Tuesday, October 11, 2016

About that video....

I've been writing this post in my head for several days, never quite getting to the point where I could put actual words on paper or into my computer, stopping myself from speaking out by rationalizing: "What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said about this issue?" And: "No one really wants to hear what I have to say."

Well. That last one brought me up short when I found myself writing it in my journal this morning. That, in a nutshell, is the story of my life. No one wanted to hear what I had to say when I spoke out about being sexually assaulted. That has been the story of too many women's lives, to be honest, and what I want to say now is this: it's not going to be that way anymore, because many of us have found a way to speak out that works.

It's amazing to watch so many women telling their stories and BEING HEARD FINALLY. Sorry for the all-caps, and yes I know it's like shouting online, but that's what has happened. Read the New York Times article linked to above: 27 million women spoke out about the sexual assaults they endured and the world finally heard them. Before that, a young woman in California wrote an open letter to the man who raped her and Vice President Biden wrote back. When he said, "I believe you. It is not your fault," he was speaking to one young woman in particular, but millions of us read in his letter the words we've been waiting a lifetime to hear.

To me, that's amazing, since this is not the way it happened for me, as a girl of 14 who came forward to report a sexual assault. I've written about that before (here) and I am so glad to see what is happening now. Perhaps this is the silver lining in this whole sorry episode: that Donald Trump has actually brought about a change for the good, despite himself, merely by acting as a trigger that set off a powder keg he didn't know he was sitting on.

And, yes, I know I titled this post "About that video..." but I'm not going to talk further about Trump and what he and that slimy guy Billy Bush said to each other eleven years ago. Everyone knows that part and the fallout, political and otherwise, that came out of it. A lot of people also know the outpouring of objections that showed up on Twitter and Facebook last Friday night to the use by media organizations of adjectives like "lewd" and "vulgar" to describe a tape in which a man admitted that he sexually assaulted women.

As if the use of nasty language is the crime here. As if we need to protect people so they won't hear curse words, by bleeping them out, but can turn a blind eye to the fact that this man said he'd assaulted women - because, when you're a star, you can get away with it.

No more. Thank God for social media, which has helped ordinary people to shine a light on the abuses of power that have plagued our world for the entire history of humanity. So many folks denigrate the use of Twitter and Facebook and the other social media platforms as "not real life" and "avoiding real relationships," but I can tell you that I felt supported by many, many people through these media this weekend in ways that I've never felt in "real life."

Social media brings people with common concerns together and empowers them, as a group, in ways that could not be easily accomplished before we had these communication tools. Today we are celebrating the International Day of the Girl, an event led 100% by youth to shed a light on the right of every girl for education, a safe living environment and freedom from abuse. When I sat down to write this post and saw that today was the day that had been designated to speak out for girls all around the world, it encouraged me to add my own voice to the chorus. In 2016, I can finally say that I do not feel alone in this fight any longer. So, thank you to all the young women who told their stories this weekend: you showed by your example what it means to have courage to speak the truth.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Writing Report

Books about Writing by Writers
It's been more than a little while since I wrote a writing report and I actually have a number of things to say - so here goes!

First, and very much at the forefront of my thoughts, is the Story A Day May challenge that I just completed. I started the month with big plans to write a story every day, but by May 3rd, I'd already missed a day and by the first week I'd missed three days and so on and so on. I've tried this challenge before and never made it past the first week, but this year I decided I would accept a result that was less than perfect - so I wrote stories when I could, and am happy to say that I ended with 11 "stories" on my list for the  month.

These 11 are not all full stories - in fact, only two of them are, and both of those are stories I had started before. But I finished BOTH and have actually submitted both already. And one of them just got accepted - today! This is obviously very encouraging, so I have a plan to extend the success of this Story A Day experiment: Story A Week Summer!

A few years ago when I first heard about the Story A Day challenge, I tried it, gave up, but started my own version, which was a challenge to myself to finish a story every week that summer. I reported on that here and found it to be enormously successful - and powerful. By the end of the process of focusing on a story a week I knew I wanted to write full time, so applied and was accepted to the MA in Writing program at Johns Hopkins University.

That was the summer of 2013 and I look back, amazed that three years have gone by. I've just completed my coursework for the MA program and hope to finish my thesis by the end of the year. More importantly, I've completed the novel I was working on and started a second one. Things are going along really well and I trust that will continue - as long as I keep writing.