2019-02-21 – On Monday I wrote about how Trump has corrupted comedy—and parenthetically about how my obsession with all things Trump has corrupted my writing. Today I’m going to tell you some things that I am doing to get my life back (and still be part of the #resistance).
First: starting in December, I decided that I needed to get back to reading actual books. I’ve done pretty well with that. Five books so far (almost) finished.
- The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America, by Oren Cass. An interesting look at what a conservative (but not alt-right) writer thinks about the value of work in America and the way policy might be improved to give more weight to that value. There is a lot of room where liberal and conservative Americans could work together to improve people’s lives if we want to.
- The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. A story about people caught up in the holocaust. Did this reflect the state of my mind or the state of mind of library patrons in Chicago? It was the first fiction book that came up in the new app I downloaded to let me borrow ebooks from the Chicago Public Library. Sad.
- The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. I like biographies but I’ve only read one of McCullough’s books before: Mornings on Horseback, which is about the young Theodore Roosevelt. The Wright Brothers was the second book to come up on the library app and I’ve been wanting to read it, since I grew up in Dayton, Ohio where the Wrights lived and worked. The part about the deliberate process the Wrights followed that allowed them to fly the first powered airplane (including the invention of the wind tunnel) was fascinating. The part about their time in D.C. and France marketing the new invention and fending off competitors was less interesting.
- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Forty-nine years after I was assigned to read this, I finally did. Melville failed to follow the advice that modern writing teachers give new writers and became an American classic. [Note: I left this one out of the original post. How could I forget? I am clearly not Ahab.]
- The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer. Almost done with this important, but flawed, book about the way natives in America have risen after the low point of the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890. I may have more to say about this when I’ve finished in a couple days.
- Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course, by Jerry Cleaver. In preparation for my next item of de-Trumpification, I took a look at a writing course. I decided to skip the course, because I’ve taken other good writing courses, but I read the book.
Second: I have been working on a novel for 12 years and I think it’s time I finish it. It deals with issues of conflict between brothers, guilt, and reconciliation—ideas that are kinda important in today’s America. I’ve done 10 drafts of this thing in novel form and one and a half drafts of it for the stage. Saturday, I’m starting on the 11th draft of the novel. There will not be any drafts beyond the 11th, unless a publisher pays me to do it. The 11th is final.
And Third: Starting shortly after Trump was elected, I began a process to reactivate my law license so I could do pro bono work in the area of immigration law. Because of the long period of inactivity I had to take a lot of continuing legal education courses first. I finished that in 2018. Last month I attended a training session for the pro bono work. And, for three weeks I’ve been setting up my “office” so I can begin. On Monday, I expect to be able to request my first case.
A lot’s happening. I don’t expect any of it’s going to overthrow the existing regime. But I hope it will make something of a contribution—and help restore my sanity.
Don’t expect me to never write about Trump again on this blog. I’m sure I will. But I hope to get back some of the original spirit that got me blogging here in the first place.
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