Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What’s *NOT* Working?

I’ve received editorial feedback along the lines of—“I like the premise, but not the voice.”

This usually means the idea & setting were good. But “the voice” (the personality of the narration, i.e. my writing) didn’t appeal.

 I’ve received editorial feedback that said, “I like the voice, but the plot is full of holes.”

This generally means that my writing is appealing, but either the premise or the unfolding of it isn’t working.

I’ve received editorial feedback that the writing was skilled and the characters appealing, but this and that detail ultimately made this story commercially unviable.

This usually means it’s pretty good, but needs more fixing than editor has energy or passion for and, frankly, hotter properties are flowing in the transom with abandon.

And these were reactions to the same manuscript.

I’d like to learn from everyone. But this is confusing, confounding, and crazy making. (The three “C’s for short.)

What these reactions have in common is simple: we don’t want to pursue this to publication.

Where they differ also contains a shared a point. It tells me something is off, whether the feedback has labeled it or not.

What’s a storyteller to do? Let it sit. Let it sink. Then get back to work.
Don’t give up, because that’ll not even be a C. Giving up, while legal and legitimate, is also an automatic F. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It’s That Time Again

The thing about traditional holidays is that they come with a regularity. This reminds us of the unrelenting passage of time, and also of times past.

 In this way the repeat celebrations act to sort of stop time.
Because---- there they are.


Happy Jewish New Year

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Who is a FRIEND?

The Internet and its lingo have created many new words, and also changed the meaning or use of established words. I have heard much lamentation on linguistic deflation, going back to the halcyon days of pre-electronic “interneting.” But what has been happening since the end of the last century is a snowball of changes, which will make this post outdated before it’s even out there.

Some of the new uses of old words are brilliant marketing and not much else. Getting congratulated on having to pay for something you could do without by EBay, telling you you’ve won the race to the top and will pay more than others were willing to, is an interesting way to frame it. Who doesn’t want to be a winner? Soon after, the seller’s feedback bursts apoplectic with feedback that says you’re an A+ and “recommended.” When was the last time you got such a grade and got to have a package of whatever show up in the mail to boot?

Some terms are imaginative and somewhat literary. Trolls, for example, are mischievous trouble-stirrers in Scandinavian mythology. Seems they’ve come back from the deep woods to flood the internet and cause more heartaches than their ancestors ever did. It also seems we’ve all become noisy birds in the Amazonian jungle, whether we are tweeting or making a purchase on the virtual river.

But possibly the most confusing is the use of the word friend on the social network to beat all others.

Confession: I am a participant in all the above, and while I entered reluctantly, I’m happily there now. I have more than a thousand Facebook-friends, and though most asked for my hand, I’ve asked for some and in the end it doesn’t’ matter who initiated.
 My Facebook friends are for the most part kid-lit writers and/or illustrators. We have loads of Facebook-friends in common. I enjoy the illustrators most of all, because it’s a visual medium and I get to see their work when they share it. I also appreciate the trials and triumphs of writers, and the relevant links they share. I look at these Facebook-friendships as a loose professional connection.

A few hundred of my Facebook-friends are people I know in real life. That means we’ve met, and I harbor the possibly illusory notion that they will recognize me on the street. An even smaller number are family or true-blue friends. {Some of my closest friends are not even on Facebook, but that’s another matter.} On that plane, Facebook has been a powerful tool to find people I used to know. I was surprised not only to re-establish some contact, but to discover how much I enjoy seeing their pictorial posts and have the “where are they now” question answered, at least as far a public sharing goes.

For that matter, it’s touching to see how open and vulnerable some are willing to be on this forum. It assumes that most people will not abuse this vulnerability, and this very assumption is a beautiful thing.

The thing is, I know the difference between friends and Facebook-friends. I noticed that when I link a more personal post from my blog to my timeline, any reaction I get comes from the true-blues.

This brings another case of word hijacking: Like or LIKES. I get many requests to like this or that, and you know what? I am a holdout for using these the old way. I will not “like” that way. If I like (or love or wow or L) it’s a spontaneous and real response. I have yet to like on request.

I mean, someone has to stand up for the old ways, ey?

On the soon-to-be eve of the (Jewish) New Year, I’m thinking about the new, and the old, and where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be.

And if you’ve read all the way to this paragraph, I like you. I really LIKE you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Try to Remember that Time in September...

My memory isn’t what it used to be, and never was.

But then, I remember the odd things.

Sitting with old friends, I remind them of the time some years back when they were renovating their bathroom and found their contractor sleeping off a hangover in the (dry and empty) bathtub.
“It’s amazing that you remember that,” they say.

Would anyone forget such a sight, even if relayed second hand?

Walking with a friend, I remind her how ten years ago she enlisted a city cop to drive us to her car, parked a few blocks away on an empty side street. We got out of a play and it was dark, and she decided it was unsafe. A policeman reluctantly gave us a ride in his marked-fully-lit-“cage,” And I told her that if any of my acquaintances would see us going by I would never forgive her.

“I forgot all about this,” she said. “You have an amazing memory.

Dah-ling, it was my one and only ride in a police car (so far.) Would you have forgotten that?

I remind my husband of the first time we met, when he walked into the textile gallery where I worked . It was September. He remembers it not at all.

Now, really!

I probably won’t remember your name unless you repeat it a few times, and then some. I often forget where I parked my car. I consistently manage to forget at least one essential item from my grocery-shopping list (and forget the list on the refrigerator.) 

But some things, dear September, I remember.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The GIANT Experiment

Those of us who use the Window 10 operating system must have noticed the ever-changing screen photos that Microsoft so generously gifts us, always with the question at the right-hand corner of the screen asking whether we like their new selection. 

The choice of reply is couched in the gentle affirmation (“I like it”) or gentler negation, (“Not a fan”) with the promise to change the photograph if you clicked on the latter.

I noticed that the Microsoft deities change the ones I liked almost as fast. I also noticed they bring back some I decidedly was not a fan of before, and told them so. With the exception of two photographs in the many I have given feedback to, none were really what I wanted to have on my screen. But I found myself saying I liked the ones that were not too queasy-making after a whole series of truly unpleasant photos appeared as I feverishly clicked on the Not-a-fan option. I was ready to settle for the Not-as-awful ASAP.

Granted, all the photographs are technically brilliant. All would have their fans somewhere. But I tend to dislike close-up photos of  mechanical implements (think gears, tools, and such) or icy winter shots during a cold spell. I don’t care for the photos that give me vertigo, either. I’m not a fan of the desert or any arid landscape, having come from a land that has too much of that.

I want green and lush. I want to feel nourished. Once in awhile, the Micro-deities indulge me. I click on the positive, and get to “keep” the image for a wee bit. They have yet to offer what I really love— a cozy indoor space replete with rich traditional textiles and many books. I’d stay in such a space forever.

This whole thing got me thinking about the purpose of this operation. The Micro-deities do not do things without a purpose. So, Bill—what gives?

Until someone somewhere tell us the whole story, I have concluded this is some sort of experiment where the algorithms calculate not only who likes what, but also how fast they are at telling. This would explain the returning of rejected images. Maybe they were rejected on average at 1.2 seconds before, and on second round, they are rejected faster/slower. I wouldn’t be shocked if someone at one of the Ivy-leagues is compiling the data, paying the Micro-deities a handsome sum, and devising the cleverest way to market something.

It isn’t personal, and no one has to reply to the prompts. But you know what? I’d like to know what. That is— what’s up with that?