Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Second Guest Blog Challenge

Last month's guest blog contest resulted in some stellar entries and the creation of one completely indispensable blog. Let's do this again, shall we?

- Please e-mail a guest post between now and noon Pacific time on Thursday to
- Please limit yourself to one entry.
- You may enter a post that you submitted for the last contest but it's probably best to send something new
- Please do not e-mail entries to my work address.
- Make sure to format your blog post in block formatting (i.e. single spaced, double spaces between paragraphs, no indenting, plain text) for easy copying and pasting. No attachments, please.
- I will choose the five best, most helpful, funniest, awesomest posts to run next week and link to the guest blog author's blog or website or Amazon page or favorite charity or what have you. The topic is totally up to you, although some relevancy to this blog's themes will probably receive preference (but not necessarily!).
- I regret that I will not be able to run every post, and thus some blog post writing may be in vain.
- Winners will be announced on Friday.
- Rules and guidelines subject to change without notice.

Can't wait to see the entries!!

Blog note: I'm afraid that due to repeated misconduct by one individual I have to disable anonymous comments until further notice. I really regret that I've had to take this action because so many people use the anonymity responsibly and to register constructive dissent.

Until we're able to restore anonymous commenting please be assured that I'm not going to hold it against you if you disagree with me about anything, and feel free to use your own identity to do so. Constructive criticism, disagreement, and polite expression of opinion are always encouraged. Hopefully we'll be back to normal as soon as possible, and thanks for understanding.


Brodi Ashton said...

Thanks for the second chance, Nathan. I loved the entries from the previous contest.

Rick Daley said...

Hopefully this will unearth additional gems as valuable as Pimp My Novel.

Too bad about the anon rampage.

Shelli said...

is there a topic prompt like last time or it can be anything under the sun.

Nathan Bransford said...


There actually wasn't a topic prompt last time.

Mira said...

Are you out of town again next week?

Nathan, if I exacerbated anything, I really, truly apologize. Sorry. Unfortunate situation.

I may need to be on the sidelines cheering, huge audit at work. I'll see if I can write something, though....although...I suppose I could send you the 5 page paper I just wrote. It is, after all, a masterpiece.

Ink said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

Let's just move on.

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Nathan!

Wow, thanks for the second chance to submit a guest blog post. I REALLY enjoyed the last five... they were all so informative and/or entertaining. And I'm really happy that the last contest inspired a very useful blog about a different side of publishing.

On a separate topic, I'd like to join Mira and Ink in saying that I hope my over-the-weekend rebuttals to the "Anonymous" commenter in question didn't make the situation worse. I just felt really passionate about the topic at hand. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that you've been forced to suspend the "Anonymous" feature for now - but, all in all, I think it's best to maintain the integrity of this wonderful blog.

Thanks, as always.


P.S. Steph Damore, if you're out there, I just became a follower of your blog... I was just too late yesterday to say so then. :-)

Kristan said...

Ditto what Brodi said!

Question: Can you (like last time) submit something that you've posted at your own blog before? (At least, I think that was allowed last time...)

Nathan Bransford said...


It's fine with me.

Steph Damore said...

Hey Laura, yes I'm here. Thanks for joining! Your blog's wonderful too.

Another contest, wow, what fun! I can't wait to see what entries will win this time.

The Decreed said...

Maybe this time I won't take the "mock Nathan" suggestion so literally and see how things pan out. Maybe full-blown flattery? I'm not as smart as Eric was, so I have to score my points somehow.

Scott said...

There's always one who doesn't mind ruining it for everyone. That said, anon comments come off kinda lazy and a little yella. I say register and stand by your opinions. It's not that hard to tactfully disagree or suggest a radically different viewpoint.

Thanks for the contest, Nathan. I may resurrect an idea I've offered here before.

Mira said...

As a part of moving on, I just want to mention I feel yucky.


Boy, am I going to channel this.

Audit or no audit, I am going to write the best darn blog post that Nathan has ever recieved in his life.

It will be so full of angst and conflicting emotions, Nathan's computer will start to cry and laugh at the same time. Smoke will come out of it's vent holes. Why that computer will be so moved by my guest blog post it will reach actualization and acheive sentient life.

And no, I'm not replacing your computer, Nathan.

It will be the be all and end all of guest blog posts.

Here I go. Just let me at it. I've got some channeling to do.

ryan field said...

I'd love to see someone write a post about the pirate sites and how to deal with them. They can make life hell.

Dan said...

Dear Nathan,

Yet another sign that your guest posts are often better writing samples than your own! ;) This does not bode well for our EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT PUBLISHING I LEARNED FROM SPORTS partnership.

Or perhaps you're getting too busy for dedicated blog support - and one day we'll be seeing you sitting court side at Kings games a la Nicholson.

I must admit that the first text I saw was 'query letter contest' and that got me almost as excited as query stats would've.

Fresh Water Mermaids said...

I loved the guest blogging spot!

I also really appreciate how, especially on the internet, named or anon, it is important to be at one's most polite. This blog is a really great example of good form and management and a huge contributer to this community. Thank you, Nathan.

Laura Martone said...

Ryan said "I'd love to see someone write a post about the pirate sites and how to deal with them. They can make life hell."

Hey, Ryan, this is just a thought... but why don't you write it? It sounds like it could be a very interesting, very topical entry. I have faith that you could write a very passionate blog post about piracy. Go, you!

(Or are you too busy this week? 'Cause I know THAT feeling, believe me.)

AM said...


I enjoy your posts, but I enjoyed the guest week too.

Thanks for doing it again.

abc said...

I Just got back from the chiropractor and now all the stress is going to come back to me. Headaches! I guess I could NOT enter, but how can I not? It's like a curse, Mr. Bransford. You and your terrible, awesome contests.

Chuck H. said...

I would really like to be able to compete in the Guest Blog Challenge. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about publishing and read this blog to learn. So I'll just read the entries of others.

I was saddened by the dust up over the weekend and yesterday. I can't understand people who want to mess up something good. I guess it's the vandal mentality. I just don't get it.

Thank you for doing what you do. Now I must get out my penknife and sharpen some quills.

marilynpeake said...

What a wonderful second opportunity! I’m so tired today, but am about to begin sipping two (yes, two!) mocha lattes. Perhaps the espresso will awaken my brain and infuse it with words for a scintillating blog post ... if not, well, mmmm, chocolate. :)

Laura Martone said...

Marilyn -

First, I'd just like to say that you drink more mocha lattes than anyone I've ever met... I sure hope that Mira's able to catapult a few to you!

Second, I'd just like to say that I really appreciate all the wonderful links that you post in the comment threads of Nathan's blog. You must spend a lot of time researching!


Mira said...

Marilyn, you need a profile picture.

I'd like to recommend this site:

Kristi said...

As my blog has nothing to do with the topic of writing/publishing, I look forward to reading the winners' entries next week.

Also, I support the suspension of Anon comments (as if that matters), and think it will assist people in being more respectful with their dissenting opinions. Research studies found people were willing to be WAY more obnoxious if their identity was unknown. It will also help with Nathan's post topic yesterday because people will be forced to learn how to create an online identify.

Laura - I agree that Marilyn's links are always fabulous! Also, I may be a day or so late this week - sorry.

Morgan Xavier said...

Yay! You're awesome :)

marilynpeake said...

Laura – Glad you enjoy the links! I keep meaning to tell you ... I visited your website. It’s both gorgeous and fascinating. I loved reading about the hollow and cave. Your book sounds really interesting.

Kristi – Thanks! You and Laura gave me an idea. If I can get my brain to wake up, I think I might try writing a blog post with lots of links for Nathan's contest.

And Mira – I love those pics! All those cappuccinos, all those lattes, all that Starbucks coffee ... Drooool ... What was I talking about? I think I completely lost my train of thought.

Laura Martone said...

Kristi - No worries. I'm still on target to send you my critique later tonight... but, as we both know, I'm usually the late one... so it's all good.


P.S. Mira - I'm sure I speak for everyone here (okay, well, just me) when I say... I WONDER WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE! It's driving me bonkers... one minute you're a tall glass of iced tea, the next you're a forest, now you're a flower. I've never met a shape-shifter before. It's kinda cool.

ryan field said...

"Hey, Ryan, this is just a thought... but why don't you write it? It sounds like it could be a very interesting, very topical entry. I have faith that you could write a very passionate blog post about piracy. Go, you!"

I already wrote one post on my own blog about what I've been going through this week, but it's very basic. I'm the one who still needs answers. I'm not really sure what I'm doing. When you have books removed from one site, they pop up on another, and it keeps going. And when you see the downloads in numbers, it really hurts.

Another writer who is always dealing with this contacted me about a yahoo group, so I'm joing to see what they are doing about it.

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Ryan, NOW I get it! Boy, what a dum-dum I can be at times. Sorry for misunderstanding you.

Yes, of course, that makes a lot more sense. You're hoping that someone else will write about piracy - to help folks like you (and, frankly, me - because I'm just as in the dark about it).

Well, now I'm hoping that someone WILL write a guest post about book piracy... as it's a terrible fact of the digital age. I hate knowing that fellow authors are being hurt by this practice.

Good luck, Ryan, with your search for information.


P.S. I just visited your blog and read your post about piracy. Very disconcerting indeed - but good for you for following up with that one site. Of course, you're right - just as with music and movies - even if one piracy site complies (or is shut down), another will pop up sooner or later.

And, thanks, too for the heads-up (on your site) about the new agent blog - I just signed up as a follower.

Boy, this online writer community thing sure is educational!

marilynpeake said...


I just noticed that you made the words "resulted in some stellar entries" five separate links to the winning guest blogs from your last contest. Awesome! It's like those hidden picture challenges for kids. I just read all five winning entries – wow, tough competition!

Marsha Sigman said...

Allright, I'm up for trying again with the guest blog contest but I am a little intimidated after last time!

Marla Warren said...

Scott wrote:

"There's always one who doesn't mind ruining it for everyone. That said, anon comments come off kinda lazy and a little yella. I say register and stand by your opinions. It's not that hard to tactfully disagree or suggest a radically different viewpoint."

I agree, Scott. It was generous of Nathan to allow anonymous comments, but the downside is increased troll traffic, which hampers the discussions.

Chris Bates said...

You don't fool me, Bransford, I know damn well where this is going you lazy bastard. It's gonna become a James Patterson-type thing isn't it?

A 'NATHAN BRANSFORD' blog ... with [insert guest blogger here].
And wait, what's this fine print down here... an evil upside down swoosh? Goddamn it ... it's sponsored by

I'm taking you off my bookmark bar until you start paying me some co-op for that prime real estate on my browser. :)

nkrell said...

What a great idea. (Again!) Thanks for all you do in support of the pre-published folks.

Laura Martone said...

Boy, am I hare-brained today... I just realized I missed a few comments.

First, Steph, thanks for the nice words about my blog. I'm maintaining multiple ones at the moment - and I can't help but wonder... how does Rick Daley do it?

Second, thanks, Marilyn, for the kind words about my website. I'm glad it's intrigued you. I so wish I could live there sometimes. :-)

And third, what a wonderful investigator you are, Marilyn... I totally missed Nathan's clever (if way-too-subtle for me) links to the previous guest posts... they really were wonderful, weren't they? I wonder what this contest will bring...


Amber said...

Chris - Your comment made me laugh! Curse the Evil Empire.... XP

Nathan - Can't wait to see the winners!!! I don't feel experienced enough to write anything myself, but the last week was really informative and awesome.

Sorry about the Anon. wars. It's too bad that privileges were abused. It reminds me of kindergarten, when the teacher would take away the blocks unit because kids were throwing them at one another.... :-(

Verification Word: urousnum - an infected booger which results in shoving Euros up one's nose.

A Paperback Writer said...

With regard to the anonymous problem person -- just like in school, there's always SOMEONE who ruins it for everyone else.
What's sad is that, presumably, this person is older than 13.....

DebraLSchubert said...

Nathan, Thanks for hosting this again. I didn't throw in my baton last time, but I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful guest blogs you selected. (I'm good virtual friends with one of the winners, and was thrilled she made the grade!) Thanks for keeping it interesting, and sorry Anon had to ruin the party.

marilynpeake said...

OK, 1-1/2 Starbucks Grande-size mocha lattes later, I have written and submitted an entry to Nathan’s Second Guest Blog Challenge. It is filled with links. I am filled with espresso. Must now commence biting of fingernails while waiting for announcement of winners on Friday.

Linda Godfrey said...

De-lurking here; I would love to enter, but my own road to nonfiction publishing has been hodge-podge, against the rules, nothing that would make good sense to anyone else. My blog got 3,000 hits last week but it's a niche topic about as far from Nathan's arena as Guadalajara is from Minsk. So I will sit back and enjoy what I'm sure will be more stellar picks from the increasingly admirable crowd here (not including the recent anon party pooper.)
I sing along with the ever-talented Carly Simon, "Anticipation..."

A misinterpreted wave said...

I came to the party waaaaaay too late yesterday to write anything constructive, and was a bit curious about what had happened. Thought Nathan's post (enough, stop ...) said it all really, and am not surprised at all that anonymous posts have been suspended.

I really glad to hear that you're running the guest blogs again. Hopefully I can enter something in time. Last time was a great way for me to meet a whole bunch of people.

Regan said...

As someone who enjoys not only learning from Nathan's blog, but from the comments as well, I appreciate such a well-maintained blog and discussion. I have silently loved the insights of many people here. Thanks to all of you that contributor to my knowledge or entertainment! People like Steph, Laura, Mira, Bane of Anubis, Marilyn...yes, you all stand out and there are others that I can't even think to name now!

On the topic of guest blogs...I entered last time, only to realize how much more stellar the other entries were than mine. So, I will continue to sit back and just enjoy for now. Unless my muse makes an appearance. :) But thank you for the opportunity!

CharlieMac said...

In light of Nathan's anon suspension, I thought it time to join the fray and reveal myself. I feel like the Lone Ranger lifting the mask. :-) I have posted a few times as anon but only because I didn't have one of the acocunts listed below. I now have a Google account (I know, join the new millenium, right?) and the veil is lifted. Btw, not all anons are evil trolls (although when having a bad hair day, I may resemble one). I'm just a shy romance writer.

I am also the anon who posted the original comment about DG. But after my response to Nathan's response, I was silent. Just so you know there really were multiple anons in attendance.

And Mira, I would like in on that catapult ice cream delivery to Canada. Can you figure out a way to drop a shipment in Eastern Washington on the way over? It's 103 here today and I could really use something cold. Gallons of cold.
Anon no more,

CharlieMac said...

And doesn't it just figure, the first time I post with a name, I type poorly. I think the word I wanted in my previous post was ACCOUNTS.

Steph Damore said...

Hey Laura, I know what you mean - Rick, how do you do it? I seriously have no idea. I am jealous of your multitasking ability.

Thanks Ryan and Laura for pointing to the new agent blog. Looks like my editing is gonna have to wait...

marilynpeake said...

Regan - Thank you so much!

CharlieMac - Hello! I also anxiously await Mira and Ink's catapult service.

Laura Martone said...

Aw, shucks, thanks Regan. Now that I'm blushing, I think I'll toddle off to bed. OMG, is it really just 10 p.m. in Michigan? I NEVER go to bed this early - but I'm determined to be up by 6 a.m. - as Steph Damore suggested us writers should be in her guest post about writerly dreams. Maybe if I actually see the sunrise, I'll feel more inspired to toss myself into the guest-writing fray as well.


Mira said...

Let's see - Marilyn, glad you enjoyed the pics. :) And congrats on your blog entry! Good for you - glad the mochas worked!

Ryan - that so sucks. I wish people would think about the writer before pirating something. That's hurtful. Sorry to hear about that.

CharlieMac, nice to meet you. :)

I am wondering about the catapult though. Bryan, it just occured to me that since you built the catapult, it's in Canada. How am I supposed to hurl things from S.F TO Canada, if the catapult is already there?

Maybe you could build a bigger catapult, and then use it to toss the first catapult here?

Could you get right on that? Charlie Mac and Marilyn are counting on us. Thanks.

Laura - that's funny you want to know what I look like. Honestly, I've never thought it was wise to post an identifible picture on the web - I'm so provocative, ahem, periodically irritating. I don't want strangers to start throwing eggs at me for what I say here (well, more strangers than already do, of course. I don't want to be personally responsible for a nationwide egg shortage, you know). So, for freedom from egg throwing, I prefer to remain mysterious. On the visual level anyway. :)

But you can rest assured I'm gorgeous. All the men who have wanted to sleep with me told me so.

Steph Damore said...

Wow, aren't I just feeling special tonight.

Go to bed Laura, it's okay, I won't tell anyone. I'm about to do the same... I'll have the coffee percolating bright and early tomorrow!

Mira, you are too funny. Thanks for the laugh =)

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Never mind all that. I'm really tired. Nathan, sorry to delete three in a row.

Steph. :)

Eric said...

Thanks, Nathan! Can't wait to read the winning entries.


Tris said...

Oh wonderful =D I wish I had the time to participate in these.

Last time the entries were fantastic.

Thanks so much Nathan!

CharlieMac said...

Ink and Mira, whichever way the ice cream is flying, drop some on me. It's 10:00pm and still 82 here.
But, you know what they say, its DRY heat, so it isn't so bad. Ha. The sagebrush doesn't seem to mind, anyway.

Thanks for the welcomes. Who knew decloaking could give a person such a warm fuzzy feeling.

Um, by the way, could we make that ice cream low fat? If I ever post a photo, it could be important.

Other Lisa said...

Greetings to all the de-Lurkers! It's a good thing.

Bane of Anubis said...

CharlieMac, I'll show you where to put that ice cream :) -- it's now 90 or so degrees here and my wife and I are sitting out on the porch b/c it's 97 inside our house (it got up to 106ish today in Portland - my wife is giving me no end of grief for choosing a house sans AC and a house that gets south facing sun all frickin day long)...

Oh, and it's not a dry heat either... I almost miss Houston.

Laura Martone said...

Steph said: "Go to bed Laura, it's okay, I won't tell anyone. I'm about to do the same... I'll have the coffee percolating bright and early tomorrow!"


Well, good morning, Steph! I just wanted to let you know that I did, in fact, get up bright and early. I've been up since 3 a.m. - it seems my internal clock is all confused by my earlier-than-usual bedtime. Sigh.

But the good news is that I actually saw the sunrise over Big Bear Lake. True, I fell off my mother-in-law's hammock, and the early morning mosquitoes nibbled me mercilessly, but the sunrise was still indescribably beautiful... and the wisps of fog drifting across the lake's surface were truly lovely. No wonder you love getting up at 6 a.m. - it is inspiring to see the world awaken.

If only my back wasn't sore from falling off the hammock.

Oh, well. Here's to a good morning for everyone!


P.S. So, Steph, where's my coffee?

Reesha said...

Woohoo! Another contest.
Thanks for putting up with potentially rude comments and allowing us to comment on your blog AND submit material for a blog post.
I hope it goes well and that one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch.

Looking forward to the valuable resources this blog has.

Rick Daley said...

Laura / Steph,

I am a creature of habit and I try to establish routines. I posted on it recently, if you want a peek:

Managing the Slushpile isn't that hard. I create very little content for it. Posting a query only takes a minute, two if it's a revision and I'm adding links.

carolynyalin said...

Sounds like fun! I may have to try and put something together.

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Rick.

Yup, I read all about your time management skills the other day, and I was very impressed by your knack for juggling so well. :-)

So impressed, in fact, that I shared the saga of my own time-management deficiencies at my new blog. Sad, but true.


P.S. Speaking of time-management issues, I am woefully behind in my Public Query Slushpile critiquing duties, and I'm really sorry about that. I promise, as soon as my mom's visit is over, I will happily return to the PQS and critique everything in sight.

Steph Damore said...

Laura: Sorry to hear about falling out of the hammock - ouch! But the sunrise sounded spectacular and "the wisps of fog drifting across the lake's surface," perfect! - well, sans mosquito bites of course.

I too got up this morning and have been writing in earnest (okay, make that editing) from my front porch. I purposely avoided NB's blog this morning trying to get some work done. It's a gorgeous morning in Michigan, isn't it?

Bane and other Pacific Northwesters - I feel your pain. I don't have ac either, but it's only 80 around here - perfect t-shirt and shorts weather (I'll quit rubbing that in now). Hopefully relief will be on its way soon!

Rick - thanks for the post, I'll go check it out.

Steph Damore said...

Oh Laura, here's your coffee.
I wasn't sure if you took cream and/or sugar, so I left it black - enjoy!

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for the coffee, Steph!

Actually, being a Southern girl at heart, I drink cafe au lait (half coffee, half milk)... but I've already got the milk, so no worries.

Good luck with the editing!

Mira said...

Well, I had a nice experience this morning.

I came into work so exhausted all I could do was stare into space - I can't think when I've been this tired.

So, naturally I wasn't going to get any work done. Besides the auditors will be here soon. So, I decided instead to pull out a partial piece I started for Nathan for the last blog contest.

This blog contest is too wonderful an opportunity to let it pass - no matter how tired I am.

I've worked on it for a half an hour or so. And now - I'm all energized. I'm still tired, but not like before.

Who knew that creativity was such a pepper upper. Wow. I really, sincerely didn't.

Anyway, I suppose I should get some work done, but at least I'm through the basic draft of the blog entry, and I'll work more on it tonight.

After I take a nap. :)

PurpleClover said...

Ouchie! See they went and ruined it for the rest of them!

Anyhow, I'm so glad I managed to see this challenge before the cutoff! I missed the last one. Yippie!

Although I have no idea what I would even write. Hmmm.

Bittersweet Fountain said...


Do we email our post to you as an attachment, or do we copy and paste it directly into the email?

I was not sure what your policy was.

Thank you!

Nathan Bransford said...

No attachments, please.

Mira said...

Oops. Just totally changed my topic. I'm going from funny to serious.

Once again, this is very fun, Nathan. And so generous of you. Really.

Thanks for doing it - although I miss it when you don't post. Just for the record.

PurpleClover said...


Just sent mine! I hope you enjoy it even if it doesn't make the final cut. I went for funny. hehe.


CharlieMac said...

Bane, if you are talking Portland, Oregon, I sympathize with you. Portland is like Seattle, muggy and not a lot of air conditioners. Do yourself a favor and head out to Cannon Beach for a few days. I'm in Yakima with central air but it isn't enough. And my husband and I are dreaming of the Oregon coast right now. I wish we could go.

Terry said...

I see no reason one needs to be annonymous to register dissent.

But I sure wish I didn't miss all the fuss. Those deleted posts are so intriguing, aren't they? Gets the imagination going.

Jan Markley said...

Hi Nathan:

Does no attachments mean no links?

'Cause the 'elvis sighting' or 'whatever happened to baby jane' links are dying to insert themselves into the blog post I'm working on for the contest! Please advise. ;-j

Thx, Jan

josheverettryan said...

Man, Nathan has a zillion readers these days. But in case you do see this, Nathan, I was wondering if you could address a few questions I had regarding writer's stylistic choices and how they may affect what agents perceive to be “good writing” or not. (AKA, do these things I list below mean I'm probably going to get a form rejection?)

To be upfront, I write literary fiction, but I bet style choices like these may apply to genre writers, too.

1) If sentence fragments are used frequently, would that mean a form rejection from you (or other agents)? Or, does it depend solely on the way it's done?

2) If some proper nouns are purposely left uncapitalized, such as “mom”, “dad”, or, ahem, “god,” would that equate to “bad writing” and result in a form rejection?

I know a lot of great (and popular) authors genuinely "break the rules” of the English language. Cormac McCarthy uses sentence fragments and omits commas on a regular basis, for instance. I'm wondering though, if an unpublished writer makes choices like these do agents frown upon this behavior, or confuse these deliberate choices with "bad writing" even if the rest of the writing is good?

Mira said...

Okey dokey. Done and sent. I went with silly.

Such a fun contest, Nathan, thank you.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with 'registering constructive dissent' is that it's not dissent.

It's kinda like this:

Say you have two political parties. One party is in power, while the other merely stands in opposition, waiting for the day when the tables might possibly be turned.

The party in power has been provided with a mandate by the people, to construct a road.

Construction of the road, however, is costly, and so, for economic reasons, the road can only be built in one of two directions, either north or south.

The party in power might eventually decide that the road must be built in the northerly direction, while the opposition might have decided, long ago, that the southerly direction is the only reasonable choice.

This northern road will undoubtedly have many obstacles before it - a mountain range, say, or a canyon - and in order to circumvent those obstacles the road will have to branch off in one of many different directions.

The party in power, if it's not completely fascist or totalitarian, will often say something along the lines of:

"We welcome all debate in this matter. Our preference is to send our new road around the canyon by going to the east, but if some of you believe that we must got to the west instead then we're perfectly willing to have that debate. We allow all kinds of debate here."

And of course they actually do believe that.

But the real problem here, at least for the opposition, is that they believe that building the road to the north is completely the wrong thing to do and that construction must cease immediately. In other words, they're not interested in having this east-west debate in which everyone else is presently engaged in.

Any dissent that the opposition registers will not be viewed as being 'constructive' since their dissent will not fall under the terms as outlined by the party that's presently in power.

Indeed, those in power, struggling to build this road, will merely be irritated at the suggestion that they should stop what they're doing and begin to build the road in the opposite direction.

Indeed, if the opposition continues to advance dissent, then the party that's in power will likely say: "Stop it with your continuous badgering. You're deliberately attempting to promote discord. This road is going in the northern direction whether you like it or not, and unless you have something constructive to add to this debate then just buzz off."

If the party in power has the ability to silence its opposition by pressing a button - then at this point that button will often be pressed.

In American society, because of the great foresight of the founders, this button, for all intents and purposes, does not exist, which is one of the reasons... indeed, it may be the chief reason... America has become such a great country.

A young man, in 1989, became a worldwide hero when he stood before a tank in a square called Tiananmen.

He was fighting for certain basic freedoms, which he felt were being denied to him by the government in power.

This wasn't 'constructive dissent' - it was just dissent.

From his perspective, there was no other option but to stand in front of that tank.

When the person who is in control does not allow for complete freedom of expression then there is no longer the possibility of true debate or discussion.

The phrase 'constructive dissent' is paradoxical, and quite frankly, rather wishy-washy.

I don't become involved in debates with people on their terms, I debate with them on my terms. If I believe that the road should be built in the southerly direction, then, whether it irritates people or not, that's the argument that I'm going to advance.


(And by the way, let's not forget what happened to that young man who stood before that tank.)

(I think that those presently in power would also do well to keep in mind that one day the gods might decide to turn the tables on them. It has happened before.)

Nathan Bransford said...


Well, I know I'm impressed by your incredible bravery in the face of a possible comment deletion. Exactly the same thing as the guy who stood in front of the tank. Exactly.

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marla Warren said...


It's good to remember the difference between speaking in a public square, or speaking in someone's living room, where the host is trying to maintain a civil atmosphere.

It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. In fact there is a book on that topic.

Marla Warren said...


You wrote:

“I regret that I will not be able to run every post, and thus some blog post writing may be in vain.”

Writing is never in vain. If nothing else, it always serves as practice. I remember Sue Grafton wrote that her first three novels were not published, but they were necessary practice for her fourth, which did get published.

Related Posts with Thumbnails