Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: reading

Wiping Out Illiteracy


Last year I wrote about a major reading initiative in the post, Promoting Literacy by Putting It in World-Crisis-Solving PerspectiveProject Literacy

I recommend all readers, writers, and publishers absorb that post for one important reason:

“Illiteracy affects over 757 million people worldwide and has an impact on global development. Although it is a largely invisible issue, the repercussions of this can be seen in everyday struggles such as poverty, gender inequality, and access to basic civil rights.”

BTW, 757 million people is about 1 in 10 folks who can’t read…

So…

Four days ago, Project Literacy sent me an email—it was to alert me about their Annual Report.

Two basic facts about Project Literacy:

It’s a global campaign founded and convened by the learning company Pearson.

And, if you go to their About Page and scroll to the bottom you’ll see image-links to their 55 collaborating partners…

Apart from encouraging you to Donate, I’ll wrap this up with two videos from them:


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A Fascinating Story from Wattpad


If you scroll down to the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar and click on “Wattpad” you’ll find this post and 25 more (perhaps more yet if you’re reading this post well after Dec. 2016…).

And, if you can’t find the Top Tags (phones often cut off the side-bar) just click on that last link :-)

If you do take that link you’ll find posts about why I began using Wattpad, plus a number of interesting interviews with Wattpad authors, plus some of the benefits of exploring the Wattpad World…

Today I want to show how folks on Wattpad help each other.

Mary L Tabor - Wattpad First there’s Mary L. Tabor who has 22 different works on Wattpad, has been there since March, 2014, and has this to say in her profile:

“Reader, author, professor, radio show host, columnist. Best advice I ever got? ‘Only connect …’ — E.M. Forster.

“This writer believes the process of writing is an ongoing, changing effort—a deeply human experience. We all have language and the ‘word’, as Emerson said, ‘if traced to its root, is found to be borrowed from some material appearance. “Right” means “straight”‘ he explains in Nature, Chapter IV, ‘Language.’

“Thus, we all own metaphor in our words.”

KL Candela - Wattpad Then, there’s KL Candela, who has 4 works on Wattpad, has been there since March 2016, and says in her profile:

“Endless gratitude to Mary L. Tabor who I met here on Wattpad and who then took me under her angel/professor wing for over a year, never asking for a thing in return, except for me to show up and work hard. During this time she taught me much about the craft of creative writing, while always being fast to remind me not to mess with that mysterious place of invention. (See, this is a good teacher.) This fabulous and whip smart woman taught me not only how to write better, she taught me how to read better, and believe me, I know well, because of her, how these two acts must go together if you want to create great writing. Please check out her award winning writing here on Wattpad.

And for me: Published:
Poetry in Launch Magazine; Short Story in Lake Effects 7 Anthology 2015, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON;

Shortlisted in the Glimmer Train Top 25 Short Fiction Contest 2015

That kind of interaction and instruction and friendship is happening all over Wattpad…

Of course, you can use Wattpad to only read, for free (on your phone, if you like…)…

You might also let the authors you read know what you think about their works…

You might try your hand at some original writing…

And, you might post writing you’ve already done…

The thing is, if you hang around long enough, you’ll find friendly, helpful people (from all over the

World:-)
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Crawling Up The Hill, Hoping to See More of The Light…


My regular readers have heard me relate some of my trials and tribulations here—the stress I (and far too many others) suffer in this grossly materialistic age… 

Crawling Up The Hill, Hoping to See More of The Light...

Image Courtesy of Angstrom Angstrom ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/angstro1-36701

And, I suppose I should mention that in spite of what I’ll say in introduction to the main subject of this post, it does fall within the purview of this blog’s “mission” to Explore Reading, Writing, and Publishing

First because I’m a writer—hoping my current travails can be “research” for future writing.

Second because I’m reading some extremely important books to prepare myself for a nearly complete change of lifestyle.

Let me back up, briefly, to a time, roughly 8 years ago, when I was just finishing up 11 months of Hepatitis C treatment—what I used to call Sledgehammer Medicine

I moved from a friend’s place (the VA insisted I have folks nearby during the treatment) to my own apartment which was near a very “European” Cafe—I began to prepare for the writing of the most important book of my life

The Crash of 2007 happened; the Cafe had to close its doors; and, I entered a time of extreme aloneness—working on the book, starting this blog, keeping the blog going, promoting the book—only going out to shop for necessities or for a “vacation” at a local eatery

I must mention meeting and getting to know my Best Friend—I live in the USA—she lives in Australia—we meet in the virtual world Kitely—she’s been my Mortal Savior—held me up as I’ve continually slid down that so familiar Hill

I am getting close to the main subject of this post; but, it does need a proper introduction.……..

So, since about 2008, I’ve not done a lot of “normal” “collective living”—socializing—being around other people.

Yes, Kitely is a really close simulation of all that; but, even though my emotions can be deeply engaged in a virtual world, it is still “virtual

Currently, I’ve been dealing with the tribulations of preparing for a move across town to a place near another “European” Cafe—back to regular “collective life”—out and about—on a mission

NOW, comes the main point—the current culture, worldwide, is sick—ailing—dangerous (things explored in that most important book I mentioned…)—and, this main point has been a challenge (read that as torture) for my whole life—but, there is a way in which moving back into more social engagement could help me “justify” my existence again—live out the remaining short years of Earthly existence headed in the Right Direction………

Concerning the “current culture” and its dangers, there’s an article on The Baffler—Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless—that I’ll quote extensively (while keeping within Fair Use…)

“The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives.”

“There is an obvious political dimension to the claim that wellbeing, with the right attitude, can be produced spontaneously. Months after being elected leader of the most right-wing government in recent British history…David Cameron launched an ill-fated ‘happiness agenda’….As part of Cameron’s changes to the welfare system, unemployment was rebranded as a psychological disorder.”

“This mode of coercion has been adopted by employers, too…Zero-hour-contract laborers in an Amazon warehouse, ‘although they are in a precarious situation . . . are required to hide these feelings and project a confident, upbeat, employable self.’ All of which begs the question: Who exactly are we being well for?”

“The wellbeing ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. The rigors of both work and worklessness, the colonization of every public space by private money, the precarity of daily living, and the growing impossibility of building any sort of community maroon each of us in our lonely struggle to survive.”

I underlined the words in that last quote—as I will in a few of the following quotes

“The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all of us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.”

“With the language of self-care and wellbeing almost entirely colonized by the political right, it is not surprising that progressives, liberals, and left-wing groups have begun to fetishize a species of abject hopelessness. Positive thinking has become deeply unfashionable. The American punk kids I know describe it, disparagingly, as ‘posi’. The British ones, of course, describe it as ‘American’. Whatever you call it, it feels a lot like giving in.”

If you’re still reading, I’m happy that you just might care as much about our sick, dangerous culture as I do

And, in case you read the full article I’m quoting from, while I can agree with much of it, there are points where I strongly disagree

“…the young people I know who are, in general, the very worst at taking basic care of themselves as individuals—the people whose problem is not that they don’t drink enough asparagus water, but that they don’t drink enough of anything that isn’t day-old wine from a foil bag—are those who went through the student and Occupy uprisings of 2010–2012 and experienced, briefly, what it meant to live a different sort of life. What it meant to be part of a community with common goals of which mutual aid and support were not the least. What it meant to experience that sudden, brief respite from individual striving and build a prefigurative society together. The lonely work of taking basic care of yourself as you wait for the world to change is a poor substitute. When you’re washed up and burned out from putting your body on the line to fight the state, it’s especially galling to be told to share a smile and eat more whole grains.”

“Anxious millennials now seem to have a choice between desperate narcissism and crushing misery. Which is better? The question is not rhetorical. On the one hand, Instagram happiness gurus make me want to drown myself in a kale smoothie. On the other, I’m sick and tired of seeing the most brilliant people I know, the fighters and artists and mad radical thinkers whose lives’ work might actually improve the world, treat themselves and each other in ludicrously awful ways with the excuse, implicit or explicit, that any other approach to life is counterrevolutionary.”

“The problem with self-love as we currently understand it is in our view of love itself, defined, too simply and too often, as an extraordinary feeling that we respond to with hearts and flowers and fantasy, ritual consumption and affectless passion. Modernity would have us mooning after ourselves like heartsick, slightly creepy teenagers, taking selfies and telling ourselves how special and perfect we are. This is not real self-love, no more than a catcaller loves the woman whose backside he’s loudly admiring in the street.”

The next quote is, to me, quite powerful and resonant with my current situation:

“The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. A world whose abusive logic wants you to see no structural problems, but only problems with yourself, or with those more marginalized and vulnerable than you are. Real love, the kind that soothes and lasts, is not a feeling, but a verb, an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put in to care and cathexis. That’s the kind of love we’re terribly bad at giving ourselves…”

One final excerpt:

“The ideology of wellbeing may be exploitative, and the tendency of the left to fetishize despair is understandable, but it is not acceptable—and if we waste energy hating ourselves, nothing’s ever going to change. If hope is too hard to manage, the least we can do is take basic care of ourselves. On my greyest days, I remind myself of the words of the poet and activist Audre Lorde, who knew a thing or two about survival in an inhuman world, and wrote that self care ‘is not self-indulgence—it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’”

This is one of the longest posts I’ve done because I’m facing one of the greatest challenges of my life—giving up the “hiding away” I’ve been doing for years and entering the Fray—reaching out to a Community (at a Cafe) and attempting to share what I’ve learned about what “Works” (increases the Light) and what makes you keep sliding down that ol’ Hill……………….

With no apologies this time, I will say, Pray for me.

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And, for those who can sympathize with the plight of being too alone and not know where to find a rational escape, there is a Program that helps build sane and satisfying Communities.
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Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century


I don’t really “review” books here—I tend to mention them, make somewhat desultory comments that I hope characterize them (somewhat), then let you decide… Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

So, this book—Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century.

I’ll first share what their blurb says:

“Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in the fifteenth century introduced an era of mass communication that permanently altered the structure of society. While publishing has been buffeted by persistent upheaval and transformation ever since, the current combination of technological developments, market pressures, and changing reading habits has led to an unprecedented paradigm shift in the world of books. Bringing together a wide range of perspectives — industry veterans and provocateurs, writers, editors, and digital mavericks — this invaluable collection reflects on the current situation of literary publishing, and provides a road map for the shifting geography of its future…”

I, personally, don’t feel it provides a “road map”—more like a large group of “potential hints”

Here are a few excerpts that I found to be particularly potent:

Most people walk around with some kind of device or have access to some kind of device that allows them to choose how to use their time. . . . In a world with that much choice, books need to continue to evolve to compete for someone’s time and interest.”

“Evolve” toward something more than “content” to feed the ravenous masses, I hope………

Books travel through the world collecting strangers. They are public spaces. Readers meet in the margins, at the edge of a text they share in common.”

“The audience is as ready for change as we are; they’re ready to be addressed as readers sharing the common space of a book, strangers ready to recognize each other across difference.”

“A culture of reading makes an economy that is, like reading itself, slower than shopping. It’s conversational, open-ended, interested in detail, difference; it goes on and on, back and forth; it accepts what is available, rather than unilaterally demanding satisfaction.”

Now, a few that trouble me (from a variety of essays in the book):

“How the digital age might alter attention spans and perhaps even how we tell one another stories is a subject of considerable angst.”

“As Wired put it, when you buy the Kindle Fire, ‘you’re not buying a gadget—you’re filing citizen papers for the digital duchy of Amazonia.’”

“Some people still confuse the newspaper literary culture—a small subgroup, almost a fetish really—with literary culture as a whole.”

“Today, not many university presses are flourishing…”

Now, a particularly damning statement:

“Those of us who’ve worked in literary publishing for years know that some pigs are definitely more equal than others. You add class into it and you see that the literary world at the highest levels is a group of tastemakers comprised by a majority of male writers and editors who frequently hand publications, prizes, and other essential forms of recognition back and forth to one another.”

Here’s one from an extremely clear-headed person:

“The question industry professionals need to ask themselves is: ‘How can I use my position to help create a literary world that is diverse, equitable, and doesn’t just represent the same segment of society it always has since its inception? What concrete actions can I take to make actual change and move beyond the tired conversation we’ve been having for decades?’”

And, there are one or two very biased individuals in the book (the following quote omits to mention that traditional publishing is just as much “counting on a miracle”…):

“There’s a role for self-publishing, definitely. But just playing the odds, if you’re a new author, it’s almost always going to make sense to publish with a big or small professional publisher, if you can—a proper editor, some degree of marketing, some degree of professionalism and advice. Want to upload your book onto a self-publishing platform along with hundreds of thousands of others that month, and hope for the best? That’s fine, but you’re basically counting on a miracle.”

Also, that last quote makes the assumption that self-publishing authors don’t avail themselves of editors and never think about book promotion

Still, the variety of voices in this book, from a wide range of disciplines and businesses, is a valuable consideration for those of you who want some important issues to think about—issues that do and will continue to matter in the Book World

So, to bring this non-review to an end, one humble, pithy, utterly true quote:

“One may counterpose the book to many things, but technology shouldn’t be one of them. The book is not counter-technology, it is technology. It is the apotheosis of technology—just like the wheel or the chair.”

Table of Contents:

Reading the Tea Leaves: Notations on the Changing Look of the Literary SVEN BIRKERTS

The Ends of the Book: Reading, Economies & Publics MATTHEW STADLER

The Amazon Effect STEVE WASSERMAN

The Self-Hating Book Critic JESSA CRISPIN

The View from a University Press DONNA SHEAR

Poetry in Translation: Hemispheric Perspectives GABRIEL BERNAL GRANADOS, KRISTIN DYKSTRA & ROBERTO TEJADA

VIDA: An Interview with Erin Belieu ERIN BELIEU & KEVIN PRUFER

19 Things: More Thoughts on the Future of Fiction JOHN O’BRIEN

Hold the Damn Door Open: Idealism Is No Currency MEGAN M. GARR

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER

Comics Publishing DOUGLAS WOLK

The Art of Agenting: An Interview with Chris Parris-Lamb CHRIS PARRIS-LAMB & JONATHAN LEE

The Open Refrigerator GERALD HOWARD

A Culture of Competition: Some Notes on Writing Contests & Literary Publishing KEVIN LARIMER

Coming to Milkweed Editions DANIEL SLAGER

The Overnight Success of Lookout Books EMILY LOUISE SMITH

The Southern Review at Eighty JESSICA FAUST & EMILY NEMENS

What Is the Business of Literature? RICHARD NASH

The Future Value of a Literary Publisher JANE FRIEDMAN

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7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers


In the last 5 years and 4 months, this blog has offered 1,463 articles (posts) to its readers (many of whom are writers).

7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

Image Courtesy of Allyson Correia ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/Allyson-36254

Since last July, I’ve written a full article on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; while offering re-blogs from a group of wonderful writers on the other days of the week.

Today (a Monday), due to vast and tumultuous internal goings-on, I can’t seem to get into the space where I write a full article

So, since I spend a significant part of every day locating articles on the web that I can report on here (once in awhile I actually write the full post from my own brain and heart; though, I like being a reporter and gathering info from all over for my readers… {if you want to read stuff totally written by me, try some of those freebies in the left side-bar}); and, since I have somewhere over 500 articles bookmarked for possible reportage, I’ll share a number of them with only brief snippets from me ( I’m fairly sure I’ll be back to my usual talking-about-one-other-article by Wednesday :-)

And, the first offering is from The Millions and is suitable for readers and writers ( and writers who read :-) :

The Private Library: What Books Reveal About Their Readers

Next, from The Economist, an article that I feel most writers will definitely read and some readers (those who know a writer) will like:

The Unsurprising Link Between Authorship and Espionage

Perhaps readers will like the next one more than writers? Though, I’d recommend writers do read it… It’s from Canadian NewsWire:

Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers for Fair Ebook Pricing

The next one, from Salon, has an incredibly long title:

Erased from history: Too many women writers — like Constance Fenimore Woolson — are left to languish in moldy archives. What will it take to bring them back?

Now, from the indefatigable blogger at Brain Pickings:

Umberto Eco on the Future of the Book

And, from Medium, a look at patterns—weirdly interesting:

Punctuation in novels

Finally, from The Paris Review:

How Repulsive ~ On the merits of disturbing literature

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