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Work and People [Aug. 7th, 2010|09:13 pm]
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[Current Mood |awake]

Although I had two very sticky days with the book this week, I made my words goal with some spare change--just over 12,000. 

And I must remember that some nice email/comments showed up.  On the other hand...so did some not-nice ones.  

Naturally, it's easier to talk about the latter than the former, in part because telling the audience that I got a wonderful email from Fan A can be taken (has been taken in the past) as justifying more negative feedback of the "You must be really stuck on yourself to tell us other people like your books" variety.  For some people (including a guy who wrote a scathing article on the Huffington Post about overrated, self-promoting writers) the only acceptable attitude for a writer is humility that this person agrees it true humility and not false humility (if your books sell, your humility is false.)  FWIW, I never heard of Anis Shivani before this and have no idea why his opinion of any of these writers matters (even where I agree with it, which I did here and there, and particularly because he failed to dump on writers I think are overrated.)   (Pauses to go look...hmmm...  )  Well...he's in Houston, he's written one novel and some short fiction about multiculturalism and since he slammed the writers on that list who were also writing multiculturalism for doing it wrong, I gather he's sure he's doing it right.   He totally ignores genre writing, which is typical for critics who do their critic-writing where he does.  And he probably has a crawler-bot who harvests every mention of his name online and will now write scathingly about my books.   Too late, Shivani--I've been slammed before.  

This, aside from mild annoyance at yet another lump of negativity after a week of 100+F temps and another week of the same predicted, is not what has my hackles up.  Neither is the snippy email from the person who is furious with my publisher for how much books cost.   (Hey, dude, borrow the book from the library, or complain to my publisher, but don't blame me.)   Not even the umpteenth person who's sure I got this, this, and that from D&D (no, I didn't.)    No, what has my hackles up is a two-stage put-down involving the an intermediary...a classic triangular communication setup which I should have cut short at stage one, but didn't.  It's a weakness. There are social and theological situations in which I don't recognize the game being played, and thus don't react wisely.  

The general form of a third-party-putdown goes like this:  "This other person (OP)  doesn't like/approve of/think well of you because you [various ways of saying, "you aren't the person OP thinks you should be," with a side order of "And I think OP has a point there..."]   Sometimes, it's the opening move of "Let's you and him fight," in which the third-party-player (TPP)  enjoys controlling the other two and provoking a row.   Sometimes it's hostility to the person receiving the message.  Sometimes, it's a genuine, if misguided, attempt to get the other two to understand each other.   It's always, at least in part, a dominance move:  "I have the right to tell you something bad that other people say/think about you."   All of us run into this at some point; even the acknowledged Perfect Persons may hear "X doesn't want to be around you because you make him/her look inferior."   It's extremely common in childhood, when kids are just beginning to explore the rules of friendship and social climbing--their friendships are fragile and vulnerable to outside tattle-tales and gossips.  Some of them never grow out of this. 

The only right move is to stop the TPP at the first sentence,  gently but firmly refuse to listen to what the OP is supposed to have said or thought or believed, and change the subject.  However, there are always reasons why someone (me, in this instance) doesn't think of this in time, and instead falls into the paradigm the TPP has set up.   And this time, since I didn't respond the right way, I was sucked into the whole thing, and had (on the emotional side) a very bad week, from which I'm now breaking loose but with difficulty.  

Grrr at TPP for gossiping and playing therapist.  Grrr at Self for not being alert and pro-active enough to stop it right at the start.  

Of course, being a writer, I can use this--it's yet more material on human behavior from direct experience that may someday find itself in a book.   I have the whole suite of recently evoked emotions to play with.  (Rationalization?  Sure.   Very much a "Got lemons, make lemonade" situation except I'm thinking  lemon meringue pie, lemon curd,  lemon cookies,  lemon-rosemary roast chicken...)  

The bones I pulled from the freezer--vertebrae, angular, spiky-looking, inconvenient and uncompromising--are a good metaphor for all this.  There was depressingly little meat attached to them.   I put them in an 8 quart stock pot with onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, a quart of beef stock from the freezer, a big can of tomatoes & green chilis, and when the meat (originally tough and adherent) finally cooked off the bones, pulled out bones and things I didn't want (a section of artery big enough to put my thumb in), and reduced it a little.  In went the pan juices from this morning's sausages, deglazed with a slug of red wine.  Eventually, in went potatoes.   The family reaction was to eat two or three bowls full apiece. Those difficult bones needed only a long time in the stock pot to yield flavor and what meat was on them.    




[User Picture]From: controuble
2010-08-08 02:33 am (UTC)
Hmmm...I usually make Greek style chicken with lemon and oregano. Will have to try rosemary some time.

Then again, you could subscribe to the meme running around FaceBook right now, "If life gives you lemons, throw them back and demand chocolate."
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 03:34 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely try the rosemary. Oregano's one of my favorite herbs too, but rosemary & lemons (and lots of garlic) with a roast chicken is...wonderful-wonderful.

I had chocolate and ate twice as much of it this week as the week before, thanks to the lemons. I now ask of life DARK chocolate, preferably Green & Black's 85% cocoa.
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[User Picture]From: melissajm
2010-08-08 02:34 am (UTC)
Sorry to hear about the bad week. I hope you get some good "soup" out of it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 03:36 am (UTC)
I will. It just has to simmer awhile. Once I finally caught on to the real situation (not the surface situation) and had a long talk with my husband, the mood began to lift.
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[User Picture]From: rain_hatchett
2010-08-08 04:04 am (UTC)
I was having a bit of a bad week myself, and earlier today I was thinking that I could probably use it for a future story . . . But then I felt guilty for thinking about putting my characters and my universe through the same thing.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 01:02 pm (UTC)
But it's your duty as a writer to put your characters through trials and tribulations...otherwise they soon grow bored and begin to make their own problems, which don't fit the plot.
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[User Picture]From: gotica
2010-08-08 04:21 am (UTC)
Would it be a waste of lemon meringue pie to have a fan fling it back in the faces of the naysayers by saying that I think what you do is fantastic and the works you create brilliant?

Actually, it would be a waste of pie but I'm sure it would sting no?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 01:03 pm (UTC)
Now that you've told me nice things...how about we just sit here and eat the pie. Those others don't deserve to have even the taste of it.
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[User Picture]From: keristor
2010-08-08 08:16 am (UTC)
"The only right move is to stop the TPP at the first sentence" reminds me of Heinlein's advice that any sentence starting with a clause containing 'but' ("It's none of my business, but...", "I shouldn't say this, but...", and the like) should be punctuated immediately after the 'but'. The use of excessive force in the punctuation may not be socially acceptable (killing someone for a first offense, for instance). (I have paraphrased, and probably conflated a couple of his (vice Lazarus Long) comments.)

I like your ideas about what to do with lemons! Not that I have anything against fresh-made lemonade either.

I'm less certain about the phrase I read as "this morning's sausages, deglazed with a slug". Oh, "of red wine", that makes a difference, the other seemed a little strange (and is an artefact of the way I parse sentences in a linear way)...
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[User Picture]From: teriegarrison
2010-08-08 09:21 am (UTC)
In my browser window, the line ended with 'slug', so my mind did the same thing yours did before my eyes managed to travel to the beginning of the next line. :-) (BTW, remember me from breakfast one morning at Eastercon? My hair's longer now than in my photo with this post. I think it was either Sunday or Monday we sat together and had a bit of a chat.)
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2010-08-08 03:27 pm (UTC)
My sympathy on the bad week. I'm glad you are feeling better.

And I appreciate your analysis of the triangular communication.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the sympathy...always welcome.

Today has brought my Dragon*Con schedule, forwarded by my agent, who probably had the sense to look it up on the website, unlike me. Yippee! Nicely busy but not insanely so. Perfect!

And last week's massacre of the stray socks (that were stuffing the sock drawer...and only a few of their missing partners have turned up this week) has reduced sock numbers to the point where half the drawer can be used for T-shirts. Another Yippee.

Now to take a long hard look at the kitchen cabinets, and the former coat-closet-turned-pantry, and see if I can find more convenient (and large enough) places for the pots & pans. Having to move everything (two iron skillets and a big iron griddle) out of the oven whenever I want to bake something is a nuisance.
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[User Picture]From: warriorofworry
2010-08-08 06:54 pm (UTC)
Wow. Here's hoping for a better week.
I was stunned by the article you linked; what arrogance! and bitter animosity, with a sprinkling of misogynist "yr doin it rong". There's nothing wrong with literary criticism, or pointing out weaknesses in an author's work, but - but - speechless. I think I'm going to beg Gotica for a small slice of pie, and you for a small bowl of that lovely "Metaphor Soup' to wash the taste out of my mouth.
I am wryly amused by your description of TPP. In my world, TPP is almost always compounded by the fact that the TP is family - my mother, in fact - which makes it impossible to stop her at the critical point, because it's packaged as news about other family members. The advantage, though, is that all of us know she does it, and after years of playing to her drama, we just sign "whatever" - most of the time. Good energy your way.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 09:47 pm (UTC)
I read the guy's interview of a writer he claims to like, a guy in Austin. His interviewing style is one with that essay: he has in mind what he thinks the guy should say, and is trying to maneuver him into saying it, but the writer seems a much nicer person, who doesn't let himself be herded anywhere he doesn't want to go.

A lot of us learned the TPP thing in a family...but my nuclear family had only the two of us, so I was not subjected to it there. I saw it done in friends' families, where there were enough people around to make even very large version possible. And of course in school. One amazing version was a woman who came to visit my mother--who had died about a half hour before--and told me in that so-not-good-moment that "everybody in town" thought I was a bad mother.

Soul of tact and sympathy. Not.
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From: peneli
2010-08-08 08:13 pm (UTC)

here's to lemon cookies

Well, I think you're awesome and Doin It Right, so ignore those other people. :)

Also, the fact that multiple people think you stole things from D&D is just confusing to me. One of the reasons I adore Paks World is that it includes so many "standard fantasy" things (elves, dwarves, paladins, etc) in totally non-standard and non-D&Desque configurations.

Edited at 2010-08-08 08:22 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 10:00 pm (UTC)

Re: here's to lemon cookies

That's sort of my feeling. And besides...I was 35 or 36 before I knew anything about D&D, and had spent considerable time studying history, mythology, anthropology, and so on.

Anyway--thanks for your comments.
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[User Picture]From: ndozo
2010-08-08 09:03 pm (UTC)
For me it's best to avoid reading those faux-intellectual cyber-tabloid stories.
That was an appalling article. I don't know a lot of the authors he was gassing off about, but Junot Diaz's book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is a favorite of mine. Mr. Shivani's parents should have taken more care when naming him. (Or maybe they saw something in him early on.)

Lemon zest on watermelon. Surprising and tasty.

Every time you write about cooking, I get hungry. I wish you would write a cookbook.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-08-08 09:58 pm (UTC)
I can't write a cookbook because I don't do recipes well.

Mine would be much like the old "Impoverished Student's..." one with a few personal quirks that aren't in there (after all, consider when it was written.) Ro-Tel is a basic food group. Wine, garlic, onions (and shallots if you can afford them--I plan to plant some this fall so I can), mustard, olives, and limes do surprising and wonderful things when applied at the moment your nose says "Why not?" Not being an impoverished student anymore allows me to cook with much better wine, and the friends with a ranch make it possible for me to have a couple of mama cows and have range-fed beef.
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[User Picture]From: moonsinger
2010-08-10 02:02 am (UTC)
I'm not a cook, but I do like good food that lemon-rosemary roast chicken sounds yummy.
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