Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I finished "Parasite," finally. The idea of it has been completed for nearly a week, but now the remaining gaps have been closed. I'm not convinced the ending is enough - actually, I'm nearly 100% positive it's not - but that's for a later draft, and I believe I need to spend some time with a thesaurus, also, for authenticity. But it's a feeling of accomplishment, nevertheless, to add another short to the list. Perhaps this one will go somewhere.

And some moments that I caught at the nature preserve over lunch. As much as I complain about this state, it does say something for the fact that I can spend an hour here every day, rather than mad rush of downtown Chicago that was my lunch hour for the many, many years before I moved.

Leaf collages:

And these that made me long for Christmas:

Social rant

There was a lot of stuff going around on Facebook within the last week about National Gay and Lesbian Coming out day, which was the 11th, including 'donating your status' by putting in a quote like this:
" (Your name) is a straight ally and today is National Coming Out Day. I'm coming out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality because it's 2010 and you can still be fired from your job in 29 states for being lesbian, gay or bisexual and in 38 states for being transgender. Donate your status and join me by clicking here:"

I never did it because I didn't want to provoke or instigate controversy among the very many conservatives I grew up with and are on my friends' list (and who are by the whole more conservative than those at Wheaton, who are in turn more conservative than my Roosevelt friends, and now I've somehow landed myself in the Bible belt). But I very much wanted to. And I'm certainly not ashamed of what I think and believe, it's just that I had-and still have-very little energy to expend on a 'why or why not I think God/Jesus would be okay with it' argument, or get into the very many reasons why I believe 100% that gay marriage should be legal' which would only lead to the 'don't you realize you're bordering on severe hypocrisy by what you're saying' conversation.

But this article (via wise Molly at Fantasy Magazine!) broke my heart a little today, enough to make me put down the short I was working on and write out my thoughts. (And also, because this is my blog, and I can say what I want.) As harsh as Dan Savage's words sound, he is right, I believe. What he says is true, true, true.

The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.

I have the right to say this, I think, because I've lived this perspective of the questioner in that link, for too many years. I've been on that side that see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered, no matter how politely so, because I didn't really learn to think for myself until after undergrad. And even then, it didn't sink in until I was 21 and in grad school, and one my dearest, dearest friends--my first real 'out' friend, I suppose--looked at me and said, "Do you think I want to be gay? Do you think that I would choose this?"

It blew me away. And I'll never forget it. Even now, I'm fully aware I don't know quite what it's like to experience that side of life, to deal with that kind of oppression and repression, and it grieves me to know that this is even an issue, because it's just so simple.

God is love. And truth, to face what you may not understand, because you've never been there. He's not hate, bigotry, and certainly not 'your sexual preference is wrong and mine is right because I'm saved.'

End of rant.

Oh, and one last note: this is great news for our country. Hopefully the ludicrous and fearful worries of the ignorant will be ignored. This is a good start.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Practice makes ______.

I stumbled upon something tonight that changed my outlook on everything writing - a single blog post. And it's such a simple concept that I feel quite silly. Maybe I knew this, once upon a time, or perhaps subconsciously, but my lack of acknowledging it hasn't done me any favors.

Practice. That's all it is. You practice to get better, over and over and over again. And to do that, you don't work on the same stuff you've already done (which according to the blog, so many do), but you practice harder things, things you don't know how to do at this very moment.

Everything I know about practicing is music-related. Mom would make us girls sit at the piano bench for hours; we'd get in trouble if we didn't (because honestly, none of us really wanted to). In junior high, and even in high school, she bribed me with 'expensive' basketball shoes in order to get me to practice an hour a day (and that's after school, and after basketball practice, and after homework). Granted, I was glad in the long run, since it made me good, and eventually helped me shift into singing, but oh, it was agony at the time.

Even so, I wasn't consistent with practicing both piano & voice in undergrad, at least not the way I was in grad school. By then, I understand what I had to do, to get what I wanted. I would spend hours locked up in a practice room, and actually see something for my efforts. And perhaps it was easier, then, because I loved it so much, in a way I never did with piano. (With classical voice, I had the words, the languages, which is why writing eventually trumped both piano and voice.)

Anyway, all this output of mine - the short stories, the books - good or not, and better than others I read, they may be all about the practice, the learning something new. If I can challenge myself with something I didn't know how to do before, then I'll eventually nail more elements in a story than not, which will open doors into the markets I really want.

That probably explains why "Child of Fortune, Child of Labor" was so terribly difficult for me - just opening the document made me start sweating. I'd never written anything like it before, with that sort of tech and worldbuilding. But this encourages me in the other two shorts I'm working on now (tentatively titled "Parasite" and "The Harvester") as there's so much that's unnatural for me in both. Maybe this is a good thing.


Oh, and "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back" by Joe Lansdale is up at Lightspeed. It's definitely not for the faint of heart (or the ultra-conservative). I remember my reaction when I first read it, sitting in our beautiful little hotel room in Solvang, waiting for John to wake up so we could go on our visits to multiple wineries. We were still looking for an October reprint at the point, and I was shocked, entranced, horrified, aghast, impressed, by the story. (Perhaps I read it too early in the morning...) My reaction ensures I will likely always remember it, as reactions occasionally stick with me even more than content, especially when they leave me numb from a shocking ending, or with a rushing heart. That's my goal in my own writing - the reaction, which makes something memorable.