Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vanity publishing and obsessions

I do get obsessive about things.  I read topics into the ground, until I'm tired of it or suddenly stop and decide that maybe this isn't the healthiest direction and I should have a break (that mental shake).

Horrid things are happening in the world, this hemisphere, this country, this city.  They touch me, the earthquakes, the disavantaged, the uprisings, global financial crises, climate weirding, the likelihood that the 6th mass extinction is about to take place (if it hasn't already started.  This may be a moot point).  BUTBut.  but. I have to live my life, not someone else's.  I can try to make sure that I try and touch the earth lightly.  That I accept the contradictions in my life and try to ameliorate them.  That I leave this bit of earth that I have custody of in better heart than when I came to it.  That I try to make small differences, challenge other people's behaviour/values (and have this happen in return).  If I don't concentrate on these small things, they have no chance of rippling out and maybe tilting a critical balance in favour of this earth as we know it.  If I don't concentrate on these small things, that way lies madness.

I'm sure the chickens aren't an economic advantage.  A couple of the girls have, cough, some maturity, and don't lay terribly often.  The new Sussex hens have just decided to do a first and very extravagant moult.  I'm not sure that the darling little Langshan x Australorp has laid an egg in over a year.  Yet they delight in the scraps that we give them, the left overs that the lettuce lady gives us, and they cluck and preen and make little chooky noises, glare at Winston and are generally delightful to watch and soothing to be around.  We don't normally have to buy eggs, although we do have to buy laying mix.  What price can you put on the richness they add to our lives?  Does the cost of the feed we buy for them offset the cost of buying eggs and all that is implied by that (production, travel, packaging)?  We try to grow some of our own food.  This means we get to gorge on heirloom beans and tomatoes, I can eat spaghetti squash and globe artichokes in season.  And if the weather is good, I can stand by the peach tree and bite into white Anzacs that are too soft to travel, bruise on picking and are wonderfully sweet and juicy - liquid sun.  That is - those peaches which haven't been hit by fungus (it's been a wet summer), stolen by the dogs or sampled by the birds and ants.  Although I've no objection to eating those last.  Birds and ants always pick the sweetest ones.  I can get obsessive about sustainability, about doing what I can.

I started buying second hand clothing when I was at university.  There were certainly hand-me-downs earlier:  work-shirts, moleskins, elastic sided boots.  The novelty of being able to buy new clothes when I started paid employ - yes there is still a measure of that, and I won't buy underwear second hand (except for vintage slips or petticoats), but in so many ways, I prefer to buy used.  eBay has provided a substantial proportion of my wardrobe.  A lot of my furniture is either inherited, gifted, or what one friend refers to as Victorian attic.  Not just my furniture - much of my kitchenware and just about all the china and glassware.  And my primary obsession, books - well, some of them were only ever published once, so second hand is definitely it!

So via sustainability to purchasing used to the current obsession - learning how to dress and have fun with it.  I struggle with this on a number of levels, but hope I'm getting better.  This tangled web includes: poor self-esteem (who am I kidding - absolutely mangled, working on rebuilding it), shame, fear, the belief I do not deserve nice things, the belief I'm ugly (you're stupid and ugly, no one could love you), far too much time as a tom-boy, shyness, no confidence to learn... hands up every other woman who's had those thoughts running deep in the ruts of their mind.  All evidence to the contrary.  I have to remind myself of the good things, of the friends who are wonderful - and would they be my friend if I didn't have qualities they like?

So I am working on the idea that looking good feeds feeling good and they become a self-sustaining cycle until one day the ruts in the mind are less deep, maybe even just surface meanderings that are easily skipped out of.  That it is possible to receive a compliment with a simple thank you and actually believe it.  And I am spending money (that I earned) on myself because I deserve to look good and feel good.  And if that means that I'm getting the hang of liquid eyeliner at forty four and a half - how on earth is that a problem?  And if it is a problem - wow, wish all my problems, all the world's problems were that insignficant.  And since society requires that I dress, why shouldn't it be enjoyable?  This is NOT Puritan England under Oliver Cromwell.

Although I am struggling slightly with storing the increasing amount of footwear (no such thing as too many shoes, just not enough storage.  It's a dependency, but not a critical one).

So via sustainability to purchasing used to learning how to dress well to vanity publishing.  Ah yes, it is actually called that - self published books, those volumes which you pay to have printed and bound.  It's generally used as a perjorative, in the same way as calling someone a dilettante when Renaissance man has quite a different ring to it.

But here I am blogging.  At the moment, countless others are also putting their thoughts out there in the ether for others to see. (love that sequence of vowels by the way).  Is this vanity publishing or is it something else.

There are various quotes that make the same point - if you want facts, the human condition, read fiction.  History is not in accounts, but in account books. (that one from Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time).

I choose to believe that these self-published works - whether on digital or on paper - are of equal merit, of equal value to those works which are formally published.  They display lives and thoughts, uncover art, prose, poetry, opinions, information which we may not otherwise have known.  They can provide affirmation, challenges and encourage new interests or deepen existing ones.  They are about the human condition.

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I post and check this blog very erratically (if you hadn't already guessed). Thank you for reading!