So, a fair bit has happened since I last posted. To do a brief summary:
-I passed my PhD exam/viva
-I got engaged!
-An election happened, I think?
-I entered NaNo, but didn’t get very far (sad face)
-I was asked to join something super exciting (more about that below)
-I FINALLY finished the final corrections to my dissertation, which means I’m officially a PhD! Hooray!
If I’ve learned anything in the past few months (does anyone else feel like the past few months have lasted years?), it’s that life has a funny way of working out in the least expected way. Usually that means in a good way (and most of the above things are DEFINITELY good), but unfortunately it can also mean in a bad way.
The fact that President Dumpster Fire will be in charge of the US soon makes my chest hurt, although I know that I have very little to complain about, since I’m coming from a place of real privilege. I’m scared for my country. I’m scared for my friends and family who don’t fit into President Racist Boiled Ham’s very narrow view of what’s ok. And I’m scared for the future. I’ve always been an anxious person, and the shitty thing about anxiety is that it often hits for completely illogical reasons. The rational side of your brain is trying to tell you that there isn’t anything to be afraid of, that it’s just your nervous system going haywire – but now? There really is something to be afraid of. The rational side of our brains isn’t just being shouted over by the irrational side, it’s been ripped out and replaced with rabid howler monkeys. At least that’s what it feels like.
Reason seems to have no place anymore. Facts and scientific truths no longer matter. It’s the same with love and compassion for our fellow homo sapiens. Even basic decency feels radical all of a sudden.
So that’s why now, as we stare down four years (please god don’t let it be more than that) of this dank dark tunnel of hate and fear and downright stupidity, I’m going to work harder than ever at loving more. At fighting this overwhelming tide of shit.
I’ll be the first to admit that I gave into despair just after it happened. I couldn’t sleep. When I did, I had nightmares. (Or, apparently, I argued in my sleep about voting restrictions and gerrymandering. Apologies to my fiancee…) And again, I know I have a lot less to worry about than many of my fellow Americans. But that’s why I want to fight with them, and for them.
If you (like me) want to act now to try to stop some of the madness, please consider donating to or signing petitions supporting some of these amazing organizations. And maybe read this too, by sociologist Dr Tressie McMillan Cottom. (It’s a slap of reality I sorely needed.)
Being an art historian whose only real training is in the humanities, I’ve just about gotten used to feeling useless in today’s society, but one other thing I think I can do to actually help, is to write. To use that one skill I have that might still have some meaning in the Trumpocalypse. (Unless of course it turns into a Farenheit 451 situation, in which case, us writers are really screwed). But think about the power of words in your daily life. Think about how they shape our world, and our understanding of it. If I can help add even the tiniest bit of love, of empathy, of hope back into the world through my writing? I’d consider that a victory, no matter how small. And in this horrible new Twilight Zone reality of ours, it’s the little things that will matter, so let’s hold onto them, together.
Ok, on to happier news. Related to the whole writing thing is this exciting new venture I was invited to take part in. It’s a writing group with three other writers, and once a week, on our joint blog, we’ll post a short piece of fiction based on a prompt. Each of us will write about the same prompt each month, and I’m so thrilled to announce that the first post will go live tomorrow (Friday)!!! The blog is called Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, and I hope you will check it out.
The other three writers with whom I’ll be embarking on this mission…quest…thing (ok I’m having hobbit-flashes here) are three amazing ladies who I am so lucky to be able to call my friends and collaborators. They are:
-Joyce from The Writes of Passage, who was my first ‘internet friend’ I found once I started to really commit to my writing, and I was researching other authors and blogs online. We met through Chuck Wendig’s blog last year and kept in touch, and she’s so inspiring. She’s our fearless leader on this endeavour, and is going to be hitting best-seller lists all over the world pretty soon, so please go follow her and buy her book. I’m so privileged to be working with her.
-Becky from All the Pieces, who is a phenomenal person, artist, and friend. Seriously, go check out her stunning artwork in this interview Joyce did with her! She’ll be posting first on our blog, and guys, wait til you read her writing. It’s heartfelt and humorous and leaves you aching for more. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see how far her incredible skill takes her, in both her artwork and her writing.
-And last but certainly not least, Nicole from Thoughts Stained With Ink. I met her through
stalking following her blog, and after I mentioned in one of my posts how much she inspires me, she wrote this beautiful post in reply, and she’s basically my hero. She is prolific and brilliant and determined and kind, and I’m so honored to go on this quest with her.
Joyce and Becky write mostly YA magical realism and contemporary, while Nicole writes sci-fi and fantasy. I write mostly adult historical fiction, so we’re an interesting mix of genres and writing styles, but I think this joint blog will help us all flex our creative muscles and jump out of our comfort zones. And while we won’t be changing the world, I hope we will help add a little more joy, wonder, empathy, and fun into it. And more stories! We need more stories. If we all heard one another’s stories, I feel the world would be a better place.
We get most of our inspiration and writing prompts from Pinterest, and we’ve made a board for our past (and future) prompts, so give it a follow if you’re interested. We’ll also have other posts throughout each month with different content, like what inspired us to write our piece for that month, favorite things we’re reading/watching/listening to, and guest features as well.
Once again, the blog is called Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand and I hope you will check it out and follow us!
Thank you so much for reading.
Lots of love,