Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting hard

The more I interact with amateurs, the more I am inclined to move to a cave and live like Thoreau. It isn't because they're stupid (they are) or that they're unprofessional (yep, that too) but because they are rude and ignorant and take delight in trampling all over everything that isn't theirs.

I recently critiqued another writer's work. It came up in the queue. In order to get a critique, I have to give one. This person sought me out the next day and trashed my hard work, giving me the lowest scores possible. At first, the comments seemed unnecessarily vicious and hammered away at literary writing techniques that have nothing to do with genre writing. I decided to check the person out to thank them (teeth gritted) for their carefully considered comments. That's when I found out I had written a critique of their work the day before. I pointed out the cliches in their work and the too obvious plot devices, never giving a score below 3/5, and offered suggestions that would elevate their work above the cookie cutter style they had chosen (beautiful, rich, bored woman in expensive car seeks out starving young man living in hostel and selling newspapers in the rain for food offers hot bath, gourmet food and top shelf alcohol for the night in her secluded, well appointed hideaway). There was no sense of place. The dialogue was stilted and obviously pulled from some television show or 1900s melodrama. The characters were one-dimensional and the situation trite.

Unlike my usual methods where I state flat out that someone has screwed the English language with a broken skewer and trampled it with jump boots into the quagmire of a tar pit, I used tact. He used none and simply had a screaming tantrum all over my hard work. I feel like I'm flying with turkeys. It's enough to dishearten and depress, and it has done both in the recent past.

On a hunch, I checked out the other negative critiques and they were also people I had given low marks for horrid, misspelled and grammar-deficient writing. Flying with turkeys again.

I know professionals can be rude and snarky, but at least they have some credentials backing up their comments. These amateurs have none, as their lack of understanding or familiarity with the English language and basic grammar show. Now I know why successful writers refuse to read amateur work. It makes them despair for the future of literature. And I certainly do.

I don't expect everyone to love everything I write, but I do expect a certain level of professionalism and tact. I give what I expect to get -- the golden rule. Too bad no one has taught these literary anthropoids that being able to use a computer keyboard does not mean they can write.

Oh, well, time to go back to my cave and read good writing or even marginal writing with promise. I have so many to choose from.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just for 30 days

If I could be one person for 30 days, it would be the person in charge of making the decision about whether or not a mega mosque should be built at Ground Zero in NYC.

It cannot be just about money, although it is obvious the legislators and mayor of NYC had their heads up their collective backsides when they decided to raise the taxes on the rich, who responded by leaving NYC in droves. But to put up a mega mosque at Ground Zero is sheer lunacy.

The Muslims are upset at the backlash of feeling and point to the freedom of religion and freedom of speech as backing their claim that a mosque should be built there. Setting aside the fact that it was Muslim extremists who brought down the towers and killed thousands, to honor the Muslim dead and their religion by erecting a mega mosque is to forget about the people who died and were not Muslim. Is it right to honor the religion of one small group of people over the religion of the tens of thousands who died? I think not.

If a religious center is built it should represent the religions of all those who died that day and in the days that followed, a mega religious center not a mega mosque.

I have read arguments that a mega mosque would be like the Taj Mahal, erected by a bereaved Mogul (Muslim) king honoring his dead wife. He was the ruler and his wife was queen (rani), so that was understandable. Neither America nor NYC have kings or rajahs, so a monument to one group of people and their religion is not understandable. What is understandable is the outrage that so many Americans feel. This is what free speech is all about: open discussion and conversations from all sides of the issue, not just the popular and politically correct side.

No one is keeping Muslims from celebrating their religion or building mosques on other sides in America, but it is the right of every American to have a say in whether or not a mosque should be built at Ground Zero? Celebrate your religion anywhere. Roll out your prayer mats and point them toward Mecca while you pray at Ground Zero, but don't expect for Americans to embrace putting up a monument to the Muslim extremists who destroyed two buildings to throw American commerce and lives into chaos and killed tens of thousands of Americans. Yes, there were Muslims who were killed on 9/11/2001, but there were far more non-Muslims who were killed that day. To honor one group is to ignore the deaths and religions of all the other groups. As far as I am concerned, there isn't enough money in the world to allow that to happen. As the person in charge of this decision, it would be a center for all religions or business as usual.

Now, down the street a couple of blocks among all the other churches and synagogues, is something else again. To that I say, go for it.

That is all. Disperse.