The #MeToo campaign has been eye opening for me. I thought myself well aware of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women (and men). I was wrong.
As my social media feed continued to be filled with heartbreaking post after post (some with sickening stories, others with no details at all), the weight of it brought me to tears. So many people that I knew (many very well) had been victimized. I felt angry, horrified, disgusted, ashamed. Trying to figure out what to do or say was overwhelming. Any words felt forced, and writing them seemed more like “well at least I’m not THAT guy” than an honest acknowledgment. Even liking the posts seemed an empty gesture, though I did continue doing that throughout the day because it felt necessary.
I promised myself again and again that I would continue to speak out, call attention to actions, teach my children better, be the sort of human being who joined others in fighting to end abuse.
I still wanted to do more.
Towards the end of the day a good friend of mine made a simple, perfect, and poignant Facebook post. He wrote: I believe you.
Those three words summed up everything I’d been trying to expound on all day (and perhaps most of my adult life). It should be obvious, but somehow it isn’t- Believing victims of sexual assault is critical.
I wanted to go outside and shout that sentence over and over. I believe you.
I settled for copying my friend and posting those words on Twitter.
And because they are important, I wanted to share them with you all as well.
A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-
Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.
The leaves are changing on the mountains. Temperatures are hovering near perfection. I get to wear sweaters and long sleeve shirts. Autumn is here! Oh, and also, it is the first Wednesday of the month which is when the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gets together for their monthly blog hop. Check us out and sign up HERE
From the website:
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.
You can also answer the optional question each month.
for October the question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
When I first read this, I thought in terms of identity theft. You know, something like I wrote my social security number on page 17, or maybe used my current street address. I can say with surety I’ve never done that.
But slipping personal things about myself, stories, traits, desires and dreams, sure.
When I was in my teens and twenties, the majority of my protagonists were loose representations of myself. I’d write about actual events, slightly tweaked, but anyone who knew me or was there could see through the flimsy disguise.
With practice, I got better and hiding things. Like many writers, I was able to create characters who could do and say things I might never dare try in my actual life. I would write idealized versions of who I’d like to be (and on one creepy occasion, someone I’d never want to be). The fictionalized adventures would be mine, become something like my memories.
If I’m being honest with myself, I think I still do this more than I’d like, but rather than jumble all these things into one character, I spread them out over everyone in the story. Maybe others are talented enough to write complex and interesting characters based entirely on speculation, void of any connection to themselves or anyone they know. That is beyond my skill.
On another note, I finished the second round of the NYC Midnight flash fiction challenge. Hopefully this story is more well received than my last effort, which honestly wasn’t very good. This time, I wasn’t sleep deprived or unable to focus. Hopefully, I’ll actually score some points and maybe advance to the final two rounds. If not, it was a fun and challenging experience.
My only complaint about the contest is the rigid use of genre and accompanying expectations. I know it makes judging a bit easier to have set criteria, but it makes the writing feel very controlled. I mentioned my story wasn’t quality work, but one of the critiques was, in romantic comedies, we expect a happier conclusion. In other words, don’t play with the genre. That seems a strange and vapid critique.
What about you clods? Any good words to share?
I’m struggling this week with the hectic and frightening mood permeating my country. The dieification of the military, the proliferation of forced patriotism frightens me.
I cannot help but shake my head and wonder what terrible thing lurks around the corner.
I do not believe my government really acts in the best interests of its people, and I do not believe that any of the current conflicts are doing anything to preserve my freedom or protect my rights.
Governments do not give rights, but they sure know how to suppress them.
Last Saturday my brother Robbie got married. It was a grand night, filled with family, fun, love, and some craziness. The venue (Publik Coffee) was near perfect. I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls, so I was impressed with this place the moment we entered.
Families and friends mingled on either side of the room. A testament to how well we all get along. There was very little awkwardness.
I’ve liked my brothers girlfriend/fiance/wife, Emily since the first time we met. She has the right balance of class and irreverence, which makes her perfect for my brother and our family.
I can admit, there was a time I thought Robbie would never marry (which isn’t a bad thing. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone), so as he stood in front of this room and said his amazing vows, I teared up over and over. More tears were shed when Emily took her turn. When two people have been through hell and fire, then find happiness together, well, I’m a sucker for that sort of story.
Here are some more lovely images.
This was taken just before the toasts.
First dance. Also, I love dancing at weddings. It is a time when you can just be silly, dance like a crazy person, and have a grand time. The dancing at this wedding was particularly awesome, with all sorts of insanity. I hope there is epic video.
I really dig this lady next to me, by the way. My wife is top notch.
See you next week, friends.
As I looked up, streaks of pale pink and yellow stared back at me me. For a moment, it seemed as if the sky were moving at an incredible rate of speed, stretching the clouds, and the earth lurched to keep pace. I stumbled, confused and dizzy, forgetting why I had come to the city, who I intended to meet. A passing stranger spoke to me, but his words were a jumble of incoherent sounds. I could only stare at the fading light, awestruck.
Three deep breaths, three rapid blinks, and I regained a recollection of my surroundings, who and where I was. She was waiting for me in the bar around the corner, a cold beer already placed on the table in front of the empty chair I would soon occupy. I was excited to see her again, share some conversation, one hundred laughs with someone I did not see enough of during the autumn months.
And in that moment, as I fumbled with my phone, framed a picture, instead of thinking how much she would appreciate the stunning sunset, the mountains dark silhouette like an oil painting, all I could think was how I wished you were right here to see this with me instead.
It’s my favorite time of the year! Summer is waning, and while I am not a huge fan of long, cold, Utah winters, I do love autumn. The temperatures hover in the near perfect zone. Football has started up again. Kids are in school. I don’t have as many yard work responsibilities. I’m calmer.
And I can’t think of a better way to start off this glorious month than with another IWSG post.
From the website:
-Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! –
Doesn’t that sound great? If you like the way that makes you feel inside, sign up here. You only have to (get to) post once a month, and the feedback is always on point.
September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in??
My second novel was going to be about a woman trapped by a blizzard in her mountain cabin, confronted by the sudden appearance of her husband who had died from a heart attack ten years previously. He would inform her that he had been sent by God, and that God had decided the world needed purging. He was ashamed of his children and wanted to wash his hands of them, forever. In six months time, humanity would be gone.
Over the course of the winter, she’d engage in back and forth conversations, hoping to convince her husband to intervene with God on behalf of humanity.
I liked the idea, thought it would make a compelling story. About thirty pages in, I realized the book was going to come off very didactic, preachy and arrogant. Also, I was losing interest in the overall arc of the characters. The minor players (out in the big wide world) felt flat, locked into certain behaviors. I didn’t want to scrap the entire concept, but knew the idea needed tweaking.
The story shifted into a science fiction tale, where beings from another world have tasked themselves with taking care of our planet. Frustrated by what they believe is an immoral human attack on the environment, they decide to reset the planet, eliminating the mechanisms that pollute and damage the planet. Most humans and their technology must go.
I had not written sci-fi since I was very young, and I was sure it would be a disaster. Maybe because I kept the story rooted in the 21st century, centered the action around one family (aware of what is happening, but unable to do anything to stop it), and another small band of people, I was able to stay focused, not write outside my ability, create a compelling story.
What surprised me most was the way certain moral dilemmas played out in the book. I tried to write from as neutral a perspective as I could. It was fun to leave certain questions unanswered.
I’m still very proud of the book, and try to push it on anyone willing to read it (you, maybe?). I’m still not completely comfortable writing science fiction, and would never claim to be good at it, but I did enjoy creating this particular book.
Maybe I’ll write a thriller next, or a horror novel. Yeah, that’s it.