What is on my mind as I write this post? The ocean. The way I feel when I look at the ocean, when I’m near the ocean, when I breathe the salt air. I’ve never understood how someone from a landlocked state like me, who didn’t even see the ocean until I was 21 years old, could feel so connected to it. I felt like this the first time I ever saw the ocean, that time the Atlantic. After a time, I had occasion to spend significant time in South Carolina, off and on. Looking out at the great Atlantic was as much of a thrill as it was the very first time.
Later in life, I saw the beautiful Gulf, both from the Florida peninsula, the port of New Orleans, and the port of Galveston. I then spent a very special day, once upon a time as if in a fairy tale, on gorgeous Catalina Island in the Pacific, a visit I will never forget with someone I will always remember.
In 2009, I was fortunate enough to happen upon, totally by chance, an island in the Gulf of Mexico and I fell in love with it. It’s not the type of island most people might find appealing. It sits below the frost line and is tropical in most ways. But, it doesn’t have the requisite sandy beaches. It has beautiful sunsets, incredible birds, an array of wildlife, rampantly growing tropical vegetation, and incredibly temperate winters. I feel more myself when I’m there than anywhere else in the world. The Gulf waters surrounding my island are usually calm and full of fish that I’m just learning about.
This year, I will have guests visit me when I’m at my island. Family, friends, and several friends live nearby. Fun!
What draws me to my island is the feeling in my soul when I’m there. I seldom find myself at peace. I have a restless soul, a restless heart. I’m at peace when I stand and look out at the ocean from the shores of this magical island.
I can’t wait to return.
It’s always interesting for me to write a stream of consciousness post. My writing is always so planned that stream of consciousness is hard for me. But, I’m guess I’m going to give it a shot. Let’s see. What’s on my mind this Saturday morning?
I’m a political animal, so the first thing I’m thinking of is the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA. I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. When the assembly is a bunch of neo-Fascists, then I think an exception should be made. Fascists were the downfall of most of Europe during World War II. We don’t dare give an inch when it comes to Fascism in the United States. I would call for the Fascists currently occupying the White House (Steve Bannon) to be fired immediately. If he is not fired, then I would call for the impeachment of our President, Donald J. Trump, who apparently condones Fascism. Steve Bannon is one of his closest advisors. Fascists would not feel free to congregate in our streets without a person like Steve Bannon in the White House. If you have read any of my articles on our current President, you know my feelings about this.
I’ve heard, just now, that the Governor of Virginia has called for a State of Emergency and the Fascist rally has been broken up. I am waiting to see if our President will make a statement. If he doesn’t, then I will know he does indeed condone Fascism.
The other thing on my mind is writing. I won’t be blogging as much as usual over the next few months. I’m working on the “meaty” part of my novel and I have about 60,000 words to write before I leave for Florida at the first of November. I have a lot of other things I have to do on a daily basis besides write. I can usually only grab two or three hours per day.
Have a good week!
The #SoCS prompt this week is high/low:
If you’re a writer, you’re accustomed to experiencing the highs and lows of the profession. Think of the lows in the form of all those rejection slips from print publications and emails from online publications you may have received. If you’re a novelist, make that form letters from agents or publishers. You undoubtedly have a portfolio of unpublished material in the bottom drawer of your desk.
The highs. The obvious ones happen every time a publication accepts an article or a story you have worked so hard to write and source to appear on its pages. It’s exciting to have a story or an article to appear in a publication that is unpaid, particularly if you are a new writer. When you start getting paid for your work, receiving those checks, no matter how small, is truly exciting. If you work really hard, you may be able to make a living as a writer. Perhaps you can become a staff writer for a publication. I prefer to be a freelance writer.
If you write a book and an agent represents you so you can get it published through traditional publishing, it’s a real high. Finding an agent is just as difficult for a novelist or a writer of non-fiction books as finding a publication to accept a non-fiction article.
Self-publishing is becoming increasingly acceptable and if your work is marketed correctly, you can do very well selling your book, although there is no doubt that it is more difficult than traditional publishing.
All careers are full of highs and lows. I contend that a career as a writer, whether non-fiction or fiction, staff or freelance, is particularly so. With the ease of using email to query publications and agents, there is more competition in the marketplace. It takes hard work and long, hard hours and is not for the faint of heart.
All of my life, within my family, I have heard the term “double-jointed.” That’s because on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family, this rather rare characteristic ran in the family. It was passed down to my dad, then to me.
Being double-jointed doesn’t really mean you have two sets of joints. The proper name is hypermobility syndrome. A person with this syndrome looks like they can stretch a limb farther than they should be able to. Instead, it actually is the ability to stretch the ligaments and tendons around the joint that cause the hyperextension of the bone possible. The person can hyperextend the bone without the pain that a person without the syndrome would feel.
An example is someone who can easily touch their toes. In both my dad’s case and mine, we could/can lay our palms flat on the floor with absolutely no effort and no pain. Sometimes, this “double-jointedness” is due to shallow hip or shoulder sockets. People with this syndrome are often very limber and move very easily.
Often, as a person with hypermobility syndrome grows older, arthritis becomes present in the joints.
The Art of Letter Writing
I have many books on my desk, most of them have to do with writing and novels. I do have one novel by Annie Proulx called Postcards. When I saw that novel’s title, I was reminded of a conversation a friend and I had some time ago. We discussed the lost art of letter writing. Baby boomers, like my friend and I, have written a lot of letters, on paper with a real pen, in our time, though perhaps not for a number of years. If you are a millennial, for example, you may have never written a letter except electronically. Maybe I’m doing you a disservice? Maybe you have written traditional letters? I would love for you to comment if you have!
Back to the subject. One of my first experiences with letter writing was when I was under ten years of age and had a pen pal. Francois lived in France and we wrote each other as soon as one received a letter from the other through high school. I often wonder what happened to her. As I grew up and went through undergraduate school, I wrote various cousins, boyfriends, and friends. By the time of graduate school, it was the early days of the Internet and everyone was fascinated by email. Letter writing for me was gone. It’s been gone ever since.
Life got busy. Electronic communication was quick and easy. In its defense, I would not have had time to keep up with many of the people I have without it.
I do, in some ways, miss letter writing. It’s a very personal way of communicating. You have to choose your stationery. Some people prefer to use a fountain pen, which you have to fill with ink. The person on the other end of the letter gets to see the person’s handwriting and feel their emotions more distinctly. New forms of electronic communication – email, messaging, texting, social media, chat rooms – aren’t nearly as personal. That, in fact, is why emoticons and stickers were developed. They try to convey the emotions that letter writing used to convey.
Reach out and touch someone by writing a letter. They will appreciate it!
Unconditional love is a thing I’m not sure we humans know. Maybe we do. I think we think we feel it more often than we actually do. There is a bond, as old as time, between a person and their dog and a person’s dog loves him/her unconditionally. No matter what we do. We can ignore our dog. Abusive people can even abuse their dog. The dog still loves their person unconditionally. I’ve always thought it was a miraculous thing. This unconditional love between a person and their dog.
Some of you may know that, recently, my dog has been sick for a while now. I’ve written about her in a couple of articles, “Tender Betsy” and An Update About Betsy.
On July 4, 2017, just three weeks after Betsy was diagnosed, she passed away.
I’ve had many special dogs in my life. They are all, indeed, special. They all give me a chance to know that I can love unconditionally. Betsy was at the top of that heap. I have been inconsolable.
In a few weeks, it will be time for me to decide whether or not to get another puppy. I’ve never been without a dog. I feel sure I eventually will. I will never forget the dog from the movie I saw so long ago, “Lady and the Tramp.” Betsy looked just like Lady. She was beautiful, inside and out. She made me laugh and later, cry. She comforted me. She was my constant companion. As the veterinarian put her to sleep, she went to sleep licking my face. Betsy was only four years old. I’ll never forget my little spaniel. She was a very loving trooper.
I’ve never really believed in fate. Never believed that something that happened could be taken as a sign. I’ve always thought that we make our own fate through hard work. I guess that shows you where my head has always been – my work, my career. Never really on personal relationships except in the most tangential way. Even though I’m loathe to admit it, I suppose that’s still true. There was a time, early in my career, I was convinced I could have it all. Fulfilling personal relationships and at least one successful career. Wrong. I was really wrong. At least as far as I was concerned. Not possible. Maybe it is for some people. I chose career, but by then, it was too late to make any other choice.
Back to signs and fate. I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that people believe that if one thing happens it means, in the vast space that is the universe, something else is going to happen, something random. That they just have a “feeling” it is going to happen. That the first thing is a “sign.” What is that? That “sign?”
I surely see connections between things, even random events. But fate? Signs? Too random for my taste. I prefer to call it logic. I have made some huge mistakes in my life. Some would say there were signs that those mistakes were going to happen. I can look back now and I don’t see signs, but I do see logical reasons that my actions caused my mistakes. Is that the same thing as a sign?
What do you think?
I am tired of our political system in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not tired of our democracy. I’m not even tired of capitalism. I support both. I am tired of politicians refusing to admit their real positions on issues and what they have really done. I am tired of lies and deceit in politics that are destroying the U.S. political system.
Although I am a news and information junkie, I’ve started tuning out the news as I listen while I work each day. We have no idea what the truth really is. We can’t even believe politicians as they testify under oath because they have no respect for the oath.
There are two things, and two things only, that give me hope. As I’ve listened to the hearings, I have heard just a few young politicians question witnesses. Not the rich, older, white men we are so accustomed to but some new names and faces. New and young politicians from both sides of the aisle. They have seemed sensible and not yet jaded. Perhaps they are our hope for the future?
My second source of hope is the American people. My own opinion is that we got it wrong during the 2016 election. I think I am backed up by the polls since the President only has an approval rate of around 36%. That leaves a huge percentage of the American people dissatisfied. Perhaps in 2020 one of the fresh young faces will run for office. Even if they don’t agree with my point of view, they will be steeped in the ways of government. Perhaps we can reclaim our position in the world and in NATO. Perhaps the checks and balances of our political system, wisely put in place by our forefathers, will work during the next three and a half years and too much damage will not be done. Maybe one of those fresh young faces can re-establish some sense of political sanity and dignity to the U.S. political system and get Russia out of our affairs forever.
Donald Trump, Weather, Climate
It seems coincidental to me, Linda, that today’s #SoCS prompt is weather. Why? Two reasons. This week, our President decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. The second reason is that hurricane season in the U.S. started June 1, 2017 and runs through November 30, 2017. Mr. Trump has appointed no new director of either FEMA or NOAA, the two agencies that deal with disasters such as hurricanes and that forecast and track hurricanes. Perhaps this is an oversight. The people that a hurricane will affect who live on the Atlantic Seaboard, the Gulf Coast, and every part of Florida will suffer due to such an oversight.
The Paris Climate Agreement. Mr. Trump apparently does not understand the Paris Climate Agreement. If he does understand it, then his withdrawal of the U.S. from it is particularly hateful. He seems to think that polluting the environment of the U.S. will lead to job creation when all it will lead to is more pollution and the continued killing of our planet. The U.S. is well on its way to reducing the use of fossil fuels, like coal, and reducing the greenhouse gases we emit. Mr. Trump is trying to set us back 50 years. Instead of supporting the efforts to develop wind farms and solar farms, for example, he wants to go back to mining coal. Coal miners can and would be trained to work in the clean energy industries. One such industry has already relocated to an area where coal was previously mined. Many of our 50 states vehemently disagree with him and are going to follow the Paris agreement on their own. Many large corporations are going to do the same.
Why is all this happening? Mr. Trump is feeling desperate. With low ratings, he is trying to do something that, during the campaign, he told his base he would do. He told them he would drop environmental regulations in the name of job creation so that’s what he is doing. He has found government too complicated to do much of anything else. So he is pursuing his nationalist agenda by turning his back on the environment. It particularly pleased him because he could turn his back on Europe at the same time since he desires to be an isolationist. In just the short time Mr. Trump has been President, we have lost our position as leader of the free world and either China or a European country will assume that position.
Whether or not our President can or will pursue an agenda that appeals to more than 38 percent of the American people is still a mystery. From what we’ve seen so far, his priorities lie somewhere besides where the priorities of the majority of the American people lie.
All that seems to be on my mind these days, and just about all I’m doing, is working on my novel. I’ve been reading about writing a novel as much as I’ve been writing. I’m not a novice writer, but I am certainly a novice novel writer so I’ve been trying to learn as much about novel writing as I can learn.
In order to give depth to the novel and the characters, you have to use the characters’ senses to paint the pictures in the book that you want your readers to see. One surprisingly sense that I, in writing my novel, have found particularly effective, is the sense of smell.
If your character takes a walk in the woods, for example, and the wildflowers smell sweet and lovely, that sets a scene in the reader’s mind of a beautiful day in the life of the character. But if those same wildflowers smell cloying and too sweet, the scene is interpreted by your readers as something completely different.
In novel writing, smell can be a very powerful sense for the writer to use for the purpose of illustrating a scene.
The example I’ve just given is a very subtle example that a writer can use to set the meaning of a scene in a reader’s mind. Of course, there are examples of smell that are far more obvious. The smell of asphalt on a highway. The smell of different types of food. You get the picture. If you are a professional writer or have aspirations to be, develop a file of all the different types of smells that you find that you can use in your writing and that information will serve you well.