Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ktraveldan Network

Ktraveldan Network Kim Riley wrote: "anyone who discounts the validity of astrology as a direct result of ignorance, misunderstanding, or fear must be stoopid, and that's all there is to it. Case closed!"

I laughed, for Adolph Hitler, Shirley Temple, Richard Nixon, Jesus Christ, (if you accept his celebrated birthday as actual) and I are all Capricorns. How valid does that make astrology?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nothing went right, but all is right anyway

Has anyone else questioned the headlines our president is getting in recent days for what everyone but Bush League politicians have been saying for months? “W” is suddenly acknowledging responsibility for what he is obviously responsible for!

So far, he hasn’t been held accountable, but newspapers are headlining his candor in claiming responsibility, anyway. For example, he now admits that intel about Iraq was faulty. He acknowledges that the war has not always gone smoothly. And he gets more and more headlines and, yes, praise for saying the obvious. His poll numbers have even climbed.

When we hail the chief for simply admitting being chiefly responsible, what does that say about our national expectations of the guy?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Published writers get published; wannabes get exploited

I have long thought that one could write an exposé contending the most exploited group of workers in this country are writers, especially would-be authors. Think of the huge industry there is taking money from people who hope, mostly in vain. They hope that this or that book, this or that course, this or that editor, this or that workshop, this or that magazine, this or that paid-to-read agency, this or that "contest," and, finally, this or that vanity press, will somehow get their manuscripts published, and as best sellers! Ah, the hopes of the millions who wish to see their words in print! The proliferation of blogs is at least partly a result of that wish.

I cannot imagine that Tom Wolfe, for example, purchases a new copy of the WRITERS MARKET each year. But the reference book is expanded and updated yearly and sold for big bucks to thousands upon thousands of aspiring writers, some who have a closet full of older editions. The number of publishing houses who will not consider new authors grows with each fat edition. So do the number of notations that only agent-submitted manuscripts will be considered. Still, would-be authors by the tens of thousands buy the new edition each year and pour over the pages looking for the publisher of their dreams to reject their work.

I would even bet that there are few published authors who subscribe to WRITERS DIGEST. The large circulation figures of that magazine are made up of people who hope to be published, not authors of best sellers, Pulitzer winners, and other writers supporting themselves as authors.

There are other marketing volumes offering hope similar to that of WRITERS MARKET. Countless books with the promises of publication embedded somehow in the hopeful title fill bookstore shelves.

Who buys them? Not published authors! The wannabes fill their shelves with the latest on how to write, how to publish, how to market, etc.

Some struggling to publish have been willing to pay as much as $10,000 for the professional editing of a story they believe will make them famous and rich, in that order. Yes, there are “editors” advertising their services for such fees. No promise of publication accompanies their offer to edit, however. Editors make their money from the hopeful writer. The writer makes nothing. You don’t believe me? Then tell an editor you will pay his fees after you sign the six figure contract as a result, in part, of his editing your manuscript. See if the editor will work for and with you and take pay only after the sale, as you, the writer must do.

There are also books and articles and workshops, almost yearly, on how to write successful queries. How to write an outline. How to develop a plot. How to create believable characters. There was even a book a few years ago on how to name characters. I have come to believe that the best way to get published may well be to write a book on some aspect of how to get published! The potential market for such volumes is, obviously, huge and never ending.

So the "struggling writer," believing in himself or herself, tries everything, spends money by the buckets, and keeps trying and spending and spending and spending as the huge publishing industry, with all its tangental groups and businesses, makes money from the "writers'" efforts while almost never publishing the writer’s work.

There are many "Contests" requiring entry fees! Sponsors make millions and give away thousands in "prizes." Writers are pleased enough with a certificate of participation or one of the thousands of fancy ones mailed to “runners -up” that they happily send a check the next year with a new entry.

Anthologies of the best poetry, or short stories, of 2005, or the like, are announced yearly. And guess what? Enter six short poems (they don’t accept long ones) and likely be notified that one has been selected. There will also be a prepublication order form for a copy of the $75 book which will include your poem. In print at last! For only $75 dollars a book! And thousands of wannabes do it with every scam publication that comes along.

Magazines occasionally buy an article and all the rights to it from a new writer for a pittance or for complimentary copies of the magazine! Editors of poetry journals from the many university presses tell those who submit that subscribers to their poetry journal have a better chance of being selected for publication, and, “By the way, here is a subscription form.”

Many agents charge a fee to read and "evaluate" a manuscript. Those who don't charge for evaluation, charge for trying to sell it to the publishers where they have an "in." And they charge the author for phone calls, copying, and mailing done on the authors’ behalf. No one takes a chance but the writer. If the manuscript does sell, the agent makes even more from the writers’ talent.

Publishers who occasionally buy a manuscript tell the new author their "tentative" and grandiose plans for national marketing. If sales do not take off on day one, the publisher does not increase advertising and send the unknown author on a promotional tour, including television appearances. The company changes those "tentative" plans and sells the small first printing as best it can while looking elsewhere for the next book to publish.

I understand that the system is free enterprise. I understand that publishing is meant to be a money making business, not a subsidy of the arts or a promotion of literature. That does not change the exploitive nature of all who take money from would-be writers in exchange for hope.

And all the while published authors continue to publish. Anything they write. Their later works may be critically panned. The quality may deteriorate. It may be far less literary or readable than that of many unpublished writers striving to be published. No matter. If one is published, then one will get published. If not already published, then the chances are weighted heavily against the possibility of ever getting published.

Millions of unpublished writers collect rejection slips each year. Most may be accurate assessments of both the quality of the manuscript and the chances that it would make money for the publisher.

Some, however, are rejections of masterpieces that could become best sellers, contribute to the fine literature of the nation, and make millions for both the publisher and the author. If only a publishing company with sense and taste and a willingness to promote a new genius would read and accept the manuscript!

My own submitted and rejected stories are good examples.

I would expand on all this to a book-length manuscript, but where could I possibly get it published?

~ ~

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Some punch lines go right over our heads

If you have ever had the punch line of a joke flash through your mind regularly, then you may understand. For the last couple of years or more, I keep thinking at odd times of the one about the blonde who went through her marriage ceremony with her hair in curlers. “She was saving her coiffure for the reception.”

I know. Stupid. But that is what can happen with punch lines. Like tunes, they sometimes keep coming back like a song. (groan.)

Anyway, try a little mind game with me. First, pretend that you believed your president and the rest of the Bush League politicians during the run up to the Iraq war. Many of you probably did. But maybe you are among those who had doubts.

Perhaps you are among those who listened to Hans Blix and the UN inspectors on the ground in Iraq reporting regularly that they could find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Or you wondered about the truth written by former ambassador Joseph Wilson saying he found no evidence of the Bush claim that Saddam was buying uranium "from Africa.” Or maybe you thought there might be something to what other nations were saying in doubting the imminent threat. In spite of what the League is saying now, there really were many nations of the world with doubts.

No matter. Pretend that you then believed Saddam had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat because he would not hesitate to use them. I mean, “He used them against his own people.” Saddam is a tyrant. No, he is a mass murdering tyrant with weapons of mass destruction vowing to stand up to the Bush League and the world. So hold the pretense for a minute. O.K. You believe it.

Now, at what point should your belief be shattered? Keep that question in mind as you play along. One more “let’s pretend.”

This time, pretend that you are Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction and a hatred of America plus a determination to fight and win against any US attempts to invade, depose you, capture, or kill you. I mean, Saddam knew that was what Bush was planning to do if he could. So now pretend you are the murderous tyrant Saddam.

All right, here comes the “shock and awe” bombing of “your” country and then invasion. You, as Saddam, are losing! Your country is being destroyed, your army slaughtered or captured, and tens of thousands of your civilian population are being maimed and killed. And you are Saddam, the murdering tyrant, hating America, with a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, fearing for your life, if not for your country.

That seems to me the point in all the events of the Iraq scenario when the entire world, including the Bush League in particular, should have realized that Saddam certainly did not have weapons of mass destruction.

Think about it. If he had them, why didn’t he use them against the “American Satan” invaders? Was he saving them for the reception? Hell, he’s not even blonde!

~ ~

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In November Bush visited South America, Japan, Formosa, China, Mongolia, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and the White House

With Rove and Cheney, at the least, "distracted" by investigations into their Valerie Plame CIA “identity plant,” Bush has been left to shift for himself more than usual. The disastrous Miers nomination may have been a result of that. Who knows? It might also explain some of the muddled responses to Katrina. Bush was vacationing in Texas, Cheney in Montana, and Katrina came roaring ashore with no one in the West Wing to take charge.

It sometimes seems as if those scheduling the president’s time are hard at work keeping him away from the West Wing as much as possible. Or else President Bush, himself, works hard to get out of hard work in Washington. Take a look at November, 2005. Bush visited Argentina and slumped through a series of meetings, saying little, accomplishing nothing. He and Laura flew to Japan for bored looking meetings he blamed on jet lag, and then went on to Formosa where he criticized China. He flew to China, was joined by Condi, praised the leadership for “saying” the words “human rights,” a real breakthrough, I guess, and stopped off in Mongolia.

He is the first American president to visit that nation, a “reward” for their token support of the Iraq war. Remember how pleased people were to credit Nixon with opening China relations when he became the first American president to visit there? “Nixon went to China!” they said proudly. Years from now we can say proudly about Bush, “He went to Mongolia!”

The Bushes flew home to take a six-day holiday at their ranch over the four-day Thanksgiving week end. From there, Bush flew to Tucson for a speech before the seemingly obligatory military audience, and then went on to Phoenix in Airforce One for a fund raiser to help a senator.

One assumes, by the way, that the Republican National Committee reimburses the nation for those expenses when Bush is on partisan trips rather than national business. And Bush, no doubt, forfeits a day’s pay for each workday he is conducting Republican campaign fundraising rather than working as the president of all Americans. I mean, he pledged to bring honesty and integrity to the job.

Anyway, the next morning he flew from Phoenix to El Paso, and the following day went on to Denver where he spoke at a fund raiser for Representative Musgrove, a Republican of Colorado. Then he was off to the Naval Academy for another speech to the military, outlining his plan for Iraq victory. It said so on the huge stage backdrop. The words of his speech were less specific. But forgive him. Bush must have been pounding out drafts of his ideas on a lap top while flying hither and yon during the month. Who can be clear when suffering from "jet lag"?

The result is, Bush spent far more days in November away from Washington than he spent in the White House. Who arranged all that? Why?

It all makes sense if you think about the possible scenarios involving the Republican powers behind the figurehead president. Suppose you were among those who planned to buy the presidency and control the office, nation, and world, and you were looking for a puppet to dangle in the nation's front window every now and then to help you do all that. You want a person to do as your group says about taxes, the environment, perks, laws, Social Security, Medicare, and wars. Would you promote a thoughtful, intellectual person for president, or a George W. Bush?

Are you listening, John McCain? Even by pandering to the Bush League, who did you dirt in 2000, you have little chance of getting the nomination in 2008 if those now in control of the GOP remain there.