Showing posts from 2015

My Flash-in-the-Pan Misadventure as an Accidental SJW

I was browsing through Twitter and saw this post:
How pathetic are today's college students & SJWs? They're afraid Christina Hoff Sommers will give them PTSD. — Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) December 28, 2015 I quoted it, adding, "I hate when people I otherwise respect use the slur SJW." Is it as bad as someone saying "nigger"? No, but it sure makes me think he is sympathetic to the ideas of the cretins who use the term. I thought nothing more of it since I know that only four people actually read my tweets.

Well, Michael Shermer cared enough to respond.
Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) is a slur? Ah, I see it is: Ok what should we call them? — Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) December 28, 2015 He did a little light research, admitted that it's a slur, and asked for a replacement. Maybe he was being a little snarky. Impossible to know, but I always give people the benefit of t…

Writer's Block

I should be writing fiction. Or even nonfiction. But I don't really feel like it.

I've seen lots of professional and nonprofessional writers say that it doesn't matter whether you "feel like" writing, that to wait for a muse to inspire you or a mood to overtake you is lazy and self-indulgent and dooms you to failure.

I use to be a technical writer, and in that case, I would say it's totally true. It didn't matter whether I "felt like" writing that assembly instruction document. I just sat my ass down in my $600 Aeron chair and banged that fucker out and collected my paycheck at the end of every two weeks.

I could even blog every day. I think I may try that in December to just prove that it's true.

But the fact is that writing something that I deeply care about is different, at least for me. I forced myself to write two more porn stories after the first one because I originally envisioned a little quartet and I had even made the cover art for…

"I'm Spider-Man"

:Or a little armchair literary theory for your Sunday morning. I have two degrees in textual analysis, based largely on psychoanalytic and structuralist and post-structuralist theories of meaning, which is all bullshit in the end because meaning is always contextual. 
And so, in light of the failure of big words and pseudoscience to explain the human condition, I turn to my favorite source of wisdom: comic books. (Or movies based on them.)
(I've said before that I would rather children learned morals from Marvel than from the Bible, and that remains true. Even if, as JL pointed out, "with great power comes great responsibility" is actually a paraphrase of a Bible passage, the Marvel moral philosophy is not cluttered with teachings that run counter to that lovely sentiment. )
But the quote I'm thinking of this morning is from the end of one of the Toby McGuire Spider-Man movies, though I forget which one. It ends with Peter in English class where his teacher sums up …

Three Down and One to Go

I finished the first draft of the third in the monster porn series today. It's hard to be excited about it. If there were any joy left in the project, I would have finished it in March, but all the same, it is in editing, so here's a peak at the cover:

The Permanence of Ink

I love the beginning of school in part because it means buying office supplies, which I love. Pens, pencils, and paper are absurdly overdetermined for me. (Or maybe not. Writing is, after all, the single most important technology that man has invented, underpinning all others by facilitating the transfer of information of all kinds from person to person and over vast distances and time.)

I started writing for myself long before I ever considered myself a writer. I kept journals and wrote letters I never sent for years, though always disposing of them at some point along the way. (If I were asked to make a drawing that symbolizes my life, and if I could draw, it would be of me walking away from a burning bridge without looking back.) And in the time before computers, I kept them in physical notebooks, written in ink.

I can't imagine writing a whole book longhand. I really learned how to write on computers, with the ability to go back, edit, cut and paste, and rearrange at will with…

Swedish Paradise

Here in New York's Capital District, people pretend like we live near New York City, and as a result, shopping options are desperately limited. Lately I have been pining over high-quality apparel fabric, which I can't find here, apparently, because we're "so close" to the world famous Garment District in NYC. But the truth is, it's actually over three hours away, so there is no "popping in" to those shops. It's an all day affair.

The fabric fetish is new, but I have been missing more common, everyday items for years. We have no Dairy Queen. We have no Sonic. We have no Chevy's. No Crate and Barrel. No LEGO store. And worst, no IKEA.

This morning I read an article in the Guardian about how IKEA is planning to extend home delivery to all of the countries in which it has stores. The article consisted of a set of commentaries trashing IKEA for various reasons. Shopping there is torture, the furniture is generic and disposable, you need a car to …

It's Like a Bloody Car Crash...

You don't want to look, but you just can't turn away.

Reality TV and gender studies have collided in the "transitioning" body of Caitlyn née Bruce Jenner, and thus trash TV has invaded my thoughts. Being a good liberal social justice warrior, I support Caitlyn's right to live any way she chooses, including Photoshopped up the wazoo, in heels and a padded bra, with her dick tucked delicately between her smoothly waxed thighs. (Or are those real fake boobs and is the penis already gone? Nobody seems to want to ask those indelicate questions, and I suppose it doesn't really matter to anyone but Caitlyn.)

But I think that as a good feminist, I also have to explore the motivations of any person who would have his or her body replumbed because of an inflexible definition of gender. What does it say about the current notion of gender that a growing number of people are going though major surgery and a lifetime of hormone therapy to make their bodies an ersatz versio…

Childhood's End

I was browsing sewing patterns and found one for a simple A-line skirt with a passage of poetry embroidered on it. I knew I wanted to make one, and I set about thinking of which poem I wanted to quote.

The first one that came to mind was a snatch of an e.e. cummings poems that I learned in college. It ends,
Mostpeople have been heard
screaming for international
measures that render hell rational
—i thank heaven somebody’s crazy
enough to give me a daisy I loved the poem when I was 16. It is magical and charming and whimsical.

A quarter of a century later, I'm about to be 41, and the world looks quite different. We are all on medication to control our crazy. Fantasy and magic have replaced science fiction. Reality TV has replaced artistic realism. Religious fundamentalism is on the rise around the globe and in frightening ways in the US, particularly if you judge by the Republican presidential hopefuls.

In the face of this insanity, I now value and champion rationality, reason, and scie…

Sorry, but your kid is NOT THAT SPECIAL

I spent the last month working on the elementary school's musical theater club production of Annie Jr. Maggie got a part in it, and I figured I'd use my new sewing skills to help. I joined the Costume Committee, which Jose laughingly called the Fashion Club, and I made costumes and ended up helping hopeless boys get dressed. The two main take-aways for me are that my daughter is talented and better than all other children and that other parents totally suck.

My friend Vicki and I made matching caps, aprons, and vests for Warbucks's servants and we repurposed and reworked old tunics from Aesops's Fables into dresses for orphans. In a moment of questionable planning on the part of the play director, the vests and aprons were all the same size, while there is a surprising variability in the size of 10-year-olds. The four or five kids who are overweight--cough, cough, excuse me, "husky"--were particularly problematic. I'm stuck between not wanting to fat-sham…

Departing from the Text

I am taking up sewing again. The first time I learned, I made fitted diapers. I still have one, and it's quite nifty, but I had to give up sewing because the noise of the machine freaked out my baby. Next, I learned to knit. Knitting is a far better fit for taking along while caring for small children: it requires far less equipment (particularly important, no scalding hot iron for pressing), it can be put down at a second's notice, and the clicking of the needles didn't make my infant cry.

Now, though, I have gotten the sewing bug back. It's largely a testament to how much I hate shopping for clothing. So much is ugly, unflattering, or ill-fitting, and if I make garments, I can fix all of that. The most important thing I learned from knitting--on my first (failed) project, no less--was that I could make alterations to patterns. (Incidentally, I applied this to fiction and became a writer along the way.) So on my very first sewing project, I frowned at what I saw as a …

I Also Suck at Marketing

My original intent was to keep my porn writing career a dirty little secret. My uptight neighbors and kids' friends' parents didn't need to know about it and give me the stink-eye or worse. So like Ann Rice, I thought up a clever pen name for my "erotica."
Well, since the neighbors haven't invited me over for coffee in five years, clearly I'm not Their Kind of People. That's OK, they're not My Kind of People either. So I decided that I don't need to care about what they think. We can continue to wave politely from 30 yards away for the next ten years.

But I kept the pseudonym, partly because I like it and partly as a "branding strategy." (God, I hate marketing terms.) I have started four mainstream books, at least some of which I still hope to publish and that I think of as my real writing, and it's a good idea to keep them separate from the potboiler porn. When I buy a Tom Robbins book, I have certain expectations, right?


More Lust!

My second story is available.

Moved to Tears

I went to a dinner party tonight, and my host greeted me by saying that I looked great. He noticed I'd lost some weight, and that was polite and flattering. He served me the drink of my choice and talked to me about the sauce he'd spent days cooking and the saffron his friends had brought him, smuggled and mislabeled, from Iran. He showed me around his house, including an office I absolutely loved--it was lined with shelves full of books I had read or wanted to read.

And he moved me to tears by giving me his Modern Library copy of The Philosophy of Spinoza, whom he described as "the rare Catholic atheist," because he thought I would find it interesting.

The first time he met me, I was in a short, tight, knit dress, fuck-me boots, and porn star eyeliner, and we were both drinking heavily, but he remembered more of my smart-assed half-philosophical bullshit than I remember saying. And tonight, with a used book that he said he probably hadn't written in too much, he…

Becoming a Writer (or Not)

Him: What do you do?
Me: I write.
Him: Wow, you're a writer?
Me: No, I write. Thanks to a few clicks on Amazon, I can even say I'm published, but am I a writer?

If you use the cheerleader definition, I write, so I'm a writer. Even when I want to quit, I still find myself composing in my head, so it has become a part of me. I know that my writing is better than average. I also realize that I could really use a skilled editor to tell me where to tighten and where to flesh out. I have three works-in-progress that could eventually be traditionally publishable novels, and I have four short stories and a memoir that are suitable for ebooks. All of them have more literary merit than some of the crap that you can buy.

But for most people, the real question is whether I can declare myself a paid professional writer. I used to joke that my goal for writing was to earn $17.34, the amount of my summer electric bill, so that I would be a writer by Stephen King's definition of bein…

Son of a Bitch

Of course, I uploaded the story and then found half a dozen typos. And something's goofy and I can't upload a corrected version right now. 

A Momentous Day

Appropriately, the contractors were banging away upstairs and the kids were screaming and fighting with each other when I uploaded my first short story to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program.

It should be available within 12 hours, and I hope a little sooner, so that it can be said to be published on the same day as the release of the crappy 50 Shades of Grey movie. I consider it counterpoint.

So now Phase 3, profit?

Fear of Rising

Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a book called Fear of Falling, in which she describes the American middle class and its psychological peculiarities, which she argues stem from anxiety about dropping down into the lower class.

I was born into a family transitioning out of the working class, then I was educated beyond my caste. Now 40, I'm fairly sure that I'll never quite feel at ease here in the upper middle class. Case in point, we're having our master bathroom remodeled, and it freaks me out.

First, I lived in rented apartments until I was 28, so remodeling was never a thing I experienced. You got what you got when you picked the apartment, and that was it. If something broke, you called the landlord. End of story. And because it was never an option, I never gave thought to tile choices, cabinet doors, metal fixture finishes, accent trim, any of that. The most I ever imagined changing was paint color. It's not that I am indifferent to these elements. I hate the bathroom as …

Fits and Starts

The first 15% of a creative project, any project, is exhilarating. The next 65% can be solidly satisfying. The final With knitting, I call it the "This Damn Sweater Stage," when I stop knitting to measure the piece over and over again, as if remeasuring will magically make the infernal thing as long as it needs to be.

This should be a year for finishing things, including the dozens of incomplete knitting projects carefully packed in plastic boxes and at least some part of the three unfinished novels and four short stories that are carefully saved in folders and backed up in the cloud.