Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The American Heart Association recommends one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate exercise per week. Whose idea was that?
Seriously. Who the heck knows how long one hundred and fifty minutes is? Is it a lot? A little bit? It's like someone took the clock and tried to turn it metric. Or do they think one hundred and fifty minutes sounds less than two and half hours (like 99 cents sounds less than $1.00?) so we'll be more likely to buy into it? I don't know.
When I first heard it, I thought it sounded like a lot--a lot of time, a lot of exercising, panting and sweating. But when I converted it to two and half hours over seven days, it sounds like a snap--I mean that's less than half an hour a day.
One hundred and fifty minutes means nothing to most of us. The first thing we all do when we hear it is convert it into hours. We don't think in minutes. After sixty minutes, we think in terms of hours. We don't say and we don't think, ninety minutes--we think one and a half hours. The GPS in my car and Google maps on my computer, all give me travel times in hours and minutes, because that's the way we think.
Soon after our second birthday, we began calculating our age in years (and later on, in decades), not minutes, months or days.We don't think seventy-two inches, we think six feet. We think one meter, not a thousand millimeters. We think nine months of pregnancy, not forty-weeks--well, okay, we think forty weeks if we've been there.
But 150 minutes? Tell me when I ask, whose ideas was it?
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017
It’s that dreaded time in an author’s life when a project is nearing completion. Dreaded because one hates to let one’s characters and stories go off on their own into the big, wide, scary universe. And dreaded because it means one must refocus.
With FATAL ERROR the 2nd edition off to the cover designer (Avalon Graphics) and formatter (e B Format) I ponder my future.
I have not been as successful a writer sales-wise as I’d have liked. There have been many rewarding aspects to this career—sales not being one of them. It costs a lot in time and money to write, publish and promote books and after 8 books, both traditionally- and self-published, financial success has not followed.
It’s not that I’m starving (I have other revenue sources) but the common measurement of success in my part of the world is a monetary one. Not achieving monetary success lends itself to creating a feeling of failure.
Despite that, I am doing what I have to do, compelled to continue. Obsessed. There are many life pursuits that are detached from financial gain, and writing, for me, is one of them.
Many hobbies score low on the financial value scale—gardening, knitting, cooking. As do other activities such as raising children and doing volunteer work (hours of it for many).
My novels are my spiritual contribution to the world, my commentary on people and their lives, on social values and political influences. My books are my immortality.
So what’s up for me? There is always the next book in The BackTracker Series, drafted and ready to refine (I have several sequels on my hard drive). There is my NaNoWriMo project. (National Novel Writing Month –which is November and is the month in which one is supposed to complete a novel. Traditionally, for me, it takes 3 years-worth of Novembers to get a novel done!) My current ongoing NaNoWriMo project is a triology of scifi novelettes, written in past years and now ready to refine.
Then there is my nagging desire to write a Literary Novel.
I have heard ‘literary novel’ defined as a novel wherein characters which one cares little about are doing things in which one is not very interested.
It’s not a flattering definition, but one with which I feel a kinship. I’ve never much liked reading literary novels but they are the ones that get all the attention and awards.
Literary works encompass the classics and the Shakespearean and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid's Tale.
What sets apart a literary work is the writing. Whereas I have until now done my best to make my writing disappear beneath the story and the characters and the plot and dialogue, in a literary novel the writing itself is an integral part of the book. Everything from word-choice, to cadence, to sentence structure, to symbolism comes into play. Powerful words are used to create scenes and define characters. The writing almost becomes a character itself, driving the plot, setting the scene, and creating the emotions.
Literary novels are sort of like poetry, but not totally the same. They can be beautiful and can be ugly. They can have abrupt endings, logical endings or no endings. They can be historic or futuristic or every day. But, always, they make a social comment. They change the way their readers think. They wring out readers’ emotions.They can inspire and they can depress. Sometimes they deaden. They are quotable. They strongly affect all who read them.
They change the world—one word at a time.
Literary novels tend not to make the mainstream, tend not to place on best-seller charts. They are reserved for book clubs, schools and universities, and the very best of the New York Times reviewers. They tend to win Giller Prizes and the like.
I want to write a literary novel for perhaps the same reason that comic actresses long for dramatic roles, why Sally Fields went from The Flying Nun to Norma Rae. I want to be taken seriously as an author, I want to grow my writing abilities. I want to do more for the world than merely entertain.
I want to learn how to make a difference.
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Her genius might save the world but who will save her children?
Thursday, October 5, 2017
It’s something sports fans know and something those in power should quickly learn—having ones enemies’ respect is a lot safer than having their fear or anger.
Many is the historic incidence of pre-game trash-talk leading to a big fail come the final whistle.
People (and teams) (and nations) who feel disrespected tend to get angry. And energized. And defiant.
And people and teams and nations that are afraid, fall back on the most basic of instincts—fight or flight. Very often it is fight. Just scare a fellow driver with a driving error and see how quickly that fear escalates into rage.
We don’t tend to wish harm on those we respect, but we do on those we fear. We tend to be open to communication, to exchanges of ideas with those we respect, whether or not we like them. We’re not open to any kind of relationship with those we fear, or those who don’t respect us.
They say one has to earn respect but they don’t explain how. However, it’s really, really easy. Just giving respect, being respectful, elicits respect in return.
Disrespectfully calling someone a son of a bitch for disrespecting, say the flag, hardly elicits any feelings of respect in return. Calling the leader of a nuclear nation a little rocket man, elicits no respect. Probably no fear, either. Definitely doesn’t foster any sense of cooperation.
A nation that respects another’s military might would likely not willingly launch an attack against it.
We all need to find some really great words to show respect for others—for Muslims, Blacks, gun-owners, Republicans, Democrats...
Police officers, protesters, mayors of ravaged cities. Mexicans.
Leaders of foreign nations. Street cleaners. The homeless and those without hope. The successful, the artistic, the autistic. Those who love differently than we do.
We can have widely differing thoughts and feelings, behaviours and opinions and still live peaceably—if we curry respect.
Imagine the power I'd possess if everyone in the world respected me.
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