Damn Gypsies

A friend of mine who doesn't write for a living has decided that all writers are paranoid and delusional. The problem is, he has proof of this statement in the form of at least two writing sites outlining some of the different paranoid and delusional thoughts most writers experience at least once in their careers. I know there's a third one out there, too, but I haven't been able to find it again. They probably moved it so I couldn't report on its existence.

He's recently indicated that he doesn't believe writers sleep either. Ever. I think he's been reading this blog because we recently discussed not sleeping. And then he asked if writers ate. Yes, I definitely think he is lurking here. Reading. Gleaning all of our writerly secrets. But for what deep, dark, and nefarious purpose could he be using them? Is he plotting to take over the publishing industry?

I've shown him the opening scenes from my novel-in-progress. He wants to see more. I don't know why. He has discriminating tastes in reading material and I write trite, cliché space operas that no one in their right mind would ever read willingly. When the manuscript is done, I'll probably have to bribe my writing group to read it by offering to read their glorious pieces of prose that will drive me further to despair -- you know that's what the writing group wants, don't you? To drive me over the edge so there will be one less writer they are competing with in the slush pile.

But never mind them. They can be dealt with. Later. Right now I must learn what my friend is scheming, why he would want to read my hackneyed prose. But what if it isn't hackneyed? What if it is brilliant and I am just too close to it to see it? What if...

Oh, no. That's it. That must be it. There can be no other explanation.

My manuscript is brilliant. It is the best written novel of the current century. And my friend, he's signed a contract with Satan and is in league with the gypsies!



Writers at all stages in the careers are doing what they can to make a difference for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Do your part to help them help others.


I Would Resign

Who wouldn't want to be a writer?

It's a glamorous lifestyle, right? And easy.

After all, people pay ridiculous sums of money for writers to daydream and commit to paper whatever comes to their head. Then, in the evenings and on weekends, writers jet set around the world, sipping champagne and taking fabulous cross-country vacations in between book signings and talk show appearances.

If only that were the truth.

The reality is countless hours spent staring at a computer, banging one's head against brick walls, agonizing over word choices, character decisions, trying to decide when a work of fiction has crossed boundaries that it should never cross, writing, reading, editing, rewriting, rereading, and editing just a little more while losing sleep because the muse has turned off your internal clock and forgetting to eat. It's a destructive, repetitive lifestyle. And all of this before the work is ever submitted, before it risks rejection, before it ever earns one cent towards purchasing a package of macaroni and cheese for the writer to wolf down between writing bouts.

Some of us would resign, throw up our hands and quit, but we're not allowed. Our friends, our fellow writers, the voices in our heads, the stories we are destined to tell won't let us. So, we plod on, losing track of days and weeks and the seasons and hoping that one day, someone, somewhere will read what we've written and that it will touch an emotional core of their being. And maybe, just maybe, they'll pay us for the privilege, at least enough for another box of mac & cheese.


Moving Forward

I had written a post earlier this week about the need to remember what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in order to be able to hold the proper authorities accountable when the time comes. Another writer assisted me with finding appropriate links to some of the information presented. That makes it even more difficult for me to set aside that prepared post, but I am going to do so.

I am not setting it aside because I feel it is unimportant. I feel it is vital that we hold the proper authorities accountable for the delayed response in assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but I have realized I do not have all of the facts about what did or did not happen in the Gulf Coast area and cannot provide Coyote's readers with the details necessary for them to make an informed decision about who should be held responsible for the lack of action. I encourage everyone to research the matter for themselves and to arrive at their own conclusions, as I will continue to do.

That said, it is time to return Coyote Wild back to its primary purpose, which is an experimental discussion about reading, writing, sex, death, and head colds, with some free writing, internet memes, and the occasional game, too. I wish I could tell you exactly what that means; maybe we can figure it out together?


Housing for Hurricane Victims

MoveOn.org is coordinating people who have temporary housing available and the victims of Hurricane Katrina who need a place to stay.

More on Katrina

The lack of assistance available to the people in New Orleans is... Check out Stones in the Field. Macallister Stone has been staying up on what information is available as it comes out of the affected area.

Katrina: First Things First

In regards to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, there is plenty of blame to go around. There are many of things that could have been done differently, that should have been done differently, that the city and the nation would have done differently if only they had known, but no one wins the woulda-shoulda-coulda game.

Later, after everyone has been safely evacuated from New Orleans and other affected areas, after the survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, after the dead have been removed from the streets, then we can more fully examine the situation, determine why such a disaster happened as it did, figure out the best way to prevent it from happening again, analyze the allocation of resources, and review the actions, or lack thereof, of the political leaders involved, but right now there are still thousands of people stranded in New Orleans, thousands more who are refugees, homeless, in critical need of basic supplies, and thousands who need information about their friends and families.

Now is the time for action. Not second-guessing.

Right now, New Orleans needs the rest of the nation. Right now, everyone needs to focus their attention on what needs to be done, using the resources they have available. Right now, everyone needs to save the Monday morning quarterbacking for later.

What you can do to help:

  1. Contact local chapters of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, as well as local churches and temples and donate whatever is needed most.
  2. Donate your time to the above organizations.
  3. In some areas, universities and other organizations are arranging for temporary housing for refugees. If you have a spare room, consider opening it. (As a caution, if you do this, go through a reputable charity or organization. Do not just make the arrangements on your own.)
  4. Donate blood or your time to a blood drive.

If anyone knows of any other ways to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina, please add to this list.


Cult of the Written Word

I was recently reading parts of The Short Oxford History of English Literature by Andrew Sanders. In the Introduction, Sanders talks about the development of the secular canon and how it was based on the idea of the Catholic Church's canon of biblical literature. In the early days, as the canon was just coming into being, writers would try to prove their credentials by comparing themselves to writers of the past and holding the acknowledged literary sages up as idols to be worshipped and revered. Wordsworth saw himself as standing in an "apostolic line" with Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton.

There's something to be said about knowing what's been written before--and having read it. That's how literature is lifted from dead archives into living conversation. Would Stephen King have as much to say without following Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson . . . ? Sorting all that out, and making note of it, using those prior works as context for your own also gives your readers the code they need to read you most effectively.

In later years, as the Poets' Corner was gaining status in Great Britain as the location to venerate great English writers either by interring their remains there or else by erecting statues and plaques in their honor, this sense of worshipping the literary greats of the past spilled out of the literary world and into the common culture. The middle class began acquiring busts and statuettes to place in their reading rooms and on their mantle pieces to show that they belonged to an elite, learned culture.

As I was reading, it struck me that this tradition of placing writers on a pedestal continues even today. From inside the publishing world, this may not seem to be the case. Writers, whether aspiring or published, know that writing is far from a spiritual endeavor. It is filled with blood and tears and heartache and long, sleepless nights. Almost every writer I have ever encountered has at least one friend or family member who is less than supportive of their writer's dreams, who suggest that the individual is wasting their time, and think it would be more realistic for them to get a real job and forget this writing nonsense.

As I read Sander's words, I realized this lack of support is in fact evidence that writers are still worshipped and regarded with a certain degree of spiritual mystery. What the naysayers are in fact showing is a lack of spiritual faith that someone they know, someone who without a doubt is only a fallible mortal, might actually be able to attain the veneration due to true writers and be accorded the same honors as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King.

Even within the publishing world, writers are encouraged to show their place in the apostolic line in the queries they send to perspective agents and publishers. Newer writers are instructed by today's sages to compare their manuscript to previously published novels. Its not that the newer writers are being told to suppress their own originality, but to reveal their place in the list of the literary divine so agents will know who might be willing to worship them.

Or at the very least to gamble a few bucks on a paperback by an unknown.