Reading, Writing, &; Creating

For as long as I’ve been a writer, I have had some trouble with reading on any kind of regular basis. My reasoning has always been, I’m writing, as if somehow this precludes me from needing to read in order to help fill that creative well. It isn’t that I’m not reading anything. I read tons of articles in a given week, but none of these are novels. None of these are necessarily long form stories. They’re just general articles, sometimes about writing but more often than not about things totally unrelated to writing.
Lately however, as I notice myself struggling more and more to actually write anything that isn’t either a script note for a vlog/podcast or a blog post, I can’t help but suspect my lack of consistent reading is partly to blame for this. So that’s why I’m going to be setting a reading goal for the rest of the year. Thus far I’ve read 2 books (that come to mind).
  1. Carry On
  2. And We’re Off
I’d like to get that up somewhere to like 15 or 20 (more) by December 31st which gives me four months. Periodically I’ll update this blog post with my track record.
Next Up: 
3. The Possessions: 
In the meantime: What are you reading currently and do you struggle with reading?  
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Reacting to Old Writing

What was I thinking?

From the moment I sit down, I’m nervous. This was a bad idea. My mind is racing with a million thoughts. INTP—the logician—a thousand and one thoughts at a time. My life for years—at least I have a name for it now. I’ve already pressed record and I’m already made up, and my mother is with me, and there’s no backing out now. This was my idea after all.

It’s been years since I’ve looked at it. The cover is as cute as I remember, and I’m almost impressed that at 12 I was able to put this whole thing together. It has my old name and I’m bothered by that, but my attempts to grab masking tape to block it out are thwarted by the masking tape all but being glued to the roll. I give up—and introduce my mother, then begin the way I always do.

“I’m your host, not for possession, Narcissa Deville… and Welcome to Hell,” I’ve added a flourish to the end, all the more dramatic. I’m glad I’m wearing makeup because I can feel my face getting redder by the second as we introduce the book and I begin to read. This is going to be harder than I thought, I realize. But then, that was the point. 2017 has been a year of challenging myself. To move outside of my comfort zone. It’s why I began vlogging in the first place. So I know that I have to do this. And I know that I have to share it. Because this was the point of all of it.

I barely look at the camera the entire time—but I stick with it.

It’s funny in a way, and almost cute in others… I was so passionate even then. Some things never change—though I know that I definitely write better than I did then. It’s easier to edit than I expect and the majority of our 29 minutes ends up in the final version. I watch it several more times, add the finishing touches and prepare to share it. Maybe I’ll do this again sometime. Or maybe I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone enough for one video.

Carry On | A Book Review

It’s nearing one in the morning, not that I know that at the time, I’m deep in the heart of Carry On. By which I mean, it’s the climactic end and I know that I cannot possibly stop reading now. It’s somewhere around one fifteen by the time I finally finish the book and I feel a mixture of relief and sadness that I’ve completed this book in one night and there is now no more left to read.

I can’t even remember the last time I devoured a book so quickly—but there was just something about it that I couldn’t help but love… and crave more…

Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, “the worst chosen one who has ever been chosen.” Told from the view point of multiple different characters, in the last year of Simon’s school career, and his battle against the Insidious Humdrum. In between we learn that not all is as it seems, and that there is a fine line between love and hate when it comes to him and his roommate Basilton ‘Baz’ Pitch. (Who I kept reading as Bastilion). Reading like a slow-burn romantic fanfic Carry On is a Warholian revamp of the fantasy genre that I honestly could not get enough of. And it’s one of the first times I almost immediately thought, I want to read that again and again.

10 out of 10 would recommend. 5 demon glasses. It was so adorable, and just so addicting…

PS: I’ve found fanfic and it’s soo good. Yay.

The Cursed Child: A Review

Deep breath. READ

I considered not writing this.

Actually, after much thought and deliberation, I had initially made a vlog with my thoughts on this play. It would behoove my comfort zone theory to publish that instead, but considering that I had just as soon planned to pretend as though it didn’t exist, it seemed like writing this post would work just as well.

So here it goes.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I didn’t hate this play/book. There were many things in it that I loved, in fact there were a lot of things I loved, the friendship of Scorpius and Albus, and that both of them were misfits within their own family. Frankly everything about Scorpius I felt like I identified with him in many ways. He’s nerdy and sarcastic, and that works so well. I also love the fact that the characters feel like they’re a little more imperfect than I might have expected. The characters always were, but seeing Harry struggle to be a parent and that frustration between him and Albus, was something that I’m not sure anyone maybe expected (especially after, ‘all was well’). If the story had just been the misadventures of Scorpius and Albus as their exasperated parents tried to figure out what to do with them, this probably would have been a great story, but stories need plot, they need more conflict than just pure character development or at least they do if they aren’t literary fiction, and that’s where the Cursed Child runs into its biggest pitfall.

The underlying plot is preposterous. It’s so preposterous that it was actually kind of the plot in the parody play, A Very Potter Musical (the third one– and I won’t spoil the plot any more than that frankly). Then there’s also the ‘twist’ if you can call it that. It’s a plot twist only in the fact that you only vaguely see it coming… the problem is, it still doesn’t make sense, and it flies directly in the face of everything that the world of Harry Potter already established. Too often I found myself unable to suspend my disbelief, and I found myself thinking, what the eff? 

And this, ladies and gentlemen is where it all ends. (For now, frankly J.K. said that of Deathly Hallows too and now here we are). It’s hard to imagine that this was really what she pictured for the end, and frankly there is a part of me that feels perhaps we should have just left well enough alone. The fans clamored for it for years, I myself clamored for it for years. Somehow though, when I pictured life beyond: 19 Years Later, this was less the world I imagined, and more a world that feels somehow both familiar and foreign at the same time.

There’s a nostalgia factor here, and J.K. and company certainly picked the right time to capitalize on it, I suspect half the reason readers even picked up the book was because it had Harry’s name all over it. The characters are familiar, the magic is familiar, all of it feels vaguely like home, but it’s more like the home you return to after someone else has been living in it for a few years and torn down some of the walls. It’s not quite the home you remember, and yet there are memories that come back to you all the same.

In spite of all of this, I can’t help but feel that this might have been better served as a full length novel in which J.K. could theoretically explain just what in the ever loving F**K is going on around here! It doesn’t change how I feel about the series, frankly, this is an unrelated story and not one that has to be delved into any more than I already have.

 

Dual Creators

I have a friend who is currently working on a story with both her best friend and her READbrother. It’s brilliant from what I’ve read, but when she explained their writing process it was all I could do not to scream. The characters are delegated out to each author, and so when say my friend is writing a conversation with another character who’s author is say someone else, she then has not only to wait for the author’s response, but also to deal with the response if it’s not what she was hoping for.

There’s something about the idea of writing a story with someone else that has always sort of fascinated me, and horrified me. I’m notoriously a control freak and I’m so used to, what essentially amounts to talking to myself so when people don’t respond the way I anticipate them to, it can be frustrating. If I was writing with someone else and my character asked their character a question, and their character didn’t answer the way I thought they ought to, all hell would break loose.

There’s a certain amount of god complex I think that’s required to write anything, you have to want to be in control of everyone or else why would you be a writer? It’s not necessarily something we intend to do, but it fills a need, and since you can’t make real people do what you say and respond how you think they ought too (which in real life would actually be super boring and annoying, I think), you create worlds in which you are in charge. You are the creator, and your word is law, sharing that throne with someone else would I think be rather difficult.

It’s curious though, because I’ve always considered my characters to be sort of real people, more often than not, I don’t quite know what they’re going to say until they say it, and a lot of my feelings and control freak-ness kind of contradicts that idea, obviously if the characters are their own people it shouldn’t matter who’s writing them. The problem is, they’re their own people who are born of my mind and my experiences, and therefore, probably not the same people that would be imagined by another author.

What I’m Reading: The Hellbound Heart

READA week or so ago I discovered a novel called Abarat by Clive Barker on Scribd. It was an interesting enough book, and one that had the first example I’d ever seen of a great prologue. The name of the author intrigued me though, it sounded familiar, but there was no way it was that Clive Barker.

I decided to look at his other works and as it turned out the author was the very same, creator of the Hellbound Heart the novella upon which the Hellraiser franchise is based. As a big fan of at least several of the films (I think I got to the one in space before I said, perhaps this is enough), then I watched one about Hellraiser being a video game and I kinda thought you know… this also isn’t necessary.

The novella, as much as I’ve read is actually really good, if a lot different from the film, it seems to follow the same characters, though the cenobites changed a bit from the book to film. Take for instance Pinhead, it’s hard to say if he’s the main cenobite in this story or not. He doesn’t seem to be at least not so far, but it’s also interesting that he is described as having a high voice which is definitely not how I remember him.

All in all I’m really enjoying it, and I think I’m going to enjoy the short story collection from several other authors in the universe (from which I believe the video game storyline for that Hellraiser film was taken) Hellbound Hearts. 

Catch-22: A Preview

This week I’ve ended up previewing a few different books, from Stephen King’s ‘Misery‘ which I bought on the iBookstore on sale, to a book called The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson which I will review next week, and Joseph Heller’s classic Catch-22, which I’ve been meaning to read since high school. It’s worth mentioning that it was never actually required reading in my high school otherwise I actually probably would have read it a lot sooner. th_Thurs

What it’s About (lite): Catch-22 is a satirical look at World War II, and a bomber pilot who would rather not be a part of it.

Thoughts: The classics are sort of hit or miss for me, while books like Around the World in 80 Days, caught my interest as a child, I definitely had my share of ‘classic literature’ that did not in fact pique my interest. Catch-22 however is in something of an entirely different category of novel as far as classic literature is concerned and honestly I have to say so far I’m pretty impressed. Overall this is definitely a book I would continue without hesitation.

What I’m Previewing: Necroscope

I_transp‘m super picky when it comes to books, it’s part of the reason I don’t read as many as I’d like because it takes a lot of work for me to be hooked enough to actually want to continue reading rather than just spending the entire time analyzing the author’s sentence structure choice and trying to see how I would do better. Needless to say it can be exhausting rewriting every sentence in your head, and honestly if that’s how things are going in the story, I’m probably not going to be finishing the story any time soon. Which needless to say makes it sort of difficult to write about reading every week, and so I’ve sort of missed the past few weeks. th_Thurs

Rather than committing to reviewing full novels, I’m going to review a sample of the novel, provided by Scribd/iBooks to give my thoughts, of the book so far and whether or not I think I’ll be continuing on. This week, Necroscope by Brian Lumley.

Necroscope is a horror/thriller which is about a character named Harry Keogh who can talk to the dead, and who is also meant to be hunting crazy evil vampires…

The Good: Skipping past the prologue might be a good idea here. It certainly seems to get better after the prologue.

The Bad: A good amount of writing advice suggests never starting with a prologue and I’m beginning to see why that may be the best advice for some stories. Prologues can be worthwhile and even interesting, but in far too many cases it seems like a prologue is just an excuse to include a terrible scene in the story that you couldn’t place anywhere else. I feel like the idea of an interesting prologue is almost foreign to most writers, which is perhaps why most readers tend to avoid them. Even the prologue to ‘Wicked’ seemed like a scene that wasn’t really necessary to start the book off with.

The Weird: Necroscope unlike a lot of other books doesn’t actually start the story off with it’s main character, he’s mentioned sort of vaguely in the beginning of the book, but it actually took me re-reading the synopsis to know that he was even supposed to be the main character. I think it’s kind of an interesting idea to start a story with a character who technically isn’t the main character, but it’s a choice that could possibly alienate readers.

As of this writing I’ve apparently read 29 (of 612) pages, (funny it seems like more), and thus far it’s hard to say that very much has happened, although it just occurred to me that I was currently in the prologue which may be why the book doesn’t start with the main character.

Consensus: Honestly, having skipped ahead to the actual first chapter I’m going to say sure… at least to a 100 pages or so. I was prepared to say no, but when you actually get past the prologue it becomes far and away more interesting, so I think I’ll take the chance.

We Have a Problem

mon
I_transpn the beginning of this nonsensical, asinine debate over bathrooms I was kind of thinking, okay, this is stupid, but it can’t last right? To my dismay however, and frankly, indignation, not only has this not gone away, it’s gotten impossibly worse! From a cis-woman being stared down while using the restroom by another cis-woman ‘you know in case she was secretly a man’, to the burning of Dr. Pierre Brassard’s Clinic in Montreal, we have a REAL goddamn problem here. And to be quite honest, enough is enough.

This has never been about protecting anyone and as much as we would like to pretend otherwise, it’s just simply not the case. Facts and figures haven’t been enough to reason with people, and frankly neither have personal stories from actual trans people or seeing how these bullshit bills actually AFFECT real lives rather than the ‘theoretical effect’ not having them would pose on cis people.

Apparently not even losing MILLIONS for North Carolina was enough to get them to see, HEY THIS IS STUPID! This is not an argument to be having in 2016, this isn’t an argument to be having in 1916!

Look I grant you change is scary, but the thing of it is, this isn’t some new thing. You may be just hearing about trans people in your restroom for the first time, but that doesn’t make it NEW! Like the rest of the LGBT community we’ve been around, using restrooms since the beginning of time.

We need to take a very hard look at ourselves and our priorities at the current moment, because this is not our biggest problem by far, we have a man who is very likely to become the nominee for a party that has always been out of touch but who has crossed into entirely new territory with this one, and that could mean A LOT bigger problems down the road. This is not just a scare tactic used by bigots, it’s also a diversionary tactic against much larger issues, and somehow a lot of people have fallen for it. But as a trans person, I’m not here to be the GOP scapegoat, while members of their own party are actually out there doing shit in bathrooms, or have we just forgotten about Senator Larry Craig? Or Congressman John Hinson? Or Representative Bob Allen?

The list goes on.

And this is not to say Democrats don’t have sex scandals, but they’re not the ones trying to keep trans people out of the bathroom over an unfounded fear mongering campaign, that is unacceptable and out of control.

And for those cisgender people who have stood by our side, and stood with us, I say thank you. Thank you for your support. But we need more. That people signed on to boycott Target for their inclusive bathroom policy is simply unacceptable. We need to do better, and our cis-LGB brothers and sisters need to stand with us more, because we’re all in this together. Just remember, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, both trans women, stood up for you during the Stonewall Riots, now it’s time to repay the favor, and stand up for their children and grandchildren.

About That Literary Fiction Study

days4 copyJonathan Franzen and company must be salivating at the recent ‘study’ that apparently finds literary fiction makes you more empathetic, and maybe that’s in some degree true. Except, why does it have to be literary fiction specifically? I’ve read a few books that are considered literary fiction, the Corrections, The Casual Vacancy, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, and of the 3 of them Mr. Penumbra’s was the most interesting, yet the Casual Vacancy had the most character depth as far as characters that might theoretically make one empathic to others, and yet in spite of all of this J.K.Rowling’s other books, Harry Potter are often most cited as having made the generation of kids who read them more empathetic over all and more inclusive of other thoughts and ideas. Begging the question, what’s literary fiction got to do with it?

Slate pointed out another interesting question too, are we really going decide whether or not a book is worth reading based on how good of a person it could theoretically make you? I can’t imagine picking up any novel thinking reading it is going to somehow make me a more empathetic person, you read because you love books, because you want to be taken somewhere else. But the idea that somehow there are good books to read and bad books to read is a little elitist wouldn’t you think? And who’s to even make that judgement?

I don’t like particularly Twilight or Fifty Shades but does reading either of them make you a bad person? Probably not. Do I think people who love books should diversify their reading as much as possible, certainly. But I can tell you, of the literary books I have personally read, I don’t feel any different for having read them, and honestly in a lot of ways I don’t feel any different for having read non-fiction or genre books either. How they’ve changed me versus others who didn’t read them is such a strange question. I’m not even sure you can really accurately measure empathy based on a persons’s reading habits anyway, there are probably plenty of outliers and certainly every person is different. It must stand to reason then that some people were taught empathy in the home and these stories may have added to it?

I’m no scientist, (except for my Bachelors of Science that says I kind of am, in graphic design) but I remember the scientific theory from grade school, and when you come up with a hypothesis that would almost be impossible to accurately measure, you create an experiment with very limited parameters. And really we have to ask ourselves why does it matter? Far be it for me to question anyone’s scientific exploration but is this really the question we need to be asking ourselves in 2016? There’s still so much scientific work that needs to be done on diseases and medicine and yes I realize that the study wasn’t done by those type of scientists, or any if I recall, but even then… there are better scientific questions of a literary nature surely.