First Cup of Coffee – June 3, 2022

Thoughts on leaving readers with an emotionally satisfying ending, regardless of whether it makes perfect sense plot-wise, along with a story about buying wedding flowers and celebrating with joy.




Transcript
00:01.12
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:26.00
jeffekennedy
Delicious. Today is oh say it with me Friday ah June Third my friend’s wedding weekend. For something that started as um, basically we’re going to run to the justice of the piece we’ve ended up making this into quite the party and it’s been awesome. It’s ah been really super fun. I’m really glad that Charlie and Megan decided to do the party in a way that. Included all of us and lets us just do something purely fun.

02:08.48
jeffekennedy
Ah, hummingbird is busy. It’s kind of a little breezy morning here in Santa Fe but it’s supposed to be really beautiful today. Just a little tumultuous here it as the sun comes up but warm enough to be outside without sleeves. so so yeah um yesterday was a good day I felt like I was behind all day. Um I had went to writer breakfast coffee brunch and. That was fun. Um, you know, but still it just sets my morning back and I have to try to be let go of that because I do feel like the social interaction with friends is important right? And then I went to trader joe’s and bought the flowers for the wedding and I think I told the story on here before it that I was like I want to do the flowers for the wedding. It worked out great going to trader joe’s it turned out that they were turning over their flowers on thursday morning. My mom commented that her trader joes doesn’t seem to have as um, big a flower section. Ours is quite extensive and I was there. It’s right by the front doors and I was there um filling my cart. And it was. It was really funny because this was one of the best parts because very often going to trader joe’s is not a happy experience as far as the other people are concerned. It’s it’s a happy experience for buying what we want to get. And for the you know prices in general but people tend to be really stressed there like no and I don’t know why the parking lot tends to be like a rage fest I don’t know why so this was. Pure joy. Um, people were just commenting one person after another and people were like oh look how beautiful the flowers are and then they’d be like and look at you look at you with this card full of flowers and I said yes. My friend is getting married this weekend and they’re like that’s such a good idea to do it this way and um, it was just um, seeing how happy it make people. It made me think of the movie Bed of roses which I love this movie.

07:46.34
jeffekennedy
Where he talks about Christian Slater talks about after his wife died why he goes into the floral business because and I’m I’m gonna have to paraphrase but he he has this wonderful thing where he talks about you know that there’s something about delivering flowers to people that it’s out like. Best moments in their lives or the worst moments. But either way their faces when they take the flowers and he takes her who is a very wounded person along with him and she gets to experience that same delight. And and I could see it yesterday in people’s faces when they they looked there was this one older lady who um, you know said can I get to those and I said oh yes, you know pulling my laden card out of the way and I’m like just yell at me if I’m in your way and she goes. Ah. It was funny. Um, so and even in the parking lot I have my cart out there. You know and I’ll throw the photo on the show notes you laden with all of these colorful flowers and this. Lady and her daughter pull up. You know they’re they’re passing behind you know, like in the lane and she stops and they have the windows rolled down and she goes those flowers are so beautiful and I said for the upteeth time you know my friend is getting married this weekend and she’s like oh that’s so wonderful and so then i. Stepped pictures of the cart and texted Megan and said do you want to see the flowers or do you want to be surprised and she didn’t reply right away cause she was at work and as I’m driving home I get the text from her and. Saying I want to see and then she adds I hope I didn’t miss my window by not responding right away and I was like now of course I took the pictures anyway and sent them to her. Um, and she said um, it’s just so much. Joy. Um, and it is you know a joyful thing get married 2nd wedding for both of them and um, yeah, that’s really cool. So um. Yeah, so then I brought them home and realized I had a little bit of a problem I’d been thinking about it like where am I going to put them and then I had a stroke of genius and put them in the washing machine. Ah I tried doing like the pre-soak thing but it wouldn’t.

13:19.72
jeffekennedy
Fill I think I had to have stuff in there already. So then I just filled the the bucket that David uses to refill the fish tank did a couple of runs of that and filled up the washing machine and it it held I’m curious to see I’m going to look this morning and see if the water’s still standing in it I think it will hold until I drain it. So I just had all of the bouquets in there and then some in the bucket and I don’t maybe I’d gone overboard in acquiring but the armloads of flowers and it was funny because I’d had a specific budget mind but I didn’t count. As I was loading up the flowers I kind of just went with proportions of you know oh I want these I want these I want these and then I had to grab a couple of grocery things too. So I did that and I came out like $10 over budget I thought well that was amazing. So then I had to get to actual work and work on the book and I ended up adding like 2700 words yesterday and made it almost all the way through the second of the 4 epilogues, two to go you people Ah oh well. Yeah. It is what it is so ah, we’ll see how far I get today I would love it if I could get the last 2 epilogues today. Maybe they’ll be shorter second one was longer is what it is. And I still have to add the last few lines because I wasn’t by the time I finished yesterday. It was like almost 3 finished my 3 hours and I went longer I went like 15 minutes longer Dorinda signed off and I said um I’m going to stick with it and see if I can get these last few sentences and it ended up being more than a few sentences. And then I wasn’t sure if it was right I wasn’t quite hearing hearing the words. so I stopped if so I’ll see how it looks this morning and so then I did not go to in-person yoga. Because it was too tight of a turnaround and I thought I need to deal with these flowers and I wanted I really wanted to get them all arranged and into vasas so that and I’d gotten out I borrowed some some from Megan just like 4 and then it turns out you guys I have a lot of vases. But. So I had all my vases lined out and I thought well if I end up with not enough faces at least doing this tonight I can return any of the ones I don’t use to water and then go run to Michael’s or something tomorrow and get the.

19:01.38
jeffekennedy
Get some more vases or Tuesday morning. So I spread out I put a sheet on the rug. Well David and I ate dinner first but that’s we don’t you don’t need the blow by blow. Even though I’m giving it to you and we did ended up eating a fairly early dinner and. Then I spread the sheet out on the carpet in the living room and I just started and I got out a big garbage bag you know because they’re all wrapped in cellophane. So you know tookck off the cellophane took off the elastic and laid them out and bunches by type of flower and color and dan i. Started doing the arranging and I had 1 really big face that I had to like solve an engineering problem for um because the flowers looked too. Short in them. You know, like even the really tall lilies like barely stuck over the top of it I solved my engineering problem and I felt very clever for that as well and got my other bouquets all arranged and it ended up coming out just fine. So. Yeah, they are um, they’re beautiful. Beautiful I’m very happy with them. So this afternoon I need to text the homeowners of where the wedding is going to take place and see when I can drop those off I’m going to try to go take those flowers this afternoon. And couple other little tasks little errands and then um, yeah, and then party at their house tonight and I got out of all of my SFWA meetings for tomorrow. So I can go hang out at the pool. With with people and I may end up working on this book more first thing in the morning. Yeah because I would really love to dive into revising on Monday I haven’t revised those final pages yet. So.

23:28.66
jeffekennedy
So now that’s that’s my story and I’m sticking to it I did up. Um I put a lot of it on Instagram stories I made a real I need to like make a story too. But I kind of did some of that this morning and. Also slept long because I think I stayed up a little late so I’m running a bit behind but I’m on top of things I feel like I’ve got plenty of time to work on the book today and do the other things for the wedding and just have a really fun party weekend.

24:48.32
jeffekennedy
Yeah, so dont know do I have anything else to say At writer coffee yesterday they were telling me an interesting story because I was saying that on this book that my concern is is that I’ve not stuck the ending the way that I want to and Jim Sorenson was talking about um because he’s like involved in transformers and gi Joe and so he hands up going to. Different conferences than I do but he so I can’t remember the writer but it’s like one of the ones I think who did incredible hulk and he said he was talking about how at the end of one of them. That’s sorry about this where I won’t get my specifics. Jim could tell you but anyway ah I guess Bruce I remember it was incredible Hulk Bruce banner goes running after the train at the end she she gets on the train and then heing goes running after the train and trying to stop her but the train pulls away. And all dejected. He turns around and goes back and she’s standing there on the train platform and they embrace and it’s all good and he says that audiences love this ending. Love love love this ending. It’s like the huge emotional punch reward ending and it’s like what a. Best received endings he’s ever done and he hates it. He hates this ending because he says it actually makes no plot sense whatsoever and he wrestled with this ending because he’s like if she’d already gotten on the train. How did she know to get back off the train again and how did she get off the train when the train’s already been moving that she’s back on the platform. None of this matters to the audience because the audiences love the emotional reward of the ending and so that was what Jim was saying to me is like you know you’re doing these epilogues and you’re doing this big emotional reward for the ending. He said nobody’s going to mind whether or not, you’re ending of like the the resolution of the plot actually makes any sense. So ah yeah I thought to. Um, was probably what I needed to hear.

29:48.52
jeffekennedy
I know that um from inside the writer brain that we can belabor things quite a bit more than the readers will and then readers end up belaboring things that make no sense to us that they focus on. So yeah, it’s a good. Exercise in zen and I do agree. This is one thing that I have learned over the course of writing books and seeing which ones work is that once I got really good at real. Really good. I feel vain saying that but I feel like I’ve gotten much better at it anyway of delivering that emotionally satisfying ending that it it makes all the difference because it’s what you leave the reader with in the end. It’s that feeling that they close the book with. So so yeah, it’s really the opposite of the cliffhanger ending right? because the cliffhanger ending isn’t actual ending. It’s a moving straight into the next story. Yeah, so it’s um, it’s useful to think in those terms and of course you can’t please everyone all the time I saw a review of one of my books yesterday where somebody said that they wished that there had been more resolution at the end or you know that I had tied up more of the events and like and I couldn’t there was too much I’m sorry you wish that um you know if wishes were horses sometimes sometimes you’ve got a. Decide where you’re going to stop the book. You know I could have stopped it earlier that that’s you know one way or the other. But when you’re writing a series that’s in a continuous arc. It’s not always possible to tie up that full you you can put in that scene with that. Um, emotional resolution but sometimes it’s not enough for everybody if not all the questions are tied up so but but this is tying up the four book series and in some ways the whole. Whole series right? you know and that’s why it’s been fun to touch back to that original Twelve kingdoms trilogy in these scenes kind of bridging the generations I’m really enjoying that. Yeah, so.

35:18.26
jeffekennedy
You know I mentioned and and quite a few of you replied back to me with aghast faces that this might be the end of the 12 kingdoms and uncharted realms world. Yeah I don’t know maybe maybe not. Right now I don’t have clear ideas of what I would write next. It could be that I’ll write like little novellas here and there it could be that I’ll get some idea that will connect it. Um I remember 1 reviewer. It was really funny in reviewing the forgotten empire’s trilogy said it was set in the same world as. 12 kingdoms and uncharted realms and I was like um, no, no, not not even close. In fact I went to some effort to make them distinct worlds. But for those of you have been reading along with Heirs of magic ah you will will. You know there’s the altar realms and so there’s this thing that you know like maybe the world can connect I don’t know we’ll see. Um, yeah, so all right I’m gonna go get to work see if I can get this uploaded in time to ah. Concentrate on these epilogues but I hope you all have a wonderful weekend I hope that it is joyful in any way that you can make it joyful and I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – February 18, 2022




Transcript
00:00.18
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy and here with my first cup of coffee ah greatly needed. If you are on video. You will see. It is very early here. It’s just now six o’clock am and I can see the sky beginning to lighten out my east window sun is coming. It’s not here yet. So yeah I woke up early and I woke up I woke up at four I went to bed kind of early I went out last night with my friend Megan. Oh I should have said wait wait sorry say it with me today is Friday woo. Almost forgot February eighteenth so so yeah um I went out and saw my friend Megan Mulry last night we had a lot of fun. We had drinks and dinner and it was it was lovely. And and I came home and went to bed and woke up woke up at four and I out and I thought I would go back to sleep and David got up. He woke up. He wakes up a couple hours. You know every couple hours at night and takes more medication because without it. He can’t sleep and so he got up and I was laying there and I thought I was going to go back to sleep and he came back in and said um he said I just want you to know that if you want to get up and work. You won’t bother me and I said well. I go back to sleep and he said okay and so I laid there and I was like wide awake and so I was like oh I guess I’m awake so I got up I thought well I can get a jump start because I’ve got this midday today deadline which it’s nice that he’s aware of that too. I so I guess I’m not going back to sleep and he said um, he said well if he said I’m not surprised. He said if I were you I would be wanting to get to work on that stuff too and I said yeah I guess you know me better I know myself. So. If you are on video. You can see look It’s an orchid. This is my first orchid rebloom I posted the ah photo of it of like the flower stock. Not long ago but look.

02:47.49
jeffekennedy
Kind have an actual orchid rebloom from my trader Joe’s orchid. Um i’ never got one of these to bloom before and so isn’t that cool. So I’m just got put it here. I’m just gonna like hold it next to my face because I’m so excited. Okay I will can I just sort of move it into the frame here. But well we don’t want to interfere with the coffee drinking. So um, let’s see on the book Grey Magic not quite done I’m at just shy of 103000 words I think I am on the second. To last scene. Actually I think it may be the third to last scene. So. It’s not the penultimate scene. But what’s is there a name for a third to last probably not probably third to last means not done yet. Was so um, so yeah I I worked I did my 3 hours of writing yesterday and I slowed down I did really well at first I got a had a good first hour a great second hou second hour and not so great third hour because I just ran out of juice. So I only got a little shy 2500 words yesterday, but still still. that’s that’s good as Darynda says we’ll take him um and then I was I thought well. I only have you know like 500 words to go to hit my 3000 so I thought well I’ll go rest and so I david was out driving and I got my reading chair and I’m just about done with Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. the transcript really hates her name I think it’s very interesting which names the transcript can absolutely handle. It’s like if you’re famous on google then. Transcript picks it up right away. Um like jennifer lopez owen wilson no problems at all my name. No Juliet Marillier? No. Darynda, it hates Darynda these are things I’m having to fix now I’m gonna have to go and fix all of them for saying all those names. Um, so where was I before I went on that tangent writing oh I was reading daughter of the forest and so I I read for a couple of hours and I thought I might nap but I didn’t I think I’m keyed up finishing this book I’ll probably.

05:28.30
jeffekennedy
Crash once I finish but um, yeah, so then I thought so I read for like an hour or so and then I came back to it and looked at the manuscript I thought well maybe I’ll try and put in another hour at least try to get these 500 words and I looked at where I stopped I was like. Got that big nope out from the creative self. So. It’s like okay, no.

05:56.54
jeffekennedy
Um, so up and at it early today. Um, figured I might as well go ahead and get the podcast out there. So my mother will be happy if nobody else and I don’t know if I have much else. Say um, Megan and I had fun talking about that friendship article that I talked about earlier this week on the podcast the one in the Atlantic and I’d say I think I mentioned on here that. 1 thing I treasure about that particular friendship was I sent her the link and I said here’s your homework assignment for us to discuss and she said on it and not only did she read it. She had like notes she had read it on her phone so she had all these highlighted sections and so we went through disgust and. It was very interesting because um, she and I are about the same age and so you know it was just read all the article the essay written by the woman who is about our age and yeah, so we we had a ah wonderful time discussing those things people were we got that. Who went to Harry’s roadhouse and we sat at the bar and got there at 5 and it was nobody was in there. We’re like oh it’s good time to get here and then it just got busier and busier and busier and she told me that um, New Mexico finally lifted our mask mandate. So. People seem to be very excited celebrating and so forth.

07:37.39
jeffekennedy
Yeah, um, you know I know that we’re conflicted on that right? you know it’s once I was vaccinated and and we didn’t have to wear masks for a while the mask mandate was lifted. You know and then we had to start wearing them again because of all the people who. Um, are not vaccinated and also the vulnerable. So yeah, it’s just um I own a messy situation I hear so many conflicting ideas about it. But I have no problem continuing to wear my mask. Um. Guess we’re requested. We’re required and if somebody wants me to have it on around them I’m happy to do that. So well 2 years hu birth bird just flew by my window dawn is coming but surprise Birdie’s up flying it already because if you’re on video you could see it’s still quite dark. So um, let’s see so yeah yesterday afternoon I just kind of went into a little mental stupor and it was nice. It was very nice i. Read for a long time and Jackson came got on my lap this morning David got to see how I taught Jackson to get his weight that he’ll get on the scale and sit when I tell him to sit David was all impressed. So now I’m really tempted to try the fluent pet thing. Don’t know if I you’ll Mary Robinette Kowal has been doing fluent pet with her cat and I’m I don’t know if I want to or not I’m tempted and I’m not I kind of don’t want the thing laying on my floor that I sound like my mother. So yeah, this is a random collection of disconnected thoughts because this is where my brain is at I’m brain empty. Yeah, just got to finish this book right? Darynda and I were having a conversation. She said that she was feeling like um she had kind of a ah moment of epiphany now I understand scrambled eggs I should probably refer explain that. Um, if you’ve taken any of my classes or particular classes. I. Use this cartoon that I think I found in the new yorker but it um shows people eating it sort of like an outdoor cafe and it says um breakfast at epiphanies and there’s somebody going now I understand scrambled eggs and so.

10:29.56
jeffekennedy
I love that for explaining what an epiphany is one of my little jokes to myself. Oh you know I’ll come back to Darynda I would say remind me but you can’t I’ll do my best um, it was really fun doing my Reddit. Fantasy ama the other day because a lot of the people there had read my books and a couple people asked me questions um or mentioned things about my influences and it’s the first time that I’ve had a reader. Um. Just like somebody who doesn’t know me well just from reading my books pick up on one of my little inside jokes to myself. She said oh I knew this because you you named this character this and I figured that was an homage to this other writer and I was like it totally was but I didn’t expect. Anybody to ever figure that out. You know it’s like I put these little things in to amuse myself and then it’s kind of delightful when somebody spots it these little easter eggs. So anyway, during this been stressing trying to finish writing her book. And she said that it occurred to her the other day that I’m gonna have to fix her name all through this text now. Um that it occurred to her the other day that why was she being so upset why was she. Feeling so ground under by this. She’s like I have the best job in the world I am doing the thing that I love to do and I said it’s true and I have to remind myself of that too. Ah, and I said well some of it’s just it’s human nature because this is our job. And when it’s your job and it’s your work and you have deadlines. It’s not like just playing. It’s not all you know, romping through the the meadow and plucking words it’s um, it. It’s nose to the grindstone. I mean that’s that’s that’s what work is about um and I said but at the same time I have to remind myself and and she was thinking to remind herself too that you know this is what we wanted. We chose this and it’s still way better. Then another job I was like you know you could be out there doing asl translation which you know american sign language she is fluent and certified and all this kind of thing but I guess that could be really difficult work and she taught for a while and she was like yeah or I could be teaching kids who don’t want to learn.

13:17.22
jeffekennedy
You know? So it’s it’s that thing of reminding yourself of your blessings I think we just tend to focus on when things are difficult. Um, but it’s still a pretty awesome job and and all of this. For instance, on this book. You know I’m the one who set this deadline I definitely want this payout so that’s why I wanted it by like February twenty eighth so that I’ll get that amazon money that means I’ll get it at the end of april and if i. Missed that 28 if I did even a couple days later then I wouldn’t get it till the end of may so you know it’s like wanting to pay that mortgage and everything but at the same time the the actual pressure the how am I ending this book. Do I need. 2 or 3 more scenes to to end it well to please all of you to please the reader to please myself. It’s um, you know that’s that’s all internal pressure I could just it’s kind of funny because as I’m coming up on the end of this book. I’ve seen several places where I could stop if this were not book 3 in the trilogy I would see places that I could stop um because I get accused of riding cliffhangers and when. When we see that kar will say you know people keep using that word and I don’t think it means what they think it means so I was like yeah, it’s having an open-ended. Story is not the same thing as a cliffhanger. Um, but there are more things to tie up with the book 3 in the trilogy and. I’m definitely gonna write another book in this world I know what it’s going to be about as you guys read gray magic you will know what the next book will be about too. You’re goingnna see that but what I’m trying to figure out at this point in time I’m trying to figure out a couple of things. So this trilogy and I think I asked this before and some of you gave me feedback but I’m going to ask it again. This trilogy has been nick and gabriel for all 3 books and there’s going to be other romantic pairings. In the next books. Um, and I don’t know if it’ll be just like one couple per book or what or 1 couple over several books I’m deciding. That’s 1 question. Um.

16:03.51
jeffekennedy
The other thing I’m thinking because that’s the romance convention is you know once like these 3 books have been Nic and Gabriel’s povs back and forth next book would go into another couple’s pov right? and I’m kind of. Entertaining branching out and doing multiple povs because there are more epic adventures going to happen and I’m considering adding multiple povs into the ensuing books. So that it would like maybe the focus would be on the romance between some other people but I’m wondering can I go back to Nic and Gabriel’s p o these because I’m not sure I’m entirely ready to leave them What do you guys? think about that i. I tend to not want to deviate from the structures that I set up I feel like that’s part of the promise like in the first book I’m saying here’s the structure. It’s gonna be do dual pov. So then if I go into the next ones. For instance, so here’s another question right? book the next book should it be book 4 of bonds of magic or book one of a new trilogy I think there’s arguments for both I don’t know what to do I’m not gonna make decisions while my brains this empty. But. These are things I’m trying to figure out but I’ll be interested to know what your preferences are I’m kind of feeling this thing where I want to branch out into multiple povs. There’s ah another book that I started a couple years ago um we didn’t really get anywhere with it on submission. This is the science fantasy I’ll tell you guys that um and I told Sarah agent Sarah at the beginning of that our talk at the beginning of the year then I finish it and she said well maybe we could take it on submission again. Because it’s been two years and there’s been a lot of turnover in the editors and stuff and she said if you’re gonna write it anyway. So I’m thinking about that 1 doing multiple povs because that one would really lend itself I want to do that. Like maybe this is like where my I don’t usually talk about muses I don’t really believe in the muse. But I’m feeling like this is where my storytelling yen is going could be interesting all right.

18:45.51
jeffekennedy
I am going to actually get to work if you’re on video you can see that the sky out my window is beginning to lighten. You can see the ah the silhouette of Sandia peak out in the background that deeper blue against the lightning sky so rise and shine. Here we go I hope you all have a wonderful Friday whether it’s your actual end of work week or not and that you have a great weekend and next week I don’t know if I’ll be doing podcast or not. We’ll see so um. But next time you see me this book should be done if it’s not, we’re all in big trouble but all right you all take care bye bye.

Joyful Narcissus


I love how Ho Tai looks like he’s celebrating the daffodils here.

Of course, the lovely thing about Ho Tai is he looks like he’s always celebrating everything. I suppose it says something that we have him in our garden. It tells you what I worship most. What I strive for.

Is it silly to say joy?

There are so many opportunities to read and watch the awful, the hateful, the depressing. People are angry and afraid and feel more free than ever before, it seems, to vent that to the world.

Heather Armstrong, better known as Dooce, and a blogger I admire, was recently invited to D.C. to participate in a forum on workplace flexibility. She’s kind of a poster child for it, because she was famously fired from her job back in the early 2000s for something(s) she wrote in her blog. So much so that being “dooced” means having that happen to you. A phenomenon of the new era. Now she supports her family from her blog and works from home.

But apparently, people were angry that she was chosen. It doesn’t surprise me, I suppose, though I didn’t read any of the comments. Heather elicits a lot of strong emotions from people, largely because she lays it all out there and doesn’t mince words. She also, like many people who are very good at what they do, makes it look effortless. So, she seems to be succeeding for doing nothing more than taking pictures of her dog and yakking about her children.

I’ve been going back and reading through her archives from the beginning. It’s like a long, real-time memoir. I’m fascinated by the window she’s allowed us into her life. That’s the best kind of memoir-writing, in my opinion.

What people don’t understand about writing memoir, or personal essays, which is what many blogs truly are, is that you’re still making artistic choices.

In short: you don’t tell every damn thing.

Even if it seems like you do.

There have been a number of discussions lately about how much of yourself to put on the internet and how much to keep private. Authors are encouraged by their agents and publishers to blog, but not everyone is good at it. Some authors are so concerned with their privacy that their blogs end up being little more than updates on books and appearances. Good information, but not interesting reading. Others go too far the other way and use their blogs as a dumping ground to vent about what makes them unhappy. Which, while it can be a way to connect with other people, runs the risk of being, well, not entertaining.

Kev warned me early on not to yield to the temptation to turn my blog into a rant, which annoyed me at the time. Most likely because he was right.

It’s hard to predict, of course, how people will react to what you write. I’m still surprised by which of my posts get attention and which don’t. I always enjoy seeing which elicit the most comments, both here and through other venues. It’s fun, because no other kind of writing garners immediate feedback like blogging does. But then, I rarely get negative comments.

I find myself moving to shield myself from the negative these days. I stay away from most “news.” I unfollow people who say things that depress me. I don’t read the nasty things that people say about Dooce.

Am I burying my head in the sand? I don’t think so. There’s plenty of pain out there. I know what’s going on politically – though my philosophy is to find out what I need to about candidates, elect the ones who stand for what I do and then I let them handle it. I feel like I hire them to worry about it so I don’t have to.

Sometimes I share my pain here – mostly if I feel like it helps to tell the story. That’s what it’s all about, telling the story. Sometimes I even have a point.

Maybe that’s why talking about joy seems silly sometimes. There’s not much of a moral there.

Except, oh look! Pretty daffodils!

Joy and Other Indoor Sports

I love this image.

One day I’d like to journey to the remote part of China where this cliff-carving is, just to see it for real.

What I love is how the sculptor(s) capture the sense of movement and joy. The Bodhisattvas, though captured in stone, are dancing.

To me, that’s what life and enlightenment are about: being so filled with joy that it moves you to dance.

Lately I’ve been feeling sensitive to anger. Maybe it’s just a symptom of bad economic times, but I’m noticing so many harsh responses on a variety of fronts.

I’ve been noticing writers criticizing other writers in mean ways. Or making lists of things they think writers shouldn’t do.

One of my favorite bloggers, Heather Armstrong, finally listed with ads all the hateful comments she receives, figuring that if people are goling to pour out that kind of hate, she could at least get revenue from it. I notice she’s taken the page down now. I read a bit and felt so soiled by the things people said that I couldn’t bear to keep going.

A colleague sent a “funny” email to me that was a collection of pics of office refrigerator notes. Again, the parade of passive/agressive rage at people who took or molested food from the communal fridge only left me feeling sad.

Granted, I’m not good with anger. I’m one of those people whose parents never fought in front of her, so she doesn’t like to see people fight. When I hear people yell in anger, I physically flinch. I feel emotionally slapped, even if it’s not directed at me. I’m a big believer that you don’t talk when you’re mad, because once something is said, it can’t be unsaid, regardless of apologies.

In short, I’m a total pansy about conflict.

I know that conflict is part of life and one must deal as it arises. And yet, I think there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the positive. In fact, I think it’s crucial to find the joy and not the rage. I suspect there are very few exceptions to the old rule, that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

It’s hard for me to imagine the dancing Bodhisattva’s leaving hate comments on someone’s blog.