No Pink Beams Yet

Apparently, the people who are successful with writing vast quantities of words in one sitting write excessively detailed outlines. If I do that, I have no need any longer to write a book. I always operate off a loose outline, but the story must surprise me at some point. Without the surprise, I cease to find the work interesting. And God knows, I don’t make a living off it, so the reward has to be mental stimulation. I’m only bringing this up because I wrote nearly zero words today. Weekends are harrowing at times. However, I did manage to bring the characters to a crucial moment in the story. Do you want a glimpse? Okay.

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November Is the Hardest Month

It really is. It’s a month full of birthdays, sports events, holidays, fall cleaning, and school functions. Even when I homeschooled, November was full of local events and homeschool fieldtrips. In New Mexico, fall is generally a brilliant time of year: cool with clear, bright blue skies and low wind. Fall cleaning is a thing because the spring brings with it gusty and dusty winds that shriek over the desert. When I lived in the river valley, it wasn’t uncommon for frosts to extend through April. So fall is the pleasantest season here, and it’s no wonder people want to clean and go outdoors for fun activities.

Therefore, it has always struck me as odd that NaNoWriMo occurs during this hectic time of year. The person who invented NaNoWriMo must live in a dreary part of the world where humanity wants to remain indoors all month long. It’s a distinct possibility. I do remember that the rains started in September when I lived on the Oregon coast, but they didn’t really pick up speed until November. The rainy season culminated in a long dreary January and February and didn’t slack off until summer. If it were up to me, I would hold a national novel writing month in January or February. BUT an author can write a book in any month of the year he chooses to. An author can also get a group of writer friends together to check on each other’s output any month of the year. But for some reason, every writer I know wants to do this during the now official month of NaNoWriMO.

For my part, I was going to use this month to finish my current book, Order of the PenTriagon. To be honest, I wanted to finish before 2018 ended, and I’m faced with the last two months of the year, so…NaNoWriMo is convenient. However, I’m trying to write 2000 words a day six days a week, to equal 12,000 words a week until I finish. That’s actually a higher output than the NaNoWriMo word count of 1667 words a day, seven days a week, which comes out to 50,010 words for the thirty days of November. If I’m successful, I’ll have written 52,000 words for the month while maintaining a day of rest. I need that. God rested on the seventh day when creating the universe, and so should I, even if my creation is a measly book that will sit on Amazon unread.

How is it going so far? It’s going in fits and starts. I’m heavily behind this week for a number of reasons; primarily, if I miss the hours my kids are in school, I have little time to make up for it in the afternoons and evenings. I managed to delete 1000 words I wrote yesterday, albeit a blog post. Still, it demoralized me, such that I ended up trying to write after the kids were home and snapped at them if they tried to bother me. You need help studying?! Ha ha ha ha….Okay, I did help my daughter study for her science test, and then went back to my story, only to realize I needed some intense research. When I imagine scenes in my head, I don’t always consider the amount of unknowns that will be occurring.

After all was said and done yesterday, I ended up with 1000 words written, 1000 words deleted, and a lot of reading and video-watching. Finally, I went to bed determined to start early on Friday and complete several thousand before life and its demands crowded around me. Let’s not talk about how that’s going…

But at least I will post this, unless I manage to delete it. By the way, yesterday’s disappearing post was an odd quirk because there are usually autosaves and a list of draft revisions on WordPress, which were entirely missing yesterday. Not to mention, the entire post disappeared when I hit “edit undo.” We Christians used to jokingly talk about the spiritual oppression of our technology if our machines weren’t working properly (to be accurate, if we didn’t understand how our machines were working). It was a joke. I think. In my head, the post I lost was inspired because I wasn’t talking about writing, but discussing the first chapter in 1 Corinthians…the part about God’s foolishness being wiser than man’s wisdom. I will probably try again next week, but the irony of it won’t be lost on me.

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*Politics Politics Politics*

New Mexico is run by people I like to call “corrupt crusaders.” It’s mildly amusing to me that the people cry out about our state problems, such as a failing education system and poverty, and then hope they can vote these problems away. But voting gives one a sense of having done something forward-thinking and positive. Hence, we now have Michelle Lujan Grisham as governor because she promised free preschool. Yes, folks, that’s how she’s going to fix New Mexico’s education ranking: by extending a failed system to include poor hapless 3-year-olds. Everybody deserves to fail, even the youngest amongst us; that’s the essence of egalitarianism. Speaking of egalitarianism, did I also mention that Lujan Grisham will be the first Democrat Latina governor of New Mexico? Not the first Latina, of course. That honor went to the Republicans with Martinez, who will be leaving the failed education and poverty rates to her successor. I mean, incomes did go up during her time in office, but not by much.

It has to be acknowledged that New Mexicans don’t like change. They like where they’re at, and they don’t particularly even care about education. I mean, they do as long as they can demand another program run by a corrupt crusader that will ultimately fail. But as far as parents living it in the home? No, they don’t really care. The kind of hunkering down they do here isn’t all bad, though. New Mexico may be one of the most impoverished states, but it also isn’t as prone to huge economic fluctuations driven by bubbles of hot air. And by hunkering down, the people can protect the vestiges of their culture — the good and the bad, of course. But honestly, until the culture at the family level begins to care about education, it’s not going to improve. Why should kids care when their parents don’t?

This went another direction than I had intended. Originally, I was just going to make some political commentary…probably inappropriate commentary because I’m not entirely pleased with the voting results in my state, and find some of the choices to be foolhardy. E.g., Michelle Lujan Grisham, who does not have the same sense Steve Pearce does. And yet, if the tallies are correct, Steve Pearce lost by a giant margin.

C’est la vie, I guess.

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Periscope

Because this is the only platform I have right now, I will share my Periscope here. Have a blessed All Saints Day.* https://www.pscp.tv/w/bqsiTTFETEVCRGxvT1ZtS0p8MUJSSmpYcHBraldLd-69rm0UeMGdWJPlUaM0BOaltRQfGUMbMJkdKKvxd42c?t=12m58s

*I apologize to those following me in their feeds. I don’t usually use my phone to post blog posts, and it managed to publish this post three times. It could have been user error, but if so, I’m at a loss to know what that error was.

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False Variety

When my son was sick yesterday, we got desperate for a diversion and watched A Wrinkle In Time on Netflix. I don’t want to get into the theological problems of the book’s author, Madeleine L’Engle, but let it be admitted that she came from a Christian culture, attended a Christian church, and infused her writing with symbols and quotes of Jesus, which were tellingly absent from the film. As a replacement, the film delivered a mishmash of new age aphorisms about love and light and believing in yourself. Also, it delivered a fair amount of diversity that was lacking in the author’s world. L’Engle unapologetically created a white European cast of characters — and not just in this book, but in all of them. The director apparently thought color-washing instead of white-washing would take a wooden script and delivery and make it sparkle, but it didn’t work. And I certainly don’t blame that on the actors, who might sparkle under good directing. Kaling and Witherspoon are known quantities; Kaling can be very funny, and Witherspoon definitely sparkles in some of her films. I also have hopes for the new-ish actress who plays Meg.

Despite the film’s failing at taking a weird SF tale and a few good actors and making it better than bland and boring (I mean, come on, they had a lot to work with here), it did produce one scene that stuck in my mind. When Meg and company land on the planet cloaked in evil, they find a neighborhood where all the children of all races are bouncing their balls to the same beat. This is followed by the mothers — again, of all races — simultaneously calling in their children to dinner using the same words. What you see is Hollywood admitting a central truth of our culture: our push for diversity is outward and doesn’t really mask the general lack of appreciation for eclecticism. I found myself asking if this weren’t perhaps a meta moment, where the film was taking a good hard look at itself. I suppose even Hollywood creators are capable of accidental moments of clarity.

False variety is present in every layer of our society. From the products that fill our grocery store, to politicians, to “edgy” thinkers, there is very little real variety. In 90% of brands, the ingredients are the same. The yogurt is all low-fat. The bacon has the same list of ingredients on nearly every label. Everything packaged tastes like canola oil. McCain was eulogized by almost every segment of society because his conservatism was the same as the their liberalism. The Bushes and Clintons play golf together.

What got me thinking about this was the cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter tour in Australia. It was canceled for no apparent reason, and the ticket holders were told they could switch their tickets out to see Tommy Robinson and Gavin McInnes, as if “edgy” thinkers are all exactly alike. And to be fair, generally they are very similar when push comes to shove. Edgy is allowed, if it fits into the right parameters of what “edgy” means. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. Milo has been permanently banned from Twitter; McInnes’ organization The Proud Boys was recently banned from Facebook. Although all four of these rightist thinkers are edgy rabble-rousers, none of them are of the appropriate “edgy” variety. Swapping one group out for the other is a stop-gap measure before these types of tours just never find any venues at all, edgy money notwithstanding.

Albeit, sometimes I think I’m just not seeing the entire picture. I mean, obviously, I’m not God. Or even QAnon. In any case, most of our edgy rabble-rousers provide absurdist level distractions.

I don’t have a profound point to end with here — unless I want to tie this post back to Trump in some way. I don’t know how profound that would be, more like inevitable. Trump is the renewed version of Godwin’s law. Everything comes back to him. And it’s perhaps too easy, really. Trump did not and still does not have the same ingredients as the other products on the shelves, which is why his sudden salability has driven the “producers” or “authorities” to frothing at the mouth every few seconds.

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