Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: March 2020

Representation Matters

Representation and social transformation

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

How does representation play a role in social transformation? Last week’s Monday post explored stereotypes and the power of portrayal. Now let’s tackle social transformation.

Make no mistake. Society is always transforming. Social change happens, whether we want it to or not. And individually we can’t control how it changes. 

This quote from Ellen DeGeneres says, "Whenever people act like gay image in the media will influence kids to be gay, I want to remind them that gay children grew up with only straight people on television."
No, the creators of content can’t change basic facts of human existence. But we can affect how people think about those facts, for well or ill. (This quote-image featuring Ellen DeGeneres is courtesy of FCKH8 on Twitter).

One person’s efforts rarely provide a huge pivot point, unless that one person speaks for thousands, and society was ripe for the change. Case in point: #MeTooThat one was way overdue!

What kind of future do you want?

We can’t control the changes. But we can affect how things change. 

What kind of future do you want? As creative people, we make art that comments on how things are and how things could be. If you think a more broadly representative world would be more fair and interesting, reflect that in your art.

Subverting the stereotypes

If you think harmful stereotypes should be questioned, treat them like the clichés they are. Turn them inside out. Subvert them. Transform them into something fresh and unexpected and better

This quote from Rosie Perez reads, "I started calling people on their stuff. I'd say, 'listen, things have to change. How come I keep getting 50 million offers to play the crack ho?' And I challenged them on it, and initially, oh my God, the negative response was horrific."
It can take guts to “call people on their stuff” and challenge stereotypes. But artistic integrity demands it. (This quote-image from Rosie Perez is courtesy of The Huffington Post).

That’s just basic sound practice–but you’re also making a statement by the way you make the transformation. 

Please note that this approach requires awareness. Creative people fall into tropesclichés and stereotyped thinking when they don’t recognize them for what they are. We all have unconscious biases. But we owe it to ourselves, our work, and our fans to learn about them and challenge them.

Representation and social transformation

Wider and more diverse representation is essential to the social transformations that I would love to see come about. I have my own ways to portray that, particularly in the stories I write. 

This quote from Gina Rodriguez says, "I became an actor to change the way I grew up. The way I grew up, I never saw myself on the screen. I have two older sisters. One's an investment banker. The other one is a doctor, and I never saw us being played as investment bankers. And I realized how limiting that was for me. I would look at the screen and think, 'Well, there's no way I can do it, because I'm not there.'"
Artists need to seize the power of portrayal. (This quote-image from Gina Rodriguez is courtesy of The Huffington Post).

There are as many possible approaches as there are artists. Some, such as those in the Solarpunk movement, seek to portray the benefits of positive future change. 

Writers, artists, filmmakers and others with a more dystopic bent often dramatize how badly things can go wrong. Perhaps as a cautionary tale. Or because they’re pessimists. Or because conflict is inherent in a dystopic plotline.

Everyone takes an individual path, because each of us has our own unique voice. We must let the world hear our visions, presented from our own perspectives, in our own voices.

What values do you seek to embrace? What negative outcomes do you hope we avoid? 


Many thanks to  FCKH8 on Twitter and The Huffington Post for the quote-images in this post.

color study for "The Other Side of Fear" cover by Lucy A. Synk.

Creating a cover with Lucy A. Synk: a cover reveal

This is the cover of "The Other Side of Fear," a novella about the XK9s. Cover art is copyright 2020 by Lucy A. Synk.
(Cover Artwork © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk)

Creating a cover with Lucy

Lucy painted the first Wizards’ Worlds cover. She corresponded with Andre Norton several times while the author was living. (artwork © by Lucy A. Synk)

I sort of wandered sideways into creating a cover with Lucy A. Synk. Lucy’s a wonderful fantasy and media-portrait artist whose work I discovered at science fiction convention art shows in the 1980s. She also painted professional illustrations and book covers back in the day.

She and I were friendly acquaintances when she lived in the Kansas City area. But ironically our friendship really took off after she moved away. We discovered how much fun it was to talk with each other on the phone, and the rest is history.

Although she and I haven’t lived in the same town in decades, today I count her as one of my dearest friends. We travel to places “partway between” to meet for the occasional face-to-face gabfest, and we’ve shared many adventures over the years.

Lucy’s been there since the beginning of the XK9s

In Lucy's color drawing "Doggie-Back Rides," XK9 Rex gives his partner's 3-year-old niece a ride on his back.
Lucy created “Doggie-Back Rides,” featuring Rex with Charlie’s niece Lacey, mostly for fun.
(artwork © 2018 by Lucy A. Synk)

Naturally, she reads drafts of my writing projects in their developmental stages. She offered insights and unflagging encouragement throughout the many, many, many, many early drafts of What’s Bred in the Bone (that’s why her name is on the dedication page).

But she had by then moved into other realms with her artwork, and expressed no interest in illustrating my stories, other than the occasional, small whimsical drawing. Ever creating a cover with Lucy seemed out of the question.

Until one day it wasn’t, anymore. I started in my role as Art Director for Weird Sisters Publishing, Lucy’s job situation changed, and I finished the manuscript of my soon-to-be-released novella The Other Side of Fear.

The novella depicts events that happened before the action in What’s Bred in the Bone, when the XK9s and their future partners met on the planet Chayko. The story’s action follows Shady’s eventual partner, Pamela Gómez, and her personal evolution. Lucy had been reading each draft, advising me on the development of the story . . . and cooking up visual ideas.

A creative collaboration

My favorite way to work with a cover artist is to have them read the manuscript, consider the story and how to visually express it, then tell me how they’d like to approach it.

I generally have my own ideas, but the artist knows his or her own vision and capabilities best. The folks I’ve worked with so far also understand the “postage-stamp poster” nature of a book cover. Creating a cover with Lucy or any other artist becomes a creative collaboration.

In this case, Lucy had a very clear idea. There are two pivotal scenes in the story that happen near a bonfire at night. She wanted to use the dramatic lighting at these important moments to create a dynamic cover.

Lucy's pencil rough of the bonfire scene.
Here’s Lucy’s first sketch of the “bonfire scene.” (artwork © 2019 by Lucy A. Synk)
This is the black-and-white tonal study for the bonfire scene.
With the concept approved, Lucy moved to the tonal study. (artwork © 2019 by Lucy A. Synk)
This is the first color rough of the bonfire scene.
Next she created the first color rough of the most important part of the scene. (artwork © 2019 by Lucy A. Synk).

What does an “ashasata” look like?

Most of the action in The Other Side of Fear takes place on Planet Chayko, under the watchful eyes of the XK9 Project’s trainers and officials. Chayko is an exo-Terrestrial planet that humans were allowed to colonize because repeated meteor bombardments had reduced the native life-forms to pre-sapient levels. But it still has a breathable atmosphere, a similar mass (thus, gravity), a G-type star, and many other Earth-like aspects that allow humans to flourish there.

The humans installed a shield to repel the meteor-strikes, then settled in. They brought Earth plants and animals, but never completely terraformed the planet. Instead, it’s a patchwork of native, more “primordial” organisms alongside the imports from Earth.

Lucy, with her decade of work in natural history illustrations, has been having a wonderful time advising me and co-conspiring with me about how native Chaykoan life-forms look. One general type of organism that is mentioned repeatedly in The Other Side of Fear is the ashasatas. They are brachiated life-forms that fill a niche similar to Earth’s trees.

But what do they look like? The bonfire scenes take place in a rustic setting at the edge of an ashasata forest. We could’ve blurred the details back into the shadows and “faked it,” but Lucy wanted to explore the idea. Ashasatas, she suggested, would look more like the earlier treelike plants on earth. She led me on a journey through the paleobotany of conifers, to the Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree (yes, this is how nerds have fun).

Monkey puzzle trees at night. Perfect for our bonfire! Creating a cover with Lucy.
Monkey Puzzle Trees (Araucaria) at night, lit from below–living fossils that provided a perfect model for our Ashasatas at the bonfire. Note: they are the Chilean national tree (Lucy found this photo somewhere. I haven’t been able to locate the source).

Pulling it all together

Once we figured out what ashasatas look like, Lucy was able to finish the cover painting in the correct proportions. Here’s a look at the painting without the words all over it.

Here’s the finished painting, before I put in all the typography. Lucy can tell you who every person in the background crowd is. (artwork © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk)

She ultimately reduced the size of the crowd behind Shady. For those of you who’ve read What’s Bred in the Bone, can you guess which of them are Dr. Ordovich, Dr. Imre the Breeding Coordinator, and Chief Klein?

Other characters whom you’ll meet in The Other Side of Fear are Randy the Education Director and other partner-candidates. Lucy can tell you who everyone is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the process of creating a cover with Lucy A. Synk. We’ve discussed a lot of other ideas and projects, so look for more artwork from her in the future!

Weird Sisters Publishing released The Other Side of Fear in wide distribution on March 31, 2020. If you’d like a FREE e-copy, you can get one if you subscribe to Jan’s monthly newsletter!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Lucy A. Synk for all of these images.

Representation Matters

The power of portrayal

What is the power of portrayal? Why is it important that we see ourselves in the pictures, the fiction, and the media that surround us? 

Because people define themselves in reaction to, and in relation to, what they perceive around them. All of us are suggestible, to one degree or another. We react to peer pressure, and to social norms.

The messages we send

This quote from Salma Hayek says, "It's hard. They go by stereotypes. sometimes it's hard to put me in a box. I am so many things . . . [but] in their head, I'm not quite the typical Latin woman, in many ways, or the typical Arab woman, or the typical American woman, so it's hard for them to pin me."
This quote-image from Salma Hayek is courtesy of The Huffington Post.

All creative people should consider the issue of representation. Our creative products, be they songs, visuals, stories, or other things, send messages. I’ve considered aspects of these in two recent posts, Who gets represented, and Owning our “own voices.”

Unfortunately, for many years the only messages our dominant media have been sending about diverse groups are tropes and stereotypes

This quote from Nate Parker says, "So few [roles for black men have] integrity. As a black man, you leave auditions not hoping you get the job but wondering how you explain it to your family if you do."
Many thanks to The Huffington Post for this quote-image from Nate Parker.

While all too many of the reasons for these arise from overt racism, I’m convinced that a lot of them come from a profound lack of awareness by creatives or gatekeepers, and falling back on unthinking clichés. I blogged about this a while back, too.

What kind of clichés am I talking about?

In this quote, Rita Moreno says, "I made movies for a long time when I was young and I always had to have an accent. But that wasn't the worst problem. If I played a Latina, I always had to be too sexy and too easy. I hated that."
Rita Moreno has been dealing with negative stereotypes for decades. It’s not a new problem. (Quote-image courtesy of The Huffington Post).

I mean the stock characters that always seem to come with an ethnic tag. The Muslim terrorist. For a long time (at least since 9/11) there’s hardly been any other kind in the US media. The undocumented Mexican. How about the inscrutable Asian? Or the hostile Indian (Native American). The list is seemingly endless, and it skews sharply negative.

Thank goodness, we’re becoming more aware that these are bad. No, I’m not just being “politically correct.” That’s a term invented by easily-frightened people who are afraid of losing their privilege, or at least their perceived “right” not to care how others feel. In an interconnected society like ours, lack of empathy is an insidious social poison.

This quote from Octavia Spencer says, "Little kids need to be able to turn on the TV and see real-world representations of themselves. Who cares if the lead is an Asian male? If this is the best actor for that role, why does the role have to be indicative of a person's ethnicity?"
Many thanks to The Huffington Post for this quote-image from Octavia Spencer.

Negative stereotypes and stock characters are bad because we tend to believe what we see. Even if we are confronted in our daily lives with examples to the contrary, repetition of a negative trope/message can interfere with our perceptions. And believing harmful things about others in our society weakens society as a whole.

The power of portrayal

It’s not “harmless,” just because it’s fiction
. On the contrary, we craft fiction for a powerful emotional impact. Negative messages are actually more harmful when when clothed in popular fiction, because of their intensity and reach.

The power of portrayal lies in its pervasive, persuasive impact. Children are more susceptible to harm from negative portrayals, because they are less sophisticated and more impressionable. But negative depictions harm all of us, no matter who we are or what groups we belong to. They tear at the fabric of society, and can devastate self-image.

Bottom line to creative people in all media: educate yourself, so you’re not caught unaware. Understand that you are more powerful than you may think. Respect the power of portrayals in your work.

In her quote, Sarah Kate Ellis says, "When the most repeated ending for a queer woman is violent death, producers must do better to question the reason for a character's demise and what they are really communicating to the audience."
Many thanks to GLAAD, for this quote-image from Sarah Kate Ellis.


Many thanks to The Huffington Post, which published the features that provided two of these posts. They are “18 Times Black Actors Nailed Why We Need Representation in Film,” and its sidebar slide show (scroll to the bottom), “16 Times Latinos Were Brutally Honest about Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity.”  The quote-image from Sarah Kate Ellis is courtesy of GLAAD.

Representation Matters

Owning our “own voices”

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

Who owns our voices? If you run in the circles I do, you’re aware of the “own voices” movement, which has been growing since 2015. It started in children’s books, but it’s reaching far beyond that now, because it’s a sound idea.

In simplest terms, as Blue Crow Publishing lays it out, “Own voices’ means that if you are writing a main character who is part of marginalized group, you are part of that marginalized group.

This quote from actor and activist Rosario Dawson reads, "It's extremely important for women to be writing their own stories, truly crafting those stories, writing them down, directing them and giving them to people to really emotionally become impacted by."
(image quote courtesy of a tumblr that no longer exists, via Pinterest)

It’s a simple, elegant, empowering idea

For so many, many years, marginalized voices went unheard. Drawing on Blue Crow’s explanation above, if, for example, you were a trans* person writing about a trans* main character in the past, you wouldn’t even be able to get published at all.  The gatekeepers were all white cis folk who didn’t have a clue about the issues, drama, and authentic visions of trans* persons. 

Heck, most of the traditional media still have a problem letting more marginalized voices speak up. Remember #Oscarssowhite? That was a few years ago (2015), but it seems the lessons keep on having to be re-learned.  

Sorry to all the wishful thinkers. No, we are not yet “post-racial. We have a long, long, long way to go, before we get there.

I remain convinced that until the rise of indie publishing, and the success of niche markets such as gay erotica (which doesn’t even seem so “niche” any more), we would have seen the “own voices” movement rise even more slowly.

This quote from John Leguizamo reads, "I had to [do my own projects]. It was an antidote to the system, to the Hollywouldn't-ness of it all . . .because I didn't want to be a drug dealer or a murderer for the rest of my life. That's not me, that's not my people.
(Photo from the Huffington Post)

Why are authentic “own voices” needed?

Environmental science, biology, history, business experience, and common sense all teach us the same lesson. A diverse community brings a variety of strengths to the table. More approaches. More interesting meetings of minds and cultures and perspectives. Diverse communities are stronger and more adaptable. Yet humans’ instinct for tribalism fights this truth.

Likewise, intellectual communities are more adaptable, versatile, and robust when they accept many inputs. Our own individual world-views are deepened and enhanced by knowledge of wider ranges of possibility. When we pay attention to writers who tell their own stories and speak in their own voices, our understandings expand.

I recently blogged on my publisher’s website about the book American Dirt, and the need to read works by people who really know what they’re writing about. Such accounts tend (when well-written) to be more powerful and more realistic. And interesting

This quote image from Idris Elba says, "I was busy, I was getting lots of work, but I realized I could only play so many 'best friends' or gang leaders.'  I knew I wasn't going to land a lead role.  I knew there wasn't enough imagination in the industry for me to be seen as a lead."
(Photo from the Huffington Post).


Many thanks to The Huffington Post, which published two features that provided all of these posts. They are “18 Times Black Actors Nailed Why We Need Representation in Film,” and its sidebar slide show (scroll to the bottom), “16 Times Latinos Were Brutally Honest about Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity.” 


K9 Veterans Memorial

Today is an especially fitting day to share photos of the K9 Veterans Memorial. Because today is K9 Veterans Day

Established on March 13, it’s the anniversary of the 1942 founding of the United States Army K9 Corps. If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I’ve recognized K9 Veterans Day several times.

Some background on the K9 Veterans Memorial

Here are two views of the Mark Dziewior dog sculpture at the heart of the K9 Veterans Memorial.
Views of the K9 Veterans Memorial in Fort Atkinson, WI. Mark Dziewior sculpted the bronze dog. The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson conceived of the project, conducted the fundraising drive, and installed the memorial. Photos are from Facebook.

The K9 Veterans Memorial’s centerpiece is the sculpture Unbreakable BondWisconsin animal sculptor Mark Dziewior created a touching vision in bronze.

It’s in McCoy Park in Fort Atkinson, WI. The local Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson (KCFA) takes their K9 veterans very seriously. 

An honor guard from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson attends a ceremony at the K9 Veterans Memorial on March 9, 2020.
An honor guard from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson, WI, attends a ceremony at the K9 Veterans Memorial. The photo date is March 9, 2020. (Photo from Facebook)

They not only sponsored the creation of the K9 Veterans Memorial in McCoy Park (dedicated June 25, 2017). A couple of years earlier, they spearheaded an effort to get K9 Veterans Day officially recognized in the State of Wisconsin, in 2015.

A couple of deputies pose by the K9 Veterans Memorial with their K9s.
A couple of deputies pose by the K9 Veterans Memorial with their K9s on March 12, 2019. The men are identified as ED and KC. Their dogs are Friday and Nox. (Photo from Facebook).

A day dedicated to Military Working Dogs

The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson and a lot of law enforcement handlers and K9s appeared at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015.
The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson and a lot of law enforcement handlers and K9s. They appeared at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015 to gain state recognition of K9 Veterans Day. (Photo from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson).

Don’t confuse K9 Veterans Day with National Police K9 Day. That’s celebrated on September 1, according to one of my favorite K9 charities, Vested Interest in K9s

Military Working Dogs face specific challenges and dangers that police K9s don’t. Just like human veterans, some of them retire to pursue law enforcement careers. So it’s easy for a layperson to think they’re basically the same.

And, like law enforcement K9s, today’s Military Working Dogs or MWDs are usually one of a few main breeds. It’s another reason laypersons may confuse them.

Here's another look at the K9 handlers in the Wisconsin Capitol.
Another look at the K9 handlers in the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015. They went to urge recognition of K9 Veterans Day. (Photo from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson

Typical breeds for MWDs

The brilliant SEAL Team 6 dog Cairo was a Belgian Malinois. Malinois mixes also make up a percentage of MWDs. They’re not show dogs. The armed forces don’t care about breed standards. So they sometimes create crossbreeds for specific purposes.

People know less about Dutch Shepherds, but everyone knows the versatile, ever-popular German Shepherds.

The Armed Forces also frequently use one of the retriever breeds for scent detection. Labradors are their favorites, but they also sometimes use Golden and Chesapeake.

Trained to do any of a dizzying number of tasks, MWDs’ skills range from single-purpose to a range of tasks required for Navy SEAL or CIA work.

This quote from Susan Orlean says, "Dogs are really the perfect soldiers. They are brave and smart; they can smell through walls, see in the dark, and eat Army rations without complaint."
This Susan Orlean Quote comes from GetintoPC.

How can we civilians honor and help K9 veterans?

We keep awareness alive with installations such as the K9 Veterans Memorial. They help us focus on the issues surrounding retired Military Working Dogs.

And we’ve achieved positive results. Our efforts to recognize these dogs’ gallantry, service, and often immense sacrifices already have caused changes.

The Armed Services still classify them as “equipment.” But since the year 2000 they’re no longer abandoned on the battlefield or euthanized. When they’re too old or traumatized or wounded to serve anymore we bring them home.

Civilian and handler outrage made a difference. Most MWDs are now adopted by a former handler. As I noted above, some have second careers in law enforcement.

But all too many MWDs, like all too many human soldiers, go home wounded and traumatized

This is where organizations like Mission K9 Rescue and specialized programs from groups such as American Humane can forge lifesaving links. If you’re considering donation options, why not make a donation to them?


Many thanks to AKC and Working Dog Magazine for the images used in the header composite.

Representation Matters

Who gets represented?

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

Who gets represented? In my opinion, that’s one of the most important questions any writer, visual artist, actor, or other creative individual can ask.

So who gets represented in your creative work?

Who wins the final battles? Which character earns their true love’s heart in the end? And how does that true love look? Who plays the villain’s role? Which characters die horribly and get cast into the outer darkness?

The stories we tell and the pictures we create matter. Because who gets represented is a vital question for all of us.

The quote from Amandla Stenberg reads, "Projects that feature black actors and are created by black people are so important because what we see in the media dictates how we think about the world. Representation is so important for black kids growing up."
Amandla Stenberg quote-image courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Art is essential to our understanding 

There’s an essential reason why art matters, in whatever of its many forms and media. It matters because the stories and the visuals that surround us help us define ourselves and our world

I have blogged before about art creating bridges of understanding between cultures, but it’s broader and deeper and far, far more important than simply reaching out between cultures, important as that is.

This quote from Sonia Manzano reads, "When I was a kid I didn't see any Latinas on television--not just television but in magazines, in books, in anything . . . There were no Latin people who existed in the world that I grew up in, and I wondered how I was going to contribute to a society that didn't see me. I was invisible."
Sonia Manzano quote-image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Representation is important

Representation helps people answer the question, “where do I fit in?” This is especially important for children. They understand the world in the way they see it explained to them, both verbally and visually. They respond to the representations they see.

But it really is a question for all of us throughout our lives. Just look at the assorted reactions to the recent “OK Boomer” fad. If people hadn’t cared how they were being represented, would they have reacted the same way?

Representation represents power

Now we’re getting to the base-level reason why representation is important. Why the question “Who gets represented?” is so urgent. Representation signals and is an outcome of power

The power dynamics of representation are too big and important a topic to address in the final paragraphs of this blog post, so look for more on this topic in blog posts to come!


Many thanks to The Huffington Post, which published two features that provided all of these posts. They are “18 Times Black Actors Nailed Why We Need Representation in Film,” and its sidebar slide show (scroll to the bottom), “16 Times Latinos Were Brutally Honest about Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity.” 

I also thank Green Biz for the background image of my “Representation Matters” header.

The Emergency Room at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.


Emergency Room visits are a place for story-stuff gathering. Well, urgent other things too, many of them far less fun and diverting, such as the small but painful emergency in my family tonight.

But there’s definitely all kinds of story material just lying around there (or walking through, or yelling from another room). It’s all ripe for the capturing. So many writing prompts! So little time!

It’s a violation of privacy to go see what’s really happening, but nobody’s violating any HIPAA rules if they take that simple input, and make up a story from that and imagination alone.

A crowded corridor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston looks a lot like the place where I spent a chunk of the evening. (Photo by Boston Globe/File Photo 2017).
A crowded corridor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looks a lot like the place where I spent a chunk of the evening. (Photo by Boston Globe/File Photo 2017).

Writing prompts, such as . . . ?

What’s the kid wailing about, three rooms down? You’d think they were exacting 93-and-a-half minutes of torture. How did s/he end up here?  Did somebody say something about an X-ray?

Who’s the woman who keeps patiently telling someone, “No, you can’t get out of bed. No, you can’t stand up”? To whom is she talking? What’s that person’s problem? Why does she remain so patient and kind with them? What kind of person is she, and what is their relationship?

Why were those three police officers standing huddled to one side, talking intently in low tones? Who’s in the room nearby? What brought them there?

For whom did the black priest in the clerical collar arrive? Why is the family in matching sports jerseys crying and hugging in the waiting room? And what’s with Balloon-Woman?

Story-stuff-gathering in practice

Life happens. Writers make stories out of it. 

Yes, I spent more time in the ER tonight than anybody ever wants to (unless they work there). The outcome was positive, and the problems are being dealt with. Thank God for the Emergency Room!

But the story-stuff was thick on the ground, and the story-stuff-gathering was awesome. I don’t know when or how or if these elements will show up in a future story, but they helped me deal with tonight, and I’m praying for all of the real people mentioned above (certainly including Balloon Woman).

Whenever life gets tough, I start story-stuff-gathering, and I know I’m not the only one. Because, at their heart, stories are about the tough times, the devastating events, the challenging obstacles that we don’t know how we’ll surmount–and surmounting them.

The role of Story

This quote-image from author Donna Tartt reads, "The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, int the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone."
(Title Wave for Books on Facebook)

When our protagonists find a way, they blaze a trail, sometimes. They represent. They offer hope. That’s story-making at its most archetypal, doing its work in the world.

So thank you, God, for story-stuff-gathering opportunities, even when they test and dismay us. And here’s to the hope that we story-makers may be empowered do well by our role the world.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to the Boston Globe, for the photo of the Emergency Room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with an ER corridor that looks a lot like the one where I spent most of this evening, and to Donna Tartt and TitleWave for Books on Facebook for the quote-image that has become my motto

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