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RonPrice 11-03-2009 04:20 PM

Publishing on the Internet: 1 Person's Experience

I have outlined below(in 1400 words and four A-4--font 14 pages) several categories of my writing and my writing projects of varying sizes, genres and subjects on the internet. Readers can gradually get into whatever categories of my work they desire, if at any time they do in fact want to read my works today or over the next few days, this week or over the next few weeks, months, years or decades. The following items went onto the internet by stages, incrementally, spontaneously and often quite intuitively---in the period 1997-2015. The following outline is a presentation of what might be called my marketing strategy, a strategy given the limitations of my technical internet skills, and the limitations of time and circumstance.

One might refer to my current modus operandi, my MO, as my literary business plan. In some ways what I write below is an outline of this small literary business, how I operate, how I have built it up, its raison d’etre and where it seems to be going if, indeed, it is going anywhere at all—and it most certainly is, exceeding all my expectations of a decade or so ago as this 3rd millennium turned its corner. One needs to be prepared, though, as that famous 20th century poet T.S. Eliot once remarked, that all of one's writing might just have been a complete waste of time.

Most of my writing is free of any cost, although some of the self-publishing material costs anywhere from $3 to $20 at self-publishing sites like Lulu and eBook Mall. I mention this fact: (a) not to advertise and (b) not to try and sell my work. I have received 20 cents per annum in royalties since I began self-publishing in 2003. Fame and wealth will elude me as it eludes most writers. There are three general categories of printed matter, my own writing, that I have placed on the world wide web. These categories are:

1. Books:

1.1. The Emergence of a Baha’i Consciousness in World Literature: The Poetry of Roger White. This 300 page ebook is available at Baha’i Library Online and parts of it can be accessed at many places on the internet. Go to this link to access this book: http://bahai-library.com/price_poetry_roger_white

1.2. A paperback edition of the above book is available at Lulu.com for $11.48 plus shipping costs from the USA. This self-publishing site also has a five volume, four book, work, a study in autobiography, entitled Pioneering Over Five Epochs which is 2400 pages long(four 600 page books). Much of this is available as an ebook and in paperback for $10 to $20 per volume at Lulu.com in 2009. It has been reviewed and approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States for publication as an ebook. The cost of these books is set by Lulu.com and eBookMall.

1.3 My internet set, also entitled Pioneering Over Five Epochs has some 50 books at 80,000 words per book. I often think my website is a book unto itself. My website URL, or link, is: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/index.html

2. Internet Site Postings:

Essays, poems, parts of my autobiography/memoir and a wide variety of postings/writings in smaller, more manageable, chunks of a paragraph to a few pages are all free and can be accessed by simply: (a) going to any one of approximately 8000 sites or (b) typing some specific words into the Google search engine as indicated in the following:

2.1 Approximately 8000 Sites:

I post at a wide range of poetry, literature, social science and humanities sites across a diverse mix of subjects, topics and intellectual disciplines in both popular and academic culture. The list of these sites is available to anyone interested by writing to me at: ronprice9@gmail.com. But a simpler method for readers to access many of my postings would be to:

2.2 Type Sets of Words At Google:

There are literally hundreds of sets of words now that will access my writing at various sites. If you type, for example, Ron Price, followed by any one of the following words or word sequences: (i) poetry, (ii) literature, (iii) religion, (iv) Baha’i, (v) history, (vi) Shakespeare, (vii) ancient history, (viii) philosophy, (ix) Islam, (x) Australia Baha’i and (xi) pioneering over four epochs, et cetera, et cetera, you will get anywhere from a few sites to over 150 sites arranged in blocks of ten internet locations. This last site, “pioneering over four epochs”, is a particularly fertile set of words to type into the google search engine, although there are other sets of phrases that will yield a fertile list of my writings in prose and/or poetry.

The main problem with this latter way of accessing what I have written is that my work is side by side with the items of other writers and posters who have the same name as mine and/or the same topic. I have counted over 3000 other Ron Prices and I'm sure there are more. You may find their work more interesting than mine! There are some wife bashers, a pornographer or two car salesmen, evangelists, media celebrities, indeed, a fascinating array of chaps who have different things to sell and advertise, different life trajectories and claims to fame than my life and my offerings. If you type/google the words Ron Price followed by some topic/word of an academic, literary, poetic or subject of personal interest, you will: (a) eliminate some of the other Ron Price’s and (b) have access many sites with my writing.

3. Specific Sites With Much Material:

Some sites have hundreds of pages of my writing and these sites are a sort of middle ground, a different ground, between the two major categories I have outlined above. The Baha’i Academics Resource Library(BARL) (or Baha’i Library Online), for example, has more of my material than at any other site. My writings are listed there under: (a) books, (b) personal letters, (c) poetry, (d) biographies and (e) essays, among other categories/listings. The Roger White book is at BARL under “Secondary Resource Material>Books>Item #changes. I find this site useful personally, but some of the poetry is not arranged in a visually pleasing form. Readers should click on “By author” at the top of the access page, then type “Price” into the box and some 50 articles/documents will appear/be accessible.

There are some sites at which my writing is found in a very pleasing form with photos and pictures and general settings to catch the eye. Some site organizers have their location beautifully arranged. I leave it to readers to read what pleases them and leave out what doesn’t. When one posts as much as I do, one often writes too much, says the wrong things or upsets an applecart or two. It's part of the process. In cyberspace, as in the real world, you can't win them all. The pioneering over four epochs word sequence is, as I’ve said, a useful word package to access some 150 sites with my writing and has no competition from other ‘Ron Prices.’

Concluding Comments:

I had no idea when I retired from full-time employment in 1999, from PT employment in 2001 and from much volunteer work in 2005, to write full-time that the internet would be as useful a system, a resource, a base, for my offerings as it has become. There are literally millions of my words in many a genre now on this international web of words that I have written in the last 15 years(2001-2015). From the early eighties to the early years of this new millennium I tried to get published in a hard or soft cover, but without any success.

My guess is that in the years ahead the world will be awash with books and various genres of printed matter from millions of people like me posting various quantities of their writing. In some ways the world is already awash with print as it is awash with audio-visual products. The print and electronic media have got something for everyone these days, probably more than most people can assimilate.

What I write will not be the cup-of-tea of all readers. This goes without saying. If that is the case readers are simply advised to drink someone else’s tea from someone else’s cup. There is something for everyone these days in both hard and soft cover and on the Internet. If readers don’t like my work or someone else’s go to sources of printed matter they like.

For those who already do or may in the future come to enjoy my writings, I hope the above is a useful outline/overview. For those who don't find what I write attractive to their taste, as I say, the above will give you a simple handle to avoid as you travel the net. I wish you all well in your own endeavours in the path of writing or whatever path your travel down.

Ron Price
Updated on: 1/5/'15

mattiejane 11-04-2009 10:32 AM

Dear Mr. Price,
You are a very ambitious person!
I commend you for enduring the treacherous writer's obstacle course via the Internet. You have poured so much into this, I can see.
I would like to ask you if you have this work copyrighted? I would hate to see someone snatch it and take credit for it. I was just curious because I am from the U.S. and that is the first thing we do before the work is completed- get it registered.
I will read your work when I can. It sounds interesting.
Yours Truly,
Author of "The Perfect Dress" and "Gorko! Mississippi Mud and Moscow Madness."

Mike C 11-04-2009 01:44 PM

Mr Price; summarise, and I'll read past the first sentence. Waffle and you lose me. That's an awful ot of words just to tell us how cool you think you are.

RonPrice 11-04-2009 01:58 PM

Dear Mike C

Part 1:

The first criticism of my writing, at least the criticism that I remember was in 1949 when I was in kindergarten. I’m sure I received criticism of my writing in the two years before that, perhaps as early as 1947 when I was three and in pre-school, but I have no memories of incoming criticism until, as I say, 1949. That was 66 years ago.

Early in the new millennium, in 2004 to be precise, I began to receive written criticism of my prose and poetry on the internet. I had received written criticism of my published writing since 1983 when I was able to get some 150 essays published in newspaper. Writing became, by the early 1980s, a more central focus to my life, much more central than it had ever been--and it had always been central in one way or another at least for those seven decades.

Part 2:

The internet is full of lumpen bully-boys who prowl the blogosphere; there are the hysterical secularists who proliferate among the commentariat and the dogmatic Islamists who try to impose their interpretation of the Quran on the rest of the Muslim community. They are all tyrants of a sort and one must deal with them in one way or another as their criticisms are sent your way from time to time.

The reactions of two writers to criticism of their work are discussed below because their reactions throw light onto my own reactions to this inevitable reality of life if one is, as I am, a writer, a poet, a man of words, a writer of belles-lettres, a belletrist. For many writers the term belles lettres is used in the sense to identify literary works that do not fall into other major categories such as fiction, poetry or drama. Much of my writing has become, in the last twenty-five years, a hybrid that does not fit easily into the major categories of writing.

And so it is after some sixty years of having to deal with this phenomenon of critical feedback of my written work I pause here to reflect on incoming criticism of what I write drawing on the experience of two other writers of fame and much success.
Section 1:

In 1936, right at the start of the Baha’i teaching Plan, a Plan in which I have been myself engaged in a host of ways during the last half century, the American poet Laura Riding(1901-1991) wrote to a correspondent, "I believe that misconceptions about oneself which one does not correct but where it is possible to correct, act as a bad magic.” That bad magic has been at work on the reputation of Laura Riding for many years, for well over 70 years.

One of the criticisms levelled at her in her later life, and repeated by the renowned literary critic Dr. Helen Vendler, was that she "spent a great deal of time writing tenacious and extensive letters to anyone who, in her view, had misrepresented some aspect, no matter how minute, of her life or writing." Vendler found Riding, somewhat predictably, "more than a little monomaniacal,” in relation to criticism of her work. It is true that despite advanced age and failing health, Riding continued her vigorous and one might even say valiant attempt to halt the spread of misconceptions about herself to the end of her life. But the "bad magic" was too powerful to be overcome. Incidentally, this view of criticism that Riding held, the view that it was “bad magic," was held by a woman who was also accused of witchcraft by some zealous critics.

Why was Riding so scrupulous in her attempts to correct misconceptions of her life and writing no matter how minute? It was, partly at least, because she recognized the importance of details to the understanding of human character. "The details of human nature are never a matter of infinitesimals," she wrote in an essay published in 1974. "Every last component of the human course of things is a true fraction of the personal world, reflecting a little its general character."

Section 2:

My approach to incoming criticism is more diverse than Riding’s, not as consistently intense and defensive. Sometimes I ignore the comment; sometimes I am tenacious and write an extensive response; sometimes I write something brief and to the point. Sometimes I deal with the comment with some attempt at humour, sarcasm and wit, if I can locate these clever sorts of written repartee. I certainly agree with Riding that we should not be judged by some infinitesimals, but it is difficult not to be judged by all sorts of things or which infinitesimals are but one.

After five years, from 2004 to 2009, of keeping some of the written and critical feedback sent to me by readers on the internet, I must conclude that, thusfar, the negative feedback hardly amounts to much that is of any significance, at least to me. Most of the feedback has to do with my participation at various websites, participation that was negatively viewed. My posts were seen as: too long, inappropriate, raising the hackles of some readers, boring, inter alia. I thought this personal statement here, this brief analysis, would be a useful summary position of my views on incoming criticism after four years. Some people on the internet let you know in no uncertain terms what they think of your posts. Frankness, candour, invective, harsh criticism, indeed, criticism in virtually every conceivable form, can be found in the interstices of cyberspace. In the last five years I have been on the receiving end of everything imaginable that someone can say negatively about someone’s writing. This negative feedback has been useful and I have tried to respond in ways that improve readers’ opinions of my work. Sometimes I am successful in these efforts.

Sir Isaiah Berlin(1909-1997), a leading political philosopher and historian of ideas, gave a lecture in 1970 on Russian poet Ivan Turgenev. Berlin pointed out that this famous Russian writer altered, modified and tried to please everyone in some of his works. As a result, one of the characters in his books “suffered several transformations in successive drafts, up and down the moral scale as this or that friend or consultant reported their impressions.” Berlin goes on to say that Turgenev was inflicted by intellectual wounds as a result of the criticism of his works by others, wounds that festered for the rest of his life. He was attacked by writers and critics of many persuasions on the Left and the Right. Turgenev possessed, Berlin noted, what some have called “a capacity for rendering the very multiplicity of inter-penetrating human perspectives that shade imperceptibly into each other, nuances of character and behaviour, motives and attitudes, undistorted by moral passion.” Turgenev, like Riding, could never bear his wounds in silence. He shook and shivered under the ceaseless criticisms to which he exposed himself so Berlin informs us.

Section 3:

After forty-five years(1964-2009) of having my writing reviewed before its publication by Baha’i reviewing committees of national and locally elected Baha’i institutions, after trying to write in a way that would please various groups of people both within the Baha’i community and without by students and teachers-- before my writing saw the light of day in some publication or school-handout, I came to enjoy writing on the internet. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia does not require writers like myself to have their writing reviewed before it goes onto the internet. Pleasing others, of course, is still important but, for me, there is a new found freedom of expression that the internet provides. Part of this freedom is due to the advantages and pleasures of age. Now in the early evening of my life, these early years(60 to 65) of late adulthood(60 to 80) with jobs/employment positions far behind me, no one checks what I write before it goes into the light of cyberspace.

After it gets there, though, it is ignored, criticized, diagnosed, interpreted, been subjected to hair-splittings and logic choppings. I am on the receiving end of invective, negative appraisals and subjected to all sorts of advice; I am viewed as tactless, insensitive, awfully boring and told where to get off, where to go and why I should discontinue the practice of writing. I am also told what a wonderful inspiration my writing is. These words of encomium and opprobrium that I receive are really not much different than; indeed, are much the same as, the words writers get when their words are found between hard and soft cover books. Even the writings of Shakespeare, the Bible and other major works in the western tradition--get great buckets of criticism poured on their them from the generations which have come on the scene since, say, 1979, those under thirty, to chose a convenient time frame for most of the incoming criticism I receive.

Ron Price
Updated from: 15/7/’09 to 1/5/'15.

RonPrice 11-04-2009 02:05 PM

Dear Mattiejane
My writing is, as I often say, Mattiejane, "placed in the public domain." After 20 years of dealing with publishers, of occasionally thinking about copyright, of worrying about plaigiarism--especially since I was a teacher for 32 years and a student for 18. In the last decade of my work as a FT teacher I had to mark 100s of pieces of paper a month----and probably 100s of 1000s over my lifetime--I have given all of this away in the new world of the internet and in the evening of my life. Here is a little of my story, my experience, in a short post entitled: Google-Microsoft.-Ron Price, Tasmania:wink:

Part 1:

In the first year after I retired from FT work, July 1999 to July 2000, Google officially became the world's largest search engine. With its introduction of a billion-page index by June 2000 much of the internet's content became available in a searchable format at one search engine. In the next several years, 2000-2005, as I was retiring from PT work as well as casual and most volunteer activity that had occupied me for decades, Google entered into a series of partnerships and made a series of innovations that brought their vast internet enterprize billions of users in the international marketplace. Not only did Google have billions of users, but internet users like myself throughout the world gained access to billions of web documents( by 2012, nearly 8 billion pages of documents) in google’s growing index/library. It was a finer and more useful library than any of those in the small towns where I would spend my retirement in the small island state of Tasmania Australia.

Part 2:

In 1994, at the age of fifty and as I was beginning to eye my retirement from FT work as a teacher and lecturer, Microsoft launched its public internet web domain with a home page. Website traffic climbed steadily and episodically in the years 1995 to 1999. Daily site traffic of 35,000 in mid-1996 grew to 5.1 million visitors in 1999. Throughout 1997 and 1998 the site grew up and went from being the web equivalent of a start-up company to a world-class organization. I retired from FT work at just the right time in terms of the internet capacity to provide me with access to information by the truckload on virtually any topic. This new technology had also developed sufficiently to a stage that gave me the opportunity, the capacity to post, write, indeed, “publish” is quite an appropriate term, on the internet at the same time. From 1999 to 2005, as I say, I released myself from FT, PT, casual and most volunteer work, Google and Microsoft offered more and more technology for my writing activity......It offered nearly 300 million websites and a potential readership of at least 2 billion by 2012.

The Internet has become emblematic in many respects of globalisation. Its planetary system of fibre optic cables and instantaneous transfer of information are considered, by many accounts, one of the essential keys to understanding the transformation of the world into some degree of order and the ability to imagine the world as a single, global space. The Internet has widely been viewed as an essential catalyst of contemporary globalisation and it has been central to debates about what globalisation means and where it will lead. It is not my purpose here to discuss this complex global process. I leave that to readers who have the interest.

Part 3:

There are now several hundred thousand readers, perhaps several million, engaged in parts of my internet tapestry, my jig-saw puzzle, my literary product, my creation, my immense pile of words across the internet--and hundreds of people with whom I correspond on occasion as a result. I try to correspond with as few people as possible or I would drown in email correspondence. I only reply to those who write to me and rarely initiate correspondence except my annual email which readers here can access at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html I have had nearly 1500 hits at this link in the 20 weeks this annual communication has been on my website. I have no idea who reads this annual message, an annual message I have been writing since the late 1960s. Only recently, though, have I placed it in cyberspace to offer those who are interested some personal notes on my life.

This amazing technical facility, the world wide web, has made my literary success possible. If my writing had been left in the hands of the traditional hard and soft cover publishers, where it had been without success when I was employed full time as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, as well as a casual/volunteer teacher among other roles from 1981 to 2001, these results would never have been achieved.

I have been asked how I have come to have so many readers at my website and on my internet tapestry of writing that I have created across the world-wide-web. My literary product is just another form of published writing in addition to the traditional forms in the hands of publishers. The literally hundreds of thousands of readers, and perhaps several million(it is difficult to guesstimate precise numbers) I have at locations on my tapestry of prose and poetry, a tapestry I have sewn in a loose-fitting warp and weft across the internet, are found at over 8000 websites where I have registered: forums, message boards, discussion sites, blogs, locations for debate and the exchange of views. They are sites to place essays, articles, books, ebooks, poems and other genres of writing. I have registered at this multitude of sites, placed the many forms of my literary output there and engaged in discussions with literally thousands of people, little by little and day by day over the last decade. I enjoy these results without ever having to deal with publishers as I did for two decades without any success.

Part 4:

The last dozen years of internet posting, 2001-2012, have been immensely rewarding. When one talks one likes to be listened to and when one writes one likes to have readers. It is almost impossible, though, to carry literary torches as I do through internet crowds or in the traditional hard and soft-cover forms, without running into some difficulties. My postings singe the beards of some readers and my own occasionally. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics, of writing, of posting, indeed, I might add, of living. Much of writing and dialogue in any field of thought derives from the experience each of us has of: (a) an intimate or not-so-intimate sharing of views in some serendipitous fashion or (b) what seems like a fundamental harmony or dissonance between what each of us thinks and what some other person thinks. In some ways, the bridge of dialogue is immensely satisfying; in other ways the gulfs over the valleys of life are unbridgeable. When the latter is the case and when a site is troubled by my posts, I usually bow out. I do not register at sites to engage in conflict, to espouse an aggressive proselytism but, rather, to stimulate thought and, as I say, share views. And so, as I usually say in closing, "I remain yours sincerely" and "I look forward to hearing from you should you desire to write again."-Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania, Australia.

mattiejane 11-05-2009 08:11 AM

Thanks for the quick reply...
Dear Mr. Price,
I am looking forward to reading your works.

RonPrice 11-05-2009 01:05 PM

Thanks, Mattiejane
Thanks, Mattiejane. To access my works on the internet, let me say a few more things.-Ron
After nearly 20 years of extensive posting on the internet(1997-2015) and after coming across a great many other Ron Prices, I decided to gather as many of them together as I could find. If I type RonPrice into my Google search engine and then go through, say, the first 120 sub-sites, some 60 other Ron Prices will be located on the internet, at least that was the case when I last attempted the exercise. This picture changes frequently for a host of reasons only some of which I understand.

I came up with more than 5000 other Ron Price's and wrote some down on a list in my computer directory since I had already seen some confusion for readers of my work in their initial efforts to get a handle on just who I was. Not all of the Ron Price’s on the internet were listed, though, since I came across, as I say, more than 3000 names in the end. If I go to the internet site: How Many of Me.com, I will find over 1000--Ron Price’s and Ronald Price’s. If I do the same in the UK, I get over 300. If I go to: ZoomInfo Business People, I get some 250 Ron Prices’s. After completing this exercise in this 15th year of coming across other Ron Price’s I ceased making a list of RonPrice’s.

doolols 12-18-2009 04:35 PM

Hi Ron

Firstly, thanks for relating your experiences. I'm afraid I must admit to skimming much of it.

My own take on internet publishing is that the author / publisher needs to 'have an edge', to distinguish him/herself from the growing clamour of internet published writers. Why should I take some of my valuable (well, sort of valuable) time reading your work, over xyz internet author?

If I were to need a good book to read, I would look in my local bookshop for something interesting. I would also download some free ebooks off the internet to load onto my Sony. I don't think I'd pay for e-fiction, unless I knew the writing / author.

Isn't the crux of value in internet writing, whether someone is prepared to actually pay for it? I think when you have a few people actually buying your work, then you've made it.

RonPrice 12-18-2009 04:50 PM

Several 100 Thousand Readers
As I point out above, "There are now several hundred thousand readers, and perhaps several million, engaged in parts of my internet tapestry, my jig-saw puzzle, my literary product, my creation, my immense pile of words across the internet--and hundreds of people with whom I correspond on occasion as a result"---as few as possible and only in a reactive role---for the most part. This is the bottom line for me--not who buys my books.

This amazing technical facility, the world wide web, has made this literary success possible. If my writing had been left in the hands of the traditional hard and soft cover publishers, where it had been without success when I was employed full time as a teacher and lecturer, adult educator and casual/volunteer teacher from 1981 to 2001, these results would never have been achieved. I post at 8000 sites and at these 8000 sites there are hundreds of 1000s/millions of registered users. I know from the feedback I get that there are, at the very least, literally hundreds of thousands of people reading what I write. But I will never be famous or rich since there are now something like 280 million sites on the net and some 3 billion users. We are all needles in a haystack: some, of course, are bigger needles.-Ron in Tasmania:smile:

CTK 12-18-2009 05:16 PM

You really seem to like to write.

RonPrice 12-18-2009 06:13 PM

You Said It, CTK
You Said It, CTK....and let me add for those who don't mind a long read---the following.....-Ron in Tasmania:smile:

I began asking and answering these questions about myself and my writing in 1998 and have added more in the years up to and including April 2012. This process is part of the Socratic notion that: "the unexamined life is not worth living." This is the 26th simulated interview in 16 years, 1996 to 2012. There is no attempt in this series of Qs &As to be sequential, to follow themes or simulate a normal interview. I have attempted a more logical-sequential pattern in many other interviews. I have posted literally millions of words on the internet and readers who come across this interview of 3500 words will gain some idea of the person who writes the stuff they read at other sites on this world-wide-web, sites they can access by simply googling the words: RonPrice followed by any one of dozens of others words like: poetry, literature, philosophy, history, religion, cinema, inter alia.

I encourage readers here at WritersBeat.com to: (a) skim or scan the following, (b) stop reading when they lose interest, or (c) just stop here and don't bother with what follows. I do this all the time and have been doing it in the last half century of my life as a student and/or teacher.-Ron
1. Do you have a favourite place to visit? I’ve lived in 25 cities and towns and in 37 houses and would enjoy visiting them again for their mnemonic value. There are dozens of other places I’d enjoy going circumstances permitting, circumstances like: lots of money, good health, lots of energy and if I could be of some use to the people in those places.

2. Who are your favourite writers? Edward Gibbon, Arnold Toynbee, Ortega y Gasset, the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Rollo May, Alfred Adler, inter alter.

3. Who are your favorite artists? There are several dozen art movements and hundreds if not thousands or artists. I will name two famous artists whose work I like and two whom I have known personally: Cezanne, Van Gogh, Chelinay and Drew Gates.

4. Who are your favorite composers, musicians, vocalists and singer/songwriters? How can one choose from the thousands in these categories? Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Hayden come to mind as composers but, goodness, there are simply too many to list.

5. Who are your heroes? The Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Beethoven, Emily Dickinson, a large number of men described in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Memorials of the Faithful and many more that I come across in reading history, the social sciences and the humanities.

6. Who has been your greatest inspirations? Roger White and John Hatcher in my middle age, Jamie Bond and Douglas Martin when I was a young man in my teens and twenties as well as a host of others, too many to list, in these years of my late adulthood, 60 to 65.

7. If you could invite four people for dinner from any period in history, who would you choose and why?

Pericles: I’d like to know what went on in Athens in the Golden Age, as he saw it.

Roger White: I’d like to simply enjoy his gentle humor and observe that real kindness which I could see in his letters.

My mother and father and my maternal grandparents: The pleasure of seeing them again(except for my grandmother whom I never saw since she died five years before I was born) after all these years would, I think, be just overwhelming.

8. What are you reading? At the moment, in 1998, my last year of full-time employment, I have fourteen books on the go: eight biographies, four literary criticisms, one book of philosophy and one of psychology. Now in the first year on two old age pensions a decade later, I am reading only material on the internet and that reading list is too extensive to list here.

9. What do you enjoy listening to in the world of music? I listen mainly to classical music on the classical FM station here in Perth as well as some from the folk, pop and rock worlds. Now that I live in George Town northern Tasmania this is also true only much less pop and folk and more jazz.

10. What food could you not live without? I would miss my wife’s cooking and Persian and Mexican food if I was cut off from them. It must be said, though,(answering this question ten years later) now that I live in northern Tasmania I rarely eat Persian and Mexican food. Now that I am retired I hardly miss these foods.

11. What do you do when you feel a poem coming on? I get a piece of paper and pen or go to my computer/word processor.

12. How Important is Life-Style and Freedom From the Demands of Employment and Other People?

These things became absolutely crucial by my mid fifties. The Canadian poet, anarchist, literary critic and historian George Woodcock (1912-1995), once said in an interview that it was very important for his literary work that he could live as he wished to live. If a job was oppressing him, he said, he had to leave it. Both Woodcock and I have done this on several occasions. He broke with a university and I broke with three Tafe colleges. It's a derogatory thing to say it's a form of evasion, of avoidance or cowardice, said Woodcock, but you have to evade those situations in life in which you become insubordinate to others or situations in which others offend your dignity.

Woodcock went on to say in that same interview that when one acts dramatically or precipitately—like resigning from a job or losing one’s temper--it often has consequences that are very negative. He gave examples from his own life and I could give examples here; I could expand on this important theme but this is enough for now. Readers who are keen to follow-up on this aspect of my life can read my memoirs.

13. Were you popular at school, in your primary, secondary and university days?

I certainly was in primary and secondary school, but not at matriculation or university. I did not have the experience many writers and intellectuals have who received early wounds from the English school system among other things. It wasn't merely the discipline at these schools; it was the ways in which boys got what was called the school spirit. In most English schools it is a brutal kind of pro-sporty spirit that militates against the intellectual who is looked on as a weakling. I was popular at school because I was good at sport and I got on with everyone. I certainly was not seen as an intellectual. I was good at memorizing and that is why I did so well, but at university I could not simply memorize; I had to think and write my own thoughts and my grades went from ‘A’s’ to ‘C’s.

14. You did not flower early as a writer, did you?

Many writers flower early. Many of them become largely forgotten whereas I have a different type of creativity which seems to be growing in power, literally decade by decade, again, like the Canadian George Woodcock. This kind of creativity over the lifespan is actually quite abnormal. I seem to have been the tortoise or the bull if you're going to use the Taurean symbol. I have been marching forward slowly. I think what I am writing now is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life.

15. What sort of relationships do you have these days?

I was reading about the Canadian writer George Woodcock whom I have mentioned in this series of questions and answers. He said that he did not have all that many friends who were writers. He knew their problems, but he did not know the problems of painters. He said that he liked to move among painters, mathematicians, psychologists and people who could tell him something. By my mid-fifties I had had enough of people telling me about things. If I wanted to know about stuff I could read, watch TV, listen to the radio or google. If I wanted some social life I could visit a small circle of people but, after an hour or so I usually had enough of conversation. Due to my medications by the age of 65 and perhaps due to being in my middle years(65-75) of late adulthood(60-80) I found more than two hours with people took me to the edge of my psychological stamina, patience, my coping capacity. It was better for me to seek out solitude after two hours to preserve the quality of my relationships and not to “blot-my-copybook,” as my wife often put it when I indulged in some emotional excess, some verbal criticism of others or gave vent to some kind of spleen.

16. How would you describe the social outreach in your poetry?

I rarely point a finger directly at some guilty party, organization, person or movement; sometimes there is a subtle psychological base to a poem that hints at or implies some evil in someone’s court. My poetry is quite explicitly non-partisan. I have dealt with this issue several times in this series of 26 interviews. It is an important question because the wider world often judges a person by the extent to which one engages with or in the quixotic tournament of social and political issues in our global community. I don’t shout at any multinational or rave for some environmental group. When I do shout and rave it is about other things and there's nothing subtle about my shouting and raving and, in the process, probably little depth in those prose-poems of mine either.

17. Some poets see their work as a form of social criticism and like the Canadian poet Irving Layton, for example, they rage against society and some of what they see as society’s illnesses and injustices. Where does your poetry fit into this picture?

Many of Layton's more than forty published volumes of poetry are prefaced by scathing attacks on those who would shackle a poet's imagination; over the years he has used the media and the lecture hall to passionately and publicly decry social injustice. But perhaps his loudest and most sustained protest has been against a restrictive puritanism that inhibits the celebration and expression of human sexuality. My poetry is not an expression of scathing attacks on anything; nor is it a passionate and public poetic vis-ŕ-vis that quixotic tournament of social issues that are paraded in front of me day after day in the print and electronic media.

I see my poetry as an extension of the whole Bahá'í approach to social issues and individual engagement with these issues. There are several Bahá'í books which explore this quite complex subject. One of the best was published 25 years ago. It is entitled Circle of Unity: Bahá'í Approaches to Current Social Issues. I encourage readers to have a look at it if they would like a more complete answer to this question, a question that I cannot answer in a small paragraph.

As far as the imagination is concerned it is not, in my view, the opposite of facts or the enemy of facts. The imagination depends upon facts; it feeds on them in order to produce beauty or invention, or discovery. The true enemy of the imagination is laziness, habit, leisure. The enemy of imagination is the idleness that provides fancy. I am not concerned, as Layton was, with a restrictive puritanism that inhibits the celebration and expression of human sexuality. I have many concerns in the process of writing poetry and journals, essays and narrative autobiography. I would like to emphasize here that even authentic historical documents, mine and those of others, are products of a human mind and its language, not of reality itself. Reality could be seen as a white light which each person sees on a spectrum of colour.

17. Do you think travelling has been crucial to your writing?

The Canadian poet Al Purdy(1918-2000) admitted pretty clearly that if he hadn't travelled he wouldn't have written very much. He felt that he had to go further out in the world and experience these places. He was one of the most popular and important Canadian poets of the 20th century. Purdy's writing career spanned more than fifty years. His works include over thirty books of poetry, a novel, two volumes of memoirs and four books of correspondence. He has been called Canada’s "unofficial poet laureate" and, "a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture."

I did not travel the way Purdy did. I just kept moving to new towns, some two dozen, and for a great many reasons until I was too tired, too old, too worn-out, too sick, too poor----goodness---what a sad tale, eh? Now I travel in my head and through the print and electronic media.

18. Do you like talking about poetry?

Gary Geddes tells(In It’s Still Winter: A WEB JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN POETRY AND POETICS, Vol. 2 No. 1 Fall 1997) a great story of Douglas Dunn who was writer in residence at Hull and Dunn wanted to meet the famous British poet Larkin. But Larkin was a curmudgeon. He hated poets! Douglas Dunn was told by friends who knew Larkin that, if you wanted to meet Larkin then you had to make sure you didn't ever talk about poetry. You could talk about jazz and anything else. So these friends arranged this meeting and left the two of them in the pub. Finally, after a few beers, Larkin leans across the table and says, "there are too many poets in this university. Your job as writer in residence is to get rid of them."

I don’t feel like this at all, although I can appreciate Larkin’s sentiments. If I want some congenial poetic spirit I read his poetry or I read about him but I have no strong desire to meet and have a chat. But I like to talk about poetry and that is why I’ve simulated these 26 interviews.

19. Do you like reading poetry?

Gary Geddes says in the same interview I quoted above that when he was translating a book of Chinese poetry with a George Leong, George would often bring him the most depressing melancholic poems in Chinese to translate. Geddes would say: "George you gotta give me something else, I can't bear all of this stuff.” I feel that same way about a lot of poetry, indeed, most contemporary, classical and poetry from any period of history. I just don’t connect with it. My mind and heart do not engage. The poets I do engage with hit home quite deeply, but they are relatively few.

20. Do you use metaphor in your poetry to any extent?

Not anywhere near as much as I’d like, as much as exists in its poetic potential. Aristotle once wrote that the ability to see relationships between things is the mark of poetic genius. I would not want to make the claim to be a poetic genius; how could one ever make such a presumptuous, preposterous, claim. But I see relationships between things all over the place. It’s one of the great motivators in why I write. I want to develop my use of metaphor in my poetry. I don’t think I’ve really taken off yet in my effective use of metaphor. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur(1913-2005) sees mood and metaphor as the basis of the unity of a poem, of poetry itself. Writing poetry is certainly a mood thing for me and I’d like to make it much more of a metaphor thing as well.

When emotion and intellect converge in imaginative writing, writing for example that draws on metaphor, readers can be transported to another life-world, a type of Gestalt, a Lebenswelt, to use the philosopher Edmund Husserl’s(1859-1938) term. Any transcendence that results for the writer and the reader here is not due to being taken to another realm, although this can occur but, more importantly or just as importantly, it is due to seeing meaning, hidden meaning, meaning that did not exist before, in one’s experience, in the things and thoughts themselves, to go beyond the familiar, to make fleeting moments rich in imaginative detail.

There is a world outside language as the Canadian poet Don McKay(1942- ) asserts. It is very difficult to translate that world but some poetry can do this, can make this translation, with conviction and delight.

21. What do you see as the function of a poet?

A poet has many functions, but two functions of this poet that interest me, to answer this question off the cuff so to speak, is: (a) to discover and distil the labour and the genius of the Bahá'í experience and (b) to give expression to the delight and the love that are at the heart of writing. The Canadian poet A.J. M. Smith wrote this in 1954. Smith had a preoccupation with death as I have, although not as intense and not in the same way as Smith’s. Out of his preoccupation with death he made poetry. I have made my poetry out of this and other preoccupations.

From a Bahá'í perspective, of course, the arts and sciences in general, and poetry in particular, should “result in advantage to man,” “ensure his progress,” and “elevate his rank” ; that music is a ladder for our souls, “a means whereby they may be lifted up into the realm on high” ; that the art of drama will become “a great educational power” ; that when a painter takes up her paint brush, it is as if she were “at prayer in the Temple” ; that the arts fulfil “their highest purpose when showing forth the praise of God”; and that “music, art and literature...are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations.” The beloved Guardian(Bahá'í leader from 1921-1957) saw such spiritual power in the arts that he predicted they would eventually do much to help the Cause spread the spirit of love and unity.

22. When you talk about art and the arts what do you mean?

When I say “art” or “the arts,” I mainly have in mind those that are commonly referred to as “fine arts” such as poetry, painting, sculpture, theatrical drama, film, music, dance and others. But I also have in mind the “design arts,” such as architecture and urban design as well as the crafts, such as pottery and rug-weaving because these arts operate on a spiritual as well as a material plane.

23. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I have a photo which I post at many internet sites. The caption, the descriptive comment on this photo, reads: “This full-frontal facial view-photo, taken in 2004 when I was 60 in Hobart Tasmania, has a light side and a dark side. It is an appropriate photo to symbolize my lower and higher natures. These are natures that reach for spiritual, for intellectual and cultural attainment on the one hand and reach for and get caught-up in/with the world of mire and clay and its shadowy and ephemeral attachments.

Of course, when I look in the mirror there is not this clear dichotomy of light and shadow. When I look in the mirror I see an external self, a face which bears a relationship with my real self, a self which is not my body. My real self is an unknown quantity and my face really tells me very little about this real self. And so, to answer your question, I see what nearly everyone else sees: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheeks, etc.

24. What would you bring to this interview to ‘show-and-tell’ if you could bring only one item? And what would you say about that item.

My mother-in-law, who is now 90 and lives in a little town called Beauty Point in northern Tasmania, has a little figure in her lounge-room. It is a small figure of three monkeys. It has a label on it: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. It always reminds me of a quotation from Bahá'u'lláh’s book Hidden Words. The quotation goers like this and it is this of which I wish to tell:

“O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”
-Bahá'u'lláh, Persian Hidden Words, p. 44.

Concluding Comment:

I began asking and answering these questions in 1998, as I indicated in the preamble to this simulated interview. I added more questions and answers, as I also said at the outset of this interview, more than a decade later in the northern spring of 2012.

3500 words

Daedalus 12-19-2009 01:17 AM

Is there actually a point to these verbiage-ridden stories? Not to sound harsh, Mr Price, but you lost me when your first post stretched almost the length of my scroll-bar. You may have the best insight in the world in relation to publishing, you may have all the secrets required for us to make it, but the reality is that I'll never find out because, as Mike put it, I just couldn't be bothered reading half a dozen posts of waffle.

SW 12-19-2009 01:24 AM

As aforementioned: not that your posts may not be useful, but the simple fact is that someone will give up after all that.

You may enjoy writing, but if you also enjoy being read... post more concisely.

RonPrice 12-19-2009 02:10 AM

If It's Waffle Don't Read It
If It's Waffle Don't Read It; if it's too long don't read it, as I advise. I do this all the time at sites, and have made this approach part of my MO since at least the 1950s. Some people read long posts and some don't. Whenever someone writes--and the history of literature is filled with examples--most people never read what they have written. One always writes for a coterie--both on and off the internet. Still I take your point and shall keep all future posts very short and, hopefully, very sweet--after subjecting those of you who don't like long posts----to all of my verbiage.-Verbally yours, Ron in Tasmania

vinod210383 07-02-2011 10:29 PM

would love to read it ...

RonPrice 07-02-2011 11:29 PM

Thanks vinod210383
Thanks, vinod210383, for your encouraging note. I'll provide a link to my website. In that way you will get plenty to read and others here who prefer short posts will not get intellectual indigestion unless, of course, they go to my website and start reading. Ron

Grace Gabriel 07-03-2011 07:31 AM

Ron, I love your website. Beautifully organised, and interesting. There's an irony to the fact that writers will agonise over the selection of a single word, labour for hours over their own weighty tomes - but have a concentration span of less than two minutes when reading the fruits of another's mind!

I'll be popping in on your site. Thank you.

RonPrice 07-03-2011 02:28 PM

Thanks Grace Gabriel
Thanks Grace Gabriel for your generous sentiments. They are much appreciated. There are many internet conventions at many sites--one of which is KISS(KEEP IT SIMPLE/SHORT STUPID). "Such is life," as the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is reported to have said on his way to the gallows in 1880.-Ron
PS I really did appreciate your words of praise for my site, a praise which has only come way way on a few occasions thusfar.

longknife 07-04-2011 07:36 AM

I find your website most impressive.


CandraH 07-04-2011 10:42 AM

Keep it simple doesn't mean stupid.

Say what you need to in as few words as possible. The meaning still comes across.

RonPrice 07-04-2011 07:52 PM

The acronym KISS was one used in the colleges I taught here in Australia. The message to teachers and students was: Keep It Simple Stupid. As you say, CandraH, simple does not mean stupid. The acronym was intended to underline an appraoch to writing underpinned by the Australian ethos of humour, cynicism, skepticism, self-criticism and not getting too high an opinion of yourself.

Australia is a curious country, quite unlike the USA: in some ways it is about lose-lose instead of win-win. The power of positive thinking has to be reconfigured here. Perhaps this is partly because it is a country founded by convicts and not religious enthusiasts. I leave this complex subject for now.-Ron

Mike C 07-04-2011 09:19 PM


Originally Posted by CandraH (Post 433280)
Say what you need to in as few words as possible. The meaning still comes across.

Ron has yet to absorb that particular wisdom.

RonPrice 07-04-2011 10:25 PM

There is little doubt, Mike C., that there are many widsoms that I have yet to absorb in this the evening of my life.-Ron

CandraH 07-05-2011 05:13 AM


Originally Posted by RonPrice (Post 433340)
The acronym KISS was one used in the colleges I taught in in Australia. The message to teachers and students was: Keep It Simple Stupid. As you say, CandraH, simple does not mean spupid. The acronym was intended to underline an appraoch to writing underpinned by the Australian ethos of humour, cynicism, skepticism, self-criticism and not getting too high an opinion of yourself.

Then it should be "Keep it simple, stupid".


Originally Posted by Mike C (Post 433346)
Ron has yet to absorb that particular wisdom.

Yep, I noticed.

RonPrice 07-05-2011 05:17 AM

Point Taken
Point Taken---Ron

Grace Gabriel 07-05-2011 05:24 AM

Ode to Ron

If you were master of brevity
Succint, blunt, concise
The world would be missing
Our wordy Ron Price

Shakespeare was wordy
A long-winded sage
Let those in a hurry
Just scroll down the page

So do what you do Ron
There's no need to pander
I'll join you sometimes
For a gentle meander....

CandraH 07-05-2011 05:26 AM

Well, I figure if someone is trying to impart something they think important enough for others to pay attention to, they'd do better to make their meaning clear.

But no worries. Ron took the point. How he writes fiction is none of my business.

RonPrice 07-05-2011 05:39 AM

Many Thanks: Delightful
What a clever little poem, GRACE GABRIEL. Advance 3 squares and pick a card, as they say Downunder.-Ron

Grace Gabriel 07-05-2011 05:39 AM

Not disputing your point of view CandraH....just offering another.

CandraH 07-05-2011 06:23 AM

What other point of view? That it's okay to drown a point in so many unecessary words the mistake isn't easily noticed?

Like I said, how Ron writes his fiction is none of my business, but when it comes to making points, get it right and make it clear.

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