Saturday, April 24, 2010

Takes One to Know One

What is good writing?

Is it the kind of thing that makes you think? Does it change the way you view the world and make you want to undo all the wrongs you've ever done? Does it make you wish you could go back and do more wrongs than you did, just for the sheer, beautiful regret of it all? Does it make you laugh, cry, wonder, gasp in surprise?

Or does it simply make you glad to be alive?

I was just thinking about the difference between "good writing" and "bad writing" after reading an article in the SLC Examiner about author vs. author slurs over the past several hundred years. (It was actually pretty funny, but also harsh at times.)

I know I've been guilty of hating on fellow wordsmiths in the past, even those who are much more experienced and well, published, than I am. (In fact, it's usually those ones I hate on the most in my pithiest moments.) But then I started thinking. (A dangerous pastime for me, and often a large consumer of my time I'm afraid.)

Why do we (writers) feel that someone else has to FAIL in order for us to SUCCEED? Is there some kind of indelible, widely-published writer's "Law of the Jungle" or something that states we must either kill or be killed just to sell books? And whenever someone markets their project in a certain way or writes a certain manner of fiction at a certain time and happens to hit the big time, why do we all (myself included) feel the need to tear that person down out of jealousy? Where does it say that there is a finite number of authors who can become internationally known in such-and-such period of time? It's not like a marathon, where every person who crosses the finish line before us counts as one less place we can attain in the overall ranking. At least, I don't think it is.

In reality (in literature) whenever an author hits it big, that person is probably paving the way for other authors more than he/she is shutting them out of a chance for future success. Just look at Dan Brown. When he started being the next thing in books, a TON of others who'd been writing the same sort of hidden cypher mysteries for ages finally got noticed. And Stephanie Meyer (though a non-favorite of mine for quite some time) did seem to manage to get young teenage girls--as well as a few closeted boys--to fall in love with reading again. In the long run, those changes will probably HELP future authors more than they'll hinder them.

So what is this obsession with arguing over whether a bestselling writer's work is "deserving" or not? Obviously, they did something right. And if (God willing) I'm ever in the position of someone like Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer, I'm sure that I'll appreciate not being called a hack just for the sake of assuaging some burgeoning young writer's wounded pride.

Actually, it's a lesson we can all apply to most things in our lives. Instead of hating on someone for their successes (that you don't have), instead of counting it as a fail on your own part and a win on theirs, maybe chalk it up to a win for the whole human race. "Yeah, go team humans!!! Woooohooo!!!"

Anyway, I just thought I would share that. With myself as well as the rest.

Have a great, positive day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Seven Yard Rule

Hey everyone, I know it’s been a little while… and I’m sorry. Did you miss me? Are you feeling alone in the world without my occasionally biting, yet ingenious rhetoric? Do you sometimes lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling, and think “Why have you forsaken me, Vero!? WHY?”

I thought as much.

By way of excuse, I offer you this slightly enigmatic explanation: the best is yet to come, my friends. You can take this little tidbit and run with it, or you can spend endless hours trying to prize further information from me, and upon failing, curse my future progeny. Make of it what you will, but know that I am otherwise engaged in a task most impressive.

Anyway, today’s topic is one that I’ve often wondered about, but never blogged about. It is of course, the always unspoken, never recorded yet nonetheless universal “Seven Yard Rule.” What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? Preposterous! I shall explain…

Picture this: You’re walking down a long, practically empty hallway. In either direction, there are no doors, perpendicular passages, or escape routes of any kind. All of a sudden, someone enters the hallway at the other end, traveling in the other direction. Panic sets in. You’re facing each other, approaching ever so slowly. It’s inevitable that your paths will soon intersect. Social morays dictate that you will acknowledge them in some way, yet at the same time you both instinctively fear the intimacy of prolonged eye contact. You see them, and they see you. But the distance is still too great for a the traditional nod or muttered “how are you?” to be anything other than awkward and ineffectual.

What do you do? The answer is obvious, and like I said before, completely programmed into your very being. You continue walking, staring at the floor or pretending great interest in your cell phone or other electronic device. Perhaps even the texture of the walls. You look at anything, everything EXCEPT the person in your path…Until they are EXACTLY SEVEN YARDS AWAY.

At this point, you will both look up at the EXACT same moment, regard one another as though seeing each other for the first time. Then you’ll exchange the socially appropriate smile, nod or “how are you?” if occasion permits. Once you’ve passed, a small sigh of relief will pass your lips. The moment of inevitable social interaction has passed. That is, until the next unlucky pedestrian happens by…

That, my friends, is the Seven Yard Rule.