Wednesday, February 28, 2007
About eight of these trees were donated by one family member in honor of another as Valentine's Day trees. At $80 per tree, these folks took love and trees seriously.
Also on this day, HPC announced a Heritage Tree program. Now, in some cities, the term "Heritage Tree" has a legal distinction. But our program is completely voluntary. We're using the term to refer to significant trees, many old, many with historical or sentimental meanings attached, that will be nominated throughout the year by residents. On Arbor Day, we'll announce the Heritage Trees for the year. HPC started the process off this year by selecting an American Elm, three Southern Red Oaks, and a 130-year-old Water Oak.
We hope the program will remind people to focus on trees and their benefits within the city. In my hometown, Georgia's Arbor Day marked the beginning of what we hope will be a wonderful new tradition.
None of this would have happened without the hard work of Mary, Beth, John, Gerry, Lesa, Scott, Ralph, the Forestry Commission, the Boy Scouts, the 4H Club, and local nurseries.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I cannot imagine writing fiction that is divorced from myself.
When the work comes slowly, it's because I have reached an unexplored area of myself and do not yet know what I think of it, much less how to make a story of it.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This quote appeared in a recent Heron Dance newsletter, and when I saw it, I thought how nice it would be if those of us who write could learn how to forget about outcomes early in our writing careers. Okay, let's stipulate:
- Clients have deadlines
- Magazines fit one niche or another
- Publishers submission guidelines
I'm seeing this as a fair amount of stipulation already and I'm a little claustrophobic about it. How can we remain pure with so much stipulation before we even write the first word?
Years ago, an English teacher looked at a very stylistic short story of mine and told me that I couldn't start out writing like that because, basically, publishers weren't going to put up with that sort of thing until one became famous. Pragmatic advice, to be sure.
I think this happened during my Faulknerian stage, so I heard, "You're not Faulkner."
"Who did Faulkner start out as?"
"Well," I added carefully, "when Faulkner started out he was obviously Faulkner, but nobody knew that yet, so did he write like Hemingway or Emerson or somebody else until he was famous enough to be himself?"
Time has long since stolen the exact text of her exasperated answer. But it was perhaps on that day that I learned what was, for me, a painful truth: The world wants us to worry about outcomes.
That has been a hard lesson to unlearn.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Sometimes, I request review copies from Dan Poynter's free marketing newsletter. Writers who have published with small presses or with print-on-demand publishers often list their books there in a "seeking reviews" section. If you like reviewing books, you can sign up for the marketing newsletter as well as the Publishing Poynters newsletter (writing/publishing tips) at Para Publishing.
Today, my review copy of Linda LeBlanc's Beyond the Summit arrived. The novel, set in Nepal, is a rare American novel with a focus on the Sherpa culture. We know the Sherpas as Mt. Everest guides, but other than the ceremony around Tenzing Norgay--who reached the summit in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary--we seldom hear much about the people who live in the region made famous by mountain climbers.
Ms. LeBlanc has travelled to the area many times, so I'm looking forward to reading a novel based on a world where the author has been and met the people she is writing about. It also happens to be an area I always wanted to visit.
I especially like writing reviews for books that aren't getting a lot of mainstream attention. (As an author, I've been there!) Not that my review will catapult anyone to the top of the amazon.com bestseller list. It's fun and I always hope it helps a little.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
As a former museum collections manager and a corporate communications director, I find museum publicity and grant writing very rewarding. Small museums are often caught in a money crunch: the executive director is so busy managing programs, s/he doesn't have time to write grants or news releases. Best case, the museum board of directors has an active fund raising committee that tracks down support for prospective programs and other needs. However, museum board members are usually busy people, experienced professionals with companies to manage and other nonprofit boards to assist with.
Here's where I like to help. I listen to the fund raising committee's goals and financial targets and match these with the objectives and planned outcomes for the executive director's prospective programs. Then, I write or help write grant applications to attract the money required. I do not make guarantees, for there may be multiple museums applying for limited funds; nor do I charge a percentage of the awarded amount because that practice is unethical and many foundations and agencies will not allow it even if the museum is willing to pay for my work in that way.
I will do my best to help the museum prepare the application and/or to find new funding opportunities. If you or somebody you know works for a small museum that needs help, start with the home page for my consulting business, Campbell Editorial Services. From there, you can find samples of my work and other (hopefully) helpful information.
Volunteer work also lures me away. Most recently, I've served on my town's Historic Preservation Commission, helped out at the local museum, and been active in our Mainstreet-style program for small towns (known in Georgia as Better Hometown). We hope to keep the best of what we have where we live while helping it grow in ways that are compatible with our history and lifestyle--not always an easy goal.
There's no room in all of this to ever get bored or wonder what I ought to be doing.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Nassim Taleb cites the Harry Potter books, now in 64 languages with 325 million copies sold, as a perfect example of The Black Swan. A black swan is a huge event with a huge impact that cannot be predicted in advance.
Nobody saw Harry Potter coming. Now, there are numerous treatises about why he is here as well as how he will end up at the end of book seven.
Personally, I'm glad Harry Potter is here. Rowling's books have brought reading back to a lot of people who probably vowed--during some tedious English class--that they would never voluntarily read a book again. We've also learned, contrary to publishers' engraved-in-stone rules that it is possible to attract adult readers to books about teenagers.
Whatever will we do when we read the last word of the last book? What then? Perhaps we will read it again. Undoubtedly, we'll be standing in line when the next movie comes out. All in all, I think many of us will feel a sense of loss whether Harry lives or dies after his final struggle with you know who.
With luck, more people will be reading, listening to their imaginations, and finding sufficient inspiration from Harry's days at Hogwarts to follow their own quests.
Good work, Jo, good work, and thanks.