Platformitis

In these days of rampant technology, writers are being advised to build a platform. This platform, according to the experts, should include a blog – written daily, or at least weekly; and Facebook, Twitter, instagram and some other “presences” I don’t recall the names of, posted with even more regularity; as well as speaking on the subjects about which we writers write. (Do you know how long it takes to prepare to speak?)  I believe this platform-building steals the hope of good writing, especially for those who wish to improve their writing over the course of their lives. There are, after all, only twenty-four hours in one writer’s day, and we all do have to get the dishes done or take out the trash.

design desk display eyewear

Interesting that I’m wiritng this in my blog–kind of an oxymoron in progress. No, not really, though, because it serves to clean my brain of a rant. I’ll just add this. When I was writing nonfiction, research was my biggest “distraction.”  Time-consuming, but far less than my current writing life, then I could spend a fraction of my time on platform.

Now that I’m trying my hand at fiction, there are so many skills  to learn, skills that build on each other and require neverending practice.  This polishing of a writer’s writing should take priority over platform building. If it doesn’t, my writing stands a good chance of being lackluster, ill-conceived drivel.

I know, because I have read others’ who I imagine spent the time they could have polished their fiction — you guessed it, building platforms.

So what to do? Publishers want the platforms so that readers will be drawn in. Makes sense. Perhaps they should consider helping  authors create and maintain their platforms. Or maybe agents should assist with that job? Or perhaps the frequency doesn’t need to be daily or weekly. I’m just advocating for putting the most, best time into the writing.

Rant End.

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Adults Abused as Children

For about ten years, my husband, the marriage and family therapist, and I led Stepping Stones, a support group for adults abused as children. It was peculiar in that we didn’t sit around commiserating, but studied Scripture on how to climb out of that pit together. The topics are:

  • Face the Problem
  • Assess the Damage and Make the Commitment to Recover
  • Correct Your View of God
  • Set Healthy Boundaries
  • Improve Your Self-Image
  • Overcome Fear
  • Learn to Control Anger and Depression
  • Increase Your Capacity to Trust
  • Deal With Sexual Issues
  • Give and Accept Forgiveness
  • Determine Whether to Confront Your Abuser
  • Life Beyond Survival

So, we’re thinking about putting the material online for people who don’t live near us to use to recover. Anybody out there interested in something like this? If so, what do you think would be a fair price? If you’re out there feeling alone with your secret, I’m talking to you, and praying for you.

What Darth Vader has to do With a Sea Otter

In the long ago days of the late 1900s, the biologists handled otters with gloves, but wore their regular clothes and didn’t cover their faces. So, the otters liked people. When they were released, they would climb into boats or onto kayaks looking for fun or food. This became a problem when the human so invaded didn’t have food or think having an otter aboard was particularly fun.

Now, otter biologists work with rescued otters wearing a big black suit that even covers their heads. Guess what they call it. Yep, the Darth Vader suit. Now, when they release otters, the otters don’t go looking for human companionship or groceries anymore.

Another thing I just learned is that about 60% of the otter population in Elkhorn Slough, a little north of Monterey, are descendants of rescued otters. How about that!

Sea Otters in the Wild

I have been given a great idea! The research I do for novels I will share on my blog. That will keep it fresh in my mind, help me sort out what I want to use, and give you some info. you may not have had before.

The protagonist in my current work in progress, Rogue Wave, is a sea otter biologist. Hence, we learn about sea otters.

Just about everyone knows they float upside down so they can break open abalone shells with rocks and eat them. In the wild, they also like sea anemones, crabs, sea urchins, octopus, turban snails, mussels, and innkeeper worms. What I didn’t know is that a sea otter pup usually prefers the same foods his or her mother likes, and otters spend eight of every 24 hours finding and eating their food.

Besides humans, otters have only one other predator, the Great White Shark. However, humans nearly did them in before otters were protected. We wanted their gorgeous, soft fur for coats. Otter fur  has two layers, the guard hair outer soft layer and the underfur. They spend a great deal of each day grooming themselves, and flipping in the water to keep buoyant from air bubbles in their fur. One square inch of their fur has between 170,000 and 1,000,000 hairs. I know some middle aged men who would die for that much hair.

Sea otters like to live in giant kelp because they feed on sea urchins that live there, and the otters wrap up in the kelp to sleep.Sea urchins destroy kelp. Otters keep the sea urchin population down and help the whole kelp forest environment. The otters tend to feed alone, or with a pup, but they rest in groups, sometimes out on the beach.

When an otter leaves the ocean, it’s called “hauling out.” California otters do this less than Alaskan otters, and females more than males. They are fast swimmers, but a little clunky on the beach because their back feet are flippers. They might remind you of Dustin Hoffman’s flipper scene in The Graduate.

Next time, I’ll tell you about what biologists are learning from aquarium otters.

 

Heroes

   OK, the 95 theses thing is dragging me down. Maybe next summer. I wonder if Luther got depressed over his? Nevertheless, on to other topics.
   God, Bake and I have been disussing my desire to be a hero. I keep thinking maybe I should get elected to a school board, open a ranch for troubled teens or a halfway house for some other of the downtrodden masses. I mean, after all, we all want our lives to count, right?
   So God points out as I’m talking this over with Him on the way to school, that I should consider where I’m headed. He, somewhat tongue in cheek, goes on to ask if I’ve heard my little chickadees saying they’d just as soon stay at school at the end of the day. Bake chimes in with: it’s not only those who rush toward the danger in an emergency who are heroes, it’s also those who do what is needed, in a pinch, or day after day, short lunch hour after short lunch hour.
   OK, I get it already, I’ll keep teaching for three more years, and then I’ll tutor.
   To the uninitiated, that means I will awake at 5:30 thinking about the A boys in my class who need me to stand like a rock saying, “This far, and no farther.” I will pray all the 45 minutes of the trip to school because when I don’t pray, I function badly. I will always have more to do than I have time to do it in, but I will be prepared when the bell rings, no matter what, because the chickadees need me ready. I will smile and tease them on their way into the classroom because who knows what happened before they showed up at school. I will tell the little blonde to go wash her breakfast off her face before somebody sees and teases her. I will celebrate them getting into their seats ready to learn quickly and quietly. I will dispense Bandaids and erasers. I will feel heads for fevers and supply tooth boxes, but I will not deal with loose teeth. I will invite them into a colorful room full of learning devices. I will teach them 14 math standards and more English language arts standards than that in 180 days, and hope that 80% of them hang on to all of them. I will compete with tv and video games by using puppets and white boards and motions and Powerpoint and websites and partnering and everything else on God’s green earth I can think of. I will brave 100 degree yard duties and parking lot duty in which parents call me a mf for keeping their children safe. I will go to mindless meetings led by … oops, I didn’t say that. I will reward them for any positive effort they make and tell them the same thing as many times as it takes until their light bulb gones on. I will bring teddy bears and telescopes, paintings and totem poles to school so they can learn from the real thing. I will never turn down a hug, and I will search some out. I will keep them safe in games, earthquakes or against intruders. I will teach them what it means to be responsible and the multiplication tables. And I will feel joy upon joy, because God gave me this purpose.
   To my colleagues in the classroom trenches, you are, each one, a hero. Hold tight to His love, strength, truth, grace, courage and wisdom, for with Him, you can do anything, and all things are possible. You are the wind beneath their wings.