megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (beauty&thebeast)
2013-07-10 03:08 pm

I just stopped by to complain

Dear Paranormal Romance Writers,

I see that some of you write sex scenes in your books. Good for you! But as a personal favor to your readers, could you maybe not refer to the fluids produced by vagina having folks during arousal as "her cream". Please also do not have the male love interest desire that his penis be "bathed in her cream" during sexual intercourse.

Because honestly, this and all the heavy thrusting you describe make me think that what you are really attempting to do is describe a couple in the throes of churning butter. Butter that is inside a vagina. Because let's face it. Lots of churning + cream = butter. And now I'm thinking of vagina butter.

The sexy: it has fled.

Not for nothing, one of your esteemed colleagues has already invoked in me the image of semen cheese.

So if you are a paranormal novelist who is currently drafting a sex scene, I would take it as an almighty kindness if you would leave things like "milking", "cream" and other dairy related terms RIGHT OUT. In fact, references that can be traced back to a farm at all would really be best left alone.

I'm just sayin'.

Love and Sexy Vampires,
megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (beauty&thebeast)
2012-11-16 07:50 am

In which I do not believe in the constructive nature of "Ha-ha!"

So, best of nanowrimo is a thing on Tumblr, and yanno what? It makes me more than a little queasy to have people's posts taken and reposted (probably without their knowledge or consent) just so that others can have laughs at their expense.

I'm not of the Nelson Muntz school of how to look at other people's failures. Especially when it comes to writing.

Cut because I sort of rant about this and you may not think it's worth all that. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2012-08-19 04:11 pm

Links! Get your hot fresh links!

1. Writer Nalo Hopkinson talks about being a writer with a non-verbal learning disability. But really, this is about her telling us why it's a learning ability, and why her brain is a good brain to have for a writer. If you've ever read her work, you'll know she has a fantastic brain for a writer, or for anyone! I recommend watching it ASAP. It's amazing.

2. Claudia Kishi, my Asian-American female role model of the 90's - Not just a nostalgic look back at a series of books that were awesome, and kind of important because hey, it was about girls. Lots of girls. And things girls do and not making them look frivolous or silly. This is why books like this matter. In case anyone wonders why having characters that are LIKE YOU matter, especially to young girls and young women of color. Warning: image heavy.

3. If the Internet wrote your summer reading. Yeah, yeah, it's collegehumor. I'm not their biggest fan either, but this article actually is somewhat funny. Also, anything that strips away the mystique and elevated status we give to Old Dead White Western Dude Literature is good by me.

4. How to Fold Fitted Sheets. Image heavy, but definitely will help you solve that fitted sheet problem if you have one. Or: yes, thank you! I, too, have always wanted to do this.

5. magic vs science, the fucking singularity, and anti-intellectualism by RequiresHate. Amazing post about some issues with U.S./Western white-dominated SF/F and how it's actually quite anti-intellectual.

6. Duty of Care by Justine Larbalestier. I have some strong and not happy feelings about this post, especially when it comes to this quote:

To be totally honest I mostly write for the teenager I was and the adult I am. I write stories that interest and engage me. That those stories fall into the publishing niche that is YA is a happy accident. And that some teenagers find them entertaining/useful/inspiring/whatever is an even happier accident.

I am sorry that we YA writers are not portraying the kind of world you think is suitable for your teenagers. But I have a solution. Why not write your own books?

I don't have an organized response to this, but I do have some basic gut reactions. Reactions beneath the cut to spare those who don't really care. )

Like I said, I don't have an organized response to this and I'm still feeling out why that rankles. But there it is. Thoughts, internet?
megwrites: A pair of brown glasses on a worn wooden table with a shadowed white wall in the background. (glasses)
2012-08-15 06:52 pm

Varied stuff

1. Hello f-list. I am alive and all. Right now, if anyone wanted to be sort of writing buddies, I'd really love that. What I mean by writing buddies is that it would be nice if I could send some sample pages from a few things I'm working on to some people and ask "is this crap? does anything work?" and maybe toss around some ideas in my head and have someone poke holes or tell me if I'm doing the same thing EVERY writer in the genre has done since 1975 or something. Especially those who read this genre and are willing to be really brutally honest.

I am OF COURSE willing to reciprocate fully, and even willing to read long or full drafts of short stories, novellas, novels, etc. Seriously.

I'm sort of looking to establish a relationship of "we can pick apart each other's stuff and be friends and maybe even be friends outside of writing". If that makes sense and doesn't sound terribly pathetic.

I know I had beta readers for other novels, but I feel bad calling on them again. Especially since they read an entire book to help me out. That's a lot of pages.

So, drop a message, comment, anything.

2. Mental health is adjusting still since I'm on Lexapro now. It's not been long enough to know if this is The One or not. Also: I may need to talk to mental health person about maybe an ongoing anti-anxiety med rather than just an anti-depressant. For reasons.

3. Re: my last post (which was like two weeks ago). I have no issue with fanfic becoming original fic. I just have issue when the fic in question isn't the good stuff. I come from fandom, and I can tell you that fandom has some really lovely literature to offer. Especially since fandom can be where fans really take their source material and twist it into lots of unexpected shapes and fill in the giant holes and talk about the issues with the original material.

If we had to do a Twilight-based fic-to-original novel, why couldn't be one of the ones where we make Bella the vampire who stalks high school loner Edward or one of the ones where we queer the fuck out of everything and see how it works when they're not all white folks. Or where the writer doesn't utterly fail when it comes to the Quileute people (a whole novel about the Quileute people, even!)

Anyway, we'll talk no more about it, unless anyone feels a driving need to.

4. Anyone have links on how fountain pen converters work or what they are and when/if you need them? I still want to get a fountain pen (maybe I'll ask for one for X-mas this year) but I'd like to know more. Though, I will say my $3.50 little disposable Varsity pen has done okayish. It skips sometimes and if you have the wrong kind of paper it feathers like a shedding goose, but otherwise, not bad.

4. SEE HOW GOOD I AM AT MATH! This is probably why the teller jobs I applied for aren't calling me back. Also, if you ever want to apply to be a bank teller, set aside like FIFTEEN HOURS IN YOUR DAY and get a really good calculator. I did that last week and that shit was like a freaking math test where you have not only do math real good, but try to sell people financial services. In retrospect, it's probably mutually beneficial that I didn't get a callback.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2012-08-02 12:14 pm

Just wanted to say this (feel free to skip right on by)

Seeing another Twilight search/replace fic get a seven figure deal from a big name U.S. publishing house suddenly just made me feel proud of what I've written and of my own novel (City of the Hand)


Because I haven't made a lot of money off of it. Medical bills still loom, as does rent and all the other costs of living - but hey. Every tiny little bit is a gift a wonderful gift and I treasure it. I'm not complaining, because it's still more than zero, and it's still something.

It's still work I did that people out there loved enough to say "here's some money, precious money, that you can have because of this tale you told me". It's basically just a text file. It doesn't even have cover art, though I'd love to have something to show what the main character looks like.

It sure isn't the perfect book. Maybe the plot slows in the middle or the characters read flat or there's a load of cliches or the antagonist comes off as shallow and unbelievable or the ending's predictable.

Maybe all those things.

But I didn't search and fucking replace the names of anyone else's characters. I didn't window dress someone else's story and say that I did this great thing. I had influences, I had things I drew on, authors who inspired me with their works, certainly. Nothing is ever 100% original. I'm sure you can see bits and pieces of them in there, but I didn't play Ken-and-Barbie with their characters and repackage them to sell to the world.

I did my best. I reached for new things (or new-to-me things) and I put it out there for others to have. For free, even. Because I don't think there should be a sign on literature that says "you must be this wealthy to ride the ride".

I probably won't make seven figures (or hell, three). Probably won't get suddenly famous for this. Or the next book or short story. I'm okay with that. I'm not owed fame and riches just because I showed up, privileged as hell in a society that skews the field in my favor in so many ways.

I just know that I'm proud to say that I didn't have to rename any damn thing in my novel because it was already copyrighted to someone else's name.
megwrites: A moon rising above a darkened landscape in front of a starry night sky. (moonrise)
2012-07-31 06:11 pm

In which I say some stuff about writing and mental health

So, I had a thought while I was singing a cat themed version of "Can't Buy Me Love" to my cat, as you do.

Maybe one of my problems with writing lately isn't so much "oh god, is my work important enough to be worth writing at all", but that I've got some deeper things to think about.

Actually, let me rewind. Before the part where I belted out a Beatles tune at one of my pets, my mental health took an uptick. Cut for talk of my mental health and meds and brain stuff and depression/anxiety and brief mention of suicidal ideation. )


All this contemplation has lead me to ask some questions and think of some things.

First, is that I think my writing is stymied by the conflict between wanting to really pour myself into my writing, to really own it and turn it into my writing and the belief that I and my experiences and who I am are not worthy of being in a story much less a story that other people will ever see. That's a mix of depression, I think, and good old fashioned self consciousness.

Second, I think I haven't answered some fundamental questions. One being, "Why do I love what I love? Why am I drawn to write certain things?"

For example: I love paranormal romance stories about sexy angels and their tempestuous, somewhat unhealthy relationships with supernaturally powered women? But why do I love it. Why do I love it enough to want to write my own story of that sort? What is about angels, the supernatural, strong women who kick ass that I love? Or vampires or aliens or whatever?

I mean, what is it that I think is so damn cool, so fucking awesome that I'd want someone to sit down and enjoy said type of novel?

Or for that matter, the speculative genre as a whole. Why fantasy fiction or any kind of SF/F? Also, romance, what do I really love about it? What is about telepathy that I like as a feature of some stories or the "stoic, seemingly heartless and cold person falls in love with someone their complete opposite who brings them out of their shell" trope in romance?

I'm still working on that bit, but it seems to me that maybe there's a lot to be mined there. Not just for my own fun, sport, and edification - but also as part of my writing.

I mean (for example) - if I just really fucking love space ships because I think anything that goes "pffwooooomfffffffff" in a big fiery ball and then goes into outer space is just the bee's knees, then focusing on the big fireballs and the power and wonderment of that much fuel and combustibility being harnessed to launch a multi-ton piece of aeronautics into the black abyss of space without blowing the shit out of everything in a ten mile radius is something I should focus on. Because it's what I'm excited about it. It's something that can be a theme in my work, something that I can bring to the table that maybe I see or think about in a way that's new or surprising to others.

So that's my thought for today. And my excuse for an update. May it serve you well and in good health.

TL;DR: Mental health is getting better. It's important to think about why you write stuff and also to sing to cats. But especially the bit about the cats. No great writer ever succeeded without first singing a beloved popular rock song to a cat. Though I might not advise singing "Mrs. Robinson" to a lion or anything. They're universally known to hate folk-rock. It's Queen or nothing for the mighty king of the beasts. THIS IS A COMPLETELY TRUE FACT. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP AT ALL.
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
2011-07-23 06:20 pm
Entry tags:

Not enough plus ones in the world.

I know I'm late to this party, but N.K. Jemisin, in her unending awesome, says what I've always wanted to say, but says it much better in her post The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy.

I'm tempted to quote the whole thing, but that's not cool or ethical to do, so I'll try to quote the most relevant part. Note: All the parts are relevant.

By the same token, readers need to stop embracing only superficial examples of strength in women. We need more than ice queens, or femme fatales, or feisty gun-toting redheads juggling harems of men, or mighty-thewed chainmail bra-wearing Conanettes....

I want to see female characters who are judged strong based on their choices, their determination, and their refusal to be limited by what others think — not what they look like or do for a living/hobby.

Yes, thank you N.K. Jemisin. Thank you for that. I could not be more right if it tried. I just want to hug that entire post and tell everyone about it.

Especially as it relates to the reasons why I am so frustrated, fed up, and enraged at a lot of the urban fantasy and paranormal genres. Genres which do not lack for women writers and readers, and yet? It seems like we keep falling into the same patterns outlined above.

Want an example. I just put down a book which starts out with our half-vamp heroine going to question a vampire who has killed his two servants for attempting to steal from him. That is, until she finds out that he sired her vampire ex-boyfriend who she is relentlessly pining over. Against said ex-boyfriend's will. At which point, knowing that he murdered these two human beings, she decides to let him go. Because she's sentimental.

This is exactly what Jemisin is talking about. This protagonist the very walking definition of the fiesty redhead. Though she has knives instead of guns. Point of interest: she actually throws five knives at once during the opening scene. Five. Because that totally convinces me that this is a believable scene in which I should invest as a reader rather than something that's just for show. Which, if I wasn't eye rolling enough because of it's over the top nature really got me giggling at the book and not in the way intended.

All that physical prowess contained in a person who apparently can't see past herself or her romantic entanglements enough and lacks the moral (or practical) compass to see that letting a murderous vampire go for "sentimental" reasons is a seriously weak action to take, and that any further kills that he makes will be on her head as well since she had the chance to stop him and didn't take it. Furthermore, it isn't clear that her ex-boyfriend wouldn't want to kill the bastard anyway.

Thus, you have a protagonist who throws five knives but then orders wine instead of a gin and tonic on a date (because apparently wine makes a better impression or something? Hell if I know!), who abuses her position with little consideration, because her strength seems to be entirely external and supernatural, not innate and internal.

I put that book down, because I'm aware of all the skewed visions of women out there in the world. I don't need to spend another 300 pages stuffing my brain with another portrait of an essentially empty character, as though conventional good looks (to say nothing of how holding up white/thin/able/cis/unscarred characters reinforces so many ugly cultural norms) and some weaponry and some fancy trappings and maybe a sexually charged but otherwise emotionally void romance with the Alpha Male are equal (or better) to a woman's inner self and inner strength.

It's almost as if it's a way of saying that women are so unimportant, so unequal, so utterly unworthy of close consideration that it doesn't matter you replace a conscience, an inner strength, an emotional fortitude with decorative trappings, with show pieces. It's all the same. Because the strength of women - the strength that doesn't come from physical power but from the will to use our agency in ways that change the world, ways small and silent sometimes, ways that come from just existing as ourselves in the face of a world that wants us obedient - just isn't worth writing about.

I don't know about you, but I disagree in the strongest possible terms. I think that exact thing is exactly what's most worth writing about.
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
2010-11-12 03:10 pm
Entry tags:

Things I shouldn't have to repeat but do

If you want to know what prompted this, it's that people keep calling these pictures of the Sith!Disney Princesses awesome, and all I see is someone who decided to give the Princesses bigger breasts, skimpier clothes, and a technogoth makeover and call it Sith, even though the male (or male presenting) Sith in the Star Wars movies (note: I'm working off movie canon, not expanded universe canon) never wore anything even remotely that revealing.

For instance, take Darth Maul's costuming. How much of his ass do you see hanging out?

I said as much on my Tumblr account when it made the rounds on my dashboard, but it's still pissing me off to see people geeking out over it without stopping to think about what it means, or pretending like it's this great thing instead more Sci-Fi Bikini Babes with Disney Princess heads and why that's part and parcel of the same geekish misogyny that I've been putting up with.

Yes, Disney + Sith is a weird and possibly cool combo, but aside from the lightsabers in the picture, there's precious little that actually has to do with the actual Sith from the Star Wars 'verse.

And when in the name of George fucking Lucas have you ever seen any Force imbued persons EVER pull out teal and magenta as their colors? EVER?

Even if you could find instances of more scanty woman warrior attire in the expanded Star Wars 'verse (it would be equally problematic, btw) - I'm STILL not sure how imbuing these characters with the dark powers of the Force would cause their bust sizes and body types to suddenly morph into what I see there. Every single one of their body shapes has been deeply modified from the original to emphasize thinner waists, larger breasts, rounder butts, and longer legs.

Nor am I clear on how such a physiological reinvention emphasizes their empowerment as a dark warriors fighting for the forces of evil, but I'm thinking it has less to do with actually crossing over two works and more about gratuitously over-sexualizing three female characters because, well, you couldn't really dress them like this in the actual movies where they have lines and stories and ACTUAL young kids look up to them.

Oh, and just to be EXTRA gross, notice that the sole woman of color is the one with the MOST exposed breasts and most body hugging costume. Though Ariel's bikini-cum-black shower curtain costume comes in a close second.

And maybe I'd be okay with this, because you know what, people have been sexing up Disney characters since they first came around. But when someone holds this artistically uninspired picture to me as though it's this great thing and it seems like nobody's examining what it means that changing them into Sith also entailed dressing and drawing them like this and why that's deeply problematic, I get really fed up.

But hey, extremely large breasts and metal bikinis are totally empowering to women, AMIRITE OR AM I RITE?

Which means that we have to have The Talk again, don't we internets?

You know the one I'm talking about. The one where I have to sit you down and ask you why it is that when you depict female heroines in a physically aggressive role, you seem to dress them in the most ridiculous attire and consider it empowering to women as a whole (as though women can be summed up by gender despite the diversity of that group in other intersecting aspects of their identity) - but don't do the same thing to male characters.

After this, we'll have the talk about only portraying binary-presenting characters when human beings are not strictly binarily gendered. But that comes later.

Here's the thing. I'm glad when writers or artists come up with female characters who are capable of applying well placed kicks to enemy posteriors. Really, I am. And I understand that there are going to be times when the universe you write or draw within is going to be stylized and that certain realities of, say, physics or biology or chemistry are best left swept under the rug. I'm not asking for hard, gritty realism here. I'm good with flying kicks and fantastical backflips and vampires and zombies and spells and the laws of physics sort of disappearing.

What I am asking is that when you consider how you costume or dress these women - and indeed when you pick out the other details of their fictional lives - you not only ask yourself about the practicality of such details, but compare them to the details you assign to the male characters.

For instance - is your kickass male hero wearing a sensible pair of camo pants and sturdy boots and a protective jacket while your heroine is wearing what appears a leather body suit or leather pants, a shirt that offers less coverage than your average sports bra and heels so high and spiky that even S&M leather fetishists are tilting their heads going, "Wow, that's gotta hurt to wear"?

Or, maybe you drew a picture of three heroines wearing skimpy attire when their male counterparts would be far better and more practically clothed as evidenced by the very source material from which you are drawing?

Does your heroine hold a large phallic weapon that's actually far too large for anyone who doesn't have extreme upper body strength to wield efficiently while your hero holds a sleek weapon specifically designed for his size and abilities?

Or, perhaps your hero is allowed to wear a bulky coat to keep out the cold, but your heroine is wearing a shirt or jacket that exposes a lot of cleavage, is always open and pants that had to be painted on?

Because the problem with such a dichotomy, dear internets, is that it shows your priorities where different genders of characters are concerned. It shows that when it comes to female characters, your priority is on presentation over substance, in pleasing a specific gaze (the male gaze) rather than creating a whole character who can be attractive (or at least interesting and engaging) to a WIDE variety of people.

It shows, in essence, that the idea of an actual warrior woman is so fantastical to you that you cannot truly imagine or portray it in a way that shows a lot of thought and planning, but can only imitate it with women who's attire and narrations make it clear that you don't really take them seriously and don't expect anyone else to. You're not really mapping out what would be useful to a woman who finds herself up against zombies or vampires or supervillains, what it would take for her to be successful.

Because if someone did take it seriously and delved into what it would actually mean if a woman went out into a physically dangerous situation wearing a red leather halter top, leather pants, and five inch heels to fight the forces of darkness, they might find it totally absurd and then decide your work is not worth their time.

Clue: I'm one of those terrible Debbie Downers who does all that silly thinking and analyzing stuff.

And by the by, actually take some time to look at the heels you're putting your heroines in. Look at what shape the feet must take to fit into them, and how that would translate into being able to run. Also keep in mind that part of why high heels are so fashionable and so valued in our society is because they're specifically NOT practical, because they're not meant to be worn for physical labor or practical purposes.

So ask yourself, when you're adorning your heroine in such things if you're doing it for a specific reason (perhaps the heroine has a job that requires dressing in a certain way, which is legitimate enough) or if you're doing it because it looks "cool" or "pretty" or "kickass". And if you're doing it for looks, ask your self why the heroine's looks are THAT high on your list of priorities.

I'm glad we've had this talk, internets. And I hope that when you seek to create your feminine kickers of various assi, that you think about these things, because when you do, you start coming to that strangest of all conclusions that women are people. Not people too, but people. And there's not really a good damn reason to treat them as less real or less important or more easily used as decorations and ornaments than men.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2010-07-01 06:37 am

Attack of the Whitewashing Strikes Back Again! (Signal boost and ranting all in one!)

You definitely need to go read this post about the whitewashing of the new covers of Cindy Pon's "Silver Pheonix" and "Fury of the Phoenix" books from [personal profile] inkstone. And then, you need to go buy the book in it's original cover if you can. I certainly am. It's book time.

Oh, and for those who don't want to deal with the Amazon monster:

Powell's has the on sale, original covered hardback. NOTE: The paperback version, however, is the one with the NEW cover.

Barnes & Noble has the hardcover for $15.38 and the paperback version for $8.09, though I wouldn't trust it's availability. (ETA: NOTE: These WILL eventually have the new covers, and while the art on the website is still the original cover, you might not get that version. Check when ordering!)

If buying the book isn't an option for you, you can request the your library get a copy of it if it doesn't already stock it. You can also, if you feel like signal boosting, link to [personal profile] inkstone's post, or you can post a review of Silver Phoenix and mention about the new covers. All these things would be helpful. I know people have different things they can and can't do.

So that's the signal boost. On to your promised ranting with a side of teeth gnashing! I recommend reading inkstone's link first. Much better than mine! )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2010-04-06 07:09 am
Entry tags:

The cost of art

Art has a price, both for the artist and for the culture in which that art is created. Sometimes that price is higher for one than the other, especially into relation to what a culture gets out of it. For me, as an artist and viewer of many types of art, this factors into whether that art is what I would consider 'good' or not.

For the record, I believe that ethics and artistry not only do go hand and hand but when divorced create nothing but monstrosity. You can explore the outer darkness of ethics-free art if you like. You have that right, at least in the place where I live (up to a point), but I won't be there with you and I definitely don't think it will ever be anything that's worth what it will cost.

Case in point?

Let us do a study in Amanda Palmer vs. Erykah Badu and the cost of their art.

For those who don't know, there is controversy around both these artists. Amanda Palmer for both her Evelyn, Evelyn project and a statement on twitter critiquing product placement in Lady Gaga's and Beyonce's video "Telephone" and Erykah Badu's video for "Window Seat" in which she walks through Dealey Plaza, the site of President Kennedy's assassination, stripping until she is completely nude and then shot [Trigger warning: disturbing image of a simulated assassination, may be disturbing to some viewers.].

Both have generated their detractors and supporters, both have raised hackles, both have been there to make statements, both are part of what these artists consider their art or their theory of how art should be.

I will say now I consider Badu's works and statements to be what good art should be. I think Amanda Palmer's to be the opposite.

Comparison and contrast of these works, their cost, and who pays for it under the tag. Cut for some length. )
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
2010-03-26 11:24 am
Entry tags:

Genre Talk: Urban Fantasy

I've been trying to make this post for, like, a week now. I keep deleting it and re-writing it because I haven't felt I've really articulated my opinions as well as I want to.

But I think I've gotten close with this post.

I read and write urban fantasy. The draft I'm trying to get through at the moment is urban fantasy (complete with vampires!). But if any of you have followed my reviews, you'll see that I'm often quite critical and very harsh on urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels. Moreso perhaps than I am on any other genre of books, even science-fiction or straight up fantasy.

When I go into a bookstore or browse online booksellers, the selections I see disappoint me greatly, and I'm frustrated by the current output in urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I firmly believe in Sturgeon's Law (99% of everything is crap), and that goes for books. So there is no genre that is either completely perfect or completely terrible. But right now, as it stands, the UF/PR genre seems to have a higher-than-normal proportion of shitty books.

Thoughts on why this is and why it doesn't have to be. Or, Meg Waxes Bitchy About Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, second verse same as the first. )
megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (beauty&thebeast)
2010-03-24 11:33 am
Entry tags:

Re: my last post

I had to remove somebody from my f-list (not that they'd notice/care) because I really, honestly couldn't take it anymore and it was that or cause a whole lotta drama.

I just want to scream.

I get it, okay. I GET IT. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a scary percentage of the Republican Party are engaged in some really rancid political tactics based on odious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise bigoted ideologies. I get that they lack compassion and sometimes even Earth logic. I get that they say hurtful, horrible things on the daily and that they are a destructive force in American politics. I'm there with you. Really.

But calling them crazy in every single post in which the topic comes up? That's not only excessive, it's deliberate. That's where I draw my line and decide that your posts stop being worth listening to.

If you can't think of anything better to assault someone's politics besides calling them "crazy", then you're not really writing anything that I need to waste time on. Either get more creative (and more FUCKING AWARE) or GTFO. Or in this case, expect me to stop listening.

Glenn Beck is not crazy. He's a lot of very bad things. For one, he's a total fuckmuppeting asswipe who is currently douchecanoeing his way across America spewing more rancid shit out of his mouth than a geyser under a clogged sewer. He is a no-good, self-serving, bigoted liar and hypocrite. But Glenn Beck is not crazy.

When you call him and his ilk crazy, you're not hurting them. Because in these discussions, nobody is actually, seriously considering that Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or 50% of the Republican Party are suffering from mental illnesses.

You are however, succeeding, in hurting people who live under the stigma of mental illness. Because you're reinforcing that crazy (read: mentally ill) = loud, obnoxious, dangerous, rude, unpleasant. You're reinforcing that the rhetoric of mental illness is just another way to dismiss people we don't like.

And BTW, if you are considering that Glenn Beck has a mental illness, you're also being very inappropriate. I don't care how vile and disgusting a person's politics or beliefs are. Their mental health status? Not your fucking business. Speculating on whether someone is/isn't mentally ill? Not your fucking place.

That's another note, just so we're clear. Speculating on whether someone has a mental illness is very inappropriate and all kinds of ablist. Unless that person comes out and says themselves, "I have [insert thing]", you keep your goddamn speculations to yourself. Because all you're going to do otherwise is reinforce stereotypes. "He's good with computers and bad with people, he's probably autistic!" or "She washes her hands a lot, she must have OCD!"

Because you know what? Maybe that guy at the computer is actually great with people that aren't you and your fellow coworkers. Maybe he's just uncomfortable in an environment where people speculate about such things and thus, doesn't want to engage with those people. Hell, maybe he's just really tired and doesn't have the spoons to hob-knob around the office.

Maybe the woman who washes her hands a lot is just trying not to get the goddamn flu because she's got two kids and doesn't want them to get sick!

You don't know these things, but when you sit around speculating, you just give a big ol' green light to yourself and everyone out there to buy into stereotypes.

And so what if they do or don't? Why do you feel it's your business, why do you feel entitled to know these things? Why is it so important that you know (at least in your own mind) who is and isn't mentally ill? Are you afraid a mentally ill person will stand next to you and you won't know it? Are you scared that you might accidentally treat this person like you would a non-mentally ill person, that you might give them too much respect or trust or affection or honor?

What is it to you whether someone is or isn't?

If someone's behavior is bothering you, you address the behavior in an appropriate manner. But whether that stems from mental illness or rudeness or just plain cluelessness is not your fucking business. And it doesn't matter. Other people's brains are their own, you need to respect that.

So stop it, okay. Just stop. And if you don't, then please don't expect me to stick around to listen to you. And certainly don't expect me to respect you in the morning.

ETA: Something I thought of later.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2010-02-26 08:53 am

It's about control and the lack thereof

This link Ten Rules for Writing has been circulating around my f-list for quite sometime. It's a collection of writing "rules" from various authors.

I almost didn't click the link because the idea of writing rules is something I despise absolutely. But I did.

Thoughts about writing rules and on the querying writer-agent relationship. )
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
2010-02-15 10:14 am
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The fiction of "free" speech

I can't help but find this article from The Washington Post by Christopher Fairman, "The Case against Banning the Word Retard" to be a mix of ignorance, obnoxiousness, and privilege waving.

The varied and evolving uses of such words ultimately render self-censorship campaigns unnecessary. And restricting speech of any kind comes with a potential price -- needlessly institutionalized taboos, government censorship or abridged freedom of expression -- that we should be wary of paying.

As a writer, the concept of freedom of speech is near and dear to me. I think of writers in countries who truly do not have the freedom to speak freely - those who face imprisonment, beatings, torture, and execution for the mere act of criticizing their governments or writing fiction that those in power find too provocative, too controversial. I think of the people who could only get their political protests heard beyond Iran's borders through Twitter. I think of those who do not even have that much access to make themselves heard when those in power decide they must bear their burdens in utter silence.

Examination of the article and of language )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (sex goddess)
2010-02-14 12:16 am
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Valentine's Day

[ profile] yuki_onna wrote this rather eloquent piece as a defense of Valentine's Day, reposted from a previous essay.

In response to that [ profile] ithiliana responded with this rebuttal in defense of those who are not so fond of the holiday.

Having read both, I find myself in agreement with [ profile] ithiliana in so many ways. And the more I think of it, the more upset I am by this so called defense.

My reasons for what I think. Snark and vitriol under the cut. )
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
2009-12-09 05:53 pm

Bill of Writes (pun totally intended)

I'm proud of myself. I've had jury duty the last two days and managed to get approximately 1100 words written long hand on Invisible!Book despite that and I'm moving on to another chapter, yay! Of course, I had lots of time to kill so maybe it isn't that amazing after all.

Sitting there getting all the nice speeches about how patriotic and necessary and heroic it is to serve on a jury, it occurred to me that a lot of industries and businesses have a "Bill of Rights". For instance, if you take taxi cabs in NYC you'll see a Bill of Rights for passengers.

Maybe what the publishing industry needs is a Bill of Rights for writers (published or unpublished), and agents. I think it might really help if there were a universal standard, especially considering that this is an industry that can, at times, make working relationships feel adversarial, as though the people who are supposed to be working together are working against each other.

If I were composing a bill of rights for the industry, some items I would add and reasons why )

So what say you, internets? If you were helping me draft this wonderful Bill of Rights, what would you add or take out?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2009-11-29 05:05 pm

I am a huge, jet-puffed harshmellow

I really need to try to insert more positivity on this blog, because I feel like I'm really just either whining about how writing is haaaaaaard (because being, say, homeless or working twelve hours a day digging ditches is just a breeze) or complaining about things.

That day, however, is not today. So if you're in a squeetastical mood, you may not want to read what I have to say.

1. Squee Kill #1 - NaNoWriMo Not So Grate Askhully (For Me).

Why I Failed NaNoWriMo. )

2. Squee Kill #2 - Thanksgiving, even less grate askhully (culturally).

In which I kill your squee and your turkey leftovers. )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2009-11-16 10:09 am
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And one more thing!

Wow, I bet y'all are getting very tired of hearing me talk about this topic, but it's kicked off a lot of contemplation in me as a writer and reader, and those are both things that are dear to me as part of my identity.

At the core of my issues with new adult is that so far the celebration of it has focused on it being a reflection of the readers rather than a landing place for those stories which fall in between categories.

If this were just about giving writers who's stories aren't quite YA and aren't quite full-on adult (in any genre) a place of their own and a name to call themselves, I would be joining in the celebration. I really would. Because that's great. Anything that gives writers the security to tell their stories authentically, without having to rearrange fundamentals to put, as the inestimable [ profile] fashionista_35 says, 30-year-olds in high school or taking a story for teenagers out of their hands to avoid controversy, is a good thing.

So far, it seems like the theory behind new adult has precious little to do with the stories, with the idea of giving shelter and nourishment to the seeds that sometimes fall on the path and not the soil. Instead, it seems like new adult has been focused on defining readers rather than stories.

And any time any one tries to use any genre, whether it's romance or YA or SF/F to say, "Those who read X are Y", I lose it.

The theory of new adult assumes, for one, that readers of my demographic are automatically going to be searching for literature that reflects them and their experiences - that we can't handle literature that does mirror our own images back to us. And this is not true of me. I cannot and will not speak for others, but I personally do not feel any pressing need or lack of books that reflect certain aspects of me. Part of this is because I am a white, cisgendered, able bodied native English speaker living in America. I do not tend to lack for books that have at least some commonality with me.

I think I might feel different if I were a person of color or transgendered or disabled or had English as a second language. I certainly know that I crave more books by and about LGBT, fat, disabled, and female persons.

But part of it, I would like to believe, is that I know my own story. I blog, journal, write, speak, compose poetry, paint. I splatter my own story all over any blank page or canvas or clean surface I get my hands on.

Therefore, what I want when I sit down and devote time to a book are other people's stories.

The books that have had the largest impact on me in the past year have been books which were nothing like me. Maxine Hong Kingston's book Woman Warrior: A Girlhood Among the Ghost left me seared inside. I still think of bits of that book, I still feel a mental dizziness, as if the world has tipped over a little bit when I re-immerse myself in it.

It's a book about the childhood of a Chinese-American girl in San Francisco. I've never been a Chinese-American person is San Francisco. Heck, I've never even been in San Francisco at all.

Octavia Butler's Kindred shattered me and broke parts of me, while simultaneously throwing open gates. I have never been a black woman in the South or in California. I have never been a slave. I have never had that history thrust upon me in ways subtle and explicit.

These books do not reflect me, and yet they are the kind of books I find myself increasingly wanting more of. The myth of reflective literature is harmful, because it tricks people into thinking that girls only want the girl books and boys only want the boy books, and thus that certain books should only be made available accordingly. I think it's the guiding principle behind sticking books by African-Americans or Latino authors in their own sections of a bookstore, away from mainstream and genre books. I think it's what publishers think of when the put white faces on books about protagonists of color. Because they believe that readers only want mirrors, not windows - that the gaze must always be inward rather than outward. That white readers can't handle stories with and by authors of color, that men can't handle women stories, that cisgendered folks can't handle transgendered tales.

I believe this is untrue. I think the success of YA books beyond their stated demographics is proof. I think the number of 40-year-olds (or 50 or 60!) who loved Harry Potter or Twilight - which my 40/50-something aunt and uncle devoured with great glee and anticipation - is proof that a category shouldn't about the readers, but the stories.

That's what any category, any label, any organization of literature should rest upon. The stories and perhaps the authors, but not the readers. Because I think we should encourage people to seek out the stories of others, to look outward at the world, to reach beyond stories that merely tell them things they already know and show them what they expect to see.

If this were up to me, I wouldn't call it "new adult", I would call it "Liminal Fiction". Because that's what it is. It's the in-between stories - which are meant for everyone. Not just in-between readers.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2009-11-16 06:46 am
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Another note on "new" adult

So, I've seen a lot of people who are very excited about the prospect of there being a "new adult" genre in bookstores as some kind of extension of YA, meant to cover a supposed age gap between the under-18 YA genre and 20-somethings.

My reaction has been decidedly negative, because I don't see that the category is necessary. I think it's pure marketing, and I think it's going to cause problems for authors who get caught up in it. I think it's going to cause actual YA readers to be deprived of books that are meant for them because "new" adult can afford to be sexier. I think it's going to cause adult books to be wrongly revised or aged down, giving YA readers books that weren't really written for them and thus books that may not be what they deserve and may not respect them completely.

More than that, it worries me that this "new" adult, this sort of adult-lite genre is focused on women. That it's females telling other females of a certain age that we're still not adults. Even when we live independently and support ourselves economically, we're still not really adult yet. Even when we're moving up in our careers and doing incredible things, we're STILL NOT FULLY ADULT. Because we're "new" adult.

It worries me that this "new" adult is targeted toward a largely female audience and touched up with female sensibilities, with covers and stories meant to be targeted toward women.

And it has my feminist alarm bells going off. For centuries and centuries, women were basically considered slightly larger children who the head the house - the father/husband - was expected to rule over. Husbands were given varying degrees of control over their wives, and were sometimes expected to spank them as they would spank children for misbehaving. Women were considered unfit, naive, innocent, unworldly because of their gender. Unlike men who could be trusted to handle the serious adult things of the world. Things like voting or owning land or being trusted to go outside with an escort.

So anything that tells me that I'm more immature and hints that it's because I'm female that I'm supposed to be lost or not settled or insecure or less certain of myself than a man or a person older than me really gets me angry.

I'm not seeing a lot of books targeted towards males of the same age, nor male sensibilities. I'm not seeing a lot of 22-26 year old men jumping on the bandwagon and agreeing that they're still very immature and don't know their place in the world.

I see a bunch of young women who apparently want to be branded as slightly larger children just because they like a certain genre.

Let's get this straight. If you're an adult who reads YA, that's NOT a measure of your maturity in life. If you like reading that genre, more power to you. There's some awesome literature there. But what it does not mean is that if that's your preferred method of getting literary joy is that you're anymore lost or uncertain or less adult than people of a similar age who read "adult" books.

While we're at it, can we please make this idea that YA books are always fun and whimisical and more enjoyable and adult books are always stodgy and serious DIE IN A GIANT FIRE? Please, can we get together to do this. Because it seems to me that these "new" adult proponents are trying to say that if you're not writing about a teenager or 20-something protagonist or not writing for those sensibilities, that your works are dull, staid, too difficult to understand.

I resent the idea that somehow, you're only fun until you're 30 or 35 or 40 or whenever the hell you become an "old" adult

Most of the reads I have enjoyed were adult reads. They weren't staid or stodgy, they weren't "new" adult either. They were just good frickin' literature. I don't see the problem with keeping it that way.

I'm not a large child. I'm a woman. An adult. I may not always feel like I'm measuring up to society's standards of what an adult female should be. I'm not particularly thin, have no interest in bearing children, and shopping bores the sweet hell out of me. But that means that there's an issue with society's expectations. It means that society needs to wrap it's head around the diversity of women.

Not that I need a new label because I was born in 1984.

So to all those who are touting and promoting and thinking that this "new" adult thing is a great new idea: it isn't. Especially if you're female. It's just another patronizing voice telling you that instead of owning who you are, being firm in it, and making your way through the world with pride, dignity, and a demand for the respect you are entitled to that you ought to feel immature and not ready yet. That your anxieties mean you're not fully adult yet.

This new category is a patronizing pat on the head that say, "Oh, there dear, I know the world is so big and hard and you're just a wittle bitty girl. Here are some books about other wittle bitty girls, go over in that corner and read them until you're old enough to feel grown up. Leave all this hard adult stuff to us boys and older people."

Because you know what? Adulthood is not really all that much harder or worse than childhood. I remember childhood and my younger years and I really WOULDN'T ever revisit them. High school was miserable, my college years were forgettable at best.

I ENJOY being an adult, I ENJOY that I can take firm stances, that I can completely own myself, my beliefs, my actions, and my life.

And I don't need anyone telling me that because I'm 25 and I've got a vagina that somehow, it's supposed to be otherwise.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
2009-11-12 04:43 pm
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"New" Adult. What happened to the old ones? Oh wait...

[ profile] jmeadows talks and shares some links about the idea of a "new adult" category for fiction which is intended for readers 20-26.

I'm 25 years old and the entire idea makes me queasy as both a writer and a reader. Actually, I take that back. As a reader? I want to hit the idea of a "new adult" category with a hammer and then make it die in a giant fire. I am not a new adult. I am a REGULAR adult.

I'm married, with bills and adulthood and my cat and my crazy family and goddamn it, I do not need a modifier in front of my status as a grownup. Especially when it comes to my reading habits.

This quote from S. Jae-Jones explaining "postadolescent" literature in particular makes me want to stay miles away from anything with the label NA on it:

We, the “new adults”, have some perspective on our lives, but scope? We’re not old enough, we’re not experienced enough, we’re simply not grown-up enough. Our lives have immediacy, just as a teenager’s does, but we also possess the wisdom to understand that this immediacy cannot last for long.

Speak for yourself, lady.

Let's get this straight. I love YA dearly as a genre and a cultural idea. Because I think the idea of treating younger reader's experiences, wants, fantasies, realities, and developing selves as material for serious, sensitive exploration in any genre is a damn good thing. I think that looking at how we grow up and the stories we tell when we're in transit to our adult selves is a beautiful thing. I think a lot of our best literature is YA. It's a cultural treasure, really. You're a human being when you're under 18, and thus you deserve that kind of respect and compassion from writers.

There are a lot of reasons ranging from cultural to developmental to HAVE that distinction for the under-18's as well. There are different pressures, different realities you face when you're a kid and you don't have the same legal, cultural, or even biological status as an adult. There is a legitimate reason to have that distinction, literarily and marketing-wise.

But the idea of "new adult" is pure ageism. It smacks of the idea that my "generation"* is so perpetually childish that we can't handle "regular adult" books until we're nearly in our thirties. It also implies that stories about older protagonists are somehow so repulsive to anyone who's younger than 30 that they won't get read. I think it's feeding into our youth obsession as a culture here in the United States to do something like that.

Like other folks, I see the potential to pigeonhole authors into making protagonists younger and younger to suit marketability rather than the story. I also see pressures on authors to maybe stop telling stories that can't be made to fit the glamorous mold of youth. I can just see it now, "Yeah, the story's great, but could you change your 40-something mother of two to be a single 20-something trying to find themselves in the world while looking for love?"

I also see the potential for YA authors to feel adverse pressure to fit certain molds. I see potential for protagonists to be aged up a few years so that more sexiness can be added in. I see the potential for controversial subject matter that belongs in the hands of actual teenagers who need it to be discussed on their terms to be aged up so that a publisher can foist it off on 20-somethings without worrying about repercussions from parents or watch dog groups.

Not to mention that I'm a little wary that this new category seems to be stemming out of the success of books that were mostly marketed to a more affluent, white, middle-class, straight, liberal sensibility, books like Twilight - which had a lot of issues race, gender, and sexuality-wise. I'm afraid that an unexamined expansion into this territory simply for marketing gains.

Because those books that were linked on S. Jae-Jones's blog as great examples of NA literature were also books about white, straight (ostensibly), cisgendered, able bodied, pretty (or reasonably attractive/thin) girls. Thanks, but there are plenty of books about such characters having magical adventures at the expense of PoC, LGBT's, disabled folks, and us fatties. It's called Urban Fantasy, and the protagonists in that subgenre are usually mid-twenties anyway.

I really don't need another genre telling me that only certain people deserve to be the hero/ines of the story. Got that message already, so you don't need to send the memo around again. You certainly don't need to make a whole other GENRE of it.

Most of the books I've really enjoyed from this year's batch have not been specifically targeted to me age wise, and I haven't had a problem with that. I haven't EVER had a problem navigating or finding books I liked on the adult bookshelves. Even when I've started eliminating books by authors who are fuckmuppets in public and starting expanding to reading to include works by and about PoC, LGBT's, and others such as that, it hasn't been a problem.

So I ask - do we really need this genre? Are there that many of the 20-26 set who are just having such a problem finding books that they need this new category?

I certainly don't need it and don't want it. If there ever is a "new adult" section of the bookstore, let me know so I can turn the other way. Hopefully, though, I'll get to be considered a regular adult by then.

*When I hear people talking about generations in the United States, they're almost always referring to broad generalizations about what WHITE people were doing at a given time. Thus, I hate the entire idea. When I hear people talk about the 60's and all the "social upheaval" while showing lots of stock footage of white folks on LSD and at Woodstock and then maybe that one clip of Martin Luther King, I want to scream. Because even then, that footage of MLK is there to show how reality was changing for WHITE people in relation to what people of color were doing at the time.

I happen to think making any classifications based on "generation" is absurd, and furthermore, useless. More often than not, it's either a marketing ploy or very, very bad ageism.