Seriously. I mean, what else can happen? Haven’t we already been though the grinder–how many times this year? How much more fucked up can it get before 2020 calls it a day? How many people are afraid of the answer to that? All I know is it’s thirty-six days and counting until we can nail this bastard shut. Then it’s only twenty more days until, well, you know. Hanging on until then.
Happy Thanksgiving to all…well. What else can you call yourselves besides survivors?
I CANNOT believe it’s 18 November, and I forgot to give my annual plug for National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo! Maybe because I’m so swamped with grading and thesis reviewing I don’t have time to write myself. Fine writer I am! I still should find the time to jot down something (well, maybe that’s what THIS is. But still. NaNoWriMo is still the greatest thing ever, because even if you’re not planning on starting a new novel, you can still use it to continue on with your current work-in-progress, spiff up an old one, or give yourself a virtual kick in the pants. Or as they put it…
Every story matters.
Let’s start writing yours.
Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps you track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. Oh, and best of all, it’s free!
Yes, free is always a good thing. And so is the sense of community you get . There are local chapters as well, so you can keep that community spirit all year long, with the great events they sponsor. There’s even Camp NaNoWriMo for the youngsters. In any event, it’s never too late to get started.
Now–get that butt in the chair and start creating some genius!
Yes, Biden won. He did. That’s reality. (YIPPEE!! btw). But at least for the present, I’m tired of being a pundit. I’d rather be a writer instead. But I’m too exhausted by the last few weeks to rub two coherent thoughts together (See? Even splitting infinitives). Then I saw this on a social media site, and it’s exactly what I need today. See how many of these words you’ve actually used in your writing. I for one have used several, but my absolute favorite of the list has to be cattywumpus. I have no idea what it means, maybe something akin to kerfluffle, but I’m definitely going to have to find an occasion to use it.
I will be the first one to tell you that Joe Biden, Jr. was not my first choice for president. In fact, he was probably my last choice. But let me get one thing straight: it was never because I didn’t think him either competent or ready for the job. He spent decades in the Senate and eight years as Vice-President, so he knows more than most what’s expected of him and he’s ready to hit the ground running. So when James Clyburn of South Carolina endorsed him, setting him on a winning streak that proved to be unstoppable, I can’t say I was disappointed. And when he picked Kamala Harris as his running mate–who was my first choice–that sealed the deal for me. So when I got my mail-in ballot from the Great State of New Jersey, (Jersey Girls don’t do lines because they don’t have to), I confidently dropped it in the ballot box with no reservations. So why not? Why Joe, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
Four years ago I laid out my reasons for electing Hillary Clinton. I don’t think I have to mention how that went. There were a lot of reasons why Clinton lost, a couple of progressive third-party candidates, ignoring Midwestern and battleground states, and the plain fact that people were so over the Clintons. Then there was the reality that a lot of people simply didn’t vote, turned off by the nasty state of politics and an apathy for it altogether. People were saying both candidates were awful and how could my one vote make a difference? And here’s the best reason: whatever they do in Washington D.C. can hardly affect me. Thank about that for a few seconds: whatever they do in Washington D.C. can hardly affect me.
Seriously? Ever hear of a little ol’ thing called the COVID-19 pandemic? So how many people are you having over for Thanksgiving? When’s the last time you went to a concert? See your grandma lately? How about that last frat party? Let’s all try that new restaurant! Want to go out for a drink? Don’t worry, it’ll all go away in the spring. No–not next spring. Last spring. Except it didn’t. And there’s no one else to blame expect for Donald Trump. But this isn’t a column against him. I’m from Jersey, and we know who Trump is. And I’m not going to waste keystrokes on this cult of personality. He isn’t worth aggravating my carpel tunnel. So I’ll move on.
I voted for Joe Biden because I want competence in the government again. I want an adult who believe in science and progressive thinking and will honor differences of opinion, and is willing to compromise for a consensus. I want to believe in what my elected officials say, and when they do speak, they’ll speak truthfully and without recrimination, and they’ll respect the expertise of career public service professionals. I want my president to remember he’s a caretaker of not only the public trust, but to remember he’s the president of all Americans, blue state and red, and that he’ll rely on science and not on whatever’s rolling out of the rumor mill. I want Joe Biden as president because maybe we won’t be the laughingstock of the world anymore, and he’ll respect the expertise of our career diplomats and military. He’ll remember the White House is hotel and not his private country club, and that when family come over it’s for lunch in the private residence, and not for work in an office off the Oval. I want Joe Biden as president because I trust him to hire the best people for the job, not off a TV show he watched that morning, and when he fires someone I don’t learn about it in a tweet.
Oh man…I could go on and on, but like I said, the carpel…. I guess most of all why I want Joe Biden for president is I’m exhausted, and through boredom borne of this pandemic, what I’m craving now is normalcy. Donald–you’re just not funny anymore. You’ve worn me out–you’ve worn us all out. We want a leader, not an entertainer, because most definitely, we are not amused.
I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you. You have this fantabulously good scene inside your head, practically playing like a movie, so you run to your keyboard and write it down, the words shooting to the screen like rivets, convinced you’ve just birthed genius. Exhausted by the effort, you save and exit, pondering the multitude of ways you’ll expand on it next time. But when you go back to it, whether the next hour or day or week, it reads like something out of a kindergarten class. The transitions make no sense, the characters are running into each other, the continuity seems out of a time warp. What happened to your genius?
The inability to write outside your head is one of the most common causes of angst I see with my young writing students. Oh–no angst for them–for me is what I mean. They don’t see anything wrong because until I point it out, that scene is playing in their head just as fresh as if the action were taking place right in front of them. But what they don’t realize is that there’s blanks they have to fill in, like facial expressions, reactions, settings, time of day, transitioning from one place to another, who this person is they’re suddenly talking to and how they relate to the scene. Then there’s technical things that may relate to a character’s profession or action they’re currently in. Like what is that tripod or data set or NMR tube is for. Sometimes what a writer doesn’t realize is your reader may not understand what comes so clearly to you. I say to my students that sometimes you have to explain things like your are writing to kindergarteners. With the average news site at a sixth grade level, sometimes you just have to dip a bit lower.
This doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your writing. That’s not what I’m getting at. What I’m saying is that sometimes your writing needs you to step back and let it simmer for a little while, so when you go back to it you can look at it with a fresh eye. Sometimes you need to forget it just a bit, to see where you need to fill in the crack. Like mortar, it’ll only make it stronger.
Am I sounding like an alarmist? Maybe. But as I said many times before, if you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch. Here in New Jersey voting is already underway, and I dropped by ballot in the voting box supplied by my county, at the county library, last Sunday. All voting in NJ is by mail, though you can still vote in person if you want at the polls. Since all registered voters got ballots in the mail, voting in person is provisional, as it’ll be check against the paper ballots. Am I worried? No. This is not new technology. Voting by mail has been done for absentee voting and by people in the military for decades. See, it’s not voter fraud that bother me. It’s what can happen if people don’t vote at all. Don’t say you’re not part of the system. If you’re living in the U.S., if you’re paying taxes, your are. Make your voice heard. VOTE!