Wednesday, 2 November 2011

This World Will Not Change Me

So it’s past overdue for me to write another blog post and I just couldn’t find the inspiration. Or maybe the energy. I’m anal enough to write potential topics down when they come to my attention, so I have plenty of things to rant about. But I just don’t want to.

I can see the shocked looks of the people who know me. It’s rare that I get off my soap box. It could be new love… but it’s not. I’m still happily married to the man I fell in love with five years ago. 

I think I’m just tired. But of what?

Of the debate about whether self-publishing is better than traditional publishing. You know what? It really doesn’t matter. We can talk about the percentages until the cows come home. We can talk absolute dollars until the cows come home. Everyone can choose the model they prefer. And if you don’t want to traditionally publish, that’s great! I won’t have to vie with you for some publisher’s attention. You are, in effect, improving my odds. Thanks. 

What I do care about is quality. Get it right. But I’ve ranted about that before and if you missed it you can get it here

I’m tired of bad drivers. I regularly drive up and down Heathcote Rd in Sydney between my parents’ house and my house. It has a 100kmh zone that someone invariably drives 70kmh in and it is single lane most of the way. It’s an hour drive between my house and my parents’, with a baby in the backseat, and of course an hour back, so my time is precious. Shit or get off the pot. 

Unfortunately an all too common sight on Heathcote Rd due to drivers who drive either too fast or too slow
I’m a little bit tired of social media. Not Twitter so much, I have a mad Twitter addiction. Facebook, yes. I’ve never liked Facebook. Its lingo of ‘being friends’ is corrupting the meaning of the word. Just because someone is in your Friends List does not make them your friend. When you read Friend on Facebook, you should mentally translate this to ‘Contacts’. They might be your friend, but some of them will be acquaintances or just contacts.

Facebook is really a tool for reconnecting with and keeping contact with people you lost contact with. These people are not your friends. If they were, you wouldn’t have lost contact with them, would you? And you don’t need Facebook to keep in contact with your friends (except maybe the friends you've made online). You have their phone numbers, remember? It’s mostly only useful for keeping your friends in the loop for things you might otherwise wait months to tell them. And don’t get me started on how Facebook has influenced the trend for people to ask ‘Can I be your friend?’ What are you, five??

I’m very tired and depressed about how much writers get paid. Not because I was hoping to get rich and famous, you understand? I’m a lawyer by day and I get by all right. Of course it would be nice to get paid lots to daydream, but it’s not necessary. It’s just sad that we pour so much of our time and energy into something that is both an art form and a contribution to culture, for little monetary reward. Is literature so poorly regarded? 

Don’t even think about what a writer earns from the sale of one book for months or even years of effort as compared to what a rap artist makes off one song that took maybe twenty minutes to write. You’ll just depress yourself even further. Is rap music even art? Culture, maybe. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say art. Artists of visual arts might even feel the same. Often art doesn’t gain real value until the artist is dead. That must suck something shocking. 

Starry Nights by Vincent van Gogh. He was virtually unknown during his lifetime, but a van Gogh sold in 1990 for $82.5 million ($144 million in today's dollars). He appears 5 times in the list of 17 most expensive paintings ever sold. 
I’m tired of the endless unethical (and often ineffective) marketing practices I come across. I’ve ranted about this before, but I’ve come across a few new ones, including people taking money to write false reviews and people who constantly pester you to read their blogs, leave comments, like their books etc. but who never take the time to read your blog, comment, or like your book. For that matter I object to ‘liking’ each other’s books, pages etc. without having read the book or having any clue as to the quality of the product you are promoting. More on that in my next post…

Which leads me into bad reviews and Amazon. I’m still tired of that too, though I’ve come across a few new suggestions to solve the problem, including weighting readers reviews to make them more meaningful and giving authors some kind of ‘higher rating’ if they have professional editors work on their book. I’ve also heard Amazon is taking steps to improve their systems. I look forward to it. But it’s not today, and today I’m tired. 

I’m tired of clients who call me at the office and want to know stupid things like why they can’t get copies of their original documents certified as true and correct copies, only to be told they didn’t take the original with them. Well, how do you expect someone to certify it’s a true copy of the original if you don’t show them the original? I've suggested that we implement a stupidity surcharge...

I’m tired of the kind of stupidity that has people calling maintenance about a lack of hot water only to discover they turned off the pilot light for their own hot water system. I am definitely tired of the kind of stupidity that has people entering asbestos-filled houses after being locked out by the landlord for their own safety. Natural selection, perhaps? There is a reasonable chance this person will kill themselves out of their own stupidity but probably not fast enough to have any evolutionary benefit for the population. It’s always possible with that kind of stupidity they’ll do something else to speed the process along a little faster…

I am also tired of news stories about a parent who has a reversed over their own toddler in their own front yard, severely injuring them or killing them. It seems like lately there has been one of these every week. Before you drive your car anywhere, make sure you know where your own child is!Worse are the stories about child abuse, children beaten, killed, starved and tortured. There is something wrong with people who perpetrate these horrible crimes. It's not like there is a grey area here, people! It's just plain wrong. These stories make me want to cry. 

I’m tired of contradictory policies like these. In Australia, real estate agents rank single mothers the worst tenants, and therefore at the bottom of the list for rental properties. Because, what, single mothers are automatically bad people? My friend is a qualified accountant with two children going through an unfortunate divorce due to no fault of her own, and because of that she can’t find somewhere to live? Single dads are great, though. They rank ahead of single mothers. He must be a star!

On the other hand, I am told by my cousin (who has a son out of wedlock with a woman he no longer has a relationship with) that recent legislation means he can’t have his son overnight until he is three, because of fear of abuse by the other parent. So single dads are stars if they have custody of the kids, and single mums are not, but those single mums are better people than the single dads who don’t have custody of their children, because these poor guys are star candidates to abuse their kids…. Yeah, like all that makes sense somewhere? 

I guess what I’m really saying is I’m tired of all the stupidity, ignorance, immorality and depravity (or, in some cases, all of the above) in the world. Not everyone is like this, but it seems I’ve been over-exposed to it this week. Or maybe it’s the last month. No matter what I do, it seems to be a drop in the ocean and nothing ever changes. 

Garth Brooks
On days like this I try to remind myself of ‘The Change’ by Garth Brooks. 
‘And I hear them saying, you'll never change things, and no matter what you do it's still the same thing, but it’s not the world that I am changing, I do this so, this world will know, that it will not change me.’
It would be nice to change things. It would be nice to make a difference. But if nothing I do does make a difference, then I can at least be true to myself and not allow the world to change me.

Well, world, you won’t change me. Consider yourself on notice. 

No matter how tired I get, I'll never be that tired. 


Christina Majaski said...

I loved this, Ciara. I believe that sometimes all of the "stupidity, ignorance, immorality and depravity" in the universe become evident at once to make us pay closer attention. Or at least to piss us off more. I think it has a lot to do with the field of law. I believe that those in the legal field are exposed to the worst of the worst (meaning situations not necessarily people). I'm not sure which field is exposed to the best. The circus maybe? Being true to ourselves matters quite a bit.

Jason Marovich said...

From a writer's perspective, the scenery is changing. The publishing platform, social networking, and time spent not writing can make anyone cringe. You aren't the only one feeling this, believe me. Write a novel and grovel for an agent is where I'm at, I guess. But there is hope.

When you pick up a novel and start reading it, if it's awful, do you keep reading it? I think it will be the readers who decide that good writing rises to the top. Readers buy books and buy products from advertisers. Our hope lies with our readers demanding to see high quality work. There are way too many fine authors resorting to lesser means of getting published - and getting preyed upon by the wolves.

Pete Palamountain said...

Wonderful blog, thoughtful and thought provoking. Can't vote for the stupidity surcharge though. Afraid it would cost me too much.

Derek Flynn said...

Haha! Best rant I've read in a long while, Ciara. The commenter below me said in a tweet, "Ciara is a pistol". Couldn't have put it better myself :)

Krista Snapdragon said...

I have given you an award on my blog, stop by to claim it.

Dean K Miller said...

Just the kind of stuff that makes me want to ask you to be my friend...but I'm a bit intimidated right now. Maybe later...

Ciara Ballintyne said...

It is true that sometimes those in legal (and medical, I think) see the very worst of people. I try not to get too jaded but I am a huge cynic. I've heard it all... I know know when a client is trying to pull a swifty on me or might not be telling me the whole story!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I hope readers put down awful books. Unfortunately the definition of 'awful' is subjective.

Ciara Ballintyne said...


Ciara Ballintyne said...

I do a good rant, even if I do say so myself ;-) I saw the tweet about being a pistol, I was a bit tickled by that one!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Oh Dean, I don't bite... much ;-)

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