Tag Archives: publicity

Insanity Has Invaded My Life

You’d think I was on holidays without posting for a week but with work being overly busy, some extra projects and a party, I just didn’t have time to write.

Last night (now a week ago) I decided to start a bit of the Great Purge. You know, when you have been hanging on to things because of some sentimental reason; you’ll fit those jeans again, you liked that person’s poem, you might get back into that career, you haven’t filed these papers in soooo long, you just had to have that collection, etc. The aspects of life that make up the Great Clutter. For many people we stop at this.

My genes are set toward the pack rat, the clutterer, the collector, the hoarder. My mother is a collector and pack rat; my sister tends more towards the hoarder. The difference is organization and if garbage is involved. Maybe in the long run there isn’t a lot of difference. I have a lot of stuff; ornaments, arts, jewelery, books, papers. The latter two are part of being a writer. I keep these books for reference; I keep copies of stories, poems, articles in hard copy because of the possibility of computer meltdown. I keep all publicity items: reviews, newspaper articles, fliers for readings, photos, newsletters that mention an award or something that was published, rejection and acceptance letters (the last two are partially for income tax purposes).

It adds up after a while. Then there are all those hobbies I do: jewelery making, belly dance, sewing, medievalism, calligraphy, etc. etc. And before I know it, every bookcase is full, carefully arranged, but with books on top of books; my closet is full of costumes and fabric, my shelves are full of beads.

I live in a space big enough to fit two comfortably, or if I lived 200 hundred years ago, or in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, big enough for a family. In North America we do tend to expand to fit the space. Bigger cars, more junk food and higher obesity, more space, more stuff. My stuff isn’t like some people’s stuff. I have had friends where every piece of wall and every surface in their places were completely covered with stuff. This wasn’t junk piled helter skelter. There were ornaments, collectibles, memorabilia, books, records, things, arranged neatly and dusted at least twice a year. Compared to these friends I’m positively zen, and I dust four times a year. Of course there are my zen friends who think my place is a bit…full.

Like many North Americans, I seem to live at a hectic pace of working and then doing other things in my free time, from taking classes to pursuing other hobbies, to of course, writing. Many of these activities would take up significant time, and still allow time for socializing. All of them together means I’m often up late, flitting from project to project with many things in the works for a long time, and usually sleep deprived.

So though my shelves and closest are neatly stacked there are pockets that I haven’t got to in year. The preliminary purge cleaned out a box (the size that paper for photocopiers come in) of books that I sold to a second-hand bookstore, and another box of magazines that will probably go to the garbage. Omni, Scientific American, Wired, some that I kept for reference but there is just so much. And if you look at my shelves there is still no space on them. I have a pile on my floor of other items and clothing to donate to charity and still there is a lot. So the Great Purge will have me go room from room and sift through the last ten years of items that made my life. My den is the smallest room and yet the most densely packed so it will take the longest but I’m determined to whittle. This will be a several month project I think but in the end hopefully I’ll have more space to do what I really want. I have a two-drawer filing cabinet in which I have no idea what papers lurk. I store my rejection and acceptance slips but weed them every five years but I don’t know what’s taking up the other 2/3 of the cabinet.

Perhaps in the weeks to come I’ll write about my expedition into the strata of my life. Like an archeologist/anthropologist I will come across items from my past that will see ludicrous or profound. And maybe just maybe I’ll rediscover some buried treasures.

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Writing: Reviewing Reviews

Because I write mostly short stories and poems, reviews are few and far between. A magazine is less likely to be reviewed than an anthology and an individual story even less likely. I’ve never seen a review of any of my poems and I suspect the only way one would get a review is if it was a collection of poetry in a book or chapbook format.

Reviews can be a curse in their own right, with more negative than supportive comments, and it’s a chance any artist takes when putting work into the public forum. Still, I would rather have a review than not. A review can stir up discussion or controversy and some people will decide to form their own opinions (as I often do with movies) than take a reviewer’s. The reviewer is a buffer: I know reviewer A never likes xyz, but I do so if they hate it, I will most surely like it.  A review can be used to weed out what you’re going to read or buy. And reviews do give publicity of a sort, whether negative or positive.

Under the review umbrella are a host of chameleons: those written pieces that actually don’t review a piece so much as recap it. I have read reviews that give no indication of whether a story is good or bad, written well or not. All the reviewer does is reveal some of the plot line or all of it. These are not reviews. A review should have an opinion on the storyline and writing. There are the damning with faint praise reviews: this is not very deep, a piece of fluff but was enjoyable nonetheless.

Some reviews take into account that it may be the writer’s first major work. Some discuss the style of writing but don’t go as much into plot, while others will look at the depth and intricacies of plot, the sophistication of writing style and the expertise of the writer’s knowledge in the area in which they are writing.

I know of a few writers who do not read their reviews, afraid that the comments, possibly scathing, will puncture their egos like a helium balloon. I’m happy–well, maybe not happy–to read any review. Perhaps I will learn something about my writing and what I need to fix or change the next time around. Perhaps the reviewer will like it and I’ll feel encouraged. So far, there have been very few reviews of my work, the most probably being “The Fathomless World” in Cone Zero, and those again fell into mostly recapping the stories.

It’s important to note though, that many reviewers are just like you and me. It’s their opinion. Some reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt. I always figured I could be a good art critic because I can look at/read something and personally dislike it but examine the technique and skilled unbiasedly and see if the artist knows their stuff. Still, I would get down to what I don’t or do like about a piece as part of the review.

Some people love steampunk. Some hate elf and unicorn stories. Some hate free form verse or poems about flowers. Others dislike first person stories, or plots involving government overthrows and secret spies. These likes and dislikes will always flavor a review, but the good reviewer will be able to examine the writing as a whole. Aspects that reviewers might touch on are: depth and variety of characterization, plot flow, conflict and resolution, plausibility and depth of storyline, atmosphere, description, language, voice (authorial as opposed to characters), overall readibility and whether the author’s voice insinuates itself, etc.

So, in the spirit of reviewing, if someone would like to review something I’ve already written, please let me know and I’ll send it to you. This is a limited time offer (in case there are millions out there.) I will also post the review, whether favorable or not and then probably crawl away into my hole and rethink my view that I’d rather have a review than no review at all.

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