The Story Had To Be Told: On Writing The Christmas Rose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday, I published my short story, The Christmas Rose. It’s been less than 24 hours since I shared it with my readers, and I wanted to answer a few questions about why I wrote it.

Q: The story is pretty long — almost 8,000 words. Most people aren’t reading pieces that take more than a few minutes to read. Why didn’t you cut it down to under 5,000 words?

A. It is one of the longer shorts that I’ve written. Most are around 3,000 words. I’ve been trained well by the competitions and requirements of the print journals where I submit most of my work. I knew this piece was going directly to the web and to an eBook format, so I worried less about the length.

There’s another reason, though. First and foremost, the story had to be told, and I couldn’t hold any part of it back to fit a generic reader’s tolerance for a sustained reading. In other words, it doesn’t fit into the criteria of a social media read (that’s one of the reasons why I created a PDF of the manuscript so readers could download it and read it at their leisure).

Q: Aren’t you afraid that it won’t get more widely distributed then? It seems like the length is a real roadblock to it taking off.

A: Then so be it. I know the formula of what makes things go “viral” in today’s fast-paced world. Maybe this is an “anti-viral” piece. I’ve stopped caring about that. I’m going to be 50 years old in a few months, and I have a lot of stories to share before I go. I’ve stopped worrying about what works in this immediate world. If my story is 50 words or 500,000 words long, then that’s what it is. I’ll let my present and future readers decide what they want to do with it.

Q: How long were you working on this story?

A: Not terribly long at all. The basic premise came to me about 3 weeks ago that “believing” in something, like Christmas or Santa Claus, is not just for kids. We have a responsibility to continue our efforts to believe in our power to change the world — whether that is the “world” in our local town or community, or an entire nation or nations.

In the middle of writing the piece, we took a trip down to 34th Street to look at the lights in Hamden in Baltimore City. We never made it because a flash mob shut the streets down as they sung “Silent Night.” I thought that was the greatest thing to happen. Shut everything down with music. Stop driving by the world and take a few minutes to celebrate the beauty with friends and strangers alike. Wonderful stuff.

Here’s the video that was released from that special night:

After I wrote the first draft, I knew there was very little I wanted to revise. It’s a Christmas story, all right, but it’s so much more about what we can do for others. Our nation is in a stressful place right now. We can focus on the pain, or we can focus on acts of kindness for all that can begin a genuine and long-lasting healing.

Q: Is any of it real?

A: None of it and all of it. Luther’s Village is a micro version of historic Lutherville; Hunter’s Valley is Hunt Valley. Emily Starling is an extension of the kind elders I knew in my neighborhood in Loch Raven and Towson who gave so selflessly to others.

Q: What about the Christmas Rose?

A: The Christmas rose itself (Helleborus niger) is not very “rose-traditional” looking. And, more importantly, it is poisonous. I loved the story behind the flower, but using this exact plant for my story just wouldn’t work. The hybridization of flowers happens all the time; it is not unrealistic to believe that Emily was able to create a hybrid that would be safe and offer a nice fragrance.

I think planting and giving flowers is the greatest gift we can give to others, both for now and for the future. I’ve always enjoyed the stories about the hope flowers bring. It doesn’t take much to bring a little color and hope to others, does it?

Q: How can I read “The Christmas Rose”?

A: You can read it online HERE.

You can also download the eBook (PDF) to enjoy on your phone or tablet: Christmas Rose Story.

Thanks, readers, for reading and, possibly, sharing my story of The Christmas Rose with others. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

as always………………………….rvw

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I’m An Artist, So Pay Me, Maybe?

Adam Byatt recently posted a piece about artists getting paid (or not), in response to a piece written by an artist named Amanda, who was responding to a letter that was sent to her by an artist named Amy.

Adam, Amanda, Amy… All artists. I’m thinking of changing my name to Arus (and it shall be pronounced A-roos, with a roll on the “r” if you can manage it) — at least for the purposes of writing this post.

I’ve been chatting off and on for several years about this topic with another artist, Cara. We both believe that giving abundantly provides abundant returns.

The question is: Where should artists stand when it comes to being paid for their work?

Before I even begin to answer that question, let me throw out a few particularly random, but relevant, thoughts.

The boom of the internet and the technology explosion have collectively oversaturated the market with good works at little to no cost. Nearly everybody with a smartphone can take a better-than-decent photo. Pretty it up on Instagram, Hipstamatic, or even iPhoto, and you can put together a great virtual album of photos worthy of their share of oohs and aahs, all of which will happen in a matter of seconds before friends and followers flip through their newsfeeds and move on to the next batch of artistic creations.

Never before have we been able to read so much, so immediately, and so efficiently. There’s a lot of good writing out there in the blogosphere, and virtually all of it is for free.

We are getting our “fix” of great art stuff — both making it and receiving it — and we don’t have to pay a dime for it. In fact, even when we want to purchase local artists’ works, we often have too many choices, and we simply cannot buy everybody’s books and photos that we would like to.

So where does that leave the artists who are trying to make a living through their creations?

We are being forced to rethink how we market our work (if at all), and to whom.

We cannot stop creating our photos, our sketches, our stories. It is a part of who we are; it is what we do, what we know, and what defines us.

We can choose other professions that sustain an income while we “dabble” with our art, but that’s not who we are. Our work suffers, and our contributions are never as significant as they should be. And, when we do invest a great deal of energy into a specific project, the returns are negligible, at best.

I have likened it in the past to CPR compressions. It’s getting harder and harder to create a product that isn’t on constant marketing life support. The minute we stop pumping energy into that product, it expires within a few days.

Very sad.

On Adam’s post, one commenter wrote that she has found a way around the “friends network” problem; she bypasses her local audience completely and sells her work in markets that are looking to buy high quality art.

This makes sense, and I think it’s worth a try to make that work if you are serious about making a living from your work. But it also saddens me to think that we need to go outside of our general community to have our work taken seriously. (For the record, I am ever grateful for the tight-knit group of supporters who has always purchased my stories and my photos.)

For me, I’m returning to some traditional means of publishing — sharing a little less online and through self-publishing, and submitting more work to reputable pubs and journals for consideration. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be blogging or posting through my social networks, but I will work harder on finding traditional markets to “accept” my work and build my credentials and clips.

Like Adam says, artists need to find their own path and walk it genuinely. For some, that’s the full-blown, make-a-living path. For others, it means giving, sharing, and submitting a little more generously while making some money in other ways.

I’m refining my own path, and it’s working for me. But I am, and always will be, an artist.

Traditional Publishing: Is It Still Possible?

Kyle, a 19-year-old writer enrolled in a BA creative writing program at a local university, posed the following query on Facebook:

Alright, so my ultimate goal is to make a living and career out of writing and publishing books. I want to do it the traditional way of going through a literary agent who will establish a contract with a respective publishing company. The tricky part is getting a foot in the door. Agents receive query letters every day from hundreds of people trying to get themselves out there. The agent needs to see something that separates a writer from the rest, someone they know has credentials and can market. This is usually done through building some sort of resume and getting published in minor places like magazines and online sites, contests and whatnot. I am working on my BA in Creative Writing which I will receive from Salisbury. I’m hoping to get published somewhere somehow along the way, so by the time I have my degree, my resume will speak for itself in the query letter. At the same time, I’m toying with the idea of somehow getting an agent sooner, though it is a very long shot. I have a 4 book series I would be presenting, something I’ve been working on for 2 1/2 years, recently turning 19. The original novel, which was just supposed to be a linear story, is now a complete universe with a working prequel, sequel, and a bridge between the original and sequel following a new character and his overlap with the main plot. In addition to this, I’m working on a complete summary of the series, starting with all relevant background information of the universe, following into the prequel and going from there.

Kyle, the good news is that you are doing all the right things, and I believe you have a bright future ahead of you. Let’s break this down and see why.

Traditional publishing is getting harder to crack every day. You would think just the opposite would be true, as so many people are turning to Print-On-Demand (POD) and digital (eBook) publishing. Surely the traditional publishers would be searching far and wide for writers to stick with the “old way” of publishing books, wouldn’t they?

Well, it all comes down to numbers — dollar signs, to be exact. The increase in digital publishing also means a decrease in readers actually buying print books. The Go Green movement has made it fashionably correct to stick to the digital downloads and avoid the bulky books that get tossed on a stack of other used books somewhere in the corner of your bedroom.

Therefore, traditional publishers are being very choosy about what and who they publish. Here’s why Kyle is doing all the right things.

First, he is young. At 19, Kyle is seen as a long-term investment for an agent who wants to establish a relationship with an author. The younger the talented writer, the more opportunities for multi-book deals, which leads us to the next advantage.

Second, Kyle has a four-book plan to pitch. In fiction, agents want to see a polished manuscript of at least one book in a series, with detailed outlines of subsequent books in a trilogy or series. The outlines must demonstrate to the agent that the writer understands the bigger picture of a four-book deal, where he can see a greater story spanning four books, yet each book has its own self-contained story. The multi-book deal shows the agent and the publisher that this is an investment. Think of the hottest books on the market in the last ten years; most of them are part of a series, and serial books mean big money in merchandising, film, and (of course) digital downloads.

Third, Kyle understands the game. He knows that he has to stuff a folder with “clips” of published stories to demonstrate two things: 1) validation from other reputable publications and 2) continuity and consistency. Kyle should be sending out shorter works of fiction at least every other month, if not more frequently. He needs to demonstrate that he can manage the business side of writing as well as the creative side. This is where most writers fail. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to see that this is a business. There is no such thing as “Writer’s Block” to a professional writer. As David Simon once wrote about his own father, I have no more right to say that I have writer’s block than my father has to say, I have milkman’s block. He would never get away with skipping a delivery because he couldn’t find his creative muse; not delivering means not working; not working means not getting paid. If you want to be a writer, you have to work hard and deliver the product. Consistently.

Fourth, Kyle has created a universe that opens up endless possibilities with spinoffs, sequels, fan fiction — you name it. Agents and publishers love it when the author makes it this easy for them. Kyle and his writing have dollar signs written all over them.

Of course, without saying, the writing has to be very, very good. Not great, but very very good. Clear, crisp, and concise writing sells books. Tell a good, clean story, and demonstrate the ability to do it again and again, is the golden ticket to success in the traditional market.

Now, Kyle would be wise to consider both traditional and digital markets for getting published now. Many reputable traditionals publish additional works online, and many more reputable journals have gone all digital. It does not mean that their criteria for publishing have changed; it just means that they have the opportunity to, perhaps, publish a few more works than they might have had the money to publish traditionally.

Also, Kyle needs to begin networking at local and regional conferences, where agents are sitting on panels, serving as keynotes, or leading strategic workshops. He needs to pitch his ideas concisely and convincingly. He should have business cards printed with his contact information, and the card should pop, but in a professional way (in addition– Kyle needs to make sure that all of his contact info is simple and as close to his name as possible; abandon creative email addresses that have nothing to do with you [and thus won’t ever be associated with your name]).

As Kyle gains momentum in getting his work published and finds an agent, his works will logically flow into a hybrid stream of publishing opportunities in both traditional and digital platforms.

Good luck to you, Kyle, and all others who still believe in traditional publishing. It’s still possible to make it as a full-time writer; it just takes a lot of work and a good amount of talent.

Is Brevity Replacing A Writer’s Sensibility?

Writers are being forced to think too much these days (I think), and they are facing a danger that is both very real and damaging to the relationship between reader and writer.

Because of the changes in how we spend our time reading stories, not to mention how we read them in the first place, writers are working desperately to keep a captive audience — not an easy thing to do with so much writing now available so freely and immediately.

Do I focus on search-engine optimization (SEO)? What about word count? What does my target audience (who is that anyway anymore?) really want?  What is going to hold my reader more than 90 seconds, when their finger is perched precariously on the tip of the mouse, ready to click me into oblivion as the search continues for something more entertaining?

With the exception of SEO and the ease of maneuvering from one piece of writing to the next, all with a click of the mouse, the questions I pose for writers above are no different than what writers have been asking themselves for decades. We still want to write for an audience that understands what we are saying, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it.

But how to do that?

It is precisely due to the ease of leaving your work that makes writers more desperate to hold on to your attention. Before blogs and search engines and RSS feeds, we just had to tease them enough to buy the darn thing. Once they got it in their hands, they gave us a fair chance — maybe a few chapters or up to 100 pages — before they made a decision to keep on reading or line the birdcage with its ripped-out pages.

In that desperation, I think we are sacrificing sensibility, the very essence of a writer’s passion for writing the piece in the first place. We are so concerned about getting to the point very quickly that we do not allow our purpose, our intent, to build in the story.

This is why, I think, we are seeing “flash fiction” and similar nonfiction subgenres continuing to emerge as a legitimate form of writing. How quickly can you get to your point and share that sensibility before you reach your last-allowed 750th word? At times, I feel like I’m reading stories that are more suited to fit in the microwave-ready Lean Cuisine dish.

Sure, these stories/meals are good on-the-go, but is it really possible to establish and sustain long-lasting and filling themes with such a diet?

As I wrap up the final edits on my book that goes to the printer next week for a December 9th release, I know that one of the best things going for me is that the story is short — a mere 51,000 words that barely pushes the 200-page mark.

But I am also making sure that, to the best of my ability, I didn’t compromise sensibility in keeping it short.

I guess it comes down to this. Go ahead and microwave my story, but please set aside the afternoon to enjoy the sliced turkey and corn niblets. I hope that what I have to share takes a little time to digest. đŸ™‚

We Are Writing More Than Ever, Or Are We?

On the surface, I should be really excited about this ever-evolving global explosion with writing. In fact, the statistics are nothing short of staggering.

In February 2011, The Nielsen Company documented over 156 million public blogs in existence. In 2009, 1.5 trillion text messages were sent or were received (dhtech.com). According to Facebook’s statistics page (accessed at the time of this posting), there are more than 750 million active users, people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, and they share more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) each month.Twitter, by its own claim, boasts that members are now posting in excess of 200 million tweets a month.

People are using writing and social networking to communicate more than ever before.

Consider the following passage from Jeremy Norman:

If we go back to the end of World War II in 1945, the year in which telegraphic use peaked in the United States, Americans sent 236 billion telegraph messages that year, seeming a huge number relative to U. S. population at the time. With respect to the amount of information transferred, numbers may be deceptive since telegraph messages were charged for by the word, and tended to be exceptionally brief, while the amount of text, audio and video information that can be transferred or exchanged in one minute on the Internet is incomparably greater than the amount of text that could be exchanged in the same time by telegraph. Because of the availability of increasingly rich and diverse information over wireless networks, the nature of telecommunication has changed. As of May 2010, cell phones, used by about 90% of American households, were used more for data, such as text messages, streaming video and music, than speech, and during 2008 to 2010 the average number of voice minutes per user in the United States fell. In his book, The Information. A Theory. A History. A Flood (2011, p. 395), James Gleick quotes Jaron Lanier dramatically describing the scale of the ever-accelerating flood of electronic information we are experiencing: “It’s as if you kneel to plant the seed of a tree and it grows so fast that it swallows your whole town before you can even rise to your feet.” (“From Cave Paintings to the Internet” http://www.historyofinformation.com/narrative/index.php)

Finally! People are writing more than they are speaking to communicate! After all these years, the written word has become king of the communication hill!

Or has it?

It seems to me that quantity has nothing to do with quality here, and in fact — all this “writing” is actually working against the production of any meaningful and significant written correspondence or communication that will survive a cache-clearing data dump of trivial information. We’re so caught up in instant communication in under 160 characters that we’re skimming the waves of our life experience. We are losing our ability to kill the motor, sink in the waters of who we are and what we feel, and share that with others in a meaningful way.

One staff writer for the Independent , who wrote an article on the state of love letters in the 21st century, posted this question last February:

Do people send each other love letters any more? Or is the exchange of amorous declarations between partners now forever delegated to the insulting greetings card, the fluffy-bunny message in newspaper classifieds, the wholly unpassionate email, the economical salutation of the text message?

The documentation of our lives, as only we can accurately record it through our own experiences, is becoming nothing more than an eWhisper, a vanishing trademark of communication that leaves us with nothing but the news, so immediately reported that we have little time to think or react to an event before the next breaking story pushes the previous one from our memories.

I am not totally discouraged. I was reduced to tears this summer when a fellow writer/teacher taught us all the art of digital storytelling, and how we can empower our students to do the same in the classroom. The integration of writing and images can be a powerful thing, and such historical documentation in a simple, digital format was not possible just a few years ago.

But I think this is the exception and not the rule. Even before programs like iMovie came along, there wasn’t a whole lot of non-digital storytelling going on either, which leads me to believe that the technology explosion is not necessarily killing all aspects of writing; it is simply revealing the ugliness of our society’s negligence in writing authentically.

We can change that. We can help each other turn off our motors and sink into the genuineness of our being.

The first step is to recognize the absolute importance of our existence, as well as the documentation of our understanding of the world around us.

Hard? I guess so. As Tom Hanks says in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard; the hard is what makes it great.”

So who’s with me? Let’s accept that challenge, turn off the tweets and the updates, and sink a little. Then write.

I wonder what we’ll begin to discover . . . .

 

 

authentic living, authentic writing

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.

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I’ve been having some rather candid conversations with fellow writers in Towson and around town about the importance of authentic writing. Repeatedly, the same troubling concern rises to the primary focus of these discussions: we do not wish to offend, yet we know that, invariably, we will.

Offend whom, you ask?

There’s a book that I refer to often. It’s called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The message is simple and can be found in most “good book” manuals, from the bible to the cub scout handbook. But the simplicity with which this book is written makes the agreements themselves accessible.

One of the four agreements is to never take anything personally.

Good advice for both readers and writers, I think, when the latter is doing his job authentically.

On the reader’s end, authentic writing from a son, a father, a spouse, a friend, a colleague can be terribly enlightening, but often it brings contradictions to that “role” that the writer has played with that reader over, perhaps, many years. It took me a very long time to see my parents as individuals; they shared only a fraction of their true personalities to us when we were children. By no means did they not live authentically; I believe that, on many levels, they did, especially Mom. But I didn’t care about any of that; I didn’t know any of that even existed, to be honest with you.

It did exist, though. Despite my every attempt to keep them in their roles as Mom and Dad, much to my astonishment, they were Eileen and Charles, individuals, to the rest of the world.

I imagine it is the same for you, in some manner.

For those of us who do not write, it’s not as big a deal, I think. There are fewer chances for us to bare our true souls, put them on the stage for all to see in black and white. We find convenient ways to practice a “don’t ask, don’t tell” lifestyle where we keep our authentic selves from emerging.

We’re good. We play the game and, for the most part, choose our translucent masks from the jar by the door, where they mingle a little shyly with the others of varying thickness. We even find ourselves believing that we are the mask. It shows up in our actions, our words, our beliefs. We buy into these pop-fad crises of global warming and rush to buy our hybrid cars suddenly to save the earth. We are made to feel so good, our egos soothed by our acts, doing our part, living the good, right life.

I don’t mean to mock or offend. I don’t. It is me. This is my belief and it’s not about any one of you. It’s what I feel, what I think, what I believe. When I read that you are looking for hybrid choices, I applaud your efforts and want to know if you are free for a barbecue next Thursday. That’s your choice to make. That’s your place in this world, right here, right now.

I do not mean to offend. I mean to tell you what I think. Please, do not take it personally.

But as writers, we do this as well–we anticipate criticism that we will most assuredly take personally, and then censor our writing to make our audience members nod their head in agreement. That’s what we’re after, isn’t it? Approval? We sacrifice authenticity for approval. We sacrifice genuine honesty to protect the ones we love and to preserve the images they hold of us, near and dear to their hearts.

God bless us all for our efforts.

That’s not authentic, though. As writers, we’re faced with this dilemma on a daily basis. My blog is public. But my blog entries are personal. Do I wish to be conservative? Refrain from posting opinions that might offend? Censor my thoughts and censor who I am to save the ones I love from potential hurt because they choose to take my words personally?

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We can’t help it, I know. It’s what we do all day long. We are trained away from seeing and sharing all things with love; we grow suspicious, concerned, filtering all that comes in, and all that goes out.

We are becoming the first generation of artificial intelligence (AI) life forms, higher-level thinking zombies, if you will, who walk through their days and surf in their nights playing the lifelong game of PC-Perfect individuals, never wishing to offend, never wishing to misunderstand.

So many of us wish to do neither. And yet, we do, and in so doing we feel terribly sad that our efforts to live and write authentically have somehow missed their mark.

Never take anything personally.

I know. I see myself doing it even now. It’s hard. So hard, when you know that your audience sees you in so many different roles: teacher, husband, father, friend, colleague. They bring those filters to my words and gasp, shake their heads, and maybe even do a little re-read to make sure they got it all right the first time.

Never before, though, have we lived such transparent lives for all our communities to see us so vividly. We’re all making choices, however conscious (or not) those choices may be. Some are retreating, staying low, under the public radar and wrapping themselves around popular causes to insulate them from the dangers of authentic living. It’s a genuine and noble drive, for sure. There’s not much awareness happening at this level, I believe; rather, there is much awareness happening for everything but who they truly are as individuals.

We’ve had our arts programs stripped out of our schools, we have our students practicing the art of hoop writing with perfecting the tricky craft of composing brief and extended constructed responses. We are regurgitating numbers and facts and formulas and processes at lightning speeds so that school systems can boast when the annual reports are published in the morning papers: We are in the XXth Percentile; we have many reasons to celebrate. So many other schools did horribly worse. Hoorah for us.

We are not celebrating the successes of our individual students in their desperate attempts to hold on to their individuality; we celebrate that, collectively, we play a better game of jump rope than half the other schools on our block.

When they graduate, those expert jump-ropers, what do they know of authenticity? Of individuality?

Perhaps that is why so many of them flock wildly to Facebook for a little breathing room, a little sanity where they can be a little dangerous with their words, say what’s really on their minds, and feel like they’re living authentically in a bead of water that rests precariously on a dewy leaf, overlooking the rushing waters of domestication and conformity.

Look, I know it’s hard. We both need to work on it, Reader and Writer. But maybe, just maybe, if each of us comes to the page with a little sensibility, doing our best to take none of this personally, then maybe, perchance, we will not have offended the other.

Just maybe.

It’s not Ann’s problem; it’s mine (and yours)

On my ride into school this morning, it dawned on me, and how foolish I now feel.

New book. Outrageous controversy. Book shoots to no. 1 on bestseller list. Mission accomplished.

I would imagine that a person like Ann Coulter who has the audacity to write such claims also has the guts to promote her book so shamelessly. The whole riff with Lauer (“Are you getting testy with me?”) was all in the plans to spark such a controversy and shoot her book to number one.

Still, the irony is this: Coulter blasts the 9/11 widows for riding the coattails of their husbands’ deaths to become millionaires and further their own agenda.

But look who’s riding those coattails now. Coulter is guilty of doing the very thing she blames the widows of doing. But her ride is even worse (given that you believe the widows are guilty of this in the first place, which I do not), for she is like a second-generation leech, feeding off of the tragedies of others with whom she has no direct relations.
And we, the consumers of such folly, are helping her laugh all the way to the bank if we buy her book.

Me? I’ll hop on the library wait list to read this one.

Can’t anybody sell a book these days without such trickery?

The Problem with Ann

As I re-emerge into the world of breaking news and the neverending scandals in the field of writing and journalism (and boy, am I happy to be back), I feel like I can begin to comment somewhat more competently on the whole Ann Coulter debacle.

Friday afternoon, I enjoyed a great discussion with a colleague on

  1. the legitimacy of Ann Coulter’s statements specifically about the 9/11 widows and
  2. her presentation of those statements, both in print and subsequently with the media.

Our discussion began from her reaction to what Ann had said about the 9/11 widows, calling them witches and money-hungry widows…I told her that I had to reserve judgment until I researched the story more. Basically, what I gleaned from news snips and our own conversation was that Ann Coulter believed it to be unfair that the 9/11 widows could hide safely from attack behind the emotional barrier surrounding them simply because their spouses were killed in the tragedy. Coulter’s point, I believe, was this: Don’t throw yourself out there to become political forces and then duck back into the emotional green zone every time somebody questions your arguments/cause.

On the surface, I can see Coulter’s point if this is the issue. My colleague believes it is okay to use appeal to emotion in an argument, and I don’t disagree. I do believe, however, that the use of that appeal to emotion is then fair game to refute if the other party decides to put it on the table. This, I believe, is what Coulter was attempting to do.

The problem with Ann, though, is that she is so rude and sarcastic that the argument jumps the tracks entirely, and we are left with Matt Lauer specials filled with questions that focus on what Ann was thinking when she wrote such outrageous statements, instead of focusing on the reasoning behind her original claims that the 9/11 widows shouldn’t be able to hide behind the emotional curtain.

The other problem with Ann is this:

First, the 9/11 widows use appeal to emotion to have their arguments heard.

Second, Ann Coulter responds with her own appeal to emotion slanders.

Third, Matt Lauer and others respond to Coulter’s appeal to emotion to have her arguments heard.

Fourth (and here’s the point): When Matt Lauer informs her that they never told her that she can’t respond to them, Coulter says, “Look, you’re getting testy with me.”

And that’s it, right there. Ann, the problem with you is you always want the last punch. You need to be able to play by the same rules that you complain others don’t play by. If the gloves are off with using appeal to emotion, suck it up and keep the train on the tracks. We’re all more interested in the battles fought on the field rather than those fought hiding behind any kind of barrier…

By the way, the 9/11 widows responded formally to Coulter’s claims. and their statement is reprinted here (it first appeared at crooksandliars.com). …. Continue reading