I love superhero movies. Sure, the acting isn't always so good, and the screenplay often sucks, and the CG-animation is generally far from believable, ha, but I love the unwavering sense of purpose and drive to focus that energy on something positive. I also love that the underlying message in most superhero movies is that you don't really need superpowers to be a superhero.
I FINALLY saw Wonder Woman this past weekend. (I know, right!?) But I didn't leave the theater with my usual high. I left heavy-hearted, thinking about Heather Heyer's death in Charlottesville during the counter-protest of the alt-right and white nationalist rally on Saturday. As if that isn't enough, it weighs heavy on me that her death was due in part to having a plutocratic bigot running the country right now, and in larger part to his glorification of sexism and racism during the "election," empowering an uprising of fascists marching in the streets, and now mowing down peaceful protestors with a car.
The gray lines in U.S. politics are fading. Most are already gone, replaced by a heavy-handed divide of good and evil. Many had chosen a side long before the election. Some have switched sides since, often for the better. But the outcome of this past election was especially troubling for many of us because we saw so clearly how many had chosen the wrong side and why. And too often they were our own friends and family. Finding out your sibling, parent, or grandparent, etc. is in league with General Zod is never easy. I know firsthand, having experienced that rude awakening myself.
Fortunately, superhero movies also teach that unity is often the most effective way to defeat evil. Not superpowers. Not even money. Post-election, I felt a sense of healing and renewed hope while participating in the Women's March in Las Vegas. That powerful, unified voice was heard around the world at a record-breaking volume. And I have and will continue to resist the Trump administration in every legal way possible. Real life superheroes like Heather Heyer who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way (what it’s become) and die in an effort to better humanity cannot die in vain by allowing her murderer to scare us away from future protests—such an important way to be heard. Heyer wasn’t the first, and she probably won’t be the last. But if we organize, unify, and make our voices heard in every way possible, there will be far fewer lives lost than if we sit idly by while Orange Ares seduces an army of Alabaster Orcs.
We need to be more mindful of our daily conversations and interactions with people to ensure that we are not complicit in our silence. Sprinkled into the fairly mundane dialogue in Wonder Woman were a few gems, including Diana’s reference to Cleo’s treatises in the boat scene. Ha. But my favorite was Steve’s line:
“My father told me once, he said, ‘If you see something wrong happening in the world, you can either do nothing, or you can do something.’ And I already tried nothing.”
Too many of us are now seeing the result of doing or saying nothing, whilst a great number did and continue doing and saying the wrong thing. I am Heather Heyer. Maybe you are too? Either way, she could have been your sister, your daughter, your best friend, or your spouse. Next time you’re in a position where you have the opportunity to speak out against racism, sexism, and hatred in general, think of the Heather Heyer in your life and ask yourself if the domino effect of saying or doing nothing in that moment is worth the loss of their civil liberties and/or life...because that is where we are now.
Ignorance is no longer bliss.
Like many on the night of the election, I cried. But also, despite having the support of my amazing—proud feminist—husband of twenty years, I felt very alone.
I’m an author and professional editor. I run a freelance business that requires an active presence on social media, which can be a fun part of my day. During the election, however, it became a daily dose of environmental depression due to the onslaught of obviously fake news and vitriol spread by ignorant, sexist men and women. Every day I told myself that it would all get shoved in their faces come election day when Hillary defeated the narcissist running a farce of a campaign that had accomplished little more than embarrassing our nation. While Trump's supporters pacified their anger with racist tweets and online gun shopping, girls and women all over the world would be instilled with the type of inspiration, hope, and a newfound confidence that true equality is an attainable goal.
But we were robbed. By hatred. By ignorance. By sexism. By Russia. By fake Christians with extremist agendas. By Big Oil. The list goes on. Because somehow, every evil in the world came together to help the least qualified candidate in history defeat the most qualified candidate in history and my eternal optimism wavered to such a degree I thought my election-induced, environmental depression, might, for the first time in my life, escalate to clinical depression.
I’m a sexual assault survivor and that amplified my reaction to the election, no doubt, but my heart hemorrhaged for the women Trump has assaulted, especially taking into consideration the likelihood that the numbers are far greater than who’s come forward. If I feel alone, I can’t even imagine the level of betrayal they’re feeling. Meanwhile, horror stories pouring in from all over the country regarding a spiked number of incidents involving sexual aggression from men towards women, and random acts of violence towards women, immigrants, and anyone not white have made it all that much harder to deal with. (The Chris von Keyserling incident is especially despicable.) And now Trump has appointed a literal socioeconomic-suicide-squad of plutocratic nihilists to rape our nation via the loss of civil liberties and destruction of every social program the best of us fought decades—some centuries—to establish.
Our fight will go on longer than we’d hoped; as it always goes, I suppose. Novels won’t be written. Songs won’t be composed. Art won’t be created. That energy will have to go into protecting/restoring our civil liberties because without those we can’t progress the fight for the things that should be deemed inalienable rights: the freedom not to be Christian; to love who we choose; to be born into a world with clean air, water, and the opportunity to pursue happiness, which requires healthcare. Loss of culture is the least of our worries; in this political climate, children will starve and people will die—more so than ever before in the U.S. As disheartening as that can feel sometimes, the many men and women who are speaking out now against Trump’s agenda and his high-roller donor cronies are transforming my disappointment into a bonfire of a rage-induced determination, inflamed by compassion for the sisters I’ve never met. Sisters who also often wake up feeling alone in a world where women are still second-rate citizens in the most progressive nations on earth, and are frequent targets of the most heinous acts of violence known to man.
I am compelled to march this weekend as a show of resistance to the un-American platform and agenda of the Trump administration, including the sexism, racism, hatred, oppression, and suffering that it has already nurtured and will inevitably spawn. I wish I could have made it to DC, but I'm proud to join the movement in Las Vegas. I’ve compiled the images in this video for the many men and women in the U.S. and all over the world who refuse to stop fighting or are just now joining the fight, as a reminder that you are not alone.
This weekend we march!
My interview with the kind folks at TurlBook is up! Bringing eBooks to life with 360° cinematic illustrations is very exciting business! I'm honored they invited me to be interviewed for their Wonder Board Blog. I look forward to following their launch and hopefully working with them to turn my writing into a 360° cinematic illustration someday.
>>Click here to read
I’d like to think I’ve always been a strong writer, but that just isn’t the case. In grade school, I had nice penmanship. I studied hard for vocabulary tests. I won 3rd place in the third-grade spelling bee. By sixth grade, I was deemed literate and forgotten by an education system so overran and underfunded that simply pumping out piles of functionally literate people is considered an accomplishment. I slept-walked through junior high and might have been pushed a bit harder in high school, but I didn’t go to high school. While most girls my age were sitting in limousines complaining about feeling fat in their prom dress I was headed to my second job to earn enough for rent on the apartment I had moved into at age sixteen.
Statistically speaking, my fate was sealed. There is no grand explanation for what drove me to strive for more, but there are a few, small, standout moments. One of which involved a guy at a party telling me that Stephen King had dropped out of ninth grade. That's not true. One of King’s most famous characters was inspired by the biography of an evil man who had dropped out of school and ran away from home in the ninth grade, so maybe the guy at this party had misconstrued something he’d seen, read, or overheard someone talking about. I’ll never know. Whatever the case, that silly lie was a saving grace in the bleak existence of a teenager who’d been pushed out of an airlock by troubled parents. Since I was looking for motivation to succeed I likely would have found it eventually, but that off-the-cuff comment in that moment undoubtedly prevented me from drifting through space for longer than was necessary.
I had identified as an aspiring author before and during college, but I knew it was a near impossible way to earn money. I majored in psychology, slipping in journalism and creative writing classes along the way. But, as always, my core nature prevailed, and after a Ronda Rousey style match with a stack of psych-program applications, I ended up in graduate school for creative writing. Fresh off the assembly line, armed with little more than the advice of one teacher to “vary the length of my sentences,” I felt ready to conquer the world with words. Kidding. I was a total wreck. I’m pretty sure I cried on multiple occasions during my first week and almost quit at least a dozen times.
Despite showing up to my first writing workshop with an abysmal pile of scribblings, a tiny, talented woman with a huge presence and kind heart defended my work during a verbal assault from a fellow writer. A bond was forged and she went on to mentor me through my first semester. I was appreciative for her feedback from day one and soaked it up like rock moss does water on a scorching afternoon. But I was also very humbled and admit to cursing under my breath on an occasion or two. (I suspect she did the same.) Had I known then what I know now, I would have seen the brilliant ways in which she ever-so-gently (and sometimes sternly) was guiding me in how to transform my turbulent imagination from functionally literate to a ball of fire I could skillfully wield at will to ignite others. But changes that grand take time. Time I rarely see other aspiring writers willing to give themselves.
Hell, that neat little wrap up could easily seem like the end of my story, but there were three more highly accomplished mentors and workshop leaders who came after. Each more generous than the last, given that they had to contend with a girl who at the start of every new semester was increasingly convinced that she was ready to rule the Library of Congress. Patiently, each offered up inspiring reading recommendations and forced me to tackle the weakest elements in my writing at times when even scrawling a grocery list felt impossible. Ever so slowly—as current standards go, I learned to write.
The MFA formula was an enriching experience for me, but it’s not for everyone. There are a number of ways to emulate that learning/teaching model without the extreme expenditure. Contacting any program for a list of graduates (or even professors), reading their work, then reaching out to the people you’re interested in working with for editing services is a great path. Teaching positions are sparse and underpaid, so there are a great many of us out here offering freelance writing services and you can pick our brains for far less than the cost of tuition to pretty much any university.
The most productive relationship with a client often develops when a writer is seeking guidance. Some editors may disagree, but for me, it’s nothing like trying to sell timeshare. I’ve been fortunate in having some really great people land on my doorstep. Also, some not so great—but I try not to focus on those. ;) My favorite clients are those who push to develop a relationship more like a mentorship. I relish these. Though I still struggle to skillfully wield the same fire as my former mentors and have no doubt scorched a few eyebrows in failed attempts, I continue striving to pay it forward by helping others hone their craft. All the while, eternally grateful that so many people have dedicated their expertise to helping me develop and enrich mine.