As I write this . . .

December 17, 2011

An accounting for 2011 . . .

Filed under: 'Tis the Season — aawriter @ 11:12 am

Usually I avoid that familiar end-of-the-year query of “Where did the time go?” But, earlier this week as I watched a TV program featuring a recap of the news events for 2011, I realized I knew exactly where the time had gone.   It made me remember what I was doing on a personal level at each graduated event. And, I made a vow never to waste my time like that again. Mind you, I said a “vow,” not a “resolution,” but a vow.  All of my life I’ve been told I don’t “suffer a fool.” Seems like for the year 2011, I ran into all kinds of fools and really did suffer most of them.  But, as I said in the previous sentence, that won’t be happening again.

During the past year, I’ve watched hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance square itself at an alarming rate.  For awhile I thought that my interpretation of the behaviors around me might have been skewed by my unfamiliarity with the “climate” of my new surroundings.   But here’s how badly these people have behaved – in the aftermath of a Spring tornado, government officials who came here to offer significant and much-needed financial assistance, left with front-page headlines of the local paper accusing them of being “rude.” As a direct result, funds were decreased, and they haven’t been back.  In spite of a newly-developed “industrial zone,” businesses looking to expand their facilities in a community near enough to a neighboring metro location have deliberately shunned this area.

Over the past several years, those that have set up manufacturing facilities and employed a significant portion of the population have closed their doors and moved away – and, according to the information I’m getting, won’t be back.  Doesn’t speak too well of the community, does it?  And, the Chamber of Commerce people wonder why.

Those who make their living by selling advertising for the local vendors and galleries are dangling precariously from a withering financial vine.  Frankly, the word is out; and, while I understand it and agree that there are many who deserve it, I am loathe to paint all of the residents in this community with that same brush stroke.  I’ll expand on this a little more in a later paragraph.

When I think about some of the attitudes I’ve encountered, at times I’ve felt like a hypocrite myself – for having laughed at them when I should have spoken out against them. More recently, after talking with several other people classified as a “come here” in this community, I’ve found that my assessment was “spot on.”    Laughable as it was, that validation was good for my soul.

But, in my end-of-the-year thoughts, I’ve decided to make lemonade out of the lemons by culling what I thought were memorable instances and using them for manuscript fodder.   And, I can tell you, it has paid off.  The characters and events in my latest writing creation have never been richer or more accepted by the publishing world.   I’ve incorporated man-and-wife-con-artist teams, gossipy hair-dressers pawning themselves off as a part of what they perceive as the upper echelon and a busybody who thinks it’s her business to misinform the rest of the community of happenings and events of which she has absolutely no fact-based knowledge.  Remember Gladys Kravitz, on the old TV show, Mr. Ed? Well this woman puts even her to shame.   Being able to use these characters in a way to enrich my personal writing has been more rewarding than I ever dreamed!  I’ve even watched one particular lady, who prides herself watching behaviors vs. speaking to people – so she can later misinterpret their behaviors through her 12-year-old maturity level- try to elevate her personal self-esteem and community standing by purchasing a second dog- when her husband didn’t even have a job –  (Yorkshire Terrier), fake Pandora bracelet, and join the DAR in a town where they’re moving – those poor 80-year-old women have no idea what kind of fox they’ve let into their hen house!  Wait! Did I say “lady?” Nonetheless, as I said, it makes for great character development in future works!  And, at the end of the day, it’s all very laughable.  Fools fooling fools. Woody Allen said that “gossip is the new pornography” – and he was right.  Very fitting for the four characters I’ve described above.

However, on another note, I’ve had the opportunity to realize just how sincere some people can be.  When I lamented about the idiocy of the people around me, two women came to me very quietly, and said that they felt “like they owed it to me” to put me on the right path.   They explained that those who had demonstrated such egregious behavior, even though some of them grew up here, were not a true example of the salt-of-the-earth people in this community. They were right.

Since that time, I’ve met many other folks who also cringe at the behaviors of those around them – whether they profess to be a “native” or a “come here.”  They are of a higher moral and ethical standard – even though they have to live among them.   They don’t hide behind the veneer of “Christianity.”  The simple fact is that they live here on their terms – and no-one else’s.   These folks truly are genuine.  They are embarrassed about these kinds of attitudes – and, more importantly, they don’t feel the need to collect or spread gossip behind a hair-cutter’s chair, buy fake Pandora bracelets, or distribute what they think is the latest “intelligence” among people who don’t have enough sense to interpret it.  As I said, these are the genuine people.

When I spoke to my agent and intellectual property attorney about all of this, we made hard and fast business decisions to protect our interests.  They’ve worked. Further conversations with other well-known and/or local writers dealing with similar circumstances have validated these same decisions.  And, by making a careful study of other scribes and the depth of their involvement in this community, I’ve noticed a common thread – they, too, focus on their work and have very little to do with their surroundings.  Some of them are connected with the traditional “big six,” and others have chosen to utilize the up-and-coming significance of electronic and “indie” publishing.  But, the bottom line is that they keep to themselves – completely.  The result has been true writing success. Now, as a writer, that’s a behavior that’s worth observing and incorporating!

In keeping with this, I also work very hard to keep most of my personal life very private.  The personal decisions I make stem from what works best for my writing life.  When I venture away from my keyboard, I am usually on a “mission” that will take as little time as possible so I can get back to my business at hand.   If I meet friends for breakfast, coffee, tea or lunch they know that I meet them in all sincerity as most of them are acutely aware of how much I value my time and energy levels.  These are my true friends.   They respect my values and privacy as much as I respect theirs.  Usually, they’re from the “old school,” and while they do conform to such conveniences as cell/iPhones, laptops, netbooks, tablets and social media they aren’t fool enough to put an elevated value upon them.   Nor do they think it makes them appear to be any more important than the other guy.  I’ll say it again, these people are genuine.

So, you can see where my year has gone. I’ve continued writing, and have made a great deal of progress on two separate manuscripts, sorted out characters, and slowly-but-surely massaged my world into what works best for me – all of this in preparation for 2012.  And at the end, when I take an acounting of the year 2011, I’m smiling.

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