Various Things That Probably Deserve a Whole Post

1. I was really glad to read this, because, again, it hits on a lot of my concerns. I know ‘honor’ is a loaded term, but I still want a social justice movement that prioritizes acting honorably–not nice, exactly, but not making yourself a weapon and then pretending like being a weapon carries no personal cost. This part, especially–“We must, by all means, judge and use that judgement to decide what needs to be changed and how; we must, then, put our shoulders behind it, stand tall and speak truth to power. But few of us are equipped to punish justly, and too many of us are all too eager to try.”

2. And I miss Lauren being more present on the internet for things like this thoughtful post–“But leaving the online feminist community, and the heaviness of that loss, weighed on me for some years. I guess it’s like grieving a toxic family. Eventually all the positive things you’re getting out of the relationship are over-shadowed by the emotional beat downs every Thanksgiving.” Deciding to do work that sustains you, even when it’s difficult, is something that I wrestle with. I’m glad to have never been a big, important feminist blogger, for that reason. But I wonder, a lot, if the ways I’m spending my time online sustain me. This place does. Twitter kind of does and doesn’t. I’m trimming the list of who I follow, even if it means unfollowing people whose work I really admire, just because I can’t have a stream of constant outrage running that close to me. Even though I believe the correct response to the world is a stream of constant outrage. I just can’t be open to it and be healthy. Which, yeah, raises questions about other online work. I don’t know. I’m not making decisions yet.

3. I really love these portraits of Polish witches.

4. You should read this about the name of Washington’s team.

5. And then this about why the Republicans involved matter.

The Importance of Silliness

I had dinner with a couple of friends this weekend and one of them is working on a novel and we’ve been talking about it, because I really love both to talk about writing and to hear other people talk about writing. I spend a lot of time talking about my process here because I gorge myself on other people’s process posts.

See, the thing is that I’m used to being the “good student.” You tell me what you want me to do and I will fucking nail it or die trying. But my whole adult life has been a struggle to figure out how best to be good at the things I want to do when there is no set way of doing things–when you have to figure out what you want to do, how you’re going to try to do it, and how you’ll recalibrate if it doesn’t work how you want it. Basically, trying to move from a paradigm were failure means it’s over to one where failure is just how you learn what doesn’t work.

So, I like seeing what works for other people. I like thinking about what works for me. (For instance, I subscribe to Duotrope* and right now my strategy is to submit a.) to markets that are on their top 100 of pickiest markets and/or b.) markets I like or am curious about. I don’t know why, but being rejected by hard markets somehow sucks less.)

Wow, so, this was a long prelude to my point. But here we go. My friend’s novel has a kind of silly premise. But the points he’s making, the ways he’s drawing up his characters and setting them loose in the world is really, really thought provoking. (What I mean by silly is more like “In a world where vampires are real, a cheerleader will save us!” and not “It’s a comedy novel.”) So, you know a couple of years ago, I went to that awesome panel at the Southern Festival of Books which was a funny horror writer and a comedy writer who writes about horrible things, and it made me really aware of how comedy and horror are close siblings, and, in fact, how you almost need one in order to have the other.

And now this conversation has me thinking about the ways that a strain of silliness makes room for seriousness. And it makes me wonder if the presence of the fanciful (maybe that’s a better word than silly) acts as a kind of signal to the reader that we’re in a story, so that the serious stuff has room to work behind our defenses. I mean, not many of us–let’s be honest–want to real all about class struggles in Britain and how they affect children, but we care that Hermione’s parents are muggles and we don’t want her to feel like she doesn’t belong at Hogwarts.

It’s not like it’s a clear allegory. And I think allegories eventually feel thin (sorry, Narnia). But you see what I mean about letting the serious slip past your defenses?



*Did we talk about this, now that it’s $50 a year? Which means, in years I don’t sell anything or sell only one thing, but for less than that, they’re making more money from my writing than I am? And how I have mixed feelings about this? And how it’s made me decide that, bless many other hearts, Duotrope is the only writing-related expense in my life? I mean, I plan on recalculating this. Don’t get me wrong. If there were some way for me to do Clarion, well, I’m not a fool. Of course I’d jump on it, even though it’s much more money than my writing earns and even may earn after that. But at this stage in my “career,” I just don’t want to pay someone else so that I can be a writer.

Cold is Weird

Today was not colder than Tuesday morning, at least according to my iPhone, but cold is weird. Tuesday’s walk ended when I came in the house and had breakfast. It went off without a hitch. Today’s cold made my ankle ache. It made my ears want to die. And, even though I’ve been back for a half an hour, I can’t get warm. I feel like my fat is frozen, so my skin is cold from both the outside and the inside. I’m shivering like a fun woman’s sex toy. My legs ache.  This, my friends, is bone cold.

And yet, like I said, Tuesday was technically colder. So, that’s weird. Is it somehow slightly more humid, thus giving the cold more stuff in the air to put a chill in and thus put a chill in me? Less humid so that cold puts its icy lips against my skin and just sucks the moisture and thus the heat right out of me?

And the ground in the back yard! It’s weird as fuck. There’s a while section around the tree where the trailer used to be that seems like it’s just turned to marbles. You don’t dare step there because you will slide. So, yes, to go for a walk, you have to navigate the part of my yard that’s all torn up from people moving a camper in and out, then the weird dry lake of mud marbles, then the uneven terrain from the moles and then there’s a brief flat spot before you hit the AT&T yard, which is more uneven terrain, because you’re basically walking on top of a frozen bog.

When I walk, I wish I were a shallow geologist or maybe a hydroengineer who specialized in ground water, because I’d love to understand what the fuck is happening to the dirt around here.