A couple of people have…

A couple of people have asked me how much the whole domain thing costs. So to briefly cover it, if you follow Shmuel's advice and go through http://directnic.com/ for your registration, that's $15/year. Then you need someone to host it. You could do that through your local ISP, but they'll probably have strict limitations on how much storage space you can have, and possibly on how much bandwith you use. Lanminds was fine with my traffic (at roughly 1000 hits/day, I think), but restricted personal accounts to 25 MB of storage -- my site is closer to 50 MB once you put in some sound files. If you plan to have a mostly text site, an ISP is probably just fine. If you need more storage space or plan to have heavy traffic, you may want a web hosting account. Lanminds offers those too, and if I hadn't other reasons for leaving, I might have switched over to that. But it's more expensive (something like $40/month, I think), and if you have dial-in access already and just need a web host, you may want to go with something like Pair. Pair's basic account gives you 60 MB of storage for something like $9.95/month, and they have advanced and webmaster accounts for not much more per month. The basic account is going to be sufficient for my needs, I think.

A few other business things to mention. The EROS workshop has at least semi-permanently moved to an Egroups list. You can find it at: http://www.egroups.com/group/er osworkshop. I still need to do a few things to make it fully functional for new members, but old members should just go sign up and I'll get you started again. The list is up and running, with people posting subs and crits.

Another thing I'm thinking about is this CD. I think there's enough interest to do it; I'm actually thinking about doing two versions; one romantic (PG), and one romantic (X). :-) I'd kinda like to do one that I could give as Christmas presents to family, that the kids could listen to. Might put a couple of the kids' pieces on it too, like "The Poet's Journey" and "The Tummy". So the next step is to find out how much this'll cost me: recording fees, if any (I could do it at home, but the quality probably wouldn't be very good), manufacture of CD and liner notes, distribution. Any ideas?

Someone sent me a whole bunch of information on this once, and I can't find it. It's frustrating doing research all over again on this...feeling a bit bewildered and not sure where to start. I know a local musician in Salt Lake who's done a CD, and I plan to call and talk to her about costs, but I bet there are web packaging thingies out there that might be really cost-effective. What I really want to do is not worry about all the money aspects and get on to the fun part of choosing what pieces to put on it, but it just doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time on all that if I might not actually do this.

Money money money. May I note yet again that I really don't like thinking about money. Anything sensible should be free. Only frivolous things should cost you money. There's a socialist buried deep in me...though I suspect my definitions of 'sensible' might be much broader than most socialists'.

I'm in a bit of a mood this morning; slept badly. Then Jed dropped me at the Printers' Inc. bookstore/cafe in Palo Alto and went to work; that'd be lovely, except I just realized that I left my wallet at his place. I have $1 in quarters on me, which isn't even enough to buy tea. So I'm drinking water and wondering if I want to call him at work and get him to come back and loan me $10 so I can eat lunch...that's undoubtedly the sensible thing to do, 'cause otherwise I'll be living on water for the next eight hours, which will only make me cranky, even if it might be good for me. No, it probably wouldn't be good for me. I should call him, and I probably will. But in the meantime, I'm annoyed with myself -- I packed everything else in my bag: computer, CD's, headphones, some papers to comment, a story of Jed's to comment, a book I'm in the middle of reading, various pieces to revise, some calls for submission and who knows what else -- but no wallet. Ugh.

So while I could tell you about the new project, I think I'd rather wait until I'm in a better mood, so I can convey the proper amount of enthusiasm and excitement that I do generally feel about it. Sorry I'm grumpy today...hope you all are having better Mondays.

2:00. I'm feeling better. I did call Jed, and he only laughed at me a little, and ended up coming by and buying me lunch (and loaning me some money). After he'd gone, I finished reading The Cider House Rules, which was deeply satisfying. So much so that I'm not sure I want to bother to see the movie; I can see that world in my head, and I can't imagine that a movie would add much more to it. So unless I hear from someone that I really must see the movie version, I think I'll be content with having read the book.

Someone sent me an e-mail recently that reminded me of one of the reasons I do this, and I hope she won't mind if I paraphrase it a bit for you. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, you may not know that John Irving's The Cider House Rules deals with abortion -- in the midst of a wonderful novel about all sorts of other things (including some very interesting relationship dynamics). It's lovely and ironic that this e-mail came to me while I was in the midst of reading the book.

The woman who wrote to me was writing to thank me for "Minal in Winter" (spoilers follow, so if you haven't read the story, you should probably not read the rest of this entry), and she started by talking about Irving's novel, and about how it had recently changed her mind about abortion. How, after reading it, she stopped thinking about people who were pro-choice as thoughtless, callous, evil people (these are not her exact words, but I think a close approximation). I got the impression from her letter that she was still pro-life herself, but that she had gained a respect for the other side of the argument, and for at least some of its proponents through reading Irving's novel. And then she said that when she read "Minal", she had been touched by protagonist's situation, and that when Minal's aunt told her, "I'm here to take care of you," she was really moved, that she gained a sympathy for them both, and for people in that situation.

I was so pleased by that mail; I don't know if you can imagine. I hope you can. I didn't write "Minal" as an 'abortion story', as a manifesto or a polemic or any other active attempt to persuade. But I did want to write a story that let readers be in the head of a fairly sane, really upset, eighteen-year-old, trying to figure out the best way to handle a very difficult situation. So that even if you didn't agree with her choice, hopefully you would understand why she made that choice, and have sympathy for her. The reader's letter confirmed that I'd succeeded at least a little in that goal.

I know at least some of you reading this journal are writers, or thinking about becoming writers. And I hope that if you do decide to be writers, that you're not doing it because you think it's an easy, fun life (it's fun, but not easy), or because you think it's glamorous (hah!), or because you think you'll get rich (not bloody likely). Some people say you should write only if you can't help it, if you feel like you must write. And that's true. But I'd like to add to it that you probably shouldn't bother writing unless you have something worth saying. Something that really matters to you, that you want desperately to communicate to the world. And maybe it's letting someone else know what it's like being inside the head of a pregnant teenager, and maybe it's something else entirely. But I think it's only having something you really care about, that you need to communicate, that will sustain you in all the difficulties you will encounter as a writer.

If you have something you need to say (even if you're not sure what it is), and then you put in the work and the thought and the time, then I wouldn't worry too much about whether you have the talent. Talent is the least part of it. Talent just makes it easier. When you do the work and speak your truth, that's something in itself. That's all of it, really. And if you're very very lucky, every once in a while one of your readers may write to you, and tell you that you've touched them.

I've moved to the cafe's outdoor patio now; it's a cool clear day, and I'm drinking chai and typing, with a Divakaruni book sitting next to my laptop and a pleasant breeze brushing my arms and the back of my neck. The writer's life doesn't seem so difficult right now. :-) But I'd best stop chattering to you in this journal, and try actually working on a story.

After all, I'd like to get more letters like that one.

5:00. Revised "A Gentle Man". It's better (and longer, at 7000 words now) -- I think it needs one more go, though. Will ask Karen and Jed to look at it when they have time. Tired, but happy.

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