Choosing to Smile
So. We have a new president, whose preference for “alternative facts” was enough to spark the biggest protest(s) the US has ever seen. My entertainment of the weekend, on the other hand, was whoever was running the DPRK News Service Twitter feed. (Fair warning, it’s NSFW.) Since I’ve gotten back to work on Fire to Dragon, in which North Korea is the regime benefiting from trapped draconic energy, this counts as research, right? At least I won’t be catering to the audience drawn to the bizarrely jingoistic movies Peter Berg and Marky Mark continue to make of national tragedies.
All of this to say: Observing the world through the disconnected lens of mourning makes for interesting perspective and odd juxtaposition. And a never-ending string of plot-bunnies. I see great promise for a scifi story spinning off from news about a revisioning of the doctor’s office. For a fee. After my fabrication of the 100 Billionaires Club in Russia for Dragon’s Pursuit (based loosely on information like what the Business Insider reported last summer), it’s somehow not surprising my stories are veering more into dystopian worlds ruled by oligarchs. Even though they’re supposedly speculative fiction.
Which brings me to this week’s quote. It’s been six weeks of bad days for hubs and me. We’re starting to find our footing and choosing daily to count the blessings we share. Now we have a friend facing surgery tomorrow after an unexpected hospitalization. Another friend hobbled by a mysterious knee injury. And another friend is facing her own existential crisis. To say nothing of the friends who struggle with lifelong disabilities compounded by migraines. The dumpster fire that was 2016 for us is spreading to others in our circle. It’s yet another reminder that life is short. (On a side note on that point, a new entry on my to do list is a creative will, per Neil Gaiman’s recommendation.) I’m beginning to appreciate the first of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths in an entirely different context. While the author of that article encourages us to stretch beyond the traditional translation of Dukkha as suffering, I don’t see any reason to argue with the premise that life IS suffering. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered something.
That means to me that as hard as it is not to get trapped in despair and darkness given all the evidence in our world that evil is winning, we do have things to be thankful for.
For me, for this past week, that’s meant I’ve started hitting some of my goals again. My phone says that despite the number of times I left it at home, I’m averaging .78 miles of exercise-level walking per day. Less than last week (probably because of all the rain we’ve been getting), but more than goal. As I mentioned earlier, I’m back into revision mode on Fire to Dragon, and am down to the final eight pages of that effort before I can pour on the steam with new words and power through to the end.
Hubs and I also watched the season ender for Sherlock. That was the closest to a miss of the entire series for me, mainly because the twisty evil it personified was so difficult to sit through. (I won’t lie, I got up and stood behind a wall to avoid watching some of the worst of the graphically violent scenes.) And yet. There was a story of redemption in it, too. (SPOILER WARNING) How someone so lost in psychopathy can find their mental footing and sense of connection is a profound and moving scene. Given how popular Cumberbatch and Freeman are now, it seems likely this will be the series ender as well as the season ender, so Moffat and Gatiss faced the impossible task of wrapping things up with the most challenging antagonist possible, while still allowing audiences the possibility of living on in that space–if only in their minds. We may re-watch it to try to unpack all the layers they crammed into it.
I’ve begun baby steps down the marketing path for my author self, too, having discovered several blogs working on publicity features, as well as guidance on some of the new tools KDP is offering in the Amazon Marketing Services suite. Since I have a gift card that came with the stipulation that I spend it only on myself, this seemed like an interesting opportunity to pursue. It’s also a fun throw-back to stuff I learned in school and at previous jobs, and may even prove itself enough to warrant a continued investment in the future. Don’t be surprised in coming weeks when I get serious about setting up a newsletter with subscriber-only perks, as opposed to leaning on the integrated features that come with Word Press or Draft2Digital.
I’m also waiting on the final version of a novella from Gayla, who’s branching out to contemporary romance with her latest. Convicted Heart should be out sometime this week (if you want a sneak peek, go join her Fiction Tavern, where she’s posted the first-draft version of the first eight chapters), and while I can’t help but anticipate the inclusion of some paranormal creature in the storyline each time I mark up her copy, it’s a different kind of story of redemption. And there’s a hot cowboy in it.
So I’ll be back again next week to report on my progress, and I’ll be cheering on my ROW80 buddies as they report theirs. And keeping a smile on my face despite everything.