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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stop push notifications from automatically appearing on your device.
- Become involved in Facebook pages that are not political. Can’t find one? Make one, invite me, and I’ll join.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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