I got away this weekend to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North
Carolina. It always does my heart good to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and
be surrounded by forests and views across miles and miles of mountains.
A change in scenery and a change in altitude can clear the
head and breathe new life into a person. A change in altitude can create a
change in attitude. That’s what this weekend’s trip to Asheville did for me.
A special cousin of mine who lives in California got married
in Asheville on Saturday. It was my first opportunity to meet her husband, and
I feel very good about this match. The wedding was beautiful and the associated
festivities were wonderful. It was an honor and privilege to witness Melissa
and Marty’s exchanging of vows and their happiness and respect for one another.
Asheville is an eclectic city, rich in history and natural
beauty. The change in scenery and altitude, along with the blessing of
attending the wedding of two such special people, was just what I needed. Driving
south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then taking US-276 by Looking Glass Falls
was a perfect way to end the weekend.
I came home with my batteries recharged, ready to plunge
back into my writing and playing the dulcimer.
Until my next blog
I hope you have a good book to read.
I’m reading Montauk, by Nicola
If you’re a writer, I hope you have
productive writing time and your projects are moving right along.
Thank you for reading my blog. You
could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to
read my blog.
Let’s continue the
What recharges your batteries and refreshes you for the
Cultural Appropriation was a term I first encountered one day last week while participating in a writers’ group page on Facebook. Although I was not familiar with the term, I’ve had first-hand experience in wrestling with it in my own writing.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as
“the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”
A raft of articles and video clips
As I started looking for a definition of cultural appropriation, I found a wealth of online references, which proves that I just haven’t been paying attention.
What I discovered is that non-Hispanic individuals were criticized for operating a burrito food cart in Portland, Stella McCartney was criticized for including Ankara prints in her spring fashion collection, a white man was criticized by Koreans for making a Kimchi-making tutorial, in March of this year Bruno Mars was accused of cultural appropriation in his music, and just last week Jamie Oliver was accused of cultural appropriation for calling a dish “punchy jerk rice.”
“The move to self-censorship for fear of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a sad state of affairs. Author Morgan Jones eloquently champions the opposite position: ‘Fiction remains the best means we have of finding connection where there seems to be none; and the novel, of all forms, encourages a search that’s deep and sustained. By reading (or writing) one, you’ve travelled somewhere else. You’ve moved, it only slightly, towards others. In a world that finds and increasingly exploits division and difference, this is an invaluable, precious exercise.”
After you’ve finished reading my blog post today, I invite you to read The Guardian article referenced above. That article includes the following novelists’ views on cultural appropriation: Hari Kunzru, Kamila Shamsie, Aminatta Forna, Chris Cleave, AL Kennedy, Stella Duffy, Linda Grant, Naomi Alderman, Philip Hensher, Maggie Gee, and Nikesh Shukla. These are writers of various ethnic backgrounds, which makes their comments especially poignant.
The article’s introduction reads as follows:
“Jonathan Franzen claimed he won’t write about race because of limited ‘firsthand experience’, while Lionel Shriver hopes objection to ‘cultural appropriation is a passing fad’. So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?”
Another writer in the Facebook group
Another person in the writers’ group on Facebook shared that he had given up on publishing his historical novel based on the life of Etienne Annaotaha, a Canadian First Nations hero after seeing how much flack Joseph Boyden caught for his writing, even though Mr. Boyden is 26% Native American. Imagine how a 100% European ancestry writer would be treated for writing about Native Americans if someone like Mr. Boyden is not accepted?
A quote from Walter Mosley
The following quote from Walter Mosley appeared in an email I received from Writer’s Digest last week:
“Write without restraint. It’s important to not censor yourself. People will censor the sh*t out of you… and there’s more truth in fiction than there is in nonfiction. You have to be committed to that truth.” – Walter Mosley
In the historical novel I’m writing, set in the Carolinas in the 1760s, I’m attempting to write from several points-of-view, including that of a male slave and that of a free woman of color. My challenge is to be true to history while writing about fictional characters. I might not get it right.
I found a truck-load of encouragement from the Morgan Jones quote highlighted above! I have typed it and taped it to the bottom of my computer screen so I can read it every time I sit down to work on my novel.
So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?
I say, “No, as long as the writer does her best research and uses her best writing skills to convey a story in a work of fiction.”
Cultural appropriation smacks of censorship, and I’m not for censorship in fiction. I don’t want someone else deciding what I should or should not read. Likewise, I don’t want someone else deciding what I should or should not write.
As a Southerner, I have not appreciated the disingenuous portrayal of Southerners in movies and television programs all my life; however, I uphold the creators’ right to produce that work under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Censorship is a slippery slope I don’t want to see us go down.
All that said, I will be mindful of my use of dialect in my novel. There are better ways to get across time, place, and social standing than hitting the reader over the head with dialect.
Since my last blog post
I’ve taken some courage from researching cultural appropriation. Although I was ignorant of the term itself, I’ve given a lot of thought to the subject for the years I’ve been working on my own novel.
I was also inspired by a dream I had last Monday night. As far as I can remember, it was the first time I dreamed that I was writing. I was writing my novel, and the words were flowing faster than I could write them down. The odd part was that I was writing in cursive, although in real life I do all my writing on the computer.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m trying to finish reading A Gentleman in Moscow and I’ve started reading The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time. I plan to get back to work on my historical novel (working title, The Spanish Coin) with a renewed since of dedication since recharging my batteries in the Blue Ridge Mountains a couple of weeks ago and since reading about cultural appropriation last week.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments
I invite your comments below. What are your feelings about cultural appropriation? Have you read any good books lately? What have you been up to? What’s on your mind?
Last week my sister and I spent several days in the Blue Ridge Mountains “recharging our batteries.” We had good weather. It was warm, but not hot like it is in the piedmont. It was great to get back to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!
I tend to over-plan a trip. I enjoy planning all the details of a vacation so we won’t miss anything. It tends to drive other people crazy that I do this. They encourage me to lighten up.
Despite my propensity for making plans, I think I did a little better than usual this time. We had three full days to fill. I built in one day with no plans whatsoever. Alarm clocks were not set, and no plans were made for the day. We each enjoyed the day just resting, reading, and watching some TV. I’ve never planned an entire day of rest before on a trip. It felt good. There is hope for me yet!
Waterfalls & Wildflowers!
We both love waterfalls, so our agendas the other days included stops at Looking Glass Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls, and Upper Cullasaja Falls. Looking Glass is my favorite of the waterfalls I’ve seen in North Carolina.
Dry Falls is my sister’s favorite. It is called dry falls because you can walk behind it without getting wet. Since there was more water coming over the fall than other times we’ve visited Dry Falls, it was louder than usual and we did get a bit damp from the mist. It was quite refreshing!
Seeing Bridal Veil Falls brought back fond memories of when we were children. At that time, US Highway 64 actually went under the waterfall. It was exciting as a child to ride under a waterfall in the family car. A few hundred feet of the old highway is closed to vehicular traffic now, but this offers an equally enjoyable experience as the ones of my childhood. You can walk a few feet back under the overhanging rock, much like at Dry Falls.
Upper Cullasaja Falls is easily missed, especially if you’re the driver and can’t take your eyes off the narrow, curvy road in Cullasaja Gorge.
Joe Pye Weed, Coreopsis, and a multitude of other wildflowers were blooming in abundance along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The picture we took of the flowers and the waterfalls don’t do them justice, but I’ll include several here. There were a host of butterflies enjoying the flowers nearly everywhere we stopped.
We’d seen the four waterfalls before, but we’d never had the opportunity to see Judaculla Rock, near Cullowhee, North Carolina. There is a wide range of speculation about the history of this petroglyph-covered rock. I’ve seen figures suggesting that the petroglyphs may date back 3,000 to 5,000 years.
The pictures don’t do it justice. Too bad they’re stuck in my cell phone. You’ll probably never see them. I’m as disappointed as you are that I can’t get the photos downloaded.
I love driving the twisty-curvy mountain roads, so getting to do that last week was a wonderful change of pace for me.
Since my last blog post
I hope you have also had some relaxation time and perhaps a change of scenery for a few days.
Thank you for reading my blog post from last Monday, and a special thanks to those of you who left comments. It was a difficult post to write. I probably “stepped on some toes,” but the readers who were offended did not let me know. I didn’t know how the post would be received. It was a bit of a risk for me. By nature I’m not a risk-taker, although I did walk behind Dry Falls just as I have numerous times before.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.
I love to make plans. Ask me to plan a trip, and I’ll get into the minutiae of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing every minute of the day.
My sister is my traveling buddy, and sometimes my attention to detail drives her crazy! On the other hand, she doesn’t enjoy planning trips so she doesn’t complain too much.
In my Reading Like a Writer blog post (“Reading Like a Writer”) on April 9, 2018, I told you that I had developed a social media plan. Making the plan was easy. The hard part came when I entered the implementation phase. Today’s blog post is about the Pinterest aspect of my plan.
That was a revelation for me. No more willy-nilly saving pins to my Recipes: Cheesecake Board! Since reading Amy Lynn Andrews’ Userletter, I’ve made myself save five pins to my writing-related Pinterest boards every day before pinning any recipes, quilts, or Maxine-isms.
Old habits are hard to break, so there is definitely a learning curve involved in this.
“When I started deleting my boards, Pinterest’s algorithms better learned the content of my niche, and my traffic grew.”
“I deleted my boards about food and entertainment, for example. Pinterest will be more likely to show your pins to people if the algorithms know what your site is about.”
“I read you’ll get better visibility at Pinterest if it’s clear to the site what your niche is. This makes sense. Search engines show your blog to people when they’re clear what you specialize in.”
That second quote from Janice Wald is a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t want to give up my recipe and quilting boards. I could make them secret board that only I can see, but I had hoped that when someone looked at one of those boards they’d also notice I wrote a vintage postcard book (The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina) and I’m writing a historical novel (The Spanish Coin) set in the Carolinas in the 1760s.
I’ll have to give that some thought. For the time being, I have 80 boards on Pinterest.
What I’ve Accomplished on Pinterest since Last Monday
I’ve learned how to create my own pins for Pinterest on Canva.com. Those of you who know me, know that I am technologically challenged, so this was no minor feat for me. I am not getting compensated for mentioning Canva; however, I’ve been able to create some pretty cool graphics for free using that website, http://www.canva.com.
How to move graphics from Canva.com to Pinterest
I soon discovered that I didn’t know how to move the graphics I created on Canva.com and saved to my hard drive. A search on Google quickly brought up the instructions. You simply go to the Pinterest toolbar, click on the red “+” sign, and then click on “Upload an image.” (This just might be the first time I’ve been able to give any technology advice to anyone!)
Want to see what I’ve done on Pinterest?
Please go to my Pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/janet5049) and look at the graphics I created this past week for the following boards: The Spanish Coin – My Novel in Progress; Blue Ridge Mountains; Great Smoky Mountains; Books & Authors; and Rocky River Presbyterian Church.
Here’s a graphic I created about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, for my Great Smoky Mountains board on Pinterest:
There are lots of things to keep in mind when making a graphic for social media. Looking at the one shown above, I realize using a color background would have made it more eye-catchy, although I think it shows up better on Pinterest than on my blog.
Also, at the bottom of the graphic, I should have included my blog’s URL, my website’s URL, and my handle on Twitter. I have edited it in light of that, in case I decide to reuse it at a later date.
My social media plan for Pinterest
Mondays: Pin link to my weekly blog post to Janet’s Writing Blog board (set up to post automatically by WordPress.com) and a colonial history factoid or A Spanish Coin teaser to The Spanish Coin – My Novel in Progress;
Tuesdays: Pin a factoid from my vintage postcard book to my Great Smoky Mountains;
Wednesdays: Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church history factoid from one of my church history booklets to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church;
Thursdays: Pin a factoid from my vintage postcard book to my Blue Ridge Mountains;
Fridays: Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church women’s history factoid to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church & Cabarrus-Mecklenburg boards; OR Pin a Rocky River Presbyterian Church history factoid to my Rocky River Presbyterian Church & Cabarrus-Mecklenburg boards with a link to the church’s website where a copy of Dr. Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr.’s book, The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, can be ordered.
Saturdays: Create factoids/infographics for the following week(s).
This is a grand plan for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I know I will not accomplish this every week. I fell short last week even though I was enthusiastic about starting this new plan. I might miss some weeks altogether. The schedule gives me something to aim for, though.
80/20 Rule of Social Media Marketing
I have read in various sources that 80% of your posts on social media should inform, educate, or entertain and only 20% should promote your business. That rule prompted me to strive to shine a light on a book about the history of Presbyterian Women at Rocky River Presbyterian Church or Dr. Spence’s church history book on Pinterest on Fridays.
I wrote neither of the books, and the proceeds from their sales benefit the ongoing work of the Presbyterian Women at Rocky River and the church’s cemetery fund. (The church dates back to 1751 and has several very old cemeteries that have to be maintained.)
My social media plan for Pinterest looks a little out of whack in light of the 80/20 Rule; however, I hope all the pins I create will fall into the “inform, educate, or entertain” categories.
Since my last blog post
In addition to learning how to create my own Pinterest pins and pinning my creations last week, I have continued to work on the rewrite of my historical novel, The Spanish Coin.
Until my next blog
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re an avid reader who has never considered the possibilities of using Pinterest, you might want to check it out. You just might find that your favorite authors have pages there and boards about their books. After looking for your favorite authors on Pinterest, please let me know if this was an enjoyable experience for you and specifically what you liked about it.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. Please let me know what your experience has been on Pinterest. If you haven’t thought about using it as part of your writer’s platform, perhaps you’ll consider it after reading this blog post.
Don’t be shy about spreading the word about my blog. Feel free to use the buttons below to put today’s post on Facebook, Tweet about it, reblog it on your blog, or Pin it on Pinterest. Thank you!
The purpose of my blog is to share my journey as a writer. I share my successes, my discoveries, and my mistakes. I want you to know that I am human. (Those of you who know me personally, stop laughing!) Today I share a discovery about a mistake I have made numerous times.
This is the 21st day of the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge, which bring us to the letter “U.”
I have always thought it was correct, when speaking, to frame a quote with “quote” and “end quote.” I stand corrected. I saw the word “unquote” in print a few days ago and wondered what it meant. I surprised to find out!
It seems that, although “end quote” sounds right and is still used by many of us, “unquote” has been in use for a century and “end quote” is not considered standard English in the United States. Learning the art and craft of writing has brought me many surprises. It’s amazing how many words I thought I used properly that I have discovered not to be the case when I stopped to look them up.
The next time I’m asked to speak about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, or at sometime in the future when I might be asked to speak about my hoped-to-be first novel, I will be well-served to remember to say “unquote” and not “end quote,” when reading a selection from my book.
My computer is making a racket (not a good sign!) so I’ll cut this post short. I hope I’ll be able to blog through the rest of the alphabet this week and successfully complete this A to Z Blog Challenge. It would be a shame if I got this far and had to quit!
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.
After being close to home except for medial appointments and church attendance for most of the spring and summer, I had a weekend in the mountains of North Carolina and several days with family in the Atlanta area earlier this week. It was refreshing to see some different scenery. The Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains always lift my spirits. It felt good to see my brother’s family for the first time since December.
It is now time for me to start tackling the mountain of e-mails (more than 400) that have accumulated since I got shingles in early May. A few of them are personal, but most are from writing, quilting, or author sites or are notifications about the various blogs I follow.
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the history made last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. I was beginning to wonder if I would live to see a woman nominated for US President by one of the two major political parties. Hillary Clinton accepted her party’s nomination last night. It was quite a moment for this old political science major! Our nation is 240 years old. It’s about time!
I had the privilege of presenting a program about postcard history and my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina, at the Troutman, NC Branch Library on Thursday evening. The J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Library – Troutman Branch – is a beautiful five-year-old facility that grew out of a grassroots effort in the Troutman community.
The library patrons in attendance were interested and responsive to my remarks, and I really enjoyed interacting with them. They took my trivia questions in stride with good humor.
I enjoyed the hour I spent with the patrons of the Troutman branch of the Iredell County public library system. It is always rewarding to speak at a public library that has my book in circulation! Thank you, Juli Moore, library branch manager, for inviting me, publicizing the event, and giving me such a warm welcome!