Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tactical Awareness and Push-Up Bras

A friend of mine got a speeding ticket a couple weeks ago. She thought that if she went to court about it she could get the points reduced. She is a four foot tall, cute, innocent looking Asian girl who could probably have gotten what she wanted with an approach that accentuated her natural appearance and skill. Instead she came in like a tiny kimchi tornado demanding a discount. The judge wasn't in the mood to deal with a four-foot-tall pushy Korean girl, and said if she didn't shush she'd get a suspension. Afterward she called to vent and when I told her a different strategy would have improved her situation, the realization dawned on her and she got more upset at herself for not taking a different tactic.

The moral of the story is be willing to, as General Sun Tzu said a couple millenia ago, shift strategy to overcome obstacles and keep the advantage.

When it comes to writing and publishing books I have come to conclusion that tactical awareness is just as important as literary skill. We must adjust our approach at times as market needs and publisher needs shift. But one thing must never change and that is the goal. That goal for me is to get my stories published, and to keep writing stories. My podcast audience thus far has told me that they like my stories. A couple of publishers have expressed interest but not bitten yet. What does it take to get their attention? That's where the tactical shift comes in. Keep my end product in focus, but adjust my avenue of approach and redeploy my forces to take advantage of terrain and battlefield momentum. In the end, by what ever method I take, I will have the victory of getting published, that much I know.

A writer on another blog suggested that getting published can be like being a hooker on the street trying to get a customer to take the bait. I look pretty scary in a short skirt and fishnet stocking. Push-up bras chaffe my ribs. But if that's what it takes...

no...wait...erase that mental image....I won't go that far.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Are You American?

Being Alaskan has been an interesting mix of patriotism and marginalization. We in Alaska, when outside, typically refer to ourselves as Alaskans as opposed to Americans, even though Alaska is a state in the union. Its not that we don't love the USA, we do. Not everyone does, we are the only state with an officially recognized secessionist party that got a governor elected.

But the vast majority of us love the USA. The truth is though, if you proudly tell people abroad you are an American they are likley to roll their eyes and find a way to politely or not so politely walk away. Or if your having a particularly bad day they may take you hostage. On the other hand, if you say you are Alaskan they will want to talk and chat it up about life in the arctic. So it has little to do patriotism and more to do with these two things: Identity and Desire to Get Along.

Even in our own country we are for the most part sidelined. Until the recent national attention toward Sarah Palin a significant number of Americans were not even sure Alaska was part of the USA, or they thought we were a territory like Puerto Rico and Samoa. It still stuns me when American tourists ask local shops if we take US Money, or what is the exchange rate. When I travel to cities in the lower 48 I find it to be not too much like where I live.

Alaskans are like the child born of an affair. Mommy loves us, but Dad kind of ignores us other than to throw a few dollars our way as an act of appeasement. With all of the attention we now have on the national political scene perhaps this will change to some degree. Or, depending on how Palin carries herself, and how the media decides to honor or vilify her, we may or may not get a better image in the world scene.

We are not particularly flag wavers up here. Even though 75% of Alaskans are military veterans, expressions of patriotism are moderate. Maybe its just our understated temperment. Maybe its the fact that it costs so much to ship stuff up that we just don't have all the red, white & blue stuff available like they do in the lower 48.

Or maybe its the fact that most of us are of mixed ancestry within the past few generations and don't really know where to call home. A friend of mine from Vancouver BC, Canada, lived here for two years for his job. He mentioned that Vancouver was one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. In Vancouver there are more different nationalities represented than any other city on the planet, or something like that. But those ethnic groups tend to stay in their own little communities. You know, Chinatown, Koreatown, Indiatown, Pakistanitown, Kenyatown, etc. I don't know that they suffix the word -town to every nationality but you get my point.

What astonished him in Anchorage Alaska though, was that there were almost no ethnic enclaves here. Yes there is a section unofficially called Koreatown, but it is only about a dozen small buildings, and there are several non-Korean buildings in between them. What really blew his mind was the first time he went shopping at a mall here and saw the ethnic diversity within the same families. Black, Alaskan Native, Caucasian, Asian, Latino, Islander, European, African, you name it. Everyone walking in multi-colored families, holding hands and carrying babies that could not be identified as any particular ethnicity.

That is what Alaska is like. We are a mixed up bunch of people at the end of the world in a state of the USA, but most of our cousins don't even think people live here. And we're just fine with that.

So from an Alaskan of Irish, English, Polish, Swedish, Danish, Sioux and Cherokee descent married to a Korean woman who most people assume to be Mongolian or Eskimo....God Bless America, land that I love.
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