Just Write, Writers Writing Words!

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Just write, writers writing words!  That was my list of five “most used words” according to a Facebook game.  (It was probably compiling all my information to give to Equifax.)  Yeah, I’ve added punctuation to it, and reversing the order, but that was it.  <sigh>

Look, I DO have strong opinions about life, and I find the political landscape vs. human rights truly heartbreaking.  I also love/hate different aspects of our culture, but I was raised to only say helpful things, and have learned to carefully pick my battles.  I could loudly express hate for everything I find wrong, but I don’t wish to be defined by those things, nor let my entire outlook be one of hate and despair.  That leads down a dark path of exhaustion and hopelessness.

I see it in some of my friends, that rage, and I am afraid for them.  And I know–from personal experience–that nobody listens to random hateful shouting, both on-line and off.  There are people-a type of vampire, if you will–that will use the energy you put out to fuel themselves.  Online trolls are using you, whether its meant to be harmful or just catfishing.

I use social media to expand my point of view, and no well-reasoned argument will ever sway a person who has reached the point of ranting in public.  Self-care is more important that pointless anonymous arguments.

So, I save my energy for when it matters.  One-on-one encounters, everyday teaching moments, and I put my money and my vote where my hopes are.

And I save my energy for writing.  I don’t know if my writing will reach anyone the way some books have reached me, but I find I must make the attempt.  It looks and feels like I’m writing pulpy entertainment, but I know how much of my own thoughts are put into my character’s mouths.

Every time I finish a manuscript, I feel horribly exposed.  Like anyone reading it would know my every thought.  I have NO SECRETS when I write.

It’s terrifying.

But, as I am learning, there is a connection between writing and fear, and THAT is a topic for another day.

On a lighter note, here are five things about me that are not connected to writing:

  1. I desperately want to pilot a giant robot warrior.  In space.
  2. I am collecting the materials for a set of gilt and silk embroidered linen underwear.  (It’s a recreation of a museum piece.  Think boxers with elaborate gold-work and bright floral decoration.)
  3. I’m terrified of driving in traffic or unfamiliar roads. (But I do it!)
  4. I have a black thumb, but I can’t stop buying plants.
  5. Inanimate objects frequently bend logic and physics to trip or hit me.  Sometimes, I hit back.  Or yell.

Meanwhile, “Just write, writers who are writing words,” may become my new motto.

Happy writing!

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Artists Are Nature’s Pinhole Cameras

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Artists are the pinhole cameras of society.  We create shadow plays of the events happening in our culture.  Sometimes the shadows are what you expect; sometimes every thing changes and moves, or even disappears.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that ART (including fiction) is the safe place to watch the big, cosmic things happen.  You don’t need special equipment, or mechanical tricks of light and shadow.  This service we provide is a part of out nature if our voices are free.  We show you intangible things like eclipses and justice.  The feel of sunlight and hope.  Of darkness and despair.  We show you as much as we can, to the best of our ability, but also within our limits.  It’s up to you, and me, what we do with it.  We create the world we live in.

I keep forgetting to mention it, but I really do like hearing your points of view (and stories) on my various topics of writerly life.  Sometimes I’m slow on a response, or completely miss a comment, but I AM trying to make myself available as a sounding board.  It makes the whole thing seem less like self-imposed solitude.  NOBODY understands the creative weirdness of the artist/writer life like another artist/writer.  So feel free to comment, here or on Facebook.  (Twitter seems harder to follow threads, but also do-able.)

The Hidden Hero: Tropes & Clichés

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I get it.  You’ve seen that trope a million times.  You are sick of it.  “Can we please have another type of story?”  The same characters, situations, and conflicts appear over and over.  So, you write an insightful blog or article that instructs all current and future writers that this topic is done.  “Stop,” you say.  “It’s all been said, again, and again, and again, and again…”

I have two words for you.  SCREW YOU!

Here are some more words.  Not everyone has read the same books as you. Or been to the same movies, or watched the same TV series. Not everyone is from the same culture as you, or has the same privileges.  Not everyone has had the chance to be represented as the hero of the story because of their gender, skin color, sexuality, beliefs, etc.

The “Classics of Literature” have been set in place by a small sub-set of humanity. We have barely started listening to the point of view of other voices, and we are already shutting down whole topics?  Really? The writers of the past have already had their say.  Now, it is our turn.

Yes, we should be aware of cultural shifts and language drifts.  Words and phrases come to mean something different over time. Yes, we should be evolving, both as people and as writers. Only an idiot tries to stay the same, birth to death. Yes, we should be aware that there are topics that people don’t want to deal with, but catharsis is an important tool for recovery.

Take back the freedom to write about everything that makes you uncomfortable. It is on the edges of the hard topics that you find clarity.  Rape and consent.  Gender self-identification and sexuality.  Xenophobia and colonialism.  Privilege and classism. Morality and justice.  In fiction we can take these topics apart–tropes and clichés included–and put them back together in ways that make them easier to understand.  We are searching for hope among the debris.

Right now, on this planet, there are cultures that still force women and men to dress in gender significant ways.  Force!  As in legal and physical punishment. The trope “girl dresses as a boy to gain freedom” is still relevant.  So is its opposite.  Maybe YOU don’t require that story to be told to you, but someone else does.  Stop insisting that stories cater only to your specific needs.  You are tired of it?  Fine.  Avoid it.  It’s not that common.  Meanwhile, stop attempting to put limits on writers and storytellers.  Don’t expect every story you encounter to explore your particular set of circumstances.

Writers, I’m begging you, stop trying to conform to every “How to write” article you come across.  Some of them are pure bunkum.  Write the story you want to read.  You are not so unique that your story can’t be enjoyed by someone else.  You will find those who want the story, maybe even need it.  If you can’t help but read those articles from curiosity (like me), remember that it is someones OPINION, and everyone has one, just like… bellybuttons.

Seriously, why is there such an effort to micro-manage future storytelling?