Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Next Topic: Up to You

Novel Word Count: 128,105

Day 45 of 42

In sorting through this blog (I still find it hard to believe that it's been five years!) I found a few comments from readers, one in particular, and decided to contact her (she'd left her email on her comment)to see how she was doing. She responded quickly, and when she mentioned what was happening in her life, I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to write about. I'd never done that before, but it seemed like the right thing to do. She gave me my next blog topic, which will explore waiting for Mr. Right/ waiting on God/ and how to avoid men who claim to be Christians but who abuse and demeen women. No, it isn't a cheerful topic, but I've heard this mentioned by a number of people who are genuinely disappointed and confused with the whole dating thing.

I should have something up in the next couple of days, after which, I think this is something I will do more often. Is there something you're particularly interested in? Is there something in the church or culture that bothers you? Something you just aren't sure about? Drop me an email and I'll write about it. (If I feel I have something to say) I won't include your name unless you want me to, and as always, comments will be welcome.


In regards to the novel, I'm not going back to the drawing board exactly, but I've realized that the book is going to be significantly longer than I anticipated, probably around 200k. (200, 000 words) I need to dig deeper and develop my world in much greater proportions. The story has stalled in large part, I think, because I need to do more in-depth research. I still like the story, and think it has great potential. As of now however, it looks like the first draft won't be completed until the fall. Thank you all for your encouragement and patience!

Hope your week has started well. For those who are interested, I do have a new post on my fitness site.


Friday, June 25, 2010


Day 41 of 420 000


Another day. Another city. Another Starbucks. And coffee… lots of coffee. Necessary on three hours sleep. And no, I'm not procrastinating. Not exactly. Although my novel is currently open in another window and I haven't written a word yet this morning. But I'm not procrastinating. Uh-uh. Okay, maybe a little. But I was going through some of my recent posts and realized that I offered enough encouragement lately. Let's face it, one-note writers are boring, and while it's fine (and interesting) to take note of problems caused by religion or politics or annoying people, we also need a healthy dose of positivity or else why are we bothering to get up in the first place. Yesterday, as I was going through the book of Ecclesiastes in my morning reading, I came upon this verse:

"There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" (4:8)

It's the thing I love about the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Some of the verses can hit you like a hammer. Like this one. It was written three thousand years ago, but applies to so many of us. It's a question we often forget to ask ourselves, and suddenly our lives become a whirlwind of busy. We forget who we're working for, why we're working, even though we already have enough. Years go by, and suddenly we realize that we've missed the point of it all. And through it all, change becomes almost a dirty word. That is, changing our life, reordering it, becomes frightful and taboo. Much better to just stay busy. And yet, there are always people willing to challenge that notion, people willing to re-examine and slow down. I was thinking about it last night as I drove home from the boot camp I'm running. (My day job, the one that pays the bills, is working as a personal trainer.)There, I watch and listen to people who haven't worked out or challenged their diet in years, driving directly from work to the camp, making all sorts of family accommodations for a fun but brutal workout. I listen to their stories, the craziness of our typical North American lifestyle, and yet there they are, not willing to accept the status quo. It's the best part of my job. A month ago I had a good chat with a woman at the gym who'd lost over a hundred pounds. Her whole life has been changed. How she feels. How she thinks. Everything.

As a writer, I'm used to being "poor". It's a sacrifice, if you can call it that, every artist makes, so I don't miss making big bucks and being able to buy whatever I want. Walking through a mall induces no desire in me to spend money, with the exception being bookstores and electronic shops, but even then, the library works well enough and we don't have room for a 52" Sony Bravia HD television just yet anyway. That said, the question of why, as in, why am I working so hard, is just as relevant for me. Why do I want to publish my novels? Why am I driven back to the page? Is it just about me? What I love about the question is that it centers me. It reminds me that I don't have to let other people set my goals for me. It reminds me that change is always possible, so long as I'm willing to make the adjustment. I find that encouraging. This idea that tomorrow doesn't have to be a repeat of today or last week is marketed pretty heavily in the self-help sections of your local bookstores, but I think most people get discouraged by the slowness of change and give up. Anything worth pursuing requires commitment, but commitment is much easier when we answer the question of why we want to change. For whom do we toil? And why do we deprive ourselves of enjoyment?

Take some time today to answer that question, and then take a good look at your life. If you could change something, what would it be. Set it in your mind and go for it. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish.


Note: My brilliant wife started her own fitness blog this past week. She's the best trainer I've ever seen, and her nutritional knowledge is second to none. I encourage you to take a look.

Loud Talkers, Tradition and Finding an Ending

Day 40 of 42… I think


I sat back in my chair, unable to tune them out. Despite it being the first day of the G20 here in Toronto (a colossal waste of money and energy) traffic was light down the 401 to Guelph, and I arrived at my pre-Boot Camp Starbucks in time to spend to spend a few hours writing before heading another fifty miles north to Harriston. There were three of them, young guys in their early twenties, that had sat down a few minutes earlier. One of them, who looked to be tapping out at two-forty, had a low voice that cut through the white noise blend of music and conversation in the café. Normally, I preferred to have some background noise. Writing in silence was difficult, which was why I usually found a Starbucks to work. Occasionally however, someone would sit near me with a voice like a chainsaw. I sighed and turned up my Ipod. Nope. I could still hear him. Finally I packed up my things and moved to a table on the far side next to the window. Maybe now I could- "the Blackhawks had to make that trade. Byfuglien's like Pronger. Big and fast but loses sight of his teammates."

It was amazing. I could still hear him! And that voice, every word spoken as if God Himself was speaking. This is the way it is, and you don't like it, too bad. I sighed, closed my novel and pulled out my schedule. It's hard to write fiction, to go to another world, when you're sitting next to a Loud Talker. I trained with someone like that once. No matter where you were, all you could hear was his loud voice. Oddly, he spoke with in much the same manner. This is how it is, and if you don't like it, too bad. I hated judging people, but I've never really liked people like that, and always found conversations with them an excuse for them to propagate their view of the world and every single event that ever happened and why they were absolutely one hundred per cent correct. Of course, I've been accused of that from time to time myself, so perhaps it's merely the case of it takes one to hate one.

Thankfully, they left after about twenty minutes, but I found it difficult to return from my researching (Read: mindless surfing). I'd been working on my novel ending for what seemed like a long time, but the words, which had flowed like a stream for the past two months, had been cut down to a slow trickle. I was finding it hard to stay focused and having an extraordinarily difficult time going into my world. The negativity pressed down on me – this is garbage, you'll never make it, why do you bother – and every time I brought my novel up on the screen I found myself staring at the letters like they were suddenly strangers. Writing a novel, like any creative activity, inevitably tests your resolve. Unfortunately, being aware of that didn't make it any less difficult.


Through my years of writing, especially this past one, if one thing has changed it's my respect for those who create something to call their own. Those who step outside the comforting walls (cell?) of a union or government pension to push towards their dreams. In that way, I suppose some of my past conservatism lingers, in that government, while necessary and generally helpful, still has the ability to interfere. In Ontario, the latest is the HST, a combined sales tax that will put a great deal of pressure on small business owners, people who have stepped out of a protective bubble to forge their own dreams. My respect for them had grown this past year. It takes a great amount of guts and courage to step out, to risk so much.

In other ways however, especially in writing a fantasy novel and creating a world, my respect for tradition had diminished. Traditions had a tendency to keep people in bondage, and most of the time, the origin and purposes of a particular tradition are forgotten. Take our wedding tradition of 'giving the bride away.' The one where the minister asks "Who gives this woman" and the father says, "I do." That tradition originated in Rome, where women were property, and were literally being given away. Like an animal or a slave. And yet, a large portion of the population clings to that tradition, romanticizes it. We call it sweet, when it's actually pretty disgusting. (It is one thing for the father of the bride to walk up with his daughter, quite another to claim that he is "entrusting" her to his new husband. Here's another disgusting tradition in that vein.

Another tradition that galls me is dress codes. Traditionally, dress codes have been used to separate classes. In our free market system, they are used to distinguish not only class but gender. Having worked in many church and "Christian" environments, these 'dress' codes are considered part of the school's/church's tradition. That this tradition is aimed largely at women (those nasty temptresses) is rarely mentioned. (Ironically, dress codes in schools generally act in an opposite manner for the students, at least in terms of uniforms. Uniforms can level the field between the rich and poor students)

You think about this when you're creating traditions for a country, and you realize how our traditions reveal about our national character. The next time you run across something 'traditional', don't be afraid to ask where that tradition comes from and if it's something we should still be celebrating. Chances are, you'll find that behind the façade it's nothing more than an excuse for a continuance of power.


Monday, June 14, 2010

How to Find Success


Day 30 of 42

I chatted quietly with a few of my friends as we waited for my English teacher to finish marking our assignment. Unlike past assignments however, I was eager to get this one back. I'd spent two hours the night before working on it, an unusually long period of time for a single assignment. At least for me. Although I'd been put in 'gifted' classes back in elementary school, those days were long behind me. The past year, as a Grade Eleven student, I'd brought home seven D's on my report card. As a high school student, I was more interested in making people laugh than my grades. I was determined to change that, determined to bring my grades up. Part of the inspiration was my teacher, Mr. L. Suffering from a painfully advanced arthritic condition, he moved through the school on special crutches. As a young man, Mr. L had been an excellent athlete, but arthritis had robbed him of his mobility. What it hadn't taken however, was his determination and the sheer force of will that helped him excel as a coach and a teacher. He was frighteningly organized and pointed in his criticisms, but he knew how to give praise when you earned it as well. Perhaps because he was so sparing with it, praise from Mr. L was like earning a medal.


He called me forward, beckoning with fingers permanently curled forward. This was it. I waited eagerly for his compliments on my work, but when I looked at my sheet, my jaw fell.

"C minus? But I spent two hours on this?"

He shook his head.

"You didn't read the assignment correctly. That's not what I was looking for."

I picked up my assignment, staring at the mark and red ink spilled on the page.

"I spent two hours on this." I said again, more quietly.

"It doesn't matter how long you work on something, Steve. What matters is that you get it right."

I didn't know it at the time, but Mr. L had given me my poignant lesson in success. For so much of my life I'd relied on charm and humour to get by. (I'm the youngest, what can I say) Despite the example from my parents, the concept of hard work eluded me. I couldn't fathom slaving away for hours at a job that I hated, and since most people worked at jobs they didn't like, I knew that one day I would eventually have to do the same thing. Just not today. And now that I'd finally put forth some effort, I'd assumed that I'd be rewarded, only to be shot down by the one person who I would never question. I internalized the lesson, but it'd be years before I really understood what Mr. L was teaching me.


Over the years I've bumped into a number of aspiring writers. Every writer, especially the successful ones, can tell you stories about people they meet who talk about writing a book, usually a memoir about their "very interesting life". It's usually pejorative, since they make it sound like writing a book is, you know, not THAT big a deal. And they may ask you for advice, but what they're really looking for is someone who will listen to them bloat about their story and acknowledge that if they could "just find the time", they could write as well as you do. They say this, blissfully unaware of the thousands of hours you've spent holed up in cafés and libraries scrawling away, perfecting your craft with little or no encouragement, alone and sipping cold coffee on Friday night while your friends plan their weekend, to which you've uninvited yourself because you "have to finish this chapter." Oh, and did I mention that as a writer you're also working a full time job, and if you're in a relationship, it probably only works because your significant other fully supports your writing. But you know, anyone can do it, Steve, you just have more time than I do. They're right. I do have more time. Of course, I don't have free time. And if I want free time, I have to give up something… whether it's working a full time job and being able to afford all the niceties of life… or working full time and finding time to read and write four to six hours a day. And here's the real catch; I am not a published novelist. Not yet, at least. Yes, I've published a few articles, and could publish more if that was the direction I wanted to go, but my heart is set on writing novels. And the prerequisite to attain the most basic level of skill in my craft has been thousands of hours of work. (So there you have it. Advice on success from an unpublished novelist. I'll be expecting a cheque when you make it.)

Ultimately, success requires commitment. It requires sacrifice and the ability to prioritize. Even as an unpublished novelist, I've heard so many excuses over the years from people who are unwilling to sacrifice, unwilling to put their video game down to work, that I'm afraid I've become a bit jaded. This is especially evident in systems where hard work is not rewarded. The public school system comes to mind. I worked with a number of young teachers pouring their heart and life into their students, only to watch the older teachers, who had apparently "paid their dues", leave early each day. In the screwed up hierarchy of our education system, the older teachers were usually making double what the younger teachers made, with much less investment, using the same lesson plan from ten years ago. Understand, this type of system can kill your success motor. We teach students that they should work hard, but show them that hard work isn't that important once you "get in." After working for the school board for six years, I was thoroughly jaded, and it's taken two years to erase those lessons. Two years of working as a trainer with no sick days and no vacation. If I don't work, I don't get paid. And more, since training is relatively expensive, my clients are all successful, and in watching them, watching how they work and why they're successful, I've learned more in the past two years than I did in all my years of schooling.


It's cloudy this morning, and a bit humid, with the promise of rain. A good day for writing. Two years ago I would have already headed home, seeing as how I'm working on about three and a half hours sleep again. I've been up for four hours, and it is not yet 9am. My last day off was about two weeks ago. And as a writer, there's no such thing as a full day off. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, but it's work. All that said, I've never been happier. (Or more exhausted) The past week I met an old classmate from my hometown, who told me that they had decided they were going to concentrate on their writing. He didn't want to work however, and couldn't understand why people couldn't simply see his brilliance. I empathized, because I'd felt much the same way when I was younger. My empathy was limited however. Through the years I've sold door to door, spent three years telemarketing, worked in so many different jobs that my students used to ask me what I HADN'T done, that I have little sympathy for aspiring artists who are unwilling to do menial labour as if it's beneath them. If you're not willing to work, if you're not willing to make the commitment to success, what makes you so special that you should have it? Other people are just as talented… why you?

I know what some of you are thinking. Steve, I've seen your bank account, what makes you think that you can talk about success? The answer to that is easy. Because I think that I'm a success. One of the first keys to success is understanding that only you can define what success means. That's true in our relationships, in our work and in our passions. Don't let others define it for you. Believe me, if I accepted the traditional North American measure for success, money and material goods, I'd be an abysmal failure. I choose to define my success by my progress towards my goals and the quality of my relationships. Which leads to my second point. If you don't know what you want, your life will be defined by other people. If you let other people define you, you will never know the contentment of true success. Set some goals. You've heard it a million times, but if you're not willing to spend a few nights over a sheet of paper thinking about what you really want, you forfeit the right to complain about your life. And finally, understand that what matters is that you get it right. Allow me to give you a Mr. L moment. I read different blogs in the publishing industry, and I'm always amazed at the laziness evident in the comments and questions. Spend the time to get it right. Read the writer guidelines carefully. Go to the library, or sit in Chapters and read the books on your field there. Want to be fit? Commit to it. Turn the TV off. Go to the gym or go for a run. Do you work in an environment like the school system? Set goals for yourself and ignore your colleagues who would rather complain than work with their students. Is your relationship miserable? Stop complaining and do something about it. Figure out what you want, define your success, and start moving. Don't worry about the bumps and ignore the countless people who will challenge you because your 'movement' upsets them. As soon as you start, you'll notice something very odd. You'll notice that your life no longer feels like a treadmill. You'll notice that you don't take crap from people as easily. You'll notice that people will start asking you for advice. Most importantly, you will feel alive again, because you will have control. Most of us don't realize it, but as we age we generally cede control of our lives to everything from TV shows to cynical work environments. Start taking control again. Stand up for yourself. And if some people in your life are toxic by their laziness or complaining, limit your time with them.

One of the benefits of training is watching people who have never been fit slowly acclimate to a lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating, watch how suddenly they feel invigorated again and how it carries to other areas of their life. That can be you. All you have to do is commit.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Abuse update, Facebook Stalkers, and a Novel Discovery



Day 27 of 42


    My wife was standing outside our apartment, about to unlock the door when she heard the dog's whining coming from next door.

    "Can't you do something about that!" The woman said, her voice clear through the door.

    "No. The neighbours might hear." He said. (This is the same guy who had protested so eloquently that he hadn't been hitting his dog the week before.)

    When Bethany told me what had happened a couple of days ago, I didn't know what to think. On the one hand, I was happy that at least our presence and willingness to say something had obviously had an impact. My second thought was that neither my neighbor nor his girlfriend actually understood why we were upset. Why many people would be upset. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a reflection of t heir theology. I know, I know, what does God have to do with this. A lot, I think, considering the predominant view of the natural world for the past two thousand years has been, ecologically at least, Dominionism. That is, God gave humanity the right to rule over the creatures of the world. They are under OUR dominion. And it's God approved. This idea was largely unchallenged until perhaps the mid to late 20th Century, and even for people who are not religious, the idea persists. An animal is a possession. If they're noisy, do what you want to discipline them because they should know better than to make noise when you would rather they wouldn't. As your possession, it's the animal's responsibility to learn your every want, need and emotion, and respond accordingly. If they don't, than whatever 'abuse' they suffer, is their own fault.

    By the way, for the better part of human existence, in nearly every culture in the world, that has largely been the attitude of society towards women. Perhaps it's one reason that I hate the term 'bitch.'

    I won't lie. It's awkward to confront your neighbours. They're right across the hall, and every time I open the door to leave now I have to clench up in case I run into them. Do I smile and say hello? Do I give them a stern face to let them know that we're watching them? The thing is, they're both friendly people. It's their idea about animals that's so revolting. To them, it's probably no more serious than a simple spanking to old school parents. It was worth it however, and Bethany and I will keep an eye out as best we can.


    The Facebook melodrama peaked even further this week. For those of you who hadn't heard, let me explain briefly. A couple of weeks ago I entered into a heated argument with someone in my hometown over his status comment on Facebook, a begrudging remark about the way Obama has handled the BP oil spill. My comment was both withering and condescending. Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but I was tired of the Obama comments that I'd seen which, like this one, contained no substance to it. (At least, not in the comment itself. Obama does have responsibility in the oil spill for his lack of regulating oversight.) To me, it was another Republican, Fox news smackdown, thrown out only because Obama was a Democrat, and Republicans hated all things Democrat. This produced a rather heated engagement, at which point he (a guy three years younger who'd attended the same high school) said that I was offended because of his picture. I had no idea what he was talking about. I checked his page, and sure enough, there it was, a picture of Obama with a noose around his neck, under which were the words "Rope." My first response was shock. It was clearly a "lynching" photo. My second was disgust. And so I hammered him for it. He defended the photo by saying that it was from a Lousiana spearfishing forum, and that it had to do with "Obama continued imperialism" and nothing whatsoever with his race. A friend of his from my hometown chimed in, along with a few others, and told me I was self projecting. We went back and forth before I finally pulled the plug. Enough was enough. If they couldn't see what everyone else saw, then there was no point.

Except it wasn't over.

They kept posting on my wall. When I blocked them, they used other people from my hometown, and made new accounts (including one for his cat!), and told me over and over what a "f****** idiot I was." Their language was about as developed as their intelligence. The second one, in particular, developed a particular fascination with me, citing a supposed incident in high school where I, along with the rest of the football team, had knocked off his hat and kicked it. I didn't remember it, or him. I reached out to old friends from high school, but they assured me that there was no way I would have bullied anyone. It'd been twenty years, and the fact he'd remembered it so clearly bothered me. They refused to stop their cyber stalking however. Over on Youtube, they commented about a video I'd made with a friend. "You look like an old porn star faggot." (Yes, they're the sensitive type. Hard to believe that they're both in their thirties and single.) They commented on some of my other videos. Fresh new comments on my personal website, along with more attempts on Facebook. When I finally put their names in my Facebook status as a warning to stop, well, that's when things started to become more clear about who they were. The first clue was from an old friend of mine, much younger than me, who remembered the two guys from elementary school and high school, where they'd bullied him mercilessly. Later came the note from someone who'd found a KKK video on their website. The more we peeled back the layers, the more I realized what sick, cowardly, racist jerks these guys were.

It was amazing. And sad.

    Sometimes I bring these things on myself. I like to stir the pot. I like passionate debate. And sometimes I cross the line. Sometimes I forget that it's more important to be good than to be right, that words don't always make a difference, and that sometimes words replace action. But I also know that it's passion that moves. It's passion that moves us to change, to question, to re-examine. It's passion that makes life worth living. And sometimes we need a push to get there. (Does that make me an, um, pusher?) That said, it's something I need to think about. The goal is not to upset people, but to challenge them and reignite the flame, if you will. What I've found, in every circumstance, whether someone is pleased to be challenged or not, is an insight into the emotional makeup of that individual. In this case however, what we found underneath was nothing but the human rot of festering humanity. Frankly, it is times like this I realize both our need for God, as a species, and also wonder where our Creator is in this mess.


    There are two types of writers when it comes to fiction. Those who outline, and those who use the 'discovery' method. Discovery writers do their work organically. Like Stephen King, they refuse to plot ahead, but 'discover' their story instead. Others outline their books rather strictly. Well, I've always been a discovery writer. It's the fun of doing creative work. But the problem with writing fantasy is that it's so complex, in terms of the world you've created and the promises you've made to your reader, that at some point you have to outline. Well, I spent the last four days trying to outline my final four chapters and got nowhere, and I realized that I simply can't outline. I will have to go back, no doubt, to cover my misses in the re-write, but that's okay. I'm a Discovery writer, and there's nothing wrong with that.



PS I've added two weeks to finish my novel. I'm so exhausted these days, I'll need the extra time. J

Monday, June 07, 2010

Blessings, Struggles, and Idiots

Day 22 of 28

Novel Word Count: 122,800

Some weeks are harder than others. This truism is an expected part of life, because life is filled with tragedy and tiredness, as much as it can access joy and jubilation. More exhausting, if only for the emotional gamut we are forced to travel and more indicative of a typical week, is one that is filled with both blessing and struggle. A week filled with uplifting conversations and attempted communications with idiots and racists. Inevitably, we seem to remember the idiots and the pain, they linger like a bad stench, and if we’re not careful, we miss the blessings along the way.

The sun is out this morning, and it looks like it will be another nice day. I’m thankful for the brightness of it. Normally I prefer rain and snow, the ambience of clouds and darkness usually makes for a better atmosphere to work. These days however, I find myself welcoming the sun. Welcoming the light. Around me, the bustle of a typical Monday morning at my favourite Starbucks fades in and out of my consciousness. Some people like to work in silence. I find café commotion to be better than silence, as it offers cheerfulness without requiring a response. An old lawyer, who I see here often, says hello. It’s all I can do to smile. This past Friday a filling fell out of one of my molars and my left cheek swelled to bulbous proportions. An emergency trip to the dentist. A fresh batch of antibiotics. A great deal of pain. Two days later, my face is still lopsided, but the swelling has been reduced enough to be seen in public. Threedays before my filling fell out, my back seemed to collapse. A trip to the chiropractor. An adjustment. Prescribed exercises. A great deal of pain. It hurts to smile and to move, but life moves on. As a trainer, you work or don’t get paid. I choose to work. The physical discomfort doesn’t touch the mental frustration of a recent conversation on Facebook however. Dealing with idiots is always tiring, but dealing with racists is something else altogether.

I head to the bathroom and gingerly splash water on my face, being careful around the swollen part of my jaw. Dark lines underline my eyes. Sleep has come in brief fits or not at all the past week. The pain keeps me awake. And yet, even in the haze of it all, I can’t help but be thankful. It's been a week of tremendous blessing. Last Sunday, my old laptop, circa 1998, finally died. Stuck on a half-screen, a clicking noise indicated that something had jarred loose. Although I’d picked the computer up five years ago for nine bucks and though it was incapable of accessing the internet, it was a sad moment. Especially in the midst of the final push to finish my novel. After mentioning to my wife that I needed to pick up a new laptop in the next two days, a series of fortuitous incidents coincided with one of my clients/friends suggesting that she had an old laptop I could use. Her ‘old’ laptop was in prime shape, and was better than anything I’d considered getting. After a bit of work, it was hooked up and ready. Even now, I can’t help but stare at the gift that I’m writing on. For my friend, it wasn’t a big deal, but the consideration mattered. As my wife pointed out, most people don’t even consider what they can do to help. I think my wife’s right. It was the consideration that mattered so much, that she took the time to leave her world to see what she could do to help mine. Some would describe the series of incidents that resulted in a new laptop as lucky, but I see God’s hand. But then, I always see God’s hand when one human considers another. To that end, I notice His absence when I see hatred.
Facebook is dangerous. It’s like a drug, in that you can lose yourself in endless debates for hours at a time wasting precious emotional and mental energy. Sometimes those debates are fun and healthy, but often they turn ugly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved energetic discussion, but the internet seems to unlock the shackles on people’s hatred and ignorance. People can say anything they want without the accountability found in face to face conversations. They can post pictures, like one Obama with a rope around his neck, and claim that it’s satire. They can claim that the picture, which to any informed person immediately evokes lynching, is a protest of Obama’s imperialism. Huh? And if someone like me protests that such a depiction is offensive, they accuse you of being either politically correct or a closet racist. What does a thinking person do with that? What does a moral person do with that? Especially when that individual claims to be a Christian.
The frustration here, I think, comes from that deep human longing for consensus. The optimistic idea that if we just share enough information, we’ll be able to come to an agreement on right and wrong. Perhaps the likelihood of that happening is more realistic in person, because the more I read comments on Facebook and forums and online newspapers, the more disgusted I become with my species. As a novelist, it makes you less than optimistic when you are discovering your characters. Sketching characters with courage and class seems a stretch, almost too unbelievable. Is there a solution? Probably not. Avoiding Facebook discussions, perhaps. The truth is that there will always be people who think human suffering is entertaining, people who care more about their own world and microscopic existence than the world around them. The internet has simply given them a bigger voice. Important though, that we don’t allow ourselves to get trapped there. It’s too easy to forget the blessings. Of course, what do I know? According to some, I’m a "f******, self-projecting idiot" and a Christian who “allows people to parade the rainbow through the streets of Toronto every summer because its politically correct and casually forgets the significance the rainbow received when the Lord presented it to Noah as a covenant.” If you can understand that statement, you’re a better person than I am, and probably better suited to spending time on the Internet.
The final push continues on the novel. For those of you who are writers, I discovered a terrific podcast this week. http://www.writingexcuses.com/ with Brandon Sanderson. He’s the writer who has taken over Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Excellent fifteen minute podcasts filled with useful and encouraging information. You can find them for free on iTunes. I hope to be back before the week is out, but it will all depend on how well the work goes. Cnsidering the week so far, I might be back just to vent.