I Wrote

A miracle has happened!

I actually managed to write about a page in one of my stories that’s been neglected since mid-2016 or so. That was the first page of fiction I’ve written in… over a year, I think.

Picking up where I left off was easier than expected, and I remembered how the characters behaved, more or less, so the mere act of writing made me ridiculously happy.

Lest I jinx anything, I haven’t set any kind of word count goal, although I do plan to keep writing on my lunch breaks or whenever I can get a minute. Even one word a day is better than nothing!

What Is Grace?

The sacraments are said to bring graces. Specifically, the sacrament of holy matrimony is said to bring grace to the married couple, who conferred the sacrament upon themselves. A priest does not marry two people. They marry each other; the priest is only the Church’s official witness.

Merriam-Webster defines the noun grace as follows:

a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

That all seems accurate, but it is still fuzzy to me. All the vocations recognized by the Church—marriage, consecrated life, priesthood, and single life—have graces attached to them. Once you have responded to the call and entered your vocation, God grants you the graces needed to fulfill it and become sanctified so that you may enter heaven upon earthly death.

Maybe the better question is, how does one recognize grace? We have unique, unrepeatable souls, so it makes sense that each person would recognize grace in his or her own way.

To me, grace is a peaceful feeling, an infusion of patience that I didn’t have before, that leaves me wondering how I still feel so calm, when I would ordinarily be anxious. I also see grace as the wisdom to keep my mouth shut when I am tempted to verbally lash out. Grace is still hard to recognize, and many times, I fail to use or grasp it, but I have learned to be more open to it and to pray for it.

tl;dr version of this post: I don’t think I ever recognized grace as a legitimate blessing that could be helpful until recently.

Thank you, God, for this grace.

Reading for Short Attention Spans: Reader’s Digest Select Editions

I never cared much for condensed editions of books. For some reason, it feels like cheating to read the “CliffsNotes” or condensed version when you could put time and effort into reading the entire thing and get a better, more fulfilling reading experience.

Then I started living with a newborn. When you never know when he might wake up and need something, it is much easier to read a short book (like a BookShot, as I mentioned in my previous post) or something like Reader’s Digest Select Editions (known as Reader’s Digest Condensed Books before 1997).

Each volume contains four condensed novels written by popular authors. The four novels are typically of different genres, so there is usually something for everyone. Reader’s Digest has been publishing volumes of these books since the 1950s, so I can’t blame their emergence on people’s shortening attention spans today. I suppose they are a way for people to get a summary, if you will, of what is popular in the current market, kind of like those “Now That’s What I Call Music!” CDs that came out periodically and compiled all the Top 40 hits of the past several months.

So far, I have picked up two volumes of the Reader’s Digest Select Editions and finished one of the condensed books (The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah). It was actually pretty nice to read a novel so quickly (even though that particular book was extremely sad). The book was broken up into very short sections (again, perfect for life with a newborn), so it was easy to put it down when I needed to do something else. Even so, as I finished the book, I wondered exactly what had been taken out of it to get it into its compact form. If I see the complete edition of the book in the library, I may take it out and read it to see just what was missing. Perhaps it was extraneous description or subplots that could have been removed without compromising the main plot.

I also wondered how difficult it is for the editors to condense the books and if the authors read through and give them the “OK” after they’ve been condensed. If someone was going to shorten something I’d written, I’d want to make sure they didn’t take out anything important.

Like BookShots, these condensed editions would be perfect for a plane ride or a quick read when you are missing reading but don’t have time to sit down with something requiring a lot of mental processing. Maybe they will become even more popular in this time of short attention spans. With four books under one cover, they are a little bulky, which might deter some readers, but I’m sure there is a way to read them on an electronic device, and if not, Reader’s Digest better get with the times.

Have you read any shortened novels from Reader’s Digest Select Editions? Did you enjoy them?