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Harvest that kelp

Wednesday 9/30/20

* I have now composed 185 short stories since June 2018. I would estimate that 120 of them feature female narrators and/or protagonists. Which is something that no male author in the world does. Someone inquired of late how this came to be, and I replied that I realized I was not using the entire paint box. And why would I, of all artists, not use the entire paint box?


* You are going to want to be careful with the "if/then" construction. People love to use it, especially as pertains to politics and what they often deem issues of morals and character. You'll see it more after a debate like the one last night. "If you do this, then you are this kind of person." There's passive aggressiveness in this construction, and a sort of veiled threat. There's menace. What if you're not that horrible thing you've been told you are if you don't agree with this person politically, intellectually, morally, spiritually? What if you work with them? What if you have a relationship? What do you do then? You have to cower and hide what you believe in, lest you experience their wrath or condemnation? Or the relationship falls apart? The business or working connection? Or do you keep quiet with the newly acquired knowledge that that person thinks you are evil, apparently? Maybe you're smarter. Maybe you're much smarter. Maybe you have a clarity of vision that they don't possess. Maybe you are able to cogitate sans emotion. Or a host of other things. It is an old-timey expression, but a useful one: That's not a good way to be. Don't do the "if/then" construction. It's small and simple-minded. And divisive. And that goes, too, with people who already like each other and have good relationships. I am quite sure that my views on politics are quite unlike anyone's in the world. And I am more sure that my character and intelligence speak for themselves. It's just something to be careful with. Slapping about the condemnation, I mean. You simply must be careful. I understand that people get emotional, they type, they fire something off, and if you spoke to them, they'd probably admit that, you'd still be pals, there could be a joke and a laugh. But you don't know that you'll have that conversation. You may just be silencing someone or driving them away. Which can be fine in certain contexts. But you want to make sure that you know you're doing this. Everything you write must consider audience. You must always think about the people on the other side of the table. I say something on here about publishing, and believe me, over many thousands of hours, over many years, I have thought about those words, observations, truths, and the audience for those words. (What do you think I do on twenty mile walks?) The various portions of my audience and prospective audience. Always be thinking about the person and people on the other side of the table when you write. And that includes on social media. Know what you are doing. Know, within reason, every possible outcome with each person and people. Understand the gamut of possible reactions. Understand what eyeballs can be on your words. Weigh this. Consider it. And then go ahead. But only go ahead, in each and every instance, after you have done this and are okay with it and how it checks out. That's not an invitation to be obdurate. It's an invitation to be smart, and to foster connection and go after things that need going after, while not losing people you don't want to lose for reasons you shouldn't be losing them. Don't make someone feel like they have to swallow their tongue to continue on in their relationship with you, whatever form that relationship takes. I'll say it one last time--it's not a good way to be.


* On this day in Vienna in 1791, Mozart's opera The Magic Flute premiered, with Mozart conducting. He would leave this earthly plane by early December. Another tip: listen to more Mozart. He'll help make you wiser and a better person. Maybe shut off a debate and try some Mozart? See what opens up to you then.


* I used to have a friend who said, "I am giving you good advice." He didn't say that often. Most of the time, when he gave advice--which occurred frequently--it was absolutely dreadful advice. But the times he said, "I am giving you good advice," the advice was actually good.


* Speaking of acronyms: I saw on Twitter yesterday where one person complained that another person had written "lolololololo." Not because they objected to acronyms--they seemed quite a fan, actually--but because of the conglomeration of the "lol" device. Not that they used the word conglomeration. They added, "That literally makes no sense." I am certain that less than one percent of the American population knows what the terms literal and figurative mean. I think you could go out on the street with a camera and ask people, and have quite the horrific, depressing video on your hands for YouTube when the day was done. People usually think that literally means "extra super duper really." I am positive they have no clue what figuratively means. But we can use this very example to review the whole literally thing. For instance, let's say you had a buddy named Mark. And Mark works at a mint where money is made. Mark from the mint. And Mark has this strange peccadillo--he only likes to make half dollars, quarters, dimes, and nickles. Mark refuses to make pennies. It's written into his contract that upper management can't even ask him, if someone in the penny wing calls in sick, to fill in and make pennies that day. Mark literally makes no cents. See? That's how that works. With the literally construction, you often need something physical. There is tactility to literally. Something can't literally not make sense, but someone can literally not make cents. Get it?


* Fucking idiots. If you don't know that...


* Just kidding. See what I mean about audience and the other side of the table?


* This is a painting from 1905 by William Manners called The Kelp Harvesters. I like this painting for many reasons, one being that it reminds me of Rockport in autumn, and I am also into kelp. Kelp and peat. Burn either and the smell is intoxicating.