George Orwell & Empathy

A timely post by


I’m familiar with George Orwell, specifically “Animal Farm,” but his 1937 book “The Road to Wigan Pier” is one that I never read. Orwell’s timing is remarkable. He writes “if war breaks out it (coal) is needed all the more. In time of revolution, the miner must go on working or the revolution must stop, for revolution as much as reaction needs coal.”


A year and a half after this book was published, WW2 began, despite some conflicts on smaller scales prior to 1939. I can only imagine from a miner’s perspective, suspecting that war was on the horizon across Europe.

Even at my strongest, when I played tennis for 5 hours a day every day in school, I know I still couldn’t be a coal miner, let alone a pregnant one. I don’t think I ever had that kind of stamina to work in a dark, dank environment, as my lungs slowly died each day.


Also a very timely post by given the controversial commentary of Mrs. Clinton on dismantling the coal industry.

word and silence

As usual, George Orwell says it better than anybody. Here he is in his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, asking his readers not to give up using coal, but just to recognize whose labor is providing them with coal. Nowadays I would only add to the coal miner all the people behind all of our conveniences; because if we aren’t willing to give some or all of the dependence and enjoyment derived from technology, infrastructure, culture, fast food, sports, and so much else, the least we can do is empathize with those behind the process who (like us) would rather spend our days doing something else.

The entire text of the book can be found here; the following comes from chapter two. And if his faith in Socialism in the second half of the book seems unfortunate nowadays, his description of coal miners and the unemployed…

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And you thought universities cost too much


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The funniest not-really-funny part of my day:

Got an email about Grace Hopper Academy, that markets itself to women of ALL economic levels who want to become web developers.

Tuition you ask? That’s the best part: Zero… they say

But there’s a 3k deposit required after acceptance and you pay tuition after your get hired as a developer – 22% of your first year’s salary paid over 9 months. Or you could pay 16k up front.

Beginning developers make between 35-45k. If your salary is 40k, you pay them $8,800. Or pay 16k up front. Either way you fork out a refundable deposit of 3k. For ONLINE EDUCATION with no teacher in front of you to ask a damned thing.

“Inclusivity and diversity matter. We want this experience to be open to women of all economic backgrounds. High upfront costs can prevent talented students from attending — it’s our hope that this payment model eliminates those financial barriers and makes this opportunity available regardless of your financial situation.” – directly from their website.

Or you could do the smart thing. Go to community college and get a certificate or associates for a third of the cost. Or use Codecademy with 2 options – free or $20/month depending on what access you want.

Most of the integrity and usefulness of sites like Grace Hopper Academy and the myriad other places that promise you a fantastic web developer education are under scrutiny, as they should be.


I can vouch personally for Codecademy. I’ve been through 2 classes with them and get exceptional help from their chat teacher when I’m stuck. It’s an easy to use platform and worth the $20/m. But I would never pay 16k for it. And neither should anyone else for unaccredited learning from fly-by-night sites.

Do your homework on any site offering web design and development education. Check reviews. High price tags are a RED FLAG and you should keep moving.


In This Dim Light

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This is an essay about my future.

In this dim light of the lamp, all I can see is a blank wall.

I smile at the blank wall. It’s a blank canvas, waiting for me to decorate with my art, my creativity, my loves and my life. That wall is my wall and it’s the first wall that I’ve ever had.

This is my first true apartment. It’s the one I’ve been waiting for for decades. I’ve been waiting but been held back by disease, illness, depression, surgery, disability, and job loss.

But here it is. It’s all mine.

I love charcoal drawing and I have one piece of a charcoal drawing that I framed when I was in school that is my true favorite. It’s of a tiger. His face is neutral but his eyes are piercing. It only took me 2 1/2 hours to make but people marvel at it.  And they marvel even more when I tell them how long it took . It’s the most beautiful thing I ever made in charcoal . I’ve been trying for years to out do myself but I haven’t yet. I‘ll get there though. It’ll have a friend. Maybe a giraffe or a kangaroo or a koala bear.

The wall to the right will have something I have a mild, okay extreme obsession with – zombies. I have The Walking Dead figurines and an artist rendition of Shaun of the Dead. I have The Walking Dead calendar and I have signed autographs by some of the actors, thanks to a coworker who gave them to me as a gift.

Yes these walls are mine. All mine. And there’s nothing and no one who can take them away from me. In this dim light,  I see brightness. I see day. I see life and hope. I see my life shining before my eyes.

A Writer’s Gotta Eat


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When I was working a collections job about 10 years ago, I remember not quite stretching my paycheck as far as I would have liked and eating spaghetti for lunch and dinner for up to a week at a time.  This was before I started writing.

And trust me when I say, I don’t miss my spaghetti days.  So I generally do office work around my writing. Today I was turned down for a great job working with disabled and injured dogs in a therapeutic setting. I would have loved it. I’m a huge dog lover.

Unfortunately they wanted someone who was a vet tech or physical therapy student but they interviewed me because I had a good resume and I was tenacious about getting an interview.

Even though it is disheartening that I didn’t get the job, I also realize it’s a good thing. I would have had to regularly lift 50 plus pound dogs and I had recent back surgery.

But it got me thinking about the kinds of jobs I want to apply for. Sure a writer has to eat but not at the cost of working in another horrid job again.

I decided to start applying for writing and editing jobs in addition to learning more about pitching to journals and magazines.  Most of my writing has been blogging and content writing and I found myself lacking confidence to branch out.

I survived back surgery. I can walk long distances again. I can go to festivals and walk for hours with little pain. This return to health has given me the confidence to branch out and take on the laborious work of pitching and applying for writing and editing work.

This writer’s gotta eat but she’ll be damned if she does it by calling people and harassing them for cash again.

Three Ways to Overcome Procrastination


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Many of us have made procrastination into an art form.

” I’ll write that article tomorrow.”

” I’ll do that outline for that novel idea I’ve had for 3 years next month.”

“I’ll fold those socks later.”

” That stack of moldy dishes can wait a few more hours.”

But us writers take the cake on the procrastination Olympics.  I came up with a novel idea about 10 months ago. I’ve got 4 pages done.  And I’m acutely aware of my procrastination problem and what it’s based on.

Mine is based on fear.  What if it sucks? What if it never gets published? Or read by anyone?   How do I make my characters interesting enough for people to keep reading?  How do I get from point a (the beginning) to point b (the conclusion)?

And then there’s the self-doubt.  I’m no Stephen King or Michael Crichton. I can’t write as well as the best writers I can think of so why try?

It’s a shame, the spiral of procrastination that takes you further away from something that could be wonderful.

So what is a writer to do to overcome procrastination?

1) Start writing.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a haiku, short story, or an article on something else you find interesting.  You just have to start.  If you’re really stuck, make it simple and write a journal entry about your day/week/month.  The point is to start somewhere.  Start anywhere. It doesn’t need to be read by anyone but you.

2) Challenge yourself.

Start with a freestyle writing session of 20 minutes.  It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t need symmetry. It doesn’t even need to be all that interesting.  Give yourself 20 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s something that happened to you recently. Maybe it’s the beginning of a short story. Maybe it’s gibberish.  It doesn’t really matter.  Write it anyway.

3) Eliminate self-doubt

Admittedly, this will be the hardest part for most of us.  Worrying if your writing is good enough will only lead you to never even start.  Writing is like any other skill you want to perfect.  It takes time, patients and practice.  Don’t give up.  Tell the thoughts in your head to take a hike if they aren’t positive and worthwhile.

Write as much as you can and as often as you can.  Take the lead over your desire to procrastinate and just start somewhere.  Who knows? It could lead to something beautiful.