A long way of saying

Hey everybody!

No flash fiction challenge today, or photos, or anything like that. Just some thoughts that I figured I’d jot down and send off into the ether. Part of why I want to be a writer is to help folks when they’re feeling down, let them know they aren’t alone, especially when it comes to fun things like anxiety or depression, so it really doesn’t do much good if I clam up when things get dark in my own brain spaces, even though the fact I can write about it at all means that I’m heading towards the light, so to speak.

Continue reading “A long way of saying”

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Tilting at Windmills: Flint, Michigan Republicans, Sodomy, and Animal Cruelty

So I’ve been seeing quite a few posts about how people are outraged that Michigan Republicans can’t help the people of Flint but they’re willing to push through a ban on anal sex. Righteous anger! Gather the torches! Raise the pitchforks!

Except for one thing. It’s not true. Not the slightest bit. And now you folks put me in the unenviable position of defending Michigan Republicans. I’m not terribly pleased, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Fun fact: Sodomy has been illegal in Michigan since 1931. Nineteen THIRTY ONE. (Link) The 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling made the law unconstitutional and unenforceable, but no one ever took the it off the books.

The law that has been passed? It’s called Logan’s Law. It’s an omnibus animal cruelty prevention package that, among other things, would create a registry of animal abusers, and prevent people who’ve abused animals from adopting pets. Section 750.158 (linked above) also covers beastiality, so updating the animal cruelty laws included some minor language updates to 750.158.

Now, this would have been the perfect time to update the language and remove the whole “Consensual but non conformist sex between two adult humans” bit from the list of illegal acts. But it does’t. The guy that wrote the bill is afraid it would get bogged down in debate, and just wanted to stop people from being able to hurt animals.

The only way this law relates to anal is that it doesn’t remove the (unconstitutional) prohibition on it. It doesn’t add anything new. It doesn’t make the law somehow more enforceable. It just doesn’t make the bad law go away.

Anyway, for my TLDR crowd:

THIS BILL IS NOT ABOUT ANAL SEX.

THIS BILL IS ABOUT PREVENTING ANIMAL CRUELTY.

So, despite the headlines, Michigan Republican’s didn’t prioritize banning anal sex over helping lead poisoned children. They prioritized helping abused animals. Now, it’s up to you to figure out which group you think deserves more help.

You might want to question why it’s being spun the way it is.

 

Quixotically yours,

FGY

FLASH [NON]FICTION WRITING CHALLENGE: Why I write

Chunk Wendig posted a challenge last Friday. A non-fiction essay, no more than 1000 words, about why we write.

The short answer is: I write because I have stories in my head and I write because of a life long love of reading. See, there we go, all nice and wrapped up in less than fifty words.

But… that’s not the whole story, not really. For the whole story, we have to go back in time almost thirty years, and you’ll have to indulge me in accepting the truth of the memoir. (Events happened mostly like this, but we’re relying on my rather shaky remembrances)

When people ask me what my first real memory is, I tell them about a nightmare that I had when I was three or four. My parents read me to me every night since I learned to crawl, and that night was no exception. The book of the night was the classic story ‘The Three Little Pigs’. I listened raptly to the tale of a hungry wolf and three brother’s attempt to escape him. I was spellbound, but I felt a dark seed worm its way into my imagination. For you see, I was an anxious child, and preschool was only a few weeks away.

That night, I dreamt of my first day of school, but the wolf followed close. When we were let out for recess, spread far and wide, the wolf attacked and I ran and I ran, but the other kids ran faster. I was almost at the schoolhouse door when I saw the look of terror on the teacher’s face, the same instant I felt the wolf’s shadow fall over me. She slammed the door, sacrificing me to save the other children.

I woke up screaming.

My cries disturbed my parents, so my father came in to check on me. In between wailing sobs, I told him what was wrong. He smiled sympathetically, telling me there was nothing to fear, that it was a dream, and a story. Just a story. He wrapped me up in a bear hug. Nothing could comfort me. So he told me a new story, one of heffalumps and woozles that fought wolves and protected young children.

I calmed down. I went back to sleep. I learned the protective power of stories.

I tell people that’s my first memory because it’s a good one, but my first memory is of a plate shattering just a little too close to my head, thrown by one of my parents at the wall I happened to be cowering against as they fought. I’m positive they didn’t know I was there until I screamed in terror.

Many people have had it worse than I did. I always knew I was loved. They never blamed me for what they were going through. But they fought. Constantly. Come to think of it, that might explain why I grew up with mostly plastic cups. But I digress. This is just a variation on the same old story, kid has a not so spectacular home life, kid escapes into books.

And escape I did. I read voraciously. My parents learned to fear the scholastic book-fair. My mom got a job at a book store, mostly so she could bring me home stacks of stripped books because they couldn’t afford to keep up with my reading habit. I almost got run over while walking home in fifth grade, reading the collected Dragonlance Chronicles.

Time passed, and I realized these books did more than help me escape. They taught me the basics of learning (Imagine having to explain to your eight year old that he needed to look for context clues to figure out what “disemboweled” meant). They taught me to face my fears. They taught me to question.

I write to bring my fears into the open. I write to adventure into the unknown. I write to raise questions. I write because I can’t not write.

There are undiscovered worlds out there, waiting for us to find them. Technology and society are growing in changing in ways we can never predict. We need new tales, new interpretations, new voices.

I write because I’m sitting with the world around a campfire, telling tales to keep the shadows at bay.

Manliness and Injury

Today I told a coworker how I injured my back, and another coworker chimed in that it was a super manly way to get hurt, better than throwing your back out while jogging on the treadmill or something.

I know he meant it as a compliment, but I have a bit of a problem with this. Manly shouldn’t equal stupid. I hurt myself by lifting too much weight and not using the proper form. Even worse, deep down, I knew it was too much weight before I tried, but I lifted it anyway because I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do it.

I got hurt because of pride and stupidity. I didn’t get it looked at by a doctor for two weeks because I’m stubborn. Manliness (in the way this guy seemed to be using it) is pushing yourself to the limits, but knowing when you’ve met them. Manliness is knowing when to walk away. Manliness is admitting that it’s too much.

So my point is, folks, don’t be afraid to walk away. Don’t let your lizard almonds control you. Be safe. Back injuries suck. Let me make the mistake so you don’t have to. Just don’t say it’s manly.

Those that guide us

Writers, especially science fiction and fantasy writers, rarely exist in a vacuum.

Everyone has the stories they grew up on, vivid worlds that helped them realize how much creative potential of the human mind, the ones that light the spark that grows into a flaming inferno of sleepless nights and ink-stained hands.

These guides, the writers that come before, act as inspiration and a challenge. To be considered on par with one of these greats would be a dream. To surpass them would be unbelievable.

Today Patrick Rothfuss, a relative newcomer to my shortlist of Great Authors, released a story for the Suvudu Cage Match. It is, at it’s heart, a piece of fan fiction, the kind you’d find on message boards written by fifteen year olds that think they can fix everything by inserting their own character. Except there was no Mary Sue. This was Felurian. And Death. And Susan Sto-Helit.

The story read more like a collaboration than a tribute. The voice in my head reading the write up was not Pat’s, but Neil Gaiman’s. There was a touch of Discworld, but also a touch of Good Omens. I laughed. I cried. I questioned myself as a writer for the millionth time. When confronted with this story, I have to ask who am I, to think I can write? Who am I to try and force my stories onto the world when there are writers like this out there?

Then I take a step back, tear this page of questions from my mind, and toss it on the fire, more fuel for inspiration. I’m not there yet, for sure, but if I stop now I’ll never be. The stories in my mind are fighting to get out, and even if no one reads them, at least they’ll be free.

So thank you Mr. Rothfuss, for a beautifully written tribute to Terry Pratchett. Thank you for lighting another sconce in the dark corridors of these catacombs. Most of all, thank you for another good story.

Ok, now that I’ve got all of that angst out of my system, here’s some questions for the void:

  • What writer inspires you the most?
  • When did you realize you wanted to create?
  • If you could have only three books with you on a desert island, what would they be?

Short Stories and Snobbery

I think that most writers start off with the plan to write the next great novel, a magnum opus that could easily turn into a trilogy or even a twenty novel grand epic. I know that I certainly did. In the course of my life, I’ve even completed two novel length rough drafts, though my momentum falls off when it comes time for rewrites and revisions.

Recently I’ve started scaling things back a bit, focusing on short stories. I found I prefer the instant gratification of banging out four or five drafts of a five hundred to two thousand word sprint versus the marathon trudge that is a fifty thousand word novel.

Another great thing about short stories is the contests. Some give you feedback just for entering, and there’s always a chance for prize money and publication. I’ve been hitting webspace pretty hard trying find contests that seem like a good fit. A few days ago I stumbled on one that hit a weird number of rage triggers.

The prompt was vague, but completely inoffensive. The length was standard, as was the submission process (they didn’t want anything crazy like typed manuscripts via carrier pigeon or anything like that). What set me off was just a few words from the contest description.

They open stating their commitment to the freedom of imagination, saying they aren’t too choosy on genre. They then list the three fiction genres they find acceptable, and close out with a list of six genres they don’t want, which of course includes science fiction and fantasy. Not too choosy? I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

Now, as you can tell by the vast number of stories that I’ve posted here… hmmm… nope. Well, as you can tell by what I’m about to tell you, I’ve had a lifelong love affair with sci-fi and fantasy. Asimov, Gibson, Gaiman, Shelly, Rothfuss, Dick. All great authors, all considered to be LITERATURE, but all ineligible for this contest. But they aren’t too choosy.

In a perfect world, my reaction would have been calm. I would note the restrictions on genre and either flex my writing muscles and try something new or realize the contest wasn’t for me and moved on. But those three little words kept bouncing around in my head. Not too choosy. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I stewed for a few days and wrote a blog post venting about it.

So what do you think, fine readers? Am I being too sensitive? Are these people being too exclusive? Were they just not choosy enough with their words when writing the contest description?