The state of things

Lot of introspection goin’ on lately. Not surprising, given the state of the world (see photo above, taken at the 2008 Miramar Air Show).

First, I’m giving up on any kind of social media (other than blogs) again. Social media is just not good for my mental health. I’ve been pretty active on NextDoor this year. I joined it as a way to get some near-real-time local wildfire information, but the platform has become a battle ground between those who support Trump and those who don’t. And those who believe the pandemic is real and those who don’t. The rhetoric is just so fucking discouraging. I’ve tried logic, sarcasm, kindness, storytelling…you name it. Nothing, and I mean nothing, changes the minds of those in the Trump cult. Not even after the attack on the Capitol and 390,000 dead Americans. Best I can tell, of the 70-ish million Trump voters, at least 20% of them are hard core cult members. They’re lost to any normal society or logic. That’s been a hard realization – after 60 years of believing most people are good and rational, learning that “nope, simply not true”. So rather than wallow in the mud with them on social media and wasting my time, I’m opting out again. I opted out of FaceBook years ago for similar reasons, I never liked or used Twitter, and now I’m closing the NextDoor.

I wonder if this is a direct correlation of what the framers of the Constitution decided when they made the US a democratic republic rather than a pure democracy. They didn’t trust the judgement of the common man. So they created a proxy system where regions (states) would elect representatives (elite, educated citizens) to govern them. As opposed to voting on everything directly. Social media gives today’s “common man” (apologies to other genders and identities) a platform to show what they truly think, and it’s depressing.

Next on the introspection list is writing. Having some trouble there. My writers’ group pretty much tore up my latest chapters – two chapters that I thought were pretty good. I noticed a big difference in the type of comments made on my work versus the other works we reviewed. People were trying to be nice, but…I felt like I got a pretty clear message: “try again, dude”. And so several thoughts have been rattling around in my underachieving brain:

  • Maybe writers’ read/critique groups aren’t for me.
  • Maybe I’m in the wrong group.
  • Maybe I’m just not very good at this creative writing stuff.
  • Maybe I started too late in life and can’t achieve the kind of excellence I expect with the runway I have left.
  • Maybe I should play more golf. Or take up bingo.

I know, these are negative, whiny thoughts that don’t help anyone. But they’re in there and I’m having a hard time ejecting them. I can take some heart in knowing that even best-selling writers are having trouble at this moment in time. John Scalzi just published an entertaining essay on that subject at Whatever. It’s hard to be creative in the midst of two or three simultaneous historic disasters. Here’s an excerpt from Scalzi’s essay, in which it’s clear that he and I have the same fondness for cursing.

Here’s my here’s how my January novel writing has gone so far:

January 1-3: Hey, it’s New Year’s weekend, maybe actually relax and get ready for the first work day of 2021 on January 4.

January 4: Here we go! Aaaaand: 250 words. Okay for the first day back!

January 5: Another 250 words. All right, but, gotta bump up those numbers, those are rookie numbers.

January 6: Well, fuck.

January 7 – 10: Seriously though what the actual fuck

January 11: Okay, focus! Sooooo here’s another 100 words plus moving some stuff around to see if it’s any better in a different configuration, okay, no, not really, fine, but still, you did something, that’s a victory, take it

January 12 (today): Gaaaaaaaaaaah fuck where is my brain

All that said, we’re now exactly one week away from formally showing Twitler and his crime family the door and welcoming in Biden/Harris. Scalzi and I have independently declared that 1/20/21 starts the “New Year” and I’ll stick to that thought. Hope and change are coming, to borrow a much-needed phrase from 2008.