Growth

I wrote a blog before about how characters are expected to change and grow. That is a fair expectation, if all characters were static they wouldn’t be interesting.  Everyone changes to some degree, but how many people change significantly enough where they would be considered a “dynamic” character in a book? Honestly, I do not know the answer. Maybe it’s everyone, maybe the number is a small minority.

From my limited perspective, the anecdotal evidence in life seems to indicate that people both change and stay the same simultaneously.  How is that possible?  As people grow older their behaviors change, become more refined, their habits that are good and bad become deeper entrenched. It is common from what I’ve seen for people to become set in their ways and when they encounter challenges to their lifestyle they become defensive.  However, they become set in their ways after adapting to the environment form their childhood and early adulthood.

True change is hard.  I think we all can say we do things that we wish we would change, but despite hating certain behaviors or habits, sometimes they still rear their ugly head. From my limited point-of-view it appears that people eventually accept these habits as a part of who they are.  As I said, change is hard. It takes active participation every day, and frankly not everyone has the will to follow through. There are things I am challenged with daily too.  There are things that I do sometimes that I know are wrong yet do them anyway because they have become ingrained in me.  This is a struggle that we all deal with, but I want to actively try to change them.  Sometimes it is discouraging because it never feels like there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes “discouragement” is too weak of a word, “depression” and “hopelessness” are more fitting.  We feel like we can’t be better, we are a slave to our whims, passions, and habits. However, we can change.  Every one of us, no matter what the issue may be. Let us all actively work hard to be better men and women everyday while accepting perfection isn’t going to be possible. We don’t have to be slaves to our habits and become set in our ways.

Truth

It is said that truth is something that cannot stay hidden.  Many believe that no matter how long it takes, truth eventually comes to light and reveals itself.  I may write fiction, but good fiction is driven by truths.  Truths mostly about the human spirit and condition.  This may sound cynical, but I wonder if indeed truth cannot stay hidden, or if our bias and private perspectives blind us.

In our postmodern era, perhaps not everyone would agree that truth is truth regardless of culture or perspective, but I’m certain most would.  After all, we know there is only one star that our solar system revolves around.  Someone may believe the moon is a star too, but that wouldn’t be correct, no matter what worldview that person would use to justify his belief.  There are other things that get trickier, and truth begins to blur so much with worldview that they become almost indistinguishable.

If a person believes that evil spirits and not microbes are the cause of illness, even if he is shown the bacteria under a microscope, that is when a worldview interferes with truth.  We know intellectually that just because an idea is widely believed, that doesn’t make it true, but we are social beings who want to be accepted.  The more an idea is floated around and made prominent, the more readily accepted it becomes.  Sometimes this happens for good, sometimes for bad.  History is replete with examples of both.  Slavery is an example of an evil in humanity, while civil rights and freedoms are examples of good.

There are things that I feel are true and have been tested and proven as such, yet in some instances certain people are unwilling to mold their worldviews to the truth.  In other cases, what was once accepted as truth even “common sense” appears to be becoming lost in western culture.  The inability for people to see through their worldviews is largely what is at the heart of the political strife in America.  Anymore either side cannot agree on what is right even at a fundamental level.

This situation is nothing new.  For the entirety of human culture, people have refused to acknowledge truth based on presuppositions. If that is the case, then how can truth always come to light? Having beliefs is normal and essential to being human, so do not misunderstand me.  Nor do I feel that beliefs should always be compromised by what someone else says is truth.  Merely, I find it fascinating that truth while apparent to some may not be as apparent to others.  Truth in some matters might be understood by a person, but the same man or woman may be blinded by untruth in other matters. Something to think on.

A Note About “Crystal Moon”

Goodreads is an interesting Social Media platform.  It is surprisingly large considering it is only for readers.  As a reader I never found it useful.  I don’t understand the point in announcing to the world what I’m reading and how long it took me to read something.  I talk about what I’m reading with the people I know and that’s pretty much it.  Occasionally I will review something on Goodreads or mark a book “to-read.” As an author, Goodreads is essential for good or ill.  Generally, I find the platform from a writer’s perspective to be bitter-sweet.  Particularly the review system is bare-bones.  Unlike Amazon, Goodreads allows people to put a star rating without a written review.  Based on the ratings “Crystal Moon” has received on Goodreads, I get the sense that it is misunderstood.  However, without feedback that is conjecture.

“Crystal Moon” is an experimental book, it started with a fun idea that a man was a huge Star Wars fan who became paranoid and convinced his wife was a Dark Lady of the Sith.  When I started writing the story I changed the main character’s paranoia about his wife being a Sith to being a witch.  The novel was intended to be a quirky, dark comedy for a niche audience.  It is, an experiment.  It has thriller elements mixed with dark comedy in an Urban Fantasy with a message about the breakdown of communication in marriage. These factors on top of the book being written in journal format make it for a unique audience.  It was something I had fun with and I invite the reader to have fun too by not taking the book too seriously.

So, what does this have to do with Goodreads?  On the social media site, I’ve been getting lukewarm to disappointing ratings.  Frankly, it isn’t surprising due to the reasons I listed above, but here is the catch I do not get feedback from the people who rate the book on Goodreads.  Honestly, if you hate it, think my book is poorly written, or there is a glaring plot-hole I missed, I want to know.  The same goes for positive reviews too.  Do you like a book?  Are you going to take the time to rate it?  Follow through with a written review.  My beta-readers gave valuable feedback on “Crystal Moon” and generally it was positive with some critiques.  The irony of this is that “Crystal Moon” is selling decently well despite these ratings.  Maybe my targeting is off with the book, maybe people are turned off by the quirky plot or the journal format.  If I do not get feedback I do not know.

Another possibility is that people are rating “Crystal Moon” without reading it because it comes up on their “suggested reading” list.  Who knows, but while I stand by my book, I do acknowledge it isn’t for everyone, and that it isn’t above criticism.  So please, feel free to read it and write a review.  It doesn’t have to be glowing, all I ask is that it is thoughtful and constructive.  If you enjoy a fun and quirky light read that has heart but doesn’t take itself seriously, take a look at “Crystal Moon” on Amazon here.

Do we live in an age without self-awareness?

As an author I feel it is my job to pay attention to cultural leanings and norms.  I’ve written before about the politically charged climate we live in.  People have adapted an “us verses them” mentality not just with politics but faith, lack of faith, and even mundane things like movies.  Yes, movies, I’ve seen some impassioned arguments about them on the internet.  With these discussions one primary accusation comes up; the other person or side is a hypocrite.

The truth is, no one likes a hypocrite and we can smell hypocrisy a million miles away in another person or group but struggle to see it in ourselves.  It’s undoubtful that everyone has been a hypocrite before.  I certainly have, everyone I know has been.  That is an inevitable part of being human.  There is a problem when hypocrisy is a pattern or even a lifestyle.

Hypocrisy can evolve to a point where a person is utterly lacking self-awareness.  The problem compounds when such lack of self-awareness spreads throughout a culture like a cancer.  Perhaps I’m cynical but from my perspective this seems to be where we are at in western society.  We see this especially in politics.  If someone from our “team” is guilty of something we look the other way and justify their actions.  However, if the “other side” does the same thing we lose our minds and catastrophize the situation.  The same thing is with religious verses irreligious folks.  The common attitude is that people can have their faith and believe what they will, but they must keep it to themselves.  However, irreligious folks, sometimes flood the internet with comments about how people who believe differently than them are delusional idiots.

There is a surface celebration of diversity in our culture, but rarely are diverse ideas met with approval.  It is the norm to shout down, belittle, and attack those who think differently.  Maybe we should try to understand why someone believes differently instead?  That is much harder.  It also goes against human nature.  It requires an immense amount of empathy, but it is not impossible.  I’m directing these comments as much to myself as anyone reading this.  This is how we become self-aware and do not become what we hate in others.

Don’t judge me!

No one wants to be judged.  There are few absolute statements that are true, and that is one of them.  It is our nature to want to be seen and heard as people, not viewed through the lens of our mistakes or differences.  We all know mistakes and bad things are a part of the human experience.  There is a difference though between judging a person in a condemning way, and noticing a destructive behavior and mentioning it to that person. As much as we don’t like to be judged, people also don’t like seeing their loved ones commit to destructive behaviors.

Ever notice that those who complain about certain behaviors in others are often guilty of it themselves?  I can certainly raise my hand for that one.  After all, this post is directed at me as much as anyone.  The same thing applies to “Don’t judge me!” How many times have we spouted that or complained about judging someone when we are judging others in the same breath.

To compound this issue, constructive criticism of behavioral choices are often confused with judging.  You think I’m posting too much political stuff on social media? Judging. You think I shouldn’t smoke as I drive with my kids in the back seat of the car? Judging. You think I should let go of the past because I’m letting bitterness poison my life? Judging. None of these examples are truly judging if the other person said it in gentleness and kindness, with your best interest at heart. To judge someone is no calling out destructive, immature, or unbecoming behavior. Judging someone is to condemn them, to see them as defined by their behavior and that behavior makes them less than you are, or at worst worthy of Hell.

Anymore, it seems that people cannot take criticism without blowing it off as “you are just judging me!” Certainly, people can be judgmental over the examples I listed above, and context must always be considered. The issue I take is that most people are all too ready to assume intent or get defensive when we can all learn something. If a loved one mentions we should maybe try a different approach, it isn’t necessarily a judgement, it might just be what we need to hear.