& Now I Want A Cookie

I have uploaded a cover – b/c the NaNo statistics show that uploading a cover makes you 66% more likely to finish your novel, and so my abysmal word count is now subsequently forced to rise, right?

Admit it - now you're craving a cookie

Admit it – now you’re craving a cookie

Oh, also – my cover isn’t really very related to the novel, just to the scene I just wrote.

Oh, also – that’s not really my title.

Um, yeah.

The Blank Paper is Winning

fuck the paper

Day 12 of NaNo, and I have an embarrassingly small # of words. Which is actually fine – I’m really busy, and if I failed my tax quiz so that I could achieve a specific, round # of words by the end of the month, that would be horrible (and I would lose the job offer I recently accepted and would have to spend another winter in Michigan, which would probably literally kill me, to be honest).

Still, I hate to fail, even at arbitrary tasks that I have assigned to myself.

I really want to get to a point where I can at least see where this story is going. I kind of know where I want it to go, but it’s also taking me to unexpected places – which is awesome, because that’s exactly what you want it to do, both for you and your reader.

Anyway, I’m going to keep working. There were also a few days when I didn’t write anything, which for some reason, has failed to increase my word count (sarcasm intended). BUT I am writing more than I would otherwise, which is good. Because school is very busy, and I could literally divide all of my time between school, work, and housework – but that would make me a very dull girl. And we all know what happened to Jack (unless you both read the book & watched the Kubrick movie, in which case, what happened to Jack is very debatable).

How is everyone else’s project going?

Clarity

grasping @ eternity

 Okay – what is this book about?

Is it an interesting supernatural novel? A run-of-the-mill romance? A combination of the two?

I feel like there is a disparity between the cover and the description. I have nothing against romance, but some of it is not meant to be taken seriously. While most of us will read anything at the beach, the cover is indicative, to me, of what is casually labeled a “beach read” – a fun read. The description, on the other hand, at least indicates melodrama, if not the idea that this novel is meant to keep the reader thinking after the last page has been turned.

There’s something about eternity (vampires? hopefully not – I’m feeling a bit inundated by vampires at the moment). There’s something about “doing the unthinkable,” except that that’s “explained” by some gibberish about past lives. Maybe this is a god/goddess thing?

Is it just me, or do you kind of wish publishers would just issue a blank cover if they can’t come up with a fitting image? Or is this novel’s description better than its’ premise?

Anyway, the person with the best elaborated description of the novel (based, of course, on its’ cover) gets brownie points! & even though you’ll probably never meet me in person, and probably wouldn’t know who I was even if you did, you know you want my approval. ;)

NaNoWriMo: A Day Late & Low Word Count In

So, I didn’t write anything yesterday. But that’s okay. If I can “win” NaNo, that’s awesome, and I will probably add a bullet point to my resume, but I am really striving to find balance every day, so I’m not going to beat myself up if a “win” doesn’t occur. I’m winning by writing. (Also, I need to make time for my kid and my grad school reading/schoolwork/etc.)

winning

Anyway, let’s talk writing.

One of the big things I always struggle with, is what to name my characters. I now realize that there is an entire NaNo forum dedicated to what to name things, but, in addition to that resource, I generally find myself using baby name sites. A resource I have used this year is the 25 best-loved baby names. This site is particularly helpful, because I knew that I wanted some popular names for a couple of my characters, due to the nature of those characters.

I hope everyone else’s first 2 days of NaNo went relatively well! Please, share your favorite writing resource in the comments below:

Please to comment below.

Please to comment below.

Bad Feminist Quotes

I just read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, and strongly, strongly recommend this book. It will make you think, it might make you intensely uncomfortable, but Gay brings up many good points, and even if you don’t always agree with her, the fact that she’s talking about so many important conversations and will make you think about those conversations makes this book well worth reading.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For whatever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”

-“Introduction” p. x

“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers…trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world…while also being myself: a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with the repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground.”

-“Introduction” p. xi

Really, the entire Introduction is amazing.

“In many ways, likability is a very elaborate lie, a performance, a code of conduct dictating the proper way to be… Unlikable is a fluid designation that can be applied to any character who doesn’t behave in a way the reader finds palatable.”

-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 85

“In literature, as in life, the rules are all too often different for girls… An unlikable man is inscrutably interesting, dark, or tormented, but ultimately compelling, even when he might behave in distasteful ways… When women are unlikable, it becomes a point of obsession in critical conversation by professional and amateur critics alike… Why aren’t they making themselves likable (and therefore acceptable) to polite society?”

-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 88

“This is what is so rarely said about unlikable women in fiction – that they aren’t pretending, that they won’t or can’t pretend to be someone they are not. They have neither the energy nor the desire for it.”

-“Not Here to Make Friends” p. 95

“This is a baffling statement because there is imply no reality where the phrase ‘strident feminist’ can be reasonably compared to the N-word. I am fascinated by the silence surrounding this statement, how people will turn a blind eye to casual racism for the sake of funny feminism.”

-“How We All Lose” p. 104

“We talk about rape, but we don’t carefully talk about rape.”

-“The Careless Language of Sexual Violence” p. 132

“You’d be amazed what people are willing to do when they are given permission, either implicitly or explicitly.”

-“Some Jokes Are Funnier Than Others” p. 179

“The thing about fairy tales is that the princess finds her prince, but there’s usually a price t pay. A compromise is required for happily ever after. The woman in the fairy tale is generally the one who pays the price. This seems to be the nature of sacrifice.”

-“The Trouble with Prince Charming” p. 193

In fact, the entire essay “The Trouble with Prince Charming” is great. Amusing and poignant. #readit

“We hold all people to unspoken rules about who and how they should be, how they should think, and what they should say. We say we hate stereotypes but take issue when people deviate from those stereotypes. Men don’t cry. Feminists don’t shave their legs. Southerners are racist.”

-“The Politics of Respectability” p. 257

“…even in this day and age, the rights of women are not inalienable. Our rights can be and are, with alarming regularity, stripped away.”

-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 273

“Then, of course, there is the problem of those women who want to, perhaps, avoid the pregnancy question altogether by availing themselves of birth control with the privacy and dignity and affordability that should also be inalienable.

Or, according to some, whores.”

-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 274

“We are having inexplicable conversations about birth control, conversations where women must justify why they are taking birth control, conversations where a congressional hearing on birth control includes no women because the men in power are well aware that women don’t need to be included in the conversation. We don’t have inalienable rights the way men do.”

-“The Alienable Rights of Women” p. 275

All quotes are derived from the following work:

Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist: Essays. First ed. New York: Harper Perennial, 2014. Print.

Response to the Oxymoron

I came across this blog post the other day, and there are just so many things wrong with it. I’m kind of hoping that it’s all an elaborate hoax to sell books, because the idea that someone could legitimately think in this manner is utterly terrifying. And yet, as a youngish woman, I, like many others, have been the target of a stalker myself, and know that for many men, for some reason, there is a sort of twisted logic that tells them that because they covet you, you should be theirs, regardless of your feelings on the matter.

Ah, being a woman. Sometimes, I forget that I am just a pretty incubator, just a thing, a belonging, meant to be chosen by a dominant male specimen until he feels like tossing me aside for a more attractive, younger model.

But here is my annotated version of one of the creepiest blog posts ever written:

Her smile stimulated the deepest feelings of wonderment inside my being.

This sentence is thoroughly disturbing. The use of the words “stimulated,” “deepest,” and “inside” are all symbolic of the rape culture vibe of this piece. Right in the first paragraph, there are signs that this piece is going to piss me off.

Some people offer fake smiles, but a smile should never be forced.

Interesting that the writer posits a smile should not be forced, yet has no similar qualms regarding a relationship, since stalking is, in essence, the attempt to force a relationship on someone who has no interest in it.

I invited her onto the BBC University Challenge team that I was putting together. “I don’t know if I’m brainy enough Rich,” she said.

“We need beauty as well as brains,” I replied.

Yet more evidence that the author has a rape culture view of the world.

She let me choose a picture of her to use on the form, since she was busy.

That evening, I went through her many Facebook pictures. “Maybe this one?” I asked in a chat message.

“It’s not opening,” she said. “What photo is it?”

“You’re wearing a low-cut black lace-trimmed top. On your pink lips, a mischievous smile is playing,” I described.

“Ermm, if you think I look smart enough,” she replied.

This whole section shows a guy who just… has no clue. She “let” him choose a picture – interesting word choice. It doesn’t exactly sound like she desires for him to pick a photo of her, just that she was like “eh, whatever…” And then, he goes “through her many Facebook pictures.” I mean, sure, a lot of us Facebook stalk, but I doubt we would phrase it in exactly that manner.

Then, there is his choice of a completely inappropriate picture for an application to join a trivia team. This team is theoretically supposed to be about intelligence, or at least rote memorization, but that he has suggested this female join because the team needs “beauty as well as brains,” which makes total sense, because beauty is an integral component of intelligence and trivia testing, right?

Oh, wait… no. That’s completely wrong.

He chooses an inappropriate picture, he tries to flirt as he describes it in a way that probably resulted in some creepy shivers crawling down this poor girl’s spine, and she firmly gave him “I’m not into this” signals by repeating that she’s interested in the resume-building aspect of this team she’s joining.

Determined to impress her and get our team onto TV, I intensively revised my general knowledge. I also frequented the student bar where she worked. I figured out what hours she did each day and went at those times.

Um… stopping by at someone’s place of work once in awhile to say hi is general friendliness. Obsessively pouring over their work schedule and lurking at their place of work every shift is creepy.

A couple of weeks before our University Challenge audition, she unfriended me on Facebook. I was a little shocked and asked her why.

“You’re kinda freaking me out,” she explained. “You’re a good guy but you’re being far too forward.”

“Are you still doing University Challenge with us?” I asked.

“Only as a friend, but nothing more,” she replied.

She’s being honest. She doesn’t hate this guy, but she’s not into it, and she wants to make sure that she’s not sending him any signals that could be construed as a “maybe.”

She does it because she’s worried that he will respond in exactly the way that he does:

For some reason, I then decided to tell her how I really felt; that I had become infatuated with her, and that I was in love with her. With hindsight, of course I wouldn’t have done that. In fact, I would have done almost everything differently but, at the time, I felt compelled to do what I did.

When someone specifically, honestly tells you they’re not into you in a romantic way, you take them at their word. Period.

Then, there’s the fact that infatuation is not the same thing as love, and it’s not clear from this paragraph that the author can tell the difference.

On top of that is the fact that this guy was sent very unsubtle signals that this girl is not romantically interested in him, at all, and he proceeds to respond to this with “I love you.” Like, were you even paying attention?

She pulled out of the team. We found a replacement and failed the audition anyway (I doubt that her inclusion would have made a difference). My dream of winning University Challenge and impressing the maiden was shattered.

Way to pull out the chivalrous, condescending language.

For those of you who think that knights rescuing damsels in distress is a romantic notion to which we should all aspire, let me inform you that you’re wrong, and that I can hold the fucking door open myself, thank you very much. I am not so weak that I need someone else to save me. And when I do need help, it’s probably not from the freak in two tons of metal.

Over the next few weeks, when it became clear that I had no chance with her, my behaviour became increasingly erratic. I would drink 2 bottles of wine and go into a club, climb over the fence after being kicked out, and get into fights. I got banned from my SU, which meant that I could no longer go to the bar where she worked.

But… she never sent you any positive signals. If you were just being wild because you were young, okay. But going crazy because some chick who never even slightly pretended to be interested in you is a little weird. Like, I think the guy who plays Hook from Once Upon a Time is crazy hot, but the fact that he doesn’t know I exist doesn’t mean I’m going to put on a poofy dress and try to throw myself off of a tall building because he doesn’t reciprocate my lust.

Occasionally, I passed her on the street. Once, I saw her in the library, and she smiled at me. She was prolific on Twitter and it often felt like her tweets were directed at me.

Her tweets are not directed at you. Get help.

I wrote love letters to her. I still had her address from the forms that she filled out for University Challenge. I felt a bit guilty using that information, but I wasn’t turning up at her door or anything. I sent a few love letters through the post, rose-themed cards containing poetry and drawings. I also left messages on her phone.

No.

You feel guilty using that information, because that information was not given to you in a personal context. You are abusing your power – in this case, the power of information derived from a position of in a group she briefly considered joining until you freaked her out.

She has told you she’s not interested in you – you are ignoring her personal interests, which is odd, since you supposedly love her.

This. Is. Wrong. Stop it.

After that, I thought long and hard about what I was doing. I think that is when I first accepted that I had become a stalker. Before, I had been an admirer. But what does stalking really mean? It seems to mean that you truly love someone who does not love you back.

I’m pretty sure you don’t understand what love is; it’s not ignoring what the other person wants if it doesn’t mesh with what you wish that person wanted. It doesn’t mean harassing someone, becoming such a toxic presence in that person’s life, that they must turn to law enforcement to try to get you to stop calling them and sending them love letters.

Every great romance is about two partners who are utterly obsessed with each other. Romeo, Juliet, Tristan and Isolde are people who are so passionately and powerfully in love that nothing else matters to them. But what if that feeling was felt on only one side? What if Juliet had rejected Romeo? Would he become a stalker?

Probably not. Given the beginning of that play, Romeo probably would have whined to his friends for a few days before he found someone else to bone.

It seems that modern society drools over depictions of this intense, obsessional love, but only when it is mutual. When it comes from just one side, it is suddenly deemed a terrible thing.

Here, you have a point. Society does depict obsessional love a lot of times – and maybe that’s not the most healthy thing.

Seven months later, when it was complete, I decided to try to make my book known by getting into the national news. I found out that she worked in Glasgow, so I traveled there with a plan. I was going to tell her that if she came with me, and we faked a kidnapping, we would both become famous. We would go into the hills and camp out for a few days while the nation searched. I had brought the necessary supplies.

Why…? I am so confused as to why this was ever even semi-seriously contemplated. First of all, who agrees to a fake kidnapping? That didn’t even work in season 2 of 21 Jumpstreet, which taught us that if you’re contemplating a fake kidnapping, you probably haven’t thought through all the details, and that Johnny Depp is extremely attractive in drag.

And she went to the authorities to get you to leave her alone. She doesn’t want to even see you, let alone plan fake kidnappings with you to try to help you get some book sold.

Yesterday, I saw her on the street and approached her, and called her name, but she freaked out.

It’s almost like you’re stalking her or something.

But the most disturbing part of the post, is its’ ending:

I left Glasgow, and I think our relationship is finished now. I gave it my best shot. I really thought that we would both become famous. We would have disappeared for a few days, people would have read my book, and she could have played the lead role when The World Rose is made into a movie. But alas; I’ll have to find another way.

Oh, I see. So since YOU’VE decided the “relationship” that wasn’t really a relationship is “finished,” now it’s really over. When she explicitly told you, I don’t like you like that, but you decided you loved her, it was okay for you to use information that you had derived in a completely inappropriate manner from an application she filled out for a resume-building activity to CALL her and WRITE to her and HARASS her in a manner that was, at the least, extremely hard to avoid. When she talked to the police, to try to really send home the message that she wasn’t interested in you being in her life anymore, it was okay for you to send her disturbing, creepy valentine’s, and plan to pretend to kidnap her (which, are any of your readers really buying the idea that you know the difference between a pretend and real kidnapping when you don’t even know the difference between a pretend and real relationship – I really, sincerely, truly hope not). But now, you’re kind of over this chick because you wrote an insanely creepy blog post about your insistence to create a relationship where no mutual attraction existed, and in which you admit that you stalked her, but in a “benevolent” way, when that’s not even possible. Stalking, in its’ very essence, is malicious. It is the refusal to pay any regard to the feelings and wishes of a fellow human being, because you don’t feel like it. By admitting to being a stalker, you are admitting to being someone whose grasp of reality needs help, and I sincerely hope that you seek it. Because if you have had trouble comprehending the clear signals, words, phrases, and actions of someone who was never interested in you, then if you do not receive psychiatric help, this cycle will likely repeat.

And that is not okay.