome.
Or they could go:
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Either way, good job.

Simple steps:
Common ground
LISTEN
Clarify (this goes with listening)
Explanation.

Heroic Catholics – you’ve got this school thing down. If you ever find yourself not knowing what to say or how to respond to someone, of if you just need to rant about how this professor doesn’t understand that the Canon of the Catholic Bible was decided upon in the 4th century and NOT at the council of Trent in the 1500s….shoot me an email. Comment here.

The main thing I want you to know is that there are answers out there for any question someone has and reasons for why the Church did what she did/behaved how she behaved throughout history.

And remember:
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New Blog!

Hey, Heroic Catholics!

 

This website is gonna be changing a bit soon. I decided to start a new site –

Diary of a Catholic Geek

to be my personal blog and place where I will generally geek out about Catholicism and share things like sneak peeks at books and poetry I write.

Don’t worry! This site (Heroic Catholic) will still be up and running. News on talks I give, updates on books, general random Apologetics info I think is useful – you’ll find all that here still.

But if you want to follow my  personal blog, go check it out! It’s easier for me to post there often, as it just feels kinda weird to post random musings on my ‘professional’ website/blog.

 

Updates?

1/4 of the way done with the rough draft of my next book. It’s at about 50 pages and I’m excited!

Once the rough draft is done, I’ll share more info on it with you. Because you’re awesome.

~

Catherine

 

Happy Mothers Day

Mothers Day. The one day out of the year that we all celebrate our Mothers. I don’t know about you, but I feel like there should be more than one day that we celebrate our mothers every year. Don’t you sometimes wish that you could just tell the whole world how amazing your mom is? How much you love her?

I’m blessed to have such an amazing mom as I do. We have a good relationship, she’s always encouraging me and helping me in thousands of ways, and I love her. She’s always been there for me. If I was to list all the ways she’s helped me to learn, to grow, and to love – this post would never end.

When I think about how much I love my mom, it makes me think about how much Jesus loves His mother – the Blessed Virgin Mary. To Him she’s not “The Immaculate Conception” or “The Undoer of Knots” or “Most Holy Virgin Mother” or “Lady of Grace” – Mary is His Mommy. Jesus loves her more than I can ever love my mom.

He loves her so much that He gave her to all of us, He’s willing to share His mommy with the entire world.  When He was dying on the cross, in unspeakable amounts of pain, He saw His mommy there at the foot of the cross. Knowing that she was watching her little boy, all grown up now, and dying for the sake of the world, He gave to us someone He loves dearly. In that moment He gave us His mommy. Knowing that she would mother us all and help us to learn, to grow, and to love.

And so we honor Mary. We praise her. We love her. And we celebrate her. Because she’s Jesus’s Mommy!  Because she’s OUR Mommy! Caring for us as her children, loving us, teaching us, guiding us to the way of perfection – the way of the Cross, the way to Christ. How can we do anything but recognize that and praise that? Not just on Mother’s Day – but on many days. If I could, I’d have holidays set to mark the amazing things my own mom has done. I bet most of us would want the same. Imagine if you could have the whole world celebrating your mom’s birthday. Celebrating your parent’s anniversary. Just recognizing the amazingness and awesomeness of YOUR mom.

I think that’d be pretty awesome.

Would Jesus want anything less for His mom?

Think about it.

And a Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers out there.

God Bless,

Catherine

 

Psalm 27

Rest.

Walking into Mass this morning, the last thing on my mind was peace. Projects to handle for school, a talk to finish writing for tomorrow, homework to start, sick siblings at the house, decisions to make, my mind had 50 tracks running at once.

But just entering the Church, finding a pew, and kneeling to pray – a peace washed over me.  My heart filled with joy and I smiled. He is taking care of me. He loves me. That’s all I need. I can rest in His presence and allow my mind to take a break. The constant streams of stress and worries went away, replaced by a flood of love.  And I was okay.

I was reminded of my true love I have for my Faith. That that same faith is my rock to lean on and to hold onto when life becomes a storm.  It will never fail on me, never forget me, never cease to provide an endless source of inner joy and peace, it remains no matter what. I love my faith. I am in love with that faith.

It is a beautiful thing.

The way our Faith is there to catch us when we fall.

The way it never changes.

The way it provides us with shelter and hope.

The way our Faith lets us know we are loved, endlessly and unconditionally.

The way our Faith brings us closer to Him.

The way it gives us a place to rest.

I love it.

We need to let our Faith transform us, so that it becomes so much a part of us we can never be separated from it. Let it fill our hearts and minds, going everywhere we go. Hold onto it and know that it will be there always. Love it. Believe it. Learn it. Live it.

In the presence of the Lord we are at home.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm is taken from Psalm 27. I want to show you the whole Psalm, because it’s something I know I needed to read and hear today:

A Triumphant Psalm of Confidence.

(A psalm of David)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life,

of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me, to devour my flesh,

my adversaries and foes,

they shall stumble and fall.

Though a host encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear

Though war arise against me,

yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,

that I will seek after;

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord,

and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent,

he will set me high upon a rock.

And now my hear shall be lifted up

above my enemies round about me;

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,

be gracious to me and answer me!

You have said, “Seek my face.”

Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Hide not your face from me.

Turn not your servant away in anger,

you who have been my help.

Cast me not off, forsake me not,

O God of my salvation!

For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

but the Lord will take me up.

Teach me your way, O Lord;

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they breath out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

yes, wait for the Lord!”

 

Isn’t it beautiful?

God gives us confidence, He makes us triumphant when we call on Him and let our hearts take courage in Him!

He is there.

He is always there.

He gave us our beautiful Faith to stand on, to hold onto, to live out in Him. To give us confidence when we are down, to strengthen us when we are weak, to sing his praise when we are hurt. Because He is love.

Love Him.

 

Read your Bible, or at least read that Psalm I put above. In today’s world it can be hard to remember that He is triumphant in all things, and He is always there for us – never forsaking us. Temptation and trial may attempt to lead us astray, yet He remains. He is our light and our salvation. We have nothing to fear.

 

~

Catherine

Love is…Tough

First of all, this isn’t what I thought this next post would be on. I was going to do a beautiful and detailed look at some of the best examples of God’s love shown throughout the Bible – and I”ll still do that, just next time.  This post though, is one to remind us that love isn’t all flowers and hearts and bliss. Sometimes love is tough.

 

God has a path for each of us to walk, right? We can choose to follow it or we can choose to take the bunny trails and try to make our own path. If we wander too far away, or wander at all, God starts calling to us, reminding us to come home. The signs can be small, hard to notice, hard to interpret. Or maybe one hits you like losing your voice the day of a performance, and on that same day getting invited to give two separate talks.

That’s what happened to me last Thursday. I had been training and practicing with my two theater class for 10 weeks, we had one night to show off what we learned, and I got sick. (That’s also the reason this post is delayed.)

I think God was making something pretty clear – because I got invited to give two talks that same day to different schools. Which is huge.

It wasn’t what I wanted necessarily. I wanted to perform with my classmates, I wanted my teacher to see what I could do, I wanted to show off, I didn’t want to listen to the little voice in my head telling me that maybe my time doing fun theater is coming to an end. Tough love. Sometimes it’s what we need.

Sometimes we need a reminder that our ideas may not be the ones of God. And we need to step back and reflect on what we’re doing, decide if it’s the same as what God wants us to be doing.

Now is the perfect time for that. Because today is Ash Wednesday.

Lent started today. A season dedicated to penance, to changing our hearts, preparing for the celebration of Easter. Lent is about discovering ways to grow closer to God and show our love for Him, maybe by sacrifice, or by going to adoration, or praying more, or just deciding to dedicate time to discovering who God wants us to be. There are tons of ways to keep Lent the sacred season it is. And it’ll be different for each of us.

My lenten acts will be to dedicate a lot more time to working on Heroic Catholic writing, (study guides, books, posts, etc.) and making myself get out and get to know people at the Catholic Student Center at my college. The latter will be much harder for me than the former, but Lent isn’t about keeping everything easy.

Lent isn’t about piling on as many sacrifices as you can think of either. Any sacrifice you decide to make should direct you to becoming closer to God. If giving up sweets helps you find a way to focus on God and Religion, awesome. IF giving up Facebook means you spend that time in prayer or reading or study of the Faith – fantastic. Maybe you don’t give anything up, that’s cool too.

This Lent I’m trying something new for me. A little sacrifice each day, and adding a little something to enrich my faith life each day. (Like no chocolate one day, and add a decade of the Rosary before I sleep that same day)

This Lent I’m trying to say less “I want” and more of “Your will be done” in my life, words, and deeds. I want to love Him better. To keep discovering what He has planned and follow those plans, letting His love for me be my guide.

Love isn’t always easy. Sometimes love means missing something you wanted to do, so that another door can be opened. Who knows where Love will lead us if we stay open to it? I want to find out.

Keep one another in your prayers this Lenten season, I’ll be praying for y’all too.

~

Catherine

P.S. I challenge you to lay in bed before you sleep and just ask God to speak in your heart. Ask Him what you are called to be and do – then just listen. Place yourself in His presence and know that you are loved greatly by Him and He wants to lead you ever closer to His heart.