I Keep Saying I’ll Blog

Three Things Which Are True:

(1) I’ll never stop badmouthing George Orwell. *

(2) Never.**

(3) I’ve got work to do. (Wonderful, wonderful work.)

*I’m not saying my sentiments are new to you or this blog. I’m not even saying that’s the best article on the matter, it’s just the easiest one to find that refers to Orwell having reviewed Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. And I’m still indignant.

**As long as 1984 is on required reading lists and any list of well-received, impacting novels, I will continue to do so.

 

You’re. Of. No. Consequence.

“I’m sick of being Nathaniel and you’re Mr. Lopez.”

I was just watching The Soloist while I did my hair because it’s my routine. It’s my routine because it’s brilliant – the film, the score, the leads – and it’s the soundtrack to that activity. It’s my ritual. I’ve tried other movies but they were too distracting or they were boring because I found I could entirely tune them out. Anyway, this is what I do. And every time this scene ends – if you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand – and the woman who is the primary aural hallucination says those words – You’re. Of. No. Consequence. – the scene ceases to be about one man’s struggle with mental illness and becomes the perfect summation for what it is to be Black American. And through that lens, the entire scene can be seen anew.

Renisha McBride was killed a week ago.

Jonathon Ferrell was killed in September.

Trayvon Martin was killed last year.

Dozens are killed every month, I’m sure, as participants of criminal violence. Maybe because of this some Americans think we shouldn’t be so upset about the three named above. Except these three were unarmed. Two of them were looking for help. One of them was denied justice already. All of them were Black Americans, part of a cultural group whose lives are very much impacted by the way the culture began. Beneath someone’s thumb, behind someone’s line, segregated in ways both explicit and not. Expected to be wrong. So when they walked back from a shop or sought help, their lives were ended. So expectation – is that not evidence of the otherwise supposedly invisible brand of institutionalized prejudice and oppression? Why would people who’ve not gotten the chance to open their mouths and explain themselves be so grossly misinterpreted?

I can’t make this make sense unless I’m preaching to the choir. Even sympathetic parties don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say.

But here comes the message all over again, from both sides – from the side confident and selfish enough to say they don’t see it and from the side who does and carries on with life as it is…otherwise, yes, we’d all be activists all the time. You’re Of No Consequence.

How have I escaped this notion when my own father’s history is too hard to process all at once? Grace. But my identity being elsewhere – in Christ – doesn’t justify that the message is still loud and clear. Be an exception. Make us see you differently or we’ll assume the worst. We’ll forget we stole your dignity and then lambast you for being undignified.

Sometimes it just hurts.

 

An Old, Old Wooden Ship

Diversity

Drink it in, friends.

Because I feel like this needs to be said: there’s a difference between multicultural fiction and fiction representing the diversity of a culture. That doesn’t mean that never the twain shall meet, but the term and the characteristic are not mutually exclusive.

A book with a black mc is not multicultural fiction, if you ask me. I do not exist outside of American culture or even beside it. And yes,  I too without really thinking it through had referred to it as multicultural because, well, that’s what people do. Until I started thinking about it and went, wait. Shuddup. Or something more intellectual and intelligible but you get me.

I suppose I could hear you out if your basis was that the story was specifically about their experience as a person of color but I still wouldn’t agree. Yes, we say “black culture”, but we also say “band culture” and that doesn’t mean a book about the Mighty Matador marching band is multicultural. Having characters from different cultures… that would make a book multicultural. Having a book about an actual African-American – as in a character who was born in an African country and raised either in that country and community until a certain point OR who was raised in America but in a very specific community in which their traditional culture was still a big part of their lives – would be multicultural. Is this clear enough yet?

But just having characters with different skin colors from the same society, nation, whatever? That’s diversity. I hate to break it to you but my childhood did not exist outside of the realm of normalcy. I’m not from some subset of humanity. I don’t need you to partition my experiences on a separate shelf, thanks. You really *should* be able to relate to me even if perchance we don’t look exactly alike. (Do we all feel adequately silly yet?)

So yeeeeah. I write fiction. Sometimes YA, sometimes adult, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, always diverse. I’m really glad we had this talk.

I guess I can close this tab now: Two Awards to Promote Multicultural Children’s Books.

Help me, Helvetica

I’m confused again.

So, the thing is that I’m not boring. As in, when I speak, I make it worth your while. Try to give you that bang for your buck. (No one pays me to speak. Yet.) Storytelling is kind of a thing of mine, to be honest. Here’s something that is markedly easier to do on paper than in polite conversation: past tense. As in, if I’m expressing an outrage or emotional intensity that I experiencED? I’ll express it with vigor. Because flat-lining my tonal presentation is boring and I’m trying to take you on a journey.

Here’s why the confusion: I’m getting the impression that 99% of people mistake this for being REALLYUPSET.

Haiiiii. It’s a retelling, y’all. Calm down with the calming me down. Are emotions really that simplistic that the way you’d know I was harboring deep seeded rage and the like is if I just flat out told you? You don’t think you’d – Idunno – see some sort of social and mental decline or untethering become increasingly visible in my life as I spiraled out of control?! Nope. I’d just tell a story about the past in an intentionally animated and – IF I SAY SO MYSELF – entertaining fashion and bam, you’re my psychiatrist who truly knows my inner workings now.

Yeesh. (See, like how I actually still totally love you.)

And no, this isn’t about something else – like the fact that for one brief, shining moment I had a hooded hounds tooth cape that I wore once and then a mouse came down from the upstairs flat through the used-to-be-a-stairwell-now-is-supposedly-a-closet and touched NONE of the ramshackle older jackets but decided to filet the back of my cape to make its unholy nest of which in a few hours it will have no need because exterminator, breezy, that’s how we do.

It is not about that.

P.S. That new favorite gif of mine? I literally just saw it on another blog and white-knuckled it. And now it is mine. ::kisses the internets::

All These Things That I’ve Done

It was my birthday, y’all!

Boom, baby!

So out of nowhere, Montreal had a day of GORGEOUSITY. And seriously, it was. High sun and cool air, from whence did thou come? Andthankyou.

Went to see The Taming of the Shrew in Westmount Park – smashing good time. Especially the part where Kate tells the other wives what duty they owe their lords and husbands. Because I live in Quebec. And the audience was silent with what I can only assume was rich indignation. I, on the other hand, adored it. But then, I have my husband’s last name. “WHICH WAS THE STYLE AT THE TIME.” – Grandpa Simpson

Okay. In other things, I just got back from Chi-town or Chicagoland as I kept hearing. We went with the youth group from our church and it. was. amazing. It cannot be overstated how wonderful this trip was and how much of a blessing.

In which you can see basically none of the water feature behind us.

Girlfriend. It was good times. I’m always proud of how friendly Americans are. Don’t listen to the overdone cliches, forgetting those Anons of you on the interwebs, you guys are aces.

So while we were there, a song was written for us. Something about sitting in a tree. :) And as we’re preparing for our TEN. YEAR. ANNIVERSARY. … yeah. We’re in love. (And I totally won’t do that thing where I explain that love is actually something you do but that yes, thankfully, feelings come with it.)

And now you know two things I’ve been doing.

Bits of Random

Is it possible that the last time I opened this document was five years ago to the day?! That just seems. O_O Creepy. And the last time I printed it was two years before that, apparently. Geesh. Who says you can never go home again. Of course, I’m opening it to destroy it. Strip it for parts is misleading – makes it sound like I’ll use what I keep for another project. So really I’m tearing it down but preserving the landscape? Something like that. #BoringYou

So then – like four days later – I returned. Mostly because I saw a headline about people who… interfere with children “fighting” for their right to be on facebook. Of course, my very succinct response is, “Say what? Once more? You want what? To not be taken care of by this unsavory bloke I found in a dark alley with an impressive collection of knives? Right, then stand down.” This is what happens when we forget that protecting children should trump a criminal’s “rights”. Question – that may have been answered in the article but probably not because it’s yahoo news – would they be required to have a Megan’s Law seal or some-such on their profiles so that we all know who they are, as is stipulated in their registration, or would their desire to engage in “normal public discussion” outweigh the fact that there are young teens on the site? #Curious

>.>

<.<

…this has been a man drawer post.

Settle, Blood Pressure. Settle.

Yet again, I’ve lost interest in a tv show because it completely offended me. I’d say it sucks but since I’ve lost all interest…I guess it is what it is. ::stabs self for saying that::

There’s a huge downside to being so present on Twitter. (This is related.) To keeping up with social discourse and the virtual world in general. I’m a Christian – this is where you jump to a conclusion over which I have no control, by the way – which means I gave/give my life to Christ because I am overwhelmed/compelled based on what He did first. And I’m also a pretty social person, if having Facebook, twitter and a blog are any indication. Sometimes A lot of the time, I am keenly aware of being shut up. Opinions that are entirely different from mine AND criticize mine are extremely popular. Rampant. What do you do if you’re not really online just to listen to people’s arguments and defend yourself? You “ignore” a lot of stuff.

Like the fact that I’ve watched two shows in two days where the matter-of-fact declaration of old world evolution was used to undermine the opinion of another and the issue of what constitutes scientific certainty was never introduced. The issue of scientific faith was never discussed. In fact the person being attacked knew nothing about their belief, either. We’ll rely on everyone’s public school education and cursory instruction of the world and that is ACADEMIC and we’ll say “that’s what the Bible says” and that’s THEOLOGY. No, it was just presented as crazy and small-minded. That’s certainly not bullying. It’s not shoving an ideology down anyone’s throat while criticizing their beliefs. >.> Wait.

Lemme set the record straight: I did not write the Bible. (Surprised?) God is, absolutely, absolutist. Another revelation: I am no more God than you are. I do choose to conform to His likeness instead of the world’s. I can’t change to suit you, just as you’re loudly declaring that you refuse to change to suit “me”. (I’m always talking to that guy, Editorial You.)

Even right now, I’m like, nope, don’t wanna get into that. I guess the question is do we both have the right to our beliefs or am I supposed to shut mine up because they offend you and not remind anyone that I am routinely offended and then no one’ll identify that as being what it is – hypocrisy and about a dozen other things. We BOTH have an ideology. Assuming you don’t is to say you are neutral/you are right and then to lambast me for saying I’m right makes my head explode and I’m like let’s both assume we hold the burden of proof!

This is more personal than I usually go. Not for any reason but that this is my ridiculous space. I have journals for introspection and the like. But the world will run you over if you let it. Jesus was pretty clear about that one.

[Insert a million other words]

This Things I Believe!

Hello, my treasures! ‘Tis Good Friday! Okay, I’m done with that. Whatever that was. Here’s this!

I used to read BC every day in the comics. >.> Which is where everyone read it, too. <.< Shut up.

When I was a kid, we didn’t go to a church that explained the significance of Good Friday and the rest of Easter weekend. Yes, the obvious significance of offering salvation – and maybe some would say that’s all that matters – but not the way everything that happened was a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy and the significance it had for Jewish believers. Since Jesus himself was Jewish and my faith is based on his being the fulfillment of that faith, I’m so glad that my son is a part of a church that studies the Scripture and teaches him to do the same. The Lord says, Come, reason with me. Not come believe in unicorns.

Today commemorates his crucifixion. Today commemorates his taking the place of the Passover lamb, but for everyone and forever.

Literary professionals are always reminding writers that our blogs and social media presences are important when it comes to making an impression and informing them of whether we’re the type of writer they want to work with. ::waves to them:: Have a blessed Good Friday!

Stop. The Insanity. Together.

Well, I’m back which means something must have got me thinking. (Way to make it sound like that’s a rare occurrence, B.) It’s not really something new, which you’ll see in a moment, but it will never stop being of interest to me and that’s all the reason I need to bring it up again. ::kisses::

So, I read this article about literary fiction and it not getting the attention it deserves, by and large. And before you say “blah blah Franzen blah blah cover of Times”, let me answer you with “blah blah Obama blah blah all Black men are now treated fairly”. Right. So let’s jump back to reality, shall we.

I read many of the comments which, as any peruser of the internal webs can tell you, is a risky business. In this case, it was pleasant enough, which isn’t too surprising. It was a group of people who write or love to read. Ta-da, not a lot of stupid made it to the end of the article. And yet, there are several things stated that are just not true. (Oh, I guess we’re done talking about the article – which I enjoyed – and will be focusing on the comments?)

(1) The statement that commercial fiction doesn’t badmouth literary fiction = blatantly untrue. Sorry. I’m deeply entrenched in the online writing community and just like there’s no pure faction in any other dichotomy, there’s no sage martyr here, yo. Only it’s supposed to be “understood” that literary fiction thinks she’s better than you so when we slather that stereotype on, no one’s supposed to be offended. Because it’s true, don’t cha know. Which…right, is badmouthing. The “you hated us first” argument doesn’t change anything.

(2) Literary fiction “makes you think”. Nope, not always. Sometimes it’s purposely inaccessible, self-gratifying and cryptic beyond necessity and purpose.

"Shouldn't have to. Shouldn't have to."

I will go so far as to say that writing speculative literary fiction and writing for the mainstream market made me keenly aware of when I was losing people and – more importantly – failing at my endeavor. I’m not talking about giving up on my love of language and pentameter and falling into a commercial cut-out, I’m talking about realizing that sometimes I’d get lost myself. [He fool he-self!] As in, WHATDIDIMEANWHENIWROTETHIS? Too in-my-own-head. Do I pretend that I now write “for everyone” or even for most people? Nope. But I’ve found that there was room for improvement in pacing and that there’s a reason for white space, for one thing.

(3) Literary doesn’t have a larger audience because it doesn’t have action/plot. Well, firstly, I find that bias on its face. If we’re defining plot by genre standards, then it’d be true but who said that was the *only* standard? Sula has a plot, my pet. And there aren’t explosions but there’s a fire. ::wink!::

Additionally, high concept and plot does not equate to a satisfying read. The most frustration I’ve experienced as a reader is being intrigued by the plethora of awesome concepts only to find that the writing, heart and execution left far too much to be desired. Particularly when it was hailed as “page-turner” or the like. Blech.

And full disclosure, yes, I treated my wounds in the literary section. I am not exaggerating when I say I can open a random book and be immediately pleased. That’s how I know where I belong, I guess. I can’t do that with genre fiction; I’m very, very selective elsewhere, despite being able to name titles elsewhere that I ADORE.

HUNGER GAMES. O_O ENDER’S GAME. (I’ll stop there so it seems like I just like titles with the word “game”.)

Example: I just started reading an excerpt for a forthcoming novel called Inukshuk? Yep. I wanna read it. Immediate images in my head and no sound of a motor running, no regard for time or previous activities. Or, last time I was in the bookstore, I came across a book by Lawrence Hill? Gah. Instantly added the book to my TBR pile AND read the first page of every other available title? Yep. All of ‘em. I want everything he’s written.

Ok. This is turning into my love of literary fiction. Sorry.

(4) I can’t remember the rest of the comments despite the fact that I could a moment ago. But one thing that really stands out to me is this whole “let’s just stop calling it literary because it’s intimidating and it implies that nothing else is literature”. This is funny to me, for several reasons. First of all, it has a definitive distinction and culturally understood definition so why should we change the name just because it makes you self-conscious? O_o I mean, I guess we’ll try that just as soon as I’m able to convince you all to capitalize Black and stop calling me African-American. Or you know, stop calling America “America” because it isn’t fair to Canadians or Mexicans – you know, despite the fact that America is literally a part of the name of our country so calm yourselves. OH! Or can we stop referring to soy drink as “milk” since it didn’t come from a teet?

What I’m saying is, really? That’s where you wanna distribute your energies? Why not – in the same way literary writers “should” write “better stories” – change what you’re doing to please readers of literary fiction? OR write what you write, accept that no one writes for everyone and stop bullying the one who’s no longer allowed to call you on it.

I’m not apologizing for my bias because that would just be silly. But come ‘ere. Give us a cuddle.

On. My. Mind.

Oh Soul 4 Real and Heavy D.

In Thoughts That Just Occurred To Me: I have an embarrassingly hard time remembering how to spell “occurred” and “occasion” properly. Stupid r’s and s’s.

In No, Really This Time – Thoughts That Just Occurred To Me: December is the fastest month of the year and this is the week before Christmas. O_O How the H did that HAPPEN?

In Thoughts From Last Night: I don’t ever want to forget the derelict, possibly inebriated gentleman who greeted metro entrants by sing-yelling “Solid As A Rock”. I was thisclose to breaking into dance. This is why Josh and I should be together at all. times.

Secondly, no matter how long of a streak I develop writing in any particular way (by which I mean, writing and revising solely on the screen, for example), I will inevitably reach a point where I *must* revert to the previous method (in this case, printing recent pages and editing/expanding in the margins and the trance taking over and then, mercy of mercies, typing the new ink into font and *why* does that feel so good?!)… Last night. So good.

In Thoughts I’ve Been Gumming For A While: Marching Band is awesome. No, we already know that.

But recently – and surprisingly, for the first time – it occurred to me (how often I use that word to have such stupid brain-farts every time I do)… how it reflects my relationship with God. That might sound strange, depending on one’s beliefs, but it makes sense – my spiritual life is more relevant than my physical life and the latter is constantly used to enrich the former. Not every example is appropriate for outsider consumption, but this one is.

The gist of competitive marching band protocol is that you come onto the field (if field show; usually the street, if parade competition) knowing exactly what is required of you. You have memorized the music; you have memorized your positions/steps; you are aware of the routines of those surrounding you; you ostensibly have an internal metronome and are “capable” of keeping time. All things considered, it’s understandable that sometimes you neglect to look at the drum major.

Now the drum major is an awesome girl with a beautiful singing talent, a striking matador-themed skirt and cape – not sure the boots or hat were exactly accurate but they looked great on her – and an impeccably precise demonstration of keeping time. (Shout out to Lindsay and while I am being quite specific because I actually had the pleasure of being in marching band, this really does relate.) Other drum majors have a mace; she doesn’t. Other drum majors are tall and imposing; she’s not especially so. But she’s standing at the “front” of the field, on her podium, giving direction. And if you take your eyes off of her… you’re screwed.

Not because you don’t know what to do. Or think you know. Not because you can’t keep time. Or think you can. But because when you’re not looking at the drum major, you’re phasing before you know it. And that’s the thing – without looking back, you might not know it – but the drum major does. The drum major sees where you are, where you were and where you’re going – but you can’t. You’re flush with the field. And if it’s practice and the only noise is coming from your group, you’ll hear when the drum major calls out, “Look at me!” If you’re competing? You’re out of luck – and so are the people around you, the people depending on you.

My religion is the part I know before I get on the field, what let me know how to prepare, if that makes sense. It cannot and is not meant to take the place of a personal relationship with the Lord. He stands at the front telling me to keep my eyes on Him, lest I make a mess of this.

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ~ Hebrews 12:1