Archive | December, 2017

The Yin and Yang Of Us All

26 Dec

My dad and his parents

My parents were racists.

I don’t know of any way to sugarcoat that fact.

They were, without a doubt, products of their upbringing and the atmosphere in which they lived, but that’s like saying they were only Level Four Racists as opposed to Level Five, the really bad racists.

The weird thing is, I didn’t really notice it until I made it to college.  I was simply unaware of their racism as I blithely frolicked my way through adolescence.  But once in the hallowed halls of higher education, this being in the late 60’s, it became painfully obvious, all too quickly, that my parents were lilly-white to the bone, lower-income Irish mutts who looked down upon anyone else of “color.”

It seems odd to say this, but that’s just the way things were back then.

I’ve written often of the admiration I had for my father.  He was the most influential person in my life, and much of who I am today is because of who he was and how he raised me . . . much of who I am, but not all of who I am, and it is essential to realize that fact.

It’s complicated!

We are complicated!

And I always try to remember that fact when I’m writing and creating characters.

People are complicated!

We are not one-dimensional creatures.  There is some good in all of us.  There is some bad in all of us.  The Yin and Yang of the human spectrum, in each of us, a constant struggle, which will win the final battle, no holds barred, may the best quality win.

It would be easy for me to condemn my parents for their racism, but if I do that I’d better be prepared to take a long look in the mirror at myself.

I also try to remember that when I’m writing and creating characters.

We humans have depth.

A good writer understands that.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Advertisements

Connecting

19 Dec

Really connecting

I received an email from a woman in England the other day.  She had reached out to me several months ago about her daughter, an alcoholic, but I hadn’t heard from her since that initial discussion.  Originally she just wanted to “converse” with someone who understood addiction. I don’t think she was looking for any answers.  She just needed to be heard by someone who understood what she was feeling.

Anyway, I heard from her again.  Her daughter died.  She needed to tell me, and she also wanted to thank me for the comfort I had given her, in that initial email, and in my articles about alcoholism.

I am humbled!

What we do, as writers, matters.

Never doubt that fact.

And what we do as human beings matters.

Never doubt that fact.

It is so easy to lose sight of that point.  We lock ourselves away in a spare bedroom, office, or writing studio, and we pour out the words, one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand and more, day after day, week after week, in some cases reclusive by choice, no other human contact, and then we publish and we start all over again . . . but our words, published, go out there to the seven billion, and for some our words mean a great deal, a human contact, an understanding, a touch of empathy when most needed . . .

Really connecting

And that is, in my opinion, a miracle!

I now have a friend for life, that mother in England, suffering from a terrible loss, all because my words reached her at exactly the moment she needed them . . . one person touching another . . .

A miracle!

Do not mistake . . . this is not about me or how great I am or any of that other nonsense.  This is about the importance of caring, and the importance our words can have.  Two human beings making meaningful contact and connection . . .

Tears

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Making It Through The Holidays

5 Dec

“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray . . . “

Well our leaves are gone, not brown, and the sky is definitely gray, and most likely will be until April.

Sigh!

Holidays are tough for me.  They have been since my teen years.  I suspect I’m not alone in that statement.  I don’t know what the classic dysfunctional family looks like exactly, but I suspect quite a few of us can give particulars which add up to the whole, and I’m sure my dis-ease during the holidays traces back to family.

To overcome this malaise and semi-depression, in the past, I’ve consumed copious amounts of alcohol. That is no longer an option for me, not for the past eleven years, so to compensate I either get real grumpy or I attempt to act like nothing at all is wrong, everything is wonderful, and by God we are going to have the greatest Christmas ever, with presents and decorations and forced gaiety.

It has only been in the past couple years that I’ve come to realize it’s okay to be depressed and out-of-sorts.  I don’t have to act like I’m enjoying Christmas if I don’t want to.  It’s not my responsibility to make sure everyone else around me is happy.  I can just be me.  I can own my feelings, deal with them the best I can, and keep marking off the days on the calendar until normalcy returns. And thank the gods I have a partner like Bev who allows that and totally understands that.

And I always have writing!

For me, writing is therapeutic.  Writing allows me to escape.  Writing gives me a release of the frustrations and sadness and yes, anger.  Writing is now my drug of choice and I will forever be grateful for it.

So this year I’m not going to kick myself in the butt for not putting lights up outside; I’m not going to feel bad about not buying more gifts for people;  and I’m not going to fake laughter or feign joy if it’s missing.

I’m just going to be me . . .

And write!

Happy Holidays to you all!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”