Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."

Let's pretend for a minute that a friend made a new years resolution to lose 30lbs by April.  He or she (most likely she) wants you to be their work out buddy to help keep them motivated.  They make you join the gym and work out with them three nights a week, starting January 3. How long do you keep going with them before little Joey gets an ear infection or Molly has a ballet recital?  How long do any of us really keep our new years resolutions?

I'm going to give people the benefit of the doubt and say that most people give up between two weeks and a month.  It's hard to change your life temporarily, just waiting for the date when you can be done, so why bother? So why do we make resolutions every year, if we know we aren't going to keep them?  

A resolution shouldn't be temporary.  It should be a slow and steady change in your life to make it better, and you happier.  Saying 'I want to lose 30 lbs by April' is giving you an end to something that shouldn't have an end.  In order to be successful, I think the right words should be something like, "I want to live a healthy lifestyle and exercise on a regular basis."  There is no end to this statement.  There is no date in your head that you are staring at, just waiting for it to be here so you can finally relax on the couch to watch reruns of "Grey's Anatomy" and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's. When you have that, you have guilt. It's okay to sit around and watch TV sometimes.  It's even okay to eat a pint of ice cream.  Just not every day.  Make an attempt to better yourself by giving you a break.  Treat your body right every day, not just because you want to fit into that bikini by June. But because you want to be healthy and live a long life.  

I have yet to ever keep a resolution I've made.  I did the whole diet thing and lasted two weeks.  Last year, my goal was to write every day so I could finish my book.  As we all know, I haven't touched the thing in OVER a year.  This year I think I will fix what I want.  Yes, I want to finish my book so I can move on to editing and possibly publishing. But right now, I need to fix my brain so I'm motivated to pick it up and read it.  

So, my new years resolution is to let myself be.  To not worry or over think; to not assume or over analyze. That's my biggest problem.  I don't think it's good enough.  I don't think I"M good enough, so why waste the energy?  But this year, I'm changing the way I think.  How do I know if I'm good enough if I don't try?  How do I know if this book is any good if I don't give it a chance? 

I'm done questioning. I'm going to give it a chance. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

“Emotional truths can sometimes be conveyed more effectively, more compellingly, through fiction.”

Two weeks ago, I started reading a book series I kept hearing about everywhere; television, bookstores, twitter, facebook and the copies of Entertainment Weekly I get every Friday in my mail box.  At first, I wasn't sure if I'd actually like the story because the synopsis reminded me too much of the reality show "Survivor", which I can't stand, and also because I thought the name "Katniss" was stupid.  And to be completely honest, I was kinda right.  The storyline is similar to Survivor, and the name Katinss is stupid.  However, I'm pretty sure the author realized that because she made sure to include a joke about one of the other characters calling her "Catnip" as a nickname.

But I am glad to say that my assumption of my not liking "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins was wrong.  This series, as my best friend would say, is FUCKING PHENOMENAL! I haven't finished all three books yet, I'm only about half way through the second book, "Catching Fire", but I am already riveted by the beauty and irony of how the story relates to real life.


This is the synopsis taken from the back of the first book:

"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see."  

What it doesn't tell you is the people in the outer districts are slaves to the Capitol, starving, and forced to work 14 hour days doing the work the Capitol allows them to do and nothing more.  They are never allowed to leave their assigned District or go beyond the electric fences that keep them inside.  The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12, the last and least important of them all.  Most of the people in this district are so poor they starve to death, unless they find another way of finding food.  The only way to get hot water is to boil it on a coal stove and having electricity is so rare, it only turns on for a few hours a week. There are people in the districts who work for the Capitol called "the Peacekeepers" whose job is to enforce the rules of the government by publicly beating, whipping and assassinating those who break the laws.  {The irony of their name makes me want to slap someone. "Peacekeepers" who hurt and kill people... I'm sure that was the point, though.}

The people of the Capitol are rich and have more than enough food to feed the whole nation of Panem.  They decorate their bodies with full body colored tattoos, golden sparkling eyeliner, bright pink wigs, and implanted gems under the skin on various places of the body.  And every year they watch children kill each other for their own entertainment, and the gorier the deaths are, the better.  They have parties and gala's where there are never ending feasts, and they even offer a serum that allows you to vomit the food you already ate so you can eat more. The story not only gets the reader thinking, but also appreciating the ease of grocery shopping and having hot running water from the tap.  

How does this remind me of the real world, you ask?  Really, it's not much different.  I consider the USA to be like the Capitol and the starving nations in Africa to be the districts.  And that's taking it pretty far; we could keep it closer to home and compare it to Manhattan  and the Bronx.  Or Beverly Hills to Buffalo CountyThere is truth inside the pages of these books; about how people fight for survival and how the government tries to control the citizens of the world.  How some people have more than others and are often so blinded by lies and deceit, they can't see how poorly other people really live. 
Now, I am far from rich.  I have never been wealthy and my family isn't either, but I have a home.  I have heat in the winter and warm water to shower with and electricity to light my house and watch television. And I'm not ashamed to admit I have food thanks to the US government food stamps program.  I'm a single mother who isn't working due to illness and I've applied for disability insurance; something I know not every country in the world has.  I know the US isn't perfect, but I feel that I am lucky enough to have these options.  To have places to turn to when I don't have enough food to feed my son, when I don't have money to buy him the clothes he needs to stay warm, and when I feel like there's no hope left, I know things for us could be far, far worse.   

Every year 15 million children die of hunger.  Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of starvation.  Nearly one in four people, that's 1.3 billion - the majority of humanity - live on less than $1 per day, while the world's 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people. So tell me, how are these book any different from reality?  We watch people on television compete for money and fame every night, maybe not to the death, but still having to fight, all while making fools of themselves and/or getting seriously injured in the process.  And it's all for our entertainment, and because they know if they want to survive in this world, they'll need money, and a lot of it. 

"The Hunger Games" is truly a wake up call for the world.  An anti war message embedded with the harsh realities of what people have to go through just to survive.  I highly recommend reading, even if you aren't big into young adult books.  It's an amazing story with a powerful message and characters your heart will break for. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

Many people in the world write fiction. They come up with magical stories about worlds most of us couldn't even imagine, with characters and beings that keep us mesmerized until the very last sentence. But what most don't realize is that fiction isn't really fiction at all.  Fiction writers use the term 'fiction' as a mask to write about taboo topics or things other people wouldn't dare write about in Non-Fiction, in fear of being ridiculed, judged and persecuted for it.  These topics include areas like religion, war, hate crimes, prejudice, conspiracy theories, corruption in the government, and many many more.  As we've recently seen, out right telling the truth can get you framed for sexually assaulting two women and arrested for a crime you didn't commit because the government wants to control everything we say and do, and it needs the world to know who's really in control.  Scare tactics.  Because no matter how free a country claims to be, the citizens are really just puppets on strings, playing the game exactly how they want us to.  But writing what we love the most, writing fairy tales and nonsensical gibberish that can hide these truths is the one way we're able to get away with it. 

America claims that it's citizens have freedom of speech.  We have the right to speak exactly what we want, no matter what anyone else may think about it.  And we do... but only when the world thinks none of its true.  It's always a good idea to look for the truth inside the lie; to see what no one else can figure out; to step outside the box and think for yourself for once. 

All of the stories I have written have been based on something true, whether it be a personal experience I've twisted into fiction, or a strong belief I hold deeply, written in between the lines.  People write what they know, some even do it subconsciously. If all you've ever known was war and violence, you aren't going to be able to write a very good book about peace and love. 

My life has been surrounded by magic.  The kind only I and few others can see. I've been lucky enough to use my down falls and hardships as a gateway for my writing.  If it weren't for the three years I spent living in Binghamton, NY, the Vale would never have been created in my mind, and therefore "The Grand Awakening" would be nothing more than a lost idea.  If I hadn't been stuck between a rock and a hard place, the premise of the characters and their histories and futures would be non existent.  If it weren't for my latest stint of depression and anxiety, I wouldn't have become so obsessed with the color purple, {"It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind."  "The color purple has been know to affect us mentally and physically by being: uplifting, calming to mind and nerve, offers a sense of spirituality, encourages creativity."} and my NaNoWriMo story would not have been created.  The premise of "Summer Storm" was surrounded by the color purple, mostly from the names of the characters and the magic I've used. 

Reality can become fiction just as easily as fiction becoming reality... you just have to believe it's real. Understand that there is more to the story than the words your reading on paper.