Quick Halloween Read

As you guys know, I read A LOT of audio books. I’ve been doing a lot of mentoring at work lately, which has seriously cut into my reading/listening time. But tonight, I had a rare night to myself, and I ate through this fun little ghost story. Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck was exactly what I wanted, though I didn’t know it till I started it. Spooky because of the subtle quality of its horror, it really got me into the Halloween spirit of things. A lot of what I’ve been reading has been disappointingly cliche (I’m looking at you, Jace Lightwood/Morgenstern/Wayland/Herondale/Whatever your face is), and while Three Quarters Dead is basically another high school story, I just really liked it. Maybe it’s because I don’t read a lot of high school ghost stories. *shrugs* Either way, if you’re looking for something quick and eerie, give it a listen. It’s available to listen to through OverDrive (at least through my library), and free is always nice. 🙂

Colorful words

Irresponsible blog author is irresponsible.

I had started this post nearly two months ag0 (holy cats, has it really been that long?!) but never finished because I kept forgetting to look up the descriptions in question. Even though the book I’m discussing isn’t new anymore, it’s still a point I think is worth pondering, so here ya go. *blows dust off “Drafts” shelf*


 

If we were having coffee, I would undoubtedly be chatting your ear off about writing race effectively. One of my favorite authors has a new book out, with some old characters that are near and dear to my heart. She’s grown a lot as a writer, and that’s lead to some interesting discoveries as she’s learned how to really finesse show vs tell. I, of course, am finding it utterly inspiring, and am therefor babbling.

My current terrier-target is describing skin tone. In an older book, we get one line about this character being dark skinned. That’s it. Granted, it’s not at all relevant to who he is or what he does, until you learn more about him. Then you discover part of what got him involved in Midnight at all are his looks, and suddenly you have a “Wait, Nathaniel is black?” moment and you feel like a douchebag.

At least I did.

Then this same wonderful author, ten years down the road (give or take), gives us these two women (more or less- my nook was dying, gimmie a break):

Her skin was a deep plum-black, and the “white curse” was visible as markings throughout her long, jet-dark hair.

Her skin was red-brown, except for the milk-white markings visible on the side of her face like tiger stripes.

While the “don’t make us into food” trope wasn’t completely avoided, the totally overused “coffee, chocolate, tea*” trio are nowhere to be seen. Nor would they convey the proper tones, in my opinion. There’s something to be said for just getting out your crayola box and having at it. This is all that’s ever said about their appearance, a simple one liner like in Nathaniel’s case, but the word choice made these lines infinity more powerful, more memorable, and yet stayed just as understated.

*This is doubly interesting when paired with the author writing about how much research she had to do for this book, given its historical setting. Would the character be familiar with the color of chocolate? Even if they are, will it throw off the more nit-picky readers? etc. Another good reason to just ditch the cliche trio and get out your crayon box.


 

 

I wish I could remember where I had been going with this. It was an excellent rant the day I had it, but alas, this is all that remains. Still, food for thought.

Why treating all women “like women” isn’t such a great idea…

I was playing catch up on one of my favorite blogs, and this post caught my eye. Particularly, this response to it:

What’s WRonG with enjoying the benefits, privilege, responsibilities, perks of being a woman? Because society is not perfect and womanhood comes with liability at times. Well, so does being a man. And we all have our gifts, and the dark side of our gifts. That’s life.”

Of course, I just had to answer.

How about because what is a “benefit” to you is a burden to me. Because I never got the say in whether or not I wanted to be treated that way. Because the biology I was born with shouldn’t have any bearing on my social interactions.

Let me bring up a little thing called gender dysphoria. What it means for me is that sometimes, having my female biology pointed out to me makes me want to vomit. Reminding me that I have boobs makes me want to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and not move or eat for days until I can forget the body I live in. This is not an all the time thing, mind you, but when it happens, there’s nothing I can do about it. Having to tell people “Please don’t notice my biological sex today, it’s making me sad” does just as much damage as having to touch my own breasts to bind them. Some days, it’s just a very, very not good thing for me.

This would not be a problem, for me, if my biological sex was simply ignored until needed – unless we’re going to actively engage my secondary sex traits, they’re really not important to any social interactions we might have- not if we’re the enlightening, higher thinking creatures we want to claim to be. Animals interact with each other on such base levels, but I would like to live in a society where I get to be a person, not just a woman.

Or just a man. I’ve learned that the name for what I call myself is “gender fluid”, and there are times I would like very much to be related to as a male. Those times have nothing to do with how I feel about the body I walk around in.

Sometimes, I do rather wish my body were biology male instead of female. Other days, I couldn’t imagine giving up my breasts and curves for the world. There are days I want those “womanly” features to be noticed, but amazingly enough, I don’t always want them appreciated in the same ways. Some days, I’d like to get a catcall or two (and yes, my inner feminist cringes at the idea of encouraging such things). Some days, I’d like my aggressive sexuality to intimidate, and bring my intended target to their knees.

And I feel the same wide range of desires whether I’m feeling masculine or feminine.

In my experience, there is no connection between having a more female day and feeling submissive. There is no connection between having a masculine day and being aggressive or dominant. Some days I feel projective, some days I want to yield. Some days, I exert control, others I desperately want someone else to show how much they care for me by taking the reigns and taking care of me.

And none of this has ANYTHING to do with what gender I happen to feel aligned with that day.

I realize that existing in such an extreme range of gradients isn’t a common experience, but I promise you, I am not the only one.

The point is: what’s wrong with the option to choose? What is so awful about being liberated from automatic cultural expectations? What would the harm be in being able to tell someone “I identify in this way, and would like to be related to in this way. Tomorrow, that may change.”?

Are we that averse to communicating with one another? Are we so terrified of finding out we are more than our meatsacks? Are we so ashamed of not living up to what others expect of us?

Are we afraid that without the boxes, we won’t know how to relate to ourselves?

This is a very aggressive post, I understand that. It will probably offend someone, I understand that. But neither of things make me feel as if I should keep these thoughts to myself. They are my thoughts, and that makes them just as valid as anyone else’s. And they don’t invalidate anyone else’s, either.

And that is what I would to see achieved with gender roles and expectations. Your ideas of man vs. woman not invalidating mine. A society where there very personal and private matters of gender identity are not decided for you, but are an open dialogue between yourself and everyone you choose to interact with on that level. A social stage where who I am and how I act define me, rather than parts of my anatomy I would be imprisoned for exposing in public. We’re not allowed to look at them, but our social interactions are ruled by them? I call bullshit.

What is so awful about being human beings before anything else? Why do we have to be male, female, black, white, hispanic, Us, Them first?

Because equality means you have to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Because equality means you’re out of justifications for behavior you’re not proud of, for things you know you shouldn’t do.

Equality doesn’t mean we all have to be the same, but it does mean we all have the same rights. What on earth is wrong with that?

Just What The Humping Heck Is “Character Agency,” Anyway? « terribleminds: chuck wendig

Just What The Humping Heck Is “Character Agency,” Anyway? « terribleminds: chuck wendig.

I’ve never heard it before reading this article, but I really love the idea of character agency. It actually describes my relationship with my characters pretty well, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only nutty one that negotiates with them. 😛

It’s been especially hard with the most recent scene in Miri and Jean’s story- we have a psychic character, who is often very vague to keep from influencing events, and an ancient lamia who likes to pretend she’s more mysterious than she is. Between the two of them, Cait and I are writing “blind”, and have had to write and re-write scenes until we feel the magic click of the characters being satisfied with the scenes.

It’s amazing a little disturbing how much influence characters can have on a good story. 😉