Yay! / Not-So-Yay
Did you know that people have been imprisoned in some countries for expressing peaceful views in email, chatrooms, and blogs that were contrary to what their leaders wanted us to hear?
Did you know that corporations as large as Microsoft and Yahoo! have assisted in some nations' efforts to censor content on the Internet and bring about charges against those who dare to speak freely?
satismagic has created the icon (available here) and suggested using it on posts and comments until November 2nd to spread the word about this campaign.
For those interested in reading more, Amnesty International also has a press release about the campaign.
Yesterday was completely and totally a Yay!day.
First of all, I have gotten numerous comments on my stories this week that have been absolutely wonderful. Those of you who read here know who you are, and I will be replying to give you my thanks shortly. It reminds me of how, when I first discovered Silmarillion fan fiction and read it voraciously, back in those heady days when ff.net was not filtered at work, and I would often read a story that I absolutely adored...and never comment to tell the author the way that I felt. Often, I would read the comments and see squeeing along the lines of what I was also tempted to do and think, "This is a big author who surely does not need li'l ol' me to make her feel better about her writing." Sometimes, I even suspected that authors might be annoyed by another mindless, "I absolutely loved your story and just wanted you to know that I could not stop reading it."
(Part of that, I will admit, is because when I used to participate in writers' workshops, when it was my story's turn to endure critique, a good 90% of the people would say, "I liked it!" and leave it at that. No concrit, no suggestions; most of the time, they didn't even really qualify what they'd liked about it. It used to annoy me terribly because 1) I want(ed) to improve as a writer and 2) when those authors had had their turn (and I am almost always at the end of workshops because my real last name starts with a W), I'd generally read the story twice, write in-text comments, and write a page-long analysis of the story at the end. To spend four hours on their story to get back "I liked it!" on mine was, needless to say, annoying.)
But comments, I've found, are different than critiques or workshops. Work that I share on archives is almost always the absolute best that I can make it, given my current abilities. (Anyone who reads some of the tripe that I post here knows that my standards for LJ are significantly less stringent.) So while I appreciate concrit no matter what the "status" of my story, I don't generally wait while wringing my hands for some literary genius to happen along and fix the story that I know is broken yet don't quite have the talent yet to fix on my own. I could get 100 "I liked it!" comments and not feel annoyed.
In fact, sometimes, such comments definitely buoy me. While I've gotten more confident in my abilities, I sometimes still feel terribly inadequate as an author. (And this is not a plea for anyone to remind me that I am not; honestly, I believe that the day that I stop seeing flaws in my writing and believing it inferior to what I am capable of doing is the day that my stories will begin to truly suck.) Especially now that I'm back to struggling with o-fic, to get the occasional comment reminding me that I'm not absolute crap as a writer is certainly encouraging, even if it is a comment on my fanfic.
On a slightly related note, in addition to really nice comments left on three of my archive-published stories, I received an email from one of the authors I recently reviewed at AC proclaiming that Sharon and I are "awesome." I don't think that I've ever been called "awesome" by a near-stranger before. (Though I may have forgotten an instance where I did a wee favor for a customer at the piece--like a free cup of M&Ms or something--and got called "awesome.") It was really cool.
At AC, we offer reviews to any authors that want them (unless an author pisses off Sharon with shenanigans involving simultaneous submissions, but that's a special case). In this case, I really liked the story--though, as usual, I had a few suggestions for the author--and rated it highly in terms of publication to Sharon. The author wrote Sharon with a question he wanted to ask me (since I did not then publish my email address with my reviews), and she forwarded it, so I answered it. No biggie. But apparently, I am "awesome" for it. So cool!
But really, I know where the guy is coming from. Having sent work to magazines myself, in a time long past, it is rare to hear back from editors at all, much less with anything approximating lengthy comments. I got a single comment back on the story that I was trying to publish--one sentence--out of ten magazines that I'd sent it to. The majority didn't even bother to use my SASE to send me a rejection letter. For all I know, that story is published someplace. Not like I'd care; I'm not even willing to admit that I'd written the thing anymore! And it had been published in Bartleby when I was a university freshman; I was seeking a reprint for it in a place with wider readership.
That's one good thing about online literary magazines: It used to be that the editors had the authors backed against the wall. They could treat us however they liked; we needed them to see our name in print, and they knew it. These days, we have more options and--AC is proof of this--one does not need great funding to start a literary magazine. So authors mistreated by a particular market no longer need to feel as obligated to make nice with them just to keep their doors open. There are a lot of doors now, and many smaller markets like AC make treating authors well part of their publication's philosophy.
It's also a lot harder to justify a slow response now that we have email just as--from the editor's PoV--it is harder for authors to justify not following guidelines now that many magazines have the guidelines on the Internet. It used to be that, sometimes, you had to send away for them. On a college budget, querying twenty magazines for guidelines with postage 39 cents and an SASE required, this is problematic. Especially when you find out that half of them have a maximum word count of 2500 and your story is 6000. Trust me; I've been there.
Anyway, my point is that lots of people made the 'gund feel very happy this week about her contributions both as an author and as an editor. Especially on the last, it is easy to feel like the bad guy, so to make an author happy is really nice.
Last night, our families came over and we went out to dinner and to stroll around Historic Savage Mill, which is the old renovated textile mill where Bobby and I did a ghost tour two weeks ago. We haven't seen our families since my birthday more than a month ago, so it was really nice. We went to Ram's Head Tavern for supper, and it was excellent, as always. Savage Mill has a really unique clothing store that definitely sells what one might call 'gund-type clothes--sparkly things; shirts that lace up; long, full skirts--and my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law Erin, and I spent a good half-hour and entirely too much money in there. I haven't had new clothes in years, so I'm trying to buy some new stuff that actually fits. Then my dad insisted on paying for my stuff, which was really, really nice. So I have a gorgeous black satiny skirt with sparkly trim, a brown tunic top that laces up with satin ribbon, and a red sparkly shirt set to wear with the black skirt.
As for not-so-yay news, Bobby has been fighting off a cold for the last week...and I've officially caught it from him. And just as I was feeling proud of having avoided it, too! The scratchy throat started last night after everyone left, so I took NyQuil and went to bed fairly early, since I had to be up at seven for aquarist-assistant training. That went well but wasn't as enjoyable as last week's. For one, I was sick, and touring the hot and humid Amazon Rainforest and Australia exhibits was not a happy affair, at eight-thirty in the morning, with my blood-sugar low and not feeling well to boot. Also, the lectures this week were aimed more at the guides than the behind-the-scenes staff. A lot of it pertained to techniques on how to engage the public in discussions, and I'm sitting--feeling miserable--and thinking, "I'm not even going to see the public! What do I care? Can I go home now and have my nap?" Also, I gleaned that there were complaints that last week's lesson had been too intense, and I don't know if this week's was toned down as a result, but it certainly felt like it. At the risk of sounding snobby, this has always annoyed me. It would often be that way in school too: *cue whining* "Oh, this is too hard; can't we have more time?" It's always a pity when people are expected to rub their two brain cells together hard enough to learn something or understand how to do their jobs. The material wasn't even that advanced, and I haven't had an ecology class in six years and a zoology class in seven.
So it was interesting but didn't excite me to learn more the way that last week's lectures did. This week felt like the material that you'd spew to the public and--at risk of sounding snobby again--I really think that we as employees there should know more than that. At least, I want to.
But...we're more than halfway finished now! Then we complete three apprenticeships with our aquarist and will be working on our own!
I have a research project to do for next week, and I think I'm going to research jellyfish. I've always liked the Cnidarians; it's a cool phylum. And I have a few neat ideas of what to do with the project too.
Wow, that post turned out much longer than I'd intended. Oops. Well, now it's off to dinner.... *wanders off dreaming of quality Mexican food*