Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Letter to Myself While Recovering from a Virus

Image source:https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2796/4215836509_55a8b7a7ce.jpg

Dear Priya:

You were sick last week. You are sick this week. Because of that sickness, your writing output went down. That is nothing to be ashamed of. You still managed to write a fantastic artilce and now you are fighting to get back on track and prove that you are not a waste. I say this because the negative thoughts need to battle with ongoing affirmations. You already know that you are not a waste. You submitted two columns this week, and have sent off a story to an anthology.

Not everyone can write when sick. Neil Gaiman suffered acute meningitis and couldn't write for months afterward, until he produced the brilliant "Problem of Susan". Probably there are other writers that were bedridden and needed to muster the energy, just as you have. While your nose is still runny, and you have a mild headache, the sickness isn't making your head fuzzy.

Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5606/15552378181_94ebe34801_b.jpg

The blog hasn't updated for about two months, not since Valentine's. That's because you are making a transition to another blog that has a Wordpress-based server. You also hope to post more optimistic content, since the most recent draft concerns the closing of Ringling Brothers, and you have content on your phone that you need to translate over to it. That blog will update more frequently and have constant feedback.

Reminders for this week: You will be attending RetroCon 2017 this weekend, at the Miami Airport Convention Center. You will be selling books with Phil McCall III and ideally show off your writing repertoire. You are also filing taxes for the first time, and learning what income to track. A writer's friend wants content for an introversion contest, and a column about literacy activism has a deadline on the 23rd. You also need to update your blog with a proper profile picture, an Instagram, and probably a buffer of more positive posts about writing and gaming.

Image source: https://i0.wp.com/floridasupercon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FLORIDA-supercon-site-header-logo-1200PX-blue.jpg?w=1200

Spring is here. You know it's spring because the curry leaf tree has new tiny leaves, a sign of warmth. The sun warms the water when you swim, and the air when you run. Starlings fly in and out of the hole in the roof, smugly noting that you and most people cannot reach them. A hole and leak sprung in the house library, which led to a lot of waterlogged books, but you managed to save most of them and will later figure out which ones should go to donation or recycling. There's still time to read through all the books on the shelf, to see what treasures you have missed.

In short, don't blame yourself for getting sick and not being able to write. It happens to the best of us. Your mother broke her arm, and so she could not cook. You learned to hone her recipes. You are writing now, and you are back on track. Reusing the tools that worked before, like writeordie.com, has proved a huge help. This morning you looked over one of your drafts as well as the comments that a thoughtful reader left on such a story. Sunday you did the same thing, on a tale that you wrote two months ago during a tough time and which nevertheless came out fairly well. You mailed a Netflix envelope without a problem, using priority mail, and you managed your Treasurer dues at Toastmasters. What's more, you are still creating.

Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Stipula_fountain_pen.jpg

Write on now, while you are healthier. Find ways to return to fiction, and to remember the deadlines and self-imposed goals. Camp Nanowrimo may have gone off to a rocky start, but you can still add more to the black comedy about trolling. You can block out the events that really happened, and add fiction to make a dysfunctional family lovable. The story you have coming out this year from Alban Lake will prove a treasure. You have someone you trust reading it, and hope to poke them in two weeks if they don't respond. Other emails will get responses, courtesy of you.

Good luck, Priya. You will master this week's goals. Feel better after the runny nose goes away.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Start of the Year: On Loving and Living

I have a draft of a post about the Ringling Bros. Circus closing, but with the current events of the past week it feels inappropriate to post about nostalgia when an unconstitutional executive order is tearing families apart and has killed more than thirty people. That will have to wait for another day.

Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5463/9613456054_886486eff5_b.jpg

Things have changed. On one hand, people are more united against anything our current president mandates, in due part to his not having signed off on any beneficial executive orders. On the other hand, our republic has turned into a dictatorship within a week. Most news items are train wrecks. My opinions and fears have caused me to doubt some people while allying with others.

Despite all this, we have to keep living. We have our jobs, our hobbies, and our families. While we make donations and spread the news, the dogs need walking, the dishes need cleaning, or our library books need returning. Sometimes living in the face of such disaster feels surreal. Yet we have to keep going through the motions, to find meaning in the little things while not knowing when the end comes. Sometimes watching other dogs, like the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl helps.

Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7340/12280786944_b0750a7036_z.jpg

Loving isn't that much different. We say that love is eternal, and in some cases it is with families and with good friends. When love ends, however, say for a fictional work or for someone we once admired, our heart breaks. Hearts don't care if Orson Scott Card once wrote books with diverse casts and now shows racism in his diatribes; they fragment, and repair slowly. Yet, as Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton puts it, despite love taking our feelings and our hearts, "we keep loving anyway, we laugh and we cry, and we break, and we make our mistakes".

Valentine's Day is coming up, and it usually focuses on romantic love. This year, I think I'm going to focus on all kinds of love. We writers are more than romantic beings. We adore the craft, we adore the authors and books that came before us and that are coming out now, and we love the readers. We also love the people that support us, and the fictional characters that come to life. My friends have been there for me during the past two months, and so have my family.

Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/-LOVE-love-36983825-1680-1050.jpg

On Valentine's Day, I'll explore different kinds of love in detail, since at the moment the definition feels murky. The patron saint Valentine died converting people to Christianity; that sort of sentiment doesn't reflect the candy and flowers of today's holiday. I'm going to attempt to appreciate love again, and simply joys from knowing a person or an object is in your life. I'm also going to attempt to love living.

We are living in tough times now, but living is the greatest source of rebellion. The best way to fight an attack on the arts is to make art. The best way to fight injustice is to expose it. The best way to care for innocent strangers is to spread their stories, and to never let them go out of mind. We need to love those strangers and lend our hearts to them, to give them the chance that we gave.