Monthly Archives: August 2012

Political Rants Can Hurt

Sometimes you can sit and listen to hate for only so long. I’ve been chewing on the following for some time. But when I read that Ellen Barkin (I don’t even know who she is—but she’s apparently an actress) tweeted that she wanted Hurricane Isaac to “wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean! #RNC” I decided to write it. If you’re full of hate, you might not want to read any further…or do, and hate more…your choice.

Every time political season rolls around folks are quick to start hollering how “nasty” the current politicians are and how it’s the worst they can remember (of course, a handful of them weren’t even old enough to vote in the last election)…truth is, they’ve been nasty for 200 years, but don’t take my word for it, go check yourself.

BJ and I made the decision after the 2000 election to shut off the cable. There were other considerations, but among them was the constant barrage of negativity from the television…it was just depressing.

I’ve always been conservative and would rather secede from the US than worry about what people on the opposite side of the continent want to do with their own lives. Whatever that is, I say more power to them so long as they don’t try to tell me what to do. Additionally, as a creative individual and now a university instructor, I’ve always worked around folks who are fairly liberal. It was never really a problem as when (if ever) the discussions came up, they were always very civil and often very enlightening.

I don’t know if it’s that I’m currently in cubicle-land, a situation which I’ve never been in before and where almost nothing said is private, but it isn’t the politicians that bother me so much now (remember, I don’t have cable so I don’t really see/hear them that much now), it’s just people. It can’t just be that (meaning, cubicle-land), though, as it seems like Facebook and all the other social media give that “anonymity” feeling and people just seem to freely speak their minds regardless of who’s “listening” and who it might hurt. I mean, when I hear the people next to me say things like “those Christian conservative >bleeps< need to all just die” or when the same sorts of things are said by people who I would generally call “friend” on Facebook, I realize the way they feel about ME!

I had a friend once (notice the use of “once”) who used to trash southerners, conservatives, and Christians until one day I said, “so tell me how you really feel about me.” To which he responded that it wasn’t “me,” because I was cool, but it was all the OTHER southerners, conservatives and Christians. But I believed pretty much the same way all those other southern, conservative, Christians did that he spouted such hatred for that it just got to hurt my heart too much to take.

And before you think I’m all one sided, I’m not. I know there are also very hateful conservatives out there…I’m just lucky enough not to be friends with any of the real hateful ones and so I don’t hear it. And it isn’t that I don’t think people should voice an opinion, just do so with consideration of who (meaning people you probably “like”) may also hear that opinion.

So…I’ll just be glad to get the election over so that I can go back to only being hated for being southern and Christian…

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You Can’t Teach Motivation

It’s nearly impossible to be a writer today and not have attended a writer’s conference of some sort, even if it is simply as a speaker/presenter. I would definitely say it’s impossible to be a writer and at least not be aware of them. Writer’s conferences serve a lot of purposes and are particularly good, I think, for writers just starting out. For experienced writers it’s a great time to hang around like-minded creatives and yes, be reminded of all the writing-type strategies. And as a teacher of creative writing, I’m a fan of them and will encourage all writers (of all skill levels) to make an effort to attend at least one per year…even if you are going just to hang out.

But that got me thinking about all the things covered at conferences and in creative writing programs. We can teach (and learn) things like plot, pacing, characterization, dialogue, etc. etc. And if we know about them, we can be reminded of good strategies to use those tools effectively.

But there is one thing teachers/speakers can’t teach, and that’s motivation. I don’t mean fictional character motivation—we can teach that (even if hardheaded students aren’t willing to learn!), but what I mean is writer motivation. Yes, I believe teachers can inspire and encourage and think we should work to do that (but I also think if you love what you do, that’ll come through in the teaching)…but there’s nothing I can really do (not just me, all teachers) that will make a writer give us time on Facebook, or television and write…and then write some more…and then do more writing after that. And then when they’re done writing, finish up with a little more writing.

I don’t know who said it, or I’d give the credit, but I recently read it takes 10,000 hours for someone to reach the stage of successful whatever it is they do. SO, a musician must spend 10,000 practicing in order to reach the level of professional…and so on. So many writers think they’ll slap it down on the page and then they’re done. Oh, maybe an “editing” revision to look for typos and misspelled words—but some don’t even do that!

And with the Olympics just finished (it IS finished now, right?), we’re reminded of all the hard work and HOURS that these athletes (even the ones who lost) put in just to make it there. It takes motivation to force yourself to spend that kind of time practicing. It’s the “WANT TO” of achieving success.

That’s not something that can be taught…it has to come from within.

So whatever it is you do…how bad do you want it? Do you want it bad enough to spend 10,000 hours to get there?

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