Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?

Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?
http://go.ted.com/NNPduw

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and many other wonderful novels and stories, is one of my major writing heroes.

She has the magic.

When her Chinese immigrant characters speak Chinese immigrant Engrish, I hear my Si-fu (Chinese martial arts master and surrogate mother for 29 years and counting) talking to me:

“Lawla!  Did you know, you reary have a velly big bottom!  How come?  We go to eat now!” 

Perhaps because of my long immersion in Chinese culture, I fall into Tan’s novels and happily drown in them.  I melt into them, I swim in them, and when they end, I find myself gasping in the thin air that lingers after the book is closed, or listening to the faint babble of rising and falling Cantonese in another room, longing to know what they are talking about.

Maybe my big bottom.  Reary.

My Si-fu’s father, known to us students as Dai Si-fu (meaning Great Teacher), always promised to teach me Chinese.  It generally went something like this:

Dai Si-fu:  “(something in Chinese), now YOU say same ting.”

Me:  “(what he said)”

Dai Si-fu:  (falling on the floor, despite his eighty-something years, laughing hysterically) “Hahaha!  You just said, ‘Rady’s vagina’! Hahaha!”

Si-fu runs down the five stairs into the taichi studio:  “Fadder!  (Indignant Chinese scolding)!”

To me:  “Lawla!  I am so solly!  He awrays do dat!”

I try to maintain composure but it doesn’t work, and I fall apart laughing.  Si-fu vibrates with semi-genuine indignity and flounces out of the room, flinging behind her:  “Ten more minutes, then we go to eat!”

As soon as she is gone, Dai Si-fu and I meet eyes and crack up until we can’t breathe.

“Ten more minutes, then we go to eat,” he flounces out of the studio.  I’m dying of conflict between betraying my Si-fu and delicious conspiracy.

To watch this video of Amy Tan explaining her muse is like having a private audience with the Chinese Five Elements: Earth, Wind, Metal, Fire, Wood.  These are the sources that make up the world we live in, our bodies and minds being a microcosm of the macrocosm.

When I read Amy Tan, I constantly see and feel these elements dancing in their natural order.  They are inseparable from any person of Chinese ancestry.  Everyone has them, but they are as clear in the Chinese aura as the color red.

To watch and listen to her, I understand.  The color red, the Five Elements.  The fact that I am “klazy.”  The simple paradox.  Paradox made simple, in no easy lessons. 

As for her personal muse…be sure to watch carefully all the way to the end.  It’s in the bag.

Snoop Lion Opens Up About His Pimp Past | Rolling Stone

Yesterday I lolled about the lobby of a local medical marijuana dispensary for four or five hours, waiting my turn to see the Marijuana Doctors so I could apply for my card.

There was plenty of time to browse the paraphernalia in the glass cases all around.  I closely inspected everything, since there was nothing else to do.

I couldn’t help but notice the “Snoop Dogg” brand bongs and papers and stuff that I had no idea what it is because I’m, you know, old, and I come from a whole different pot culture.

So I got this really bad feeling when I saw all this S.D. branded stuff, because several years ago, when I was writing under a pseudonym about my years as a street kid, it came to my attention that there was this rapper, famous and rich, who was very out front about his background with the Crips (very violent bad street gang), and fulfilling his life’s dream to be a pimp.

Even if I hadn’t been obliged to use my body as currency for the purpose of having food and shelter, I would still find it nauseating that this “nigga,” as he calls himself, who has made himself a role model for young people of every race and background, actually went and built his little dream fantasy, which you can read all about in the Rolling Stone article in the link.

Have your barf bag ready.

This dude is SUCH BAD NEWS.  In so many ways.  What’s his appeal?  That he shoves everything that’s morally horrible in our faces like bags of shit?

He ought to know a bag of shit when he sees one….every time he looks in the mirror.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/snoop-lion-opens-up-about-his-pimp-past-20130508

The Honesty Tax Again

Ladies and Gentlemen, gentle readers: I adjure you to tread softly when you review books on any site where books are reviewed.

As most of you know, I am autistic.  I have little to no ability to soft-pedal, and no ability whatsoever to suck up to people, whether they are potential customers for something I might be selling on eBay, or whether they have written a book that has drawn accolades from well-known reviewers.

And so it was that, having bought a book from an online bookseller, having read that book, and having been asked by the bookseller to review it, I did so.

The book didn’t float my boat.  In my opinion, it lacked a good deal.  My review was much more reserved than my full-on opinion, but in the interest of giving the author a break and not putting potential readers off, I went easy.

It seems that my review wounded the author’s feelings, and he sent me a letter.  This surprised me.

I have never considered myself an important writer, and certainly not an important reviewer.

The letter I received from the author of said book made me wonder if I had morphed overnight into some lauded writer, whose “C+” review might actually mean something.

It accused me of everything from sullying the author’s reputation, to negatively affecting his income, to damaging his health.

Good grief!  The next thing, I fear, will be a letter from said author’s attorney, or worse yet, a summons of some kind.

Grief, grief, grief.

The reason I am sitting here in this barn–yes, I do mean barn, literally, not figuratively–is that fourteen years ago, I opened a registered letter.  It informed me that I was being sued for half a million dollars, and that I was summoned to a hearing in a far-away state.  I barely had the means to put beans on top of rice, not to mention traveling!

At that time, gentle readers, I had just lost my job; my child was desperately ill;  and I was already spiraling into the depths of a depression that was resistant to every antidepressant on the market, because it was a Bipolar Depression, which behaves differently from Major Depressive Disorder.  Antidepressants just make things worse.  The specter of ECT loomed on my horizon.  I fought it off with brooms, and cans and cans of Raid™.

That Registered Letter was the straw that catalyzed my first hospitalization.  But that did nothing to avert the rumble of the approaching juggernaut of the pending lawsuit.  Stomp, stomp, stomp, like a bad Japanese movie.  Only this was no movie.

All of the lawyers I contacted said the suit was a frivolous attempt by the plaintiff to gouge money out of hundreds of caregivers, and that I would certainly be exonerated, and could then file a countersuit for damages.The only thing was, the lawyers wanted a retainer of $25,000-$35,000 up front.  And I was penniless.

So I did the only thing I could do: I went bankrupt.  The few things of value I still had to my name went away in one horror-struck day.

I will never forget seeing the repossessors come and haul away the little car that I had used for work and house calls.  My big horse trailer went too.  Anything else of value was carried off in due time.  I was left sitting in a mostly empty single-wide trailer, on land that was thankfully untouchable by the vultures that swirled around my head.

Now that I am in fact homeless, I feel more at ease, because I don’t have anything to steal.  I don’t even have a reputation to feed and care for.  I am Just Me.

I no longer accept registered letters.  If it’s a check from Publisher’s Clearing House for a million dollars, I imagine they might call.  Or maybe not.  What does it matter?

At this point, my energy reserves are at their nadir.  I have just spent nearly four years helping my father to die, in great pain and suffering for both of us.  I’m happy that his suffering is over; and I must say that it is a great relief, as I feel very sure that he is in a good place and out of pain.  But it’s taken an enormous toll on my own resistance to diseases, physical and psychological.

The aforementioned author’s thinly veiled threatening letter has set off a cascade of paranoid thoughts: what would I do if he decided to sue me for….for….um, for honestly reviewing his book?  What has the world come to?

What would I do?

I am weary.  I don’t know how much more I can take.  There are times when I long to go up on some high mountaintop with a fifth of good single-malt, and drink it until I become numb, and let the bitter cold of the night take me Home.

And then I think: how well do I know the evils of this world!  But–what if there really is an Afterlife?  What if there really is a God, who gave us laws?  What if suicide is seen as murder, in that Other World?  Meh.  I just want This World to be over.

I am sick and tired of paying the Honesty Tax.

I wanna go Home.

 

Daily Prompt: Verbal Ticks

Thank you, Ben Huberman.  I really needed a larf, and Huberman’s  Daily Prompt has got me rolling on the floor: “Verbal Ticks.”

Do you have a “verbal tick” you can’t get rid of?  Does it bury its head in your skin, suck your blood, and give you Lyme Disease, all the while chattering away like a demented dummy?

Ben, darling, I really am not dissing you.  It’s just that I’m a compulsive editor/proofreader with a cranked sense of humor.  I would have left you a comment in the “comments” section on your post, but there doesn’t seem to be one on the Daily Prompt, and if there is, I couldn’t find it.  My bad.

The word you wanted was tic.  A verbal tic is a vocalization, whether recognizable or not, that builds up inside the sufferer’s mind/body with increasing pressure until it exits, one way or another.  It’s a common feature of Tourette Syndrome.

I heard of a lawyer with Tourette’s whose main tic was verbal.  His brain compelled him to utter foul curses!  Most of the time he was able to blend them into a faked cough, but occasionally he had to exit the courtroom in order to drain himself of curses!  The judges all knew of his disability and made accommodations for his needs.

So now I’ve had my larf at the expense of our dear Ben, and it really is bedtime; but I will have to distract my mind, perhaps by watching Betty Boop cartoons, lest my dream be populated with chattering blood-sucking arthropods.

A Valuable Resource for Writers

I just had a marvelous and incredibly useful conversation with David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors.

At first I was skeptical: I mean, here’s a couple (David Sperry and Arielle Eckstrut) who make their living allegedly helping writers get their books published.  So what’s to be skeptical about that?  Oh yes.  I remember now: they charge money.  Now, there seems to be a bumper crop of people and organizations purporting to help you get your book published.  I myself subscribe to Writer’s Digest, which has been mildly to moderately helpful, at a certain price, and NaNoWriMo, which has been enormously helpful, is free.  Once in a blue moon they host a valuable webinar, which is where I became acquainted with The Book Doctors.  You can tell where my allegiance lies.

David and his partner Arielle Eckstrut, who is the “other half” of The Book Doctors, offer consultations at a fee of $90 per 15 minutes, $250 per hour, and claim that they are dedicated to:

“helping writers everywhere get their books published.”

Yeah, right.  Just like all the other bozos out there that trumpet the same thing, but uniformly don’t deliver.

Exactly how they came across my radar screen, I don’t remember.  I flipped through their website and said, sheesh, how could these people possibly be for real?  And $250 per hour?  That’s what I made being a real doctor.  They gotta be kidding.

So when NaNoWriMo featured them on a webinar , I tuned in to see what they had to say. They had a lot to say, and it was all good, practical, useful stuff.  And as a “value-added” feature, they offered a 15-minute consultation (a $90 value!) to webinar participants.  I signed up.

Then I went back to their website again, and using my super-hero x-ray vision, sucked up all the information it contained.  I even purchased their excellent book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published., which retails for $11.82 on Amazon.  Couldn’t hurt, I figured, and besides, if you buy the book you get a 15 minute consultation, FREE!  Wow, I was up to 30 minutes with them, for stuff I would have bought anyway, the webinar plus the book!  I went for it.

First of all, I gotta tell you–that book is priceless.  First I will tell you what it does NOT contain, and that is: Bullshit.  None. Of. It.  It is pure, concise, unadulterated useable information.  If you’re wondering how to really, really get your book published, this is the nuts-and-bolts go-to guide.

Now let me get to the fun part: the consultation itself.  I got to talk with David Sperry for a whole thirty minutes, because I had participated in the webinar plus bought the book.  As soon as I pitched him my novel/memoir, we discovered that we had common ground (see my Dina Leah blog), and that greatly facilitated the process of sorting out my book and answering critical questions.  The information and advice that he provided were 100% useful.  I feel that our short conversation will exponentially increase the probability of my book being published.  Like most aspiring authors, I feel that my book will change many lives.  I hope that mine will bring hope to people who are struggling with recovery from the awful traumas that haunt those of us who have been “scrabbling down in the streets” (thanks again, Joni Mitchell).

If you’re working on your book and wondering where to go next, I encourage you to first buy the book The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published and then beg, borrow, but don’t steal (that is a sin) the money for a consultation with The Book Doctors.  You won’t regret it.

Disclamer: this review of my experience with The Book Doctors is entirely mine and unsolicited.  The Book Doctors did not ask me to do it.