A friend had commented recently that I haven't blogged much lately. I appreciate the interest and understand the observation. Its true. I haven't blogged as much as I wanted to. There are a few reasons for this. For one, ever since the uprising in Egypt, I have been absolutely addicted to the news. Most of the time, I don't watch the news or read the paper. I'll scan the news websites for any major stories to read, but I generally find that most of the news is irrelevant to life in general. With the uprisings in North Africa, though, I can't help but be riveted because this is HUGE for our planet. This is a great thing for humanity: people rising up against despotic rulers who have abused their citizens and stolen the people's money to enrich themselves while the mass of people are forced to endure chronic poverty and high unemployment. I feel a great solidarity with these common folks, many of whom are college-educated young Arabs without a career or opportunities for one.
After Mubarak stepped down, the focus shifted to the next places where people have risen up in protest: Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, and even Saudi Arabia. The focus now is on Libya, which is now the bloodiest of the uprisings and crazy-man Qadafi (or however he spells his name) refusing to relinquish power. So, this latest uprising will have me tuned in to the news for a little while longer as I await to see the outcome (hopefully he will step down by Friday, which is considered the Muslim holy day and also the day that Mubarak officially decided to step down). After Libya, I'm certain that another Middle Eastern / North African country will take center stage on the global media stage. Ideally, I'd love to see a regime fall every few weeks until all of them are gone by the wayside, from Morocco to Burma.
The other preoccupations include the homeowner surprising me by letting me use his car while he was on vacation to Colorado / Wyoming for the week. It was awesome to have wheels again! I learned that work is exactly six miles from the townhouse I live in. The commute was 15 minutes (versus a 3 bus / 1 hour commute). While utilizing the Pontiac Vibe to commute to work and run errands on the weekend, the other housemate told me that he was selling his 1994 Toyota Camry for $1,000 and I got interested in buying it. The problem is that it has 260,000 miles on it and if it needs repairs, I might not have money in the bank to get the repairs. However, I would use it to commute to work and it would allow me to get to church without having to get a ride each Sunday by a nice family who go out of their way to pick me up. I wouldn't use the car to go on a long roadtrip, due to the miles, but it would be much easier to get a part time job if I had a car. So, that's something that may occur in March.
Also in the past couple of weeks is the Portland International Film Festival. I've only seen two films and have one scheduled for Saturday. I wanted to see about 12 films, but narrowed them down to 5. When I went to buy the five tickets, two films were moved to days / times / locations that were incovenient for me, so I end up only with three films this year, which is a shame. One that I really wanted to see was only scheduled twice: both at 9 p.m. in theaters that required two buses to get back to where I live, and because it gets out around 11 p.m., that means I ran the risk of missing the final bus for the night on my transfer. The disadvantages of living so far out from the downtown area. All the more reason to own a car again!
I'll review the films next week, once I see the third and final film on my list. Also during this time, I finally watched The Social Network, which deserves a blog post review of its own, so that is forthcoming as well. Also in the past week or two were the release of two books that I definitely couldn't wait to buy and read: The Tenth Insight by James Redfield and the memoirs by Senator Scott Brown (Against All Odds), who I believe is being groomed by the powers-that-be to be the 45th President of the United States of America. This book is part of a multi-step process to make him viable for 2016. He's such a likable guy, that even I could support him despite his party affiliation (though I believe that Governor Martin O'Malley has an excellent shot at the Democratic nomination and will be the one I intend to support, including starting up a group in Portland if needs be).
With all those distractions, who has time to blog? I honestly wish there were more hours in the day to get all the things I need to get done.
I've been reading The Twelfth Insight for the past week, hoping to finish it so that I can start reading Senator Brown's book. I only learned about The Twelfth Insight a few weeks before publication date. I was stunned that Redfield had written another book in his Celestine Prophecy series. For Flashback Friday, I will be writing about the impact The Celestine Prophecy had on my spiritual development. It came out at the right time in my life (1994) and made a huge impression on me. The Tenth Insight (1996) was an excellent sequel that builds upon the original. In 1997, he released a non-fiction version called The Celestine Visions. Then in 1999 came the third book in his novel series: The Secret of Shambhala. I was not really impressed with this one, though, and don't remember much about it. Now, a dozen years later comes The Twelfth Insight, in the year before the overhyped 2012. I figured that something about 2012 prompted Redfield that another book was "necessary" to cash in on all the books being released about this famous Maya date (the elaborate calendar that the ancient Mayans produced mysteriously ends on December 21, 2012, which has doomsday believers thinking that this will be the end of the world for real this time! I happen to think that maybe they were all slaughtered before they could start to work engraving the calendar for 2013 so we are panicking for stupid reasons, like the whole Y2K hysteria that proved uneventful).
Though I am anxious to read about the latest spiritual insights offered by New Age spiritualist writer James Redfield, the latest novel has me in cringe-inducing groans over the writing style. A dozen years between books has proven that Redfield had not spent those years learning how to write. This latest novel is poorly written. I've never really enjoyed his simplistic, first draft style writing of his previous books but I was so intrigued by the idea he offered within the pages that it didn't matter. I've read a lot of books in the years between, so I've been exposed to a lot of great writers and writing styles that I admire. Perhaps that's why I'm finding it much more difficult to like his latest novel than I might have a decade ago.
One thing I notice in reading his latest is that he mentions characters "looking around", "looking at each other", "giving a look", etc. This brings back bad deja vu. About eight years ago, I had been corresponding via email with a lady in Memphis who responded to a personal ad I had on a website. She was a fellow writer and asked me to critique her short story. When I read it, I couldn't help but notice how often she wrote of her characters "looking around" or "giving looks". This is an indication of a first draft writing. I'm guilty of it too in my own writing. Its why revision is necessary when writing. The first draft is for getting your story out on paper. Once that's done, the real work of editing begins. In the editing process, you can see where you are being repetitive and make changes. The revision is where the art emerges out of your work.
When the lady asked me what I thought of her work, I was brutally honest and it ultimately destroyed our friendship (my honesty often gets me in serious trouble with women, which frustrates me because I hear women all the time claim that they just want an honest man. I now believe that to be a lie. Women want men to agree with them, even if its dishonest and I feel very uncomfortable whenever people expect me to lie, regardless of the reason). When I told the lady that she needed to re-write many of her sentences, particularly the ones where her characters were "looking around", she took it the wrong way. She fired back an email saying that I wasn't qualified to "judge" her work because I was not a fantasy fiction writer. However, I did not critique her story / plot, just the writing style of using repetitive and bland sentences / descriptions. This is the kind of critique I would appreciate someone telling me in my own writing. Anything to help the writing read better.
Because of that experience, I now cringe everytime I read a sentence where a character is "looking around" or "giving looks". Well, guess what?!? James Redfield's latest novel is full of sentences that include the word "look" in various forms. I would have loved to be his editor. I can't believe that this book was allowed to be published as is. It is horrendous writing and it takes me out of the story and into the craft of writing, which is not something I want to do. I want to experience this story, but he makes it so difficult by his elementary writing style. If publishing houses are publishing crap like this, then my novel needs to be published, because I think I'm a much better writer than James Redfield is. I actually enjoy the editing process because you get rid of repetitive sentences and descriptions. To not go through that process is laziness and that's what this novel feels like to me as I read it: a rush job with the looming 2012 deadline hovering over him. The novel mentions his interpretation of what 2012 is all about, so of course he needed to have a hardcover out in 2011 and the paperback in 2012. Cash in, one more time!
Once I finish the book, I will review it on the blog. Perhaps even as part of tomorrow's Flashback Friday on The Celestine Prophecy. Stay tuned!