Beware the Comments Section

I learned my lesson a long time ago about arguing with strangers on the internet.  At least, I thought I did.  Actually, it turns out that I learned ONE lesson about arguing with strangers on the internet.  That was not to try to persuade someone with divergent views to come around to my way of thinking.  That never ends well.  Or begins well.  The middle is pretty bad, too.

There are times when I still make the mistake of engaging with people that I do agree with to argue about the finer points.  I have this naive idea that if we are on the same side, I can point out something that the other person may not have thought of to better strengthen their arguments and hone the focus on our collective cause.

Turns out, that is completely stupid, and a recipe for nastiness.  I was reminded of that fact (yet again) today when I found myself in a spat with some Bernie Sanders followers on Facebook.  I won’t go into the entire thing; I just want to share a little taste. It all began over this graphic that someone posted.

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I’ll let you take a moment to look it over before I overlay my thoughts on it.

Done? Okay great.

I was laying in bed last night and I tried to talk myself out of saying anything, but I couldn’t help myself. I wrote something about how I am Pro-Bernie but that I am disappointed with the cartoons.  I didn’t say that it was mean and sexist, which is what I was thinking.  I just said that I thought the artist is heavy handed and should let the data speak for itself.

Someone would later point out that these are charicatures, not cartoons.  And I do understand what that means – it is meant to poke fun. But just compare them! Bernie actually looks better than he does in real life, as if he is being played in a movie by Bryan Cranston in old-age makeup. Hillary looks like she stuck her head in a bucket of bees. 

I got a lot of responses to my comment, but I wasn’t dog piled.  I should be happy about that.  Still, someone told me that if I thought Hillary looked worse than Bernie I was “just rationalizing,” which makes no sense because I stated that I voted for Sanders in last week’s caucus.  Several people accused me of “missing the message.” Someone else took up my cause and was called an “absolute psycho” for her trouble. The next person said we all sounded like “hypocritical jackasses.” And then someone said I should be glad that they didn’t draw Hillary with her broom.  And finally, one of the Hillary supporters told the lot of us to embrace Clinton or brace for President Trump.

Seriously? This from a bunch of people who are ostensibly on the same side. No wonder there is so much blood running down the center of the aisle. 

I’m going to tread more lightly going forward. At least for the rest of the cycle. Then I’ll get back to challenging my peers. Hopefully by then rational thought will have returned. 

Just seven more months, my fellow Americans. Hang in there. 

 

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Bear River Bird Refuge, Utah

I didn’t see many birds on my visit to the refuge, but I did enjoy our beautiful mountains. I never get tired of seeing them. 

   
   

With a Little Help From My Friends

I used to get discouraged when I would take a writing class or attend a conference and be forced to acknowledge that the world is full of talented writers who are as more driven than I am to create and tell stories.  It made my dreams feel ordinary and facing the competition was depressing.

Then, five years ago, I joined a writing group formed in one of those classes. I never felt that way again. I became invested in these people and the stories that they tell. I want them to achieve their writing and life goals and I believe that they will. I’ll be there with reasonably priced champagne when they do.

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend who is a former member of my writing group.  I mentioned that I had submitted a writing sample to another agent and that I was prepared for the statistical probable rejection that I will receive.  He replied with this message:

Final 2015 stats from an agency in Denver: 29k submissions. 130 requests for full manuscripts. 3 new authors signed.

You don’t get to be one of the final three without first being one of the 29k.

Writers are not your competition.  They are your fellow dreamers.  We all have stories to tell.

Sit down and email one of them right now.  I guarantee they will appreciate the encouragement.

Utah Weather?

I have a catalpa tree in my back yard. It is beautiful, but high maintenance. All year long, it sheds something or other. Leaves, flowers, bark, and long sharp pods that will (on occasion) impale themselves in the lawn and stand vertically, at attention, until I get around to tidying the yard. It’s slightly disconcerting.

I saw what I thought was the end of a catalpa pod on the roof of my shed and knocked it off and to the ground. Only it turned out to be a banana in jerky form. 

How the hell did that get there? I still can’t figure it out. My best guess is that a magpie stole it from a picnic and then left it on my roof when it realized it wasn’t a corn dog.

Wily little buggers, those magpies. I don’t mind them, but if they were much bigger – I’m thinking beagle sized – I would never leave my house. 

  

Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon

In my last post I bragged about having overcome the sting of rejection. I all but claimed the I was the Dread Pirate Roberts, and rejection was my iocane powder. 

Remember that story I spit shined and sent back into the world to take some cuts? Yeah, it took some cuts. Immediate and merciless cuts. 

When you submit a story and it takes a few months to get rejected, you get this idea that maybe you made it through a few rounds before it was tossed out of consideration. But when you get rejected with 72 hours there are no such happy delusions. They had zero interest. They would have thrown it over a shoulder if they weren’t reading it on an iPad. They may have rolled their eyes at my pitiful writing and probably didn’t get past the first page. But I definitely have no talent and should stop bothering these poor people by pretending otherwise. 

Most of the time writing is my passion and I know I will always write, regardless of whether I have any success with publishing, because I must. It is and has always been the way I make sense of the world. 

But sometimes writing is a second job that I took on which pays only in disappointment. And sometimes I feel well paid.