Doing the something I can do

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.  
~ Helen Keller

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January 9, 2013 · 10:51 pm

“I do it myself…”

Living with a two-year-old can give one a new perspective on life. This stage of development is so much fun to watch as toddlers discover new skills and determine what is within their power to control—all things, of course!—often leading to battles of will with other toddlers or parental figures. I should mention, this is more fun to watch when you are not the overwrought parent who has to deal with them.

While this is a developmental stage through which all humans must progress, those that grow up in unhealthy or unstable environments sometimes get stuck in this two-year-old mentality. It may manifest as “if I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself” or “I don’t need help; I can do it myself” or as one is emotionally falling apart, “I’m fine. I’m NOT tired.”

What does this have to do with me as a writer? Well, I’ve found myself doing a little self-check recently. In November, I made the decision to independently publish my first novel, which is book one of a five part fantasy series. I came to that conclusion after considering many things, which I won’t bother to list here. But in the back of my mind, questions needled at me: Is my choice being influenced by my trust issues? Am I back to being a two-year-old and stomping my foot saying, “I’ll do it myself”? (I mean no offense to two-year-olds; they have good reason to hold their ground.)

It’s always good to question our motivations and to take a critical look at the reasons for our decisions. It can save us from making emotionally-driven, poor choices. In this case, however, I think the questions came out of self-doubt and lack of trust in my decision-making abilities. Either way, I have answered the questions and am surprised at some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

First of all, independently publishing should never be “I do it myself.” It certainly hasn’t been for me. The number of alpha-readers, beta-readers, critique partners, writers’ groups and writing conferences alone create a tribe of helpers. Then add a mentor, an editor, a graphic artist, and a cover artist, who have all helped to make my vision a reality, and the tribe grows. In addition, there are authors I’ve never met, who have blogged, Facebooked, tweeted, or published how-to books with wisdom from their own journeys that have smoothed my way.

Secondly, I’m learning to trust my decision-making ability. While I have sought the skill and wisdom of many along the way, the decisions are ultimately mine to make, and the consequences mine to bear. On a good day, I’m certain I am making good decisions, but there are always those bad days (artist temperament, right?) when I’m sure they all suck and I’m doomed to fail and fade into oblivion, or worse yet, undergo the knife skills of vicious one-star reviewers. In the end, it has been a good experience for me to face these doubts and move past them.

Thirdly, perspective is essential. While writing and publishing my novels is very important to me, if they are not “successful”—if people don’t love them as I do, or if few copies sell—it will change nothing in the universe. I have friends battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses—that’s important. I know others whose families are falling apart—that’s heartbreaking and truly hard work. Daily, I see the ongoing suffering of those enslaved and trafficked worldwide—real life and death issues. I remind myself of these things, and I find balance. I hope my novels make a difference in some people’s lives, and I hope to raise funds to support survivors of human trafficking. But if that doesn’t happen, life won’t end.

I realize no matter what the future may hold, I’m still better for having taken this journey. I am richer for the people I have come to know along the way. I am wiser for the multitude of things I have learned. I am more confident than when I started. And maybe, just maybe, I’ve conquered some of my two-year-old trust issues.

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Not a “Ponography” Site

This weekend I was at the Word Press inaugural blogging conference in Portland. So many bloggers. So many great technical minds. The “happiness lounge” was filled with brilliant, young computer engineers helping bloggers find their blogging nirvana. I was inspired to stop neglecting my poor blog.

So as I was reacquainting myself with the dashboard, I checked the stats on my blog, mostly interested in what countries the visitors were from. It’s amazing to see places listed that I didn’t even know were countries. Then I looked at what search terms people were using to get to my blog and was really disheartened by what I found. Some were searching for “ponography”–yes, spelled that way. My site deals with a lot of anti-trafficking issues, and apparently I tagged one of them as dealing with “ponography”–yes, I made the same spelling error. I’m sure the searchers were not looking for articles on the misuse of children in pornography or the effects of rampant, graphic pornography on the sexual development of adolescents, but that’s what they found. For some reason it makes me feel a little sleazy to know that the Google search engines are directing people my way who are looking for “minor ponography pictures” as if I were promoting one of the very things I stand against.

Writing a blog and being involved in social media is a strange adventure. I’ve never thought of myself as a naive person–I’ve lived waaaay too much life to be that way–but I feel like I’m seeing a whole different world through the internet. Some very wonderful things like being able to connect with people all over the world–over 150 countries in a year. That’s mind-boggling. But there is the dark side too. I’ve been fortunate not to have to deal with negative comments on my site, but I see them on other people’s blogs. People can be so mean-spirited and hateful. Something about anonymity seems to free people from civility. I like honesty, but I believe honesty can, and should, be civil and intelligent. And my hope is–naive as it may seem–that I will be able to keep this blog site a place of shared knowledge and civility.

So those are my musings on this Monday morning. Hope you have a great week.

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Commodification of Women and Children by ISIL

A report from the U.S. State Department today speaks to the commodification of women and children by ISIL, particularly the captured Yezidi population. The State Department strongly condemned ISIL’s actions and called for international support in bringing the offenders to justice. They estimate the number of victims to be in the thousands–women and children being enslaved, brutalized, and trafficked. I agree with the State Department: These acts are barbaric and call for universal condemnation.

State Department Meetings With Yezidi Leaders (Taken Question).

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Courageous Girls Escape Boko Haram

As Halloween approaches I am reminded of the real-life monsters that exist all around the world in different shapes and sizes. The Boko Haram are craven creatures who attack helpless school girls for no better reason than the girls wanted an education.

BBC News – Escaping Boko Haram: How three Nigeria girls found safety http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29762252

I am amazed and humbled by the courage of these three young Nigerian girls in the face of the Boko Haram monsters. And hope that we do not forget the others who are still held captive. These “men” (I started to call them animals, but no animal is this cruel and base) need to be stopped.

This second article talks about some of the things to which these kidnapped girls are subjected. Not an easy read.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2809503/Survivors-reveal-horrific-fate-teenage-girls-kidnapped-Islamic-extremists-Boko-Haram.html

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Face the Fear

You gain 

strength, courage, and confidence

by every experience

in which you look fear in the face.

You must do

the thing you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Inspired Courage

I think of those who are still enslaved… and surviving–even though many times they may want to succumb, to give up, they do not. They are my heroes–innumerable, faceless heroes. They are my definition of courage. I think of them, and I’m inspired to work harder, to live better. It requires little courage to live a privileged life, a safe life. Though if one has ever been enslaved, even living in freedom–and relative safety–requires daily courage: to not forget, to not disconnect, to not be tempted to eradicate the scars, to not get lost in the tenebrious labyrinth of regret. Today, I am brave too. 

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Wisdom from One of the Greats

“There is no greater agony than bearing

an untold story inside of you.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

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