What Separates Us

Today was a slow day and it wasn’t until this evening that I got to the last of my email reminders for blogs I follow. It was for Derrick Knight, a retired lad in England, who delightfully chronicles his adventures in the garden the Head Gardener (Jackie, Mrs Knight) kindly lets him meander through whilst doing a few gardening-ish chores. Derrick is a lover of books, and the New Forest, and the seaside, and his comestibles.

In his latest post he talks about Dirk Bogarde, a British actor, and his writing.

I always liked him as an actor, (Dirk, not Derrick) so I tootled off to read up about him via that wonderful resource portal, Wikipedia.

Turns out that Dirk was among the Allied officers who went into Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April of 1945. Please read what he wrote. It’s important. (just click on the green link)

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Did you read it through? Did you look at the photographs? Were you horrified, sickened? Did you think to yourself, that could never happen now, here?

Truth is, humans have been doing this to other humans for thousands of years.

Do you know what the difference is between you and I, and them?

Nothing.

NOTHING.

They were, and are, (because humans have never really stopped brutally torturing and murdering each other somewhere on the planet)  just like you and I. Assorted limbs, a functioning brain, carrying all sorts of wounds, physical and metaphysical, each with our own little bubbles of concerns that can make a day shine or feel like a milestone around our necks … and yet, some of us commit horrendous acts of brutality, and some of us do not.

Do you know what separates us?

Choice. That’s all.

When you strip away the dogma, political, religious, whatever,  all we’re left with is, Choice.

Whether it’s a choice about a moral ambiguity or to become another a butcher of humans, it’s exactly the same choice. A step this way, a step that way. Some choices involve major amounts of suckitude, but they’re still choices. 

As I pondered on the choices I’ve made in my life, the good, the bad, the ugly … the really bad … and the beautiful, I heard in my head a phrase from a song by Bette Midler, about ‘hollow, ancient eyes’, I dug out my collection of Bette albums and listened to the song in question … and it seemed to me that it’s a song about how we can find hope in our choices.

(sorry I couldn’t find a better quality video)

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‘What am I working on?’ … apart from allergies, you mean?

Last week ‘MAB’ over at The Flannel Files, tagged me on the latest round of #mywritingprocess, which I took to mean more than regaling you with tales of trying to focus on my keyboard whilst in the throes of a anti-allergy-drug-induced altered state of consciousness.

Allergies! We hates them, hates them my preciousssss.

I’ve had a bit of a dairy intolerance most of my adult life, but this is ridiculous. It’s getting so that I can sense a potential allergen a kilometer away. Given that we live in the midst of a farming belt, (wafts of eau de cow-poo float across the lake with the morning breeze) and that Spring has finally sprung (happy bees, plants, and hummingbirds) … I’m screwed!

In spite of this, I bravely soldier on.

*swoons and falls melodramatically back in writing chair, only to have it almost tip over, thereby forcing a most ridiculous flailing of limbs in order to avert a complete disaster*

With decorum now completely destroyed, (if I had any to begin with) I will now regale you with tales of my actual responses to the questions at hand.

I’m currently working on: this post, the next episode of Identical, (all things being equal it’ll go up tomorrow) and my mystery thriller set in a slightly distopian, slightly steampunky alternate reality, that started out as a short story. Pesky short stories, always wanting to grow up into novels, entire series’ even.

I’m not quite sure of what genre I write in, but if I had to categorise it to fit into an amazonian algorithm, I’d go with Science Fiction, because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to keep SF elements out of any story. The difference is, I suppose, that it’s my very own personal brand of science fiction-ness.

I started out writing SF because I once read something so badly written that even my adolescent self knew she could do better. SF also gave me an out from a life that was most definitely not what I ordered in the waiting room before I was born. I have lesbian characters because one can never have too many lesbians in space.

My writing process is rather boring, I’m afraid. I start at the beginning, go through the middle, and end up at the end. Then I edit, and rewrite, and edit, and rewrite, and edit … (rinse and repeat) until it’s baked. My creative process is somewhat different however, in that it’s almost never the same. Sometimes it’ll be a line of dialogue that catches my attention, or a scene, or something I read, observe, or spontaneously pops into my head. I shove it into a blender, set it to ‘high’ and wait and see what survives.

There are many permutations of the above processes, but when all the glitz and glamour is stripped away that’s what’s left.

The final part of this little exercise is to ‘pay it forward’. Instead, I’m simply going to invite anyone who feels ‘in the mood’, to have a go at it.

What are you working on? How does your work differ from others in its genre? Why do you write what you do? And, how does your writing process work?

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Writing is a Business

I first wrote about this concept here, wherein I detailed my thought process with ‘Self’. I usually call myself, ‘Self.’ An odd quirk I know, I blame Bette Midler, who could out-burlesque anyone, and I’m sure was Sophie Tucker in a previous life. However, and be-that-as-it-may …

Back to ‘business’ …

Never forget that ‘Writer’ is a profession, a business … (Someone who writes for their own pleasure, or processing, with the clear intent that no-one else, except perhaps a pillow-partner will ever get to read, is whole ‘nuther kettle of kittens ) . .. and it behooves us to treat our profession, our business, with the respect it deserves.

Looking at it from this perspective, we create our product, we market it, and we sell it, whilst at the same time creating more product. We do this ethically and hopefully, efficiently.

There must be some crossover between our professional personas and our personal ones. It’s human nature. A broad line in the sand if you will, that allows us to engage with our readership empathically, BUT, and I typed that in capitals deliberately, but, the moment we lose our ‘writer’ sense in any interaction, in any media, then we are socialising, and not operating our business.

This isn’t a bad thing, and sometimes socialising will lead us back into ‘business’ mode, but that distinction needs to remain clear – if nowhere else than in our own minds – for us to be effective businessfolk in these modern times.

As any business critter will tell you, the only way to succeed is to have a product. No product, no sale. It’s that simple. Our products are these strange hieroglyphs we create, that  put together, form concepts, ideas, plots, information, stories.

That’s only step 1. Step 2 is how these hieroglyphs are packaged, because, that same business critter will also tell you that your product ain’t worth a damn unless your market sees it. And that’s called a marketing plan.

Hands up anyone who’s overwhelmed? Running your own business, usually a one-woman or man show, is just about the hardest thing there is. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail, it’s just as hard.

I feel overwhelmed quite often. I stare at my computer and ask myself what the bloody hell do I do next? Sometimes I walk, or bicycle, away, sometimes pick the next item on my (never-ending) list and take care of it. Sometimes I write a blog post about how I’m feeling, and sometimes I get back to that one basic premise; product.

Writers gotta write!

P.S. A sense of humour is mandatory in all circumstances.

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“Putting a little time aside for clean fun and good humor is very necessary to relieve the tensions of our time” Hattie McDaniel

 

And now … the One and Only …. Miss Bette Midler!!!