It Already Feels Like Four Years

As the Presidential election in the United States approached last year, I wrote about a possible Trump victory and attempted to think of reasons why it could possibly work well. I had a lot of fun with that post, because like most people in this country, I didn’t think it would come to pass. A year after we’ve been proven wrong, I want to revisit that jocular entry, and see if it was in any way prescient.

The reasons I gave for hope in a Trump presidency were:

  • He’s an outsider. Trump hasn’t been afraid to rattle cages, even among member of his own party. But all his tough talk hasn’t lead to any change in the status quo. Washington seems more, not less, dysfunctional since he’s taken office.
  • He is distrusted by both major political parties. How naive was that statement? The Republican party has decided to take advantage of Trump’s surprise win, and attempted, with very little success, to pass their legislative agenda. From time to time, a GOP congressman will raise objections to Trump’s leadership, but most quickly capitulate in response to a presidential tweet. Any hope that the Republicans would attempt to rein in Trump simply has to be abandoned.
  • He doesn’t care what people think. That’s the definition of a sociopath. Nothing that Trump has done as president has provided any evidence that he can ever overcome his narcissism.

In short, President Trump has been as awful as any of us feared, and we’re likely to have three more years of incoherence and incompetence. A Republican House would never impeach him, no matter what comes out of the investigations of Russian election interference, and should Democrats take control of the House next year and pass articles of impeachment, there aren’t 67 Senators who would vote to remove him from office. This isn’t Armageddon — there is still much that is great about our nation — but anyone looking for progress in America had best look somewhere other than Washington until 2021.

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Friday Fictioneers: Sentries


Collected from the manor’s numerous rooms, the odd collection of furnishings (vases? ash trays? spitoons?), some dusted for the first time in decades, is assembled on the marble-topped desk. The window behind them looks onto the front yard, and as they lie waiting to be shrink-wrapped and stored in packing crates, they seem to serve as sentries, guarding the manor’s vacant interior against the outside world.

Rochelle Wisof-Fields is the host of Friday Fictinoneers, where the objective is to write a complete story in 100 words or less in response to a photograph. I encourage you to learn more about Friday Fictioneers.

A Change of Plans

When I began drafting chapter 9 of Gray Metal Faces, I had planned to revise chapters 8 (drafted in April this year) and 9 for this year’s NaNoWriMo. But soon after completing that final chapter, I decided to take my writing in a different direction this November.

Last year’s NaNoWriMo (during which I revised chapters 6 and 7) was very rewarding, as it demonstrated I had the drive, dedication, and discipline to undertake an enormous project, and complete it successfully. However, the experience also left me completely drained, and I knew a similar effort this year would be equally as exhausting. And in the past month, I’ve started several other writing projects, all of which would need to be put on hold as I fought my way through the revision. Chapters 8 and 9 will be revised — I’ve spent too much time on this novel, and it’s too close to being ready for an agent or editor’s review, for me to abandon the project. But there’s a time for all things, and now is not the time for this effort.

So while it’s NoNaNoWriMo this year, there will be time for other activities, such as a return to daily blogging on this site. And I’ll begin today with a reblog from Andra Watkins, who shares some exciting plans for her own writing career.

Escrime d’Halloween 

On October 21, Sara Kass will be hosting the 18th Escrime d’Halloween youth fencing tournament. The pre-registration numbers for this year’s event have exceeded expectations, which is a mixed blessing for Kass.

“I’m already at over 150 entries, and 120 athletes. This is an amazing comment of the growth in youth fencing!” said the owner and head coach of Cyrano’s Place fencing club in Lakewood Ohio. Both numbers (an athlete can enter multiple events) are well over fifty percent higher than last year’s, an increase which Kass attributed in part to the US national team earning four medals at last summer’s Rio Olympics. “I’m going to be running 10 strips [the 14 meter long and 2 meter wide playing field for fencing], which is 3 more than I needed last year.” Typically an energetic woman who speaks rapidly as if racing to her next appointment, her pace suddenly slows. “A hundred entries, maybe 125. That’s what I expected. But I’m at 150. And we’re still two weeks out.”

Yet when asked to recall the first youth tournament her club attended, Kass resumes her rapid-fire rhythm. “There was a fencing club in Indiana that had a bunch of youth fencers, as did Cyrano’s. We discussed having a tournament, and they agreed to host and have us travel. They found us a cottage house, where our kids camped overnight in sleeping bags.. There were maybe 30 fencers. It was an amazing weekend — I remember the smiles on the kids’ faces, as they learned some wonderful lessons about competition and camaraderie. It was very much a developmental event, and still is. The following year, was my turn to host. The club in Indiana did not want to host again, so the Escrime [the French word for fencing] became our annual event.”

Kass has built a strong youth fencing program over the last two and a half decades. “Other clubs have kids, but we have the greatest numbers, specifically 12 years and unders. It’s fun to watch kids start in youth events, and go on to college programs. But even the kids who don’t stay with the sport, and get into other things — they take with them life lessons from fencing. Like how there’s always someone coming after you in some way, and you have to decide how to deal with them. The fencing mentality is to adapt, keep going forward, do what’s right. I enjoy knowing when kids walk out my club’s door, they are better citizens because of fencing.”

And as one of few female fencing coaches in Ohio, Kass particularly enjoys seeing her young women realize their potential. “Men have athletic advantages over women — they’re typically bigger, faster, and stronger, but women can negate those advantages through strategy. So I jokingly tell my female students, ‘when you’re in grammar school, boys are there. When you’re in middle school, they’re there to compete with, and when you’re in high school, they’re there to compete with and beat. When you’re older, I’ll tell you about college.’”

Taking Shape

Finished drafting chapter 9 of “Gray Metal Faces” this evening — and that means I’ve reached a significant milestone.

Nearly seven years ago — the exact date was October 16, 2010 — I posted a character study for what would eventually become Coach Dan. This was the start of a novel I’d been contemplating for years, and knew I would never be satisfied unless I actually wrote the damn thing. With tonight’s post, I have completed the initial draft of “Gray Metal Faces.” It’s not finished, and it certainly ain’t pretty, but it now has a sense of completion it lacked before tonight.

It’s like seeing the shape of a bowl emerge on a pottery wheel. You know it requires a lot more work, but it’s no longer a lump of clay. It has a recognizable shape — it’s a bowl, and seeing its shape emerge gives you a burst of inspiration. That’s where I’m at now with “Gray Metal Faces.” I can see its shape, imperfect as it may be, but still, there it is, after seven years of work.

Experience has taught me to take a step back and catch my breath after reaching a milestone with this novel. Not sure when I’ll get back at it (the next milestone will be a revision of the eighth and ninth chapters), but that time will come. For now, I’m going to exhale, and let myself appreciate this accomplishment.

Finish Strong

In a good position with chapter 9 as I head into the next to last weekend of the month. The first eight of the nine scenes have been drafted, leaving just the final scene in the novel’s final chapter. But I’m still climbing up a hill, rather than coasting to a conclusion; in many ways, I’ve been leading up to this last scene through all the years I’ve been working on this project. I can see the finish line, however, and I’m feeling a surge of psychic energy that I hope will allow me to finish strong.

Goal for this last scene is 6000 words (and I’ll say it again — having word count goals has been extemely helpful), a daily average of a little under 700 through next weekend. One last kick…

First of Many

Reached a milestone today — my first rejection. This is not failure, but progress. It’s now time to read the submission guidelines for the second journal, format my manuscript to get it in compliance, and submit that story again.

I’ve got 99 more rejections to accumulate in the coming year, so there’s no time to waste. On to the next rejection, and the next, until I finally get an acceptance, and then move on to my next series of rejections.

Getting There

Got a good start on chapter nine this holiday weekend. Eight hundred words or more each day, another five hundred the first day back to work. I’m at around twenty percent so far — still a long way to go, but at least I’m not playing catch up yet.

The pace will slow as the weekday grind sets in. Four hundred words on the days I work, double that on days off — I’ll have to pick up the pace on more than a few days to reach my goal, but I can get there. May have to push myself that final week, but this chapter is going to drafted at the end of September.

And now, chapter nine of Gray Metal Faces

There’s one more chapter of Gray Metal Faces that remains to be drafted, and I plan to cross that task off my to-do list this month.

Like I did with chapter 8 in April, I’ll be drafting the ninth and final chapter on a private site. (I’ll get around to explaining why I’m doing this at some point.) If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll send you an invitation to the private site so you can see the work in progress.

Complete the draft by October 1, and I’ll be ready to update the final two chapters for NaNoWriMo in November. A completed draft of the whole damn thing… not sure what I’ll do when I get to that point, but I’m looking forward to that great unknowing.