<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d6736792\x26blogName\x3d1000+Black+Lines\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://1000blacklines.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://1000blacklines.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-1513283592623172668', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

Guernica & Antiwar Art

Last August I commented that...
Picasso's 1937 Guernica was evidence that art does not have to be beautiful to be potent. The impact of that painting was colossal... Guernica was painted as a reaction to the atrocities of war...


From today's The Writer's Almanac:
And it was on this day in 1937 that German bombers attacked and destroyed the city of Guernica in Spain. Hitler... wanted to use the Spanish Civil War as a testing ground for his new blitzkrieg military strategy...

The first wave of planes dropped blast bombs that destroyed the principal buildings; the second wave flew low, gunning down the citizens; and the third wave dropped incendiary bombs to burn any remaining parts of the city. The attack lasted for three and a half hours... It was the first time in history that a city was completely destroyed from the air.

One of the people who heard the news of the bombing the following day was the painter Pablo Picasso, who was in exile in Paris. He was trying to come up with an idea for a mural to be displayed at the World's Fair in Paris that summer, and when he heard about the bombing, he began a new painting called Guernica. He did it on a huge canvas: 12 feet high, 26 feet wide, worked on it for a little more than a month. The painting he produced showed no planes, no bombs, no explosions. It was just a black and white image of a wailing woman holding a dead child in her arms, a dead man on the ground holding a broken sword, a bull, a screaming horse, a woman on fire, a woman falling to one knee, another woman leaning in a window and shining a lamp on the whole scene...

It was displayed at the Paris World's Fair and people weren't sure what to make of it... some people saw the painting as a warning that everything they loved was about to be lost.

Two years later Hitler invaded Poland, using the same bombing strategy, and Picasso's painting went on to become the most famous antiwar painting of the 20th Century.


So where are all the famous antiwar paintings today? There's been a lot of publicized protests and antiwar rock concerts but where's the honest reaction to war? I've seen more hate messages than legitimate antiwar protests. At UNCA on the sidewalk near the library is a spray painted image of President Bush with an antiwar slogan "Number 1 Terrorist." That is not "shining a lamp on the whole scene" but rather demonizing the US government. Attacking one individual (though it be the leader of the free world) isn't really "a warning" of the consequence of war nor what or who will be lost. High art embodies goodness, truth and beauty. Not all three elements need to be exhibited in a single painting. But all three need to be represented collectively in high art. Picasso's Guernica is just as relevant today as it was the day it was completed.

Most of the antiwar posters, bumperstickers and banners which I have witnessed represent angry propaganda--and poor propaganda at that. Locally, there was an art show titled Dissension Convention last October which featured several paintings with antiwar sentiment--most were of the paintings more anti-Bush or anti-Republican (which shouldn't surprise you). The only painting that seemed to convey the spirit of Guernica was presented by Joshua Vaughan. The painting suggests the idea that what you sow you shall reap. That painting alone has more longevity than the other works of art represented at Dissension Convention.



I suspect the void of serious antiwar art is due to the aftermath of existentialism and postmodernism. As intellectuals churn out book after book (or in Howard Zinn's case audio CD after audio CD) proposing that nothing is objective and everything is subjective the whole message of antiwar becomes vapid. The key to "shining a lamp" on the national antiwar debate is to propose objectivity.

RE: Evangelical Pornography - part 2

continued from part 1


A few weeks ago I read the essay "Left Behind as Evangelical Pornography" by Kenneth R. Morefield. It has provided much contemplation.

Kenneth Morefield describes a key scene in the Left Behind novels which…
contains the ritualistic elements of self-abuse that evidence an antipathy or even outright hostility towards the characters that feeds the readers' desire to see their hurt, shame and rejection at the hands of their own loved ones who reject Christianity acknowledged and punished. The high degree of remorse is inextricably linked to an acknowledgement of the moral purity and superiority of the departed family member who is analogous to the reader…
--from "Left Behind as Evangelical Pornography" by Kenneth R. Morefield.


Here's where I get a bit uncomfortable. I was thoroughly enjoying the public skewering of the Left Behind franchise until it turned on me. It was "the ritualistic elements of self-abuse" which links to "moral superiority to a middle-class" cultural creative.

I can't really claim to be conservative, nor can I claim to be a liberal--even progressive doesn't fit well. Though at one time or another I have been categorized by those titles. It's easy for someone to marginalize me if they can neatly package me as a social liberal or a fiscal conservative or a cultural progressive. This makes it difficult attending a church that doesn't appreciate a Democrat among their ranks and it also makes it challenging visiting with progressive friends who abhor the idea of institutional religion.

Being a stranger in any crowd has become normal for me, but has slowly evolved into a righteous superiority for those less open-minded individuals who can't believe I associate with those people. Why can't I be normal and have friends that make me feel comfortable and who won't challenge me?

My religious upbringing suggests that persecution builds character. Discrimination exists (even prevails), but I seriously doubt there is much persecution in America. If there is "persecution" then it is most likely self-inflicted like those who follow the infamous "Reverend" Fred Phelps and his gospel of hate. That might be an extreme example, but the principle of moral piety because of public or private rejection is what Morefield seems to suggest.

I can see how the Left Behind books can become addicting--they pacify the intellectual and spiritual capacity to sacrifice my comfort for yours.

to be continued

Louise Glück's Birthday

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of poet Louise Glück, born in New York City (1942), author of The Triumph of Achilles (1985), The Wild Iris (1993), and Vita Nova (1999).

Paintings on Tour

Last night I delivered four paintings that are scheduled to make appearences further up the coast. If you're in the DC or Baltimore area, check out my paintings and enjoy live music and poetry!

Back at the waterfront... more poetry, songs, peaceful vibes
Featuring Dave Cipriani, J Ryan Coffman, Pasckie Pascua, Reed, Shodekeh
Thursday, April 21 2005, 8:30 to 11pm

Wydeye Coffee House
1704 Aliceanna St., Fells Point, Baltimore MD 21231
Tel # (410) 342 7474
no cover, but donation is always cool

 
The Wind Cries Peace, Part 2
Featuring Dave Cipriani Band, Counterfeitmatt, Dawn Humphrey, Kelly Richmond & Blue Star Kachina, Pasckie Pascua, Shodekeh, Alex Udis
Friday, April 22 2005, 8:00pm to 1:30am

Cafe Mawonaj
624 T St., NW, Washington DC 20001
Tel # (202) 460 5929
$3 to $7 sliding scale donation

Rejected but moving on -- part 2

Remember when I needed sleep and ended up on the futon after writing a review of this poem which was rejected by the one that requested it? Well, I got an email from another editor who wrote "Yes, go ahead with the essays." The other essay idea is about digital (or online) literature versus printed literature. Let's see how far the rabbit whole goes. Anyone wanna try the red pill?

RE: Evangelical Pornography - part 1

A week or two ago I received my first email from The Matthew's House Project. I had been following their website for awhile and thought I'd sign up for their email newsletter. The very first topic featured on their online newsletter was "Left Behind as Evangelical Pornography" by Kenneth R. Morefield. I gleefully read the literary assault on the Left Behind franchise. I have come to dearly loathe those tomes. Kenneth R. Morefield's premise is this:
A perversion.... is a psychological strategy that simultaneously attempts to gratify and hide a desire by acting it out while hiding its true meaning. Kaplan uses this definition to explore her thesis that perversions are "as much pathologies of […] role identity as they are pathologies of sexuality"....

I would like to extend Kaplan's analysis and categories to sociological and psychological roles grounded primarily in people's conception of their own religious identity. While authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins have argued that the Left Behind books are evangelistic.... I would argue that the success of these books is largely because they serve a Kaplanesque pornographic function--they allow readers to simultaneously gratify and hide a desire.
--from "Left Behind as Evangelical Pornography" by Kenneth R. Morefield.


I gloated. Finally, someone has taken on the holy duo (LaHaye and Jenkins). A few weeks back, Bill Moyers also took on the Left Behind empire in his New York Review of Books piece "Welcome to Doomsday." In his column he expresses shock at the menace of the evangelical fascination with "the Gospel of the Apocalypse" and further writes, "But these fantasies were harmless compared with the hatred against Islam..." Mr. Moyers brings up a good point. Why are evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians so angry? Morefield acknowledges a historical context which "reveals that much of the anger in fundamentalism is directed at moderate or socially liberal Christians." He explains.

The dominant mood of the Christian community was one of dismay… it is easy to see the portrayal of Christian persecution the post-apocalyptic world as being allegorical rather than prophetic… That Buck Williams loses his job almost immediately after converting to Christianity can be viewed as a fictional parallel to the sort of anti-Christian prejudice that Rams quarterback Kurt Warner related as accepted fact to a Christian audience but shied away from when picked up by the large media networks.
--from "Left Behind as Evangelical Pornography" by Kenneth R. Morefield.


At this point my gleeful, gloating ceases and I begin to understand the holy duo's strategy in regards to their writing style. I have never read a complete Left Behind novel. They never appealed to me. But I can see how presenting persecution to comfortable, wealthy middle-class Americans in the guise of prophecy could produce mass appeal. As evangelicals and fundamentalist seem to enraptured by the Apocalypse, Americans in general seem to love being the victim of something (or anything). Gasoline prices are too expensive. Someone slipped and fell at the local market and wants to sue for damages. The war in Iraqi is wrong. My kid got cut from the little league team. That SUV cut me off when I tried to merge left. The war in Iraqi is still wrong.

to be continued

Marla Ruzicka


Marla Ruzicka, screen capture from CIVIC's website.

Marla Ruzicka, founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict (CIVIC), was killed in Iraq on April 17th.

I heard the report this morning on NPR.


"A roadside bomb in Iraq killed Marla Ruzicka, an American aid worker, over the weekend. The 28-year-old founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict helped get millions in U.S. aid directed to help families of civilians accidentally killed and injured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
--as reported by Morning Edition's Ivan Watson


"To have a job where you can make things better for people? That's a blessing. Why would I do anything else?"

Poetry, Pizza & Live Music

Friday, I mailed five poems to Snake Nation Review, four poems to Salamander and three poems to Slipstream (yes, again).

As a reward... Saturday night I treated the whole family to pizza at Blue Mountain Pizza. We enjoyed our Peter Piper pizza while listening to a live performance by Vanessa Boyd.

The Indie, April 2005


Three articles I wrote are featured in this issue of The Indie.
- Banner Story: A Terri Schiavo Epitaph
- Feature: iPod, therefore iAM?
- Art Review: Christo's The Gates in Central Park
Request a copy of The Indie, April 2005 and let me know what you think.

Bluegression on "_the temporal category of highlights"

I came across this beautiful post on Bluegression a couple days ago. I haven't figured out how to link to the specific post. So, here it is:

"_the temporal category of highlights"
(I. //to start)
mostly I sit intro(re)spective as
a form of imperfection set in a
state
of
si•lence [1 noun] - absence of sound or noise : STILLNESS
forbearance from speech or noise MUTENESS -- often used interjectionally
- absence of mention: a : OBLIVION, OBSCURITY
remembering everything that it takes
II. //to follow
I was told that I have a distinctive sounding walk. I don't think about it much, the pattern of my footfalls waving in and out, leaving the outline of my path in the sometimes-dust of my life as I stumble along. I am ungraceful. The scuffmarks of my shoes read like fingerprints at a crime scene. Dispassionate facts left after fits of rage, confused groping - the evidence of my imperfection. The walk ahead of me is long. I step forward,


[III. //to sacrifice]
everything
as I look along
the life/line in the palm of
my hand and want to
write

"It's yours"
upon the delicate
curve
marking my
existence
and I
know where I stand
along the road.

Samuel Beckett vs. Bob Dylan

Less than 20 pages into Don't Waste Your Life, I read a quote by Samuel Beckett which almost seems out of place.

Today's The Writer's Almanac provides a short bio:
Samuel Beckett, born in a rich suburb of Dublin, Ireland called Foxrock (1906).... moved to Paris and became one of James Joyce's assistants and disciples....

Beckett never published the first play he wrote, but he began to use playwriting as a way to cheer himself up after he got blocked writing a novel. He was struggling with a new play just after the war was over, so he decided to write another play. As an exercise, he made it as simple as possible: it would be a play about two men, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting for a man named Godot, who never arrives. He finished it in just a few months, faster than he'd ever finished anything he'd ever written. And that was Waiting For Godot (1952), the play in which Beckett wrote, "Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!"

He didn't have much hope that it would ever be produced, but his wife thought it was a masterpiece, and she showed it to everyone involved with the theater that she could find. It was finally produced in 1953, and became an international sensation.



Don't Waste Your Life relates how John Lennon's "Nowhere Man" and Beckett's Waiting For Godot displays America's acceptance of existentialism. I dare say it began will before Beckett, but I do find it interesting how Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are A-Changin' " and "Blowin' in the Wind" seem to counter the vapid cry of "nothing happens."

Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)


If nothing else, this is an interesting collision of ideas.

I'm so pissed!



I missed the Chevelle concert last night. I was doing the responsible dad-thing and spending time with my three-year old son (while his mother went to a baby shower). I kept watching the clock thinking that if my wife returns before 10 pm I'll only miss the opening act.

I first saw Chevelle when they opened for the ska-core band, The Insyderz. At the time, Chevelle was an unknown punk band from Chicago. They didn't even have a full length album. The Insyderz asked them to open a show in Greenville, SC. Unlike the most opening bands, Chevelle captivated the small club. The initial reaction was awe which lead to much energetic moshing (like moshing isn't energetic). What became the first track on Chevelle's debut album electrified the crowd. The Insyderz were equally electrifying. It was the loudest, hottest concert I've attended. Loudest due to The Insyderz's brass band section. Hottest (and sweatiest) because there were over 400 people packed shoulder to shoulder in a small club--all dancing (or at least doing the pogo). Even standing in the back, I was soaked as if I were out in the rain. I was a radio deejay at the time and keep thinking "Why aren't we playing Chevelle?"

So last night, while my son played with his toy constructions trucks and cranes, I worked on a design project for the company and watched the digital clock on my iMac remind me that I was going to miss a Chevelle event.

Humbled

Imagine my surprise when I visited one of my favorite marketing weblogs, The Marketing Playbook, and found that they had linked to my weblog. The Marketing Playbook linked to 1000 Black Lines regarding a meager post about strategy and tactics. All I did was post two quotes (one from a book I read and the other from a post from The Marketing Playbook.

The reason I have been studying marketing (specifically strategy and tactics) is partly to support marketing clients at my current company and partly for the marketing of my upcoming poetry book. Trust me, poetry books need all the marketing genius you can throw at them.


Last night, at writer's group, I was asked how I organized the collection of poems that make up Late Night Writing. The short answer is that I wanted to create a purchasing/reading experience that left the reader with a feeling that they made a good buy and literary investment. That's how I buy music albums and books. The packaging and content work together to create an intellectual and emotional reaction. For example, I just received Over the Rhine’s latest release and the packaging art and the band's musical offerings work well together. I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) that experience and naturally evangelize that product. That's how I want my books or products to be received. And that's why I've been researching marketing.

Like a narrative, marketing will do you no good unless you know the desired target. The first thing most established writers will tell a novice is that you can't start writing a novel unless you know the ending. Marketing without strategy (the plot) and tactics (chapters, paragraphs, sentences) is pointless.

Now if I can just make sense of distribution...

Rejected but moving on

Just got an email from the gentleman who requested the critique/review of Simic's "Old Soldier." He can't use it but he said, "thanks though. i enjoyed reading it." So, if there are any editors (or assistant editors) who are interested in a 500-600 word critique/review of Simic's "Old Soldier," please email me: mulder_matthew@hotmail.com

A Mark Strand Complex

Originally, I wanted to be a painter, too. (see my earlier post.)




But somewhere along this journey my poetry and other writings have met more success than my paintings and drawings.




It's comforting to learn I am not alone with an unresolved creative quandary. However, Mark Strand seems to have made a very focused decision to pursue and academic career. Maybe therein rests the key.

Smart/Strand Celebration

Two outstanding poets share the same birthday. As I delve into the geology of poetry, I have become quite captivated by these two masters of letters.

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of religious poet Christopher Smart, born in Shipbourne, Kent, England (1722). He was a teacher of philosophy at Cambridge when he started entering the school's annual poetry contest for poems about the "perfections or attributes of the Supreme Being." He won the contest the first time he entered, and went on to win it five years in a row.... Then, in the late 1750's, he began to suffer from a religious mania.... He was committed to St. Luke's Hospital for Lunatics, and it was there that he wrote his two masterpieces. The first was A Song to David (1763).... The second masterpiece was called Jubilate Agno, written around 1763, which went on for hundreds of pages....


Reading Smart's poetry challenged me to write more prolifically. Contemporary poets tend to write in 32 lines or less, yet Smart wrote a book-length poem. In a literary landscape where a 3-line haiku (a Japanese lyric verse form [from the Dictionary]) is favored over a 10-page elegy (a poem composed in elegiac couplets [from the Dictionary]), I think it refreshes one's imagination to examine the mundane aspects of life as Smart passionately depicted in his "Jubilate Agno."

Again, from today's The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of poet Mark Strand, born in Summerside, Canada (1934).... He originally wanted to be a painter, but when he went to Yale for graduate school he got much more praise for his writing than his painting. He said, "You don't choose to become something like a poet. You write and you write, and the years go by, and you are a poet."


On a beach trip a couple years ago, I brought a copy of Strand's autobiographical Dark Harbor. That book resonated with me like no other contemporary poet. Occasionally, I'll read passages from that book when I am invited to a poetry reading. Through his literature, Strand encouraged me to write autobiographically. Though the academic community both embraces and rejects the personal lyric, I continue to write both autobiographically and prolifically. Maybe one day this endeavor will be fruitful.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste

AdPulp posted an article about a product my wife and I highly recommend--Boudreaux's Butt Paste! After the birth of my first child, my brother sent me a gag gift which included a tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste and a t-shirt with the Butt Paste halamark logo and grinning baby. Needless to say, we used the paste on our newborn's bottom. But AdPulp listed other uses for Boudreaux's Butt Paste:
Aside from treating baby bottoms Boudreaux's Butt Paste attends to a variety of other ailments, including heat rash, acne, bed sores, abrasions, chicken pox, shingles, razor burn, feminine irritation, poison ivy, fever blisters and even chapped lips.
--from AdPulp

Chapped lips! Who would have thunk it? I think it's time for my medication.

Anniversary: Civil War Ends

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1865,... the American Civil War officially ended. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at a farmhouse in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The following day, General Lee issued his last order to his men, in which he said: "I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them. But valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss [of more men]. I bid you all an affectionate farewell."

There will always be ink on paper

Design Observer posted a really intriguing essay on how the end of print myth now drives people back to the beauty of paper media.

There is also a very cool link!




The comments are equally as interesting as the essay:

there will always be ink on paper,
it just looks and feels good.
comment by: Niccolo


I've always held this opinion. The more the new media advances the long the paper trail it will leave in it's wake.




the computer as 'just another tool' or medium argument ignores how the computer is a very different 'meta-tool' that is definitely unprecedented. unlike previous 'new media', the computer encompasses, simulates, and adds to all media that comes before it, which is not the case of print, radio, film, and television.
comment by: Manuel


I may have been pursuaded to abandon a previously held position. Computers, I used to propose, are just another tool for designers. Thanks to Manuel, I now consider computers and their software counterparts design "meta-tools'.

all previous media supported narrative -- a plot or series of events that makes sense. the sequence of frames of film supports very well the linear development of a story. however the database and iterative nature of the computer, of things always being rewriteable and never in final state, turns its products, whether print or film or websites, as iterative manifestations of things rather than final and unique products.
comment by: Manuel





It was Manuel's comment that prompted me to leave a comment in regards to new media supported narrative: As a meta-tool the computer spawns an organic narrative with incredible potential. Which is exciting because the more iterative manifestations available the more final and unique books, magazines, posters and other products will be produced. Every story has an ending which means people will still be drawn to the tangible, final record (be it painting, poem or price tag).

Still Sleeping on the Futon

Looks like I'm not the only one neglecting his blog for the sake of writing.

Finished revisions to the "Old Soldiers" critique. Haven't heard back from the one who requested it.

Need... Sleep...

Just finished the first draft of a 500-word critique about Charles Simic's "Old Soldiers".

I'll sleep on it until tomorrow.

4 hours of sleep--Remixed

With the Terri Schiavo story sent to the editor, I now proceed with a 500-word critique about Charles Simic's "Old Soldiers".

Oh, the pleasures of sleep deprivation...

Need...

more...

coffee...

4 hours of sleep is not enough--Revisited

During lunch, I put the final touches on the Terri Schiavo story I writing. Yes, it was a very late lunch today, but I needed to send the story out today. This article is one of the most challenging pieces I've ever written and the bags under my eyes are proof of this fact. I'll review the article one more time in about an hour and see if there are anymore necessary changes before I submit the story.
Thanks to Thicket Dweller for allowing me to reference and quote her weblog and special thanks to the Published and CEO of WORLD Magazine for editorial advice.

In other news, someone has requested I write a 500-word critique about Charles Simic's "Old Soldiers"... by tomorrow. Need... more... coffee...

"The map is not the terrain"

Strategy and tactics intertwine in their usefulness, but they are not synonymous.

"Strategy is the art of making war upon the map, and comprehends the whole theater of operations. Grand Tactics is the art of posting troops upon the battle-field according to the accidents of the ground, of bringing them into action, and the art of fighting upon the ground, in contradistinction to planning upon a map."
--from the The Art of War by Baron Henri de Jomini


And here's how it applies to marketing:

"To really understand the terrain you have to go to it. If trying to understand the gaps/needs of your targets/customers - be one, use your products, talk to other users, spend a day with them (not just an hour in a focus group drugging them with M&Ms). If trying to understand your competition don't just read their website and read their reports - use their products, go to their trade-show booths, interview their customers, try to think like them, maybe even hire some of them. And if trying to understand your own strengths and vulnerabilities, don't rely on yourself - go back and ask those above. It's great to map all the gaps in your playing field, but remember the map is not the terrain."
--from the post The map is not the terrain by Marketing Playbook

Portrait of A Young Poet: 03



This cartoon was published last year in The Indie.

Happy Birthday, Annie!

From The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of Annie Dillard, born Annie Doak, in Pittsburgh (1945). Her first prose book, A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975.


If you have been following this weblog for any period then you already know Annie Dillard is on of my favorite writers. Her book The Writing Life particularly resonates with me.


"It should surprise no one that the life of the writer... is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author's childhood. A writer's childhood may well have been the occasion of his only firsthand experience. Writers read literary biography, and surround themselves with other writers, deliberately to enforce in themselves the ludicrous notion that a reasonable option for occupying yourself on the planet until your life span plays itself out is sitting in a small room for the duration, in the company of pieces of paper."
--Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

4 hours of sleep is not enough!

I don't know how I used to survive at the university with only four hours of sleep a night, but I tried that schedule this weekend in order to finish an article on Terri Schiavo. For some reason, the best writing time for me is between 10PM and 2 AM. Is this normal? I suppose it's more productive than watching all the late night shows on television.

New Media Marketing Strategy

With homage to and help from Seth Godin's Music Industry: Aspen Report, I assembled this strategy.

Last summer I suggested to a publisher of a national newsmagazine the possibility of creating downloadable (PDF) versions of his publication. With micro payment purchases ($0.50), he could add revenue to the Web side the company. I withdrew that position recently after reading up on the concept of permission marketing.

Here's two reasons why I think newsmagazine Web content should be free:

One, the Web audience contains individuals that will copy/paste, reference or hyperlink to the newsmagazine's Web site. It’s a personal positioning statement (here are my friends’ links and my trusted news source link). The newsmagazine does not pay them and they spread news content more efficiently than the USPS. These individuals trust this newsmagazine as a reliable source and in turn share it with people who trust them. It’s the best and cheapest public relations effort.

Two, the newsmagazine's Web site could potentially provide an enormous email list for potential paid subscribers. In order to read the newsmagazine content, a reader must click on “This week's issue.” With one click, the newsmagazine can ask a reader to submit their email address. That’s all. Simple and free. The “email request” window could offer a monthly “newsletter direct to your email box” message or something along that line. This would offer newsmagazine's marketing department an avenue to target online marketing and deliver value to already loyal, influential readers.

How is this newsmagazine supposed to the bills with that kind of strategy? Simple. It’s the same basic principle as direct mailing.

OLD STRATEGY: On a small direct mail campaign of 500,000 names, the newsmagazine might acquire 5000 new subscribers. Of those new subscribers, the newsmagazine may lose as much as 1500 due to unpaid subscribers. Direct mail campaigns cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire 3500 new paid subscribers.

NEW STRATEGY: What if the newsmagazine received 20,000 new email addresses monthly? If we apply the same numbers, then the newsmagazine could benefit from 100 to 200 new paid subscribers. Though the newsmagazine may want to offer something other than subscriptions (gift subscriptions may work) in email campaigns. Possible product suggestions would include company branded day-timers, coffee mugs or other existing branded product. Each one of these branded product ideas would help maintain loyal online readers and support their personal positioning as well as promote the newsmagazine beyond our current subscriber base.

Any thoughts on this strategy are welcomed.

RE: An Unresolved Quandry

Michael reminded me of a quandary I have yet to resolve. I had been assisting him on a story he describes as:
Tale of adventure is set in late 900s in the southern part of Germany. Good guys + not so good guys + obviously not good guys + a secret.


Interestingly, his post and The Writer's Almanac seem to be on the same page. Michael's story takes place about two hundred years after Charlemagne who was:
"born on this day in Ingelheim, Germany (742). He never learned to read or write, and he used a template to sign documents. Although he couldn't read, he admired scholars who could, and he brought as many as he could to his court. Up until that time, most schooling had been limited to the study of sacred texts. Charlemagne started schools that taught all kinds of worldly knowledge, and said that they should "make no difference between the sons of serfs and of freemen, so that they might come and sit on the same benches to study grammar, music and arithmetic." He tried to get all his subjects to speak the same form of early German, so they'd stop praying in mutually incomprehensible dialects."



The unresolved quandry is this: Michael needs someone to illustrate his book and requested my illustration skills. This project demands a twelve-month, 40-hour-a-week production schedule which won't pay my bills until after it's distributed. The challenge is that projects like this are considered investment opportunities (i.e. this art gig could potentially pay my bills in two to five years but won't may this month's bills). So the issue remains unresolved because I have a wife, two kids and a mortgage which prevent me from quitting my day job, moving to the Upper Midwest and completing this project.

Oh, the curse and frustration of having these talents and not being able to provide for my family.