Just bitchin'

Mischievous Marcus and Jesus the Undead

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Halloween seems an appropriate time for this tale…

When I first met my friend Marcus, he stared at the silver, fleur de lys cross depending from a chain around my neck, and gave me a mischievous grin.

“So. You’re really into vampires, huh?”

My brain processed his question on a few quick-fire levels…all literary.

Did he think I wore this charm because of the traditional powers attributed to it by folklore? A cross…and silver…. Both supposedly effective weapons against the undead? Or, was Marcus referring to the jewelry design which sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans? Was he drawing on the vampire legends of author Anne Rice and her ties to the same area that crafted my necklace?

Since I wore it because it was a gift from a loved one, neither supposition applied. My cat-curiosity gave him a sidelong look, inviting explanation.

So Marcus took it a little further, and immediately planted a firm foot on the path to becoming one of my most intriguing friends.

“Generally, people who wear crosses are Christians,” he stated. “That means Jesus Christ is at the foundation of your faith. And…” His grin grew wider. “…Jesus was a vampire. In fact, Catholicism especially, is a very vampiric religion.”

My bemused expression and the fact that I didn’t walk away, encouraged Marcus to elaborate.

“Jesus rose from the dead.” He shrugged. “Maybe if they’d pierced his heart instead of his hands and feet, he wouldn’t have. And there’s that whole bread and wine thing. You know…drinking the blood of Christ so you’ll live forever in him?” He gave a sage nod. “Vampirism. Pure vampirism.”

I forgave him the contradictions in his theory…that the cross would then burn and repel those who partook of this vampire religion, because it was, as I said, intriguing.

The second encounter I had with Marcus, he had another take on Christianity; a commingling of legends that I’ll pass on next time… But for now…

Happy Halloween!

warningcat

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writing

The Workshop Conundrum

catwriting1

For me, writing has always been a solitary pursuit.

The first time editors got involved, it was a difficult adjustment. The second time, it was a torment. The third and fourth times were also disquieting, but eye-opening and educational.

The difference each time wasn’t so much in the editors as in me.

I was learning to let go; to stop clutching the sentences with which I’d fallen in love to my unpublished chest and, instead, look at them…hear them…through the fresh perspective of another person. And a person who was not a friend or family member operating under the misconception that praise and unconditional support are the same as constructive feedback.

In the end, the process of being edited and published gave me a new outlook on the value of involving others in the creative process. Don’t get me wrong. Writing is still an exercise in solitude for me. I love that about it. But, I’ve begun to open my own mind about accessing those of strangers.

I’m talking writers’ workshops. They can be extraordinary, depending on what you bring with you. Writing-wise and outlook-wise.

So I began searching my urban surroundings for likely workshop prospects.

That’s when I ran across one that had me laughing so hard it hurt. And for all the wrong reasons. Let me reiterate that this is my opinion. Only mine. I might be w-a-a-a-a-y off base. But…decide for yourselves.

The come-one-come-all cry for this particular workshop was issued by a woman who proclaimed herself the author of an astonishing number of ‘published’ books. She claimed thousands upon thousands of reviews. She brags she holds the title of being ‘one of the most popular authors.’

The first red flag popped up as I read her description of the workshop. It was a horror. Not the workshop…the description. Vocabulary, syntax, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure…all seemed to have been bypassed. Even giving handicap points for colloquialisms and artistic license, it shriveled my pelt and puckered my mouth.

Then I looked into her claims of fabulousness. She does have a great number of books out. All self-published. She garnered the claim to be one of the site’s most popular authors. It reminded me of some latter-day TV ad vaunting ‘Volume!! Volume!! Volume!!’ Put a thousand books out there and, for a brief time, you’ll probably be the most read writer on the site when compared to the author who has put up one well-thought-out publication.

Then I looked for the multitude of reviews. They were on Goodreads…not exactly professional. I didn’t delve past the first few dozen. They were cringe-worthy. More like hate mail than literary assessments. Some were very insulting. There were a few that gave lukewarm praise, but I saw none that could qualify as raves.

By now I was laughing. But the guffaws came in earnest when, in her workshop invitation, she said that writers don’t need to know grammar or spelling, because that’s what professional copy editors are for.

Oh, lord…I still feel the mirth bubbling up.

Anyone can self-publish. Anyone. And then, she’s right: literary quality doesn’t have to matter. But just try submitting something to an agent or a professional editor in the publishing industry with the attitude that someone else will clean up your mess because your work is that incredibly worth it, and…well…you’ll probably end up self-publishing a few hundred books, manipulating stats to make yourself look good, and leading workshops for writers where grammar, a vital part of your main tool…language…doesn’t matter.

Oh, God…I’m still laughing!

laughingcat

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Just bitchin'

Human Hubris

halloweentrickortreaters

I know a couple verging on senior citizenship. They are professionals. They are well-off financially. They are parents and grandparents. They are educated and well-traveled.

They send me cute, little e-mail greeting cards at the drop of a hat. New Year’s. Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Arbor Day. Thanksgiving. And Christmas…assuredly Christmas.

But not Halloween. Never, ever Halloween.

They associate All Hallow’s Eve with Satanism…Devil Worship…Eternal Damnation…

They worry about me. Because of my Celtic heritage and the way I embrace a night of costumes and folklore and imagination. They have recommended their church to me in hopes that I will join and ‘find the companionship that has so enriched our lives.’

But I know what they’re really saying. The poor girl with the Welsh ancestors needs saving. And being the good people they are, they will not shrink from the task of hammering out that pagan streak of innocence; replacing it with their own particular brand of Christianity.

I was raised Christian. I wear a fleur-de-lys cross . (I guess my French heritage passes muster with them, but I could be as wrong about that as I am wrong to celebrate Halloween.) I pray. I donate to charity regularly no matter what my financial circumstances of the moment. I cry when animals get hurt. I believe in things that are eternal and beautiful. And I have fun once a year in a shivery, fake-horror, too-many-sweets way.

And these people who cringe away from Halloween, who endeavor to live up to the standards they wish everyone would adopt, do things that horrify me. Most recently they confided that they were sorry they had to kill raccoons that trespassed on their newly-sodded lawn.

‘We spent so much to have it all made nice. We just couldn’t let animals destroy it.’

They trapped and killed the creatures themselves. ‘But we said a prayer for our souls with each one we put down.’

Well, I guess that makes it all okay, doesn’t it?

They believe such action is acceptable, because ‘animals have no souls.’

Ah, yes. The hubris of the human race. Like a story in the news some months ago. After extensive study of the electrical impulses in their brains and comparison to synonymous paths in those of humans, it was declared that dogs are indeed capable of feeling love.

Gosh, really? Did you really need to spend vast amounts of time with extremely expensive equipment to come to that conclusion? I could have told you dogs feel love. And cats. And pretty much any creature you take the time to know.

The hubris of the human race. Again.

Next thing you know, they’ll be announcing that animals…yes, even animals!…have souls. But first they’ll have to prove that humans do, so there will be something to use as a baseline comparison.

I’m not sure they can. At least, not all of us…. Must be that rebellious, Celtic streak.

 

halloweencat

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