New Beginnings

One of the truths in life is that we learn more about ourselves when we fail than when we succeed.  Suffering often creates reflection and self-analysis along with the grief.  The Covid-19 pandemic will change the world—forever, and many will suffer (or worse).  At this point we have no idea what life will be like in two or three years, but there is no question it will be different.

Many people hope we will return very quickly to where we were just a few months ago—not going to happen.  The disruption of this crisis will be dramatic.  It is very possible that the issues of the disease itself will not be solved for a couple of years; but no question the economic impact will change everything. 

We can think of our country as a person who has suffered a great tragic event.  The pain starts to lessen pretty quickly but the emotional toll can last forever; because the person has changed.  The way they look at life will always be different.  How those changes will manifest themselves is not knowable at this point.  All we can hope for is that some of the changes are for the better. 

Fiction writing is just making stuff up.  Telling stories about things that didn’t really happen; except in the writer’s head.  Of course, most fiction has some vein of truth.  For me it is often the setting.  I place my made up stories in locations that are real and familiar to me.  Other fiction authors will create a whole new world for their stories and characters to live in.  Sounds like a lot of work.  I’ll stick with the familiar.

Locations for me are often small towns in New Mexico or Colorado.  These are places that are not often known to many readers.  That means that most people don’t know if I making stuff up about one of those places or not.  And, of course, If I need to add some element that does not exist in the real town to fit my narrative—I do just that.  Need a building where there isn’t one—no problem; how about a river or a road or a …………., whatever.  After all, it is still a work of fiction.

When I first moved to the desert southwest it was a time of turmoil.  Much of my world had been turned upside down by a downturn in the oil and gas industry.  I had achieved a certain level of success as a financial person in that fast moving industry.  People were making a lot of money.  There was a lot about the time that I didn’t like, but the money was unbelievable. 

In a matter of months everything fell apart.  It sure wasn’t a virus, but it had that kind of contagious feel.  The whole industry became sick and collapsed.  Outside of my employment I owned a business that was dependent on that economy—so lost my job and my business; all in a matter of months.

I was fortunate to find a good job in a place I had never heard of, Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Wasn’t real sure about moving to that place but I needed a job.  First impression was bad.  Flew to El Paso, Texas, for an interview.  It looked abandoned.  Everything was barren; ugly.  On the drive from El Paso to Las Cruces it didn’t get better.  I took the job because I had few options.

My wife and family joined me later and described the place as barren and ugly—I said oh, no!  This is a great place; you’ll get used to it.  I had been there for some time by then; and I was still not used to it, but sharing that info would not have been helpful.

Soon it became home, and we learned to love it.  The desert can be barren but also beautiful.  Cactus flowers are some of the most gorgeous flowers I had ever seen.  The multi-ethic culture was invigorating—and the food was fabulous.  We made new friends and the desert became home.

I hadn’t painted in years and suddenly everything I saw I wanted to paint.  The painting urge would come and go based on other aspects of my life but overall the move to the ugly, barren desert was inspiring.  Plus, it laid the foundation for many of the books I have written, both in locations and characters.  It all started with something bad, but soon it was good; a new beginning.

My aspiration in life was to be an artist; a painter.  In college I started as an art major and ended with a degree in accounting.  A great artist would not have done that—but I didn’t want to starve.  I was not a great artist, so I gave up art.  The only time in my life I have painted a lot was during the bad times. 

When things have gotten rough I have always turned to something creative.  I look at all of those paintings stored in the basement and I see a lot of pain.    

Writing is my go-to creative activity now.  The way things are headed it could be a productive time ahead. 

Stay safe and paint or draw or write or…………

Thanks for being a reader!

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Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series. Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops. His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times. The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives. Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice. Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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