Writers Shaming Writers

 

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Ya’ll made me get out my angry eyes!

Are we really still doing this?  Are we really still shaming other writers for writing Erotica?  Or for exploring erotic themes in another genre? Horror or romance?  Sci-fi or Fantasy?  Mainstream or Lit?  For putting sex in all the genres?  Really?

 

Yes, there is “trash” out there.  Yes, a lot of it is self-published, but not all of it.  Yes, bestsellers usually have an 8th grade reading level.  Yes, there are writers who publish monthly in their chosen genre, and some who slave over a manuscript for ten or more years before putting it out there.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.

But, considering modern culture, that we are all living through, are we really shaming other writers for including sex in their books?  In the era of #metoo, Times Up, and actual consequences for sexual predators in high places?  When I am following at least two writer friends who are undergoing transitions?  When I know tons of writers expanding and challenging what the changing sexuality, gender roles, and relationships mean to them, personally, and in our wider society?

Writers and artists are the natural mirror to the world they live in.  Unless you are deliberately turning a blind eye to it, our society is undergoing a deep transition.

You complain about the rise in sales of Romance and Erotica, but don’t wonder why it’s happening? You complain about so many writers, across every genre, now including sexual relationships in their books, and don’t make the connection?  You complain about the surge of fan fiction using established characters to tell the missing stories in our culture, and you don’t realize we tell ourselves the stories we need, in whatever way feels safe? Are you kidding me?

We all know the scapegoats in this little campaign of suppression, and the memes are shared ad nauseam.  Some patently false, if you had bothered to read the books in question.  Don’t pretend it’s about the quality of writing, when so many other books are just as bad and they escape the vitriol heaped upon stories aimed at women.

You aren’t interested in sex?  Gender roles?  Relationships? That is a valid opinion!  Plenty of books don’t contain any, so enjoy your reading time.  Do you also hate dragons, make a point to shame other writers for using them, and then work to malign any book containing them? Of course not!  Because that is your opinion, and you are adult enough to understand the world isn’t based around your opinions. (Also, because dragons are cool, and sex is, too!)

If you pay attention to the culture of writers, you know being an asshole to another writer can hurt your reputation and sales.  Maybe nobody called you out, when you shamed another writer, or book, or entire genre, but we take notice.  Writers notice everything.

I’m sure it was just a joke, right?  I’m sure we deserved it, right?  Maybe we shouldn’t be so sensitive?  Right?

(Where have I heard that before?)

Don’t shame other writers.

 

 

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On Rabbits and Religion

Religion is like a book.

(A writer is comparing something to a book!  Call the Simile Police! Dial 418! Hurry!)

Maybe we should have been talking about politics and religion all these years.  What if we could have avoided some of the problems we are currently having IF we had been a little more open to the exchange of ideas.  Or, maybe, I just like having a soapbox to stand on.  Please, just bear with me.

Religion is like a book.  You could read just one.  But, why?  You could follow just one.  But, why?

Consider rabbits.

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Two books with rabbits as central characters influenced me as a child.  What if one of them had been the holy writ of my heritage?  Would my Gods have blue coats with brass buttons, as told by of Beatrix Potter?  Or, would my Gods have existential dread, along with fierce loyalty, by way of Richard Adams?

Is the world working to destroy me, or just making it hard to get enough to eat?  Am I being controlled by parental favors, or nature and survival of the fittest?   Am I guided in how to live in simple parables, or complicated and counter-intuitive laws?  Are the rules for being clothed strictly enforced, or non-existent?  Would my punishment for transgressions be blood and violence in the dark, or chamomile tea before being sent to bed early?

Which rabbit gods are the Righteous Rabbit Gods?  Or should we completely stay away from stories of rabbits, altogether?

When it comes down to it, I believe these stories tell us far less about rabbits and much more about humans.  I feel the same about religion.  You can really understand a person when you see how they practice their religion, or lack of one.  Do your gods wield hammers and lightning, or shame and guilt?  Is the religion of your lineage the Right Way, or just the most comfortable and familiar?  Did you read a different book at some point in your life, and decide to follow other gods?  Or did you decide such things were only for children?

Books shape us, both the religious and the secular.  Even the books we don’t read shape us, because they shape other people, and those people shape the world we live in.  This is why I read books about many kinds of rabbits, and many kinds of religions. To learn about rabbits and religions, of course, but mostly to learn about humans.

Humans see everything as a reflection of ourselves, and then we write stories about what we see.  A continuous loop, of learning and life. Like a reader becoming a writer, and a writer who reads even more.

I may have to amend my first statement.  Life is like a book.   Or, perhaps writers are like a book.  SOMETHING is like a book.

BOOKS ARE LIKE A BOOK!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the YEAAAAAAARGH!

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Un-named blog host has lost–and I have re-written–this post FIVE TIMES.  I’m rough draft posting as a workaround.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

UPDATE 1: Ok, FYI there is no Low-Budget Writing post this week because haven’t finished the books for the next few topics.  It’s that time of year when things are stacked up and glitchy (<cough><Blog-host-that-shall-not-be-named><cough>), and there’s not nearly enough hours in the day.  Carving any creative writing out of the day is nearly impossible, and most days I’m too tired to edit in the evenings.

Still, I did submit a short story last week, which brings me to a grand total of TWO submissions.  Yikes.  It’s better than zero, but I have a looooong way to go.

I also re-started an exercise program, so the chances of living until I get published are marginally better.  That’s good, I guess.

I’ll keep this short and pointless (much like my writing) so we can all find something more productive to do.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Writing!

UPDATE 2: I may have angered the internet gods when I named-and-shamed my blog host.  Edited, so please let people see my post, now.  Please.  PLEASE!

 

 

 

The Purpose of Art…

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That’s it.  All thirty-one pieces of art from Inktober.  I framed them and put them above my desk.

It feels a bit weird, like I’m betraying my humble, working class heritage.  We don’t go  for vanity, or tootling your own horn, or any such drawing attention to yourself.  I mean, they aren’t that good, and some of them a really bad.  Nobody would buy them, and art is a waste of time, and you have to work hard to feed your family.  I mean, you could put one or two of the best up, but not where anyone would see, except maybe family, who will love you anyway.  You don’t want to get above yourself.

Fuck that.

I turn fifty in a couple of months.  My country is a dumpster fire.  Human rights and social safety nets are being lost and cut like they’re made of tissue paper.  (The really cheap stuff, from the dollar store.)  Profit is God, and people are dying on it’s altar.  Everybody I know is struggling to keep it together, sometimes just day-by-day.  Including me.

I’m going to make Art.  I’m going to draw and write my feelings.  I spent thirty-one dollars at the dollar store for frames.  I went to the library for books on graphic novel and comic book techniques.  I’ve written three novels, have the notes for six more, and I’m going to keep working on them until they are ready to publish.  I’m going to submit short stories to anthologies, and keep writing my blog, and…  Keep screaming my words to the wind.

I don’t really know what else to do.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  Pablo Picasso

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!

Do The Work!

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I follow a couple of writer’s groups on Facebook, and I find some of the questions a little strange.  (Yes, we are back on those wacky writers and their funny ways.)

“Should I write in 1st or 3rd?  Past or present?  Close POV or can I have a narrator?  What genre should I write in?  What plot should I use?  How many pages in a chapter?  How many chapters in a book?  Do I have to include diversity?  Can I still write about vampires?  Can I have a prologue?  What should I name the character?  Am I required to have a map?”

It just seems strange to even be asking these kinds of questions of other writers, as if there is a strict structure for storytelling.  All of these questions get answered by YOUR STORY, as it gets told by YOU!

Stop asking questions and WRITE!  If you are new and haven’t finished a story, JUST WRITE!  Finish!  And when you do, shelve that story and write another.  When you finish the second, pull the first off the shelf and compare them.  Did you get better?  Is the first story salvageable or should it be hidden in a drawer?  Does it need a different POV or style?  Is it YOUR style?  Is it worth the effort to revise it until it’s publishable?  Are you happy with it?  Can you do better?

No matter what you decide, start the next story, and write more, and repeat…

Asking other writers their opinions isn’t doing the work.  It’s just collecting opinions, and writers have opinions like they have obsessions; in numbers that frighten mental health care professionals.

Do the work.  Discover yourself.  Your style.  Your faults.  Your strengths.  Your voice.  Words are tools; learn to use them.  Do the work.

Even people whose jobs require the use of words; journalists, scientific or technical paper writers, editors, etc… complain about how hard fiction writing is.

It’s not easy, Cupcake.  It is a painful, tedious slog, but you do it IF you are a writer, because you are a self-absorbed, narcissistic, masochistic, sociopath with delusions of fame.  Nobody will write it for you (unless you pay them).  Get to work, dammit!