The Shadow of a World


I’ve been querying agents the past week.

I feel pretty good that I measured up to their guidelines and specifications. I worked hard to do so. Now it’s the waiting game to see if my manuscript measures up as well.

So, I’m back to writing short stories. One month to go, and the day job begins.

The biggest obstacle I face as a writer isn’t writer’s block. Or distractions like social media. Or even insecurity and fear. It’s the feeling of indulgence.

Just sitting around writing while the world burns. Or melts. And toxifies. Beautiful, lovely, diverse species are going extinct by the minute, and I’m here printing out reams of paper in the same minute.

I try to write stories with a message; horror in which the natural world has agency; can fight back against people.  Such as Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris bring up in their “Rogue Characters” blog post from yesterday.

But they’re just stories. Do they change anything?

I try to tell myself that I’m doing everything I can to minimize the space I take up on the planet, like recycling (Well, recycling properly now, anyway, thanks to this tweet.)

I’ve been vegetarian since 1992. I’m trying (or, continuing to fail at) becoming vegan. But I have plenty of replacement options, courtesy of PETA’s vegan kit, as well as blog posts like this.

But it still haunts me. So many animals and plants and everything else giving way to humans on this planet. And, while I’m staring at my blank piece of paper that a tree gave up its life for so that I can write another story, my mind wanders into some dark places.

How is that we humans have practically zero restrictions on reproduction? People out there even having twenty or more kids in one family unit. But the alternative is just as terrible and unconscionable, as history has shown us: extermination,  concentration camps, forced sterilization, tracts on/beliefs in eugenics. But, still, over seven billion people on the planet? When is enough going to be enough? And there’s people out there debating a women’s right to choose? Seriously? I chose. I chose not to bring children into the world. Chose not to add to the human population. But every day; at work, running errands, I get asked “Do you have kids?” and it’s like the end of the world, the end of my existence and worth when I say no. Which is completely illogical, because the world is, maybe not ending, but is certainly being destroyed at a speed-of-light pace.

I was thinking how strange it was that humans have free will to reproduce as much as they want, but, in addition to the number of species going extinct (I found it interesting, and appropriately chilling, how Joseph Nebus incorporated the subject into his blog post, today.), animals we consider as our live-in companions–pets, essentially–face euthanasia in shelters because of overpopulation. And that’s the humane alternative because people can’t be bothered to spay or neuter their pets, or want some mythical perfect breed pet created in a puppy mill instead of adopting a shelter animal awaiting its forever home. And let’s not talk about that when they get sick of having that trendy animal around and dump it either on the street or to that same shelter environment. It beats being neglected, abandoned, starved to death, abused and a million other ways humans treat our domesticated animal companions.

I know what goes on in shelters. I’ve worked in them for years, and as an animal rescue volunteer. I’ve been on cases involving hoarders. Seen a dog kept on a tiny apartment porch crammed with trash and nothing but a plastic tub filled with slimy green water to drink. Gone into the shelter to take the animals to the adoption site while your heart breaks when nobody wants the sweetest dog, cat, rabbit, etc. times six million that ever lived. But that’s nothing to how it feels when you go into the shelter and that animal you’ve tried so hard to get adopted lost its last chance at a forever home just the day before.

And I’m not criticizing the animal shelters out there, by any means. They are just trying to make the best of a no-win situation brought about by the large numbers of irresponsible and thoughtless pet owners.

A fellow horror writer I follow on Twitter had this to say:

I’m gutted. It’s personal for me. I’ve been there, on the animal rescue front. But, sometimes it doesn’t always end badly. Like the day I was walking into the shelter and saw someone dump a cardboard box at the end of the sidewalk. I tend to be curious, so I went over to the box. It was all taped up. And then a tiny cat paw stuck out of one of the holes I now noticed were punched into the side of the box. Florida, in July, and those kittens wouldn’t have lasted very long out there in the hot sun. But they survived because I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Which is why I’m so, so glad there’s still people out there like Ben Fitts that are trying to make a difference. Working for organizations like the ASPCA.

It makes the real world a little less horrific.


31 thoughts on “The Shadow of a World

  1. When you actually stop and think about it, it is overwhelming– and all the little things we do seem so insignificant, yet, they are important and we must keep doing them because it comes from a place of caring and compassion.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m vegan and very worry about environment, it’s ver very difficult at same time to eat healthy vegan and local products, find no pastic products , not use too many paper, use ecological products ( lot of are in plastic bottle ) and keep some money and time. It s a every day fight

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah 🙂 problem here it s for go on local farmers’market you have to take the car and at least they aren’t very low cost neither because lot of people prefer go to super market 😦 But we have a supermarket which have a special section which fresh local products and another section with bulk food ( cereals, rice, pasta but also nuts seeds etc )

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I had 13 animals in the past. Now, I’m the caretaker for two feral TNR kitties that had showed up on my doorstep. And a calico that most likely was abused and which I’ve been socializing (not feral just has some issues).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. She was already about 10 years old when I adopted her; I chose an older cat, as I knew most people preferred kittens. Her last few years were spent in a loving home.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Firstly, thank you for the link back on the vegan post. I’m pleased you found it useful. Secondly, YES writing matters, whether it’s short stories or otherwise. You know why? Because people need escape from the horrors of this world, some of which you touched on in your blog post here. Reading is maybe the best escape out there! Leave this world and enter a new one via the author’s mind. Don’t ever feel you’re not making a difference. Plus, it’s possible to share many important messages through a fictional voice, sharing lessons that matter with readers in a subtle way. HUGS.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was thinking something along the same lines only yesterday as I passed yet another farmer’s field being dug up for yet another subdivision. All we can do is our own good works and try to be the best people we can be, so keep rescuing kittens and writing good things!

    Liked by 1 person

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