Wordy Wednesday – Hemingway On First Drafts

Sure, Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest writers of all time but that doesn’t mean everything he wrote was gold – especially first drafts. Nobody is perfect and neither is writing! Sometimes you just have to power through that hot, steaming pile of…drafts and then edit, rewrite, and repeat.

Wordy Wednesday - Hemingway on First Drafts peaceofwriting.com

 

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My Family Immigrated From El Salvador In The 80s – And I’m Scared For Today’s Immigrants

My mom was born in El Salvador, a small country in Central America with lush tropical mountains and fine black sand beaches on the Pacific ocean. She was petite, had long black hair, cinnamon brown skin, and a big, bright smile to match her bubbly personality. She met my father – a blond hair, blue eyed, no-nonsense Marine from Detroit – at the U.S. Embassy where they both worked. A perfect example of opposites attracting. After a couple years of dating, they married in 1979 in the capital of San Salvador and subsequently had my sisters and me here in the States.

During the 80s, most of my mom’s immediate family immigrated to the United States. They didn’t want to leave El Salvador but living there had become dangerous (I remember one story when I was a kid that an uncle and his family had to leave because he had a hit placed on him) so they picked up their lives and moved to Homestead, FL where my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins made a new forever home. I don’t know how each family member made their way to the States or what their legal status was/is – growing up, it never occurred to me to ask or wonder what struggles they went through to start a new life in a country where many of them didn’t speak the language.

I’m sharing this with you because what’s happening in this country – the xenophobia, extreme rhetoric, and family separations – has shaken me. I wonder sometimes if my family would have been able to leave El Salvador if someone like Trump had been president at the time. Would my cousin have been torn from my aunt as she begged and pleaded in broken English? Would my uncle have lost his sons in the maze of bureaucracy? I shudder to think about it.

Immigration is undoubtedly a complex issue and we should protect our borders but it should be approached with compassion and reason – not fear, anger, and violence. I say this not because I’m some sort of Pollyanna…I know not everyone who immigrates to the United States are good people, however, the vast majority of immigrants want the same things we want – to protect our loved ones and provide them with a better life. And yes, it would be ideal if everyone who immigrates to the United States did so through the proper channels but we don’t live in an ideal world. Life is messy; sometimes difficult choices must be made.

I wonder how future generations will reflect on this chapter of American history. I have a feeling it won’t be favorable. Despite these dark uncertain times, there are beacons of light. People who do care and are helping in big and small ways. I have faith America will one day live up to its promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, even if that day isn’t in my lifetime. (Okay, maybe I am a bit of a Pollyanna after all.)

If you would like to help separated immigrants families, please consider donating to these organizations:

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Fuerza Del Valle Workers Center

Al Otro Lado

Together Rising

 

The Old Astronomer To His Pupil by Sarah Williams

A couple months ago I went to a local planetarium for a star watching party and as I gazed upon the sky, I was reminded me of this poem verse, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” from The Old Astronomer To His Pupil by Sarah Williams. I somewhat forgot about the memory until I was reminded of that night when I saw news of the Falcon 9 launch happening in several days not too far from where I live. The famous verse is often attributed to Galileo Galilei but nope, it’s from Sarah Williams, a 19th century English poet and novelist (I love this verse and astronomy so much I even have a t-shirt of it). Here is the poem in it’s entirety – enjoy!

Reach me down my Tycho Brahé, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ‘tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You “have none but me,” you murmur, and I “leave you quite alone”?

Well then, kiss me, – since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, – that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.

I “have never failed in kindness”? No, we lived too high for strife,–
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!

There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, “Patience, Patience,” is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.

I have sown, like Tycho Brahé, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, ’twill disturb me in my sleep
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.

I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,–
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

If You Want Quality Writing, Stop Offering Crap Pay

I was scrolling through freelance writing jobs on LinkedIn yesterday and I came across one that struck a nerve with me. Not because of the company or content topics, but the compensation…$5 for 400 words?! Are you kidding me??? That’s not even minimum wage. I know compensation in freelance work is a tricky subject, especially when it comes to writing. Per word rates and flat fees vary but even $0.01 per word (what the rate in the job post breaks down to) is appallingly low by most standards.freelance writer job ad.jpgQuality content, especially when research is involved, takes time. The sad thing is this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen before. The only people I can see accepting this pay rate is people from other countries. Now, there’s nothing wrong with hiring people from overseas but don’t be surprised if there are grammatical errors, plagiarism, and bad/outdated SEO practices like keyword stuffing.

I understand that if you’re a startup or small business, it might be hard to justify paying an experienced freelance writer at a higher rate than somebody who’s cheap. Really, I get it. But you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it in the end. Cutting corners on your content (whether it’s for your website, videos, or sales collateral) may benefit you in the short term, but it won’t lead to more sales in the future and it could even damage your brand’s image.

I think Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, sums it up best: “Better content means better business.”

A Letter to a Prospective Lexicographer

Curiosity about lexicographers struck me today when I watched a video in my Facebook news feed about the difficulty of defining millennials’ usage of “basic” from the point of view of a lexicographer. I started to wonder, “How does someone become a lexicographer? Maybe this something I can do?!” But after reading this very interesting post, I think I will just admire this calling from afar.

harm·less drudg·ery

We regularly receive letters from people who want an editorial job at M-W and ask for more information on lexicography. It’s my job to answer those letters. Here is the response I wish I could send.

Thank you for your interest in becoming an editor at Merriam-Webster.  I am happy to share some information on the field of lexicography with you.

There are only three formal requirements for becoming a Merriam-Webster editor. First, we respectfully ask that you be a native speaker of English. I think I should break this to you now, before you begin shopping for tweeds and practicing your “tally ho what”: we focus primarily on American English. It’s not that we don’t like British English and its speakers. Indeed, we have an instinctual, deep love for any people who, upon encountering a steamed pudding with currants in it for the first time, thought, “The name of…

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with Poetry

I was scrolling through Facebook this morning at MLK Day posts and I came across this poem from singer Chris Crocker. I loved it so much I just had to share it. Dr. King is such an inspiration and I think his words are as relevant today as they were when Dr. King was alive. Although he’s not physically with us anymore, Dr. King’s message and character will live on forever.

mlk-poem-chris-crocker

Source: facebook.com/ChrisCrockerOFFICIAL