Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
I’m still trying to process the events of yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Too much like 9/11 for my psyche, which immediately scrambled to “oh, fuck” and “OMG, OMG, OMG.”
- Part of me wants to bury myself in a small hole and not know.
- Part of me wants to dive deep into news stories, blog posts, commentary and wallow in the facts & reactions.
- Part of me (the more-or-less stable piece) has pulled back into “normal world” mode and, though not avoiding, is not enmeshed in all-Boston-all-the-time.
Not sure which is the healthiest or sanest, but in the practical words of Laura Anne Gilman yesterday:
Reminder: if you’re feeling echoes of past Bad Stuff, reading the news out of Boston, it’s ok to look away. You’re not letting anyone down.
She’s right. Just because I don’t look at the photos or videos from the site, I’m not a bad person. Neither are you.
I’ll focus on work today and just being alive.
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
All the cool kids are doing it:
I’ve heard that Jim Hines is going to do it over at Reddit.
So, since I’ve had blog-block for awhile, let’s turn it over to you all.
Feel free to ask me anything: about writing, food, fun, frolic–whatever strikes your fancy. Your questions don’t even have to be about me.
Go for it!
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
This isn’t about Team Gale or Team Peeta or anything of the sort. Why? Because for me, and I suspect for Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games trilogy isn’t at all about the relationship triangle.
In fact, until the recent spate of movie publicity and subsequent hype, it never occurred to me that anyone could see this as any sort of romance-oriented story. Sure, there are relationship issues, but they are as far from a standard romance trope as one can get.
For me, the books are about:
- doing what you must to survive
- making the hard choices
- the overpowering presence and influence of mass media
- the corruption of the few, the over privileged and their willful ignorance
- becoming the hero – however reluctantly
- accepting reality and doing one’s best to make it work
The series is bleak, troubling, with no fluffy happy ending–which made sense to me considering the established world.
That’s actually one of the things that bothered me the most about the Harry Potter books. As much as I loved them, the epilogue was too pat, too perfect. Where was the PTSD? The consequences of having been fighting/at war since age 11? I know that this is part of the reason I read Harry Potter fan fiction, to satisfy that need in me to see more.
I don’t need to read fan fiction with Hunger Games, because Suzanne Collins fulfilled my expectations. It wasn’t a happily-ever-after, but a “we’ve survived and it’s good” ever after. I’m okay with that. In that world, I think this was the best possible outcome.
Here’s a fabulous web comic from Faith Erin Hicks that encapsulates a lot of my feelings. Note: the comic does have spoilers!
Will the movie reflect what I think is important in the story? I hope so. I really hope they didn’t choose to emphasize the Gale vs. Peeta aspect of the overall plot. It’s important, yes, but IMHO, only as it impacts on Katniss’ ability to make the correct choices for her own survival.
What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
A friend of mine passed away yesterday. We weren’t especially close, in fact, she was more friend of a friend. But it hit me hard. Right in the virtual solar plexus, like an unexpected punch.
E was my age. Evidently, she developed some sort of infection over the weekend and succumbed. (She was dealing with an autoimmune disease, but that was well managed). More sadly, she’d retired from nursing to care for her brother (who is in hospice) and her mother (who is in assisted living). Only it’s her that died.
She was vital, full of life last time I saw her (ages ago). Strong, passionate, vibrant. She told amazing stories of her time spent in cardiac ICU. Of her troubled past. (Single mom). I based a lot of my character Bea on E.
Life is too damned short.
I am sad.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Call me Scrooge – or whatever the equivalent is when one dislikes a holiday that is, by its nature, exclusionary. For those people unpartnered, it’s a day filled with reminders of how you’re not the expected norm. For those who are partnered, it’s nothing more than guilt/shame/agony wrapped up in spending money on stupid heart-shaped crap.
Yeah, I really, really hate it. Did even when I was partnered.
Why is there a day to (supposedly) celebrate romantic love? Shouldn’t that be every day? Perhaps I’m jaded, but a ridiculously expensive box of candy isn’t going to signify that you love your partner more or less than yesterday or tomorrow. Buying a gift because it’s expected is less meaningful than an obligatory dental visit.
Why not pick a random day a month to do something special for your loved ones – not just romantic love, but anyone you consider family. Send a fun note, a card, post something mushy on their Facebook wall. Unexpected acts of kindness and love seem more special.
I don’t begrudge florists their revenue today, but I do hate the artificiality behind it. Same with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Material goods don’t say “I love you” – everyday actions do.
I’m going to spend today trying to ignore/avoid the hype. Yeah, I’m a grumpy mcgrumpypants. That’s how I roll. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Oh wait, then I’ll have to look at early Easter displays. At least there will be Cadbury Mini Eggs.
Monday, February 13th, 2012
It’s Monday again – a week since I last blogged. So much for the every single day goal. Oh well.
This past week has been a lesson in learning to cope. Small things, really, but adding up to one tired me. I’ve been having issues with the CPAP mask. If it sits properly on my face, it’s brilliant. I sleep well. I breathe well. All is good. Only, it doesn’t sit properly on my face, it slides. Up, down, whichever direction doesn’t matter. Only a tiny bit, but that bit is enough to break the mask seal and cause eye leaks. (Air blowing up into my eyes).
On Thursday morning, I went in for my 2-week check-in with the sleep tech. She saw the problem immediately. The mask is a teensy bit too small. The medium size of the same mask is too big. (They measure from bridge of nose to mid-chin). When I described the problem, she noticed that even just sitting there in her office, the mask began to slide. Solution: try other kinds.
After some trial-and-error, we settled on the Mirage Quattro, an older style mask with a forehead band. It looks more uncomfortable than the Quattro FX (the mask I have), but it feels a ton better, more secure. Sadly, as with all this kind of equipment, it has to be ordered via the durable medical equipment company, who will then provide it to me. I’m hoping they call me today.
In the meantime, I’m still using the machine & the FX mask and spend a great deal of time fussing with it. I discovered that I can (and do!) adjust it in my sleep. It becomes part of whatever dream I’m having. Definitely weird.
I’m also hoping that once this mask situation gets settled, I’ll have better sleep–e.g., less fraught with worry about the leaks.
Coping with this type of situation is tougher than I thought. It’s the same realization as being diagnosed with sarcoid and trying to wrap my head around the understanding that this is forever. It’s not going to be cured. It’s not going away. I will always have to use a CPAP…every single night. Sure, I know intellectually that it will become force of habit, just like I got used to putting my night guard in my mouth when I go to bed. But now, it’s still new, different, odd. Just another thing that makes me feel not normal.
As I was watching episodes of Private Practice via streaming, I began to notice how, in this show, as with most others, though we see patients coming into the picture with illnesses, conditions – there’s no reflection of regular characters having something chronic – sure, Addison has fertility issues, but that doesn’t impact her day-to-day functioning. Gabriel Fife was in a wheelchair – but you never learned why. Plus, he wasn’t a regular character. When these people go to bed at night, they don’t put in a night guard. They don’t use a CPAP. Heck, not a one of them even take medication on a regular basis. I love the show, but as with most TV, even though they try to bring in the “different”, the characters we see in each episode are pretty much perfect physically.
I get it, I do. The prevailing opinion is that no one wants to watch people who aren’t pretty and physically perfect. Only thing is, that definition varies from person to person. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice for once to see someone who does have a chronic condition that doesn’t result in being in a wheelchair? Something that nearly 1 in 15 Americans suffer from? It doesn’t have to be the focus of a “very special” episode–how about just showing us one character that has to hook up to a CPAP when they go to bed? To deal with it as just a regular part of life?
Frankly, I think I (and others) might learn to deal a little easier if we could see those like us reflected in our popular culture.
What’s your take?
Monday, February 6th, 2012
I watched a lot of the TV show: Private Practice over the weekend, thanks to Netflix streaming. If you’ve not watched it, it’s a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, which I enjoy. Both shows are not about the medical stuff for me, but about the interrelationships amongst the characters. It occurred to me while watching that this show (and Grey’s, for that matter), are good examples of how to write characterization.
- First, you allow people to get to know and care about your characters. (In Private Practice, we empathize with Addison as she realizes on her first day at work, that her friend/boss Naomi neglected to tell the other doctors in the practice that she’d been hired. Through her eyes, we meet the other docs and get to know them).
- Second, you throw in some sort of challenge, obstacle. (Insert any episode)
- Third, just as you think things are beginning to go great, you toss in something dire. (Insert the back half of any episode)
- Fourth, your character resolves the challenge (whether good or bad). (Act 4 of the episode)
- Finally, you show that your character has grown (either good or bad). (The wrap up)
Yep, it really is that simple. Think on this a little. What can you do to shake up your characters’ lives? What kind of obstacle or challenge can you give to your protagonist?
Joss Whedon is famous for many things, but I always remember his statement from ages ago (paraphrased): “Give your audience what they need, not what they want.” I’ve always remembered this. I was amused to hear these words coming from one of the Private Practice characters during an episode. They were talking about medical treatment, but the sentiment’s the same. You’re the doctor when it comes to your writing. Your audience may want bunnies and puppies, but they need demons and vampires. They need to see the conflicts, have resolution, even when the resolution isn’t what they’d envisioned. This is the audience-facing corollary to writing good characterization. You need both to create good fiction.
If you stick to these basics, you’ll have a head start.
What examples do you have of when a writer gave you what you needed and not what you wanted? Did it work? Did you hate it? Love it?
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
The brain, she is fried. So instead of meaningful (or otherwise) content, here are some links:
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
Yesterday, my trip request got approved at work. This isn’t a normal “I’d like to go on vacation” type request, but a request to use my 10-year longevity benefit: a “dream weekend”, including extra day off and up to $2000 for the trip. This is a new thing at our still fairly young company. Only three of us qualify at this point. When it was announced a couple of months ago, I was excited, but really couldn’t think of what to use it on.
Then, I discovered that one of my awesome role models (now buddy), Ms. Tanya Huff was a guest at World Fantasy Con 2012, along with Charles deLint and Patricia Briggs, both of whom I’d love to meet.
I crunched a few numbers, dismayed that a flight from DC to Toronto was $750 (at the time), but persevered and figured I could do it within the allotted budget. I put in the request and now it’s official!
I’ve registered. I’ve booked my flight and hotel (oddly, the flight was now nearly half of the original price – go figure). Best of all? I’ve convinced my pal Dina to come along! The only sad part is that this is the same weekend that sis & BIL have a trip booked to CA for some event. I really wish they could attend, too.
I’m SOOOO excited!!! I love Canada. I love Toronto (only been there once and that was a zillion years ago) and am so looking forward to spending a weekend with fellow writers. Plus, World Fantasy is one of my favorite conferences. It’s more of a pro bent, so there are a ton of amazing people, many of whom I fangrrl from afar.
Hope to see some of you there!
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
I discovered Letters of Note yesterday via some other blog that totally escapes me now.
This is AWESOME! (especially if you love history, as I do). Their tag line: correspondence deserving of a wider audience.
The site collects, displays and transcribes old letters – some from only a few years ago, some from much further back. The letter that utterly entranced me? To My Old Master – a letter from an emancipated slave to his previous master, who’d written requesting the slave to return to work at the farm. It’s an absolutely riveting read.
This, and sites like the Library of Congress, are a chief reason I adore the Internet. In the olden days, when I was in college, writing a term paper/research paper meant HOURS digging through books, hours spent trying to find primary sources and hoping you had time.
Now, with a few clicks, I can SEE a lot of these primary sources “first hand”. No, it’s not quite the same as holding something in my hand, but how likely is it that I’d get to actually touch one of these letters? The most I’d be able to do is peer through the museum glass.
Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE going to museums, seeing historical collections in person, but being able to find this stuff online is priceless.
What’s your favorite website for historical data/collections?
Monday, January 30th, 2012
The following books were read by me this weekend.
(Edited to add The Help)