A Time Like No Other

I wrote this as a version of a PR release for Broadleaf Writers. Though it was sent to writers in that growing community, I feel it’s appropriate for (and meant for) everyone.

Hang in there folks. Stay safe. Be smart.

Feel free to share any thoughts, comments, worries, fears, hopes, etc that you may have.

Z

After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, our country fell silent. The skies were empty, roads spotty with cars, work ground to a stop as schools and stores closed. We waited. For what, we weren’t entirely sure, but we knew a moment was required to pause, reflect, regroup, and plan for the future.

Today is different. Today, while stores may open and work will continue–whether from home or a place of business–the waiting comes with an unknown endpoint. We aren’t recovering from a singular moment. We’re watching it unfold in slow motion across the globe. We’re not facing off against a radical segment of humanity, we’re settling in for a war with a pandemic.

Like any war, it requires a great deal of sacrifice, a willingness to do what must be done in order to save as many lives as we can. It requires solidarity, a desire to lift one another up as we fall, to stand together, as one nation, as one species. It requires faith and hope and an unwavering focus on the day when victory is acheived and life begins anew. Reformed, driven by an experience that reshapes our perspective.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s darkness to walk before we get there.

But we will get there.

As a writing organization, Broadleaf Writers is designed to influence and inspire writers, to educate and offer instruction in a skill that assists in taking that which is brain-bound and giving it a voice on the page. We are meant to function as a community, to help one another learn, grow, and realize our dreams. I will always believe that we–as humans, as a community, as a collective of like-minded individuals, etc–are only as strong as those we stand beside. So, I encourage you to buckle up, do what you must do to benefit us as a whole, and be prepared to jump in feet-first when it’s time to reset our world (no matter global or the world of your home). Be mindful of others, be mindful of those you love, be mindful of yourself.

And if you find yourself with an abundance of time–as it seems we all may–write. Dig in. Pour your soul onto the page. Take all the fear and worry and concern and hope you’re experience right now and write it out.

As to our slate of 2020 programming, we’re monitoring the virus and recommendations for public gatherings. At the moment, we’re holding a place for our April 11th Write Now program, while moving forward with the open of registration on April 1st for the 5th Annual Broadleaf Writers Conference in October. By then, I’m sure we’ll all need a breakout weekend of fun and community.

For now, stay safe. Follow the recommendations of the medical field and stay home unless you absolutely need to get out. You may be able to withstand the nastiness of an exceptionally powerful flu, but you can’t be certain others you will encounter can. Write. Read. Be with your family. Find reason to laugh as much as possible.

The darkness is temporary. There will be light. Walk the tunnel together and we’ll see what the world looks like when we get there. Then we’ll adjust accordingly.

If you want to share any thoughts–on writing or otherwise–or have some material you’d like feedback on, feel free to reach out. You can email me at zach@broadleafwriters.com, or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Be well. My thoughts are with you all.

Pardon the Dust

Pardon the dust. I’m underway with some renovations on the interior of Self. It wouldn’t be noticeable I imagine, so it’s not at all likely anyone would notice. In fact, I’m guessing no one will. But that’s the problem. No one notices. There seems to be a disconnect with the way I view my dreams, desires, etc., and the daily results I experience. As in, I have this grand vision of what my life should be, and I work toward it, yet I have this near out-of-body experience with what actually is.

So I’ve been trying to figure out why. Why do I feel what I am doing should be more observed and appreciated than it is? I’m not a bad person, per se, so I feel karma isn’t the answer. I’m not perfect, of course. I make mistakes. Many many. But that isn’t cause for the results, I wouldn’t think. Everyone makes mistakes, after all. Doesn’t hold back those who succeed, or are at the least noticed for what they do.

I’m forced to accept the only possibility I can find logic within: I am Clark Kent. I’m invisible, for the most part. A kind-hearted person you notice, but don’t think much of as a hero. Nobody looks at Clark and says, “Now there’s a guy who’s going somewhere. Let’s pay attention to him.” No. That’s the whole point. And even Clark makes stupid mistakes, like giving up his powers for no discernible reason whatsoever.

That’s who I am. Clark Kent after giving up my powers. Invisible and meek. Fun stuff. People pay attention to a point, then move on and forget I was there at all.

Why would they do that? Because they’re looking for Superman. They’re looking for heroes. They’re looking to be wowed, impressed, carried onward into hope and victory. Strong personalities, active voices, people who offer them results they want.

This guy:

You might argue that’s the same guy. Still Clark, right? But who will they remember? The meek guy who got beat up, or the guy who stood up to the bad guy and defeated him with flair and strength?

I’m not likely to go beat on some worthless schmo for the sake of attention, so that’s out. Hell, I still catch flies and release them when I can, rather than squishing them into oblivion for invading my space. But I’ve encountered my share of bullies. And they’ve won. Sure, I’ll bitch about it, but after the five seconds in which people listen and agree, they move on. Nobody wants to listen to someone complain about being a victim. They want Superman. Action. Decisive action.

When I was eight, I had a birthday party. It was the first one I had organized, first time I had invited kids from school to my home. There was cake, balloons, games planned, a beautiful day in a park. Nobody showed up. I didn’t try to have another party after that. Now, I could say that it molded my perception at that point, convinced me nobody would ever show up for anything I planned ever; but that would be Clarking without power. Something I am proficient in. Complaining after the fact, then withdrawing. Truth is, that party was just another bully, and it beat me. It beat me and I didn’t fight back.

I’ve often stated, of myself, that I engage in the fight, get knocked down, yet always get up to fight again. What strikes me, in this whole Clarking vs. Supermanning duel of perception is not that I keep getting up. That should be a given. I mean, you don’t get up, the fight’s over. As we’re talking about life here, then life is over. So you get up. Of course. You fight, to one degree or another, to defend your right to existence. Expectations, though. That’s what I’ve come to see. I expect to get knocked down again. I expect to stand up again. I expect to fight again. I expect this to repeat, endlessly. That’s just Clarking your way through. Superman (or if you must, Clark Kent with his powers) doesn’t enter a fight expecting to hold his ground or be defeated. He expects to win. He expects good to triumph. He expects to move on to another fight and kick its ass as well.

So I’m renovating. Interior design is not my strong suit, though I work on it constantly. I’m hoping to make this one stick. It’d be nice to do so. Perhaps then people will notice me. They’ll read my work because they can’t imagine not reading it. They’ll read it because they want to, because they could’t wait to, because they want to know what story I tell next. I’m actually quite good at this whole writing thing. It’s taken a lot of work to become so. But if I continue to toss it about like Clark’s weak punches, nobody will care. It’ll be kind of sad, actually.

I’ve learned to write well because I want people to read it, when what I need to do is to write well because I expect people will be reading it.

Writing, Broadleaf Writers, my current job, relationships, everything.

I have to learn to be Superman.

Being invisible sucks.