Charlotte’s Web: Good Mother

Daniel Triumph

[…]

English 26-205

31 March 2018

The Good Mother

When I started reading Charlotte’s Web, my first reaction to Charlotte’s treatment of Wilbur was one of concern. She started with little things, “ ‘Let Wilbur alone! … He has a perfect right to smell considering his surroundings’ ” (White 61), but then Charlotte began to solve Wilbur’s problems for him, “ ‘Oh, I’ll work [the web] out alone,’ said Charlotte” (64), and following his orders to please him, “ ‘Tell me a story!’ So Charlotte, although she, too, was tired, did what Wilbur wanted” (102).

Œdipal Considerations

The psychoanalytic portion of my mind began to think in Freudian terms. Would Wilbur become overprotected and incapable of living on his own in the future? Freud states that the Œdipal complex is innate (Armstrong); perhaps that is what was happening here. Was Charlotte a devouring mother type character?

Further reflection proves this idea to be false. There is a point up to which it is okay to do things for your child; specifically when they cannot do it themselves. Peterson believes that you should not “do anything for your children that they can do for themselves” (“Strengthen the Individual” 00:20:36 – 00:20:39). Wilbur has a problem that is beyond his control, but is within the ability of Charlotte, his maternal figure. The Œdipal issue does not come into relevance unless a mother is taking power away from her child; so if Wilbur never had the power in the first place, then Charlotte’s actions are not Œdipal. In this context, the relationship is more like that of a mother to her toddler. What got me confused was likely his difficult to determine age.

Nearing the Archetype

By the end of the story, Charlotte’s positive virtue comes to be beyond question. She takes on the symbolic role of an ideal parent to Wilbur. She gives a sacrifice and by dying she, in a manner of speaking, sacrifices Wilbur to the dangers of the world. To me, this is deeply reminiscent of Abraham’s symbolic sacrifice of Isaac to God (or to the “transcendent”) in Genesis (King James Bible, Gen. 22). The ideal parent, by this definition, is the one that is willing to sacrifice their child, and their relationship to them as “strictly parent,” to the independence of that child’s adulthood. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur’s independence is put upon him in a very literal sense. First by his separation from Fern: “Mr. Zuckerman did not allow her to get into the pigpen. But he told Fern that she could sit on the stool and watch Wilbur” (15-16). The second because of Charlotte’s death. Afterwards, Wilbur has no option but to grow up and become autonomous. A weak connection can be drawn between the Biblically archetypal nature of this story and Locke’s wishes for a more optimal and interesting way of introducing the Bible to children (Locke 260-261). The Biblical ideas of growth, independence, selflessness, and sacrifice are valuable and likely intriguing to a child, even if they are presented in alternate, and perhaps more appealing stories.

Growing Children

Wilbur’s ascension, his growing from childhood to adulthood, is shown in three distinct stages. The infancy stage is when Wilbur’s parent is Fern, and she does nothing but care for and love Wilbur (White 8), an appropriate thing to do with an infant. As a baby piglet, Wilbur lives in “a large wooden box full of straw” (9); a small room. The second stage is something similar to childhood. Wilbur outgrows his infantile life and moves into Zuckerman’s farm (12) where he meets other animals that are different from him (15-17), like a child in kindergarten. This is the reflective of two to four year old humans, who are ready to socialize with other kids, “your job as a parent is to make your kids socially desirable by the age of four” (Peterson, “Biology and Traits: Agreeableness” 30:55-31:00). The first thing Wilbur does is to listen to the barn goose and escape. He then quickly realizes that he would rather not upset his new owner (18), and that he would much rather be safe in Zuckerman’s farm where there is food, than to be free (23). This is somewhat interesting; perhaps safety is more important than freedom… Although I would say that statement functions specifically for a child, in reference to their guardian.

The Sacrifice of the Parent

The final stage is at the end of the story, after the death of Charlotte. Wilbur is something of an adolescent now, and he becomes another symbolic parent for the book; a parent to Charlotte’s children. This is made explicit in a couple places. First is when he protects the egg sac (170), and the second when he re-lives Charlotte and Fern’s experience of letting their children go. “This is our moment for setting forth” (179), one of the baby spiders informs the distraught Wilbur. Luckily for the pig, three spiders stay behind and, able to fend for themselves (and therefore technically adults), they remain with Wilbur and become his friend. Wilbur is rewarded with an ideal Lockien parenthood, one of a parent’s friendship with their adult children (Locke 145).

 

The conclusion is quite unique. Usually a story ends with an allusion the beginning. Charlotte’s Web does something similar, but it goes a step beyond, giving Wilbur, as God gave Abraham, many nations. He not only re-lived the story of the book, but he also re-lived parenthood repeatedly across the short lifecycles of a spider, and became not just a parent, but a grandparent and a symbolic ancestor.


Works cited

Armstrong, Richard. “Oedipus as Evidence: The Theatrical Background to Freud’s Oedipus Complex”. PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts, 1 Jan 1999, http://www.psyartjournal.com/article/show/armstrong-oedipus_as_evidence_the_theatrical_backg.

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. ed. Roger Woolhouse. London: Penguin, 1997.

Peterson, Jordan. “2017/03/11: Strengthen the Individual: Q & A Parts I & II.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Mar. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UL-SdOhwek.

Peterson, Jordan. “2017 Personality 17: Biology and Traits: Agreeableness.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Mar. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1eHJ9DdoEA.

King James Holy Bible. King James Version, 2004, http://www.gpbc.ca/kjvbible.pdf.

White, E. B., Charlotte’s Web. Harper, 1980.

© Daniel Triumph 2018.

This is an essay I wrote for my Children’s Literature course. I’m far more proud of the connection of the unlikely ideas than the essay itself. Charlotte’s Web is a wonderful work of fiction.

Formatting is MLA, limited only by WordPress’s blog formatting.

A Testament for Habits

Humans are creatures of habit. Not a shocking proposition, for most of human history our lives have been nothing but the same thing over and over. As a ‘sort of’ uncle of mine used to say, we “eat, sleep, shit, and work;” a succinct formula for our lives.

But it’s even more important for those like myself. Low in conscientiousness, and with a mental illness deeply linked to habit. Bipolar disorder is strongly linked to the circadian rhythm. Mess with your sleep? You’re going to feel it worse than others. And we probably all, at some level, already know this. But what you may not have known is that it goes that deep into biology. Another thing liked to the circadian rhythm is eating, so if you want to get next level about it, eat at the same time, and sleep at the same time as much as possible.

Don’t beat yourself up about it though. Use who you are today as a ruler for success. Just setting “better than before” as a goal is an actual, meaningful improvement, because now you’re seriously oriented upwards instead of across. The “ideal” can forgive the mistakes you make along the way to reaching them.1

Habits are powerful tools twofold. First, once you set a habit in place, you essentially start doing it automatically. I did this with fiction writing a year back when I was in my “year off” of University. Since I returned, I post weekly instead of daily. Another, more relevant habit I’ve constructed is… breakfast! I thought, what’s the easiest, and highest in fat/protien (the best morning [and life] nutrients) food that makes a good breakfast? Coffee! No. Coffee and peanut butter! Yes!! Wonderful! Now I have breakfast nearly every day.

The second superpower of habits is that, once one is in place, it’s super easy to build on it. It’s like… well, it’s sort of like building a house. Once you have the framework in, it’s not too difficult to nail down some dry-wall. Maybe add some siding? Pain the inside? Hell, it’s so nice now you might as well buy some imaginary furniture and move in to the damn place. But, there’s no rush. Do it right, do it at your own pace.

Just make sure that you’re oriented upwards, instead of across, and that’s where you’ll end up even if it’s by process of absent-minded strolling.

Further Watching on the topic of Habits:

  • Jordan Peterson – Daily Structure Keeps You Sane – “So you do the math, so we’ll say five hours a week for the sake of argument just to keep it simple. It’s 20 hours a month. It’s 240 hours a year. That’s six 40-hour work weeks. … Mostly what you want is to have [in life is] a routine. It’s discipline. It’s predictable and bloody well stick to it. You’re going to be way healthier and happier and saner if you do that … the world is too complicated for you to keep it organized all by yourself … So we outsource the problem of sanity.”
  • Simon Sinek – Do You Love Your Wife? – “It’s about transitions. … If you go to the gym and you workout and you come back, and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing. And if you go to the gym the next day and you come back and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing, right? … Or if you fundamentally believe that this is the right course of action and you stick with it, like in a relationship. I bought her flowers and I wished her happy birthday and she doesn’t love me, clearly I’ll give up. You know? That’s not what happens. … You could screw it up, … you know it allows for that. But if you stick with it consistently, I’m not exactly sure what day, but I know you’ll start getting into shape. … It’s not about intensity it’s about consistency. … It’s the daily practice of all the monotonous, little, boring, things like brushing your teeth that matter the most.”

1 Yes, that is a Jesus reference. Idk what else to say about it.

Maybe I’ll do a post on goal setting later.

Daniel Triumph.

The Spectator; The Thief

Jason Arson walked across the rooftops. Most other people in his position may have run, but Jason was a punctual infiltrator. He was already ahead of his own schedule by fifteen minutes, and his schedule was set ahead by twice that much. Running would actually be detrimental, as the longer he stood in his hiding place, the more likely he was to be discovered. The only real downside to walking was that he had to push harder to jump from roof to roof, but Jason had strong legs, so he didn’t mind.

So Jason Arson walked.

He ran down an alley, thrusting his legs from wall to wall. He ran, losing a cubit of height with each step and hitting the ground right before running out of alley. Then, he walked out into the streets, entirely unassuming.

Arson wore a brown trench coat, cut right above the knee. He preferred black, but brown would blend in better with the castle’s insides, as well as its inhabitants. Jason patted himself down, checking items off his mental list.

Short sword? Left side, tied high on the waist. Spike launcher? He felt around. Also on the left side, above the sword. Truncheon? He knew he had that for sure, it kept knocking on his spine as he walked. Wallet? Jason tapped around his seven pockets. Nope, forgot the wallet. Hand pick? Yes! In a pocket! At least he had that.

The last item was his ear-trumpet. The use of the trumpet had made him a laughing-stock, until it had allowed him to hear a vital piece of information that everyone else had missed. They stopped calling him ‘the deaf spy’ after that.

The inside of the castle was extremely crowded, the walls browned with age. Jason quickly got lost. It is an infiltrator’s job to get lost. He quickly made his way to the second floor, and after making two lefts in the wide halls, he looked around for a haven where he could plan his next move. He found the door to a broom closet. According to the map he had been supplied with and subsequently memorized, Jason knew that this closet was only one wall over from the throne room. He looked around. So far, he hadn’t seen anyone on the second floor, and he guessed it was restricted from the public. This was both good and bad. It meant he was less likely to be caught, but it also meant that his presence would immediately draw suspicion. Jason tried the doorknob. Locked. He felt around for his picks, and then remembered that he didn’t have the wallet he kept them in. He was going to have to get creative.

Jason casually launched himself back towards the staircase, sidling around the corner. Before turning it, he stopped. He could hear footsteps, but they were unusually paced, as if the person was stumbling continually. He rifled around his coat for the small ear-trumpet. Thu-thump, thu-thump. The sounds became louder and more distinct through the horn, but they still made no sense to him.

He took a deep breath in, and then turned back from where he came. He tried every single door as he skulked down the hall. All were locked. He ran around the corner once more, and vainly tried the closet again. Nothing. He was farther from the footsteps now, so he took the extra time to feel around the walls for loose stones, maybe a hidden entrance. He again found nothing. He heard his oblivious pursuer getting closer. He didn’t have much time.

Jason tried all the doors in the section of the hall. No. No. No. No. Yes. Wait, yes? He opened the door and saw that it was another staircase, but that this one went up. He closed the door and ran to the top. The door there unlocked as well. “Okay,” he whispered.

Right as he opened the door, Jason heard the knob at the foot of the staircase turn. The odd footsteps had caught up. He rushed through the portal and closed it behind him, carefully turning the latch so that it clicked silently. The steps got even more unusual, as if they couldn’t understand the concept of stairs. Jason shuddered, but continued trying rooms, and continued to be denied entry.

Jason was getting nervous now; he was running out of options. He noticed that the rooms on this floor were labelled. He grabbed the one titled “supply door” and to his relief, it opened. Jason entered and slammed the door as silently as his nerves would allow.

Minutes went by, and the footsteps became audible once more. He listened as they passed and then turned the corner. In an act of poor judgement, Jason opened the closet door and looked around the corner of the hallway to see what kind of creature had been following him.

He saw a short woman. She had tanned skin, and thick sun bleached hair. She was a child! She was skipping down the halls! Jason receded back into his closet He took his face in his hands and pulled downward. He lamented the idea that he had been genuinely fearful of a prancing youth.

Jason sighed and returned to his task. He hadn’t memorized the third floor, so he felt around, hoping he had his map. Its presence in his coat surprised him. He quietly unrolled and read it. The throne room was two storeys tall, which meant that he could probably listen in from this closet, if he dug into the edge of the floor diagonally.

Jason Arson took the hand-pick out of his pocket and started at the mortar by his feet. Within twenty minutes he had removed many of the smaller stones from behind the outer brickwork. He worked his way around a wooden support beam, and then broke through into another room. He stopped digging, pulled the debris inward, and then peered inside. It was the target, the throne room. He could see the King’s wife milling about and talking to someone who he recognised. His mind began to wander into memories. He cleared his head. The King arrived. Jason lay face down on the ground, pressed himself against the wall, and readied his ear-trumpet.

 

Another of Jason Arson.

This is an edited re-release of the story fragment that was recently removed from the site. I figured that the story that was contained on the page might be worth keeping posted. Also, my editing game is getting up there. Pretty happy about it.

Daniel Triumph.

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P.S., Happy Friday!

Can You make a Living as a Writer?

In a long continuance of poverty, and long habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want by which the freedom of agency is almost destroyed; and long association with fortuitous companions will at last relax the strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincerity.

Samuel Johnson (on William Collins)

There was a long period of time when I categorized creative writing as a job, like any other. As I grew up though, it became more and more obvious that this simply was not the case.  They don’t work steady hours, they often work from home, or at the very least not out of an office. They often take years, or fractions of years, to put out content.

Really, you could have a lot of fun with this line. Writers often don’t get published. They’re often rejected many times first if they actually are published. It’s a flooded market, because everyone thinks it’s easy to write a novel. Even if you do manage to push out 50 000 words or more, it’s not easy to make them any good. And even if they are good, good isn’t good enough, especially for a publisher. Especially for the market. Especially for history. What was I getting at?

Right. So you put out a book. Does it even sell well? Maybe you put out another? I read that it took one writer eight novels to start making a livable income.

The more I learned about it, the less likely it seemed that someone anyone was about to list “writer” as their occupation. It’s just so unlikely.

The Split

It wasn’t until nearly a year ago that I realized that there’s a split in books. It’s going to seem really obvious when I say it, but I’m really good at not noticing obvious things so I’ll lay it out for you.

Number 3 on Amazon on release!

I had been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk for a long time. Eventually I had gotten his entire message down, and he was starting to get repetitive. (Gary, for those of you who don’t know, is marketing entrepreneur who sells the “work hard” message, and talks about how it’s way easier to “make it” now that the internet exists.) I got his first book, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion on audible, and I listened to it at work. It’s a pretty compelling title, right? The book essentially encapsulates on how to execute on the idea of what is now known as “influencer marketing.” You make a blog, or a youtube channel, or something. Then you become an expert on a topic. Then you just put out content as frequently as you can and build an audience. Apparently it works, because he’s released an updated book on the same thing complete with success stories.

Back to the split. I decided, hey, I can do that. Thus, this blog was started. It wasn’t too long later that I started to realize what I was doing wasn’t the same kind of thing as other influencer blogs were. I’m not talking about anything. I don’t have a specialty. I don’t really have a “brand.” I’m not influencing anyone on anything, not really. I just write stories. Unless I build an audience, nobody’s going to advertise on that, and advertising revenue is kind of the whole thing. It’s hard enough to build a financially successful blog, but building a financially successful fiction blog is essentially unheard of.

To be honest, I don’t know much about fiction blogs. I don’t think you can monetize them in the same way as informational blogs (no affiliate ability, products you can create are limited), so I can’t be of much help. I’m sorry!

— An email reply to my question of how to monetise.

And that’s the split.

Non-fiction is a lot easier to sell than fiction, and as far as I can tell, this extends out of blogs and into books. It’s a lot easier to get a non-fiction book published and have it actually make money. People seek information and solutions to problems a lot more than they seek stories. Those who read for pleasure are a minority; even if you give it away for free, as I and a few other bloggers do.

Let’s keep going.

Great Writers

Studying English Literature at University, I noticed something surprising. A lot of the fiction writers that I studied also had some other job. I can’t really remember many off the top of my head, but I compiled this cool chart. As my definition of “great” I chose people in the canon, and the canon I used was the first one I could find online. You think there’d be a more official list than Wikipedia, but this isn’t really an academic paper, so you’ll have to excuse my use of the free encyclopedia. (Actually, if anyone has a good link to an English or Western canon list, please tell me.)

Writer Artistry Other Occupation
Jonathan Swift Poetry, Prose Priest, Essayist
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Poetry Philosopher
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Prose Entrepreneur, lecturer, publisher
Edgar Allen Poe Prose Critic*
William Shakespeare Poetry, Plays Actor*, editor
Charles Dickens Prose
William Wordsworth Poetry
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Prose Military engineer, journalist
Arthur Conan Doyle** Prose Physician, Fancy Moustache
John Milton Prose Polemicist, civil servant
Emily Dickinson Poetry Lived with her parents
Ernest Hemingway Prose Revolving door of rich wives
John Donne Poetry Priest, lawyer
William Blake Poetry, Painting Printmaker
Miguel de Cervantes Prose, Poetry Soldier, accountant
Geoffrey Chaucer Poetry Bureaucrat, diplomat
Virginia Woolf Prose Publisher, critic, essayist

Image result for canterbury tales*May not count
** Not in a canon

The man who managed to make it into the canon with an unfinished book was the first person who tipped me off. For whatever reason, I remember Geoffrey Chaucer being introduced in class as a banker. but this was two years ago, so, looking at my chart, it seems that I mixed that up. Chaucer was a bureaucrat and diplomat, and he “audited and kept books on the export taxes, which were one of the Crown’s main sources of revenue” (Greenblat 189). I guess he did do something with money.

So, once you realize that people, even the people you learn about in academia, are working as well as writing, you start to think. At least I did. I started to notice more of them here and there. Although, I didn’t much pay much attention to it. Not until this year, when I was researching Poe.

Edgar Allen Poe managed to scrape his gothic self into two separate courses of mine this year. And, looking into him a bit, I learned that “Poe was the first American writer, as Alexander Pope had been the first in England, to support himself entirely by his writing” (Mayers 138). This quote is kind of cool, because it shows that in two separate countries, making a living writing was unusual… for centuries.

Continuing with Poe, however, it seems that even after he “made it,” he continued to struggle financially.

A young author, struggling with Despair itself in the shape of a ghastly poverty, which has no alleviation — no sympathy from an every-day world, that cannot understand his necessities, and that would pretend not to understand them if it comprehended them ever so well — this young author is politely requested to compose an article, for which he will “be handsomely paid.” Enraptured, he neglects perhaps for a month the sole employment which affords him the chance of a livelihood, and having starved through the month (he and his family) completes at length the month of starvation and the article, and despatches the latter (with a broad hint about the former) to the pursy “editor” and bottle-nosed “proprietor” who has condescended to honor him (the poor devil) with his patronage. A month (starving still), and no reply. … At the expiration of six additional months, personal application is made at the “editor’s” and “proprietor’s” office. Call again. The poor devil goes out, and does not fail to call again. Still call again; — and call again is the word for three or four months more. His patience exhausted, the article is demanded. No — he can’t have it (the truth is, it was too good to be given up so easily) — “it is in print,” and “contributions of this character are never paid for (it is a role we have) under six months after publication. Call in six months after the issue of your affair, and your money is ready for you — for we are business men, ourselves — prompt” (Poe).

Poe struggled because editors avoided paying him, and because of a lack of international copyright law. Publishers and magazines could literally just steal works from other countries like Britain, instead of paying the American for his stories. As far as I know, neither of these issues exist anymore. At least, I hope not.

Related image
Cricton got an MD from Harvard before switching to writing.

A lot of the great writers had jobs… in fact, if my quote has any weight to it, all writers born before the eighteenth century in England, and the nineteenth in the United States had jobs. For me that means a couple of things. The first is that writing “on the side” is normal. The second is that, even (especially?) if you happen to be extremely artistic, writing anywhere except on the side mightn’t ever factor in.

 

While I was researching for this, I found a an entire Wikipedia (again) page on physicians who write. I’m not sure why this is a thing, but it’s common enough to have its own page. Mental Floss also did an article on it. So, why not go be a doctor like your parents (may have) wanted you to? Make a six figure income and write in your fancy home during your off hours. Ahah.

Novels are a Business

There isn’t enough money to go around… sort of.

Image result for pareto distributionAccording to Price’s law, half of all scientific contributions are made by the square root of the total number of scientific contributors: thus, if there are 100 scientists within a given discipline, just 10 of them will account for 50 percent of all publications. The Price’s law describes unequal distribution of productivity in most domains of creativity (Gorny, emphasis mine).

The bigger you are, the more people recognise you. The more people recognise you, the more people buy your books. The more people buy your books, the bigger you get. The more people want to publish you. The more stores shelf your book. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s present in the novelling, and almost any other market.

Most of us aren’t recognised at the top, in fact most writers probably aren’t making anything. There’s probably a large amount that are just writing for fun. Those that are making a living wage are what I like to call the exceptions.

The Exceptions

Image result for agatha christie

Writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Agatha Christie are the exceptions. Especially Christie. If you want a good example of an exception to the rule, look no further than the woman competing in sales numbers with William Shakespeare!

Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap.

— http://www.agathachristie.com

From what I can tell, which isn’t much, it seems to me that there are two ways to actually make money writing. The first is to write a lot of things that are interesting to read. They don’t have to be particularly good, in fact being literary slows you down. Get rid of all that and just write a ton. That’s clearly what Christie did. One of the things that stabbed out of the page at me while reading Harry Potter was the unimpressive and sometimes just plain bad prose. Apparently King isn’t much better. But really, writing in this fashion clearly works if you have the content to make up for it.

There’s another group that manages to get by with fairly simple writing, the occasional grammar error, and lots of releases. It’s the indie publishers. Self publishinh directly to ebooks and cranking out two or three novels a year, these people are on a mission, and it’s paying off. Royalties are lower, if not non-existent if you indie publish, and because it’s digital you don’t even have to pay for printed books. But, the breakneck speed at which you have to release to make a living seems to cut into their quality. I’m not sure.

Conclusion

This is actually sort of an awful article, it spells out how almost exactly how unlikely it is that anyone will make a living writing. It’s the last thing I wanted to hear, that’s why it took a strong three years for me to come around and face it. But, I kind of cheated when I did.

The first thing I pointed out here, in different words, was that it’s unusual to make money doing art. I feel like that’s so obvious that it’s almost in the realm of common sense. Writing somehow falls to the side of that though, possibly because when people think “art” they don’t immediately think “novel.”

Anyway, my first point was that even a lot of the great writers from the canon also did other things, and that’s where I “cheated.” It’s unlikely that you or I will make a living writing. It’s unlikely that anyone will make a living writing. Especially if you want to take the time to put out something of literary quality. So the cheat is that… that’s normal. You don’t have to worry about it, or stress about how you’re going to do it.

I mean, feel free to try, just be careful that you don’t fall into the dead prose of mass fiction… or do, whatever works. As for me, I’m going to try what Margret Atwood did. (Although, I’m not a huge fan of Atwood, she definitely both made it, and is good enough that I read her work in university.) That is, get a “real job” and hope for the best after that. I think it beats being a starving artist working a minimum wage job anyway. And being educated certainly doesn’t hurt writing quality.

Further Reading

I found this article, I thought it was pretty cool. It’s a very strong resource for learning how to make money in art, although it’s geared a little more towards visual arts. The #1 Reason Artists Fail At Making a Living Selling Art (And What You Can Do About It)

I did a post a while back on theme. That might interest you.

Works Cited

Gorny, Eugene. “Price’s law.” Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny. Netslova.ru, 2007. http://creativity.netslova.ru/Price~s_law.html

Greenblatt, editor. The Norton anthology of English literature. Ninth ed., vol. 1 2, W.W. Norton, 2013.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: his life and legacy. Cooper Square Press, 2000.

Poe, Edgar A. “Some Secrets of the Magazine Prison-House,” Broadway Journal, February 15, 1845 (accessed at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/etext/smprison.htm)

Wikipedia. “Western canon.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_canon.

Daniel Triumph.

Please check out my most recent work of fiction, Mariça.

Sunchaser

We live on a boat that sails across the sea. The ship is called the Sunchaser. I consider this to be a lazy name, because it’s simply a description of what the ship does. We follow the sun around the world. I used to wonder how we could follow the sun all the time, so I asked one of the captains.

He told me, “the ship is powered by wind blowing in the sails.” When I asked where the wind came from, he said, ” the air moves from cold places to warm places. So, when we see the sun, the ship moves slower, and our ship starts falling behind. Then, when it’s dark, we get caught in the winds that blow from behind us, where it’s cold, back towards the sun. This gives us a burst of speed, and we eventually catch back up to the sun and to the slower moving wind. This is how night and day work on the ship.”

We have been following the sun for many years. There are families, plants, and animals here too. In fact, I was born on this ship. Occasionally, we encounter other boats who sail alongside us. We meet new people. Sometimes, I wonder about the islands and lands that we pass. I decided to ask the other captain what’s on the land.

She told me, “on the land are other people. Many years ago, the other captain and I decided that we wanted to ride on a ship that would chase the sun. We wanted to take control of our abilities and use them in a productive way. So we learned how to sail, and found others who had the abilities and wanted to come along. Living on the sea is a lot more work than living on the land, but the reward is the sun.”

I asked her why we don’t ever stop on the land.

She told me, “we have stopped, when you were much younger than you are now. Some of the eldest of our group were unable to keep up with the tasks of sailing. We had to wait a very long time for the sun to return and bring us wind again. When you stay at harbour for too long, people get out of practice, and lose the important routines needed at sea. Some of our people gave up during the wait and decided to stay on the land instead. It’s easier to live on the land than here at sea. The ground isn’t made of ever-shifting waters. There were people living on the land, however, who were interested in taking the place of those who left. We were grateful that they would come help us follow the sun.”

I asked the captain why the sun was so important if we could never truly reach it.

She replied, “keeping up with the sun is a very difficult task, but the reward is that we have more frequent exposure to its light than those who don’t. We are able to see it by applying our own efforts. Instead of waiting on the land for the sun to come to us, we go to the sun.”

The other captain overheard us, and as we spoke, it came time for the two to trade duties. He told me that he could take a short break with me, and that I could ask him questions. So, I asked him if the people on the land were different.

He told me, “as you know, some people can’t sail, so they have to stay on the land. Some have decided that they would rather not take the effort to learn, so they remain on the land. Others realize that the effort needs to be maintained even after learning, while sailing, so they stay too. Others still never hear of life on the water until later in their lives, and they decide to train then, and join a ship.

“There are also those who were sailing that tire of the life following the sun, and decide that the rewards aren’t worth the effort any more. Others are pessimistic, and choose to believe that it wasn’t worth the effort in the first place. On the other end of the scale, some people were lucky enough to be born sailing, and learn the ropes as they grow up. Some people sail all the way until they die.”

The captain gave me a chance to think through what he had said.

“But, to answer your question directly, the people on the land are different, but not in the way you might think. As an example, you might find someone just like yourself living on the land. Outside of those who are simply unable, anyone can train and become a sailor. Anyone can learn, and practice the skills.”

He scratched his chin thoughtfully, then said, “as my partner said to me, the real difference between the people on the land and the people chasing the sun is the level of discipline and the kinds of habits they maintain.”

I asked if habits really was the only difference.

He told me, “yes, and the discipline to maintain those habits! Now, with that in mind, I think we both have duties we should be tending to, is that right?”

I hopped up and nodded. I headed to the area of the ship that I was responsible for. While I was working I thought back to what I had believed about the ship’s name. Was it a lazy name?

Inspired by the words, “ever receding horizon.”

I’m struggling to create narratives with underlying meaning. I know that this piece might be a little overt about the whole process, but it’s a first step, and I’m really happy about it. Once I get a solid grip on all this, then I can play with subtlety.

Daniel Triumph.

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