Celebrity Culture

I happened upon this recording of Jack Gleeson this morning. If you haven't watched/listened, it's well worth doing so.

I'm impressed that someone so young is able to step back from the celebrity circus machine and have a long hard thoughtful look at what is going on around him and to him. I've long been a fan of Vincent Price, but an ex-boyfriend of mine used to wonder about that. The ex claimed that actors whose careers are based upon playing evil characters were themselves evil. He was attempting to draw parallels between roleplaying (in games) and acting. Sure. In a RPG, people who habitually play evil characters aren't people I tend to want to hang out with. But when it comes to actors... I disagree with my ex. An actor's choice of roles in and of itself is no indication of who they are because they're being paid to play these roles. The choice isn't 100% theirs. Their choices depend upon the opportunities that are given to them in the first place. One works with what is on offer. Even among mundane jobs this is the case. (A majority of people don't work at anything like their dream job.) I can't imagine, after playing a role like Joffrey Baratheon that it would be easy to step into a broad variety of roles. I imagine what he'd be offered would be despicable character after despicable character because he did play that one so well. I can imagine that takes its toll after a while--particularly if that isn't all of who you are. It's hard to break free of that stigma. It's only wise to step back from it. Vincent Price was known to be a good, kind, intelligent, creative person with a wonderful sense of humor. Most of the roles he played weren't that at all. And I guess that's why I adore coming across people like Vincent Price and Jack Gleeson. It's a reminder that we're all human. That we're not always what we seem on the surface. I like seeing that, particularly in celebrities.

Also, the things Gleeson says about modern celebrity make sense to me. I wonder at our obsession with fame for fame's sake.[1] I hate it when people talk about an author's "Brand" as if who you are is some sort of commodity to be bought and sold. That isn't a healthy way to be. Our work is separate from who we are and should be. Creative works are a part of those who created them, but they aren't who they are in their entirety. Writers don't write characters whose points of view are 100% the same as their own. Creating characters isn't aspirational. To do so on a regular basis is considered lazy writing. It's boring reading and boring writing. The point is to try on different points of view and see the world through different sets of eyes. That way, we create a better understanding of what it is to be human beings. Honestly, I feel the same about acting.

Anyway, I hear Mr. Gleeson isn't planning on staying within the acting profession--at least for now. (He's young, and he's got his whole life ahead of him.) He's breaking away from Joffrey and is off to do Good Things. I say, more power to him.
[1] And I can't help thinking about Andy Warhol's claim that everyone will have at least 15 minutes of fame--something he predicted long before there was this thing called the internet--and what that really means.

Feminist Monday is as Loud as Thunder

The storms we were expecting on Sunday arrived this morning along with the cold front. So, it's 44F this morning. That's damned odd for Texas in mid-April. I'm not complaining. This is my favorite kind of weather, and everything is so wonderfully green. Plus, my garden is busting along with little to no effort on my part. We're getting all the rain we've been missing for the past couple of years--maybe even over the past ten. Of course, the rest of Texas is not in as good a place--north Texas in particular. Ah, climate change. I'm so not happy to see you. That said... today's links.

In entertainment/SF news: Under the Skin, An Interview with Jonathan Glazer is about a SF film in the works starring Scarlett Johansson. In order to shoot it, Scarlett bravely goes into situations with a fleet of hidden cameras/cameramen and the unsuspecting are filmed. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Frankly, I'm more than a little uncomfortable. First, here we have another stupid premise about a super sexy female Alien whose entire purpose for being on our planet is to have The Sex with Human Males. Because, you know, that would be the only reason a female alien would show up on this planet. Because her own species isn't hot enough for her. Or something. [rolls eyes] Um. Guys? Really? How is that even taken seriously as a story outside of Cinemax Late Night? Gorgeous art depicting Disney Princesses. And here's some genderswap art. Author Juliet E. McKenna talks about Reviews, Reviewing, Reviewers, and Gender. From the article: "Of the nineteen authors featured in this [BSFA] issue, seventeen are men. There’s one non-fiction title by a woman writer discussed and one piece of fiction. That fiction review is not a positive one." This problem is real and continues. Stating you're aware of the problem and have fixes in the works is not enough. The fact of going out into the world with this type of skewed list contributes to the problem. Today we'll spotlight Women in Fantasy Illustration: Kristina Carroll because women who happen to also be writers aren't the only ones getting ignored. From Bitch Magazine--Don't Be a Dick: The Gender Dynamics of Marketing Comics. An important message from author Seanan McGuire. Why Sansa Stark Is the Strongest Character on 'Game of Thrones' That article has a lot of really great things to say about Sansa and GoT fandom in general. It is significant to note that "The elder Stark daughter is often cited as one of the most reviled characters on Game of Thrones, which is really saying something; this is the same show that brought us a king who ties up a prostitute and shoots her to death with a crossbow, so it's a bit odd that people are harping on a teenage girl for the crime of being "utterly useless and whiny." To be honest, I can't stand her in the books. Why? Because she's a fucking cliche and almost never acts outside those bounds. However, I love her on the series because I'm seeing her grow out of her immature romantic notions of chivalry and developing into someone (a morally good character, no less) who could eventually stand against Cersei Lannister at court. Frankly, that's something I'd LOVE TO WATCH. But that may be just me. I love political fantasy. (For the record, I still hate Dany.)

In general news: Meet The Three Female Medical Students Who Destroyed Gender Norms A Century Ago (And guess what? They aren't American.) Because this needs to be re-posted: A Mighty Girl's list of biographies of important women in history. (Note: there are 13 pages of them.) Gender-flips are a simple and smart way to turn sexism on its head (It's solid Feminism 101, mind you, and not 100% foolproof.) Texas Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Trans Widow, In Defense of Twitter Feminism, Women's Contribution to Classical Islamic Civilisation: Science, Medicine and Politics--one of the things that annoys me is when Christians criticise Muslims for how they treat women. Um, hello? Christians don't exactly have a great track record either to this day. Neither Female Nor Male. As someone with friends who are having babies, I can totally see all the pressure there.
Yesterday, I saw the new Captain America.

Dear Marvel, I understand you're not perfect. I understand you don't always get everything right. I understand you're a comic book company that was born and bred in a sexist, nationalist, and even racist environment. But...

Marvel, I kind of love you a lot right now.

First, I am quite happy with the rewrite of Captain America. I know that in his original incarnation he was problematic at best, but in this film you've done an excellent job with a good guy knight/paladin-type character. I get that the concept is: Once upon a time Cap lived in a simplistic good vs. evil fictional world[1] and has been transitioning into a more morally ambiguous setting. (In reality, it's a transition of the story from a simplistic, even childish, old skool propaganda comic to a more adult intelligent, thoughtful version.) He's gained (or maybe the better way to express it is retained) his more human qualities. He's deeply loyal to his friends--even when they're in situations that change them utterly. I love that about him. He's generous and caring. He doesn't just stand up for "America, right or wrong!" He stands up for justice and real freedom--the genuinely messy kind--not the bullshit version the Republicans and Libertarians are selling these days. He doesn't stand for controlling-punishing authoritarianism because "Hey, it's too dangerous to have real freedom! People might make bad choices! We can't have that!" In short, Cap isn't a fascist even though it'd be super easy to write him that way. I like that. A lot. Plus, Nick Fury. OMG, Nick Fucking Fury. I love everything about Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Period. Seriously. He's a bad ass leader--not just a bad ass, and he doesn't suffer the fate of so many PoC comic book characters. Plus, now with Falcon being added to the line-up he isn't even the only PoC character.[2] All of this--the fact that at a certain point in the film we have an ensemble cast consisting of two black males, two females, and one white male... has that ever happened in a comics movie? And then there's Black Widow. OMG, Black Widow. Black Widow is (IMHO) everything Wonder Woman should be and never has been. Best of all? She has no romantic story. That's right. Exactly zero males are putting Black Widow in the romantic relationship box. Seriously. The only time she discusses relationships is when she's being a friend to Cap and pointing out how he has to move on with his life. I can't even begin to tell you how significant that is. She's competent. She's human. (She also is loyal to friends, even though her backstory would go against it.) She has a kind streak. She cares. She's independent. She has her own set of personal rules and lives by them. She isn't rescued any more than any male character would be. Her costumes are no tighter or more revealing than Cap's. She's an equal while retaining her femininity. That means the world to me. I can't wait to see that Black Widow movie. Can't. Wait. Go see this film. Give Marvel your money. It's well written and tight even though there's a lot going on. (Think 1970s spy story plus action film.) It would've been easy to let it unravel into a mess, but that didn't happen. It's a very good film--not just a great comic book movie. Hats off to you, Marvel. You win. DC? Eat shit.
[1] That's bullshit, btw. I refuse to believe that those actually living through WWII experienced an easy 100% good vs 100% evil world, and that there were zero ethically complicated situations. In fact, I know better. We all do. Read anything having to do with how Japanese Americans and German Americans were treated during that time. My own family has stories. History gets edited. The morally complicated stuff gets erased. Whatever doesn't fit the established story gets hidden and fades away from memory.
[2] And I love Falcon too. Now, we need a few PoC females, a few LGBT characters and then we'll have a more representative fictional world and more importantly, a more interesting one.

The Good, the Bad, and the Fugly

By this point, I think it's pretty clear to anyone that reads this blog I like Good characters. That might sound strange coming from someone who writes how I write, but I do. On the other hand, I find Superman to be the most boring character on offer in all of comic-dom. As for Captain America, he disturbed me because of the whole nationalism angle. So, the other day I read In Defense of Supermen, and it reminded me of a few things. First, that certain current trends in entertainment actually have a great deal in common with trends in the 1970s. The anti-hero was totally a thing at that time. Nothing wrong with that. I do like anti-heroes sometimes. Who doesn't? I don't necessarily consider it a sign of immaturity to like anti-heroes as the author of that article suggests. (It may be if that's all you're into, mind you. Insert sermon #12 here about variety, and how it's important in story-telling.) However, I too question the American need for violence to be the answer to every possible literary conflict because that is a question we should be asking. Conflict doesn't necessarily have to equate to violence. You can have internal conflict, conversational conflict, conflict portrayed in humor... it can be very subtle. In fact, it takes a great deal more skill as a storyteller to portray just about every other form of conflict than it does to write about violence, and I suspect that's why violence is so heavily employed. It's a no-brainer. The other thing that came to mind was a pairing of the '70s anti-hero with the '80s Snarky Action Hero™. I've talked about that before. It's a disturbing combination, if that's the main of your story-diet.

I do like Good characters. (Hey, I admit it. There's a reason I dated a lot of Eagle Scouts.) The problem is, they're deceptively tough to write well in a stark, simplistic Good vs Evil setting, and I suspect that's the actual problem. When the setting is morally flat and unreal one goes elsewhere for that element of complication and depth--in this case, the characters themselves. Good characters require a complex backdrop to grant them dimension. They need grey-areas with which to struggle because that's the reality of being a good person. Being selfish, mean, judgemental, and vengeful is easy. Love, happiness, forgiveness, and humanity are not a simple choices when the world is as difficult and complex as it is.

Anyway, I get why the author of the article wrote what he did. I even agree with some of it, but I'm not sure we agree on the why.
[1] Ah, Porter in Payback. Yeah, he's so an anti-paladin. Heh.

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys

FIRST: today at 11am Pacific Time, I'll be a guest on Juliette Wade's Google+ hangout. We'll be discussing worldbuilding. Since I've now handled worldbuilding within a real-world setting as well as a Fantasy world setting, I think it'll be interesting to talk about the differences between the two. Anyway, please drop by if you're so inclined. I anticipate a good time. I may even learn something. :)

Yesterday, was spent cleaning the office (it was to a point where I couldn't think in here) and working on the current short story project. With a little bit of struggle, I managed to come up with a convincing fictitious Austin nightclub name. It took turning off the computer and going to bed before I was able to overcome the "OMG! I can't do this!" fairy. But sometimes walking away is what it takes, you know? Am at the halfway point with the story. The funny thing is it definitely has its own soundtrack, and it's very '90s goth/punk. It makes sense. I'm using memories of Austin's Liberty Lunch, the Back Room, Ohm's, and Elysium--all were places I hung out in the '90s. Hopefully, that doesn't date the story out of relevance or something. It was a fun time for me. I was exploring and discovering things I'd never had a chance to do before--mainly music and subculture. There's something about finding the place (or group) with which one belongs. It's one of the reasons why Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower spoke to me so much.

Well, that, and the fact that me and my friends did actually call ourselves The Island of Misfit Toys. Largely, I wanted to capture that feeling and add some deep, dark danger. Because I am me and why wouldn't I? :) I'm liking it so far. But hey, I've hit the middle. It's time for the Insecurity Fairy to visit and tell me all about how I'm not a short story writer. 


Today's post is going to be less heavy--largely because I did something totally silly. I made a vow to myself that with every book check I'd splurge on something to celebrate. It needed to be something that I could physically point to and say, "Writing bought that." (It's too easy for me to get caught up in the practical things that need getting like underware and car repairs.) Anyway, I've always wanted an old fashioned doll house. I had a Barbie doll house, and I liked it, but it wasn't what I really wanted. What I really, really wanted was the Victorian Haunted House with the glow in the dark collectable ghosts that I saw on TV once.[1] I asked for it for Christmas. Santa didn't deliver. After that Christmas, I never saw that particular doll house advertized again. (I can't find a trace of it online these days either. Sometimes I think I imagined it.) Sooooo, let's fast forward to this week...

That happened, complete with glow-in-the-dark ghosts, tiny graveyard, AND a drag-racing ("Rat Fink"-esque) hearse. I know. I know. I'm an idiot for wasting all that time and money putting that together[2], but I'm a happy idiot, and my inner ten-year-old is over the moon. I'm not saying it might get used to block out certain story scenes in the not too distant future, but it might. And hey, creatively inspirational! That makes it practical. Right? Right? Yes. Okay. I'm a total dork.

But I'm sooooo happy.
[1] I suppose someone saw the popularity of Scooby Do cartoons and thought this idea might take off. It was taylor made for me.
[2] I bought the hearse the year before when I thought I wouldn't be able to buy the doll house... er... Haunted House before it went out of stock.

Let's Party Like It's 1889

I enjoy watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart--not only because it's just about the only way I can stomach the American politics discussion within American media, but because he gives me evil thoughts. Thus, this week's Evil Aha Moment™ should be attributed to his choice of non-fiction authors--Michael Lewis who wrote Flash Boys, a book about a group of individuals who've decided to do something about High Frequency Trading (HFT.)

Just in case the link doesn't work, this site has the interview in its entirety. Watch it. It's important and scary. What it amounts to is that computers are being allowed to insider trade within the milliseconds between your request for a purchase and the actual purchase. That is, they're doing something that is illegal for a real human being to do but is being permitted because a "computer" is doing it. Only here's the deal, there's a person and a company behind that computer who is insider trading. The computer is not a neutral party. The person running the computer is scalping investors. They're bumping up the price by small amounts for every transaction and effecting the stock price just before you buy it--which (did I mention) would be illegal if a person did it? From the end of the interview: "It's very hard to regulate an industry where the people are paid so much more than the regulators." Also, a majority of the people working in the FTC eventually leave to work for High Frequency Trading companies or work as Lobbyists for High Frequency Trading companies. Hold that thought.

Then let's mix in a couple of other things stewing in my brain. Over the weekend I went to visit my parents who live in College Station. When I slip into the delusion that the rest of Texas is exactly like Austin, College Station is a wake up call. College Station (unlike DFW which is also more conservative) is a smaller town. One gets more of a flavor of the city when one watches the local TV stations. There were (unlike Austin) a number of local commercials starring white businessmen who smugly start their schpiel with "You're an independent/small business person just like me." The assumption being if you aren't, you're doing something wrong and therefore, not worthy. The reason this bothers me so much is because not everyone is cut out to be a business owner anymore than not everyone is cut out to be a professional ballerina, a brain surgeon, or a bestselling author. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. Workers are a vital part of the American equation. Sneer at them, and you're contributing to the overall abusive attitude toward employees that has increasingly become a problem in this country. Your Average Joe/Jo is not a business owner. The bell curve is not a bad thing.

Now let's sprinkle in the news that a new ruling has come down from our conservatively leaning (or should I say corporately corrupted?) Supreme Court regarding campaign finance--a system that is in dire need of cleaning up. Instead of doing so, the Supreme Court has pushed the notion of money being equated to speech yet another step forward. "In whose delusional mind is democracy made better by letting wealthier people control more of it?" The 'playing field isn't being expanded. It's contracting. Poor people and the middle class don't have money for this type of 'speech.' Meanwhile, the one means the poor and the middle class can afford to participate in government is being restricted via the search for virtually nonexistent voter fraud.

Now, add in Charlie Stross's post "A Nation of Slaves." Are you seeing a pattern? I am. I began to think about how we're in the throws of the first stages of the Information Age and exactly how much this predatory behavior has in common with events occurring during the start of the Industrial Age. (I've no doubt the same pattern occurred with each and every "age" in humanity's history.) The thing is, I've been hoping that everything would eventually work itself out within my lifetime. It still might. The Millennials are quite liberal as a whole. that gives me hope. The American political scene is a pendulum that swings left to right and back from right to left with every generation. It always has. However, I'm examining the time frame now. The Gilded Age with its vastly unequal wealth division, wealth influenced media, Robber Barons, child labor, deplorable working conditions, bad pay, immigration problems, crazy fast economic highs and lows[1], and extreme civil rights issues... took decades--even a half century to overcome. We're so in this for the long haul. Still, we came out of it in the 1960s. I've that to look forward to. Unfortunately, I may be dead by then. On the other hand, technology being what it is, we may turn this around a lot faster. There's hope.

Now, before someone jumps on here to say, "Well, it's easy! Impose term limits on government representatives! Problem solved!" I call bullshit. You're not taking into account the already existing revolving door to big business. Remember where I said to hold that thought? The FTC isn't the only place were politicians are leaving office in order to take a job with a big corporation and/or become a Lobbyist for a big corporation. It's rampant within the system now which should tell you that there's a corruption hole that needs plugging. Limiting terms will only speed up the process and allow even more corporate influence because the government job won't be lasting.
[1] HFT does actually affect the larger economy, resulting in micro-booms and busts.

Feminist Monday Mothers Dragons

So, last night was the first episode in the new season of A Game of Thrones on HBO.

Worry not, I won't post spoilers. However, I will make some comments because they need stated. The rape-y, rape-y wallpaper in this series is seriously beginning to encroach upon my ability to enjoy the show. Yes, we get it. BAD GUYS. But Brutal Bad Guy Shorthand™[1] is lazy, tired, and annoying. Yes. Women do have to deal with sexual harassment pretty much every day of their lives in one form or another. However, this is a fantasy world, and we've established the danger for women is high. It'd be really, really nice if we actually got through an actual episode without rape, the threat of rape, or a female full frontal nude. At a certain point, it becomes less about Demonstrating the Evil™ and more about, "Oh, look! Woman = sexy times!" and "We endorse this behavior because it's EDGY!" Story variety. We need it, people. That said? Arya. Oh, Hells YES, Arya. Over on XOJane.com Why I'm Masquerading As A White Bearded Hipster Guy on Twitter (Despite Being a Black Woman) This article spoke to me on multiple levels. It's also spot-on. It's exactly the reason why when I worked QA at Sony I selected a male personae when I had to interact with the public. The distinction between how I was treated as a woman versus how I was treated as a man online was HUGE. I could actually get my work done without constantly having to negotiate sexual power-politics with total strangers. And these were players who understood I worked for the company. My personae was clearly labeled as "This is a Sony QA employee." Still doubting? Read THIS: Man Poses as Woman on Online Dating Site; Barely Lasts Two Hours. And now Every Review of Black Widow in 'Captain America' is Wrong. Yes. THAT. Author/Editor Ellen Kushner talks about the fluidity of human sexuality. People are complicated critters. 'Belle' Director Amma Asante on Feminism, Race, and Telling an UnCinderella Story. "I was completely obsessed with 18th-century England—and I was also obsessed just generally in where we, as people of color, fit into European history," Asante says of her motivation to make the film. I can't wait to see it. For obvious reasons--my current novel series is set in a Fantasy 18th Century world--this film is of specific interest to me. Here's an older post by author Martha Wells called Erasing Women.

From the whitehouse.gov site The Benefits of Raising the Minimum Wage. For those of you who never worked in the service industry, minimum wage for tipped work is a whopping $2.13 an hour. So, next time you interact with waitstaff keep this in mind. Their livelihood depends on your tips. Their employer does not pay them a decent wage. In fact, you should consider them to be unpaid until you pay them. (I do.) Let's do some additional math: if a majority of workers in this profession are female, and if a majority of children are being raised by single mothers, then the likelihood that that server you're tipping a single dollar for an hour or so of their time has a child is high. Think about it next time. Is the Oculus Rift Sexist? I hadn't heard that women were more likely to be made sick by 3D immersion software than men. That is a facinating article. Neuroscience is constantly battling over whether or not there is an actual brain difference between males and females and whether or not those differences are environmentally caused. (There are scientific articles which support both sides of the argument.) When you take into account the fluidity with which the human brain responds to its environment and the deep levels at which this stuff sticks--to a point where our brains physically rewire themselves as part of  the adjustment[2]--as well as the documented high levels of sexism in medical science as a whole[3], I suspect that debate is going to go on for a very long time. Hillary Clinton meets members of PussyRiot. And under "Bad Ass Women" we have Blogger Pulls Off $30,000 Sting to Get Her Stolen Site Back and Eleanor Roosevelt on Happiness, Conformity, and Integrity. For those who didn't see this--Self magazine confuses catty fashion critiques with health and fitness advice. Yeah. Stupid, thoughtless mean mistake, y'all. An old article but a good one The Bare Fact of Her Bodily Presence. Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients. Speaking as a breast cancer survivor, THIS. I absolutely hate "Save the Ta-tas!" as a breast cancer awareness campaign. HATE IT. Why? Because it places the importance on a lump of flesh (which happens to be valued by straight men in a sexual way) over THE WOMAN'S LIFE. Again, woman does not 100% equal sex. Let's stop with that thinking already, m-okay? Another older article but one that I suspect is still relavent: Does Facebook Hate All Women—or just Feminists? Yes. I hate on FB a lot. There's a reason for it. What Happens When Women Are Denied Abortion? The Turnaway Study Finds Out Repeat after me, Don't want an Abortion? Don't have one.

Trigger Warning Section: The Choice To Be Silent (MakeMeASammich.org is an excellent site. You should check it regularly, if you aren't aware of the site and are interested in Feminism.)
[1] Wherein we demonstrate who the super-evil bad guy is via rape.
[2] Doubt me? Check into what happens after a brain injury. I've seen scans (shown during a university psychology class) wherein the patient was able to function normally while only using a part of their brain the size of a walnut. I'm not saying that's 100% normal. I'm saying it's happened.
[3] For example, drug testing (until very recently) was rarely conducted on female subjects. Why? Because women's hormones fluctuate so wildly that it makes it difficult to establish a stable base set of bio-chemical factors.  That is, hormones affect the effectiveness/safety of the drug being tested. Therefore, male test subjects are used because male = default human. So, whatever works for males is going to be safe for women too. [record scratch] Oh, guys? If hormones affect the effectiveness/safety of the drug being tested, and you don't ever test the drug in a hormone-fluctuating environment then how in the Hell do you know it's safe for women? With this in mind, I'd be very skeptical of any article claiming a huge physical brain difference from birth between men and women.

Sunday Morning Ramble

Am finally finishing up a short story re-write this morning. That's the first short story for the year. I plan on doing more. As stated before, I'm finally allowing myself All The Silly Story Ideas that I wasn't permitting to distract me from the novel. That wasn't working so well for me. It was too restrictive. In reality, all I need to do is write those suckers down and go back to what I'm doing. There's no need to be afraid of ideas for Pete's sake. (Yeah. So not working for me.) I'm quite a bit happier as a result--like seriously happier. FREE!!! Wooohoo! The story elves have been visiting quite a lot, and my idea notes are getting fat. That's a relief because ideas for stories are supposed to be the most effortless aspect of writing. That said, I've not gotten much writing done this weekend. That's okay. I'm visiting with my parents. Family time is important. It just is. I've definitely come to the conclusion that my mother is the queen of garage-sale-having. Because, damn, yesterday was a good day for her, and I totally didn't expect it. At the same time, she gave me a number of things that I'm super happy to have. (Like that vintage fruit/pasta bowl.) Oh, and I think we've resolved the standing desk issue cheaply as well. (You gotta love that.)

The Fantasy-map-drawing continues apace. I think for this one, I'm going to go with the story important parts of the continent. The other countries will be represented--just not in detail. There's no need for that yet. I do think I did this in pretty much the right order. (Story first. Map second.) I did attempt jotting down a basic map a few months back, but I didn't get that far, and there wasn't any need to at that stage. At least I'm not doing this from scratch, you know? Although, I'm now afraid I'll miss important details. I so have to go back over the manuscript. AGAIN. Heh. I completely understand why Tolkien spent ten years editing The Lord of the Rings. Seriously. I get it. This is my own tendancy. Of course, it's not something that makes readers happy, or anyone else for that matter (including myself to be honest,) but I understand the urge. This is the other reason I'm applying myself to short story writing when I'm not novel writing. There are a whole host of other reasons, mind you. For example, short stories are where one practices Beginnings, Middles AND Ends. Novelists get a lot of practice at Beginnings. Hell, everyone does that. It's the Middles and the Ends that don't get as much practice. Story ends are HARD. You have to have just the right landing in order to make the end satisfying. Anyway, practice is important. It doesn't matter what stage of your career you're in. There's always something new to learn. I so love that about writing. And now I've many issues of Lightspeed to read. Because reading and studying is just as important as writing and practicing. And no, the film three act system doesn't perfectly align with novel-writing. You can limit yourself to only watching movies and using that as your writing influence, but your writing will suffer for it.[1]

It's been great seeing my folks, but I'm already missing Dane. Silly, I know.
[1] For the record, I repeat this stuff to remind myself as much as anyone else. I honestly would like to take a university English class or seven. The problem is, I really, really don't want to have to take exams or write lengthy papers, or have to pay a fortune either for that matter.

Gone Home

So, this weekend I'm visiting with my parents. (Mom needed some help with her garage sale.) We stayed up late sorting through things and then I got up at 6:30am because the sale was supposed to start at 8am. Only my mom overslept and hey... we didn't have things in order until 9am. [shrug] Everything went well anyway. And then we walked to the garage sale down the street and I met my new sofa. Isn't it pretty? It's perfect for reading.

One of the other things that happened is that Mom gave me a copy of an old obituary for my couple-of-greats grandfather on my mother's side that she'd brought back from the trip to Missouri for Grandma's funeral. Apparently, the quarter of the family that I thought was very, very English (Branson) is, in fact... [drum roll please] Irish. LOL. Yeah. So... after telling everyone that I had no Irish lineage this whole time... as it turns out, I er... lied. And there you are.

Tonight will be frozen yogert and tomorrow I'll return home to be with my sweetie... wherein I predict that I'll have to defend the new/old sofa until it's safely arranged and settled in the livingroom, and he sees how marvelous it is.