Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Write Way

I think it has been well established that I tend to learn lessons the hard way. And I've once again committed to write.

It's only a couple days until we start November. And I've signed up for NaNoWriMo, pledging to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I did this last year. And I have to admit, it was effective. My word vomit (formatted to look like a novel) has begun to take shape. Instead of it becoming a novel in the truest sense of the word, it has become a short story collection, wrapped within the adventure of a road trip to see the Northern Lights.

I'm calling it Trapped in the Badlands & Other Natural Disasters.

It's not exactly memoir, though it is certainly rooted in my life and my experiences. And it will be the manuscript I will workshop during my March writer's retreat in Ireland. The retreat is called Singing Over the Bones, and it explores female myths and archetypes. I've got quite a few bones to sing over.

I've got a couple story ideas to chew on for the next month. But for the next four weeks, Badlands will sit and ferment. Which is good. It's helpful. It will show me the way through some subtly tricky plot points in a couple of the stories. Some personally painful stories.

But art should be hard. Writing should be emotional. What's the point if art's creation and consumption does not induce feelings?

Anyway, I'm off to write 50,000 words. I'll keep you all up to date about the progress.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Butcher’s Bill

Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson was an officer in the Royal Navy during the war against Napoleon, noted for his genius regarding battle strategy and tactics.

Before retiring to his cabin for the evening after a day of battle, he would shout to his orderly, “What’s the butcher’s bill for today?”

In other words, what is the casualty count?
A couple weeks ago, I was flying into Newark on an early morning United flight. It was a beautiful September morning. And it did not escape me that it was almost 14 years ago to the day that another United airplane was flown into Lower Manhattan. Every other time I had been to New York, I flew into either Kennedy or LaGuardia airport. I don’t remember those flights ever offering up the view of the city nearly as beautiful as the one I was getting onboard the flight to New Jersey. As we were turning for the final approach, we were over the Hudson River. With an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty. And the sun reflecting off the recently opened One World Trade Center.

There is really no better word for what I was feeling than patriotic. I was thinking about how we are a nation of immigrants, whose first glimpse of our country was that statue of a woman whose lamp would lead them home. I was thinking about how we rose from the ashes of an unparalleled terrorist attack with literal and figurative grace and beauty.

Yeah, those were short-lived feelings. Because, soon after I was thinking of the Syrian families risking their lives to flee their homes for not much more than giving their children a chance at a better life. And Europe is not doing enough. And the US is not doing enough.

Aside--Don’t you think that Europe owes a tremendous karmic debt for what they allowed to happen during WWII? Just sayin’.

Then I thought about the window dressing our country displays in a ridiculous stage show of artificial safety. Just that morning, I had to take off my shoes to walk in stocking feet to the body scanner. Which didn’t effectively persuade the TSA that there was nothing on my knee other than my kneecap. So before I was allowed the dignity of footwear, I got a pat down of my legs.
Last week, there was another school shooting. Sadly, when I first saw the footage on the break room television, my first thought was not, “Oh no!” It was, “Now where?”

So what’s the butcher’s bill? 

What’s the tipping point? At what point will our country cry uncle and take a serious look at our problem we have with guns?

I understand that the Constitution gives us the right to have guns. We have that freedom. And if I suggest that we, as a country, revise our current gun accessibility, the first response I will hear is “It’s our 2nd Amendment right!”

Aside--It has only been very recently determined by the Supreme Court that the 2nd Amendment applied to individual rights to own guns. All previous interpretations (decades of interpretations) of the Court determined that the 2nd Amendment was preserving the right of States to maintained well-regulated militias. And note the wording of the Amendment. It says it right there. Well-regulated.

So, OK. We have the freedom to have guns. But I think the discussion needs to be this. What is the price of that freedom?

Walking through a metal detector in order to see a movie? Metal detectors are being installed in theaters across the country.

Having your bag search when you go to a concert? A sporting event? Disneyland? Apparently I waive my right to privacy if I want to ride Space Mountain.

But what about this one. Every morning, when you send your child off to school, you have a fleeting thought, wondering if he will make it home safely that night. Wondering if he will be shot. Is that freedom? Is that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? We need to--as a county--have a conversation about guns.

On October 21,1805, during his final victory at the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson was shot and killed.