NaNoWriMo wrap up: The big secret.

I’ve spent a day recovering from National Novel Writing Month and I’m happy to report that I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in my third novel of the Synchronicity trilogy and I won. What did I win? Well, this:

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

Which is really just a fancy way of saying I can feel huge accomplishment in the fact that I spent a month writing and not procrastinating. Because, as we all (especially my high school chemistry teacher) know: Procrastination is the thief of time. Especially for writers.

Every time I do this to myself, I think I’ll come out of November knowing what’s so magical about National Novel Writing Month. If you survive it and actually manage to stick with it and hit the goal, you feel like you should know something more than what you did when you started. You should be privy to some spectacular secret that J.K. Rowling and Stephen King knew and chose not to tell you.

Guess what?

There’s no secret. There’s not even any real magic.

The purpose of National Novel Writing Month is to serve as a reminder of what J.K. Rowling and Stephen King actually did tell us. Writing is fricking hard work. And the only way to accomplish anything is to stick the hell with it. Every single day. Pounding the keys and writing and rewriting and beating your head against your desk if that’s what it takes to loosen the words up. Writing sucks. Writing is like flying. Writing is the ultimate in time-sucking, frustrating, awe-inspiring (for you if nobody else), wasteful, necessary vocation in the world.

And there you have it. It’s a vocation. A job. It’s work. And that’s what the secret is. If what you write is worth it to you, you’ve got to write it. Even if nobody else ever reads it and you drive yourself nuts getting it out of your head and onto paper.

Because anything worth having is never, ever easy.

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How steep is the high road?

Was it really just a week ago?
 
I took a picture of my daughter on election night. Her face is lit with hope and belief that our country could unite under a woman president. That we could cross that threshold into a new era. She’s holding two American flags. I can’t look at that picture without tears in my eyes, because I remember the look on her face the next morning when I told her who our president-elect was. Resigned disappointment.
 
I know why that resigned disappointment bothers me so much. It’s because that’s an adult expression, and I saw it on my nine-year-old daughter’s face. Acceptance when you really want to scream and shout, but you know you have to move on with life in the face of disillusionment.
 
For the past week, I’ve been torn. I half want to go burn Trump in effigy, but the other, cursedly practical half of me knows that’s the wrong thing to do. I want to protest and scream and shout, but I know it’ll do about as much good—and probably look like—a toddler in the middle of a toy section who’s been denied a bauble she particularly wants.
 
I wanted Hillary Clinton to be our president. I wanted it with all my heart. I wanted our country to vote for tolerance and inclusion and love.
 
I didn’t get that.
 
I got President-elect Trump, and the idea fills me with dread. But I’m still not going to say he’s not my president. I’m not going to move to Canada. I’m not going to burn the flag. What I’m going to do is stay informed, read the news, know what he’s doing and what it means for our country. If he institutes policies I don’t agree with, I will protest those policies. And in two years, I will vote again. And two years after that, I will vote again.
 
Persistence in the face of disappointment is what’s called for here. My nine-year-old knows that. I hope the rest of the country gets it too.
 
#GoHigh #StrongerTogether #LoveTrumpsHate

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What’s the use of being an optimist if you can’t just decide it’s gonna be OK?

I’m a glass half-full kinda gal. I had hoped to wake my daughter up this morning to the news that we have the first ever woman president. I couldn’t do that, and part of my heart is broken because of it.

Still, there’s what’s left of the water in the glass. How do I call it? I’m choosing half full.

This is an opportunity for us as a nation. There are a whole lot of things we can do with these election results and the coming four years. We now know we are a nation divided. Let’s start filling in that chasm. And here’s what we can fill it with: Hope.

Don’t lose hope. Whether you’re gay, straight, white, black, Hispanic, female or male, educated or not, we’re all Americans and more than half of us voted against Donald Trump. Not enough and not in the right places, but those people are out there. Those voters are out there, and that means there’s hope, and that’s a good base to build anything on.

Grab a shovel, Americans. That great divide the media has been talking about is bigger than we thought, and it’s our job to fill it in. Whether you’re on the winning side or not, we’ve got work to do, and it’ll go a lot faster if we all dig in together.

And once we’re done, let’s meet in the middle and go from there.

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Save Freedom of the Press: Quash the whackjob media

wrecked-newsstand

By Uberto from Pavia, Italia (edicola esplosa foto 2°) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A few months ago I wrote a post about my fears for the marketplace of ideas and what that could mean to today’s free press (There’s Something Rotten in the Marketplace of Ideas). I’m not insensible to the fact that this has been going on for a long time. Somehow we’ve allowed conspiracy theorists out of their carefully marked “whackjob” corner and into mainstream consciousness.

Today I read an article in The Washington Post (Want to Save the Republican Party? Drain the Right-Wing Media Swamp.) The author calls out many ideas that should be whackjob conspiracy theories and instead are actually believed by many in the Republican party. Things like voter fraud, that global warming is a myth perpetrated by scientists looking to make money, and the crowning achievement of the right-wing media: Birtherism.

What is so frightening about these ideas is that it is almost impossible to quash them unless you actually do purge the sources or—as the author of the Post article calls it—drain the swamp. Yet that goes against the very tenet that we must all protect above all else: Freedom of the Press. For once our press falls under government regulation, all freedoms may go along with it.

Freedom of the Press is based on the idea that misinformation will not gain footing in an enlightened society. An enlightened society will reject what is not true, thereby allowing the truth to shine through. But the conspiracy theories and misinformation are spreading, helped along by politicians who use them for political gain simply by refusing to disavow them. This sickness isn’t confined to the right wing anymore, either. Liberal websites that spread propaganda and outright lies are popping up, too.

BuzzFeed (yes, BuzzFeed, which is becoming a news service to rival AP) conducted a study of misinformation presented on Facebook as fact (Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages are Publishing False and Misleading Information at an Alarming Rate). The study found that right-wing Facebook pages were far more likely to spread rumors and lies as fact than mainstream media, but liberal, left-wing Facebook pages were not far behind.

So what does this mean? In a world where information is free and independent of government regulation, can we believe anything we read/see/hear in our Marketplace of Ideas? Thomas Jefferson said, “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” I believe he meant that every man who reads the news must be capable of distinguishing fact from fiction. In other words, we must demand the truth from our media and be willing to turn our backs on those who do not back up their information with facts. In a world where our politicians are unwilling to tell us when we’re being fed lies, we must search out the truth ourselves.

And if Thomas Jefferson thought we could do that, then for the love our country, we need to try harder. We must put the whackjobs back into the corner or risk losing the right to a free and independent media—and the truth.

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The Case Against Donald J. Trump for President, as seen by a housewife, mother, writer and believer in human rights

NOTE: I’ve decided this will probably be the last political post I write during this election season. (Did I hear cheering?) Seriously, this is sucking the life out of me, endangering my relationships with people I care about, and eating up time I need to be devoting to my more enjoyable writing. So here goes. Please read.
The Case Against Donald J. Trump for President, as seen by a housewife, mother, writer and believer in human rights
This might very well be the last time I personally post against Donald J. Trump until after the election. I say might because I don’t have a looking glass that allows me to see the future. If, between now and November 8, Donald Trump does something else to enrage me, all bets are off. But lacking that, I’m going to leave it at this.
Here’s my case:
1. Donald Trump is not a successful businessman. In 1995 he lost $916 million and since then he has acknowledged he has paid no taxes. He’s declared bankruptcy four times, and he’s destroyed many small businesses by not paying or by paying less than agreed upon.
2. Donald Trump is dangerously unstable. He’s proven this time and again, inciting crowds to violence, dismantling teleprompters at his speeches, giving in to anger randomly. This weekend he was so angry about his portrayal on Saturday Night Live, he called for it to be canceled. This is not the behavior of an adult, let alone a man who wants to be our president.
3. Donald Trump is a climate denier. In the face of indisputable scientific proof, he says climate change does not exist. This flies in the face of science and the beliefs and desires of the rest of the world, and shows a total disregard for the well-being of other life.
4. Donald Trump is an amoral man. Yeah, I know. Most Trump supporters don’t believe there are any Christians on the Left side of politics, but I’m here to tell you, believing in gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose abortion, and that it’s our duty to welcome desperate refugees from another country into ours hasn’t come between me and my God. He tells me daily to be brave and stick to my convictions. My convictions are that Donald Trump has said and done things that other people would not be able to get away with. He doesn’t think the rules of society apply to him, and that is a dangerous trait in a president.
5. Donald Trump is a coward. His entire foreign policy is based on building walls around our country, pushing the “others” out and locking us in. This is not only impossible in today’s world, it is inadvisable. Tomorrow’s president needs to be a leader who can help us develop beneficial bonds between countries, not push our allies away.
6. Donald Trump has no notion of what our Constitution says or how to support it. He’s already threatened freedom of religion and freedom of the press. His support for human rights violations are well-documented. As such, he is totally unqualified to be president.
I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s not my first choice for Democratic nominee, but between Trump and Clinton, Clinton wins, hands down. I am hopeful that this election will result in stronger third parties for the next round. With so many varied opinions and feelings in the U.S. today, it is ridiculous that we end up with only two to choose from. However, I am unwilling to chance a Trump presidency on a gamble on a third party nominee this time around. So here’s my case for HRC:
1. Hillary Clinton is the single most prepared candidate for the office of president in the history of the United States. She’s worked her way through the ranks, advocating for children, women, and the less fortunate during her years as an attorney, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
2. Hillary Clinton has definite policies and plans to capitalize on the nation’s current upward trend in jobs and economy.
3. Hillary Clinton will continue President Obama’s work to save our planet from the threat of global warming.
4. Hillary Clinton supports gun control. She doesn’t want to take anyone’s guns away, but she does want to make it more difficult to get one for people who shouldn’t have one. If you’re a convicted felon, an abusive spouse, mentally ill or a terrorist, you’re probably out of luck under her plan, but other than that, just relax already. Nobody’s gonna be prying anyone’s beloved firearms out of their cold dead hands. Promise.
5. Hillary Clinton has shown herself to have an even temperament in the face of strong opposition. This is a necessary trait in a president.
6. Finally, Hillary Clinton will strengthen our ties with our allies, do her best to improve relations with nations that don’t trust us, and act with strength and bravery when it is required of her. She is well respected by other countries who remember her from her years as Secretary of State, putting her in a good position to step directly into the Oval Office, ready to do the job from Day 1.
So there it is. Can you make as good a case for Trump and against Clinton using actual facts? Feel free to do so. But remember, I will challenge any half-truths, hearsay, or unsubstantiated claims. Do not use Benghazi (lacking additional evidence, that has been laid to rest), emails (even the new ones Russia obtained for Trump haven’t done more than embarrass HRC), and please don’t send me articles from sources that contain the words shoebat or endoftimes.
#StopTrump #StrongerTogether #ImWithHer

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Land of the free and the home of the…

I spend way too much time browsing my Facebook feed and being shocked and appalled by the misinformation that is out there. Mostly alt-right nonsense—all of it crazy as a shoebat—but some far left stuff, too. I’ve written about the potential collapse of the marketplace of ideas before. If too many non-truths are accepted as truth, the marketplace of ideas—the very cornerstone of freedom of speech and expression—is in danger.

However, what has struck me recently is that those who are clinging closest to Donald Trump right now are those who read and re-post the alt-right websites—and those people are afraid. I get it. I’ve visited these alt-right sites. If I believed half of what I read there, I’d never let anyone in my family outside our house, and I’d probably put shutters and bars on all the windows, too.

Those websites say that we can’t let refugees into our country because they might be terrorists. We must turn our backs on a humanitarian crisis because Muslims hate Christians. Is that what Jesus would tell you to do? No, I think Jesus would walk right into their midst. He’d be kind and brave and helpful, and that is what he wants us to do, except we are missing the key ingredient.

Brave. The average American—and I include myself in that number—is not brave anymore. We’re too comfortable in our little houses with central air conditioning and our dishwashers and our televisions as our windows on the outside world. I’m not going to say we’re all cowards because we still can be capable of doing extraordinary things if necessary. More than that, police, firefighters, the military, doctors and others face the possibility of needing to be brave every day…and that in itself is an act of bravery. And even average Americans can act in brave ways when circumstances call for it—but we’d all rather not be put in those extreme positions, right?

I saw something recently that inspired me. It was on the most recent John Oliver show where he was investigating Guantanamo Bay. Included in the show was an interview with the Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Wilkerson said about closing Guantanamo Bay and releasing the men who remain held there without trial, “As an American citizen who is not a coward, I’d be willing to release every one of them tomorrow morning and face them on the battlefield again if necessary, but we’ve got a lot of cowards in the country these days.”

He’s not wrong.

If we want this country to remain “the home of the brave”, we’ve got to stop relying on our military to be the only brave ones. We average Americans have to step up our games too. Again, I include myself in that number. It’s too easy to sit comfortably in our own homes, sipping coffee and tapping away at our computers. Some of that is okay, but we need to collectively get off our asses and do something brave, too. Every single day. Stop believing the world is out to take what we have and start giving a little back. I know some people who do this every day, people who work tirelessly for admirable causes. I’m ashamed that I am not one of them.

So today I’m going to get up and do something brave. It won’t be anything big, probably. But I’ve got a literal mountain of things that needs to be given to charity in my dining room. Maybe I’ll start the process of getting that stuff where it needs to be. It’s a small thing, but it’s something.

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Our great-grandmothers are rolling in their graves

I would like to preface this post by saying, I’m having a really hard time not cussing while writing it. I am so angry, it’s literally hard for me NOT to type obscenities.

Yesterday a poll came out that revealed two things. First of all, if only women were voting, Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide.

The second thing it revealed was the nature of many of Trump’s supporters, both men and (gag) women. Their response? #repealthe19th

If you don’t get that, the 19th amendment is the one passed in 1920, after a 70-year-plus battle in which literal blood was shed by our mostly female ancestors. It’s the one that gave women the right to vote. It’s a right I now take for granted, but it’s a right that was granted extremely reluctantly by male politicians who’d had free reign of our country for its entire history.

Do you think politicians today would take it away if they could? Do you think they’d “#repealthe19th” if we didn’t outnumber them? Some of them would. Look at what the Republican Party has become. They want to defund Planned Parenthood, which is the only reliable source of healthcare for some women. They’re repeatedly ignoring the sexist things their presidential nominee says and does, making excuses for his graphic description of sexual assault. And now, when it’s obvious they won’t win because smart women everywhere refuse to vote for their candidate, they begin calling for women to lose the right to vote. And somehow, there are women going along with this?

I don’t personally care if “#repealthe19th” was said in jest. Some things should never be said. The right to vote was won by our foremothers through marches and tireless meetings and lobbying. During an event that has become known as The Night of Terror, 33 members of the National Woman’s Party who were picketing the White House were arrested for “obstructing sidewalk traffic” and thrown in a workhouse where they were beaten and tortured. They were left tied up overnight, fed food with worms in it and force fed with a tube down their throats when they refused to eat it.

You want to say #repealthe19th to my face?

If you vote for Donald Trump in November, you are spitting in the face of the women who suffered to give us the right to vote.

You know what? Trump supporters are always saying we shouldn’t be politically correct, so here’s how I really feel. If you are one of those people who said #repealthe19th, you should have your right to vote taken away. If you don’t believe Trump described sexual assault or that it doesn’t matter, you should not be allowed to vote. If you are a woman who still supports Donald Trump, you obviously have no concern for the world our daughters will live in. And maybe YOU shouldn’t be allowed to vote either.

Here’s an idea. Let’s administer IQ tests at the polls. If it falls in the idiot range, you don’t get a vote.

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