Monthly Archives: January 2017

Word Loss: A Great Fear

Since I was a wee child words have been my greatest asset. Word games? All me. Bring it on: Scrabble, Boggle, Words with Friends, even the ever fun family game of Words. I could out talk, and out verbally wit for that matter, just about anyone looking to verbally rumble. Ah, the good ol’ days when the words flowed like a Hawaiian volcano.

Flash forward to 2017 and a 43-year-old writer. A person of words. A person who was  a walking dictionary and thesaurus. Now I struggle for familiar words. The simple everyday words at that. In one story I struggled to recall the word charming. Imagine that. Not some crazy twelve letter twenty-dollar word. I was scrambling in my mind. It sounds like “C’,” like chair, like something yellow-orange (okay, I relate things to colors). It’s a man, like tall man, like that guy from that movie and a chair.

“Loss of words is actually part of the aging process …”

I’m not saying the thought processes of my mind are fluid, but there’s a method to my madness. After finally looking up the name of Cinderella’s dream man, I was able to get the word. Then for ten minutes I shook my head and wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I was worried to the point I was almost physically ill.

This isn’t something new. About five years ago I realized the words were escaping me. A real nightmare for any writer. Since I was twelve I suffered debilitating migraines and was once told, after a brain study, that I had lesions on my brain from the severity of the migraines. My personal research proves this is a possibility, which is why migraine sufferers have a greater chance of having a stroke (sorry, interjecting my medical career there). Back to the point: I wondered if perhaps lesions had anything to do with memory loss.

blurRecently, I spoke with a few other men and women my age and took note that they all searched the vast blue sky for certain words that were “at the tip of their tongue.” After asking if they had more of a difficult time remembering simple words, they all said they did, that sometimes even simple words were a blur. Great!! I mean, not great, but yes. Loss of words is actually a part of the aging process, which is why verbal engagement and mental stimulation is so key as we get older.

I have Thesauraus.com as a favorite on my computer, and such a lifesaver. I try to use new words everyday. I also work to recall a word using any kind of cue I can before looking it up. The computer is  my last resort, though I’ve called in a life line or two.

Me: Dasan, what is that thingy called?
Dasan: What thingy?
Me: You know. You go to someone’s house and you push the thingy so they answer the door. The pushy button thingy?
Dasan: You mean a doorbell?
Me: Awesome. Thanks.

It’s pretty much like that. So when my various writing groups pose the question, “What scares you most as a writer?” My answer is always the same: Losing the words.

What scares you most as a writer? As a writer do you get a little worried about losing words?

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
Follow me on FB, Twitter, or visit my WEBSITE for book info

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The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
Follow me on Twitter, FB, and visit my website

What Are the Arts? A Hollywood Standard

After spending more than my self-allotted time on Facebook today, the running theme was the Meryl Streep speech. This blog is not a political debate and I will not go into politics. However, I will discuss “arts.” Ms. Streep made a rather bold comment that has sent MMA fighters globally into an uproar, whether her intention or not.

Per Ms. Streep, “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

The question now begging to be answered is: What are the arts? Are the arts only limited to those on stage or in productions? Have we lost sight of what the arts are? Have the arts  evolved or devolved?

According to Oxford, art can be defined as 1) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2) (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. 3) a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.

I would consider definition #2 to include artists, writers, poets, sculptors, singers/song writers, and dancers. In there I would add acting as well, as this is a dominant basis to portray stories through creative activity. That would be my opinion. Using the given Oxford definition then, Mixed Martial Arts, football, even culinary chefs would fall into definition #3, as they have honed into a special skill acquired through practice. This can also absorb definition #2, as a writer works at his skill acquired through practice: the art of writing. Similarly,  the art of song writing, the art of basket weaving, the art of sculpting, the art of dance, the art of fighting, heck even the art of war.

So here is my kick: as definition #2 (the arts) can easily dip into definition #3 (acquired skill), can acquired skill also be considered the arts? The definitions are so broad. Have you ever watched Tai Chi? The slow and fluid motions are almost poetic in nature and mesmerizing to watch. Would Tai Chi not be a creative activity defined as the arts? Again, the definition is quite broad and could not encompass every example of the arts, but instead gave the more prominent ones.

Glass blowing: the arts or an acquired skill; the art of glass blowing? Tai Chi versus MMA; is there a difference?

Definitions give to evolution in an ever changing world, but are the definitions variant through the eyes of the beholder?  A husband and wife go to an art museum. The wife is in awe of the sculptures and paintings, to her that is art. They walk into the next museum, an air and space museum, and the husband sees the curves, the mass, the depth of an old WWII fighter plane and says that is true art. Which one is wrong? Are they both correct? Couldn’t building a plane be considered a creative art? I’m sure the Wright Brothers would love to hear that argument.

My blog today was not to bash or trash, and definitely not to make a political statement, but rather to entice people to open their minds as to what is art and what are the arts. Are only the beautiful aspects to be considered art such as Tai Chi versus MMA? Are some form of the arts higher up on the evolutionary art ladder than others: slam poetry versus Hollywood movies? Is it art to portray a fighter in a movie but not to be a fighter? Is it art to portray a fighter pilot in war but not to be a fighter pilot in war?

Have we evolved or devolved our definition of the arts over time? And if all of Hollywood disappeared today, would the arts disappear with it?

I would love to hear your “non-political” input on what you consider to be the arts, or on Ms. Streep’s thoughts that without Hollywood there would be nothing left but football and MMA. Maybe the world could read the book instead of watching the film adaptation, but I’m a writer; I can dream.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN & Author of the arts

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