Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Extremely Bold Question

How come most of y'all come and visit and let me blather on and yet don't comment?

Has this blog attracted all of the world's shy people?

I'd love to know. And I'd be grateful to anybody who answers here about the reason he or she keeps silent. You can even be Anonymous. Or Startlingly Revealing. Or Controversial. Or...you tell me....

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Peggy...I just checked your blogg for the first time today. Like your hair cut....

Linda Holland

billie said...

well, obviously this question wasn't posed to ME!

:)

I would love to see lots of folks comment here, though - I love the things you write about and the questions you ask, and it would be so much fun if there was some lively discussion in the comment box.

Great day for it, too... it is MISERABLE outside.

billie

Peggy said...

I'm glad you came to visit, Linda. Do come again.

And congratulations on your Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook. I hope it sells a million.

Billie, I love all your comments.

billie said...

Linda, your cookbook sounds great - I'm going to put it in my amazon cart right now...:)

billie

Julie said...

Hi Peggy,

I've been silent because I guess I was a little shy. However, your post seemed like an invitation to identify myself and say hello.

I check out your blog every couple weeks or so. I'm interested to hear about the book on "Miss Chant." She was my great aunt, and died before I was born. You interviewed my dad about a year ago, and I occasionally hear from my cousin Sherron about your research, but it has been fun for me to read about what you are thinking and feeling as you work on the book. I especially enjoyed hearing about your trip to England and I loved seeing your photos! I have always wanted to go see where my ancestors lived; now I have even more incentive to make the trip.

In addition to my family interest, I really appreciate the other topics you discuss on your blog, and I know I will continue to visit after your book is finished.

Thanks!

Julie Chant Smith

Peggy Payne said...

Julie, I'm THRILLED! to hear from you. You're so kind to leave your comment. I do want to talk to you at some point by phone, if you will, about anything you've heard about "Miss Chant." (It has finally occurred to me that within your family that title is not very definitive, but in Wilmington there was one and only one Miss Chant.)

I'm delighted that you're visiting here. I hope you'll post comments again as the mood strikes.

And send me your email address--I'm at ppayne51@cs.com--and I'll send you some additional pictures.

Amey Miller said...

Hello Peggy:

Have been puzzling over how to respond to bold question. I suppose I am in someways "shy" or Quakerish -- my query to myself is how does this or that response add to the situation (in this case your blog). But I am often quite gabby, so why silent here?

I do enjoy reading your blog and consider it a lovely generous way of sharing a writing life. I have posted a bit now and again with my own take on things under discussion.

I think the simplest answer to why I don't post more is that my own process is fairly different than yours, and yet like a lot of writers I'm pretty defensive and conflicted about what "it" is, or have even a hard time stating what "it" is, partly because it is also always changing.

So it seems that, often, for me, to make a response somehow requires some kind of argument, internal or directed at something you said. And I don't really want to do that, since I enjoy the blog.

But I will continue to read, and to post, if something comes clear enough to do so!

Thanks for your query --

Amey

Peggy said...

Hi Amey, I'm glad you spoke up. And I'd LOVE to hear opposing or somewhat different views, or pieces of views. That kind of "argument" is a great thing, I think.

And of course I'm curious about your ever-changing undefined process. In fact, I'd describe my own that way. Though when I write down some piece of it, it sounds far more codified than it is. Things seem to need a new approach quite regularly, I find.

amey miller said...

Thanks for response, and great pic of house and story of woman who forged her own way. On that topic, I guess the biggest source of conflict to me is the publication issue. I certainly yearn to be published more and am doing this and that to accomplish that goal, but I have an uneasy and ambivalent relationship to the whole issue. Certainly the track record of letters (Dickenson, Melville et al.) doesn't suggest that publication = quality. I identify my work a lot in the tradition of women's work: quilting, embroidery, cooking. But then, that work is usually far more "accesible" and usable than my own fiction. So it's a tangle, and hence my reluctance to engage this blog around it. Certainly the market place is so very much a reality, and it holds out the possibility of a readership. I suppose I would hesitantly just propose the value of work that does not find favor there, and even the possible value of a work that in some regards at least "does not play well with others." Thanks -- Amey

Peggy said...

You're talking about the toughest thing we all face (in our careers as writers): doing our best work and the work that we are called to do, while knowing how limiting the market requirements can be.

Some of the best work I've read is unpublished. And I find that enraging. At the same time, I think if the writer persists, work of that quality will eventually find its readers somehow.

I've made one market-oriented change in my work--or tried to. I've made the narrative line, the basic premise of my books clearer and more dominating than I am naturally inclined to do. It's a struggle for me to see when that is needed (market-wise); but I don't feel regretful about doing it, because I've always done it in ways that enhanced my purposes at the same time. And as a reader I like a clear line of motivation.

I do get mad and impatient, though, over how many revisions it takes me to make that line clear to people other than myself.

It's the ongoing dilemma. I'm ever looking for some better way to handle it.

Peggy said...

Another thought: sometimes the most courageous move is to wait for the market to change, instead of changing the work.

amey miller said...

Thanks for the extra posts. Yes, "the market" is a murky issue and I respect all courses taken in regard to it. Tony Hillerman Navajo murder mysteries -- ummm good. Bin Ramke's hermetic poems -- yessiree! It is enraging, though, as you say, when good work is unrespected and unread. The thing that I worry about is the "chilling effect" of the market's choices, so that's why your last point is a good one. Note the outrage that attended the National Book Award's fiction nominees a few years back, all women from New York City. The New Yorker even gave voice to Tom McGuane's bad boy slurs on the selection process. Dial up Ms. Chant! Amey

Peggy said...

More alternate routes are developing for getting work out now, too. Print-on-demand self-publishing is becoming quite respectable, and small presses are publishing a lot of the kind of work that major houses used to--some of it then being re-released by the majors. And then of course there's the Internet.

(But I still like the brand name houses myself. Aside from the prestige, there's money and distribution)

I hadn't really thought about the chilling effect--the material that is being altered before it ever sees light. Or that isn't created. That's troubling.

billie said...

Great discussion! A topic I have been thinking about all week as I reached the end of the re-write on my first novel in an effort to make it more marketable.

The printer glitched on page 271 and kept returning to the first page when I attempted to continue - not sure what that means, but I needed the day to bask in being done, so I'll tackle the printer and look at page 271 and onward more closely today. :)

Thanks for the thought-provoking talk here, Amey and Peggy...

billie

Peggy said...

Congratulations on finishing the redraft, Billie.

Thinking some more about this chill effect: new writing of the sort now considered unmarketable from nonfamous authors is still available from the well-established, like Naipaul, Anita Brookner,some of Roth, etc.

When those folks are gone, there will be no new supply of that kind of non-plotty, beautifully written work.

billie said...

This whole comment thread has me thinking about writing and publication and being marketable - and specifically what it means to be marketable.

Wrt blogs and getting folks to comment: I regularly visit 10-12 blogs on a daily basis. 5-10 more I visit less frequently, as the mood strikes.

There are some where the posts are absolutely beautiful, and there tend to be very few comments.

There are some where there are lots of comments but by all the same people every day, mostly telling the blogger how wonderful he/she is.

There are some where there are a lot of comments due to the relatively "controversial" nature of the blogger's posts.

Is there anything about this observation that applies to writing for publication? Sometimes it feels to me that the novels the agents/publishers are selling/buying are the ones that will stir the pot in some way.

Surely there's a market for the beautifully written - of course there is, I read those novels - but how to swim through the pack of "louder" mss to get not just attention but actual support of the acquisitions and then marketing folks who work for the big houses?

Just rambling here - and wondering.

billie

Peggy said...

Very interesting observation.

On the subject of controversy-- I think preaching to the choir can have a good market. I feel I am more and more at risk of offending the choir-- which can certainly undercut the potential readership.

And yet what I'm writing is what I have to write.

Caroline Armijo said...

I first visited your blog at the recommendation of Jeanette Stokes. We were having a conversation about finding mentors. I also came to the realization that I felt this strong need to constantly write while on a six-week vacation to Europe. Since my return, I have a hard time writing anything of substance beyond what I write each day in my journal. So she suggested that I visit for words of encouragement and advice.

Anyway, I check in every once and a while and love the idea of the story about Miss Chant. My story that I want to write is about my grandmother's funeral, during which my uncle's heart stopped while my father was telling the story of her life. Perfect fodder for a Southern Gothic story. However, I am a graphic designer/design entrepreneur. So this is a very different approach for me. But obviously, without the distractions of the computer or life, the stories are there to pour out. I just don't know how to contain it and make it into something bigger than a journal entry or an essay on my blog.

http://www.carolinearmijo.com

Peggy said...

Hi Caroline, Thanks for visiting--and speaking up.

Your story does sound intriguing, and I think you're doing the right thing. Doesn't really matter whether you're calling it a journal or a piece of a novel, if you keep the writing going.

One thing you could do as you write about your grandmother that will help the transition to writing for readers is: locate the quest in the story. If you know the main character and what that person is after, the rest is just pouring it out and then going back and fixing it. (In my case, this involves going back for years.)

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