Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Typos, Fantasy and Feminism

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The effing wind is back and making up for the two days it was away. A few minutes out cleaning up Chez Horse, and there's sand impaled in my pores. It's like the Sahara Desert out there. Even the Nikster, the Arabian horse, is hiding under his shed.

Typos, typos, tpyos...
And I call myself a writer. Scanned my last posting and spotted a gramatically error. Argh. Found myself wondering what sort of horrible little surprises live in the manuscripts I send out.

I know there were at least three typos in the version of "Salvation in a Plastic Bag" sent to Writers of the Future and Modern Magic--found after the fact, D'Oh! I call "Salvation" the Little Story That Could because it got a quarter finalist nod at WOTF and found a good home despite my horrible copy editing. Argh.

Anyway, this loosely leads up to Holly Black's Authorial Worries posting on her LJ. The listing of "concerns" is focused on published novels, but reminds me of how nutty I can be. (After sending out a contract, I worried that it hadn't gotten there. "What if they never received it and it really isn't going to be published?")

Here's some highlights from the list:

-Contract sent to wrong address.
-Contract stolen by gypsies who finish book and turn it in.
-Contract actually from Satan. You sign anyway.
-Book too good. Secret publishing cabal plots your demise.
-Cover terrible. [I'm an artist and this one is a big concern for me.]
-Cover great, but for a genre you hate.
-Bad Reviews.
-No Reviews.
-Stellar reviews of book that sounds nothing like your book of the same title. Possibly the one written by gypsies?
-Book accidentally shelved with porn.
-Book accidentally shelved with porn, but sells like hotcakes.

What is Fantasy?...
Also from Holly Black's LJ, So Wait, I'm Not a Fantasy Writer, Either? At issue is an article by author Terry Goodkind. What I found odd is the implication that Goodkind doesn't think he writes fantasy, but rather romantisicm. Well, La-Dee-Fucking-Da. It feels a bit like he's trying to distance himself from us un-edumacated fantasy writers. Honestly, when confronted with words like Naturalism (makes me think of nudist's, snerk), I zoned out most of his treatis anyway.

I liked Wizards First Rule, but rather like Robert Jordan's lugubrious epic, Goodkind's Series Of No Closure got old by the third book.

Strong Female Characters...
Found Sarah Monette's article "STILL SEEKING CHLOE AND OLIVIA: HOW TO WRITE STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS" of interest.

"And the easiest way to make room in SF stories for women is to make the women into men. It is also an easy (and cheap) way, in this the beginning of the twenty-first century, to lay claim to being a feminist writer. But it isn't feminist to write about men with breasts. It's a reinforcement of the patriarchal idea (most notably expressed by Freud) that all women are simply defective men."

The above addressed something that's been bugging me lately. There seems to be a belief by some writers that letting women behave like men--killing and fucking** with no remorse, emphasis on the killing--constitutes freedom.

(**The sex bothers me less than the killing, though most people--Americans, anyway--seem to think the opposite is true. Violence is peachy keen, but Janet Jackson's nipple will undermine the very fabric of the Universe.)

I hate weak women, those silly twits who shriek their way through a movie. I always end up rooting for the monster. When in a crisis, I do not shriek. Maybe it's because I grew up around horses. (Hissy fits around 1200-pound animals can get you killed.)

Ass-kicking women are awesome, but that doesn't mean they should revel in violence. A little empathy for the antagonist can make for a strong and compelling protagonist. In fact, I think the so-called "female" ability to nuture is a strength, not a weakness. As is compassion.

An example of a strong and compassionate fictional woman in SF would be Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil of S.L. Viehl's StarDoc series. (First three books; series looses steam thereafter.) A gifted surgeon, many of her "battles" are fought with a scapel, not a weapon. She's strong for her patients' sake, be they human, alien, or one of the enemy.

The article's primary focus is on "the sexualization of female characters." While I agree with the assertion that the presence of a woman in fiction usually means some degree of romance, I'm not necessarily willing to write romance-free fiction in order to buck tradition.

I like romance. Frankly, when you put a couple of young dynamic people together in an equally dynamic circumstance, romance (or at least lust) seems almost inevitable.

Sex happens.

Writing...
Got in about 2300 new words. Went back and read them today, and despite my feelings yesterday--"This is crap"--I think they're okay. (I will revise the living daylights out of the novel when done, so no point in falling in love.)

Need to do my weekly critique thing. Downloaded some stories that look interesting. Which means easy (easier) to read, but sometimes harder to critique. (It's easy to critique the ones that are God awful.)

Cheers,

P.K.

 

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