Lessons from Chris Gaines and others like him

My husband went to the library today and came home with the CD album of
Garth Brooks posing as Chris Gaines.  The fact that Dan picked
this up doesn’t surprise me at all — this is  a very Danish thing
to do.  But for me it took me back to whatever time in the 90s
that was when he put that album out, and made me think all over again,
“What a weird thing that was to do.”

This spiraled into a mental noodle on, “Why, though, was it weird?”  And here’s what I think.

From my perspective, there’s this fine line when a popular artist of
whatever medium crosses over from artist sharing his or her viewpoint
into artist believing they are a prophet.  I think this is a
pretty common and not incomprehensible move — if people treat you like
a prophet, it’s easy to think you are one. I don’t know that it’s bad
to feel like a prophet, or even to act like one, because really, an
artist is putting out ideas and expecting at least four or five people
will gather around the idea and nod sagely over coffee, or curl up
happily and say, “Yes, these ideas make me feel good about
myself.”  Or simply that four or five people will respond to these
ideas and use them in their lives.

But I think the downhill slope comes when the prophet starts using the
platform of his or her art as something other than, “here’s my idea,
see what you think.”  If the prophet is saying, “Everything I do
is great, so I’m going to explore these weird things which will
instantly become great because I’m doing them.”  Sort of a Church
of Me thing.  If the art is no longer art but ego. 

To me, art is magical because I take something really important and
visceral to me and put it out to share with others, and it immediately
changes.  I say, ‘I’m writing this story, and it’s about x,” and
some people see x, but others see x and y, or just y.  Still
others see q or r or whole quadratic equations I hadn’t even thought
of.  To me, it’s this interplay that is magic, that is the real
communication.  The real art.  An idea in my head that can
merge with different ideas in lots of different heads and become its
own living thing — that’s creation.

And maybe this is what that Chris Gaines thing was supposed to
be.  Just another way of seeing how far/in what directions he
could take his ideas — would these, take, too?  Hmm, not so
much.  Or maybe he got just what he was looking for.  Only
Garth Brooks knows.

But what I want to try and always carry with me is the idea that the
only place my ideas are sacred cows are when they’re still inside
me.  Even this blog entry, read by God knows how few souls, is no
longer mine.  It belongs to everyone who reads it.  Readers
might think, “Dear God, how brilliant!” or “That bitch,” and it’s
beyond my scope now.  It’s out there in the ether, its own entity
now.  And you know, I want my stories to be that way — their own
entities, free of my chains of neediness and personal hangups.  It
does, though, want me to make sure they’re as strong and complex as I
can make them, so they can be pulled apart and moved around and shot at
and still come out looking pretty good, still having substance. 

And that’s what I learned today from looking at a CD on the dining room
table.  Tomorrow: the cereal box.  (Kidding.  Mostly.)

Wait!

It just occurred to me, I started this journal when Mercury was in retrograde! Am I doomed to lose interest in this, too?

Well, damn. Apparently you should enjoy this while it lasts.  I’d better hustle and say everything I have to say.

Mercury in Retrograde

You know, I used to make light of these announcements.  I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore. 

It’s not really that anything SPECIFIC has happened.  Okay, yeah,
some is specific.  But not like a rock came down in my front yard
or something.  Just lots of little stuff.  At first I just
thought it was amusing, then it got my attention, and now I’m rather
sober about it.

So the plan is to revise the rest of the month because it’s a good time
to “re” something.  Not a good time to create becuase you’ll just
undo it, so says all the stuff I find.  Which I’d been planning on
anyway, but still.

What I want to know, though, is does this mean all my tarot readings
are backwards?  Because there’s been some good shit there and I
want to keep that!  And all the people I met at nationals, am I
not going to be as interested?  Will I be sorry I volunteered for
these committees?  Oh, that’s an easy answer, that last one.

RWA Statement

This is getting the rounds.  Thank God — brilliant women, all of them.

*********************

Permission to forward granted:

The
following members of the RWA Board of Directors wish to apologize for
the
disappointing direction of the Awards Ceremony during the 2005
conference. What
should have been a celebration, not only of our finalists
and award winners, but
also of the growth and success of RWA, was not.
Members of the board were
repeatedly assured by the Awards Ceremony Board
Liaison that the planning of the
program was progressing appropriately. It
was not until it was too late that we<!–
D(["mb","
discovered that the focus of the \r\nceremony had strayed from the theme we\’d been
given.

We thank those \r\nmembers who stepped in at the last moment to try to fix the
script. We also \r\napologize sincerely to our award winners, our finalists, and
our members that \r\nthe program was not appropriate to celebrate RWA\’s success, as
well as \r\ntheirs. We apologize especially to Nora Roberts, who was not only put
in an \r\nuntenable position, but whose statement as to her reasons for not
appearing \r\nwas not read.

We pledge to move forward from this and to make the Awards \r\nCeremony in Atlanta
exactly what it should always be–a night on which we \r\nembrace the joys of
romance writing and recognize the finalists and winners \r\nof our most cherished
awards.

Gayle Wilson President-Elect
Kathy \r\nCarmichael Secretary
Connie Newman Treasurer
Nicole Burnham Region 1 \r\nDirector
Lisa Kamps Region 1 Director
Dorien Kelly Region 2 \r\nDirector
Peggy Emard Region 2 Director
Linda Howard Region 3 \r\nDirector
Linda Winstead Jones Region 3 Director
Karen Fox Region 4 \r\nDirector
Sherry Lewis Region 4 Director
Geralyn Dawson Region 5 \r\nDirector
Jill Limber Region 6 Director
Jennifer Crump PRO \r\nLiaison
Teresa Carpenter Chapter \r\nLiaison

\r\n\r\n”,0]
);
D([“ce”]);
D([“ms”,”8dd7″]
);

//–>
discovered that the focus of the
ceremony had strayed from the theme we’d been
given.

We thank those
members who stepped in at the last moment to try to fix the
script. We also
apologize sincerely to our award winners, our finalists, and
our members that
the program was not appropriate to celebrate RWA’s success, as
well as
theirs. We apologize especially to Nora Roberts, who was not only put
in an
untenable position, but whose statement as to her reasons for not
appearing
was not read.

We pledge to move forward from this and to make the Awards
Ceremony in Atlanta
exactly what it should always be–a night on which we
embrace the joys of
romance writing and recognize the finalists and winners
of our most cherished
awards.

Gayle Wilson President-Elect
Kathy
Carmichael Secretary
Connie Newman Treasurer
Nicole Burnham Region 1
Director
Lisa Kamps Region 1 Director
Dorien Kelly Region 2
Director
Peggy Emard Region 2 Director
Linda Howard Region 3
Director
Linda Winstead Jones Region 3 Director
Karen Fox Region 4
Director
Sherry Lewis Region 4 Director
Geralyn Dawson Region 5
Director
Jill Limber Region 6 Director
Jennifer Crump PRO
Liaison
Teresa Carpenter Chapter
Liaison

RWA Scuttlebutt

Jenny Crusie of course says it best, so by all means go read her, but here’s my take on the whole RWA debacle.

I confess I sort of spaced the graphics standards thing, I really
didn’t get who Charis was until she was long gone so I didn’t get that
outrage like I should have, and I confess that even this year I did not
get to the AGM because I was too busy trying to figure out a bill for a
really great party the night before.  But the survey got my
attention, I think the new RWR is about as graphically palatable as a
communion wafer, and I really needed more alcohol for that awards
ceremony.  Now I’m all fired up to do something and really trying
to figure out what.

People keep talking about the Republican leanings of the ceremony, and
that has bled onto the rest of the issues above – you can really get a
good conspiracy theory going here if you want to, and as most of us are
storytellers, I bet someone has written Karl Rove into the wings of
that theater in Reno.  And there’s a sort of them/us comfort in
that, saying, “SHE did this!” or “THEY made this happen!”  We can
say the board is full of evil right wingers, or say the TTQ is an evil
right winger — you can go on all day, really, and I suppose if you dig
you can find a few confirmaitons or contradictions.

But really, what happened with all this is that everyone trusted the
system, thought things were fine, and a lot of us kept swimming even
though there were a lot of warning signs for one hell of a
waterfall.  It’s just so easy to say it won’t be that big of a
deal, that there’s no reason to get upset, to say, “Really, what can I
do?”  I was too busy to go to the AGM.  Really, what would I
do?  Except that argument’s going really flat now, because all
signs point to one or two people with a pretty pointed agenda and great
skill at convincing themselves they act for the “greater good” and that
“everyone agrees with me,” and that one person or small group of people
really got a lot of damage done in a short amount of time. 

I think the hard part is that sometimes all we can do is write letters,
be PITAs and join committees, then watch as the shit happens
anyway.  Since the political analogy has already been made, it
reminds me a lot of first diving headfirst into the Dean campaign and
killing myself for him only to have him scream himself out of the race
in Des Moines, to swallow my objections of Kerry and kill myself all
over again knocking on doors and making phone calls and writing
letters, only to have him fall short, too.  It was really tempting
to resent the effort, to say, caustically, that it didn’t matter, that
I should have just had a beer and watched the train wreck.  And
sometimes I sort of wish I’d knocked on a few less doors and done just
that. 

But now I’m watching the RWA fallout, reading SmartBitches and hearing all the arguments, following Cory‘s blog and watching Jonquil
get her rage on, collecting truly frustrated emails from board members
after I wrote them, and I’m thinking that it’d have been nice to have
been fighting this whole time so I could not feel like I was
desperately trying to catch up and figure out WTF but could instead be
feeling finally vindicated, that at LAST someone was realizing that the
damn waterfall is going to kill us if we don’t portage soon.

The thing is, RWA is full of smart women.  I guess sometimes that
makes us inefficient and I bet it’s a bitch of a thing to be on a
committee let alone on the board — but really, this is what happens if
we make it easy.  If it were easy, men would do this.  Okay,
that’s not entirely fair.  But really, that’s the beauty of an
organization full of women.  We’re going to be messy, and it’s
going to take ten months just to agree what to order for lunch, but the
alternative is playing nice and risk getting that awards
ceremony. 

So everybody go join stuff, get invovled.  If nothing else write
your rep occasionally and ask politely what’s going on.  Probably
you should write your member of Congress while you’re at it, too.

Cleaning up my act

Today is cleaning day, partly because it’s time, partly because I’ve
been thinking about it, and partly because it’s good physical
orientation to get a mental echo of the same, sort of like redoing the
collage. And partly because Dan has been doing a lot of dishes lately
and is being patient, but I see that folding soon.

So my office is organized, except for the closet which I’m not doing
today. That’s the stack of TBR, the story notes, and anything else I
don’t want to look at. But other than that, the entire top floor of the
house is clean. Even the upstairs toilet and tub are clean. I feel
victorious. Next is to vac the stairs, where I’m sure I’ll collect
enough cat hair to make a sixth cat.
And you know, already I feel my head centering back up. I could work in
this office, as opposed to the office I had when I woke up this
morning, which made me think mostly, ‘This place is a pit.’ Also,
there’s just something nice about NOT seeing hair on the back of the
toilet. But this is the second “big organization” I’ve done this week,
the first being to redo my collage.

I need to get some better pictures of it, and I can’t figure out how the heck to link a picture here, so try this
It’s blurry, but you get the idea.  This collage is much smaller
than my original,  alot more organized, and less ADHD.  I’m
sure you can’t see it well, but there are these Goya cut outs all over
Jonathan’s side, which I’m really excited to explore.

Of course, I have to stop cleaning so I can start revising.

Having a hard time with the reentry into Iowa life.  I can’t stay
off the net and want to stay up late writing and doing email, but —
hey, dishes.  Family.  Friends that don’t know what a
conflict lock is.  Always a struggle to maintain balance. 
And so my family contribution today shall be cleaning.  Doing
laundry.  Playing with Anna.  And then maybe tonight starting
in on the revision, and then more tomorrow, because the house might
need picking up, but underneath should be clean.  In theory.

Wading in

All right, I used to have a blog on Blogger, but it was mostly a
political spleen-vent. As I’m trying to be all growth and expansion and
Zen, I closed that sucker and came to LJ to start anew, pure as the
driven snow. I’m sure that will last about ten minutes. Of course, now
that I’ve entered all that introductory info and found the great amazon
picture I’d lost from my hard drive (I grabbed it from here,
and will use it until someone tells me not to), I find I have very
little to say.  As I’m sure no one at all is reading this, I’m not
terribly upset.

Things I’ve done recently, maybe that’s a thread.  I just got back
from RWA National, and yes, I saw that freakshow of an awards
ceremony.  I already wrote my letter to the board and got a few
comments, er, apologizes already.  And I think I just got drafted
to a committee.

Right now I’m following the advice of my horoscope and revising an ms
rather than working on the new WIP.  So far this morning I’ve cut
half the scenes in the first act.  It was both terrifying and
freeing.

Well, I’m sure I’ve put the room to sleep by now, so my work here is done.