Patsy Porco

Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Hold Onto Your Pants

In fashion, Humor on January 27, 2018 at 2:43 am

I understand pack rats. Not hoarders, though. Hoarders, from what I understand, don’t clean and never throw anything out. Their piles of trash reach their ceilings and spill out their windows. Pack rats, however, are people who don’t throw their belongings out for fear they’ll need them someday. Or that’s my definition. I make stuff up to suit my purposes.

Anyway, it’s the fashion nowadays to talk about purging your home of everything that doesn’t “bring you joy.” What a crock. Toilet paper doesn’t bring me joy but I can’t throw it all out. They don’t print Sears catalogs anymore.

Before the woman who wrote about joyful decluttering became popular, though, fashion magazines had always been encouraging people to get rid of clothes that hadn’t been worn for more than a year.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Let’s say you haven’t worn your favorite (or only) evening gown for over a year because you didn’t have any balls, or Italian weddings, to attend. According to the fashion advisors, you should donate it, pronto. However, you just know that you will have barely closed your car door after dropping off the gown when an invitation will arrive to a black-tie event, or a costume party. What do you do then? Go to the charity shop and buy it back?

And are they also suggesting that men should get rid of their tuxedos if they haven’t been worn in 366 days? That’s crazy talk, as my sister would say. Fashion experts need to be held accountable for their clever advice. If they make me throw out an expensive item that I will need in two years, then they should replace it.

“Dear [insert fashion magazine name] , I took your advice and threw out my husband’s wetsuit. Now he needs it. Please send me one in size XL, and include the flipper-thingies in size 11. Many thanks.”

Also, other items that have been shoved to the back of the closet might be unfashionable now, but fashion cycles are speeding up and they could be back in style in two years, or a year and a half. Then you’ll curse yourself, and that idiot fashion writer, for getting rid of them.

Here’s a perfect example: I wore men’s Levi’s for decades. Even after I succumbed to pressure from those-more-fashionable-than-I to buy women’s jeans, I kept the old Levi’s to wear when I worked in the garden or painted. Just last year, I decided to get rid of them since I had discovered that my husband’s old sweatpants were more comfortable to work in and, thus, I would have no need for these jeans since I couldn’t wear them out in public.

Naturally, I just found these Helmut Lang jeans being sold online for $275. These are Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 1.38.09 AMexpensive because of the name, but it’s only a matter of time before Levi’s knocks them off and sells them for $100. Summinabeech*, as my husband says.

The moral here is that we should stop taking advice from inexperienced people who are younger than our clothes, hold onto everything, and let our heirs decide how joyful our stuff is.

 

* Translation: SOB

 

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Snow Write

In Humor, snow on January 6, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Many years ago, my sister, brother,Central Park and I walked to Central Park from our apartments on East 83rd Street in Manhattan. It had snowed tremendously, and our companies had given us a snow day. This was before anyone had computers in their homes so very few people were expected to work from home.

We trudged westward through the snow, up East 83rd to Fifth Avenue, and across Fifth to the park. We slogged through the knee-deep snow, alongside the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s glass enclosure that housed the Egyptian room.

My sister told my brother and me that we should write about what it was like to walk around New York City in the snow. She said that that was what real writers would do. That was a dig at us because we fancied ourselves writers. Our brother was actually earning a living by writing for a trade magazine at the time. I just told people that I could write and some of them, my sister included, believed me.

Anyway, we returned home with cold hands and feet … and warm insides due to our prolonged stop at a bar. Neither my brother nor I wrote about our day. Even if we had, who would we have submitted our stories to? It’s not like there were blogs back then.

The next day, my sister, brother, and I must have met up again because I remember her waving The New York Daily News, or maybe Newsday, at us. “Look at this,” she said, pointing to an article. “Jimmy Breslin wrote about walking around New York in the snow yesterday. I told you both that you should have written about the snow.” We told her that we weren’t well-known writers with established columns in a New York newspaper. She said it didn’t matter. That’s what writers did: they wrote. Looking back, I see that she was right. We should have written for ourselves, if for no one else.

The other day, it snowed a foot in Norwalk, Connecticut, where I live. The winds blew maniacally and the temperature felt like it was in the low single digits. It was too cold to leave the house, so my only interaction with the snow was through my home-office window. From what I could see, the wind was so strong that the snow fell sideways, and nobody came out of their houses due to the extreme cold.

My company’s office was officially closed for the snow day, but we were all told to work from home. I complained to my husband that snow days weren’t fun anymore, now that we had to work through them.

But, truthfully, I was secretly relieved to have an excuse for not writing about the snow.

Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania … and Nora?

In Books, Humor, Writing on August 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I just finished a book, Murder Me Now, by Annette Meyers, about a bohemian flapper poet/detective, Olivia Brown. When Olivia isn’t detecting (or drinking gin in Greenwich Village speak-easies), she composes poems which she later recites to her adoring fans. And her fans are legion. People stop her on the street, halt their conversations on trains, and line up for hours outside a venue at which she is scheduled to appear, just to hear her recite her work.

Between you and me, I find it hard to believe that poetry was ever that esteemed, even a century ago. Poetry confuses me. But, I don’t think most poets know what they’re writing about anyway, so I’ve never worried about my lack of insight into a poem’s meaning.

Olivia, however, is no regular poet/detective. She has a muse, whom she creatively calls “Muse.” When she feels a poem upon her, she only has to sit at her desk and ask Muse for inspiration. Nine times out of ten, Muse puts all of the poem’s words into Olivia’s head, in sonnet form. All that Olivia has to do is type.

I’m no stranger to muses. I’ve been known to ask deceased writers to a-muse me. Sometimes you’ll hear a person say that a living person is his muse, but the person talking is usually a man who has designs on the woman he calls his muse. As soon as their relationship fizzles out, he’s on to another muse.

I prefer a muse who is dead. You don’t have to meet for coffee or buy thank-you presents for spirit muses. If I could find a muse who would write my blog posts for me, instead of just inspiring me, that would be another plus in the muse’s favor.

My favorite form of writing is the humorous essay. When Erma Bombeck died, on my birthday, I took it as a sign that she was to be my muse. I asked her to inspire me and, for a while there, I thought she did. But I get the feeling that she didn’t find me funny enough to bother with, so she moved on.

I think that either David Sedaris or Dave Barry would be a perfect fit as my muse, but they’re still alive, which rules them out … for now. In the meantime, the search continues, but I think I’m getting close to finding myself a muse.

It’s said that everything happens for a reason, so when my friend recently loaned me her copy of a Nora Ephron book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, I took note. When I started reading, I had a eureka moment: “Eureka! I have found her!” I know, like I’ve never known anything before, that I would very much like Nora Ephron to be my muse. I would welcome her inspiration. I would really welcome her actually writing my blog posts, but I’ll work up to that request.

In the meantime, I have to get Nora to agree to take me on, which might be too much to ask of her. In fact, she’s probably appalled that I’m asking her to muse me at all — especially since I am incorrectly using the word “muse” as a verb meaning “inspire.”

In Nora’s lifetime, she was a talented, sophisticated, intelligent, witty, sardonic, and hilarious writer who was widely admired. Why would she lower herself to muse me?

The answer is: because I’m alive and she’s not. I can keep her voice alive during the rest of my lifetime. That reason alone might sway her. After all,  even though she died, I’m certain that she still has lots to say.

What do you say, Nora?

Wanna Buy a Website?

In Humor, Website, Writing on May 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

A long time ago, I remember reading a complaint by a wanna-be author about young authors who, with little life experience, wrote best-selling debut novels. The complainer said that he thought that one had to run with bulls, shoot big game, and fight in wars before writing a book. He was really ticked off that novices had the nerve to succeed as authors without emulating Hemingway. I, on the other hand, was inspired. Maybe I could write a book, too. I knew very little about anything, so I was qualified. The only thing holding me back was my innate laziness.

My personal motto is “Take the path of least resistance.” Why struggle when you don’t have to? You can get there the easy way, or the hard way. The choice is kind of obvious.

I remember being awed, many years ago, by the marketing expertise of an Avon lady in our 20-story office building. I first learned of her existence in the ladies’ room. She had put a stack of Avon catalogs next to the sink. Out of curiosity, I visited all of the ladies’ rooms on every floor, and I saw an identical stack on every counter. That was ingenious, in my opinion. With very little effort, she had reached every potential female customer in the building. She became my role model, even though I had no idea who she was.

Then the Internet came along and entrepreneurs started buying up website domains with the names of big corporations and famous people. Big corporations and famous people were not amused, but many of them were forced to pay big bucks to the domain owners to buy back their names. Some of the companies sued the domain owners, but many chose to just pay up and be done with it. A new world had opened up for me.

So, I started a website. The site, www.spbroundup.com, is a list of self-published books. I had two purposes in starting the site: to promote the work of self-published authors, who needed one site where book buyers could go and find titles for all tastes; and to have a big corporation, like Amazon.com, buy it. The big corporation would have the resources to improve my site which would benefit indie authors, as well as me.

I mentioned the site on LinkedIn.com’s author and writer pages, and received a number of book submissions. I started entering the information, and then I got more submissions. I couldn’t keep up with the demand which was, in truth, small. But it was bigger than I could handle. Now, I have a backlog of titles to post on my site—and an inbox full of annoyed emails from self-published authors who want to know what is taking me so long to upload their book information. The worst part is that the site is taking up a lot of my time and nobody has shown any interest in buying, or even visiting, my site.

I think it’s time to change my path. This one is very resistant. Maybe I’ll start selling something in restrooms. If you’re a big mail-order company looking for an indolent rep, feel free to send me catalogs.

Sticking it to the (Publishing) Man

In Books, Publishing, Self Publishing, Self-Published Books, Website, Writing on October 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Publishers used to be the last word in getting your book into print. Once you were rejected by one and all, you pretty much had to shelve your book and give up on it, or start over with a new book or a rewrite. People actually lived entire lives trying to get published and died trying. Now when publishers say, “No!” you can say “Oh, yeah?”

Your book’s future is in your hands now. Self-publishing your book may not have the cachet that a big (or small) publishing house’s backing does, but it does guarantee a reward for all of your hard work and dedication. After you sweat blood (or vodka) over the writing, rewriting and editing of your book, you know that you will eventually hold a completed, bound copy of your book in your hands–unlike the legions of authors who up until recently poured their hearts and souls into manuscripts only to have them, and their dreams, end up moldering in desk drawers. One guy I know said that when he received copies of his self-published book, he was so elated he could’ve cried. Before the advent of self-publishing, there was a lot of crying, but the tears didn’t stem from joy.

Once the elation of being a published author subsides, however, you are left with the monumental task of marketing your book. This is where having an established publisher comes in handy. Big publishers have departments that schedule author tours and advertise their authors’ books. You have none of that. But, if you think about it, even if your book were represented by a large publishing house, there’s no guarantee you’d get a lot of attention. Most of their money is spent on publicizing their best-selling authors. The rank-and-file authors don’t get much notice from their marketing departments. And if you were picked up by a smaller, more obscure publisher, they wouldn’t have the resources to promote your book in a big way, so, you’d probably be in the same boat you’re in now. So, forget about the big publishers’ big money and focus on your next step: marketing and selling your book.

By now, you’ve probably hit up all of your friends, relatives, coworkers and acquaintances to buy a copy of your book. You might even have blogged or tweeted about it or started a Facebook page for it. These are all drops in a bucket, but without drops, how do you expect to fill that bucket? Drops are essential. So here’s another one: List your self-published book on my new website, www.spbroundup.com. It stands for Self-Published Book Roundup, or maybe Self-Published Books Roundup. I’m not really sure; that’s why I used the abbreviation SPB. Anyway, email me the title of the book, your name or whatever name you used on the book, and a brief summary of the book, including the category or genre of the book. Also include contact information and a link, if any, to a site where the book can be purchased. Then tell people about the site. Blog about it, hang signs about it, tattoo the URL on your forearm, whatever it takes to get the site noticed. Of course your efforts will help my site and why should you do that? Because your book will be on it. And every time someone goes to the site, there is the potential for a sale for you. So we help each other. There’s no financial cost to you at all to have your book listed, so what are you waiting for?

Oh, you’re waiting to hear why I’m doing this? That’s simple. I want to stop commuting two hours each way to work. If the site becomes successful and attracts an advertiser or two, then I can stay home and maintain the site full time. I love to read, so helping you sell your books to other readers while I make a little money seems like a win-win proposition to me.

Okay, my cards are on the table. Now please put your cards–i.e., book–on my list. Send your entry to patsy@spbroundup.com. And if you like my site, please add a link to it on your site. And good luck to us all.

 

Check out what indie authors have to offer at www.spbroundup.com.

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