autobiography

Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?
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Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?

Factual error in the New Yorker: I write this post not just for myself, but for all women whose ideas were misattributed to a man, and who were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat.

New Yorker Factual Error

My husband Sabin Howard is making a national memorial, the National World War I Memorial.

He began with drawings. He drafted several iterations of a relief that would tell the story of the Great War.

One morning over breakfast, he was talking about the design and showing it to me.

“My goodness,” I said. “You’ve got Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey there.”

Sabin said, “Explain that?”

So I did. As a novelist, I’ve worked with Campbell’s ideas for years. For the purposes of storytelling, the beats of the hero’s journey are useful and important. I’ve been so entranced by Campbell’s work that I’ve talked about getting a PhD in it.

And so, with my explanation over coffee and scrambled eggs, began a critical and oft-repeated piece of the story around the WWI Memorial. The Hero’s Journey connection has been publicly broadcast, by Sabin and by others associated with the Memorial, including PR people.

This is my contribution to this worthy endeavor and I’m proud of it.

Sabin is an honorable man. He consistently credits me with telling him about Joseph Campbell. He says, “My wife told me about the Hero’s Journey…” in every public venue where he’s spoken–including at a meeting of the Commission on Fine Arts in Washington DC.

In the worlds of literature and academia, claiming credit for someone else’s work is called plagiarism. Sabin is well aware of that. He is extraordinarily brilliant, but I was the one who came up with the Hero’s Journey.

The idea is to give credit where credit is due. As a matter of integrity–don’t take credit for other people’s work. Sabin doesn’t. He’s honorable.

Then came a big opportunity: The New Yorker magazine decided to do a Talk of the Town piece on Sabin and his sculpture at the New York Academy of Art.

The publicist for the NYAA was happy and excited. She had done a great job! This piece would add luster to the NYAA, to Sabin, who was showing the WWI Memorial Maquette at the NYAA, and to the Memorial itself. This was a coup!

Sabin was happy. Despite the extraordinary–unparalleled–quality of his work, he has struggled for acceptance here in the New York art world.

“A prophet is not recognized in his home town,” I tell him.

The Talk of the Town piece went live online yesterday.

It contained a factual error:

“I realized, Oh, my God, this is like Joseph Campbell’s ‘the hero’s journey,’ ” Howard said. “It’s a very simple story that everybody in every single culture has experienced.”

Sabin was out when I texted him about the error. He stepped away from a meeting to contact the publicist at the NYAA and ask for the article to be corrected for factual accuracy.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

The NYAA publicist was less than enthusiastic about the update. She forwarded the request to the writer at The New Yorker.

Then she emailed back, “Anna…consulted with the fact-checking department on the request, and they feel since the piece doesn’t go into “how” the realization was made, it should stay as is.”

This is disingenuous. Sabin was directly misquoted and asked for his words to be represented correctly. He always says, “My wife said, “This is Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.”

The New Yorker‘s misquote creates a factual error in the piece.

Sabin and I continued to push for accuracy. Sabin felt it was an injustice that his words were manipulated and that he was misquoted.

The NYAA publicist responded with increasing unpleasantness. She even told Sabin, “The story wasn’t pitched to The New Yorker as a piece about you and Traci.”

I emailed her,

Adding the words, “My wife remarked…” certainly does not make it a story about me and Sabin. Three words could not do that in a piece of this length. It does, however, become factually correct. It gives the piece an integrity that it currently lacks. Whether or not the magazine is attempting to be vindictive, they are acting in a way that has become a sore point with the parties involved. The magazine has been informed of a misquote and has chosen, this far, not to correct the piece.

The publicist was so appalled that I would continue to stand up for myself and my ideas that she got the head of the New York Academy of Art to email Sabin to tell me to back down.

Is that how the NYAA chooses to behave: by attempting to bully women who are standing up for their contributions? By attempting to get an authority to squelch the quest for accuracy and integrity? Women applying to the New York Academy of Art: BEWARE!

Regarding The New Yorker, here are my questions:

Is this how fake news starts: with journalists twisting subjects’ words any way that pleases them, and being unwilling to correct their piece when told about the error?

If The New Yorker makes a mistake and doesn’t correct that error because of specious and disingenuous reasoning, how is this publication any different from the fake news outlets they descry?

It’s disappointing that a venue that lauds its own integrity isn’t showing its integrity.

And there’s one more wrinkle in this sordid story. That is, there’s a concern about vindictiveness. The NYAA publicist and the head of the NYAA wanted us to stand down for fear that we would alienate people who had “been on our side.”

The NYAA publicist wrote us,

No press will be inclined to write on Sabin again, because it appears that he goes and attacks press who cover him. In addition, “fake news” is very inflammatory language to use and the New Yorker takes accusations like that extremely seriously – they have to, because of their political journalism. Claiming that the New Yorker is publishing fake news will attract a lot of unpleasant attention to you.

It’s a craven concern, but a real one. In today’s world, with its emphasis on expedience, the press might just step away from a subject who insists that his words be accurately represented.

Sabin said to me, “The New York Academy of Art will never work with me again because of this.” In order to uphold his personal integrity, he himself has to make a personal sacrifice that directly affects his career.

And so…I write this blog post for myself, for all women whose ideas have been misattributed to a man and were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat, and–come to think about it–for all the wives who are the unsung heroes supporting their husband.

Sabin Howard and Traci Slatton

Sabin Howard WWI Memorial relief drawing

Traci Slatton interviewed by Desiree Watson on Wellness Lounge
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Traci Slatton interviewed by Desiree Watson on Wellness Lounge

Desiree Watson interviewed me on her VoiceAmerica radio show Wellness Lounge, A Step Further.

Life in its multifarious impishness is both funny and fun. Recently I started a BlogTalkRadio show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. I’ve been booking guests and thinking about people I’d enjoy having on the show.

A friend of many years came to mind, a woman of vision and great energy: Desiree Watson. Back in the day when I was a healer, Desiree was interested in holistic health and wellness, and we had done some things together. So I googled around and found her Wellness Interactive site. Desiree has been a busy lady, I thought, and promptly emailed her.

A few hours later, my cell phone rang. It was Desiree herself. What a delight to hear her warm voice!

I had meant to invite her to be a guest on my show, but she beat me to it and invited me to be a guest on her VoiceAmerica Radio Show: Wellness Lounge, A Step Further. Her show is focused on empowering listeners, body mind and soul.

Here’s what the show has to say about itself:

THE WELLNESS LOUNGE-A STEP FURTHER empowers you with the benefits of a wellness lifestyle. Desiree Watson, a pioneer in the wellness lifestyle movement, guides you toward incorporating wellness into your life through commentary and interviews with exemplary personalities from such diverse fields as professional sports, corporate management, government, and health care. Our topics embrace the interconnections of mind, body and spirit, while offering in-depth analyses of the wellness lifestyle movement and its impact on the health care system, politics and international aid. Related topics will spark awareness of the positive impact of the wellness lifestyle movement and how a wellness lifestyle commitment can successfully empower the individual and influence educational and political processes on a local, national and international scale. The Wellness Lounge – A Step Further airs Mondays at 6 AM Pacific on VoiceAmerica Empowerment and Saturdays at 7 AM Pacific on VoiceAmerica Variety.

This morning we aired. It was a delight to be a guest; Desiree has a talent for supporting and encouraging her guests to open up and be eloquent. What fun!

Here’s the show link: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/85279/empowerment-of-self

You can listen here, too.

[sc_embed_player_template1 fileurl=”http://tracilslatton.com/watson051115.mp3″]

 

Wellness Lounge

The Never Ending Journey of the Independent Artist, My Latest on the HuffPo
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The Never Ending Journey of the Independent Artist, My Latest on the HuffPo

I am an independent artist, married to an independent artist, with friends who are, yes, independent artists. This piece on the Huffington Post reflects what I’ve learned.

In part, the article says:

What I experienced was that the big traditional publishing companies had gotten mired in the quicksand of conventional thinking and groupthink. They had forgotten the importance of nurturing a midlist author through a few books to build a readership. They overlooked the appeal of richness and diversity in a book list and so refused to invest in truly original, unorthodox projects.

Worst of all, they had taken the selection of books away from people who love books—editors—and turned it over to people desperately searching for a business school algorithm to make every book a bestseller out of the starting gate—the marketing department.

Not that some wonderful books don’t sneak past the eyes of the marketing department. But, increasingly, legacy publishers emulate corporate Hollywood studios: turning out branded, franchise entertainment, mindless drivel that appeals to the horny, nerdy teenager in us all.

The great books and movies that make it past gatekeepers usually do so because they are spearheaded by someone passionate about the project. These projects come from the creative heart and soul of a dedicated individual. They require perseverance and vision in order to unfold in the world.

With no luck but bad luck with the legacy publishers, I embarked on my own passion process. I founded Parvati Press. I started independently publishing my own books and recently other authors.

 I’m fortunate to have two strong-minded individualists in my life as models for my journey: my husband Sabin Howard, and my friend dancer Lori Belilove, Founder and Artistic Director of the Isadora Duncan Dance Company and Foundation.

Catch the whole article here on the HuffPo.

Though I did realize this morning that there is one thing I forgot to mention explicitly in the post: the pleasure inherent in this path. It’s just fun to think ‘outside the box’ and to operate outside the confines of corporate mentality. It’s scary, yes, because it’s insecure. But it is ever so delicious.

 

independent artist

huffington-post

Selfies the Munchkin took…
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Selfies the Munchkin took…

My inbox recently topped 10,000 messages. Really? Lordy. So I’m pruning the mail, deleting what should have been sent to the trash long ago, and moving other emails into specific mailboxes.

Meantime, I came upon these photos, taken by my daughter before my hair was cut into a bob.

Selfies the Munchkin took Selfies the Munchkin took

Finding myself in Wikipedia
autobiography | book promotion | gratitude | reference | research | writing

Finding myself in Wikipedia

I was googling around on myself, keeping abreast of the scuttlebutt on my books, when I found a reference to one of my books in Wikipedia.

It was an article on the Bonfire of the Vanities, about the burning of books, art, and beautiful objects, especially as brought to us by Savonarola.

The event has been represented or mentioned in varying degrees of detail in a number of works of historical fiction, including… The Botticelli Affair by Traci L. Slatton (2013)….” 

While it was gratifying to find one of my books referenced on the Free Encyclopedia, why The Botticelli Affair, which I don’t feel is my strongest novel? A bonfire of the vanities plays a pivotal role in Immortal, which is a far more complex and better written tale.

Still, I shouldn’t quibble. Years ago, as part of promoting Immortal, I tried to include an article about myself in Wikipedia. The article was soon yanked, and showed up for a while as a ghost in Deletionpedia. There’s a dismal kind of fun in that, too….

Wikipedia

 

Reading Other People’s Blogs
autobiography | blogs | book promotion | research

Reading Other People’s Blogs

I have a lovely friend Lori who keeps a blog. I subscribe to her blog via bloglovin, so her enchanting essays regularly land in my inbox. Her posts are richly textured and full of color, they’re sad and despairing and happy and reflective and sweet and charming and inspiring and courageous and heartfelt. I stop work to read them when they come in. I get a little buzz of expansive feeling-thought, rather like eating a sugary square of lush dark chocolate with hazelnuts when I know I shouldn’t.

Lori’s blogs keep me connected to her and her life and they bubble up emotions within me. People use Facebook for that, too, I guess, though I’m not a fan of that particular forum. I forget to go on Facebook for weeks at a time, and then when I do, I try to “like” everything and everyone on my timeline. That ought to tame the beast, right?

I read the blogs of strangers, too, when I come upon them after googling something. I’m looking for information and sometimes I get that. Other times it’s a voyeuristic peek into an unknown life, as if I were riding in a hot air balloon and was floating past, staring down at the scenery. Sometimes it’s both. During the writing of my novel COLD LIGHT, I needed details about a certain Canadian park, and I stumbled upon a family’s blog about their vacation to that park, complete with an extensive photo album. I will never meet that family, but I am grateful to them for recording their trip with such meticulous care. I like to get the details right when I’m building a world inside a story, and I need to get as exhaustively detailed a mental picture as possible to that end. Their chronicles helped me.

I suspect that a lot of authors keep blogs for the same reasons I do: one, to promote their books; two, to keep fresh content trickling into the vast, libidinous ocean of the Internet, where content is king; and three, to rant about life and thus exorcise demons. The urge to autobiography is hard to extinguish.

So, promotional things, like eBook sales: COLD LIGHT will be on sale for $1.99 from Feb 18 to Feb 27; THE BOTTICELLI AFFAIR will be on sale for $.99 from Feb 10-18.

And check out this gorgeous oil painting: LIBERACI DAL MALE, by the outrageously talented Italian painter Roberto Ferri. Ferri’s work is insanely beautiful; he knows his way around a figure like no other painter alive right now. Sabin and I are both fans, and Sabin, who is perfectly fluent in Italian, has Skyped with Roberto. Roberto has graciously given permission for me to use LIBERACI DAL MALE as the cover for my novel BROKEN, the WW2 story on which I am currently working. The novel is wrestling me to the ground every day–if I see one more image of a Nazi atrocity, I will not be able to contain the tears–but this image helps. Other people’s work, in image and word, strengthens my own.