Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Back to the, Umm, Present, Mostly

No sepia photos tonight. I will just tell you that most of the photos from the last couple of nights are less than a year old. The pictures of the train, the school and the hanging were all taken at Old Tucson on 3/20/05, using my then-new Canon Powershot S410. I was there with my dad, a.k.a. Old Man Funk in that one train shot. I photographed the bathing suit ad and the apothecary window at Trail Dust Town about a week before that. The Tombstone ones were actual black and white photos, taken around 1986 or 1987, I'm guessing. Neither of my cheap/free photo editing programs have a sepia setting, so I converted the color shots to grayscale in one program, and then used color sliders in the other program to fake the sepia tone as best I could. Then I used the first program to add fake film grain, but I'm not sure it was noticeable.

So. Anyway.

I've finished the edit on the synopsis, and I'm starting on the edit of the query. I have a 2004 version that I'll try working with first, but I reserve the right to start over from scratch. The 2004 document is a page and a half long, goes into too much detail about the second novel, and is directed at a specific editor. I think it needs to be mostly about Heirs, mention Mages just in passing, and be kept down to a page if possible. Plus I need to research whether my first submissions will be queries or cover letters, and where the heck I'm sending them. The research part will be fun, I think, but the submission part will be kind of hard for me. Still, I feel good about the synopsis. If the query / cover letter is as satisfactory, I will be the most optimistic about the submission process that I've ever been.

The year is "closed" at work - well, the part of it that needed to be closed this week, anyway. I got through what I had to do in time, so my stress level is down a bit.

Except...

I hurt someone's feelings last week, and it's still bugging me. The other person didn't say anything, and I got all freaked out anyway. Weird, huh?


See, I overanalyze everything, and overexplain everything, and being insecure, sometimes I let myself come to wrong conclusions.

I tried to explain this after church to some friends. The conversation went something like this:

Friend #1: "Is something the matter? You seem pensive.
Me: "I was just thinking about my faults."
Friend #1: "Oh, that sounds juicy. Tell us what specifically you think your faults are--"
Friend #2: "--So we can deny that you have them and reassure you."

So I told them about this overanalyzing thing, how I overthink stuff and it gets me in trouble sometimes. And no, they didn't tell me I was wrong in thinking that I'd messed up.

"Sometimes I shouldn't say words." - Xander Harris, BtVS

Yes, I know I'm being all cryptic here. Again. But here's the thing about this, the part that makes it universal, so that it doesn't matter whether you know what I said or didn't say to whom and why.

There is apparently no way to guarantee that you'll never hurt someone's feelings without meaning to, or to guarantee that you won't be similarly hurt. At different times I've been both X and Y in most of the following scenarios:
  • If Person X tells person Y exactly what he thinks about something, there's a chance that person Y will be hurt by the truth. If Person X goes on and on, explaining it all to justify his point of view and make sure Y understands, the very doggedness of the exchange can make things worse. And if X is saying something positive, Y may simply not believe it.
  • If Person X tries to say what he thinks and Person Y misunderstands it, Y will probably interpret the words in the worst possible way, and get angry or sad or crushed or frustrated, or all of the above. I've seen that happen a number of times, friendships destroyed and clubs split in two because the same words mean one thing to X and another to Y.
  • If Person X lies to Y, Y will be upset when he or she learns the truth - either immediately or later on.
  • If Person X doesn't say anything, Person Y can imagine all sorts of reasons for the noncommunication, and put the worst possible spin on the situation. After all, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." So not saying anything could mean that the other person's alternative would have been to be "not nice!"
You see? Person X can't win! Human nature being what it is, every attempt at communication - or even non-communication - between two reasonable, intelligent people who like each other, has a reasonably large chance of ending in tears.
To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
Douglas Adams , The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
I was thinking about this again today, partly because a woman was on NPR at lunchtime, promoting a book she wrote after going undercover as a man for research purposes. One of the points she made was that men and women have vastly different norms for style, purpose, and depth of communication. She said (among other things) that women often assume the man doesn't want to communicate, and get angry, when that's not it at all. Often the man is just not adept at communicating in the expansive, touchy-feely way that the woman wants. That's not the man's normal idiom. "Suck it up and keep your mouth shut" is how men are generally socialized to behave.

Tyler Durden: The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is - you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. - Fight Club (1999)

Now, I tend to run screaming from any generalization, including this one. Not all women go on endlessly about their feelings, and not all men are incapable of expressing them. But even when the gender gap isn't in effect, there's no guarantee that any two people will stay on the same page. We're all too different from each other to have all the same reactions to all the same words and situations. And really, how much fun would that be, to all be the same? Plus any given person on any given day may react outside his or her normal parameters, because of being tired or distracted or depressed or angry or excited or elated or...well, due to any state of mind you can possibly name.

So how do we cope? I guess we just do our best, that's all. We try to get to know the other person well enough to guess how to avoid stepping on verbal land mines, and to trust the person not to have meant that particular utterance to be as terrible as it sounded. We have to cut each other some slack. And when we mess up, as we inevitably will, we have to try to learn from what happened, and repair bridges if we can, instead of burning them.

"Apologize when necessary." - Grunthos the Flatulant, poetry text in
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (tv series)


I'm sorry.

Karen

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Hi.

This is a very good entry and I just wanted to make sure you knew that I read it. That's all.

Becky said...

Maybe it's my head cold...but I think the last line (before "Karen") says it all. Those three simple words (or one contraction and a word) can fix a world of ills. :-)