Amazingly, I am hitting some kind of a stride in my novel about art forgery in 1914. I am traipsing around in the world of Monet’s garden, Paris art supply shops, New York Auction Galleries and the Manhattan homes of some very rich people who have more money than taste. Finally the writing is flowing. It is a most satisfying feeling, and I will only take a minute to post this, then indulge in another 8 minutes on social media distraction before I get down to work again.
Writing fiction is freeing when it is not torture. Writing is easier when one resists the siren pull of all things around writing that are not writing: research, building an author platform, and reading great books. It is so easy to justify getting lost, especially in social media. And then, once a writer musters the necessary commitment to advance the manuscript, there is the ever looming fear of looking like a fool.
Perfectionism lurks over our heads, polluting the landscape, filling us with doubt and driving us back to the time wasters, or the fridge. If you think too much about the quality of what is being written, your confidence withers and your writing session crumbles away. What is a writer to do? In my case help came from trolling Twitter where I found a link to the inspiring and wise words of Anne Lamott, a writer who has much to say about writing and life in her book Bird by Bird. Lamott advises us to remember that you can’t get to the third and fourth drafts until that first lousy one is down, and the first one is just for you.
So just write.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” Anne Lamott
Now back to writing. I am having lunch with Claude Monet today. Can’t wait.
p.s. A note about the picture: This is Flora Miller at her typewriter, taken in 1919, and found in the online collection of the Library of Congress.
Few things are more gratifying to a writer than to have someone say they like your story. Readers who share their comments about what they like, what they found lacking and what they are recommending to the world is the lifeblood of an author’s career. We learn from the criticism and we are encouraged by the praise.
This may seem like a small thing, but it remains remarkable because there are thousands of books sold before a review is posted. I’m talking about your neighbor, your sister, your co-worker here, not the big time reviewers in newspapers and bloggers who get books in advance of publication. It’s the reader who buys the book or who is given a copy by a friend, or borrows it from the library who matters. A choice is made. A book enters your life to occupy your time for days. If you hate it you will drop it in four minutes. But if you like it, you become invested in the world of the characters. You come to know the people in the story and you develop opinions about them. Sometime you fall in love and it is sad when the book ends and you feel that the story should have gone on, just a little bit longer, or that there should be another book, or an entire series.
Once in a rare while, a reader feels compelled to share their thoughts. That is gold for a writer. For me, this has made all the difference and has created the desire to write the sequel to Ravenscraig. (This next one will be all about art forgery in 1914 being sold to millionaires in New York.)
Next time your book club gets together, ask your members how many books they read in a year, and ask how many reviews they have written in their lifetime. It’s true that those who take the time to post those reviews are very special indeed to the authors. Even the big names are likely to read your words when you post those reviews.
So it is that I send out a big thank you today to the readers that have found Ravenscraig and have been moved to write a review. Writers live off the kind words of people who love our stories. We know that not everyone will get what we are saying, but for those who do, there is no greater joy than a fab review on Amazon. It drives us to keep going, despite it all.
So to Mazza who posted this review in the UK, I can only say thank you so much for your enthusiasm and for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you Mazza!
Happy weekend everyone.
And by the way, if you want to send me a note, I will certainly write back to you. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or connect with me on Twitter @SandiAltner.
Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition opened in Winnipeg amid much excitement from Titanic enthusiasts. To gaze upon a plate, imagine walking up the grand staircase, and to learn how the ship proclaimed by the press to be “unsinkable” was so quickly taken by the sea are tantalizing thoughts indeed.
Over 22 million people have seen the RMS Titanic exhibit since it first came to the public a decade and a half ago. The exhibit could not exist without the salvage efforts.
But is this grave robbing or preserving history?
As this video clip shows us, without doubt, the interest in Titanic is raising a consciousness and curiosity that is both awe inspiring and profound.
Fifteen hundred people on Titanic died in that cold night, on April 14/15th, 1912. It was the world’s largest and most elegant ship. Titanic was carrying more than 2200 people on its maiden voyage, and it was doomed. On its fourth night at sea, it struck an iceberg and in less than three hours, it broke apart and sank. Only 705 people made it to New York on the rescue vessel, the Carpathia, after spending the night in lifeboats.
But how is it that these artifacts have come to the surface to be placed in a traveling exhibit? Who owns them? Who has the right to make money on them?
Simple questions with complicated answers, steeped in controversy and, many would say, a good deal of greed.
“I opened a Pandora’s box,” said Dr. Ballard who took nothing but images and spine tingling memories away from the wreck site when he discovered it in 1985. The respect he paid to the Titanic was heartfelt and true. It was also costly, in his mind. It was just two years later that the first artifact was scooped off of the ocean floor, setting in motion a series of events that would forever allow the path for disturbing and dismantling the Titanic’s resting place on the ocean floor.
Today, there is only one company that has the right to the Titanic salvage operations: RMS Titanic, Inc., which is owned by Premier Exhibitions of Atlanta, Georgia. It bought that exclusive privilege from the other salvage operators who were involved in the 1987 visit to Titanic. The company does not, at this time, have the right to sell any of the items they salvage. Auction items that are gathered by private collectors come from memorabilia that was either possessed by passengers, or found floating on the ocean in 1912. The purists among Titanic collectors would frown, at least publicly, at the opportunity to acquire an item from the salvage operation.
In answer to the question of how the traveling exhibition company came to have the sole right to the artifacts, RMS Titanic has posted this on their website:
“On June 7, 1994 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declared RMST salvor-in-possession of the wreck and wreck site of the RMS Titanic, excluding all others from going to the site for the purpose of recovery. RMST is the only entity that has recovered and conserved items from the Titanic.”
The RMS Titanic company says it has completed eight salvage missions at the wreck site, the most recent being in the summer of 2010.
The salvage operations have had both supporters and critics from the outset. Eva Hart, one of the Titanic survivors, who was on her way to Winnipeg with her parents, was quite outspoken about her objection to removing anything from the wreck. She considered it to be the gravesite of the victims, including her father, Benjamin Hart.
Dr. Robert Ballard feels the same way. In a 2004 interview, he lamented having lost the opportunity to protect Titanic from salvage, saying, “It’s ironic that had I taken something, it would have been mine.”
Others believe important historical objects will be lost forever if not placed in museums.
It is interesting to note that the exhibition company that carries sole salvor rights to the Titanic does not count the Titanic exhibit as its only moneymaker. The company has another exhibit that has proven to be a strong source of revenue for the parent company. It is called “The Bodies”.
One does not have to look very deeply into the operations of the company behind the Titanic exhibit to discover a compelling story about driving profits. Salvaging Titanic, human bodies on display, and cutthroat battles in courtrooms make for fascinating reading.
One final word. As you watch the documentary called Titanic Revealed, you may notice in the video that musician Rick Springfield shows off his Titanic treasure. He apparently paid a lot of money for a plaque from a Titanic lifeboat. In the video we clearly see it says S.S. Titanic. But, the Titanic was called the RMS Titanic, which stood for the Royal Mail Ship Titanic.
I suppose it is possible that the lifeboat plaques were misnamed. If someone has further information on this, please do let us know.
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