Monday, January 28, 2013

Rhymes with D'oh Llama


This is me.



A dear aunt of mine recently called me "meek and mild."  I kind of laughed, because that's definitely not how I see myself.  Some time later, I asked my brother if the description fit and he said, "Yeah, that sounds about right.  Except when you get all opinionated about stuff, like politics."

Anybody who follows my twitter feed knows that asides from Chop't salad, cats, cephalopods, Pride and Prejudice, Coke Slurpees, and writing, the big love of my life is politics.  So in September, I showed up like a stray cat on the doorstep of a local campaign office and
This is me on politics.
unlike a stray cat, asked to be put to work.

I believe I said something along the lines of, "People are scary!  I spend my days living in a cave, throwing rocks at passerbys.  Can I do data entry?"  And the very kind lady who greeted me at the door responded, "What luck!  We have a Data Coordinator who thinks people are scary too, and she desperately needs someone to help her with her work.  Please, come in and have a bagel."

The kind lady introduced me to the Data Coordinator and we immediately hit it off, bonding over our mutual dislike of human interaction and discussing the best strategy for rock-throwing.  After finding out I had volunteered for this certain campaign in 2008 and that I was familiar with this certain campaign's software, she asked if I wanted to be a Data Coordinator too.  I said 'yes!' without hesitation, because I am an idiot.

The next two months went by in a blur of call sheets, Google docs, caffeine, and bagels.  We were simply one tiny cog in a very large caffeinated and bagel-fed machine.  I would walk into the 'campaign office,' no more than a borrowed conference room in somebody's engineering firm, and find rows upon rows of volunteers squeezed around tables, calling people, urging them to vote and maybe, just maybe, pretty please, vote for our guy.  Or if nothing else, to not yell at us while voting for the other guy.

We got yelled at a lot.

I met some extraordinary people, because no matter whose side you're on, campaign volunteers are some of the most crazy, talented, hard-working people out there.  Many of us were involved in animal rescue, others did Christian ministry and charity work, all while holding down a job or two and taking care of families or running businesses.  And we all looked out for one another.  I remember once, when it was dark, I had forgotten something in my car and dashed out to get it.  When I turned around, two volunteers were standing by the door, making sure nothing happened to me in the poorly lit parking lot.

For the first time in years, I took a break from writing.  It killed me to do that, absolutely killed me, but I figured two months without writing was worth it for four years of having my guy in the White House.   

Besides, in a strange way, working on a campaign is a lot like writing a book.  If you've ever worked for a campaign before, and I highly recommend that you try it at least once, it's an incredibly frustrating experience sometimes.  You can spend hours making calls and if you're lucky, flip one or two voters.  You spend a lot of time wondering if you're really making a difference, if you'll ever see a payoff for all the work you're doing. 

Writing is like that too.  You can spend hours working on a single paragraph, feeling like there's no way you'll ever get the book done, much less find an agent and get published.  But even if you can't see it right away, all those hours of hard work add up.  They build into something powerful.              

That's what I've been up to while away from the blog.  I spent most of November recovering from the election, then in December, returned to my beloved writing and dove head first (more like belly flopped) into my WIP, Beautiful Medusa.  More on that in another post!   

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