Monday, November 14, 2016

What Motivates Me?

I haven't written much this week. It has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with the fact that I am busy.

I have a day job. We had a discussion, me and the management. The thing is the coffeeshop is understaffed. I appreciate that. For the last two weeks it's been just at 40 hours per week. As of today, I'm back to around 25-30. That is acceptable.

Along with my frequent partner in crime, Christopher Golden, I am teaching a writing course that's taking approximately fifteen hours of research and editing each week, plus three hours each Sunday for the actual class itself.

Now and then life gets in the way and there goes a few more hours lost to contemplation as a widower freshly on the wrong side of fifty. We can file that one under "shit happens and get over it," but that doesn't stop the way my life changes and I have to deal with it.

I'm starting the second book in a trilogy. It's fighting me. That, too, goes under "shit happens and get over it."

I have a lot of friends who are positively reeling from the election results. I mean staggering emotionally as if Rocky Balboa unleashed a few hundred blows on their souls instead of their bodies.

We are reaching that time of year when I tense up. I'm aware of it. I know it will happen. There is nothing I can do about it. Saturday night at World Fantasy fell on the 29th of October. That would have been my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. The 27th was the thirty-first anniversary of my first date with the woman who shared a very large portion of my life with me.

December 23rd will be the seventh anniversary of the day I came home from work and found my wife dead.

And again, it all files under "shit happens and get over it."

There's not much to say about that really.  I will look at these issues, I will reel from them, and then I will move on, because as Stephen King once said (and I'm paraphrasing) "There are two choices in this world, get busy living, or get busy dying."

I still prefer to live.

And then Tuesday happened and the common sense I expected to prevail did not. A great number of people are staggered, as I have already stated. I am not.

I do not agree with any racist policies. I believe that people who want to have same sex lovers, or who have had that choice removed by their biology, should be allowed to do as they please so long as they do not force themselves on anyone. I believe that any transgender going through a grueling process that is harsh under any standards, physical or emotional, should be allowed to identify as they see fit. I believe that this country embraces freedom of religion, not just certain faiths. I firmly stand by my belief that the color of a person's skin, or the gender of the person in question, is not a significant or proper way to judge them. I prefer to judge the character and actions of a person instead and I expect the exact same courtesy. I believe that we should be allowed to say whatever we damned well please, because of the First Amendment, but I'm okay with each and every proviso added to that Amendment. I believe that green cups issued by Starbucks are just green cups that were meant to encourage unity and not an attempt to corrupt the universe. I also believe the red cups showed up a week or so later.

I believe that once upon a time I had a beautiful, wonderful wife and she died. I believe she suffered a lot in the process and I suffered with her. That partner in crime? Chris Golden? He was my anchor for a lot of that. He helped me get my perspective back. He pointed out, and rightly, that a lot of my time was spent in anger when my wife was at her worst, because her illness was something that I could not fix. It cost me a small fortune and medical bills drove us into bankruptcy. That was medical bills AFTER insurance.

All of the things that I have mentioned are the fuel that helps me write. They are facets of who I am.

My next books starts off with a husband trying, and failing, to save his family. Every event that takes place from that scene on is directly connected to his actions and to the actions that brought him into play as a man on a mission of salvation, redemption and revenge.

Don't think the connection is lost on me. it wasn't conscious when I started writing, but, yes, I am still dealing with the death of my life partner. I'm still looking back from time to time and wondering how different my world might have been if we'd had children.

I still contemplate the fact that I could not help her more than I did. As I have said many times in the Dinner for One essays, it is what it is. These are events that shape my worldview. They are only the smallest sampling.

The next few years could well be some of the worst this nation has seen. We don't know one way or the other. Time will tell.

Now that I've said that, I'll go ahead and point something out to you.

Mostly I'm a happy person. I've cut a lot of the negatives out of my life. The emotional vampires, the people who made me miserable with their attitudes, they are gone. I moved away. I moved on.

Mostly I'm an optimist.


When I am not, when there are things that anger me or make me afraid, I tend to work them out i n my fiction. Not all that long ago a customer pissed me off in the worst possible way. Ratter than drag his ass outside and tune him up the way I wanted to, the way my inner savage very nearly demanded, I let it go.

Then I killed said ass in a book instead. No one could ever prove who I killed in a court of law and the customer in question is alive and well, but I know who I was killing. I still see him regularly and we get along fine. And if he pisses me off again, I'll tear his soul to pieces in another story or book.

And I'll do my best to remain optimistic, regardless of what the world throws my way. I may not always succeed, but I will try.

On Wednesday morning I went to work from 4:30 AM until 1:00 PM. I did not post onFacebook or twitter or anywhere else. I contemplated the forthcoming change in my country and my world.

Instead of going on a rant or contemplating how royally screwed we are as a nation if the man who is going to be our president keeps his words from the campaign trail (he won't, not all of them at least, none of the POTUS do) I thought about it and posted the following advice that I will try to live by while I contemplate the darker anniversaries coming my way and President trump's ascension into the Oval Office:

It's exactly this simple: Lead by example. Be the person you want to be. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be optimistic in the face of your dread. Hatred solves nothing. Fear is the tool of terrorists, and I will not live in its shadow. Hatred weakens us all. 
Don't fall victim to the tools you find offensive. 
Don't use those tools in an effort to strengthen yourself. 
But, also, be ready to defend yourself if you have to, and to defend those who are hurt or weakened. Do not tolerate bullies.
Be a good person. In the end that is all we have.

It is what it is.