Archived Messages from January 26, 1999 to February 1, 1999

Rhoda Sun Jan 31 18:02:00 PST 1999


I too would like to see one of those acceptances. To me they are like protons, neutrons, and electrons. Everyone admits they exist but who has ever seen them? Many times there is much in between a flat out rejection and an acceptance. There is always that (to me) elusive "fix this and resubmit." Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't, but at least it gives you hope.

As far as finishing things. If I can write twenty pages on something, I can usually finish it. To me beginnings are much harder than endings. I have the worst time deciding where to start a book. And then after I finish it, I end up cutting two or three scenes off the beginning. When I have worked for months on a novel, I get caught up in the story and the characters. My love and understanding of them makes it realitively easy to write the story. By the time I get over half-way, I wouldn't dare stop because I have put so much of my blood and guts into the thing already. By the end of the book there is never much doubt in how it will end. The trick is to properly tie up all the loose threads.

I have a short story which I think has promise. I wrote it about two years ago, but I got to page ten and couldn't go on. I did put an ending on the thing, but it was horrible. It went great until page 10 and then the thing fell apart. Someday I will go back to it and see if a couple of years away from it will have brought fresh inspiration.


I can see we shall all have to tread carefully while you are on the Notebook, espacially Michele and Eddie who are practically in your own back yard. Too bad you are not an American Heinz 57 like some of us. Being of both English and Celtic descent might explain these bitter internal struggles I face from time to time. So often my English diplomacy and desire to smooth things over clashes horribly with my Scotch-Irish temper, stubborness, and plain outspokeness. Is acknowledging no grey areas, and only seeing things black and white a Celtic trait also? I thought of sending you a MIDI version I have of Rule Britannia but then thought better of it. I don't want to wake up some night and see you riding a horse through my house while you wield a claymore. I saw this happen in BRAVEHEART. It was a bloody mess, and a lot of people got hurt.


I liked the new graphic on your web-page. You've done quite well with the site. Keep up the good work.


Welcome. I loved your post and I can see you have fine way of expressing yourself. I hope you continue to join in the fun. Please post often. It is refreshing to read your soft, slow southern drawl here on the Notebook.


Where ever you are, please come back. You left some provocative statements that resulted in much interesting discussion. Don't let us scare you away.

Happy Writing, all!


S.N.Arly Sun Jan 31 17:26:38 PST 1999

Ashling - Welcome. Nope. You're not alone. There's a whole lot of us nuts out here.

Litter - My grandmother had a holy cow when I wore green on St. Pat's day as a kid. She told me quite plainly that I wasn't Irish. She grew up in Britian and we always knew she was half Irish (though denied it every day of her life). My da and I are going through the fmaily tree and it appears that she may have actually been 100% Irish. What a joke.

On rejects - My quality seems to be improving, so my stories must be getting farther. If you're writing SF/F and going with magazines, acceptance is NOT usually by phone. Usually by return of post and S - L - O - W in moving along.


"...and the momeraths outgrabe..."

Litter Sun Jan 31 16:57:20 PST 1999


Re agsousa’s post –

Sorry, this wasn’t an attempt at plagiarism – I had a lot to catch up on and skimmed over several days mail until I came to a statement that grabbed my attention. My apologies for not crediting you appropriately :o)

Now then – this will not make you a tasty morsel but calling me ‘English’ most definitely will!!!!! For a Scot that is the ultimate insult – so watch out for a big hairy Scot following you home one of these days…


Scot, Scottish, Celtic, Gaelic but most definitely NOT English!

Lena Sun Jan 31 12:27:25 PST 1999

Hootie & Ashling - Hullo!

I always begin stories, and rarely finish them. Beginnings of stories are so much fun - you are meeting the characters, introducing the world, and hinting at a plot. By the end you have to say farewell to all that you have created. 'Tis sad. I am starting my creative writing class tomorrow, so hopefully I should get some finished stories out of that. I am so excited! I've never taken a course in creative writing, only boring research serious type classes where the use of first and second pronouns is strictly prohibited. Yesch.

Goodweed - I always mean to write something up for the Round Robin, but never seem to get around to it. If only the world ran on good intentions...

I just read a really good book, "Tigana" by Guy Gavriel Kay (how's that for a name?). The way this guy plots his stories is interesting. The first three-quarters of the book are background stories, small events, introducing the characters. Nothing really seems to happen. Then, suddenly, in the last part of the book, the whole plot line you did not even notice developing rears up and wham! slaps you in the face. Quite amazing.

Toby - Classic music is the only thing I can do my calculus homework to. I like to listen to music as I do work, but I can't listen to music-with-words for calculus.

Gotta watch the Superbowl! Take care,

Toby B Sun Jan 31 10:31:18 PST 1999

Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach, I have it on a disk with several other major organ pieces, and when the music in the dorm I live in gets out of hand, I crank up my stereo and let loose :)

Rejections: I wallpaper my room with them. I have two walls dedicated to rejections. They make an excellent conversation piece. People sometimes come into my room just to browse through them all. Of course, some people don't understand, and look at them and ask 'all these rejections, do you EVER get anything published'. At that point I usually point them over to the small check I have framed that sits by my monitor. My first check ever :)

I get a huge kick out of rejections. Particularly the harsh ones. One has to, otherwise one will only get depressed.

Good writing all.

Goodweed of the North Sun Jan 31 10:06:26 PST 1999

S.K.S.; You couldn't have said it more eloquently. I too have a need to be accepted, to be validated. I like to write, but there are a many things I give up, that I equally enjoy, to find the time. I am the creative type. I have built a model clipper ship from scratch, not a kit. I'm interested in drawing, drafting, cooking, skulpting, science, electronics, etc. I have designed circuits for myself, and others, and love to just sit and listen to some good "Emerson, Lake, and Palmer", or "Yes", or a thousand other bands, or sometimes a good rousing classical piece like "The Tacate Fuge (song in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and Phantom of the Opera).

Anyway, I don't write so much for my own enjoyment, but am writing to entertain others and in some deep down part of myself, prove I am someone special. Most importantly, I am a teller of tales. What good are tales if their is no one to read or hear them.

I love some of the closings from this forum, such as "Be well, Live well", and S.N.Arly's little additions after her close. There have been others too. My poor memory is not good at calling them up at present. Gotta go. I just burnt two waffles while reading and typing on the notebook. One more thing; we need other voices on the round-robing works. It seems that when I quit writing on the stories, to allow others to jump in, no one does. It's a great place to learn in. There is no pressure there. It is 100% play-time for writers.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Thomas Sun Jan 31 09:55:56 PST 1999


Oh yes, acceptances usually arrive by telephone. In fact, when an editor calls, you are in luck -- well, not always.

I once got a call from an editor to tell me she could not use my idea, but my clips were so good that she wanted personally to encourage me to keep sending ideas. I sent two ideas, one after the other. Each time, she wrote (e-mailed) to tell me that they were already pursuing the ideas on-staff. Needless to say, I stopped sending ideas. Haven't heard from her since.

Speaking of rejections, here's one: "We are sorry to say that, although your proposal was well written, we have already covered that subject in our magazine. Your credentials fit with our needs, and since we have identified definite areas we want to cover in the future, we encourage you to keep in touch with us."

Notice, there is no mention of what it is they want to cover in the future, and whether or not my credentials would be of any use.


I would send you my voluminous file of beginnings, if only you had some endings to offer me.

It is definitely "them", as James Whitmore once said.

S.K.S. Perry Sun Jan 31 08:58:54 PST 1999

Hey all,

Howard and Rachel: Maybe you should get together. Between the two of you you might come up with a few complete stories. (Howard tends to write beginings and middles with no endings, while Rachel writes beinings and endings with no middles!)

Ashiling, welcome. (That was short, concise and to the point, eh? Well, except for this part.) Even though I think I'm the one who started all this griping about rejection letters, I'm with you. I've kept all my rejection letters (9 so far--hey, I've only been submitting for a little over a year now!) and I plan to frame some of the better ones. Hopefully they'll surround my first acceptance letter. I just hope I don't have to put in a new wall befor I get that first acceptance.

Speaking of acceptance, has anyone here ever got one? What do they look like? Do they actually send you a letter, or do they phone you, or e-mail you, or am I wasting my time sending them that information. (Ya, I know--I have to send it any way because they request it.) Gee, I'd hate to throw one out by accident.

And as to writing because we love it and the getting published part is a bonus? Of course that's true. Still, I don't know about the rest of you but getting published for me would validate my work. It's a sign that you really are a writer, or maybe I should say proffesional writer, and not just a wannabe, or worse yet, delusional.

I one met a writer at a book signing who had gone the self-publishing route. He was at one of the mall bookstores and he was selling autographed copies of his book. When I told him I had written a book and was trying to get published he was kind enough to spend a good half hour with me telling me the problems he had faced. I heard a lot of the same stuff we all hear and say, even here at the Notebook. You know: "Everyone who read it thinks my book is great." "Publishers wouldn't know a good book from a hole in the ground." and so on, and so on. He eventually got fed up with the rejections and decided to got the self-publishing route (and was doing quite well I might add--this was his fifth book.) Seeing as he'd been so thoughtfull and all, I of course bought a copy. Let me tell you, it was one of the worst things I've ever read, and I'll read just about anything. I couldn't even finish this. It was incredibly juvinile. The plot was moronic and rehashed, the characters were flat, lifeless charicatures, the dialogue sound like something from a Dick and Jane book, and the grammar? Let's not go into that.

I guess what this all boils down to is that I don't want to be like him--a legend in my own mind. Actually being published mean that someone other than myself things I'm a writer. (I was going to say someone qualified to know, but that might not be entirely true either. What are the credentials nescessary to be a publisher?)

Be Well, Live Well.

Jai Sun Jan 31 02:33:26 PST 1999


A big hello to Ashling, I know an Aichling but have never met an Ashling before(Or maybe I have, old rusty mind cogs screech inside some forgoten corner of my mind). Welcome to our humble board and thanks for making your voice known. You did well to get all your post in one, something I often fail to manage :)


Jai Sun Jan 31 02:28:57 PST 1999


You where all probably lucky my post went missing while the site was down. Sure you didn't all want to hear about my really exciting experience involving a migrane, lack of speach and directing a taxi to the home who's address I had forgoten. Sufice it to say it was an interesting night.

Now to howards question -- Does anyone here besides me, that is, have the problem of not being able to *finish* a story?

Me (raises his hand). Due mostly to the fact I haven't had time to finish my novel. I actually had alot of difficulty starting something I liked. I did start a number before I settled on one. Now I'm finding it difficult to pick up after taking some time of to try my hand at short story writing, but I'm not going to cope out. I do really want to do it, honest :)

Actually short story writing was heaps of fun, I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it. Well those of you who can :)


Ashling Sat Jan 30 19:37:16 PST 1999

Hi! I've been lurking for a couple of weeks, but the rejection letters topic enticed me into the open. First, a brief intro. My compulsion to write is a life-long addiction, my dedication to the hard work required has been erratic. In my teens & 20s I wrote essays & poetry, none too well, made minor contributions to my high school newspaper, & wrote book reviews for the city newspaper (no pay, you kept the book.)

Got a couple of years college in my early forties, been writing at a steadier pace for last couple of years. I hope this group & a few other things will motivate me to write every day. I formed a small f-t-f writers group, Smoke City Narrators. All 3 of us have novels in different stages. I'm a newbie to computers, so won't be submitting to y'all for a while until I learn more. I may send in a few short essays & later on some short stories I wrote a couple of years ago.

In a "good" short story, I would have let the reader know before now that ASHLING is female. Unlike Mickey Spillaine, I'm not a one draft writer, mine requires much much editing.
Did I say this would be brief??? If y'all haven't figured it out yet, I'm from the South - Alabama (USA), and I do talk s-l-o-w and l-o-n-g. If that makes me a stereotype, well, I've been called worse.

My favorite writers are Agatha Christie & Stephen King, both pure escapism. My friends tell me I'm funny. When I tell a story on paper though, it turns out as a very serious "mainstream" story.

Anyway, someone here mentioned keeping rejection slips in a big envelope. Hell, my "best" ones are framed & hanging above my desk. Somebody or other (famous?) said, Only writers display their failures like trophies. [No quote marks because it's not the exact words.]

The quality of my rejections has improved lately. In the past year & a half, I've received two typed letters on actual letterhead, one signed by a reader & the other signed by a fiction editor. My best rejection from years ago was a hand scrawled note on the bottom of a photocopied form letter. I had sent a cover letter along with both the recent stories - & the editors treated me the way I had treated them. I used to think a cover letter with fiction would be laughed at. What would I say - the story should speak for itself. At a writers conference at a local college, I had met the editor for a "slick" magazine which pays $2,000 to $3,000 for a short story. He said it was rude to shove a story in his face via the mail, without introducing myself --- like going to a party & leaving without speaking to anyone. So I tried it, & I believe the cover letter was responsible for my receiving a better quality rejection letter. Helped my ego & gave slight clues to why my story was rejected.

I'll shut up for now, so Jack won't have to Archive before tonight's posting is over. Thanks to everyone who posted lately. It's nice to know that although I'm APART from the world while I write, I am not ALONE.


Rachel Sat Jan 30 19:35:06 PST 1999

Howard - I seem to share your problem. I have completed three things so far. One Novel and two short stories. I have two more short stories on the go and should be done with them by the end of February max. Well that doesn't include editing.

Anyway, I am a rotter for starting things and just leaving them. I currently have 40 open stories at various stages of the game. What I do is I just start at the beginning. I open the first file type afew lines or afew pages, whatever happens and when I find I am at a loss I close that one and open the next and so on and so on. Its a little strange from time to time, because I can move from horror, to science fiction to fantasy, to childrens stories, to fluff stuff.

While I was at this recently I started to blend some characters and ideas and wham I'v got a whole new story. I have made myself a most serious promise that I will complete the two I started most recently.

I hope this gives you some comfort that you are not alone.

Take care

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Jan 30 18:21:03 PST 1999

Hootie: Welcome. Hola. Howdie. Wilkommen. When you say 'I don’t write just to be published. It would be nice, but I write because I like to.' you completely and soundly hit the nail on the head. Publication is one score card, pay checks another, but the real critical component is that you are doing something that you love, that your muse requires you to do. As you indicate, commercial success is nice too, but the rapture of the words is even more important. Take care and I will sincerely look forward to your posts here.

Margaret Thompson Sat Jan 30 18:06:32 PST 1999

Hi, there. 1/30/99

Does anyone have any insights about the possibility of a planet with a silver core? Silver (if you already know this, ignore it) is the earth's best known conductor of electricity. I would really appreciate any advice, but as I am often unable to be on the computer long enough to find this site, I would appreciate it if you would e-mail me at

Thanks for your help.


howard Sat Jan 30 17:08:38 PST 1999

Thomas -- It must be *us* -- *them* is making a living!:-)
Welcome back, Litter!
Rejections? Did I ever tell you about...yeah, I guess I did.
Here's one for the "group think" -- Does anyone here besides me, that is, have the problem of not being able to *finish* a story? I'll occasionally start on one, then get sidetracked into something completely different (ok, SKS, it's not occasionally -- it's nearly every time). Anyway, I have one or two things that I've started, and really like them, but they get to a point where something else catches my interest, or a character or event on one story triggers another, and the first one just lies there and festers for a while. Sometimes I get back to it and work a little while longer, and then drop it again. I can't seem to concentrate on anything long enough to finish it.
Does anyone else Out There have a similar problem?

Thomas Sat Jan 30 14:30:20 PST 1999

Well now, whatever I wrote during the breakdown I suppose has been lost forever; I certainly can't remember what it was.

Rejections: I got one today from a publisher. The book I am trying to sell is narrative nonfiction about the history of garlic, wine and olive oil. I include ancient and modern recipes, plus I talk about my travels through the Near and Middle East.

The rejection says: "Your book is interesting, and I liked very much that it is narrative instead of a cookbook. But we find that we can't handle your book, as we are not successful publishing cookbooks."

First she recognizes that it is not a cookbook and then she tells me she can't publish it becasue she does not publish cookbooks.

Is it us or is it them?

Allein Sat Jan 30 11:39:22 PST 1999

FREEDOM SWEET FREEDOM!! Finals are (finally) over! I have my life back and I can burn that pile of papers that have been wasting away in my binder.

Last night, I got to see a play over in Seattle. It's called Sister Matsumoto. It's about a Japanese family after WWII. They just got out of the internment camps and returned home to settle in. One of the characters reminded me of a guy in my math class. Only, the character was smarter and used less profanity. There was a serious tone to the play but they fit in some comedy.

Well, today, I'm going to rest, go to that baby shower I've been telling you about and possibly work more on my story.

Bye bye all,

Hootie Sat Jan 30 10:24:51 PST 1999

Geez, do I even dare to wade into this?

First a bit of background: I have been an avid reader since I was four, and I have been writing since I was about ten. It is now almost twenty years later, and I have completed exactly one book, with no idea what to do with it. I write fantasy, but I have never finished The Lord of the Rings (although I loved The Hobbit), and in school, I was the guy who hated A Tale of Two Cities, but read Moby Dick because I liked it.

The point is that I have, just in my literary leanings, some rather varied experiences. When you throw the rest of life on top of it, it makes for an interesting ragout that defines me, and no one else.

That said, here are a few of my opinions on the matters I have read here:

First of all, for Avatar: you are never too young to start writing, but there are stories that take more time to tell than others. I wrote bits and pieces of short stories, novels, poems, and everything else for twenty years before I finished a full length novel. When you have a story you really want to tell, a story that grabs you and won't let you go, then you have to do the hard part: you have to sit down and write it all out. Personally, I write a lot of big scenes first, and then fill in the transition and exposition passages. But that's me.

This goes into the whole "Literature as art" debate. If you write a book that it easily accessible to millions, you may never be considered a "classic" by the lit professors of the world, but your work may never die, either. Louis L'Amour comes to mind: not much in the way of style, but a heck of a tale teller. However, in time, he may also rank with Homer and Shakespeare, who did not push the boundaries of their art so much as they perfected what was already accepted, and touched so many common chords that we still use them as examples of the human condition. (I can just see some poor student, a hundred years from now, rolling his eyes at the thought of being forced to read The Haunted Mesa.)

In the end, there are as many ways to write a story as there are audiences to read it. And here's where I tie in education: if you were taught, at a young age, that science fiction was a trivial waste of time, then when you go to college you will probably agree with the lit professors who say that true literature must change the nature of language, and you will spend hours dissecting Finnegan's Wake. If, on the other hand, you only sought out those books that were like the books you liked as a kid, you might never read anything more challenging than a Nancy Drew novel.

Write what you love, love what you write. And every now and then, pick up something completely different, and expand your mind.

P.S. I tried to post this when the Notebook went down, and in the meantime, rejection letters have become the hot topic, so here’s a view on that: my wife thinks I’m crazy, but I have made one submission, and gotten one rejection, and I was tickled to death to get it. Not because of what it said, but because it made me feel like a writer. I don’t write just to be published. It would be nice, but I write because I like to.

S.N.Arly Sat Jan 30 08:17:26 PST 1999

Litter - Ha ha ha ha ! Loved the story. I have seen this sort of thing as well.

On selling - I always think it's funny when I'm told (in one of my other on;ine groups) - this is a great story and should be easy to sell. Then they come back a few weeks later wanting to know if I've "placed" the story with a mag yet. Some people obviously have no idea. One member of my regular writer's group has been sending out shorts for five years or so. He finally made his first sale.

On rejects - Same person was showing me some of his treasured rejects just last night, in fact. The worst by far was from pirate Writings. It was a slip of paper with about 2-3 inches of text. It was a photocopy of a photocopy and it was cut crooked (inconsistently so) and jagged. What a joke.


Eddie French Sat Jan 30 05:30:20 PST 1999

Yes, I know......morsal is spelled with an e

Eddie French Sat Jan 30 01:13:34 PST 1999


At the risk of becoming just another tasty English morsal.....isn't that just what I said further down the page? (re agsousa's post)

It's 0940 Sat. here and I'm just getting ready to go for my apt. test for the course. I'll let you know later how I did.


Michele Sat Jan 30 00:16:38 PST 1999

Hi gang !

Well on the third attempt at leaving you all a message - having twice lots my words of wit and wisdom yesterday (OK so they weren't that witty or wise but you'll never be able to prove that will you ?)

My exams are over and I have a fortnight in which to rest, relax, read, write, and (Rats ! I ran out of "r" sounding words !) vegetate ! I have a pile of background reading for the course, and a list of poet biogs for the web site, and what else ? Oh yes - I got invited to co-author a medical/history paper yesterday - on a particular disease of WW1 . . . ! (No medical background but my co-author *assures* me that's irrelevant !)

So I too could be leaving samples of rejection letters here soon !

Remember that for every 13 "no"s the 14th will be a "yes" !


S.K.S. Perry Fri Jan 29 19:19:37 PST 1999

Eddie, that rejection for Leaving Birmingham at least tells you exactly why the story was rejected. Whether you agree with his reason for rejecting it or not is up to you. If you don't, submit it elswhere. If you do, change it and submit elsewhere. At least this publisher is trying to steer you in the write direction.

I love the one "We'll find you and kill you." I pray for one of those bozos to show up on my doorstep. Then we'll see who kills who. No court would ever convict me either. "What? He was a publisher. Justifiable Homicide--case dismissed."

P.S. Now that I can get back on the Notebook, I can't get my E-mail. What a week!!

Be Well, Live Well.

Jai Shaw Fri Jan 29 18:29:27 PST 1999


So it wasn't just my computer, well that's a releif.


I want one! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Haaa Heee Heee.... Choke! Would just be the coolest regection. Who gives them out?

Caroline Heske - I was begining to wonder, if my email had reached you that is, and not whether or not you are a nice person.


Well I sent out two more stories, aiming for regections 2 and 3. I don't have any form letters yet but I should get one soon ( one of my stories is on route to US and MZB's evil clutches ). Though I don't like the chances of her even looking at it since I only put one IRC in instead of two and I used a standard A4 SAE that will require her to fold her American Letter sized response an extra time. Then her web page says both a) no resubmissions and b) if you don't hear from us for four months we are PROBABLY keeping your story and you shouldn't bother us, we will get back to you when we have time! How do I know she has actually looked at it? I supose we just have to hope that editors have a slightly softer heart then they show in thier submission guides and form regections. SSAEs seem so pointless in this modern day of email.

Anyway don't forget why you write and when you get accepted you will wonder what all the fuse was about. You've already got some enjoyment out of merly writing your stuff, if you get published, well that's an added bonus.

If it's really getting you down then you know how it feels to be one of oppressed masses, write it. I know you know all this but it never hurts to be reminded occasionally.


Litter Fri Jan 29 18:02:33 PST 1999

Hi Y’all,

Howard – I got here!

Rhoda – thanks for your kind comments.

Agsousa, Hi! << Isn't contemporary literature about language, only about language? >>

Why on earth should it be thus? Who are we trying to reach with our writing? I want to reach as wide an audience as possible and I know to do that I will need to get my work before a publisher and accepted. How many publishers will take on an unknown with an experimental ‘literary’ work? Who would read it – the literati? The average man/woman in the street wants a bit of escapist fiction to take him/her away from bills, stress and disillusionment with their own ‘lot’. This is clear from those books that sell in great numbers, as well as the films and television programmes that are made.

Language should, I feel, be explored and played with, but I don’t have the luxury of an independent income, freeing me from the burden of bills, to explore such options. Until I do, I will try to give publishers what they want and, perhaps, push the ‘envelope’ a little with each success until I CAN do something new.

I suppose it all depends who you are writing for: yourself/ego, the minority of well educated literati, or the public at large – the masses???

A little anecdote which I know to be true: A friend of mine, a Christian author on his 25th book and with sales over 400,000 for his best selling book (and therefor ‘a successful writer’), visited a ‘poetry club near where he lives. It felt odd to him as he watched poet after poet being congratulated, for what he could only describe as crap, so he decided to test the integrity of those attending the next meeting.

He returned with a poem he has ‘written’ specifically to perform at the club, and perform it he did, with affected feeling. The poem was a success – many mused over its intricacies and wondered at a plethora of subliminal meanings… He walked out. The poem was the first 20 crossword clues in a ‘Times’ (UK prestige newspaper) crossword, chosen at random. – He presented these as poetry with only the punctuation changed.

I will write for those who wish to escape for a while!

Goodweed of the North Fri Jan 29 17:41:54 PST 1999

I don't know who is worse off. You who have received rejections, or me who hasn't. I have sent queries to agents. Only one rejected. He said that he loved the work but didn't feel right about representing me as he has a similar genre story he was already handling. The letter actually left me very hopeful. He said that I definately needed to try other agents because it took him twenty years or so to get to my level of writing (remember when I said I thrive on compliments:-)). The other letters I got back both said they wanted to represent me, for a price. Though the price for one was minimal ($25.00 per month), I had seen red flags put in place in various writers newsgroups about the agency and declined. The second agent wanted $150 per month for postage and copying fees up front. He said he would send an itemized bill of his costs but as I am a first time writer, he could not wave the up-front costs. Again major red flags.

I have recieved nothing but positive responses for my work but am as yet, not represented. I just finished revision number eight and will print it out next week on the laserjet at work. The boss said I could work an extra hour to make up the cost of the ink. I said "Cool!"

I am puting together my "A" list from Writer's Digest Literary Agents book.

I wish each of you good luck, more than luck, success. Always remember, if you find a way to improve your craft, even if it means an eighth revision, jump on it. I may not have written the best heroic fantasy book ever, but I have given it my best effort.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Jan 29 17:06:30 PST 1999


     Then there is the flip side when you get a thoroughly personalized rejection that is everything you want in fostering devastation. One of the first rejection letters I got better than fifteen years ago came from George Scithers who was at Amazing at the time. I remember it clearly, 'perhaps the word I am looking for here is over written. No, perfervid. That's it' In retrospect, I would agree entirely with the rejection. Thinking back on that story I might go a little farther yet. However, when you have to hit the dictionary to make sure what the rejection letter said, it lodges in the memory :-).

Fri Jan 29 17:02:18 PST 1999

How about this one I got just today.

Dear Eddie,

Thanks for the opportunity to read "Leaving Birmingham." I regret, however, that I cannot use it in Eternity.

Humanity's destruction of the Earth and move below its surface is a common SF theme. When I read stories of this type, I look for new ideas, memorable characters, and expansion of themes. I didn't see any of that in this story.
In fact, I'd been pushed away by paragraph three, when, through your first-person narrator you began a diatribe on how his greedy ancestors and the government had messed the world up. I'd rather dig into the here and have the past weaved in. Then again, first person is so difficult to plot.
All the best for 1999 --- and beyond

Amazing Coincidence:
One newsgroup I subscribe to had a couple of posts about rejection forms earlier today. Some of the best:

A) If you submit anything else to us we will find you and kill you!
B) Please re-write it in English!
c) URL for tracking your submission: http://wwb.trash.can
d) Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Haaa Heee Heee.... Choke!

Caroline Heske Fri Jan 29 16:53:47 PST 1999

Jai - this is just a quick note to say that i'm not actually a rude, nasty person. I did get your letter and send a reply, but I've had some problems with my email, and the system just sent my letter straight back to me. I'll try again soon.

Rhoda Fri Jan 29 16:52:07 PST 1999


I could not stand being without the Notebook. I thought I would lose my mind, if I haven't lost it already. As the esteemed Dan Qualye once said when he spoke for the United Negro College Fund, "A mind is a terrible thing to lose." How true.


I sympathize. Those form type of rejections just make you want to cry or for some of us go beat up a set of drums. If you had choices on your rejections as to why they rejected you, I think you are very lucky. I don't get those. Here are some of mine I have pulled out of my trusty rejection envelope for VALERIE'S SONG.

Here is a typical one of a Xerox'ed letter head. This is one of the better ones, for it was addressed specifically to me and the signature wasn't stamped.

"Thank you for the interest you expressed in the literary services available from Authentic Creations. However, we do not believe your manuscript would fit our agency needs at this time. Although we are unable to accept your present manuscript, we do hope that you will consider us for future endeavors. We at Authentic Creations wish you the best of luck in your literary career."

Here is a more typical one:

"Dear Author:
Many thanks for sending me part of your manuscript. Unfortunately it just wasn't right for me. Best of luck in placing this elsewhere."

Sometimes I get something like this scrawled in the corner of my cover letter:

"I'm afraid it's not for us, but thanks and good luck."

Here is one of the worst from Simon & Schuster:

"Dear Sir or Madam:
Thank you for your submission to Simon & Schuster's Trade Paperback Group. We have reviewed your project and determined that it is not right for our list at this time. We wish you luck in placing your work elsewhere. Sincerely,
The Editors
Trade Paperbacks"

I've had at least fifteen rejections of similar vein. All have this in common--they tell you absolutely nothing except they don't want the thing.

So you see, in my line of writing, the answer is never why or why not; it is merely yes or no.

Well, I must get back to work.

Happy writing,


S.K.S. Perry Fri Jan 29 15:29:09 PST 1999

This just hasn't even been my week. I didn't even get to play drums last night as the gig was cancelled due to bad weather.

I guess I can understand the need for form rejection letters, but is it just me, or does anyone else find those ones that tell you all the things that possibly could have been wrong with your story particularily insulting. For those of you who've never seen one, they basically tell you that the can't use your story, and here's a list of possible reasons why: it's not very original and if you had a little bit more experience and weren't wet behind the ears you'd know that; ya caint spel and yer gramer sucs; it wasn't better than the other ten thousand we received this month (even if we did only read six of them).

Couldn't they be a little more original, or at least a little more honest. I mean, if there going to reject you, they could at least give you the illusion that they're heartless and it's really not your fault. Something along the lines of: great story, too bad we never heard of you; we only had room for an article of 3600 words, and yours was 3602; your story was great, but there's no room left on our fridge at home and I just had to do something with little Bobby's english essay, so you lost out; we were going to read your manuscript but something shiny caught our eye; sorry, force habit; you're lead character reminds me too much of my ex wife, that rotten little.....

Anyone out there come up with some more. Come on people, I could use the laugh!

By the way, they also sent a letter telling me what their change of address was in case of further submissions. My wife took it as a sign that they're interested in reading more from me. Is that grasping at straws or what!

Be Well, Live Well.

S.N.Arly Fri Jan 29 15:14:53 PST 1999

Lena - No, I agree with you. There are a lot of thiings that can be written and written well without first hand experience. There are others that can not. So I try to experience what I can and research what I must so I can continue to cater to the muse. Recently found out that you really can't go galloping throught the woods and doing so at night would be beyond foolish. Silly me.

Litter - Being some Celt myself, I'm a fan of the culture so I'll be happy to check out your pagge when I'm not at work. Let us know how the novel goes.

A hack among hacks

S.K.S. Perry Fri Jan 29 14:57:47 PST 1999

Yep Jack, that did it. Good thing too, I've been going through withdrawl.

Be Well, Live Well.

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Jan 29 14:17:41 PST 1999

Double Arggghhhh! I changed the buttons and somehow incapacitated the Notebook. Hopefully this fixes things.

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jan 28 20:48:13 PST 1999



When I archived last I used a template and completely lost those nice new buttons. Well, I am heading off to redo things and get things back up as before. Sometimes I do things with just a little too little sleep. Accept my apologies.

Eddie French Thu Jan 28 20:39:06 PST 1999

Lots of stuff going on here right now.
We are preparing to move house so I will be away for a little while soon. I have already prepped the phone company and I will soon have to pack my computer away. I hope I can find it pretty quickly when we begin unpacking in the new house.
So...if I seem to be sort of...not here in the next week or so, in the words of one great general 'I Shall Return'.
I have my assesment for the start of my new career on Saturday. MCSE It should be a breeze. Wish me luck!
Anyway, Probably get one or two more posts in before the big blackout, so see ya soon

Litter Thu Jan 28 15:15:39 PST 1999

Seems like I have been away for years. - and it shows!!!

Well my first Novel went off in the post a few days ago and the publisher has acknowledged its receipt - so here's hoping.

Kind of flying blind here as I have not caught up with what everyone is discussing at present, but I have been woking on my Website which is now up and mostly done. So if anyone wishes to see my bizarre life story (believe me it is bizarre :o) or read some Celtic Poetry then be my guest.

Now I'll get back to catching up!!!


Litter Thu Jan 28 15:10:05 PST 1999

Avatar Thu Jan 28 13:04:19 PST 1999

Ladies and Gents we could go an entire 300 years discussing the topic of education, and we wouldn't get anywhere because the system we are discussing now would be obsolete by then. I'm afraid to say that the entire problem is 'everyone's fault'

It is the fault of the parents. Why? One of my teachers gave us a little story today about the disciplinary problems, namely this: a student with the words 'bull shit' on her belt was sent home because of that. Next day the mother comes in and chews out the entire school because she made it for her child and if she did, she should wear it. The student did. This is where the discipline in school is going. To the dogs. The problem with parents is that most of them are not around or do not care enough to discipline their children any more.

The problem is the teachers. There are few good teachers left, and those that are are seriously hampered by lawsuits engendered by righteously indignant parents and rules that give them no chance to take care of the bad kids so they can really teach the good ones. It is because they were taught that way as well.

And it is also the student's fault. My generation has lost all respect for adult authority, and it just makes me sick to see something like this permeate our society.

Moral: It is Nobody's, Somebody's, Anybody's and Everbody's fault, and Nobody can fix it without making Somebody mad.

Later all

S.K.S. Perry Thu Jan 28 13:03:50 PST 1999

Aw man, what a lousy week. I got another rejection letter today--this one for "Shadow Side of God." And a lousy form rejection at that. It's a good thing I have a gig tonight. Maybe I can take my frustrations out on the drums. It sure beats slitting my wrists.

Be Well, Live Well (you never know, it could happen)

Lena Thu Jan 28 12:39:08 PST 1999

Eddie - Sounds like a truly awful school. The ideas of caning and corporal punishment have always sent a shiver down my spine... I believe that is no way to teach a person to become well-behaved. I'm glad you're talking to us again, however - missed you!

SN Arly - One of the favorite things English teachers love to tell students is to "write what you know." I happen to disagree, and believe you can write about things you have never experienced. "The Red Badge of Courage" was written by a twenty-one year old reporter who had never been in battle, but it is supposed to be (I happen to disagree with this) one of the great books on the subject of war. Going back to the subject of fight scenes, many people have never been in a fight but can write decent fight scenes. It is a matter of imagination, I suppose. However, it is nice to have some idea what you're talking about.

Avatar - Did you get the e-mail I sent to you a couple days ago? Just wondering.

Hacks 'R Us,

Eddie French Thu Jan 28 12:00:01 PST 1999

I see you've changed the buttons again Jack.

Seriously..I know that I've been absent for a while but I have been lurking. The education/adolescant value debate had me reaching for the keys but by the time I found the time.....well. No sense in re-hashing the same theme!

I will just add that my experiences with the whole education authority here in the UK has left me with a sour taste in my mouth for life. I was supposed to be one of the clever ones, I passed the '11 plus' exam back in 66 and so won a place in 'College' (Around 75% of junior school pupils got on the 'Secondary School' conveyor to be turned into labourers or cab drivers or even trades.)
So...there I was with my lunch and my 'bus pass' (The badge of success). - Most times you had to travel to the nearest college - I headed proudly out to be educated by the best. I experienced 'Corporal punishment' twice on my first day. The time spent at this centre for experimental torture and punishment methods was one of the worst periods of my life. (This was not a 'Public School' as in the Eton or Rugby sense but a typical 'Grammar School')
The masters made inventing new ways of meting out punishment into a challenge. We even had a 'Bill' system where a pupil who had transgressed was given a slip of paper which had written upon it the 'Offence' and the punishment required.
The pupil then had to take himself off to the master who was on 'Cane duty' at break time or lunch and present the 'Bill' for 'payment' The master on cane duty frequently had the pleasure of administering 'payment' to around 15 pupils in one session. Payments varied from one stroke of the cane to six strokes. Masters also never failed to dream up new ways of delivering this payment. Some used a traditional? cane. Others used a variety of impliments ranging from split leather straps to gym pumps. It was also left to their individual discretion as to which part of the pupils' anatomy that the payment was to made out to.
This is the true face of 'Nostalgia'!!!!!!
Forget it...If the schools are suffering now it's because of the natural over reaction to draconioan measures employed in the past. We will have to let history decide if this era of lost discipline is just a transitory phase or the way of things to come. Personaly, I believe that it is transitory and we will eventualy reach that educational utopia of teaching perfection. (or near enough to it.)

Art or Business?
Oh yes....I have seen those Eastern European movies. (I know we were talking about Portugal) I am sure that the whole genre is really art. Unfortunately it just doen't work for me!. (Let's make no mistake about it, what we are discussing here IS a 'genre' and will, as these things do, collect followers like any other.)
The 'Classics' and the 'Clasical Format' will endure.
It is a readily understandable form of communication and needs no prologue or other explanitory documentation. It requires no army of critics to explain it to the masses. Lastly, it is enjoyed by the masses and not passed exclusively among an intellectually 'privileged' few.
IMHO the quest is not to produce radical methods of displaying the art of writing but simply to generate artistic images by way of creative writing, to encourage artistic debate through established process.
If we can't do that because we have failed to reach the people who count then we have failed completely.
Of course, you do have the right to attempt to reach the select 'intellectually privileged' only. But don't we call that a genre cult?

Oh well.....

S.N.Arly Thu Jan 28 11:29:14 PST 1999

SKS - That could've gotten you in a serious dung heap, let me tell you. "Kids" are not to be thinking. Not on school property.

You're sublimating too? Yea! We hacks must truly stick together.

Agsousa - Huh? Lost me on that one.

Goodweed - YESSSSS! I took a creative writing class in college and our final project was a short story. I laughed through the entire critique of mine, becasue my peers saw a bunch of crap that wasn't even there. Same thing happened on a smaller scale with a poem I had written earlier in the semester. "The color purple must hold great meaning for you... It symbolized the character's delusional state in a fascinating manner."

I've always suspected that those who determine the meaning of the classics were actually locked in a dungeon without food or water until they came up with some new symbolism for stories like Huck Finn.

Lena - I've always liked the write what you know thing, though I admit I don't always abide by it. Unfortunately, this meant several of my stories had to sit around until I could rewrite the scenes I'd written when I didn't know. Oh my but they're funny to go back to! Sometimes wonder where I got my ideas of how the universe worked.

"...did gyre and gible in the wabe..."

Lydia Sweet Thu Jan 28 09:47:07 PST 1999

I just finished what would have been about a 3 page tirade on the subject of public education. I clicked to button to edit and review and it disappeared. I tried to retrieve it, but failed. Oh well, I got it out of my system anyway and you don't have to be bored with what has already been said in various ways by other members.

In regards to art, whether it be written, painted, sculpted, spoken, danced or whatever form, it is art only in the eyes of those who appreciate it's form. I persnoally don't like Picasso. He is world reknown, but his work does not evoke any emotion in me that would let me term his drawings as art in my world. I am not saying he is not one of the greatest artist in the world, I am saying his work has no value to me. Every piece of creativity, depending on its value to the beholder is "artistic" and of value. We are basing great art on the opinion of the masses. Maybe not even that, because who proclaimed Picasso a genius? Most likely a like minded group of artists or connoisseurs. What is art? It is those things which improve us, move us, open our eyes and are appreciated by us , the individual.

I am getting of my soapbox now.



Lena Thu Jan 28 07:42:56 PST 1999

Everyone else seems to have covered the subject of 'art' much better then I could, so I will leave it except to say that I agree with Rhoda that… " I don't think many people who set out to write great classics actually succeed, for such writers are too self-conscious. A classic happens when a writer strikes the right cord." Good one, Rhoda.

Avatar - Hell if I know! (pardon my tibetian) I don't feel young either, I feel fully capable of writing a story but whether that story will actually be good is another thing. I figure I might as well write it anyway. The only time I feel 'young' when I write is when I am writing a scene in which I have no experience in. For example, being passionately in love. Nope, never done it, sorry. Because I feel very hypocritical writing about things I know nothing about, I try to only write about things in which I have experience, or I relate it to something I do have experience in. If the story absolutely demands somebody kisses (never done that either!) or, well, ya know, I go with the wonderful invention of the text break. Just watch...


And the story continues! Wonderful things, text breaks. Anyway, I think starting young is great because then you get to make your mistakes at a time when no one else cares. So I think you should start writing your novel, and then you can just edit everything when you are old and wise and mature. Wonderful thing, editing.


Thomas Thu Jan 28 07:21:18 PST 1999

Whew! I feel I am entering into a great and massive tornado, but here goes...but first to Avatar.

You are never too young to write. You will learn with time and experience that your ideas will evolve, as will your technique and maybe your talent, but the practice and habit of writing should begin whenever it begins. And should end only when the writer is silenced by death.


I sense a philosopher in Portugal (is that where you are?) -- love philosophers, and I can spout it off for hours. In reality, though, most writers who write for a living struggle to survive -- the fulltime ones, not the part timers, although the latter may struggle to survive too, but not because of writing as a profession.

Writers neither have time nor freedom to philosophize over the state of the human condition, they slip their philosophy into their stories. Only when a writer becomes a successful commodity does he/she gain the clout to ponder and spew philosophical thoughts, including the naval contemplation of of "what is art?"

The point Rhoda made is, to me, the most salient. When the classics were written, they reflected the time, the period, the moment, the myths, the beliefs, the course of humanity at that point. They are classics first because they are early literature, and in that they are unique, and second, because they teach us about history and humanity.

Perish the thought, but it is quite possible that Tom Wolfe's work or even my favorite hack, Hemingway, will one day be considered classics, if only because they reflect a time and place, sometimes accurately.

It is valid and beautiful to know the classics; the knowledge infuses one's thought and, hopefully, one's writing with understanding and with a foundation. But the classics, or any other form of writing, is not the guide for one's personal expression of art, whatever the hell art is.

I am frequently flabbergasted by what others interpret my writing to mean, when I never meant any such thing. We see art from our own perspective, not from any agreed-upon definition of art and often not from the perspective of the artist.

My belief about writing is that the art is in the concept and the craft is in the execution. The rest is up to posterity.

S.K.S. Perry Thu Jan 28 05:50:45 PST 1999

Hey all,

Jai, Howard, Goodweed, Rhoda--excellent points. I especially love Goodweeds coments on the deep meanings and symbolism that our so called experts infuse literature with. I don't know how many times I've had people tell me how they loved the way this or that symbolized God knows what in one of my stories. If I'm smart, I just smile and nod and let them assume I know what they're talking about and how I'd obviously planned it that way all along. It makes people think I'm a lot smarter than I am.

Or they tell me how I must be suppressing: violent tendancies, pacifistic tendancies, homosexual tendancies,homophobic tendancies, voyueristic tendancies, homicidal tendancies....well, you get the picture--and all because of something I wrote in a piece of fiction. Remember folks, fiction is the operative word here!

It reminds me of the movie "Back to School" with Rodney Dangerfield, where he plays a wealthy, streetwise businessman who goes back to college. At first he tries to buy his way through. He hires Kurt Vonergut (Sp?) to write a paper for him on Kurt Vonergut. The proffesor gives him a failing grade and tells him he doesn't know shit about Kurt Vonergut.

Be Well, Live Well.

Wed Jan 27 23:30:17 PST 1999

Rhoda - School isn't compulsory here once you're fifteen, but most people do it cause they can't get a job instead. I know what you mean about not forcing people who don't want to be there, but I think age is not a good indicator - I think people should be able to leave once they have a certain level of education: ie. literacy, numeracy. Well, more than that. And I think more survival skills - like budgeting, and what political parties stand for what, and driving etc. should be taught in schools.

Goodweed Wed Jan 27 22:43:30 PST 1999

That was supposed to be "the lowest bidder"

Goodweed of the North Wed Jan 27 22:36:15 PST 1999

I so love to watch those who think they are intelligent prove otherwise. I have to agree that art is subjective. I have written poetry and let others tell me what I was trying to say. I learned that a poem means something different to each person who reads it. It is vague enough to allow the readers own life experiance, romanticism, imagination to color objectiveity, even destroy objectivity. So it is with impressionistic art, cubism, prose, even fiction. How many different takes have you heard on Melville's "Moby Dick" that go beyond the basic idea that a man let vengeance ruin not only his life, but the lives of others. And when you start delving into the subconscious (sp) reasons we write and say the things we do, well, it can get scary. Often, a story is what it is at face value, with no hidden meanings, no inuendo.

The point is, that it is not the author who determines the artistic merit of of his or her work, but rather, it is the perception of those who inspect that work, be it sculpting, or the written word.

The thing that frightens me is not the reception my work will get from the public, but rather, that because the bottom line has become the "God" of our society, I, and many others may write great literature (and I'm not saying that I write great literature) and never be presented to the public to be judged. We are letting money dictate the quality of our society, and sadly, it's going to the sowest bidder.

Delve into the meaning of that little expostulation!!!

Writing for me is a joyful hobby where I can tell a tale. It may or may not have significance. I know that those who have read my only completed story in ets entirety, (only one relative), have gushed about it (I so enjoy feeling my head swell. Don't you?) It gives me a sense of self-worth. My best cooking is done when I have an audience. My best presentations are done where I can recieve the most reward. It may stem from a childhood of being too small and weak to compete with my peers (though not since about 23 years of age), but I crave recognition. I love knowing that someone realizes that I too have talents, and am a worthwhile person.

Equally important is my need to bring joy to others. I love making people happy. I honestly try every day to put a bit of laughter into my co-workers lives. I have a very cynical co-worker and get frustrated because of her inability to look at the good things. She only sees the bad, and feels it's her duty to point them out to everyone else. Yes. It's true. I am a bit of the male form of PollyAnna. My glass is always half full or better. No matter the problem, I can learn something positive from it.

To those who love the classics, (and that includes me), I say you have found something worth your time.

To those who are impatient with that which has come before, I say, get a base of writing skill and knowledge by learning from the classics. No sense in re-inventing the wheel. Then take that knowledge and add to it.

The point I am trying to make is that it's a big world. There is room enough for both points of view. It creates variety, ingenuity, and creativity. It discourages the stagnation imposed on us by the machine. ("Welcome my freinds,... to the machine").

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Rachel Wed Jan 27 21:07:14 PST 1999

Hi Agsousa, welcome

I read your post yesterday and I thought to myself. Oh, wow, this individual is going to get a response or two. I sat down and drafted you a very sarcastic little post, but changed my mind on sending it. I cant tend to get a little hot headed and decided to give myself some time to cool my jets before I responded to you.

I won't go into a big explanation I'll just tell you I disagree and I disagree strongly.

Still I wish you welcome and look forward to reading other posts that you may leave here. A different point of view is always interesting and thought provoking.

Take care

Rhoda Wed Jan 27 20:52:13 PST 1999

Many of the classics we read today were never looked upon as classics when they were written. There are exceptions to this, of course, but individuals such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, and Louisa May Alcott wrote to make a living doing what they enjoyed best--just like some of us. Others like Tolkein and Jane Austen wrote for fun and not necessarily for publication.

Ultimately college professors and book reviewers do not choose what books become classics. The reading populace does that. There are books that just refuse to go away. These books have some eternal quality that speaks to people of all generations and backgrounds. Consider Shakespeare. Perhaps later in life he realized his greatness, but early on he was a playwright and poet like so many others in his day who make a living writing and producing his plays--for entertainment.

I don't think many people who set out to write great classics actually succeed, for such writers are too self-conscious. A classic happens when a writer strikes the right cord.

Time for bed. I need my sleep so that I might be fresh enough to compose a timeless classic of my own tomorrow.

Happy writing!


howard Wed Jan 27 20:31:44 PST 1999

Oh, and give some thought to what Jai just said -- there's Good Stuff there!

howard Wed Jan 27 20:27:34 PST 1999

Agsousa -- when a real artist ceases to be a student, he ceases to be -- period. The classics not for artists? Balderdash! That disassociation from classic form and discipline (there's that "D" word again!) is not artistic -- it's iconoclastic!
As a wiser man than any of us once said, there's nothing new under the sun. You're saying some of the same things that we said back in the 60s -- remember "flower power?" And it's just as wrong now as it was then. Only you won't know that for a while yet. And maybe you won't feel as stupid as I did when I discovered it. :-)
But go ahead. Mayhap you'll create a classic yourself one day, and then a hundred years from now someone with a "new idea" will dis you and go looking for his own truth. It's what makes the world go 'round.

Jai Wed Jan 27 19:05:28 PST 1999

Heya all,

agsousa -

I do so beg to differ. I am less of an artist than a story teller. The art is not in the format, which must be easily understood by those listening, but in the story itself. Yet even the story has to be spun from a common thread. To me the Classics are those stories that, through use of common words and ideas are able to draw their listener close, create a bond which continues throughout the ages. They are able to inspire, not through clever use of words, but through clever use of known concepts, spun together to create a very different picture. It is from the language we learn as children that these stories are told, a language that has hardly changed in centuries. It is from the knowladge of lifes journey that stories are spun, again a knowladge that has changed little over the years.

Of course if your writing is your own artistic journey and not a story for the people its unique character becomes a joy in itself. But I think in this forum we are mostly story tellers. We do not seek to splinter the form of language and thought but instead use it to create a bigger tapestry.

SKS - Sounds like a class I helped teach at our school. Though we each took turns in suggesting a book to be read, it was alot of fun. It is good to know such things do occur in the real world of education.


agsousa Wed Jan 27 18:00:12 PST 1999

If you can't find fault with the classics, you will never be a classic yourself. The classics are for students, not for artists. As a teacher I may love the classics, as a writer I mustn't plagiarize them —their methods, their themes, their ways. The classics are those venerable figures who managed to give order to a chaotic world. Today's a different world, a different chaos. It must be recreated with new words, organized in a different way. Which way? That's the only question a true writer must be concerned with. The reader must be led, not fed with *environmental friendly* products. This has nothing to do with America or Asia but with a better continent called Genuinity, Truth, Honesty. Or Art, perhaps. It has nothing to do with *experimentalism* either, but with that anguished search each creator has ever experienced — the classics being wonderful examples of that long way home that led them to the discovery of that unique word which resides in our hidden self.
God rest you merry, gentlemen and lady.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Jan 27 17:02:20 PST 1999

    SKS - I'll join you in the hack crowd :-).

    Another description of how there are still gems in education that ultimately get deep sixed. When I went through school in the eighth grade, one of the English teachers spent an entire month teaching us about the classical Roman and Greek myths. Presumably this was to give us a classical background. However, I later learned that that same teacher eventually retired is disgust when the school board stacked by some flavors of religious thought that do not represent my own Christian leanings, demanded and got the course dropped because it represented pagan thought and was contrary to good values. Of course, this comes from the education in Montana that had a teacher fired for teaching I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison. On the flip side my mother in law who was a librarian in a high school in the seventies, brought a Bible along to the school board meeting that was attempting to censor various titles in her Oregon school and began reading some excerpts. They dropped their attempts to censor her library. She is retired and just celebrated her 90th birthday and I heartily applaud her for doing so.

Excuse the occasional ramblings.

Avatar Wed Jan 27 12:29:59 PST 1999

S.K.S- I like the idea of that class! Maybe I ought to tell my english teacher....

Lena- as to the kids who have good novel ideas and can't seem to write them down I am one of them. Currently I am on the fourth chapter in an outline I'm doing, but actually writing it is something that will take a lot of guts on my part. I just want to know: is it really good to start this young (I don't really feel young), or is it better to wait. Will the piece of work be more exciting or interesting written out when you are older?

I was reading an essay assignment today. What would you do if the earth was to be destroyed in 24 hours? How would you spend your last day on earth? (sounds like good book or story material!)

Later all

S.K.S. Perry Wed Jan 27 11:48:24 PST 1999

S.N. Arly,

If you're just a hack, shove over and make room. Us hacks have to stick together.

I find that generally something is considered art when someone with more money than brains (or taste) decides to pay big bucks for something. Consider the red strip on a blue background that the Canadian government paid over a million bucks for and hung in a museum in Ottawa. Now that's art!

As for the class I helped create being frivilous--I already got that tiriad from my old teacher. It was bad enough that the kids actually enjoyed the class, but they were actually reading. How dare they. I almost single-handedly undermined the entire education system! It's a good thing we didn't tell them we had the kids thinking too.

Be Well, Live Well.

S.N.Arly Wed Jan 27 11:25:15 PST 1999

Geeze, and I thought it was artistic to create new worlds and describe things vividly and to use words in new and unique combinations. Damn. Guess I'm just a hack.

Seems perhaps I'm not as cultured as I might have ass-u-med. I'm only a fan of some of the classics, a personal taste thing. But I can only handle so much about those moocows and all. And as someone pointed out below, some experimental crap is just that. Sterile, unengaging crap. It doesn't make you think and it doesn't convey a message to the reader. It's got a purpose, but that doesn't mean I want to read it or emulate it.

What defines art anyway? The critics and "experts"? An audience? Time? The culture? The civilization? Personal preference and internal definitions? A purpose? A lack of purpose? A message? Unusual punctuation? Using words in a manner contrary to their definitions? Being unclear? Being vague? Being mysterious?

So if I hold an exhibit and no one comes, is it art?

SKS - Why is it that the most popular classes are always considered frivolous? Hmm, all the students like this class. Quick. Cancel it. "Kids" can't possibly know what's good for them and it's a fact they are naturally drawn to things that are bad for them, you know. That they all like this class suggests it should be cancelled.

"Twas brillig and the stilthy toves..."

Lena Wed Jan 27 10:24:36 PST 1999

Um, I believe I meant to say "She did not know the difference she could make in one kid’s life" down in my last post. Sorry.

SKS, what a cool class. I wish my school offered something like that. But no...


S.K.S. Perry Wed Jan 27 07:22:33 PST 1999

Hey all,

Jack, when I was in grade 10 my highschool offered a class in Science Fiction English. Let me tell you, there's nothing like studying a book in school to take all the fun out of it. The first book we studied was A Canticle for Lebowitz--an interesting enough premise, but a pretty dry read for a bunch of hyper fifteen year olds. Reading it was bad enough, but disecting it was torture.

To make matters more interesting, I'd read at least eleventy-four more Science Fiction books and stories than the teacher had, so I had this huge knowledge base to draw from that he just couldn't compete with. To his credit, after about a month into the course, he dropped the required reading, gave me a list of the themes he wanted to study, and let me pick the rest of the reading material. I tried to vary things up a bit, and we read everything from Burroughs, to Tolkein, Asimov to Heinlein, H.G. Wells, Henry Kutner and Philip K. Dick.

Everyone enjoyed the class a lot more after that, and believe it or not, I saw this teacher a couple years back and he told me they used the curriculum I had developed up until just a few years ago, when the school board forced them to drop the class as frivilous. He said it was consistantly one of the most popular classes with the students up until it was cancelled. Neat eh?

Be Well, Live Well.

Lena Wed Jan 27 07:13:44 PST 1999

Hullo all!

Agsousa – What is wrong with plot and character development? Must a book be entirely artistic, new, or written differently in order to be worthy enough to be read? If you take that defination as what defines a good book, many of what we consider the classics would fail

Speaking of failing (no, not really)... finished my finals today. Glad it is all over, and I can use my spare-time to do things I actually like. Like writing. I wrote a bit story a few weeks ago, based on a song I like, and somehow that little story has become an entire world in my mind. It’s annoying, in a way, that I have an entire story I NEED to get out of my head, but, in an entirely different way, kinda fun. Hopefully I’ll finish this one. It just might take a long, long time.

On respect – As a card-carrying member of the younger generation, I have to say that we emphasise the bad and ignore the good. Do you hear about the kids who do community service? Who get good grades? Who spend evenings planning how to revamp an engine? Who are kind to their peers? Who practice an instrument every day? Who have these insanely good ideas for novels and can’t seem to get them written? (well, maybe the last…) What I’m trying to say is that there is still a *lot* of good out there, we just ignore it and complain about the bad. Let your actions speak for your words, be a good role model, and, above all, be a good parent (for those of you who are). My parents always believed in me, and taught me right from wrong, and that has made me who I am. You have power... use it to make the world a better place. For example, that bad teacher I had in sixth grade – it might sound trivial now, but what if that teacher had actually encourage me instead of destroying every shred of confidence I had in my writing? Who knows the difference she might have made? And the sad thing is, even though she was a large part of my life, I was probably only a small part in hers. She did the difference she could make in one kid’s life.

A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn,

Thomas Wed Jan 27 06:45:32 PST 1999


To some degree I agree with you, but only to some degree. SKS put his finger on the most potent aspect of the American publishing business; unfortunately for those who would not compromise their art, it is a sad story.

You refer to art -- we refer to the business of writing. The train sometimes meets, but rarely in the mass market. And I venture to say that the days of Paris salons are over too. European writing and culture is fast assimilating into America's, and I am sure you guys do not like that -- I know I don't. I love to travel to Europe to take in its culture, I am afraid that luxury is going to vanish.

We do have literary journals here, the ones that pay nothing. Many writers release their artistic sensibilities in the journals, and then go write something commercial to earn a living.

My last words on education and our society.

I strongly believe that those who long for or dream of the wonderful past suffer from delusion. What many of you describe as the problems of today, I remember from the nineteen fifties in Brooklyn, New York. Howard, I was born in 1945.

It seems to me that city ghettos back then were the breeding grounds for the problems we face today. Government and do-gooders ignored our major city underprivileged for so long that the malaise spread finally to the suburbs and beyond. Now it is a near epidemic. Believe me when I say this, in my junior and high schools we had guns (homemade not AK47), we had knives, we had killings, we had no respect for authority, we had serious drugs like heroin, we had miserably crowded classrooms. My high school graduation class was upwards of 2,500 students. Where do you suppose we all sat in class?

And about those trade schools or trade classes, what trades do we have left in the United States to teach teens to learn? We produce hardly any crafted hard goods of substance or value.

S.K.S. Perry Wed Jan 27 05:37:37 PST 1999

Hey all,

Agsousa, Oh yeah, well my dad can take your dad any day!

Seriously though (mostly)--to put things in their simplest terms, the reason most North American works are so concerned with plot and character developement can be boiled down to one thing--demand. The North American publishing industry is a mass market media, and make no mistake, it is a business whose goal is to make as much money as possible.

And while there will always be a place (hopefully) for those who push the envelope of the art of writing, the average joe (or joanne) couldn't care less about the artistic style of what they read. What do they care if the author wrote his book as one long sentence with only one period, or his story is told completely in dialogue (Howard did a neat little piece that way--be nice to him and maybe he'll let you read it.) They don't want to read a bunch or words prettily strung together for artistic effect--they want something they can sink their teeth into: characters they care about and a problem that follows a logical progression and can be neatly wrapped up on the last page.

What's wrong with that? Isn't it an amazing accomplishment to be able to make characters and worlds come alive for your reader, when they exist only in your imagination. If I can write convincingly enough to suspend my readers belief so that for just a while it's plausible for vampires to exit, for a man to realise that we all hold the knowledge of the universe within ourselves, that the government could implant you with devices to control your motivation and movements, or that an eighteen foot schizophrenic alien who insists on being called Big Guy has been covertly influencing the developement of the sentient races of the galaxy for the last couple thousand years--now that's an accomplishment to be proud of.

Be Well, Live Well.

Jodi Tue Jan 26 23:34:06 PST 1999

Wow! It seems that the education issue brings out strong feelings in nearly everyone. I too have my personal complaints with regards to the educational system.

Like Jack, I found my elementary, Jr. High (there were no middle schools in my area then) and High School years to be rather dull and I had a difficult time making myself concentrate. It simply did not challenge me. The assigned reading in High School was particularly tedious. The dumbing down of America was well under way. I would be assigned books that were not only dull, but that were more suited for a much younger audience. I sometimes wondered if the majority of my teachers had ever heard of the classics. I have always read almost anything, at almost any time, almost anywhere. I can’t get enough!! I started having problems with the teachers in 2nd grade. I wanted to read C.S. Lewis and Carolyn Keene (yes, I did read Nancy Drew), they said I had to read the idiotic Dick and Jane type books. I could have understood if it was for an assignment, but they didn’t want to let me check them out from the library for reading on my own time.It was not until I reached the halls of higher education (a small community college at the time) that I was able to truly delve into the vast amount of literature that is available.

I also had difficulties with certain teachers. There were those who felt that the young boys, who would go on to support families, needed more encouragement, assistance and were all around smarter than the young girls in their classes. These teachers are the type that made school difficult for me. There were times when I would be punished for showing the same initiative that a young boy would be praised for. The only things that the female students were encouraged in were homemaking skills and typing. The occasional class in art was acceptable.

However, I have found that I (and anyone else who was considered different, unusual, or just dissatisfied with the status quo in this small town) was particularly unlucky. I have had a great deal of interaction with teachers and students in the years since I graduated, and I have seen very few teachers that were so unfair to their students. I have certainly never seen more than one or two in any school. And when I have run across these aberrations, they usually don’t keep their jobs for long.

Having been raised in a rather backwater town, it took a great deal longer for the news that women have intelligence, creativity, and a mind of their own to filter through. I wonder at times if it has reached the inner circles even yet.

I do have to agree with Howard. I feel that what is really the problem with the school system today is the lack of respect shown there. (I wish I could have attended your school!)

There is serious deficit not only on the part of the students, but also on the part of the administrators, parents, and some teachers. Many of the students seem to think that any previous generation has little or nothing to offer them, and therefore are very disrespectful and give little attention to those in authority. The administrators can often be blinded by the almighty dollar, and forget who is really important in this equation, the students (at least those who want to learn). Teachers will stereotype students, or will simple recite the lessons they prepare and never truly interact with their students. The parents are as big a problem as all the rest put together. If more parents would be responsible to the needs of their children, beginning at a young age to instill in them the qualities of respect, adherence to the rules, and common courtesy, then these children would be more inclined to listen to their teachers. Perhaps then, teachers would not become so disenchanted with teaching, truly teaching.

As it stands, there are sufficient reasons for me to be nervous about my kids attending Middle School and High School in the public arena. If I become financially able, my children will attend private school. As it is, they receive extensive tutoring at home, and there is the possibility of home schooling in the future. That is the main reason I am returning to school after a 16-year break.

On the subject of history, I agree with the mythology theory. However, if you take the time to read the life stories of those who founded the United States, and those who colonized this continent, you will find they can be most fascinating. Just stay away from the textbooks.

It’s been a while since I have had sufficient time to drop in my two cents worth, and now that I have found myself with ten minutes free…boy can I type up a storm when I get going.

I think I’ll shut up now.

Gnite all


Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jan 26 22:35:20 PST 1999


     What you refer to as style above all else is probably best exemplified in the slice of life pieces in literary journals or some of the quote high literary experiments that arise as Joyce's Ulysses or Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren arose. However, as one discussion I was privy to at Potlatch, the general consensus on the part of many of us was that many of these kinds of literary experiments tend to leave cold and with the general question of what is the point. There are elements that are critical to story that touch on an emotive and intellectual level or levels that can be found in what I, at least, construe as a true story that a slice of life or style for the sake of just style loses my interest. Do not get me wrong. Of course, I could be picking up on the wrong elements here. Still, for me a story must change the characters involved and bring completion, surprise and all the other elements integral to a true story. If this is old hat, call me old hat. If this is nineteenth century, call me old fashioned.

Howard Tue Jan 26 20:30:50 PST 1999

I wasn't going to get into this one, but what the hey! I've been around somewhat longer than most of you (which probably automatically disqualifies me, but deal with it!) and I can remember when teachers were not (for the most part) the tunnel-visioned johnny-one-notes (anyone remember that song?) that very many of them are today. And not only the teachers! We've evolved into a society of specialists, where we're not interested (don't care?) in anything but our own speciality -- to the point where we've just about lost the ability to communicate (that's the main ingredient in teaching) anything but our own stuff. My generation (pre-boomers) passed it down to your parents, and it's been refined down to you, until nobody really understands anyone any more.

We don't have a common point of reference any more.

In the '40s and '50s we had the flag, and mom, and apple pie, and discipline, and the pledge of allegiance, and opening prayer, and there were still some things that we had the good sense and modesty to not talk about in public. We went home after school and did chores, and had supper with the whole family right there. We did homework, and if we had a problem with it we could ask the teacher for help, and he or she would take the time, no matter what the subject, because chances are he or she knew more than just the one specialized subject.

We had a Christmas play right in school, and we learned about Hannukka too. We learned that our system of law was based on the Code of Hammurabi as well as on the Decalogue.

And school was interesting. And we learned.

We danced in gym class, and learned how to take care of ourselves. Learned the basics of football, basketball, track, wrestling - not for themselves, but for the discipline (sorry to use such coarse language in a family setting) they engendered.

I learned how to cook, write, how to work with wood, ceramics, and metal. In electronics shop in 1956 I built a Theremin -- a synthesizer -- almost an identical copy of the instrument the Beach Boys used in some of their early songs. Only they built theirs a few years later.

I built sets, and was the stage manager for our senior play - Cornelia Otis Skinner's "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay." Try doing that as a senior play now! It was great! Especially the alligator scene! I still have pictures of it! (We did photography, too.)

In 12th grade we had English "Seminar" - an experimental English class that was totally awesome! Two periods (almost 2 hours) a day to write, study law, investing, political systems, philosophy, acting, playwriting (I rewrote Macbeth as a comedy), architecture, some astronomy, contemporary literature, poetry, etc, etc. Even "Mad Magazine!"

In music class we studied music - not "how to buy a stereo" or "the sexual orientation of Tchaikowsky." We learned harmony and choral music, and Gilbert and Sullivan, and the "light classics."

In art class we learned color, form, composition. We learned how to work in several different media, and actually studied art. As a matter of fact, one of our hot rod club members designed our "Road Runners" jackets in art class, and got a pretty good grade on it, too! Great jackets! Maroon corduroy with silver piping, and a '23 T-bucket roadster on the back.

How in blazes could anyone not be interested? What's missing now, that makes it so boorriing?

Come to think of it, you know what we *didn't* have?

We didn't have rights! We didn't need them! We didn't worry about them! And nobody wanted to take them away from us, because they weren't worried about them either!

Instead, we had a heritage! We had history! We had a respect for people and things around us! We had teachers (and parents) who cared. We knew who we were, what we believed, and where we stood. Things like faith and hope and love mattered! And you could get them for free! (Had to *earn* respect, though)

And more importantly, you could talk about them.

So what's different?

There's another part to this essay, but it's the part that nobody wants to hear, so I'll spare you that. Besides, I'm tired, and in a bad mood. I had to sit in traffic this morning and watch two blind people get pushed around because there was a telephone truck parked across the crosswalk, and they didn't know what was going on, and a whole bunch of people just stood around and watched, and laughed while they got more confused and more scared, until finally an older guy got to them and helped them across the street.
And it happened right on the corner next to the biggest school in the city, and the people who were laughing the loudest and hardest were the kids going in.

That's what's different.

Rhoda Tue Jan 26 19:40:16 PST 1999

Opps! That's tacit, not tacid. Sorry.

Rhoda Tue Jan 26 19:12:53 PST 1999


I had the same problem with required reading. As a freshman we had to read GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I hated that book so much I haven't had the stomach to read a Dickens book since. Dickens wrote a great many novels. A TALE OF TWO CITIES is probably the best one. I loved the movie. The only required book in High School I liked was George Orwell's 1984. There are so many good classics, but the teachers I had seemed to require the most boring ones.

As far as my thoughts on education are concerned: I believe money isn't even a issue. The states that spend the most money on each student seem to have the worst results. There isn't a relation. The trouble is that no one quite knows how this tax money is spent. It certainly isn't applied to teacher's salaries. Much of it goes to pay for federal mandates and bureaucracy. When the money gets cut, the teachers, the school band and drama club go while the bureaucracy stays. That is why increasing government spending on education never impresses me. How is the money to be spent? Do we just solve problems by throwing money at them?

The foremost problem with schools is the government--federal, state and local. The teacher doesn't determine the curriculum, the government and the board do. The teacher spends an increasing amount of his or her time filling out paperwork the state requires and wading through red tape. Schools cannot deal with discipline problems because they fear law suits. As a result, they don't require kids to behave.

S.K.S., this disregard for authority you speak of--is this just a school problem? No. It is a societal problem. No one respects authority anyone, kids or adults. Mike Tyson can bite off his opponent's ear, assult a woman and go to prison, yet he still gets to fight. People, espacially sports celebrities break laws all the time and yet are spared the mandatory consequences for what they do. As long as money and entertainment are involved, who cares? The head of the executive branch of the U.S. can lie under oath to a grand jury and keep his office because of politics and his popularity. With this in mind, why should anyone respect authority? In schools, kids bring guns, sell drugs, and even assult teachers. The judges put them back in schools again.

I believe that if school systems were more autonomous, they would be able to do their jobs much better. As it is now, they have disgruntled parents, suit happy lawyers, power hungry teacher's unions and polititions breathing down their necks. Also I don't think school should be compulsary. If a kid over the age of fourteen doesn't want to be in school, then don't force him. All he does is take up the teacher's time and keeps the other kids from learning. Don't put the kid back on the streets, but send him to trade school or something.

I hate to say it, but the sorry state of education is a by-product of the sorry state of American society. In homes where the parents encourage study and learning, the kid usually picks it up and tries to learn. Sadly, there are too many homes where the parents are absent or they just don't care. My brother is a school superintendent and the stories he tells about some of the students would break your heart. There is so much neglect and abuse on the part of a few parents. The school is the entity that has to deal with the results of that, and the schools are not equiped to do it, and they shouldn't have to be. Teacher are too often baby-sitters and social workers. It isn't right.

Lastly, the low expectations of many teachers and school administrators bear some of the responsibility. So many educators believe that kids shouldn't be challenged for fear that they will fail. Because kids are not challenged they get bored. When I started high school, we had a college lane. By the time I was a senior, that lane was dropped because it made the students who didn't take that lane feel bad. I went to school at the time when standards were rapidly dropping everywhere. The kids who suffer the most from this are minority kids. Everyone spouts equality, but there is some tacid understanding that African Americans or Hispanic Americans can't handle touch subjects, espacially if these kids come from deprived backgrounds. No one bothers to tell these students that their ticket out of poverty is education. Instead these kids are suckled on low expectation. They get the worst teachers and the worst facilities. Kids need to learn the joy and satisfaction that comes with excelling at something.

Well I could go on, but this post is long enough. Jack, you encouraged to go on with this, and I have tried to take on the challenge.

Happy writing and happy problem-solving,


Howard Tue Jan 26 18:38:08 PST 1999

never mind -- too tired for it now...

agsousa Tue Jan 26 17:42:40 PST 1999

I wonder why English and American writers concern themselves so much about characters, plot — the traditional stuff. Aren't those elements nineteenth century things? Isn't contemporary literature about language, only about language? The Irish James Joyce never existed? Here in Portugal we believe that a good book must be something really new — something never seen before. And style is all there is to it. Most English/ American novels are very boring because they smell to "old hat". They smell to business and to craftsmanship but not to art. Any comments, everyone?

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jan 26 14:12:50 PST 1999

     Things should load a bit faster. So, plow away at education and history. One question out of personal curiosity. Are others out there similar to me. My junior high and high school education was boring in the extreme wherever English was concerned. I would speed read whatever was being offered as the novel or book to be read and moved quickly on to my own reading list. This generally involved science fiction or the classics. Things I was not getting in school. I remember one delicious Christmas vacation when snow was piling up outside and I was holding up in my bedroom discovering Dune, savoring every word as I tromped around in the desert, road worms and had the heady odor of spice filling my imagination. The one exception to this was an English teacher in high school that had us reading the Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was almost as much fun as Herbert. Sorry about the meanderings. Take care everyone.

Jai Tue Jan 26 13:09:26 PST 1999


Lena - Clap, clap :)

I just finished another short and am basking in the 'finished story' afterglow.

This is my bent on a perfect education system. Kids want to learn, that is why they learn to walk and talk. One hour of teaching a person who wants to learn is worth ten hours of teaching someone who dosn't. So children should be tought what they want to learn when they want to learn it. Of course for this to work teacher ratios need to be dramatically higher, like 1:10 or so. The real failing with the current system is that it often causes people to loose this love of learning. I remember in primary school I loved it. But somewhere along the way the teachers lost their enjoyment of teaching and where forced to follow rigid ciriculums. These combined sapped my love of learning, after that school was mearly a painful exersice in existing. Respect for others is probably the most important part. If all teachers respected students ( and vis versa ) and students respected eachother, even our dry education system may become barable.

SKS, respect for others, and politness does not leave one at a disadvatage in my experience. In fact it helps people to like you, and if people like you it makes life that little bit easier. This is the positive will foster positive philosophy. Don't lose your heart :)

As to history, personaly I find the mytholigies far more intreguing than the latter day stuff. Aboriginals ( in Australia ), the American Indians and Euopian anchient history all spark my imagination far more than laterday stuff.

With respect and good will,

P.S. Email is down(not again!)

S.K.S. Perry Tue Jan 26 09:25:45 PST 1999


As with everything else, you can't point your finger at any one thing in the education system and say "That's the problem. Let's fix that and everything will be hunky dory." (What the heck does that mean, anyway?)

You're right, there are a lot of good kids out there. That many of you may be insubordinate and unmotivated is probably not your fault either. And yes, my parents did complain about my behaviour and lack of respect--and they were correct. My generation had less respect for their elders than the generation before us, and yours has less respect than mine. I'm generalising here of course. Not everyone is this way, but remember, generalisations are usually only unfair when you apply them to individuals. When applied to groups their is often (thought not always) some truth to them.

It is a disturbing trend in our society that our young people show little or no respect for their elders--but one can hardly blame them. First, look at the example we set for them. Our public figures and celebrities are hardly positive role models--I hate to say the Clinton word but...
Secondly, what kind of role model are we. Most people show very little respect for anyone other than themselves--remember, we were the "me" generation. If our children see us being rude, pushy and arrogant, how do you think they will behave.

We live in a society where freedom of speech has evolved into freedom from manners, consideration for others, and tolerance. What are we going to do about it? Hell if I know. All I can do is try to set the right example for my kids and hope they're not overwhelmed by the bad example of the majority. The problem is, in today's society, the polite, considerate, honest person is at a distinct disadvantage.

Be Well, Live Well.

Lena Tue Jan 26 08:55:14 PST 1999

Teachers are human. There are good teachers and bad teachers, and that cannot be changed. What can be changed is the curriculum and how teachers are taught to teach (how's that for a tongue twister?), which can be reformed without major expense.

SKS - Hey, don't blame the kids. I'll be the first to admit there lazy, unmotivated, resentful teenagers out there, but they are not the ones bringing the whole education system down. I have a problem with people who stereotype the younger generation as horrid "insubordinate" people. We are not. There are individuals who are, but as a whole we are not. Every older generation takes it upon themselves to complain about the lack of morals and decency in their world, and the younger generation gets the blame. I'm sure your parents complained about the rebellious teenagers when you were young, and now you are doing the same thing to us. Stop the cycle, for goodness sake, and appreciate us younger folk for what we are!

By the way, I agree that America hasn't been a country long enough for the "mythology" to have built up around its history. And I can sorta kinda maybe name the monarchs from William the Conq to Elizabeth II. On a good day.

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands...

Thomas Tue Jan 26 06:58:30 PST 1999

Hey all,

Too much, too many to respond to individually without having to back up this notebook constantly, so I will make a few comments about what I remember reading:

First, SKS, in my world we would also do away with money. Of course, in my world we would have to change a little, wouldn't we! I agree with your concept about too many people not having access because of their financial status; we often lose the so-called benefits of our constitutional republic (the next politician who calls the United States a democracy shall receive a missile launched from my roof). Again, those who know a little history would know the difference between a republic and a democracy.

I believe that American history seems boring because it is short and because our collective psyche is not tuned into studying or deliberating on the past. Also, since history is normally written by the winners, and America's winners have always been the titans of economics, our history is geared toward the joys of capitalism and the (perceived) empty promise of intellectual knowledge. This is, like it or not, an instant-gratification society, always growing and progressing to the next sales level, always consuming, hardly stopping to take stock, until of course the tangible stock market collapses; then we become frugal, smart, oriented toward what used to be, and all that nonsense; remember the oil crises and the interest rates of the seveneties and the early eighties?

SN's soapbox had some right-on stuff but it also had some pie-in-the sky thoughts. First, any education system as big and as localized like the American system suffers greatly from inertia. Let's face it, we are no longer a rural, localized society, yet we insist on running our schools that way. And I disagree immensely with SN's thoughts about the sad state of present-day class size; I grew up in a poor ethnic Brooklyn neighborhood. Our teachers had a great propensity toward disdaining we little Italian know-nothings, and our class sizes were in the 40 range. That was in the nineteen-fifties, during a so-called period of great economic expansion. I am sure that much has changed since, but much, sadly, seems to have stayed the same in public education -- the masses seem to get the short end of the stick. I do agree, SN, that parents are somewhat at fault, too. They must be involved in their children's education, whichever one of the two who can get time off from his/her job. (Remember many years ago one parent stayed home and, hopefully, took an interest.)

I believe I have used up my time. Got to go re-do my book proposal. I just read some of Jeff Herman's 1999-2000 Writer's Guide. I understand even moreso that agents and publishers seem interested mainly in a proposal that follows a prescribed form rather than in the actual book underneath the proposal. If you want to play the game, you must follow the rules, so I must re-do my proposal. Deliver me from all this thinking!!!

I wrote for so long I was cut off from the Internet.

S.K.S. Perry Tue Jan 26 05:55:57 PST 1999

Hey all,

Here's another one of those amazing coincidences that are always happening to me. I was home sick yesterday, and feeling down about getting another rejection letter, so my wife--sweetheart that she is--decides to bring me home a magazine to cheer me up. Of all the mags out there, guess which one she brings me--yup, the one that rejected my manuscript. As Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes observed: There must be a God. Someone's out to get me!

S.N. Arly,

I agree with you in that the blame shouldn't be put on the teachers for our education system. They can only work with what they have, and usually that isn't much. Having been a teacher myself, I know how frustrating it can be--and I had it easy. I taught military personnel, most of whom chose to be there, and were under strict military discipline. Even so, at times it could be a nightmare. As their teacher, you also had to be a counsilor--you have no idea of some of the problems I had to deal with. As the authority figure they all come to you, and in the military it was my job to deal with them.

Even though it's my understanding that Canadian teachers are better paid than their American counterparts, the amount of work that's put on them is still unbelievable. I don't know of any teacher who can claim to work only from 9 to 5. And the students--like you said, most of the kids are undisciplined, insubordinate (a good military word), unmotivated and often downright hostile.

So it's not the teachers who deserve any derision for the inaptitude of our school system, and though as you say,we are much better off with our current system than without it, it still needs improvement.

As to why we find American, Austrailian or Canadian history more boring than British or Ancient history, that's probably because British history, like Ancient history, has almost become a mythology. When we study the "newer" histories, we tend to concern ourselves more with the strict factual information, possibly because it's more documented. Unfortunately that can make it a lot more dull and dry. Anyone who delves into their history on their own and doesn't just stick to what's taught in the curriculum will find that any history can be exiting. For intstance, did you know their were pirates on Lake Ontario. Pirates! Cool.

Thomas, We've talked about your perfect world...well in mine, education, medicen and legal aid would all be free. What you want to be in life should not be determined by your financal situation--the best students go to the best schools; everyone gets the medical attention required--no one should be debilated or die because they can't afford an operation; everyone gets a lawyer--it shouldn't cost you your life savings to prove you're innocent. Obviously there are still a lot of bugs you'd have to work out--like who's paying for all this and how do you ensure that you get a good quality doctor or lawyer--but it's a start.

Be Well, Live Well.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jan 26 02:32:11 PST 1999

       Back from the wilds of Eugene, Oregon. Seriously. It was a good time and an interesting one with lots of good paneling. Thanks to all who have made suggestions for paneling at Westercon52. I am still compiling my ideas and those passed to me, but already am up to 30 different panels. Most likely this will mean pruning, but we will see. I am hoping to have Chris and Steve York to do their two hour plotting a novel in a hour panel. If you make Westercon, this one is a keeper. Also, as an aside, while I was at Potlatch I picked up a book called The 10% Solution Self-Editing for the Modern Writer by Ken Rand. It is quite small, quite interesting and looks to be quite useful.

       However, in regard to the discussion to education and teachers and whether or not American history is boring, I have to say throw a few alternate opinions into the breach. Up through high school I was very bored. However, in college I was fired up by the intellectual discourse and was lucky enough to spend my first year in college in an intensive humanities program that involved reading everything from the Rig Veda and the Upanisads to the Bible to John Calvin's reasoning for believing everything pre ordained to Tocqueville and Democracy in America to Camus and Sarte and a great host of others. All the while we were turning in a weekly journal and the whole thing was pass fail so we did not have to worry about grades. It was a perfect way to make my move from there into the Navy (this was 1970 and it was the Navy or the lottery and the draft and possibly ground pounding in Vietnam) All of this said, I learned a vast amount and became absolutely hooked on history of all kinds, especially Asian history and American. It helped that one of the teachers I had was a pre-eminent historian of Montana history (which was where I was going to school) and painted a lurid and wonderful canvas of corrupt sheriffs and robber barons and all the elements that would keep a student captivated. When I was in junior high I was fascinated with English history on my own. Nothing I got in school. So, at one point I too could name all the monarchs from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. Sad to say, no more. That skill went long ago with disuse and a heightened interest in other regions of the world.

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