HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

Anyone out there remember this Bonnie Tyler song from the eighties?

“Holding Out For A Hero”

Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

[Chorus] 

I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong And he’s gotta be fast And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure And it’s gotta be soon And he’s gotta be larger than life, larger than life!
Somewhere after midnight In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet
[Chorus]
Up where the mountains meet the heavens above Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me
Through the wind and the chill and the rain And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach Like the fire in my blood
[Chorus]

Songwriters Jim Steinman;Dean Pitchford; Published by SONY/ATV MELODY

Remove the assumption of the hero being male, and you are left with the hopes I had for our next President. (Bet you didn’t see that coming!)  I’m taking a break from writing about writing to voice my frustrations.

I was on board with the “Ready for Hillary” campaign. I started out the protracted campaign season hopeful of a first woman President who would draw from the wisdom of years in the domestic and foreign political arena and an up-close perspective on the presidency from her years as First Lady. I knew she was flawed. But I looked at the alternatives and drew a preliminary conclusion that she offered, in my eyes, more of a real life perspective to me than any of the Democratic or Republican potentials during those “Ready for Hillary” months

Enter the primary season. I made excuses for her scripted interactions and lack of eye contact, for the early accusations of her being owned by Wall Street. I ignored friends (including Democrats) who said she was dishonest and not to be trusted. I still didn’t see anyone else who was better.

Enter Donald Trump. As someone who avoided the Fox Network and Republican thinking in general, I was introduced to him through mainstream media, which was much kinder to him during primary season than they are now. Hard as I fought it, I liked much of what he said and how he said it. Yes, he was outrageous and unpolished. But like many who flipped sides and voted for him in the state primaries with open ballots (unlike NYS, where we could only vote for the primary candidate in our registered party), I found his unscripted, take-me-or-leave-me honesty refreshing. I loved that he was “bought” financially by no one, and seemed to be in this campaign because he genuinely cared about the future of the country, rather than what the office of the presidency could do for him. He had great, well-spoken, nice kids! I started paying attention.

Fast-forward again. Hillary’s email scandal raised eyebrows. But Donald’s frequent gaffes – which, by the way, received much more frequent and protracted publicity than the Hillary issues – did concern me to an extent. I held on to the words of many high-level (and often unexpected) Trump supporters whose off-the-podium experiences with him were totally different, totally favorable. Hillary’s “platform” became increasingly liberal, as she sought to win over Bernie supporters – to the point where she became unrecognizable to me – this was not the strong and independent woman I supported, despite her known flaws, through the “Ready for Hillary” campaign. She had become a candidate who would say anything to get elected, regardless of her core beliefs – whatever they were.

I so wanted a hero. I looked at one crisis after another erupting in our own country and on the world scene. I wanted a presidential hero who would slay the dragons and, yes, make our country great again – or at least whole and united.

The mass media turned against Donald Trump as soon as he won the nomination, twisting the meaning of things he said and barely mentioning the scandals plaguing Hillary. I wasn’t seeing the media’s image of a man who is racist, and sexist, and anti-Muslim – but rather, he is politically incorrect (blunt) in the way he presents his proposals to protect the country. I started flipping between regular media and Fox News to get a less slanted perspective.

Here’s the bottom line I’ve come away with so far. I don’t trust Hillary not to walk the path of least resistance, particularly if it is paved with gold for her. On the other hand, I’m uncomfortable with Donald’s unwillingness to become at least as politically correct as is needed to give the public (including foreign countries) confidence in his capabilities (skewed public media reports aside). And those running third and fourth party campaigns are just spoilers. They can’t win, and they could skew the final outcome without adding anything to the quality of the winning candidate.

So there it is. I’m still holding out for a hero. Will the real hero please ride in on your fiery steed and give our country some hope of being saved?

 

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Keep Writing Through The Tough Times

Once again, I’m borrowing from Jane Friedman’s blog (why re-invent the wheel?). Her guest post, written by Jessica Strawser, discusses five ways to keep writing when life’s tough times intervene:

https://janefriedman.com/5-ways-keep-writing-life-intervenes/#comments

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Queer Quotient in Hindu Mythology

I found this posting, by dhairyasathvara, quite fascinating, supporting the belief that sexual preferences and gender identity are not as prescripted as much of society still attempts to make them. “What seems unnatural is also natural.”  Tomorrow I will return to topics on writing, but for now…Please read on with an open mind….

‘Vikruti evam Prakruti’ Vikruti evam Prakruti. This term in Sanskrit literally translates to ‘ What seems unnatural is also natural’. This is stated in the Rigveda, one of the four…

Source: Queer Quotient in Hindu Mythology

Posted in Uncategorized

Buried by Boxes

We just completed our third move in four years.

Well, saying we completed it is a bit of an exaggeration, given that, after four days in the new house, we still have so many unopened boxes and “stuff” we can’t find. It’s the last-minute panic packing that causes that. Early on, every box is carefully labeled and contains the related categories of possessions (clothes, tools, Christmas decorations, etc.). But as the moving date nears, a bit of panic sets in, and organization takes a back seat. Stationery supplies end up in boxes with CDs and toiletries with last-packed cleaning supplies. The remnants go into whatever boxes have a little space. But, of course, since there is no logic to it, trying to find those oddly distributed items becomes a challenge of high order.

So here it is on day five and there still are items among the missing. But the house is taking on a semblance of order, which meant I could take a bit of time out to write a blog post.

What does moving have to do with writing?

So many of life’s demands chip away at writing time. Moving makes bigger chips than, say, a routine appointment with the dentist. And as many writers know, the longer you are away from your current writing project, the more challenging it is to return to it. Where did I leave off? What was I planning to do next? Did I finish that last part? What brilliant ideas were forming in my brain when they were so rudely interrupted by the rapid approach of moving day? Can I slide back into it for brief periods in between unpacking and organizing? Or must I wait until I can devote a larger block of time? Oh, yes, and where did I leave off on the on-line course I started?

There isn’t one answer. My driving force is luring me back into my novel rewrites. But I also promised help to a young, enthusiastic first-time novelist who is pursuing publication of his first novel. Recalling my gratitude for help I received when starting out, paying that help forward feels like a priority. It also can be done in shorter blocks of time than the novel rewrites. And it makes me feel good to help someone else.

So that’s today’s project – letting him know the promised material will be ready soon, and pulling together the information and advice for my young friend.

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INSIDE THE MIND OF A SWEET SIXTEENER

I am moving. I’m also attempting to create a believable sixteen year old girl for a new story line. How are the two related?

I’m fifty years removed from being sixteen. And I had no children. How can I recall what it looked and felt like to be sixteen, and then reconstruct that to reflect a 21st century version? It was so long ago, I don’t trust my memory of my inside self in those days, nor do I have any idea if the core feelings of a sixteen year old in 1966 are remotely similar to a sixteen year old today.

Moving always involves sorting and packing. As I was sorting through boxes that have remain packed since our last move, my goal was to purge and consolidate. That required going through all of the contents of the “persistently-packed” boxes. What did I come upon but a journal I kept at the ripe young age of sixteen!

My first thought after skimming the first few pages (AFTER congratulating myself for never throwing anything out) was “Holy Crap! Was I really ever that schmaltzy and self-centered?”

Once I admitted to myself that the proof was in the print (or rather, neat script), I moved on to wondering: do sixteen year old girls still think like this?

Examples:

“Happiness is having parents who don’t compare the boys you go out with and tear apart the one you like most.”

“Misery is spending only five minutes in the bathtub with my favorite magazine before dropping it in the water.”

“Happiness is understanding your physics homework and passing the next test.”

“Misery is coming home from school, seeing your mother has cleaned your room–and found your journal.”

Heard enough yet? I could go on with my sixteen-year-old self’s quotes from Longfellow and Tennyson and Shelly – who remembered I was so into poetry in those days? And my favorite: “O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable…” Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene 2. I was so deeply, madly in love.

I sort of miss that girl, now that I’ve had a glimpse of her again. She was so immersed in feelings and so much more artsy than I was through most of my adult years, after I was brainwashed into believing I couldn’t make a living with writing. Is it possible to reincarnate her in a 21st century version?

My point is, having little or nothing to do with teenage girls since my own teen years which were, admittedly, half a century ago, I haven’t a clue how much has changed in the core of sixteen year old girls today. I can see the external changes, of course – the smartphones that are an extension of their limbs, and the piercings and tattoos, the clothes (sorry to say this, but even the “trashy girls” in my day didn’t expose so much of their midriffs and tushes and breasts). But who is the real girl inside the exterior?

I know some of my FB friends are very young – if not in their teens, then close enough to remember what it felt like. And I’m guessing the same of my blog followers. So I’m asking for your help:

Please share with me what it is like to be sixteen in the twenty-first century.

 

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Keep Writing to Get Better?

If you just keep writing, will you get better? This is the topic of a recent post by Jane Friedman (https://janefriedman.com/practice/), drawing from the informative book, Peak, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool.

Peak

The reality is that you need the right kind of training to improve. Doing the same thing over and over in the same way will not yield change in the form of improvement.

Ms. Friedman explains the salient points of the book. If it enlightens and intrigues you as much as it did me, you might also want to head on over to Amazon for this excellent resource!

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The Long Road to a Finished Novel

I’ve posted a few times about the completion of the first draft of my third novel, currently titled Gram & Me. I had high hopes of editing and polishing and maybe even securing an agent by this summer. Many revisions later, I continued to receive “no thank-you” from agent after agent, some with brief notes about why it didn’t work for them, others strictly form replies. I’ve had the novel professionally edited and critiqued by numerous people along the way. So many say “your writing is strong, but….” The “but” part differs from one commenter to another. I planned to just bite the bullet and self-publish by this time, but how would that get me any closer to what a novel needs to appeal to the traditional publishing world (whose gatekeepers are agents)? I’m always in such a hurry to move to the next step. And it’s hard to keep responding “not yet” to the questions of friends and family about when the book will be out when none of them really understands the challenges of the publishing world.

So I’m faced with a couple of choices. I could just go ahead and self-publish. The book would be out by fall, in plenty of time to promote heavily for the holidays. I’m proud of the story and my writing. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from early readers. But…. How long should I continue, book after book, pursuing the Holy Grail of publishing through a major publisher? So many writer acquaintances remind me that you lose a lot of control when you let a major publisher take control of your book – AND, with the rare exception of a breakthrough novel that hits the bestseller lists, there’s actually better potential to make money through self-publishing, if making money is the goal.

So, should I pursue the path of least resistance? Just publish the damn book and move on? Or do I forge on, pursuing the shortcomings of Gram & Me and the changes that would make it more appealing to agents, knowing that probably means many more dollars spent on detailed critiques and many more hours/days/weeks/months spent rewriting until the novel begins to win praise and the coveted “yes” from agents and publishers? Do I walk away from my writing dreams and pursue other goals in my remaining years, knowing this “failure” will follow me every step of the way, and that “giving up” will haunt me with what-ifs until eternity?

I already knew when I started this post that I wasn’t ready to give up on Gram & Me yet. Part of the reason for that was the hope I read into the cover note of a new critique. The critique arrived when I was on vacation, and I was unable to open the document with the details. But the cover note started out with “I’ve finished going through your pages and gave you a lot of comments. I really like much of your writing, and I feel you have some good components here that could be worked into a strong story.” That might not sound like high praise. But you need to know that it comes from the same reviewer who basically told me to trash my last novel in January of 2015. So understand that she doesn’t sugarcoat her comments. If she believed this novel has potential, that’s high praise in my book! Vacation ends today, and I can print out and study her comments and try on her recommendations. In the big picture, what makes more sense: self-publishing another book into oblivion, or knowing that – win or lose – I gave it every possible chance to succeed (given my definition of success)?

What would you do?

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