Duggar Disaster, Part II

This is somewhat of a follow-up to this post. By now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the latest Duggar scandal (and I suspect there will be more to come), in which Josh Duggar (oldest son of the brood) admitted that he was addicted to pornography after he was found to have used an Ashley Madison account to cheat on his wife.

Honestly, I can’t tell you what I think Anna (the wife) should do. I can’t tell you that girls should be raised to breathe fire. Come on, people. It doesn’t matter how much fire you breathe. If someone’s a dirtbag, they’re going to be a dirtbag regardless of what you say or do. If she divorces him (highly doubtful), he’ll continue to be a dirtbag, and if she stays with him and offers love and forgiveness, he’ll continue to be a dirtbag.

My theory about Josh is that he chafed against his parents’ restrictions and rules, but instead of rebelling outwardly (you really can’t rebel in a Fundamentalist Christian household, apparently), he internalized his rebellion until he became an adult and separated from his parents upon marrying Anna. Instead of gaining a little freedom from restrictions and responsibilities, he became saddled with four young children in quick succession, so he was once again in the same position he had been in at home: the leader, the oldest, the responsible person. It’s a lot of pressure.

In keeping with his parents’ values (but apparently not his own), he started working for the Family Research Council in Washington, DC, a conservative pro-life and pro-marriage lobbying organization. From what I hear, the District of Columbia is not a nice place, what with all the politicians and other venomous creatures. What a change from life in rural Arkansas. So it’s really no wonder that he started to lead a double life in which he felt as though he could explore other options beyond what he had always been taught.

I don’t expect that things will get better for Josh in “rehab.” If anything, being beaten over the head with Bible verses might cause greater confusion; it seems as though a life steeped in religion was what he had been trying to escape by creating his illicit online accounts. The issues run deep, possibly too deep to be fixed. Maybe Josh isn’t a certified, grade-A dirtbag, but he certainly needs help; probably more help than he can get from another Bible-based rehab that only echoes his parents’ teachings.


The Definition of Insanity

This is one of my favorite quotes (attributed to Albert Einstein, but for all I know, it was originally said by some ancient Greek philosopher):

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Sometimes I feel that I am insane when it comes to writing. If something isn’t working, I rewrite the draft. Then I usually find that something else isn’t working, and I rewrite again. So I go through cycles of rewriting over and over, which leads me to believe that I am not making any progress. My fellow blogger Emily describes this feeling very well in her post here. You eventually hit a wall, then lie down exhausted because you keep hitting the same wall. I go through a phase basically every other week in which I feel as though I should give up writing completely and find a new hobby.

Then I have to think back to where the stories were before I rewrote them and rewrote them and rewrote them, and I try to turn my thoughts around. I remember that with each rewrite, the stories are getting better and closer to how I envisioned them. The first draft of STEPHEN that I wrote back in 2006/2007 is not at all the same story that I’m working on today. I know my characters, and I know where I’m going with the story with much more certainty. XIII is millions of times better than the stacks of handwritten notes that it used to be back in 2004 and thousands of times better than the dreadful chapters I used to post to FictionPress back in 2008/2009.

I also try to remember that writing is like every other element of life (relationships, work, etc.) in that there are naturally good and bad times. It’s not realistic to expect it to go well all the time. So it might not feel like I’m getting anywhere, especially when I imagine the whole scenario from the eyes of an outsider who might be wondering, “She’s still not published yet? She’s still wasting her time on that same story?”

Maybe being a writer is all about being insane. Makes sense, ’cause people have been calling me crazy since I was in elementary school, but of all the types of crazy there are in the world, I prefer my version. :)

Short, Sweet Synopsis

One of the biggest struggles I have (totally a first-world problem) is trying to sum up my unpublished novels in a short, sweet synopsis that will draw the reader in and make him or her want to read the whole book.

Writing advice/how-to books will tell you to look for examples of TV show and movie descriptions on Netflix and the back cover blurbs of popular books in your genre. These can help you build a short, professional-sounding pitch.

BookPage can also help. It’s a free (yay, free stuff!) magazine distributed by the local library that features reviews and descriptions of new and forthcoming books. (The online version is here.) Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast was described with this simple sentence:

When a 9-year-old boy known for crying wolf disappears, the villagers of Three Pines are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

You can tell a lot about the story from reading this: you know the characters, the setting, and the conflict. You can guess at the genre (possibly suspense or mystery based on a fable, which could include some fantasy or supernatural elements). It’s just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity. I kinda want to read this book if the library purchases it.

Crafting the perfect synopsis is a kind of art, not unlike writing a haiku. Thankfully, there are tons of examples out there to guide you.