If you only watch one video today, let it be this one. So moving, it brought me to tears.
The Writing Life, Books, and Things That Make Me Go, "Ah"
If you only watch one video today, let it be this one. So moving, it brought me to tears.
There are times in our life when everything goes right. So magical is this sudden stroke of luck that it feels like fate, destiny, and kismet. It seems there is nothing we can do wrong. Things just flow.
This smooth sailing can make you feel like you’ve finally arrived. You know where you’re headed. The path is so obvious that there is no need to plan or analyze. No need to look and for the cause and effect. You just know that you’ve finally found that sweet spot and you will never lose it again.
At first you don’t believe it. You think it’s just a little hiccup. Things will go back to normal – that smooth, effortless place where everything lines up and you move forward, making tremendous headway.
Except that the hiccup turns into a cough and the cough then turns into car accident and then the next thing you know, you’re sitting by the side of the road wondering what the hell happened.
That obvious path eludes you. And you haven’t a clue what you should do next. You seriously wonder if you should change course. Go in a different direction. You can feel frantic, desperate, anxious, and utterly confused. The urge to change everything is overwhelming because you don’t want to be in this terrible place of not knowing.
And it is human nature to change because life around you changes. To believe you are making a mistake. That you were wrong. That all arrows point in a different direction and you should follow those arrows. Follow the pack, where it’s safer and easier. To panic and do what everyone else is doing. To listen to those older and wiser than you.
It may well be that you’ve missed something. You didn’t notice a change you made. You failed to spot the real cause and effect of something. You didn’t notice this or that. So instead of panicking and deciding to sign up for some thousand dollar course or pursuing some ‘secret’ trick to turn things around, step back.
Analyze the period when you were doing well:
What were you doing? If you go back to the time period when you were doing well, you can often see that you were doing specific things that contributed to the success. And you may also notice that some things you were doing, you stopped doing. For example, a business may send out a promo piece, which results in more business. In the hurry to deliver, they drop out the promotion because they couldn’t do both.
How did you do it? Did you change your approach? Perhaps you hit your production early in the day then when things starting going well you decided that you could slough off a little. Take a longer lunch. Not work at all on some days. Lower your standards in the interest of getting more done.
Who helped you? We rarely succeed without help. There are always people who offer support, back up, and help of one sort or another. Are those people still around? Did you decide you didn’t need them anymore? Fail to acknowledge their contribution? Have a spat?
What led up to the sudden upswing? Sudden improvement in your sales, production, or even your personal life may appear to be magical but it isn’t. As with anything worth having it requires a lot of work and attention to improve and keep going. The chances are you put in enormous effort in marketing, promotion, networking, communication and more to cause the upswing. Go back and figure what you did and do it again and more of it. Chances are you backslid on those actions.
Review your notes, stats, production. If you aren’t keeping notes, stats, journals or somehow documenting the actions you are taking you will not be able to analyze what you did right and what you did wrong. Keep a journal, stats, production notes, and files – whatever works for you that documents your actions. Otherwise, you will always feel like your future is left to chance.
While it may be true that we all have a path and purpose in life, it is the rare human who can always just know what to do next.
What about you? Did you ever feel like you were on an obvious path? Did the path suddenly disappear? Did you panic and change everything or did you stay the course? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
I just read a post by writer I really respect. He was commenting on another writer whom I’d never heard of and had some controversy swirling around him. I have to admit I had no idea what the article was talking about until I followed the links provided at the end.
The topic was sexism and an off-handed remark the author made about his books and writing. Apparently, many people were extremely offended. And a few got on their righteous indignation horses and rode them all around the neighborhood screaming at the top of their lungs about the utter gall of this author. Hmm…
In my opinion what the accused author said wasn’t offensive. It may have been a bit of a cop out, or maybe he was kidding or maybe he just didn’t want to answer the question but it didn’t denigrate women. If anything, the author seemed to be putting himself down for being somewhat clueless about women.
Yet, surprisingly a shit storm happened anyway. And now this author may be branded as a sexist. Sad. Really sad. Because based on the description of his books it sounds like he is one helluva writer.
While the Bill of Rights ensures certain personal liberties the right to be offended and then to punish said offender does not exist within its confines. In fact, one of our guaranteed rights and liberties in this country is free speech. We in fact, have the right to say whatever we want in public. If it offends people so be it. If people agree with it, so be it. If people don’t agree with it, so be it. But we still have the right to say what we want.
However, what we don’t have the right to do in this country is to slander people. There are actually laws against it. You can actually be sued for doing it or attempting to do it. You could lose a lot – maybe everything – if you were taken to court for it and lost.
Still that doesn’t seem to stop some people from trying to stir up a shit storm and turn the masses against said offender. It doesn’t stop people from starting whisper campaigns and attempting to bully people out of existence. It doesn’t stop anyone from trying to destroy a person. God bless the Internet.
And in the end, this type of incident only serves to scare other writers and public figures from saying anything or writing anything of substance. Because they fear retribution. Because somebody might get offended and try to ruin them.
There are many many things in this world that are truly oppressive, vile, disgusting and downright evil. And I believe as human beings we have the right and the duty to rail against them and if possible stop them. And oppression of women is on that list. There are cultures in this world that:
These things are wrong. Very wrong. Yes, we should try to stop them. Yes, we should try to help women in these situations. Yes, this needs to change. However, this author did none of these things. He simply said he was clueless about women.
And while there are many good examples of women being objectified in literature, 50 Shades comes to mind (a book written by a woman and read apparently widely by women) this author’s books (based on their descriptions) don’t seem to qualify. But apparently an absence of women now qualifies as offensive and God help the author who doesn’t include them.
Sorry but this doesn’t make sense to me. And in the reverse would we even be talking about this? For example, all of the thousands of books that explore and discuss and illustrate the trials and tribulations that women go through, are they sexist too because there is a sparsity of male characters? Or the male characters are bad, shallow, stereotypical? I haven’t heard one peep about such a notion. In fact, in modern literature, film and other entertainment venues male bashing, shaming and joking is not only okay, it’s expected.
The problem with this sort of situation (aside from the obvious) is that it’s not really the problem. Yes, there is oppression of women but this isn’t an example of it. And maybe it’s easier to fixate on this very tiny incident than it is to actually go after blatant, obvious real acts of oppression. Because it’s safer. And maybe you don’t think you’ll suffer retribution from it. Or maybe something else. And the problem this type of situation creates is that it doesn’t solve the problem you’re railing about, in fact, it ends up marginalizing it. It ends up having the opposite effect that you are shooting for, it ends up making the real problem disappear and killing the wrong horse, so to speak.
It’s like when a couple has a huge fight over the fact that the garbage wasn’t emptied. Now is the fight really about the garbage? Probably not, it’s probably really about the fact that one partner feels the other partner doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t respect them or care about their feelings. But that’s just too big a bite to chew. That’s too dangerous a topic to broach, so instead they have a knock down drag out about garbage for cripes sake.
There is so much in this world that should be changed, could be improved or even brought to some ideal state. But bitching and moaning, complaining and attacking others does not bring about change. It only brings about fear. It only lathers up others into a feeding frenzy. And no one ever feels good afterwards. We all just feel crappy and then more crappy about it.
Beating up somebody about a negative real or imagined rarely changes anything. If you want change, real change, then you have make that change. If you see something that is wrong then change it. If we as authors want to change the perception of women in literature then we have to change that perception (and in fact, thousands of women authors are doing this everyday). As the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.
All the time, energy and effort that goes into attacking somebody for being a certain way or not being a certain way could be used to change the perception or even reality of a situation – and too there is less hate mail.
Let’s face it we all have bad days. Sometimes even bad weeks, months or years. It happens. Somebody says something or does something, or you make a terrible decision that comes back and knocks the heck out of you. If it’s traumatic, it’s hard to recover – no matter what you do.
And when we’re upset, sometimes our first inclination is to strike back. We’re not doormats after all, right? We shouldn’t take it lying down, right? All’s fair in love and war, right? Maybe not so much.
If someone wrongs you, has inflicted unwarranted pain on you, discouraged you, or flat out attacked you – then you have a right to counter-attack. Don’t you? Perhaps. Maybe if you could keep it strictly between you and the offender. But the problem is that in modern life, nothing is private. Even your disagreements with your spouse are likely to end up on Facebook or Twitter. So attacking your attacker with wild abandon may come back to bite you.
Too many people allow themselves to be swept away by their emotional response to a slight, insult, bad review, criticism, etc. Since everybody in the world has a blog, the first impulse is to write a scathing blog post about this terrible thing that has happened to you. But wait. Do you really want your mother to see that? How about a future prospect? Thousands of strangers? Your boss? Your clients, customers or readers? How will they respond? Chances are, not very well.
Sure, go ahead and write that post but don’t publish it. Let it sit there. Read it two weeks from now. Still want to publish it? If so, let it sit another two weeks, go back, and read it again. Chances are you’ll end up deleting it. And be glad you didn’t publish it. While striking back may make you feel better in the heat of the moment, there are a lot of reasons you should reconsider:
If you have any kind of online presence or your career puts you in the public eye, you’ll have detractors. It’s simply a fact of life. You can’t get away from it and if you try to attack it, things will only get worse because you chance starting a never-ending battle of being right. Think about it – do you really want to be engaged in the fight forever? So, what can you do?
To quote Vito Corleone:
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Depending on the type of attack, there are plenty of strategies you can use:
In most cases, you don’t have to go as far as the above suggestions; generally, you can just go about your business, stay focused and succeed. People who try to engage you in firefights and online spats aren’t succeeding, which is why they feel the need to attack you. In you, they see a threat. It may only be real in their minds but that is likely what is motivating them. There’s no need for you to play the game. You should feel sorry for them and then move on. If you do, eventually they’ll get bored and move on too.
If you really want to get their goat – prosper and flourish. Succeed. Do you own thing. That’s what counts, right? Your own goals and what you’re trying to achieve? Not some petty words or acts committed by someone you barely know. Believe in yourself and carry on. Believe me, there’s nothing that drives naysayers crazier than that.
If you have to rant – do so in front of your dog or another non-English speaking creatures that don’t have access to a computer. You’ll feel better and nobody will be any the wiser.
What do you think about ranting and bashing on the Internet? Do you do it? Do you like it? Hate it? How do you handle such situations?
Henry was a darling
a quiet, gentle man
Who never rose his voice
and always lent a hand
He worked his job
for thirty years
Never missed a day
Always with a smile
and a kind word to say
He paid his taxes every year
and glady did his ‘part’
And let his son go off to war
although it broke his heart
He mowed his lawn
and swept his walk
with great care and pride
Never grumbling about grafitti
he used the whitewash to hide
He voted in elections
ever faithful to his party
Believing that the promised change
would make his country hearty
And then the pinkslip came
Henry was no longer needed
Outsourcing – the solution
to which his bosses heeded
And oh yes, by the way
the pension plan was bleeded
And in the dark his son returned
from the ravages of war
But Henry didn’t recognize
the boy he once adored
The market crashed -housing fell
bail outs left and right
And in his heart he wondered
When he’d lost his sight
But suddenly his eyes were opened
and shock rang through and through
and no one had to tell him
what suddenly he knew
And Henry’s still a darling
a lovely gentle man
who raises his voice proudly
to get a better plan
For Henry won’t surrender
his country without a fight
because my dear friends
our Henry’s seen the light
And out of the ashes, Spring has sprung. The fire that savaged and left my beloved hills scarred and black is now but a smoky memory…
Boasting fragile green under the spring sky, the hills are again alive.
I stand in the midsts of new birth, rebirth and all things green. From tender leaves on saplings to fresh blades of virgin grass.
Creatures and local denizen come out of hiding and run along backyard walls, twitching bushy tails and scanning for crusts and peanut shells. Or take for the sky to revel the green below—settling on branches to sing their springtime ditties.
And now there lives a singing tree—that serenades me nightly as the sun saunters away from day and the moon moves in with silver light.
Jasmine blooms open and perfume the air in sweet repose as feathered friends tuck in the kiddies for the night. I hear them wooing their babies to sleep with chirps-twitters-fluttering wings. The magical tree safely ensconses the tiny warblers in dense foilage—keeping out bullies, making the world safe for babies not yet ready to fly.
Christine has found spring too
Among my many adventures last year, Christmas wasn’t one of them. I had moved to a new state, started a new life and had many hopes for the future. What never dawned on me was that there would be no Christmas.
And I’m one of those whacky folks who really loves Christmas. Everything about it. From the tacky decorations that the stores put up way too early, to the endless Christmas carols on the radio, to the food. Santa Hats. Reindeer ears. Candy canes. Christmas trees. Even though I hate being cold, I still secretly wish for snow every Christmas Eve.
I collect Christmas movies and force roomie to watch them with me. Typically, I have the Christmas tree up and the house decorated by Thanksgiving weekend. Oh yes, I am a Christmas nut.
But then, last year, I discovered that Christmas was not to be. There was no belief in Christmas trees, or Christmas gifts or any real celebration. It was just another day as far as he was concerned and I got tired of him asking, ‘do you want a Christmas gift?’ I figure if you have to ask then please don’t do it because clearly you don’t want to. And no one should give a gift begrudgingly.
I tried. I found a sad little tree in Home Depot and decorated it – which seemed to amuse him but not in a nice way. I cried a lot. I did send Christmas cards but they were full of apologies for not doing anything else. For being sad and broke and
un-Christmas-y. Probably would have been better off to not send them at all. And then of course, people who don’t believe in Christmas also don’t believe in New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or birthdays either. In a phrase, last year was a bust in ways too many to enumerate.
This year, however, Christmas lives. I am about to put up the tree – even though I will probably moan and groan as I do so. I’m going to put on Christmas music, and do the house up in silly decorations and maybe tomorrow, I’ll go get some Christmas cards with Santa and reindeers on them and some smart alec saying.
I started my shopping today and though the budget is still pretty tight, there will be presents. Exchanged with people who love to do so. There will be a meal to look forward to and lots of silly, soppy sentimental movies. I’ll find a santa suit for my dog and force her to pose for pictures. I’ll drive around the neighborhood and admire the lights that people have put up. I’ll buy some Christmas candy for the homeless guys who hang around the park. I will celebrate Christmas this year because it means something to me. And it always will.
Maybe though by not having it last year I learned something interesting about Christmas – that it’s not so important how you celebrate it, but that you celebrate it. To me, there is something fundamentally humane and joyous about holidays but especially Christmas. It is the time of year that we let our guards down – we show our love for our fellow man and friends and family and neighbors. It’s special. No matter what your religious beliefs, it is kind, warm, caring, fun, happy, giving. It brings out the best in (most) of us. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So, I hope all of you out there are celebrating too, in one way or another. That you are feeling the Christmas glow, or love or joy or warm fuzzies. I hope that you are feeling your own giving and kind nature and reveling in it and sharing it with others. Christmas lives. In all of us.
The only thing certain that you can absolutely rely on in life, is change.
No matter how secure, content and safe you may feel in your life, with your friends, family or job – it can change in an instant. A fraction of a moment. A shard of time.
Your friends can turn their backs, your spouse could find someone new and your company could go out business without warning.
Or…the country that you love could be attacked on a beautiful late summer morning. The building you work in could be transformed from a benevolent old friend into a blazing enemy determined to destroy all within and without. Your countrymen could be murdered for a sin no greater than being in the wrong place at the wrongest of times.
Never forget the way that day changed all of us – please.
I humbly dedicate these words to all the victims of September 11th, their families and loved ones, and to we who mourn the loss of that day, still.
Christine is changing here, check it out.
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