A message is not a story

As an independent editor/beta reader, I see a lot of writers fall into the message trap – they have something they want to say, something they feel is important, and they’re very passionate about it.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – in fact, even if you’re a pantser (vs a plotter), you should be able to articulate what the core of your story is about. There may be more than one theme or message or question that you’re exploring, or there may be just one central message or theme.

The problem I see, especially with newer writers, is that they sometimes focus on the message instead of the story.

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Milestone: Unlocked

A lot of graduate programs have this thing called comprehensive exams that you need to pass in order to get your degree.

I passed.

My last class is done in two weeks. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for – the moment I can recommit to writing as someone who is older and hopefully a bit more polished.

And the second Master’s is nice, too. I’ve been thinking about adding MA2 to the end of my signature.

Definitely DO rock the boat

There’s a thing I found on Reddit. It’s been referenced in a few forums I tend to frequent because it just so beautifully describes the dynamic between enablers and abusers. The title of the post is “Don’t Rock the Boat,” and it’s a reflection on that phrase, and what it is that people are really saying when they use it.

I wish I knew who to credit this to, because it so well-articulates how abusers/people who behave badly don’t always act alone or in a void. There are often people around them who are aware of their bad behavior, but make it their duty to be the stabilizing presence. It also reflects on how “boat stabilizers,” as this author terms enablers, come into existence – often, it can be within a family environment where there are multiple family members who work together to try to minimize the rocking caused by one person.

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“The problem is, these women look normal.”

It’s an eerie day in Colorado as we greeted the arrival of our second bomb cyclone. The day started rainy, gray, and foggy with an impending sense of doom and eventually turned to a heavy wet snow which is much more appropriate for a bleak midwinter than an early spring. The gloomy weather hanging over my home seems the appropriate time to reflect on events that occurred on March 26, 2018 on the northern coast of California, sometime in the early hours of the morning.

This is a story about abuse, neglect, and murder, and it’s been eating at me for quite some time. I had to collect my thoughts, and the point of posting them is to call attention to this case, to these kids, to what they experienced and why they experienced it, and to the forces that intertwined to create a situation in which they never got the help they desperately needed and were desperately seeking.

TW: Tough subject matter ahead. Read at your own discretion.

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What can you do with an English degree?

When I first had to grapple with this question years ago, I told people, “I can apply to law school!” I was, as a very young adult, skilled in the art of telling people what they wanted to hear in order to temporarily cover up my true designs. If I’d told them that I had no interest in law school, I would have been treated to many useless lectures that older adults tend to smother younger adults with. (I try not to do that myself, as much as I’d like to sometimes. They need to learn and grow on their own, and as much as I’d like to think I do…I don’t know everything.)

But if someone were to ask me today, What can you do with an English degree?, my answer would be this:

You can recover from trauma.

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