Friday, September 23, 2005

Life is Not a Game

I have an essay circulating right now, "Life is not a Game: Richard Ford's Pragmatism," in which I make the argument, through Ford's fiction, that life, indeed, is not a game, although that metaphor is powerful and popular, and, most importantly, that we are easily seduced by that metaphor.

I saw the other night at B&N that Johnny Damon's autobiography is titled something like "having fun in the game of life." And i see that there is a new book out called Poker as Life: 101 Lessons from the World's Greatest Game, a title that connects up my Ford paper with my Poker paper, also circulating at this time. I might do well to beef up the early part of the paper with an emphasis on the cultural uses of this metaphor. I suspect I can find many more without too much work. It seems to me that I heard something about this on the radio the other day--oh wait, it was tonight, perhaps. Garisson Keiler reading Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days"--an odd sounding rendition to say the least, but right on target.

I also started to see james McKean's Home Stand: Growing Up in Sport getting a lot of attention. That memoir definitely looks like a must read. maybe I should put it on an Amazon list or something. Or maybe I should just buy the darn thing. I probably need to read it to help me finish my "mystory" project, which could be titled "Growing Up in Sport."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

getting the blood flowing

I was reading some tips for how to get students' blood flowing during early morning classes, and I guess I find myself in the same situation this morning, needing to do some writing, but feeling a little sluggish and tired. My own tendency with students is to not ask them to write, but to get up, breathe deeply, move around a bit. I guess I will see if sitting down and writing this morning will be sufficient to get my blood flowing, or whether I would be better off to go do something--yoga, recycle, ride the bike, etc. A cup of coffee shouldn't hurt!

Trying to find some time today to write up a proposal for composing with music. I think I have the quesitons more or less figured out, so now the question becomes: what to read? What's the background context. The new essay on "the when and the where" of new media seems like an obvious choice, as does Dickie Selfe's book (track it down), media ecology more generally. What I really need to figure out, I suppose, is composing with music. I have some good material for composing visually, but how should we introduce concepts of rhythm, tone, etc. You can see how much I know about music!

Totally random: Betsy and I were talking about the new BBC poll that reported there is very little confidence in the phrase "govt. for the people, by the people" even among western democracies (except in Scandanavia), and I was complaining that Americans simply continue to reject all the data that "proves" governments that provide services--education, health care, social security--are able to run countries with better standards of living and better distribution of wealth. Then we heard a radio story about "progress," and author quoted John Steinbach as saying "The poor in America see themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionares," or something like that. I need to track it down. This little piece of information might add to my interest in teaching a unit on leadership, responsibility, and money next semester.

Well, let's see if I can move on to some real writing now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

getting rejected

I got a straight out flat rejection of an essay from a journal today, which has only happened to me once, maybe twice before. and quite frankly, i was surprised--I think the essay is pretty strong, and one reviewer seems to have thought it was well written. But I ran into, as far as I could tell, some readers with very different world views who simply would not accept my premises. Powerful lesson on the limits of good writing: the well crafted essay going up against firmly held beliefs will lose out to those beliefs every time. That's why I think I had better keep my submissions going to journals with more open-minded readers.

Getting rejected, however, seems to have lit a fire under me. I spent a couple of hours revising a project that has been accepted, and then I started on a new book chapter tonight. Maybe I thought I would just cruise through the year, getting the now-rejected piece accepted, getting the other piece I sent out last week accepted, appearing productive and smart to friends and colleagues. But boy, when you get a flat out rejection, you realize that you have sunk X amount of time into some sort of whole. All that time and effort might actually result in nothing--only questions like "what have you been doing with your time?"

The rejected piece and the piece I am revising both received some comments that I find especially frustrating as a writer. In both pieces, I explain that I am doing X because of Y, and both pieces had readers say, "no, I don't want you to do that." I am open to the fact that they might be right, but they don't even provide the "y". They just say, "don't do X." And both sets of readers, quite frankly, did not seem to read certain parts of my essay very carefully. Again, I need to remain open minded and accept the fact that maybe the confusion is a writing problem that I can fix, but I sure wish readers would try to read a little more carefully. All these lessons are good ones for me as I am on the verge of collecting some student work.