Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Those Who Say Wrong Things Righteously

Greetings! I hope you are having a good holiday.  This is a brief update and collection of links about what I've been writing and studying, as well as a brief note about how I choose my topics.

I have a position writing military and national security commentary with Opslens.  I discuss items ranging from the US military budget, the history of Taiwan and why their phone call to Trump was such a big deal, the confirmation of General Mattis (because I just happened to do an award winning paper on the previous confirmation hearing of a Secretary of Defense that needed a waiver), drones, and the futility of a hash tag against Boko Harram.  Its been fun and rewarding to write about what I love and not have to write click bait trash for ranker, or what bordered on fake news (and was definitely click bait trash) for a Donald Trump news site.

I've sometimes wondered how I could write so much and meet my deadlines.  But I remembered something that Jonah Goldberg wrote: According to legend, when George Will signed up to become a syndicated columnist in the 1970s, he asked his friend William F. Buckley, Jr. — the founder of National Review and a columnist himself — “How will I ever write two columns a week?” Buckley responded (I’m paraphrasing), “Oh it will be easy. At least two things a week will annoy you, and you’ll write about them.” Buckley was right. Annoyance is an inspiration, aggravation a muse. That which gets your blood up, also gets the ink — or these, days, pixels — flowing. Show me an author without passion for what he holds to be the truth and I will show you either a boring writer or someone who misses a lot of deadlines, or both. Nothing writes itself, and what gets the writer to push that boulder uphill is more often than not irritation with those saying wrong things righteously.

I have plenty that I could write about, but when I hit a road block I think of somebody who "said wrong things righteously."  Sometimes I worry this tends to bring out my worst tendencies. Like most people, I have my faults and I was keenly aware of them, even before my ex wife reminded me! lol. For me, applying Buckley's advice to respond to those who annoy me reminds me of scripture! Ether 12:27 reminds us that as we realize our weak things we can bring them to Christ and he will make them strong. Instead of indulging in my weaker tendencies like getting in a flame war, writing comments that will probably be deleted, stewing about it in the shower, holding a grudge, or generally putting way too much emotional energy into worthless pursuits. I channel that negative energy into a dogged determination that sustains my research and propels my writing. The final results are thoughtful and substantive pieces that respond to the original annoyance, but are published in venues that advances my career and promotes civil discussion.  (With the added benefit of boycotting the people and sites that bug me in the first place.)

I've written several op eds which were responses to arguments that annoyed me. I have a regular free lance gig that is quite enjoyable where I get to explore and explain the topics that are dear to me and respond to ideas that aren't.  I have several journal articles and books, including a contract with Westholme Press, that explain my arguments in far more substantive ways than a deleted post ever could. And I do it in a way that is both enjoyable and advances my career. Thanks for letting me explain a bit of my approach, and thanks for reading!

[I work as a freelance writer and military historian. If you found value in this post please consider making a one time donation or subscribing using the buttons below. Thank you.] 

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