Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Words are the Worst

I’m cranky. And if you’ll allow me a small moment to have a little pity party, the crankiness is all because I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. So, like I said, you have to allow for the part where I’m all ‘woe is me’ because I’m fully aware I brought this pain on myself.

According to my page, this is my fifth time participating in the challenge. That equates to (as of today) two wins, two losses, one in process with potential to win, and, are you ready for this craziness, 176,266 words. So far. If I happen to pull off the win, add another 24k to that figure for a cool 200,000.

Since 2009.

And that figure only accounts for the words written for NaNo. Toss in anything I did for clients, blog posts, articles, everything else and no doubt I’ve written well over a million words in my lifetime as a professional writer.

Damn.

So it goes to reason that some days, no matter how badly I want to shape any combination of the available words in the English language, I just don’t have the creativity to form sentences.

Fun fact? When I looked up how many words exist in the English language it turns out the Oxford Dictionary says there are 171,476 available for use.

Less than the number of words I’ve written over the course of four and a half NaNos.

Again, damn.

Anyway, today is one of those days where I have time to spare, nothing to do but write. But something inside tells me I should be penning words for anything other than my book today.

That something is one of two things: fear or exhaustion.

I’m going with exhaustion and here’s why.

Back in 2009 when I sat down (on my mom’s suggestion, BTW) to tackle the motherfucker that NaNo actually is, I had no clue how to write a book. I’d never finished one before. So I opted into the challenge just so I could finally say I crafted a long form fiction story and typed The End for the first time.

Goal achieved.

And then some. Because, since that month seven years ago, I’ve finished and published seven titles. Five fiction, two reference.

Some of those titles came out of my NaNo experiences. One of them in particular, Reckless Abandon, came out of a Camp NaNo in August. A year I actually lost the challenge.

But I won my own challenge.

As a kid I was always a procrastinator, floating aimlessly along some vast ocean of possibilities and never wanting to choose a path. How limiting, I always thought, to pick just one thing to be. Couldn’t I be anything, everything I wanted to be like everyone told me back then? Sort of.

Wheee! Never settle into anything! Stay in the background of life so you never really need to commit to anything! Skate by! Hooray for choices! So many shiny choices!

And then I woke the hell up. Because no matter what I’d ever done to “pay the bills” (or more accurately, what I did for work and play without a care in the world for the future) it didn’t matter to me at all. I met some terrific characters at all those jobs, in all those clubs, at all those parties, but the only thing that stuck with me before, during, and after that time in my life, was writing.

There are few months, let alone years, in my past where I didn’t write. If I let myself dwell on the number of trees killed and ink expelled for my love of words over the years, it would scare me on an environmental level.

Bottom line, no matter what else was in or out of my life – love, money, work – I always had writing.

Right before Matt and I got together in fact, I was dating a guy who asked why I was home on a Friday night, writing, when I could be out doing whatever was cool to do back in those days.

We broke up shortly after that question arose.

Because if you don’t get why I’m doing that then you don’t get me. And I don’t need to waste my time being with someone who doesn’t get my love-hate relationship with words. The place inside me that is words.

Once I finally found myself able to say The End on a long story I knew it was all I would do for a career for the rest of my life.

I got over the fear of turning my deepest passion into a career years ago. That’s an entirely different blog post, one I’ve probably already written so I won’t write it again. But, suffice to say, the fear is long gone.

Honestly, I think that moment came when I finished NaNo in 2009 when I came away with the rough first draft of a finished book. It all became clear, I realized I could actually do it. Not just dream about being an author but I literally just made it happen.

With a shit ton of support, love and encouragement of course but in truth this is a very solitary profession.

I don’t get to take vacations while other people pick up the slack. I don’t get co-workers unless I decide to write a book with someone else. And even then, it wouldn’t matter because words are constantly forming in my head. Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, I’m always working.

Last night a friend came over to give me a haircut and we got to talking about jobs. Matt mentioned how crazy his work is while he’s at work but that he gets to leave it behind at the end of the day.

I had a bullet of emotions pass through me. Jealousy being the predominant feeling. A little bit anyway. Because I’m never “off” in this life. I am my job and vice-versa. Every conversation I have, class I take, person I meet, job I do, everything in my life is tied to the work I do. Because how else am I supposed to create fictional characters that feel real without soaking in all that life shit from actual real people?

And that’s the hate side of things sometimes. I can’t just go out every Friday, sometimes I need to slave to the words because I’m already at capacity. Instead of overflowing from collecting, I need to drain a little off the top. Or the bottom I guess.

Either way, it’s like a sick form of bulimia being a collector of information from the world and then using it to inform an entirely new world. Binge and purge.

People who get me understand when I disappear that binge-purge is likely the cycle I’m going through.

So now I’m in NaNo and I’m not sure I really need the word-count accountability anymore. I love my process. I like taking a day off to refill the cup then shoot it down the next day only to vomit it all out onto the page in grand fashion the next.

Writing everyday isn’t a problem for me anymore. But sometimes I need to mix up what I write.

Once I broke through my own proverbial glass ceiling – finishing just one - there was no stopping me to keep going. Using NaNo like I used to seems unnecessary. So I’m flipping it over to the B side and using the challenge the way I need to in order to type The End once again.

Character and story development has me just over halfway on word count. Funny. Even though I’m not thinking I need the NaNo challenge with this book I might just harness my third win anyway.

But I’ll never get to that point unless I force myself to love words today and go write some about my characters.

You bet your ass that means I’ll be copy-pasting all 1350ish words from this blog in at the bottom of my manuscript. December is for edits!

Just kidding. I won’t even cheat that bad.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This Will Last for 1461 Days, and then a Lifetime

I tried, really hard, to stay up last night until the results came in on the last few states. Instead of making it through, Matt and I went to bed, fingers almost literally crossed, that the outcome didn’t play out as it appeared.

As I slumbered, I dreamed of Wisconsin. Of New Hampshire and Maine and Pennsylvania. I imagined that, when I woke up today, my fears about the state of our union were fruitless.

I was fucking wrong.

But, then, I’m a woman so I’m usually wrong. A liar. A criminal. Right?

For everyone who voted for the Republican candidate for President, congratulations. Your candidate won.

The schoolyard bully took what he wanted, by presenting zero plans for why he wanted it in the first place and even less of a plan for what he planned to do once he got it. Except some vague promise that he would make our country great again.

Because all that mattered to the man was that he won. There was nary a consideration for what would come from the 1461 days the office would be occupied. There were no plans laid out of how to get there (wherever there is). No clear-cut paths to pulling the country out of this hole we’re allegedly buried in right now. Being un-great.

Policy, foreign or domestic? No need to share those plans with the country you’re going to represent because, in your own words, we should blindly “believe me” that it’s going to be “tremendous.”

Life has shown me in my short 43 years on this planet that people who say “trust me” or “believe me” with a level of frequency, generally can’t be trusted or believed.

But none of that matters. We’re going to be great.

Again.

And that’s the real issue for me. The writer in me thinks words are the most important form of communication. I also know that nothing said in a presidential race is done without careful consideration. Every word is used to affect/effect change.

So now I sit here thinking of the republican campaign slogan. The one printed up on so many hats, tee shirts, bumper stickers donned across this country. The one that actually managed to get that guy a boat-load of blind sheep following him right into the proverbial gas chamber.

Four tiny words. Ending with the word ‘again’.

To say ‘again’ means that something has already happened and the same thing is going to happen another time. Perhaps multiple times but at the very least, twice. Need more? Here are some examples of how to use the word ‘again’ as we all wake up this morning to hear the news:

- I’m throwing up again (meaning, I already threw up at least once).

- She lost her access to healthcare again (And if she gets pregnant, that lazy bitch had better not try to live off welfare now that we’ve removed literally every other option for her because she can't get birth control OR an abortion. Ha ha!).

- My gay friends are celebrating their anniversary again.

Oh wait, no they’re not.

In fact, after this result, most people I know and spend time with will never be the same.

Again.

Because I keep going back in my mind over the last 240 years of history in this country, trying to pick out the time period when we were great for the first time. As a collective nation. As democracy became a thing and hearken back to that point in time when we were all treated as equals.

Like I said, the ‘again’ can only be used if there was a first time occurring.

And truly? I can't come up with one single time period that all people were treated as equals. Let’s consider a brief overview of the base history of this nation:

The world is flat.
The world is not flat.
I can sail to India.
You landed in Florida.
That’s okay, we can send hundreds of people to the place I just "discovered."
Uh, people already live there.
No problem, genocide is cheap!
You want to wipe out an entire population so you can have religious freedom?
Sure but really I just want more than I had before. Land! Freedom from tyranny unless I'm the tyrant!
So, what’s theirs is yours because you have the guns?
Precisely!
And now that you “own” all this land, what’s the plan?
Why, get rich of course.
The homeland wants their cut.

War.
War.
Systematic decimation of the Native people’s entire culture.
War.
Industrial Revolution.
War.
War.
AIDS.
War.
War.

You forgot to include the war on, well, everything (which of course has brought more of that thing into the country) and you also forgot some teeny tiny issues like slavery, literal witch hunts, racial profiling.
Oh yeah but nobody cares about all those losers anyway because us white dudes rule!
Uh, the majority of the population no longer looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you.
Yes. They do. We proved it last night. We win! Again!

So in my very truncated history of time in this country there is one glimmer of promise in what we might see ‘again’ – a time when white, male, aristocrats got rich. er.

Well shit, as a female I can’t wait until all the men make all the money! Take back their formerly great country again!

In fact, I think I’ve been looking at this all wrong.

If the men are the only ones making money we ladies can go back to the days where we had nary a care in the world. Our dinner was always on the table because we put it there. With a huge fucking smile on our face and a bow in our hair. We didn’t need concern ourselves with silly things like paying bills, not desiring sexual advances, having jobs.

Ah hahahahaha!

We don’t work outside the home. That's what men do. We don’t do anything unless it serves our man.

Our rich, white man with the terrific job that is so difficult and complex he needs to have sex with his secretary to take the edge off.

Is this a 1984 comedy flick or the real world? 

Oh, or are you upset because I generalized an entire segment of the population into a stereotype you don't like very much? Wait, that can't be right. Republicans don’t care about that stuff, they have generalized every segment of the populace so saying shit like that out loud definitely shouldn’t bother them. Right?

Then again the bully really hates being called out. And he will make up whatever rhetoric he needs in order to discount every single one of our logic based views. I’ll likely be strung up and burned at the stake any minute now.

So as I consider all of the above facts I want to share three thoughts to conclude this article:

As defined, Democracy - a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges – is very likely over in this country for real because ALL citizens will not be afforded that equality of rights necessary to live up to the term. Don't believe me? Read all about the dude about to become VP.

Get your honey-lemon tea ready Charles Schumer, we really need your long-winded conversational skills now more than anything.

A huge majority of people reading this article will have no clue who Chuck is, why that last statement matters, or how politics actually work in this country. But congratulations anyway because that shit no longer matters. The soon-to-be POTUS doesn’t know either.

Hate breeds hate. And a country driven by hate is where we all started out to begin with. Back in the early days of this country and this presidential campaign.

Now here we are. Again.

Or, perhaps, in this case, still.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Defining a Generation

I tried to stop it, this creeping feeling that I have to say something about the election, but I literally can’t avoid those words anymore. Not after last night.

As a writer, a documenter of the human condition, and a person who generally tries to operate from a place of logic, I feel that sitting back to simply watch it all unfold is, at this brief moment in time, a useless waste of my voice.

So here I am. And here you are too.

Maybe you’re here by mistake. Maybe by some miracle Google actually brought you here through a search and you have no idea what this blog is all about, who I am, how long I’ve been sharing my snarky opinion with the interwebs.

Or maybe you’re one of the people I know and love and you’re going to agree with everything I say here because we have similar views on the world and the people who inhabit this planet.

Regardless of who you are and what your political views might be, I hope you’ll stick with me through to the end and leave an informed comment if you should choose. I welcome debate. I do not tolerate hate, bullying, or meme-based “facts.”

While watching the debate last night nothing particularly mind blowing or shocking occurred. He talked, she talked, he lied, she tried not to laugh, she attempted to make points, he stalked around interrupting her at any chance he got, she tried to at least touch on some type of answer to the questions the audience members asked (sometimes), he proved he has no idea where or what Syria/Aleppo are and gave an actual answer to only one question all night (despite repeated attempts by both moderators to force his hand)– what do you respect in the other candidate.

As I listened to the words pour out of their mouths, I started doing math. Someone who is just eligible to vote today was born in 1998. Two years before Bill Clinton was voted out of the presidency.

Wow. Way to make myself feel even older.

Because the first term for, then Governor, Clinton was my first chance to vote. 1992. I was 19 years old. It feels like a freaking lifetime ago now but, still, I can remember my level of excitement at having the chance to vote in the next POTUS election.

My vote mattered! I was making a difference!

And you bet your ass I voted for Bill.

Because he was progressive. He was just a dude who thought he could unite our country under a common goal of reducing our deficit and lightening the hell up. Loosening the collar we’d tightened around ourselves to the point of a total loss of American air. He wanted to show that a President could be a human. That they could bring back fun.

And I was 19. That’s pretty much all I cared about or knew about at that age.

He seemed more like me, an average person with issues of my own, not just an old rich guy I couldn’t even understand or relate to. Not a guy who I felt fearful he could lose it one night and push “the button.”

I felt so confident that he could fix our country. Though, at 19, I had no idea what was even broken about it. I just knew he sounded really sure of himself and his eyes told us he gave a shit.

Because, and I’m being brutally honest here, I didn’t know a freaking thing about politics, how it worked, or what the hell I was doing. But I voted for him and then he won! Imagine how proud I was, that I had something to do with him being elected. I DO make a difference!

After that election I learned about red states, blue states, electoral college, crusty old politicians and how nothing actually happens unless they orchestrate it into existence. I learned my vote doesn’t matter as much as I originally thought, that, of course Clinton won my state because I lived in Massachusetts.

Fast forward all these years later to an older and (hopefully) wiser (or at least jaded enough to look at all the facts on both sides of the coin) me. I’m a bleeding heart living in a state that pours red from its very core.

I am the obvious political minority in Arizona. No matter who I vote for other than a Republican my choices are all but guaranteed to lose. There’s no hope for another candidate.

Or is there?

The AZ Republic publically denounced support for the Republican candidate (RC) and threw all their support behind the Democratic candidate (DC) for the first time in over a century.

And that was before RC’s pro-sexual assault tape was released.

But even here in our state where it’s guns for everyone, tent city for criminals, quality public education for nobody (AKA: the polar opposite of the place I grew up) even the Republicans are finally asking “what the actual fuck is wrong with that guy?????”

And with good reason. He has shamed, belittled, marginalized almost everyone on the entire planet with the exception of (hate to say it even if it’s true) rich, white people. And again, I almost hate to say it but at this critical time in our human history we need a leader who actually gives a shit about ALL people, not just the ones who can help that leader make more money or so they can say “I WIN!!!!”

All of us are so wrapped up in the he lied-she lied battle we’re missing the bigger picture.

The human race being the most important point of contention. Because, hello, without humans all that fighting over walls and emails is completely moot.

The Earth’s resources are dwindling, our food supply is being Frankenized, energy options are ignored instead of explored. While they orchestrate this glamorous meme-driven puppet show, the human race is literally imploding and everyone is so busy calling him a misogynist and her a liar, they’re too blinded to notice.

But that brings up a point.

I’d like to share a few definitions for words that have come to mind over the past 6 months or so while watching this debacle unfold because I believe being informed means turning a critical eye on all candidates.

Their pros and cons at being professional con artists.

Democracy - government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. <-- words to note: vested in the people.

Narcissist - a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish. <-- every politician with Presidential aspirations because you pretty much have to be one in order to have desire to “run” the free world.

Demagogue - a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people. <-- words to note: arousing prejudices.

Egomaniac - psychologically abnormal. <-- for more, see narcissist.

Liar - a person who tells lies. <-- so let’s be honest, everyone’s pants are on fire.

Remorse - deep and painful regret for wrongdoing; compunction. <-- saying sorry doesn’t cut it, you actually have to mean it.

Apology - a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another. <-- deep and painful regret isn’t something a politician can afford to show otherwise they’re deemed “weak.”

Misogyny - hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women. <-- don’t try to tell me this doesn’t apply because the extensive and exhaustive ringer DC has been put through has everything to do with her vagina and sheeple being afraid to admit that’s why they don’t like her.

Fact-check - to confirm the truth of (an assertion made in speech or writing), often as part of the research or editorial process. <-- a useless job in this election because nobody cares if it’s true, just how they feel about the story they read on Facebook, because that is considered research.

Historic –I’m straying from the actual definition to remind everyone that no matter who wins, this election will be historic. One party presents the first nominated female in history. Another party presents the first nominated non-public service member/military member in history. If any of the other parties win their states it would be another historical first.

That is the most important thing to remember in all of this: no matter how uncomfortable you are with change, it’s coming no matter what so suck it up buttercup, wake up and pay attention.

When the debate wrapped up I think it’s safe to assume most people turned their attention to the Sunday Night Football-esque commentary, as spouted by the people who were there to cover the debate and report back to you their thoughts on how it all went for both candidates.

AKA: Their skewed, flawed, and human perspective of how the candidates did (based entirely on which channel you happened to watch).

But not me. Nope. I turned my attention back to the candidates in question.

Want to know what I saw?

One candidate stepped further into the circle, shook hands with the people who came to listen and ask their questions of the candidates. The other candidate made a beeline for his family and, RC didn’t attempt to shake a single hand until the people came to him. He just allowed his family to cloak him, shielding his tremendous ego from all the people looking for real answers.

Even Chelsea flipping Clinton made her way over to every single one of his kids, shook their hands and smiled at them. They stood and shook her hand then Chelsea moved on while the gorgeous reality TV stars stood statue still talking to no one else but each other. Unless someone came to them.

There were 30 or so UNDECIDED voters who were right there, accessible, and willing to listen to both of you spit your rhetoric for 2 hours. They were there to make a decision. And maybe most of them don’t know where Syria is either but they do know where RC is.

He’s up in his tower made of money and gold, looking down on the little people. And I’m not being snide when I say I truly believe that he believes the little people are everyone besides him and his family.

He proved it last night by avoiding everyone when he had a golden opportunity to turn public opinion.

Maybe he’s scared because he actually has to be a politician, something he seemed shocked to have to say about himself, but if he actually wants to win over more voters than DC (the electoral college consists of 538 people, including women, FYI), he needs to do some miraculous damage control.

Pretty tough to do when you don’t understand that the first person you should have made a beeline to talk to was the woman who asked the question about Islam-a-phobia. Talking to her, taking an interest in that one person would have been damage control on so many levels: immigration policy fanatics, Muslims, women. But he shanked it by literally turning his back on those UNDECIDED voters to talk to his kids.

At the very least go talk to Anderson Cooper or, better yet, Martha Raddatz so you can clearly demonstrate how you don’t care who got to talk more because you’re classy and a friend to all women, especially those in powerful positions.

He failed to do that and meanwhile DC worked the crowd like a pro. Admittedly she has years of political experience so that shit comes naturally to her. But the fact is RC has been a public figure (if not in public service) for decades. Talking to people shouldn’t be a big deal to someone who dubs himself as that famous.

There’s less than a month until the election. I don’t care if you’re voting for either of the major party candidates, a mid-sized party candidate, or writing in “your mom” on the ballot this year. The most important thing of all is to get yourself informed.

Study. Research. Read. Learn.

Learn about all of it. Every point of contention, every issue that matters to you as a HUMAN and vote your conscience once you have all the facts in hand. Those facts being real actual plans for what any or all of the candidates hope to try to get done while they hold the highest level of public service in the country.

The fate of our nation lies in our hands. It is high time we learned about all the issues and stopped defining ourselves in limited Democrat or Republican terms and started investing in ourselves as humans first and foremost.

Educated humans.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.