How Facebook Got My Butt in Gear
Everyone talks about what a waste of time Facebook is. As a new addict, I have been sheepishly agreeing, as I consider the time I’ve spent ogling beautiful photos of New England foliage, or signing petitions about the latest political outrage.
But as I really think about it, I’m less sure it’s such a waste.
A few days ago, I came upon a wonderful clip from the movie, Girl Rising, that showed young girls getting ready to go to school all over the world. It was so uplifting, so lovely and modest, but at the same time, so important, I was in tears. I vowed to watch it every morning for a month, just to see where all that emotion could go, and how I could put it to good use.
Let’s be clear: I am a privileged middle-aged woman with an education, whose family is loving and stable, whose health is good. I am beyond fortunate, and am very grateful. So I see myself at one end of the female spectrum, being able to help women at the other end. Figuring out what form that help should take is a little more involved.
Facebook and the Internet inundate you with good causes. It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed. Or that whatever you contribute will go toward running another incendiary ad or sending you address labels as a “guilt gift” to get you to send in more money.
That is why developing a personal mission statement can be very useful. Does this sound too anal-retentive? If you write a good one, it will help you sort through requests for your time and money, work opportunities, even hobbies. You will not be forever running around willy-nilly.
That very moving one and a half minute segment of film is helping me coalesce such a statement.
Here’s the other part. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve discovered that what I really want to get done while visiting this planet is to write. Fiction, mostly. As someone raised (albeit gently) in a do-gooder family, in earnest, hippie states and cultures (Vermont in the 60’s, Berkeley in the 70’s; you’ll have to trust me regarding the former) it took me a long time to come to grips with wanting to do something so, well, frivolous.
For some reason, I always separated Service to Humanity from Art.
I know some of you will be taking to your beds with cold compresses and/or bottles of gin after discovering how truly dippy your little friend has turned out to be. I mean, really: isn’t To Kill A Mockingbird a service? Or The Grapes of Wrath? Of course they are. Perhaps, on a more subtle level, so are the Stephanie Plum murder mysteries by Janet Evanovich. But I suspect my talents and proclivities are more in the Evanovich than in the Lee or Steinbeck camps.
Funny thing is, I’m writing a novel about a woman who’s been in a mental hospital for 20 years. Because of defunding, she’s being let out and must figure out the world. The woman’s name is Maria.
My saintly readers have just given me comments to the effect that what I thought was a pretty smokin’ second or third draft, is, in fact, a terrific first draft. And part of what I now have to do is to clarify what Maria (who is all over the map about all sorts of things) wants. She is not just there to be entertaining and kooky. This last bit they were too polite to say. I discovered it all by myself.
Seeing the clip from Girl Rising reminded me to take Maria more seriously. Perhaps writing fiction and helping don’t have to be at odds.