Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.
Then it occured to me that driving is a linear, objective task, a left-brain task, and for weeks I'd been waltzing in a right-brain ballroom of swirling words and limitless inner pictures and ideas. Even taking daily walks, very early or very late in the day, I didn't "do" straight lines; mostly I took gorgeous photos of gorgeous summer butterflies and wildflowers, and did only the barest minimum of anything else. Too swirly even to follow a DVD; Lost in Translation sat on the top of the player for three months and when I watched it, it made no sense. House was a wreck. I tried to construct and sew a simple skirt: disaster, thrown in trash. Presence in one place meant absence in another. Then I wondered if it was just the way things are for writers. Most of us have had a writing hangover. Binge on writing and you get a skull-buster of a writing hangover. It's not a joke; it can really impair you.
The problem was the transition from one type of task to another, and given one day and one night I got better at making the switch. I read an article that said it would have helped to do crosswords, Sudoku, or math problems. But I'd really like to live the high life in that right brain all the time.
HubPages.com is a host site for articles by anybody about anything (except porn or hate speech), but you can make money if people click on the ads appearing on your pages. Such host sites are derisively called "content farms." People post poetry, novel chapters, articles about relationships, recipes, political rants, whatever, and hope for readers. But as the HubPages chiefs advise, you build a following by carving a niche and staying in it, and the best way to rise to the top of Google Search is to write quality articles. I've now published 54 HubPages articles that have been read more than 64,000 times; Google Ads pays me about $150 a month, and more each month as my readership grows, because they're good articles I work hard at. Nobody else was writing good solid knowledgeable reviews of online astrology columns. Some online astrologers are genuine; I recommend Rick Levine, Sally Brompton, Susan Miller (for monthly horoscopes), and Daniel Dowd (for weekly horoscopes). I've corresponded with some of these astrologers who have huge followings. All online "psychics" who have their own site are, without exception, fakes, and Sylvia can tell you why because she investigates their claims and calls their numbers.
Sylvia gets letters from all over the world thanking her for exposing fakes; about these matters, even the most intelligent people can be terribly gullible. I have fun and use my journalism skills, my ability to write for the Web, my critical talents and astrology hobby, and perform a service for thousands of people. Some writers hate "content farms." I don't. Sometimes I am asked if I provide psychic readings. I don't; I write horoscope reviews. Sylvia Sky is the Consumer Reports of Internet astrology. Sylvia embodies my weird interests. She is a successful subself. How about you? More about HubPages, coming up.
I had paid for a barcode to be placed on the back cover of my current project, The Woman Who Values Herself, and when I got the final cover PDF it occured to me to print it and test it with a barcode reader app. It wouldn't work, although the app read other barcode labels. I kept trying, freaking out incrementally. Because the book is so small, the barcode had been shrunk proportionally and it was too small for the app to read. Online I found that there is indeed a minimum size for barcodes: 80 percent of the original, or about .825" high.
Having advised the cover designer of these facts I was in turn advised that she'd never had any problems with shrunken barcodes, but she'd enlarge it just for me, and so it was on the next proof. The barcode scanner could not read this barcode either. Feigning great patience (THIS BOOK HAS BEEN IN PRODUCTION SINCE JUNE for PETE'sSAKE!!) I advised her of this and asked her to test it on her end.
The project manager contacted me and swore it worked on their end, and it wasn't working for me because my proofs were electronic PDFs and low-resolution (high-resolution PDF proofs are so huge they'd crash a mailbox) although they didn't look it. So I chose to just drop the issue, now that I had his email saying it worked--in case it didn't. So ended this tiny nightmare, and I learned:
1. You need an ISBN and a matching barcode.
2. Test the barcode.
3. There is a minimum size for barcodes, and even if it is plug-ugly and out of proportion to the book's size or design, you still need one if you want stores to carry the book, and of course you do.
4. Understand that your electronic proofs are low-resolution.
5. Get written assurance that the darned thing really works so that if it doesn't, this can all be done over again at somebody else's expense.
6. Everything in publishing works far more slowly than you'd think.
I hope to soon be back to you writing regular entries here after a period of dawn-to-midnight work and adjustment to new routines!
The man was eccentric; he has been called the Frank Lloyd Wright of economics. An American with his name of course had to be a Norwegian from Wisconsin, which explains his progressivism and contempt for non-productive activity. Until I visited the cabin, all that had never crossed my mind.
We have Veblen to thank for his contributions to the theories of consumerism and the business cycle, and in the Gilded Age he accurately foresaw a U.S. economy that would benefit mainly the very wealthy. He taught at Mizzou for seven years, hating it and calling Columbia “a woodpecker hole of a town.” For a year he was one of the editors of The Dial, which became a litmag that first published the likes of Marianne Moore.
When Veblen first came to Washington Island he stayed in a boarding house and looked for people who could teach him to speak Icelandic so he could translate an old epic poem. In 1957, for her master’s thesis, a graduate student collected islanders' memories and stories about the great man, and incidentally was given the books and papers left in the study. Veblen wore really old clothes, people said. But he was generous with money and liked anybody who could teach him anything.
I've got a lot to share. So if you want to take a course or workshop with me--you will not be sorry! And thank you for letting others know, too!
Fall 2011: Washington University, University College (online registration is now open)
- U11-225, "Introduction to Creative Writing," Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. Try out poetry writing, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction writing in this workshop class. Class 15 weeks, 3 credits, begins August 31. Half-price for over age 60. University College
- U11-320, "The Art of the Essay," Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. Write and workshop essays and read historic essays. Class 15 weeks, 3 credits, begins August 30. Half-price for over age 60. University College
- "Online Graduate Creative Nonfiction Workshop" at Lindenwood University begins in September. You need not be enrolled in Lindenwood's Online MFA program. For details or to enroll click here.
- St. Louis Poetry Center Workshop, "Liberty Hall" Freewriting and Creativity workshop, Saturday October 1, 2011, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at my home in the woods about 35 minutes southwest of St. Louis. Hosting a day-long workshop at my home is a first! Includes lunch for the group.Cost is $50 for members, and $60 for non-members. Space is limited so send in your reservation ASAP to feeworkshop@
- Women's Writing Weekend, Sept. 9-11, to be held at Lafayette Square; details TBA. The people running this event are first-time organizers and not quite focused--but I am!
About five years later I meet and talk with famous poets and see them just about every day. They were the most insensitive, self-absorbed, preening, neurotic, swaggering, and jealousy-ridden candyasses I had ever seen outside of high school. (Think not that I was unaware that it takes one to know one.) I met some other famous poets: brilliant, hard-as-bunions cynics, spouters of poisonous jokes and legendary put-downs, authors of some of the most gorgeous and sensitive poetry of their time. And I thought, Denise was right.
So there's the quotation (two entries down) by Pearl Buck, Nobel-winning novelist now dismissed as a pulp-fiction writer, and it seems to me that hers is a quite 19th-century view of creativity as a sort of rare, terrible and wonderful spiritual commodity, like being born with a caul, permitting the owners to exist in perpetual spiritual infancy. I still buy what she says, believing it's true of everyone, particularly in this highly self-aware day and age. Name somebody you know who sees everything from a balanced, reasonable point of view, whose injuries and transports are merely physical. Those are the rare ones now.
Until it came down to looking online for an Abraham Lincoln speech. Imagined there'd be an open Lincoln archive of all his works, but the most you can find is his famous speeches and quotations, and the one I sought wasn't famous. Drove to library (12 miles, one way), checked out thick book of Lincoln's speeches and letters. Took it home and searched. What I wanted wasn't in there. Contemplated driving to another library (27 miles, one way) and said, well, maybe when I'm next around there I will stop in. But that didn't happen and I realized I should probably just stop fooling with libraries and go online and buy other collections of Lincoln speeches and letters, maybe even the 7-volume set of his collected writings, and thumb through for the one thing I wanted. So I went to Amazon to see what that'd cost; maybe someone was selling it used.
There it was on Amazon, the 7-volume set in Kindle version for 99 cents. No joke. Lincoln's whole mind for 99 cents! Immediately I downloaded the free Kindle for PC--not as cool and nuanced as the Kindle, but it let me buy the books. And in one minute I had it. The collection was indexed and had live links. There are 900,000 other ebooks I could buy as well. And some Kindle users tell me they never pay for books; they download only what's free and in the public domain and they love it.
P.S. Abraham Lincoln was not only an admirable man but an admirable writer. (Those traits so often go together!)
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive.
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god, and
failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create--so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
It sure is! She showed up in his future in a Tarot-card reading as the Queen of Cups, the Creative Queen. She's an introspective, intuitive type, serene, always inspired. What's more, she's blonde! She lives comfortably, is probably an artist of some kind, surrounded by art and artists. I bet Boyfriend is especially intrigued because her focus is elsewhere and she's as busy as he. ("Men seem to like that," I said, merely to myself.) And she has a loving heart.
I was furious. I could not compete. About to post an article titled "How to Surf Match.com Just for Spite," I realized I could be the Creative Queen in his future. If I chose. So I chose. Every day I put on a dress and jewelry, and regally work on artistic projects. I'm not kidding. It feels great to rededicate myself. I have an appointment to have my hair dyed blonde (that, I'm kidding about).