Derailed? by Angela Grace

After the November election, I read many Facebook posts from authors who had started NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), only to have their month-long writing project derailed, practically out of the gate. Many authors felt stunned, angry, and betrayed with the election results. In addition, a new vulnerability and anxiety took hold as we tried to absorb the change, and understand what the election outcome means for our families. The shock of the election results created cognitive dissonance in the minds of rational Americans. Our brains struggled to reconcile what we know to be good, true, and reliable about America with the outrageous election of an unstable man stirring up worldwide trouble for the sake of personal attention: a man so disconnected from reality that he willingly, purposefully and intentionally endangers our lives by using 144 characters to assail foreign governments, yet lavishly strokes the ego of a former KGB Agent and current Russian President. The President-Elect nominated himself as the judger of all. He barrages us daily using the tools of intimidation, fear, and, somewhat more perplexing, verbalizing disgust for, and demeaning our most valued national treasures—the men and women of this country.

The brain is our magnificent gift, and when incoming information is diametrically opposed to what we believe, the brain struggles to make sense of it. The realization that our country’s values have been upended, perhaps changed for generations to come, is overwhelming and infuriating.

I, like many of you, have grave concerns regarding the competency and agenda of the incoming President of the United States. The basic premise that the Commander in Chief both understands and implements discernment and discipline is no longer the current reality.

Much has been written about the probable future of the United States while it feels like little is being written about how to cope with the daily emotional upset. I have no reason whatsoever to believe that, as long as the President-Elect holds office, we will ever be entirely free from his daily antagonizing, belittling, irrational, frustrating and frightening tweets and outbursts. He has a fascinating way of keeping us on pins and needles; he is the king of hooking people emotionally so that we wait in a period of instability. Holding us emotionally hostage is one of his powerful maneuvers. These are precedented practices of emotional manipulation, and are being done on a national scale.  We are all right to experience feelings of trauma because we are being played.  This is true for those who see through him and for his faithful followers who hail his words as truth. He has many others tricks that equally disrupt our sense of stability and sanity.

Authors, if you were derailed or are still feeling the effects of the election, you are not alone. The blow was, and, at times, continues to be, difficult to navigate. For those of you who have experienced what I’ve described, I offer some practical suggestions. For those of you who are satisfied, even elated, with the outcome of the election, using the coping strategies below may assist you at other times when you find yourself derailed.

To be clear, I am in no way encouraging you to abandon your political voice. On the contrary, your wisdom and involvement is crucial to the future of our county. What I am suggesting is that you compartmentalize: there is a time for writing, there is a time for political involvement.

  1. Where attention goes, energy flows. If you spend time worrying about the President-Elect’s latest round of foolishness, that will occupy your brain, and that is where your energy will flow. Instead, consciously choose to redirect your attention. Pick up a book or write a few pages. The energy you bring to the project flows there, and your productivity increases. Tell yourself, I am responsible for what I allow to occupy my attention, and I’m the decision-maker regarding my use of time.
  2. Change your Internet browser to one where you are certain that the President-Elect’s photo will not be the first thing you see when going online, and then navigate from there.
  3. Stop push notifications from automatically appearing on your device.
  4. Become involved in Facebook pages that are not political. Can’t find one? Make one, invite me, and I’ll join.
  5. Ask your friends to have conversations that do not revolve around politics. You might find it refreshing to hear what is going on in their lives.
  6. Realize that you have tremendous power and influence as a voter. Get involved in politics at the level that you are comfortable, and make a difference in an organized way.
  7. Be mindful of your time on the Internet. Make a conscious decision about how much time you want to spend enmeshed in the President-Elect’s shenanigans on a daily basis. Too much screen time exposes you to propaganda that may not be good for your mental health.
  8. Draw a line in the sand, and never allow the President-Elect, or anyone, to stop your forward motion. Recognize his games; know when you’re being manipulated.

Every word you write matters. Every book you publish cements our place in this world. We, as a nation of lesbian fiction writers, are relevant and will remain relevant. Keep Writing.

Angela Grace

Optimized Life Coaching

livbold@aol.com

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Derailed? by Angela Grace

  1. Excellent suggestions, Angela. I think most Americans were derailed ( and “de-” everything) in many, many ways. We’re all still reeling from it, and he’s not even in office yet. But, as you suggest, we need to find ways to right ourselves again. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. R.G. Emanuelle, Exactly. We do need to find ways to “right” ourselves but we do not need to do it alone. That’s the good news. Thank you for your comment.

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  2. Excellent. I blocked the PEOTUS on twitter a year ago because I couldn’t take seeing all the RTs on my timeline. Now I only see his tweets when I elect to go to his page and read the nonsense. This way I have control, instead of having him thrust upon me.

    But since we’re going to be in this situation for a few years, as a reader might I suggest to the writers that you take that first step and develop characters who are going through this as well. This situation is our new reality, and it can be the reality for your future stories too. Have your characters get through some of these issues, show us ways they come together with friends and family, or how they deal with friends and family from the other side. We’ll all need some light and fluffy in the next four years, but I think we need to see how other people, even fictional ones, are managing to get through this as well. We’re entering a whole new world, be it good or bad (Bad. It’s bad.), and we need to see characters living in this world too. Give us people to look up to and emulate and who give us hope!

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  3. Cynthia C. Good suggestions. I encourage you to play around with some words and write a few short stories that reflect what you would like to be reading. Who knows, you might enjoy moving from reader to writer. 🙂

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    1. I used to write, and it was always a catharsis in times of crisis, and always made me feel better. I’m more of a reader now, so I’m hoping I can get my catharsis vicariously through the writings of you all! 🙂

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  4. Not just our American friends. The entire world stands to be affected. We in the UK have nothing to be proud of, with Brexit bringing out the worst in people, a supposed free pass to express xenophobia, for example. The parallels with the past are particularly unsettling. Your counsel is good, Angela, let’s heed it and work towards better times.

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    1. szegerton- Yes-the people of the world are being affected. What we have come to rely on as “stable” is far less stable and that makes our brain search for sensible answers (which we are not getting). I agree about the parallels of the past. It is troubling. Thank you for the compliment regarding good counsel. That was a “feel good” for me.

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  5. I’m so glad you articulated this for me, Angela! Yes, the suggestions you make are sound, and I hope to implement at least several of them immediately.

    I’ve been floundering since the second Tuesday in November last, and am still having trouble finding my writing feet. Nano was a complete wash for me this year, first time I haven’t completed in five years. But, time to shoulder on, and I believe your advice will give me the peace of mind (and perhaps self-permission) to write again. Thanks.

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  6. authorgenta, Those who read this blog prior to it being posted commented that they finally felt like they had a reasonable explanation for their strong reaction to the election. I’m glad you find the suggestions helpful. I encourage you to work some words. You are more likely to find your writing “sea legs” by writing.

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  7. Hi, Angela. Thank you so much for this post and for your suggestions on how to navigate through these troubling times. I felt so strongly about what you’ve written here that I forwarded it on to my wife. As a “child of the 60s,” she’s having a very difficult time with the election’s outcome. Thank you again for your words of wisdom.

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    1. Chris, thank you for the kind words. Hopefully your wife found the blog meaningful and may implement some of the strategies for compartmentalizing and coping. These are unprecedented times and some of us, like myself, will need to (more than once) swallow hard, tap into our courage reservoir and move forward.

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  8. Alas, if you’re on Facebook, which most authors consider a must these days, it’s near impossible to avoid pictures or posts featuring the Beast. Short of unplugging from FB, television, radio, etc., there really is no escaping. Trying to de-focus is the only way, and that isn’t always easy.

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    1. Agreed, it is difficult to completely remove ourselves from the news. I have a separate Facebook page where I connect with women who are more like minded when I need a break from the angry rants. Also, I spend time enjoying individual authors websites where I read their blogs. Typically, the blogs are about their work projects and sometimes about where they are headed with their writing careers. That is inspiring.

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  9. You expressed so well what has been happening in my life. NaNo was a bust & I had so looked forward to a productive month. Compartmentizing is difficult some days, but at least I’ve stayed away from TV news. Thanks for the suggestions & comments, Angela & everyone!

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