From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Guys, and guns, and stuff we don't like to talk about...

     After I read this piece (see below) by another writer, it really struck me how strange it is that we seem so unwilling to talk about this big giant well armed elephant in the room. It's downright weird.
     I have a completed novella that I will soon be publishing as an e-book. An agent just told me a few days ago that no publisher will touch a book about dead children and that no one wants to read anymore about Iraq or Afghanistan. My story about men, and guns, and a school in America may be America's dirty little secret. But it's not a very well kept secret. Everybody knows it. And it is kind of 1950's martini-induced repression to so very actively not talk about it. I'm talking. My story is, I hope, just part of what will become a conversation.
    And I hope the writer of this piece gets to have a conversation too. One without censorship. I'd like to respond now, and tell him that I agree with him on all points except the strong role that video games play. I'm sure that they exacerbate the situation, especially when played excessively. Nothing done excessively is good for you. I'll admit my bias, as I am the mother of a young man who has been a gamer most of the years he's been alive. He lost his Dad at 9, had many troubled years as a teenager, but the games didn't make him violent, and he was never obsessed with weapons. He is also a pacifist. Personally I think the big difference for the writer was nature as he noted, but most of all the support system of involved adults. That I think is the essential difference between tragedy and salvation when the mental health of the individual is tanking. The Lakota call it tiospaye, being part of a strong circle of support that prevents failure. It's absence, and what can happen thereafter, is what I have written about, and frankly, what we have all read about already.
     Here is a link to the other writer's blog post, he says was censored by the Huffington Post.
http://peterbrownhoffmeister.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/on-school-shooters-the-huffington-post-doesnt-want-you-to-read-this/

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Bookish Ends

      Yesterday I attended the annual NH Writer's Project conference which is always an interesting mix of meeting new people and seeing people I rarely run into. Of everything I did over the course of the day I was most struck by the odd difference between the first speaker of the day, key note author Andre Dubus, and the last speaker I heard, Pulitzer prize winner Paul Harding.
      I have heard Dubus speak before and always find him crush worthy. Not a lot of guys can get away with audience scolding (regarding our crack pipes), swear lobbing, and talking about Faulkner and skid marked underwear. He does. I have some attention deficit issues and staying focused in lectures can be a serious challenge for me. I have no real coping mechanism for this deficit of mine, and simply move on to a variety of other more compelling activities like making a grocery list, if a speaker can't keep my attention. Mr. Dubus nailed the hat trick of taming my lame brain; making me think, laugh, and jot down something I wanted to carry away with me forever. As with most crushes, much of it is born of similarity. Like me, Dubus was strongly influenced by the time and place of an edgy middle class New England mill town upbringing, and I get him.
     Please don't think I'm dissing Mr. Harding now in comparison. I'm not. I think he's great, but I couldn't have a crush on him. I would be too tired. From trying to keep up with his brain. Which in stark contrast to having attention deficits, seems to be on hyper-drive at every minute and can go in many directions at one time. Listening to him reminds me of a time in the late seventies when I may (or may not) have ingested something hallucinogenic, which may (or may not) have resulted in the world becoming a metaphysical magic kingdom. The whole world. Even tree bark. He can equate plot with Newtonian physics and mechanical drawing. Harding was strongly influenced by the lofty New England transcendentalists, who, truth be told, I don't always get. But he scored a hat trick with me too. We agree on his basic philosophy, "I have faith in art," and apparently, we are both attracted to tree bark.
     I'll leave you with the Yeats poem Harding based his talk on, as it is one of my favorites, and it certainly is a lovelier image to leave you with than soiled underwear hanging in a tree.

     From Ode on a Grecian Urn 1819

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all 
        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.