Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
Where’s My Approval?
Learning to Let in the Good
A creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism.
~ William Woodard Self
The day after my birthday, I went on Facebook to find only a few notices from friends wishing me a happy day. A wave of un-lovability, rejection, and no one cares filled my mind. Simultaneously, I found my entanglement with this needy kind of thinking disappointing and embarrassing. I like to consider myself further along in my evolution and ability to maintain equanimity – but you know....
I have already learned the great benefits of being able to step back from disapproval and approval and understand neither have anything to do with the autonomous creation of my life and work. The responses of others have to be put aside in order for me to have a clear mind, to listen to myself, to know what’s right for me. And so soon enough (eventually), I let the matter go.
The next day, I returned to Facebook, in a lighter mood, and happened upon a stash of notices for my birthday I hadn’t seen before, though they’d been there all along. The find was bittersweet. On the one hand, it was great to receive the approval (for having lived another year, encouragement to continue doing so) and well wishing. On the other, it was sobering to realize how much I was looking for it and how little I expected to get it. There’d been a familiarity to the disappointment of the day before, a kind of inner “I told you so” – a negative expectation fulfilled. more...
What Do You Meme?
by Noelle Sterne
At least twenty years after their appearance in pop (or intelligentsia) culture, I discovered memes. Richard Brodie’s seminal book The Virus of the Mind, despite its rather intentionally sensational title, is the study of the meme. He gives appropriate credit to the word’s originator, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins (in The Selfish Gene, 1976).
According to Dawkins, a meme (rhymes with dream) “is the basic unit of cultural transmission, or imitation” (Brodie, p. 27). In fact, the word stems from the Greek mīmēma, an imitative thing. Brodie aims for a larger definition that has taken hold today: a “meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds” (p. 32).
Translation: Memes aren’t necessarily facts, although they can be grounded in them. Or nonfacts, like racial or gender stereotypes and prejudices. As genes are biologically transmitted, memes are culturally transmitted verbally, visually, behaviorally, even osmotically, through words, phrases, catch-phrases, statements, lyrics, melodies, ideas, philosophies, truisms, styles of anything (clothes, cars, buildings).…With the Internet, of course, the velocity and replication of transmission become that much faster and far-reaching. more...
Did I Tell You That Already Before?
by Cherie Tucker
This morning the voice on the radio announced that something was “the exact same” product as another one. Then an article in the paper said food makers are having a hard time finding natural colorings to replace artificial ones so food can be “the same exact shade of yellow.” Stop for a minute and think about that. If you say something is the same as something else, doesn’t that mean they aren’t different from each other? I’m sure the writers wanted to emphasize the precise similarity between two things, but using redundancies isn’t the best way to do that. There are other, better choices than redundancies that allow you to describe things.
There are words and expressions that stand for precise things which are enough by themselves and don’t need embellishment. Just as “exact” means what it means, a.m. and p.m. stand for specific times. You don’t need to say, as people do, that it’s 12 a.m. in the morning. Twins come in pairs, so you don’t need to write that there were two twins in the crowd. And there is also no need to write that the ground was covered with frozen ice. Ever.s to put the focus on the object of the action. The active voice puts the focus on the doer of the action. more...
Working with Amazon
AI recently gave a talk on “Befriending the Giant” where I explored Amazon’s more than a dozen programs for authors. That talk took all day and was very intense, and still it was impossible to get very deeply into how to work with Amazon on a broader scale. So, for this piece I’d like to discuss how an author might increase their Amazon footprint.
Those who are Amazon-adverse might not want to read on. But I find that the more information I have about a particular industry, the better equipped I am to find a way for it to work for me. That’s important if you’re even mildly interested in publishing today. And Amazon is a big player, whether authors like it or not – and I’ve heard both sides of that.
Let me back up briefly. With the publishing business in a turmoil due to all the changes in production and delivery, as well as the huge influx of small publishers willing to create POD and e-book only lists, two things are very relevant. One is that the large, New York-based publishing conglomerates are taking on fewer and fewer new authors, unless they are already selling well. And, two, Amazon is continually creating new programs to try to help authors get the visibility they deserve. Admittedly, there is a lot of gray area between these two statements, but there you have it.
So, what has Amazon been up to? Everything. more...