It’s been some time since I last brought you anything historical. So this tidbit is well over due. In my perusing of Pinterest, I came upon this little nugget of gold. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Was Embroiled in a Police Conspiracy – Flavorwire. Well, who couldn’t click on that? So of course I did. The story is only a paragraph mentioning some vague details. It appears that Doyle was being framed by police for a crime. You might have read some of my commentary previously on the police issue in the United States and how historically that public office is fraught with…issues. This incident is just another nickel of historical proof regarding corruption.
Take heart, writer. Your voice is just different.
Those are the words that I longed to hear during my struggle for publication. It seemed that every outlet wanted to mold me into the industry’s ideal writer. For a subjective art, there certainly are a lot of rules and expectations. The longer we cave to the whims of an industry that is controlled by the tastes of an elite few, the further writing becomes not art but mechanical production.
Had Derrida listened to his teacher, would we now have his books? Thankfully he did not. Certainly I agree that active voice is better than passive and that wordiness can bog down the pace, but I don’t agree with these arbiters of an author’s fate when it comes to what makes a great work. There is a huge push to hear the voices of the oppressed–which in it’s heart is good, but don’t forget that it is more likely being done in the same vein as Poverty Porn–images of poor people with celebrities and the like–to make money of a niche. It’s just as racist to say that a black author is better than another because, well, they’re black and they know suffering, or something. No. They’re as good, because they’re good at writing and the melanin in their skin doesn’t determine that–though it has been made to determine their experiences. Likewise, I am not better at penning stories about women, simply because I am a woman. Our society has precluded the experience of woman, so to find an authentic woman is a feat–good luck to a person of any gender in accomplishing it.
That last statement is indicative of the subjectivity in writing. The reader will determine how well you communicated your ideas. From one to the next that success is going to waver. One author doesn’t speak for a whole generation. That’s a myth. Greatness has been told to us in a lot of cases. I used to wonder, while sitting in class, what makes these books so much more important than these other books. Why this author and not that one?
Semiotics was the focus on which I did most of my graduate work. The subject matter isn’t easy. It’s full of a lot of conceptual ideas and philosophy, psychology and history. You’ve really got to know the archetypes of culture to push into it even a little bit. Symbolism and similar studies feed into it, like–one of my favorites–intertextuality. Semiotics is a branch of literary analysis that picks apart the parts of meaning making.
Fascinating questions abound. Learn more about Derrida below…and read some of my work on the topic of semiotics at K. on Writing.
Jacques Derrida, Philosopher
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in Algeria. Derrida is best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts. Wikipedia
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What would you do if you won the lottery?
Welcome to my blog, from P.j. MacLayne‘s Blog.
First thing I’d do, assuming this is the big one? I’d pay my graduate student loan and start shopping for a house. Oh, god, How I want a house and stop renting! I can see it, the yellow siding and white trim, a cheery bright garden where my dog can frolic in the sunshine. MAGDRL would finally let me adopt that Great Dane! I could open a whole kennel for rescue Danes! My heart is overwhelmed with the joy that would bring me. Just thinking about it, I smile with gratitude.
The next thing I’d do, once I figured out how much to get the house–invest some money in some safe growth perspectives. Not all of it, but I figure, I’m going to need that egg to grow if I’m going to accomplish my goals which will be literally at my finger tips. Those goals include having enough to retire immediately, continue to own that new house I am buying, healthcare and care and maintenance for my dogs and self. Not to mention all the money for that garden! But the biggest goal, I want to create a school in Upstate New York geared to the performing arts. I would start with film and theater, and eventually grow it to include movement and dance, some avant garde, writing would be at the heart of it all–Of course there would be investors, but the burden of the majority of that initial investment would be totally be on me. At least, that has been how all my endeavors play out.
With those things in the works, I’d start to make plans for donating to my top charities, which you can find here. They are a must. I cannot see gaining that much and not sharing it with the things that mean the most to me. There is so much healing that needs to take place in the world and that healing is best done by those who look for nothing in return, at least not for themselves. I fully expect others to benefit from the windfall that I hand over to them. Even if they were ungrateful, I wouldn’t care, because I would know that I had done the right thing. Nothing else is needed in that transaction. The charities that I support do great work, necessary work. They can be as blasé as they want! But, I think they’d be ecstatic to see that money, and not at all casual. But, please, no public recognition, cause I totally have stage fright and I get easily embarrassed–don’t make me talk about myself–or pat myself on the back. I just–I can’t manage that with the grace I see so many celebrities have. There is always going to be someone saying I’m so full of myself, I guess, so I shouldn’t really mind.
Once those things were set in motion, I’d do something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I’d go here: And, I’d cry. I’d cry because I was so goddam grateful and happy and relieved and finally, at long long last doing the things that I want to do and making a difference in the world, and then I would breath–breath deep and long breathes. I’d close my eyes for a moment and just be there, in that moment. Opening my eyes, I’d calmly smile on my good fortune. And, I would relish that this was no dream but my reality.
Then, I’d march my butt over to Barefoot films, which happens to be in the same city and offer them money in exchange of helping me produce my book into a film. I’d forgo my salary, asking them to reinvest it into their other projects or my project. And if they took up my offer, I’d take the rest of my time in Germany to enjoy the sites and relax and reflect and be free. That is until they called me up for revisions on my script, and I had to get back to work.
Then, I will come home, and find a great adoption agency and adopt a little girl. By this time, I’ll have already had a biological child, so it’s time to open my home to a second child, one who is in need of parents and already here. Where from? Oh, lord, there are so many places that children need to be rescued from, but I have always had my eye on China. I want to save a girl from slavery, just because she had the balls to be born female and poor. My money and my heart can step in the way for more than one, so maybe I will. Why not? I am needed and willing.
Did I mention I retired from my day job? Well, then. I’m going to need a sweet set up in that new house for cranking out books in style. I’ll be replacing my out of date laptop, upgrading my desktop, getting some graphics electronics, and a shelves and a desk and lighting and a light table and…Scott D…what else do I need? Oh, BTW, here’s a few hundred grand to expand your business, thanks for everything you do, buddy. From the covers to the time, and the jokes. (Put some of that away for the girls.)…back to my office, I’m going to need new photo equipment and lighting equipment. Art supplies. Lots and lots of new pens! I love me some new pens! And one comfy chair for behind the desk. One stool for the work tables. A couch from the 60s, and some chairs, a table, library and cognac bar. I think that will pretty much set me up for how I visualize that my space should be. (Make sure that’s a wood floor boys, I like to scoot around in the chair. Keurig…
….Where else did you expect?
I haven’t even gotten to this yet….
Dare I mention the Maserati?
I will also, of course, have a van for the kids and Danes…
Hop on over to see what Zeecé Lugo would do if she won the lottery….
Zeecé Lugo was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Brooklyn. She joined the Air Force and saw the world. She got a degree in English literature from Saginaw Valley in Michigan and then became a science teacher at Miami-Dade. Figure that one out! She now lives surrounded by mountains in a Caribbean island with her fifteen-year-old little dog, Wicked. She stays away from the news, pushy people, and up to recently, social networking. She is finally doing what she always wanted to do; she reads, she enjoys the views surrounding her home, and she writes. Her first novel, Daniel’s Fork, is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD here. A Time for Love (a novella sequel) and Edge of The World (short story) are also available at major eBook sellers. She is currently at work on her next novels. Zeecé Lugo is her writing name.
Zeecé has always loved reading. Her early loves were Agatha Christie, Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Issac Asimov, Ursula K. Leguin, and other such writers that are now out of fashion. Tolkien is a love that came back into fashion. Below are links to indie novels that you can download, many of them for FREE, and that she herself has enjoyed and recommends. This links will take you to downloads for most popular formats including Kindle and ePub, at Smashwords.
Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscapes. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks.
The opportunity to mention this brief op-ed by one of my favorite writers has come up a few times in the past few weeks. I want to share it, because…Toni Morrison ((sigh)) is sublime. During the course of my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to Morrison’s work (Beloved) and have been enchanted by her as a writer ever since. We writers seek out models on which to frame who we are. There are so few women out there successfully making a career—that we hear of—and squashed under the grandeur of male writers. I could totally use that as an excuse, but I refuse to buy into excuses as I turn 40 years old this year. It’s taken me two of those decades to eek out my small niche. I’m still carving it, and will be doing so until I pass on to…whatever there is.
The title of the piece attracted me, but I gratefully knew that face in the picture as it went down my newsfeed. Glee. Her appearance has been heartwarming to me, part of her charm. I am in love with how people look, their differences and similarities, as unique as snowflakes. Diversity makes me excited. So, I guess it’s a no-brainer that I am drawn to writers who are not white males…but the truth is, I love them too. Morrison’s work is memorable, and thus her face became memorable and charming and heartwarming to me, because it reminds me of college, of Beloved and the shock to the core, of a woman being published and taught in literature spaces. She reminds me of me, regardless of her background, ethnicity, economic status, or anything else. She is what I hope for.
The piece she wrote for The Nation’s anniversary echoed a theme that other writers and I had been mulling: Writing through Crisis. What is crisis? Well, it’s whatever has you flagged as you try to push through your day. It can be large or small, but it’s yours, and your feelings about it being a crisis are entirely valid. Just like the arts are subjective, so are our reactions to the world in which we live. For instance, my two decades struggling for a place in the publishing world, and how I dreamed and how I cried, how I was certain I was over it and how I was certain this would kill me. There isn’t a place for self-pity in most situations. Self-pity is the language of fear. Though depression determined to take me down before I could accomplish my goals, I spoke back to it, eventually, without fear and moved forward. I did not let fear, crisis, stall me. Every day, I think, I must be ready for the next leg of this journey. I cannot be caught unprepared. You’ll only get one shot at a time, and those shots will be few and far between. No place for self-pity and no room for fear.