The Great Mask Debate

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing? Last week, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I hadn’t seen her in over a year and I needed a prescription (she doesn’t do televisits). I wore a mask that Dad had custom-made to work with my ventilator, plus I wore a face guard for extra protection. I looked pretty stupid, but that’s better than getting Covid. Anyway, as many of you know, I’m in Texas. It’s a hotbed for the virus right now, but a good chunk of people are still making a fuss about wearing masks. So, I thought I would take the time to articulate my thoughts on some of the most common arguments against masks that I hear.

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At least my Cowboy Bebop shirt is cool.

1. “Being forced to wear a mask infringes on my civil liberties!”
Two questions: a) What are “civil liberties?” and b) Exactly which liberties do masks infringe upon? Let’s start with question a. Civil liberties are individual rights that protect us from tyranny and laws that are not created for the good of the community as a whole. In other words, your civil liberties are stuff like the freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, freedom of the press, the right to vote, etc. Mask laws are for the good of the community as a whole and don’t stop people from saying whatever they want or anything else like that. So, question b is a trick question because masks don’t affect your civil liberties at all. That argument only makes you sound like an uneducated sheep who heard someone else say it and thought it sounded legit. It’s not.

2. “Young, healthy people aren’t killed by Covid, so they don’t need to wear masks.”
First off, that information is false. Young and healthy people are dying from it too. But the biggest issue with that statement is the fact that masks are not meant to protect the wearer. They’re more effective at keeping the wearer from unknowingly spreading the disease (any similarly transmitted disease, not just Covid). Basically, it’s a matter of protecting the people around you at the expense of your own comfort.

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3. “Masks are hot and uncomfortable, so I don’t wanna wear one.”
I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about clothes, but we still have to wear those in public. But this selfish argument stems from the fact that America is an individual-centric society instead of a community-centric one. Many of us are raised to put our own needs and desires above everyone else’s. So, the thought process of “I’ll endure some mild discomfort to protect my fellow citizens” is literally a foreign concept to many Americans. It’s not an excuse, but apparently it’s a hard habit to break. Add it to the misinformation from the above argument and the selfishness just gets worse and worse.

4. “There’s so much conflicting data.”
Is there, though? I mean, are you actually approaching this topic from a research perspective or are you just looking for “studies” that confirm your bias? Are you looking at peer-reviewed articles and studies with appropriate sample sizes? Let’s say you’re writing a research paper and you require ten sources… are you sifting through (and ignoring) hundreds of studies that don’t support your hypothesis just to find ten that vaguely support your hypothesis? Have these studies been replicated with similar findings? Or are you just spouting “data” you saw on some Joe Schmoe’s website? The data in favor of masks is pretty overwhelming if you look at legitimate studies. Stop being willfully ignorant.

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5. “Covid is a hoax and masks are the Lefties newest way of trying to control us through the government!”
I see you want to go full conspiracy theorist on me. Challenge accepted. So, the government is using masks to control you? They give you your own personal identification number at birth and track it until the day you die. They make you register every major purchase you make (homes, vehicles, etc). They allow tech companies to install bugs in our homes and vehicles to track our every movement and purchase preferences (because every smart device we own is listening to us). But, yeah. Masks are how they’re controlling us! It has nothing to do with the fact that they want to keep us divided about every little thing to distract us from how inept all of them are at actually running a country. The conspiracy theorist in me wouldn’t be surprised at all if the conflicting reports on the effectiveness of masks were all funded by the government just to sow dissent among us. But instead of erring on the side of caution and wearing your masks while you take a good hard look at how poorly the government is actually handling everything, you’d rather throw hissy fits in Costco. Congrats on being a pawn of the government! /end conspiracy theorist mode

There are other arguments I could address, but writing this post gave me a headache, so I’m going to stop and do something happy for a bit. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages. Disclaimer: arguments based around facts are completely acceptable even if they get a little heated, but if it devolves into name calling and rudeness, I will intervene.

Always Changing

Hello, hello!  As I mentioned in last week’s post, I was planning on starting a new novel in order to respark my writing passion.  I started it on Saturday and have worked on it regularly since then.  I admit that I’m still not up to my usual word count per day yet, but whenever I open the file, I’m filled with the desire to move forward instead of dread.  That’s a win!  But, as I noticed with my last novel attempt, this novel has its own flow and wants to create its own routine.  I don’t remember having to adapt to new writing habits with every new short story I wrote, but apparently novels are different beasts entirely and each one is going to require special treatment.  Today, I wanted to ramble a bit about how my routine has changed with this novel compared to the other two of which I have (at least) completed first drafts.

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When you sit down to start a new novel and everything is perfect, then the novel decides your previous routine isn’t good enough…

My first novel was written completely in pantser mode.  Music from my iTunes (which basically runs the gamut of styles) played in the background for almost every writing session.  When I hit snags, I usually figured everything out after random bursts of subconscious ideas.  And in the end, the first draft was an unreadable mess that took another year or longer to clean up.  It was fun.  It was hard.  It was draining.  But I got it done with plenty of help from my Stonecoast mentors and compadres.  Honestly, if I hadn’t had help and people telling me that I had to finish it, I don’t think I would’ve been able to keep going.

The second novel that I actually finished (I started one between them, but got stuck halfway through because I stepped too far outside of my comfort zone), was wildly different.  I had the first half plotted out and knew where it would end, but switched to pantser mode to connect the beginning and end.  It was written mostly in silence because music distracted me.  When I got stuck, I’d actively plot things out in my head, but rarely thought about it otherwise unless I was working on it.  I wrote it in about seven months, a record for me, with little help.  Only a handful of people have actually seen any of it.  But when I read it to start revisions, I was surprised that it made sense and flowed as well as it does.  It still needs a lot of work, but I’m happy with how it turned out with that routine.

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When you’re down and don’t want to do anything, but the new novel idea won’t leave you alone.

Again, I started and stopped a novel before deciding to switch to my novel-in-progress.  I was in a position where I didn’t want to write anything when this idea started pestering me.  I’ve got the major plot points figured out and there hasn’t been a night that’s passed by without me laying awake in bed plotting out the next scene.  It’s a little scary to think I might be turning into a plotter on this one.  I’ve tried writing with iTunes and in silence, but neither feels quite right, so I’m going to try my CDs (my teenage anthems sprinkled with some more recent music) next.  I’ve also had the urge to find reference pictures for my characters, which is something completely new for me.  I never needed pictures of my characters before, so part of me thinks I’m just looking for excuses to feed my need for eye candy, but I’m going with the flow and looking for some.  Granted, this is just the beginning of the process.  I might revert to pantser mode later on.  But the new process feels right so far.

Hiro from Nocturnal Bloodlust is basically Jyou (one of my protagonists).

Maybe I’ve just been refining my technique with each new novel or maybe my routine really will have to change with each new novel.  Either way, I’m just happy to be enjoying writing again.  It’s been a while since I could say that.  What about you?  Do you notice changes in your writing routine between each novel/story?  Or have you found something that works consistently for you?  Share your thoughts, comments, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!