Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kids or Spouse?

A friend and I had just been discussing this question. We wondered how many other women question this. Of course, there's two sides to the question: kids and no spouse, or spouse and no kids. Either way, society often frowns.

I'm thinking a lot about cultural myths lately. Tradition dictates marriage and family. But in this as in all things, people should be free to choose -- and most importantly, society should support those choices. It's all too easy to feel guilty for wanting a non-traditional life.

Then I think about choices that are even more non-traditional, and I am once again humbled at the courage people have, who choose not to hide who they are: different sexual orientations, gender change, even (omg) atheists.

We are getting better, I think, as a society, but there's still so much intolerance, even hatred for those who don't abide by a perceived norm. But what is normal, and why? And who decides?

I think it's easier on everyone to stop insisting we have the right to tell others how to live, and ask instead for respect. Be kind. That's all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I know I'm a Writer Because ....

I've read the quotes. 'unhappy is the house where a writer lives' sorts of things. I don't know about unhappy, but a writer does live here.

I am not a person who writes. I am a writer.

I know this because my deepest, most soul-stirring or harrowing emotions are greeted with a rapturous: "Oh cool! Now if I can just get this into words, I can use it in a story!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Anoesis: How New Words Open New Worlds

Yesterday morning I learned a new word. Such a delight (thanks to word of the day). There are words that I feel the lack of. One is a word for the deliberate act of ignoring. If I say ignorance, (IG-nor-ance) it means I don't know. But I want a word for ig-NOR-ance. Humans are very good at deliberately ignoring things, so why is there no word for it?

Yesterday's treasure was Anoesis: being flooded with emotion or sensation, and unable to form rational thought about it.  And the most peculiar thing happened. That afternoon I was plunged into anoesis.

I love to analyze, and having a label for that abstract, overwhelming, compelling state helped. Of course, I was trying to find a way to express this state of being so I could use it in a novel, but also to help me understand why I felt that way.

Like the apparent duality in physics, I live in a Newtonian world. My still-enduring moment of anoesis plunged me into a Quantum universe where all I know and think is altered, pulsing to different energies and perceptions. The quantum universe underlies all I think I know. I, too, am looking for a grand unification of what I am and what I seem to be.

Words are not dangerous things, but they do foment revolutions, personal or global.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Anti-Intellectual Incompetence

 An interesting post from Massimo Pigliucci at Rationally Speaking.

I was particularly intrigued because I had just read yet another 'discussion' on religion vs. science, where the arguers for religion were chronically unable to discern the difference between proof and belief. If one cannot make that very gaping distinction, there is no hope of discussion. I admit to feeling there is no need for discussion. Religion, in this so global modern world, should be private and personal, and ought not to be imposed on others. My beliefs are mine; theirs are theirs. But provable information -- that is the realm of the public domain.

This article discusses another false dichotomy: intellectualism vs engineers. Timothy Ferris of 'Wired Magazine' argues that only productive technology is worthwhile (does he work for Perry?) and that thinking, ideas, and intellectual processes are a waste of time.

How, I wonder, did he get the education that allowed him to think about this? Not that he did much thinking. It is clear he is bias-promotion rather than genuine reasoning in his article.

Massimo makes several good points, most notably that Ferris "makes his case by cherry picking examples, distorting history, and simply ignoring what is not convenient for his thesis." He provides examples to support this claim.

Later, Massimo says, "five minute of serious reflection should have made Ferris realize that he created a straw man with precious little correspondence to reality." Again, he offers counter arguments worth considering.

I am, as with religion vs science, willing to allow both sides validity. I see them as reflecting different aspects of human nature and need. I have always been grossly suspicious of any premise that requires absolute exclusive validity. Nature vs Nurture. Particle vs Wave. Life is seldom so clear cut. My guiding principle is 'it's a spectrum' and from that beginning, I proceed, cautiously, to determine how dark or light the shades of grey are on any issue.

Well worth reading:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pitch Puzzles -or- Jane Austen in Twenty-Five Words

I read about a pitch opportunity on the blog Help! I need a Publisher.

Twenty-five words to hook a reader onto your story. Not at all easy. I wonder if it helps if one's story is dramatic as opposed to thoughtful? Certainly some of the pitches in the comments were catchy -- well written, but also full of interesting premises and exciting events.

So what if you're writing about normal people living normal lives in normal ways, with no supernatural beings, no murders, no abusive family-members: then what?

I started wondering, how would I pitch Jane Austen -- any Jane Austen, in twenty-five words?

Feisty young woman tangles with arrogant man. Both mature, and despite family upheavals and conflicts, romance follows.

Quiet woman finds lost love again, but has he forgiven her past rejection? Family conflicts, scheming plots, but steadfast love wins all.

Two sisters exemplify reason and emotion, and both learn that a balance between the two is the key to love and life.

Okay -- I've gotten a bit silly. Sorry. In order, they were 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Persuasion', and 'Sense and Sensibility'. I didn't use my word quotas, so I could flesh them out a bit -- these ideas were off the top of my head.

The problem for me is that what sets these stories apart is not the basic plot, which sounds like a simple romance novel, but the development of the characters. "Both mature". They do. Both Elizabeth and Darcy are very different people by the end of the novel, and that is what's compelling: the people she creates and the interactions between them.

So my puzzle is, how do you pitch character development? Ideas, anyone?