I’m always happy when the rest of the country joins in on Thankfulness Thursday. 🙂
It’s been quiet here on Governing Ana, at least on the blog. Behind the scenes, it’s been a string of 18-hour days to get ready for Ana’s Advent Calendar (only four days away!) and the delivery of 18 Kindles and accessories to Lost-N-Found Youth next Friday, December 5th. Writing deadlines are whizzing by, and for the first time in three years Ana’s Advent Calendar has come a bit too soon for my liking. Usually, I’m eager to get started ten months ahead of time! With Something Good taking up the bulk of my time for the past month and a half, however, it’s been one continual rush. The bad news has been little time to write. A writer who can’t write is not happy, and I’ve been examining options to make that time. I’ve heard requests for a sequel to Taliasman, but I have four other projects promised before I can start writing that. Plus, there are other sequels to write for other series. Don’t we want to find out what happens with Kat, Natalie, and the new arrival? 🙂
Almost two years ago, I celebrated the release of my first published book. Three years ago, I never dreamed I’d be on this path. Four years ago, I thought I was headed toward a different career. It’s so funny, the twists and turns of our lives. I told my first stories almost as soon as I learned to talk, and something strange has happened as this storytelling turns into book-writing. I have deadlines. Expectations. Responsibilities. Marketing, networking, revisions, and…did I say expectations?
I crashed my internet yesterday (and the system I’d set up for the Kindles). Turns out that trying to download 300+ books to 18 Kindles at once is not a good idea. Oops! I panicked because I have been working on this project for ages, and yet I still have too much left to figure out. I have to prepare a staff training, put together user manuals (not for the Kindles themselves but how to link to the network I’ve set up), and anticipate any issues that might come up. So many people have made so many sacrifices to make this project happen, and I worry about letting you down. To date, I believe that 1 book review site, 8-10 publishers, and 30-40 authors have joined the effort.
Pretty awe-inspiring, isn’t it? And yet…I worry. What if I haven’t thought everything through? What if things don’t go well? What if something terrible happens? Many bad things happen in the world because someone had a good idea with good intentions and it was executed badly. I’ve put in place every single safety measure I and Amazon can think of, but it may not be enough.
As I spent four hours yesterday loading a portion of the books onto the Kindles, I wondered whether the recipients would read any of the books. Or would they complain that the Kindles were too slow and clunky compared to a “real” computer, using it only for social media? Would the Kindles get stolen? Would fights break out because people didn’t want to wait in line?
I began Something Good because I wanted to make life easier for someone who was having a hard time. As a storyteller, I believe that all solutions are rooted in stories. Without a story, we can’t understand each other or ourselves. Without stories to shape our lives, we don’t have meaning. Even lawyers need stories to sell their version of events.
Stories tell us, “It’s okay to be who I am.” Or, if we never hear the right stories, they tell us, “You are wrong.” Invisible. Unheard. Sinful. Destined for hell. Disturbed. Mentally ill.
The stories we tell (and the absences in the stories we tell) can break or heal us. Without stories that reach our heart, how can we find our place in the world?
Perhaps these are the over-optimistic thoughts of an inveterate storyteller, but I think many of my author and reader friends would agree.
What about you?
What was the first story that made you feel all right with your identity? Maybe it was a story about sexuality, or gender, or perhaps about kink. Or maybe it was about something different altogether. Perhaps your story was about going against the dictates of society.
I’m reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (review to follow), Bonhoeffer Abridged. I love reviewing because I get to find brand-new books I might not know about otherwise. The book challenges and frustrates me at the same time. It’s lucid and accessible, but it also oversimplifies. But how to remain accessible without simplifying? My brain has been working on this puzzle for the past week or so, and I’m reading slowly on purpose. For those who don’t know, Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis for an assassination attempt of Hitler.
It’s a tale of competing stories–the traditional narrative of Bonhoeffer the quiet hero vs. the narrative of the evil of murder. History has treated Bonhoeffer kindly, and he is revered as a theologian and writer. But in the moment, how do we know which story is right? Bonhoeffer was told one story by his society. He chose to live a different story, one that ended in death as a convicted criminal.
If Bonhoeffer lived today, would we condemn him?
How do we know which story is right for us?
Will the youth at Lost-N-Found find a story that tells them that they are valued individuals and their life matters? Will the stories provide acceptance and a sense of self-worth? Will the stories give the youth strength to keep going even when life strikes its worst?
I sit inside my cozy, comfortable home with enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and even a little extra to spend on non-essentials. I have been blessed with so much, and yet the demons of self-doubt still creep in the corners. Maybe all creative people struggle in this way. Maybe not. But I wonder…can these Kindles and books change lives? A life?
Today, I am thankful for each one of you who answered my call to create Something Good. Thank you for listening as I endlessly debated the merits of each purchase and each approach. I can’t provide a solution for homophobia and homelessness. but I hope we can make a teeny-tiny change.
The weight on my shoulders has been heavy for the past two months, and it will feel good to release the responsibility next week. At the same time, though, there’s a curious sense of loss. I’ve put in so many hours into this project, just about every single day. When it is over…what then?
I wanted to provide one Kindle with a few books to Lost-N-Found. With your help, we will provide eighteen times that many Kindles plus enough books to crash my internet. Each Kindle is loaded with approximately $2000 worth of donated books.
Can you imagine?
Today, I am thankful that you helped to create Something Good.
Blessings to you this Thanksgiving day. (Yes, even to those of you who don’t celebrate.)