Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

The art of writing about pain

Today’s re-blog is a response to imminent death…

Live to Write - Write to Live


I have been absent from this blog for a while. My mom transitioned into a short-term hospice facility and I’ve been dividing my time between New Hampshire and Connecticut. I’m a little stretched thin these days.

I’m telling you this not for sympathy, (but I will take any and all support) but rather I’m letting you know that as writers, when you are going through a particularly painful time – that’s when you should be picking up your pens and writing. Some pretty honest and gut wrenching stuff will come out.

Everyone handles adversity and grief in their own way. For me, it’s writing about it.

Writers all know that writing is and always will be the best therapy. When I write, all of those jumbled thoughts of insanity in my head become clear. I can pull them out and create some semblance of sense. When I write I start…

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#SocialNetworking is Fading Away?

I’ve tagged quite a few posts here with Social Media and Social Networking; but, I didn’t see a tremendous difference between the two terms

Social Networking

Image Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Ceppo ~

Along comes Mike Elgan and I’m finally starting to see a decided difference; just as one is, apparently, disappearing

Mike has over 5 million followers on GooglePlus and nearly 30 thousand on Twitter.

He’s touted as “The world’s only lovable tech journalist” and is a columnist for publications including Computerworld, Cult of Android, Cult of Mac, Forbes, Datamation, eWeek, and Baseline.

I first read him on the site TechConnect in the article, I’m calling it: Social networking is over.

So, concerning the difference between those two “social” phenomena, here’s what Mike says:

“Social networking is personal content. Social media is professional content.”

But, Mike claims social networking is going away:

“The idea was that you could sign up for a social network like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr or Reddit and connect with old friends and acquaintances, make new ones or even interact with strangers about your life.”

I do suggest, if you count on what you call social media (but might be social networking) for your business or career, you go read Mike’s full article (even if you just use social sites for keeping up with friends, you might need to read the full article…)—I’ll just give you a few more excerpts to make going there a bit more appealing:

“What’s happening is that social networking is being replaced or supplanted by three things.”

“The first is messaging.”

“The second is the general world of online distractions…”

“And the third is social media.”

Remember that Mike defined Social Networking as Personal content and Social Media as Professional content.

Just a few more excerpts:

“Talking about one’s own life in a status update is ‘social networking’. Posting or sharing an article or professionally created video is not social networking.”

Here’s a critical issue affecting Mike’s argument:

“Everything is changing all the time. But what hasn’t changed is that we’re still living in an attention economy. Attention is still the most valuable resource. Companies of all kinds are in a bloody, all-out war to figure out how to get more of your attention. As a result, online sites of all kinds are working tirelessly to figure out how to become more attention-grabbing.”

So, whether you use these “social” sites for keeping up with folks or for promoting a book or for other personal behaviors, things are changing rapidly due to the actions of mega-corporations

“Now the websites formerly known as ‘social networks’ are developing and exploring and evolving attention-grabbing activities that are not social networking. This process will continue until hardly anyone is doing social networking anymore.”

I know Promoting a Book could seem like “professional” content; but, when you compare one author’s efforts to the antics of the giant companies like Google, FaceBook, or Twitter, it starts to seem ever so personal

I’m sure Mike has identified an important shift on the social-engagement web; but, I’m not sure the change will totally swamp the personal, social networking—certain folks could create new spaces for it—lots of things might happen
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Getting Edited

Today’s re-blog is for anyone who’s afraid to be edited :-)

Lit World Interviews

Some writers love being edited, and others really, really don’t. Once we’re finished with our darling that we think is absolutely perfect as it is, the last thing we want is criticism. Ann Rice refuses to be edited. Other than proofreading, her words are all written exactly as she wants them. Most other writers, famous or otherwise, tend to have their work edited.

Getting your manuscript back with comments all over the place, and your favourite scene completely trashed could very well lead to apoplectic rage or rivers of tears. If so much is wrong then obviously you must be an absolutely rubbish writer and you may just as well give up could be your next thought—the one that comes after writing the rudest, most insultingly literate letter to your editor before hopefully having the good sense to delete it.

The thing to remember is that when it comes to…

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#Books and Your #MentalHealth

Should we talk to a psychologist whenever we’re haunted or challenged by mental provocations?


Image Courtesy of Johanna Ljungblom ~

And, should we wait—keep plodding through a complicated life—till mental or emotional issues become full-blown mental health crises?

What if we could just find the right books to read?

And, what if they weren’t “self-help” or psychology books?

Back in March, I wrote the article, Can Fiction Really Be Good for What Ails You?

Here are just a few brief excerpts:

“You wouldn’t have a hard time convincing an avid reader that books are tools for life (not just escapist entertainment or exercises in abstract thought).”

“…that’s the thing about reading. Fiction has the benefit of allowing you to momentarily bypass the overwhelming burden of the self. It’s not about you. And yet it is.”

What’s being talked about in that article is Bibliotherapy—the Curative Power of Books.

What might trouble a few folks is that people set up bibliotherapy practices—what if they prescribe exactly the Wrong books?

Some complain about librarians acting as bibliotherapists.

In an article on a site maintained by workers at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh—Bibliotherapy and Me—this quote from the American Library Association is shared:

“The use of books selected on the basis of content in a planned reading program designed to facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from mental illness or emotional disturbance. Ideally, the process occurs in three phases: personal identification of the reader with a particular character in the recommended work, resulting in psychological catharsis, which leads to rational insight concerning the relevance of the solution suggested in the text to the reader’s own experience…”

The article also links to a listing of books related to bibliotherapy in their library

So, since I’m a person who’s learned to be wary of doctors (of the body or the mind) and cautious of folks who act like doctors, I thought I’d share links to those books (Not every book in their list—just the ones I feel an individual might use for themselves or their family…) so you could check them out (in a library if your book budget is broke…) and perhaps apply this therapeutic technique to potential mental/emotional difficulties affecting your life

Biblio-Poetry Therapy : The Interactive Process : A Handbook

Reading to Heal : How to Use Bibliotherapy to Improve Your Life

The Novel Cure : From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

After the Crisis : Using Storybooks to Help Children Cope

Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Abuse Issues

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Fiction isn’t easier…it’s BETTER.

Today’s re-blog is from one of my friends on Wattpad — You should check out her other writings —> @sarahklwilson

Sarah K. L. Wilson

I read an article on how fiction is valuable to expose our flaws and uncover our truths because it’s easier to read so people are more likely to engage than they are with philosophical treatises. That’s true, and of course I take no issue with it, but it want to say very clearly that fiction is not just easier… it’s better.
We’re made to understand life through stories. Stories help us to understand not just the argument, but the emotions behind it and the relational consequences of it. Fiction lets us live a thousand possibilities vicariously and if we live them well we have the chance to do better in our own lives. It’s like saving your game and then trying something crazy in the full knowledge that you can always go back if you ‘die’ and try again. Why settle for reasoned treatise when you can get all that…

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