On Writing in 2018 – AKA If 14 Million People Have Read The Grapes of Wrath, and the World is Still this Fucked, What am I Doing?

An old man is sitting with a large book from which he reads with a younger manEvery day I read the news and I cry and I think about John Steinbeck.

I read The Grapes of Wrath a few years ago, and it changed me. It was funny and beautiful and engaging, and it made me want to be a better person. I thought, yes, finally a book that inspires while still using language in a beautiful and engaging way. I read The Grapes of Wrath, and I said THIS is the kind of book I want to write.

And then 2016 happened. And 2017. And 2018.

As the news got worse and worse, I held onto The Grapes of Wrath. I told myself, if I can just write something like this, something beautiful and smart and funny that reminds people that we’re all just people and we have to take care of each other, then maybe I could make a difference. I thought maybe I could put some compassion, patience and understanding where there’s been so much divisiveness and radicalism.

Maybe I was naive. Maybe I was trying to delude myself into thinking I was making a difference in a shitstorm of events that seemed so wholly outside my control, but eventually I realized something: The Grapes of Wrath has sold over 14 million copies. If 14 million people have read The Grapes of Wrath, and the world is still this fucked, then what am I doing?

A fight with birds

There were some tough times ahead. I spent two weeks joylessly working on stories about hope and compassion and understanding while wrestling with the conviction that nothing mattered and there was no reason to work so hard on something so futile. Yet for some reason, I was still writing.

I kept going back to my pal Steinbeck and his 14 million readers. I kept thinking about the way I saw the world after reading The Grapes of Wrath, how every person seemed more precious, and how the struggles of the people around me seemed to matter so much more.

There was no denying that reading The Grapes of Wrath sparked something in me and made me want to be better, and obviously I wasn’t the only one.

I started thinking about these little lines of hope and compassion that writers and artists and people who donate to charities and smile at strangers and volunteer at soup kitchens put into the world. I started thinking about these tiny matchsticks of optimism stacked against a raging flood of indifference and anger and divisiveness. I started thinking that maybe it wasn’t that 14 million people reading The Grapes of Wrath hadn’t done anything, it was just that there was so much to be done.

It’s easy to see what the world looks like now. It’s easy to see that it’s fucked up and scary and bad for just about everyone despite the millions of people earnestly trying to care for one another and act with compassion and understanding. What’s harder is to imagine what the world would look like if we didn’t have those millions of earnest people trying their best.

It’s not that these hopeful words and actions don’t work. It’s just harder to see the work that they do.

As a millennial, I’m used to sending a message and getting a response instantly, ordering something online and it arriving at my door in a day or two, but I am trying to be patient.

Well of BolonchenI am tired, but I am trying to keep going. I am writing to my members of parliament and volunteering at bake sales and continuing to write stories that are hopeful and funny and compassionate. I am writing stories to tell people they are not alone and they matter and we are better when we are together.

It’s not easy, but I think it’ll help. I think if it’s my matchstick, stacked with your matchstick and your neighbor’s and your friend’s then maybe we can build something.

It’s okay if you’re tired, if you need some time to regroup and care for yourself, but when you’re ready, come back. We’ll be here, and we’ll start building again.

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Life Hack – Sleeping and Why You’re Doing it Wrong

You’ve been sleeping like this:

When you should be sleeping like this:

Scientists have studied the benefits of Reverse Sleep Therapy (RST) or “upside-down sleeping” for tens of years, and the results are staggering. RST improves your physical, financial and mental health, FTW!

Benefit One: A Deeper Sleep, Naturally

Instead of wasting money on harmful chemicals and pills to help you sleep, RST is a natural sleep-aid. If you use a thick blanket over your face, the built-up carbon-dioxide will lull you into a peaceful slumber, naturally.

Benefit Two: Save Money

It’s a well-known fact that humans lose forty-percent of their body heat through their heads. Sleeping with your head covered prevents more of that precious heat from escaping allowing you to save money on your heating bills and use a smaller blanket. Smaller blanket – Smaller price tag.

Benefit Three: Improves Circulation

Elevating your feet on your pillow allows for the blood to flow faster toward your vital organs, giving your heart the time it needs to rest and regenerate after a hard day’s pumping.

Benefit Four: Improves Cognitive Ability

When your feet are on your pillow, not only will your vital organs get more blood, so will your brain – the most vital organ of all! More blood to your brain means more brain-power to process the information you gained throughout the day. This leads to greater knowledge-retention as well as more-vivid dreams.

So the next time you’re tucking yourself in for a good night’s sleep, try tucking in the RST way for good health lasting a lifetime.

11 Signs You Spend Too Much Time on the Internet

1. You’re reading this list.
2. After seeing point one and establishing the author was going to chastise you through all eleven points, you’ve decided to continue reading anyway.
3. You’ve moved onto point three just in case the first two points were a lie.
4. I had oatmeal for breakfast.
5. Yesterday I had peanut butter toast and a banana for breakfast.
6. After starting to read a possibly humorous list about spending too much time on the internet, you’ve found yourself amid a banal catalog of what the author had for breakfast, and yet you’re still reading.
7. The day before yesterday I was at my parent’s house and we had eggs!
8. You’re still reading.
9. You’re still reading.
10. You read point number nine even thought at a glance, it was clearly the same as point number eight.
11. You read this entire list. Time to check your facebook, check the weather and refresh twitter.