The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 142
The Death of the Arts
I had a spare few minutes the other day, so I took a quick peek at the President’s new Federal Budget proposal. Imagine my non-surprise to discover that Arts and Education are taking a big hit.
Then I was reading some Facebook feeds, and one gentleman explained that the Arts really should be a state concern, and the Federal Government has bigger fish to fry than worrying about funding the Arts.
And the hot potato continued to be tossed around, national concern, state concern, back and forth, and you and I know where this ends up . . . Arts taking a back seat in funding at every level unless . . .
I know this one truth about politicians and policy-makers: most of them, a high percentage of them, love their jobs. They love sitting in that seat of power, and they will do practically anything to retain that seat . . . including listening to concerned citizens. The squeaky wheel does, indeed, get the grease, and it is up to citizens . . . voters . . . taxpayers . . . to squeak loudly and often.
And not only squeak but also work closely with . . . there are solutions to the funding of the Arts and, if you are concerned about it, then you need to become part of the solution.
Now relax while I sift through the mail for you.
From Eric: “Do you think there is a formula to follow it order to keep journalism "just the facts mam, just the facts". Does the who, what, when, where and how, (or what ever that is) keep it straight and mechanical? Or is it just a mindset not to opine? Probably not a mailbag question but a hint would be appreciated.”
Eric, I know you know what I’m about to say, so excuse me for stating the obvious.
As I mentioned last week, “Yellow Journalism” was a term coined back around 1900 to describe sensationalism in the press and, shall we say, less than truthful reporting. In other words, biased writing has been around for a very long time. I’m really rather amazed at all of the furor we hear lately about the biased press (fake press), and why can’t they just report the facts, and alternative facts, and blah, blah, and more blah.
HELLO!!!!! Newspapers are owned by corporations, and we all know what corporations do . . . they spend money to get favorable results for their stockholders. Sheez, this isn’t rocket science. Of course the press is biased!
So, Eric, to answer your question yes, the formula who, what, when, where, and how, is foolproof as long as the press follows it, but good luck finding a newspaper or television station that strictly follows it.
And yes, I’m a cynic!
From Louise: “You’ve been around HP a lot longer than I have. Do you understand the scoring system there? What makes up a Hubber score? Who determines it and is there some formula it is based on?”
Louise, you’ve come to the right person. I know the exact answer to this question.
Go to the headquarters of HubPages in San Francisco. Ride the elevator up to the main office. Step off that elevator, go through a door on the right, walk down a hall, take the first door on the left and enter.
In that room is a giant dartboard. Gosh, the thing must be six feet in diameter. It’s a monster, really, so big you simply can’t miss if you throw a dart. Anyway, on the dartboard are a bunch of numbers ranging from 0-100, and in that room is one employee. That employee’s name is Burt, and Burt is the Vice-President of Quality Control.
Now Burt’s only job, each day, every single day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year, is to determine the Hubber scores for every Hubber. He does this alphabetically so, say, he pulls out my Hubber name, billybuc, and he picks up his trusted Black Widow soft-tip dart, and he gives it a toss. On that day he hits 85, so that is billybuc’s Hubber score for that day. He continues to do that until he has scored all 1,100 Hubbers. If he’s a quick tosser that day, he can knock off work by lunchtime. If he’s feeling his bursitis that day, he may be tossing until five.
It’s not a bad job but, as you might suspect, it is physically taxing, so they have, in the adjoining room, Maxine. Now Maxine was once a top-rated Olympic archer. She, too, has a giant dartboard, but Maxine uses bow and arrow instead of darts, and her job is to determine individual Hub scores each day.
So that’s how it’s all done at HubPages. If you’re ever in San Francisco, stop in and watch Burt and Maxine do their jobs. It’s really quite fascinating.
P.S....there is a rumor going around that the Russians tried to hack into the HubPages system of scoring, but it proved to be too complicated for them, and they gave up. I don't know how much truth there is to that.
From Terri: “How do I know if I’m any good as a writer? My family is almost forced to tell me my writing is decent, but that’s not an accurate assessment, so how do I know?”
Terri, it’s really a great question, and a question that shows you how self-aware you really are.
There are three people you can’t trust to appraise your writing: a family member, a good friend, and you. The first two are too afraid to hurt your feelings, and the third is too busy over-analyzing and over-critiquing to give a valid critique.
Go join a writers’ group . . . find one at the local junior college, or join one online, but find a bunch of strangers you can work with. They don’t give a darn about your feelings and more often than not their appraisals will be objective.
From Jermaine: “I’m thinking about writing a non-fiction book on playing the guitar, but I’m not sure how to organize it. Any suggestions?”
Jermaine, thanks . . . that’s kind of a broad question. You need to start with your purpose for writing it. Is it a “how to play the guitar” book? Is it more of a metaphysical look at the benefits of playing the guitar? Figure that one out first, if you haven’t already.
Next, jot down all of the important points you want to make in the book. Those will be your chapters. Next, organize those points in some kind of order that makes sense. Finally, start writing.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a more specific answer and I’ll help if I can.
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- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Have a Marvelous Monday
So there you go! Another Mailbag tucked away, and a new week stretching out before us……
A week of unlimited possibilities…a week of incredible artistic achievements…a week of you, unfolding your wings, stretching those wings, and soaring with the angels of literature.
May the Arts live on forever!
Get out there and fly! A future generation of readers are counting on you!
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”