Hump Day Help

I enjoy helping people. Recently I received some help on a project I definitely could not have done myself, all alone, little old me. I’d like to pay it forward.

The project I’m talking about here that I needed to accomplish involved replacing only about six feet of flexible line for my fuel delivery system. Sounds easy until you realize the entire fuel tank needed to come off the vehicle. Just like a Drink needs a Mug; Just like a Skull needs a Brain, I needed Help with a capital letter. By the numbers it looked like this:

3 brothers

6 feet of fuel tubing

16 dollars for the tubing

25 bolts and nuts

227 jokes

Totally worth it, especially if you consider one last quantification: an auto shop would have charged 300 dollars for labor on that particular project. And I probably wouldn’t get but one joke out of an auto shop mechanic. Soooo worth it.

How I want to help others is not so much automotive, although I’m not opposed to helping turn a wrench now and then. What I’m thinking of is how I’ve noticed a few people asking for help from the #writingcommunity on Twitter. The requests are here and there, and the assistance is the same—sporadic. Sometimes the questions get answered, and other times they don’t even get noticed. What I’m proposing is to schedule the help sessions to one day. Wednesday. I want to call it “Hump Day Help” and I’ll link it to the writing community with both hashtags, like so: #writingcommunity #humpdayhelp. In this way, it will be more visible and more likely to help those who are new to the community.

This will be helpful to me as well. I’m not saying I will only help people. My first question will be what title to use for my new novel. I’m favoring Fille Fatale, but I wonder if it’s too much French for the reading public. Will they look at the title and make the assumption that the inside is all French as well?

Regardless of the answer to my question, the Hump Day Help will be for those who want to pay it forward also. There are lots of people who feel successful and knowledgable enough to offer advice. They could even use the tag to say, “Here I am, if you need to ask me any questions, start asking.” And I’m sure they will.

Just like my brothers, there are many generous souls out there in the world ready to make a project 227 times better than it would have been without their help.

We Call Louder

Sometimes they don’t answer.

We call a few times.

Then we call louder.

We know they’re out there. We know it’s important that they eat the meal we’ve prepared for them, so we keep calling.

Watch for the signs, you’ll know they’re there too.

Birds suddenly abandoning a perfectly good tree is one sign. Branches snapping is another. If you were in the woods, well, you wouldn’t want to be there, but if you were, you might hear them breathing, and that would be another sign. Your heart beating faster than it ever has would be the final sign before you broke into a fearful run, imagining the claws and snapping jaws reaching for you, the hungered maws and needful paws gaining on you.

You know if you looked back, you couldn’t see them. Despite their size, they blend naturally with the scenery, they blend beautifully with the greenery.

If you did stop and spot one, halt your run, you might swear you were in a children’s story because of how comically large they are. Then again, if you knew what we feed them, and sighted one, then saw how many more were camouflaged and hiding right next to you, you’d realize what kind of story you’re really in.

Empath

Empath.

Isn’t it amazing how one word can spark whole day-long monologs inside you? Or how one word can inspire conversations and debates among you and your friends? Like at the end of the Saturday Night Live skit with Tom Hanks on Black Jeopardy when they say, “Lives That Matter,” and “Doug” has something to say about that.

Kudos to all the players by the way: Contestants Keeley (Sasheer Zamata), Shanice (Leslie Jones) and Doug (Tom Hanks) compete on Black Jeopardy, hosted by Darnell Hayes (Kenan Thompson). My favorite line was when Keeley played by Sasheer Zamata says, “Mmm…I don’t know, you can’t do everything.”

That’s how it happens. You just roll with it. You may or may not even know what you’re talking about, you just start talking, because of that one word. The reason the word empath gets me going is maybe because I read a Clive Barker novel with an empath character in it. I wasn’t enthralled by the character or their ability, though I do remember it. Honestly it sounds like such a ripoff if you ask me, if other ESP is available.

Let’s get the basics down here first. What is an “empath”? Well if it was considered an Extra Sensory Perception, empathy would be the ability to sense others feelings, and feel them yourself. Compare the idea of sympathy. In sympathy you simply agree with someone. You have the same ideas or principles, so you have what’s called sympathy, with no direct links or connections. If you have the same exact feelings as someone, you have empathy. To have literal empathy there has to be a connection. In my opinion, when the majority of people say they have empathy, they really mean they have sympathy. They’re not really linked to someone’s emotional state. They just remember a time they felt the same way and then try to inject themselves in to the other person’s situation. The common person doesn’t go around having empathy. If true empathy were a more common occurrence, there would be far less murder or theft, and a lot less lying. If true empathy were a more common occurrence, there would be fewer meat eaters, far more vegetarians. So there you go: if you like the taste of meat, you better thank God you don’t have empathy.

Another basic concept is telepathy, in which a person can gather the thoughts of others without asking for them. Remember that distinction, because some people get empathy and telepathy confused and mistakenly think that through empathy you would be privileged to know someone’s thoughts. Not so.

Telepathy is for thoughts, empathy is for emotions, sympathy is for agreement.

Sure, if you knew someone’s thoughts, you could guess their emotions, or if you knew their emotions you could work through inference to find their thoughts. People are complex though. You might see a child holding an ice cream cone, a scoop of ice cream on the ground in front of the child, tears in the child’s eyes. If you were tuned in to the child’s feelings, you might sense sadness, but without knowing the child’s thoughts, you might not know the thought prior to the ice cream falling was, “Where is my mommy?” Your inference might be sadness because of the lost ice cream, but you’d be wrong. It was for the lost mommy.

As far as ESP goes, being an empath is not the most appealing perception. Not to me. Like telepathy without a switch to turn it on or off, if empathy was uncontrolled it would quickly become a nuisance. Could you imagine walking around a crowded street with everyone’s emotions passing through you? Ugh! You wouldn’t like crowds much, I bet.

It could be funny though. If you were say, at a hockey game, your team was winning, but you felt the feelings of the other fans—the losing team’s fans—you’d be cheering and booing all at once. Or if you were at a funeral, but you tapped into the guy who didn’t really know the deceased. He’s sitting in the back of the mortuary with an earbud in one ear—and he’s listening to the hockey game through his cell phone.

It could make for great storytelling that’s for sure. I just don’t think it sounds practical in any real life situations. But then that’s a male perspective. Women are more romantic in their approach on life, while men are more pragmatic. If I could see it all through a woman’s eyes, being an empath might have its usefulness.

New Novel

I finished another novel.

When writers say they’ve finished a novel, they don’t mean finished. If you didn’t know, there are all these next steps after a novel is finished. There’s alpha reading, editing, revision, beta reading, more revision, proofreading, even writing the ever-dreaded blurb (that paragraph usually found on the back of a book which summarizes the story so a reader can decide if they want to read the book).

If a writer says the work is finished, it means they have the bones of the thing. It means they still have some musculature to add, some tendons, skin and hair and coloration.

Writing, certainly all art, is easily compared to Victor Frankenstein’s work. Was he ever finished? No. He completed the creation in one way—by giving the mottled man life—then what was lacking was all the actual finish work. His creation needed education, friendship, companionship, nourishment, maintenance, and a hobby, such as dog-sledding.

Obviously Victor didn’t provide everything. He couldn’t. He was unfinished himself. That point is certainly relatable to artists everywhere. We say the work is finished, then immediately realize we’re not finished. It’s possible this is where feelings of inadequacy originate. Could be the origin of the dreaded impostor-syndrome as well. Get past any self-doubt and then you can be finished for real. It doesn’t matter in the macro-scheme. If you’re done with a piece of art, just be done. You don’t have to revisit it forever. Make it the best you can make it and then set it free in the world. Or, if your creation is like a modern Prometheus, then sic it on the world.

So this novel I finished is fun for me to read. I got some rave reviews so far. (Yeah, family reviews, I know. Not usually very critical. Family doesn’t want to be, for fear of hurting you. Yeah, but if you leave your dirty socks drying on the heater vent, you’ll never hear the end of the criticism, will you? Just kidding. That never happened. I’m just saying I need some outside reviews, from people who don’t even know me.) The image above is a preliminary idea of what the cover will look like. And here’s the premise in a blurb:

In a society where women are sold into government service, one woman will bring buildings down to draw attention to the injustice. Leaders of the government have currents of information and tidal waves of technology at their disposal, and they’ll use it all to stop this woman from disrupting the system. This woman is more clever than any government worker, and she keeps them surprised at every turn. She fools their metal detectors by bringing in wooden weapons. She fools their video surveillance by instigating celebrations in public spaces. She will not surrender, and she will not stop until every woman is free.

If this sounds like a piece of science fiction you’d like to read, let me know in the comments, thanks.

Adventure

On safari to stay!

It’s a great time of year. The weather changes. More sports opportunities become available. Nature blooms. Easter Jeep Safari happens. Easter happens. The outside becomes unavoidably enticing. Children fly kites. Surfers go surfing.

To bring two of these things crashing together: what if Jeep Safari and Surf Safari got mixed in with each other? What if the beach was only reachable by 4-wheel drive vehicle? What if the desert trails led to the ocean?

In my humble opinion, there would be more people interested in both surfing and off-roading, not fewer. I think adventure draws people. Sometimes, to draw people to a challenge, all that is needed is the promise of adventure.

Consider flying a kite. Even though the person doing the flying isn’t in the air, they love to get the kite up there. They love to watch the kite fly because they put it up there. The string becomes a tether to the possibility of adventure. (And maybe it’s high time we start an Easter Kite Safari?)

Consider any Springtime activity, you might notice how people are drawn to adventure or the possibility of it.