I know people change as they make their way through life and sometimes the changes are more noticeable than others. Recently I made a comment to a friend about the changes I’ve seen in myself since I began writing. The change I talked about was how I pay more attention to people’s word choices. I seem to pick up on nuances by noting the choice of words they use. Not always a good thing as at times I wonder about what they mean when really it’s just a sentence and I’m reading more into it because of a word they used. I have to be careful how I interpret things and not become paranoid!
The conversation got me thinking about other changes I see in myself that I attribute to writing.
Man, have I allowed myself to give into my natural introversion! I’ve positively avoid social gatherings and I’ve had to push myself to get out and mix a little more.
Being bloody-minded (not literally - I mean the slang version!)
I’ve always had a stubborn streak and now I employ it even more. If there’s one thing about the writing life that has got up my nose it’s being told what I have to do. At first I listened to the advise and even tried to follow it at times, but now I do what I want, when I want, and how I want, and only seek advise when I need it. Even then I will listen and then go my own way!
This is a big one. I believe in writing from the heart and with passion, and because of this I have allowed my sensitive side full reign. This is great when I’m writing, but not so great when it comes to dealing with the real world. It’s not something I can just turn on and off, so things can get a little emotional at times. I refuse to squash it. It’s a part of me. I just have to deal with it as best I can.
Changing my mind
This is part of the creativity—letting myself change my mind about what I want to do and not beat myself up over it. I am quite goal driven and often have pushed myself to complete something before I start something new. This still happens, but when my mind craves a change, I will leave something mid-project and move onto a new one. Let’s be honest. I turn 50 this year and I don’t want to waste time doing something I’m not ‘feeling’ at the time. So I hit save, and move on.
It’s been a wonderful journey so far, with plenty more to come. If there’s one thing to note about the changes—that’s a real positive—it’s that all my research into crime and murder hasn’t changed me into something…a little more sinister. I’m still nice!
I’d just like to say right from the start that I won’t be discussing politics in this review. I know some people think this book is all about Trump, but it isn’t—by a LONG stretch (and no, that’s not a joke relating to Comey’s height of 6ft 8”). This book is about being true—to yourself and what you believe is right. It’s about loyalty and integrity, and how none of us get it right all the time. And it’s about consequences.
I bought this book because of my writing. As many of you will know, the White Rose series main characters of Warren and Beth are closed tied to the FBI and the organisation plays a large role in the stories. The highlight of my trip to the USA last year was standing outside the J Edgar Hoover building—the FBI Headquarters. The FBI has come to mean a great deal to me. The recent attacks and accusations directed at the FBI have left me conflicted (read my blog post on that here). Comey was the Director when I started writing and he would pop up in my social media feeds, and I grew to like and respect him—without really knowing too much about him, I’ll admit. Because of these factors, I was interested in what he had to say in the book.
James Comey only spent three years as Director of the FBI. He has previously worked as a lawyer, in the US Attorney’s Office in Southern New York, and became the Deputy Attorney General. During this time, he tried to prevent, or limit, the use of torture by US organisations, which is written about in the book. Unfortunately, his objections were overruled. He left the Department of Justice to work in the private sector until Barack Obama nominated him as the Director of the FBI in 2013.
The book takes us through Comey’s early days, telling the reader about the moments and people in his life who have inspired him, and those, who by their dishonesty and lack of integrity, have strengthened his resolve to do the opposite. He talks about family, the loss of his infant son, and his own dilemmas, faults, and bad decisions. This I found to be interesting—the book isn’t James Comey telling everyone how wonderful he is. It shows the good and the not-so-good. No one is perfect, and Comey is very open about this. His life experiences have guided him to be truthful and transparent, to act with consideration and within the law, to be an ethical leader.
When Comey commenced as Director of the FBI he laid out five expectations he had of all who worked there: to find joy in their work, treat everyone with dignity and respect, protect the ‘reservoir of trust’ (the goodwill and trust built up by those who have gone before), work hard, and fight for balance in their lives. He was concerned that the expectations of the job and the employees drive would lead them to work long hours and ignore what was important – the people they loved and who loved them. As a family man (he has five kids) he firmly believes in maintaining work/life balance.
The book is called ‘A Higher Loyalty’ which neatly sums up Comey’s attitude to his role with the FBI. The FBI is an independent organisation and has no political affiliations. It has to stay separate to protect the integrity of the work it does. He makes it clear that the Director of the FBI works for the USA, not for the President, and it is to the USA that he gave his loyalty, not the President. I would like to note here that Comey worked with the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, and his opinion didn’t vary for any of them. The chapters dealing with the 2016 election and the investigation into the Clinton emails really show the complexities of the job and the fallout that can come from making a hard, by right decision (don’t judge until you read it, please).
There is so much more in the book than what I have mentioned. Yes, there are detailed chapters on Trump, as there are on Hilary Clinton, the Martha Stewart case, dealing with the Mafia, and more. I learned a lot from this book and I know I will read it again so I don’t forget those lessons.
There is a quote from the book I would like to share:
“I don’t love criticism, but I know I can be wrong, even when I am certain I am right. Listening to others who disagree with me and are willing to criticise me is essential to piercing the seduction of certainty. Doubt, I’ve learned, is wisdom. And the older I get, the less I know for certain. Those leaders who never think they are wrong, who never question their judgements or perspectives, are a danger to the organisations and people they lead.”
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, by James Comey
What is ethical leadership? How do you do what is right instead of what is politically expedient? How do you maintain loyalty to the values of the institutions you have sworn to protect, the values you have dedicated your entire life to upholding, even if that loyalty comes at your own personal expense?
I recommend this book to anyone interested in ethics, leadership, learning from life’s lessons, and US politics through the eyes of lawyers and law enforcement. It is a book for reading and considering what is said, not politics.
What a couple of weeks it’s been. I’ve launched a book that also completed a series and enjoyed a blog tour with The Code (thanks to everyone who joined in!).
So, what happens next?
Good question. I went back and looked over the goals I set myself for 2018 to realise—with quite a bit of surprise—that I’ve already met them! I’ve sent The Code out into the world, Writing Roundup is going along nicely, and I’ve done a course on book cover design. Not what I expected to find.
In which case, what DOES happen next? Perhaps I should put more effort into my reading list. Or maybe I should write some short stories with a view to publishing the anthology I want to do. Perhaps I could take a break from writing (as if!). I have a book awaiting editing and one I’m working on as well that could be next. Or maybe start a new story? The more I think about it, the more possibilities come to mind.
I guess taking a break is off the list then, or at least a complete break. I do feel the need to step back a little and give myself some space. Launching The Code was more emotional than I anticipated, and I also worry that if I push myself I risk taking the fun out of writing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing it’s that I need to do what feels right at the time. If I’m not writing from the heart, with excitement and joy, then it won’t work. I can push myself, and have done so in the past, but it doesn’t yield the best results (that translates to ‘requires a lot more editing’). It’s not worth it.
The conclusion? I’m going to take a few days to think and consider in an emotional way the options I have. One will stand out—one always does—and then I’ll be off writing again.
For those who missed out on the great posts that made up the book tour for The Code, here are the links, starting with a lovely review:
https://www.facebook.com/SJsBookBlog/May 6 (and on GoodReads - see below)
And the rest:
The wonderful ladies at Loving the Book have organised a book blog tour for The Code, running over the next week. Because of this my blog will have a different schedule for the next week - I'll be posting links to the generous blogs that are posting during the tour so those who aren't on social media can still check it all out.
The first post is from Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews blog - don't forget to enter the giveaway!
Please consider supporting the bloggers who are taking part in the tour by clicking the link and visiting their blog. Thank you.
I’m not really sure where the idea for The Code came from. When I arrived at the end of Secrets Within I knew I had to write a book for Ryan, but the rest is a bit of a mystery. I know it started with the graffiti, but the ideas for the plot came slowly after that. There was a fair bit of staring into space as I mulled over different scenarios I could use. Some things can’t be rushed!
During the writing of Seeing Red and Secrets Within, I became familiar with certain areas of the New London submarine base. One of my tools for research is Facebook. I like to follow Pages that relate to the subject matter and came across the New London MWR Page (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation). There was information on programs run by the base library, located at the Dealey Centre on the base. It was the perfect central spot to set up the crimes—though I have taken a chunk of license with the actual library and surrounds. I had a setting, which did help with the plot.
One of the hardest things I found with writing The Code was keeping track of the plot—what clues there were at each step, the messages, even which day of the week it was. The story grabbed me and ran, and it was hard keeping up. I ended up with a chart of who, what, where, when, clues, etc, I could refer to. Imagine writing a scene where the three investigators were recapping and not being able to clearly remember the details! Once I had it mapped out it became so much easier.
I’ve really enjoyed writing the characters of Ryan and Alex. Ryan has been in the New London books from the beginning, but it was a joy to explore who he really is and bring him into the spotlight. Alex was as elusive to me as she was to Ryan in the beginning. Like the plot, it took time to reveal her personality and I loved her way of driving Ryan mad with her answers to questions. So much fun!
As I wrote in my blog post last month, it is a little sad to be finishing the series and leaving the characters. I satisfied I’ve left them all in a good place and I have so many other stories waiting to be told that I need to move on. It was wonderful to visit New London last year and tour the submarine museum located beside the base. I’d finished the book shortly before I left, and the stay in New London was a fitting way to celebrate the series.
If you have read the first two books, I hope you enjoy the final story. I’ve loved the journey of writing them, but now it’s time to move on.
What's it about?
My thoughts on writing, the research I do, and what interests and inspires me as a writer.
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