Writing diversity: not exactly a how-to, more of a think-about

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This is a tough subject. A meaty subject. A big ol’ gristly steak of a subject that takes a lot of chewing and will not be thoroughly digested within a single blog post, but let’s dig our teeth in, shall we?

As writers, our characters probably look, act, and live like people we’re used to. If you’re white and straight, your characters are probably white and straight, because that’s what you know, and writing someone black or gay or Muslim or in a wheelchair takes some extra thought.

But here’s a really cool thing: the world is a far more interesting place than just white and straight (and male, and Christian, and able-bodied, etc etc), and there should be stories to reflect that. Because all stories deserve to be told. As citizens of the earth we have a duty to represent more than just our limited bubbles.

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Waiting game

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Still playing the query waiting game. My thumbs have become quite good at twiddling. I could be a competitive thumb-twiddling champion.

Six weeks have passed since I sent this book’s first query. Alas, no word yet. I’m used to this from when I queried my previous novel, so I know it’s normal, but I’m extra-excited about this book, and that first agent in particular who was my tippyest-top choice. Unfortunately, I may have to consider that one a rejection. Agencies with a “no reply = no” policy are tough for authors when you can’t help wondering if your query got buried in their inbox, or worse, if it got eaten by email gremlins before it even arrived. A reply of any kind is a relief. But after six weeks, I’ve decided it’s time to send out another batch.

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Let’s DEWEY this! – The Man Who Couldn’t Stop

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Several months ago I broached the topic of OCD with a nonfiction read about hoarding. Because OCD is such a personal subject to me, I decided to devote this month’s nonfiction more fully to the illness with a read of David Adam’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought.”

For the average, non-ill person, it’s normal to obsess now and then. It’s normal to have a senseless fear (clown in the closet?), a sudden and unsettling urge that does not fit with who we are (swerve into traffic, perhaps?) or a good-luck practice not founded on reality (certainly no one believes that knocking on wood actually works, but… just in case.) It’s normal to be picky about your books lining up straight or to lose sleep one night as a worry goes round and round in your head like a circling predator. This is not OCD.

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Say Cheese

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I just need to make it through this party. I just need to make it through this party and then I can cry.

Alright. I can do this. Just fix a smile on my face and no one will ever know. Say cheese! Now hold it. Hoooold it. Damn, the corners are twitching. My cheeks hurt. I probably look like I’m snarling. As though I’m about to eat someone just to get out of here.

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The INSTA-LOVE trope – just add water! (repost in honor of Valentine’s Day)

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There are few things more grating to me than the insta-love trope seen so often in fiction. This device essentially involves shoving two characters in the same room, then poking them with a stick until they have nowhere else to go but each other’s arms.

The development of their relationship usually looks like this:

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Let’s DEWEY this! – Shrill

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This month has been horrific for America, but if one awesome thing happened in January, it was seeing the glorious uprising of protestors. If you marched, I give you all my applause. While today’s nonfiction post has nothing to do with those events, it carries an equally fiery spirit, so I deemed it a good choice to kick off the year’s nonfic reads.

Lindy West’s memoir, “Shrill,” is both searingly honest and laugh-too-loudly-in-the-break-room-and-annoy-all-your-coworkers hilarious. West boldly delves into topics that polite society doesn’t like to discuss, such as the stigma of menstruation, her abortion, what it’s like to be a woman hearing a rape joke, and most of all, body image and our culture of fat-shaming.

Here are my favorite passages from the book:

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Margarine

It’s been a year since Slink Chunk Press published this short story, so to honor the occasion I am reprinting it here. Enjoy!

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They say that everything is made from everything. Matter never disappears, it just becomes new matter. A cell from your skin catches a southeast breeze and eventually gets inhaled by a penguin; an atom expelled in some dinosaur dung finds its way over the eons to your pomegranate tea; a molecule from the sweat that glistened on Caesar’s temple evaporated and is now raining into your car through the window you left open.

We’re all just cosmos junk, recycled. Never ending, only changing. Ever since the universe’s first big sneeze, all that energy has been riding its waves wherever it can go, moving from one place to another. Perpetual tourists, all of us.

So then what happens if a bit of energy changes its mind? Has a change of heart on the metaphysical interstate and decides to detour over the center divider, head the opposite way?

Decides to come back?

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How to write what you know (even when you don’t know)

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It’s as ubiquitous as “Show, don’t tell.” You probably can’t even remember the first time you heard it, it’s touted so widely – in advice books, in classrooms, in movies about writers. Even the most non-writiest nonwriter who hasn’t held a pen since high school knows to write what we know.

But what does that actually mean?

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Happy 2017! New blogging system plus my writer bucket list

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Welcome back and happy 2017! A couple news items:

Firstly, I’ve started going by my middle name, Noel. (As in, the Christmasy pronunciation of Noel. NOT the one that rhymes with *roll* which is what my eyes do whenever someone says it like that, hehe.) My full name will still be listed on my blog and Twitter, as that is what I’ll be published as, but amongst friends and such I’d like to be called Noel. 🙂

Secondly, I’m adopting a new system for how I’ll be blogging each week of the month:

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