To the Point

honest thoughts about life, people, God, and doing what's right–>

The World of Publishing July 31, 2009

PublishingI realized that some people might wonder about my links on the sidebar, since they seem somewhat random.

I have been writing seriously for around 6 years now, and for about 5 1/2 of those years I was waaayyy uninformed. As in, I thought that you have to pay a literary agent up front, that you can query most publishers without having an agent, and that “query” means “send the whole manuscript.” I didn’t take writing courses or classes, I thought poetry could be written however I wanted it, and that self-publishing was a good way to start a career as a writer.

Boy, was I wrong. I fairly recently discovered that literary agents – who, by the way, are much more human than people might think they are – don’t charge up front fees if they’re legit, they really do love the work they represent, and some of them even write blogs.

It is these enlightening blogs, like Miss Snark, Janet Reid’s blogs, and BookEnds, LLC that have taught me a LOT about the world of publishing. And instead of being totally discouraging, I actually feel for the first time since I’ve started writing that I can actually become a published author, if my stuff is good enough. And I can always improve, so if I work hard, one day it will be good enough. No question.

If you are a writer, I highly suggest that you read this blogs, and more. These agents really should be paid for all the valuable advice they’ve given to “nitwits (Miss Snark)” like us.

>>africanstardust

 

Don’t Just Stand There July 29, 2009

Filed under: Ethics,News — Veronique @ 12:32 pm
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StandWhen life gets hard and we feel like we’re getting more than we signed up for, obviously the first reflex is to feel sorry for ourselves. Given, usually there are extremely good reasons to feel sorry for ourselves – the roof fell on my head, a fat cat fell on my head, a fat cat threw up on my carpet, then fell on my head – but if we’re being honest, things could always get worse.

Well…not to be overly cliché, but life is hard, and the sooner we realize that and move on, the better. Things are always going to happen, bad things. You might even die tomorrow, or worse – your favorite TV show might not come on at its regular time. But (to quote my hero, Timon) there’s nothing we can do to change it, so why worry?

A better use of time would be to do something about the things we can change. I can’t change the fact that I moved accross an ocean from a country I’d lived in for ten years, where all my friends were, to a country I wanted to go to but don’t have friends (or Starbucks). But I’m here now, and while I have all this loverly free time not being taken up by friends, I can use it for something else that might mean a lot to somebody else.

We are in this world for a reason. if you don’t believe in God and Jesus and that you have a higher purpose, fine (well, not really, but that’s a different post altogether), but you can’t ignore the fact that you’re on this planet, you have talents and gifts and probably money, and there are people around you who need it. I’m not saying you should sell all your stuff and join a convent (unless you want to), but is it that hard to give $5 a month to charity? Or to give an hour a week of your time to volunteering?

And helping out isn’t just working in a hospital without getting paid. If that’s not your thing you can plant trees, teach kids how to read and write, get into horse therapy for autistic kids, or whatever else you can do. If you can write, write. If you can sing, sing. There’s loads of opportunities for every one of us to do something. You’re a part of this world, and it’s given you a lot – give something back. Yes, yes, “how dare you be corny,” I’m sorry, I apologize, yadda yadda…just do something, okay?

>>africanstardust

 

culture snobs July 28, 2009

SharpiesIf you saw a black man with white paint on his face, with no clothes on, holding a spear and a shield, I bet your automatic reaction would be to think something along the lines of “oooo look, a primitive African savage!” I can say this because that’s my first reaction, too.

I also bet you wouldnt expect this guy to be a teenager in a normal public high school in a civilized country, with white and black friends, who usully wears jeans and Billabong shirts. He might even be your future doctor.

The thing is, we judge other cultures by our own, and that just doesn’t work. It’s not valid to say “In England we wear clothes all the time – well, most of us – and live in houses with walls, floors, and ceilings, so you should, too. And if you don’t you’re uncivilized.”

Maybe I’m being a total idiot here, but I have a serious problem with how textbooks define civilization. In AP World History, and other history classes, one of the major themes from the start is: What defines a civilization? And then the textbook goes on to explain, in a very stiff, look-at-me-I’m-an-arrogant-genius way exactly what civilization entails. According to them, African societies were just that – “societies.” Not civilizations. But, and please correct me if I’m wrong here, they are largely basing their definition of a civilization on Western ideas, wealth, and influence.

A group of ten Bushmen who live in the wilderness and wear loincloths are just as much a valid “civilization” as the United States of America. And, if I can go even farther, what is so fantastic about civilization, anyway? “Civilized” societies have higher crime rates, less respect for fellow human beings, more isolation, more suicides, more pollution, and more general unhappiness than “uncivilized” groups. In an ‘uncivilized” society, there is a basic equality and an eye-for-an-eye mentality. People respect each other, respect their heritage, and have a better life quality. They are healthier, happier, and die healthy at an older age. No, they don’t have computes or electricity or blogs, but they live.

I know we can’t change how our “civilizations” work, and that wasn’t the point of this post (in fact that whole thing was somewhat of a tangent) but I am saying we need to respect other cultures and societies. We may not understand them, we may think we have better ways of doing things, but we have to respect that for them, their way of doing things is the best way of all. Isn’t that what we all think after all? And in my opinion, people from other, more “primitive” cultures generally have a better argument.

Thoughts? Ever seen an extreme culture snob?

 

abortion is a thumbs down

Filed under: Ethics — Veronique @ 8:40 am
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This is an essay I did for my AP English Language class (hence the way too formal writing). I used pics in the assignment but because of copyright and jazz I haven’t included them here. The websites I used as a source are at the end.

Abortion. There are so many opinions and positions on this issue that it is almost overwhelming. Some people have no problem with abortion itself, but claim that the effect on mental health of the mothers is too detrimental, and others have no problem with the methods, effects, or consequences of abortion at all.
But I have to question how any human being with a conscience can have nothing against abortion. I understand that it is convenient, it is an easy solution to the problem of an unwanted pregnancy, and for some women it can make the difference between life and death. Only in the last instance would I let it slide; other situations, however, are no excuse for the murder of a helpless human being.
People say that abortion is not murder, because the fetus does not become truly human until the actual birth. It does not seem to matter to them that the fetus will become human, and that is the only thing it can become. Who has ever seen a human fetus grow into something other than a human? If the fetus isn’t human, then what is it, exactly? This is no excuse for murder. And, especially in the case of partial birth abortion, I doubt that anyone with a conscience could look at these children and say that they are not human.

I have a friend, aged eighteen, who found out a few years ago that her mother had had an earlier pregnancy, and had an abortion. She was in tears, saying that she could have had a brother or a sister. “I wonder what they would have been like,” she said. “I can’t believe mom killed them.” Not only this, but it was incredibly difficult for her to look her mother, the woman who had raised her and loved her, when my friend knew that she’d killed. It was a huge setback to their relationship.
Aside from abortion being nothing more than sanctioned murder, the effect on the mother is nearly always negative. Women who have had abortions struggle with feelings of guilt, depression, even regret, sometimes within hours of having the abortion. I browsed some neutral websites on abortion  that allow women to tell their stories, and I found a few that were written one or two hours after the abortion. All of them said that they regretted it, that they couldn’t believe what they’d done.

There is an alternative to abortion. All women, but especially teens, women who are pregnant because of a rape, and other women who simply cannot afford to take care of the child have an option that is so much better than abortion. There are hundreds and thousands of women who cannot have children and who would give anything to be pregnant, and they usually resort to adoption. While the ideal is that a child is raised by his or her natural mother, being adopted is a thousand times more preferable than being murdered.

Websites

Stand Up Girl
Pregnancy Help
Abortion Stories
Regrets

 

on strike July 27, 2009

Filed under: Ethics,News — Veronique @ 5:25 pm
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MoneyOkay, so I get that wages are low and you have a family to feed and you work harder (and in much more gross conditions) in public service (trash removal, bus driving, etc) than the averge six figure earner, and I get that going on strike is away to fix that. or at least try to fix it. But my word, must we set things on fire? Kind people, who currently look not so kind but actually look kind of bloodthirsty, I implore you to s’il vous plaît stop throwing makeshift bombs into the street. Stick with the signage and the yelling, and if you like you can even section off a street or invade a building or something. Have at it. But let’s not cost people any more money, yeah? If I were you I’d rather have the money spent on repairing damages that I made on pumping steroids into my paycheck.

Click Here For the Story

That said, I would now like to add that things have got to change. When is a government going to do what is says it will? I would hate to say never, because then I’ll be accused of being negative. But I’m fairly sure – after, you know, watching the news and not living under a rock and things – that it’s sort of up to the rest of us to make the world how we want it to be. Which is why I have nothing against strikes (just occasional methods used).

I also have no problem with volunteer work, protests, donating to shelters, teaching kids to read, cleaning the sidewalk, and smiling once in a while.

Come on, guys. We don’t have to all start dressing like hippies and carrying hemp canvas bags, but can we please just focus on something other than ourselves for a bit?

>>africanstardust

 

jokes

Filed under: Ethics — Veronique @ 4:14 pm
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BaboonWhat is the deal with jokes? Here’s what I don’t get. If one person – for our purposes, a Very Attractive Guy with pretty eyes – tells a dumb joke, everyone laughs and says it’s funny “because it’s so stupid.” But if someone else – Very Attractive Guy’s younger brother, who perhaps has not lost his child chubby – then suddenly it’s just a bad joke. What a loser.

What is our problem? Why does the appearance behind the joke matter at all? Not to be a jerk head here, but look at famous comedians. Sure, some look like they’ve been airbrushed, but a lot of them probably had food thrown at them in school. And now they’re famous. So the next time you want to poke fun at someone with a little bellyfat, just think a little bit before you do something lame, okay? Do YOU want to be the person Albert Brooks talks about when listing the people who held him back? I didn’t think so.

>>africanstardust