Wind, Work, and Writing

As I sit here, I can hear the wind howling outside. My phone tells me it is 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and -15 is the “feels like” temperature. I spent the morning mostly outdoors, safely bundled but wishing I had put on a third layer because it was certainly colder than I expected. It wasn’t, however, as hard as I expected to work in the cold, and at one point I did think to myself that if it were a nice summer day it would be an enjoyable morning of work. Really though, it was an enjoyable morning of work. I can’t really explain to you why I like working at Avis, because you would probably find it to be a slightly dull job. But, I suppose it is more exciting then sitting at a desk and working on a computer or answering the phone, or sitting on a factory line, or maybe for me, sitting is just the equivalent of dullness. Anyway, I am almost always on the move at Avis, even more so than I am at the school job. So it was easy for me to keep warm despite the frigid temperatures coming off Lake Erie.

After I got home, I sat down to write but nothing really came up. I was going to do a poem about the cold and the weather, but no new words seemed to needed to be said about the subject. Then I realized I updated the blog on Wednesday, which means it’s due to be updated today, if I want to keep up with my twice a week postings. And since I am doing a terrible job of sticking to Tuesday and Thursday as planned, I am insisting upon myself to at least keep the numbers up. So I tried to write this blog, but nothing really came up again, and so that led me to organizing the files that are saved to my phone.

I edited three poems, and put them together as the beginning of a submission packet. I haven’t sent out a packet in over a year; in fact I haven’t sent out much of anything in over a year. That’s not to say that work has not been produced (you can find everything new on Patreon on Wednesdays…hint.) However, I have not find tuned anything and presented it for reading in quite some time. So today, I started to work on that.

I need a publication. Even if it’s just a tiny poem in an obscure journal, it would be a delight- simply because I haven’t had anything out in a while and I could use a little boost of serotonin. See, I am still very stressed out about a certain mini-chap that should have gone to press over a year ago. I still do not know what is happening with it, and have been completely unable to contact anybody. I am about to take it elsewhere, because I think I could find another home for it- I just really loved what this press had planned. It’s just a disappointment, and frankly I am not in the mood for anymore of those.

So here we are, on a day where I don’t really have anything to write about, but I feel like I have to write, anyway. I guess I just take a minute to write about writing? I have some big writing goals this year, and a month has already disappeared in a blink. So, I guess I need to get myself organized again. Wish me luck, and happy Friday.

Dead Birds

I haven’t been able to type on my computer for some time now. I have been doing pretty much everything on my phone, using talk to text or my thumbs. Currently there is not enough light for me to see the keyboard well enough, and I also generally feel stifled in the space I have set aside for writing in the bedroom. I had my own office for so long, and I am missing it something fierce. Alas, I still feel the desire to write even if sitting at the desk makes me sick to my stomach for some reason.
Today I am on my phone, but it is mostly because I am in process of setting up a new social account. If you were unaware, that massive rich idiot Elephant Tusk bought Twitter, and has caused a 44 billion dollar tire fire. Many of my Twitter folks have fled already, and many more intend to go down with the ship, myself included. However, after we sink and then swim ashore, where shall we go? I posed the question to my Twitter friends, and it looks like there are two social medias upcoming that are splitting us. Some people are going to a network called CounterSocial, which I know very little about but have already snagged my handle on just in case. It seems that a lot of people, however, are going to a site called Mastodon, so I traveled over there and got my handle as well. Hamneggs716- here, there, everywhere.
So far, my only gripe with Mastodon is that I cannot easily find my friends. I have over 6,000 followers on Twitter, and there is a good chunk of them that I will miss- so I am hoping to find them on this new app, but I am not very confident.
Quite a few of my writer friends are freaking out at the demise of Twitter, and I won’t say I am not one of them. I know this may be silly to some, but it was not until I started to expand my Twitter following and connect with fellow writers that I felt I could share my work with the world, as well. I have made honest-to-god friends through this app, from all over the place. Fortunately, many of the people that I am the closest to via Twitter have already found other ways to stay in touch, be it through Facebook or email or even one special woman who sends me Christmas cards. Still, it is sad to see something that we built- a community- go down in flames because a billionaire wanted a new toy. Not that I don’t love what the Twitter folks are doing to him…with the parody accounts and the trolling, I can feel the mutiny at hand. Many of my friends are tweeting about how much they will miss this platform when he finally runs it straight into the ground. I will miss it too. It’s not like with MySpace, where Facebook came along and was just better and we moved over there without hesitation and let Myspace wither and die. We are moving to Mastodon, but I don’t know that it’s better. I don’t know that it will have the same effect Twitter did. Someday 10 years from now, will I look back and think of my Twitter page and my 6,000 followers in the same way I think of my MySpace with my top eight? Only time will tell.
That is all for today, just a little lament for a  dying website that brought me so much joy.

Happy Tuesday.

Writer’s Burnout

Oh my God, I think I have writer’s block.  I can’t settle on a topic, can’t choose a project, and have started this blog seven times. I can’t focus to edit the WIP and I can’t decide on anything for the blog, and I can’t create something new for the Patreon, so I am panicking.  I finally have a little time to write, given that school is out for the day for elections, but I have nothing.

Election Day in the USA!  Right??  No!  I tried that topic, but I don’t have anything to say that I haven’t said already.  Any seasoned reader knows this is one of my top five holidays’, and I of course did my civic duty bright and early.  You should do the same…and that’s literally all I have to say on that. 

I opened my WIP and stared at it for a few minutes, so if that counts as writing then I am doing just fine.  And I also tried to pen some Patreon poetry, but it is lacking.  So instead I will obsess over what to post tomorrow until I finally force something out of myself that I don’t quite love…ick. That sounds terrible.

A weatherman on Twitter said that if you live within 200 miles of a Great Lake, expect the snow this weekend.  Since I live literally two miles from one of those guys, I suppose autumn is over now.  Maybe that’s why i feel so tired.  We just changed the stupid clocks again, so naturally it feels like 6pm right now though it is not even three in the afternoon.  I want a cup of cocoa and a good movie and a blanket, but I am pushing myself to live life…which I shouldn’t, in a sense.  There’s that quote, that if you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.  That is so true, and I am trying to remember that as I sit here and try to convince myself that taking a bubble bath would be a productive thing.  It doesn’t feel that way…but it is.

No.  I refuse to bend to writer’s block; I will only suffer a little writer’s burnout.  Easily remedied by an easy to make dinner and a Hulu subscription. Away I go.

A Tough Tuesday

It is November 2nd, and I have written nothing.  Nothing for NaNo, unsurprisingly, but also nothing for my blog or Patreon yet this week, so here I sit catching up on the word game while I have a spare hour.  Blog comes first, followed by a Patreon update, then perhaps I will grab 1500 words out of my WIP and see what I can do with them.  Alas, I suspect that by the time I get to task number three, I will run out of time.  I had all morning yesterday to write, but I forfeited it to go drive down and visit my mom, instead.  She is currently in a nursing home and rehab facility in Salamanca, so the drive was a little better than when she was in Erie.

She seems ok, same as usual, and I spent a little while trying to get her to communicate with me in some way, but nothing really came of it.  So, I got frustrated, and gave her a good firm talking to about how if she doesn’t start swallowing and speaking she’s never coming home, and then she just starts swallowing, as if showing off!  “Good, now do it with some food!” I said. 

I went to leave, and I did hug-a-head.  It’s this silly thing we have always done, where we hug each other’s head and say “Hug a head!” and then the other person says “Hug a head!” and it’s just this cutesy nonsense we have always done.  So, I hug her head, and I say “hug a head!”

And doesn’t this woman respond, raspy, but clear enough: “Hug a head!”

I screamed, and cried at the same time; I was so startled, and also happy.  When I was in Salem, I was sad because all but one of my voicemails from my mother was deleted from my phone, and I wanted to be able to hear her voice.  It made me sad that I couldn’t remember the last thing she said to me.  I know it was something along the lines of “I’m sleeping in tomorrow, so don’t come over too early…” but nothing specific.  Now, I have something!  The last thing my mother said to me was “hug a head.”  No recording, but at least I have this memory until her speech expands again. 

I drove home, and when I arrived, I noticed that my car was behaving strangely, for the third time this month.  Reluctant to return to the mechanic, I spent the time I should have been writing driving to the gas station and checking the oil…of which there was none.  I mean…zero.  Dry as a bone.

Checking the little tag from Valvoline, I discovered I should have gotten it changed about 700 miles prior.  I am, of course, unsurprised that this detail slipped my mind during the past month or so.  I got some oil and put it in and then drove back to dad’s house to borrow his car to go to work.  Then…it was time to go to work.  So, no words dropped, for anything.

At work there was a gas leak, so we had to evacuate to the community center, which caused chaos to reign, particular in my K-1 class.  Little kids suck at change in setting and activity…so, of course, we dropped them in an unfamiliar building and had them do their homework in the gym, instead of at a table in a classroom.  Many of my kiddos didn’t have homework because they were evacuated before folders were handed out, so really I just had to corral them for an hour or so.  Then the littles were taken down to the basement to a game room, and I manned a computer lab that none of them were very interested in once they discovered the computers lacked both Roblox and Minecraft. 

When I got home, I was exhausted, because I didn’t sleep much the night before.  I went to bed early, again forfeiting my writing time for the day, and slept soundly until I awoke to go get an oil change this morning.

You know, I really love my jobs.  They are both very rewarding, but on days like to day I am sad that I have so little time to devote to my writing.  Even now, it is almost 1pm, so I need to wrap this up and post it before I get ready to go.  I have just enough time to finish this and post my Patreon, but I don’t think the WIP is getting touched today.  There are just not enough hours in my days anymore.

NoNoNaNo

Earlier this month I set up my profile page for this years National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, or henceforth, just NaNo.  I decided I would do my “final” draft of my novel, assuming as one does that by the start of November my life would be a little more in order…and it is.  However, time is now a factor.  I work every afternoon at the school, and 3-5 mornings a week at Avis.  On top of that I have writing responsibilities, household responsibilities, deep-dive motherhood on weekends, a mother who is sick in another state, and my own mental and physical well-being to deal with.  It can get overwhelming, so why am I trying to throw 1,667 words a day on top of it?

Because I am a writer, and I am crazy.

As evidenced by the fact that I’ve been up since 3am waiting to write this, but there wasn’t enough light until now at a quarter to eight.  I am really missing my office right now…it is the only thing i have missed from the old apartment.  I hate having this noisy old computer in my bedroom, and I don’t feel as much good energy as I did when there was a door that I could fling open and let in the air and sun.  I wrote the first draft of my novel there, and I am a little sad I will be finishing it elsewhere. 

But then, will I ever finish it?

I like NaNo because it pushes me to write, and I work well with deadlines.  It helps me get organized and stay focused on the task.  Last year, I ate, slept, and breathed my book throughout the month of November, and I won NaNo, and I got my +50k words.  Just like I did when I won in 2019 with my novella, The Second Before.  The following year, I planned on starting my first draft of my novel, and broke my pinky.  Then last year, I accomplished the feat.  This year…well, I think it’s a broken-pinky year.  Seriously…there is something wrong with my hand.  Same pinky, but this time it is a pain in the knuckle.  Anytime my doctor would like to call me back would be great.  But I digress…

My point is that I feel like I will maybe give it a go, but I also think it isn’t going to work out, and I don’t know if it’s my self-doubt or my psychic abilities talking this time.  Thing is, I know deep down that finishing this is my key to financial freedom…I don’t usually brag about my stuff, but if I retained wide publication with this book, Netflix would come calling.  As a theatrical person, I can confidently say it would make a great little script.  Alas, I am stalled because…life.

I think of Stephen, of course, tossing the first chapters of Carrie into the trash, certain no one would read it.  That was me, last year.  I think about JKR a lot, too (despite not wanting to anymore,) but I imagine her sitting in a little coffee shop or something penning Harry Potter on napkins and waiting for the welfare check to come in the mail.  That is me, right now. 

My book is this lovely little cup, see.  It’s a little mishappen…think of a Rae Dunn mug, Many imperfections, not quite circular, but sturdy and simple…useful.  That is what I have right now.  I mean, I started with just the lump of clay and formed me up some pottery, so I am pleased with what I have accomplished and if I stopped there, it would still be a valiant effort.  But what I want is an ornate teacup.  The teacup is beautiful and perfect and free of flaws, usually with an accompanying coaster (read: film option.)  Or maybe I want a Yeti thermos, scientifically proven to work, perfect for on-the-go situations and new opportunities (read: sequels.)  The point is that I really love Rae Dunn, but my mug needs a little more shine.

So that’s what I intend to do in November.  Provided my hands and head and stomach all get together and cooperate, but it’s been days since that happened so I am not holding out much hope.

In other news, my reading is tomorrow night, and I have it all planned and timed and everything.  I’m a little nervous, but not very.  I just kind of wish it was tomorrow already, is all.

Unusual Circumstance

Literally had to reread my last post about Mark’s birthday because I didn’t recall writing it, because it occurred during a moment of clarity amid the stupor of illness.  And this time, folks, it wasn’t even my old foe, gastroparesis!  This time I had pancreatitis, which as far as I can tell you get from alcohol consumption…I was asked how much I drank over and over, and each time I said that I didn’t, really; they were surprised.  I have maybe a single drink a month…how would that inflame my pancreas?  Ah, but it is the pancreas, and I have diabetes, so is it really that hard of a line to draw?

Currently I feel relatively well.  I slept, a good night’s sleep that was restorative.  I am thinking of K right now, whom, whenever I ask how she is doing, replies “physically, or mentally?”  Physically, I am feeling okay; better, at least.  Mentally, I am still pissed off.  Several hours of conversation with my husband and others assures me that everything was fine and that yes it could have gone better, but no one expected me to be able to pull it off given the circumstances, so what resulted was actually fantastic given the grading curve.  And as Mark reminded me, no thing we have ever planned has ever gone well, so what was I expecting?  (See, this is why my sister is planning any future wedding anniversary parties.)

Anyway, after I wrote the blog and scheduled it to post (which should have happened Monday but definitely happened Tuesday,) I ended up going back to the ER on Monday morning, and found myself admitted to the hospital later that day.  I spent the night, and woke up in a different hospital, and then was sent home and told to rest and take meds.  So, I did, but then I ended up back at the ER after taking a nap Tuesday night, which then brings us to me getting home early Wednesday morning.  And it wasn’t even the gastroparesis!

But now I feel better, and I am trying to return to normalcy, so here is a blog for a Thursday.  Now I’m over to Patreon to share something very special, provided I can figure out how to link to it.  So, if you’re a subscriber over there, please be patient, and if you’re not…well, you’re missing out.  Particularly this week.  Again, provided I can figure out Patreon’s attachment limitations.  Honestly, I could be hyping nothing right now.

Speaking of hyping, I am away from the blog now and moving toward the Patreon but after that it’s time to time out my reading that is NEXT WEEK.  So, if you’re a local poetry fan, you should come to that.  Now…off to work on my list of work.  Happy Thursday.  On actual Thursday. 

Back in the Saddle

Where do I even start?  The move itself was hell on earth for me, but once I got settled down a little, things looked brighter.  I’ve been decorating and organizing like crazy.  I worked a lot these past coupe weeks at both jobs, so between that, my need to fully form my home, and some neuropathy/carpal tunnel/possible fractured pinky has hindered all my writing.  I did pen a little poem for my cousin though, about some sandwiches waiting for a bus. And the Patreon stayed updated.  But the blog, she was neglected.

In fact, I’m writing early Sunday morning for post on Monday because I don’t know if I will have time to sit down and write anything tomorrow.  I am surprised I can right now, actually. My hands have been the worst, and yesterday…was just terrible.

I have been quite well for the past couple months, and this flare-up came with absolutely no warning.  I woke yesterday and tried to fight it, but 10am found me at the ER, and I wasn’t home until 3ish.  Then I passed out until five.  This all would have been fine, had I not planned an epic 40th birthday for my husband last night.

Mark never had a real birthday party, so I wanted to give him one.  It was something Mom and I had planned to do together, so that made it all the more important to me. Not having her there really made me sad when the time came.  I went into full “Maureen-mode,” wanting everything to be perfect.   In the end, it was not.  The cake got burnt, most of the decorations were never hung, and I fell asleep in a chair about 30 minutes in.  Mark tucked me into bed, and then I woke up and everyone was gone. 

A nice surprise was that his sisters came to town to surprise him, which is a big deal to Mark.  He misses his family a lot, but we hardly see them because we frankly don’t have the car to make the trip often.  And they hardly come here, what with their gaggles of children and jobs and such.  So, it was a lovely surprise that they came to visit, and I really wish I didn’t have to work in two hours and could spend some time with them.

Still, I am sad, and depressed, and angry.  Sad because I missed the party I planned so hard for.  Depressed because I feel like I let Mark and other folks down.  And angry, because OF COURSE my stupid stomach had to act up.  When I called Dad for a ride to the hospital, he said that it was because of the stress I put myself under for the party, and he’s right, but it’s not just the party.  It’s that, plus work, plus a new apartment.  It was just too much.  I thought had it under control, but I need to remember that I just can’t take on the amount of things I used to, because the stress monster comes and makes me sick. 

So I am very sad I have no recollection of my husband’s first birthday party.  I am glad, however, that we have the kind of family and friends that swooped in to make things right for him when I could not.  Just the other day, Mark had concerns: will anyone show up?  Did I invite everyone I wanted to?  What if there’s not enough food? Wait, people are bringing gifts?! Why are you making cake if I don’t like cake?  I basically had to break down birthday parties for him, but when I woke last night at 1030, here is what I found:  a tipsy (but not wasted) guy enjoying his friends and family that were still there. Smiley and content, he showed off his presents like a little kid would.  Then, they decided to go to the casino, and I went back to bed.  I made him promise to be home before morning, and found him today snoring on the sofa,  I leaned in and whispered “did you have a good night?”  He smiled, nodded, and rolled over.  Good.  That all I wanted, really. 

Anyway, as you can see, I have my computer back together, and my hands are somewhat on the mend, so I intend to return to regular blogging on Mondays and Thursdays,  Patreon updates are always Wednesday, but if I get five more subscriptions that will get bumped up a bit (and I can also offer merch!)  And as for writing, the two things I will be working on are preparation for my reading on the 28th, and trying to decide if I’m going to do NaNo…I’d love to hit up my final draft with it. We shall see, since I can’t get in to my doctor until January and these hands just will not cooperate. (On that note…anybody have extra hand braces?  Mine were lost in the move.)

Well, that’s all…Happy Sunday. No…Monday.  You’re reading this on Monday.

Poetry in October

Everything, of course, is garbage.  Meaning, everything I write; meaning, complete hamster-cage liner.  I mean, yeah, I know that’s not true; just let me have this meltdown for a moment, ok?

So, October is coming up pretty quick, huh?  Many things are going on in October for me, like moving to a new apartment, my husband’s 40th birthday (E has a b-day, too,) my first weekend running the shop on my own, at least one trip out to Erie to see mom, and Halloween/my sister’s birthday, wherein she turns 26 and I finally live in a neighborhood that hands out candy.  Also…poetry night, featuring yours truly.  Clearly, we are going to talk about that, since I started this post by telling you all of my writing is garbage.  Hot, stinky trash. 

Nope, that’s just me psyching myself out.  I know what I want to do: a couple of pieces from, A Lovely Wreckage…gotta sell those books.  A piece from the yet to be picked up (Un)Requited.  Maybe VII from Me and Jesus etc.  Some outliers…the ones I really like that I haven’t read yet.  And maybe The Squirrel, and Halloween…y’know, because…Halloween. 

See, I know what I’ll read, and I know I’ll read well.  I don’t have the panic I had a few years back.  Still, old habits die real hard, and I find myself judging my work through my most critical eye-which I despise, of course.  I thought that my imposter syndrome was dead and gone, at least at the level of writing I have achieved.  This is new, however…being a featured reader.  I get like 15-17 minutes or something crazy when I’m used to doing 3-6 minutes at a time.  I’m going to have to figure out timing on my performance as well.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to go work on during this rainy Monday afternoon.  If you’re here in the area on October 28th around 6pm, do drop in and hear me read.  On one hand, I want to pack the place.  On the other hand, I’d like no one to show up at all, besides the regulars I am already comfortable sharing with.  But it would be nice, I think, to see some familiar friends in the crowd.  So come on down to Dog Ears, and I’ll read you a poem about a squirrel.

Happy Monday.

Making a Living

Today is Sept 1st which means I have held my job at Avis for a month, so let’s talk about it now that the adjustment period has passed, more or less.

Now, almost my ENTIRE work background is childcare.  I have over 20 years’ experience.  I have literally been working with children since I was thirteen…I started out teaching first graders to read during my 8th grade study hall when my old teacher asked for my assistance.  Then, I took to teaching elementary level Religious Education at my church from 14-20, starting out as an aide and eventually getting my own class for a couple years.  This was all volunteer…my first paying job had nothing to do with kids.  It was Joann Fabrics and I was let go three days before Christmas.  I learned very little at the job, and decided that I had to go with my talent, which was teaching kids.  So, I started working as a substitute at Heritage Centers, a special needs day care near my house.  This started me down the long line of professional childcare, taking me to schools and daycares all over WNY, and culminating in me becoming a nanny, which is probably the best childcare job you can get, so long as it’s the right family.  And then…I quit.

Much like I did with theater, my other profession (and a longer, more tumultuous story that I am saving for my memoir,) I woke up one morning and realized it no longer served my life. 

See, I never wanted to have kids, as I have expressed many times in my blog.  I just do not have whatever it is that most women seem to have that makes them aspire to be mothers.  Never wanted to grow a baby in my belly, and hold responsibility for it all the time.  I much prefer the pint-sized relationships I do have where I birthed no one and can return them at the end of the day.  Alas…I am also past that point in my life.  The next time a small child is really Involved in my life, I would like it to be a grandchild.  I’m not saying TODAY (kiddo who may be reading this- I am talking to you and your siblings,) but someday in the future.  The point is that I am just not at my fighting weight anymore…I can’t be chasing around a 2-year-old, and I really do not want to very often.  Do I miss it, of course, but there are other things in life, y’know?

So, I took a job at Avis car rentals. 

Confident as always, I looked at the position as a challenge.  Something new, a step outside my comfort zone, and a skill I could learn.  I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t difficult at times.  The computer program we use appears to be from 1986, and customer service is a world unto its own.  I have picked up all the basics and some other aspects, but the nuances are plentiful.  My manager (who is named Mark, like my husband, so that’s caused confusion) has worked there for a very long time and seems to know almost everything there is to know, and I feel like a complete moron when a customer asks me something and I have to go ask him.  Still, when I get the answer to the customer’s question or see how he solves a problem, I try to remember for the future.  I have been trying very hard to do this job right, and while work-Mark seems like he really needs a vacation (it’s just been him the last couple months, every day, all day,) he has been very patient with me and is a pretty good teacher to have.  I just wish I could go faster…I feel like I am constantly thinking things out.  But it reminds me of when I learned to drive.  I overthought everything and it freaked me out to get on the road.  I think I am in the same position now, but I know that driving is second nature after all that practice, so soon I will be whipping along, matching work-Mark’s speed.

Aside from that hiccup, though, everything has been great, and I actually enjoy going to work, and look forward to learning more.  And at a place where there are no children!  I mean, you literally have to be 25 to rent a car, so I am dealing with no small people at all!

But do I mis them?

Yes.  See, those babies will always be babies to me.  Take the H family…when I worked for them there were three boys, and mom was DONE.  Now, those three boys are in middle school and there’s two more kids in the mix, but I will always remember that family as it was when it was smaller.  I will always remember the then-youngest boy as the baby who fell asleep in my arms.  There are a couple of moms I am friends with on Facebook, too.  I am watching their kiddos grow from afar, via posts and pictures, but the truth is that in my heart they are still small…not starting high school or going to their first dance or joining the military.  To me, they are forever young. 

So, I will cherish those memories as I move forward in life, and I am pleased I have them, but I am ready for change.  Shall it come in the form of car rentals?  We shall see.  Maybe I will really luck out and my other career of writing will take off!!  One can dream, can they not?

Enjoyment and Enlightenment

Once upon a time, I had a librarian.  Her name was Mrs. Priester, and she worked at my elementary school.  Kevin was quite fond of her, because she encouraged reading in him and even took it upon herself to find books that she thought he would enjoy.  She didn’t need to do this for me, because the day I met her I told her, in the bragging way of a 5-year-old, that I already knew how to read, thank you very much.  In fact, I even had a library card already.  (I thought I was hot shit.)  What Mrs. Priester did teach me, however, was the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  I don’t know why the concept confused me so much as a small child, but I kept mixing up the terms, until one day she made it very simple: fiction was Fake.  Non-fiction was Not Fake.  It stuck, I understood, and she further explained that the books I wanted to read were not just called “chapter books,” but novels, and that novels were fiction: made-up stories for one’s enjoyment and enlightenment. 

I tell you this so that we are all very clear on what a novel is, and what fiction is.  I want there to be no misunderstanding, because this is the key piece of the thing that is infuriating me right now.

Let me paint for you a word-picture.  I, a writer, who lives in the Western New York region, and writes fiction, awoke Friday morning to learn of a tragedy that befell a fellow author.  Salman Rushdie was attacked with a knife onstage at the Chautauqua Institute while doing an interview.  I quite literally choked on my iced coffee, and my reasons are twofold.  First of all, Chautauqua?! I live in Buffalo and we just had a grand scale community tragedy about 3 months ago, and now we got crazies rushing stages and stabbing authors just an hour away? Not to mention, I can’t tell you how many times I have fantasized of being some famous writer who is invited to speak at Chautauqua-that’s like life-goal stuff.  And now, that place is marred, too…just like the damn grocery store.

Secondly, and more importantly: violence against a wordsmith.  I know of Rushdie, though his book, The Satanic Verses, sits unread on my shelf because I simply haven’t picked it up yet. But I know a little backstory, like the fact that Iran’s Ayatollah issued a fatwa in the 80s against him, which is basically an edict saying an Iranian should kill Rushdie. The man has been living with death threats for years, all because his book supposedly goes against Islam.  I think it’s because, from what I have read online, one character abandons the religion.  But again, I haven’t read it yet.  The point is that it doesn’t matter, because The Satanic Verses is a novel, and therefore, fiction, and fiction equals fake.  It’s not real; it’s just a story-a made-up situation in a guy’s head that he put down on paper and then an entire country took it the wrong way and decided he needed to die. 

How easily that could be any one of us.

I mean, I just finished the first draft of a book that features an exploration of the concept of religion as a shackle that keeps one from living their authentic life.  I do not expect death threats for the thoughts I come up with in my own head, but I’m sure its gonna piss of an evangelical or two.  But as mad as they get, do I deserve to be stabbed in the face for my imagination?  Absolutely not. 

So, when I head about Salman Rushdie, I was crushed.  I tried to explain to Mark why it was bothering me so much, but I couldn’t find the words.  Maybe it’s just that I am so sad that someone was hurt…just for playing pretend. Because that’s all we’re doing, really, when we write fiction: make-believe, in verse.  And I just do not believe anyone should be harmed over such innocent enjoyment.