So You Want To Be Politically Active

Hello Friends,

I know that right now we’re all feeling uncertain and tired and maybe a little raw and beat-up. I know I am. I know that I sort of hold my breath every morning when I check the news. Which of my civil liberties is being denied now? Who is being oppressed by our government? Why can’t we be kind to one another? To recognize human life?

 

But, here are some steps to take to being politically active. They are concrete things you can do RIGHT NOW.

  1. 5calls.org is a FANTASTIC resource. It links you directly to your senators/congress people and gives you a script based on the issue you wish to discuss. I know that I personally only have the emotional energy to concentrate on 2 issues a week. Now, that sometimes changes based on what is happening right then. So, don’t feel like you have to make all five calls. ALSO if you have phone anxiety, a lot of us do, call after hours and leave a voice mail.
  2. Volunteer for your local party. Find your HQ and offer to help out. You could be stuffing envelopes or answering phones.
  3. Protest and donate to charities if you can. These grassroots protests that have been happening have helped restore my faith in humanity. But, also note that many of them are not accessible to people with disabilities. I know for me I often WANT to go but know that it just won’t be accessible. And I also know that many of us just don’t have the expendable funds to donate. And if you want to check out a charities rating go to CharityNavigator.org to see their ratings.
  4. Know your facts. Know why you believe a certain way. Examine what it is that drives you. Have facts from reputable news sources. Always check something before you RT on Twitter. We all have to do a little more homework now in this era of fake news.
  5. SELF CARE. Give yourself permission to read a book. To write. To go to the gym or whatever it is that fuels you. Eat. Stay hydrated. Take your medications (seriously, do this). Nap. Sleep enough. Listen to relaxing podcasts. Sign off of Twitter and Facebook. I recently deleted the FB app off of my phone and I have to tell you, it’s made SUCH a difference in my life.

But, the best way to be politically active.

Love your neighbor.

Show an act of kindness to someone else.

Be the change.

With All the Hope,

Kati

 

Fanfiction

I had the privilege of video chatting with two writers workshop classes in my home state of Georgia this morning. I was super excited and really enjoyed talking to the students about writing and my process. One thing I made sure the mention in both classes- if you write Fanfic, write it.

In middle school I’d started writing a story in my journal for extra credit and I was VERY offended when my teacher suggested I try writing a romance novel. I thought all romances were the bodice rippers my Grandmother had. I didn’t really see that my Lurlene McDaniel novels were also romances.

Writing fanfic is what helped me the most in craft and learning to take critique. If I’m being truthful, the General Hospital message boards on the old AOL platform (think REALLY OLD tumblr) were the first places I ever let people read my writing (after the disastrous response from my teacher I dropped the story all together).

Fanfic gives you a lot of freedom to take some known quantities and to play with it. You can take the characters in different directions and work the story the way you want. It’s also one of the best places to get reviews. One of the things I liked most about writing Fic on the GH message boards was reading what others thought. I loved getting the feedback almost instantly.

Don’t be ashamed of your writing. Write what makes you happy.

The Women’s March

I debated just doing a Twitter thread on this. I wasn’t sure if I could make it a whole post or what. But, I have thoughts and feelings about the march.

I went to my local march. I knew for me that distance and accessibility were important. I’m lucky in that I live pretty close to where my local march took place. I have a place to park near the location as well. I could easily park and walk to the starting point.

I teared up several times while making my way to the march. Just the energy from the people around us, the shouts of equality and that black lives matter. Contrary to what some folks think, these marches were more than about equality or people being upset that their candidate lost. There was a great representation from other marginalized groups. And other amputees. It’s funny how we find each other.

But.

It was not perfect.

It was a dreary day here and like walking through a tunnel of fog.

And that makes the ground slippery.

I fell while marching and that reminded me why I was actually marching.

I marched because I could. Because people with disabilities are so often ignored and thought of only when we are inspiring.

Protest marches are generally inaccessible to people with disabilities. This one wasn’t completely inaccessible, but it was problematic. Anyone could have fallen where I did, but because of my crutches I was more susceptible than able-bodied people.

I know that I am only one person, but I want to make sure that my presence reminds able-bodied people that we are out there. That we exist. That we are more than the sum of our parts.

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Raising the Stakes

When I sat down one day to write a novel I didn’t think to myself, “Hey, I know! Let’s write a novel!” Instead it was more of an anti-boredom thing. I was helping proctor standardized testing but because my certification hadn’t come in yet, I couldn’t actually say anything. I just had to sit there with a notebook and escort kids to the bathroom. So, I began to write.

Now, that particular MS is trash. It’s filled with all of the basic tropes to make bad fantasy. But, it didn’t go through extensive revisions or anything. Maybe someday I’ll sit down and try to fix all that is glaringly wrong with it (hello HERO CHOSEN ONE trope). And if I do I will have a plan.

One of the things I do when I write is have a basic plan of where I’m going, if not for the whole book, at least that scene.

I look at a few things.

  1. What does my character want to accomplish RIGHT NOW?
  2. What is in the way of my MC doing this?
  3. What is my MC going to do to get around this obstacle?

Once I’ve answered these questions I’ll look at it again and ask: What will make this more interesting to the readers? This is raising the stakes. I try to raise the stakes, especially in emotional moments, as much as I can. And to be honest, a lot of time this doesn’t happen until I’m in revisions. Deep into revisions.

Just something to think about when you’re writing, is there something that could heighten the tension for these characters? The higher the tension (and this doesn’t have to be life or death, think getting caught by your teacher cheating or something) the more invested everyone is going to be.

Lego Kati

I woke up to the most lovely thing before Christmas. My friend Christina had posted a picture of a Lego person her son had made.

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Lego Kati by Caleb

In his amazing imagination he wanted me to play a role and realized that there were no Lego people that looked like me. So, he ripped a leg off and made his own forearm clip crutches. His older sister pointed out that once he took the leg off of the Lego it couldn’t be reattached.

Caleb didn’t care. Lego Kati went on to fly the Millennium Falcon that day. Not once did he think Lego Kati couldn’t do this because she has one leg. And will always have one leg.

This whole thing reinforced my belief that all types of people can be in all types of stories. Disabled people can climb Mordor. A person of color can be in a time travel novel. Be a brilliant writer and write the hell out of those stories.

 

Radical Self Care

I’ve said before that I don’t love the idea of New Years Resolutions. That I do most of mine around my Birthday. But, this year is a little different. I needed some re-focus and the fact that it was right at the New Year helped.

I spent most of the last two months mourning the democracy of America. Not just because my candidate lost, it was much deeper than that for me. It is an actual fear of my life, my friends lives, and our country. And it’s fine to be fearful, but it’s also important that I fight where I can.

My refocus for the New Year is all about Radical Self Care. For each person this is different, but what it looks like for me is, making time for me.

My self care involves working out and going to yoga. Two things I enjoy but that my grief had taken away. It means waking up early to read and sit in front of my happy light. It means taking my meds each day (I’m TERRIBLE at this). It means eating breakfast and lunch and not just snacking for six hours. It means not letting anyone come in and take away from writing time. I have four hours Monday-Thursday that I can work. I can’t let my own errands get in the way of that and if it means taking my kids to the grocery store, I will. And it also means that if I need a day off to watch bad TV and crochet, I will do that too. And I will not feel guilty.

Because I can’t fight if I’m not my best and doing these things helps keep me at my best.