Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Who’s Ready for a bit of MADNESS!?

That’s right, March Madness is upon us! And I don’t mean the broomless Quidditch silliness. I mean the annual WRITING event!

Wanna hear more?

My Writing Group, The Burrow, began this a few years ago… a crunch month, but instead of a novel in the month, it is a push to FINISH something, or EDIT something, or if you want to WRITE something. Your choice. Your goal. But with the support of fellow writers.

If you want to make March a month to get something done, JOIN US! We do our support at Facebook: BuNoWriMo

So that's it! Wanna join!  What do you plan on writing in March!?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Self Care in the Age of Activism

Before I get started, I have a question. Anybody else being inundated with spam? I normally used to get a notification once a month or so that there was a blog comment that needed moderating, but over the weekend I got like 15, in just a couple days. I'm thinking blogger botched some upgrade and made it a downgrade.

But back to the topic at hand...

Some of my Facebook friends will have seen an abbreviated version of this, but I thought it was work expanding on.

It is a time of high passions and many of us find ourselves putting a lot of energy into trying to hold off things we see as not just bad but destructive. Now I'm not going to get into which side and what activities. If you have been around, you know my politics, but this is not ABOUT that. This is some wisdom gleaned at a wellness day put on for some employees at the U where I work.

Now my purpose at being invited to this has to do with my dayjob. The U is making a serious effort at creating a more inclusive environment on campus and departments have champions, if you will. These champions, by definition, CARE. We care about people feeling included, which means collectively, we have higher than average empathy. And the risk factor I am addressing is related to THAT.

Compassion Fatigue

Why don't I start with a definition. Compassion fatigue is what happens when we see so many people hurting and we work like crazy to try to help, but the cases keep on coming. A person with a soul could get it watching the news these days. But at particular risk are people with causes close to their hearts. Nurses. Social workers. People who see people in the saddest of situations. But also human rights advocates. Aid workers. It covers an awful lot of us.

So How Do We Combat It?

Please consider these to be the patronuses against the dementors that are out there:

Purpose: keep the faith in yours—what you are doing is important. Allow yourself to feel that.

Creativity: use some, no matter how small it seems. This can be challenging. I find when my heart is drained it is harder to do what I consider good work. But there are lots of kinds of creativity, and who says it has to be “good”?

Connectedness with other people, real, online, friends, strangers. We did an exercise where we spent 90 seconds with a stranger, alternating—each got 45 seconds to ask questions, with a goal of finding a connection. And you know what? We did. It can be that fast. So the kind words in the grocery line matter. So does reaching out to someone you haven't talked to for a while, or pausing to actually interact with someone you see daily.

Presence: The other word is mindfulness. Try to be in the moment, rather than worrying about things that are happening in some other place or will take place at some other time. Our minds can wander, but if we stick to the here and now, the stresses don't compound so badly.

Sleep: 7+ hours a night, whenever possible.

Exercise: Especially if you can get out in nature to do it, or if it also involves some mind/body interaction. But most of us can get in a zone to exercise and take a little mental break.

Eat well: Lots of vitamins and minerals. Minimal highly processed crap. Whatever else works for your body, you probably know best. You can put whatever energy you can manage into it, but fresh stuff=good; processed crap=bad. Those are reliable rules.

Self Compassion: This is one we may have to keep reminding ourselves on. Be gentle with yourself. Take a break if you need. Let yourself feel good if you get something good accomplished. Let yourself grieve when it's called for. Treat you like you treat others... you are no less deserving.

And just keep on being your excellent selves and do what you can to make the world a better place, eh?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Insecure First Wednesday Anallat

Hallo fine peoples! Welcome to Insecure Writer's First Wednesday, and one month into the re-boot, known as the New Year.

So it's been a month of chaos... I did that old writing thing for a while. My buddy Tina-Sue and I holding each other accountable... but it all sort of fell to heck when the world did. So once again, back to it...

But as for this month's Insecure Post... the question is:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

The answer, at risk of sounding like a major moron, is bigly. Oops. Was than political? Sorry.

I still walk and read. That hasn't changed.
But to be honest, for a while it sort of ruined it for me. It used to be that I just loved a good story. It didn't matter if they broke writing rules, or hit a couple cliches, or pulled a deus ex machina. I was okay starting the story in a dream, or looking in a mirror. I actually liked adverbs. So for a while after learning the writing rule it was really disappointing to read all these bad books.

But you know what? They aren't actually all bad. The rule abiding writer sort notices, but if other readers don't then the book is FINE.

And then I sort of got into a perverse cycle of loving bad books because they taught me what not to do. I'm over that. Though I still advocate doing it for a while. Just not long enough to pick up any bad habits.

And for more than a year of learning to write mysteries I read only mysteries, and then learning to write YA I read only YA. Anymore I try to mix it up a bit. And I try to separate from the rules. But I am definitely a more critical reader than I used to be. I read a lot of fantasy because I don't write ANY fantasy. I'm more a puzzlemaster than a world maker. It allows me that domain to figure “fantasy just does that”. I want so badly to have reading as escapism still available to me, and that is where I've found it.

What about the rest of you? Has it made reading better? Worse? Just different? No different?

Go check out the other Insecure Writers!