“Being unafraid of making mistakes makes everything easy for me. Not worrying about what people think frees you to do things, and doing things allows you to win or learn from your loss — which means you win either way. Hear me now: you are better off being wrong ten times and being right three than you are if you try only three times and always get it right.” -Gary Vaynerchuk from his 2018 book “How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too”
I apologize for the inconvenience, but for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be moderating every comment made on this blog. I had to do this some years ago on a companion blog to keep conversations civil, but events have occurred that have resulted in me making that same decision here.
I’m sure if you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you have realized I can be opinionated, and as fair as I want to be, as much as I want to provide a platform for all voices, occasionally one comes along that crosses the line. I bear some responsibility for creating the situation, but this seems the only decision I can make to correct it.
You may have read my review of Lyla El-Fayomi‘s novel Terminum about ten days or so ago. As I mentioned in the original review, I wrote it for Reedsy Discovery at their invitation. Today, my review went live. I was surprised at the response.
Ms. El-Fayomi made her name unavailable on the review and presumably in Discovery. She wrote this comment by way of an explanation:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Despite the large area it occupies, the lengthy review of Terminum featured on the Reedsy book page WAS NOT written by a professional in the field. It is simply one man’s opinion. Please treat it as such. You may find your reading experience to be entirely different from his.
In spite of her obvious intelligence and education, I don’t think she understands what a book review is.
After Dan Simmons lambasted teenage climate change darling Greta Thunberg on twitter, and came on the radar of Mike Glyer’s File 770 (which must still be experiencing technical difficulties, since I haven’t received any email notifications of new posts in quite a while), AND finding out that his signature novel Hyperion is a Hugo Award winner, I’ve been dying to read the book and learn more about him.
Yes, I think he went too far in his insults of a little teenage girl who is clearly being manipulated by adults, but he also stood up to the more leftist powers that be in social media and the science fiction creators and fandom community, and occasionally, they need to be stood up to. So I put a hold on it at my local public library and today it became available.
I read Alice Sheldon’s (pen name James Tiptree Jr) anthology of short stories Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home decades ago when I was a kid (all right, a young man) and recall thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve probably heard of the award named after her, but didn’t pay much attention until reading Mike Glyer’s pixel scroll this morning.
In this case, the award name may be changed due to a personal tragedy in Sheldon’s life. From Wikipedia:
Sheldon continued writing under the Tiptree pen name for another decade. The last years of her life were not happy ones, as her husband was a nearly blind invalid incapable of caring for himself, and she herself was suffering health issues caused by a lifetime of smoking. In 1976, then 60-year-old Sheldon wrote to a friend expressing her desire to end her own life while she was still able-bodied and active, but she was reluctant to act upon this intention, as Huntington would have no one to care for him, and she could not bring herself to kill him.
Eleven years later, on May 19, 1987, Sheldon finally carried through her plan—by shooting her husband in his sleep, followed by herself; she had telephoned her attorney after the first shooting to announce her actions. They were found dead, hand-in-hand in bed, in their Virginia home. According to biographer Julie Phillips, the suicide note Sheldon left was written years earlier and saved until needed. In an interview with Charles Platt in 1980, Sheldon spoke of her emotional problems and of her previous suicide attempts over the preceding 20 years.
The James Tiptree Jr. Award is given in her honor each year for a work of science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. The award-winning science fiction authors Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy created the award in February 1991. Novels such as Half Life by Shelley Jackson and Light by M. John Harrison have received the award.
At least one person commenting on File 770 had compassion, but who knows how many other people judge without understanding what Sheldon may have been going through (I still read 770 but choose not to comment there because of how I was recently treated by some of its other readers).
Apparently, the whole “Ghostbusters” thing, the next movie in the franchise scheduled to hit the theaters in 2020 isn’t over yet. In fact, the controversy seems to be just warming up.
As you may recall, a little over a month ago, I wrote about the upcoming sequel to be directed by Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, director of the original 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver.
But the announcement that the 2020 film would be a direct sequel to the original, essentially bypassing the very badly received 2016 remake, made a few people angry, as if the younger Reitman’s vision was somehow a slight to that movie’s all-female cast in particular and feminism in general. In fact, actress Leslie Jones, who played Patty Tolan in the 2016 film, got on twitter to express her extreme displeasure (to put it mildly).
Low self-image usually forms at an early age. A person might have had excessively critical parents or teachers, failed to get along well with other children, or received low marks in school.
Though this attitude was formed long ago, the only reason it lasts in the present is because a person now keeps repeating it to himself. Yet he has the ability to tell himself, “In the past I may have judged myself to be inferior, but I will now think for myself and appreciate my true value.”
Being aware of the source of poor self-image makes it easier to challenge the assumptions upon which it is based. It is possible that while you had certain faults in the past, you presently are learning to overcome them.
Or, perhaps the people who judge you unfavorably were using a yardstick that you do not presently accept. For example, in school a student is usually judged by the marks he receives on tests. Some students with low grades worked hard to understand, and more importantly may have internalized the concepts and practiced them to a greater degree than others who received higher grades. As a child, the diligent student with poor grades might have felt inferior, but as an adult he has the ability to appreciate how he may have really accomplished more.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.129
The biggest blessing for a person is when someone points out to him not only his strengths and virtues, but also his weaknesses and shortcomings.
We see this in the Torah when Yaakov blessed his children before he died. Yet we see that he reprimanded some sons for having faults such as impulsiveness and acting in anger. But that itself was the blessing! When Yaakov told Revuen that he acted impulsively and Shimon and Levi that they acted in anger, he was helping them to focus on the traits they needed to improve. This is the way to self-completion and it is the best blessing possible!
Today, think of a weakness that someone pointed out to you that you need to overcome. Think about how you can improve in this area and turn this criticism into a blessing!
(Sources: see Genesis 49:1, 2, 28; Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Katz – Beair Mechokaik, pp.83-4)
Be resolved for the next two weeks to thank anyone who criticizes you.
Visualize yourself being able to do this with a sense of inner joy. Since you’re mentally prepared to do this, it will be much easier to implement.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6.
I suppose this one is good for me today, since when I checked my emails a little earlier, I found two rejections of my submitted short stories, one from a Christian speculative fiction magazine. That brings me up to about thirteen, including two stories that were rejected twice. The other periodical said that they had received more than 400 submissions, so I guess competition is pretty stiff out there. Well, at least people are reading my works before saying “No.” I love Rabbi Zelig’s commentaries, but I must say they aren’t always easy to accomplish.
If someone is critical of you in a harsh tone of voice, try telling them the following:
“I appreciate your strong feelings about the matter, but I would appreciate the comments more if they were expressed more pleasantly.”
From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6
Given all of those shrill voices in social media and occasionally in real life, this is a much needed reminder that we can ask folks to turn down the volume a bit.