Three Posts About Gender


Age-of-Brass Triumph-of-Womans-Rights 1869

Image via Wikipedia

Malinda Lo on her blog:

But when I began writing a book set in the contemporary USA (Adaptation), I promptly fell into the passive trap. I had never written a novel set in the “real world,” and suddenly I was dealing with all sorts of expectations and traditions about the way girls behave, how they dress, what they do. It was … truly weird. Yes, I found it much weirder to write about contemporary teen girls than magically gifted sages or tomboyish heroines who like to go hunting.

Inspired by this post by Kate Elliott:

I try very hard to write stories in which there are as many female characters as male characters, with as much agency and importance in the plot. Yet I often have consciously to go back through later drafts to make sure that my female leads aren’t being more passive than I actually want them to be, aren’t letting others make decisions for them or devise all the cunning plans (unless there is a specific reason because of experience, competencies, or social roles), are showing leadership, and are present as confident individuals with a strong sense of themselves (as long as that is within character).

Oh, yes! I do that too. (And get really mad at myself in real life when I think I’ve acted too passively, before I shake it off and resolve to do better next time.)

And unrelated except in topic choice, Martha Wells on Laura Anne Gilman’s blog:

One of the elements about Raksuran society that was different, and also fun to write, was the gender role reversal.  The queens are the leaders of the Raksuran courts, and also the most physically powerful.  Female warriors are also bigger and stronger than male warriors. It was very interesting for me to write, because I had to check all my assumptions about physical power and sexual politics at the door, to stay in the viewpoint of my non-human characters.

And one the things that makes the series so fun to read.

Lathe operator machining parts for transport p...

Image via Wikipedia

Art and Happiness

You have a choice between giving your work you best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot–and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy.

That’s from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Part of the reason I like it so much is that it talks about happiness and art. How often does that happen? People are always talking about suffering for their art, and the suffering, poverty-stricken, drug- or alcohol-addicted artist cliche is everywhere.

And check out this post by Alex Bledsoe, The Rare Ingredient: Joy, where he talks about writers’ joy in the act of writing showing through and argues against:

…the idea of the Tortured Artist, a cliche so insidious and romantic that many beginning writers assume that if they’re not miserable, they’re doing it wrong.

I’ve had the thought that I’m not suffering enough in my life right now to have material worth writing. Of course, when there is true suffering in my life, it’s damn hard to write anything at all.

I’d like to see/read a lot more books and articles about joy and happiness in the pursuit of art to try to counteract the believe in the connection between pain and art.

For a while, I was so grimly determined to finish the project I was working on that it wasn’t fun. Now “What is the FUN thing to do?” is the question guiding my current project.

Read Like a Writer

From a guest post by Carmela Martino on Mary Kole’s Kidlit blog:

Writing Workout: Reading as a Writer

In preparation for “reading as a writer,” decide what aspect of writing you will study [when reading a book]. For example, you may choose to focus on characterization, dialogue, description, plot, setting, use of flashbacks, etc. When I started at VCFA, I knew one of the shortcomings in my own writing was a lack of specific detail. So, in my first two semesters, I read to study how authors incorporated details into their writing.

There’s more in the post, check it out.

Poetry Hit

Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet.

Image via Wikipedia

This is a Christian praise poem, but the ecstatic language of it, the rhythm of the rolling syllables–to me it’s a praise poem of living, of nature of the joy of language describing nature. So take it as you will, or don’t take it at all.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Writerly Paths and Roller Coasters

English: Opening to Roller Coaster in Spreepark

Image via Wikipedia

Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman blog about difficult paths to publication, celebration and choosing not to be bitter. And Zoe Marriott blogs about the roller coaster of  writing.

5 Days of 5 Years of Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr

Turning Points, Gayle Forman on Distraction No. 99 (how great a blog name is that?!) of Nova Rem Suma

A Question of Rollercoasters, Zoe Marriott on the Zoe-Trope (no I can’t get the umlaut over the e in Zoe. Just imagine it’s there). Sometimes there’s amazing comfort to read about other people going through the same kinds of experiences.

Tropes and Cliches

A plastic yellow bucket.

Image via Wikipedia

Yeah, yeah, happy new year, I’ve been gone a long time, did NaNo, hope 2012 is better than 2011, blah blah blah…

And now for links to two great blog posts on tropes and cliches and avoiding them; making your characters sweat buckets of blood, and sweating those buckets of blood yourself to twist and turn to avoid the trope traps.

Trope Avoidance: How to Stop Writing What Everyone Else is Writing by Kameron Hurley

CLICHE KILLER PART TWO: The Revengening, by Zoe Marriott