July Brings … Change

It has most certainly been one hell of a year so far, and we’re just over halfway through. If you’re struggling to get projects completed, dropping the ball on commitments, fighting to manage tasks that once were the easiest thing in the world — you’re not alone. I’m fighting every minute of the day to keep myself on track: especially difficult when I’m my own boss, accountable to me, myself, and I. My husband gets to leave the house and deal with the outside world every day. I’ve chosen to isolate myself, partially because I am absolutely petrified of catching Coronavirus, and partially because, well, I like being alone. If given the chance, I’ll go without speaking in person to anyone for weeks. Which is basically what I’ve been doing since February.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been super productive. I haven’t. I’ve slept, and I’ve eaten my weight in ice cream, and I’ve played lots of video games; I’ve read a few books, written a little bit, sent out one or two short stories for consideration, baked a lot of sourdough stuff, and browsed through way too much Pinterest.

I know I’m lucky to have this luxury, but I’ve also worked hard to create this “lazy” way of life. I’m a sprinter. I blast through forty hours worth of work in twelve hours and then sleep for two days. I work best with a lot of solitude and silence and space. Problem is, that’s also a recipe for depression, anxiety, and laziness. Add in the current political and pandemic related problems, and it’s been, as I said, one hell of a year so far.

I recently decided to step back and think through my approach to social media in general and Twitter in particular. I’ve been getting so very, very angry. I feel like I’m flailing helplessly through rancid Jello without hitting anything solid. That approach does nobody any good. Anyone I want to convince just sees a ranting lunatic; those who already agree with me don’t need to see me splashing about maniacally.

It’s time for a change.

I’ve gotten much more interested in politics since Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2013. Mike Brown’s murder drew me in to read more closely. Watching the protests in Ferguson hit me hard, and I started reading about black history, racism, and by extension American history. I found out that my country has done a lot of severely shitty things to our own people, let alone what we’ve done to other countries. I learned that American exceptionalism is complete and utter bullshit.

This set me at odds with rather a lot of people in my social circles. They’re all lovely people, hard working, give you the shirt off their backs, etc, but the minute the word “racism” comes up… hoo boy. Complete sea change. I heard people express views, with great sincerity and passion, that I’d always thought were stereotypes and exaggerations — surely nobody still thought that way? Does anyone really say “I asked my black neighbor/coworker/employee about this issue and he said he doesn’t see a problem…”

Yeah. Well. Apparently they do. Without an ounce of embarrassment.

I was already very slowly withdrawing from most of the conventions and events I’d been a part of before the pandemic hit. Now, with the widespread cancellations, and the movement of everything to online forums, I’m being forced to adapt to a new way of doing things. I’ve always hated being recorded in any form, whether video or audio. I’m extremely self conscious. It’s apparently time for me to get over it and grow up.

So I’m taking the opportunity to move myself out old patterns, including that of staying quiet and keeping the peace. Yes, I see some of you looking at me sideways — I know, I’m not exactly a fainting wallflower, am I? But I am. I really am. I grew up being told repeatedly to not rock the boat, to just work around people’s quirks, to stop being so dramatic and grow a thicker skin. Old lessons die hard, even after so many years of hammering away at them. In my “ordinary life,” I usually feel like an angry little turtle, curled up in my shell, ready to bite the first person that dares to poke at me.

When I see myself on film, I cringe at how outspoken I am, how brash, how ungraceful and goofy and geekish I am. How dare I laugh so loudly? How dare I shut my eyes when listening intently? How dare I motion with my hands as I talk? How dare I talk, when people who know far more than I are sitting right there? I ought to be in the audience, humbly learning. I ought to shut up and sit down and get out of the way.

Well, fuck that.

(Side note: If you’ve read my books, you might not believe this, but I actually went through the final draft of each one, before publication, and took out about three-quarters of the times I used the word “fuck” in the original drafts. And I invented swear words so that I could get away with swearing without really swearing. True thing. I just really like using that word. It’s so ferociously useful for conveying so much.)

I have things to say. I have the right to say them, and I have the skill to express it properly. Rage tweeting and re-tweeting is lazy, sloppy, and transient; it disappears in a day’s cycle and nobody remembers it. That’s going to stop. What I will do, instead, is choose a topic each week, and assemble a set of links and observations related to that topic. I’ll schedule them out across the seven days, and I will encourage conversation and, yes, disagreement.

Let me stop and clarify that. I won’t put up with bullshit, bad faith arguments. I won’t grant validity to anything that’s sourced from Breitbart, Fox News, OAN, or people associated with those outlets. If you have an argument to make that doesn’t trace back to those places, I’d love to hear it and we’ll talk facts until the cows come home. I’ve frankly given up on that being possible, in the sharply divided political climate of the day. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I will put in the work to present as nuanced of a picture as possible on a single topic throughout the week. Anything unrelated to that main topic will be either silly, interesting, awe-inspiring, or just beautiful.

As a companion to that, I want to talk about writing, too. And gardening-with-an-eye-to-improve-the-property-overall. Because those are my three passions right now. So I’m going to attempt — no, that’s weaseling out. I am going to write up three blog posts, even just short ones, every week: one each to talk about writing, gardening, and politics.

It’s a hell of a lot more useful then getting frustrated with Candy Crush or grinding endless pointless levels on WoW. And right now, I believe the most important thing I can do is to create something useful. I need to be able to look back over the day and say, I did this thing, look, here’s the proof. It may be one plant moved to a larger pot, it may not have been done in the most efficient manner, but by damn, I did the thing, and it’s really pretty.

I am also … (pauses to whine in distress) … teaching myself to use a webcam. And I am beginning to record myself reading from my books, and trying to set up weekly Zoom type sessions where I read live to a group. This is a huge, anxiety inducing challenge for me. Again, if you’ve seen me at a convention when I had my stage face on, you’ll have trouble believing how very uncomfortable I am about this.

I’m aware that I’m well behind the curve. All the cool kids jumped on this video stuff back in January. More likely, they already had it mastered by 2016. I refuse to feel ashamed of myself for that. All I can do is what’s in front of me, and the only pace I can move at is the one that won’t break me.

That being said, if you feel inclined to drop me a line of encouragement, it would most surely be welcome right about now. You can use email, Twitter messaging, leave a comment on this blog post, ping me via LinkedIn … I’m really not hard to find. And I’m a greedy little thing for encouragement! You can send multiple messages over several weeks, asking about my progress and telling me you can’t wait to see the next project completed. I’d be delighted that someone cared so much as to nag me!

One final note: I may be taking my author web site down for a few days at some point, to do a hefty overhaul that will help the site design and content match my new focus. Don’t be alarmed if you can’t access it for a time. It’ll be back.

All right. This post is at max length, and it’s time to get working on another project while I have the clarity in hand. Thank you for your support!

Now, go work on something small and affirming and amazing, just for yourself. Because you deserve it. All the hugs!