Hate Must Be Met With Love

#lovenothate

Hate must be met with love. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. Silly. I must be incredibly naive to write those words. Honestly, I question them even as I type them. But, perhaps because I am indeed a hopeless optimist — a dreamer, a romantic — I believe them.

There is a churning in my soul this morning. An election has never caused me to weep before. I have never seriously been afraid for the future of the United States and for our place in the world like I am as I write this on this November 9th, the day after the 2016 American Presidential elections. I am fearful because the world is fearful — as shocked as half of Britain must have been when the vote to leave the EU sheared toward ‘Yes”; a world whose stock markets are currently dive bombing because of the uncertainty of what’s to come; a world wondering if our wars are about to increase in number and intensity — but mostly I am fearful because my friends are fearful. My friends who had just started to feel like they could step out of the shadows and make their marks on the world without being judged by the color of their skin, their sexual identity, their political leanings. Those friends.

Right now, as I write, social media is ablaze. Donald Trump supporters breathe a sigh. Is it a sigh of relief? Of jubilation? I’m not sure. It’s the sigh you release when your team has battled hard, brutalized and been brutalized, and by the narrowest of margins fought its way to victory, seemingly against the odds. We all, I think (even Indians fans) sighed a bit like this when the Cubs won the World Series this year. But, unlike in a sports — or reality show — competition, the ramifications of this win will be far reaching and, currently, unknowable. Meanwhile, those who opposed Trump’s unfathomable rise to become the most powerful person in the world are outraged at the slightly more than half of voting America who voted for him (the possibly-more-than-half — the popular vote hasn’t been completely tallied yet; President-Elect Trump has won, at this point, on electoral votes). That half is outraged and fearful.

Here’s the thing, though. Given the way the numbers went, even had Hillary Clinton won the election, there would STILL BE NEARLY HALF the voting populace who voted for Trump.

“Who are these people?” ask those of us who cannot understand. Well, you know them. They are your neighbors, your family members, your friends. You know them. And here’s something you know about them: they are not bad people. Oh, sure, some of them are. C’mon. Uncle Freddy? Total wack job. But most of them aren’t bad people. Just like most of the people who voted for Clinton (or against Trump–not the same thing) ARE ALSO NOT BAD PEOPLE.

To this, some of you will say, “Of course we’re not,” while others will say, “Of course they are,” especially in regard to those who opposed Trump. “Trump voters voted for a misogynist, a racist, a hate-monger,” they’ll say.

Well, yes those voters did. But most of them didn’t feel like they were voting for misogyny, racism, or hate. Some were. That can’t be doubted from listening to some of the attendees of a Trump rally. But, like many in Britain didn’t (and may still not) understand exactly what pulling out of the EU means, I don’t think most of those who voted for Trump understand what Trump represented to many (nearly half) of the United States. To that half, he doesn’t represent spitting in the face of authority/government/entrenched bureaucracy, or making America great again (whatever that means. What, exactly does ‘great’ mean, here? The same to you as to me? The same to you as the person in front of you who voted Trump? Unlikely). To them he doesn’t, more importantly, represent economic overhaul and strengthened national security.

To that half of America, he represents hate — all the hate that has ever been associated with being a woman, with being a person of color, with being an immigrant (illegal OR legal), with being LBGQ and/or T. The hate that is associated with being different, with being told that you aren’t good enough, that you are, somehow, in some way, an abomination.

That’s why there is fear among your fellow Americans. They fear — not fear of President-Elect Trump; no, a president has limited powers and can do damage, but nothing irreparable, usually — but because of how they interpret that vote for Trump: not as a vote FOR economic, governmental, and international changes, but as a vote AGAINST them — a vote against acceptance, a vote against equality, and a vote against inclusion.

If you voted for Trump, I implore you to try and understand that, and, if you know someone who fits into one of those categories I mentioned above, please, please, please, go to them and say to them that you still believe in them, that you still support them, that you still care about them. Because right now, they don’t believe it. They may not believe it after you say it, either. So you’ll have to show them. You’ll have to stand with them when the laws that have protected them are weakened or no longer exist. You’ll have to stand with them when the true hate-mongers, bolstered by a belief that there are far more of them then there really are, come to hurt them. You’ll have to sacrifice for them because you can and because hate must be met with love.

For those of us who opposed Trump, whether that was by voting for Clinton, voting for a third-party, or, yes, by not voting at all, we must do the same. We must continue to stand with one another and where we see hate, we must oppose it. We must continue to raise our voices against it. We must continue to argue for equality, and justice, and for each of our rights as individuals to pursue happiness wherever and however we can find it. We must also try to understand — and it will be hard, I know; trust me, I know — that for most of those who voted Trump, they truly did not believe, they truly did not understand, that they were voting against you, that they were voting for you to feel fear again, to fear still. We must explain this to them.

Because they are not ‘they.’ We are neighbors, family, friends, the person next to us in line at the grocery store.

Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m sure that many will tell me so in the comments section. I’m sure I’ll have to delete lots of those comments because they will be filled with vitriol without the balm of seasoned thought. But here on this November 9th, even now, I must believe it. I am compelled to believe that hate must be met with love.

#lovenothate

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Days 6-10: 20 Days of Submissions

Write, write, write...and then submit

If you’ve been following this thread, then you know I’m in the midst (the exact middle, actually) of a 20 Days of Submissions self-challenge. Today is Day 10, so it’s time for another update. As it turns out, these last five days have been a bit more exciting than the first five.

Day 6: It started off fine, with a bit of flash fiction heading off to try its luck at Lamplight magazine. “The Bear and the Girl” was inspired by the photography of Katerina Plotnikova — which you should definitely check out.

Day 7: “The Butterfly Eaters,” a contemporary fabulist piece set in my honorary home town of Springfield, Missouri, wended its way to Clarkesworld. Unfortunately, this was also the day that “Arcturus Rex” received a rejection letter from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine–five days after I submitted it. But F&SF has a pretty fast turnaround. I’ll get in there with something, by golly. Just have to find the right piece.

Day 8: Okay, now I’m beginning to question my rules about re-submits counting toward my 20 Days. Not because I submitted “Arcturus Rex” to Andromeda Spaceways magazine down in Australia (‘Allo, Aussies!), but because Clarkesworld rejected “The Butterfly Eaters.” A 1-day turnaround. Crikey! My fear now is that I might be so busy submitting rejected pieces that some of the other stories get the short straw. Soooo, after conferring with my Executive Assistant (thanks, Angela!), I’ve decided to save up rejected pieces and submit them all on one day of each 5 during my 20 Days of Submitting…maybe a Wednesday.

Day 9: “Of Father’s and Unicorns,” a mournfully humorous story about a father’s quest to make his tween daughter happy went off to Shimmer magazine. Not quite sure of the fit, but I like Shimmer and would like to place something there. The problem is that I sent a version of the story that isn’t the one I meant to send. There aren’t big differences: a few edits and a different title — this story’s title has evolved from “The Unicorn” to “Of Teenagers and Unicorns” to “Of Tweens and Unicorns” to it’s current iteration of “Of Fathers and Unicorns.” I’m a bit surprised I didn’t opt for “Of Unicorns and Unicorns” at one point — but there are differences. Anyway, now I’m having to decide whether to wait and see what the response is to the version I sent, or send an embarrassing message asking them to swap out what I sent with what I should have sent. If you have some thoughts on this, I encourage you to sound off in the comments section.

Day 10: Despite my intention to wait before sending rejected pieces to the its next potential market, I put “The Butterfly Eaters” in the submission pile at Persistent Visions. So there.

I also discovered by accident this week that portions of an early version one of my previous submissions is actually on someone’s blog (with my permission — I just didn’t remember it until I stumbled across it while doing a title check). The lesson you should take away from this is that even when you’re dealing with flash fiction, poetry, or even a short story you don’t think will find a market, don’t allow it online for free until you’ve given it a chance. Maybe one day you’ll change your mind about it and try to find a more fiscally lucrative home for it.

Anyway, now I have to contact the magazine I submitted that piece to and withdraw the submission, because it’s not good to try and pass off what essentially counts as a reprint as an original work.

Embarrassing.

Given these blunders, I’d throw in some advice about always triple checking your submissions before sending, quadruple-checking your proofreads and, for heaven’s sake, double-checking that you’re sending the right file, but, well, I did that with these. Sometimes you just screw up anyway. Take the hit (and the responsibility), move on, and keep submitting.

So keep on submitting.

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The First Five Days — 20 Days of Submissions

Write, write, write...and then submitFive days ago, I challenged myself to submit a different creative endeavor to a new market every day for twenty days. Well, here on Day 5, I can say that everything is going … okay … so far. Actually, things are going quite well, but there were some bumps.

The biggest challenge has been identifying appropriate markets for the works (which at this point are all fiction — from flash length to short story length). I have a few go-to’s that I submit to on a regular basis, but not everything I have in the catalog is suitable for those. For doing research on writing markets and for tracking my submissions once I’ve submitted (an invaluable aid in this project — and in my regular submission schedule), I use Duotrope. On the Duotrope site, I can do searches based on the traits of individual stories, I can see what I’ve submitted to which market, and, of course, I can do research on each of the markets before I submit. The Duotrope site has pertinent information right there, but it also provides a link to the market’s website so I can go check submission specifics and read sample stories to make sure mine fit the style and tone of the market in question. Duotrope has some free sections, but I use the paid version, which is only $5/month — less if you pay several months at a time.

My second challenge is distraction, but not necessarily the kind you might think. Currently, my day job has me in a remote location with few options for extracurricular activities (though there was a Halloween party with ice cream). No, I get distracted when I’m researching markets. I may look at half a dozen in one sit-down and then when it comes time to match up a story with a market, I’ve forgotten which ones work best where. Easily fixed, though. I have a file on the computer now where I’m making a sort of calendar. When I come across a market that seems right for a particular story, then I plug both into the calendar for that day’s submission. This is also handy for the markets that have deadlines I need to meet, or which haven’t opened up yet but will soon. Also in this file are notations on potential back-up markets if at first they don’t succeed.

Now on to the specifics. What’s gone where? Let’s take a look:

Day 1: I sent a piece of dark fantasy, “The Coming of the Train,” to Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. This story has been finished for a while, but hasn’t gone out before. It was originally written during a writing challenge over at Shock Totem, the inspiration for several of pieces in the catalog currently waiting for a home, but has gone through a couple of iterations since then. The inspiration was a photo of a child, a tunnel, and some train tracks.

Day 2: A piece of darkly humorous supervillain flash fiction, “Arcturus Rex … Wants to Rule the World,” wended its way to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. F&SF is top tier in the sci-fi/fantasy realm — top of the top tier, you could likely argue, and so chances are slim. But better to start at the top and work your way down through the markets than send a piece off to a ‘lower-tier’ market, have it immediately accepted, and then have no idea whether it could have aspired to true greatness. Okay, there’s a bit of hyperbole in there — different pieces for different markets, after all — but there’s a fair bit of truth, too. Don’t submit to a token-paying market without at least giving your work a shot at a paying/prestigious market. Over the years, I’ve sent many a story to F&SF. None have been printed yet. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop sending. I had already sent two pieces off to The Rag Literary Magazine before my transhumanist short story “The Human Argument” was purchased (it’s still on their front page — click the links to have a read). “Arcturus…” was inspired by a weekly writing challenge group I belong to on Facebook. Interestingly, I wanted to send this one to one of my go-to markets: Daily Science Fiction (See Day 5), but DSF has changed its guidelines and now doesn’t accept anything of more than 1500 words. “Arcturus…” clocks in at 3000, so THAT was a no-go-to (<–which I think is also a type of Japanese folk monster).

Day 3: I’d planned on sending off a sci-fi/fantasy poem for Day 3. Unfortunately, I didn’t have its most recent iteration on my computer, so I had to put that calendar dot on hold until my … ahem … executive assistant (everyone should have one) was able to hunt it down amidst mega-gigs of old emails and send it to me. Though the EA was swift, I still needed something for Day 3, so with a little shuffling, one of my more literary pieces, “This is about the Dead” got sent to The Missouri Review. Talk about top-tier. Also, they charge a processing fee if you submit online rather than via snail mail. Given my current, previously-mentioned remote location, I opted to pay the $3. “This is about the Dead” has a struggling artist, graffiti, and memories at its darkling heart.

Day 4: Ah, at last: “A Gothic Sci-Fi Steampunk Romance about the Apocalypse” was ready to be sent to PULP Literature. This poem has gone out to a couple of places and then suffered through my obsessive edits when it was rejected (un-placed?). It’s one of my favorites, about 700 words and covers all those things it says there in the title. The inspiration was an off-hand comment made by someone during a writing group discussion of genre. She said something like, “Or you could (ha ha) put all those genres together and write a story about THAT (ha ha).” I took it as a challenge and though I didn’t write a story then, the poem is, methinks, itching to become a novel.

Day 5: I love the Daily Science Fiction folk. They give us a website with a new story every day AND they pay professional rates (AND getting published here also counts toward the minimum publications required to join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). They recently changed their guidelines, however, and now only accept works from 100 – 1500 words, so I’ve had to re-plan what I was going to send them. Fortunately, I had just the thing, a 1000-word piece called “Keys without Locks,” which was also born during a Shock Totem writing challenge (See Day 2 … I loves me some Shock Totem).

And that’s where things are at the moment. I’ll give you another update after Day 10. Meanwhile: Happy Halloween!

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