Archive for August, 2012

It’s been almost two weeks since I sat in this chair, in front of this keyboard and wrote something. So much for my “write every day discipline”! I suppose I can use the excuse of having had surgery, but is that really a valid excuse? All those Ten Tips For Writers things that other writers put on their websites tell you to write every day no matter what. So I think being blitzed out of my mind on pain and the drugs meant to chase the pain away is probably not a good reason. After all, it is only a What, and they tell you that the Whats shouldn’t matter.

Of course, I haven’t been able to write fiction since early summer, and when I mentioned that on Facebook other fiction writers assured me that they’ve had similar maladies from time to time and I’m not alone.

You’d think now that I’ve got vats of narcotics I’d write something great. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could turn into a sort of Hemingway person and write big long interesting books and turn my neighbourhood into a home for mutant pussies? I can just see people touring Hallcrest Court decades beyond my deceasement, marveling at my workspace and making up fussy docent pronouncements about my life. (‘She had the walls painted purple and grey, the colours of madness and dullness’; ‘we think that hymn is meant to be ironic’; ‘In this drawer she kept a collection of cheap toys from fast food children’s meals as a statement about consumerism’)

Well, as you can probably tell, there is not yet greatness to be written. In fact I just spent three minutes fiddling with one of the toys on my desk. It’s a stuffed wolf that my husband bought me at Wolf Trap when we went with his sister and her husband and their daughter to see Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers screened in the background while a live orchestra played the film’s score. My husband’s sister and niece are music people, and their whole family is way off into the LOTR films. I was just thinking about how my brother in law shot himself in the head a few months ago and then I got to wondering whether or not time travel is a good thing. What if you could pick up an item and go just once back in time to the point when you bought that item to deliver a message? Would I go back to Wolf Trap four summers ago and say “Hey, three and a half years from now, don’t give in to the dark, okay?” Or would I say “get a shingles innoculation. Trust me.” How do you know which piece of advice to give? This is why I am uncomfortable with time travel stories…we’re all so woven in this tight net. Time travel is all about pulling loose one string, which can never be done without marring the fabric. The man he was all those other summers ago would just sort of look at me like I’d lost my own mind. I know that look. I get it a lot. If I were to travel across time it’d be the biggest waste of Suspending The Laws Of Physics. Besides which, I like who and what I am now for the most part. It’s not a fancy life and I haven’t collected any mutant pets, but neither am I collecting and discarding spouses or losing time to drunkenness. And people don’t listen to me now, in the normal flow of time, so why would they take me seriously wrapped in the cracked burrito of a time voyage? “Hi, I know you think I’m the family nutbread already, but I’m seriously here on a journey through time with a message.”

This is 134 words longer than it should be. And it’s not like there are 134 essential words I can’t cut. I just don’t want to. But I do need to end this missthepointive (we’re at 167 over now). I don’t have a suitable conclusion. I can’t think of one. I’ll just say bye, for now.

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One of the pieces of (admittedly questionable) advice that writers get a lot is “don’t use adjectives.” Since I’m fond of adjectives as a tool for describing things–and my job as a writer includes describing things–I never quite got this. I can understand “use adjectives sparingly” but then we get into the work of parsing what, exactly, is meant by “sparingly”. More often than not the longer I live the more I’m convinced writing is like sex. You can read all kinds of advice but ultimately you know what feels good because you just…do.

Mentally now I’m stretching that analogy to encompass all activities related to writing and I’m wondering if that means every book I read is the writerly equivalent of watching porn. “I’m just trying to see how they do it!” In this world I suppose Stephen King is our Ron Jeremy and JK Rowling is our Jenna Jameson. And there I’ve just exhausted my encyclopaedic knowledge of the porn industry.

Whoops. We kind of got off at a siding there, didn’t we? We were talking about adjectives. I never got the purpose of that advice until a few years ago when I was reading a by-the-numbers police procedural and we had to watch a woman run a tortoise shell brush with stiff bristles through her waist-length platinum blond hair and then pick up her buttery leather Coach handbag and clutch in her blood-red lacquered nails. I thought I was going to turn loose a throaty cat-like screech by the end of the paragraph.

Adjectives are good for creating a sense of place, as long as that sense of place is NOT “pages 192-417 of the dictionary”.

The most important thing I have to say about adjectives is this:

Adjectives are not nouns.

And that’s the true thrust of this post. I’ve read enough conversations lately about The Gays, The Illegals, and so forth. I’m sure that someday I will be included in some discussion about “the fats” that reduces me to an adjective.

It’s just so weird, our compulsion to do this. It turns people into one-dimensional, easily dismissed caricatures. Maybe that is exactly why we do it. It is far easier to be cruel to someone if you’ve first removed their personhood by depriving them of the basic courtesy of a noun. A name.

“Congratulations, Mrs. Coble! It’s a gay!” said no doctor in any delivery room ever.

“Mr. and Mrs. Phil N.D. Blanque, we regret to inform you that your black was killed in action today.”

Adjectives are fine things. They are not nouns. All people deserve the courtesy of being treated like the nouns they are.

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Not enough steam in this head for a full pressing on one issue so we’re going to just go random.

1. Ditty bag. I haven’t heard that phrase in years, but I’m reading William Goldman’s Adventures In The Screen Trade and he used it there. So now it’s stuck in my head. Apparently a lot of other people use it. I guess I’m not up on my bag terminology.

3. 2 is coming up later. I chopped it and threw it at the end. Feel free to skip two altogether.

4. Knee deep in the Vorkosigan saga right now, and I’m absolutely adoring it. Lois McMaster Bujold is somebody who should have a lot more traction in the world. She’s an excellent writer. I owe Christy Nicholson a major debt for recommending these. Consider this my recommending them to you.

5. I’m now a convert to the whole “Room of one’s own” thing that was such a trend about 10 years ago. I rememeber when that author decided to run with the Virginia Woolf quote (it is Virginia Woolf, right? I don’t feel like googling it right now. Maybe I’ll check on that later) and put out a book about creating a sanctuary within one’s home for one’s self. At the time the book came out I had zero money and the whole idea seemed like another thing designed to rub my lack of funds in my face. But now that I sunk my birthday money into the futon, the breakfast nook has become the SPoT. This is short for “Sun Puddle Throne”. And it is more healing than I ever thought possible to just sit there and watch the moon sail across the night. I’m not so much regretting my insomnia anymore.

6. Speaking of sleep. I have the surgery next week. I’m not worried about the pain–I’m in pain all the time. But the anesthesia…there’s a worry. I’m always afraid I won’t wake up. So that’s the care I’m casting on the Lord right now. I also don’t really want to complain about insomnia because then I feel like the Universe would be all “you wanted sleep! Here’s sleep!”

7. I really very much dislike people who talk to me in high-flown churchy language. I just want to say “quit acting a part and be real. Communicate as one person to another. Not as some pompous git speaking a part.” Ended up blocking someone on FB this week because of it. That makes 4 blocks now. I hate blocking, but sometimes it just has to happen.

Now, I’m done with the random stuff and I’m going to let you choose whether or not you want to read #2. Understand that it involves religion and controversy so….feel free to go there after the jump (more…)

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Why am I using such a generic title?!? Why? I think I’ll subhead it.::adds the OR:: There. That feels better.

I wrote an earlier post about Writing Conventions and why I don’t go to them. I talked a lot about the cost and the reciprocal obligations created therein but I realise I neglected to address the main issue because I didn’t know how to talk about it until today.

Today was the first time I’d heard about the Great Sexual Harrassment Event At Readercon. Since I’m not a conventioner by nature I hadn’t had this on my radar until a friend mentioned it on Facebook. The short version of the very long story is that an elfinly pretty female* Sci Fi author was hit on by a guy who looks exactly like the guidance counselor in Freaks and Geeks. Said dude used “pick up artist” techniques that were both juvenile and threatening. (One quote was “Stop saying things that make me think dangerous wrong thoughts.” Uhhhh…wha? Psycho much?)

Guidance Counselor

Possibly needs counseling and guidance

This has blown up all over the place and a lot of words have been spent trying to explain to people why it is not okay to make another person feel unsafe. That adults require an explanation of this most basic concept, a concept at the core of civilisation itself, is both troubling and unsettling.

Oops. I hadn’t finished the summary–which was supposed to be short. The convention had a Zero Tolerance policy for harrassers that said you were out forever if you violated said policy but they didn’t oust Mr. Russo because….
He is A “Big Name Fan” or a “Secret Master Of Fandom”

Yet again, we run into this thing that I find squicky and unsettling. This thing where people form hierarchies and are famous for liking something harder than other people.

Your currency in this realm of fandom becomes not how well you do something. It is literally a currency bought with your life. How much of your life is devoted to the minutae of this world? It reminds me so much of early childhood where popularity was obtained with the loosely random currency of having the most Barbie accessories. It also reminds me of my years in the Dead scene where your love of the music was not central to your fanship–it was the obsessiveness of your devotion. How many shows have you seen live? How many boards do you have? I don’t like you for you.

I wish cons were a level playing field. I’d be more inclined to go if it weren’t me paying a fee to swim through the Con Culture. It’s funny; BlogHer is going on right now, and one of the reasons I backed off serious blogging was because I couldn’t take that Con Culture.

I think I’m too introverted or reclusive or something. But I feel if conventions and fandom are something I’d have to negotiate to be a published author I will never acheive that dream. Because I don’t think I can do that. I honestly don’t.

*After rereading this I realised that this thought wasn’t entirely followed through upon. I mention Ms. Valentine’s appearance because there seems be an attitude in certain facets of those commenting on this fracas that believes that her “obvious desirability” is some sort of sanction for being flirted with. And that the harrasssment was just flirting which was misunderstood. (His looks I mention only because I’m struck with how much he reminded me of that guy from F&G.) Apparently it’s perfectly okay to flirt with someone who is conventionally pretty. And it is okay if that flirting includes physical threats and obsessive stalking.

There’s another hideous undercurrent to all of it in that several folks, in rushing to the man’s defense, claim that he “could just be an Aspie.” (Note: I hate cutesy names for illnesses and doctors. I see a Rheumatologist, not a Rheumy. People are diagnosed with Asperger’s. It’s a neuroatypical condition, not an award for a television program.) I hate this kind of ableist garbage so very much. “Oh, he can’t help causing psychological harm! He’s ill!” Well, you know what? I’m disabled. I made the decision not to drive because I didn’t like the thought of hitting someone with my car and “she can’t help causing harm! She’s ill!” is valid nowhere in any court of law or insurance company. Personal responsibility is in many cases not beyond the ken of people on the Autism Spectrum; if it is beyond them then they need to not go to massive social functions without a personal aide of some sort. The disabled and differently abled are not special snowflakes. We just have to do things a little bit differently.

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