The hardest thing teach to a child is that nastiness exists in this world. Fairy tales expose them to witches and monsters, and kids’ movies expose them to the grotesquely greedy captains of industry who willfully pollute the planet or threaten to tear down a Muppet theater for personal gain, but, generally, those villains are so far removed from the people they’d encounter in real life, or are so comically warped that, even in a nine-year-old’s imagination, they’re hardly believable. So it’s hard for them to gather why nastiness truly exists.
Earlier today, on Facebook, I posted a note about how proud I was of Ellie for wearing her Martin Luther King, Jr. tee shirt today. Predictably, a number of friends “liked” this status. Which was nice. But then a friend I’ve known for most of my adult life wrote something to the effect that it would be nice if the Ferguson protesters were as peaceful as MLK. To which I responded,
“And she’s a lot more peaceful than Darren Wilson.”
Yeah, I admit it: I had momentarily confused my daughter for Martin Luther King Jr. Hence, the “she” instead of “he.”
When the discrepancy between reality and the grand jury findings is so vast, it’s hard not to believe the social compact has been torn asunder. Even a child can pick up on that. So how does one go about explaining such an egregious error? Such a brutal murder?
Errata #1: Last weekend, I came across this fantastic essay by Melissa Febos on the public reception of her 2010 memoir, Whip Smart, and about the need for generosity among writers. It’s an essay everyone should read. A few choice nuggets:
“Writing is an insecure profession, affected by factors beyond talent and intention and hard work, factors over which we are powerless.”
“It is hard to give when you don’t feel you have enough. The beauty and miracle of being human is that we can be afraid, and not act out of fear. I promise you, generosity costs nothing. It is an investment in your own security. It is how we build the world we want to live in.
Don’t stand in the back of the reading and talk shit. Don’t hoard contacts or job leads. Don’t hesitate to share all of your information, all of your opportunities. Announce your awards, and those of other writers. Nominate them. The solution to scarcity is more, not less.”
Errata #2: Here’s a neat Leslie Pietrzyk story, “What I Could Buy,” just published today at Hobart.
Errata #3: My mother arrived in town last night to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us, which is great. Because she lives in Arkansas, we don’t get the chance to see her as often as we like. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Here’s a Thanksgiving piece I wrote a few years ago. I hope your holiday is filled with peace, kindness, and charity.
Late Errata: On Wednesday (11/26/14), Entropy Magazine published a personal essay, "My Salami Heart: Reflections on the Convergence of Art, Generosity, Success, Sex, and Law." It's about my attempts to make a go of it as a fiction writer, and my quest to reconcile all those loaded terms in the subtitle. Because it touches on a couple of hot-button issues in the alt-lit community, the editors asked that I put together an addendum of sorts touching on censorship and victim shaming. The Addendum is included at the end of my essay.