Welcome again to my little wholly independent corner of the writing, and therefore reading, world.
On this really sunny day here in Ireland, I re-read this illuminating interview with the amazing Margaret Randall and was compelled to share it with friends, readers, fellow writers, website visitors and (later) students.
In my view, the print books business here in Ireland often short-changes many of it’s customers or ‘real life readers‘ by really pushing and promoting that whole ’emerging’ and ‘up and coming’ writers paradigm, it feels like it may often be more about securing and promoting contracted (owned) talent than actually curating careers or offering genuine diversity to a reading public.
Current commercial strategies also sell these fixed agendas within an industry of cultural gatekeepers to the aspirants facing the very barriers to entry that industry erected. As I write here often, (or did for 20 years before the site got spammed out of existence) the book publishing and distribution industry is simply not ‘the writing life’ it is only (with a few rare and valuable exceptions) about commerce, money, and profit.
I don’t want to offer spoilers here to Margaret’s interview so the links here should be enough for now, suffice to say I will be including some of Margaret’s work in my up and coming playshop sessions and I will be asking participants to read this interview as part of our discussions around memoir and technology, and the contemporary writer’s online life.
Stuffafizing should be up and running soon.. thanks to those who have already signed up.
I created the hashtag and neologism ‘#blibloading’. There was no word to describe the act of downloading other people’s pictures of their books, allowing for checking them out and deciding whether any of them are must reads.
Perhaps only writers or true bibliophiles will understand that urge, (or sentence) and ‘my word’ blibloading could itself not be invented before 1996 prior to the www. Yes the phenomena of @bookshelfporn obviously exists but that’s a lot more impersonal and concerns a lusty aesthetics for book filled shelves, rather than a singularly gawking online snapshot into other people’s photographed reading or book buying habits.
‘My word’ was always a gentle expression of surprise I associated with English upper and middle class friends.
Not that I actually have any.
The word on the interwebs was that it promised improvements in information and communication democratization, long and longer tails of niche pursuits and some heretofore sharing of interests, however obscure, as not merely possible but crucial for ‘a web based newer form of communication’.
The early friendlier net already did remediated letters, scrolls, epistles, notes, memos, etc, in various electronic formats via listservs, bulletin boards, etc, but social media platforms of today better facilitate speedy synchronous exchange either night or day, or yes, even at dawn for that matter.. but only if we embrace such new purposes and altered uses.
Yes questions arise; If you can’t judge a book by its cover could you judge it by a social media account or a couple of its tweets ? Traditional or mainstream interests have swamped social media such that much of its true human value potential appears lost in impure pursuits of profit and profile. I mostly use social media to connect with writers and coders, artists, etc whom I want to learn from or more about. After an initial flourish I culled my FB connections down from 4K to 1K or so, I’ve kept my linkedin at around 1.5K but as @cleverelt I follow almost 4K people on twitter and will probably continue to follow more as I encounter them. I don’t use any of my social media as marketing tools as I to date have had nothing to market… or promote….
Others certainly do, and like Laurence O’Bryan (@LPOBryan – @SeeNewBooks ) appear to be making a fantastic job of it. However some wonderfully talented writers have come relatively late to these social media parties and as a consequence have had to sit back with small follower numbers while watching other strategy savvy social media makers stride center stage, brand in hand, selling books, raising their profile and the profiles of others, while others stuff schedules and scatter content, garnering and gathering large follower numbers proffering a valuable blend of virtue signalling and semi-soft sell. To them too I sincerely say ‘fair play’.
Work not promoted by the mainstream publishing houses and their controlled promotional arms may not reach these long tailed parts a friendly personal social media can. Irrespective of their various accounts, money, media, people, and brand guises, most of my own book purchases come from recommendations from fellow writers and friends across social media, those with whom I am (& feel) connected.
I am not sure that it’s still there, but there was a notice backstage in the lyric theatre Belfast that spoke to me about relationships between writers, artists, actors, creators, performers and their supporters and friends:
I recently followed the writer @andrewhankinson over on twitter and bought two of his books which are next up in my reading pile (see the image below). As you do, I flicked through the newly purchased books, basically because Bibliosmia always beats unboxing . Unlike flicking through older shelved books which may hold earlier secretly stashed cash from another era (We wish).
In some senses blibloading is Twitter meeting Tsundoku I suppose, but serendipity and synchronicity are wonderful aspects of modern creative life. For someone like me who has spent much time and energy with technology and creativity mostly framed formally, theoretically, academically, or seen through some sort of pristine professional practice lens, in a pandemic world, honest human connection and the hairy edges of existence blend better into authenticity when the elements of luck or chance intrude.
I have been working on a couple of commissions lately and I am looking forward to writing about those and other activities. Like so many others I lost someone close to me during the Covid 19 pandemic, and normal service has simply not been resumed, I doubt it ever will. I want to write something about the incredible connections between two of the books above in the respective images of six covers and the seven in a pile, I will do that if I ever get the time to.
Finally do feel free to comment, I get lots of comments, mostly Spam, which now has it’s own uses for me, but I do enjoy genuine comments.
I’d like to thank those of you who have kindly already signed up to my (ir)regular newsletter that’s about all sorts of stuff…. It is something that I am finally getting around to working on alongside all the other abnormal creative stuff, I’ve called the newsletter:
Entertaining while ‘engendering’ a vital debate about education.
The time limited link to watch this documentary is here:
Previous portrayals of the poor, street, and slum, life of places like Bombay as depicted in Shantaram, the 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, and perhaps like the novel itself, first appeared as an illuminating western perspective until it became quite obviously incredulous and lacking genuine context, even for fiction. The welfare of India’s poorest young girls is a topic the west and east have little discussed but still mostly disagreed upon.
This was most notable perhaps when the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens published his book “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice”in which Hitch criticized her efforts to alleviate the suffering of Calcutta’s poor and claimed, outside his assessment of her character, that those efforts since based in religious dogma and motives, ensured that the wretched situation there was actually compounded by such interference. Hitch went on to explain that the one thing that has positively changed life outcomes for poor young women is ensuring that they have sovereignty over their own bodies. The long and arduous route to that societal shift in the subcontinent of India must obviously traverse education.
The Road to Vrindavan begins with its creator Ravi Chambers understanding that immersing himself in even the planning of the central arduous journey at the centre of the film may somehow echo his previous unintended exclusion of those most dear and closest to him, as he acknowledges the effects on others of his other journey to Vrindavan as a Hare Krsna monk twenty years previously.
Jeff Gomez has in recent years articulated the shift from Campbell’s heroic journey to concepts around shared storytelling, the collaborative creation of story universes to inclusive, transmedia, and an expansive equality inspired ‘collective journey’ this very personal documentary film by necessity requires a sort of simpler immersion in the individual threads of our collective imagination.
Interviewees along Ravi’s fund raising and fact finding journey introduce terms like ‘significant importance’ and ‘authentic’ with respect to Indian Culture, Indian Tradition, and the defined roles assigned to men and women in their society. Ravi conducts his interviews with a forthright sensitivity and perhaps because of the subject matter, the obvious emotional, intellectual, physical, and maybe spiritual investments he’s making in this documentary this ensures it becomes a rich tapestry of all these elements, from the natural splendour of the countryside to the sprawling human hubbub of various urban spaces, to fresh faces of young girls each of whom has her own individual special story, the vibrancy of colour, the texture of personality and ultimately the exploration of possibility.
Just as with the ideas within it, the film itself expands its intellectual, theoretical, and ultimately sociological breath to broaden the question beyond simply the education of young girls, it does so without ever resorting to becoming academic or abstract, issues with inheriting the wisdom within tradition, societal evolution without inherently damaged historicity swamping progress, become developing backdrops to the imperative questioning at the centre of the documentary.
Here I must confess my personal connection to this story as I am a long time family friend of Ravi’s parents, but this story while about cultural, societal, gender, community, and broader questions, is ultimately about these personal stories, and the relationships between them, it is about men and women, parents and their children, what is acceptable to us as individuals and as parts of our communities, what are our responsibilities to each?
The Road to Vrindavanis a timely and very well produced reminder about individual and collective bravery, gender roles, rights, and gender sensitization at a time when violence against women is on the National agenda in India. Unlike that book Shantaram, the truth and authenticity of ‘The Road to Vrindavan’ increase as the documentary itself evolves, ‘be inspired films’ has delivered a film really worth watching and certainly a documentary very much worth discussing. Go watch it and Enjoy…
Thank you for your unsolicited confidential message xxxxxx,
Rather than simply delete your message, I thought it might also be ‘nice’ to respond to you personally here on linkedin first, before deciding whether to post my reply below publicly on my own timeline or elsewhere, as a kinda critique.
I’m sure at one point this whole thing sounded like a really good idea in that room, I can tease using scarcity and exclusivity appeals via simple (& cheap) personalized direct linkedin message, invite a broad cross section of connections and filter later using three (reinforcing) questions to build community via our promise of exclusive value, intimating that my actual bog standard value proposition is so really good it needs to be ‘secret’.
That’s an old 1960’s advertising trick but hey that was 60+ years ago..
I can call the initial linkedin message ‘a confidential message’, to set tone and general expectation to message recipients.
I then basically create a standard linkedin group to help form a community which we can later migrate to our own branded platform and then monetize.. we will have plenty of time to come up with better branding, simply: Secret… XXXXX XXXXX group… is initially cleaner.. until we get some additional creative talent on board..
We could later do a hot takes handbook on our success building the group. Group content can also be repurposed with our new branding.. it’s a digital playbook waiting to be complied..
We could use the hottakes handbook as clickbait reward for newsletter sign up, it can be one pillar of our broader content planning.. inbound strategy dev is underway.. what about an infographic ?
One central omission from your initial collateral and your thinking xxxxxx is that to many human beingsSecretscan be a damaging psychological phenomena.
Since before whispers were invented, secrets have caused suspicion, misunderstanding, disinformation, guilt, lack of trust, betrayal, in our current post truth age, where disinformation is causing unnecessary and major political, medical, and personal, difficulties for a whole range of people and societies globally, why would any genuine thinking person want to be involved with some cheap social media ‘secret’..
Why would anyone in their own proper mind be enticed to carry additional and unnecessary psychological weight ?
FOMO ? – STFU !
Does any ‘normal’ individual really want to receive a completely unsolicited ‘confidential message’ ?
In normal circumstances I would just delete both buckshot marketing message and the connection but with all the crap currently in our world, seeing this kinda stuff from a Harvard educated CMO, a consultant, is honestly disturbing.. I need to point this cheap trickery out.
I was blessed to bring three sons to adulthood, one of the main tenets of my parenting was to have no secrets, to advise my children that yes each person could and should have personal stuff that is their’s alone, and they correctly have the choice about what they share with others.. or what they don’t.. but never be forced to carry a secret for someone else.. anyone who would ask you to do that, really needs to look at their own motivations and expectations.. and the worth of that secret, before asking you for a reply..
That final bottom line (doorknob) NLP attempt in the message:
“And remember, it is our big secret 😏”
is simply infinitive wrong..
Having written the reply above to the message below, I decided to post it here for my regular readers instead rather than dignify the unsolicited message with any form of response, I chose to leave it unanswered… and deleted the connection who sent it.
BELOW the Text of the original Message with clear redaction so as to avoid unnecessary embarrassment. and below that again an image of my desktop with the message with lots of colorful redaction to protect other identities..
You have received a highly confidential message 🔒
I see, you have experience and expertise in the XXXXXX area, so I thought it would be nice to give you an invite to our Secret XXXXXX group.
As a member of our group, you will have full access to: •
•Fascinating interviews with XXXXXX experts
•Most recent XXXXXX news
•Quizzes, questionnaires and polls
•Discussions of pressing problems with XXXXXX leaders
•Funny XXXXXX jokes and memes
This offer will be valid for only some days, as we have a limited number of invitations.
If you want to be one of the lucky ones and get into our group, let me know about it, and I will send a short 3 question brief to make sure you can join.
And remember, it is our big secret 😏
I am starting to write a regular newsletter which is (hard to believe I know) more opinionated, considers more topics than presented here, in hopefully more detail with additional links of interest and references, that is if enough people sign up to it.. its about all sorts of stuff…. so I’ve called it:
Two fingers to this year 2020
When my loving mother passed
And all that economic talk of plenty
was exposed as rich men’s lies at last
our fifth world war, after drugs and terrorism,
became a virus of normal people’s frontline heroism
politicians proved their lack of worth, dumb death
disinformed, cerebral malnutrition from a spin filled
we the people look to each other and our burning
earth around us
that us, this we, these common people, locked down,
look up only to see
that double digit trouble becomes our starting price
of being frank and free
fingered fear and trepidation visited upon each nation
as a global planning spree
of dumbing down, rising prices, complex processes
reducing critical capacity
inconvenient truths dismissed, slandered silenced
theories of silly conspiracy
don’t fall for them vote for me, vote, vote often,
believe you have a voice, a choice
between the corporations and my mini me,
the nanny state supported on all fours
by those who set the ceilings and the floors, of wealth,
access, and growing successful fear
that keeps you near, believing friends or enemies
among their economic rubble
but when you burst that bubble,
only then begins their real double digit trouble
I am starting to write a regular newsletter which is (hard to believe I know) more opinionated, considers more topics than presented here, in hopefully more detail with additional links of interest and references, that is if enough people sign up to it.. its about all sorts of stuff.. so I’ve called it: