Out of the rubble, there are words…

It’s November, and it occurs to me that last year at about this time I was half way through my first draft novel. I was on top of the world with excitement over the joy I was experiencing in finding my voice. I had this amazing rush over the 1800+ daily word count production that was flowing out of me uninhibited. This ease followed me through Spring and it was not until I placed myself in an actual writing class this Summer that I began to second guess myself.

The harsh reality was, I was a complete novice.

And, those 58,000 words I accomplished through the NANOWRIMO contest were just words. It was a hodge podge of characters and actions and plot that was more mishmash than anywhere near being bonafide story.

As the weeks went on in the writing class, I began to feel as if those words I had previously cherished and for which I had felt such refreshment had become the ruins of a bombed out shelter within which I had sought refuge and had placed my hope for a bright future. After my writing class, it felt as if I had used all the wrong tools in the arsenal and I was ill prepared for the battle.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all lost and it was not a waste of time. On the contrary, the contest last November was successful in that it pulled me out of an unproductive writing life of claiming I wanted to write but not writing and threw me into the world of daily pursuit of the big story. Combined with the writing class, I came to realize that I do have what it takes but that I can’t skip over the learning part, the technique exercises, the proper development of point of view and the full understanding of the scope of what makes a good story. What I have now is a bucket full of ideas with some interesting people, some who have passion. What I need is a way to figure out how to deliver this up in a format that is enjoyable to read, flows logically and satisfies my inner critic. Ok, well that last part is darn near impossible- for I do not believe that my inner critic will ever really shut up- but I can try to lower the volume a bit and then seek to drown it out with a boat load of hard work layered with some hope. I am not giving up!

When I first started this novel writing project, I proclaimed that this was a five year project to anyone to whom I revealed my dirty little secret (you, know …. pssst… that I write). So, the fact that it has now been one year and I have under my belt 58,000 words and a six week summer writing class to claim as done- well, I guess I am right on track. This is year two of the adventure and I am re-energized on where I am headed with the journey.

During the contest, I was somewhat careful with the disclosure of my novel writing project because the minute you tell anyone that you write, the immediate follow up is “what do you write?”. Up until November 2015, I didn’t really have a good answer. For the past thirty plus years, and yes it’s been that long, I just wrote in journals, nothing substantial. Now that I was tackling the notion of novel writing, saying it out loud was scary. It was almost embarrassing because saying it suggested that I was actually claiming to be a writer and well, I wasn’t really a writer. I just didn’t really believe I could claim or own that moniker. I wasn’t sure that if I shared my product, that anyone would recognize it for what it was.

So this November 16th, I pull out the words but this time, I take time within my writing days to study theory and the basic structure of story. As I head into 2017, I focus my attention on the craft and commit to progress not perfection. I retrieve some of my writing resource books including one titled: DIY MFA. Each of then offers excellent insights, exercises to build the writing muscles and excitement once again that I can do this!

One of the first concepts that I have encountered in this renewal of my writing passion includes the notion that if I resist writing on a particular topic, if it is hard to pursue… then very likely, it’s exactly this idea or project that I must nurture further.

I think about my “in progress” historical WW II occupation story of Norway, and the fear I have of getting the facts wrong or of trivializing this incredibly serious topic… the prospect of it all had me in knots. Doubting my ability to properly capture how the war affected people had me flailing in late summer. And in that self-doubt, I faltered and I simply stopped writing.

Now I regroup and I re-frame. I am not defeated. I will prevail and the story will be told.

An Independent Voter

Who do you plan to vote for?

In many instances, this is such a deeply personal question that one generally does not ask it. We leave this question alone when it comes to the work place. We maybe ask it of friends or relatives that are very close to us but generally understand when the response might be that they want to keep this a private matter. In many cases, we don’t need to ask, we know where people stand since they are so vocal.  
Early arrival to work allows me to eavesdrop on conversations for those other early arrivals that like to enjoy political banter over coffee. In my case, that banter has leaned toward the democratic side.

This morning, I am working off-site waiting for a client to show up for a Final Document appointment. Two ladies in their sixties heading to Vienna on November 30th in order to catch the David Garret concert; it’s been planned for over a year! This was a concert with this beef cake violinist that has these sexy eyes and straight long blond hair that whips around his head as he embraces his instrument and funnels all of his passionate energy from his shoulders into the violin’s strings. These women just had to see him; call it a bucket list experience. Sad that in the end, they learned recently he has a bit of a raunchy side where love is concerned- a fairly recent summer lawsuit against him tells the tale. They are still going but a little less enthused… poor girls.

Anyhow, I digress.

I am here at this coffee house for my client appointment and thus, miss the fall out conversations at work resulting from the end game victory of Donald J. Trump. I am sure there are a lot of exasperated sights emanating from offices and expressions of disdain for their fellow Americans. I guess in a way I am glad I am not in the office, just yet.  
Last night, I just couldn’t stay up for the final results. Even at 9:30pm it seemed he was braced for the win. I woke at just before 1:00am and pushed my iPhone’s home button to see the news feed on the screen- and there was still no victory. I turned on the TV briefly to see where they were at… too close to call on about four or five states. But he was in the lead. After a brief break and hitting the loo, I retired once again to wake at 6:30am. This time the phone showed me that The Donald was now my president.

Outrage, sadness, confusion and hope all mixed into one for me. The truth is that I lean more conservative. But, I was one of those swing voters that candidates work so hard to win over. And, neither of them won my vote. I voted independent because I just couldn’t stomach supporting candidates with whom I had a vitriolic dislike because of their record… on both sides. Both of them lacked a depth of human understanding or care- in my view. Both sought power. Both had engaged in a romance with the underbelly of our world, and in the case of Trump- he hid behind the laws created to allow him to be an ugly person- affecting people’s lives negatively … and this being OK as long as he was a successful entrepreneur. In her case, accepting millions of dollars from countries that have records for inhuman treatment of women and people in general. Corruption. Then back to him, vulgarity, a blatant disregard for women unless they look like super models, a coldness and a crass approach that I could not support. And, because of these issues and so many more, I simply did not feel that I could trust either one.  And I knew that in the end, it would be one of them.  With or without me.   

So, I went with Evan McMullin. I knew this meant my candidate would not win. And that was ok. I was casting my vote based on my conscience, whatever end result that would garner. I knew I was not backing the winning team. That perhaps my vote was meant more for communication and my hope is that McMullin or someone like him will come out in 2018 and try again. And further to that, my hope is that our country will open itself up to the possibility of moving away from a two party system. Because in my view, none of us can suggest that our options for candidates these last few elections – have been good ones. This is not the first election when I have heard: well, we have to pick the lesser of two evils. That should not be the case! Not here. Not in the USA. It has to change. At least, that is my hope. And, I put my money where my mouth was- voting for a candidate whose platform I believed in. Every single one of his talking points as noted on his website had me nodding and bobbing my head. Sure, he was young. But he was not inexperienced. He had so many vitally important first hand experiences within the context of finance (for our country), security (for our country) and our present enemies. He had values for family. He had decency. I just wish he had not shown up so late in the game- not much you can do by introducing yourself in August for a November election. Still, I am glad at least there was a name on the ballot that I felt good about backing. Whether the vote was wasted or not.

So here we are. Putin has already declared that he wants to be friends again. Other nation leaders are expressing their strong positions to ensure their country’s voice is factored into the global issues we face – whether security or prosperity based. What is going to happen in the first few months of his presidency? Will things tilt and change dramatically? Will there really be a wall? Is that a good or a bad thing? Will he really break families apart by shipping people back to their countries if they came in illegally? Will his temperament affect how he handles the nuclear codes? Are we in a state now of total devastation or is this a move in the right direction? It’s hard to tell.

I do know that when countries are soft on the enemy, or turn away and pretend things are not really going on- trouble happens. We need only to look to the two world wars in Europe. “No, he won’t come here, that’s can’t possibly happen? We are OK” …then, one country after the other was captured by a maniac. Trying to be loved by other countries so much does not necessarily ensure our security… being popular is not always the best choice. Our military is in deep trouble, we need to ramp up defenses not reduce them. We need to honor our veterans not disregard them.  And I do believe vetting immigrants is an important issue- making sure they have the proper references and sources to tell us whether they have been involved in anything that needs to remain outside our borders. And I don’t feel that the current president has done a good job. Not when it comes to national security. Smiling and shaking hands and being buddies with people, that he did well. People generally liked his demeanor.  Many will miss his smile and his ability to make good speeches.  But there were just smiles and words in my view.  The bottom line is that I just don’t think he has done enough to protect us from the crazies. It’s all a bit big and overwhelming for me. I confess I don’t know the full picture. I do get my news from many different sources and outlets …always listening, to all view points. And international news – Le Monde, BBC, Reuter’s, CNN and FOX, as well as various podcasts with pundits and pollsters. Liberal and conservative radio. I am interested. I am listening.   

And, I voted.

And, in a few minutes, I will discuss the details of a fun trip to Vienna and Prague for two women who want to enjoy a sex symbol violinist and the magical Christmas Markets in early December.  Life goes on.