I remember with great clarity the moment when I really “got” evolution. Before that I could have given you a vague explanation for evolution, but that was book learning. The moment I’m talking about was a revelation, an awakening, an eye-opening realization: THIS IS HOW THE WORLD WORKS! Suddenly I grasped that given a few fundamental principles, the inevitable conclusion was that the diversity of life on this planet is explained by descent with modification. It was a fireworks moment.
I’ve just had another one, and this time I have the Cheeto President to thank for it.
I believed/assumed that our democratic system of government was unassailable. Some people chose to get involved and run for office or work for campaigns, while others, like me, voted and donated money. Sometimes my candidates won. Sometimes they lost. Sometimes I liked policy changes. Sometimes I didn’t. Ho-hum. Politics as usual.
What I did not know until now is that democracy, even one as lauded as ours, is constantly in flux. It must constantly be defended lest it fall away from the delicate balance of powers that defines it. Like a house by the sea, we must reinforce the foundation and re-shingle the roof. Voting is no longer enough. Speaking out and insisting that each branch of government does its job without overreaching its bounds is an absolute necessity.
The democratic experiment that is America is on the knife-edge of an autocracy. Without us, the people, raising our voices and our fists, it will crumble. We must write a new narrative.
And you know what? I am made for that. I am Jew. I know history. That means I recognize the beginnings of fascism. It also means that means I know how to wrestle with the story we are telling ourselves. I know that we must constantly re-interpret and re-vision the story that we are living. I am a writer. I am made for telling the story that I want to fight into existence.
Download and read the INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Find a local activist group. Make your voice heard.
When a young black woman is pushed, insulted and harassed at a Trump rally—
When armed men destroy Paiute sacred lands—
When a man tells a woman that she has to carry a child of rape—
When there are so many mass shootings that I can’t remember the details—
When anger is everywhere I look—
I get angry too.
I don’t want a world of racism and institutionalized privilege, violence and hate, ignorance and distrust.
But you know what?
I don’t want to be full of such anger either.
Today I offer you my hope for the world instead of my rage, and I challenge you to turn darkness into light. The world we will get is the one we can imagine, the one we can build with our hearts and our hands.
I was a horse crazy girl.
I’m a horse crazy grown-up.
Recently, I found out that one of my fav writer friends, Kiersi Burkhart, grew up on a ranch in Colorado. Together we dreamed up Second Chance Ranch, a place in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where trouble kids go to find their way again.
We are so excited to announce the sale of our new book series to Darby Creek, an imprint of Lerner, coming your way in 2016 and 2017. Each book features a girl and her horse, meeting life’s challenges together. Kiersi and I can’t wait to tug on your heart strings and make you want to saddle up and ride with us!
Recently my critique group and I got down to serious psychologizing about a main character in one of our mss. It got me thinking about the differences and similarities of character transformation in fiction and human transformation in real life.
Someone smart–who I wonder?–said fiction is real life without the boring parts. My seven-year-old daughter, well-schooled by her K/1 teacher and her writer mother, says, “I hate books without trouble!”
So true! In most compelling fiction, we take a flawed but likeable main character and do one bad thing after another to her. Through this crucible of fire (every once in a while, I love a good cliche), she is transformed. She learns. She grows.
Now I’ll be the last person to say there’s no trouble in real life. Damn, but I’ve had my share of the slap-down by Life. However, I think it is pretty rare for us to experience something difficult, have an epiphany in the moment, and be instantly transformed. Maybe people who’ve had near-death experiences know this kind of transformation, but that’s got to be rare.
The more common psychological state is that we–often unconsciously–develop a fixed “narrative” for ourselves. For example, “I failed to attain my dream of becoming a ballet dancer because I’m not talented and special enough.” That “story” can haunt our psyche for years (or mine, as the case may be). It requires mental effort and commitment (and therapy) to REFRAME the narrative. Mine now says something like, “I wasn’t able to reach the level of professional achievement as a dancer that I wanted because I was young and didn’t have proper mentoring from my parents or my ballet instructor.”
Rewriting our own narratives is HARD work! And it’s boring work. Maybe that’s why we like fiction and the transformation by fire it offers. Maybe we’d also like fiction that shows the slow, hard work. Maybe we need to remember that our own story matters.
“At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.”