The beginning 10,000 words of a novel are usually the easiest for me to write, but lately, I've been struggling to get past 500. At first, I blamed my lack of progress on a new genre (Christian suspense). Then I thought my delay indicated a plot problem. Nope. Not it. Know what it is? New Character Syndrome.
Imagine a stranger walking into your house, loading up a plate with food from your fridge, then plopping down on your couch and saying, "Let's talk about me for an entire year!" That's basically what happens, you know, when characters invade a writer's brain. Ordinarily, I'd be all, "Okay! Tell me everything, person I've never seen before!" Not this time. This time, I'm avoiding them. Or, well, her. Her name is Daisy Meadows, thanks to the New Age moonshiners that spawned her. She's trying to get my attention, and I know the second I make eye contact with her, she's going to vomit details, so I'm not looking. I'm still kind of in love with Stewart and Catrina from A VALLEY TOO FAR. Sigh. I really liked those people. We went through a lot of stuff together, and in the end, I loved them deeply. I'm not ready to turn away from them.
Did someone just pop a bubble?
Yeah, she did. I can smell her gum. I'll bet it's pink.
Yes, it's pink. And she's smiling. And wearing a tartan skirt.
I don't need to tell you how polarized we are these days. Gone are the days of civil discussion. Respect rots with the dinosaurs. The marketplace of ideas that made our nation great is rather empty now, unless you count those boxes of labels some like to slap on anyone with a differing worldview. We spent much of 2019 at each other's throats, willing to discard lifelong friendships and even family for nothing more than a difference of opinion. Cherished friends attack my worldview openly on social media these days, unwittingly labeling me as this or that in their comments. Do they care that they hurt me? Probably not. It's easy enough to get new "friends" on Twitter.
The discovery that I'm disposable wasn't limited to social media. 2019 was a year of neglect and even abuse. I won't go into it here, but I suffered. A lot.
So I guess the point of this rambling post is to offer a deep curtsy to the artistic geniuses who hauled something beautiful out of the gutter in 2019. I couldn't. The fear of offending someone clipped my wings, and as the year closes, I wonder if I'll ever fly again.
Some of you know this, but in early September, my WordPress blog was hacked. While I didn't lose any content, the hacker (ballsy enough to identify himself) locked me out and would have eventually used the site for nefarious purposes. This occurred at a time when I could least afford it, during a week when a family crisis left me with 16 hours of sleep in 6 days. During that same week, we received a letter from USCIS giving us a deadline to provide documents that could only be obtained in Ireland.
So you can imagine that when I made the call to my host and they transferred me to Site Lock, who quoted me $700 to clean and protect my website, I lost it. I mean, it was as undignified a breakdown as you can imagine. Snot dripping off the upper lip and everything. I kept apologizing to the customer service rep, and to his credit, he was very kind and even asked his supervisor if they could do it for a discount. The supervisor said yes, but the $400 she agreed to was still out of my price range for an endeavor that doesn't actually make me any money (writing).
I thought perhaps the guy who built my WordPress site last year might have an archive, so I contacted him. Thankfully, he did. And he said he wouldn't charge me anything to upload it, even though I insisted. So there I was, sobbing again, sobbing at the compassion of a stranger halfway around the world. He loaded everything quickly, and we thought all was well . . . Then it happened again. And again. My Filipino friend fixed it several more times before I finally paid him for his time, even though it was way less than he deserved. It was a bit personal for him, he said, and I marveled at his determination to foil what was now our hacker. Unfortunately, we did not prevail. The hacker regained entry and locked both of us out something like seven times in two months.
By now, I'd had enough. I yanked the plug out of the wall and called time of death. Years of blog posts, gone. Graphics, photos, interviews . . . gone. I didn't save any of it. But in a way, it felt good, like I was starving the hacker of air, and I wanted to shout, "Suffocate, you bastard!" when I hit the final DELETE button.
When the glory faded, reality set in. Shit. No website.
Should I just put a rebuild on the credit card? I asked myself.
My 2004 Honda replied, "Check Engine"
That answered that. So, for the past three weeks, I have devoted myself to learning how to build a website here at Weebly. This is truly something I should have done a long time ago. It's going okay so far, though there isn't much freedom here for creative types. The font locker here is a bit like an accountant's closet: full of black suits and a single navy one for celebrations. So you'll have to forgive me if things look a little boring. Some of the fancy stuff requires tweaking code, and I'm still a little scared to try that. I don't think there's even a "subscribe" button for this blog, so I'll have to share via Social Media and hope you click to read.
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.