It’s that time of year again!
I’m surprised to realize I wrote “A Writer’s Alternative to NaNoWriMo” two years ago now.
Looking back, it’s fun, but I realize I’ve been reconsidering my opinion of it, especially in light of recent posts and novels.
This week, two publishing deals made big news, each for very different reasons.
Early this week, in an interview with Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler revealed he’d declined a six-figure deal from a major publisher. Instead, he will publish his books independently, on Kindle.
On the other end of the spectrum, Amanda Hocking scored a seven-figure deal with Saint Martin’s Press. Hocking made a well-recognized name for herself by publishing low-priced Kindle-exclusive novellas and novels. Recently, she’s mostly known for having sold more than one hundred thousand books in January, which isn’t surprising given that she published eleven books since, like, April of last year.
I’m sure many of them were in a trunk somewhere, and she didn’t write them all in eight months.
Actually, considering their quality, I’m not sure of that.
This particular pair of writers has created a total binary in terms of discussion with regard to so-called “self-publishing.” It’s an easy black and white to paint.
Just read a post by Jane over at dearauthor.com: “Books as a Business”. It’s a mostly good article with some interesting analysis, though I would change the title, at least; books are what we read, while publishing is a business.
Which aligns with my previous couple of posts, staying on the theme of writing as creative endeavor and publishing as business endeavor. The other day, I was chided on Twitter by dietpopstar for using the word “monetizing” with regard to writing, and who told me I’d “lost my way” as I’m supposed to be “a fucking artist,” and such considerations were “vulgar.” She’s arguably right about my using the word “monetize,” I admit; I probably should have chosen a different word or phrase, like maybe “I gotsta get myself paid, too, yo.” Which, at least, is funnier.
And that’s the trouble with blogging. Not the funnier part. The part about having to get paid.
I know I got very wrapped up in the election and discussing it. I hadn’t meant to. I hadn’t meant to avoid it, exactly, but I hadn’t realized I would become so focused on it. I think I got so wrapped up in it because McCain/Palin scared me so much, and because I thought there was so much at stake.
A lot of it was wrapped up in my feelings about September 11th. I realized that before, but watching Obama’s acceptance speech drove it home. I’m only 30 and ain’t been alive long, arguably, and missed some major cultural milestones. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think any man has walked on the moon so long as I have been alive. The sixties are full of a lot of cultural imagery that will only ever be grainy footage to me; JFK and RFK and MLK. I came in at the tail end of the seventies, and missed free love and freer sex. While I enjoy the Beatles music in some ways, I still don’t see what the big fuss was about, and by the time I came around, Elvis was gone, too. I enjoy few movies made before 1980, Star Wars being the most notable example.
Still, the other night, watching Obama accept the presidency, I thought of what I have seen. I saw a black man become president of the United States, and while I know that racism is in many ways still alive and perhaps too healthy in America, I think it’s the surest sign there’s hope.
I remember this, too:
Which was in 1987. Two years later, in August 1989, 28 years and one day after it was constructed, that wall came down:
I think a lot of us had that feeling first thing Wednesday morning, just after midnight.
The end of one era, and the beginning of a new one.
(I’ve just realized, too, that 28 years and three days after I was born, I left for USC. That’s kinda neat)
Because the other momentous thing I’ve seen during my lifetime is something that too often hurts too badly to talk about too much. A few weeks ago, I caught the premier for Life on Mars, a show by which I was singularly unimpressed save for a single moment:
I often feel like that day started a time of corruption and incompetence carried through 7 long years. Seven years during which America lost internationally most of what reputation it had, invaded countries it had no right to attack, ‘defending freedoms’ it had already taken away anyway.
I don’t know what Obama will do, nor what he will change. I don’t know that he will be a good president. But I think he has both dignity and integrity, two things the office of the presidency have been sorely lacking for a long, long time (and not just during this past administration. I like Clinton, but dignity and integrity are not words that come to mind when he does), and I feel comfortable enough with the next four years (at least) in his hands.
I don’t think much will change for a while; Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Berlin Wall didn’t fall the day after Mr. Reagan challenged Mr. Gorbachev. Then again, September 12th, 2001 saw the sun rise on a world completely changed from the one that had existed just 24 hours before, so who knows?
I don’t. But here’s the thing:
While I don’t remember much about the morning of September 11th up to, say, 8:50 or so, it is because that day at that point in my life was unremarkable, which means it was a good morning. It was a morning on which I woke up a little later than I wanted, brushed my teeth, walked a block up to the PATH station at Journal Square. It was a morning I walked from Herald Square at 34th and 7th to my office at 40th and Madison, and if I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary during that several block trek, I will claim it was a good one, because those walks were, back then. They weren’t all sunshine and roses, of course (not many rosebushes on the streets of Manhattan), but after that morning, those walks were different, and they disappeared all together several weeks later.
I cried when I watched Obama’s acceptance speech, just like I cried when Hillary Clinton spoke at the DNC. I cried when I watched McCain concede. Not because I was so happy, though there was that, but because I was feeling something with which I had been unfamiliar for so long. I watched the polls and results with hope but also with caution, and even posted over at Making Light that I would believe it only when he took the oath of office.
Because the thing is, when you’re so scared, when you feel so beaten down, when you get so wound up and anxious, if you feel that way long enough, it can be hard to give it up. Watching Obama speak, I started to give it up. I started to let the sun shine in again. I started to feel myself open again, and that’s something I haven’t felt in a long, long time. Watching Obama speak, I started to realize that things might not always be so dark as I felt they were.
Then again, I also know that I may well be projecting my personal feelings onto those of the country as a whole. I took this election more personally than I took the one in 2004 because I’ve changed in the years since. In 2004, I was working as an assistant editor and living in my parents’ basement; this just a couple of years after I had graduated college with all the promise in the world and gotten a great gig at a prestigious advertising agency. In a way, I think I felt I was going backward if I ever felt much at all, because I know at times I was going just to go, doing just to do, coasting through to get by. This year was personal because I don’t feel that way. I’m working and living and doing. I’ve stopped waiting around for life to happen and started to make things happen, and I think I projected some of that feeling onto the election. I think I felt as though, since I was changing, the world should, too, somehow, in however small or large a way.
I think, too, I felt ready.
I don’t know what the future will hold. I don’t know what tomorrow will be.
But just the hope of it makes me smile at the possibility.
For now, that is something. For now, it is enough.
By now I’m sure we’ve all heard that the Republican campaign spent $150,000 on new clothes for Sarah Palin on her being named as McCain’s running mate. Here’s the LA Times commenting on it (link via It’s All One Thing).
I’m more surprised people are surprised by this. By Republican standards, $150,000 is an absolute bargain, considering it’s roughly half what Cindy McCain’s RNC outfit cost.
It’s become apparently newsworthy enough that the GOP is issuing statements concerning it. McCain says she needed new clothing, I guess either because she didn’t have enough, as governor of Alaska, or because everything she owned was maternity wear. They also claim all the clothes will be donated back to charity, by which I suppose they mean PUMA for Hockey Moms or somesuchlike.
To be honest, I don’t care, though I do so enjoy the fact that during the midst of an economic crisis verging on absolute collapse, John McCain can’t keep track of how many homes he earns and Sarah Palin spends very nearly more in a few weeks on clothing than I have so far earned during my entire professional career (and I’m 30. Which probably says a lot about my professional career, or sometimes lack thereof). The only thing I care about is that she’s a total hypocrite. Because here’s the Yahoo! news story in which she denies the rumors and then says that:
It’s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported.
Which reminded me a lot of this video:
From back in March when she “offered Hillary Clinton advice on how to campaign” by criticizing Clinton for a “perceived whine.”
Please may this woman disappear just as quickly as she appeared in the first place.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go early vote. And by ‘early vote,’ I mean cast my ballot for “that one.” And by “that one,” I mean Barack Obama.
Right now, Colorado is split right down the middle between Obama and McCain. It’s a dead heat at 44% of voters each, which is why Palin was in Englewood the other day accusing Barack Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists,” the best evidence she has of which is the fistbump Obama once gave his wife and the fact that Obama barely knows some guy who did something when Obama was, like, 8 years old.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all, of course, and right now I’m not sure there’s anyone in America more desperate than the two people on the GOP ticket.
I get people who support John McCain, though, I’ll admit. I did once, too, long, long ago before he let Bush win the GOP primary back in 1999. Before then, I would have said he seemed like a good guy, and I’d like to see him come along after Bill Clinton. The world would be a much different place if we were currently ending a McCain administration instead of a Bush administration, and I’d wager, in fact, that alternate history wouldn’t have led us to such a bleak and very real present, with its economic crises, illegal espionage, and unjust wars. Back in 1999, McCain seemed like the kind of guy who would have told the world on September 12th, 2001, that we had been struck by terrorists and would respond swiftly and surely, and then, you know, responded to the right country.
But that’s not who John McCain is anymore. He’s erratic. He seems to want to believe that America can restores its international image simply by bombing more countries. He doesn’t understand the economic crisis, not in any real way; no one who would lose track of the number of houses his family owns could really grok the mortgage crisis.
So I get people who support him, I think, because they’re supporting who he used to be rather than what he’s done since and what he’s running on, now, and really, who wouldn’t like to go back to 1999? Well. Okay, I wouldn’t, but 2000-2001 would be nice, certainly. I’d dig it.
This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.
In its broad strokes, McCain’s life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers’ powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives’ evangelical churches.
In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.
I’ve discussed this a few times in the past few days (elsewhere, obviously). I’ve found myself living in what is, by most accounts, a battleground state, even though no less a Republican spin-meister than Karl Rove predicts all of Colorado’s 9 electoral votes, as well as 264 others, will go to Barack Obama as he swings a full-on awesome 273 electoral votes and wins the presidency. Yes, that Karl Rove. The same one who said that McCain’s lies have gone too far.
When Karl Rove calls you a liar, you’re way deep in it.
Saw most of the debate last night, but gave up on it after a while. I felt like I was just sort of cheering for the side I’d already chosen. One thing I’ve noticed this election cycle is a difference I perceive in the way the different parties seem to be voting. To wit: it seems to me that people who are supporting the Barack Obama/Joe Biden ticket are doing so because they truly believe in it, while people who are supporting the John McCain/Sarah Palin ticket are doing so because they truly believe against its opposite.
Which is to say: it seems to me that the entire election, no matter how people are voting, is being determined by Barack Obama. Either people really like him and believe he can do the job well, or people really dislike him and don’t believe he can do it and so want to keep him from office at all costs.
I read a bit of the debate coverage. I was surprised it recorded higher viewership than the actual presidential debate. One of the reasons I’m rather indifferent here is that, well, No Contest 2008 is a presidential election. Too many people are forgetting that.
But really, I want to talk about language.
I dig Bill Maher, mostly. Like his stuff. I mean, he’s neither Eddie Izzard nor Jon Stewart, but I do appreciate both his candor and his challenge. I agree with him often, but often mostly in the sense that I agree with Jon Stewart: not in the sense that I’m lefty or liberal or whathaveyou, but more in the sense that I just find the whole system and process completely absurd, as well as many of the participants therein.
I don’t really watch television, though, so I rarely catch Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. I’m sure I could catch recaps, somehow, but I’m rarely so inclined.
I’ll tell you, though: I’m totally inclined to see his new “mock documentary,” Religulous.
I may even start using religulous as an adjective. Seems like, on the hierarchy scale, things would be first ridiculous, and then totally ludicrous, and then absolutely religulous.
Trailer after the Continue reading
Found this terrific video at The Daily Show‘s website (and discovered how to embed video, I think, so I’m thrilled. I love The Daily Show):
Both McCain and Palin are proponents of drilling, and not just offshore. The desire/idea to drill seems related to being a Republican; I distinctly remember not long ago when Bush was making the case that we needed to open Alaskan reserves to drilling to, you know, relieve our dependence, or whatever. (which strikes me as further odd, because isn’t the GOP mindset toward less government intervention? I guess it’s just no intervention for those who need it, just for more old white dudes)
Which strikes me as a logically unsound argument. I’ve been teaching my students logical fallacies this past week, and the idea strikes me as one though I’m not sure what sort I’d classify it as. To make an analogy, it seems to me the equivalent of attempting to solve someone’s dependence on heroin by increasing their access to heroin.
It also strikes me as the sort of thing the party who thought ‘economic stimulus checks’ were a good idea would agree is another good idea.
Because, seriously, did that $600 really help all that much? I know I’m still just a broke-ass grad student, but then it ain’t like being a grad student has any relation to being broke at the moment; Lehman Brothers and AIG are both now broke-ass, too.
Which makes me wonder: where’s my $85 billion to bail me out? If the government is going to nationalize the big insurance company and relieve the debts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, why can’t they nationalize healthcare and relieve student loans? I think, for every dollar the federal government uses to either forgive or bolster giant conglomerate companies, they should also pledge one either to a national healthcare policy or to relieving broke-ass grad students of their student loans. Or maybe just lower the interest rate of Federal Stafford loans by, say, 1% or something.
It strikes me that this mad scrambling is the equivalent of cutting off our nose to save our face, rather than spite it. Those stimulus checks were pretty much entirely worthless, just like offshore/reserve drilling is inherently worthless. Just like those stimulus checks have done absolutely nothing to bolster the economy and prevent financial crisis, neither will increased drilling help resolve the energy crisis.
Simply substitute “McCain” for “Rumson,” I think.
It’s also why I’m voting for Obama. Not just that I think he could deliver a speech like that one, but because he just seems that honest. He seems like the kind of guy who would man up when required, the sort who would say, “You know, I thought this was a good idea, but I’ve reconsidered because it’s just politics as usual and it ain’t gonna work. I pledged to you that I would serve you well, and act in your best interest, and I think rejecting this bill is in your best interest.”
I can’t imagine McCain saying anything remotely similar. All I can imagine McCain saying is, “You know, the situation is complicated, and I have a lot of great advisors I lend credence to–”
(and as a sidenote: since when does ‘advisor’ contain an ‘e’? Is that a British thing, like ‘grey’ versus ‘gray’? Because spellcheck keeps underlining advisor and I keep thinking, ‘No, it’s not, in fact, adviser,’ and I don’t really listen because, come on, spellcheck underlines ‘spellcheck,’ which just seems silly)
Point is, this is the wire, and we’re down to it. You can either vote for an old man who thinks that things are fine and he can make them finer and his Caribou Barbie sidekick who’s a joke of a woman, much less political candidate, or you can vote for someone who’s going to bring the change we want to see in the world.
Gandhi said we must be the change we want to see in the world, and now I say we must vote for it.
Apparently, the selfsame self-righteous people who worked themselves all atwitter that Bill Clinton got a blowjob once (and investigated said act for, what, two years, and then impeached him for it) and basically ran poor John Edwards out of town are summoning every ounce of their moral outrage and righteous indignation now, because how dare anyone talk about Sarah Palin’s family. Most seem to miss the point that the speculation about who Trig Palin’s mother is was never about Bristol Palin but rather about Sarah; it was never so much speculation that the kid belonged to Bristol as it was that he might not belong to Sarah.
Oh, cesspool, they say! Outrageous rumormongering!
These, of course, are the same people that frothed at the mouth that Bill Clinton might have done pot, but never batted an eye that Bush had DUIs out the wazoo.
We should be looking at policy, they say.
Let’s. Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Palin on healthcare: “Take personal responsibility for personal health and all areas.”
Palin on the environment: opposed protection for salmon, wants to sue US government to stop listing the polar bear as endangered, encourages timber, mining, and drilling.
Palin on energy: global warming not manmade. Supports off-shore drilling.
Palin on education: teach creationism alongside evolution in schools. Let parents opt out of school books they find offensive. Teach abstinence, not sexuality/reproduction. Inspired a librarian to resign after the librarian refused to help Palin ban books, including works by Heller, Huxley, King, Rowling, and Shakespeare. That’s right: Sarah Palin wanted to ban Shakespeare.
Palin on civil rights: supports preservation of definition of “marriage” as between man and women. Okay to deny benefits to homosexual couples. Oh, and let’s not forget: anti-women’s rights. “Pro-life,” except, of course, when it comes to the death penalty.
Palin on Budget: entered Wasilla with balanced budget, left the town with more than $20 million in longterm debt.
Palin on Foreign Policy and Immigration: oh, wait. No real policies recorded for that yet. Her son’s in Iraq, though, and everyone knows McCain wants bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran.
(source: On The Issues)
Forget the kids: does Sarah Palin really sound to you like the type of candidate America needs? I swear it’s like McCain chose a female mini-Me who couldn’t possibly be any more ignorant concerning any other issue around. There is not a single policy for which either Palin or McCain stand that could possibly justify anyone calling either a “maverick.”
And you know, just once, I’d like Barack Obama to show up to a speech in a kilt, because it seems all the damned PUMA people want is a candidate in a skirt.
Have you heard the rumor about Sarah Palin’s youngest child, Trig?
I hadn’t until this morning, when I caught it via MightyGodKing.
Apparently, there’s a rumor Trig Palin might, in fact, be the child of Bristol Palin, Sarah’s oldest daughter.
Some of the details certainly make one wonder.
The official version of the story seems to be that Palin’s water broke while she was in Texas, at which time she flew back home to Alaska to give birth to her youngest child. If she did so, I’m relatively certain she would have had to take a private jet; commercial airlines prohibit women more than 8 months pregnant from flying.
But let’s say they made an exception because she’s governess of Alaska.
Still, her oldest daughter, Bristol, had been removed from her school for 4 to 5 months already, with a “prolonged case of mono.”
The other thing is that, even according to the Anchorage Daily News, when she announced in March that she was 7 months along, she “simply [didn’t] look pregnant”. She claims to have disguised it well.
I’m not convinced it’s true, but then, I’m not convinced it matters, either. I thought she was both batshit crazy and less than qualified for the gig before I heard any of the above rumors, and I still do. I think this whole back-and-forth argument between GOP supporters and McCain Democrats and PUMA supporters on one hand and Obama supporters on the other is silly, because I don’t think experience has very much to do with one’s ability to get a job done. Obama and Palin are, arguably, on equal level concerning experience, but Obama’s qualification vastly outpace Palin’s, and I think that’s what counts. Obama was the Illinois senator, and as such participated in national policy; Palin is governor of a state whose population is less than Brooklyn’s and may have participated in regional policy, there in Alaska, but isn’t Alaska a bit of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind state, anyway? People note it’s the largest, but Manhattan is more populous and impressive, no?
If it is true, however, I wonder if it plays into her anti-women’s rights beliefs. Keeping secret one’s daughter’s teenage pregnancy and then adopting the child as one’s own while actively concealing the entire thing seems somehow related to the “let’s all sweep sexuality under the rug, because the only real way to educate teenagers is to teach them abstinence. We won’t acknowledge sex education, we won’t dispense condoms to populations that might use them, and we will consistently teach that sex and its consequences are utterly shameful” belief system many fetus-rights activists seem to share.
What do you think? Would it make a difference, if true?
Lots of major political happenings the past few days. Obama accepted the nomination on Thursday, right down the street from me, but I deliberately avoided any and all proceedings related to the DNC (I have issues with crowds. And crowd control, which seems an oxymoron).
I watched his speech on Thursday. I wasn’t nearly as moved by his as by Hillary’s, but then again, I think that might be for the better. I’ve heard some people complain that it lacked his usual passion and rhetorical flair, but I have to wonder if that would have been the right place for either. I thought it was a basically nuts-and-bolts speech in which he accepted the nomination and then indicated what he planned to do. One of the biggest complaints against him (besides “arrogance,” but don’t even get me started on that) is that many people felt they didn’t know what he was running for or promising. They didn’t know what his policies were going to be.
I think we have a better idea now. We might not yet know how he plans to accomplish his plans, but at least we know he’s got them, and I think that’s the important part for anyone who was undecided, which is really who that speech was addressed to. I was going to be voting for him anyway, regardless of what he said, because really the other choice is a senile old man, and I think that his speech was for everyone who hadn’t already been swayed by his brilliant rhetoric and bombastic charisma.
And how about that senile old man? McCain’s the other big news with his choice of Sarah Palin, the Tina Fey-lookalike Alaskan governor nobody besides Alaskans had ever heard of before yesterday, to be his vice-presidential candidate.
So, basically, I think McCain believes that all the disenfranchised Hillaristas who are so upset Obama beat their candidate, hands down, are voting based on gender and not ideas or politics, so anyone in a skirt will appease most of them. I can’t think of any other reason. His most oft-repeated criticism of Obama is that Obama lacks experience; meanwhile, Palin’s been governor for less than two years, and of a state whose total population is less than that of Brooklyn. One could argue that she, as a governor, has more executive experience, but if one really wants to make that argument, she technically has more experience than any other candidate, none of whom have political experience outside of the Senate.
I wouldn’t make that argument. I think she’s totally crazy and completely scary. She’s anti-abortion rights. She believes Creationism should be taught alongside evolution in school.
And most of all: do you know that average life expectancy for an American man is 75.6 years? McCain turned 72 yesterday. Which means that, if he’s elected, and if he actually manages to live through his first term, it will actually be unexpected. And this is a man who’s battled malignant melanoma four times between 1993 and 2002.
So on one ticket we have a senile old man who wants to bomb Iran and his conservative, Evangelical Christian running mate who’s been a governor for only slightly less time than McCain is yet expected to live.
On the other, we have a man with solid integrity who seems utterly committed to uniting America in the change he sees as a vision for the future, and his senior Senator running mate.
It really should be no contest, and it’s a damned shame it’s not.