Writing About Writing

I’ve been gone for so long–I can hardly believe it! Here’s what happened: I burnt out.

Its common in writers and activists, and I consider myself both. I was working on night shift, and desperately trying to be a “productive” writer, and trying to have a social life and a relationship with my family, the latter two being extremely difficult to do when working night shift. I was so tired, so very tired. Need I mention how exhausting it is to care, and to participate in political activism in the current climate of “fuck everything and everybody, me and mine got ours” in the Republican Party? Something had to give.

Then I moved to day shift. I decided I wanted to transcribe my writing journals onto my laptop–most of my novel(s) draft are in those notebooks. I wanted to see what I had. The problem was, it was too much like my data entry job. I felt like I was working the same job night and day. I hated it–I wanted to get shit done, I wanted to be productive (seeing a pattern here?) and, for some odd reason, I felt like I needed to complete that writing project before I moved to another. The result was obvious–I didn’t write.

I missed it. So very much. But. I’m a stubborn lady.

It was a cycle, a very long and unproductive cycle. Not to mention not very pleasant, eh? I don’t know about you, but when I go for a long period of time without writing, I have a bit of an identity crisis. I do believe I won the argument with what Captain Awkward calls my jerkbrain that I am, indeed, allowed to call myself a writer when I haven’t written anything for a while.

 

And with that, I am ending the cycle of not-writing. I miss seeing my novel come to life on the page in front of me, and I very much miss blogging. I’ve been around, of course, but being a lurker/occasional commenter is not the same as Being a Blogger.

 

What I know I need to do is stop with these arbitrary restrictions I place on myself. The whole “I need to do this, and then I’m allowed to write” was so not helpful. So in addition to a dead blog coming back to life, I’m expanding the number of topics I’m going to be covering here. Don’t ask, I don’t know yet. All I know is, I’m sitting in a booth at Buffalo Wild Wings, writing on a friend’s iPad, because my muse demanded I write.

And you know what? It feels good.

Advertisements

Blog Note: Hello!

I’m back!

The past several weeks have been exhausting. After several days in a row of going through the day fully intending to post, but not, I decided to take a break. I even stopped obsessively checking my Stats page! (For those who don’t blog, this is a very Big Deal.) I hadn’t planned on making today The Day, but after mentally composing about five posts, I realized that I’ve missed writing, and decided to sit down and tap these posts out before I lose them.

Here’s what’s been going on:

In a stroke of very good luck, things got very busy at work soon after my accident, and so I have had the opportunity to work overtime. For the past few weeks, an eight-hour work day has been a rare and strangely short thing. This has contributed to my exhaustion in a big way, hence my absence.Things still haven’t slowed down, so I plan on taking advantage of the extra cash every chance I can get. That will mean I won’t immediately be posting at my normal pace.

Physically, all of my injuries have healed. My bruises are long gone. My ribs–I’m pretty sure I actually broke, or at least cracked a couple–are feeling much better. Once the swelling went down, I realized I’d also broken a finger. ’twas a shock to me–I’ve been able to use it 100% the entire time. But its healed, albeit awkwardly. (I think. It doesn’t smart like hell when I knock against something, so I’ll take it.)

The huge weight that was hanging over my shoulders–money–has largely lifted. I worked my tailbone off, and thanks to Papa Beemer feeding me, and a coworker giving me rides to and from work, I was able to buy a new (to me) car. It’s not as old as Trouble (as my old car was affectionately dubbed), but it has its own quirks. I can handle those. As for my other financial woes, I will use my overtime cash to slowly pay those off. In a couple of months, I will have Trouble paid off as well. The worry from this was wearing me out–it feels wonderful to have that gone.

I wish I could say I’ve been using the time I would have been writing to sleep–but no. If you follow me on Twitter (if you don’t, you should.) you know that I’m a Trekkie. I’ve been making my way through Star Trek: Voyager. Since I wasn’t writing, of course I had time to watch more Voyager! More Captain Janeway!  So I did. I finished the series a few days ago, and I’ve felt stranded (te he) ever since. Then did I sleep? Pshaw. Of course not. (I will never learn.) Naturally, I’ve been reading. And I’ve read some very good books, people, let me tell you. Look for a post or two on those soon.

I have a new project in the works! If you remember, last summer I helped put on the Hello Summer Festival. I had a lot of fun, and the festival was a success. Jared approached me again a couple of weeks ago, and asked for my help for another project. It’s much bigger, and much more ambitious–a fall festival, with music, activities, more local art. The festival is in the very early planning stages now, but it’s going to be awesome. We’re hoping to make the festival a fundraiser for an AIDS prevention organization (I won’t say which one yet, since we haven’t confirmed anything). I’ll be taking a bigger role this year, it looks like. I’m really excited about this–so look for posts in the future as the festival begins to take form.

So. What have you been up to lately?

 

Farewell, Fallen From Grace

Today I learned that Bruce of Fallen From Grace has shut down his blog. I’m sorry to hear it–because it was a brilliant blog.

I’ll miss Bruce’s writing–but I do understand. Writing is a lot of work, and that work takes a lot out of you. I just hope that all is well with you, Bruce. I know you had a lot of critics, and I know your health isn’t what it used to be.

Bruce, I wish you strength and happiness along your journey. Stop by sometime, you’ll always be welcome here.

A Glimpse into the Future?

Amanda Ching has written a brillant short story that you need to read. It’s speculative fiction, imagining what the U.S. might look like if we keep incrementally rolling back reproductive rights.

This story answers the question that the naive citizens of a free democracy always ask: how do totalitarian regimes happen?

Go read it. Now.

As a writer, I can tell you that this is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Let me tell you, speaking from experience, writing a short story is hard. Amanda makes it look easy. I am extremely jealous of her talent.

As a feminist, this story scared the ever-loving shit out of me. It provides a hell of a lot of motivation to fight every single rollback of human rights, because this story highlights how, though human rights violations may start in one area, they always spread into other areas, until everyone’s rights are gone.

My Writing Ethics and Consent Culture

My feminism isn’t just a set of political or social beliefs. My feminism permeates every aspect of my life, including my writing. It’s not only a frequent topic of my writing, it also informs how I go about it.

Regular readers may have noticed an increase of personal narratives on this blog. Specific stories from my life that either serve as an example of the need for a specific political or social policy, or to demonstrate how I came to be where I am.

I have a policy–if I want to write about a personal experience that involves another person, I will ask their permission before I post. I write under my own name, after all. I chose that–to be public and open with my identity. The people around me chose no such thing. Even if I use pseudonyms or vague descriptors, which I do, the people in my stories could still be identified. I need their consent before ever taking that risk. If no consent is given, I will not write that post.

So far, I’ve been given consent every time. What has surprised me is the reaction I get from the people I’ve asked. When I asked my father yesterday for permission to write about the divorce in my last post, he responded that it was my life, and that I had a right to write about it. I replied that it is his life too, his experiences that I’m sharing with the world. He smiled, and told me to write.

I was surprised that it seemed so absurd to him that I would ask his consent. Is asking consent so out of our habits? It shouldn’t be. In a way, I’m saddened by his reaction. I’m not disappointed in my father by any means, on the contrary, my father is a great man, and I’m proud to be his daughter. I’m saddened that asking consent does not seem to be, well, just one of those things you do, always, in our culture.

It’s not just about making sure that you have a partner’s consent to have sex. It’s about getting consent before involving others, to put it crudely. It’s about considering the effects of your actions on other people, and involving those people in your decision-making.

Update on NYT ‘Truth Vigilantes’ Post

Apparently, Arthur Brisbane thinks we’re all a bunch of idiots. He writes another column, which basically says “No! Wait! You misunderstood me! I asked [same question in previous column]!”

No really, Arthur, we got it. We understand.

What I didn’t cover in the last post is how the ‘Truth Vigilantes’ column’s comment section was shut down after 252 comments.

Most of us are veterans of the internet by now, and we all know what that means. Arthur didn’t like what commenters were saying, so the comments were closed.

It happened in the update, too, after only 46 comments.

It’s been my experience that news sites rarely close comments, even when the conversation degenerates to bigotry, insults, or is derailed by trolls. So, that’s an indicator of their barometer. These two columns are two instances where commenters on a mainstream news website agree, the conversation stays focused, and mostly civil (barring a few throwing insults regarding the author’s intelligence). Frankly, it’s amazing. I’ve never seen the like before.

I suppose this answers my question in my previous post–this isn’t a legitimate inquiry after all.

 

Should the NYT Report the Truth?

via Shakesville

Short answer: Well, NER.

I’m amazed that this question even has to be asked. Yet, in a way, I’m glad they did.

I’ve never thought much of journalism–this goes back to my days at WKU, which has, reportedly, a very good journalism program. I was of the opinion that journalism really shouldn’t be a separate field of study, and I expressed that opinion quite often. What was the point, I reasoned, when one could major in English, with a focus on writing? The journalism program pushed forth a very dry, bland writing style. Their stars were more reminiscent of a rabid tabloid columnist than anything else. The good writers that emerged from that program were good writers despite the program, not because of it.

What makes a good journalist is a combination of being a good writer and a decent person: write well, hunger for truth, ask the difficult questions, and always, when reporting, make known what your purpose is, and ask permission to quote.

Each genre of writing has a different purpose. The purpose of journalism is to inform, to educate, to spread truth and expose lies. Because of this, the public grants journalism an element of trust–the words of a journalist are trusted by the public to be true, to be the whole story.

Journalism, clearly, has betrayed that trust.

Perhaps this is the beginning of an effort to earn that trust again. However, it is a sign of how badly that trust has been betrayed when I wonder if this is an honest effort, or perhaps a marketing outreach to discover which market is larger: the one of truth or of lies.