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About Neil

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  1. I am not sure whether it is good or bad, but I find this odd sometimes: Writers wanting so much to get "feedback comments" from the readers at the early stages of a serial story. Soliciting comments itself is not the issue. It is more when the solicitation becomes a desire from the creator to solicit a stamp of approval from the readers in regard the development of a story, for example. Should the plot of a serial story be altered because some or many of the readers did not like it? Do we cater then to what is popular so that the writing is well-received? Why exactly does one write? Neil N.B. I should note here that I am not talking about the interaction of the writer and the editor, and comments coming from the latter. I presume that a true editor of the story is privy to the general plot of the story well ahead of time. But even in this role, the editor should simply be limiting (his)her comments relevant to how the story adheres to the idea (story plot) conceived by the writer, rather than serve as a co-author. or "ghost writer".
  2. I never wrote one myself but read many stories. Here are some observations I found relevant to this thread: Ending every chapter with a cliffhanger. Giving away the plot or story development too often. Too much information and repetition. Is there really a need to describe the details of "the deed", from the beginning to its climactic end, or their various iterations and modifications, every time it is done by the same set of characters? Or the details of daily routines in every chapter? Even the neophyte is an instant Casanova. Can you give some examples from your own readings? Characters blessed with sharp eyes (sometimes even x-ray vision) that can estimate the size (length, width, circumference, etc.) of the male genitalia with the precision of a caliper. American urban settings (schools, parties, social gatherings, etc.) where "four-letter" words, and expressions like, "like", "You know", "what I meant to say" and other related expressions are foreign in the conversations. The reverse would be conversations where these expressions are used by everyone. Average characters (i.e., average teens or younger characters, or "common people") with grasp of "the abstract" or "fundamental principles" sufficient enough to parry with Socrates or articulate their thoughts like an English Professor. More later. Neil
  3. Hello, I would be interested to hear from the "grammarians" here on the correct usage of "All these" and "All this". Thanks. Cornelio
  4. To go back to what I suggested earlier, maybe there should be a separate forum section that will allow us to have more in-depth and thoughtful discussions about the issues raised in response to my original respose here. The points raised by The Pecman may warrant further discussion that may interest others. There may be other issues that we may want to raise and discuss. For example, I read glbt stories or columns, there are quite a few activists in our community who were so outraged that there were so many in the glbt community who voted for Bush or could be Republicans. I may not be a Republican nor have I voted for Bush, but I would understand why many in our community are Republicans and voted for Bush, in spite of the the policies of the Bush Administration affecting the glbt community. More recently, after the defeat of the Proposition 8 in California, there were massive and concerted protests all over the US. What I found troubling though is the desired goal of this site: http://www.eightmaps.com/ Many groups have weighed in about the controversy, and quite a few blogs and articles were written about it. Here are some from the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/business...ream.html?fta=y http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/19pro...e&st=Search I tried to find the group that might be behind the effort but a "Whois" search did not provide an answer. There are more issues that I think we should discuss as a community. I wonder if the group is interested to explore them. I looked at the other forum sections but did not find an appropriate forum section. Neil
  5. I read about that research cited by Cole. Of course, this is not just limited to words, a similar One thing that I am aware I do quite a lot, becauset I type slower than what comes to mind, quite often, there are words "missing" from what I had in mind and what I wrote. Many good authors always credit their copy editor(s) who may pick up on what had been missed, or improperly constructed. What then is the use of correct spelling and grammar, especially in a world where we have automated spell checkers? Unless the errors are attempts to provide authenticity -- character's age, background, level of education, the cultural environment, etc. -- frequent errors (especially repeated spelling error of the same word) provide the reader an insight about the author. Neil
  6. Hi Cole (or one of the Admins), When I responded to this post, I did not expect that there would be quite a few very provocative responses. I wanted to respond further to the points raised by The Pecman, Trab, Des, Richard as well as those related to your perspective on the matter. The Pecman raised a very valid question that needs to be addressed. It is consistent with questions I been preoccupied with since I became a US citizen. Legally, I am an American, Asian-American (Filipino-American to be more precise). But, am I accepted as an American by "mainstream Americans"? What is America? Who is American? How do we cope as a nation to adjust to to the changing demographics of the United States? I realized however that the direction of our discussion has taken a turn that is quite different from the intention of Blue. As one of the Admins, I wonder if you would move all the related discussion to a separate thread so that we can explore the topic further. Thanks. Neil
  7. Perhaps a partial response to Cole's point: A more apt example might be Arthur Rimbaud's poetry, defying all conventions of his time. It was a literary pursuit that had the life of a wildfire -- the brashness, vulgarity and fierceness of youth that was then extinguished (or more correctly abandoned) as fast as the passion had begun. Were it not for the devotion of his sister, and more so by the fanatic campaign launched by his lover (Paul Verlaine), Rimbaud's poetry might have perished in time. Instead, Rimbaud's poetry is considered to be the source inspiration of many poets, writers and artists, after his time, and the basis of modern poetry. In retrospect, one could say that Rimbaud did not aim primarily to communicate but -- with all the arrogance and certainty of the young -- to curve a new path. The hell with the old conventions! This attitude and outlook were embodied not only in his communications, his actions and more appropriately in his written poems. Throughout history, many, like Rimbaud, might have attempted to be defiant of the conventions of their time. However, like "Icarus" their attempts perished in the dust of time. Unlike the mythology that is "Icarus", these failed attempts were forgotten. When I have more time, I might try to respond to the point raised by Cole: About cross-cultural communication as it pertains to day-to-day life. In the example given, getting the plumbing fixed. For now, a similar example to that raised by Cole would be the ballot initiatives to declare "English as the official language" in the United States. Is this approach more effective than the bilingual mode of communication adopted in Canada, or multi-lingual communication more common in a number of European countries? From a more personal perspective, as a Filipino, political activism -- i.e., freeing ourselves from the shackles of past colonialism -- prompted me to advocate for the reduction if not outright abolition of Spanish as required courses in undergraduate curriculum. Moreover, while I have taken Spanish courses, I did not pay much attention to them, effectively not learning the language. Now that I live in the United States, I realized how pigheaded my past actions were knowing that the US is becoming more Hispanic. More important, while I am not a historian by training, I have come to realize that Spanish is key to a deeper understanding of our past, both historically and culturally, as a nation and as a people. As noted by Des and Trab, I too cringe when I watch English subtitled version of our local films destined for international release. I read a lot of German, Russian and French classics, for example. But, I knew that the English versions I read more than likely lost some meaning in the translation. This is evident from the context reading various translations of the same work. Part of the difficulty is that there are words in one language that have no equivalent translation in other languages. In the Filipino languages, the accent or simple intonation can radically change the meaning of the same word. Attempts to capture these variations, especially among younger generation, sometimes involve the written form include syllabication, spelling modifications or addition of symbols. At times, there might even be a play with how the words are structured in a sentence. The insensitive or what I refer to as culturally-challenged Western reporters quite often simply make fun of these nuances or peculiarities of languages they do not understand. In attempt to avoid such ridicule by Westerners, many older Filipino writers, especially those educated in Western countries kowtow to the formal written structure of American English. The result is that Filipinos do not identify with written Filipino English literature, except when forced to muddle with them in the classroom. On the other hand, the educated Filipino elite are generally more conversant with standard literature written by Westerners. A cultural divide ensues that has more lasting repercussions beyond simple enjoyment of the arts and literature. Equally important, there are nuance imbued by each culture that is expressed during communication. The latter is even more difficult to impart, especially with written narrative. One very simple example, eye contact may be viewed in the West as the proper thing to do, or to indicate that one is being honest. In some cultures, prolonged "eye contact" in certain situations may be construed as disrespect, arrogance or worse, defiance. I believe personally that the literature, music and arts represent the heart and soul of a people and a nation. In our world that is becoming a global village, understanding these cultural heritage from the perspective of the peoples of the world is key to our living in harmony in a more global village. If only for the aforementioned reason, it is incumbent that we, as part of a global village, strive to understand, be sensitive or if possible become familiar with the structure of communication of peoples of the world. This appeal may seem too distant from what should be the focus of the writers in our community. But what we should remember are these: We shall forever be a minority in a larger society and in a global village. What defines us as a "community" is more linked to our intellectual and emotional bonds, rather than associated with any specific institution in the larger society. Our narrative stories, expressed in more personal manner are vital so that these intellectual and emotional bonds lead to more effective interaction, and perhaps even deeper physical relations (and this I meant not just in the sexual context). Neil
  8. There are greater blunders than spelling and grammar Correct spelling and grammar must be observed when appropriate, especially in essay. However, the narrative in story telling has greater needs -- authenticity of the characters and the period described by the narrative. Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is an effective model where "incorrect spelling and grammar" have to be integral part of the narrative to achieve authenticity. While I am not an expert of British idioms, colloquialisms, dialects and such, I believe Mike Arram attempted to capture aunthenticity for his characters -- mainly British and "Rothenians" (a fictional European country) -- considering their socio-economic background, level of education and age. What I find more troubling are narratives where the characters have grasp of the language or depth of reasoning beyond their age, background and level of education. Achieving a level of competence to arrive at more holistic characters and more accurate portrayal of a period would require discipline and perseverance that perhaps only the more serious writers in the community might be willing to undertake. As a non-Westerner, although now living and a citizen of the US, a common mistake by Caucasian Westerners is to assume that those from different culture must follow the proper syntax and grammar of British or American English. Rather, modern linguists have accepted the notion that written and spoken English, as structured by the culture of other countries are just as acceptable. Neil
  9. I am glad to learn that "The Scrolls of Icaria" is back. I had followed it religiously and eagerly awaited the coming of a new chapter. It has been awhile since the last chapter. Initially, I thought that Jamie might have been busy. Then as time passsed, I got anxious to the extent that I was tempted to write to him to find out what was going on -- perhaps even wanting to know how he was doing. I wanted to tell him also that I enjoyed his story, and hope to encourage him to continue. In the end, my reticence -- and not wanting to invade his privacy -- prevailed. I do read a lot of online and printed gay stories. I consider "The Scrolls of Icaria" one of my favorites in terms of the story telling -- plot, development of holistic characters and the breath and depth of issues covered. "The Scrolls of Icaria" appeals to the boy in me who is fascinated about the clash between good and evil -- the eternal wish that good shall triumph. But, for this to happen, we must heed Tolstoy: "... That if all vicious men are bound together and constitute a force, then all honorable men ought to do the same ..." -- Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace) I would be a hypocrite if I do not admit to being an avid reader of the "written porn", which I prefer sometimes more than their visual counterparts. However, it is welcome to find gay stories online where you are made aware about the "birds and the bees" and their importance in our existence and as part of our daily lives. "The Scrolls of Icaria" provides glimpses of this physical aspect of love of its main characters but in a narrative that contribute to the development of the story but at the same time does not consume and detract in the story telling. Among those available online, others that come to mind include those of Josh Aterovis (too bad his personal website was down the last time I visited and only a few are available online, although some of them are now in print). The William Carter Saga of Christopher Lydon is another good set of well-paced and compelling storytelling. Lydon also has epic SciFi stories under the The Falcon Banner Saga. Mike Arram may be more explicit in his Peacher Stories and The Crown of Tassilo series. And the same is true with Dan Kirk's SciFi -- Dreams of Humanity, Dreams of a Father and some others. There are more stories of authors that I would like to share but I do hope you get the picture if you read the aforementioned examples. I cited the above stories also because the narration may be long (some epic) but not tedious to read. Jamie, like the authors cited, achieved their goal by dividing the narrative into books, saga or sections with defined resolution at the end of its major section. As important, "The Scrolls of Icaria" -- like many of the other stories cited above -- portrays us, as part of a larger community rather than living in a "ghetto" or a gentrified world. The physical aspect of our sexuality are apparent, but more important the focus of the characters are the issues that we encounter in our day-to-day lives and the roles of the characters as part of a larger community. Unfortunately, many online stories regarding our community or those portrayed on television, in print or in other multimedia tend to be hedonistic and gentrified. I am sure you have some stories you would consider sharing that fit the criteria enumerated above. And I hope you will share them in response to this post. Neil N.B. Some of the stories cited above are found in AD, gayauthors.org, crvboy.org and iomfats.org. I read quite a few of them also in the personal websites of the authors. Unfortunately, many of these personal websites have disappeared. There are quite a few gems also in Nifty but the quest is akin to finding diamonds in the riverbed.
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