Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: writing

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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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…
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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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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

You Are a #Storyteller and You Can Change Lives . . .


When I was growing up, I’d often heard, “Everyone has a novel in them.”.

If you think my punctuation in that last sentence is wrong [ .”. ], I could beg to differ with you; but, that’s another post

Still, I’m a writer and storyteller; but, being a blogger has lots more freedom—freedom of expression, and of punctuation

So, whether you have a novel in you or not, I still maintain that you’re a storyteller.

It’s really hard to not be a storyteller—even simple questions like “How was your day?” can inducing storytelling.

So, why did I choose that image of the man with his mouth taped shut?

Partly because of all the oppression in the world (which I’ve told stories about) but also because “How was your day?” could, if a person is encouraged, turn into a real, publishable story—the thing is, folks, especially those little ones we call “kids”, are usually not encouraged enough—at times they seem like we’ve put tape over their mouths—or, hearts

However, there are many ways to tell a story.

Part of a comment on a post I did about two years ago (Harnessing the Power of Narrative for Social Change), went like this:

“…many people have watched the video on news channels of Tara the cat saving her 4 year old owner from a vicious dog attack. The video told a story that was compelling and amazing and moving. It made a point through story about badly brought up, untrained dogs. It was more powerful than any sermon.”

Here’s that one minute video:

That’s one way to tell a story

Plus, that incident could be the impetus for a short story (or, a novel…).

Well, what about the title of this post—You Are A Storyteller and You Can Change Lives . . .?

Perhaps you’ll agree you tell stories like the answer to the question, “How was your day?”; but, “Change Lives”…?

Telling someone else about your day, if you tell it from your heart, can change their life.

Try it sometime………

And, as far as helping kids do this, check out The Telling Room.

Also, you may want to watch this video with Susan Conley, one of the co-founders of The Telling Room. It could change your mind about storytelling


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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…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Blog for All Seasons


Brain Pickings

Click This Image for Some Fine Blogging…

This will be the 16th post I’ve done about Maria Popova—and, I should point out that if you take that link, you’ll see this post at the top of the other fifteen—I “Tag” my posts and they get gathered-up in the Top Tags area—down a bit in the left side-bar

You may want to spend some time checking out the Top Tags since there are over 1,200 posts on this blog and, in all honesty, today is not my best day to write a post

Just dealing with more than a bit of physical and psychological and emotional stress—I quit smoking about a month ago—I’ve been unkind (to say the least) to my Best Friend—I’m hoping her compassion will continue to protect her from the insanities of someone being devastated by withdrawal symptoms

So, before I have to just lie down and swirl in the juices of my muddled mind, let me tell you why you should check out Maria’s blog, Brain Pickings.

One reason is who Maria is:

“I’m a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. I’ve previously written for Wired UK, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, among others, and am an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.”

Another reason is why she writes her blog:

Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.”

More on her mission and what creativity means:

“The core ethos behind Brain Pickings is that creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas.”

So, take a listen to Maria (while I go lie down…) and she just might convince you she has much to say that you need to hear

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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Top 20 Posts and Pages for Readers, Writers, and Publishers


I should modify the title of this post with the words, “during the lifetime of this blog”. Top 20 Posts and Pages

I can’t even imagine the top 20 posts and pages for the whole blogosphere

This blog I can track.

Though, the meaningfulness of my Top 20 is not easy to know

Who are the people who’ve visited this blog—are they all somewhat alike—do they all have more than one thing in common—could they be called a distinguishable group?

I may never know, though they have tended to pick certain posts and pages over others

For instance, in the list below, Alexander M Zoltai ~ The Author of This Blog, is  my “About Page” and I do know that’s one of the most visited spots on most any blog—folks want to know who’s behind the words.

So, while the other Top Posts and Pages can’t be easily attributed to some common human concern, I hope they, at least, are worth your while as spaces to explore

(The numbers are the times visited since January, 2011…)

Alexander M Zoltai ~ The Author of This Blog 5,111
Writing Challenge ~ Use The 1200 Most Common Words To Write A Story… 2,074
* The Book ~ Notes from An Alien 1,513
Free Software for Writers . . . 958
Why Do Certain People Become Writers? 855
What’s The “Best” Way To Learn “Proper” Grammar? 712
Are Fiction Writers Capable of Freelancing? 631
The Danger of A Single Story 572
Diagramming Sentences ~ A Lost Art? 549
* Behind The Scenes . . . 535
What Are Words ? {Look up, a bit, on the left sidebar for this Free Essay} 461
What’s The Relationship Between A Writer & Their Characters? 450
Writing ~ Is It A Craft or An Art? 438
Do Creative Writers Have Social “Responsibilities”? 380
Are You A Fast Study or Slow Learner? ~ It Can Definitely Depend On The Subject And On Your MOOD! 360
* Our Author Interviews 356
Must Writers Suffer Melancholy, Anguish, and Depression? 352
Are Writers Doomed To Be Isolated And Lonely? 346
Free Book of Poetry 324
What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies? 298

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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com