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Monthly Archives: July 2013

I’m getting so close to being done with revisions on my novel that I thought I would waste time blogging instead of working on it. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m too close to being done. Finishing the rewrites just means it’s time for one last line edit–catch all the typos and all that. And that’s so boring!

I always get ahead of myself. I know nailing this story, this character’s arc, is what’s important now, but I can’t help but thinking of the what ifs. What if this gets published? This is my first work of Christian YA. What if this is the one–and it very well could be–that gets published first. Am I stuck at that point? Can I write other things?

I know the answer is write what you feel and the rest will take care of itself, but I’m not really the letting things take care of themselves kind of guy. I plan my planning. That’s me. I have ideas for about eight different novels that I could dive right into next summer, but none of them are compatible with Christian literature. They could be. But should they? And what about what I’ve already written? If All We Know of Heaven gets published, does that mean I should add a Christian element to those?

How easy is it to get “type cast,” and how important is it as far as marketing yourself? I’m too close to finishing this novel to be wasting my time worrying about this kind of thing. In fact, I’ve got so much to worry about in my life, there is no room for this bologna.

Yet here I am blogging about it. God help me!

I felt like posting something about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial yesterday, but I decided to take some time and think about it, read about it, and not let my post be simply fueled by emotion. But now that I’ve done that, my thinking, reading, and waiting has all come back to one thing–emotion.

I’m not concerned about the emotions of shock or rage. I don’t much care about the emotions of disappointment, sadness, or confusion–all feelings Treyvon’s family must have felt yesterday. I’m also not too concerned with the feelings of jubilation, vindication, and celebration George and his family must have felt yesterday when the verdict was read. I don’t care about the relief, release, and righteousness some jurors felt. And I don’t care about the frustration and guilt others might have felt.

The media, politicians, special interest groups on both sides–see, all of them play on emotion. Emotions like the ones I’ve listed above. They use these emotions to get action, to win over public opinion, and to get you–yes you–posting on your Facebooks, tweeting, commenting on news articles, voting, writing letters, and even–if you live in Oakland, California–to break shit. But there is an emotion the media, your elected representatives, and lawyers hide from, one they sweep under the rug except maybe twice a year when it’s possible to use this emotion to sell you something under the pretense of caring about you and your relationships.

Love.

Was the shooting racist? Was the verdict? We all know racism exists. We’ve all heard racist comments, probably from some of our friends and family. Knowing there’s racism is not a news story. This is not an incident to look at and say, “We all thought electing President Obama meant we lived in a post-racial society, but this case is a historical marker showing it is not yet gone.” Really? Do you actually believe this? Let’s stop talking about whether or not racism exists and talk about what causes a racist. How do you combat racism? Not through laws and government requirements and education.

Those are treatments, not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

Was the shooting something else–something about fear in our society? Are we so afraid that we’re ready to shoot anything that comes near us that might be dangerous. One could argue a white Treyvon Martin gets shot just the same in that situation. Zimmerman was sick of the violence in his neighborhood, felt threatened because of the history of violence in his neighborhood, and pulled the trigger. The media bombards us with fear. Lock your doors, buy a gun, wear name badges at work, see-something-say-something, lock down drills for third-graders, duck and cover videos, duck-tape on the doors, shoe searches, and the list could go on for days. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Those are treatments, not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

The scary thing about this is that a jury of his peers said that what George Zimmerman did was justified. If they were facing this young, unarmed boy in a hoodie and they had a gun, they’d pull the trigger too. This wasn’t murder. This was collateral damage in the war against violence on our streets. We shall stomp out violence, end it all together, by shooting those who may be violent, and then we will protest that violence by looting and rioting in Oakland, breaking store windows and vandalizing, destroying the property of those who we have no grievance with to make a point against…what…violence?

Those aren’t even treatments, they’re side effects of bad medicine, and are certainly not preventative care. They don’t stop Treyvon Martin from being shot. They don’t bring him back.

We need more emotion in the world, yes, but not these emotions. We need more love. Perhaps if we lived in a world where we instinctively, regularly, and freely showed love for each other, no matter how different we may seem, these things would stop happening. What if George Zimmerman saw a boy on the street he thought was a drug dealer or gang banger or just a plain old crook, someone dangerous, and he took the chance to do what seems to be the really dangerous thing, to love. What if he said, “Young man, I love you. I don’t know why you’re in this situation, but I can get you help. You’re not alone. We all have problems. We all need help. What do you need from me. Let me help you”?

If–and we know he wasn’t–Treyvon did have a gun, what would have happened? Would he have shot Zimmerman dead right there? How would things be different? Would Martin have fallen to his knees and cried, seeing true love for what it was, a helping hand? Would he have pulled a trigger? Maybe Zimmerman dies in this imaginary scenario. Maybe he gets shot. But someone died that day anyway, and the world might be better off with a martyr for the cause of universal love instead of a martyr for the cause of “safer neighborhoods” or a vindictive “taking back of our streets.”

And since Treyvon wasn’t armed, wasn’t dangerous, we would be left with an untold story of a peaceful and heart-warming meeting between two men from different circumstances. A bond formed between two men who have nothing in common other than their ability to love. Sound naive? Sound stupid? Sound cheesy? Well, until these things don’t sound that way, we’ve got work to do.

And the work starts with you.

I once tweeted a phrase that just kind of came to my mind. “Find a way to make someone’s day; love like there’s no tomorrow.” For Treyvon Martin, there is no tomorrow. No, all of us loving each other unconditionally won’t bring Treyvon back. But it might make his death mean something more than a trial, political infighting, angry Facebook posts, and violent Oakland protests.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I hope to God I’m not the only one.

I’m finding lately that when it comes to my writing, I’m very impatient. I just want it to be done. No matter what I write, from a short poem to a novel length manuscript, I want to have a perfect final product now, not later. It’s not being lazy. I work like a dog getting the draft done.

But now that I have a draft of a novel, and I’ve knocked out a round of revisions to catch a bunch of big issues, the finer points of revision seem just too daunting. It’s not that I don’t want to do them. It’s that I’ve imagined them already, and I just want them to be done so I can start querying.

I’ve already got the agency picked out, read their requirements, am starting to envision the pitch, and started writing the synopsis. I can’t help it. I’m like the pregnant woman getting close to the due date.

“Just get this thing out of me!”

I’m wondering why all this is and if it is common. I’ve read other writers talk about the revision process being “where the magic happens” and as “the exciting part of writing.” I don’t see it that way at all. I just want to be done. I know I have all summer before the pressures of the school year hit, but I can’t help it.

I can’t be the only one that hates the revision process, that just wants to be done already. Am I?

Well, I’m off to revise some more. I’m finding a lot of great places for improvement, which I guess is exciting. And many of the image systems, motifs, and themes are coming together nicely as I make changes. The language is becoming more concise. The characters are becoming more defined. It’s really going very well. Thank goodness for revisions!

The Bipolar train has left the building.

YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday: In honor of the just ended National Pride Month, what’s your favorite LGBT novel?

I have a confession to make. This one is painful. I have to admit, ashamedly, that I have not read any LGBT novels. Fail. My last two novels include straight protagonists who partake in some homosexual experimentation. I wonder what that means. Perhaps I should ask Dr. Freud. Either way, I can’t answer this question.

I also have to admit that I don’t even know of any LGBT YA novels, so I’m looking forward to the answers from others on this blog post to get some suggestions. I’m going to The Book Barn today, so maybe I’ll pick something up. As a firm believer in being a true ally to the LGBT community at the school at which I teach, I kind of think I should read something on the subject.

So instead, I’m going to take this time to reflect on the Supreme Court decisions of this past week. Without going so far as to create gay marriage for all from sea to shining sea, the court took a bold, yet timid approach, giving federal recognition to marriages in gay marriage states and allowing California to be one of those states. Interesting.

I know this is an occasion to celebrate, but I keep going back to the Civil Rights movement and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Was it enough for Dr. King to allow integration and equal rights in the Northern states but not in the South? What was it Dr. King said about “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism?” It seems to me that if we’re going to live up to our creed that “all men are created equal,” we’re going to have to go further.

Dr. King asked the crowd outside the Lincoln Memorial that day almost 50 years ago, “When will you be satisfied?” The answer, of course, was when true equality rang from sea to shining sea–not just in New York, California, and Vermont, but also in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Florida. This issue is no different. Until we have equality for all of every race, religion, nationality, age, social class, and sexual orientation, we just ain’t being the America we advertise.

It’s about time for one of those events in Washington, and it’s about time for a LGBT version of Dr. King to step up and lead the gay community to the promised land. The time is coming. The time is near. The time has come for another dream to be realized. And as Dr. King said so well all those years ago, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

The Westboro Baptist Church.

I bet some of you are angry already. Not only does this church preach hate in the name of our Lord against homosexuals, but they cause unnecessary pain in order to promote their hate-filled message. These are the guys, if you’re not familiar, that protest military funerals and threatened to protest at the funerals of the beautiful children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school after the shootings in Newtown, CT.

Furthermore, the “church” claims that these bad things that are happening around the country, dead soldiers and little children, are a result of God’s wrath against America, and Connecticut in the case of Newtown, for being too gay. Gay marriage. Gay people on television. Gay bars. We’ve gotten so gay that God has lashed out at us, bringing things like the death of military men and women and elementary school children. Yes, because before Ellen became popular, back when they were cancelling her show for her admission that she was a lesbian, back when we weren’t so gay, our soldiers never died at war. Our elementary school children were invincible. But somehow, being so gay, flying all those rainbow flags and watching all that Anderson Cooper on CNN, has brought this on us.

We all know that’s bull. In response to this hatred and the pain their protests cause (even the threat of it in Newtown was unnecessary stress and hurt for those poor, grieving families), a group of people went to Whitehouse.gov and filled in one of those now-famous “We the People Petitions” to have the Westboro Baptist Church put on the federal “hate group” list. These are the same almost useless petitions that Texans used to try and secede from the union. So while they don’t really make policy, they are a way to get our voices heard, a way the Obama Administration tries to keep open lines of dialog with the White House. Well, enough people signed, no surprise, to get an official response from the White House–me included.

Some may be unsatisfied with the response, as it takes no real action, (turns out there isn’t even a federal hate group list) but I was impressed that it actually, publicly denounced the WBC and championed the cause. You can read the response here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/heres-what-we-have-say-about-westboro-baptist-church?utm_source=wethepeople&utm_medium=email&utm_content=westboro-response.

What’s more is they actually went through the trouble of creating a map to show the locations that signed the petition the most by zip code. You can see it at that same link above. It shows you all you need to know. Yes, Connecticut was one of the strongest concentrations because of the reaction to their threats against Newtown funerals, but you might be surprised what state also shows up very dark blue on the map.

Kansas. That’s right, the home state of the Westboro Baptist Church itself showed very strong support for naming the church a hate group. Wow. Apparently its own state if fed up with yhe WBC and would like to see it gone. If the people most familiar with them, their neighbors from which they draw their members, don’t like them, what else do we have to know?

My take away?

Be careful of your rhetoric. I’ve heard so many people refer to the church as a bunch of backward southerners or say things like “What do you expect from a place like Kansas?” Well, those backward southerners from Kansas don’t much like the WBC either. Humans around the world are more the same than different. That’s the mistake the WBC makes. We are all made in God’s image, and we are all loved by Him and live in His grace. Let’s not make the same mistakes the WBC makes. No one prejudice is better than any other.

Just don’t hate. Plain and simple. Hate, in any form, is just a manifestation of ignorance. When you hate, you show you are simply talking about something you have no clue about. If you had done the research, gotten to know people, went out of your way to understand those you imagined were so different than you, you would have realized they weren’t so different after all. We’re all on the same journey, so appreciate the variety humanity provides for us instead.

 

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