Growing Up Without Representation

Wonder Woman was an incredible movie. And I have been seeing one post/article after another about the importance of representation in superhero movies. This has been minorly irritating me.

Don’t get me wrong! I think it is fantastic Native Americans and women of athletic build (not twiggy wisps) and people of different colors or faiths or whatever were portrayed in not insulting ways. And about time.

But I grew up when there wasn’t much representation. Or at least, it wasn’t really taught or brought up and the internet wasn’t a thing to search for anything myself. So those who I might want to emulate or at least admired were usually men. (Carl Sagan was a childhood inspiration of mine.) But I never thought, that because I didn’t know anyone in the areas I was interested, I couldn’t be something. I was just not a huge risk taker because failure was terrifying to me. (Whole other story.)

Now, true, I had no clue how to get where I wanted to go, and my school guidance counselor was of little help, but it didn’t make me feel I couldn’t because there were no women to model myself after. 

I dunno. It just feels like a lack of representation is an excuse. I know it is helpful, and some may need that bit of inspiration. But just…how do you inspire anyone to pioneer? To strike out onto the path never trodden instead of the one merely less travelled?

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On Writer’s Block and Grieving Muses

So, in my schizophrenic attempt to rekindle the writing flame since my husband’s death, I have started therapy to deal with depression and other issues that are hard to combat without him, started reading a physical book called Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen by Jenna Glatzer, reading an ebook called Journaling: How to Write a Journal that Improves Every Aspect of Your Life by Kyial Robinson, and using a meditation program called Headspace – meditation by Headspace, Inc on my smartphone.

Honestly, not real sure the therapy is doing much to help, but I’ll keep going for a while.

The books are entertaining at least. I prefer to read through first and then implement as I can.  Glatzer is funny. Kinda has my sense of humor. (Basically, she’s a smartass. At least, the right amount of smartass. I like that.)

Headspace is actually helpful. My husband had always advised (and admonish my reluctance) to meditate. It’s kinda hard to focus on your own when your brain is constantly bouncing around. Even in its silence, it avoids focusing on things especially when there is a high discomfort level.

The one thing I am grateful for in all of these avenues is that, save for one brief exercise thus far mentioned in Glatzer’s book, there are no “visualization” components. I really dislike those because, at least when I’m awake, I cannot see things in my head. It’s called aphantasia and it’s annoying as all hell. (And depressing because my husband avoided the camera like the plague and I can only see him with photos.)

But the thing that is annoying is that there is literally nothing out there that deals with creative slumps when something major/tragic happens. Oh, there are vague suggestions to “just do it,” and the “it will happen! Give it time,” consolations. The former makes me want to bite people’s Achilles tendon and the latter I refuse to disagree with but not without some worry that I might be wrong.

I worry for a lot of reasons. When you lose someone in your life, especially the one person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with, you see your own mortality, and how fast time passes. I had already had a 10 year hiatus that ended when I finally finished and published The Raging One. As I’m edging ever closer to the half century mark (that my husband avoided, the brat,) and seeing all the celebrity deaths of those who lived long and well and those who left too early, I worry I will start again too late.

I worry because I don’t want to NOT be a writer, but the longer I am away from something, the harder it is to return to doing it. I used to do text-based role-playing for many, many years. You could argue that my ‘hiatus’ wasn’t that much of one given I would be “team writing” with others for hours upon hours, day after day after day, for over that decade.  But for many reasons, that avenue is gone, and now my muse’s candle is snuffed.

And there is NOTHING out there to guide a grieving artist through this sort of things. Some use their art to work through their grief. Some find their art during their grief. But finding those few who have endured loss and still found their voice…I wish there was something. Even a brief suggestion. Even if it doesn’t work for me, to know that I am not alone, that it’s okay because yes, it’s hard to get through, but it is possible. Something to give me a little hope.

Perhaps it is something I need to do. Not that it is something I ever wanted to do. I’m not even sure where or how I would begin such a venture. I’m not even sure right now anything I would suggest would be useful since I’m still struggling to find my way. I won’t be a hypocrite and promise something that I can’t honestly say worked for me. I don’t even know how I’d find others to talk to about their experiences because….well. Grief and tragedy are painful things and few want to discuss those matters publicly.

Damned vicious circles. Annoying shits.

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Rant On All The Things

One thing that most people discover about me is that I will rant about things that irritate me. Today, I will share a little bit of that with you. Not political, though. Not only is that extremely frustrating and depressing, everyone and their third cousins are doing that these days.

Okay, I lie. Here’s a teensy political rant. Yes, our entire political system has turned into something that puts dumpster fires to shame. Can we stop focusing on the flaming turds that are deaf to the anger, panic and fear and focus on those who are thus far dodging the scorching limelight? The ones who are enabling this madness? The ones that you can directly affect with your vote?

And for the love of gods, stop attacking people if they don’t agree with you! This is how we got to this level of divisiveness in the world. Figure out what everyone wants. I mean really wants. But what they want for themselves. All these opinions and whatever steeped in race or religion or gender or whatever…ask how it affects them directly. Because really all these people who want rules and such to prohibit others from doing things want control. Everyone feels like everything is out of their control, and they will try their damnedest to control something.

Okay, so now that that is out of the way. Two rants I had elsewhere on the web.

Advertiser manipulations.

Three of my four work days, I commute into work. (FYI, I work 10-hour days so I have one weekday to be able to get shit done I can’t on a weekend as much as possible.) After I lost my husband, I stopped listening to the radio in the car. For a while, it was all music. Then I started listening to music from my phone. For one, it was more variety since what I wanted to listen to isn’t played on any station in my area. For another, no commercials whatsoever.

Commercials are just not that entertaining anymore. In fact, the more they vex me, the less I’m inclined to buy an advertiser’s product. (Imagine the conundrum in the offices when everything marketers learned doesn’t work like they were taught! They’d be like every other person who’s endured higher education and discovered most is outdated or not how the real world actually works.)

So, for whatever reason, possibly just to get variety in my day, I started listening to the radio again. Now, I’m on the road well before ‘prime time’ in the morning. From 5am to 6am, to be more precise. Anyone who’s watched late-night-slash-early-morning television knows that’s infomercial and bizarre products time. Lots of ads for assorted medical conditions (WebMD symptom search right on your radio!) And two different offers for free testosterone enhancement.

Really? I used to get spam email for this sort of thing. (Now I get spam for porn and money. Do they think I’m a guy or a lesbian or some shit?) No wonder men are so fucked up in the head with “performance” and “manliness” and even the slightest lack of it being drilled into their heads. Not to mention the whole “how women should look/behave” thing skewing their expectations.

Look, guys. You know what might be causing some of your “performance” problems? Stress. Stress fucks up everything in the body. All the cholesterol and blood sugars and hypertension and sleeping disorders and pissing and pooping issues? Likely stress, which is messing with your outlook on life, which is messing up your food intake, which is circling back to cause more stress…figure out how to get your shit together for yourself and then start treating people like people around you.

And avoid commercials. If you can’t avoid commercials, train yourself to think the opposite of what they want from you. Anytime they throw in a pretty woman or insinuate that if you get/use their product the pretty women will throw themselves at you? They want you to think that. What they’re thinking is that you can be manipulated by your dick. Trust me, if anything advertisers sell would attract women these days, we’d be getting it for ourselves. Or the unscrupulous women would be using you to get your things and figuring out how to keep the things and get rid of you.

Bonus service: How to attract women 101

Don’t be an asshole.

And now for my other rant of the week…

Comic books

So, apparently Marvel’s being a whining little snowflake about the sales of their physical comics. (I’m sure DC is, too, but the article I read was about Marvel. The Real Reasons for Marvel Comics’ Woes) Their “study” has turned up that “diversity” is hurting them. (Despite that sales for those titles are actually doing pretty good.) Couldn’t have ANYthing to do with their business practices.

First, they sell only through comic dealers/stores. I mean, come on. Back when I was in high school, the only way I noticed comics existed was on the little spinner stands at Waldenbooks. When Amethyst had started, I was ecstatic because it looked like a fantasy-based thing and it was new.

I was also naive to believe it would be independent of the rest of the Marvel universe. See, I wanted to get into comics, but it was daunting. Most of the time, they were in the middle of some sort of story arc that I had no clue what was going on. And their helpful ‘references’ to past or other comics were really no help at all. A few times, the location reference had another location reference.

And then there were the multiple-story lines for single characters. Which Batman was the ‘real’ story in? Or the multiple Superman? The whole X-Men and massive team things mystified me completely.

I had hope when a comic book shop appeared in the malls my family would visit. (I lived in the country. There was no going anywhere without Mom or Dad driving me and if they had nothing to do near where I wanted to go, well, then I wasn’t going.) But the only things there were single story lines for, and they were few, were not of interest to me. (Also, in the middle of arcs and no way to get the complete set of those issues before to get the whole arc. Always a few were missing from the old issues they had on hand.) Even my beloved Elfquest went into multiple story issues.

And my allowance was pitifully limited. For a while, it was $3 a week, then $5, and eventually $9, and I could afford one thing. Maybe. When I started reading paperbacks (not the kiddie books, the real novels in the ‘grown up’ genre’d sections) I could afford one book a week. It never lasted long, but I would re-read things during the summer and had school stuff that limited my reading time otherwise.

Even then, I might have been able to afford 2 or 3 comics. But as fast as I read? I was done with between the time I left the register until I got to the store entrance.

And that comic Amethyst? They must have switched up artists, so it wasn’t pretty anymore. They started crossovers with other Marvel characters, and I couldn’t find the references or they made no sense when I did find them. And the story just got weird, so when considering my limited funds and what I wanted? I funneled it all into mechanical pencils, notebook paper, and ring binders. Then I’d get the stories I wanted, when I wanted them, or at least, as fast as I could write them.

Look, I get that artists need to eat, too. But I think that the big media companies and their shareholders need to worry less about how much money they get and how to squeeze out even more money, and more about investing in the people and the time it takes to make good products, especially when it is a more artistic product.

I am pretty sure that people would be willing to pay more for a single Batman comic if there was more quality content per issue that took more than two minutes to read. If they can find them when there is no comic book outlet near them to discover them.

Why are the movies doing so much better? YOU GET THE WHOLE DAMNED STORY AT ONCE. IN ONE FILM. WITHOUT FOOTNOTES TO OTHER OBSCURE FILMS THAT CAME OUT AT THE SAME TIME. (which movies only come out one after the other in the MCU.)

Today’s rambly ranty is done.

 

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I’ll Wear My Sniper Glasses At Night…

I have terrible night vision. Which makes life challenging when your one-hour one way commute exists in darkness, especially in winter up here in the northern hemisphere. Headlights hurt. Some rather intense streetlights hurt. And don’t get me started on actually seeing in their mighty glares.

My daughter heard that yellow-tinted glasses were supposed to help, so I figured why the hell not? I got clipon yellow-tinted lenses to see because screw the cost of prescription ones. (I am a few degrees away from being legally blind, it seems like. My husband claimed it was why I thought he was handsome. I just said I liked the Braille method.)

So I wear these things on my 5am commute in to work and they did help! But more in the “no pain” instead of “everything sharper.” I had started seeing things for yellow-tinted computer glasses so looked up what they are supposed to really do.

What they do is filter out blue light. Which apparently is not so great for us. And is becoming more of a problem from device screens, florescent and LED lights, and everything else. So, I am trying them for the day today all day. I live in a sea of office cubes illuminated by evil florescent lights. 

I have noticed my eyes do not feel as strained. This is weird. I like it though. But the first thing I think of with yellow lenses are people at the gun range when I was in the air rifle club as a girl. And snipers. So, they will be my sniper glasses because that amuses me.

And to those who say “OMG you need as much light as possible at night?” Screw you. I am willing to lose a light frequency to be less distracted and in less pain and have less eye fatigue, thank you.

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Today In My Life

Have you ever had one of those laughs where you can’t stop, you have people urging you to breathe (not that you can,) and tears come out of your eyes?

Had one of those yesterday. I had gone to the Harrisburg Comic Con with my daughter because I wanted to meet the cosplayer D-piddy. (Basically, a famous-to-me person. And as close as I am ever to likely get to meeting someone like Ryan Reynolds.)

He was running a bit late but when he arrived, my daughter and I went over to wait for him to set his stuff out before asking for a picture with him. As did several others.

Now. We have all heard of fangirling. Perhaps witnessed excitabilaty of someone nearby. But I had never seen fangirling like I saw yesterday. First, there was a loud squeal of excitement. Suddenly this young woman dressed as DC’s Enchantress suddenly appeared.  This DC Enchantress, btw

Now, I have been giddy about things. I don’t think I looked like I was going to pee in myself. D-piddy handled her amazingly because she was damned near stalkerish. But gods, he made me laugh so hard. I hadn’t laughed so hard in probably literally years.

Today, I feel a touch lighter. Exhausted if only because the night before was nightmare hell. Bad when you can’t quite escape the bizarre shit the subconscious throws out even when half awake. Wish I would have thanked him before we left.

DPiddy HBG ComicCon 2017

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After forever ago, a post at last

As I have warned friends, my blog posts are going to be ugly things for a long time. Not the highly polished, focused pieces that are the bread and butter of so many to make a living doing this blogging thing. I’m not even sure I’ve ever written a highly polished, focused blog post ever. Mostly because formulas chaff me.

Some will probably say the same of my story writing, to which I will say…meh. I write what I enjoy reading and what I do NOT find out there because everyone else writes what they are told is the “proper and good” form of such things. (Who knows? I may be the renegade who becomes an icon of storytelling because I stood out in a sea of similarity.)

Anyway. What is going to appear here will be essentially streams of thought. No stressing on topics. No stressing on grammar. No stressing on form. No stressing on pretty pictures or graphs or whatever. My craft is words. I save the cat in my own way. (And if you get that reference, you know what is wrong with entertainment media today.) Not that you can’t get good stories from a formula. Formulas exist because they work. But the thing with formulas is you have to be good at wielding them so the audience doesn’t even take notice of it. Eventually, they turn into potato chips. Sure, people can’t consume just one, but they will be starving for substance and the more they consume, the less satisfied they become.

My muse is dead. No sugar coating. No positive thinking denials. She was already having issues before my husband died, and she went with him when he left. She’s dead.

This is not to say this is a declaration of defeat or a claim that writing will never happen again. No. Why? Because the muse does not exist in the same reality that we do. (Honestly, we do not exist in the reality that we think we do, but that’s an entire other train track that this is stream of consciousness is not about.)

I do believe, even if there are times I don’t very strongly or don’t at all because I am an impatient bitch, that she will revive herself and I will create in my worlds again. I just need to find that thing that will bring her back.

So. What happened before my husband died? By the time that I had gotten to writing The Unforeseen One, I was struggling with my muse. Where I had been able to weave together an epic tapestry with multiple characters and individual threads, it was a fight to keep things together and moving. What I ended up with was a stuttering, clumsy story that, while still enjoyable, did not have the smooth flow. (Also, a hideous amount of errors because I was fool enough to think that I could edit while dealing with my husband’s death. They will be fixed with its move to my new publisher.)

See, my writing had been my escape. My creations, my explorations, my adventures and friendships and struggles and loves and hates. Things I experienced mirrored in my stories. Stories that I just reallyreally wanted to read in books or see in movies or on TV that just weren’t happening. They were where the magic I wished was in our world existed.

But reality had been crushing me. My husband’s health had been deteriorating after his car accident in 2006. My daughter’s MIL was a bitch and kicked her own son and grandson out of her house. My guess assuming that either her parents or grandparents would make sure they were okay. (They moved in with us. Crowded, but family takes care of family and I adore them and I see that bitch I’ll whack her with my cane.) My son ended up with his father’s and my debilitating inability to decide what he wants to do with his life, a keen antipathy towards humanity because of school bullies (somewhat from me,) and a lack of faith in the American education system that he could get a job to pay back crushing student debt. Mine was the only income and despite being well above the average, still wasn’t enough to get ahead because I just couldn’t catch up to when our income was well below the average.

On top of that, I pretty much did everything. I took care of most of the chores, I paid the bills, I did the shopping…hell, I did most of the driving. I was the only one employed and work stressed me out. Just the commute is two hours out of my day, and my day is ten hours long so I can get a three-day weekend. (My non-work weekday being dedicated to appointments for the doctor or other errands that weekends were not good for.) Don’t get me started on healthcare. You’ll be needing it yourself if you do.

The political environment was depressing, too. All the hate and divisiveness from both sides of the aisle and them too blind to see or too heartless to care about actually helping all Americans instead of only the well-heeled ones.

I have depression, and with all the stuff weighing me down, it just seemed hopeless. What was my writing worth anyway? It didn’t help pay bills; my books just don’t sell that much. I’m no J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. I have no budget to pay for someone to market me. It’s damned near vanity press levels of why I have books out there, at least in my mind. I might have broke even over the years of what I have spent to what I have earned with the earlier books, but not now.

And I am hopeless when it comes to social media. It isn’t that I don’t understand why people enjoy it, it’s that I don’t enjoy it. At all. I’m not a visual creator. I can’t create pretty pictures for the graphic driven sites like Pintrest or Instagram. I don’t do witty snippets of twitterings. And blogging. Well, just look at how long it’s been since I’ve posted. The aforementioned reasons are why I don’t post more because gods. Worrying that I’ll drive potential readers away because I can’t structure a proper blog post because it’s not the same writing I thrive doing? Yeah. I have hang ups.

And I’m not that flexible. I don’t like taking pictures because it’s just awkward and unnatural for me to do. I can’t think graphically because I can’t visualize at all. It’s called aphantasia. I don’t enjoy talking about myself because I’m boring. It’s my worlds that are interesting. Those characters. Real world me? I have watched eyes glaze over and fidgeting start when boredom begins to set in when I talk. (If you’ve read this far, I’m honestly shocked. Are you a masochist?)

Only a handful of people care at all, and the one I loved and planned to spend the rest of my life with, that I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with, left the scene too early. (Yes, I had 25 years with him. I hate that I am jealous at people like my parents who have been together for 50 or more. I wanted that and it was stolen from me.)

I can’t even bring myself to read because right now, I just don’t care. Nothing really lures me in to want to invest in stories because my own fairy tale got snuffed. But I want to write. Gods above and below, how I want to write. But I don’t know how to find the spark.

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