Happy “Eat ALLLL the Candy” Day!

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In honor of Halloween and all things sugary– I mean, spooky– I’ve decided to do a little horror-themed post. 🙂 When I was a very wee kid, I wrote a bunch of scary stories. I’ve forgotten most of them now, but I distinctly remember one that I wrote while my family and I were staying in a hotel.

The hotel pool had this giant spikey/flowery type design printed on the bottom, and in my wee mind it looked like a hand. I decided, with perfect logic of course, that it would probably come to life and pull me down into the underworld if I touched it (duh, obviously). This scared the arm-floaties right offa me, and I refused to swim anywhere near it. I mean, I knew the hand would only snatch me if I touched it, but you can’t be too careful when underworlds are involved.

It’s funny now, but back then, wee me was legitimately terrified. Like, I believed in the guts of my guts that this would really happen. Yet as terrified as I was, that fear also gave me a surge of creativity, so I quickly ran off to– erp, sorry Mom, I WALKED VERY CAREFULLY–to a poolside chair and scribbled a story down.

I find this transferal of fear into inspiration rather fascinating. Maybe it reflects the psychology of WHY many of us are drawn to horror in our narratives but not in reality. Maybe it’s because stories give us the safe distance to explore and understand our fears, without any real-life consequences. It’s not fearlessness that draws me to horror. Wee me was scared of the hand, but also curious, and writing that story let me get close enough to wrap my brain around it without getting pulled into the underworld. (Always a good day when that doesn’t happen!)

Those of you who like horror, do you relate to this? Or does your interest come from something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ Noel

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New publication! Log Jam, now up at The Bohemyth

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I’m so excited to announce that my short story Log Jam has been published by a lovely journal called The Bohemyth. This piece, about the often inexplicable nature of depression, is very dear to me and was in submission for a long time, so I’m deeply thankful it found a home. It would mean the world to me if you read it.

You are allowed to write badly.

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We’ve probably all heard the adage, “Give yourself permission to write crap,” but I want to talk about it because it’s such an important one. We must face the inevitability that not every word we type will be fabulous, and that’s okay. We are allowed to be imperfect. Welcome it, embrace it. It’s your right as a human.

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30 lines for my 30th year!

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Today is my birthday!! Woooo! “Growing up” is lame and I refuse to do it, but birthdays are awesome. To celebrate turning the big three-oh, I decided to write 30 one-line stories. Because… challenge? Novelty? Masochism?? It was a lot harder than expected. But also fun. Some are silly and some are serious. Some have only a few words and some make abundant use of commas. I hereby present: Noel’s Thirty for Thirty~

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Why I dislike the term “Strong Female Character”

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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.)

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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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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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