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Thursday, September 6, 2012

God Breathed Writing

I want to write something worth reading, but not only that, I want to write something God wants me to write, and something that brings honor to His name. I want to challenge readers, but more often than not, my writing challenges myself. Sometimes too much.

Obviously, I'm an extremely busy teenager so novel writing is difficult--but that's not all that I mean when I say it is a challenge.

I'm challenged to believe and live what I write. And I'm challenged to write the truth, and do so with some semblance of literary value. And that's difficult because it's not the only thing I'm doing.

So if you would, friends and readers, please pray for me as I write this story. The outline is nearly complete, at least enough to get started writing, but it doesn't feel...right.

How has your own writing challenged you spiritually or in other ways?

Strength and Courage,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Govenor's School for the Arts - Recap

I got back from GSA this Saturday and I have this to say about it: AMAZING.

Those of you who live in Kentucky or any other state--look into your GSA program, see if you have one, and apply. It was truly amazing.

What was so amazing? Well, let me give you the rundown.

Every morning began with a performance or presentation from nationally or even internationally recognized artists. We had painters, weavers, classical dancers, contemporary dancers, orchestral chamber music, wind chamber music, contemporary (think Cage) music, a cellist, three poets, dramatists (solo and in groups), filmakers, jazz pianists, architects, and more!

Following these inspiring performances, we went to studio/master classes. As a Creative Writer, my instructors were Kelly Norman Ellis, Mitchell LH Douglas, and Ellen Hagan. Look them up. They're brilliant. All three are college professors and one even directs an MFA program. We got the best of the best.

In class, we recieved writing prompts, detailed lessons on the craft, guest artist appearences (we had Maurice Manning, Lynnell Edwards, Alicia Whitaker, and  THE Frank X Walker...look these cats up....they are Pulitzer nominees and trailblazers). We also workshopped writing immediately after writing it...esentially a college course but with more engaged classmates and teachers.

At night, more people performed for us, and if not, we'd go up to the computer labs and type what we wrote that day and recieved personal one-on-one critiques from the professors.

In our free time, we did more writing, read for the school at weekly Coffee Houses, collaborated with visual artists (I had a poem illustrated!), jammed in the lobby to impromtu jazz, played cards, and got to know each other even better.

To bed at midnight, up again at 7.

As for the Word War, my final word count is......

And I think I underestimated quite a bit. I filled up an entire TopFlight Wired notebook. This doesn't count blog posts, journal entries, etc. This is only poetry and prose.

Post your final word counts and/or questions about GSA! I'll give you a few more days and then announce the winner!

Strength and Courage,

Friday, June 22, 2012

GSA Poem

-Nathan R. Petrie-

Truth is a song and a story
sung by a small blackbird
who crescendos with age alone;
it is uninterested
in opinions or whether you listen—
it just sings,
humming with reserved energy,
like the waters of Mississippi
were dammed at its mouth.
Be silent and listen
to the songs of the streams,
for your hearing is wanted
and solitude beckons—
like a calling blackbird.

(PS Week of poetry is almost completed! This was written during a workshop with Pulitzer Prize nominee Maurice Manning. Sweet right??)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

GSA Day 2: Wish I Could Say More...

Click HERE for GSA's website--filled with videos and pictures of what we're doing during the program! I'm actually in Day One's video! So, check it out!!

Blogger isn't letting me post pictures, due to the college's computer system so unfortunately you'll have to check them out on GSA's site if you are interested. And please do! They are very cool.

Today's program began with a "performance" by a filmmaker. He showed clips from his new documentary entitled, "Carbonation" (or some variation of that) about global warming. A lot of his arguments were slippery at best, but his point was different and refreshing. He didn't come to convince us that we should believe in climate change or die. He came to tell us that we all actually agree on most solutions to cilmate change, energy, etc. And should take steps toward what we agree instead of where we disagree.

In studio today, we, again, worked on poetry. This time we focused on three aspects: detail, music, and story.

For detail, Kelly Norman Ellis (one of our instructors) read one of her own poems which she referred to as an "Inventory" poem. Essentially, it was a long list of all the things in her grandfather's gas station and what they meant to her. The point was this--be specific. Put simply she said;

"Give things the dignity of their names."

The idea that a specific name speaks for itself.

Now, my poem in response to this was garbage. But what I took away, that details are important, is very useful.

When talking about the music of poetry, I think this is a very obvious part of writing poetry. Rhythm, alliteration, possible rhyme or no rhyme, etc. We read the poem "The Tour" and were then challenged to write a poem with a strong sense of place and movement. I called my piece "Brothers" and I think it turned out pretty well.

The best part of the workshop part of the day came during Ellen's turn to teach. She had us make a timeilne of our lives and mark world events and personal events. Then, after several readings of published poetry, ("Everything has to Change") we wrote a piece that connected a world event with a personal event.

This is my second favorite piece I've written so far. Very exciting.

At night we typed up and worked with pieces started in other workshops and free writes. My favorite piece came out of this: "The Maverick Red Mustang."

I won't post too much of my writing on here just yet--we're making chapbooks at the end of the week and I don't want to spoil it for my parents and others who may be reading and coming to hear.

And there's so much more to say: jam sessions, fuz ball, euchre, novel chats, fire drills at 12:30 AM, and so much more!

Suffice to say, I'm having a blast.

What sort of things have you written lately?

Strength and Courage,

Monday, June 18, 2012

GSA Day 1: Poetry?

And so it begins.

The first week of the writing program of the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts consists of poetry--lots of poetry.

The second week consists of fiction.

The third week: public readings.

Sound fun? So far it is.

Today we listened to an amazing jazz pianist perform live for us, along with a classical bassist and a drummer. It was truly inspiring, as was his speech about what it means to be an artist following this. His name is Harry Pickens, and is is absolutely incredible. Look him up.

We then broke up into our discipline studies in our discipline studios. Creative Writing started with a 25 minute free write in response to the morning performance. Then we read some poetry. Then we wrote so. And so began the continual cycle.

My first several free writes wouldn't have sold for free if I'd tried. They were crap, garbage, useless. But such is writing, no?

Later we talked about metaphors, obstacles we've faced in life, and what it was that made us who we were. It wasn't until these prompts that I finally created something worth reading aloud to the class. A good thing too, since we were then required to--no longer on a volunteer basis.

We were to write an invocation poem modeled after "Invocation" by Aracelis Girmay. And this is what I wrote:

Coming and Going
-Nathan R. Petrie-

Come Julia, Ryan, Shirley.
Come Charles, Bill, Eileen.
Come Butler, Hardings, Dunlaps;
a child’s needs your wing.

Come pen and paper, Franklin.
Come gravel grounds of play.
Come swing sets, soccer, zoo trips
on anxious days of rain.

Come tacos, pizza, Fruitloops.
Come Reese’s, Skyline time.
Come forest, creeks, and mountains;
mature this child of thine.

Come jazz and improv saxes.
Come buildings, old and new.
Come euchre, and come castles;
come more—there are too few.

Come Gandalf, Aslan, Potter
Come Dickens, Dekker, Frost.
Come Joseph, and come David
before this child is lost.

Come Alpha and Omega.
Come Logos, El-Shaddai
Come Elohim and Father—
stay with me or I die.
Come take these things and make me, me,
then let me find myself in Thee.
Additionally, we had to write using randomly generated metaphoprs. The one assigned to me was: the chair is like a storm. Here's what I did with it:

His first day in town
was his first day in middleschool.
And as he lumbered into class--
small earthquakes rippling the tiled floor as he went--
sweat raining off of him,
he worried about teachers, about classes, and about friends.
He found his seat--reflecting the sun at the front of the class.
He would survive.
He slumped into his seat and crashed
into the floor,
wincing like lightning at the thundering laughter,
as his new chair shattered--
like the shattering of storm clouds--
Like his pride.
Check out my estimated word count! Not too shabby. Nothing is typed so....

Strength and Courage,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Packing and Prizes


Started packing for GSA today! So many clothes, so many snacks, so much fun to be had. Check out my video blog on the subject, not too exciting but hey, it's me!

The video cuts out at the end so....keep reading for details!

What was I going to show you on my book shelf??

3 copies of Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper's Venom and Song, that's what!

And what was I going to say?

Whosoever gets the highest word count of any and all the challengers over the next three weeks shall win a copy of Venom and Song (unless they choose to deny it).

Naturally, only the 48 "land" states--I don't have a trillion dollars. And if you already have a copy, get it to share! If not, we can just give it to the second place person ;)

Now it's both a writing challenge...and an award challenge. Who wants in?

Strength and Courage,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gov. School for the Arts: Word War

I have two days until I leave for Transylvania University for three weeks of unprecedented writing and training in the craft. That makes today the negative third day of GSA.

Today I'm shopping for weird things I didn't know I needed: shorts, underwear, and a watch. Yeah...I don't get to have my phone out for three weeks. Fun and exciting.

As I reviewed the packets of information given to me by the GSA staff, a thought hit me: I have no idea what to expect. Pages and pages titled "What to Excpet" read, and I still don't have a clue. And that's okay, isn't it?

So what did I do? The only thing I know how to--pile up notebooks filled with writing, printed short stories and poems, and set them on the table. Just because they're fun to look at.

Here's a look at my schedule for the next three weeks:

8AM - 8:50AM           Breakfast
9AM - 9:50AM           Morning Presentation / Performance and Announcements
10AM - 12:55PM        Discipline Specific Classes
1PM - 2PM                  Lunch
2PM - 6PM                  Discipline Specific and Interdisciplinary Classes
6PM - 7PM                  Dinner
7PM - 10PM                Art Events and "Studio Time"

Now I know what you're thinking. Nathan, what do these words mean: performances, interdisiplinary classes, art events, studio time? My answer? I have no idea.

Interdiscipline: Will my writing be set to music? My stories illustrated? Will I be interpreting music into poetry? Images into story? Will I be writing plays for the drama students?

Who knows, and who cares. It's going to be a fun three weeks. And I'll be doing a lot of writing, which rocks.

And with that comes my challenge:

I, Nathan R. Petrie, do hearby challenge any and all writers from across all the world and all areas of life, to write, and write often, and to write as much as they possibly can.

And if any dare, attempt to match or pass my GSA writing wordcount, they will be mightily rewarded emoticon and large, colored fonts.

Are there any brave enough?

I'll try to keep the interwebs updated. They may try and take my laptop ;)

Strength and Courage,

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Governor's School for the Arts

Buenos dias, bonswa, and good day, writers and readers alike!

I do plan on writing the rest of the Haiti blogs (oh life, take a break now and then will you?), but as this is a writing blog, I thought I'd jot a blurb about my writing journy on here for the record.

I recently gained acceptance into the Governor's School for the Arts.

Well that's fine and dandy Nathan, care to explain?


The Governor's School for the Arts is a Kentucky program for highschool Juniors and Seniors. It is a three week interdisciplinary program that trains artists of different mediums to be sucessful in their craft and...have fun. About 2,000 students applied for the program, and I want to say that about one hundred to two hundred of us were accepted. Among other things, colleges in Kentucky offer full ride scholarships for attendees.

The submission and acceptance process was a great learning expierence for me. I can't speak for the other disciplines (art, instrumental music, vocal, drama, architecture, etc,), but I will walk you through the Creative Writing portion. Acceptance was based on:

1. "Long Term" Writing Piece
Writers were required to submit a piece of writing (poem, drama, story, essay) no more than eight standard pages long for review. I submitted a short story entitled By the Rivers of Water (click link to read!).

The submission worried me. Not because I doubt my skills, but because I wrote the piece over the weekend. I--being the master of all procrastinators--waited until two days before the deadline to write the piece. I wrote it, and submitted it, without editing, because I didn't have time to edit. I later edited it and came to the realization was terrible.

Nevertheless, a few months later I got an email. They wanted an interview.

2. Group Interview
What do you think of when you read those two words? Group interview? Further, the email asked we bring a one page, double-spaced, piece to read in the interview. I imagined a group critique--a chance for the teachers to gauge or ability to function in the program.


I entered a room with five or less other writers, sat in a line at a desk, and listened as we were each asked questions in turn: explain what inspires you, what is your writing and revision process. I'd spent a great deal of time thinking about these things over the years, so it was a breeze.

For my short piece, I read an edited version of Beside the Fence. Much better than the version posted here on the blog. The judges/teachers...loved it.

So now, for three weeks this summer, I will attend a writing workshop like I've never seen before. I'm stoked.

What kind of programs have you attended? Workshops? Conferences? What sort of auditions have you been a part of?

Let's chat.

Strength and Courage,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Haiti Mission - Day 0

Bonswa Interneters, Interwebers, Nerds, and No-Lifers. Take your pick. I just got off work after just getting home after just getting off the planes from Port-de-Paix, Haiti. I went on a mission trip with Rivertree Christian Church from Akron, Ohio and let me tell you what, it was something else.

Throughout the week long trip I kept a journal. Brief. Direct. To the point. But it sums up nicely what we did each day and what I took away from it. I will begin posting these journal entries along with some of my 300+ photos in a series.

Today I would like to give you insight into what goes into a mission trip, and some of my reasoning behind going.

What does it take to go on a mission trip?

1. A reason to go
2. A place to go
3. Money to go there
4. The Church

A Reason to Go
Sometime over the past year, my dad and I both read a fantastic book called Radical. I don't think I reviewed it on this site and I regret not doing so. I snagged a copy and dove right into it. Alongside my daily devotions, this book opened my eyes to one simple truth--the great commission is not optional. And it's not to the Church in general.

It was written to me.

The Spirit ate me up, so I told my dad about the book. He in turn read it and got eaten alive by it as well. We decided to go on an international mission. Some place different. A trip to Haiti opened up and we jumped on board.

Later, I had to write an essay about why I went. I've posted it below:

Go therefore and preach the gospel to all people. Make disciples in all the nations. Defend theorphans and widows. Such was Christ's command to the early church. This command is not optional; itis a calling to go, seek justice, and rescue the oppressed from their chains wherever they may befound—in America and around the globe. This command is not age specific. Sin strikes the young andthe old, and the rich and the poor. Therefore, having the opportunity to reveal the gospel to a lostpeople, a Christian of any age is joyous to accept. Nor is the command people specific; we are calledto go to all nations and all peoples. I have, accordingly, an obligation as a Christian and as a humanbeing to go to Haiti and proclaim the Gospel. But more than obligation alone. Haiti is a nation ofhurting, broken, and lost people. As their comrade in the human experience, I relish the opportunity tomeet their physical needs. This means rebuilding homes, educating, and playing sports with children.For these reasons, I hope to journey to Haiti and spread the hope of the gospel to the Haitian people.

As the trip drew nearer, we prayed and fasted, asking God to prepare our hearts for our mission.

A Place to Go
We considered several different locations. India was high on the list. A vastly different culture and many different opportunities. We knew missionaries there, Japan, Venezueala (sp?), and many other places. India fell off to to cost. Our connections in Japan said they didn't need us (still a major shock to me) and though the missionaries to Venezeuala offered extreme encouragement, we opted out of that due to the, for lack of a better word, conveinence of the Haiti trip.

An old friend of my dad's was taking a group to Haiti. It would be both cost and missionally effective. So we went.

Money to Go
The trip was not very expensive, but it wasn't pocket change either. And with the three of us going (Dad, Stephen, and I) adds up. We dug up as much as we could ourselves and then we invited others to help us. We wrote letters to old church friends, current friends, and other connections. God came through in bucketloads. People gave small gifts, large gifts, the greatest gift of prayer. One small church was about to close its doors and donated all the money they had left, which paid for one of us to go completely.

Not only did this ease our expenses, it allowed others to involve themselves in mission work. By offering a gift toward missions, people became more aware of our and others' missions, were led to pray for us and themselves, and will be encouraged by our stories. Three chears for being the Church!

The Church
Those going on the trip got together before the trip started and helped out an orphanage with numerous small tasks. Why? To get to know each other to some degree before we left the country.

We drove up to Akron and helped an orphanage demo buildings, clean buildings, organize, mail letters, unload food, etc. All in all our efforts helped the organization continue serving orphans, and got our feet wet serving together.

It snowed heavily and we all knew this was just the beginning. We were frozen now, but we'd be burning up in Haiti in another month.

What mission trips have you gone on? What kind of preparations did you make? How did they benefit you?

Let's chat.

For the One,
"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."