Grief and Loss

I’ve been thinking about grief and loss a lot lately. I’ve experienced a personal loss that hit me really hard, is still hitting me. And I’ve been watching the experiences of grief that are happening around Puerto Rico. It’s different to watch how people respond to grief from a distance.

Personally

For the most part, people have been incredibly great to me. The appropriate amount of support, the kindnesses that work in the situation. There are a few who aren’t great and try to do weird things, but that’s kind of to be expected. It’s never perfect. I just hope for those with the most intimacy and power to be kind.

Power:

I want my boss to be understanding when I need time off or if I seem a little out of sorts or not quite up to my normal level. (And they have been absolutely.) I want the people I own things to (like responses, episodes, and the like) to be understanding if I don’t get things to them as quick as I’d like (or they would).

Those are the people in my life with the most power right now.

Intimacy:

This is sort of a two fold thing. The people who are close to me but not close to the person who passed, I fully expect them to be supportive of me. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. They are not experiencing the grief of that loss and they are more likely to have the capacity to be supportive. This for me includes relatives on the other side of the family and close friends.

But this also means that I should be doing what I can to support those who are closer, doing what I can to offer those things up to those who are closer to that circle of grief. And certainly different people handle it differently. But in general I’m going to turn out and away from the people who are most impacted for my own comfort and support and I am going to try to turn in to offer comfort and support. Reach out to the people who need love, comfort, and assistance.

It really helps to have these rules and know (and have thought through them) ahead of time and know who are the people who are usually there for me? Who can I ask for support from? Who will support me? Then on the other side…who will need support? And then there is an element of do I need to provide it to that person if I can’t. (Sometimes I don’t have the capacity to handle that for some people and while I wish they had what they needed, I can’t be the person to do that.) Even beyond that making sure that I am doing the right things so that I am offering the kinds of support others need so when I need it they are willing to be there for me.

Extrapolate

It makes me sad when individuals can’t follow these fairly basic guidelines. And it makes me furious when the person with the most power won’t be as kind as my bosses. They weren’t extraordinary generous. But they were very simply kind. Why can’t the president be simply kind? And why the fuck aren’t we demanding simple human kindness of the goddamn president of the goddamn united fucking states.

Fuck.

So to all of you who have been personally impacted by this incredible hurricane season in Texas and Florida as you clean up and try to get back to your lives, and especially to Puerto Rico still in the middle of trying to get back to existing in a way where basic survival is possible…You have my deepest sympathy. My heart is with you. (My calls to my senators are with you, the money I can is with you.) If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.

To those of you struggling like me through your own personal grief and loss of people you love, jobs you aren’t sure you can replace, homes you can’t, and more…ask for what you need. You can absolutely ask for help from those around you and if they are decent and they have the capacity they will. Never assume someone can’t help unless they tell you that they can’t.

To all the rest. Please, do some work. Offer some support. Money, calls, reminding coworkers that yes Puerto Ricans are American and HELL YES they need help and they need it now and anything, anything less than the most generous, thoughtful, and kind support is not enough.

 

S2.26 When Wind Catches

When Wind Catches by Tori V. Rainn

Tori V. Rainn resides in Texas where she collects knives, or anything sharp, and pretends to be a ninja. She’s a music junkie, loves video games, a member of ACFW, and popcorn addict. She’s currently editing a completed fantasy that she’s darn proud of, well, at least until she goes back and rereads it. Other ongoing projects include yet another fantasy, a paranormal novella boiling hot under her fingers, and various short stories.

Tori writes YA fantasy, horror, sci-fi, paranormal, and speculative, and is always open to branching out to different types of stories, where ever the wind takes her. She has been on this amusing writing journey for nearly seven years, leading to two publications, a children’s story, “The Unseen” featured in The Caterpillar Magazine, and a small story won in a contest, “Pheoclex”.

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S2.25 In Love is Courage

In Love is Courage by Stacy Bennett


Stacy Bennett grew up on the East Coast always knowing she was the ugly duckling in the flock of engineers she called a family. But never did she imagine she’d end up writing fiction. When she wrote her first full story, she thought she only had one story to tell. She soon realized that the rabbit hole ran much deeper. Now she writes everything from flash fiction to full-length titles in the genres of fantasy, paranormal and science fiction. Who knows maybe there’s a romance in there, too. This piece was written in tribute to the passing of her mother, her father having crossed over years before. Theirs was the love of a lifetime.
Read more on Stacy’s website
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S2.24 In the Ruins of Shambhala

In the Ruins of Shambhala by Matthew Rettino


Matthew Rettino is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He resides in Montreal, Quebec, and serves as a managing editor for Scrivener Creative Review. He holds an Master’s in English literature from McGill University, where he wrote a thesis on the relationship between world literature and weird fiction.

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S2.23 Daughter of the Sea

Daughter of the Sea by George Nikolopoulos

George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer and poet from Athens, Greece and a member of Codex Writers’ Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy’s Edge, Best Vegan SFF 2016, Grievous Angel, and many other magazines and anthologies in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. When not writing he is, among other occupations, a father, a husband, a reader, an actor and an engineer.

Summer Days, Winter Nights

George Nikolopoulos

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S2.22 Morning After

Morning After by Kiley Levinson


Kiley Levinson is a young writer currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bangor University. She was an editor and contributor to Not Quite Airplanes, an anthology of amateur writing available on Amazon and editor of the booklet for the 2017 Bangor Student Media Showcase. She knows too much about grammar and magic systems, and not enough about how to be an adult or talk to people. Current projects include writing about zombies, fictional universes, and fire mages, knitting a massive scarf, and cross-stitching cats.

Read more about Margot’s story at New Life as a Vegan Zombie.

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Learning new things

I’ve been doing a lot of learning new things lately.

My day job has been full of new learning. So much new learning. New programs, new systems, new ideas, new ways of working.

I’ve been taking on a new writing strategy and kind of way of thinking and that’s a lot of new learning.

I finally bit the bullet and took on a new DAW this weekend and am trying to learn to use that and learn a new way to do that work.

It’s something I know but forget, it exhausts me so much. Which I think is fairly normal. It requires a lot of new skills, brain power, and sometimes changing the ways you physically do things. Creating those new patterns and pathways in the brain in a lot of work.

It is also really frustrating to feel not good at something you’ve previously felt skilled at. And it’s not great to stack them on top of each other. I’m very much feeling a deep I’m not good at anything because of all of these parts stacking up on each other.

What do you do to learn? To feel like you excel at something? To get your footing under you in a new realm?

 

S2.21 The Parasite and the Widow

The Parasite and the Widow by Jeremy Gottwig


Jeremy’s recent work has appeared in Nature: Futures, the InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Darkfuse.  He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife and young son and is a member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Critique Circle.

Links:
Strange Shuttle
@jgottwig
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S2.20 Please Wash Your Hands

Please Wash Your Hands by Keith P Graham

Keith P. Graham is a Beekeeper, Computer Programmer, Blues Harp Player, and Science Fiction Lover. He has worked for IBM, Verizon, and Lockheed Martin where, among many other things, he wrote a large part of the original EZ-Pass system for automated highways.

Keith is the webmaster for one of the largest and oldest Blues Harmonica related sites on the internet: www.jt30.com. He is the author of the ancient Science Fiction site: www.cthreepo.com.

He has been reading Science Fiction since the early 1960’s and even has some stories he wrote back then.  Now retired, Keith is finally having time to write Science Fiction and Fantasy. He has sold about four dozen stories. He lives in New York State with five obnoxious cats and Erica.

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Brain Capacity: Where are you spending yours?

I’ve had a couple of really good chats with friends this weekend. Thinking about brain capacity, what you spend your brain energy on, wearing it down, and being short on capacity.

I kind of having been letting that shift around in my head a little and based on some of those conversations, here are my thoughts.

I have several different kinds of brain capacity and different things spend down different buckets.

Organizational/details:

This is the stuff that is the focused details, the checklists, the tools. For me this is something I spend down fairly quickly when I’m overwhelmed. I do ok when I have the same project or I know the work and just loop through and am repeating it. When I’m trying to come up with a new organizational plan it’s much more creative than organizational for me. But once I’m settled in, it’s just a matter of following through, which I’m great at when I’m not spending down my energy on other things. (I’ve had a couple of spates of this being really hard for me this year, when I was really sick for over a month, and when I had the Giant Person Eating Work Project. I was a mess.)

For podcasting there was a lot of creating a new plan and coming up with the structure in the month before and the 6 months or so after I started the podcast, but by that point I was settled into a routine and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I have shifted things up a bit here and there and I have a couple more shifts I’d like to make, but they are fairly small, and my routine feels comfortable and like it’s mostly accomplishing what I want.

For writing it’s still a really big challenge on the front and back ends. The middles I’m good with, and the short works I’m ok with. But the start and end of novels or novellas and the organization, planning, and structure that goes into those is rough. I have a novella I’m supposed to be working on putting out this fall and I’m just…exhausting thinking about it. I have no idea how I’m going to manage it.

Humaning

Oooof. This is…hard. Just hard. It’s such a challenge for me, and the thing I always feel like I’m worst at. It’s also the most important when I’m stressed about other things so that makes it more of a challenge.

When I started the podcast I was at a really good humaning place at work which I think let me feel comfortable starting it out. I was surprised by the amount of humaning podcasting required, but I think that I am an underestimator of how much work it takes me to do. Meeting new people, reaching out, having new conversations, traveling uncharted waters.

Writing I don’t human as much, still more than ideally, but I think much, much less than I need to to really be successful.

And here’s the kicker. In the last couple months at my day job I’ve been moving into work that is basically entirely humaning. (It’s good and I’m excited, but for right now…) It’s exhausting. I need to learn a whole new set of people, how they react, what sets them off, what makes them gleeful, what pisses them off. What to do when I have to ask a favor. What to do when I screw up. And what to expect from them. When someone asks me a question, is it going to make me grind my teeth or will it be a whole lot of something for a 2 second answer.

Creative

This isn’t just writing, this is creative problem solving, this is creative thoughts about a project, this is trying to develop something new. Writing is a corner stone of this for me. And it is something that I was doing when my day to day work was less creative. I’ve had jobs that have had a ton of creativity in them. Not writing fiction. But there is a lot of creativity beyond that out there. But when I’ve been satisfied at my jobs, but not quite so challenged creatively, writing has been a great opportunity for me. I don’t think that I want to seek out jobs that don’t challenge me creatively simply in order to write, but I think that it is a internal conversation worth having. At this time and place in my life the answer to that is no. But that doesn’t mean it won’t change. I could very well some day decide that what I want is a quiet job I can do peacefully without strain for 8 hours a day and go home and be incredibly creative.

The day job is taking a lot more of my creative brain. When I’m letting my mind wander at 3 am it is more often wandering to work projects than wandering off into outer space. I’m thinking about how to resolve an issue with work instead of with a character. It’s left me feeling a little like I’m bad at being creative, but I don’t think that’s it at all, I think it’s just different. It’s not that I’m not good at thinking about the world differently, it’s that I’m applying those skills to a different problem in my life.

Technical

This might not be the perfect way to talk about this. And it isn’t exclusively technical as in computers and such. It is technical as in the meat and potatoes of the work I’m doing. If it’s writing it’s stuff like how well structured is this plot. Have I done a good job of developing all of my characters. For writing this might include things like creating character bios for all of my characters as well as just the put my damn pen to the damn paper (or my fingers on the keyboard) and write. For work this would be the actual every day work. The digging in and doing it.

Technical seems like the bucket that is most easily replenished. It is also the thing that I can most easily OOMPH my way through if I just need to dig in and get shit done. If that’s writing it’s on day 25 of NaNo still sitting down at the keyboard and typing even though I don’t feel like it. It is following the plan and structure that I already have based on the creative skills and the planning I did. If there’s an outline of what to do, technical is following it through.

Technical isn’t bad at all. It is something I am extremely proud of. Technical is what turns someone from a dreamer into an author. Technical is what makes an “ideas person” into a leader. Technical is doing the damn work. And if you aren’t doing the damn work and you’re just talking about it?

(Thank you Meg from Indoorswomen (which is awesome) for being the Gif Queen!)

I’m mostly just sharing this because I think it can be really helpful to examine where you are (where I am!) and what skills you are flexing or using. Right now I’m using a lot of Creative and Humaning at work and I’m leaning on my Technical for podcasting (which makes me feel really good about the podcast, about being a podcaster, and about podcasting, all forms of that word!).

 

What are your brain capacity buckets? What do you use? Lean on? Flail with? Other?