fiction theory

The artist is not afraid


Apparently I have a 10th anniversary to celebrate.
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
I didn't realize it until today but fiction_theory (which is the LJ mirror to [personal profile] megwrites) was created in 2003. 2003. It's now 2013.

It's been a weird and wild ten years in that time. I'm dizzy looking back on it, because there's a part of me that can mentally teleport right back to 2003 like I never left. Maybe that's because I'm about to turn the big 3-0, or just because time is a funny old dog. I don't know. I just know it throws my brain for a loop.

I'm also going through a kind of thoughtful, retrospective phase right now. I've been going through my trunk (ie - collection of stories/ideas that never saw daylight) and comparing how my writing has grown, how I've grown, how the world has grown or at least changed. This includes looking back at old posts and book reviews as well.

Which lead me to the following thoughts:

1) God, but the privilege bubble pops slowly. Even when I, as an oblivious privileged person, did catch on to social justice, coming out of my privileged attitudes took a long time and I'm still not divested of privilege or the psychological training that comes with it. Worse yet, back then I felt some arrogant assurance that I'd officially "gotten it". But looking back, it's clear I was still at the 101 level at best. Now? I find it arrogant to say I'm beyond even the 100 level of anti-kyriarchy. Even now, I'm still way behind those who have had to survive by navigating the kyriarchy, and even that's a privilege in and of itself. So for me, it's now about looking at whether my words and actions will be helpful or hurtful to the oppressed. I no longer call myself ally. The oppressed alone reserve the right to extend or retract that title. For now, I just want to learn and listen as much as I can and do the best I can and always try to keep the most oppressed in the most central and important positions in my mind when I act and talk. I may not always succeed, but that's the goal.

2) I was way too worried about coddling friends and other people back then who didn't deserve to be treated so carefully. Especially since they never returned that treatment to me or to other people who clearly testified about lived experiences in oppression. I wish I'd been able to say "you are full of bullshit and privileged whining, get the fuck out". I wish I'd valued the oppressed over the privileged feelings of these pseudo-friends.

2b) True friends don't barge into posts concerning things you feel very strongly about and play "devil's advocate". They either do you the courtesy of out and out disagreeing or they shut the fuck up. But they don't pose obviously rigged questions to try to talk you down from your firm assertion that human beings who have been oppressed deserve to be listen to, respected, cared for, and centered.

2c) Anyone who plays "devil's advocate" is not worth having as a friend. They're using that term wrongly anyway.

2d) Getting such people out of my life has been one of the biggest favors I ever did myself. Because I haven't missed them one little bit.

3) Publication as a goal held me back from a lot of things. There were many stories I wanted to tell - queer stories, fat people stories, stories about women of all types, stories that said "hey, let's imagine a world where gender isn't a binary but something as varied and numerous as the stars". Now that I don't have to worry about being "marketable" to privileged people, I can let myself go where I want.

4) The best decision I ever made as a reader/writer/person? Was to consciously and deliberately seek out writers who had marginalized identities while setting aside and not continuing to immerse myself in books written by the privileged. It may sound like I was trying to gain some kind of SJ cookies or something, but honestly? Once I got my hands on the books that fit that criteria it was just plain fun and good reading. Right now, I'm thinking of Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. That's the ONLY book I've ever read in one sitting and people know how slow a reader I am. It's been documented. And if I hadn't made the decision to put privileged writers to the side and seek out others? I'd have missed a world of wonder and books that are just good damn literature in any genre.

5) I was damn hard on some female characters for reasons that were not at all fair. And while I had a valid point when talking about the way the bodies and sexualities of paranormal romance heroines were portrayed, I had no business throwing whorephobic comments like "she dresses like a hooker" at anyone. Because shaming sex workers or using them as an insult is just NOT ON. Ever. I take those comments back if I could.

6) It's weird to see "hey, look at the new layout" posts from five layouts back.

7) I believed there could be a perfect vampire book because I believed that a "perfect" anything existed. Now? I just want a really entertaining and not steeped in misogyny, whiteness, cisness and straightness and rape culture book, please. Is that too much to ask?

8) Those updates on writing with the various write-ins? Not as interesting to other people as they are to the writer.

9) I wish I'd been braver and smarter when the Tower!Guy novel made the rounds of agents and publishers. I wish I'd known better than to trust certain people. Alas, live and learn.

10) A lot of the people I admired and modeled myself after have let me down, shown themselves to be the anti-models. But to my great hope and surprise, many of the people I pegged as being Most Supremely Awesome have continued to earn that title. They're not perfect by any means, but they continue to be awesome. I think I should send them little messages or something to let them know that they rock.

So, yes. A decade has passed. A lot of things have happened. I am not in the same place, the same state, the same weight, the same age, the same point in history as I was. I have time traveled, as we all do, and then realized how fast it all goes by when I turned my head around and saw the previous mile marker far, far back in the distance.

Tell me, f-list. What's your decade been like? From 2003 to now, what's gone on with you? What's changed, what's stayed the same? What's surprised you? And what would you tell yourself if you could take a trip back ten years and send a message?

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/244031.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/244031.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

I just stopped by to complain
beauty&thebeast, WTF?
fiction_theory
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,
Meg

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243833.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243833.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

I declare it personal WIP amnesty day/weekend/indefinite time period
bsg, dualla
fiction_theory
Title: Something Worse Than Dragons
Rating: PG-13 (for fantasy action violence described somewhat graphically)
Prompt: Mutation/Physical Transformation
Words: 6500
Summary: Sadie is very different from the other shapechangers around her, and not in a good way. It makes her something of a freak among the freaks, but she's dealing with it mostly. Then, one night, something wicked her way comes.
Author's Notes: This is the first story in the Shapechangers 'verse I've created because I got sucked into [community profile] origfic_bingo and never finished my bingo. The prompt for this was "mutation/physical transformation". I only got four out of the five you need for one and so I'm posting the four stories that I have as a WIP. You don't need to know or have read anything prior to this. You can start here. Other stories to come in this same 'verse.


Shapechangers: Something Worse Than DragonsCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243605.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243605.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

Captain Kirk, you failed on your mission. The Oscars still got ruined.
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
If you don't get what happened surrounding Quvenzhané Wallis you need to go read this post about the matter from author NK Jemisin. If you don't get why it was so bad and why so many people are (rightfully) angry about it - you need to read it twice. Maybe three times.

Just keep reading until you get why it's wrong to be sexualizing a nine-year-old girl in front of a crowd of celebrities (and I cannot imagine how embarrassed or shamed or uncomfortable the poor girl must have felt when that joke got pointed at her, but for MacFarlane it's like she wasn't really a real person and wasn't RIGHT THERE in the audience being at the receiving end of his unfunniest line of the night). Keep reading until you get that this isn't a new thing that us white people have been doing, going after young Black girls and treating them as though they have no right to be considered children and protected as children.

Let's also keep in mind the fact that while no one stood up to defend Quvenzhané Wallis when an unacceptable remark was made about her, one that ought to have had people booing and jeering and telling MacFarlane that he wasn't fucking funny at all, about three guys raced out their chairs to help a white woman up when she stumbled up the stairs on the way to get her Academy Award.

So the message is that a grown up white woman who can damn well pick herself up is deserving of instant aid and support from grown men around her, but a nine-year-old Black girl who just got sexualized and put at the butt of a terrible unjoke deserves none. Got it. Capable white women: totally human and worth it. Black girls: totally not human. (That last bit is sarcasm, which I hope comes across).

And protip to my fellow white women: as someone else said on Tumblr said, now is not the time to have discussions about whether the word "cunt" is okay and how you as a grown and very privileged white woman feel about its usage. Because it's one thing for a grown woman, especially a white woman, to decide that she can be at peace with that word or even like it and reclaim it. It's another and infinitely more heinous thing to hurl it at a nine-year-old child who is in a totally different situation.

Actually, protip to all my fellow white people: be aware of discussions going on that are Not For Us and don't be a big Count Buttinsky with your White Opinion about the matter. Read them if you want, but unless someone specifically invites you to the table, stay out. Be aware and prudent of how you use your voice and what the effect will be. Hell, do this always, every day.

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243310.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243310.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.
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More writing exercises!
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
As always, I love when people play along in comments and come up with their own answers to these exercises

From 642 Things to Write About


Tell a story that begins with a ransom note


Turn in your wings or the Devil dies at midnight, forever this time. The note, written in scrawling Sharpie still smelled of the marker. She folded it up and handed the piece of paper to Asariel. His wings shimmered into existence for just a moment, enough to let her know how upset he was. Usually he kept them off the real plane with effortless ease.

"This is going to be painful," Asariel sighed.

"What? You're actually considering this? Come on, why are we so bent on saving the devil. He's the Prince of Darkness and all that. Why not 'let there be light', yanno?" she asked, breaking a smile.

"Because, the Devil doesn't deserve to die and if she does, the world may unravel at the seams. You know so little of the truth about her. You don't even gender her correctly, dammit."

"So she's the good guy here?" She raised both eyebrows and then shook her head. "You're telling me that Satan is just misunderstood?"

"I loathe that name," he commented, offhandedly. "Lucifer is as good as anyone is, angel or demon. Better, maybe. Think of it, if she has all the evil powers that you people attribute to her then why hasn't she used them to take over the world and enslave everyone in a pit of pure torment?"

"God won't let her?" Ellie hazarded to guess with a shrug and a head shake.

"Remember what I said. Your idea of God is a dangerous concept, be careful what you base on it."

"Okay, all right. I got it. All the gods are real and they're not real at the same time. Like you said. Still doesn't make sense, but I got it. What's our plan for saving the wronged heroine here, because I got nothing."

"No, but I do."

Asariel's wings shimmered and solidified into full being and Ellie frowned so deeply her lip quivered.

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243060.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/243060.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

Writing Exercises.
shakespeared!
fiction_theory
Taken from 642 Things to Write About. Feel free to play along in comments! I'd love to see what other people do with these!


What can happen in a second?

A heartbeat, a breath, a spoken word, a sung note, a number changing on a microwave. Put them all together and they add. 60 and you've got a minute, 180 and you have the length of the average song and the time it takes to make popcorn.


A houseplant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live

Don't go! You bring color to this drab place where there's so little life. You're beautiful and leafy and green, a real kind of green. What would this place be without you? We'll take better care of you from now on. We'll water you and I'll buy plant food full of nitrogen and potassium. Wouldn't that be yummy? We'll even enjoy you more, show you to our friends when they come over. I'll get you a bigger pot. If you die, I can't get you back. Please stay.


Write Facebook status updates for the year 2017

1. Happy 2017 everyone!

2. Watching the state of the union address. Well done, Madame President.

3. I love my job but I still love weekends more. Now for some wine to kick off the weekend with!

4. My thirties are so much kinder to me than my twenties were. I'd never go back to them.

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242725.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242725.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

It was a big deal for me
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
Well, I got 2152 words out today. Technically, I did most of that Friday in my paper notebook and then I typed it in and added some stuff today. But that's still a big damn deal for me right now.

For Christmas my sister-in-law got me 642 Things to Write About, and in it there's a question: "What does writer's block feel like?"

For me, it feels like I'm a house and someone just took a sledgehammer to a load bearing wall. I can feel myself crumbling without my creativity. So being able to write these words, even if they're the sequel to a novel that will never see the light of day is a big damn deal for me.

As I told my therapist, not being able to write in the way I've been unable to write lately (and all the other things) feels like a bomb went off in my brain and now I'm left with unstable wreckage that's creaking and groaning and I'm running around not sure how to clean up the mess or if the roof will cave in or what.

This is why I get mad when people want to insult writers and be cruel about writing, even really bad writing. Now, this doesn't mean I get mad at real and earnest critiques intended to say something meaningful, especially when that bad writing is hurtful and oppressive.

But it is why I don't approve of blatant cruelty and laughing while finger pointing. Because writing is hard, because being able to tap out 10,000 words is an accomplishment, being about to tap out 50,000 words into even a somewhat cohesive whole of a story is really fucking hard.

Right now, I'm barely able to draft a letter to a pretend client for my paralegal class that I'm taking. Right now, it's all I can do to write a letter that will probably come to 500 words and for which I have a preset format and formal rules to follow.

Writing creatively? Writing without formats and formal rules to follow? That's something big. So even if someone does it clumsily and in a way that goes down the same well worn path that others have taken, even if they do it tritely and without subtlety, it's still something.

It's still more than I can do right now. Which hurts to admit, in a way where I wince so hard because taking stock of what I've lost - at least for now - is painful. But you can't rebuild the house without knowing the full extent of the damage.

And this is part of mine.

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242653.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242653.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

A poem just to say that I'm still here
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
I've had little if anything to write (creatively) since the beginning of January because I've been taking a course to get a paralegal certification that has basically sucked up whatever excess energy I might have had. And given that low energy is something I've been suffering from for a long time, that means writing has gone on the back, back burner. So has non-class related reading.

I wonder if this contributes to me resenting this class already and hating it. It's entirely too left brained for me and I know that now. I wish I'd realized it then.

But enough of that. I'm just posting to say that I am alive and I even have a poem that got workshopped by the writing group I'm in. Cut for brief babbling about my writing groupCollapse )


"No One Comforts a Troll"

I think of myself as
both ugly and delicate
Like a field of porcelain weeds
If an army of boots
came marching quickstep across me
what would remain?
and who would care?

What if the troll sobs itself to sleep
every single night, emotionally fragile
and broken and
what if the troll under the bridge is
dying of it
No one comforts a troll
So how does it go on
and does it matter?

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242425.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242425.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

Happy 2013
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
May your new year bring you happiness, peace, love, prosperity, and joy!

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242033.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/242033.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.

A brief thank you
default3, writing!wench
fiction_theory
Thank you to everyone who came to talk to me in comments about writer's block. I'm getting around to answering your comments, but right now is kind of not a good time for me mentally and with some life stuff going on.

But I wanted to say thank you, because the comments have come as a big comfort to me that I will write again, that writer's block isn't permanent and that I can crawl out of this hole I've found myself in.

So thank you. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for talking about it with me. I really am comforted and your replies made a lot of sense to me.

This entry was originally posted at http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/241906.html, you can comment at: http://megwrites.dreamwidth.org/241906.html?mode=reply or here, comments will be read and responded to at both sites.