Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: blogging

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'”

So…

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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Am I Authoring My Life or Are Others Writing It for Me?


Book Discussions There’s a conversation going on here…

It began on February 12th and continued on the 14th

So far, the conversation has been about an author’s conversation with the world and having a conversation on this blog :-)

Reader Comments on the 14th:

“I like the idea of blogs being a conversation rather than a monologue.”

I think every author stands at that window of trust and wonders if it’s possible to jump and land unhurt. In a way, we are all shouting into the emptiness of bookspace and listening with surprise to faint answers.”

A comment about, though extending, those comments, on the 14th:

“‘Am I authoring my life or are others writing it for me?’ That’s a very interesting question. I guess we would all like to be the author of our lives but……. what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it? On the other hand a book may have an author but it is also written in the reader’s head, who shapes its story in their imagination as well. So perhaps both states of being are desirable – you author and other people read “versions” of your authored work and somehow or other we all reach the end of the book, better read, still wondering if we understood the climax and the denouement and hoping there will be a good ending :-)”

I find this comment fascinating since it starts with a question I’d asked and immediately takes it to territory dealing with an author’s conversation with their own work—writer talking to their writing…

My response to, “what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it?”, is that we can’t be absolutely sure what happens in our lives and the author can’t be absolutely sure what will happen in their book—until it happens—until it’s written…

But… We can plan intelligently and faithfully about our lives and the author can do the same about their book…

Still… We must accept what life makes of our efforts and the author must accept the “place” the book wants to go, as well as what readers want to make of the book…

The rest of that reader’s comment is still being processed and I may have to delay fully commenting until I’ve mined it for more meaning—rather like certain situations in my life—rather like certain situations in books…

Though, I do get some tentative meaning:

Life and books are being constantly re-written and the stories can certainly seem to blend into or clash with each other—we can either accept the situation or we can go a bit mad under the relentless flow—books take us places we may not expect nor like—life certainly does the same…

Yet, a book we don’t like can be put down and a life course can be abandoned…

Perhaps, the best advice, at times, is to find a book you like better—re-write your future with fresh plans…

Have I made any sense for you?

Have something to add to the conversation?

Have a few questions you’d like to ask?

Do, please, leave a comment or two…

The conversation continues on Wednesday :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Coming up for a Bit of a Air . . .


Healing It’s been awhile—reasons here and here—been reblogging a lot—have a story idea—still not “all well”…

I may have a regular blog post soon; or, I may not—this healing phase is not going smoothly…

I will, however, have a new Tale for my Story Bazaar on February 9th—assuming I’m still alive…

What I’m going through is very hard to articulate—very deep, very confusing, very personal…

I’ve come through scarier times; but, this healing is still way spooky…

Perhaps I’ll do an interim post about the reading I’m doing to help me heal…

Stay tuned………

Authorial Decisions ~ WebSite, Social Media, Blogging…?


I haven’t featured Jane Friedman (author, digital media strategist, editor, publisher, professor, speaker) for quite some time… Authors, Websites, Social Media

I’ll be sharing excerpts from two of her articles…

The first one leans toward author websites, the second toward social media…

Jane tends to conflate blogs with websites, which is perfectly understandable; yet, be aware, a blog can be considered “social media”…

And, I must emphasize that no matter how much help any of the excerpts may be, not reading her full articles will be a great loss (especially if you’re a writer…).

So…

The first article is, What’s More Important: Author Websites or Social Media?

Excerpts:

“These days, I get more noticeable results from my website and blogging efforts, email newsletters, and in-person networking than I do from social media. Not that I want to give up social media—quite the contrary—but I could walk away from Facebook and still earn a living. Not so with my website—it’s absolutely fundamental.”

Then, there are these bullet topics, as reasons a website is important (each Ripe with juicy info.…):

* Being more discoverable through search
* Offering the media (and influencers) the official story on you and your work
* Securing high-quality email newsletter subscribers
* Understanding what social media use is effective
* Monetizing the audience you have

Then (especially for those folks who won’t read her full article):

“Thankfully, you don’t (or shouldn’t) have to choose between having an author website or participating on social media. Nurture both. Choose to make your website a proud and strong showcase for your work and what you want to be known for, and don’t expect social media to always be the hub for all your branding or reader discovery. You’ll be stronger if you have a multi-faceted approach, especially if and when social media fails you.”

Article twoSocial Media for Authors: The Toughest Topic to Advise On

Excerpts (again, stressing that there’s much more meat to chew at the full article):

“Of all the topics I teach, social media is the most vexed. Even in a small class of writers, I find varying skill levels and experience, and a mix of attitudes—and these two factors play a strong role in what people need to hear or learn. I believe a successful social media strategy is driven by one’s personality and strengths, as well as the qualities of the work produced—leading to a unique approach for each writer.”

Then, she throws a critical bombshell of Truth:

“Because social media is widely considered essential to book marketing and promotion, yet it’s constantly changing, it’s become a burden and source of anxiety for beginners and advanced authors alike.”

And, the following bullet points (again, each Ripe with juicy info….):

* Your social media following grows mostly when you produce more work.
* Use social media to micro-publish or to share your work.
* People break social media “rules” all the time and succeed.

So, I’ll leave you with Jane’s summation on social media; and, one last time, urge you to read her full articles:

“So what can I possibly say to writers to help them become better at it [social media]? Well, first, don’t take it all so seriously. Look for what you enjoy. Have a spirit of questioning and discovery. Follow a daily routine that works for you. Sustainable and meaningful social media practice isn’t so different from getting your ‘real’ writing done.”

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Even though it may say “Fee”, it Really is FREE :-)

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For All Writers & Publishers (Curious Readers Also Welcome)


No re-blog today…

I found a recent article by Jane Friedman

In case you’re new to this blog, here’s a bit of Jane’s Bio:

“Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. She has been interviewed and featured by NPR, PBS, The Washington Post, the National Press Club and many other outlets.”

The article is called, Book Marketing Resources for Authors: The Best of 2016, and here are the main categories of resources:

Amazon

Facebook

Social media

Copywriting

Blogging

Giveaways, reviews & discounts

Online education

SEO

Learn from successful authors

Marketing ideas and roundups

Marketing tools and resources

At Jane’s site in 2016

I doubt you’ll find as much top-notch info anywhere else…
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