Chokepoints and Milestones

Not a lot of people talk about the chokepoints in writing.  The industry as a whole focuses on two points: the creation of a manuscript and the publication of the manuscript.  And there’s good reason for this.  If you don’t have a manuscript, nothing else can get done.  And publishing is a manuscript is how your writing gets shared and/or you get paid (sadly, it’s usually or, not and, but that’s another matter).

The thing is, there’s a LONG road between those two points.  Once the manuscript is completed – and by that, I mean the first draft is truly done – you now embark on the long path of editing it.Continue reading “Chokepoints and Milestones”

By Dawn’s Early Light

The two weeks between June 19th and July 4th are the most Patriotic days of the year in the United States.  July 4th is the day we celebrate the signing of the declaration of independence, our breakup letter with England back in the Colonial Days.  Nevermind that it wasn’t actually signed by everybody until August sometime.  People say its America’s birthday.  Cool, great.

June 19th – or Juneteenth – is the observance of when federal troops were used to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.  Even though the proclamation was signed in 1862, it wasn’t actually enforced locally until three years later.  The first time federal troops rolled up into Texas and actually told slave owners ‘nah, son, you gotta let them go’, that’s what June 19th is celebrating.  The two holidays go hand-in-hand, really.  July 4th is when the first American freedoms were born; June 19th is when the least of American freedoms were finally delivered.

We’ll talk about things like the Burt Lake Burnout, Manzanar War Relocation Center, and Hutto Residential Center, another time.

But the point is, July 4th is like getting your learner’s permit when you’re 15.  Juneteenth is the unrestricted license you get at 16.Continue reading “By Dawn’s Early Light”

What’s Right of What’s Left

With all the societal unrest of late, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘rights’.  And I don’t mean ‘of late’, as in the last week.  I mean…well, hell, my whole life.  A child of the 1980s, I was born into a society that was struggling with the social contract for as long as I can remember.  Maybe that struggle began before the ink was even dried on said contract.

In the United States, are concept of rights is defined by our legal system, specifically the Constitution (the Bill of Rights is actually just the first ten amendments in the Constitution).  27 Amendments currently sit on the books, with a good hundred or so proposed every year congress is in session.  Earlier rights deal with individuals, whereas later rights are generally a bit more institutional.

The question becomes, though, does the presence of a right suggest a corresponding responsibility?  If you have the right to bear arms, do you have the corresponding responsibility to carry and use that firearm in a particular manner (IE responsibly)?  With the right to free speech, do you have a responsibility to speak the truth or speak accurately in some fashion?

Or are responsibilities wholly independent?

We codify rights, but not responsibilities.  I think that may say quite a bit right there.

And maybe solving some of our problems might come from doing just that: defining our societal responsibilities.

There is hope

In the past few weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking society was unraveling.  Fires, protests, abuses.  It can seem terrifying.

But the thing is, this isn’t society collapsing: it’s society changing.  And where there is change, there is discomfort and even pain.  But there is opportunity.  And where there is opportunity, there is hope.

Write elected officials.  The more local, the better.  Sure, your senators might not listen but you’d be amazed at how responsive a governor can be.  A state representative.  A mayor.  School board.  The closer to the ground, the more effect it can have.  And if you don’t think writing the school board will have an effect, remember they decide what kids learn and how they learn it.  Telling them to use good text books instead of shoddy ones can make a huge difference right there.

That’s another trick to it all: try to be specific.  Writing and saying ‘this needs to change’ is good.  Excellent, even.  But if you can say ‘vote for House Bill 123’, it can be a lot clearer.  And a lot more effective.  Because you aren’t just telling them what to do, you are telling them how you are measuring their effectiveness and responsiveness.

It’s a scary time, yes.  But there’s cause to be hopeful.

Very hopeful.