Charles Ray's Column
The Danger of Making Assumptions
In the 1970s, when I was in the army and assigned to South Korea, I taught English at night to Koreans who thought my language was far more complicated than the inverted grammar they employ to communicate. That’s neither here nor there really – both languages are hellish for non-native speakers to learn. What that experience reminds me of is the importance of not making the assumption that just because you understand something, everyone around you will also understand it.
I used to begin each term by writing ‘ghoti’ on the chalkboard, and asking the students to pronounce it. I got response like, ‘goatee’, ‘got-tee’, and ‘go-tie,’ and then gape-mouthed astonishment when I informed them that ‘ghoti’ was pronounced ‘fish.’ I then explained that if one took the final sound in ‘enough’, where the ‘gh’ is pronounced as if it was ‘f’, the first ‘o’ in ‘women’, which comes out as a short ‘i’, and the ‘ti’ sound in ‘nation’, which sounds like ‘sh,’ you end up with ‘ghoti’ spelling ‘fish.’ Now, there is no such word, of course, but I used it to make the point that you can’t assume the sound of a word in English by merely looking at it.
And, that brings me to the point of this article. When you’re writing, never assume that just because you understand a passage you’ve written, your readers will share that understanding. Not, mind you, that you should insult their intelligence by explaining every new thing patiently as if to a child, but that you should make sure that you’ve put enough verbal clues in your writing to allow the reader to experience that ‘ah ha!’ moment of, ‘so that’s what that means.’
I’ll give you an example: In my Al Pennyback mystery series, the main character has the ability to tell when people are lying. He uses clues of body language and facial expression. Many people are familiar with the body language of their own culture – moms and school teachers, for instance, seem to be able to tell from body language when you’re about to tell a lie – but many are clueless. I don’t want to alienate any readers, so when I come to a passage involving this talent, I slow down and think about every word I write. Here’s a brief example:
As he answered my question, he avoided making eye contact, and I noticed a twitch under his right eye. I knew then that he was lying.
People familiar with body language and expressions will recognize the averted eyes and nervous tic as possible signs of evasion, and those for whom it’s unfamiliar will make the connection. It becomes a bit trickier when the characters I’m writing about come from a different culture, as in the following example:
“Did you kill her?” I asked.
He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “No,” he said quietly. “I did not.”
If he’d been anyone else I would have pegged him for a liar. But, the Korean gardener came from a culture where it was rude to look directly into someone’s eyes. Trying to read him was like trying to get meaning from a blank page.
So, there you have it. No assumptions about what a reader knows or doesn’t know. I make an effort to explain, through character action or speech, anything that happens in my story. You should too. Remember the old saying, to 'assume' makes an a-- out of you (u) and me.
Charles, an incredible article. Loved the paragraph on ghoti and fish. Would have loved to use it when the Hmong were unloaded in CA a long time ago, and I had students who couldn't even say "hello".
Vinita Singh's Thoughts
The Best of Us with Emotions and Fame
So here it is - we have been dancing. We’ve even auditioned in the past. We know we’re good. People have told us from the heart. They have loved to see our smile. We have even given an exam, Everything just turns - we move. We have another child. It’s been two years since we have auditioned at five places at a gym. Rejection after rejection, so we thought we had a workout, we almost made it. Almost is the emotion. We are stuck. Then it’s been five years. We go see people they are out there dancing on stage getting an applaud, getting recognition for what they are doing. We start saying, “what is this? Is it a joke? I am learning classical Kathak North Indian style dance, I asked to do a solo. There was no professionalism.”
They said, no. We have our own ideas. We know we are good. It’s just there are groups of people already out there. We realize we don’t fit in. Yeah, people know us, but not as a big person. You get that push and feel hurt of so many rejections. You want to do more. What do you do? Nothing matters, You, just felt the show was the same repeating songs and dances you have seen over and over. You didn’t care. That is the attitude you should have. When you have had so many rejections, you just don’t care. Time has passed, and you’re down; your emotions are down. When we try to expect the results, and get rejected, our emotions are down. It’s our journey. The question is do we fight our emotions and still try to get fame, or do we let go? Why are we so eager to fit in a group? Being alone is not a bad thing, is it? How can we make ourselves better? That is the question. How can we let our emotions go? What’s been broken a thousand times, and feel we can’t be broken anymore. We watched the show; we sat still just behind the scenes and enjoyed the show. That was the experience. There was no pressure, no anxiety, no fear of rejection. We did not judge. We only thought we could have done something different; That is what we want. We just want to be different.
Nov.2,2016 [email protected] Singh
Great emotions felt in this story - Peter
Coping with festivities and gatherings
Hello and welcome. December and early January is a time of various religious and spiritual celebrations which bring people together. There are community festivals, family gatherings, with some events lasting a day while others are observed for a week or more. This should be a happy occasion. However, these couple of months can be a source of stress especially for a person who is unwell or suffers chronic pain. How do you travel comfortably? How do you socialise? How do you ensure attention is on the occasion and not on you and your condition? What if you are hosting the event, how do you cope?
I have found that planning for a possible rapid downturn in my illness, by notifying key people in advance of my situation and advising appropriate responses, helps relieve additional stress. Having a friend who can be there for you, if you become unwell or pain escalates, is reassuring. This does not mean that person is constantly on watch instead they are the first to respond if needed. Nothing will prevent an acute episode but triggers can either be minimised, or if that is not possible then at least psychologically and emotionally prepared for in advance. Preparation does not mean you are being pessimistic! Quite the reverse. It allows you to enjoy the gathering and can put others, who know of your health condition, at ease allowing them also to focus on having a good time. If a situation occurs that exacerbates your illness you have a person or people around who will stay calm, someone who won’t say or infer that you’re ‘just seeking attention’ thus denying you the assistance you need. It is important to have an ‘escape’ route even if this is just to another room, pre-arranging a lift instead of driving, and having other practical ways to enable you to enjoy the occasion. Post-event can also be factored in and allows you to recover properly on the following day or days.
Your plan will be different to others, including those with a similar condition. These plans can be, but are not limited to, how much you want to remain involved in the gathering and whether or not you are able to catch up with family and friends at another time. You might feel guilty, or your energy disappears further as people ask you ‘why’, especially if you stay at one event but leave another early. When there is no visible sign of your pain and discomfort the querying looks or comments can make you feel uneasy about your decision. All of this will have a bearing on staying, coping or dealing with an exacerbation of your illness or pain, or needing to leave – and not feel guilty. Your response to your list of options will vary. Potential impact, that is, how much are you willing to put up with symptoms versus your decision to leave? This becomes individual right down to each event and possibly each moment at that event. Assessing potential impact, the whole reason I am wishing to attend, is a major component in my focus. This component is factored into my general pre-planning, as well as mini-decisions that I continually make during the gathering when symptoms are triggered and my well-being is compromised.
In having a plan, you are ready with your intention to be involved, to have fun. If things go awry, then you have enjoyed a wonderful time up to that point. Enjoyment which has happened and therefore can’t be taken away or diminished. These are memories to keep. If the incredible happens and you last the event thank yourself and be true to your post-recovery plans of rest and recuperation.
Until next month I look forward to hearing from you about this and anything else you’d like to share with me, to share with all of you. Thank you for all your comments and questions over the past year.
In closing for 2016 I wish you a merry Christmas, happy holidays, Hanukkah Sameach, Solstice and Feast Day blessings and may the season of goodwill and happiness be with you. Safe travels whether to the next suburb or across our beautiful planet.
Suzanne, great enlightenment. Should be in all medical journals because it comes from someone who has an inside. Peter
It is amazing how many
marvels exist on our planet, and sadly, the majority of people who live on the
land will live an entire lifetime and never know about 95% of them, unless they
are travelers or explorers of the networks to at least visit the thousands of
locations on line. I was inspired to
discover this marvel by accident, and happy I did. Angkor Wat is a marvel of architectural
design, located in a remote area of Cambodia, which is just north and west of
Vietnam – not a friendly location considering the past war, or political
conflict with the U.S. Angkor Wat is the
largest religious monument in the world, the site measuring an astounding 402
acres. It was originally constructed as
a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, transforming to a Buddhist temple around the
end of the 12th C. It
combines 2 styles of architecture: the Temple Mountain, and the Galleried
Temple. Within a moat, and an outer wall
measuring more than 2 miles long, are found 3 rectangular galleries, each
raised above the next. At the center of
the temple stands a Quincunx of towers – a geometric pattern consisting of 5
points arranged in a cross with 4 of them forming a square or rectangle and a 5th
at its center. An interesting piece of
legend (great for our books and stories of folklore and myths) talks of a
Chinese traveler in the 13th C, who professed that the entire temple
was constructed in a single night by a divine architect. How fun that would be! Antonio de Madelena , a Portugal monk, was
quoted in 1588 “it is of such extraordinary construction that it is not
possible to describe it with a pen.” It
is said by some to be part of a representation of the constellation Draco.
This massive structure boasts an outer wall 3,360’ x 2,631’ around, by 15’ high. The inner walls of Hindu spires are said to be the greatest known linear arrangement of stone carvings ever created. The stones used in the construction are as smooth as polished marble, laid without mortar with very tight joints that are sometimes hard to find. The monument was made of 5 to 10 million sandstone blocks with a maximum weight of 1.5 tons each. The entire city of Angkor used up a far greater amount of of stone than all the Egyptian pyramids combined and occupied an area significantly greater than modern-day Paris. Virtually all of the surfaces, columns, lintels, roofs are carved, with miles of reliefs illustrating scenes from Indian literature including unicorns, griffins, warriors, celestial dancing girls with elaborate hair styles. The wonders are endless. Bring a large pad should you venture out, for certainly before completing your venture, you will have reams of notes and drawings to enhance your next story of the strange and unusual.
J. House's Relationship Column
Relationships during the holidays are important so make sure you try listening and in return perhaps they will listen to you with attention. I always say, if a person feels listened to~ then they want to hear what you have to say about what has been going on in your year.
by John B. Rosenman
Ohmygod, it’s happened. The bad guy’s won the election, and Armageddon is at hand, or at least right around the corner. The legendary Chinese curse is about to come true. It seems we are about to live in interesting times indeed, though whether it’s for good or bad remains to be seen.
As I write this column three days after the election, FB is going wild with gloom and doom, and there have been raucous protests in dozens of American cities. I thought that Hillary was the better of two bad choices, but half of America disagreed with me, and perhaps you do, too. Whatever the case, I have made a decision. Despite my qualms, I’m just going to wait and see.
I have a Ph.D. in English, but before I pursued that area of study, I majored in Political Science. This is one reason I have found the past fifteen months to be so fascinating. Honestly, as a writer, I would not have had the imagination to make this stuff up. Dangerous Donald and Crooked Hillary, need I say more? Would any of us ever have believed that such a thing could happen? Truly, this election has been one for the ages, and I doubt it will ever be equaled.
But then, you never know. Politics, like religion, is often excessive, outlandish, and larger than life, resembling a circus in many ways. Just consider the hoopla and streamers at a national convention. The title of Edwin O’Connor’s classic novel, The Last Hurrah, captures some of the flavor of politics. We look at our national standard bearers and feel exalted with them.
Politics is a dangerous subject to discuss with others. Indeed, it competes with religion for being the most dangerous of all, a verbal powder keg. Even an innocent remark can set folks off. During the past few days, I’ve witnessed violent exchanges on Facebook, and Unfriending others has become a common practice. Some Americans have even taken steps to move to Canada because The Donald won.
Ultimately, I hope that the American tradition of a peaceful change or exchange of power will continue. May God bless us all, and may we always elect the right leaders.
*** Hey, Peter, thanks for commenting on my column last time. Though I knew you were going to do so, I agree that there are some aspects of existence which should remain a mystery. After all, if we know everything, what’s the point? Perhaps the greatest mystery of all is the human heart or mind, which we still only poorly understand.
The first three novels of John’s Scifi-Adventure series are available at http://amzn.to/2bOjbsq
OMG Johnny~ I am afraid I am one of those that you mentioned at the beginning of your post...I voted for Trump because I am tired of the corruption. Let's give him a break and see what he does as our President. Pattimari
OMG Johnny, I also voted for DT and have never felt such pleasure in knowing that HC would not be there to continue the downward spiral BO has wrought upon our nation. From day one, my deepest inner soul reacted to this man in such a way I could not overcome. I, as a retired teacher, have heard and read about the evilness from the mouths of high school and college teachers downgrading our Constitution and way of life. I liken it to the brainwashing techniques used my many countries during the wars to convince their people that only what they are being taught is the best, and all other is evil and should be destroyed. How can high school students fall to the ground in despair over a person, DT, whom they do not know, and hate him, despite all the good things he has promised? Is it that brain washing at its finest? or are these people of the ilk of users, abusers, takers and wanters without ever lifting a finger to earn what they seek? We have plenty of time to test the waters and allow the story to flow, after all, this is indeed the beginning of a fine novel. The novel we have just completed shows what can go wrong when a misguided, who I consider Evil disturbed individual is allowed to take command of an entity far greater than his ability could ever allow. You and I will read the future as it unfolds, Johnny, and hopefully the road you take and the road I take will end up as the end of our divided highway. Perhaps Robert Frost knew the full meaning of his oft-quoted poem. Peter
We miss you and hope you come back soon, and that
your surgery went well.
During your holidays, make sure you enjoy yourself instead of allowing the stress of it to overwhelm you. After all, the holidays are to get together with family and friends to laugh, tell stories, feast on good food and have a marvelous time.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL~
Vee Bee's column
Make sure you smile, dress in something that makes you feel like smiling. It is the time of year to dress up for me, and I always feel beautiful when I do.
Motherhood is a special time. A time to watch your child experience all the new things in life as you did when you were a child. Memories for them will carry them on forever.
THIS READING APE DOES AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
DR. WILLIE WHITE'S RELIGIOUS COLUMN
Weeping For A Night Joy cometh In The Morning
For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
With the lingering bitter taste of this disappointing election and the shock of it is being expressed in different ways from shock to anger and outrage; let me encourage myself and all that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
What this mean is that yes we are hurting and disappointed to the feeling of anger while analyzing what could have been done different. I am not sure of the answer, but during my prayer and meditation time it was revealed to me; the people wanted Hillary, but God wanted Trump. God being supreme always gets His way. God knows the outcome and the effectiveness of his presidency. Please take comfort in knowing that God protects and cares for His people. He is true to His promise of never to leave nor forsake His own.
If the above revelation is true, these questions come to mind, what is God trying to teach America? Has this country moved too far from God being founded on Christian principles? Is He trying to teach America that all humanity is linked through His Spirit? A divided country will not stand.
In my heart and I believe that in her coalition's hearts she is our President and we will always honor her tireless work improving the lives of others.
Let me close by saying, cry if we must, lament if we will because we participated in a Democracy that we all believed in and fought for our beliefs with dignity, honesty and integrity. Sometimes those values are overshadowed by lies, deceit and dishonesty, but hold to our principles that truth will win in the end and joy will come in the morning.
In our difficult times remember these two scriptures, (1) no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn (Isaiah 54:17ab), and (2) weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5c).
Comments are welcome
Shout For Joy
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth
shall praise thee with joyful lips.
Psalmist is expressing the joyfulness felt and expressed by all believers and
rightly so being that Christ is the Savior of the world who bled suffered and
died redeeming man from sin. It is worth noting that the Psalmist's expression
give rise believers have in Christ as He is the complete joy of our salvation
and the blessings it brings. When complete joy and gladness is felt from the
soul tells me that Christ is the head and center of the believer's life, then
the believer shouts for joy in total praise continuously.
do you praise the Lord? Is it with a joyful noise praising Him for His
goodness, grace, love and mercy? Do we say thank You God for sending Your Son
Jesus to die for my sins so that I may spend eternity with You? Don't forget to
say thank You Jesus for You willingly left Your heavenly home to put on
humanity to pay man's sin-debt.
we celebrate Christ's birth which is set aside as Christmas, this is a joyful
time of the year as all nations celebrate the birth of Christ and the joy and
gladness from His birth. Christ is Christmas; without His birth there would be
no Christmas to celebrate; therefore, do not X Christ out of Christmas.
for joy Christ our Savior is born.
Shout For Joy
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.
The Psalmist is expressing the joyfulness felt and expressed by all believers and rightly so being that Christ is the Savior of the world who bled suffered and died redeeming man from sin. It is worth noting that the Psalmist's expression give rise believers have in Christ as He is the complete joy of our salvation and the blessings it brings. When complete joy and gladness is felt from the soul tells me that Christ is the head and center of the believer's life, then the believer shouts for joy in total praise continuously.
How do you praise the Lord? Is it with a joyful noise praising Him for His goodness, grace, love and mercy? Do we say thank You God for sending Your Son Jesus to die for my sins so that I may spend eternity with You? Don't forget to say thank You Jesus for You willingly left Your heavenly home to put on humanity to pay man's sin-debt.
As we celebrate Christ's birth which is set aside as Christmas, this is a joyful time of the year as all nations celebrate the birth of Christ and the joy and gladness from His birth. Christ is Christmas; without His birth there would be no Christmas to celebrate; therefore, do not X Christ out of Christmas.
Shout for joy Christ our Savior is born.
Guided By A Star
...Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and are come to worship Him.
If we were to ask this question, who are these men who followed a star to find the newborn King? These were the wise men that were religious men and had heard of the prophecy. They like so many others had waited for the fulfillment of God's promise that He would send a Savior who would make a one-time sin atonement of the world. The much anticipated day had come and Christ the King was born.
As stated in a previous writing that God unique methods to announce the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. He used angels to tell the shepherd abiding in the fields that His Son was born and the heavenly host joined in the celebration of Christ's birth. In this setting God is using a star to lead some religious men to where Christ was.
Christ's star is still shinning bright for the entire world to see; therefore, the question now becomes, Are you following His star? He is the bright and morning star that the world cannot dim with its sinful conditions. All believers represent the star of Jesus as we are the lit candles and the church is the city set high upon a hill shinning brightly in this sin-darkened world.
Therefore, believers, let your Christ star shine for the world to see.
Thank you for your wonderful insight and wisdom in helping to resolve complex problems. Peter
We will have new things in the year 2017, so if you want to participate in our magazine, please email [email protected]
Artist~ get involved.
Poets~ we'd love to read your poems
Authors~ we'd love to place your new book in 2017 in our magazine, tell us about it, and send us your book's cover.
Cooks/Bakers~ share your recipes with us.