by Dr David, Editor / Publisher
It seems simple at first. This illusion of ease has a certain survival advantage. If we knew how hard it is to do most things that are really worth doing, we'd probably never start. Nothing comes from nothing. Dad advised me, "Keep swinging; you're bound to hit something."
Several years ago X approached me about helping me with my magazine. An artist of sorts, I suggested he create an art section. We talked about money. I suggested that at first we could give away the ads and later charge. I could see that this advertising strategy struck him. Two months later he started publishing his own online newsletter magazine. His rag featured ads that no one had paid for and articles that he had taken without persmission from other websites, one very prominent site in particular. More than suspicious, I googled the titles and there they were.
X published his pirated content monthly for a while. Then it appeared less frequently. Now it is published, as the Mexicans say, "En vez de cuando," now and again. I stopped keeping track, but I receive it maybe every other month, if that. Publishing only seems simple at first if you are an idiot or lifting other people's articles. I'm guessing that the glory X derives from tricking the public has worn thin, especially since no one is paying for the ads.
Along with his articles of questionable origin, X has also recently begun to publish, on occasion, pieces by a local painter of religious works, Mary Jane Miller, a person who cares very much about us all living a better life. Years ago she submitted an article to my magazine, but did not take my advice on revising it.
This week I received one of X's newsletter magazines featuring an article by Mary Jane Miller, and wrote her in response the email below.
My email to Mary Jane Miller:
Hola Mary Jane,
I hope all is well.
I read your piece on water now outselling soda and the problem of plastic bottling. I wish I had had a chance to edit it, not just to correct the many grammatical errors, but because, with more than a little work, your "tirade" would have made a good story.
At the article's end you write, "If you do not agree with this tirade, I am not surprised. Perhaps you are not paying attention to love, peace, wholeness and the great wonder of being a human on the planet." You needn't have bothered. Long before your postscript you had already lost all those types. That is unfortunate, because those people, ones who ought to think more about their consumption of plastic, were your target audience, precisely the ones to whom you were writing. No one who did "not agree with [your] tirade" read all the way down to your postscript.
People don't want to hear you vent your anger, much less read you doing so. Oh, yes, some who already agree with you might like to get their opinions corroborated. (Think of all the anti-Trump venting on Facebook.) But you won't make a single convert. If you want to complain in an article it has to be well-crafted and entertaining, and yours was neither. I wish you would apply to your writing some of the discipline that you obviously devote to your painting.
I sense that you are writing for yourself, because it is therapeutic, that is, it makes you feel better. That's like those people who post photos of starving children or environmental problems on Facebook. The person making the post may feel more virtuous, but it helps neither the children nor the environment. Your passion is obvious, but uninviting.
There is a man in town, who also produces articles I also consider unpublishable. His, unlike yours, are finely-crafted. They are, however, very teachy and preachy, like listening to a lecture. They are excerpts from his book. He sends them out in his newsletter. I read most of them. They are on diet and health, a theme very close to my heart. But, as much as I agree with their content, and as hungry as I am for material to print in my magazine, I can't print his pieces, because people don't like to be told what to do, lectured at, harangued...
In a magazine people want to read a story. The shame of it is that you have a story, an important story. What you don't have is an editor. The best line in your piece was, "I live in the desert of Mexico and the need for water is clear, the environment waits for water." Actually that is two or three sentences: "I live in the desert of Mexico. Here the necessity of water is clear. The environment itself waits for water."
I myself am extremely sympathetic to the problem of plastic pollution. I shudder each time I see someone at Mercado Sano drinking their just-purchased healthy green drink in a plastic cup complete with a plastic dome lid and a plastic straw; healthy for you, but not for the planet. I personally will not indulge my momentary appetite or thirst if the utensil I use is going to remain on the earth for 10,000 years leaching toxins all the while.
I'm expanding the format of my magazine and changing the name to San Miguel Sunday. It will be something to have with your bagel or croissant. If you ever want to get serious about your writing, let me know.
From Mary Jane in response:
I am flattered you read the whole article and feel it has the slightest potential for a good read.
Reading your comments, I am reminded art and writing are not that different. But making art might leave me a little less vulnerable. I am sincerely dedicated to my work. If anyone would analyze the brush strokes they would find as many errors if not more than anything I write. Along with the brush stroke errors, I know many folks stop looking at my religious art works the minute they see their content, which is not all too different than writing a message few might want to hear.
So yes I need an editor. Thank God I have them for my books, and perhaps I should for an article. I will take your comments to heart and try harder, maybe even be softer and with a bit of humor.
As to the message and its delivery, and the conversations about plastic, I might suggest; when you see the person at Mecado Sano with a plastic cup, please open the discussion to highlight the contradictions you see. I believe many people need to be shown contradictions. Your observation is perfect for this, "Healthy for you, but not for the planet."
We will grow and change gradually as we make the connection and balance of our actions within the material world with those of the spirit world. Many of us fail to make time for thinking. The value of prayer, meditation, reflection, and contemplation have a natural place at our core. A healthy go to place as we plow through our varied contemporary lifestyles. The consequences from our collective neglect have come in the form of collective chaos which is obvious at this point. Many of us are overwhelmed by what we have created and ironically find little responsibility or power to change. This was what I failed to get across in the article..........., EVERY little Bit Helps, One breath at a time.
Great news and good luck with your San Miguel Sunday addition.
Peace on the planet.
PS please feel free to take the article, chop it up clean it up make it sparkle and publish it in your name with my blessing.
My response to Mary Jane's email:
Hola Mary Jane,
Thanks for your well-measured response and for your permission to republish. I will send the article I will publish today.
I am sure that the story of our emails will garner much more attention for your anti-plastic message. People love story and my magazine has much greater circulation than does X's newsletter.
Please do consider me for an editor for your articles and San Miguel Sunday as a more respectable place to publish them. Your articles have spirit and message, they just need more story. I want to publish you.
Mary Jane Miller is a self-taught Byzantine style iconographer with over 28 years of experience. She has had exhibitions in Museums and churches in both the United States and Mexico. Miller writes luxuriously, blending historical content, and personal insights to arrive at contemporary conclusions about faith. The author of 4 self-published books include Icon Painting Revealed, The Mary Collection, In light of Women and The Stations. Miller has been published online and in publications such as Divine Temple Russian Orthodox Journal, Faith and Forum Magazine, Liturgy Today and Profiles of Catholicism. She teaches 4 courses annually.
photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)
Dr David has invested years of his life and more money than he cares to reckon into his global Lokkal project, an event calendar and searchable directory/business network for towns and cities around the world, combining aspects of Facebook, Google and Trip Advisor. Think: Digital Town Square. Think: the yellow pages for the new millenium. See more. A madman crying in the wilderness for years, reinforcements are recently arriving, the A team is assembling and preparations to launch in other cities are being made, gracias a dios. Interested?
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