July Check-In

It’s Wednesday evening, and I should be editing, but I can’t. My head is full of worry and bother, and I need to hammer on the keyboard for a while and get it off my chest in order to regain my focus. Since I completely missed posting in June and July is almost over, I figured I’d write something here. Hopefully that will get the words flowing again.

I’m going to talk about two things in this post. The first is just a basic check-in regarding what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been virtually non-existent on Facebook, and I know some of my family and friends watch there and here for news from me. The second thing I’m going to talk about is politics. I’ll put a warning before I start, just in case you don’t want to read my ramblings on that topic.

What have I been up to?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a convention in Layton, Utah. Many of the cons I’ve been to this year left me feeling empty or sad, like an impostor playing at being a writer. This time, I came away feeling invigorated and hopeful.

First, I got to meet Jim Butcher. I didn’t get to talk to him for long, but it was enough. He and I have a lot in common. I asked him about his time on MUSHs, and I think he was surprised about the subject and was animated in his responses. I took a picture of him and sent it to my family. Chris really liked that. I knew he’d be there, I hoped I’d get to meet him, and my wish was granted. That was good.

That wasn’t even the biggest highlight for me. I got to sit down and talk to Moshe Feder, one on one for about a half hour. That conversation really made my weekend. We talked about one of my stories, and he invited me to send it to him. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a second draft. This could be a really fantastic opportunity, and I don’t want to blow it.

During the regular work days last week, I managed to edit about 8 chapters. Over the weekend, I brought the total up to 24. It’s Wednesday evening and I’m struggling through chapter 26. This part of the book needs a lot of work, and it’s hard not to be discouraged when all I can see are the mistakes I made.

I’m not talking about misspellings or grammar problems or even plot holes. I’m talking about characterization, description, conflict, and energy. Normally I can forgive myself these types of problems in an early draft, but the last time I read it, I didn’t see these problems. Now they’re naked before my eyes, and I’m embarrassed. Michael and my writing group on Twitter have helped me see these problems, and I’m grateful for it. At the same time, missing the mark this badly feeds into all my doubts.

It makes me question whether or not I can actually tell a story. Anyone can form sentences in a coherent fashion. Most people can craft functional descriptions. A storyteller goes beyond this, using these tools to captivate the reader and give them an emotional experience. They surprise and delight their audience, making heroes and villains that people can relate to. This week, I’ve been struggling, wondering if I can be the kind of storyteller I want to be.

It doesn’t help that work is really busy and I feel behind there, too. I’m struggling in all aspects of my life. I feel like things are out of my control. I could right the ship and get things on course if I could just summon the energy to get up and take the wheel.

I called in sick today. I tried to take it easy and relax so that the batteries could recharge. Instead of relaxing, I wound up watching the Mueller hearings.

Here is a good place to put the warning. I’m about to talk about politics. If you’re not interested, now is a good time to leave this page or delete this email, if that’s how you received this post.

Let’s talk about the Mueller hearings. First, neither the substance nor the questions surprised me. I knew that Mr. Mueller was going to try to remain impartial and stick to the contents of the written report, and that’s what he did. I had a feeling that some of the Republicans asking questions would sound unhinged, and they did. I knew that some of the Democrats would ask leading questions to try and build a case for impeachment.

I was surprised at Mr. Mueller’s general presence and presentation. His voice quavered sometimes. He seemed to have difficulty hearing. I think I expected him to sound more confident and imposing. Instead, he sounded like a competent man suffering some of the physical problems that come for exceeding the age of 70.

Some of the Republicans seriously should be ashamed of themselves, but none more than Nunes. Many of the Republicans mischaracterized the report or used their questions to espouse false narratives, but Nunes went above and beyond. He bounced through all of the Fox News talking points and conspiracy theories. Nunes shouldn’t even have been on the panel after the stunt he pulled at the beginning of Trump’s presidency. He shouldn’t still have a job in congress.

The Democrats, on the other hand, mostly just read from the report. At one point, it seemed Ted Lieu managed to get Mr. Mueller to admit that he didn’t indict Trump only because of directives stating he can’t indict a sitting president. Mr. Mueller later set the record straight that his statement should not be characterized in that way. He didn’t say that Trump did no wrong. He said that he, Mr. Mueller, was not in a position where he could say that Trump did or did not do wrong.

On the other hand, a Republican questioning Mr. Mueller managed to get him to admit that when Trump is no longer in office, there is enough evidence to indict him. That’s almost the same thing as what he’d said to Ted Lieu, just framed a little different.

And it’s clear from the evidence that Trump obstructed justice and committed campaign violations. Trump has acted unethically, seeking personal financial gain through the presidency. There is a preponderance of evidence sufficient to impeach Trump. Furthermore, there is a continuing danger of hostile forces tampering with our elections, just as they tampered in 2016.

Something to note… the Republicans in the hearings didn’t refute anything I just said in that last paragraph. Some tried to discredit the report and Mr. Mueller himself. Nunes spouted crazy nonsense, as did Jim Jordan.

I finished listening to the hearings and I thought, “Okay. It’s all out in the open now. Maybe something will change.”

Then I went to Twitter. I really hate it when I’m so naive.

As I mentioned, Mr. Mueller did not have a commanding presence. Assholes like Chuck Todd and Michael Moore couldn’t get past that. They started spewing nonsense about optics and the Dems falling all over themselves because Mueller didn’t deliver. But Mr. Mueller did deliver. You just had to listen to his words, rather than the way he said them.

Cruising through different hashtags, I could see that nothing is different. The robots and the zombies are still in control. I don’t understand how people could hear the same things I heard and still support Trump.

But there’s the answer: People haven’t been listening to the same things I’ve been listening to. I haven’t been going to puff pieces on CNN or the Washington Post. I certainly haven’t been listening to the swill from Fox News. I’ve been listening to Trump. I read most of the Mueller report. I watched a video of Trump stirring a crowd into chanting “SEND HER BACK.” He basked in it. The next day, he tweeted and said that he moved quickly to stop them, but he didn’t. More gaslighting on his part. More lies.

I look at graphs and charts regarding the federal deficit. I watched as Trump’s tax plan went through which gave a break to businesses and the super-rich. And now, because the fed is out of money, the Republicans want to withhold support for the super poor. The hypocrisy. The corruption. The degradation of social norms.

On Twitter, I can see how the discourse is getting worse. More polarized. More disheartening. It’s like there’s an avalanche waiting to happen, and instead of quietly banding together to get through it, everyone is shouting and jumping up and down.

I’ve bashed the Republicans a bit, and they deserve it. But let me tell you… I’m really not a Democrat, either. I don’t care for Pelosi or Schumer or Biden. I think Kamala Harris and Corey Booker are over-rated. I think that there is hypocrisy on the Left just like on the Right, but the Right have been taken over by the likes of McConnell and Trump, actual monsters. My views are more inline with the Democrats right now, and if I have to vote for Kamala Harris or Corey Booker, I will do so gladly and encourage others to do the same.

I think that’s it. I don’t want to talk about politics anymore tonight. I’m glad I got all of that off my chest, but it took me longer than I expected, and I think I’ve run out of time tonight. Chapter 26 will need to wait until tomorrow.

I have my work cut out for me.