Saturday, January 24, 2009

Recent Past Events

I had a good day on Open Salon today.  I quickly wrote out an article about a topic that's been bugging me, the "he kept us safe" argument started by Judith Miller and adopted by a number of other conservative writers and publications.  I've identified the logical fallacy this represents: confusing cause and effect.  In eight years, we suffered one terrorist attack on domestic soil (9/11) and none others after that.  In those eight years, Bush was president.  Therefore: Bush's prevented all other terrorist attempts within our borders.

One might argue that Bush's presidency caused that first attack.  But the fact that no other attacks happened does not necessarily denote that Bush prevented a random number of attacks.  My article addressed the concept of that, exploring what other outrageous disasters Bush protected us from, simply because they did not happen.

At the time of this writing, the Open Salon home page shows that my article has been the most read in the last 12 hours, as well as the highest rated.  It is also an Editor's Pick, and that's not going away.  People have been commented all day long and I've had great fun in writing back to them.  This is a good moment for me as a writer.

But I had a bad night last night.  I had a good day at work, though my boss kept referring to me as a "contractor," when I thought I'd been hired as a regular employee.  At no point in the interview or application process had anyone suggested I would be a contractor.  That would explain the surprisingly large paycheck, if I'm paying my own taxes, social security, and insurance.  But still, oh well, so I become my own business.  So I am a self-run company and I contract myself out to other businesses.  Is that so bad?

Then I wanted to go home and work out.  I've been excited about how reliably I've been sticking to my workout plan, how much weight I've been losing.  Instead of that, however, I went out shopping with Rebecca.  We had fun doing it, we went to World Market (which is going out of business, much to my disappointment), and we went to Target.  At Target I looked at exciting new clothes, tried them on, and realized that I am too old and too out of shape for them to look good on me.  The clothes themselves fought me as I pulled them on.  If the shirt and vest had possessed fists, they would have pummeled me into submission.  They would have rained blows upon my body.

Then we went home and I tried to get ready to work out.  The cats kept running under my feet and one knocked over my water bottle.  Convinced the universe was trying to give me a hint, I threw a tantrum, changed into warmer clothes, and went outside for a very long walk.  I stormed down the sidewalk and strode along the cemetary up to the park, then charged through the park up to the lake.

On the shore of the lake I stood very still, pulled off my earmuffs, and breathed.  I listened to all sounds in my environment: distant car on my left, plane roaring through the sky before me, distant traffic on my right.  Nothing and no one behind me, and the vast expanse of a frozen sheet of ice in front.  I grounded my energy into the earth and gathered all my personal energy from where it had scattered throughout the city, and I asked the universe why I was not allowed to work out tonight.  It had no answer.

I turned around and walked home, much cooler (in temperature if not in temperament) and starting to feel pain in my cheeks.  Back through the park, back up along the cemetary, where something caught my eye.

Tiny flashes of dim light appeared up and down the hill among the graves, flickering almost too quickly to look at directly.  Some were yellow, some were pink, I think.

When I walked along the sidewalk next to the cemetary, I wasn't able to find my footprints from where I'd come.  Just a sheet of untouched, unbroken snow on every square of the sidewalk.


gezellig-girl said...

Two pieces of nagging/advice:

1. If you're a contractor, start saving receipts for EVERYTHING that's even remotely work-related. Bus passes, new clothes, books, cell phone, everything. If you're doing any work from home ever, then start saving your utility bills and rent receipts for your home office expenses.

2. OMG STOP GIVING AWAY CONTENT ONLINE. That essay was hilarious and you totally could have had it published somewhere. I really think you should consider Open Salon as your avenue of last resort, as an "I pitched this everywhere and now I give up" thing.

Christian said...

I will start saving receipts. That's a good idea. I've been saving my college receipts for tax purposes, but now if I consider myself my own business I have to broaden my view. It's an intriguing yet intimidating idea, but it's what I have to get used to.

As for the second point, I never know what's going to take off. I write plenty of things that I think are erudite and hilarious and they get glossed over. I crank out one thing off the cuff, and at the end of the day it's got Editors Pick, Most Read, and Most Rated. I have no idea what people are going to cotton to.

And I've had bad experience with print publication. No one responded to any of my article queries, and one of my short stories was returned unopened and marked REFUSED. With Open Salon, there's a chance for response or acknowledgment. There's more encouragement on this free blog service than there is in the conventional print industry.

That doesn't justify my throwing away my best material, but I have no way of knowing what that is. If I'd submitted that last piece to a number of local magazines and newspapers, had it systematically refused, and then posted it on Open Salon, it would no longer be timely. I promise you, once my career picks up momentum and I'm writing regularly for one or more publications, I will not fritter my A-list material on a free and public blog.

gezellig-girl said...

Honey, your career is never going to pick up momentum if you're not pitching to the "conventional print industry."

I'm sorry to be the tough love guy here, but if you want to be a writer for reals, you need to set aside your need for "response or acknowledgment" and start sending stuff (ALL your stuff, ALL the time) to people who are going to pay you.