“Aliens enter Writers of the Future, but only earn honorable mentions.”
Greg Beatty

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The one that is all whited out and hard to see is a door in a historic house in Ann Arbor.
making awful things happen to fictional people
Tue 2017-11-21 23:51:30 (single post)

Still sick, but getting better. Better enough to take a walk down to the bank and the bookstore. Still sick enough that any pace above a leisurely amble resulted in a painful coughing fit. Three hours of roller derby practice was out of the question. Am spending the evening at home with my writing instead.

I went to the bookstore for more postcards. What with the current Postcards to Voters campaign, I'm going through them pretty fast. I've got a 100-pack of BE A VOTER! postcards winging their way to me as we speak, but in the meantime, I'm fresh out. And the Bookworm has, in addition to its spin-rack full of shiny Colorado and Boulder tourist postcards, a box full of random donated postcards and greeting cards I was looking forward to exploring. I picked out eight to get me through my current list of addresses. They were a mix of historical architecture, tourist souvenirs from assorted locations, and... cactus flowers? Also a moose.

Then, when I brought my selection up to the check-out counter, there was this amazing-looking book of 20 postcards of classic The Hobbit illustrations by various artists, just waiting for me like it knew I was coming. Why yes I snatched it up. Some Alabama voters are going to be getting some very pretty postcards early next week.

The epic word count days continue. Managed the requisite two NaNoWriMo sessions both today and yesterday; now, at 20K plus change, I am caught up through day 12. 3,300 words per day from here on out and I am set.

Last night I did a bunch of mental plotting while I was waiting to fall asleep, which helped prime the pump for today. Of course, I had to pick out and discard the bits of not-quite-asleep-but-already-dreaming nonsense that crept into the mix. Like, I'm running through the scene in which Delta and Michael first meet, and she's paying to replace his lunch (she klutzed his meal all over his clothes as a contrived meet-cute), and they're exchanging numbers, and... helping each other make squares in Two Dots? Because that's what I did before going to bed, I guess?

Hypnagogic contributions aside, last night in bed was also when I realized that, during the tragic flashback I'd written all about Michael's little brother's very short life, I'd never once mentioned his parents' kindertotems. In fact, all through my conception of the novel, I've only mentioned Michael's kindertotem. For those just joining us today, kindertotems are specific to people from Michael's country, who are born in animal form and slowly change to full biological humanity as they reach adulthood. Once they have fully outgrown their non-human morphology, an animal of the corresponding species will show up and become part of that adult's life going forward. Kindertotems enjoy a mild, mostly one-way psychic connection with their humans, and they can talk (when they wish) just like animal companions in any number of fantasy books you may have read, but they remain more or less immature as regards things like imagination and impulse control. So it's sort of like a person's "inner child" but as a concrete, living being.

So, in the flashback, seven-year-old Michael is still part cat, and poor doomed Karlkin is a kitten who's just opened his eyes--but their parents are adults, so where are their kindertotems? What are they? Even considering their come-and-go-as-they-please nature, why don't they show up at all over a several-month-long flashback? Well, I came up with some answers. They are not pleasant answers, but they are in keeping with other things I discovered/decided while writing that flashback. (Michael's father really is a piece of work, you know that?) Michael's mother's kindertotem is a canary, which probably means she herself has a tendency to sing. Or did. Until all the awfulness happened.

"But so anyway about that meet-cute in the coffee shop," she said, desperate to change the subject and lighten the mood...

ten postcards to ten potential democratic voters in alabama - there will be more
look at that forecast little orphan annie LIED to us
Mon 2017-11-06 23:42:39 (single post)

So I'm back in Boulder and I actually do want to upload blog posts for the week that I was in New Orleans because I have THOUGHTS and this is how I share them. There will be backfill. Maybe tomorrow. Tonight I am tired, because today I did all sorts of doctorish things, including having seven vials of blood drawn because apparently there is only so much you can condense all the annual wellness checks and I seem to have more annual wellness checks than I used to. Forty is a magic number! And I was very good and did my twice-weekly half-hour core workout, yay. Also I did quite a bit of the writerly things but not enough of them (I promise I am doing NaNoWriMo! I am!) because there is NEVER ENOUGH TIME.

Well. Tomorrow is a new day. Isn't it always?

I got back home around 9:30 yesterday morning. The train got in around 6:45, which was early, but the first bus for Boulder didn't leave until almost 8:00, and then the bus from the station to my neighborhood left around 9:00, and then I had to walk a few blocks with my luggage rolling along. Uphill. Through a construction zone. So. Technically I was early enough to make it to the back half of Sunday practice and then watch WFTDA Championships with everyone else, but I was kind of done in by the time I got home and it was easier to just keep being a New Orleanian for a bit.

Which is why I got on my bike and headed to the neighborhood bar to watch the Saints game instead.

The Saints won. And the sun came out. It was a pretty OK day.

Also I wrote postcards! I wrote ten postcards. Remember those postcards I picked up at Scriptura and that lovely green fountain pen ink? (Sure you do. I wrote about them in Friday's post. I haven't yet written that post, but once I do I will go back in time to plant it oh-so-casually in the blogstream. Backfill is coming.) I made use of those postcards and that ink in the cause of Postcard to Voters Campaign #32, getting out the vote for Alabama's Doug Jones for U.S. Senate. (His opponent is Roy Moore, if that helps give an idea of the urgency of the race.) This the very first statewide Postcard to Voters campaign ever, and in order to reach every address on their list in time for the December 12 special election, they need a whole bunch more volunteers. This is me, doing my part. If you feel so moved, you can email "join" at "tonythedemocrat" dot "org" to get started.

And that's me for tonight. Like I said, not as much as I hoped to report, but they tell me the sun'll come out tomorrow. OK, well, maybe it won't, maybe it will snow, but the planet will darn well rotate, causing the sun to darn well rise and tomorrow to darn well happen. Which I intend to take full advantage of.

in which both story hour and postcard acquisition are a win
Wed 2017-10-04 23:48:28 (single post)

I have postcards! I wrote my postcard today! (I would like to write more than one a day, but some days less amenable than others.) Many thanks to my league-mate Pink Bang Theory for suggesting I try the Used Book Emporium in downtown Longmont, just across the street from the library as it turned out; they had a plentiful and varied selection of FirstLight postcards featuring Colorado's flora, fauna, and geological features. Thirty cents for one, four postcards for a dollar.

I'm still going to buy some online. I'm partial to the designs at this Etsy store here. But the ones I got today will tide me over until the online purchase comes in.

Meanwhile, there's a lovely mention of our visit with the kids at the library this morning in the Longmont Times Call. Don't miss the photo gallery! On a related note, Strictly No Elephants is now one of my favorite children's picture books ever.

a brief interlude for stationery sourcing
Wed 2017-10-04 00:25:49 (single post)

Hey, Boulder County - where the heck do you buy postcards?

Yes, well, "online," I just figured that out, but I need more postcards today. Meaning Wednesday the 4th, because I see it has snuck around to past midnight while my back was turned. Today, I need to send at least one more postcard urging Democrats in Utah to vote for #DrKathie because that's how it works, you pledge to send at least one postcard per day, and I take these things seriously.

Don't look at me like that. I know I've mentioned Postcards to Voters before. To review: You sign up, they send you addresses, you send postcards to those addresses. There are ground rules, of course. Postcard designs must be inclusive. Postcard messages must be legible, handwritten, and stick to the talking points for the associated campaign. Postcards are addressed to "Awesome Voter" or similar; they are signed with first name or initials. Ground rules like that. But it's still utter simplicity and great for folks who love sending old-fashioned physical mail but who maybe get the cold shivers and the hot red hives at the thought of making cold calls.

My postcards to date have been sourced from one of two places:

  • A pad of watercolor-friendly postcard blanks I picked up at an arts'n'crafts store while I was still in high school at the latest; and
  • A handful of European luggage-tag style postcard blanks I picked up at a stationery store at the east end of Loveland last month.

Those sources have run dry. I can't go back in time, and I'm not going all the way to Loveland every time I need more blanks. Besides, I damn near cleaned the store out of this particular product. And they don't interact with fountain pen ink reliably well, anyway.

I'm guessing maybe Michael's, maybe Office Depot or Staples? Those kind of places?

If anyone local's got suggestions, I'm all ears. Bonus points if it's somewhere in downtown Longmont within skating distance of the library.

A sample postcard to a sample voter
Cover art incorporates photo
politics, postcards, and solid daily gottas
Tue 2017-09-05 23:04:16 (single post)

So, today got unexpectedly political. I mean, the political component of the day was expected, but my participation was unexpectedly high and early in the day. There were multiple faxes to send, some through Resistbot and some from a physical fax machine, and also postcards to write. So between that and some more routine household chores, my writing got a little crowded out and whittled down to just the daily gottas.

They were good solid daily gottas, though. And good solid household chores, too. I'm not displeased with how my day went. But I do wish the political crises obliging good citizens to action could pace themselves a little rather than piling up all on the same day. Well. One does what one must, given the crises one has.

I did want to talk about those postcards a little. I've started volunteering with Postcards to Voters, which is exactly what it sounds like: get-out-the-vote postcard-writing campaigns for specific key elections. (The current campaign is in support of Annette Taddeo's bid for Florida State Senate District 40 on September 26.) You get started by sending an email to "join" at "tonythedemocrat.org." Then they send you an email telling you how it works and what's expected of you and your postcards. Then you reply with a photo of your first postcard so they can make sure you understand the rules of the road. If you do and your postcard shows it, they send you addresses and you start sending people your postcards.

So that's a thing I'm doing with postage stamps and fountain pens and markers and watercolors and stuff. Activism is fun!

Real quick: Last week's fictionette--which was out on time I'll have you know only I wasn't able to get to the blog to say so that evening--was a bit of a romp called "Love, Death, and Really Bad Movies" (ebook, audiobook). It's about a disastrous first date and also a frustrated serial killer.

And that's it!

this is my oasis of normality it is a nice oasis have a coconut
Thu 2017-07-27 22:37:31 (single post)

Things are getting kind of unhinged out there. (Getting?) OK, more unhinged. Dramatically more unhinged. I'm not oblivious to this--I wish I had the luxury to be oblivious, but I don't think anyone has that luxury, not really. I've been keeping a browser tab open on the latest political open thread at Metafilter, refreshing it frequently, and dreading what I'll see but being grateful for the intelligent and bleakly humorous tenor of the conversation there.

For the most part, aside from the occasional outburst in the social mediaz, I've been restricting my reactions to carefully worded faxes to my Senators and Representatives (have you met Resistbot?). I'm... going to stick with that, actually. If I start commenting more, especially here on a blog dedicated specifically daily writing accountability, the writing will get squeezed out and my ability to resist usefully will wither under the blow-torch of perpetual outrage and I'll wither, too, just wither away into an exhausted, whimpering ball of despair.

I'm aware. I'm doing my part. But I'm also setting boundaries and patrolling them as best I can.

Sometimes it seems like the best act of resistance I can muster is to simply continue, day by day, to show up at the page, to submit stories for publication, to publish each Friday's fictionette--to be a small force for normality in the world, pushing forward, come what may. To keep doing the good work of... just being this person in the world.

To raise my little flag that says, "I'm still here. I'm still writing, I'm still skating, and the fuckers can't take that away from me."

So. Hello. We are writing now.

Today was a good day. Good like most of last week was good. This week has not been so good--the crash-and-burn tendency caught up with me Tuesday and bled over a bit into Wednesday--but last week was great and so was today. It would be nice to think I've gone from a "one day on, one day off" cycle to a "ten days on, one day off" cycle. It would be very nice for that to be a permanent change. I mean, heck, ten days on, one day off--that's above and beyond the mainstream standard, right? It's a longer work-week and a shorter weekend, is what it is.

Anyway.

A couple stories came back with rejection letters. I haven't yet decided where to send them next, but I did send one of my other existing drabbles out. I have a good handful of unpublished drabbles from the days when SpeckLit.com encouraged writers to submit ten at a time; since SpeckLit shut down and Drabblecast went on hiatus, it's hard to find paying markets for them. It's not as simple as sending them to places that welcome very short flash fiction. With markets that don't specifically solicit drabbles, there's the possibility that the editor doesn't really consider 100 words to be an actual story. On the other hand, if the market welcomes flash and doesn't specify a lower word-count limit, what have I got to lose by sending one in? I'm trying to thread the needle between shotgunning and self-rejection by targeting markets that seem more likely. The ones that have published, say, 300-word short fiction. Or that take prose poetry.

I could also take one of my drabbles and expand it. That's an option. As soon as the flash piece that's currently taking up my afternoon shift is done, I may just do that.

So. Onward. Just as though everything were normal.

Did you know the image and text of the Rider-Waite tarot is public domain in the U.S.? I did not know that.
this fictionette is not winning much, but i am winning all the things
Fri 2015-10-16 23:39:25 (single post)
  • 1,074 wds. long

Lo, 'tis a Friday. Have a new Friday Fictionette. "A Word in Your Ear" deals with a Princess coming of age and discovering a larger world, at the cost of the security she know in her own smaller one. Which is typically what happens when a child becomes an adult, but things are always more earth-shattering for Princesses.

The Fictionette springs in part from a Tarot card drawn for a writing prompt, and it reaches back in continuity to one of the first Friday Fictionettes ever released. The second, in fact. Ever. So there is quite probably a novel hiding in the intersection between the third week of October 2015 and the first of September 2014. Which is one of the expected results of the project. Create a new story idea every day, cultivate four of them per month into a publishable story-like object, reap presentable stories come harvest time. Not like I'm exactly hurting for story ideas, mind you. The problem has more to do with the time needed to do them justice. Nevertheless--winning!

In other news, John and I have been exceptionally good citizens. We took our mail-in ballots out to lunch and completed them. Note the date: Usually we put this task off until about two days before election day, necessitating a trip to the County Clerk and Recorder's Office to drop the ballots off by hand. But we have dropped them off in our home mailbox's outgoing slot with first-class postage attached, because two and a half weeks is plenty time for the U.S. Post to deliver them. Winning.

In yet other news, John takes his duties as assistant coach to the Boulder County Bombers very seriously. He is researching workouts--power workouts, strength workouts, endurance workouts, metabolic workouts, plyometric workouts--and I, lucky soul, get to be his guinea pig. To be fair, he too is doing workouts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but--"I want to see how this workout affects an athletically trained person," he says, "unlike me." So off I got to do Haydens and ski-jumps and depth jumps and plank hops for half an hour. And, dang it, I say "thank you" when we're done, because I know it's making me a stronger, more powerful skater.

And now I am sitting in the tub, sweating and soaking out the aches of a full roller derby week made fuller by having homework.

Winning!

Cover art incorporates public domain images sourced from Wikimedia Commons. More details at the click-through.
this fictionette does not approve of your use of gladiators
Fri 2015-08-21 20:21:40 (single post)
  • 1,195 wds. long

Hola! So it's Friday again. A fictionette appears! In this corner, chthonic beasts from the darkest depths of the earth. Opposing them: a quartet of careless picnickers and their unfortunate army of disposable gladiators and household staff. It's called "A Fine Day for a Picnic," and it's unabashedly a satire of E. Nesbit's Psammead Trilogy.

Now, to be fair, I enjoy rereading those books. But they always hit a sour note when the children, piqued that one of the servants is fed up with their bad behavior and is threatening to bring such to the attention of their mother, will threaten their politically powerless serf with something or other that will undoubtedly lead to them getting sacked. Or they'll play horrible pranks on them. Or they'll take them away on their magic carpet and dump them on a desert island, and leave them there, and say, "Good, serves Cook right for being so horrible to us." I'm really not sure where Nesbit stood on social injustice, but she doesn't exactly go out of her way to show that the children are wrong to do this. In fact, it might be argued that since the Cook wound up queen of the savages (CW: racism) and happily married, it was good for the kids to carelessly strand her on that island. Argh.

So I sort of indulged in this short-short story about a nice afternoon outing with a high body count. Enjoy, I guess?

(The Word Dash writing prompts for that day, by the way, were "jugular" and "junket.")

So there's a fictionette out and a blog post done before 8:30 p.m. on a Friday, just for a change. Success! But on a less successful note, right after declaring war on my short story revision, I sort of knuckled under. I have no good excuse. All I can do is extend the mission to next week and keep working at it. I will get there eventually...

But, however, not tonight. Tonight I'm about to drive down to Denver, put on my skates, and do some ROLLing around. So now I will finish scarfing down my leftover gumbo, print out my electronically signed waiver, throw on something roughly similar to what I used to wear in high school, and get the heck outta here.


this fictionette got taken apart to see what its insides look like
Fri 2015-01-16 23:31:32 (single post)
  • 1,199 wds. long

Today: The Friday Fictionette for January 16! Also, baby's first MRI, I think, and a brief rant about the politics surrounding women's reproductive care.

This week's Friday Fictionette (excerpt here) is a fantasy short-short that wandered into the horror zone. This happens sometimes. I actually do identify as a horror writer, which sometimes surprises people. "You? Write that? But you seem so sweet!" It's oddly similar to the reaction that some of my family and friends had when they found out I play roller derby. "You? I can't imagine you doing that..."

(My usual response is, "You don't have to imagine it! Read this short story! Come watch a bout!")

Thankfully, I'm more or less surrounded by people who are happy to adjust their mental image of me to accommodate new data. Not everyone is that lucky. I know... well, I'm sure I know one or two people who'd rather get me to adjust my life to conform to their mental image, but right now I can't think of who they are. I'm sure they're hugely outnumbered.

Speaking of roller derby, and why I haven't been skating this week, I had my MRI today. That was fun. I think it was my first time getting one--if not, it was my first time in about 10 years. I may have gotten MRI'd, or maybe CAT scanned, when I had that horrible migraine scare involving loss of peripheral vision and sudden unaccustomed klutziness. I think that's when I found out that the correct answers to "Are you claustrophobic? Would you like a Valium to help with that?" are no and also no, at least for me. What's worse than being scared of a medical procedure? Being scared and knowing that my body has been drugged into a sluggish dead weight, so I can't fight or run away! Not doing that shit ever again, thank you very much.

Anyway. Have you ever had an MRI done? It goes something like this.

First, they ask you a bunch of questions. Are you pregnant or do you think you might be pregnant? Do you have a pace maker? Have you any metal bits inside of you? Previous surgeries? Are you pregnant? History of kidney failure or kidney disease? History of cancer? Might you possibly be pregnant? What about--

Yes, I know I'm repeating the pregnancy thing. They repeat it a lot. They repeat it more than they repeat the other things. They even have a placard in the changing/locker room, "IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE PREGNANT, TELL YOUR TECHNICIAN IMMEDIATELY." This is, of course, after you've filled out all the paperwork that asked all the questions. Basically, if you're a woman, you are presumed not to be able to answer this question honestly until it has been asked sixty gazillion times, by every person in the office as well as by the walls themseleves. Apparently, uterus-equipped humans are stupid and untrustworthy. "All right! All right. You got me. I was gonna just not say anything, because the condom broke last night, and coming in for an MRI seemed more convenient than the morning after pill, but since you asked me for the tenth time, I'll come clean."

I mean, seriously, they ask you about pace-makers all of twice: once on the phone when you make the appointment, and once on the paperwork you fill out in the office. Clearly the industry is a lot more concerned with the possibility of killing a fetus you may or may not know about and may not even want than they are with killing you. If you're able to get pregnant, that makes you everyone's property and everyone's business and everyone's responsibility, and also utterly incompetent as an adult. And also expendible as a life in your own right.

Do I sound bitter? I might just possibly be. I don't hold it against the specific place where I got my MRI, understand; it's just the prevailing social politics of women's medical care that I'm fed up with.

Anyway.

Once you answer all the questions satisfactorily, you divest yourself of all your metal objects. This done, you are ushered into the imaging lab, which looks like the docking station for a very small spaceship. They slide you into the very small spaceship. Then they give you a call button to push if you need someone, a set of noise-cancelling headphones, and the instruction to lie as still as you can for the next twenty minutes.

Then they leave the room. At which point you start hearing scary alarm noises, and you wonder if maybe you should have left the room too, because it is evidently on fire. Or maybe it's about to get bombed. Isn't that what air raid sirens sound like?

The noises soon change from "whoop! whoop! whoop!" to variations on "d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d," at which point you realize that although the machine looked like a small spaceship it was in actuality a gigantic dot matrix printer. Or maybe a Braille writer. Braille writers are louder.

(When they offered me the headphones, I asked them, "What're they playing?" They told me, "Anything you want! Right now it's James Brown." I'm glad they told me. Once the noises started up, there was no way I could have figured it out for myself.)

About five minutes into the process you realize that you don't actually like having your hands clasped over your belly. It seems to constrict your breathing. And your fingers are slipping. And your right shoulder doesn't feel entirely supported by the bed. How narrow is this bed, anyway? And the knee they're taking pictures of is kind of tired of being straight out. And you would like to scratch your nose. Can I move now, please? How about now?

(Given how twitchy I got today, I'm not sure how I got through LASIK without twitching anywhere above my neck. On the other hand, LASIK took only about five minutes per eye.)

Then at last you hear the "whoop! whoop! whoop!" siren again, and it's over. You get up, reclaim your things, go pay what you owe for the procedure (ouch), and receive a CD which you are to take to the doctor for your follow-up appointment. (Have we no email? Have we no FTP? Maybe this is a HIPAA security precaution, that they can't just send the digital images over to your doctor direct?) And then you're free! Free to go home and collapse in the bed, because lying still for a medical procedure is apparently exhausting as hell.

That was my adventure with magnetic imaging today. No answers regarding a recovery plan yet, however. I don't get to talk with my doctor about the results until Tuesday morning. Alas.

Until then, fingers crossed.

an overly elaborate manifesto about the games i don't play
Thu 2014-11-27 23:00:48 (single post)

Today's post is difficult to write. It's heavy, emotionally, for me. It'll be too easy for me to come across as defensive. And there's also a sticky matter of confidentiality, in that the conversation that moves me to write happened in a private space. But the opinions and thoughts it inspired are my own and I would like to express them. I can only hope I have succeeded at doing the latter without violating the former.

It's a mess, is what it is. I hope you'll bear with me.

Monday, a dismaying event happened on the national scale. A grand jury announced its decision that a white police officer who killed an unarmed black boy need not go to trial, and that the killer's demonstrable racial prejudice was somehow a mitigating factor and not evidence that the a police officer was unfit for his job and not to be trusted with a gun. The grand jury made this announcement at 7:00 PM Mountain Time, 8:00 Central. The announcement and its implications have dominated national and online discourse since then.

Here are other things that happened Monday:

  • I had my last regularly scheduled farm day for 2014.
  • The Saints played the Ravens to a disappointing loss.
  • I did some more work on the Refurbish the Closet Doors porject
  • I blogged about the farm work and the closet doors.

Now, I have a TwitterFeed account set up such that anytime I blog, that blog post gets announced on Twitter. Which means that in the middle of a Twitterstorm about injustice in Ferguson, I not only blogged about something that had nothing to do with that outrage at all, but I committed a self-promotional tweet telling people to go check out that blog post.

Which is something I would not have thought twice about--except that in the course of the aforementioned private conversation, I became informed that such a tweet makes a person look self-absorbed, tone-deaf, offensively oblivious. It would have been even more offensive, apparently, if I'd live tweeted my reactions to the football game (as I sometimes do), or promoted my Patreon campaign (as happens on those Fridays when a fictionette goes up). But my one self-promoting tweet was bad enough. As a responsible citizen of the internet, and especially as a writer with a Twitter account, I should have gauged the online climate before allowing such an inconsequential tweet to go through. Given what an important conversation was going on, I suppose I should have turned off automatic Twitter announcements of my blog posts for the night. Or, better still, not blogged at all unless it was about Ferguson.

Except... well, no.

There's a difference between disrupting a focused conversation on someone else's blog (like, say, the comment thread at the above-linked Slacktivist post) and, well, using Twitter for what Twitter is for. It's a grave misunderstanding of any social media to think that there is only one conversation going on at any time, to which you either contribute appropriately or shut up. Twitter is a microblogging platform on which millions of people have hundreds of thousands of separate conversations at any one time. And different people are listening to different pieces of that conversational storm depending on whom they follow. It's not unlike a huge version of a party where you can talk to your friend about whatever, and other people can overhear you or not as they choose. You can still abuse the venue by interrupting someone else's conversation--for example, at-checking someone inappropriately with your book-promo tweet--but simply talking to someone else about something else while in that room is not an abuse of the venue.

So I blogged Monday because I hold myself to a Monday-through-Friday blogging schedule, and I'm damn proud of myself when I succeed at keeping to that schedule. I post a Friday Fictionette every first through fourth friday because that's the committment I've made to potential Patrons. And someday I hope to be able to tweet that my first published book has become available in bookstores. If something globally awful happens on a day when I'd be blogging, fictionetting, or book-promoing, I'll probably still blog, fictionette, and/or book-promo, though I may choose not to. I may or may not have anything useful to say about the globally awful thing; that too is entirely up to me. One thing I know for sure: My tiny "off-topic" tweet is not going to make the globally awful thing objectively worse.

There is room on the internet, much as there is room in a single mind, for many things at once: raging at injustice, conversing quietly about the changing season, complaining about how long it takes to sand a paint-stripped door, and wondering when the national sportscasters will get tired of their love affair with Jimmy Butterfingers Graham and turn some of their attention to, say, players who are actually catching the ball tonight (or running it for 70+ yards holy fuck Joseph Morgan you are my hero).

That football game it would have been tone-deaf of me to tweet about Monday? A significant subset of both teams' players were a hell of a lot more personally affected by the Ferguson outcome than I. Some of them have sons who could have been Michael Brown. Some of them could have been Michael Brown. I don't know if they got to hear the grand jury's announcement when it happened, or if they were shielded from the news until the game was over. In either case, they had to know the announcement was coming. They probably predicted the way it was going to turn out, while hoping it would turn out otherwise.

And they still played that game, because Monday Night Football happens on Monday night. They participated in post-game interviews and they talked with their coaches and teammates about what tonight's game means for next week.

Normal life doesn't stop for tragedy. Sometimes we wish it would--sometimes it seems downright malicious that the world should keep spinning and gravity keep tugging as though anything could possibly be the same again. And sometimes we're grateful that normal life just keeps driving on regardless, because a veneer of normality can make the difference between coping and spiraling into a black hole of despair.

What you need right now, at this particular moment in American history, is a story that doesn’t stoke your feelings of rage, depression and moral exhaustion. And I am here to give it to you.

--Mary Elizabeth Williams, "The Ferguson library gives a lesson in community"

Monday we learned, or had our suspicions confirmed, that we have a lot more work to do as a society than we might have hoped, that the road toward justice is a lot longer than it has any right to be in 2014. And yet we still have to cook the next meal, earn the next paycheck, write the next story. We may not have to tweet about the latest football game or converse with friends via at-replies, but small pleasures and human interactions can make the hard work easier to bear. It certainly can't hurt.

And metaphorically wearing sackcloth doesn't materially aid the cause of justice any more than finishing your lima beans did a damn thing for the children starving in Ethiopia.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: There are things going on in my life. I'm going to talk about them. I may use Twitter to do it. I'm not going to preemptively gag myself on subjects that aren't objectively as important as the latest breaking national news. The conversations I choose to have aren't subject to anyone else's sense of propriety. That I choose to have one conversation doesn't mean I'm incapable of caring about other issues. The game of Prove That You Care is rigged, and the only way to win is not to play.

You don't have to be in those conversations with me. You may judge me harshly for having those conversations at all. But you can't reasonably expect me to always make the same choices you would about which conversations to have and when. If the choices we make differ enough to make you unhappy with mine, by all means disconnect from me on social media. We'll probably both be happier that way. But I think maybe composing nastygrams about How Dare You Tweet Banalities While Ferguson Is Burning isn't a positive contribution to any situation.

What might be a positive contribution? Well, if you're so inclined, you can donate to the Ferguson Library, because they need it and because they are awesome. Change.org has a petition demanding that Michael Brown's killer be prosecuted in the Missouri Supreme Court; the petition has nearly reached 150,000 signatures tonight. And this HuffPo article has more suggestions for activism in addition to these.

That's (some of) what's on my mind tonight, so that's what I'm choosing to blog/tweet/FB about.

That's how this works.

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