Amend: The Fight for America

I stumbled across this docuseries on Netflix a couple of weeks ago, and I am completely enthralled by it.

The series is entertaining, shocking, enlightening and I think something everyone should watch to learn a little bit more about American history.

I liked to consider myself fairly well educated when it comes to American history – I went to a relatively good high school, took AP U.S. History in my junior year, AP U.S. Government my senior year and any other advanced courses on history I could get my hands on. I walked out of high school and into college with the belief I had a fairly good idea about America’s history.

This docuseries certainly drove home the point that our textbooks were all quite selective in what they wanted to teach us, who they wanted to focus on and just how much was omitted.

I think schools in America should include this series when teaching U.S. history. It’s a part of who we are as Americans, and we should know our own history better. I know this docuseries also must leave out a lot, but I think it is a great supplement all the same.

Another point this series drove home for me was the idea that progress is not linear. I think especially as a writer, I’m constantly being told to make progress in stories clear-cut. You shouldn’t have a person turn evil, turn good, evil, good, somewhere in between, evil and then maybe good again. It should be a clearer line of progression or you’ll lose readers to confusion.

Reality, however, is messy. I think stories should reflect that reality better, too. Textbooks should as well. It doesn’t make for a neat summation of our history, but I think it makes it a bit more accurate.

Garden dreams

I’m a huge fan of gardening, though I’m pretty bad at it. I used to be worse, though. I’m someone who has killed scores of plants labeled “easy to take care of” and “hardy.”

It wasn’t until Netflix swooped in with Monty Don that I started to understand that being a good gardener means knowing the plants you’re caring for. Before, I used to go to a nursery and be wooed by the colorful flowers or the dream of growing fruit, and I wouldn’t bother to look up whether that plant might be a good fit for my little garden area.

Thanks to Monty Don, I’m now researching plants before I buy them and trying to actually keep track of the needs of each plant I have. It’s like adopting a very easy pet (in comparison to an actual pet).

Still, I’m apparently in the midst of killing my poor blueberry bushes. They have lots of little flowers that seem to promise fruit, only to suddenly die off on me. I have no idea what the cause is. They’re getting plenty of water, the pots are just the right size for them, the soil is specific to them. No idea. But good-bye, dreams of blueberries this summer. Maybe next summer, if the bushes survive.

I’m also trying to grow mikan trees because I am surrounded by people who seem to have insanely luscious mikan trees growing almost as an afterthought in their front yards. I see trees bursting with mikans that seem wholly ignored by the owners.

I want the joy it must be to simply step outside and pick a mikan for breakfast. I’ll let you know if it ever happens.

Target audience

I think the question I hate to answer most is, “Who is this story intended for?”

People ask me that a lot when I tell them I’ve written something again. Who’s the target audience?

I hate to answer it because the truth is, the target audience was me. I wrote the story because I wanted to read it. The entire reason I ever write anything is because I want to read it afterward. I think editing my own stories and simply re-reading them is the sole reason I can endure the headache that is writing.

I wrote a love story series last year for no other reason than I wanted to read one, and I couldn’t find any that I wanted to read. I usually write fairly dark literature, so writing a love story was something of a departure for me. But I really wanted to read the idea I had in my head.

I think the idea of a target audience should be someone who picks up your story, reads the beginning and decides they want to keep reading. That’s always my target audience, anyway.

“You think of the book you’d most like to be reading, and then you sit down and shamelessly write it.”

J.D. Salinger