Plunging into Social Media

The last few months, I’ve been wrestling with the decision of how to publish – as well as finishing the current series I’m working on. After much thinking and as many cups of coffee as sleepless nights, I have decided to publish myself. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that I just want people to read it. I’m not out to become a bestselling author with a summer home here and a fall retreat cabin there. I just want to write books that make me happy, and hope that they may make some other people happy as well.

Note to the universe if it’s listening: not that I would mind a summer home and a fall cabin- that’s just not my goal here.

So, in the grand quest to publish myself, there’s also a million subcategories within self-publishing (that may be an ever so slight over-exaggeration). After looking over all my options, I have decided, however, to go with e-book publishing through Amazon.

At some point you have to choose something, or so they tell me.

At some point you have to choose something, or so they tell me.

Which leads me to the point of today’s post: in addition to teaching by day to pay (some) bills, I am embarking on a rather intense editing journey to get my first urban fantasy book (in a series of four) ready to go. And because I’m nothing if not ambitious, I have also FINALLY (I know, I know) created myself a Twitter. I shall therefore endeavor to keep myself plugged into the world rather than hiding away in my igloo oasis of snow.

It’s time for this little introvert to fly. Or at the very least, jump the hell out of the nest and see what happens.

nest

Of Introverts and Explanations

Okay, so obviously my grand plans to post regularly, following my initial brief hiatus, rather fell through. Since the initial purpose of my blog was to help me muddle through my decision making about whether to stay in or leave my PhD program, and that decision has long since been made, I’ve been muddling since then through what I’d like to actually post about. So, forget consistent themes, and enter random thoughts.

Even though today is Saturday, the one day when I try to sleep in, I woke up early today. And why? So I could spend the day gloriously alone. Shout out to all my fellow introverts.

I’ve been bouncing around for the past few months, crashing with various people in various places because (quite frankly) I can, and why not take advantage of that at the moment. However, that has also made it impossible to have more than a few hours of time purely to myself. Whenever I take the Myers-Briggs personality test, I always max out the introvert scale. A few hours alone is not enough for this girl, nor is a full day by myself at a library or coffeeshop. If there is another person in sight, I am unable to fully unwind.

I’m not anti-social, just selectively social. Being an introvert also doesn’t mean I’m painfully shy or despise people, parties, and being public in general.  But for those of you who don’t understand what introverts are all about, and since there is a lot of misinformation about us circling around the great interwebs, let me give you a helpful list, which may or may not apply in different degrees to other introverts. Being an introvert, for me, means:

1. Just because I will happily talk to the people around me in a check-out line for the two minutes we’re waiting, does not mean I also want to talk to my hairdresser for the entire thirty-plus minutes I’m in her chair.

introvert4

2. I am just as excited about an entire week of vacation where I get to stay at home and not leave the house once (because I had enough foresight to buy groceries and all possible emergency supplies the week before), as I am about a vacation to the UK.

introvert5

3. If you make any sort of comment about how reserved, quiet, or shy I must be, this is my reaction:

introvert1

4. If I have to go more than one week without a day entirely to myself, I get irrationally angry.

introvert2

5. If I have been quiet for a while in a group but then decide to say something, and your reaction is to say, “Oh look, it speaks,” guess how amusing I think that is.

introvert3

6. Okay, so five seems like more than an adequate number of things to describe my introversion. Therefore, I’m done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am very busy being alone and listening to my own thoughts today. Hannah, out.

Of New Beginnings and Sometimes

I just saw the movie Begin Again, and first off, let me say that I loved it. It was a beautiful look at art and creativity, at relationships and brokenness, at second chances and new beginnings.  Also it happens to contain some beautiful music. Go see it.

begin again

I’ve been thinking about new beginnings a lot, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since I did just drop out of a Ph.D. program to try to make it as a full-time writer. (If you’re just tuning in, you did read that right.) I think the beautiful, as well as terrifying, thing about new beginnings is that they are occurring ALL THE TIME. In some ways, I have been so liberated by moving to new places, meeting new people, picking up my life and starting it somewhere else; in other ways, I am always leaving so much behind, as I suppose we all are.

But even though new beginnings can come in the form of new jobs, new cities, new relationships, or even just new stages in your life, I think sometimes it’s just as hard to wake up every day and begin, again. Excuse a moment of hokey-ness as I say that of course, every new day holds promise and possibility.

However.

Every new day also holds pain and disappointment and regret, and sometimes the negatives far outweigh the positives of getting out of bed and starting everything again. Maybe art is the only thing that gets you out of bed. Sometimes, art– yours or someone else’s– is the only thing in which you find refuge; and sometimes, in the worst of times, maybe you cannot even find solace in that. And perhaps today, you won’t, and perhaps today, I won’t either. But as my beloved Scarlett O’Hara would say, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

And sometimes, that’s all we can count on to keep us going. And sometimes, that’s enough.

scarlett

Of LibertyCon

So this past weekend, I enjoyed the sights and wonders that are LibertyCon, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In a word, amazing. In several more words, it was– as it has been every time I’ve gone in the past few years– a lot of fun and quite informative, to boot.

If you’ve never been to a convention like this one (and even remotely enjoy science fiction and/or fantasy), you really ought to try to find one. There are panels on every possible subject from the messiest ways to kill zombies to how close scientists are to designing actual Star Wars technology. That’s not to mention roundtables on what’s new in military sci-fi, if you still need an agent in the publishing world, and various goods or objects that effectively crippled civilizations throughout history. Top that off with an art show and a dealers’ room filled with more weapons, books, jewelry, and apparel than you know what to do with, and you’ve got yourself a real LibertyCon. Oh, and did I mention that such writing giants as John Ringo and David Drake (and so many others) came to this year’s festivities?

LibertyCon2014

While all of that is remarkably fun, I also enjoy meeting new people there, many of whom come from out of town but just as many of whom live locally. I even met a local artist, Anita Moore, who creates 3D environments for table-top strategy games, got to take a look at some of her work, and was able to chat with her about how in the world she creates such beautiful and lifelike environments.

I also went to a panel on space opera fiction, where an excellent point was made that I wanted to share here. It’s an old adage that you should “write what you know.” While there is a lot of truth to this saying, it should be taken with a healthy dose of salt in certain circumstances. After all, if we only ever wrote what we know, how vastly limiting that would be– let’s face it, entire genres of literature would vanish. While it’s helpful to have a lot of life experiences when you set out to write, I hardly think you have to have experienced everything about which you’d like to write.

Space Opera, courtesy of http://kelpiewinterfall.blogspot.com

Space Opera, courtesy of http://kelpiewinterfall.blogspot.com

I think “write what you know” refers far more to the representation of human emotion. I’d say for the most part, we’ve all experienced fear, betrayal, heartbreak, rage, joy, giddiness– perhaps in varying degrees and all obviously prompted by different circumstances. I think it is the ability to portray these emotions, these things that make us so very human, that is part of what makes good fiction. Now, does there need to be a kick-ass plot as well? Of course. But without good characters who we’re invested in, who feel things as we feel them, the best plot in the world can become largely worthless. At least in the humble opinion of yours truly.

DSCN0822

Of Mid-Week Rantings

Last week, a man accidentally shot himself while driving and died as result. The story consequently popped up on Facebook in a number of people’s posts, as well as I’m sure on a number of other social media sites to which I do not belong. The majority of them were cruel and derogatory, with the following excerpts being actual things people posted:

“I love this. The more people accidentally shooting themselves, the less people accidentally being shot by idiots.”

“Bye bye to another idiot!”

“I’m just glad he didn’t hit anyone with his car (or, let’s be real here, his truck).”

Well. I couldn’t care less which side of the aisle your politics fall on; the fact is, a man is dead. While I don’t know the full circumstances of what happened– other than it appeared to have been an accident– someone’s son, someone’s friend, maybe even someone’s father, is dead.

I also do not care if any of these posts were intended as humor or not, because it doesn’t matter. Although it’s important for everyone to be able to take a joke (which incidentally, is part of what makes South Park so amazing, because it pokes fun at everyone and everything pretty equally), there’s a line when it comes to real tragedy. Lately, that line seems to be one people feel no shame in crossing.

It shouldn’t matter if you love guns or hate them, a man is dead. To use him either to advance your own political agenda or to make yourself feel superior to someone you regard as “less-than” or an “idiot,” is unacceptable. When people call a man like this an idiot and say good riddance, whether they’re serious or not, they dehumanize him. Furthermore, it sets up a dangerous us-them dichotomy, where “they” are the enemy, so it’s okay to dehumanize them.

Human life is valuable, is sacred, and the loss of it should never be taken lightly, whatever the circumstances. The callousness of this dehumanization should never be acceptable. For that matter, that us-them mentality is largely where this two-party system has landed us in the States, and I think it’s safe to say it’s getting us nowhere, and fast.

End rant.

yosemitesam

Of Choices and Indecision

So today’s meditation is on the power of choice. Everything is a choice, including inaction.

There, that’s it.

Well maybe not quite. Nothing’s ever that simple or black and white– or at least, rarely is that the case. I’ve been thinking a lot about choice lately (obviously), and why it took me so long to declare my decision regarding my career switch, when it seems clear looking back over my posts from the last few weeks that I’d already made my choice. Announcing one’s decision out loud always makes it real, and I think this thought temporarily paralyzed me.

This is not the first time I’ve been paralyzed by the thought of making a choice, and there have been long stretches over the years where I haven’t wanted to make any choices for many reasons, none of which is my aim to discuss at the moment.

photo

It’s so easy to think– and I have been so guilty of thinking– that it’s better just not to choose anything, or at least not to declare one’s choice, because what if it’s the wrong choice or what if people think badly/differently/judgmentally of me after that choice or what if it alters my life/relationship/career in irrevocable ways? However, and this has taken me some time to see in my own life even though it is so easy to see in others’ lives and in history (isn’t that how it always is?), not deciding is just as much of a decision. Inaction is its own choice, its own decision.

I used to regard indecision (which is ironic in its very definition) as negative. And perhaps in many cases, it is. Hesitation has been the cause of much evil in the world perpetuating itself. However, sometimes when we feel it is impossible to make a choice, I have found the words of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins incredibly helpful. Hopkins wrote many of my favorite poems, but his poem “Carrion Comfort” is particularly apt here:

“Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.”

Now since this is not a poetry analysis, I’m not even going to try to expound upon all the nuances of Hopkins’s words here. I simply want to draw attention to the idea of “can something.” If planning far into the future is overwhelming, if there is something you must do or say that leaves you cold and nauseous at the thought of even contemplating, if even day-to-day decisions seem beyond the realm of possibility, you can still do something, unconsciously or consciously. Even if that action consists solely of hoping, solely of wishing day to come, solely of not choosing not to be- even so, it is action, it is a decision, and it is yours.

Indecision by Charles Baugniet

Indecision by Charles Baugniet

“In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn’t matter how hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

Of Saints and Special Snowflakes

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone. So this past weekend, I went to the beach, watched the sun come up every morning, walked on the beach in the moonlight every night, and took a bunch of pictures. Here are a few of my favorites.

image

image

image

I could really just leave this post at that– who am I to speak after the majesty of the ocean?– but since I am by no means a professional photographer (clearly) and this is not a photo blog, here are some thoughts of the day:

Last time, I talked about the importance of the individual and how we all are unique beings unlike any others. This is true. At the same time, I think it is important not to get so caught up in being special snowflakes that we forget how tiny we are in comparison to the rest of the universe. (See the connection to the ocean yet?). We are tiny, finite, fragile creatures, achingly so in comparison to such vast, seemingly endlessly renewing founts of life like the ocean. And I think it’s important to remember our smallness. If we don’t, we run the risk of becoming so enamored of ourselves and our own ideas (believe it or not, I’m actually not just talking about academics here) that we forget how much of a bigger picture we are part of.

It is also important, however, not to lose sight of the fact that while we may not each be the emperor and empress of our own– or any– universe, that doesn’t meant we aren’t each gifted to speak to, of, or for the world in different ways– so long as we always bear in mind the fact that we are but one part of a vast, terrifying, and exquisite universe. If you don’t first recognize this fact, how can you ever hope to find- not to mention take- your place in the world?

So here’s my Saint Patrick’s wish for everyone: “May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.” And to this saying, may I add: May you find the road easily in the darkness or the light, and may you drive all the snakes of doubt and fear and what-have-you from your life as decidedly as Saint Patrick drove them from Ireland. Sláinte.

image