Thank You Authors

We all have our favourite authors.  Those stories they wrote opened our eyes to a new way of seeing the world.  We became different people after wading through the words they arranged on the pages.  Since I have started writing a book, I realized just how special this group of people really are and I wanted to say thank you for all you do.  Not just as a reader but as a fellow writer trying to learn the craft.  So here’s my thank you list:

Thank you for your imagination

Without your gift of imagination there would be no stories to be told.  There would be no dragons or magic or time travel.  How would we travel through time and space from the comfort of our bedroom otherwise?  How would we escape reality?

Thank you for your perseverance

The task of writing a book is a long and arduous one.  Many of the stages are hard and dreary exercises.  Without your perseverance through these difficult tasks we wouldn’t get to enjoy the journey your book will take us on.  We wouldn’t get to fall in love with your characters and be crushed by their deaths.  We would never see the world as they do.

Thank you for your attention to detail

You set the mood, the tone, and the setting.  By sprinkling descriptive detail throughout your prose you transport us to a place we can touch, smell, taste, hear, and feel.  When done correctly you don’t just read about the cold draft, you feel it on your skin.

Thank you for putting your heart and soul out there

Anyone who produces art, in whatever form that is, pours their heart and soul into the work.  Alan Rickman told a reporter once that if anyone wanted to know him better all they had to do was look at his work.  He was in his work.  Authors are no different.  The stories are not an exact representation of yourself as a person but look closely and you’ll really see the author.

Thank you for dealing with rejection and still publishing

We’ve all heard the Chinese/Japanese proverb “Fall down 7 times, get up 8”.  If this doesn’t sum up an author’s life I don’t know what does.  Every author deals with rejection but, lucky for us, they keep going.  The thought occurred to me that if some of my favourite authors had given up, my favourite stories would never have been published and they would be hidden from the world.

Thank you for being such a supportive community

Not only have my favourite authors helped me through some tough times in life, I have found the whole community of writers to be quite supportive of each other.  No one understands the struggles of being a writer as well as another writer.  They pick each other up when they’re down, they give their opinions with honesty, and they help each other to achieve success.  Even in a highly competitive market, they still help each other.  What a special bunch.

So if I could hug you all I would because you make the world a better place one word at a time.  Please don’t ever stop sharing your gift with the world or someone else will never get their favourite story written by their favourite author.

Thank you!

Us VS Them: The Irony Of Conflict

The same things in life that bring us together tend to divide us.
Us VS Them: The Irony Of Conflict

 

 

 

 

 

When writing a story they say if you don’t have any conflict, you don’t have a story.  The struggle of overcoming obstacles is what drives the characters along their journey.  Writers spend quite a bit of time trying to come up with new and inventive ways to get our characters into, and then out of, trouble.  But my youngest son asked me the other day, why do so many bad things have to happen in stories?  That got me thinking about the different aspects of conflict and the fact that while some of us try to avoid conflict, the truth is that our society is fueled by it.  Just look at any headline news story.  Are we hardwired to respond to conflict?

While thinking about the subject an interesting thought occurred to me.  I thought about all of the things in life that bring people together and about the things that tend to divide us as a society.  Many of those things are one and the same and they are the source of much conflict in our own lives.  Religion, politics, sports, race, gender, and class are just the tip of the iceberg.  How ironic that the very things that unite us in life are also the things that divide us.

You cheer for your favourite sports team which makes all the others the enemy.  You believe in one religion which automatically dispels all others.  If you align yourself with a certain political party then all the others are dismissed as phooey.  By choosing to associate with one group there is, by nature, a separation from other groups.  It leads to an US VS THEM mentality that can go too far.

We like the “US” group.  They are the same as we are.  They think, act, and maybe even look the same as we do.  They are our tribe, our people.  We treat them with love, respect, friendship, and understanding.  Any transgression by these people will be quickly forgotten.

But for those who are part of the “THEM” group, watch out, for they oppose everything the “US” group stands for.  They think, act, and look different and we don’t like different.  No, different must be bad.  How could anyone act, think, or be like “THEM”?  It’s easy to hate and disrespect someone who is different from you.  They are not accepted like the “US” group is, their transgression will never be forgotten.  They are easy targets because they are different, they must be the enemy.  We don’t understand them and we fear what we don’t understand so we attack them.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Relating to others like us in group situations is a normal and necessary part of being a human being.  We need a sense of friendship, community, and belonging.  Wanting to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves is not only desirable, but important.  Like-minded people can accomplish great feats in this world but they can also be responsible for terrible feats.  Anytime being part of one group makes all others the enemy trouble will follow.

Nothing drives a good story like conflict
Us Vs Them: The Irony Of Conflict

Having a different religion or political party or sexual preference doesn’t make you the enemy, it makes you a person with a different way of looking at the world.  Let me say that again.  Those with a different view from yourself are just PEOPLE with an opinion that opposes your own.  They are not necessarily wrong, they are not a target, and they are certainly not the enemy.  And we still have to all live together on this big blue bowling ball.  I cannot even believe the news anymore with all the hatred and intolerance.

The very things that bring us together also cause us to be divided but when did we get like this?  When did we learn to thrive on so much conflict.  When did we become so intolerant of anyone different from ourselves?  I think we’ve always been this way.  Wars, class structure, borders, political parties, sports teams, gender, race… .  They are all just examples of how we sort ourselves into groups and by being a part of one group we are automatically different then the other groups.  Differences lead to misunderstanding, misunderstanding leads to intolerance, intolerance leads to hate, and hate leads to unspeakable acts.  It’s easy to attack an enemy and not think of them as a person.

We have all the tools we need to live in a world with less conflict but we choose not to use them.  We have chosen not to change as a society.  Open-mindedness and tolerance would go a long way to reduce conflict.  But conflict drives a good story and we do love a good story so that must mean that we love conflict.  And while conflict does make for good stories for authors to tell it doesn’t reflect all that well on us as people.  Are we just hardwired to not get along like siblings locked in a perpetual rivalry?

Imposter Syndrome... Take Off The Mask

Imposter Syndrome… Remove The Mask

The Truth In Fiction

Writing fiction is amazing as you get a chance to explore a great many truths while spinning tall tales.  All fun and games, right?  Not so fast.  Through a fantasy world we can take a deeper look at the human condition, social injustice, and all those subjects that we like to ignore.  We can climb into the dumpster of humanity and root around for a while to see what we dredge up without it feeling preachy.

As of late, I’ve been dealing with more of a fiction in truth so I thought I would share a bit of that experience.  This feeling that I’ve been having lately is not a new one but it has risen to an all new level.  It’s been around, like an old friend, for most of my life but ,unlike an old friend, it only brings crippling fear and self doubt.  Not much of a friend but it is 100% committed to following me around so I figure I better learn to deal with it better.    No longer is this an unidentified, mysterious feeling.  It has a name.

Imposter Syndrome

So what is imposter syndrome?  It’s the feeling that you are a fraud and that at any moment you will be found out.  That you have skated through school, a job, a career, life on luck or a fluke.  You don’t belong here… you’re not good enough… just wait until your secret is discovered.  Even with evidence contradicting these feelings they just can’t believe that it’s true.  All evidence to the contrary is thrown out with extreme prejudice while any faults or failures join a long list of concrete, irrefutable evidence proving the fraud.

This problem affects a huge portion of successful people at all stages of their career or life.  So whether you are a struggling writer just beginning your career or a successful CEO of a fortune 500 company you can both believe these negative thoughts.  Many great thinkers and highly regarded people think that they are frauds despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Just search the internet on this topic and you will be quite surprised by the names that pop up.

Imposter Syndrome...Take off the mask
Imposter Syndrome…Take off the mask

Are You An Imposter Or Just Feel Like One

So I guess I’m in good company with these feelings that keep me up until two in the morning.  Where are these great thinkers at that time?  We could have some interesting conversations.  Lucky for me social media is a haven for authors and other friends who are also up at that time with their own insecurities.  But as a writer who is still learning the craft and making many mistakes these feelings could be validating an actual truth.  Maybe I don’t have the skills to pull this off but only time will tell that not the little voices in my head.

Like I said before, this is not a new feeling for me and when I look objectively back at my past the fiction doesn’t match the evidence.  Not that I believe it.  I didn’t accomplish much in high school but I got by.  In college I worked hard and was rewarded with excellent marks.  I  worked hard to improve constantly and become a respected paramedic who did a lot of good in my career.  But I always felt like a fraud.  I could never take a compliment because I didn’t trust it to be true.  They were just being polite.  Criticism felt like it would cut to the bone as it only reinforced the critical voices in my head.  Always waiting for the other shoe to drop can be exhausting.

What’s An Imposter To Do?

Just recently this reared its ugly head to a previously unexperienced level and derailed the writing train for awhile.  So what now?  If you’re new, inexperienced, and unlikely to trust any evidence you might have, what… do… you… do?  You stop listening to those voices, you give the enemy a name, you put your but in the chair, and you finish the project you started.  You can’t even broche the subject until you have finished something of consequence.  So that’s what I am going to do.  I’m going to finish this book and be the best damn imposter I can be.  Oh, and I’m going to take comfort in the fact that there is an awful lot of imposters out there making their dreams come true every day.

I would love to hear about your journey or if you have any insecurities you’d like to share in the comments below.

 

The Little Things

I love to appreciate the little things in life.  It’s these moments in life that add meaning and allow us to pause from the busy life many of us live.  So instead of finishing my second draft, I enjoyed the welcome distraction of our local deer.  These here are city deer.  They’ve learned to eat out of the bird feeders and that it’s safer to deliver their babies in fenced backyards away from the coyotes.  They wander around the city, quite comfortable with the citizens and their pets.  It is not uncommon to see a small heard of them walking along the paths or sidewalks; so much easier than walking through the snow.  But the most curious trait I’ve noticed about these city deer is they have learned to look before crossing the street and each generation teaches the next.  They have even learned the safest place to walk on the road is right down the centre painted line.  No kidding, we watched 11 deer walk single file down the centre line with traffic driving along both sides.  So while I didn’t write as much as intended I did enjoy the visit from these beautiful animals.  Hope you enjoy my little distraction and don’t forget to pay attention to the little things in life.  Oh, and on a side note,  I wish I could have managed a picture of the big buck who was more elusive but oh so impressive.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

As a mother of two boys, I tend to watch a lot of superhero movies.  Who doesn’t love the hero swooping in to save the day/planet/universe.  Most girls would be more inclined to think of the knight in shining armour come to save them from the dragon and ride off into the sunset.  In either scenario someone enters the scene to save the day in their fantasy world.  But this post today isn’t about fantasy, it’s reality, and in our world heroes don’t wear capes or armour.

Recently, I have had two different friends that have had to assume care of another family member’s child/children and I know of two other families that have done the same.  They have taken responsibility for kids that they didn’t plan for, didn’t conceive, and didn’t intend to raise.  In both situations the kids have either literally or figuratively been abandoned by their parents to fend for themselves.  As a mother, I cannot imagine a situation where I could or would abandoned my children and I’m trying not to judge but I’m finding this one hard.

If not for the selfless act of these families these children would be left to slip through the cracks and who knows what would have happened to them.  I shudder to think.  But it makes me sad to think about the cost to these families to take on such a burden.  Such a decision is life altering, financially taxing, emotionally challenging, and relationship testing.    To go from childless to instant family or to go from an existing family to a larger family over night would be quite an adjustment.

Please don’t get me wrong in thinking that the kids themselves would be labeled a burden as they are the most important victims in this drama.   It is the situation that is the burden.  These innocent little people have been dealt some bad cards in life and so this is the hand they must play.  What kind of damage does something like this do to a child?  How many problems in the future will stem from the issues created by their irresponsible parents?  The one good thing all these kids have going for them is they all have an ace in the hole.

Ace in the hole, knight in shining armour, or hero.  Like my fiction stories, these heroes have swooped in at a time of need to help someone in distress.  Despite their own peril or hardships they have stepped up to make sure these kids don’t fall through the cracks.  They have the courage to take the situation on.  They have the drive and determination to see these kids through.  And they will make sacrifices to accomplish their goals.  Sounds pretty heroic to me.

In the end there won’t be a medal or an award for these heroes.  One day the kids will realize what was done to help them and they will be thankful.  But the people who should say thank you likely never will.  So let me say thank you to all those decent people who won’t stand by while children are at risk.  I thank you, the children will thank you, and society thanks you.  You may not wear a cape or armour but hold your head high because you are a hero!

Heroes come in many forms.  Do you have any heroes in your life?