Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Sunny and cool
Yesterday was spent mostly in the car — after I wrote my first 1000 words on INITIATE. I spent the day doing pick-ups for the Mermaid Ball. It was fine, there was nothing wrong with it, except for traffic. Which is why I’d basically blocked off the whole day to do it. I’m glad that the Cape is having such a positive, busy season, but I am sick to death of the stupid, ignorant, and the disrespectful. You are guests here. Get over your sense of entitlement. It is a privilege to visit a place as beautiful and unique as this. You should leave it better than you found it, not toss your trash out of the window and cut off other travellers so you can move ahead a single car length in a traffic jam. You’re not that important. Seriously, checkpoints shouldn’t be for passports, but for IQ.
The people from whom I picked up donations were uniformly lovely. They deserve better than the stereotypical Ugly Tourists that are flooding the place.
Next August, I’m putting an “out of office” message in my email for the whole damned month. I was tempted to put up an outgoing message saying, “If it’s not about the Mermaid Ball this week fuck you”, but that was a little harsh even for me. That is, however, the subtext of the outgoing message I WILL put up today. For months I have said that this week is ONLY about Mermaid Ball (the same way that the first week is ONLY about the conference). The exception to that is the program and ARIS stuff at the library that also falls this week. And everyone at the library is being totally cool and supportive of the Mermaid Ball. However, people not connected to either of those are making demands and ignoring me when I say, “I am not dealing with you until next week.” Well, guess what? I AM NOT DEALING WITH YOU UNTIL NEXT WEEK.
I cleared off my deadlines. I am caught up with everything I said I would do up until this point. It was a little dicey there for a few days, but I dug in and it got done. Disorganization on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
On a more humorous note: Of course, when I’m a total mess, wearing surgical gloves, and have a car full of garbage is when I run into the cute guy I’d run into a few weeks back. Of course, he recognized me, even out of context. Asked me if I was disposing of bodies (the trash bags in the car). Offered to help! 😉
Had an “aha” moment as I was working out the next sequence in INITIATE. I’m exploring several themes in the piece — complexity of types of love, loyalty, taboos, but also, one of the things I’m discovering is the characters are often faced with choices they feel obligated to make that are in conflict with their core integrity.
I’m thoroughly angered by the spate of psychobabble bullshit books coming out soothing morons who are in jobs and pretend that the job is in conflict with their core integrity. If your boss tells you to do something you KNOW is wrong — be it on a legal or an ethical level — and you DO it — you are wrong. You are behaving unethically, and you don’t get to hide behind “it’s company policy” or “I’m just doing my job.” If you don’t have the courage and integrity to stand up for what you know is wrong, you deserve every bit of nasty karmic pushback you get. It being your job is not an excuse for intentionally and knowingly causing harm. You may think you’re getting away with it, but somewhere down the line, the universe is going to put things back in balance, and in a very interesting and unexpected way. Standing by and doing nothing out of fear or apathy or “company policy” is why Kitty Genovese died. It’s how genocide happens. If you do it and go along with it and don’t stand up for it, you don’t HAVE that core integrity you pretend to have. No, you’re not a “good person”. So either walk your talk or own the fact that you put money and security and position over integrity and ethics. It can’t be both simultaneously. You’re not a “good person” if you sign off on a form denying someone medical treatment they need to live because “it’s your job”. You’re not a “good person” if you take away someone’s house because they were downsized or got sick and have medical bills because “it’s your job.” So stop pretending you are good and own it.
As a writer, it’s interesting to explore how different individuals handle these types of inner conflicts (many of which are actually outer conflicts, because the character wants to appear “good” without actually performing the action that would mitigate harm. They want to be PERCEIVED as “good” without actually BEING “good”). It’s interesting to see how they try to work around it, or how they don’t compromise and what steep price that has, as well.
Being ethical in an unethical society — be it our current society, which, thanks to special interests and cowardly and/or greedy elected officials and a Supreme Court that regularly betrays its populace, grows more unethical every day — has a steep price. Is it worth it? Is the reason so many people refuse to behave in alignment with their supposed core integrity because they believe the price is too high? Do people who behave in alignment with their core integrity and pay a horrible price believe it was worth it?
There’s also a huge price paid if one is “good” and is outwardly ethical while the inner core wants something else. That’s the flip side of the coin, and also causes interesting stresses. You do what is considered “right” and “good” to the outer world, you take actions to avoid harm, yet your inner being rages against it. Eventually, that type of repression will find an expression — whether it is the pious pillar of the community with the murderous double life or one’s soul just starts to fracture.
None of it is easy. It is, however, an interesting challenge to genuinely get into the skin of characters whose core integrity I disagree with and exploring the whys and wherefores of what makes them tick.
I’m not talking about anti-heroes, who are simply heroes who break silly rules but get the result that society considers “good” anyway. I’m talking about people who believe that causing harm is okay, for a variety of reasons.
And sometimes the most self-less SEEMING actions are really the most self-ISH.
To create drama, of course, what the characters want has to be in conflict with each other, and, in many of the best dramas, the characters become each other’s obstacles (sometimes even when they are allies), and, in even more complex drama, there is another layer of conflict within the self.
Psychobabble bullshit is how one justifies behavior to the self and to the people one wants to impress to get by on a daily basis. But what happens when that is all stripped away?
I find I can do a deeper exploration of that in, say, a mystery or a paranormal or, like I’m attempting in INITIATE, in fantasy. That includes digging deeply into characters whose ethics I disagree with. Making sure they are complex individual, not ciphers for ideas.
The trick is to keep the conflicts in balance, and the characters pushing against each other and themselves equally, not preach either point of view, and keep the plot moving swiftly.
I don’t always succeed, especially not in early drafts, but the journey is interesting. And there’s always something I can take out of the journey and apply to my own life — even when I discover during the journey that I was wrong about something. Because there are plenty of times I’m wrong about something and the writing journey of exploration gives me a better understanding of facets of a situation.
But every exploration so far has intensified that individuals should not be allowed to hide behind “company policy” and, if our society is going to be one of “justice for all”, individuals who cause harm under company banners must be held accountable as individuals, along with the individuals in the company and on the Board who created the policies in the first place. Right now, anyone can get away with anything, as long as the company is willing to make a payoff.
On to other things: I still have to finish pulling pieces for tomorrow’s quick change workshop. I’ve pulled a bunch of stuff for Friday’s Mermaid Ball, still have to put my dress and accessories into a bag, and label the easels I borrowed from the Writers’ Center, find some more tape guns, etc.
I leave in a few hours to drive to Providence to pick up Costume Imp.
Tomorrow is the workshop at the library. Supposedly, my fried computer has been fixed, so I should be able to pull the info we still need for the ARIS report — which is due Friday. And I won’t be there on Friday, so anything I need to do for it needs to happen tomorrow and/or Thursday.
I hate August on the Cape. Just sayin’. There’s too much stacked in to too short a time frame. This year was inevitable in certain respects, but I have to rethink how I want to handle next year and make some decisions.
Too often, in the past months, I have been pushed into doing something that I am unhappy with, uncomfortable with, and goes against what I want and need for myself, presented to me that it is “for the good of the organization” (and it’s happened with more than one organization). None of it has caused harm to anyone else, but, in some cases, it has caused harm to ME, on several levels, and I need to reassert some boundaries in the coming months.
People need to remember that I never bluff. But I do keep my word. And if I say, “if X is the choice, then Y is my response” and they don’t believe that I WILL carry out Y, they are in for a shock. Because my days of misplaced loyalty are DONE, and that is something I need to do for my own core integrity.
Interesting what you find out when you thought you were writing about something completely different.