26 Questions No One Should Answer

A little while ago a fellow blogger over at Write Accountable, came across an interesting little list called, “26 Questions No One Should Answer”. So, of course, she decided to answer the questions. I thought that some of her answers were pretty interesting so, logically, I decided to answer the “forbidden” questions myself. Honestly, several of the questions actually seem quite benign to me, but there are definitely a couple that are difficult to answer without coming off as an asshole. So, without further ado:

That's right, sweetie. You plug your ears and remain innocent.

1. If you could get away with one murder in your lifetime without any legal, social, or emotional repurcussions, would you kill someone?

I had to think about this one for a while because my first reaction was to say no, since I don’t think I could emotionally handle such a thing, but then the question does specifically state “no emotional repurcussions”. So I thought about it some more, and the answer is going to be yes, because there are genuinely evil people in the world, and if I could remove one of them from society without any kind of consequence to myself I would definitely sieze that opportunity.

2. What is your first thought when you recieve a message; are you excited for the idea of someone from (potentially) the other side of the world wanting to take to you, or fearful that someone will criticize you?

I’m always excited. There are always going to be the surprise criticisms that pop up and ruin your day, but my default position is a little jolt of excitement every time a message or a comment pops up on one of my forms of media.

3. Have you ever looked down on someone because you thought your religious views were superior?

My religious views are actually a lack thereof, so strictly speaking, the answer is no. But in a broader sense of the question, yes. I consider myself to be a very tolerant person, but I can’t tolerate religious beliefs that spit on human rights (such as, for instance, religiously-backed hate toward gay people, or religious control over women’s basic rights). When I talk to people who hold strong to such beliefs I find that I absolutely feel superior to them because it’s my belief that the basic right not to be abused is infinitely more important than a person’s religious faith. I generally feel that people have a right to believe whatever the heck they want, but when those beliefs turn into an excuse to abuse people for not thinking, feeling, or acting the “right” way, then hell yeah I feel “superior”.

4. Would you rather know everything the Universe has to offer, but in exchange lose all emotion, or just remain the way you are right now?

Absolutely stay the way I am. What’s the use in knowing all the secrets of the Universe without any emotion to enjoy it? Besides, part of the wonder of living is not knowing, and trying to work it all out on your own.

5. If you could live and be healthy without sleeping or eating/drinking, which would you cut out of your life?

100% definitely sleeping. I would miss the crazy-ass dreams that my brain comes up with nightly, but for the most part the need for sleep is the absolute bane of my existence. I can never seem to get enough of it, and it cuts dramatically into my time to get things done. If I had an average of eight hours a day more to work with, the world would be a hell of a lot brighter for me.

6. If you could take on the exact body and form of anyone on Earth, who would it be?

You know, I’ve been thinking about it, and I really don’t know. If the opportunity arose I would probably do some major research and choose an attractive female athlete who is in great shape with no health issues.

7. Would you rather burn or freeze to death?

I’m with Otaku Lady on this one… Why the hell would you choose burning over freezing? Freezing starts out painful but winds up with you basically falling asleep. Burning would be outrageously painful right up until the very last second.

8. If it meant it would solve all world hunger, war, disease, and bigotry, would you spend the rest of eternity in hell?

This is kind of a moot question for me since I don’t believe in hell, but let’s pretend for a moment that I did. Yes, I would do it, not for the world as a whole – because there are a heck of a lot of people out there who I wouldn’t suffer through a papercut for – but I could condemn myself to eternal torment if I knew that my daughter and my further descendants would be living in a peaceful, healthy, happy world.

9. Was the first crush in your life something you had, or something someone had on you?

Are you kidding? I can’t remember that! If I had to take a guess I’d probably say that it was me having a crush on someone else, but I couldn’t begin to tell you who it was.

10. Could you live without ever having sex (again) in exchange for eternal youth?

I probably could, but I wouldn’t want to. The idea of eternal youth is not appealing to me at all. In fact, it’s equally as frightening to me as the idea of growing old and dying. It might seem awesome at first and for a little while, but once your loved ones started dying and leaving you behind…*shudder*

11. Have you ever watched a full-length pornographic movie?

Full-length? All the way from start to finish? Um…no. Has anyone?

12. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

What is the purpose of this question, seriously? I like both, but if I had to choose I’d probably say that I like more Beatles songs than Rolling Stones ones.

13. If you could have the ability to manipulate matter or energy, which would you choose?

I’m going to go with energy, because by manipulating energy you can, in turn, manipulate matter. For instance, by manipulating heat you could reshape metal, or by manipulating air currents you could move water. So you’d technically be getting both, you see?

14. What was the worst nightmare you ever had?

It’s a bit of a tie. If we’re talking about sheer fright, I had a dream as a kid that scared the crap out of me. In it my aunt was giving me this evil smile as all her teeth were falling out of her head, and for some reason at the time that totally terrified me. But then, the fear faded fairly quickly for that one. Alternatively, not that long ago I had a dream that my husband nonchalantly left me for another woman, and when I woke up I felt genuinely depressed for a long time afterward. It was stupid, but it was as though all the chemicals in my brain had turned against me. That was pretty rough.

15. Would you rather spend one year with your one true love just to never see them again, or the rest of your life with second best?

This is actually a genuinely difficult one. They say that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but I’ve always felt that people who say that have obviously never actually had to go through such a situation. Then again, how sad would it be to spend your entire life with someone who you knew wasn’t the one you truly wanted to be with? In the end I think I’d probably choose the first option and I’d dedicate myself to making it one hell of a year.

16. All the sequels/remakes/adaptations/rip-offs in movies nowadays; good or bad?

It depends on the movie. I’ve seen remakes that I loved, and ones that I thought were utter crap. Mostly I tend to find that sequels fail to stand up, but occasionally there comes one that’s actually better than the first movie. I try to judge each movie based on its own merits and not on what came before it.

17. Would you rather be dirt poor and emotionally fulfilled in life, or be rich beyond imagination and emotionally dissatisfied for life?

Tough choice. I tend to want to choose emotional fulfillment, but I keep thinking about all the people whose lives I could change with that kind of money. Probably, I think I would go with the money.

18. Do you have any (secret) feelings of bigotry to any group of people?

I hate to admit it, but yes. I try my best to base each individual on their own actions and merits, but there is one particular group of people who have shown me time and time again that they’re lazy, ignorant, opportunist bums. I won’t outright say that this particular group are worthless wastes of space, but I’ve only met a tiny handful of them who were actually worth their own salt. It’s difficult not to be bigoted when a particular group consistently gives you good reasons to hate them.

19. Would you rather be the only person in the world who can read minds, or have everyone else be able to read minds except your own?

I definitely let everyone else read each other’s minds and just leave me out of it. Reading minds sounds awesome at first, but it would be stressful and depressing as hell in reality. Can you imagine constantly listening to the thoughts of the coworker who hates your guts, or the family member who thinks you’re a worthless disappointment, or the spouse who thinks you’ve been getting fat and isn’t really attracted to you anymore? I’m not saying that all the people in your life are constantly thinking bad things about you, but statistically speaking, if you could hear everyone’s thoughts you’d be regularly hearing stuff that you’d really rather not know.

20. If everyone in the world would automatically know one language, which language would you choose?

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, but I would probably choose any language other than English, because seriously…English is a pretty screwed up language.

21. If you were old enough and not in a situation where it would be inappropriate, would you sleep with one of your (past) schoolteachers/professors?

I genuinely cannot think of a single one of my teachers or professors who I even had an innocent crush on, so I’m gonna have to go ahead and say no.

22. A world without religion; good, bad, or neutral?

Good, but don’t bring out the pitchforks yet. My main thought here is that without religion, people would likely be a lot more open-minded, using their own brains and guts to decide what is right, wrong, and important in life, and I truly believe that – most of the time – it’s much better to come up with your own conclusions than to just accept the ones that have been decided for you.

23. The men’s rights movement; legitimate cause or laughable, and why?

I won’t say laughable because there are definitely real concerns when it comes to men’s rights, but I can’t say legitimate because there are too many lunatics out there using “men’s rights” as an excuse to hate on women and do some pretty awful things. Then again, there are also plenty of feminists out there who are lunatics using “women’s rights” as an excuse to hate on men and do some pretty awful things. I think that what we have to move toward is the realization that both men and women are humans and that what we should really be concerned about is human rights.

24. You can eliminate one of your five senses to substantially strengthen the others. Which one and would you do it?

I don’t think that I would want to give up a sense, but if I was going to lose one anyway I’d choose smell. I’d miss sight, sound, and taste too much, and touch is kinda important for a lot of things, so yeah, definitely smell.

25. Do looks mean anything to you? Don’t lie; could you fall in love with someone you thought was ugly?

Aside from the obvious exceptions (like blind people), I don’t believe anyone who says that looks mean nothing to them. I do believe that physical attraction can evolve as the result of mental and emotional attraction (someone you just thought was “kinda cute” before becomes “smoking hot” as you begin to fall for them in other ways), but I don’t believe that a complete lack of physical attraction can just be overlooked in a relationship that involves any kind of sexual feelings. Make no mistake, physical attraction is an important part of a healthy relationship that involves sex. So I guess what I’m saying is that I could feel strong mental and emotional bonds to a person who I thought was “ugly”, but I don’t think I could love them in a manogamous sense. And I truly believe that if they were being totally honest, the vast majority of people would agree with me.

26. Can you understand the mindset and logic used by the opposite spiritual opinion?

If I’m being 100% honest, no. I understand why people want to have spiritual faith and beliefs, but I don’t really understand how they can. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but I personally don’t understand how people can truly believe in concepts like God, and heaven and hell, and angels and demons, and stuff like that. To me it’s like a child refusing to believe that a cartoon isn’t real. I don’t mean for that to sound condescending, but to me saying that you truly believe that God created the world in seven days just a few thousand years ago is like saying that you believe that there are leprechauns at the end of a rainbow, or that thunder is the sound of angels bowling in heaven. Spiritual beliefs were conjured up by less-civilized man who had to come up with a reason for why things were the way they were, because it is in man’s nature to need an explanation for things. But times have progressed, theories have been proven, and we have learned so much. We know now that many of the things that used to be widely believed were actually quite laughable, and yet people still cling to relgious belief like it’s the last life preserver after a flood, and that genuinely flummoxes me. Being told that something is a certain way for your entire life doesn’t make it true, and I feel that this is something that many relgious folks need to seriously consider.

But that’s just my opinion.

Keep Yourself Out of Internet Mud…or You Might Never Get Clean Again

As previously mentioned, I’ve been taking a bit of time to read some “craft books” on writing, and the first one I’ve been looking at is Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines. The focus of her book is social media and how writers can use it to create a working “author platform”, but she also touches on other subjects such as traditional vs. indie publishing, marketing, and occasionally a little bit of (related) neuroscience. Yeah, you heard me.

One of the side-topics that has come up in what I’ve read so far (enjoying it so much!) is this idea of ruining your platform without even realizing it. In other words, turning your name to mud by accident. In a world where everything can be re-Tweeted half a million times before you blink, it’s easy for one stupid mistake to go viral and effectively ruin your good name for, well, for good. This doesn’t only apply to writers (or the celebrities we so often see spiraling the metaphorical toilet bowl); it applies to everyone. That’s why I wanted to talk about it today, because this is the kind of thing that everyone should know, but which most people never think about.

I’ve spoken before about how anonymity does not truly exist on the internet and how we should watch what we do and say because it can come back to bite us in the ass. In that previous post I was focused on what I called “The Golden Internet Rule”, which is simply “don’t be a jerk on the internet”. This time I’m not talking specifically about being a jerk, but simply about understanding that whatever you choose to talk about on the internet has now become searchable, findable, and quite possibly eternal.

Don’t want to be wearing this for the rest of your days, do you?

I’ll give a personal example, because what better way to show people what you mean than by sharing your own morbid embarrassment?

When I was in university, studying to be a technologist, I had ups and downs. I had chosen my path partially on a whim because of a stressful situation (the course I had originally chosen was cancelled two months before the start of the semester, so I had to pick something else quick or simply not go to school). The result was that I often wondered if I’d chosen the right thing, whether or not I should drop out and choose something else, and was I really suited for this kind of career? I kept pressing forward because change is scary, and eventually I found myself in the fourth and final year of program, having an all-out panic attack. It began to occur to me that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I graduated. I didn’t know what kind of jobs I was even qualified for, how I would go about applying for them, where the work would end up taking me, or whether I would even be any good in the field. Sure I’d made pretty great grades in school, but the real world is a lot different from the class world. I didn’t know what kind of work I would be doing, but I was pretty confident it would not be writing short lines of computer code to set tiny LED lights to flash on and off at timed intervals.

One night when I was particularly stressed, I went online to a forum that I frequented in those days. I wrote a long post about my concerns, my worries, my stress level. I ranted about things like “wasting time and money on a degree I don’t even understand” and how I would disappoint my parents if I suddenly up and decided to do something different, and how I was terrified of the idea that I might have to move away from home for a job and “why oh why didn’t I choose a career path with a clearer future?!”

It was a rant born of stress, passion, and an overwhelming desire for someone to wrap their virtual arms around me and say that it was going to be okay. I did get that virtual hug from my virtual companions, but I also made a teeny tiny mistake. Within the confines of that rant, I used my full, real name. It wasn’t a concern because most of the folks on this forum knew my real name anyway, but in this particular post I wrote one line that described what my diploma would look like when I graduated, with my full name in the center of it. I added that bit in to make a point concerning my rant, but I didn’t consider what adding my full name in actually did to that post.

Haven’t figured it out yet?

It made me instantaneously  and easily locatable on Google.

For the most part this was a non-issue. I was a nobody that no one cared about. Who would even go looking up my name on Google, and if they did find my post, why would they care? At least that’s what I thought until someone did happen to Google my name and did click on the link that led them to my post. It was my uncle. I can’t recall the reason that he searched my name in the first place, but when he did he happened upon my post, read it, and subsequently wrote me a very long, very concerned email.

I was mortified.

My uncle was just trying to be helpful and calm my concerns, and he was very sweet. That’s not the mortifying part. The mortifying part was that he read my post in the first place. When I wrote that post it was with the intentions that only my internet friends ever see it. I just wanted a little bit of anonymous support from people who I never had to deal with face-to-face. For good or ill, I’ve never been the kind of person who can share their pains and emotions with their closest loved ones, so when one of those close loved ones found my whining, complaining, melodramatic post I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. And while in this case I had the opportunity to go back and change what I’d written (posts on this forum were editable), in another place I may have been stuck with what I’d written forever.

This is what we’re dealing with when we put ourselves out there on the internet, and my example is absolutely nothing compared to what some people have put themselves through. Every one of you reading this right now has seen at least one photo of someone who uploaded their pic on a social network site only to realize later that there was something excruciatingly embarrassing about it. One particular photo that comes to mind is of a teenage girl who took a “selfie” of herself and uploaded it to Facebook before noticing that her vibrator was sitting in plain view in the corner of the pic. As if that’s not mortifying enough, before she noticed it dozens of people had copied it and posted it elsewhere. The picture went viral. Because this girl failed to take a few seconds to actually look at the photo before posting it, she is now an internet meme that will never die.

Whatever you say, whatever you post, whatever you do, it only takes one opportunist to back-up your mistake on his computer before you can backtrack. In this way the internet is forever. Ask anyone who has ever found themselves depicted as a cruel jape on sites like 9gag. It doesn’t matter how much you beg or cry or scream, you can’t erase something from the internet once people have decided to use it at your expense. Even if it is an extreme example and you have grounds for legal action, it only takes one person to store the quote/pic/post away to whip out again at a later date. And the bigger a deal you make out of trying to abolish a bad rep, the bigger a deal people will make out of making sure that it never dies.

This is why we have to be careful, not only when dealing with touchy issues like religion and politics, or when letting our tempers get the best of us online. We also have to be careful with everything we say or do on the internet. Before you say or post or upload, step back and think. Think about how you would feel if your parents (or your children) happened across your post. Think about the repercussions if your employer saw that pic. Think about the veritable shit storm you might inadvertently stir up with your status update.

Basically, just THINK. It’s something we don’t do enough of these days, and with the Internet playing the part of devil’s advocate, one stupid mistake can mean that you name is mud for a very, very long time.

Have you ever said or did something on the internet that came back on you in an embarrassing or painful way? Do you know anyone else who has had to deal with this kind of unintentional reputation ruining? Thoughts and comments?

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 23

Would you look at that? Spring actually exists in Nova Scotia! I was really starting to wonder, but Mother Nature has proven my suspicions wrong again, and in one day she managed to sunburn me. You’re a horrible witch, Mother Nature. That’s why I hide inside like a vampire.

Okay, enough foolishness, let’s get down to it:

Health and Body Image Goal

As per tradition, I’ve been eating pretty poorly while I’ve been home, thought it’s been less because of the abundance of awesome food and more because I’ve been extremely busy. Cleaning and cooking are one thing, but having our niece over for a night…those 36 hours may have taken a year off my life. o.O

That said, I’m not feeling too shabby. I gave myself almost a full week off to let my legs heal (running in cheap, Walmart sneakers is not advisable…I ended up with major shin splints and a very achy knee), and then I went out running with my new Saucony sneakers. I know nothing about running shoes, but I thought I’d give these a shot since they were rated well and happened to be on sale, and I’m pretty happy. They give me a little bounce and definitely cushion the impact of hitting the ground. I think I will do well with these.

As an additional note, I hopped on the scale yesterday to see if maybe I was lucky enough to finally drop a pound or two, and found that I’d dropped almost five! Huzzah! A specific amount of weight loss is not my primary goal, but I definitely have some to lose, so it’s good that it’s going. Sometime soon I’ll track down a measuring tape and see what my measurements are looking like as well. I’d like to lose some belly fat, as I’m constantly reading about the dangers of it.

Editing Goal

This is a bit of an odd week that I’m not sure how to report. You see, I technically have been doing some editing…just not on what I’m supposed to be working on. It’s going to take me a while to finish editing Nowhere to Hide, and it occurred to me that the less I have to think about, the easier it will be to find the time and energy to work on it. So I’ve set it aside (for a very short time, I swear) in order to instead edit a short supernatural romance I’ve had done for a while. I know I can whip through this one pretty quickly (I’m already finished two of the ten chapters), and when it’s done I can submit it to the publishers I have in mind and then not worry about it for a while. So, I guess you can say I’ve made progress in that sense, right? 🙂

1,000,000 Word Goal

While focusing on everything else, the actual writing tends to slow down, but I’m happy to report that I managed to squeak out 6867 words over the past week, amongst a number of different things. Currently my yearly total sits at about 125k, which is nowhere where I wanted it to be, but still very good for me. In the coming weeks (particularly if I get laid off soon, which is very likely) I plan to delve into a few books on writing that I hope will help my productivity, amongst other areas. In particular I think I’d like to try out The Artist’s Way. I’m a bit put off by the word “spiritual” in the sub-title, because that word always makes me think of religion, but fellow blogger thelivingnotebook has been talking about the book lately and he makes it sound very interesting, so I’ll give it a shot. 🙂

Now, unfortunately, I have to pull myself out of my cave so I can walk my daughter to playgroup. And you can be damn sure I’ll be covered in sunscreen this time.

From Another Perspective

Last week I wrote about how kids see things from a different perspective and that we have to remember that when dealing with them. For writers, perspective can be a powerful tool because a story is never truly whole until you’ve seen it from all angles. To illustrate this concept, I’m going to use the example that made me come up with the idea for this post in the first place: coworkers.

My day job is as a commissioning technician in the Alberta oil sands. For those who don’t speak “tradesperson”, that means that a bunch of people built a plant to extract the oil from the sand, and my company makes sure that everything is set up properly before it runs. To this purpose we have two major groups; field technicians and control room technicians. Field technicians deal with the physical equipment in the main area of the plant, while control room technicians are the ones watching the computer screens that the plant will be controlled from, and they deal with the internal programming.

Both field techs and control techs are required to commission any given piece of equipment (okay it to run). They have to work together constantly. But here’s the thing: control room techs are (gasp!) located in the control room, while field techs are out in the “field” (the main area of the plant). Neither can see what the other is seeing or doing, which results in many instances of failure to communicate and/or jumping to conclusions. I started this job as a field tech and was later moved to the control room, so I am in the prime position to give a few examples of the different perspectives and the animosity they can cause.

Say, for example, that you’re a field tech working on a transmitter that measures the flow of liquid through a pipe. Your transmitter has been set up to read a range of 0 to 100 meters per second. So you call up your control tech and ask to test the transmitter, but the control tech asks you to hold on for a moment because there’s a problem…his computer shows a range of 0 to 200 meters per second. So you wait…and you wait…and wait…and wait… You wait so long that you begin to think that your control tech forgot about you, so you try calling him on the radio again. He doesn’t answer. You try again. He still doesn’t answer.

Now you’re starting to get mad. Where the hell did he go? Finding out the proper range for the transmitter can’t possibly take this long. Is he just ignoring you? He must be fooling around up there in the control room with his other control tech buddies. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you’re standing out here in the cold, ready, willing, and able to get this job done. Damn him and his cushy, stress-free desk job… What an asshole!

I can’t honestly say that this exact thought process never went through my head. More than once my field tech buddies and I put in complaints to our bosses that were along the lines of, “We can’t get a damn thing done because we spend all day standing around waiting for the control techs to get back to us!” Then I moved up to the control room myself, and I got to see the story from the other perspective.

Say, now, that you’re a control room tech and you’ve just had a call from a field tech. He tells you that he wants to work on a transmitter and that his range is 0 to 100, but oops! The range on your screen is 0-200. So you ask him to hold on and you go out to find out whose numbers are correct. This involves flipping through a several-hundred-page document that, maddeningly, is organized in no logical way known to mankind. It takes you a good 5-10 minutes to finally locate the information on this transmitter and lo and behold, the field tech’s numbers are correct. Okay, so the numbers in the program have to be changed, but you don’t have the authority to make the change yourself, so you grab the necessary paperwork that must be filled out to request that an engineer do it. On your way back to your desk the control room coordinator snags you and shoves some more paperwork at you from another group of field techs. He also gives you a second radio because the second group is on a different channel than the first group. So you get back to your desk with your two piles of paperwork and your two radios, and you’re just about to call your tech to explain what is happening when your boss appears at your desk and asks you to look something up for him. You do so, because he’s your boss, and he immediately launches into a veritable Spanish Inquisition’s worth of questions about something you worked on over a month ago. You can’t recall the exact details so you sweep aside your pile of paperwork and your two radios and you dig through the mess of your desk to find your log book. While flipping through weeks worth of notes with your boss hanging over your shoulder you hear your name being called on the radio a few times, so you grab it quickly and respond that you’ll be right with them. In the stress of the momenet you don’t realize that you’ve accidentally grabbed the second radio and are actually broadcasting to no one.

In short, you’re trying your damnedest to organize a dozen things at once, and yet there’s a field tech out there in the field, fuming about what an asshole you are for making them wait. You see how perspective can dramatically change the story?

This can work in both directions as well, of course. I’ve been in the control room waiting for a field tech to disconnect a wire for the purpose of a test and found myself wondering what was taking so long. I’ve even considered how incompetent a person would have to be to have so much trouble with a single wire. Then, inevitably, I would find out afterward that the wire in question was fifteen feet in the air and the tech couldn’t find a ladder, or that the wrong type of screw had been used on the wire and the tech had to go hunt down a different screwdriver.

The whole world revolves around the different perspectives from which we each see things, and this is important to remember when writing, because it is a constant source of conflict. For instance, there’s the antagonist who truly believes they’re the good guy because they see their cause as idealistic. Or there’s the protagonist who loses all their friends by doing something stupid that they felt at the time was the right thing to do. There’s the age-old story of how men and women can’t understand each other, or how children see the world in a completely different way from adults. The world is swarming with conflict because different people of different genders, ages, races, religions, creeds, classes, backgrounds, educations, and so on all see things from vastly different points of view, and that is fiction gold. Think about it and use it. Some of the best books I’ve read make excellent use of showing how the “good guys” and the “bad guys” really just have a very different perspective on things. After all, rarely does anyone believe that they themselves are the problem.

Perspective. How do you use it in your writing? Where do you see it in daily life? What books have you read that make good use of this idea? Please share!

Camping while there’s still snow on the ground…yikes!

This special weekend edition post of No Page Left Blank is brought to you by Camp NaNoWriMo, in which I will be participating for the first time this year.

I’ve mentioned National Novel Writing Month before; for those who have never heard, it’s a challenge to all writers across the globe to write a 50,000 word novel entirely within the month of November. The challenge is run by a group of wonderful peoplel at the Office of Light and Letters, and participating (which is free!) grants you access to a community full of writers of all ages, enthnicities, religious groups, skill levels, and whatever other group designations you can think of. It’s a wonderful challenge that has really helped thousands upon thousands of people to finally get that novel out of their head and down on paper (or computer screen). The community aspect is so supportive and helpful, and there are lots of fun little distractions on the website as well. There are even in-real-life meetings organized by Municiple Liasons (or whoever takes up the task) where writers can meet each other and have write-in events. All in all, it’s just a great and fun event that I’ve participated in several years in a row now.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a similar event that is also hosted by the Office of Letters and Light twice a year. It’s like NaNoWriMo, but a little less structured, a little more freebase, and a little more casual. This year they’ve pleased many people by making the word count goal variable. If you want to participate but don’t think you have a chance of hitting a goal of 50,000, you can tailor your goal to suit yourself. If you think you’re a superstar and you can double, triple, or quadruple that goal, then that’s what you can do!

I’ve chosen to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year because of the motivational advantage. NaNoWriMo always revs me up to write as much as I possibly can because I love the challenge of it, and that’s something I sorely need these days. While I have been writing quite a lot since my Wildly Improbable Goals post, my enthusiasm has been waning. I’ve been unmotivated to the max, and have been finding myself struggling to get through each sentence. I hope to banish these lethargic feelings by taking up the challenge that starts tomorrow on April 1st.

I don’t think I have it in me to get through 50,000 words, considering my work schedule and how active my daughter is getting, but I don’t think it will be pushing it to give myself a word count goal of 30,000 for April. That’s slightly less than 1000 words a day, which I did with some amount of success back when I first started this blog. Can I do it again for one month? I think so. I hope so. We’ll see!

If anyone is brave enough to take up the challenge with me, visit the website ASAP! The challenge starts tomorrow, people! Seize the day!!

30 Days of Truth – Day 18

Your views on gay marriage.

First of all, let me just say that this topic ranks very high on my list of “arguments I wish would just die already”. I have opinions, strong ones, but I’m just so sick of hearing about this topic. I can’t believe that we’re still arguing about this. ARG.

So, okay, my views. My views are thus: let the poor people get freakin’ married!

Here’s the thing. Marriage, at its core, is nothing more than a contract between two people who love each other. We bring religion to it, especially in North America, but in the end marriage has nothing to do with God. Non-Christians all over the world get married all the time. If your religion states that you get married with God as witness, then that’s just fine and dandy. But in the end, no matter what you do or don’t believe in, marriage is just two people getting together in front of their friends and family, stating their love for each other, promising to be together, and incurring all the taxation that befalls married couples. Case closed.

So why then are people so damned against gay people getting married? The super religious types will keep a strangle-hold on the bible and state that its sacrilegious and destroys the sanctity of marriage, and all that crap. My response to that: there’s a LOT worse sacrilege and sanctity-destruction going on out there, as far as marriage goes. There are people who have married and divorced a dozen times, despite divorce being looked down upon by many religions. There are people who have been forced into loveless marriages for any number of reasons, even though that goes against the very principle of marriage. There have even been people who have married inanimate objects. I shit you not. Google that nonsense. And while I’m not attacking any of these people in particular, I find it amazing, insane, and insulting that we as a nation are still attacking gay people when that kind of nonsense is going on out there.

So to summarize: let the freakin’ people get married. Case closed.

30 Days of Truth – Day 17

A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

The Chronicles of Narnia.

It’s hard to explain why without actually giving away important information about the story, so I’m going to be a little vague. To put it as broadly as possible, if you read the entire Chronicles you will find that it has some major, major religious connotations.

Now the thing is, while I was born into a Catholic family, I don’t believe in God. And if I’m completely honest about it, I don’t understand how anyone in this day and age can believe in God. I’m very tolerant and I really don’t give a damn what you believe in as long as you leave me the hell out of it, but I don’t get religion. I’m not talking about Catholicism specifically, but religion in general. With all the rules and the stigmas and the thinking-everyone-else-in-the-world-is-wrong-and-going-to-hell, every religion seems like a cult to me. Again, just my opinion. Please don’t flame me.

All that said, Narnia gave me a bit of a different view of religion. As I said before, it’s hard to explain without throwing spoilers all over the place, which I’d rather not do just in case. But basically, C. S. Lewis takes a very interesting, very different view on religion, God, and the afterlife. It gave me something to think about, for sure.