Every year, I promise myself I won’t let the emotions in. Every year, I promise myself I will ground myself and shield myself. And every year, I can’t. Those strong emotions get past my defenses. Being an empath is never easy. It’s much harder this time of year.
As I usually do as September 11th approaches, I find myself reflecting on how much our world changed on that day in 2001. There is anger in that reflection. Anger toward those who twisted a purported religion of peace into an instrument of hatred. Anger that as a nation we said we would never forget, and yet, we are forgetting. Anger that we are foolishly allowing those who swore to destroy us from within a foothold. This day of remembrance isn’t about “some people” who did “something” as one of those who has gained a foothold by being elected to Congress has said.
That Congresswoman is correct in that “some people did something.” “Some people” allowed their hearts to fill with hatred, allowed their minds to be twisted by a cult of death. “Some people” became murderers, not martyrs. “Some people” became a morality lesson of the worst kind. “Some people,” when apprehended by a nation filled with righteous anger for what was perpetrated on her people, squealed like snared pigs in sharing information. And one, though it took ten years to apprehend, revealed what an absolute and utter coward he was. What sort of “honorable” man uses his own wife and child as a shield? Hey, bartender--in honor of May 2, 2011, I will have two shots and a splash.
And, yet…my reflection for this day of remembrance encompasses “some people” – the almost three thousand people who went to bed on September 10th, never knowing they wouldn’t see another sunset; “some people” in New York City and at the Pentagon rushed into danger to save the lives of others; “some people” called their loved ones from airplanes, from the stairwells of the World Trade Center Towers, just to say one last time, “I love you.”; “some people” onboard United Flight 93 looked death in the eye and with the words of “We’re going to do something” and “Let’s roll” made the conscious choice to die on their terms; “some people” filled New York’s harbor and the East River with private boats to help their fellow Americans get off the island of Manhattan; “some people” stood in line for hours to donate blood, that sadly was not needed on that day; “some people” in a little Canadian town in Nova Scotia saw their population temporarily swell by nearly triple when all domestic flights to the US were grounded at the nearest airport, and graciously opened their homes and their hearts to the stranded travelers.
These are the “some people who did something” I reflect on. These everyday people, who became heroes are the ones I chose to remember. There is a very old proverb, which actually comes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, that says as long as someone's name is said and remembered, they are not ever gone. My prayer is these "some people" are never forgotten, that we never stop reading their names as etched into metal and stone in the memorials at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As long as they are remembered, as long as their names are spoken, they will not die. And my fervent hope is that the names of those who became murderers on September 11th are completely forgotten, wiped from memory, and never spoke again.
Originally posted: 12 June 2012
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a let-down after sending that last round of edits to an editor. There is still one more round of editing to go, but that’s mainly for typos, missing punctuation, and formatting. That’s not changing words, tightening story lines, or filling in plot holes.
And, I’m not even sure if it’s a let-down or if it’s the realization that I’ve finally let my baby go into the world, where it will sink or swim on its own merit. Any author will tell you, there comes a time when as a writer, you have to stop tinkering, stop puttering around with the words, and let that writing go out into the world. The other night, I was re-reading the critical introduction to my master’s creative thesis, and while I thought, “Dang! That’s good!” there were still places where I wanted to change things. And, I’ve had my master’s for almost three years now. If I was honest with myself, I could have written more in that critical introduction, could have changed a lot of things—but there came a point in time when I had to let it go and give it to my master’s committee.
The same with any novel. There is a point when as an author, I have to say to myself, “Stop!” If I don’t say that, I would never stop writing and rewriting a manuscript. I have to admit to myself that it’s not perfect, it never will be, but the manuscript is as good as I can make it and live with.
For a while, I was hung up on making the first draft PERFECT. Needless to say, I never got past the first couple of pages, because I was so concerned with making it perfect that I couldn’t keep writing. One of my friends, who wrote for a while, never got past that “It has to be perfect!” in the first draft stage. And, I think the world lost a wonderful fantasy writer because she couldn’t make that internal editor shut up. I read some of her early stuff and was blown away with the detail, the richness, and the depth that she wrote. It’s a real pity that she could never get past the first ten or fifteen pages because her internal editor wouldn’t let her go on until those first pages were perfect. And, because she couldn’t make that internal editor happy, those first pages never were perfect.
What got me over needing to make the first draft perfect were a couple of things. The first was I learned how to turn off the internal editor. Even when the editor was screaming things weren’t perfect, I forced myself to keep writing. I told the editor that I could go back and fix what wasn’t perfect. And, to reinforce that resolve to keep writing, I made a sign to hang over my desk that was a quote of Ernest Hemingway. That quote reads, “The first draft is always SHIT.”
I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway, but seeing those words allowed me to turn off the editor.
I could also mention the other quote I have hanging over my desk, but then I’d also have to try to explain Derrida and his literary theory and I don’t think there’s enough time left in the universe to explain deconstructionist theory. (Even though I admit, when it came time to write critical literary papers during my master’s program, that was my favorite form of literary criticism to use, because all of life is about assumed and imposed binaries.)
The second thing that got me over needing to make that first draft perfect was my friend. It was so frustrating to hear the excitement in her voice when she got an idea for a new book, and she’d start writing, and a few weeks later, to hear the absolute dejection in her voice because she couldn’t make it perfect. And, for her, it had to be perfect before she could continue. I refused to allow the characters who spoke so strongly to me—strongly enough that I had to sit down and write their story—die a quiet death because I couldn’t get past the needing to make it perfect. So many wonderful characters that my friend created died, their voices never heard, their worlds never explored—all because she couldn’t make her internal editor shut up. I wasn’t going to do that to my characters, and I wasn’t going to be that author. If my characters die, it’s because I wrote their deaths—crying (or in some cases, feeling a grim sense of satisfaction) the whole time.
Every year, this week is incredibly difficult for me. I am sharing a blog post I wrote on 16 December, 2014.
Destroyer of the World:
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There’s been a lot going on in my life—trying to find the funds to go play in New York City in February at Westminster Kennel Club, sending my third book to my editor, working on another book, training puppies to be show dogs. Usually I take this time to reflect on the year and look ahead to the next, but I’m not doing this for this post. Maybe before the end of the year, I will do that.
Rather, I cannot remain silent any longer. I watched with horror as a religious extremist took hostages in a mall in Sydney, Australia. My heart broke when I read the news that religious extremists within the same purported “religion of peace” invaded a school in Pakistan and killed more than 130 children. My heart aches for the families who have lost so very much. The Quran states that when you kill someone, you have destroyed the world. The world has been destroyed for so many families.
I do not claim—nor do I believe I can attempt—to understand the reasoning behind violence in the name of any god, whether that god is the god of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. When you use religion and drape your violence and brutality and bloodshed within the precepts of ANY religion, you have destroyed any credibility for that religion you wish to force upon others. Conversion by sword point is not conversion; it is coercion and it is not a manner to gain followers to a “peaceful” religion.
When you chose to target those who cannot fight back, when you chose to target the weakest, the most defenseless, the most innocent among us—you have made the conscious choice to be nothing. YOU ARE NOT A WARRIOR. YOU ARE NOT A MARTYR. YOU ARE NOT AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW. You are no longer anything other than a coward, a murderer, and a heretic to what you claim to believe.
You are a coward because you fear what you do not understand and you fear to learn understanding. So, you attempt to destroy that which does not fit into your narrow-minded, frightened little world view. The thing any religious extremist fears is an educated mind. You are not enlightened in any manner what so ever. The most terrifying thing to you is not an army but rather a child with a book.
You are a murderer of the lowest form. You seek out those who are innocent, those who are the weakest, those who cannot fight back. You throw around terms like “honor” as if you understand its meaning. You have no honor. The mangiest mongrel cur in the streets has more honor that you have ever had or ever will have. There is no room in Paradise for spineless, cowardly, honor less murderers of children. I would call you a son of a bitch, which I know is the worst insult I can offer to one of your religious persuasion, but I WILL NOT dishonor my dogs.
You are a heretic to the precepts of the religion you have chosen to drape your cowardice and dishonor in. Children are to be treasured. They are a gift and you have chosen to reject that gift. You have chosen to destroy the world.
My blog is where I do most of my venting about all sorts of things--book scammers, book stuffers, book thieves (I refuse to call them 'pirates' because I won't insult pirates), stupid crap that happens at dog shows. You never know what you'll read in this blog because I don't ever know what I'm going to write until I start writing.