Tag Archives: truth

NaNoWriMo, Day 11: 8,000 Words in the Red

keep-writingCaveat: This is a political post. I’m also gonna talk about religion.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we usually post our Pep Talks on Sundays, at the top of the week, and this Sunday I’ll have the pleasure of posting a Pep Talk from Rob Greene, Chair of the NH Writer’s Project.  But for many of us it’s been a tough week, and frankly I needed a Pep Talk myself.  So I wrote one.

Election Day, post-election week/8,000 words in the red = 8,000 tears I’ve shed

If you know me, you’ll know I did not vote for Trump. I believe Trump is inexperienced, but worse, a charlatan. Tuesday night, I watched the election returns report his climbing numbers in total disbelief. To be honest, I’ve watched Trump’s entire campaign in disbelief during which I have experienced many nights filled with anxiety, and when I could sleep, it was a poorly spent night of fitful unrest. Wednesday was hard. I was crying. I was disappointed. Pro-Clinton friends were  comforting each other. Pro-Trump friends were rejoicing and I was trying to listen and understand their perspective. One friend posted this on Wednesday –

I will choose love.

This morning I have a heightened awareness of my calling and responsibility as an artist – to tell the stories that help others choose love as well, to tell the stories of those who have no voice, to be a powerful and yet compassionate prophetic voice.

Thank you Lord, for reminding me that the arts, my life’s work and my true joy, matters.

-Catherine Pleis Gaffney

Many who work in the arts are politically left and progressive and are being particularly vocal on social media in the election aftermath. However, logic dictates that there are conservatives and Trump-supporters working in the arts, who, at least on my feeds, have not been as vocal; nevertheless, this call to love needs to be for ALL OF US.

My Nano project is retelling a Greek myth, so I’ve been reading about Olympian and pre-Olympian pantheism and classic Greek poets and trying to understand that culture through the sieve of my Christianity. To stay true to my beliefs, I need to wrestle with pagan ideas and reinterpret them, while maintaining some integrity of the story and respect of the culture of the time. The piece has already unearthed themes I’ve never written about and since it’s my practice during NaNoWriMo to write fluidly by adding in inspiration from current events (which have been anything from an overheard conversation to a news event), I am also processing my hopes and disappointments about the election and funneling that into the book. With every new project we have an opportunity to grow in our craft, and I encourage you to continue to be a voice and a mirror to our society.

I heard an interview with author Richard Russo on NPR on Wednesday, and he says this, when host Renee Montagne asked about

“the responsibility that…writers have, if any, in this very new era in American life?”

RUSSO: Well, it’s a new era in one way, and in other ways, it’s just the same old world. It hasn’t really changed. And I don’t think that the purpose of literature has changed either. I think we writers do have a responsibility, first to entertain, but second to instruct by bearing witness. If we had a great responsibility before this election, I would say we have, perhaps, an even greater one today.

Russo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter. “Nobody’s Fool,” “Empire Falls” and his latest, “Everybody’s Fool,” explore the world of the white, male, blue-collar demographic that carried Trump to victory.  This is not my demographic. I am a Filipino-American, Protestant, white collared woman. I have never read Russo, but I connect with him as a fellow-author who puzzles over their world.

Yes, I encourage you to begin a peaceful transition, and I encourage you to begin listening to each other and to try to move toward understanding the point of view that is opposite your own. This does not mean we rewrite history by erasing hateful things the president-elect has said and the violence he has incited. I hope my fears are unfounded and I hope I am wrong. I sincerely hope Trump’s campaign has not been a vanity project,  but history  will hold him to the truth as well.

A NaNoWriMo call to arms has always been, “The World Needs Your Novel,” and if we are to come together, we need many voices, and many views, and many compassionate hearts listening to each other and sharing our stories.

Your Novel will bring about that future.


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A to Z Blogging Challenge: T, Tribeca, Telling & Truth

"Cook" starring Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, and Christian MadsenI’m glad to be able to use this platform to give a shout out to my former college classmate and roomie, Susan McMartin, whose film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival (NYC) last week. Entitled Mr. Church (a change from the original title of Cook) the film stars Eddie Murphy in a dramatic story that is semi-autobiographical.

The reviews are very favorable, praising Murphy’s portrayal of a man who comes to live with a single mother and her kids, agreeing to cook for them. What might have initially been estimated as a short term arrangement, Mr. Church’s relationship with the family spans 15 years.

I’ve seen only one unfavorable review so far, which criticized the story for employing a subdued Murphy to play a “magical negro”. I’m not going to comment on that review because I haven’t seen the movie, which is scheduled for a wider release November 11th. But here’s the rub – McMartin’s story is based on real life events, and whatever creative souls produce for public view, will be subject to criticism. While students at NYU, our writing professor Mark Dickerman was fond of reminding us that real life is no excuse for bad drama; rather than recording verbatim the events of our lives, we were encouraged to find the nugget or theme of the story, and often times make the ordinary events, extraordinary and the extraordinary, ordinary – even departing from autobiography to find a story vehicle that would best amplify our theme. Given the overwhelming favorable reviews, I’m sure McMartin has done that. In order to connect with our audience – be it an individual reader of our novel, or a film director interested in optioning a script, or a wider audience watching a collaborative project – we need to tap in to life truths that resonate because they are true. I think also, when we draw from our own experiences, we need to remember that these events are fixed points in history, and history needs to be evaluated in its own time, not rewritten or white-washed to satisfy the current wave of political correctness.  Is the Mr. Church character a  “magical negro”?  — All I know is that Mr. Church is a character who acts as a catalyst; in history he was a man who mended a family.

Susan’s had a life full of ups and downs and it’s been truly wonderful seeing her come in to herself and come in to very good fortune after many, many years of paying her dues and honing her craft. I’ll let her tell her own story, which she writes about in her blog Studio City Mom. My question for you is – what story will you tell?

During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!


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A to Z Challenge: Change

Day 3: Change

You all know about change, more than I can say.

From the great Judy Blume, consider this:



During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on topics that systematically move through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!


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