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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Give Up

I'd like to show you something, and I'd be lying if a little bit of it wasn't just jumping up and down with The Power of Squee™ over an epic milestone. But I also want to make a point about perseverance and hard work and dedication.

Because if the mouth harp twang of background music is any indication, I'm about to go all folksy homespun wisdom on your ass.

You see this month, while I was trying not to fall apart, I accidentally broke every goal I plausibly had as a blogger....all at once. There are still some goals regarding the book I'm writing, and as they start to look like "finishing the final draft on time," they have less and less plausibility, and I suppose there are a few pipe dream goals that involve being given a shout out by Stephen King ("Hey what a great review of On Writing! This kid's all right!"), finding some ridiculously wealthy patron who can pay all my bills just by diverting their gourmet toothpaste budget even if I have to live over their garage and they want lots of help working on their comeback script, but as far as realistic goals and blogging goals go, I thought it would be years (several of them) before I came anywhere close to July 2013. Two months ago, if you'd told me I could get 50,000 page views in a month, I would have thought you were talking to Blog too much, and it was filling your head with pipe dreams for Blogust.

In July 2013, with most good posts making a couple hundred page views and the average being around 100, I wrote Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative. This post, in the span of about five days, got a quarter of a million hits. No other post has come anywhere close to this one's popularity.

My life would never be the same. Death threats. Relationships. New friends. A following (no matter how modest it became after it became clear I was not going to patrol the BART fighting crime and then blog about it). Somehow the groupie threesome eluded me, but I'm sure that was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing, obvi. And of course that giant unsurmountable spire sticking up in my analytics that couldn't ever be touched. No matter how hard I tried, I was never going to get that many pageviews again. Not for years. (Technically, I figured there might be a chance I fluked again with another viral article, but at a monthly average of 35,000, I didn't ever expect it to be anything reliable.)

Then came this month. And honk my hooter what a month! There were a couple of heavy hitter articles doing some of the heavy lifting, but really no one article made this happen. Largely thanks to the growing audience of my facebook page, any article I post now has about a thousand page views, and a decent one averages around 2,500. Add that to sundry traffic and most days this month were over 10k hits.

If you told me my mother had drowned in a vat of asparagus flavored pudding, I would be less confused.

You can see on the lifetime chart right where Sonic Gal got her cancer diagnosis, and my posting dropped off except for a slogging attempt at jazz hands. You can see where I started to crawl back. And then....you can see where things began to angle upward. And of course you can see where, by a few thousand, I beat out the month that could not be beaten.
Image description–July 2013/Pageviews: 278,325
Image description–Jan 2017/Pageviews: 287,637















I'll have to come up with all new goals now. (Post to come.) And who knows if this trend will continue on the upswing or level out or go back down to something more less ridonkulous. One thing is for sure, my poor ass is wishing I would sell out and host a couple of ads right about now. Damn it Chris!

But I never could have gotten to this point if I'd stopped writing because life got hard. I never could have gotten to this point if I'd updated a sporadic twice-a-week schedule. I never could have gotten to this point if I'd given up.

I post this for two reasons.

One, because you all are awesome. That's literally 287,637 people who are NOT me being amazeballs and stopping by, and I can't ever be grateful enough for how wonderful you are.

But here's the main thing: there is no trick to this. There is no magic formula. It took me five years to build up an audience. Five years and seven days most weeks. And while that's a little faster than someone might expect through traditional publishing, it's not a shortcut by any means. You can go back and look at how I've done it. It's all right there–every single article. I'm not that great a writer. I have massive glaring grammar errors at least twice an article. I need to revise my posts more often. I'm not an SEO or a social media expert. I don't even have an advertising budget anymore. I don't have "talent." But I do the work. I got something up every day and I spent an hour or so every day maintaining that FB page. And over time, that work paid off.

You can do it too. It just takes time and an unswerving dedication to keep writing. Somewhere out there is a viral post you're not expecting or a book you didn't realize was going to resonate so hard. Somewhere out there is a slow curve of improvement punctuated by moments of unexpected success. But to get to those moments you have to keep writing. So never ever ever ever ever give up.

Monday, January 30, 2017

When You Fall Off the Horse (Personal Update)

Working in a play cafe with T.C.
Image description: Writer looking wild eyed, but determined
(and super cute) in a play cafe
Really Rough Draft  

Raw unfettered shit- 71, 814 (Last update 60, 203) [Just this update- 11,611]     

Slightly polished turd- 55, 716 (Last update 34,809)  [Just this update- 20,907] 

Got a surprise double shift with the kiddo today, so I'm going to do a quick update.

If that number above looks like a decent week instead of something closer to the six weeks it's been since I last updated my word counts, you're not wrong. And probably half of this progress occurred only in the last week.

I don't have a lot of excuses. Of course the end of the semester and holidays are always rough, but that wrapped up a month ago. Then I deal with what I call "life fallout" (as all the things I've ignored while I've been overwhelmed come to collect). This included a couple of overdue visits and some deep cleaning, but that was only about ten days of January. I got sick, but it was only for a few days. Mostly I just dropped the ball. I've gotten a lot of extra hours watching The Contrarian, but not so many that writing should have been impractical. All these factors combined were non-trivial, but I still should have had time to make some slow and steady progress.

No, the real problem wasn't time.

I've not been okay with the election and subsequent fallout. As it got more and more real (and then began to take effect after the inauguration) I felt worse and worse. People I love are already feeling direct and measurable harm in their lives. A friend of mine is probably not going to get to see their husband for at least three months because of the travel ban. I've been able to write (even every day, but it's been very focused on social and political writing on my facebook page.

A blurb on FB (even a pretty long one) might take me about an hour or 90 minutes. That's about how long I can focus right now. I've had trouble getting blogs up but have managed with liberal application of jazz hands. But sitting down and writing fiction has been extra difficult.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of how out of sorts I've been has been the trouble I've had reading. Articles are fine, although I find myself wanting to skim a lot of them after the first couple of paragraphs. I have tried about three times to sit down and read Ancillary Justice and even though it's a very compelling read, I just keep getting distracted.

Though I've been writing every day, my manuscript has gone a bit fallow.

So let me share a little trick I do when times are like this and I can't seem to break out. It's not panacea, and it may not work for you, but it has never let me down when I'm having trouble sitting and working, but I need bolster my word counts something fierce.

I sit down and I force myself to write for only five minutes.

That's it. Five minutes. I don't block off three hours and have major expectations. I just say "I'm going to write for five minutes and then I'm done." Is there anyone who can't spit a few words at the page (even on something they're pretty "meh" about) for five minutes?

At the end of that five minutes, I get to decide whether I want to re-up for another five. It's no different. I'm not signing on to write for an hour. It's just five more minutes. If I'm out of gas by the end of it, I can walk away with honor.  And then at the end of that five minutes.....I see if maybe I want to do five more.  Usually within about twenty minutes, I'm writing at a clip instead of stopping every five to check in. It doesn't always work, but usually those are the longest writing sessions I pull out.

So if you're having some real trouble with your mojo, don't ask yourself if you feel like sitting down and putting in a four hour stint. Just ask yourself if you can do five minutes....

Friday, January 27, 2017

Worst Page Turner (Quarterfinal 2)

Nobody tell any teenage girls that this
book is on our poll or we're all dead.
DEAD!
Image Description:
The Fault in our Stars Cover
What is the worst book that you just couldn't put down...no matter how hard you tried?  

I'm seriously side eyeing whomever put Salinger on this poll. I can see not liking it–for myriad reasons. And I can totally see not being able to put it down, but....WORST of the page turners? Really? But hey, I just work here.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. The top four will go on to the semifinals.

The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." 

These quarterfinals will only be up for a few days each so that we can finish this poll in February. Vote quickly!

Worst Page Turner (Results Quarterfinal 1)

Text results below.
The results of the first quarterfinals are in. Pretty Little Liars, the Stephanie Plum series, and The Corrections have been deemed either too well written or not page-turny enough, and will not be moving on to the semifinals.

Be sure and stay tuned for the second quarter final round to go up in just a few minutes.

Twilight-S. Meyer 54 35.53%
DaVinci Code-D. Brown 43 28.29%
Eat Pray Love-E. Gilbert 20 13.16%
Dreamcatchers-S. King 14 9.21%
The Pretty Little Liars-S. Shepard 10 6.58%
Stephanie Plum series-J. Evanovich 9 5.92%
The Corrections-J. Franzen 2 1.32%

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hamilton

I had a thing come up suddenly, so everyone has a one day stay of execution on on voting in the first quarterfinal round of the worst page turner poll. 

Today I will share with you one of the things feeding my current insatiable hunger for motivation and inspiration.
If you haven't seen or heard Hamilton, rectify this egregious oversight in your life immediately. A lot of the 101 level history focus on Alexander Hamilton is about his involvement in the American Revolution and the national banks, but the Broadway musical–in addition to being six kinds of amazing–really focuses on Hamilton's life as a writer. Unless someone is kind of studying the Federalist Papers, or really studying JUST A.H., it's a much lesser known aspect of his life. But the musical really gets into just how much writing he did.

Here are a couple of the most inspiring "writerly" songs from Hamilton, but if you haven't listened to the whole thing (especially if you're the kind of nerd like me who loves Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and such), what the hell is wrong with you?



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Worst Page Turner (Last Chance to Vote Semifinal 1)

What is the worst book you just couldn't stop reading?  

Our quarterfinal rounds are going to be fast and furious so that we can get this poll into its final round by the end of February, so take your last opportunity to vote on our reader-picked nominations.

Everyone gets three (3) votes and the "top" four titles will go on to the semifinal round.

The poll is on the left side menu down below the author bio.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tone

This is the first of a (I think) three part series on the writing element known as tone.

[Disclaimer: much of what I'm about to write regarding tone is not always accessible to all people in the same way. While this is always true, of course, it can be particularly true regarding how most people intuit tone. It is important to remember that not everyone is neurotypical and, like knowing when a person is being sarcastic, some will struggle to discern tone when others "can just tell."]

Tone is one of those elements of craft that most readers know, they just don't know they know. It's also something that most writers kind of tear their hair out in thick clumps trying to get right.

Think of the last time you read an e-mail from someone and you were just sure they were being snotty to you on the other end of that computer. How did you know that? It wasn't like you could see them rolling their eyes or hear them snorting derisively. Yet somehow, contempt just seethed off of the screen. Maybe you didn't know why you were sure of that, but you could just tell. Maybe you even called them on it, and they asked you what exactly gave you that impression....but you weren't sure, and re-reading it, you began to doubt yourself.

Unfortunately for them the world is crawling with writers and English majors and careful readers and some people actually CAN point out exactly what word choices led to a written work's tone. While The Case of the Snotty E-mail™ might as easily be a reading comprehension error or projection, there is a way to know if it actually was snotty. And Detective English* can help you solve it!

*Note: The staff has threatened to rise up, Hamilton style, if I actually make Detective English a character, so maybe best I let that one go. I can't risk them refusing to take free hashbrown vouchers from Denny's instead of paychecks, so my hands are kind of tied.

When we talk about tone in literature, concepts often feel a little slippery, but they're really not. At first something like "the general character or attitude" reads as so impossibly vague that it could almost mean anything at all. Then you wonder what the hell your English teacher is on about, and flip the desk, throw your book, and stalk out into the warm summer air, only to be caught and given detention by the vice principle within minutes. All of which could have been avoided if there were just a Detective English to help you out.

But there isn't a Detective English, of course. And I'm not even thinking of adding one.

In fact, a lot of people can tell you what the tone of a piece is, but it is much more difficult for them to pinpoint exactly why they think so. And this lack of understanding works both ways. If someone is pissed off when they write something, unless they're a very good writer, it almost always comes straight through their writing, even if they didn't intend it or tried their very bestest best to be diplomatic. Even though we spend a lot of time talking about the power of nonverbal communication, our words do matter. And when you have no non-verbal communication (as in writing), words are the only way to convey tone.

As writers though we have to control our prose (along with our urges to have Detective English be a character....apparently). We can't suddenly have four pages in the middle of a byzantine narrator's sentimental redemption arc go completely sardonic because we were annoyed at our landlord that day or a chapter intending to darkly explore death be light and whimsical because we got laid like woah right before we sat down to write. This is one of the reasons a very strong tone in a piece is considered particularly "literary." It often takes a careful hand and a rigorous regimen of revision to properly sculpt a tone that alters only when it fits the narrative.

Learning to control the tone of writing first involves learning to understand how it radically alters a piece. Two works with identical plot points, characters, character arcs, and even themes and setting would be very different writing if their tone were radically altered from one another's. And this basically stems entirely from word choice, sentence style and length, and paragraph length. Short declarative sentences create a prosaic style. Punchy verbs sound stronger. Long sentences, with subordinate clauses in them create a more languid feel. Long paragraphs keep readers locked in single ideas for longer, while shorter ones create a clipped pace. Word choices can shape this as well. The difference between "furious" and "enraged" can change completely the way a sentence lands. Calling something a "falsehood" vs. calling it a "lie" casts a very different caliber of culpability on whomever said it. High vocabulary can be used to establish authority. Stripping out adverbs and adjectives can be used to create objectivity. Using lots of concrete descriptions will pull a reader into a moment.

I will, of course, bring in written examples, but before I do, it may help if I show an example of a vast tone difference, and it might be easier to illustrate it first using music. Let's look at two versions of The Book of Love. The original by Magnetic Fields and the far more well known cover by Peter Gabriel.



This is the same song. Same chord progression. Mostly the same notes. You'll recognize it immediately. Why are they so different? The first is a singer and a guitar. You can even hear the feedback from the speaker. His voice is low and there isn't a large vocal range. Everything is creating this mood of an amateur, maybe even impromptu, serenade. And the way the song lyrics end solidifies this. It's kind of a wedding proposal.

But now look at the Gabriel cover. First bar. BAM! Full string accompaniment (I think an octet). No drums. No percussion. No brass. No woodwinds. Strings alone give the piece a very flowing quality. There's already a sense that this is not a serenade, but more someone speaking about universal truthiness of love. Gabriel uses a much larger vocal range, jumping octaves to let his voice soar and give it a more ethereal quality. A woman's joins him in the vocals increasing this effect. In fact, one of the lines that fits with the crooning serenade ("some of them are just really dumb") kind of sticks out like a sore cliche in the Gabriel cover since the mood is so gravitas.

And suddenly you have the same song, same words, same chords two very, very different finished products that evoke entirely different feelings and imagery.

There are other covers of this song, one by Airborne Toxic Event and another by Gavin James. Notice how they also use different instrumentation, slightly different melodies, different vocal stylings and a different tempo to create even different moods. The A.T.E. cover is a sad song with slow lonely vocals and a single violin. But the James piece (even without the hokey video) evokes more of a Americana feel because of the twangy guitar instrumentation and his folksy vocalization.

Let's look at two more that I'll write about (and then I'll put a few more at the end of the post just for fun). Here's Nine Inch Nails doing "Hurt" and the cover by Johnny Cash. Both of these songs work to create a fundamental tension in the listener of some crash of drumbeats or surge of music that would create catharsis, but in one song it comes, and in the other it remains unresolved–which is essential to the theme of the lyrics (ironically in both cases). But notice the differences (CN: Self Harm):





The NIN song uses electronica to create a tone that keeps building and building behind the vocals. But there is also an atonal note in the lead guitar's refrain through the whole song. A sharp note that gives us the sense that something is very wrong within this song. The reverb is turned way up and he's practically swallowing the mic, so at first it's difficult to understand the words. As the song goes on, the volume ebbs and flows but keeps ramping inexorably up, and at the end he pulls further from the mic and you can hear the words (particularly "I will find a way"). There is a final drumbeat and heavy chords signalling a dramatic finality. Listeners have speculated that it's a song about suicide or maybe heroin, but whatever it is, the narrator is determined by the end.

The Cash cover he is articulating far more clearly from the very first word. Every syllable is painfully enunciated, and you can't escape the meaning. At first, only his guitar accompanies him. Then a piano joins in, unison chords to start, but then creating a beat increasing in intensity. This song too builds up and backs off, and then builds up again with the piano becoming increasingly dominated by a single note on the beat. But Cash's version doesn't have the catharsis of the NIN song. It never resolves its final chord dissonance. His voice carries out over his accompaniment but that last strum and piano consonance never happens. It's just him....alone.

Cash also changes two words. First, he changes "crown of shit" to "crown of thorns" in a not-even-a-little-bit-subtle Christ symbol. He also changes the tense of one "will" in the last stanza to "would" indicating that he is speaking hypothetically not definitively about the future. Cash's song takes these tiny tweaks to make it into something else. A story about a someone who seems impossibly wonderful at first, but his demons always destroy the love around him by letting people down and hurting them. If he could get away he could maybe start over the process with people who don't really know him....but he is out of time. (The video really adds a layer to this comparing Johnny Cash the legend to the real person.)

And so the song in form and content ends with him....alone.

Of course in music the elements that create the form are very different from notation, instrumentation, tempo. In writing we work only with language. We have word choice, sentence length and complexity, paragraph length, and a truly conscious writer can also work to use tone to dovetail with prose rhythm.

But I'll get into that in part 2. Enjoy a few more wildly different songs.

[Note. The nature of YouTube is that some of these links are going to go dead. So if you ever find this post has an expired link, just let me know in the comments, and I'll try to fix it.]



And here are just a few covers of songs that you're almost certainly already familiar with.







Monday, January 23, 2017

Swing and a Miss

Spent the day working on a commissioned piece that didn't go over well.

I'll be back on it tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Worst Page Turner (1st Quarterfinal)

What is the worst book that you just couldn't put down...no matter how hard you tried? 

You read that right. Quarterfinals. There were twenty-eight nominations, so it's going to take us some time to run through these.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. The top four will go on to the semifinals.

The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." 


These quarterfinals will only be up for a few days each so that we can finish this poll in February. Vote quickly!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Worst Page Turner (Last Call for Noms and Seconds)

What is the worst book that you just couldn't put down?  

You hated every second of it. But you read the whole thing in one night....

Given the situation with my cat, I figured I would run this poll on Friday and give everyone a reminder today to get your nominations and seconds in. I'm kind of watching her 24/7 right now with only a few breaks, and even though I can technically do that with a laptop open, my heart is not in the big long posts right now. Hopefully by next week I'll either have good news or hard decisions will have been made.

Based on the enthusiastic response, we will surely have a semifinal round. I will put the first round of that up tomorrow.

So today is your last last chance to get anything else on that poll.

Please remember to go back to the comments of the ORIGINAL POST to make nominations or seconds. I can't guarantee I will remember nominations if they are in several different places.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An old Friend is Sick

Image description: Writer with
his orange cat in a vet's office.
Folks I'm sorry about the absence of a post today and likely some serious jazz hands to end out the week. My cat is not doing well.

I found her today unable to even descend her little kitty stairs because she kept, for lack of a better description, "listing" to the right and falling over. At first I thought it was just old lady cat clumsiness and helped her up, but then she did it again. I tried to get her straightened out but she just fell over again. She can't really even stand up. Her legs on her right side just sort of keep failing.

Four hundred dollars I don't have later, I know only that her blood looks pretty okay for a cat who has progressing kidney disease. (So it's not kidney or liver failure.) And she is mostly blind due to some retina damage. Not a lot of answers, but we ruled out some things that would be causing her pain.

Two current theories are that the kidney disease may have made her throw a clot that caused a stroke and some neurological damage (which sounds like it's right out of an episode of House MD to me). She might get better if that's what's going on. And with the blood work looking good, she may have a little time left.

The other is cancer. A brain tumor is also a likely fit for the symptoms. That, of course, won't get better.

I wasn't going to give a 17 year old cat a MRI just to rule out a tumor, so I was sent home with some meds and I get to play palliative care cat nurse and watch her closely for signs of improvement. If not, or if it gets worse, I have to think about her quality of life and level of suffering.

After watching her fall over on one side this afternoon and not even be able to walk, I thought I was coming home alone today, so this is about the most hopeful news I could get. But it did eat up the whole day including my writing time, and I imagine the next few are going to be touch and go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Social Justice Bard and the Tale of the Liberals Whose Fault it Is

http://imgur.com/gallery/P1yXa 
There is a story about who "cost us" the election.

It is a story from which we could not escape in the days and weeks after we all stood in flabbergasted horror to see that Donald McPussygrab Trump would be our next president. We began to try to figure out what went wrong. Of course for many, that meant finding someone to blame–curiously, someone other than those who voted for him.

Can we pause a moment before we go on with the inimical finger pointing and our grisly postmortem narratives that blame some particular brand of liberals for single-handedly bringing down the whole house of cards. And especially before we go on red-faced shaming anyone who doesn't want to build a bridge to a demographic who empowered the very same bigotry that violently targets and dehumanizes them.

We've heard that story enough. Let this social justice bard tell you a different story.

Republicans have been doing computer-assisted gerrymandering for 17 years that neutralizes the maximum possible number of Democratic votes for the House of Representatives races–effectively neutering one of the most fundamental tenets of a representative democracy–so they could win more.

They have also explicitly disenfranchised and/or greatly inconvenienced the voting process for millions of voters under the auspices of "reform" that have been almost exclusively liberal demographics like poor folks and people of color and has been shown time and again to cull enough voters to change the outcome of a close election (including our most recent one).

This last election involved a 30 year misogynistic GOP smear campaign against one of the candidates. The other redefined what "unpresidential" means on a daily basis. That's not really cheating per se, but it is worth noting the power of the double standard in play for a lot of folks.

Comey broke convention, tradition, and probably the law to play kingmaker by sitting on one scandalous unverified report (in the name of electoral propriety) but releasing another ten days before the election.

There was a Russian cyber and psyops attack–let me say that again with feeling: our greatest fucking geopolitical enemy, at the government level, hacked sensitive information and then used it to launch launch a PSYOPS ATTACK as well as flooding our social media with a deluge of fake news sites–not merely just trying to delegitimize American faith in democratic elections in general, but specifically working to get Trump elected.

And we still won that shit by THREE. MILLION. VOTES.

It took an antiquated, pro-slavery, winner-take-all electoral college for Trump to eke out a less than 1% victory in enough swing states pull it out.

We're slinking around here acting like we lost the war of ideas and that if we're ever to win again, we have no choice but to suck up to those folks who demonstrated that they have no problem with casual bigotry.

That's crap. Total fucking crap.

We are legion. And we DO come together in a pragmatic way when it's time. And look at JUST HOW MUCH fucking cheating it took for us to lose by tissue paper margins. If we build our bridges in the other direction, we would fire up a veritable army of currently apathetic progressives. The entire founding principles of US political discourse would have to shift significantly left before conservatives would come close to governing again.

There is always a place for introspection and self-reflection and building a better mousetrap of discourse, but election results that needed SO many criminally unethical factors to even be close belies a certain absurdity in blaming ourselves for the results.

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. She was a superb example of how mental illness and addiction affect but never determine the arc of a person's life. And she displayed an unapologetically open honesty about her life, warts and all. 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!!!
Wait...what?
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.
Bitter.
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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Worst Page Turner: Nominations and Seconds Needed

What is the worst book that you just couldn't put down?  

Did you hate to love it or just love to hate it? These are the books we know are literary cotton candy, but we can't stop going for one more mouthful anyway.

First of all, the nominations accelerated to ludicrous speed within seconds of announcing the poll's subject, so while we are happy to get a few more nominations, what we really need are for people to go through and second (and third) the titles they'd really like to see on the poll. I'm not going to take anything without a second, and depending on the number of nominations, maybe not without a third. (I may not be able to avoid doing a quick semifinal round, but I'm going to try.)

Rules are on the original page if you have questions.

Please please please put any new nominations on the comments of the original page. It'll make my life so much easier when I make the poll to have all the nominations in one place.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Narrative of The Unheard Rural White Voter

Getty
Image description: Angry white trump voters
Shortly after the election, the left wing was assaulted with the narrative that the election was lost because white rural voters from middle America aren't "heard." Those liberal coastal elites hadn't built enough bridges and their identity politics had finally gone too damned far. Ignored were the huge swaths of largely progressive voters who sat the election out, those disenfranchised by voter registration laws in numbers enough to have flipped swing states, and even the calculated torpedoing of Clinton's campaign by Comey and the Russians.

This narrative shouted from rooftops of every quarter is kind of a perfect macrocosm of white privilege. It's every white person in the comments section or on a Facebook thread talking over people of color or having to have the last word made manifest on a cultural scale.

White middle American voters ARE heard–there is almost no demographic more represented in the media. They ARE understood. They ARE adulated by Republicans and courted by Democrats even though yoking their anger is a Faustian deal for either party. Their economic concerns ARE shared by most of the country. They ARE the demographic most focused upon, most talked about talked about, most debated with, and most wooed.

But being heard...understood...sought. That's not enough.

What they want is the discourse completely centered on them. It can't be about everyone's economics. It has to be about THEIR economics, and the solutions must benefit only them. (Raising the minimum wage would help everyone–even urban poor. No, it has to be a low-skill factory, but with GOOD [yet non-union] jobs, planted in their backyard despite the myriad economic reasons that is no longer feasible.) Their regional financial solvency has to take precedence over fixing an increasingly broken disparity of wealth in our country.

It's not enough to hear and understand them. We have to ignore everyone else. We have to disregard the "identity politics" of others–of groups pushed to the margins who deign to point out that the world is not yet equal despite the insistence that we're past all that and that we've come far enough.

It's not enough that we're saturated in their point of view and can often articulate it as well as they can. They don't ever want to have to hear words like "privilege" or "feminism" again.

It's not enough to recognize that their actions were not purely motivated by some caricature extreme of racism. Those who point out that their actions have hurt other groups must be utterly silenced. They want their support of bigotry to be above reproach–they don't even want their feelings to be hurt with unkind labels–because they were just making sure they got theirs at any cost and that's fundamentally different than hating, which is what the slightest criticism of them obviously is.

It's not enough to have empathy towards them. You have to also hate and lose empathy for those fucking liberal coastal elites.

If you don't AGREE with them, you clearly haven't heard them. The idea that someone could hear and understand them but still disagree hasn't truly occurred to them. So if you demonstrate anything other than full capitulation to their viewpoint, they'll say it again. And again. And again....

They want contrition. They want to DOMINATE the narrative. They want hegemony. Like the white person in the thread, they go on and on and on endlessly repeating that they just want to be heard (even though they were well understood by the first comment), and trying to gaslight–in this case the entire country–into believing that something isn't racist just because they say it isn't and that nothing could be more important than their own political concerns–that even their feelings about being labeled bigots are far more important than the actual harm they chose to have visited on others.

They don't want to lose their privilege.

2 MILLION!! (Thank You)
















I've got an awful lot of writing that is half formed, and less time to solidify it into actual posts while I'm visiting my mom, but I wanted to pause for a moment and thank everyone for getting me to the next major milestone.

I knew we'd hit two million this year, but honestly, I thought it would be March or April. I didn't think it would be within the first month, never mind the first week. The success of The Narrative of Normalization (already the number two article of all time) and the even stranger success of my FB page's comment policy (which is number three of all time) vaulted us over the two million mark as day seven was wrapping up. I mean I can't get 95% of my FB page to read ANYTHING that isn't a pun on a macro, but suddenly....bam.


Two million!  TWO MILLION!! That's the population of Houston (which, strangely enough, is close to where I am visiting my mom).

And as always, my thoughts turn to all of you. I literally couldn't do it without all of you. Thank you all so much for reading and helping this scrappy, two-bit blog start to scrape out a little dream shaped space in my world. And I will keep writing as hard as I can and try to get us even faster to three.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Narrative of Normalization

Come see the full comic at:
http://jensorensen.com/2016/11/15/donald-trump-election-win-reactions-cartoon/

If you are still trying to convince yourself that a Trump presidency will not be that bad, here is (some of) the cognitive dissonance that exists within that narrative of normalization:


  • That a presidential nominee who you praised for not being a typical politician (one who goes back on their promises) will go back on their promises.....but only the ones you don't like (like cutting YOUR government support or maybe that Muslim registry that DID sound kind of scary). The ones you liked he'll do. Absolutely.
  • That nearly every person who has either lived through or studied Hitler's rise to power suddenly, all at once, decided to become melodramatic and overwrought. For no reason.
  • That he says what he means and you like that. Except for the stuff that you swear you weren't okay with him saying. You're not a racist or anything. That was just bluster. But the stuff you agree with wasn't just bluster; it was totally sincere. You are able to tell exactly which things are bluster and exactly which things he has high integrity about.
  • That a guy who lies almost every time his mouth is open was totally telling the truth to you. Totally. And sure he lies all the time, but he's right about all the stuff you agree with him about. Yep.
  • That a presidential nominee who bragged during nationally televised debates about scamming freelance workers and spent twenty-five million to settle a fraud lawsuit can be trusted to know exactly where the water's edge of "conflict of interest" is between his personal investments and US interests and doesn't need the slightest oversight.
  • That a presidential nominee who bragged during nationally televised debates about scamming freelance workers and spent twenty-five million to settle a fraud lawsuit totally wasn't saying anything he had to to win so he could defraud YOU.
  • That these appointments aren't terrifying at all. Breathtaking cronyism in a historically uneducated and inexperienced cabinet with a bent towards white supremacy and anti-LGBTQ+ policy is only alarming because everyone on the left is a sore loser.
  • That Republican paranoia about shit that Obama never said he would do (like taking away your guns) was justified, but our fear of explicit campaign promises is blowing things out of proportion.
  • That Russia hasn't ever done anything enemy-ish, is absolutely blameless, would never do such a thing, and you should mock everyone who thinks otherwise. Even those seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies. Because what did they ever do.
  • That nothing bad ever happened when a president decided not to pay attention to an intelligence report. *cough9/11cough*
  • That your vote was all about economics. Not even a teensie weensie bit about race or bigotry. (Even though those "identity politics PC folks" sure had it coming!) Despite the fact that Trump's tax plan very clearly spelled out that your taxes would be (and will be) going up unless you are a business or in the top 1%. But let's go with the economy. Absolutely.
  • That intelligence agencies are somehow only trustworthy if they are accusing Hillary Clinton of a crime.
  • That someone who has called American citizens of the opposition party his "enemies" in a taunt that a twelve year old 4channer would find petulant egged on by a mainstream constituency that is delighted at how much pain and suffering "those fucking coastal elites" are about to endure is somehow going to heal the divisions of our country.
  • That the party that once used "pinko commie" as an insult to the left to insinuate that they were in league with Russia is now darned cool with those guys and their curious blend of anti-LGBT, one party, imperialistic oppression.
  • That after enduring eight years of birther crap, racism, faux lynchings, literal burning effigies, the rhetoric of taking the country "back," watching the Tea party rise as a Koch brothers astroturf movement involving a bunch of white dudes in revolutionary war costumes calling the administration of a right leaning Democrat (with an infuriating penchant for compromise) "tyranny," as well as an unprecedented obstructionism at every single level of government, liberals should just "get over it" because "He won."
  • That the REAL problem is that a group who is trying to get everyone the same rights, achieve equality, listen to others' lived experiences, and empower those pushed to the margins of our society is lacking empathy. If only we'd learn to build a bridge.
  • That in a country where the status quo is already violently unjust towards certain people, an administration that has openly voiced hostility towards these people will make things better.
  • That a head of state who chooses not only to ignore a foreign attack by our enemies, but also mocks the sitting president who retaliated with sanctions....then turns around and PRAISES the foreign head of state who almost certainly attacked us....  That THAT guy is going to keep US interests safe.
  • That a dude who didn't realize his tweet calling for a boycott of Apple was going to reveal that it had come from an iPhone somehow knows more about hacking than 17 U.S. intelligence communities and a host of private analysts.
  • That a guy who brags about grabbing women by the pussy isn't sexist and it totally wasn't even a little sexist to go ahead and vote to make him the most powerful person on Earth.
  • Repeat the last point for racism, xenophobia, ableism and every shitty bigoted thing he has said or done. But it totally isn't even a little bigoted that all this stuff wasn't a deal breaker, and liberals are just being "hateful" to suggest it.
  • That "the least racist person you'll ever meet" appointed a white supremacist to a new White House position.
  • That a person with an ego so frail that they take to twitter at the slightest criticism (be it from SNL portrayals or a Broadway musical with the audacity to hope that all US citizens would gain equal protection) is going to be an effective diplomat, and totally won't have a nuclear power rattling its saber at him before he's even sworn in.
  • That negative three million votes is a "mandate."
  • That the problem with a widely diverse groups struggling against the bigotry of cis het white male lawmakers to enact policy that will not target and possibly help marginalized groups is that we are "elites."
  • That diverse coalitions of folks coming together in big cities where they all are exposed to other points of view are the ones living in an ideological bubble and the group that was 86% white voters needs a bridge built to them.
  • That nuclear proliferation is a big competition and Trump can "win."
  • That the guy who not only has been conspicuously silent about the shocking uptick in hate crimes but has also demanded a list of the federal employees involved in combatting the rise of extremist groups (but won't say why) isn't going to be as bad for minorities as he's being painted, and all "those people" are just making mountains out of molehills.
  • That being cheered on by Nazis is not an inauspicious sign.
  • That calling Obama racial slurs and racist epithets are just free speech, but pointing out when Trump is lying with facts should be cracked down on because it's so hateful.
  • That someone who hates taxing the rich and hates unions and hates regulations and hates bipartisan cooperation isn't talking about the social hegemony of cis het white men when he wistfully looks to the past while invoking a promise to make America "great again."
  • That it's too late to admit you've made a mistake and join us in our every effort to #RESIST
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

December's Best

There will be no post tomorrow*

When you see me next (on Monday) two major things that have been in the works for a while will be rolling out like the Autobots after Bumblebee discovers some energon. Well, technically three–I have a shit ton of half finished articles at this point and I just need the damned time to sit down and finish them.

But let's focus the two sort of "project" updates. Some of the "Best of" Menu stuff hasn't been updated since 2015 ended, and even though I've had some spectacular excuses in this shitweasle of a year, having that hang over me like the Unupdated Menu of Damocles™ has been "teh suck." Listing the best articles for a year isn't just a matter of going back and looking at their page views. There is a list of "best by month" list too, and as the best by year posts get plucked from the best by month list, I have to put in the "fourth place" articles for the month. It's not a tremendously hard thing, but it's time consuming and this year has been a landfill inferno (that's what happens when a trashcan fire is not enough).

The other project is a Patreon. I've been waiting for the new year so that if it did well, it wouldn't add further complexity to my 2016 taxes, and to put plenty of distance between it and my rather...um... Kickstarter self promotion. I'll have more to say about it when it goes live, but the short version is that if you want to contribute amounts as little as a dollar a month to Writing About Writing there will soon be a way.

I'll also be at my mom's until the 12th. I'm usually able to get some writing done there, especially since our schedules are a little off (I'm a west coast night owl and she's an early bird in Texas). Once I get back I'm FINALLY on the spring schedule I've been working so hard to get to.

*There actually might be a post tomorrow. But I was planning on finishing it tonight, and I just got tapped to do 4pm to bedtime (9ish) with The Contrarian, so that's how it sometimes goes around here. One of these days when writing is a better paying gig than...well literally almost anything else, I won't have to snap up every opportunity to make some dosh. Oh who am I kidding, I love that kid and would probably do it anyway. Besides, it's good to see him one more time before I head to my mom's for several days.

But let's get on to December's Best, the three articles that will go on to world renown and immortality:

Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Stop Doing Amphetamines (Personal Update) 
December has been so so so so so so much better than the rest of 2016 for me as a writer, but sometimes there's still just too much going on.

The Not Writing Part
When you want to write for money, there ends up being a lot of parts of your job that aren't actually writing.

Major Housekeeping (And the reason why) 
This month kicked off a lot of big changes for me as a writer.

Honorable mention

So the three articles that actually did the best this month weren't from this month. As is detailed in the "Major Housekeeping" update, several posts were moved here from the Social Justice Bard blog before it shut down, and they actually did better than any others even though they were technically older reruns. Here are the best of them.

On "Crappy" Social Justice Teachers

Trust the Police?

On Guns and Mental Illness and the Stories We Tell