The Evil Machinations of This Blog!

Rejoice, readers. You have been preserved from the evil machinations of my chatty little blog by the combined efforts of Amazon and the local New Age shop. You are now safe and protected! You are no longer subject to the intrigue and conspiracy, the plotting and scheming, present in these talkative little posts. Aren’t you grateful? What more could you ask? (Other than to be adults permitted to make up your own minds, that is.)

You see, a short while ago I decided to update my “Beckett Shiona” profile on Amazon. (That “Shiona”, by the way, references the name I give to each of my computers, as they die and are replaced. After all, the PC is doing a lot of the work as I write—it deserves recognition!) In any case, Beckett Shiona is the name under which I write my many, many book reviews – about 600 of them, to date.   Not that I have any followers; as someone who eschews the giant of Facebook, not to mention Twitter, or runners-up in the social media world such as Goodreads—well, those of us who circle the worlds in a slightly more subdued manner are a bit like those alien installations on the dark side of the moon: we don’t exist. Nevertheless, my non-existent self maintains an Amazon profile just so that the authors, be they lambasted or praised, may look upon a photo and read just a tad about the person who spoke, nastily or nicely, about their books.

So I updated the blurb that describes who I am and why I write reviews, and changed my profile photo.

And this, it seems, triggered a review by some Amazonian Minion. (I would have said jackass, but that would be rude.)

You see, there’s a place provided on the profile to note one’s website. And, as I pay considerably extra to WordPress for the possession of an actual web address, I had always noted that address in my Amazon profile. After all, being retired, my occupation was listed as “Blogger”, so  including the blog address seemed like a reasonable action. Or so I thought for the nearly two years it had been listed.

Obviously not.

A chastising and sternly-worded e-mail landed in my in-box in about the space of time it took to turn around thrice shouting, “Evil! Bad! Wrong!” By including the web address in my profile, I had, it seems, violated “community standards”.  Despite the fact that my non-monetized, garrulous little blog is neither a product nor a service, and said web address has been sitting there in plain view on my profile for nearly two years, it was now utterly forbidden. Noting it in my profile was verboten. To “protect” the public.

To say that this ticked me off mightily would be the equivalent of saying that Hurricane Katrina was a wee bit of a storm–especially since I’d just gone through a very similar erasure process at the local New Age shop.

Again, because I eschew most social media, shortly after beginning this blog I’d created a few “blog announcement” business cards.  Blog CardThey provided just the blog title, motto, and web address. Whenever I gave tips to servers (and I am a good tipper), I handed them out along with the money. I hung the cards on any bulletin board I came across, too, and had actually gained a few followers thereby.

So the local New Age shop bulletin board seemed a logical place to pin a few cards. After all, the flyers and business cards already on  the board encompassed everything from roofing to retreats. But, ever mindful of courtesy, I asked the checkout clerks if I might hang a few of the blog announcement cards there among the businesses and lost pet flyers. (And let me just say that I don’t honestly believe that anyone else EVER asked before pinning up flyers or cards; they just did so.)

The clerks said they would run this past their supervisor, and I smilingly acquiesced. A week or two later, seeing no cards on the board, I asked if the request had been approved. They hadn’t had a chance to find out, the clerks told me. I waited another week, and checked again. No, not yet, they replied.

This song and dance continued for over two months—at which time I was diagnosed with a serious illness, and having my blog announcement cards on the bulletin board receded into unimportance in the face of other, more vital matters—like saving my own life. My blog cards never appeared on the bulletin board, and were never returned to me, either. I suppose they went into the trash.

A year went by and, healed and refreshed, I printed a new batch of blog announcement cards. This time, though, I knew better than to ask. I stuck a half-dozen of them right up there on the bulletin board in the midst of all the other effluvia.

Where they were promptly removed by management within the week—again, I presume, to the trash can.

And so there you have it, folks: The Saga of Your Protection From the Utter Evil of My Chatty Little Blog. Be my weekly subject humor—or introspection—or spirituality—or merely observation—you are SAFE. You are PROTECTED. You are NOT EXPOSED to the sheer, awful reality of my maunderings.

The Jackasses of Power have seen to that.

By the way, New Age shop–I really want my expensive blog announcement cards back.

A Crystal Inkwell Pendant

A few years ago I participated in a jewelry exchange. As the rarely-worn but lovely pieces were handed around a circle of women, I was particularly taken with one that no one else seemed to want.  A single golden feather protruded from a large round, faceted crystal with a small gold top.  It was, I realized, an inkwell—an old fashioned inkwell and quill pen.

I loved it instantly and chose it as my gift in the exchange. And then I took it home and never wore it.  For I told myself that this quill-and-inkwell (made of that crystal that no one can pronounce) was meant for a writer.  And I, despite my best of intentions, was not.

Oh, I’d tried to write—or rather, to become a published writer—a number of times. Six of my poems had been published (genuinely published—none of that, “Poetry Contest!” nonsense, where everyone submitting an entry “wins”, and then pays the publisher for the privilege of buying the overpriced compilation in which the poem appears).  No, I had received payment for the six poems printed by Unity’s publishing house in their monthly magazine, and even seen one of my works later reprinted, with permission, in a hardback compilation titled, Truth the Poet Sings.

But none of my other writing projects succeeded. I tried my hand at writing a romance novel, completing several chapters…but since I didn’t actually enjoy reading them myself, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the book.  I wrote a book of letters to my daughter, recording the wonder of her first year of life.  Melon Patch Letters was read and enjoyed by several women, many of them strangers to me, but despite the approbation I received from my Beta Readers, no publisher was interested in the work.

I even compiled a full manuscript of poetry: poems that traced my healing from depression through spiritual growth. I still believe The Shuttle In My Hands to be excellent, but, then, of course, I would. Again, no publishing house found it worthwhile.

Life itself intervened in my aspirations, and I wrote very little until, years later, I completed my intensely personal manuscript, A Diary of My Divorce.  I never submitted it for publication, although, looking through it again after 19 years, I wonder if I should not have done that very thing.

Enter the world of blogging and e-publishing. As these venues initiated and expanded, I considered them…but life itself has a way of interfering  in the actual business of really living.  As much as I wanted to write, as a single mother, working hard to support the two of us and putting my daughter through college, it seemed that the only writing I found time for was helping my offspring and her friends research and edit school essays and compositions and term papers.

And then, at last, I retired. Promising myself—promising everyone I knew—that I would finally begin writing a blog, I found myself totally intimidated not just by the many blogging platforms, but by the paralyzing fear around the thought, “What if I start my blog, and no one wants to read it?”

Assistance arrived in the form of a new friend whose relative suggested a good blogging forum. Nervous and uncertain of unfamiliar technology, I finally took the plunge.  Literally asking my angels for a title and motto for my blog, I found my fingers typing them out.  I struggled through my inexperience and created the first page.  And, finally, pressing the “Publish” button at last, on October 22, 2017, the post Princess Diana Saved My Life finally appeared.

I’ve written well over 100 blog posts since then, on topics encompassing everything from spiritual beliefs to brussels sprouts, from royalty to poverty to pets to toilet paper–essays that I work hard to craft and polish. In the process I’ve gained a few—just a few—followers, and another few dedicated readers who, themselves leery of a form of technology they did not grow up with,  won’t punch the “Follow” button, but still regularly read my maunderings.  Sometimes I acquire a few “Likes”; more often, I hear later from friends who particularly enjoyed a new column.  Oddly, many of my closest friends and family members never once look at anything I’ve written, while complete strangers and other bloggers laud me.

But it doesn’t matter, really, whether I acquire a following or Likes or even readers. For the simple truth is, I write for my own pleasure.  I write out of dedication to the craft of writing.  I write because the act of composition embodies everything that I am.

And now I proudly wear my crystal quill-and-inkwell pendant, recognizing at last that I always deserved to do so; that I have always been an author; that a lack of publication never once dimmed my enthusiasm or desire to write. Poetry, children’s stories, short stories, books—all are gathered within my file cabinet and occupy space on my computer, possibly doing no more than collecting dust, but evidence, nonetheless, of my intense desire, always, to follow my heart and write.

Perhaps, like the poet Emily Dickinson, the body of my works will be discovered someday after my death, and be recognized and published. Perhaps not.  But it doesn’t matter.  I am not writing to please a faceless public; I am writing because it is, inescapably, entwined within my soul.