Nov 30

Snitfest du Jour

Miss Snark took Sandra Scoppetone to task yesterday about her post about her editor leaving. Both Ms. Scoppetone’s original post and Miss Snark’s commentary on it have stirred up the dust and brought the bats winging down from the belfrey. The fan’s on high and snit’s flying everywhere.

I have read Ms. Scoppetone’s post, and I can see both sides of the debate. Both are right, and both are wrong. I fear Ms. Scoppetone is going to pay a heavy price for this post simply based on the nature of blogs and their readers.

Most people red blogs with about the same attention and concentration that they do the Sunday comics. This is not great literature, in spite of the few bloggers who do truly believe their shit doesn’t stink. Most blogs are informal and, usually, somewhat chatty, and most visitors read them with one eye and their mind on tonight’s episode of their favorite reality show.

What I’m saying here is that subtlety in a blog post is not rewarded. In fact, it can cause you great discomfort, even harm. The reason is that subtlety WILL BE MISUNDERSTOOD. There is no maybe, no possibly. Subtlety will be misunderstood, and the snit will fast and furiously.

Ms. Scoppetone’s post was a naturally sad reaction to losing an editor who had been very good to her and worry about her future, since she is between contracts right now. Her remarks were not, to me, excessively inflammatory, but I can certainly see how they could be, and have been, construed as snotty and disrespectful to younger editors. Her one very brief statement about how her new editor will no doubt be a good one, was a little too quick and went unnoticed.

Bloggers have to realize that they must be very clear about what they say. There are far too many middle-school minds out there just waiting for an opportunity to light a fire and pour gasoline on it at every opportunity. Stop, think, then write, and, for God’s sake, don’t flame the commenters. That only makes it worse.

Nov 30

Food Fi…Ummm…Blog Party!!!

Stationery Queen is moving up in the world. Or sideways. Or something. Anyway, she is definitely NOT the Stationary Queen. Today is the last day of the first of her life. Starting tomorrow she is a full-time professional freelance writer. Way to go, SQ! I think we should all step over to her blog and congratulate her. Pass the word.

Seeing someone leaping into the abyss in order to live their dream is satisfying to me. I really do get a charge out of it. I also get a boost of confidence and courage and hope that I will be able to do the same one day. I have taken that leap of faith before and failed miserably, but that was long ago. I was stupid(er) back then, and jumped into a business that I was not really passionate about. Not a good idea. Next time will be different.

Are you working toward your Heart’s Desire? If not, why not? Life is short, don’t spend your time having regrets. If you want your dreams to come true, it’s up to you to work at them and make them real. What are you waiting for? What would you do if you were not afraid?

Nov 29

Yea, Though I Walk…

A friend of mine is lost in darkness and despair today. Please light a candle or say a prayer or do whatever you can to send her a thought of peace and comfort. If you would like to leave a thought for her here or e-mail me with it, I will make sure she gets them.

If you have never been suicidal, you cannot imagine just how heavy and impenetrable that darkness is. It weighs you down and wears you down, both physically and mentally. Light and hope and joy may abound in your life, but you cannot see them. All you can think of is relief. Please make it stop. I can’t. I just can’t any more. Your vision becomes so restricted that the only thing you can see is death. You stumble around in the blackness, knees weak, mind spinning, hearing only the siren song of sweet peace and surrender.

That is a horror from which most people are blessedly free. It is a horror I have lived. I was lucky. I survived. Unfortunately, the thoughts survived as well. Sometimes they rise to the surface, and I have to renew the battle to subdue them. I don’t know if they will ever go away completely. The temptataion to just chuck it all, end the struggle, rest from the toil of life, is strong and seductive. “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” Shakespeare knew. He had been there. He stood on that same precipice and looked over, the same as I have, the same as my friend does today.

People say that suicide is a selfish act. It really is the ultimate in selfishness. To the suicide, it is a means of taking control of a seemingly out-of-control life. It is the single positive act they can see to take. How heartbreaking that the illusion is so strong that many act upon it.

Life is full of surprises. You never know what tomorrow will bring. The only thing we can ever bet on is that the sun will rise again, and even that is not a completely safe bet. The thing is that hope is always there. Hope never dies. It never deserts us. It waits by our sides with the patience of eternity. Sometimes we have to have help to see it, though.

Nov 28

Rough and Ready

Which generic smut novel character are you? (With somewhat relevant pictures!)The Rascally Unshaven Rogue

Everybody loves a rebel, and the unshaven rogue is no exception. With your mannish stubble, sly expression, and sinful proficiency with a weapon, you have a way with women unmatched by any other, not even Shaft or James Bond.

Personality Test Results

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Thanks, tambo! I needed a giggle.

Nov 22

A Defining Moment

November 22, 1963. The day the world changed.

Those of us who lived through it remember where we were and what we were doing. It was Friday, and I was in school. The principal announced the news over the intercom: “President Kennedy has been shot. He is dead.” The schools closed for the rest of the day. I was 2 weeks away from 7 years old. On that Friday afternoon and in the days that followed, I grew up a lot. A lot of us lost our innocence that day.

Small-town life in the Deep South was slow and easy in those days. We watched the world go by and minded our own business. Nobody bothered us, though we did hate the Commies and practiced our duck-and-cover drills religiously. Still, life was good. Vietname was still a word that only a few knew and even fewer cared about. The economy was good. Maybe we didn’t have as much as people in other parts of the country, but we had enough–enough to eat, clothes to wear, cars to drive. We didn’t lock our doors–we knew everybody that came by.

Then our President, the most powerful man in the world, a man we adored, handsome, charismatic, with a beautiful wife and children, a man we loved, was shot down in the street like a rabid dog. Suddenly, the world was no longer a friendly place. A nut with a gun could be hiding anywhere. Nowhere was safe. Dread, suspicion, and paranoia gradually became a way of life.

One symbol sums that time up for me. In President Kennedy’s funeral procession was a beautiful black horse led by a Marine. Its saddle was empty, but a pair of empty cavalry boots sat backwards in the stirrups. That horse did not want the duty it was called upon to perform. It high-stepped and tugged at the reins, occasionally trying to rear up. It wanted to run. It wanted to be happy and carefree, but the slow beat of the drums demanded its obedience and reminded it of the solemn weight it carried, if only symbollically.

The memory of that horse always brings tears to my eyes, as it did that day in 1963 when I lay on the floor in our living room watching the procession live in flickering black and white. I knew then and know now how that horse felt. I, too, wanted to be carefree and innocent again. I wanted to feel the air through my hair and the grass under my feet and never imagine the dark, black weight of murder and tragedy and a great life gone forever. A generation of us has carried that weight throughout our lives. It’s heavy, sometimes.

Because of one day 42 years ago, Thanksgiving has always carried a shadow for me. In the midst of family and fellowship stalks a dim spectre of the past and a most unwelcome awakening.

Nov 22

Better Safe Than Sorry

tambo is getting all worked up over “safe” writing. At the same time, Melly’s twisting herself into knots about “artistic integrity”. You guys are joking, right? They’re moot issues.

Writing is a job. That’s what everybody says, anyway. What’s the point of having a job if not to make money? There’s no question: do whatever it takes to make a buck. It’s the American Way. Give ‘m what they want. Nobody’s going to pay you for controvery. Nobody’s going to pay you for stories that are painful or that make them think. Jeez! Get a clue from TV amd the movies.

Look, it’s easy. Just take the stories that worked in the past and remake them. Romances are selling right now, so write romances. Don’t think you can? Here’s how easy it is. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. They have sex. They fight. Girl chases boy. They make up. The end. The only thing you have to worry about is how hot the sex scene is, and that just depends on what series you’re writing for. Money in the bank. No sweat. Any hack can churn out a couple of these a month. Job security and a good cash flow. That’s all that matters, right?

Andf what’s this crap about “artistic integrity”? Artists don’t have integrity. Certainly not writers! Politicians have integrity. CEO’s of major corporations have integrity. Televangelists have integrity out the ass. Artists? Bunch of gin-swilling crack-heads. Give me a break. Who do these writers think they are? For God’s sake, quit whining and get a job! Every job requires compromise. Get over yourselves. Write what sells, take the money to the bank, and shut the Hell up.

Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here all week.