Saturday, February 27, 2010

Testing the waters without a compelling question

There are times that as a writer you stumble across something, and find yourself wondering if you should not be doing it also. In my case, I recently discovered that there is a lot of articles about Jane Eyre over on Associated Content.

And honestly, I found myself wondering if anyone makes a dime off of them.

I had wrote an essay on Jane Eyre earlier this semester. It was one of those compelling question essays that I loathe. I got a C on it.

Thank the goddess for rewrites in this particular class.

It should be noted that I have no intention of writing this particular essay. It has already been agreed (by both me and the professor) that I am choosing another question for my rewrite, perhaps even a different novel.

So given the fact that I am not going to rewrite this essay, I decided to use it as a test article over on Associated Content. I figure that "What does the color red symbolize in Jane Eyre?" will give me an idea of whether or not anyone is making a dime on articles of that irk.

If they are, and I make a dime, then good for me. If not, it is not like I lost anything. All I did was remove the citations, and rewrite a couple of sentences. I think that is called "recycling."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Twittering the AC articles

There are just some days that you have to take care of the little business matters that you have been neglecting and today was one of them.

One of the little things I have been neglecting is linking my Associated Content articles to my twitter page. Of course, it turned out to be as painful as I thought it would be. For one thing, I needed to change my twitter password (it was shared by another site---I know---Bad Morgan!). Then I promptly could not type in the exact password again; it was strong, but not memoriable. So it goes.

Now at the moment, I do not have that many followers on twitter. A whole seven---and I am not really sure that they are real followers. But in twitter's defense, I have not worked at making sure people know I have a twitter account.

Then is also the whole issue that I do not update twitter regularly. Logging in today, I realized that it had not been updated for three months. A large part of that problem is that I do not have a cell phone, so I actually have to be near a computer to update my status.

So why am I setting this up now? Simply because I can foresee needing it in the future. For instance, in June when my wife is out of town, I plan on doing a lot of writing. I do not want to waste a minute of that two or three week period---those of you who have heard me complain about how she interrupts my writing will understand that comment. Having this set up ahead of time will help on that front.

Anyways, that was my big accomplishment of the day (if you ignore the fact that I changed my profile picture back to a real picture from the "last meal before execution" meme).

Follow Morgan Eckstein on Twitter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quote of the Day: Alcott on the worshipping grammar

Devotees of grammatical studies have not been distinguished for any very remarkable felicities of expression.
--- Amos Bronson Alcott

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Living in a Fishbowl II

One of the tightropes that a working writer, especially in today's social networked Googlized environment, gets to walk is how much of your life do you allow to be known. In many ways, all of us are living in a fishbowl today. Every social networking site we join, every article we publish online, every web page we make, every blog post we write: All of them decrease the amount of privacy we have as writers.

For instance, if you play games on Facebook, do you really want the whole world to know that you are wasting that much time everyday...and if you need to spend that much time playing them, what does this say about your mental state? (Feel free to comment about my game playing habits in the comment section.)

In my case, the concern started early in my writing career. I was still a member of the print market at that time (technically I still do the print market)...well, the internet hadn't really begin yet...anyway, the important part is that I had to decide relatively early how much of my life I wanted to make public.

Or rather a member of my family decided for me. Horror of horrors, not only did I chose the wrong religion and set of spiritual beliefs, not only did I chose to pick the wrong profession, I actually chose to combine the two. For her sake of mind, I decided to write under a penname.

In recent years, due to various factors, this has became a problem for me. I want to send people to places to read my writing, but often they know me by my legal name and not my penname.

I decided to give up the whole pretense a couple of years ago when I realized that it was probably an open secret that Emil Michael Eckstein and Morgan Drake Eckstein was the same individual. If I could figure it out using Google, I was sure other people could too.

And honestly, I gave up caring a damn about it. Having your sole source of income be your writing tends to do that to a person. I still introduce myself to people as Morgan (except on campus, where I am Emil), but my Facebook page is under my legal name. I write my honest opinions about my religion (I am Egyptian/Norse pagan/Wiccan---feel free to comment about that combination), my involvement in Golden Dawn, my experiences in magic, my opinion about my college classes and professors, my gripes about my friends and family, my lack of ethics (if you read my Golden Dawn blog, you know what I am talking about), and anything else I feel like talking about.

The amazing part is that outside of a couple of members of my family, no one seems to care about how big of a lunatic I am. The people I went to High School with already knew that I was weird...therefore the whole town knew already (it was a small town; everyone knows everybody). Everyone in the local esoteric community knows that I have a few screws loose, but could care less (I am classified as a harmless nutcase). Heck, I am even married (don't ask me what she sees in me, I have yet to figure it out).

So in my case, living into today's internet cached Googlized fishbowl is not so bad. After all, I have been doing it my entire life without realizing it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First tilt at this semester's windmill

Today was my first tilt at the evil giant menacing the happiness of my semester. Wait, no---that is a windmill that I am tilting at. Oh no, it is not a windmill! It is the dreaded compelling question essay!!!

As they say in football, one down and three to go. Or is that in cat juggling?

I can't say that I loathe the compelling question essays. But I definitely dislike them.

I first got exposed to them last semester in the Gothic Literature class. This semester, they are pack and parcel in the History of the Novel II class. I did consider not taking this class...but I sort of need it to get my degree, so I decided just to get it over with.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the purpose of them. Professor Jeff Franklin is using them to torture students, in partcular---me! Oh wait, that is not is actually a job skill that he is teaching.

Quite simply, a compelling question essay is a delayed thesis essay. Or as I treat them a rambling stroll though a novel while carrying a question.

Last semester, I tried the serious approach to the compelling question essay. And I crashed and burned twice. Not this semester, everyone had a more serious question than I did.

Yes, that is right: I went for a silly question for this first attempt. "What does the color red symbolize in Jane Eyre?" The question was born when Jane was punished by being sent to the red-room, and I sat there and said, "Gee, this room has a lot of red in it. I wonder why."

I am not holding out much hope to get a favorable grade on the resulting essay, even after I whack it a few times with a shovel when rewriting it. Nor am I holding out much hope for the other attempts at this particular format.

I only have one more required (the other two can be something else), but I am stubborn...I am going to keep trying to take this windmill down.