Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Michael Vick

I’m wrestling with evil. Not literally – my soul is fine, thank you. But in my work. I find it difficult to create believable evil characters. When I try to touch evil, I fall into caricature. Ugh.

It’s only recently that I’ve recognized that my “bad guys” are lacking evil. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a person or an act evil.

Today, I’ve been listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR. The subject was Michael Vick. The guest was making a persuasive argument for Vick’s rehabilitation. But it was missing a key element in the way it defined Vick’s crimes.

I have heard people argue that men can beat their wives and girlfriends and suffer less hatred than Vick has. I have heard people, like this guest, say that murderers are more easily forgiven. I say yes to both, and I’m okay with that.

Here’s why. I am a dog lover, but I am offended when a woman is compared to a dog. No, what Michael Vick did was akin to killing a child. Dogs and children are helpless; we are their masters, their caretakers. It is particularly heinous to kill that which looks to you as God.

That is evil. I don’t know if Michael Vick is reformed or not. I cannot see into his heart. But his actions were motivated by a different kind of evil than that which propels a person to kill another person who is an equal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On Writing Like a Crab

Approaching the computer to put in some time on my fiction should get its own special on National Geographic. I feel I must look like a crab going to war - coming at the thing sideways and quickly, then stopping and posturing aggressively before settling into hand to claw combat with the keyboard. I enjoy it when I get going, and it makes me a better person. But damn, it's hard.

I am lucky to have two on-going freelance jobs right now that I love, that do some good in the world, and that almost pay the bills. So why do I keep writing fiction? I seem to only be able to snatch an hour during the week for it and a few hours on the weekends. And I feel like I am always working.

While in this doubting frame of mind, I came across a few sentences I wrote a while back on why I write. It helped me to read them:

"I’m interested in how people become who they are. How their choices and reactions to events over which they have no control affect their next choices and next reactions. How their mistakes and successes and other people’s mistakes and success form them. And if we are really trapped by our childhoods."

That doesn't sound too shabby. I better get back to it.

I think for work to work, it needs to have a purpose. Otherwise, it just feels like business. It's easy to lose sight of the purpose as we go through the motions of life.