Satera's words of wisdom
What is the wisdom for the month of November?
November is the month to give thanks to all those who have made a difference in your life~ It doesn't matter who or what - anyone who has made a difference in your life.
I will post your answers next month when I give you more wisdom thoughts. Email [email protected] and she will send them to me.
You all have a Happy Thanksgiving~
“I’m Too Stupid!”
by John B. Rosenman
I’m a teacher. Have been for a long time. It’s not as important to me as my writing, but it’s pretty close, largely because it involves writing. Now, I’m not talking about those student essays, term papers, and tests which I have to mark up and grade. To tell the truth, I’m sick and tired of them. After forty years, you get weary of wading through garbled research papers without a thesis or sixty tests in which students all answer the same questions in pretty much the same way.
No, besides teaching itself, which can be downright fun and exhilarating, what makes my job most fulfilling are the courses I’ve taught in creative writing. I’ve been fortunate enough to teach them at two institutions of so-called higher learning. At Norfolk State University in Virginia, where I teach now, I’ve had the opportunity to create and teach my own course in writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, which can stretch to include Horror and the Outright Bizarre. Needless to say, it can be a blast to expose young minds to brave, strange, even demented new worlds, to make them see that Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Faulkner aren’t the only ones who have written classics.
Above all, I’ve had the opportunity to awaken their imaginations and help them explore and develop their talent. How good can they be? Is that pasty-faced kid in the corner a future Stephen King, Poppy Z. Brite, or Ray Bradbury? You never know for sure.
Which brings me to my point: I’d like to tell you about a student I once had. This was about thirty years ago at a small black Southern college. I had expressed a desire to teach Creative Writing, a course, which to my knowledge, had been in the curriculum for years but never offered. It was an orphan sired by some idealistic or deranged administrator, then forgotten. I was the first who volunteered to adopt it.
To my surprise, I was assigned the course. And also to my surprise, students actually enrolled, all of them women. As I recall, that made me even happier. The day I walked into my first creative writing class and saw twelve young beautiful women looking back at me, I thought, “By God, I may have chosen the right profession after all!”
Besides being giddy, I don’t remember much about that first class. But I recall well what came after it. One of my students brought a friend up to my desk, hoping to convince her to enroll in the course. The friend differed from the others in being older, perhaps fifty. When I urged her to take the course, she said, “Oh, I can’t do that, Dr. Rosenman. I’m too stupid!”
Now it’s one thing to have low self-esteem and to think you’re stupid, but to proclaim it to a stranger with other people watching is . . . well, memorable. In all the years since then, I’ve wondered, “Who told you that you were stupid, and what made you think that way?” Later I learned that the woman (I’ll call her Carol) made $100 a month as a cleaning woman. It was subsequently increased to $100 a week. Whether Carol had other employment, I can’t say, but at the time it seemed her lack of self-confidence was due largely to being black and poor in the South.
Anyway, Carol came into my class and the first day she turned in a poem. I didn’t read it until the next day. And then I reread and reread and reread it.
It was a sonnet on love, written in iambic pentameter with an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. In it Carol used a variety of poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance, similes and metaphors.
While the poem itself was not flawless, it was damned close. Perhaps two or three professional poets out of a hundred could have equaled it. Needless to say, it didn’t seem to fit the self-abasement she had displayed on our first meeting. If this was being “stupid,” it was nothing to be ashamed about.
I wish I could tell you that Carol is known today as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, or some other world-renowned African-American writer, but that didn’t happen. Nor did she rise to the top of the class on a wave of creative genius. Truth is, she was an average student and received a “C” in Creative Writing. While that may not seem remarkable to others, it still seems impressive as hell to me. After forty years of teaching, Carol remains the most amazing student I’ve ever taught, the one who continues to have the most profound impact on me. All the brilliant “A” students down through the years, fade in comparison despite their gifts.
I like to think we can learn certain things from Carol’s example. First, when it comes to writing, talent may exist in what seems the most unlikely or unpromising of places, so we should never prejudge. A bum or homeless person might delight us, whereas a Nobel Prize winner will leave us cold. Second, a superficial gift does not a writer make. I’ve taught many students over the years who could construct a story with a fair plot and good characterization, but a flash-in-the-pan glitter didn’t make them writers. They might have skills or a knack, but not a calling, and not the desire to practice and practice and practice their craft and develop as writers. For all I know, Carol did become a poet or writer, and a damned good one. But because (mea culpa!) I’ve long since forgotten her name, I wouldn’t know. Then again, perhaps she’s like Emily Dickinson, who consigned most of her superb work to her trunk, and it will remain to someone after her death to discover her.
Last, I’ve tried to learn confidence from Carol or at least develop a tendency not to judge my own writing talent too harshly. And that ain’t easy, folks, since I tend to be negative, self-critical, and full of doubts. Sometimes, when I write a story and I’m slogging through the fourth or fifth revision, it seems to me that it all sucks, that everything from my style to my characters to my lack of logic contributes to the worst piece of dreck in the western world. At such times I shout, “I can’t do this. I’M TOO STUPID!”
But then I remind myself that there isn’t a simple litmus test for talent, that it’s more complicated than that. Besides, I’m too close to the words and perhaps my story is better than I think. Indeed, it might even be the equivalent of Carol’s brilliant poem. And even if it isn’t, it’s ultimately the writing that counts, isn’t it? Not the quality or critical acclaim. Not even all that potential money.
In the end, this is what Carol taught me most: that we should write primarily because we want to and because we must. We should write because the greatest miracles of all occur within our own minds.
* Reprinted from my 10/2/2013 blog, John B. Rosenman, Author at http://bit.ly/1FWXSl8/
Back in 1912 Charles Doolittle Walcott happened upon this Opabinia creature and made his life known to the world. When we look upon Opa would we have been happier not to have known about his life? Let’s take a look. This creature is a soft-bodied, segmented animal with lobes along the side. He had a fan-shaped tail, five eyes (all the better to see you with, my Dear), a mouth under the head, facing backwards and a proboscis that most likely passed food to the mouth. He lived on the ocean floor using its proboscis to seek out small, soft food to eat.
The first thorough examination happened in 1975 pointing out unusual features. Of particular interest were his eyes, all five of them; two were on stalks near the front middle of the head pointing upward and forward, two larger stalked eyes near the rear and outer edges of the head pointing upwards and side-wards, and a single eye with a shorter stalk between the larger pair pointing upward. The proboscis weighed about one third of the total body weight and was striated like a vacuum cleaner’s hose, and just as flexible.
With no armor exostructure, these creatures flattened out as they were buried and fossilized making interesting specimens. This creature’s classification is still debatable because of its unusual construction.
His remains have been found in Russia, Australia, but mostly in Canada along the Burgess shale in the Canadian Rockies.
If you were swimming in the shallows, and you happened upon Opabinia, would that be cause to swim for your life to the shore? Not unless your eyesight was real keen. This creature, at full length, measured in at about 3 inches (I guess I saved the best for last).
Eve 's Good Advice
Five Ideas for Naming
by Eve Gaal
Do you use one of those baby-naming books or do the names pop right into your head as you type? If you invented cities, countries, lakes and planets, did you create the imaginative names of the citizens too? In my novel Penniless Hearts, I have some characters with Hawaiian names and so I Googled Hawaiian boys and girls names and found a great link filled with authentic, wonderful names such as Alevina. My main characters have easy to remember names such as Carl, John, Tina and of course Dan and Penny. Have you ever read a book where you couldn’t remember who was who because all the names began with the same letter? That is so frustrating and it sure slows down reading.
Another way to think about naming characters is thinking about their characteristics or traits. For example, when I think of the name Tina, I usually think of Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. It’s a show considered part of American culture and one of my favorite shows to watch as a kid. Anyway, her real name is Tina Louise and she played a redheaded bombshell stranded on an island, wearing designer gowns and heels. In contrast, Mary-Ann was the sweet, almost innocent girl playing along side Ginger. Mary-Ann wore cutoffs and plaid shirts—she looked and sounded wholesome—unlike her counterpart Ginger. Mary Ann’s real name suits her well too-- it’s Dawn Wells. Can you imagine if they had to reverse the roles and Tina Louise had to play the sweet country girl and Mary Ann the sultry movie star? Could it have worked for one episode—of course, and I remember seeing it, but overall Tina Louise had to be the movie star. Though Tina is not a movie star in my book, I wanted her to exude glamor and hopefully I wrote that into my story.
Some names instill confidence and strength, others might sound weak. Think about the back-story of your characters. Is he/she from humble roots or did he/she attend a private school? Was she the valedictorian with a 4.0 or was she the girl who partied with every football player on the entire varsity team? People have various assumptions and pre-conceived connotations about names like Gigi, Eve, Veronika or Marilyn. (Trust me, I know this from experience.) Readers might also assume Charles is smart and Mohammed is from somewhere far away, while he might just be from Pittsburgh. I think it’s best to steer clear from any name that stirs up anxiety or sounds politically incorrect. How about creating an unexpected switch, such as making Gigi the valedictorian? Isn’t it time to strip Charles of his Oxford degree, putting him in line at a soup kitchen? As the writer, you have the power in your fingertips to name your characters anything you want.
To summarize, there are several ways to come up with original names for your characters and though you probably thought of all of this, here are my five ideas:
- Baby naming books
- Google a list of ethnic names to suit your story
- Invent the name (Whether you’re a sci-fi author or steampunk—this is only natural) Yoda and Chewbaca for example.
- Relate the name to personal traits, i.e. Ginger is sexier than Mary Ann and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird scouts out the truth on her way to school.
- Stay away from stereotypes unless they help your story.
The joy of Thanksgiving: Psalm 116:12
As we approach this Thanksgiving season, the question becomes will it be one of thanksgiving, singing praises unto the Lord for what He has done in your life or will it be one of plenty of food, visitation with family and friends or will it be one where you pause to count all your blessings to see if they out number your problems; sure they will. Will you enter the house of worship on that day telling the world how thankful you are for all God’s blessings bestowed upon you or will you continue to be busy with the mundane things of life?
Let’s take a cue from Psalm 100, when the psalmist suggests to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” These five short verses tell all how we are to approach Thanksgiving, giving praises, honor and glory to God for all He has done. Another scripture of how we should approach Thanksgiving is found in Psalm 103:1-2, which states, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” The word “bless” caries a connation of praises, which expresses thanksgiving to the Lord for the benefits and blessing He has bestowed upon all. The question now becomes, how can we forget God’s blessings? Is it that His ready available goodness and mercy causes man to take Him for granted? Have mankind considered what would happen if God got angry and went on strike? He does get angry. What if God failed to wake up mankind each morning until this life is over? Alarm clocks does not wake anyone, it is God’s internal alarm clocks that He touches us with His finger of love each morning, with activity of our limbs, clothed in our right minds, the ability to make choices and the opportunity to tell somebody about Jesus during our daily activities.
Another school of thought on thanksgiving is what ever problems that is being experienced, have the faith to know that God already has the problem solved; our responsibility is to take it to Him and leave it there.
Let’s look at our scripture verse when considering our thanksgiving; this verse poses a question, what shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? Each individual must answer according to his or her relationship with God; the believing hearts will show expressions gratitude that flows from their hearts for God’s deliverance and praises will ever flow from the believer’s lips. With this gratitude is an expression of the believer’s love, loyalty and righteous living before God with a firm commitment to obey Him. It matters not of how God has blessed man, whether it is physical or spiritual, but what matters is how man responds to His blessings.
Finally, let’s pose another question, do we pause only on a set aside day to give thanks or expressions of one’s gratitude or is giving thanks the main stay of our expressions of love to God? Believers who commune daily with God, develops a closer relationship with Him and there is joy that is felt on the inside and the world didn’t give nor can it betaken away.
In closing, as we approach this thanksgiving season, let us consider all our blessings in spite of any difficulties we are encountering, because God is still blessing. He promised never to leave nor forsake His own and the God of my salvation is true to His word. Count your blessings; see if you can name them all, our blessings will always supersede our problems.
Authors, Poets, Artist, I think it is time to tell you all, what a great job you are doing with your writing, poems, and art. The Artist are slow at getting involved and displaying their art in the magazine, but hopefully you will wake up and allow others to see your art.
I know I don't display my own self photo, but my words are much more important than what I look like; at least I like to think.
This is the month of giving thanks for our freedom, for our life, and most of all for being able to smile at least once in a day ~ is enough to make us happy. Happy? That is if you wish to be happy. Yes, it is up to you whether you are happy. There are those without legs who get involved in wheelchair races. There are some who are blind, but still play a piano and sing. There are those that don't hear, but still dance and write. Oh yes, it is up to us whether we can allow ourselves to tune in with the happy note.~
Try something for me, won't you? While reading this message, frown and notice how you feel, then smile and notice the instant change. It is proven to work.
SEE YOU NEXT MONTH~
Motherhood; there's nothing like it. Hey, you get to brag, laugh, enjoy while they are infants and growing. You get to see their first steps. Their first words of mama or dada. And in their teens, you have to realize they are stepping out of the baby/kid stages into adulthood where they don't want you telling them how to do it anymore. No, now is the time to show you what they'd learned, and wish to demonstrate it to you. Then when they move on into adulthood, they come back to the wonderful loving son/daughter you remembered before their teens. There is nothing like motherhood~
What’s the key?
Hello and welcome. So close yet so far away. The finishing line is in range but the more I try to reach that line my momentum becomes slower … and slower. The distance to complete seems to be even more insurmountable.
My October article on ‘goals and aspirations’ was nearly finished when flare-up of intense pain and exhaustion struck me. This means writing the last few sentences became an impossible feat for me.
You’d think that writing a few sentences would be easy...like what’s the big deal...right? Sportspeople can overcome extreme exhaustion and pain from an injury and finish the race or game to go on to achieve their goal. You hear of performers completing a show whilst suffering an illness or acute injury. Either they are unaware of the injury until afterwards or the body’s chemicals cut in overriding the immediacy of the pain, or extent of injury; and in the process spurs on their determination to finish. Or they just push through the exhaustion barrier and are so focused on their goal that they don’t realise their own exhaustion.
My October column draft only needed a few lines to be completed and as such you might be thinking why couldn’t I just push through the pain and exhaustion? Why couldn’t I have that same determination work with writing as these super athletes?
Well...it all depends...what triggers it really. Sometimes if I ignore what triggers it I can push through. But, in this instance my energies dwindled and exhaustion and chronic pain increased and it all affected my thinking. I just collapsed in a heap! This feeling is different to writer’s block and even “brain fog” mentioned in an earlier column. Reading but not really comprehending means that trying to think of words becomes muddled. Sentence structure becomes a forgotten concept. Even more energy is required to maintain focus whilst combatting pain and fatigue.
Don’t worry, not everything is lost! Pacing oneself is the key. Coping with chronic pain and living successfully means that strategies for recuperation, as well as reprioritising essential and immediate needs for self and family, become the goals. In more extreme situations this can be likened to “survival” mode. In the sportsperson example the physical cost comes later. For a person with a chronic condition continual ignoring of pain and exhaustion caused by effects of pain will only compound and further weaken the body’s defence system.
Pacing, or “the active self-management strategy whereby individuals learn to balance time spent on activity and rest for the purpose of achieving increased function and participation in meaningful activities” (Jamieson-Lega, Berry and Brown. 2013: 207) is routinely used in pain management programs to help people gain more capacity to do what is important in their lives. To use pacing effectively people living with pain need to estimate what they’re currently doing – are they pushing; overdoing, then busting; or avoiding?
Does pacing mean that you have to give in? No! Quite the reverse: it can mean achieving your goal, or realising aspirations and dreams. And the trade-off? The activity takes a longer time to complete. Not good for deadlines but the activity does get done…just little differently, that’s all. Am I over this flare-up? No, I am not but it has eased so I can manage and continue to write and do my work – yay!!!! I am also lucky to have the help of a friend -thank you- to check my sentence structures, word-choices and suggest edits for me to consider.
As to the topic this month: I aspire to good writing for an enjoyable informative read; my goal is to submit a column for the November issue of PnP Authors Promotional Magazine. Pacing is the key and helping me do this.
Thank you for your comments and compliments about previous columns. I look forward to hearing from you about aspirations, goals and pacing and anything else you’d like to share with me and for me to share with all of you … Just write and let me know...so we can all learn and grow from your experience and my experience. Until next time revel in your creativity – whatever form it may take and try to be well and keep well and see you in the December issue.
 Jamieson-Lega K, Berry R, Brown CA. Pacing: a concept analysis of the chronic pain intervention. Pain Res Manag. 2013 Jul-Aug;18(4):207-13. Epub 2013 May 28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23717825 accessed 22sep2015