Grit vs. Grim. Learning to cope with annihilation (a.k.a. book writing). On realizing that ‘half-breed’ is never a good descriptor for a human being. Baby animal gifs. More on all this below:
That Crafty Feeling (Zadie Smith on making a book, and why novel writing is a terrible-wonderful thing. Self-destruction in action–this is good. I know. I write to take myself apart and put me back together again.)
Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs (2012) (A project about “about the visibility of women in science fiction and fantasy reviews” with a preface that discusses the difficulty of trying to have “a conversation about gender in SF/F fandom involving people outside your social group.” Bascially, “it’s like inviting six angry poltergeists into your home filled with handcrafted family heirlooms passed down for multiple generations: everything gets broken, including your capacity to discuss anything more mentally taxing than adorable gifs of baby animals for weeks.”)
I love a Good Tragedy as Much as the Next Guy (Elizabeth Bear on grittiness verses grimdark. “…the best of the current wave of gritty fantasy…embraces a balance closer to reality:…the world is arbitrary and unfair, and that sometimes even well-meaning people do awful things: desperate, vicious things.”)
Revising “Weaving Dreams” (In which an author screws up and attempts to rectify the disaster. First read about this short story over at Requires Hate. It’s good to see writers who are open and sensitive to the world. Also, a nice unfurling of the editing process.)
Mosh-pit disaster-preparedness, phallic stuff, a garden of books. Also, why I love doing dishes. And enough links to feast upon:
The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 174): Inteview with Seanan McGuire (So. I listen to anything that involves Seanan talking. Because she gives the best interviews. Really. And has quirky loves like I do (disease! zombie-preparedness!). Also, check out the SF Squeecast, of which she’s a part of. Just saw they posted an new episode, and thought something along the lines of–Hel yes! Dishes! because I like to keep my hands busy with mindless tasks while I listen to podcasts. S0: SF Squeecast means the only time I scrub things with verve.)
Why I don’t Own a Firearm (Disseminating pointless writing advice. This article explains one–of many reasons–I stopped reading Writer’s Digest. Also, there’s brainsplatter, which I always enjoy.)
Ephemeral Garden of Decomposing Books (Books and decay, two of my favorite things.)
Mosh pits could aid could aid disaster planning (Need I say more? No.)
Is this bestselling fantasy author sexist? (So, I was thinking of reading Rothfuss. But had this…suspicion, probably inserted into my brain due to all the reading I do concerning sf/f and sexism…after investigating this suspicion, I think–instead–I’ll start on a piece that’s been called the best book of 2012 by numerous parties. Also: if you ever doubted straight white men are basically churned out of a fucking factory–more on sexism and brainless writing.)
So, in the spirit of trying to shame myself into reading more, better material, I’m keeping track of every book I read this year. But the shaming, apparently, is failing. Why? My first pick: Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence. It was exactly as I expected it to be–which is to say, full of unrelenting rape and misogyny (and no, it’s not just the story). Actually, I read it because of the rape and misogyny. Because I like to feel sick and degraded. 
I’d write a review, but I think these two say all that needs to be said:
(Which isn’t a review, precisely, but is still enjoyable.)
 Uh, no. I read it because part of me enjoys raging at things, and also because there’s a lot (something?) to be learned from bad books.
Books read, 2013:
Prince of Thorns
your womb chews you up, your
only power is lashing your lashes
you have no eyes, your sockets echo
from your gums
hang visions like shriveled baby teeth.
This story has nothing to do with either of you, your
single flute song, your
Previous ekphrastic: Ekphrastic 16/Remedy Lane
[Ekphrasis is, more or less, art about art. As an eater of a lot of art, I like using ekphrastic poetry to digest some of it.]
Ekphrastic Poetry Archive (For poems about A Game of Thrones, anime, music, The Hunger Games, Blood Meridian, etc–basically, everything your brain desires.)
Because I just went for a twelve mile run and refuse to eat until my dear lover wakes up, my empty stomach is too distracting to get any book-editing done till after I’ve eaten. In the meantime, articles on The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, and other book-related posts I’ve been reading.
I worry a lot about appropriation, because I write. And I try to write deep and complex and specific. I write about aliens, I write about earth goddess; I have characters who kill people, characters who are men who love other men and–naturally–have sex with other men, characters androgynous and aquatic with blue-silver skin, characters who are more swamp than human.
Keeping all this in mind, I obviously don’t just ‘write what I know.’ Strictly following that rule is an act of stupidity. I’m a writer, I’m a liar. I’m going to write what I like. But. I’m going to do it with care. And that means authenticity. It means specifics. It means research and heart, a lucid mind and sensitivity. Which is why I worry about appropriation. Taking someone else’s beloved, or painful or–or just heartclose experiences and basically raping them is not okay. And needless to say, I don’t want to do that. But, also needless to say, no matter how hard I try, I probably will.
So what to do? Write. Write. Write. Research. Talk, interact. Absorb. Observe. BE. Be human.
Yes, I’ll screw up. But hel, I was born, I exist. Screwing up is a way of life.
One way I try to minimize the screw-ups is by reading. By understanding the art I enjoy and, simultaneously opening my eyes to its flaws:
[Take note: I don't strictly agree with everything said in the following. Accord is not my purpose.]
These articles are about Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. About how she’s basically emptiness shelled in badass. I like The Hunger Games. I grew up reading Hatchet (and the million books that followed thereafter) and Far North, My Side of the Mountain, Hungry for Home, Julie of the Wolves and essentially any book that involved trees and killing/wildcrafting to fill your belly. Add in wolves and I was a very happy, feral child indeed. The Hunger Games is all this (minus the wolves–no, the mutts don’t count), plus dystopia, another favorite thing of mine. But it still has its problems.
Another good article about The Hunger Games. This one, though, discusses not how screwed-up its characters are, but rather, its fans.
I like A Song of Ice and Fire, but we have our troubles, that series and I. This article touches upon some of them.
Also, an article about writing sex and what you DON’T know–Queering SFF: Writing Sex–To Do or Not To Do?
And, finally, just how much is Smaug’s treasure-hoard REALLY worth?
Below, you’ll find two of my favorite comments (by the same guy):
Catherynne Valente’s written this epic about mechagirls. I like it because it’s made me think about my own relationship with anime. For example, part of me (probably a really horrible part) loved High School of the Dead. Which contains swords, guns, zombies, and panty-shots (but mostly panty-shots).
It’s sad the materialization of women is so common that I felt no discomfort watching all twelve episodes. Sure, I felt silly. Stupid. And part of my brain probably rotted somewhere along the way. But hel, I had fun. Which isn’t an excuse. Never, never, never an excuse. I should be uncomfortable. (But because of the flesh-eating undead humans or the gratuitous lingerie close-ups?)
My intent for tonight, though, was not to write an essay on the objectification of women in anime. I just wanted to share a poem.
Make sure to listen and read at the same time. Catherynne Valente doesn’t speak in the drool-milking monotone some poets use–her voice here is more of a mildtone that still lets the poem’s music be heard. Even so, the reading’s subdued enough to be a fitting contrast to the DRAMA-saturated nature of (many an) anime, making the metal numbness of the mechagirl literally shine through. But part of me still wants her to read it like it’s a bad J-pop song (I know, how redundant of me).