Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Australia

Our Conversation Moves through Grammar toward Learning and Magic . . .

We’ve been having a conversation on this blog for 5 of the last 16 days—every Monday and Wednesday… Blog Conversations

The last go-round went into the shades of meaning of two phrases and how they lend themselves to explaining different approaches to our experience of reading.

I ended up saying:

Reading, with concentration and empathy, will help you escape into books as well as escaping with books—you can live inside the book; and, you can internalize the book’s world to help shield you from
“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…

Which lead on to two comments, the first from Australia, the second from England (I’m over here in the U.S.A.…):

“The only grammar I learnt at school came from learning a foreign language. I learnt how to write by reading a lot and then under the care of a wonderful teacher, who, every day of my school life, asked for a paragraph of creative prose from each member of the class. We always wrote it in class and then read out what we had written. One day a student stood up and asked: ‘Why do you make us write such unhappy pieces?’ The teacher smiled and said: ‘I have never given you any topic to write about. You have written what you are feeling.’ It was true: we were confused adolescents. We escaped into our own little worlds and the rest of the class escaped into the small worlds we had created…we had never heard of transitive or intransitive :-)”

“I suppose I knew about transitive and intransitive when I did A level English but those phrases about books can be interpreted just as well without understanding grammar. After a while some readers just seem able to feel how to write, and read, without knowing too much grammar, which is why the new emphasis on grammar rules in Junior School English is a waste of time. By all means teach punctuation and discuss nouns, adjectives and adverbs, but what else do most people need? I agree with reciting tables (and poetry). Children will find that useful when, like me, they have forgotten most of the grammar they learned at school.”

So, before I add to the conversation proper, I’ll explain the title of this post—Our Conversation Moves through Grammar toward Learning, and Magic . . .

I got “learning” and “magic” from the etymology of Grammar:

“late 14c., ‘Latin grammar, rules of Latin’, from Old French gramaire ‘grammar; learning’, especially Latin and philology, also ‘(magic) incantation, spells, mumbo-jumbo'”


Both of those comments (from Australia and England) came from accomplished authors…

The first noting that grammar was only an experience related to learning a foreign language and the second putting grammar in the closet of things not worth a tremendous amount of attention…

I’ve even heard, from an English teacher in college, that the grammar we use in English is taken directly from Latin—weird, eh?

Yet, the first commenter brought up a glowing remembrance of writing creative paragraphs (an implied use of grammar) and the second made reference to understanding the structure of language by Feel, through experiencing it, while forgetting any grammar learned…

I am certain there are folks who spent many hours of their lives studying grammar, and continue to think about it for hours, and use what they learned and pondered—building a written piece from its bare skeleton out—applying the flesh as a mere necessity to hold the bones…

And, there are a flock of folks who are somewhere between that last group and our two accomplished authors…

Then, there are the crowd who one might call language fundamentalists—blowing themselves up in public over rigid ideas of what words are for…

Sure, there are some who write things poorly—concatenations nearly impossible to read—swerving all over the highway of meaning…

And, finally, those who put words down because something Magic, deep inside, moves them to relate creations that can enspell us into other worlds…

So, from confused and sad adolescents, pouring out their hearts, paragraph after paragraph, to those who’ve “forgotten” their “grammar” yet still tell stories—moving through Grammar toward Learning and Magic…

By the way, my favorite definition of Magic, from the Oxford Dictionary of English is:

very effective in producing the desired results

I’m sure I’ll eventually move away from so much etymologizing…

Still, once again, we’ve had some sort of “conversation” here…

And, if you feel like adding your thoughts and/or feelings to it, do, please, leave a comment :-)
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April Fools ?

Rather than my normal re-blog today, I’m sharing something from Smashwords.

April Fool's Day

Image Courtesy of Michelle Dennis ~

However, before I share that, I must reveal a particular confluence of my writing and my gullibility

Yesterday, I published the Thirty-Seventh Tale on my Friday Feature, “Story Bazaar”.

It was called “Alternative Facts”that title echoing something that became an “issue” here in the USA (and, I’m sure, a few other countries…—and, in case you missed it, here’s a bit of news coverage…)

Also yesterday, as I often do, I sent my Best Friend, who lives in Australia, a link to a story from one of her newspapers.

It claimed the Mayor of Melbourne was instituting a policy to keep Daylight Saving Time going in the Central Business District to increase financial benefits

It turned out to be an April Fools’ prank that totally took me in (and, if you’re wondering, it is true that Australia gets to any given day sooner than I do…)

So, when I put those two things I did together, I get this weird formula:

Alternative Facts ?=? April Fools

And, all that leads me to the hard-hitting article from Smashwords—Fahrenheit 451 Meets April Fools—read it and ponder

I’ll give you one excerpt to entice you to take the link:

“What does it portend for civil society and humanity when willful ignorance is celebrated above facts?

“As authors and readers, we should care. Books are the best vehicles for deep thinking. We authors have the power – one book at a time – to right this wayward ship.  We readers have a responsibility to demand truth telling.”

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A Few More Reasons to Consider #SelfPublishing

This will make the 148th post I’ve done about “Self-Publishing”.

To see all the others, find the word in the Top Tags widget (down a bit in the left side-bar…)—you’ll see this post there, too, since I’ve tagged it with “Self-Publishing” :-)

So, a few more reasons to consider this “new” (it’s been around since the ’90s…) way to publish

You may not have noticed that traditional publishers are floundering all over the place to “adjust” to the economic realities of the BookWorld.

You also may not have noticed that governments around the world are flailing about, nearly helpless to stop the global economy from unravelling.

About the only thing that’s positive about these situations is that the economies of most countries all depend on one another—unified whether they like it or not—so the “leaders” might just work out some solutions

It’s times like these that breed individualistic activity

Two cases that boldly highlight these issues are in Australia and Israel.

The Australian government has recently attempted to change the traditionally published authors’ protections—witness this articleCall for Clarity on Copyright.

I believe the government may have backed down but the situation is still a sign of the times.

Just one excerpt from that article:

“The government risks seriously damaging an Australian book market that generates $2b in revenue per annum – a healthy, competitive and unsubsidised creative industry — with its unproven plan to abolish the right to buy a licence to publish and market a book in Australia.”

Now, the situation in Israel

Amid Controversy, Israel Repeals Its Fixed Price ‘Book Law’

Again, just one excerpt:

“…the law resulted in a large increase in the price of new titles along with a subsequent decline in sales. Publishers say that while book sales overall fell by 20 percent, sales of newly published books–which fell under the law’s restriction on discounts–declined by as much as 60 percent…”

Something to consider:

As long as there are still governments and economic systems and global communication, self-publishing is “relatively” immune to governmental malfeasance—and, I should add, as long as governments don’t shut-down companies like Amazon and FastPencil and Smashwords and many other outlets for self-published books.

For instance:

I published my novel through FastPencil (though you can grab a free copy Here…).

FastPencil distributed it to Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.

Primarily because it appeared on Amazon, it was picked up by retailers in many other countries, with FastPencil and I not lifting our fingers—just a function of the global economy.

Even in Australia, where they apparently have various restrictions on books from other countries, my book is available on AmazonAustralia

The main point is that my book is as open to not being available as traditionally published books, IF society in general unravels a lot more; but, if it can hold itself at its present wobbly level of functioning, self-published books are more immune from government interference than traditionally published books.

Do be aware, I’m not trying to present a “well-reasoned” “case” for the dangers of traditional publishing—just presenting a few situations that seem, to me, to indicate the worth of investigating self-publishing.

The only thing I can’t do in this post is predict the future………
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Writing Knowledge from Down Under…

I wonder if there are a few readers who saw the title of this post and thought, “Oh, wow! Alex is going to talk about getting help for our writing from the subconscious.”

Melbourne Australia

Image of the Capital of Victoria courtesy of Greg Bains ~

Actually, I’m not gonna do that…

But, really-actually, I’ve done that before here and will probably do it again.

And, really-truly-actually, one of the links in this post is to an article that does get close to the subconscious

However, for those who didn’t know, “Down Under” is a physical place that’s also called Australia.

Though, I’m going to share about a particular place on/in the continent/country—the state of Victoria.

My Best Friend happens to be a writer in the Down Under state of Victoria.

And, if it weren’t so late at night where she is, I’d ask her if she recommended a particular WebSite to me or if I just, as we all do, happened upon it

The site is Writers Victoria and that link is their Home page; but, I’m going to first share a few links from their On Writing pages

Here’s an article by Lee Kofman, a Russian-born Israeli-Australian author—My Top 13 Writing Resources—a wonderfully varied list of fantastic stuff.

Next, an article with Margie Lawson, psychotherapist and editor—Deep Editing—where she says, “I analyze how writers capture emotional reactions including body language, dialogue cues, and visceral responses on the page, and teach them how to make them fresh and natural.”

And, an article with Greg Foyster, full-time freelance writer and editor—The Business of Freelancing—for those brave souls who write for cash (not “advances”…).

There are a ton of other articles in their On Writing pages………

Other places of interest on the site:

Writing Advice

Writing Workouts

Short stories, features and poems from their writing community

There’s Way More on the site; but, I’ll let you discover it—especially those of you who either live in Australia or plan to visit :-)
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Books and Translations

Most of the readers of this blog come from three English-speaking countries—the U. S. A., Australia, and the United Kingdom (in that order).

However, since there have been substantial numbers of visitors from over 40 countries, I have to assume English is read in many places where it isn’t generally spoken.

I wonder, often, about blogs published in other languages, and their readers

How often is something written in, let’s say, Finnish, read in countries other than Finland?

My main question today, however, is how often do English-speaking readers read books translated from other languages?

A bit of insight could be gained from reading an article from the U.K.’s The IndependentNovel Translation Lets Us Know What Is Really Happening In The World.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Those millions of Britons who refuse to learn any other language always console themselves with a favourite fantasy. The British, they believe, speak the world’s chosen tongue as their birthright. They have won the lottery of globalised life.”

“In fact, they grow up speaking a rich, resourceful but ever-more parochial provincial dialect.”

“…we can at least honour and reward the arts of translation that deliver the world to our doorstep.”

“If many of us won’t learn other tongues, we can in any case cherish and applaud the art of the interpreters who rescue us from the loneliness of the ‘anglosphere’.”

“In the UK, the proportion of literary fiction published in translation has crept up from the oft-quoted 3 per cent to something nearer 5 per cent. Since the entire output of British publishers has expanded crazily, that modest growth hides the good news that total numbers of translations have expanded by almost two-thirds.”

But, that’s only the U.K.

What about Australia?

What about the United States?

And, especially to the folks out there who are reading this in a non-English-speaking country, are the books in your native tongue being translated into English?

And, what percentage of books written in English are translated into other languages—and, how many other languages?

I suppose I could do some research; but, I’m going to keep wondering and hoping that a few of my readers will share what they know in the Comments :-)

Also, you may be interested in checking out my past post, Readers Educated About Reading Translations.

Finally, because most of my readers live in English-speaking countries (and a substantial number of readers in non-English-speaking countries continue to visit), I’ll share the link to an article on CounterPunch100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900.
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