Diary (8) "Challenges ahead"

Posted on April 5, 2009

Diary(8): Challenges ahead

Sunday, April 5th 2009

Already I am enjoying new found acquaintances through the medium of the "Abbeville Writers and Poets’ Group".
It is stimulating to respond to new challenges, and differing opinions. Duncan and I will probably debate "structure" online, in which our philosophical nuances will come under the microscope. All good stuff.
I caution everybody that writing and creating is hard work. Incredibly time consuming. Often lonely. So is designing and running a website. So is devouring a challenging book. So is ‘thinking’, especially against the grain of mass media induced ‘trendy frenzies’…
(That’s why we need writers, and poets, and artists. Thinkers. Willing to speak out against the Federal Puppeteers, the Elite, who know -by virtue of their superiority- what is best for you and me…)
And so, too often, is life. As a helicopter pilot, I have a sixth sense of "trouble" I think, that probably has kept me alive.
Despite some spectacular engine failures, unexpected bad weather, equipment malfunctions, the occasional bullet, and a massive, cartwheeling plane crash (see my novel, I used my experience and inflicted it upon my reluctant hero) I’m still in one piece. Thank God. I have passed 10,000 flight hours, and the more hours I keep logging, both in the concrete physical universe and in the airy, spiritual, emotional, intense universe of Writing and Thought, the more I often pause, thoughtfully. I find myself sniffing at the journey ahead, and bracing myself for the good and the bad.
I would invite you to check out some of the excellent work of Alister Flik on our site, who has been a supporter from the beginning.
Nicole Hellene has not published with us yet, but I read her work extensively on "Writers Cafe", before it turned into a haven for cruelty and ridicule. I have never met either lasses in the flesh. Yet I partly understand their make up, their fragile sensitivity, their feelings, from their writings.
Meeting people face to face at last can be quite exhilarating. But here too we must be sensitive. There are those souls who prefer the anonymity of Cyberspace. Who will privilege us with their innermost feelings on the one hand, but who for reasons of their own, prefer to reside in a private cocoon. I respect that, and we should be respectful to artists who may not want to attend our meetings very often, if at all. Whose contributions on the site however may be awesome.
In a similar vein, don’t be fooled into thinking that a writers group meeting "in the flesh" is always a happy place, where good cheer and compassion are always overflowing. I have seen some real hostility develop at writers meetings.
Cliques, anger, and ridicule. The sources of these troubles were varied, but often enough involved some strong personalities who exhibited a number of recognizable characteristics.
Firstly, we have writers of excellent talent, intellectually brilliant, and academically accomplished. Who are very sensitive people. Sensitive, that is, to their own feelings. From this vantage point, it is easy to fall into a risky mindset.
"I am good. I have a lot to say. Everybody wants to listen to me. I am, let’s face it, somewhat superior. Here are my pearls of wisdom. I say as follows…"
Um. Maybe, maybe not. Others may not be as educated, or verbally accomplished. But their life’s stories may be quite fascinating, albeit on an entirely different wave length.
Secondly, we have the babblers. Well meaning folk, very enthusiastic, but prone to hijacking a discussion and going off full tilt on a somewhat irrelevant tangent. Let’s say we have five people discussing the New Deal of the 1930’s and its relevance to Mr Obama’s policies. If I was to say: "This story was an interesting study of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his many attempts at manipulation of the economy", and somebody jumped in and said:
"I saw this juggler at the circus, who was manipulating three plastic pudding spoons and sixteen pink dishes. I have never seen anything quite like it." As a one-liner, I would smile. If said person went on enthusiastically about the pudding spoons for fifteen minutes, I think I might be inclined to think of a large non-plastic pin stuck in a very sensitive place…
Thirdly, we have the stirrers. These come in a multitude of shapes and forms. There is such a thing as gentle mischief making. Pretty harmless. Sometimes stimulating. A wry sense of humor. However, at the other extreme, we have the malicious ones. The judgmental ones. The ones who love a reaction. Usually they prefer the relative anonymity of cyberspace to face-to-face contact, but either way, they can be a handful to handle. I’ve seen people storm out of writers meetings in a furious temper…

I was one of those people who participated in "www. Writers Cafe" very enthusiastically. For a while. Abby, another of our group, also was involved on that site. It went downhill. Once it got going, there seemed to be no stopping it. It got to where the words I would use to describe it would be: "ugly, hateful, obscene, sexist, cruel, sadistic and moronic". I gave up. So did many others.
So you will see where I am going with this:
Our new group, and this website, will face challenges ahead.
We need to be prepared for that, and quietly try and sail the good ship Creative Harmony around the rugged rocks.
We can all take turns at the helm.
At the meetings:
***Let’s try hard to give everybody equal air time. In that respect, I really recommend use of the forum on this site. Post your request (like I did) for what pieces you would like to read out, (reasonably short, 5 to 7 minutes) and what you would like to have people read in advance, for later discussion at the meeting. (any length).
*** Support your fellow writer. Be on the lookout for people with great stories to tell, who are still learning the use of the writers tools. Encourage their enthusiasm. Don’t judge. Everybody has a best seller inside them.

In cyberspace:
*** Be prepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be prepared for hackers who will try and maliciously crash the site.
If somebody really wants to hurt the site, it’s not hard to achieve that end. All we can do is take regular backups (make sure you do), and deal with the problems as they come along. Be prepared for the inevitable spammers trying to sell you the usual quack produce. Be prepared for hate, and obscenity. I have the tools to ‘ban’ somebody, but I would rather place them under a "mentor". Which means the mentor has to ‘approve’ a piece before it appears on the site. Try that first.
The ability to post directly to the site (without going through approval) is a privilege and not a right, I’m thinking….
I also think we may one day end up with "families". I have long suspected that about 50 writers is an optimum number for a "family". Then each family can have some "wise heads" who can also keep the creative peace.

We’ll see, eh?

I ask for your emotional and spiritual support, and your kindness.
I for one, am a guy who has burning ideas in his head, and occasionally gets to where his shoulders start drooping. Not enough time to read, not enough time to write. Is it really any good? Maybe I’m just deluding myself. Maybe I should just give up and concentrate on my career and making money. Maybe…

If you recognize those self doubts, I think you really, really belong here. As part of our little community.

I wish you peace, my friends. Inspiration. And good writing…

F.M.

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on April 5, 2009, 6:11 pm


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