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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?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Diary of a Sick Writer

Yes, writers get sick.

Even the ones who jump up and down on your dining room furniture and scream like a howler monkey that the secret to "success" (should that, for you, mean anything other than enjoying writing for its own sake when the spirit moves you) is to write daily.

And sometimes we have to "call in." In some respect or another.

I'm on the mend but definitely still recovering. This morning I woke up feeling just so much fucking better. However, I was quickly reminded that I still had some convalescing to do.

Me: I'm SO MUCH BETTER. I'm going to go live! I feel life in my veins. The possibilities are endless. Energy courses through me. The merging is complete! The world is my oyster. I might even go out tonight. THE HIIIIIILLLLS ARE ALLLLLIVE WITH THE SOUND OF-

*falls asleep for 3 1/2 hours despite getting 12 hours last night*

Me: Maybe I'll just write a little filler post and stay up past nine instead.

One of the most frequent questions I get these days is some variation of "How can I do what you have done?" How can I get paid. How can I get these readership numbers.  How can I afford brand name peanut butter as a working writer? It's not like I'm secretive about it. (This entire blog serves as a real-time of my entire writing career arc.) However, I think a lot of them are hoping I'm going to drop some kind of secret or trick.

There isn't one.

The only "secret" is to have a very unhealthy life/work balance. The only "secret" is that writing is something I can't wait to do and I try to do every day.

So as a quickie today while I'm mostly still bed-resting, let me make sure that people know that I'm really QUITE serious about writing every day for the starting writer who wants to "make it." I don't say this to judge anyone for the "realness" of their writerhood or to insist that there's no other way to cross the finish line of Really Real Writer™ (though it ranks). I don't say it so that those of you who don't or can't write daily are racked with guilt.

I say it more more because of those questions about success that I get so often, and because I so often see folks treat artists as a group that works infrequently and only when inspiration hits rather than often harder than most clock punchers.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to write a blog these last couple of days. I had a headache from coughing and I was sleeping 16 hours. Even your average "fluffy" blog takes me a couple of hours and the longer ones take five to eight–some of the really involved ones take 20 hours or maybe more.

I couldn't blog, but I didn't stop writing. I plucked at a longer gun control post that will probably be going up in the next couple of weeks. I wrote a little fiction. I noodled on something for next week. I never got out of bed, but I propped myself up on a pillow and clacked away between naps and headaches. I made excuses that I wasn't that sick and slipped a little writing in where I could.

The last time I wasn't able to write at all, I was running a 102 fever and couldn't keep down water.

When I say write every day, I don't always mean the twelve hour marathons. I don't always mean dedicated hours on the work in progress. Sometimes the best you can do is fifteen minutes propped up on a pillow before the next wave of sinus pressure headache hits.

I'm not going to tell anyone that the way to make it as a writer is being willing to write until and unless one is brain-meltingly sick, but I do think there's a link between between making the time to write and struggling to do it every day (or almost every day–even just a little) and this wild, out-there concept of "making it."

I think that it's very conspicuous and revealing that in a wide sampling of folks who have made it to where so many express their florid desire to be, the consistent theme is artists who make excuses to DO their art rather than those who make their excuses not to.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Best Modern Fantasy by a Woman or Gender Variant Person of Color (Last call for nominations and seconds)

What is the best modern fantasy written by a woman or gender variant person of color? 

I am excited to run polls that don't just celebrate the same 20-30 white guys over and over, but I really need your help to see those polls succeed.

We totally need more nominations!

Be sure and drop the comment ON THE ORIGINAL POST or it will get lost in the crossfire. That's also where you'll find the rules if you're confused about anything. There was a time when I could really go round and gather up all the breadcrumb nominations from all the various social media and posts, but things are way too busy now.

Seconds are also needed. (And thirds. And fourths.) I won't be doing endless quarterfinal and elimination rounds. I will find a number somewhere between 8 and 22 of the most "seconded" titles. And there will either be two quick semifinal rounds or just the final round. I know that three and beyond aren't actually "seconds" but do yo

So drop a nomination or two and second everything you want to see on the poll.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Writer is Sick (Maybe? Probably. Yes.)

My body is having a gleeful time playing my favorite game: Genuinely Go-Back-to-Bed Sick? or Just a Little Sick and Blah?

Are those sniffles a mild cold or the sign of something serious? Did I suddenly need a nap because I didn't get enough rest this weekend or because I'm fighting something? That was the fifth sneeze in an hour? Am I ACHY achy or just a little sore. Do I feel warm to you?

I'm surrounded by sick people right now (seriously, it's like everybody I live with and everyone I work my side gigs with) and every sniff and sneeze I'm sure I'm about to be laid out with the plague that they've gotten.

It's not that I can't struggle through a few symptoms. Actually, I'm pretty good at it. 

A little too good.

If you remember the end of 2016, I struggled through a little sinus infection and ended up with bronchitis and an advice nurse ordering me to bed if I didn't want to end up with walking pneumonia. And this last summer I was sleepwalking due to exhaustion and apparently sleep-watched Iron Fist and shit posted on FB all day, so that's a weird thing to wake up to TWO days later. Anyway, the point is, my problem isn't working through "just the sniffles." It's actually taking it easy when I need some rest.

Thus, if I were a clock puncher at a regular job, I'd be calling in today, so I'm going to let my 148 bosses know that I'm out today and will probably phone it in tomorrow. I'm usually all about writing as long as my brain is not broiling in a fever, and today has been no exception, but it's more of a little of this, and a little of that and a free form kind of creative flow, and not sit-down-for-four-hours-and-write-a-post type focus.

I've got a guest post here in the hopper and everyone is going to need a proper ass kicking if our latest poll is going to be anything but lackluster.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I Really Really Really Hate That Word! (Mailbox)

If only I could think of a word for this
really wet, damp, humid mailbox.
I hate this word!  You? 

[C.N. Some words people really, really don't like.]

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer a couple a week.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. I will...make every effort to be kind if you don't send me hate mail.]   

Rebecca asks: 

The comments for the 'saunter' post reminded me that I have a long unanswered question: We all have favorite words and phrases. These favorites, for the most part, are dynamic and change over time. But there is a word I dislike. I genuinely dislike the word 'strive'. It makes my brain itchy. If Strive were a person I'd warn my neighbors to be wary of it. I've felt this enmity for almost 20 years now. Do you have a word like this- a word you genuinely dislike and maybe will always dislike?

My reply:

[I added the link to the above question.]

You know it's going to take, like, every ounce of willpower I have not to fill this with a ridiculous number of uh....the word that is a synonym for struggle into this answer, right? But I will....erm....make every effort to do so.

Unfortunately someone out there didn't, uh, try hard to come up with any particularly latin sounding or clever portmanteau for this concept. It's just called "word aversion." (We should...hnnng...jockey to come up with a better term.) The most common one you hear these days is probably the word moist. The words panties and crevice seem to come up a lot too. I have a friend (who, if they're reading, should skip to the next paragraph) who simply can't handle the word yum or nom. It will absolutely upset them and they kind of ask everyone around them on Facebook to...uh...endeavor to leave them off of posts if they're going to use those words.

Linguists have...erm....strained to figure out why this physiological reaction happens with some people. It goes beyond people who are annoyed by the overuse of "like" or the descriptive use of decimate, literary, or miracle to describe a pedestrian childbirth. Most people confuse this with their prescriptive pet peeves and will describe something they are just really annoyed by, but it's actually closer to acute misophonia. It's an actual visceral, physiological reaction to the word itself that exists almost no matter how hard folks....labor to be okay with the word. In some cases it can make folks actually nauseated.

Most people think they've got word aversion if they're just cranky about misuse of literally, but that's really mostly them being cantankerous and irascible about prescriptive grammar.

One thing they really have to, um, bend over backwards to compensate for is the "downhill snowball" effect of people's learned distaste. For example, with so many mainstream examples of word aversion to the word moist some people dislike the word simply because they've been culturally trained to. It's the en vogue word that many shows and characters love to hate.

It's actually a pretty fascinating. The word seems intractably tethered in some minds to the concept it represents, which is where the true revulsion lies. Words that only have one letter changed, rhyme, or contain the offensive word in larger words often cause no reaction, and–this is where it gets really neat–people who study words and/or language often have no word aversions because they understand how arbitrarily words are linked with the concepts they represent. And people who are bilingual or multilingual almost NEVER have word aversions because they understand this arbitrariness at an even more fundamental level. So if you're...um...making every effort to overcome the brain itchy reaction, Rebecca, it might help to get a degree in linguistics and learn a couple of languages. That doesn't seem like an overreaction, does it?

In the meantime, I...do my utmost not to use those words around the people in question, but sometimes running a blog means that I....um....toil in vain. Personally I don't have any words that really bother me, although I am often slightly annoyed by the prissy onomatopoeia in the word "tinkle" when used to talk about peeing rather than delicate glass bumping noises. This may also have to do with an alcoholic grandmother who started to use the word excessively (almost gleefully) after her third sherry and a Stephen King short story where one of the characters also overuses the word to the main character's revulsion.

But really I just assay to remember that we all have different foibles when it comes to language. What about everyone reading? Any words you viscerally can't stand?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Day Needed

Hi all,

I need a day.

Big feels. Mostly about a country that has decided that the bodies of murdered children are just the cost of doing business. I still take my shoes off for every flight, endure seven Benghazi probes because "something something American lives," and listen to the justification of all manner of LGBTQIA+ bigotry be because "won't someone think of the children," but this is apparently just something liberals need to get over.

But also a little peep I'm very, very fond of (my favorite peep in the whole world, in fact) is going to start school this year. Today, at least, I literally can't even.

Mostly big feels bring me to the page, and turn into big posts. Today is no exception. I'm hate typing as hard as I can without the keys popping off my keyboard and flying under the desk and bed. If you know me, you know I usually take my laptop into my pillow fort and come out swinging as soon as the Ben and Jerry's is gone. Today is no exception.  And I'll want to make sure I fine tooth comb what I'm writing and dot all the i's.

So give me a day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Help! My T.A. Says I Sound Like Alice Munro (Mailbox)

What do I do if my TA says I sound too much like another author?

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer a couple a week.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. Yes, I might let you jump the substantial queue of questions if your question is good and seems time sensitive.]   

Peggy writes:

Hi Chris, enjoying your blog and finding it quite informative.

I am a mature student working toward a degree in Creative Writing at a Canadian University. In my creative writing class we have been assigned a short story to write and the TA (who marks my work), he has provided a critique. He says that it is quite fine for the course, but that if I try to get this story published I will face obstacles since it looks like I am trying to imitate Alice Munro. I am not trying to do that, it is just the way I write (I am 63 years old and grew up in small town Ontario, like she did - if that explains it, I don’t know). Anyway, he told me to try and change my writing voice- maybe write in first person rather than 3rd and maybe change up the way I write so it is not so similar to Munro’s “voice”. 

I am not sure if this is a problem of interest to others, and so maybe not for your “WAW mailbox, but I thought I would ask your thoughts about writing “voice” and if you think this will be a problem for me to get anything published.

My reply:

Alice Munro won a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 2013) and is herself pushing 90.  Finding another would be a publisher's wet dream come true.

I'm going to write two replies today Peggy. Because in the absence of a story I can read for myself, I'm not sure what's going on with your TA, but I feel like it's not 100% fair to assume that he's full of shit. Instead we will treat him like Schrodinger's T.A.–simultaneously full of shit and not full of shit at the same time because physics.

Your T.A. is full of shit.

I'm not sure what your T.A. means by that, Peggy. What it probably means is that your T.A. has had to read a lot of Alice Munro for his own classes lately, and he's got Alice Munro on the brain. Like you know how some people see the Virgin Mary in a cheese danish or swear that the cloud in the sky looks like the face of their Arch Guru. Maybe that's what's going on?

Or maybe he's trying to show off that he can connect your writing style to someone...anyone. MFA's (I'm assuming he's an MFA if he's T.A.ing your Creative Writing class) love to show off how well read they are by telling writers who they sound like. Because they've totally read that person. Absolutely. And not just for class that one time. Oh no.

I don't want to get you in trouble, but my first response to this would probably be: "Oh? How so?" Because then there's about a 99% chance that the ensuing tap dance will be at least entertaining.

So here you have a T.A. who has given you marks for your story and then decides that it's his job to tell you if you're going to get published or not. I wonder, does he have some extensive experience in publishing that you don't know about? Does he know what publishers want? I mean it's possible that he might, but most T.A.'s are still in school because they have the same dreams as other writers–to be read and published and crack the mystery of how a writer "makes it."

And not to put too fine a point on it, but if you sounded "too much like Alice Munro" you would already be in danger of getting a NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. So what the fuck is the problem exactly?

Oh and for 500 points and control of the board, see if you can guess the MOST common bit of writing advice given by people who aren't really sure how to give writing advice. Did you guess "Try changing the point of view"? Yeeeeeeaaaaaah. Not that it is always bad advice (it's not), but it sure does a lot of standing in for more substantive criticism about narrative distance or subjectivity.

Look, there are lots of ways to give advice about how to improve a short story. T.A.'s aren't the nicest or the most teacherly–they're usually just the students that have the highest combination of "Did well last semester in that instructor's class" and "Financial need." Most of them are quite capable of really taking a careful read or two and a really considered approach to what an author was trying to do. And if T.A. wasn't taking his own classes, writing his own novel, probably some kind of side gig or three, and maybe even a social life, you might be getting that sweet, sweet ambrosia they can dish out. But frankly,  "This is too much like a Nobel Laureate in Literature to ever be published so try switching it to 3rd person" is NOT one of those ways.


Your T.A. is not full of shit.

I'm sort of guessing that you would have mentioned it if you were trying to imitate Alice Munro (rather than lie to me, trying to surreptitiously get away with it). I mean Raymond Carver writes a lot like Ernest Hemingway, and it's definitely not some sort of accident.  (It also surely didn't bother any publishers.) Most of us copy a little too closely when we're first starting to emulate our influences.

I suppose it's possible that you're similar enough that your T.A. is worried about you sounding derivative. He probably is pretty capable of doing a close, good-faith reading if he puts his heart into it. And he may even have some valuable advice for how to improve your work. Perhaps your narrative is really pulling in the direction that an omniscient narrator or distant lense would work better. One person suggested your TA might be trying to "trick" you into doing what they want, because accusing you of imitating a brilliant writer is always better than just saying, "I think this needs an omniscient third to pull off what you're trying to do."

Alice Munro's voice is sort of the apex blending of a flowing and minimalist style. Crisp declarative sentences continually punctuate these long, flowing, concrete-imagery-laden sentences with parentheticals set off by em dashes that kind of suck you into them like a boot in the mud. You can basically see Munro's heavy influence by both modernism and minimalism and the way she delights in using the anxiety between the two in her prose to set off the anxieties between simple and complicated dynamics in her story.

It's sort of brilliant, but if folks don't know what they're doing it's like just adding a bunch of commas randomly because you want to be ee cummings. Maybe your TA wants you to avoid that.

If you sat down and read a shitton of Alice Munro before you wrote that story, she might have influenced your style. I always write long Byzantine sentences with thick vocabulary choices after reading someone like Poe or Lovecraft but find my sentence style and length varying and filled with analogies after I've read Morrison. So maybe (MAYBE) you might need to work on finding your own voice. (Writing in the morning before you've had a chance to read can help you with that.)

Short of that though, it might just be your style. Maybe it's just a happy accident. And if T.A. picked up on a similarity, well good for him. I'd get a second opinion, but it does happen. If that's your voice, that's your voice. Trying to write outside of it is going to be like walking around and speaking in a lower or higher octave all the time. (It's possible, but it's always going to feel a little unnatural.) There are certainly worse things to be said about a prose than that it's Alice Munro-like.

And if you're going to be writing another couple of drafts anyway before you push it out of the nest and hope it can fly, you might consider seeing what happens if you change that point of view–it can deeply change the narrative distance and/or the ease of changing the objectivity vs. subjectivity.


What you should do about it?

Fortunately your play is the same no matter which one of Schrodinger's T.A.'s this guy is.

Don't worry about it. Yet. Or maybe ever.

If you're not ready to publish (particularly that piece), just keep developing your voice and writing what brings you bliss. Unless you're being intentionally derivative and keep trying to do so, you'll find your own way and unique narrative voice in time.

If you are ready to publish, submit your story, and see what the actual gatekeepers say. This guy is a T.A. If he's published anything, it's probably a story in a literary magazine that got him ten free copies as payment. (Not that that's not a start, and not that there's anything wrong with that, but he might not know what he's talking about.) If you get back from a few agents and publishers that you sound "too much" like Alice Munro, then maybe it's time to think about how to change things up.

To be honest, I seriously doubt that's going to happen. That's really not the kind feedback that gatekeepers give writers. (Trust me, I know a lot of them.) Sometimes they do get criticism about their voice, but rarely that it's derivative of [X]. (Certainly not where X is someone who writes so fucking beautifully.) "Derivative" is a much more common criticism of plot or characters. Mostly the struggle to get published is not about finding one's voice; that tends to happen one way or another with enough writing. Mostly it is about compelling narrative and character and a base level of prose skill. I also can't really imagine a publisher that would be too upset if they found another Alice Munro. I mean really!

If you're super worried about the whole accusation, read some Munro and see what you think. Fiddle with your narrative point of view if you want. It's YOUR art. Maybe you can see a few sentences where you totally did X or Y. And if they bother YOU, then change them.

I suspect what you're going to find, though, is that you don't think your writing is anything like Munro's and your T.A. was just dropping names.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

January's Best

As I scramble to get a post done for Friday (or tragically, more likely for NEXT Friday) with enough time to spare that my "Early Access" Patreons can enjoy before it goes live (and for longer than just a few hours), it suddenly occurred to me that in the rush of end of YEAR stuff, we skipped some end of January business.

So without further ado, here are January's best three non-poll articles that will go on to untold fame in The Best of W.A.W.


Ursula K. LeGuin (In Memoriam)  

2018 Update Schedule (Buckle up Broflakes and SQiD'sThis meta update updating people on what the new update schedule was going to be (once updated) was probably more popular than it had any right to be.

A Dozen Ways to Help You Not Write Every Day (If That's Your Jam"Write every day" is excellent advice, but if you can't or don't want to, here's a list of ways to help still get good results.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Best Modern Fantasy By a Woman or Gender Variant Person of Color (Nominations Needed)

What is the best modern fantasy written by a woman or gender variant person of color?  

A thing happens whenever I run a poll. Because of the fact that the publishing industry is whitewashed (and still somewhat sexist), white supremacy is alive and well (and always has been), neonazis and their little proto-neonazi versions, the Sad Puppies, can always be counted on to be offended if anyone other than white dudes gets recognized (For anything. Ever.).... And because, of course, for edgelords who are "only ironically" being bigots even though it looks exactly the same and does all the same institutional harm, and SQiDs who would clutch their pearls at the suggestion that they are anything but absolutely egalitarian but feel the need to balance out all these "just as bad" movements that are organizing, recruiting, radicalizing, arming, marching in the streets with assault rifles, have killed 18 people in 2017, and have major influence in the highest levels of the current administration and are using it to codify white their views into law using all caps in social media and hurting their feelings. And of course, a lot of people who aren't any of these things but are exposed to the background radiation of a culture that is don't acknowledge the influence such things are having on their choices and never think to compensate for it.

The end result: every poll that doesn't explicitly exclude white dudes becomes all about the white dudes.

Every. Single. One.

So since A) certain topics are wildly popular and B) we run the "open" versions of them every couple of years, I look forward to the chance to get some entirely different titles and excellent book suggestions here.

Rules- 

1- As always, I leave the semantics about "fantasy" to your best judgement because I'd rather be inclusive. I might arch an eyebrow at your ridiculous stretch to get, but I'm not going to argue.

2- To avoid multi-decade spanning series being on our poll because an author tossed out a recent sequel, the book (OR FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES) must have a copyright date no earlier than 1992. If your series kicked off in the eighties, you'll have to pick one book (that came later) to nominate.

3- You may nominate two (2) works of modern fantasy. Remember that I am a terrifying megalomaniac who hates creativity and all things that hint at free will.  I will NOT take any books or series beyond the second that you suggest. (I will consider everything after your second rec in a long list to be "seconds" if the work is nominated before or after yours.)

3- You may (and should) second as many nominations of others as you wish. That is the only way they'll be making it to the final poll.

4- IF YOU DROP A NOMINATION AS A COMMENT ON FB (or wherever) IT WILL NOT BE COUNTED! Please put your nominations here. I will take nominations on reminder posts; however, they may not get the seconds you need to go onto our poll because no one will see them. But I can't can't can't CAN'T sift through all the social media cross posting. I just don't have time anymore. 

5- I can no longer handle months of of qualifying rounds, quarterfinals, semifinals all to reach the final round of our poll. So I'm hereby announcing that these polls will not go over two semifinal rounds of ten choices each. That means I'm taking the "top" twenty nominations.....at most. But if I can narrow it down to a single poll of eight choices, that's what I'll do. Or at least as close as I can get it to those perimeters. Top choices are those which get the most "seconds."  (Yes, I know that technically makes them thirds and fourths...and whateverths.)

6- "Best" means whatever you as a reader think it should. Most challenging. Most engaging. Most fun. Most literary. Most readable. It's up to you what "best" means.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Book Was SO Much Better (Poll Results)

What book was so much better than the movie (or show).

Seems like Peter Jackson took a predictable (and utterly deserved) level of hate for turning the Hobbit into a steaming three-part pile of bullshit with a few good visual effects.

Thank you all so much for your participation in our newly structured poll (where we don't do months of elimination rounds).  The results shook out about like it seemed they were going to early with only a couple of surprised down around 3rd and 4th place.

We'll start the nomination process for our new poll tomorrow!

Text results below.


The Hobbit 263 18.15%
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 225 15.53%
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 188 12.97%
Eragon 181 12.49%
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief 175 12.08%
Dune 149 10.28%
World War Z 108 7.45%
The Dark Tower 102 7.04%
Starship Troopers 58 4%

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Non Financial Help (Four things that help but cost nothing)

Normally I limit my "appeals posts" to once a month here (and once around the 15th directly to the social media I frequent) so they don't come off as spammy. I get annoyed when artists are overbearing about that stuff and I'm not going to push it on anyone else. However my usual appeals posts are definitely trying to encourage financial support, and the question comes up a lot (directly and in comments) about how to help if even $1 a month is not in the cards.

So today, since it's the weekend and I'm not really going to be able to post a full post until tomorrow, I'm doing a quazi-mailbox to all those folks.

How can you help if you've just trying to survive capitalism and moths are flying out of your pockets? It's possible to help without ever paying a dime. (One of my patron muses for two years was a guy who just "liked" everything. He never sent me a penny.)

1- Subscribe

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter (or both).  Subscribe to my blog through Blogger. Sign up to get email notifications. Stalk the shit out of me.

You don't even have to actually pay attention to these things. You could even mute/unfollow/whatever me. It just helps if you're following.

(*begins folksy annecdote that at first seems to have nothing to do with the topic at hand*)

My latest client has a big screen TV in their bedroom hooked up with all the streaming stuff. It's so swank. Normally I would just read before bed, but this set up gave me the chance to catch up on some TV since I'm always and ever criminally behind on pop culture.

I've really been enjoying Black Mirror (even though some of the episodes are quite hard to watch) because of their critique on social media. I've watched one or two episodes a night the whole time I've been here. Some of those episodes are just a little too spot on with where the spectacular fuckery of social media is heading.

But there is no doubt that when the world of algorithms and reach projections takes a look at a blogger like me, what they look for is my numbers. How many subscribers do I have? How many followers? How many this? How many that? Is Chris a "4.5"?

There's a reason I get five or ten offers a day to advertise on my Facebook page but G+ doesn't seem to know I exist. (On FB I have 650,000 followers.) I'm not particularly thrilled at the deluge of spam and bullshit, but some of the real opportunities are offered by folks who are all looking at those same numbers. Opportunities like being featured on podcasts or being invited to speak on panels are often about numbers, and you can help me look like I'm a big deal.


2- Share on social media!

A lot of people love my style and topics. A few really like them.

And a whole fucking shit ton of people don't. I'm not their jam. I'm too soft, too hard, too sweet, too fucking whatever for their taste. I say fuck too much. I don't say fuck enough. I am not artsy enough. I'm too fucking touchy feely. Not everyone likes my style. Not everyone cares about writing. Whatever....

The hardest part about blogging is getting the word out because basically the way social media works is that I CAN'T DO IT ALONE!

If I share a post on social media it's all my same friends seeing it again and again. They all secretly (and some not so secretly) want me to shut up. For the everloving sweet buttlicking Jesus shitsnacks, Chris, shut the FUCK UP about it.

Finding my niche and those folks who really appreciate the work I am doing is tougher than running down a cephlapoid on foot (#20yearoldpopculturereferencFTW), so helping push that process along is incredibly helpful. You have friends I've never met. You can promote a few of my links without getting blacklisted. Some of the folks out there are going love what I do, but I'll never know if they're too busy binge watching Puffin Rock to find me.  Simply share those articles you really like on various social media in order to help me to find the narrow niche of people who like both what I'm saying and how I'm saying it.

They're out there...but I could use your help to find them.

3- Click the little buttons.  A lot.

Facebook is essentially openly running a Payola scam where you have to pay them if you want your own followers and fans–the folks who have literally signed up to see you–to actually see your content.

Complicating this bullshit, in today's world of web content designers and search engine competition there is a "Red Queen Race" between content providers trying to figure out how to trick a search engine into listing them higher on a Google search and search engines trying to figure out what is web content bullshit.

Google is constantly coming up with new tricks to make sure someone who's just dropping keyword rich text into a fluff piece doesn't end up on the first page of a search.  One of the most effective ways to help an article get more traffic (by being a higher result on a search engine) is to do things like give it "Likes," "+1s" and "Thumbs Up," little hearts, approving glances, eighties head bobbing computer kid gif reacts, whatever.  If you want to help W.A.W. maybe be just a little more generous with your social media engagement.

This is real love, right here.
4- Comment or drop me a line.  

Seriously, this doesn't help my numbers or my algorithms or me to hook up with some massive patron of the arts who has thousands of dollars a month to burn or an apartment in Oakland I can use indefinitely for free or something. It's just a bit of kindness that goes a long way.

"I'll stay home and write all night
While you go have a beer....."
Shit. Wrong Paula Cole song.
Most of the time, this is a thankless job that I do because I love it for its own sake. I make barely enough to get by (if I gave up my car, cell phone, and eating anything that wasn't a PB&J or ramen) for fifty hours or so of work a week.  There have been a deplorable lack of hawt groupie threesomes since ever. And almost the only time anyone slides into my inbox or PMs is when they want something from me. (Usually free advertising or free tutoring.)

Most of the time no one makes a comment unless they've got a problem with something I've written or want to show off themselves in some way, so I tend to have a skewed idea of how antagonistic my readers are. Fuck, half the time I get these anonymous nast-o-grams that are absolutely intended to make my cry like the Dawson's Creek meme. It's really nice to hear some of the good stuff from time to time whether it's just an article you particularly liked, or a general appreciation of my work.









Thursday, February 8, 2018

Reminder

For folks not on other social media that I have updated with what's going on today, this is just a quick reminder that I'm on lockdown today writing an "Inside Scoop" letter to my $25+ Patrons (and some of the Kickstarter backers as well), and I'll be back tomorrow (though with something light if I'm still working on this).

This HAS to get done.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Happy 6th Birthday Writing About Writing (And a Folksy Lesson in Tenacity)

Happy Birthday Blog!!!!! 

For six years we've been cranking out writing wisdom (along with anything we could think of that had plausible connective tissue with writing) and hopefully the best is yet to come.

Blog: I want a million Facebook followers this year!

Me: That might actually happen.

Blog: (pauses) Oh....um....well I want to reach five million page views by next year!

Me: Yeah, that's probably going to happen later this week.

Blog: (stammering) Uh.......six million!

Me: Most likely early summer.

Blog: Ten...million?

Me: Yeah. There you go. That's an outrageously unlikely goal. Well done.

Blog: Okay ten million total and...a um five hundred thousand hit month...oh, and I make enough money that you don't have to pet sit anywhere where the driving would impact paying attention to me.

Me: Do you remember when you thought a ten thousand hit month was going to make you happy?

Blog: Pfffffffft.

Me: Or when you found out we'd hit a million page views?

Blog: Meh.

Me: Or how about when we realized that writing was literally paying the bills.

Blog: That's so last week. I'm big time now. My dreams have to be even bigger. Now let's bring in the extremely well compensated, not at all stigmatized, and entirely consent-respected sex professionals.

Me: I'm fairly certain this party is inappropriate for a six year old.

Blog: Hello incredibly shmexy gender variant folks, here to provide a premium valued service of erotic entertainment. Let's start with a bit of dancing to this song:



*Chris steps out and closes the door to the celebrations*

Hi everyone.

Just needed to get out of that room. Blog's going to be at it for a while. I thought maybe we could talk.

So...six years.

That means six years and two months ago I received a degree in Creative Writing from SFSU, sat down for a month and change to ponder what my very best approach to creative writing for a living was going to be, and then came Blog. As much as I value my writing education, perhaps the best thing I learned (a refrain echoed by our visiting guest writers) was how much the entire industry was changing.

Bigly big changes. Yuuuge changes. Not the little kind where you have to figure out if literature periodicals or mainstream magazines are going to be better to submit to.

The paradox of what has happened in the last six years (and particularly in the last one or two) is that people will ask me for my advice on how they can get my numbers, my reach, and even my income, and then will argue with me when I answer their questions.

Or they will scoff at my non-traditional approach to being a working writer, and then resent me when I've made more progress along traditional bellwethers in less time.

Nothing like Schrodinger's Jelly Rando: simultaneously pissed at you for not being a "real writer" and for having more readers and making more money than they do.


Now I definitely had the blessing of a lot of good, professional advice in that writing program that I was able to sift through for the lowest common denominators; a lot of privilege that shaped my life before I took my first step onto a community college campus in my late twenties; the opportunity in my first few years of blogging to put in 40+ hours, make no money, and have flexible secondary jobs that made that possible; and Creepy Guy probably gave me a year's worth of exposure in a day. However, I want to also stress that I have not simply had a blog for six years. I have been blogging for six years. I have been writing–basically every single day–for six years.

One of the principle mission statements of this blog is to provide a real-time glimpse into the growth and development process, so that no one thinks writers are magical creatures who just go into a cave, play Fallout 4 nonstop for two years, drink gallons of coffee, and then get hit by inspiration that causes them to shit out a bestseller in twelve sweaty, grunting hours.

So here we are....year kicking off our SEVENTH year.

Conventional writing wisdom suggests that within traditional publishing it'll take about TEN years of dedicated submission, lots of rejection, free publications for exposure, low profile publication, shitty pay, hours of unpaid self-promotion, building up a portfolio, and maybe a very crappy first book deal, tiny advance, and moving towards book two or three to get to a point where writing is barely paying the bills.

Non-traditional routes are a little faster. Also a little less "legitimized."

But what people really want is the secret sauce. And every fucking time I say "But do you have the rest of your hamburger?" they just want to talk about the sauce. So for the folks who still think it's magic and I've somehow got some trick, here's how I pulled it off. (It's going to sound pretty banal once I'm finished with the list, but here it is.)

There is no secret. There is no trick.


  • Working actively for six years.
  • Five or more posts each week
  • Posting SOMETHING...even if it's a little fluffy and skipping very few days.
  • A total of about 1 week off each year in sick days, completely missed posts, and total schedule collapses.
  • At least one hour but usually an average of five to six per day.
  • An hour a day almost every day of social media self promotion (maintaining my FB page mostly)
  • Writing through a newborn, a baby, a toddler, a wee one.
  • Writing through a loved one getting cancer.
  • Writing through a break up.
  • Writing through intense grief at custody/visitation issues.
  • Writing through a major health issue.
  • Writing through 60 hour a week commitments to other jobs.
  • Never once putting the blog on a hiatus no matter how bad it got. 
  • Writing while on vacation.
  • Not being too good to promote myself.
  • Knowing my limits, but....
  • ....testing the shit out of those fuckers.
  • Finding Patreon (holy shit thank you Patreon!!)
  • Be willing to learn developments in the industry, but also never forget that without content, none of it will matter.

So thank you for reading, and here's to Blog, here's to many more years, and here's to a career that still has plenty of up to go. I'm going to go rejoin the party now that I hear they're taking "Big Time" off the loop.

(Raises a glass)



Monday, February 5, 2018

A Quick Note to the Readers of Writing About Writing (Meta/Personal)

Hi everyone,
Shocked look purely for clickbait.

While I'm 90% sure I could just skip a post and I'd be the only one who would ever notice, I'd like to give you a quick update to let you know what's going on today (and for the rest of the week).

We're going a little light this whole week for a few reasons. I'll still get you some mailbox action and something you can sink your teeth into by Friday, but the whole week will be a slightly lighter fare– mostly because of the folks who have contributed financially to make sure that weeks this fluffy aren't our usual.
  1. I have ONE MORE thing to do to finish up the 2017 year, and that is get my $25 Patrons and upper level Kickstarter backers an "Inside Scoop" letter. This is the closest thing I have to exclusive content. All my updates and writing advice (and my every passing political thought and nerdery if you're over on my Facebook) and even my fiction are always going to be free, so this one tiny bit of personal update and preview of coming attractions is a small way I have of saying thanks.
  2. I owe my $10 Patrons some "Early Access" stuff, so I'm going to get that done and put it up as EA for next week instead of seconds-before-the-deadline this Friday .
  3. Lots of "Job 3" hours this week. Which I love because I love The Contrarian, but despite my best efforts to turn that positivity into extra time with which to write, I haven't perfected the flow of quark-rich antineutrinos into the time dilation stabilizer, so for now I just have to acknowledge that it's going to put me behind.
  4. I have to wrap up our current poll, start a new one with nominations, get the best of January up, and generally do some of those jazz-handy-er posts anyway, so I might as well do them this week when I'm half buried in this other stuff.

Two other things:
  • Big thanks to everyone yesterday who took a moment to sign up to be a Patreon or who raised their contribution because of yesterday's post. All those $1s and $5s added up fast, and I'm mostly recovered from January's loss. I think this may have been the best response to an appeals post yet. You all take my breath away.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for poll information this week. I'll start our new poll, and get the results of our current poll posted. Last chance to vote!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Writing About Writing Needs Your Help

Image description text: We need your help.
I love my job.

And to be able to do my job, and maybe even do it more, I need your help.

I lost $86 dollars of income in January. And while I'm not going to break down my exact finances, that's getting into the neighborhood of about ten percent of the amount of money that I make from writing.

Before we go on, let me just say, I'll be okay. I'm very careful with my money, I don't spend anything until it's sitting safely in my bank account if I can possibly help it, and I don't budget with more than a fraction of what I'm making from writing for just this reason. I also have plenty of pet sitting jobs lined up in the next few months, and kiddo is still four and needs plenty of looking after. So no worries that I'm going to be evicted or anything.

But it does illustrate a point.
Image description text-
January 2018 summary: -$86 in pledges, +5 patrons

See how I gained five patrons but lost money?

I actually lost like 12 patrons and gained 17 or something. That's just the absolute gain.  That kind of shifting happens every month. People cancel, other people sign on. Someone is able to give a little more. Someone else has to cut back a bit. Usually it goes up. (It's kind of weird to have a job where every month you might get a $5 raise, a $50 raise, or take a 10% pay cut, but I guess it beats wearing a tie.)
  • That's why I was able to take time off to focus on writing more last spring.
  • That's why I was able to quit teaching and focus on writing last fall.
  • That's why I was able to stop doing tons of double-bookings on pet sitting and write more starting January.
  • That's why we're up to seven posts a week and have been able to bump up to a much higher ratio of "meaty" articles to "fluff" content.
So what happened with that $86? 

I lost a big patron. 

Just one. 

I would have actually gained $14 for January, but they had a life crisis and had to reevaluate their finances. And it sounds like, compared to what they're going through, I got off pretty light.

Another huge patron is holding the world together with two hands to keep their current amount. I get a text message every few weeks about what kind of freelance gigs might be keeping them going for another month or two. And every time I am simultaneously worried and profoundly honored that I am part of the budget that is so tenuous. 

And it is still true that over half my income comes from half a dozen people. They are basically ensuring that all of you get as much content as you do.

Now of course these high level donors and patrons are all breathtaking and wonderful and I love them, but what would really help me is to have a strong foundation of smaller donors so that losses like those are less devastating. Which is why even a dollar or two makes such a difference. A thriving "ecosystem" of smaller donors wouldn't make the bigger ones any less amazing, but would ensure that if they have something happen in their life that means they have to withdraw their support, I don't immediately take a 10% pay cut.

And I might even want to not live with three roommates in a two bedroom one day. Who knows?

Please join my patreon with a small monthly donation.

At even ONE dollar a month–less than the cost of one swanky theater's nighttime movie every YEAR–you'll get in on backchannel questions and polls, conversations, and updates about what is going on in my writing life.

At five dollars you get some selfies of me and pictures of the pets I'm sitting.

At ten you'll get early access to some of the "big" articles that I post each month.

And there are even more rewards at higher levels as well.

You don't have to be a big spender to make a huge difference to a working artist.

Again here's that link: https://www.patreon.com/chrisbrecheen

And if a monthly donation is not in the cards, you can always do a one time donation through My Paypal (which is also the "conspicuously placed tip jar" in the top right corner). 

Thank you all so much, and here's to more and better articles and fiction always free and hopefully always AD free.

[As always, these kinds of posts aren't exactly "barn burners" in their own right, so engaging it on social media (likes and shares) will help it to be seen by more of my fans and followers and would be greatly appreciated.]

Saturday, February 3, 2018

J.A.Q.ing Off In Comments (Social Justice Bard)

We all know the steps to this dance.
Let's do it one more time.
I reran a post about "Tall Privilege" (one of my social justice metaphors) on my Facebook page a couple of days ago, and someone dropped a comment this morning with......questions.

Normally I wouldn't answer something like this.

I would leave it in the purgatory of "Not Approved for Moderation." I have a strict policy about not engaging this sort of thing. It causes an event of massive temporal and entropic proportions that threatens to disrupt the very dudebro time space continuum and could rip apart the fabric of the entire universe.

But then....

Well, I figured....what the hell.



As both someone who has done this dance a thousand times, and someone who worked as an educator for over a decade, it's actually comically easy for me to tell the difference between an actual good faith question and and a "Just asking questions?" counter argument that is supposed to "checkmate" a point (usually some kind of point about social inequality) in a Socratic style that the questioner thinks is slick as fuck.

It's not, but most people think they are the first person ever to come up with this shit, and the J.A.Q.ing off continues.

Phrasing it as a question also, of course, creates plausible deniability for SQiD's who are actually most interested in the sound of silence. Their inexhaustible reserves of bad faith energy and tireless probes of the "weakness" of such simple ideas as "there is inequality in the world and the people who experience it are probably better able to describe what it is like" serve more to bring stop energy and "punish" those speak out.

But of course (when patience is exhausted and claims of bad faith come out) these questions can be pearl clutchingly defended with "But I was JUST ASKING QUESTIONS?"

I mean goodness, who is so against a thoughtful dialogue that they are unwilling to just answer a few innocent questions.  Clearly this is just an unreasonable person who can't defend their ideas from eminently reasonable query, and obviously the whole lot of them are irrational. Just because the questions are fallacy ridden, easily researched, completely disingenous, and I will ask them over and over again no matter how many times they are answered is no reason to suggest to suspect that I'm not working in good faith.

Fortunately, for the careful reader, the veteran of these fights, educators, folks with critical thinking skills, those who have been online for more than a week, pretty much anyone who has ever had a teen-ager try to outsmart them, anyone who has ever been manipulated, folks born on Tuesday, and people whose names contain a vowel,  the questions themselves often belie the agenda to "outmaneuver" whatever they're asking about.

So I give you D (piecemeal):

So... Questions:




1) The weirdest part of this article is the line "I might eventually come to NOT give all tall people the benefit of the doubt." That's bigotry, that's the definition of bigotry. The article talks about how tall people should not do this and must do that but has no advice for the bigoted short person. The tall person, who is doing nothing wrong in this scenario, maybe they're just reading a blog about writing, something that has nothing to do with height, gets a bunch of demands dumped on their lap by a bigoted short person. Doesn't that seem off? 

Nope.

Even if this weren't just a goofy illustration intended to prove a point.

You literally swung and missed with EVERY part of this question.

"That's bigotry, that's the definition of bigotry."  No it's not. Re-check your definitions. The definition of bigotry has to do with intolerance (usually extreme) and often includes the word hatred. It also often includes some idea of "obstinately" clinging to this idea, which means in SPITE of reason, arguments, and persuasion which is exactly the opposite of the data of having many if not most encounters with something reinforce it to the point that they don't assume it will be the opposite. If our short person outright hated tall people for no reason that would be bigotry (although see below), but that's a far cry from what I wrote which included literally the words: "I don't hate tall people."

Trust me, D. I'm an English major.

Also if you run around hoisting a dictionary into people's faces while trying to discuss complicated and nuanced social issues, the only thing you're really telling them is that your level of understanding is about as sophisticated as a sentence, maybe two.

Because here's the real issue: you're trying to ignore a power dynamic (which is particularly prevalent in issues outside of this metaphor of short v. tall). And you ignored it, in this case, by cleverly truncating not only the next clarifying sentence, but even the entire sentence that you quoted. Let me go ahead and quote the whole thing so we can deal with what was actually said:
"And if, everywhere I went, tall people just kept doing and saying that shit all the time and acting like total dillholes, I might eventually come to NOT give all tall people the benefit of the doubt for being cool. I might think that generally tall people fell victim to an all-too-typical societal view that their tallness equaled some kind of moral superiority until/unless I'd met them and knew for sure they weren't going to pull that shit."
Man....it really undermines that whole hyperbolic "this is bigotry!" claim when the actual quote is A) about not "being cool" rather than some deep seated hatred and B) specifically contextualized to be about assuming someone is holding a common cultural prejudice rather than a baseless judgement.

You know what they call it when you try to argue against a point that a person didn't actually make?

Here's a hint.
(Image description: A man made entirely of straw.)


The tall person, who is doing nothing wrong in this scenario, maybe they're just reading a blog about writing, something that has nothing to do with height, gets a bunch of demands dumped on their lap by a bigoted short person.

Did we read the post D? Is this tall person of yours from some OTHER post? Because that's not what the tall person is doing "in this scenario" is it? In fact, the tall person is described as doing a number of activities that are quite a bit more antagonistic. No one is suggesting that a tall person just sitting around reading a blog.

Hi. It's me again!
(Image description: A man made entirely of straw.)

2)The blog says don't apologize or feel guilty for being tall just acknowledge the privilege. What does that mean? What does that even look like? I have heard acknowledge your privilege many times in the past but no one has ever said what that action actually is.



Really? No one?  Ever? Are you sure? Well okay then, you're about to really get your money's worth today.

Like this: "I acknowledge I have privilege in this area."

If you really want to spruce it up: "I recognize that I am afforded advantages due to the unearned circumstances of my birth."

And when you reach level two: "I'm thinking that my advice how you should compensate for those things of which I have unearned advantages and haven't had to deal with in my life is really super condescending. I'm going to try having some empathy for how that lands, and not insist that you are wrong about your own lived experience or that I know how to fix it. I'm sorry."


3) The last line of the blog is "don't tell them that they're wrong." What if the tall person thinks they're wrong? Being short does not convey unquestionable wisdom. Short people can be wrong even about being short. Intelligence is not height linked. A tall engineer might have better insight in solving the problems of shortness than short florist. Why do we assume a person who is tall lack the intellect to understand what it would be like to be short? Why does a tall person have to surrender their right to disagree? Yes, a tall person will not experience the emotional urgency of the problem but isn't that distance a good thing? Lawyer can argue a case their emotionally involved in, doctors can't operate on their children. Why does the problem of shortness require the problem solver to experience blinding rage at the problem?

Blinding rage? (Rereads the post.) I'm pretty sure you added that yourself.

Diiiiiiiiiiiiiid somebody call?

The last line of the blog is "don't tell them that they're wrong.


Actually it's not. Again, you decided to remove an entire dependent clause from the sentence to suit your purposes. Let's take a look at the real quote:

"And if they take the time and energy to tell you what they need to be able to reach the same things you do without undue hardship that you do not experience, don't tell them that they're wrong."
Oh. So we're not really talking about "unquestionable wisdom" are we? We're talking about someone drawing from a lifetime of being short and doing the emotional labor to tell you what they need with regards to a hardship they experience but you do not. Just like poor people are able to point out that "just work harder" or "skip the latte" isn't really good advice to escape intergenerational poverty. Or women can tell you that advice to "lean in" isn't always particularly helpful.

Don't mind me. Just mixing it up.
(Image description: Another man made entirely of straw.)
Short people can be wrong even about being short.

Yes, but they aren't as likely to be wrong as a tall person telling them what their life is like. Who do you think is better to describe someone's life than that person themself?

Intelligence is not height linked. A tall engineer might have better insight in solving the problems of shortness than short florist.

While an engineer designing some sort of actually useful solution to the social advantages afforded to tall people is an intriguing idea, that's pretty deep into the metaphor, to go for the sake of a specious hypothetical. I suspect what is really being asked is aren't there some people smart enough to disregard what folks identify as their own problems and what would help them, and instead tell them what their real problem is and how to fix it. ("Those kids don't need breakfast. What they need is a better work ethic!")

That's pretty fucking arrogant.

Intelligence isn't height linked, but knowing what one's own life is like has a massive correlation with actually being the person in question.

Besides my scenario wasn't about some wacky inventor genuinely trying to help a short person reach the top shelves with rocket boots or something. (Gotta read the actual text, dude.) It was about someone who dismissed the problem. Reading what I actually wrote, it would be more like our very smart engineer saying, "You should really calm down about this. Statistically speaking, there is only a .04 chance of falling off the counter and in all likelihood, even if you did, you would not be severely injured. Your real problem isn't that you need your coffee cups placed on the bottom shelf. It is that you need to go to the gym to improve your leg strength so that you can easily generate the 567 kilojoules needed to make the initial jump from the floor to the counter each morning. And have a better attitude."

But I guess it's a lot easier to read right past what I actually wrote...

We really have to stop meeting like this.
(Image description: Three scarecrows--or men made entirely of straw.)
If you want to invent a better step stool (probably because the short person tells you what the problem is with the existing one), awesome. Then you are not a dillhole tall person spoken of in the post.

#notalltallpeople

Why do we assume a person who is tall lack the intellect to understand what it would be like to be short? 

Oopsie! You painted yourself into a corner with all this "intelligence" shit. 

Here's the problem with that line of thinking: If the tall person really had an intelligent sense of what the short person's life was like, they would almost certainly have stumbled along the fact (at some point during their painstaking intellectual research) that one of the most irritating parts of being short was tall people telling them what their life was like.

To put it another way, if someone were as intellectually savvy as you suggest (and not just assuming they know everything because they were in the GATE program in sixth grade) and had used that intelligence to become EDUCATED about the topic, they would have a vastly more sophisticated understanding of the issues, the impact of the issues, how to broach those subjects, how to frame them productively, what NOT to do, what had actually been tried a gazillion times to no avail, and will generally not act the dillhole described.

Most privileged people who tell folks pushed to the margins of our societies how they ought to live to rise above their circumstances display little more than a BREATHTAKING ignorance about the topic.

Why does a tall person have to surrender their right to disagree? 

This is a much more fraught scenario than I wrote. In your version there is blinding rage and surrendering rights. It sounds very dystopian. Did you maybe just read The Hunger Games? Or...wait I know.....

Sup.
(Image description: First man made entirely of straw.)

Nobody has to "surrender their rights. This isn't a Cory Doctorow novel. It just makes them a dillhole to assume that they know more about what it's like to be short.

Yes, a tall person will not experience the emotional urgency of the problem but isn't that distance a good thing? 

No.

Disinterest is not a virtue. Particularly around critical issues like equality.

This is exactly why not enough people with privilege think things like ongoing racism, misogyny, transantagonism, and bigotry are really that big a deal, can wait (indefinitely) until the "right time," (which is always at least after the next election), and spend their energy trying to silence anyone who points it out. It doesn't affect them directly, so it's non-urgent. They've got better shit to do.

Lawyer can argue a case their emotionally involved in, doctors can't operate on their children. Why does the problem of shortness require the problem solver to experience blinding rage at the problem?

I think you're missing some words here, but I get the idea: that only someone emotionally detached is capable of arbitrating what the life experiences that "count" as bigotry are.

First of all one problem with your analogy is that this isn't a court or a operating room. These are social issues that we're all of us invested in up to our eyeballs whether we think so or not, and while they lead to medical and legal inequalities, this isn't a trial or a surgery. (But on the bright side, you at least mixed it up fallacy-wise with some false equivalence. I sure was getting tired of–)

No? Oh sorry. I thought I heard my name.

Tall people (or anyone with privilege) arbitrating what "really" counts as bigotry is exactly emblematic of the problem.

Think about this: Imagine you said to me, "I think my boss has it in for me because of my nasally voice" and my only response was, "Only your boss is capable of determining that because they don't have a nasally voice. You are clearly too impartial to judge."

See how fucking ridiculous that sounds?

And yet we hear this EXACT argument about sexuality, gender, and race basically every day without even questioning it. The aggrieved party is deemed incapable of determining what "counts" as bigotry–not in a court of law but even just to TALK about it–and because their accusation (simply by virtue of existing) is so fucking irrational, the only person capable of judging is the very person being accused (or someone from THEIR group).

"Why of course I wasn't being a bigot. I don't have a bigoted bone in my body."

(All bigots have bigot-free bones, are the least bigoted person you'll ever meet, and love people even if they're purple.)

Can you MAYBE see how actually THAT creates a conflict of interest that we conveniently gloss over? This narrative of "the impartial judge" (so white people are the only ones truly capable of judging racism, straight people are the only ones capable of judging homophobia, men are the only ones capable of judging misogyny, etc...) has an actual glaring, overwhelming, undeniable, elephant-in-the-room issue of a complete conflict of interest that is never even considered within the "distance" you are just asking questions about.

Because when you think of who stands to lose social standing, moral high ground, control of the narrative, or–should the playing field actually be leveled–even resources, it is immediately clear that NO ONE is capable of being completely impartial.

Ever.

So you might as well weigh all stories with equal empathy and veracity.

4) Tall people are considered privileged because more CEO and presidents are tall, they can reach thing and certain women only date tall men. But tall people can not be astronauts, they have shorter lifespans, and their clothes cost more. Why are some arbitrary measure considered privilege but other are not? If a tall person wants to be an astronaut then they are very disadvantaged even if they could be a CEO.

Just so you know how ridiculous the astronaut example was to throw in here D, you can be 190.5cm (6'3") and still be an astronaut. So you're not talking about the difference between "short" and "tall" people. You're talking about the the 1 percentile of REALLY tall people who don't physically fit into the shuttle modules.

The lifespan thing is actually an interesting point because it can show how important it can be to read what is written instead of bring a bunch of assumptions to the table. Okay so let's pretend the short vs. tall lifespan thing was definitively solved (it's not) with short people coming in an extra 5 years on average than tall. If the post were discussing lifespans, rather than the things it did, we might have to acknowledge that there is some privilege that goes the other way.

Then again the post didn't actually deny that short people had some privilege, did it? It also didn't qualitatively insist that being tall was "better" did it? (Hint: the answer to both is no.)

It talked about the privileges of being tall–the social advantages. Those don't go away because there might be one or two privileges to being shorter. It talked about not denying the privileges of being tall.  (Wanting to be an astronaut does not make the advantages of being tall go away.) And if our hypothetical short person were ignoring the privilege of their longer life span and giving the tall person a bunch of unsolicited advice on how to eat cruciferous vegetables to live longer and just move to Russia to be an astronaut because they have a taller height cap, they would probably be the dillhole in the scenario.

But....tall and short people aren't really what this is about and not the point you're trying to make, right?

Yes there will always be the lone advantage or two that goes the "other way." Men can't get that scholarship written for women. White people can't apply for a grant from the NAACP. Women can sometimes get free drinks*. That doesn't erase what is an overwhelming gestalt experience. And only if you ignore the entire rest of the goddamned world to focus on that one facet can you even come close to thinking that the scales are balanced. But framing the narrative in a way that focuses on what you want to be true and ignores everything else (possibly including causation) is disingenuous at best. Not too many people say "FUCK I wish I were shorter so I could live a statistical average of five years longer!" and there's a reason for that.

*If they are willing to risk anger, slurs, rage, physical assault, sexual assault, and even being killed if they accept that drink and then turn down the offerer.

I mean, that would be like mentioning that clothes are sometimes a little more expensive for taller people but leaving out that on average taller people make more money than the clothes would have cost and....um.....

Let's move on. Shall we?



5) On the idea of tall privilege one of the examples of privilege is that more CEO are tall. But what if this difference is due to something else, like, for example, gender. Women tend to be shorter so couldn't be the case that the average height to position difference is due in part to gender not height? Aren't we really talking about a multi-factor problem and pointing to an average based on a single factor just wrong. Won't any policy based on a single factor of a multi-factor problem over-correct and produce oppression? 

Excellent point. This is called "intersectionality" (like between two or more "axes" in a graph) and it points out that there are multiple complicated moving parts in privilege and marginalization. For example, CEO's ARE mostly men, so gender seems to be a factor too.

Of course as critical thinkers, we can isolate certain factors by accounting for them. If only gender mattered we would expect to see a wide spectrum of heights among those almost exclusively dude CEOs (we don't–they tend to be taller) and a generally even spread of incomes among men regardless of height (also no). If only height mattered, we would expect that CEOs would roughly reflect the statistical commonality of taller women (they don't) and we would see taller women generally making more than shorter men (nope). So we can infer that both these factors are real.

Being white also matters. Being cis also matters. Being from a high class background also matters. Being straight also matters. Being Christian also matters. And each of these things has a complex interplay with all the others. White women don't experience racism. Black men don't experience sexism. Black women experience both and often in ways that amplify each other.

What a marvelous observation, D. You've taken your first step towards understanding how oppression and supremacy work along lots of axes, which is–I'm 100% certain–exactly the point you were trying to make.

Won't any policy based on a single factor of a multi-factor problem over-correct and produce oppression? 

Policy? Was there a fucking policy in my post somewhere that I didn't see or remember writing?

Can I be done now. I'm tired.

Look it's pretty easy to read between the lines (well, not so much between them as the actual lines themselves) that your real question is about affirmative action and the "imminent dangers" of reverse discrimination. Because what ever will become of the mediocre white men if we start trying to factor for societal advantages and disadvantages?

In fact, it is absolutely true that any group that only corrects for one factor (say, by hiring more women) may create oppression inadvertently ("Now we have gender parity, but everyone is white and heterosexual"). But if you're asking, as I'm pretty sure you are, if the world is going to become a cesspool of reverse racism and misandry if we don't keep things 90% white dudes, not so much.

A better question might be: "Will the people with privilege, who perceive themselves to be losing power, prestige, jobs, control of the narrative, "their" country, etc....  Will they, as the playing field levels from total white male hegemony (that, at least here in the US, includes slavery, genocide, and codified legal bigotry) even suffer things to become equal, nevermind skewed in the other direction?"

Let's just say that in the US, where literal Nazis are marching the streets and white nationalism has put the serial sexual assaulter Donald The-Least-Racist-Person-You've-Ever-Met Trump in power it's looking pretty fucking unlikely. Or did you think that the party in power that is mostly straight white men is looking back to the halcyon days before the ERA and Civil Rights because of the 90% tax bracket and powerful unions?

However if short people inherit the Earth, D, I promise I'll take a moment from my CEO job with my multiple yoga instructor partners, pop back to that post, and change it to be about short privilege instead. Pinkie swear.