Bowing or Kowtowing?

From The Macartney Embassy to China, 1792–94, by Paul Gillingham.


The cultural differences between East and West were especially marked when it came to the kowtow. To the Chinese, the act of self-abasement in the form of kneeling three times and ‘knocking’ the head on the floor nine times was a vital element in court ritual. Its significance went far deeper than merely showing respect, as a deep bow or curtsey might indicate in the West. The kowtow was an acknowledgement of the rights and obligations owed to a higher by a lower power.

In Chinese eyes the emperor was the intermediary between heaven and earth, a lynchpin in the preservation of universal order against the forces of chaos, both human and divine. He was, after all, the ‘Son of Heaven’ and brooked no human equal.

But for Macartney, dropping down on both knees was reserved for begging for mercy, praying to God and proposing marriage. To kowtow to the Emperor of China was an act of abject humiliation which he, as the emissary of an equally proud nation, was simply not prepared to do.

The emperor’s mandarins did all they could to persuade the English to change their minds. Zhengrui, Wang and Qiao, who escorted the embassy to Peking, offered to give lessons in kowtowing. They advised the English to replace their tight court breeches, knee buckles and garters in favour of the loose Chinese-style garments that made kowtowing so much easier.

But Macartney remained adamant. How could he make an obeisance before the emperor which he would never perform before his own king? The only terms under which he might agree were if the emperor’s emissaries agreed to kowtow before the portrait of King George, which, for the Chinese, was impossible. The furthest he would go was to drop on one knee and kiss the emperor’s hand, which was how he greeted his own sovereign. Eventually, the Chinese agreed that Macartney could do as he would at home, though they drew the line at hand-kissing. The concession was granted on the grounds that these were, after all, distant barbarians who could not be expected to understand the real significance of the kowtow anyway.

This barbarian doesn't want to kowtow, but will drop to one knee. That's as far as I'll go.



I was taught at Halt Abuse that the best way to keep drama out of my life is to ban the drama-mongers and not get into arguments with people - just ban them if they cause trouble for me.

Well, I brought that teaching into other areas of my online life, but trying to be subtle about it backfired spectacularly: I've gained a new hater and... I'll be staying out of certain places in future.

I suppose I should be grateful: the new hater has proclaimed to the heavens what I was trying to keep quiet, which will save me the bother of deleting stuff I don't want on the Golden Quill Awards. Basically, people who wank about me aren't welcome. Why people have a problem with this I'll never know.  Anyway, the list is getting longer, it seems. *Eyeroll* 

I mean, really - why should I give prizes to people who mistreat me?

And *HOW* is it abuse to refuse to have dealings with such people in any shape or form?

What's next: Mugger of the Year? I presume it's not mugging if it's my bag getting nicked, and "only" snatched with no actual violence. Pfft!

Well, this will leave more room for people who don't generally win stuff, which can only be a good thing.

I look forward to receiving nominations for stories from other fandoms: Tolkien legendarium is unlikely to dominate this year like it did before.

Just sayin'.


It seems my stance is causing difficulties for some people. I'll leave it for a week and see how things go. If it comes down to it, I may end up having to make a special club or group for this. I wanted to leave it open, though.

Update #2:

Messages have trickled in along the lines of, "Wendy, your stance is upsetting people. You should change your mind."

Okay, what's in it for me? What do I get if I do? If there's any advantage in changing my mind, I will. So far, I can't see one: I doubt that all the carping and other stuff will cease, whatever I do. Which is WHY I made that decision in the first place.

Update #3:

I was right.

GQ Awards


I've added a post to the Archives of Excellence at LiveJournal community for nominations. It's a copy of the 2010 nominations page at the Golden Quill Awards. I'll update it whenever a nominee gets back to me.

This year, there's not a category for drabbles. I considered the matter carefully and came to the conclusion that it would be better to have drabbles as a subcategory per genre. Therefore they're still represented. (Worry not, Linda!)*

I'm hoping to get lots of nominations for Crime, Thriller and Tragedy, which got none last year. There's plenty of time, but it'd be great to get a load in now. If I'm not having to wait for authors to get back to me in June, i.e. most nominations are confirmed, I may decide to extend the nomination period. I just wanted to give myself enough time to get it all done so I'm not in a rush on June 30th. I'll be making up the polls during June anyway, and they'll go live on July 1st.

*Just kidding. Lindahoyland won the Drabbles category last year. And Drama. And Family. How many will she win this year? You decide.

Rainbow Write

Archives of Excellence Fanfiction Library

Due to repeated requests from writers wanting to have more control over their profiles and content at the Archives of Excellence, I've decided to set up a website appended to the rec site where they can upload their own stuff at will: Archives of Excellence Fanfiction Library.


* Writers can upload their own stories.

* Original fiction is welcome.

* Non-stories such as lists, scripts, essays, owners' manuals and the like are welcome.

* The site offers default icons. I'm in the process of working out how to add more. Bear with me.

* Links to the associated sites, blogs and communities provides continuity.

* High quality fare is guaranteed as each writer is asked to apply before registering. Featured authors on the Archives of Excellence rec site are exempt from this - I already know they're absolutely brilliant.

Feel free to email me at admin@archives-of-excellence.9f.com to make suggestions for improving the site. Comments at the Archives of Excellence at LiveJournal community are also welcome. I'll start a page for it there.


The Golden Quill Awards are GO!!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden Quill Awards has opened for business. Nominations can be made today by replying to the relevant posts on the site blog.  There's one for each genre.


RomanceScience Fiction



  • Fanfiction stories from every fandom are eligible to participate, but they should be nominated according to genre.
  • Stories that are not of the genre nominated for will be disqualified.
  • The same story cannot be nominated in subsequent years.
  • Only complete stories are eligible.
  • Authors cannot be nominated more than twice in the same category.
  • Categories will be subdivided by story length: Drabble; 100 - 5000 words; 5000 - 20,000 words; 20,000 +. 
  • Nominees should be informed that they are being nominated, and invited to participate.
  • Nominees need to email us on admin@archives-of-excellence.9f.com to have their stories added to the poll. Nominees who do not acknowledge their nominations will not have their stories added to the poll.
  • Writers are welcome to nominate their own stories.
  • There is a limit of twenty nominations for this year's Awards per person. This may change next year.
  • Stories of a rating of NC17 or higher are not acceptable for these awards.
  • Polls will be used to determine the winner. Polls close on 31st August 2010.

What I do is contact the nominee and say, "I'd like to nominate your story, 'X,' for the Golden Quill Awards. If you're happy with this, please let me know, then email admin@archives-of-excellence.9f.com to accept your nomination. To find out more, please go to golden-quills.9f.com. All the details are there."

Nominations for any fandom are welcome.
Cartoon me

Skinny Dipping

Well I decided that, what with other changes I've been making lately, it would be a good idea to change my profile theme. I'm sure the makers of the current skins did a great job, but I'm a fussy so-and-so: for me, it was more than a case of choosing one that didn't burn my retinas. I liked the old aqua one, but this new one is a lot lighter and brighter.

I'm being fussy because what I'd really like is to be able to totally customise my blog so it looks the way I want it to look, with my own banners and preferred layout. I get a bit jealous of the pretty skins other people have, and from what I understand, you have to have a paid account to be able to install them. I've seen some really excellent ones while I went looking for a replacement for the old one. Oh, I'm cheap, I admit it.

I have found ways around the system to get my own stuff in, and am pleased that at least I can add custom blocks that include icons and titlebars from my other sites and communities.

While I'm on the subject, I've revamped and cleared out the old Dratted Thing (I got frustrated while setting it up because the system wouldn't let me have the name I wanted) community, which was intended as a private space for chatting to my friends. It didn't get much use so I've renamed it "Writers' Rendezvous" and have set it up to take submissions from writers who want to discuss their original works, be they scripts, novels or short stories. Like my other stuff, add as friend for posting privileges - the link is on my sidebar.

I'm still working on my fanfiction archive project. When it's ready, I'll announce it with great fanfare and link it on all  my e-spaces. The idea is that Excellent writers will be able to upload stuff at will instead of asking me to link it for them at the rec site. The Archives of Excellence rec site will remain, and will be used as a gateway to the new site for a seamless experience. I intend to move the featured writers' profiles to the new site eventually, which will give them full control over them. The monthly writing challenge entries will continue to be linked there, and I hope to add a forum to it later on.

So I've got all that lot and the Golden Quill Awards starting up tomorrow! Busy, busy, busy! But I wouldn't have it any other way.


From the Sidelines

Ladies and gentlemen, the polls for the February writing challenge are now up on proprofs. This is to give people without fanfiction.net accounts a chance to vote. Good luck, everyone.


I've had a brilliant response to the Proprofs poll so far. Getting people to vote on ff.net is usually a bit of a struggle, so I'm very pleased. Don't quit, though. Some stories haven't had any votes at all. That's it: I'll be using Proprofs from now on for all my polls.

Website woes

There's been talk of people setting up their own archive websites, and I wanted to get in on the act. My experience with the Archives of Excellence and the Golden Quill Awards ought to have made it relatively easy, right?

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GQ Awards

The Golden Quill Awards: The Countdown Begins

Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden Quill Awards is due to launch on Monday.

The nominees icons have been made, the website has been revamped with a new title bar and icon, and Middle-earth News has been informed. Nominations run from 1st March till the end of May. During June I'll collate the entries and make sure they're eligible, then I'll set up the polls. They will go live on 1st July, and voting will continue till the end of August. The winner will be announced on 1st September.

Details of the rules and everything else can be found on the Golden Quill Awards website. I'll be posting again to remind you all about this, and I'll contact the admins on the various sites I post on to get them to advertise the Awards. Hopefully, I'll get a good response this time, and will be able to subcategorise the stories entered by length. I can only do that if I get enough entries, though.

Any questions? Ask away. Any suggestions? I'm happy to consider them. I'll probably end up applying them. I'm really looking forward to this, and am hoping to get a great response this year.