Tag Archives: survival

Soft… with Potential

DSCN0596Over a period of six weeks, I watched “The Island,” a survivor-style show hosted by Bear Grylls. It’s always fun to read the comments section of sites like Hulu.com for the array of snark, humor, and armchair analysis. One recurring complaint was that the show had some scripted material. Also, I couldn’t help but agree with some viewers’ remarks that the men seemed somewhat unprepared, while others commented that the participants seemed downright soft. The purpose of being going to the deserted island was for the men to test their capabilities when cut off from the modern essentials, reaching deep for a different type of hunter-gatherer roots than what is used in the bustle of modern society.

Unlike some Hulu commenters, I have a hard time pointing out someone else’s pillowiness when I have become quite soft myself. Last week I suffered a slight meltdown when my internet and phone service went down for a few hours, interfering with my ability to work. Then—same day—the water pressure pump went, and I had no running water until the following day. By that point, I had regained phone service, experienced one last hiccup with the internet, and still had electricity, so the “hardship” was minimal. And while I was inconvenienced, the time frame was less than 24 hours of hassle. Luckily, I didn’t have to search an island for a fresh water source or boil my water to kill pathogens.

It’s part of that modern society handshake deal I recently touched on. But while I wrestled with the autopilot habits we’re accustomed to, such as flushing the toilet and turning on the faucet to wash my hands, I also found that my brain was already thinking of means for adapting to the situation. For example, running a dehumidifier fills the reservoir with the water pulled from the air. Voilà: a source of water to fill the toilet tank after lifting the interior apparatus just enough for a manual flush.

So, deep beneath my civilized layer I’m soft-with-potential when it comes to adapting. A little toughening is a current pet project—no deserted island required.

I’ll be co-presenting a workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writers Institute Conference on Saturday, August 8th. Here are details for the MAWFI Conference:

Website: www.mafwi.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mafwihcc

Twitter: @mafwihcc

 

Nature Disconnect and the Handshake Deal

urban woods By choosing to live in an urban area, I am disconnected from nature. Often achingly so. While I can step outside into my yard and enjoy the benefit of grass, trees, flowers, the calls and songs of birds, and a view of the sky overhead, it’s only a stop-gap connection. I can still see, hear, and smell civilization. So, I must actively seek opportunities to get into a deeper natural place, and if I don’t have time to travel far, it can be a Soviet era-style selection for suitable local areas.

While I make the effort to get out, I know not everyone has an interest. And, some people are not just disconnected—they never had a connection to start. This was demonstrated once when I met up with a buddy for a little day hike. The particular urban oasis we chose was a forty-five minute drive. My buddy had apparently invited along a friend and the friend’s pre-teen daughter. The more the merrier, so it’s said. But it didn’t turn out to be very merry. The friend showed up wearing jeans on a hot day, carrying a big purse on her shoulder with intent to take it with her on the trail.

But children can be just as disconnected as adults. We’d hardly sallied forth before the young girl began dragging her feet and then altogether stopping, saying she didn’t feel well and looking about as miserable as a preteen can look when forced to do something in which they have no interest. The mother convinced her repeatedly to keep going but at a certain point, said she’d have to take her back to the car. (Unfortunately, they’d carpooled with my friend). We weren’t that far in, and I knew somewhere ahead the trail looped back so that they could reach the start point with relative ease. A couple of times I said I was pretty sure we were close, but it had been a while since I’d been to that particular park. The woman, who I had only just met, snapped at me, “Well don’t get us lost!”

I didn’t snap back that I hadn’t signed up to be a trail guide because I could hear the panic in her voice. I also didn’t point out that it’s hard to get lost in the woods when in certain spots you could hear—and see—the traffic from the road as well as homes dotting the way, visible through the trees. It’s not anywhere close to being desolate, but to this woman, we may as well have gone past the point of no return. It made me think about the handshake deal we in urban landscapes make, where we give up some degree of independence and form an interdependence for our survival. We also give up a feeling of comfort in what is our natural world. When an urban oasis is considered daunting, I would hate to see what would happen if society ever collapsed. People do adapt. Or, they don’t.

I’ll be talking, along with my writing partner, Sandra R. Campbell, about another form of survival: collaborative writing! We are presenting a workshop at Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writers Institute on Saturday, August 8th. If interested, here are the details:

Website: www.mafwi.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mafwihcc

Twitter: @mafwihcc

WIP Blog Tour

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Naomi is a fictional character going through the motions of living her life, when the collective life everyone has known disappears over the course of a few days.

2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in present day during the last days of summer on the eve of a deadly hurricane and what appears to be a multi-pronged terrorist strike. It takes place mostly in the Annapolis region and shows how people respond to something catastrophic that the vast majority are not prepared for—being self-sufficient.

3) What should we know about him/her?
Naomi Chassen has modern-day anxieties that stem from work and relationships. When she finally has all the reason in the world to be anxious, she actually finds her strength—as the worst is happening and she’s dealing with it, learning to think quickly and react rather than wasting time overly worrying about all potential outcomes.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The main conflict is at first Man versus Nature, and then Man against Man in an apocalyptic setting, with people making decisions on how to handle survival: work together as a collective or find a way to profit from the situation. In particular, one person is hell-bent on stymying the town’s efforts to hold things together—targeting Naomi.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Naomi’s personal goal is to survive and try to help others do the same, especially a little boy—a stranger’s child—who has come under her care due to a need she sees and steps up to handle, while balancing the creation of an interdependent unit with her friend and her boyfriend as they strive to manage being blockaded in their area, unable to escape, the effects of a biological attack heading their way and civic order beginning to break down. The situation becomes dire as a mentally unbalanced man fixates on Naomi and begins to blame her for his own situation.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The title is Edge of Undoing, and I blog about related topics HERE.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
The novel is moving into the revision stage, so 2015 is the goal for publication.