Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nadine Gordimer Has Died

I was once jealous of the writer Nadine Gordimer. I was a young, struggling wife and mother ignoring my own writing. I also admired Nadine Gordimer for being a champion of ending apartheid ("apart hate") in her homeland, South Africa.

Nadine Gordimer, a white woman in a white-ruled society, fifteen years older than I, not only wrote. She, with her husband, lived the talk, sheltering ANC members and others being sought by police. 

Years ago, as I grew up into my 40s, I knew enough to avoid jealousies. I did keep my childhood-founded anger toward racism, segregation, and systems like apartheid, the latter so intense in South Africa that blacks had to carry passbooks, into the 1980 or '90s.

Three coincidences (if you believe in those), prompt this post. 

First, I watched "Mandela," the movie, on video on Saturday night. My husband and I visited Robben Island in the past and recognized the movie's scenes of above-ground mining the island's prisoners did. I wondered if a Nadine Gordimer role would be there, but the film kept a closer focus.

Then, late Monday night I caught an outstanding BBC "Hardtalk" interview with Nadine Gordimer.

Finally, this morning's Washington Post informed us of her death. 

Today, I remember how Ms Gordimer spoke on BBC about writing and how I recognized what she said about the writer being in the scene  yet being an observer. Whatever causes us as children to be on the fringes of action can build this skill of observation and analysis of situations. 

As an opera singer has different vocal chords, Ms Gordimer said, the writer about injustice has a different something "in here," she said, indicating her sternum. 

These coincidences give me pause and a positive warning. Any writer with a particular difference of perspective that relates to others' being treated humanely has an obligation to write about it, and this has come home to me again. .

I grew up in a small Southern town in the U.S., a town similar to the one in To Kill A Mockingbird, although maybe a bit larger and greener. I could read at a young age and by the time I was seven and noticed "Whites Only" signs I knew inherently that something was wrong. I did not think "wrong." I knew it. And, I knew it when I saw people of darker skin enter a different door at the movie theater. 

I remember when a housekeeper told my mother that "No," she could not enter our front door, as my mother had asked her to do. "It will be bad for both of us if I do that," was the tense answer, which my mother accepted, with regret. The meat of the answer, fear of reprisals, stuck with me. Whether reprisals would have come, I sometimes wonder. Yet, I knew that there was a well-founded fear of them.  

What used to happen sometimes when I would say "I love the South"--meaning the pace of life that used to be, freedom I had to walk anywhere as a child, and the food and music--is that hearers from other places would think immediately of segregation. I realized that because I heard the huffing noises they made. 

In such cases, I immediately felt their sense of superiority and their judgment. Yet, I know, having lived in New York state and NYC, that racial prejudices exist everywhere; I heard hateful racist terms said by whites "up north" that I had never heard in the South. 

Maybe you are called as a writer to write about difficult subjects that relate to you in strong, definite, clear, and longstanding ways. I hope you will find a way to write about those with your best skills and judgment. We cannot say everything every time. We will overload readers. However, we can say something using the pen, keyboard, and our blogs or other platforms.

For decades I have admired the work and life of Nadine Gordimer. I recommend much more about the life and work of Nadine Gordimer, available here. You can scroll down to watch the BBC "Hardtalk" interview.A link to a BBC radio commentary on the post-Mandela government.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Promoting Your Writing

What is behind "promoting"? "Pro" can refer to "for" or "forward" (as in "propel"). "Moting" is connected with "motion" and "movement." "Motivate" comes to mind.

We usually get ourselves going because we believe it is important, there's reason and purpose in it. 

If you want to move your writing (i.e., your perspectives, life lessons, gripping stories) forward, into the lives of readers, you have to promote it. If you are "for" your writing, then you have to, yea, you must propel it.

Let's get out of the way what this does not (necessarily) mean about you:
-you think you're the greatest at what you do,
-therefore, you are egotistical to the nth degree,
-you will roll over anyone to get where you want to go,
-...more of the same regarding you and your inflated selfie.

What this (very likely) does mean about you:
-you are committed to developing your skills as a writer,
-you have a story or an idea that you believe could interest, inspire, or help others,
-you know you must promote in spite of feeling shy about it,
-you love to write!,
-you work hard to write better and better,
-you know that writing is a skill as well as a creative venture,
-...more of the same positive facts about you and your writing.

You knew all of this already. Are you studying how to do it and are you doing it...the promotion work for your writing?

Not angry. Intense. A favorite scarf was a "comfort" piece. Ooh, that bulging jacket. Lesson learned. Smile.   

I wrote my personal narrative story Not All Roads Lead Home twice, under the pen name, Jane Bullard.The second edition (2004) is on Amazon.com, where I sell it now for $1.90 (see Dickens123 seller), because I'd rather make less per copy and sell more. I wrote it to be read. The original UK edition (1996) is also on Amazon.com/books. 

Buy a signed copy of this book from the author, $4.20 includes packaging and mailing, U.S. only. Email info@opinebooks.com for where to send payment and to give your mailing address (U.S.).

"I think I've fallen out of love with my husband," says an anonymous advice-column letter in The Washington Post today. Is this inquirer selfish, lonely, deluded, honest? Maybe she does not yet know that if she once loved him she can again. Maybe she is unaware that love can not only rekindle but come back stronger than ever. I hope she will find this to be true for herself, her husband, her child.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Author Goal: Affordable Publishing

Here's the context for my urgent writing while on vacation as Hurricane Arthur keeps winds and rain hurling against the coast. I started a Yellow Pages Directory search this morning for a vacation nail salon. Leafing pages backward to "N" for nails, I stopped at "P" for "Publishers." I think that you, dear author, will understand this kind of distraction. 

An ad for Dorrance Publishing caught my eye. Dorrance claims to stand for any writer's ability ("freedom") to  publish. The pricing can be high yet seems to be reasonable if Dorrance does editing, formatting, and design, as well as print setup and printing. I would, however, advise a different route. Many services like Dorrance exist today, and I have a few general comments to get new authors thinking about options and avoiding rash decisions. 

You can learn to do basic professional formatting for your manuscript. Also, you can hire a professional editor to do an analysis of your book, all or part of it, and train yourself to do adequate proofing. You can hire an interior book designer, a professional cover designer, and buy your own ISBN number or series of numbers for later use, and/or a reasonably-priced book printing POD service that can allow you to choose distribution access to Amazon.com and other online booksellers. You can also research affordable ebook formatting to publish your book initially or later as an electronic book.

If you are an author already keen on these facts, then you have an opportunity to help other writers learn about ways to avoid leaping into high- cost services. I hope you will pass this kind of information to others. 

I have given a taste of options to prepare you and others for publishing basics. If you want more detailed information, you can let me know via Twitter @OpinariPeople ( caps not needed). I think it is urgent  for publishers and established authors to help book writers avoid leaping into publishing costs beyond their means.

This is written on the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day!