My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Drowned in the Moonlight, Strangled by her Own Bra

Continuing my glorious tradition of being absolutely behind the curve of popular culture, I am finally just getting to this post about some of my feelings regarding Carrie Fisher's death.

Though most know the story now, let me mention it one more time:

"George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says, "You can't wear a bra under that dress."
So, I say, "Okay, I'll bite. Why?"
And he says, "Because. . . there's no underwear in space. What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn't—so you get strangled by your own bra.
Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."

-Carrie Fisher

Apparently what they did have was gold alloy bikinis. For some reason....

Because of my age at the time, my absolutely unhealthy love of Star Wars, and my relationship to my imagination (and the characters who inhabit it) that was, even then, a kudzu that occasionally sent long runners of overgrowth across my sense of reality. I never fell for the "little people inside the TV" trick, but there were a few worlds I remember learning weren't real only very slowly and painfully. Star Wars was a particularly enduring myth for me. I never really stopped wanting to be a jedi.

My mind has never been able to quite wrap completely around the idea that Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia were the same person. Of course I know it intellectually. Of course.  Of COURSE! But maybe......when you're not quite ten and the world of your imagination is still so real, sometimes you find those beloved characters irredeemably filed under a separate "listing" from their actors. I simply learned to love Han and Luke and Leia too early for me to ever be able to combine them with Harrison, Mark, and Carrie without just a little tiny bit of deliberate, conscious thought.

So Carrie Fisher was always this separate person, in a way.

I knew Carrie as a talented writer–I was still in early high school when I picked up one of her books–a superb example of how mental illness and addiction affect but never determine the arc of a person's life, and an unapologetically open honesty about her life. Later I also came to know her as a feminist and a wonderfully outspoken critic of ageism and body shaming. She is on a short list of writers who, in bearing it all, remind me how exposed and vulnerable it SHOULD be to be an artist. How much courage it takes to be honest about one's shortcomings and moral failings.

Today I'm kind of glad for that disconnect though. I get get to have two heroes. General Organa will go on being as fierce as ever and fighting the good fight against space nazis in an ever more topical and relevant universe to our current situation. She will go on fighting for what's right in her own equally important and effective way while the boys go off and get their toxic masculinity on.

Carrie Fisher's light has gone out of the universe, but if I understand anything about her, it's that she met that end with an open honesty. More importantly, her words will endure. Her light helped kindle a million more flames that have become a beacon across the star filled night.

Including my own.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A few MLK Quotes

"Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.” (MLK)

"Dr. King was one of the world’s most eloquent speakers, a magisterial orator whose august style of delivery varnished even ordinary words enough to make them shine. He was also a great writer who seemed to have understood instinctively, whether he was writing a sermon, a speech, or a book, that he was writing for posterity as well as the times in which he lived. So today, I have decided to step out of the way and let King’s written words speak for themselves...."

Source:  http://bigthink.com/Res…/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-the-writer

Reminder that we don't run a regular entry on bank holidays. We'll see you tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Best of 2015

No, you're not reading that wrong. This is the very long overdue best of two years ago that, because of the horrific life circumstances of 2016, just kept getting postponed for longer and longer. The 2016 one will becoming in a few days.

This is also only the first step in my annual update of The Best of W.A.W. Every year I list the top ten articles of the year, and the top three articles by month on top of that (not including those best ten). Well, as you can probably guess, every single one of the best ten was also it's month's best article (or maybe second place too), so that means I also have to go back and "replace" each of these with the FOURTH (and fifth) best article of the month before the entire set up is squared away for the year. I'll probably do that tomorrow.

2015 in review...

Maybe it's the fact that my numbers are so, so much higher now, but 2015 seemed a dismal year of low pageviews and a long slog just to keep from losing too much ground. Though the worst of cancer and life reorgs and moving had not yet revealed itself, many of the precursor problems had begun to show up (unknown for their true nature) by the end of the year, and The Contrarian was just learning to run rings around us if we looked away for even a moment.

Still slogging just to keep from losing too much ground is how writing goes sometimes. It's how life goes sometimes.

A few gems managed to shine through, even if they weren't as spectacular as the years before and haven't had the reception of more recent posts. So without further ado here they are:

Helping The Purple People (How Privilege Changes The Story) 
One day in the grocery store, I noticed that I wasn't being treated in the same way as another patron...

The Trope Skinny
Our evil mystery blogger drops some horrible sage advice about how to add tropes to your writing.

The Dangerous Intersection
This might be a metaphor. Maybe

A Year of Diverse Authors (Cue Literary Frenzy) 
Remember that time that the suggestion that someone could spend one year reading women OR authors of color OR LGBTQIA+ authors and the internet raged for the cis het white authors? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

15 Things A Very Cute Toddler Taught Me About Writing (Part 1)  
The best advice is sometimes the most basic.

Why Do I Hate NaNoWriMo? (FAQ)
I got really tired of answering this question every time I had anything that wasn't adulation heaped on Nano, so it went into the FAQ.

Terry Pratchett and "Real" Literature 
I'll never fully understand why anyone tries to take a crack at a popular author who they haven't even read, but here's my response to one who tried.

Controlling the Narrative: A Case Study within Baltimore 
Close attention to where the story starts, where it ends, and what language gets used can reveal a disquieting relationship between facts and truth.

On Sister Act II and How to Know if You Should Be a Writer
This favorite clip among hopeful writers is actually almost always misquoted and says something a little different than it's given credit for.

The P.C. Police! (Mailbox)
But Chris, why can't I use slurs as often as I want?  Don't you think that's totally against freeze peach?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Social Justice Bard and the Tale of the Missing Outrage

CN: sexual assault

A lot of folks are asking why there's no outrage about the four Black teens who kidnapped and tortured the mentally ill white man. Allow me to talk, privilege to privilege, to my fellow white folks for a moment who seem to be wondering where the identical response is that would echo some things they are conflating as "equally bad" (and why that is a false equivocation). Why aren't we rioting? Why aren't we taking to the streets in protest? Why aren't their major movements crying out for justice?

Here is why:

1- There IS outrage. Even from the left. You're wrong. Full stop.

2- A million outraged posts demanding that there can never possibly be ENOUGH outrage reveals, and with breathtaking transparency, the fact that the true concern isn't this poor guy, or even that he sees some particle of justice. It's not even about "enough" outrage because there is no point at which this cry would be sated, and these folks would say. "Oh okay. That last bit made it enough for me. Carry on then." Rather it belies the political expediency of advancing a particular narrative. A narrative that "they" aren't outraged enough, so clearly "they" are the problem. Generously "they" could be broadly painted to be any "white-hating hypocrites on the left"; however, even a casual read of these calls for outrage reveals that it is more accurately any people of color and especially black folks. The narrative being advanced is one in which no amount of anger from "those people" is sufficient. And thus they must (collectively, as a group) remain othered, deserving of their social mistreatment, and undeserving of any legitimacy when they cry out for their own.

3- Though basically there are no "sides" and everyone agrees that this was CLEARLY a hate crime, even if they bring up secondary points, the oppressive social power differential here existed not along racial lines but against the mentally ill. This was a travesty of ableism and is a horrible example of yet another group dehumanized by rhetoric and slurs in a way that translates directly to violence against them. And yet there has been a conspicuous silence over other mentally ill victims of violent crime when the perpetrators are white or even in THIS situation amongst those for whom it is preferable to shoe horn the incident into a racial agenda of black on white violence. The very recent lack of jail time for the white football player who raped a mentally disabled teammate in his rectum with a hanger is a perfect example.

4- If you are outraged at how a disabled person was treated in this instance yet went to extreme pains to reconcile video evidence with how Trump wasn't mocking Serge Kovaleski, you aren't being any kind of ally to disabled folk. You are using them as a convenience for your racism.

5- Look at how very, very different this is from the situations that regularly get protested. National news coverage instead of a social media campaign that brought it to national consciousness. The mug shots are used instead of the senior portraits. The victim's physical state is blurred out in most media rather than a grisly display of bodily harm in a picture that cannot be avoided. No one is talking about how fucking good the suspects are at swimming or how they've ruined their promising lives. The media is castigating them. They were arrested almost immediately. They will likely spend their lives in prison. White folks kidnapped and tortured by groups of black folks is not a ubiquitous problem in this country as is evidenced by the complete shock. The whole situation radiates with EXACTLY the swift justice that is sorely lacking in the sorts of incidents over which protests happen. If this were the cultural and law enforcement reaction every time unarmed people of color were attacked and killed, there wouldn't be a need for such outraged protests demanding justice. The X factor is justice, and there will almost certainly be justice here. In fact, statistically speaking, no one will face harsher justice than black folk.

6- It is spectacularly clear that the agenda of the "where's the outrage" rhetoric is to delegitimize groups like Black Lives Matter that deign to voice their outrage on a social level at their mistreatment rather than quietly retreat to obscure libraries to write ever-so-diplomatic and academic papers quietly petitioning for redress from whites who will never read them. Even though the latter are protesting agents of the state getting administrative leave (read: a vacation) when they extrajudicially murder unarmed black folks. Or that black folks are stopped more, searched more, charged more, indicted more, found guilty more, and sentenced more harshly. The criminal justice double standard is what is at issue, not the fact that some cop ever had racial animus in their deep heart of hearts when they committed an atrocity. If they could get the kind of justice we've seen over this case, there wouldn't be a need for protests.

7- When folks wonder where the outrage is that must conform exactly to the narrative they want, and are using it in a sort of "Haha checkmate Black Lives Matter" way, they demonstrate a fundamental (and breathtaking) lack of understanding why there is outrage to begin with and what BLM is all about. Years on, and they still haven't even taken the time to intellectually grasp their message or to conceptually comprehend why this isn't a parallel situation. It is apparent that they still see violence that tracks along the lines of power dynamics as being random–that they still view guilt (if they see any guilt at all) as renegade bad actors. Those sorts of things DO happen, but violence that conforms to power differentials in a very clear and predictable pattern is FAR more common and receives far less justice when it does happen.

So when people (over on the "non-outraged left"–which is actually complete bullshit) treat those demanding outrage like you maybe aren't doing a good faith script flip (and believe me, this social justice bard loves him some script flipping) it's because they aren't slick. It's REALLY obvious what they're trying to do, and that they're practically orgasmic at the thought of being the victim for a change so that you have the justification to go right on ignoring movements for social equality.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Follow Writing About Writing

Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or perhaps everything I write?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing, it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways to do so. We're on several social media, but not every social medium is updated in the same way. Some media follow the blog, but others follow me as a writer. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. (Many days there are two posts but one of them is relatively minor.) Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where (once a day) I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see some of the things they missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics). Some get all the political posts from Social Justice Bard, and some get get only a selected few.

I also occasionally write for other venues (Ace of Geeks for example), and those who are following me as a writer, rather than JUST Writing About Writing, may prefer the media where I can share those other articles. Some social media have other signal to noise. For example, twitter gets ALL of these updates I post anywhere, including the reruns, which is great for people who don't want to miss anything but may feel too spammy for many followers, as I have no other presence on Twitter. On the other hand, if people JUST want my articles and nothing else, Twitter is perfect.

I'm not really present on any of these social media (except for Facebook). I cross post articles and very occasionally put something else up.

So what's the final word on how you should be following W.A.W.?

97 of the Earth's coolest people can't be wrong!
The real "Join this site" button is at the
bottom of this (and every) page.
Follow Writing About Writing through Google (Blogger, Google Friend Connect). Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through gmail.)

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner. Helps me with my "membership numbers," which are a bellwether of how cooly cool daddy-O the blog is.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up. Wordpress is the chic, happening blog place; Blogger is like the high school kids who eat lunch in the quad.

It's going to burn your FEED!!!
R.S.S. Feed (Feedly, Feedburner) If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button at the bottom of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, Newsfire, RSSOwl and more.

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.
Cons-Updates instantly! (Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I am not a good writer. Usually I post before I've managed to find and fix the biggest typos and dingfab errors I missed before I hit "Publish".) R.S.S. feed do not include reruns–even the really good reruns. No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the fabulously hilarious images. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, it feels like the sword of Damocles.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't punch in
the addys of all those Nigerian Princes.
E-Mail Notification At the bottom of the page there is an option to put your e-mail into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through e-mail notifications.  Every time I post an update, you will be sent an e-mail notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.
Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You already get ten billion e-mails a day.

G+ for the W.A.W. Page (The text there is also the link) This G+ page for Writing About Writing. Though I put an occasional image up (usually when I need to add text to an image to create a "You should be writing" macro), it is mostly there JUST for blog updates and reruns. If you want to get updates through G+, you should probably pick this page OR the one below, but not both. If you do both, it will appear in your feed as if every single link is being posted twice.

Pros- Show all new updates (minor and major). Includes reruns.
Cons- No posts from other venues. It's G+, so people will accuse you of working for Google or being woefully out of touch. They will give you tin foil hats and serve you Kool-aid.

G+ for Chris Brecheen (The text is also the link.) Above is if you want to follow the Writing About Writing page; this is if you want to follow ME as an author. If I get added by a name I don't recognize in life, I put the name in a circle called "Author Updates." I post all my reruns and posts to other venues in this circle. I don't often use G+ otherwise, though occasionally I will have a public update that would also be seen by anyone in that circle.

Pros- Major posts, but not minor ones. Reruns. Posts from other venues. Posts right away. Not much other "noise."
Cons- Occasionally you'll see a public G+ post I write. Since I post all articles, reruns, and posts from other venues here, this can seem very "spammy." People will accuse you of being a Google shill because you're on G+.

Twitter (@Chrisibrecheen) I don't use Twitter--not really. I don't really like it very much. I held in there for a while until all the retweets and replies became too much. So my tweets are ONLY cross posts of things I've written. Some people appreciate that it's a good place to get ONLY my updates; others find the "signal to noise" to be something that wouldn't make them want to follow me.

Pros- All posts. Reruns. Major posts. Minor posts. Posts from other venues. Posts right away. Not much other "noise."
Cons- I don't otherwise use Twitter. It would be JUST cross posts two or three times a day. Also misunderstandings in 140 character posts are a fact of life. Twitter pubic lice of the internet.

Facebook Page for Writing About Writing (Text is also the link) W.A.W.'s Facebook page is a whole different kettle of fish. It is, in fact, a thermo-kettle full of piranha. On my Facebook page, I actually post memes, macros, quotes, inspirational messages, videos, and try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross posting. Sometimes I skip posting "less popular" updates in favor of a "best of" rerun that will attract more of my FB audience.  FB's algorithm blacks out posts, even to people who want to see it in order to encourage content providers to spend money promoting themselves.
So very bitter.

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. Sticks to "best posts." Most reruns. Most posts from other venues.
Cons- Lots of other stuff going on. (Not a good place if you just want the updates or if you want all the updates.) Major posts. Not minor ones. FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Skips less popular posts in favor of popular reruns. Not a good place to get all the updates. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the antichrist.

Tumblr (Text is also the link) I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling that basically ensures that about one quarter of one percent of my Facebook followers see any given post. Tumblr doesn't try to decide what I want to see or what my followers want to see and it doesn't hold their eyeballs hostage to try and squeeze money out of me. Mostly, Tumblr isn't run by a bunch of greedy assholes with dollar signs in their eyes.  And yet.....I'm absolutely terrible at updating over there. I don't post as many macros on Tumblr as I do on Facebook because I don't have to post once an hour in order to be noticed once a day.

However, Tumblr is a place where it's impossible to compartmentalize, so you have to put up with some of my "Social Justice Bard stuff." And as I can't handle adminning a FB page and a Tumblr page at the same time, I only rarely put anything on Tumblr that isn't a cross post.

Pros- Only main posts. Very few reruns (only the uberbest). Some funny macros. Feminist crap (if you like that stuff).
Cons- Only major, major posts. No "minor" posts. Occasional reruns. Feminist crap (if you don't like that kind of stuff). Very sporadic posting. Basically I suck at sticking with more than one social medium.

Facebook for Chris Brecheen (The text is also the link) I welcome readers to follow me on Facebook, but the updates there get mixed in with a lot of other stuff about my personal life and the things that interest me, some of which (as you may have noticed) include social justice and struggles for equality. I can be a little.....intense. I also test balloon a lot of ideas through my wall before polishing them up for the blog (or not), so you'll see some ideas in their proto-post stage. You might want to dig back a few posts and decide if the stuff I yell at clouds about is right for you. Please send me a quick private message if you friend me there. I deal with a hundred sunglasses selling randos a month. If you just want to follow (not friend), 99% of my updates are public.

Pros- All posts. You're more likely to see posts than on Writing About Writing's FB page.
Cons- I go up to 11.  Lots of posts. Facebook is still the devil.