I took an unintentional hiatus from writing, dear readers. I had so many ideas. Too many ideas. As many of you know, I am a news and politics junkie. Having no designated horse in last year’s presidential race, I thought the ideal thing to do here would be to discuss politics in a way that could divest us from the sheer emotionality of it. I wrote several essays I never published about facts, digging into history, blah blah blah… I came off preachy; at least I realized it before I hit the “publish” button.
Part of being a writer is being an observer, but at the beginning of this year my observational compass was askew. The sheer volume and volatility of the daily news necessitated that I respond before the topic got stale, something very difficult to do given that I have few resources that other journalists have.
So I turned inward. I needed to work on myself or nothing I put out as a creative writer or a news-commentator will be without bias. True, it’s impossible to eliminate it entirely. But a self-aware person who is mindful of their intentions can create something of value to both themselves and their community.
That’s where things began to come into focus. I have always said, “You can’t change what’s happening in Afghanistan, but you CAN be a good neighbor.” I had forgotten my own commitment to community in the midst of election hoopla. Resolving to re-commit to mine, I reconsidered current commitments (Malden Cultural Council) and pondered the stories that were happening all around me that were not being told. Stories that deserved life, I felt. I am a proud Maldonian, and so I set out to discover my local scene again, never-minding the national drama.
For $30 I signed up for a class at MATV called “Writing Local History.” Currently working on a historic-fiction-genre novel, this class has turned out to be right up my proverbial alley and – bonus – is being taught by Globe reporter and author Stephanie Schorow.
I feel blessed that a course of this caliber is being offered for such short change; I’m getting a lot more out of this class than the one I spent $2K for at Harvard last year (insert eye roll). My plan is to roll my historical novel research and interviews right into my class project, which is to write a local history piece for Neighborhood View. I’ve received so many contacts of WWII vets right here in Malden – it lends itself perfectly to a story about them for my class-related feature. What the details or theme will be will emerge as I write and interview my subjects. Part of the process is not holding on too tightly to preconceived notions so I can allow the best of these interviews to emerge. (Sidebar: contact me if you know or ARE a WWII veteran interested in being interviewed for my project.)
I recently attended Mayor Christenson’s “State of the City” breakfast and emerged with many notes about stories I wanted to investigate and potentially write about. Look for these in local outlets like the Patch or the Advocate soon.
Yet another project in development is a podcast called “In My Head” which will empty out the contents of my brain for an hour-long weekly format I hope to take to radio airwaves one day. The concept is still a secret but it will not be dull; I promise you will laugh, and you will learn something – my two favorite things to do.
So you see, I found the best way to continue is to simply add value to the world I live in. Bitching and moaning on Facebook does not change anything. I encourage readers to stop un-following and un-friending folks who hold a different worldview from you. Human beings are not here on this planet for safety or consistency, (though we crave it with every fiber of our survivalist-programmed selves). We are here to stretch, to grow, to evolve, to change, to become a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday. Anything less than that and we live in sin, which in ancient Greek means to “miss the point of existence”.
Seek to understand your neighbor, and when you don’t? Love them anyway. That is what the Creator calls us to do, if you’re into the whole God thing. And if you’re not then just be a decent fucking person – you’ve only got one go-around, eh? I have been good and I have been bad – being in the Light is much more fun, believe me.
In the meantime, since someone else developed an online database much more quickly than I ever could (ahem, Michael Moore), I will leave a couple of links below to get your political mojo active, if that’s your cup of tea.
Myself, I’m taking a step back. As a critic and commentator I think it’s important to my readers that I remain independent – for now. I may change my mind, as I often do. But that is what balance is about: minute adjustments made on a moment-to-moment basis allow me to stay in the center. Have a blessed day.
The Action Group Network – activist network created by House of Cards writer Beau Willimon, who’s taking a break from writing to get involved in grassroots work nationwide.
5 Calls App – **the best activist hack, like, ever…