If any of you are saying, “Who the heliotrope is David Foster Whatsit?” please don’t go yet! Yes, this month’s nonfiction revolves around a particular person, BUT the meat of the book is about something more broad: writing. The craft, the business, the joys and pitfalls and neuroses thereof. I chose it for this month’s Let’s Dewey This because his insights are so incredibly relatable that I thought you guys – my fellow wordslingers – would like to read them.
I don’t like the term “Strong Female Character.”
That does not mean I prefer weak female characters. This is not a black and white world in which you either swing swords with swagger or cower in a corner. There’s a vast spectrum in between.
The reason I can’t stand the term “strong female characters” is because women described that way are usually one-dimensional, monotone cutouts of what the writer thinks a strong woman is. Often she’s a woman who can shoot a gun or throw a punch, and that’s enough. She never cries or feels uncertain or has any internal struggle whatsoever, unless of course it’s just for a minute to get the plot going and then she knows exactly how to deal with it. (Probably by shooting a gun.)
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.
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.
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.
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:
It’s been a year since Slink Chunk Press published this short story, so to honor the occasion I am reprinting it here. Enjoy!
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?
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?
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:
A full year ago today, I was honored to have this flash fiction published by Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. This is my personal favorite of my work, so to celebrate its anniversary I am reprinting it here. I hope you enjoy! 🙂
Rain fell the day he went to the shore, to see the place where his wife left him. Grey weighted the clouds like sacks full of stones, sagging closer and closer to the sea. Grey upon grey, water upon water, the sea and sky took hands. The way he once took hers.
She never held his hand long. Always wrenching from his grasp, her flesh still as slippery as a seal. Sometimes she would oblige him, sit shaking like a penned animal as he made hushing noises and rubbed her knuckles with his thumbs.
Please let me love you, he would say. I’ve earned it. I found your skin.