Blessed are the Meek

artist paint-2985569_640 courtesy of pixabayCompared to other types of people, I guess you could consider artists to be meek, in many cases. Of course, there are artists from all walks of life – some are serial killers, too – but for the most part, I think it’s fair to say that creative people tend to be gentle.

Of course, people who are gentle – and different – are easy targets for bullies. So, writers, painters, dancers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians – anyone who is creative – are often ostracized and ridiculed because they’re special or have a passion. I won’t go into the list of insults I’ve been called, but I will mention that we’ve probably been referred to as “emos” (overly sensitive, emotional, and full of angst – per at least once in our lifetime, or told that the arts are not necessary and sometimes, even useless.

So I find it incredibly curious that during this very difficult time – with coronavirus, and murder hornets, and civil unrest – that us “emos” are the ones holding it together. We’re the ones trying to keep our fellow humans entertained. We’re the ones offering encouragement and pep talks. We’re the ones who, in many cases, have been offering up our art for free to try to help those who are having a hard time coping with the stresses of daily life.

According to an article on, “Artists are finding creative ways to keep people connected during a pandemic that keeps us apart.”

And that’s absolutely true.

Musicians, both famous and unknown, are offering live concerts for free from their living rooms on social media. Authors are making their books free so people have something to read while shut in. Dancers are filming their home performances and posting them for people to enjoy. Many artists have written and performed music parody videos to cheer people up.  Actors and filmmakers are finding creative ways to make short works and share them. Basketmakers, blacksmiths, and more have posted online tutorials showing people how to make wares. And they’re all doing this for free. All this in a time when other people are losing their shi… I mean, minds.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had people hang up on me, unfriend me on Facebook, yell at me – for reasons I still don’t understand, and get angry at me when I returned something they insisted I borrow – but I apparently had for too long … Wut? People’s nerves are raw. They are not equipped to handle this type of environment. But then, why is it that artists can… and not only do, but actually rise above and become the glue holding everything together?

There are a lot of theories on this. One artist told me that he deals with ongoing depression and has already imagined every worst-case scenario possible, so this isn’t actually that bad to him. Others prefer the isolation brought on by stay-at-home orders and are flourishing with this free time. While other people are bored out of their minds being forced to stay home, creative people are seeing this as an opportunity to make art. And some creative people, especially writers – are escaping into the worlds they created to help them cope with what’s going on around us, which is a tactic nowhere new to them.

I would love to see a study on why creatives are so resilient during this unprecedented time.

In an article from April this year, Architectural Digest quotes a meme: “As you binge watch your thirteenth entire series or read a book or sleep to music, remember. Remember that in the darkest days when everything stopped, you turned to artists.”

Keep doing what you’re doing, artists. My hat’s off to you all. Rock on.

Choosing Names for Your Characters

character names feedback-2849602_960_720 (003)Some years ago, I wrote about the importance of names for characters, and things to consider when choosing them. More recently, other issues about names have come up for me, and I thought it was time to do an update.

When writing a novel, choosing names for your characters can be alternately fun and frustrating. I would doubt that any of my books go from start to finish with all the same names; many of them undergo several iterations before I’m happy with them. Personally, I love figuring out a name for a new important character, but it can be a long and bumpy journey, especially if I don’t think it through completely. Here are some things to consider: Continue reading “Choosing Names for Your Characters”

Should I Write the COVID-19 Novel?

writing about covidOne of our staff writers is an editor and, sitting around the gruel pot the other day, she asked our opinions. Her client was in a rush to publish a book by a specific date, because it meshed with a historic event that was about to occur. It was her opinion that there wasn’t time to get the book ready. He said he didn’t care. He’d publish it now and “fix it up later.” What should she do? Continue reading “Should I Write the COVID-19 Novel?”

A Curmudgeonly Look at Poetry

POETRY (002) by Gordon LongI know poetry is supposed to be creative. You don’t have to follow the rules if you don’t want to. You just put your pen to the paper and write. Then you dump it all on us and expect us to appreciate your art.

Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. I get about one book of poetry a week sent to me for a review. I turn most of them away, and it’s not because I’m an old curmudgeon, or because I’m a stickler for “proper English.” The first reason is that I try to read them out loud following the format they’re written in, and it all sounds like gobbledygook. Continue reading “A Curmudgeonly Look at Poetry”