As a student of the political sciences, the most fundamental level of study is that of political theory. What political theory gives the student undertaking the difficult task of proposing a course of action one is not familiar with is a basis on which one may submit their proposal. Such is the case with proposing what a state ought to do now that they’ve transitioned from an authoritarian regime to a democratic state. The Enlightenment Era, for an example, provided many notable philosophers whose contributions to political theory have paved the way for modern democracies and such philosophies may be usable to newly transitioning democracies. In the last century, there have been quite a few developing democracies which have failed due to military coups and as a result authoritarian regimes were allowed to thrive. One must also take into consideration the failures of regimes born of failed democracies and how newly transitioning democracies may avoid the same consequences. Using these basic guidelines I will identify the impact of successful reform of the security forces on sustained peace, discuss whether the successful transformation of the security forces in post-war societies will differ from achieving security reform in societies in political transition and identify challenges to security sector reform and conditions that allow it to take place successfully.
Jacob Andersen is a weird kid. Or maybe it’s just that all 8-year-old boys are weird. Of course, since I’m his mom, I can say this about him. No one else is allowed to. You might think that it’s odd that a mom would interview her child and ask him all kinds of questions about his thoughts. A few years ago I would have thought it was strange, too. I would often say to Jacob, “I can tell what you’re thinking just by looking at you.” And it was true. His every emotion and devious thought showed clearly in his expressions. Then he changed. His freckly little face became less readable, and his actions less predictable. I found myself wondering what he was going to do next. So I decided to ask.
“Jacob, what are you going to do next?” I asked him. “I don’t know,” He replied. And this is how the interview began. The fact that he couldn’t answer the question didn’t surprise me at all. He’s the most impulsive kid I know. I find it difficult to understand how a person can be so spontaneous one second and so calculating the next. He seems to go back and forth between the two. So I decided to start over with some more basic questions.
It’s fall quarter, 2013 at Yakima Valley Community College. I’m experimenting with using the Yakima Writers website as a tool for teaching a feature writing class.
I’ve added about 20 names as links under the heading Feature Writers in the sidebar. These links take you to students’ blogs.
Over the next couple of months, students will be posting some of their work on these sites. At the end of the quarter, each student will choose their favorite article and post it on the Yakima Writers site.
In the future, I may also post assignments and other course information. Stay tuned!
This summer I hope to do some updates on Yakima Writers to prepare the site for use with my Feature Writing classes at Yakima Valley Community College. Check back for progress.
A recent trip to my home stomping grounds in and around Calgary, Alberta garnered a number of new poems. This was one of them. I hope it speaks to you.
with verdant arms of brown and yellow-green,
to clasp her bony fingers in sensuous release
with the vertical horizon.
Skies, gray and whole, play ninety degree tug-o’-war
with grass, prickly hay and knobby-need shrubbery -
rough ‘n tumble farm stubble.
Short shacks and weathered barns
pimple her broad back
alive with promise of more.
Suggesting we but see,
she insists upon her miles-wide self.
Sometimes she sleeps and forfeits life,
longing for heaven’s lusty drool.
This long land has much to speak,
her hard, crusted lips pursed
to kiss only those who see her -
and hold their breath.
I originally posted this article on June 6, 2012 on one of my other sites: danerickson.net. The article covers a few basic pointers for rewriting a story. It’s based on my own experiences in rewriting my books and my education in communication. I hope you find the article helpful. – de
It’s been about a month since I completed the first draft of my second book, At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy. I usually let the first draft sit four to eight weeks before I rewrite. This allows me to look at the work with fresh eyes and new perspective. There are many important factors to consider when rewriting. Here are four quick tips:
1. Make sure your story makes sense. Look for any pieces of information that either don’t belong or are not resolved later in the story and get rid of them or resolve them. Add information only if it’s needed to help the story make sense, or for emotional impact.
2. Get rid of little errors. Whether they are errors of fact, typos, misspelled words, or poor grammar, they must go. Don’t depend on spell check. Use your eyes. Pay close attention to punctuation around dialogue. It’s easy to forget a quotation mark or comma when your on a roll. Be vigilant.
3. Reduce the clutter. I always tell my writing students that most writers use too many words. Many sentences have too many adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions that don’t add anything to the story. Cut ‘em.
4. Verbalize. As you rewrite, look at your choice of verbs. Change plain verbs to verbs that zing whenever possible. Often, finding the right verb helps to minimize the words in a given sentence. Read your work out loud. In my first book A Train Called Forgiveness I purposefully wrote for the voice. We don’t speak in long, winding sentences and paragraphs. We speak in short, simple sentences and phrases. Keep your writing concise.
This excerpt is from the chapter titled “Of Love and Loyalty.” I was only a teenager when this took place in reality, but I was able to recreate the gist of what happened. The leader of the group created his own sort of communion. In this scene the fictional leader, Peter Smith asks for his followers devout loyalty.
In the summer of 1977, Peter held a special meeting. He came with his Bible, a bottle of wine, and a silver chalice.
He preached about Jesus’ disciples. He spoke tenderly, with a soft, kind voice. He spoke of the disciples’ love and loyalty for Jesus, their teacher.
He compared us, his followers, to the disciples. He compared himself to Jesus.
Suddenly, Peter raised his voice. He became angry, enraged. He shouted loudly concerning Judas, the betrayer. He clenched his fists, shook his hands. Peter shouted, “In the end the betrayer dies.” He warned us never to betray him.
Peter claimed to be a messenger, sent by God. He swore his never-ending love to all who’d follow. He threatened painful death to those who’d betray.
He raised his arms above his head, palms toward the sky. He claimed he was MIchael the Archangel. He promised paradise to those with patience. He claimed he was the light in the darkness.
Everyone clung to his words. Eyes filled with tears. Their savior had come.
I sensed something wrong, something dubious. I silently questioned Peter’s claims. Something didn’t feel true. I was the son of a minister. I went to Sunday school. I knew the Bible stories. This wasn’t one of them. Yes, I was only a kid, but I knew right from wrong. This was definitely not right.
The ceremony continued.
Or was it a performance?
Peter took the silver cup and filled it with wine.
He started with those closest to him, those in power, Jared, Milt, Russell. Each pledged absolute loyalty to Peter. Each took an oath to uphold the goals of Paradise Farms. Each drank from the cup.
Peter moved from row to row, member to member. He made each member repeat after him: “My loyalty to you will follow me unto death.” Each member drank from the cup, and Peter said, “Child, you are mine.” He made the women kiss him on each cheek.
Every member over 16 years old pledged absolute loyalty to Peter Smith that night. I thanked God I was only 14.
In closing, Peter said, “You’ve shared the cup. You’ve shared my blood. We’re eternally bound. Remember this oath. Go in silence.”
“…the glory of art is in receipt more than critique.”
Good friend and fellow blogger, Barbara Lane, has directed me to some very cool online places for inspiration, laughs, and encouragement. One site that has particularly seized my attention is Art House America. It is the brainchild of record producer, Charlie Peacock and his wife, Andi Ashworth and is staffed by more than a few stellar writers, Barb being among them as an intern. A few months ago, blogger Jennifer Strange submitted a piece entitled “Pride and Play”, which outlined her life as a classical violinist. The piece struck a chord (groan) with me. What follows is a fleshier version of my response to it.
Brava! I, like you, have lived on the edges of un-cool. I was just acceptable enough to be part of the horde of “normal” kids but too artsy and quirky to dwell among the immortals. By the time I got to high school, I was popular but certainly no A-lister. My insistent intensity wed to a host of personal oddities denied entrance among the luminaries. Who cares? I thought. I had plenty of friends and hangers on, enough to get me through the harrowing hell that high school can be. My feigned demeanor as a Bohemian philosopher-poet, indy-intellectual-wannabe coupled with low blood pressure worked against me. I was a good faker, though, and learned to converse well among those of the socialite nosebleed section.
Being a musician helped. The sense of humor bought some street cred, too. These discoveries, although transient and unstable, at least provided me sufficient groundwork upon which to build a shaky cabin of self-esteem. But, unlike many of them, I was no male debutante-in-training. Instead, I was a gangly singer adopted by a blue-collar brewery worker and housewife into a 900 square foot bungalow in oil ‘n redneck rich Calgary, Alberta.
I’m especially grateful that none of the above provided enough of an obstacle to obtaining a full scholarship to Mount Royal College Conservatory where, as a Vocal Performance major, I studied art song, oratorio, opera and the dreamy female cellists in the symphony. And, since most of our professors were symphony musicians, we would get free tickets to almost anything they played – from Faure to Brahms, Shostakovich to Prokofiev, Schoenberg to Beethoven. It was all so heady and…cool…well, except for the part where my buddies and I would fight for the best seats high above the orchestra where the best sight lines were for staring down the daring, black gowns of the cellists in question. But I digress.
I can think of no reason to regret the loss of elitist membership in favor of the sublime connection to the world’s great music. Moreover, music was the backdrop for my awakening to Christian faith after graduation from high school. For this, and your piece reminding all of us of the uniting and redemptive power of music, I can be forever grateful. Besides, why do they always get to decide what’s cool?
Yours in recitative, R
Yakima Writers is still looking for, and accepting new writers. You don’t have to live in Yakima to be considered, but we would like to focus on Northwest writers. If you write poetry, prose, fiction, or nonfiction we hope you’ll consider writing for us. It’s a great and friendly place to share your work. You keep all the rights to your work. In the future we hope to develop the site further and increase our presence among social media. It could become a great place to get your writing noticed. Please contact Dan Erickson at email@example.com if you’re interested in posting your work on our site.
Originally posted on danerickson.net
I’m a firm believer in the intentional act of writing. I write almost daily. I write in a variety of styles. I write as a form of therapy, a way of purging negative emotions and dealing with deep hurts. But too much of anything can lead to trouble.
It’s important for a writer to balance his or her writing with other activities. This includes both responsibilities and relaxation. Keeping our lives, our families, our careers in order is an essential part of the writer’s life. If you shirk responsibilities in favor of writing, you might wind up writing about topics you’d rather avoid. Taking a short break from intense writing is good practice. Take a few days to spend more time outdoors: explore, exercise and enjoy life. Continue to write, but it’s okay to post shorter pieces. It’s also a challenge to be more concise. Our downtime is where we get energized and develop new material. So, take a short break for balance.