On Being Humorless

I think part of what’s stopped up my blogging over the years has been, in part, my shifting interests. When I did have a following of sorts, my writing consisted almost entirely of zany anecdotes or brain dumps from my own life. At that time in my life, that was largely all I thought of. I was single, and still recovering from a psychologically and sexually abusive relationship, and coming to terms with all the things in my life that had lead up to me being in said relationship. I didn’t have much in the way of serious outside interests, I didn’t do much in the way of introspection. My brain was enough of a tangle of serious stuff without me spewing it out on a page.

Now, with distance, and a happier life, I’m just not as keen to only be a clown. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a clown (except for the makeup and the murdering of small children every twenty-eight years in a small town in Maine). I’m just ready to write from other facets of my personality now.

But it’s like with the writing quickly just to write. It’s like with the incorporating diversity into my fiction. I just don’t know how.

My benchmark for quality non-fiction writing, once upon a time, was whether or not it made people laugh. Now, without that being the only benchmark, I feel a little lost. I’m just plain not used to blogging or writing any non-fiction without that being the only goal in mind.

But I’ve got it down in my handy little agenda to write about things that aren’t funny. I’ve got it down in my handy little agenda to start gracing you with my opinions. And my opinions will not always make you laugh. The things I write about that aren’t my opinions will also not always make you laugh.

I guess that means I have to learn to actually write well.

Practicing Crap for a Better Tomorrow

Two posts in one week after months of inactivity? What’s the occasion?

Learning to just write.

Believe it or not, once upon a time I blogged a lot. Back in my dating days, I actually had quite a little following on a few dating site journals. I never got a date out of it, but whatever. I was writing, I had an audience, and when I got an idea to write something, I just sat down and wrote it. That was it.

Over the last many years, though, I’ve fallen into a trap I know a lot of writers fall into. I didn’t want to put any words into a notebook or on to the screen unless I was sure they’d be perfect.

And that’s something I have to break.

So this is why the blogging. This is why there will be more blogging. This is why I have a blogging idea listed for every day well into next week (they’re not all for here). I need to teach myself again how to just get thoughts down, and not be worried about having the perfect symmetry of images, motifs woven in just often enough to get my point across without appearing pretentious, and the perfectly clever line to end on.

Incorporating Diversity for the Burdgeoning Bleeding Heart

I wasn’t always the liberal, privilege-aware-ish, loud feminist I am today. Those things are all relatively new to my politics. Politics is new to my politics, really. It was only a few short years ago that I scoffed at the idea of privilege: white privilege, cis privilege, even male privilege (though I’ve called myself a feminist all my life. Now I have a better idea of what the word actually means).

Having a radical perspective shift on life naturally translates to one’s work. And I am finding myself at something of a loss these days when I sit down to write, or scribble down new ideas.

Simply put, I don’t know how to write anymore. That isn’t stopping me from pooping words on a page, but I second guess everything. I look at each character, each story arc, each word, and ask myself, “Is this privilege talking? Is this being raised in a misogynist culture talking?”

And the answer is often yes. All the cultural narratives and stereotypes have as strong a hold in me as they do in almost everyone else. After a lifetime of thinking up stories through those lenses, it’s hard to take the glasses off.

But I am trying.

Every time I think up a new idea, I try and remix things in my head. Throw in demographics that aren’t usually represented. Gauge the relationships between characters to see if I’m falling into any sterotype patterns.

The answer is always yes.

I don’t promise to erase these things whole and entirely from my work. I will write a story or five featuring a hetero romance between cisgendered people. I still don’t feel comfortable with my ability to write a well-developed non-white character, so things will be pretty vanilla for now. But I want to gain skill and confidence in writing about people with different gender identities, different sexual orientations, and when I do finally feel comfortable with it, different skin colours from mine, or different bodies. And I am not stating all this because I want to pat myself on the back for being an open-minded white, cisgendered, middle class, hetero woman writer who is lovingly extending a hand to all those poor minorities who need me to be their voice and provide them with fictional role models. I am stating this because I think diversity in fiction is important, and there is nothing wrong with challenging myself as a writer to at least try and incorporate it.

And back to work.

Resolving and Dissolving

Now that 2011′s stumbled offstage into a booze-laden retirement we are on the road for the series of mid-level venue shows of 2012. In the spirit of mid-level, I went, “What the hell,” and decided to throw my name onto Cara Michael’s list of #WIP500 writers for the year. If you’re reading this on my site, you’ll notice the word counter on the sidebar with a barely shadowed tip. That would be my minimum goal word count for 2012. We’ll see how much a commitment to strangers on the Internet shames me out of procrastinating. Really, how could this fail?

I do procrastinate on writing fiction because I’m lucky enough to have writing and editing already be my full-time work. Just the writing isn’t fiction. But it is writing, so I fob off the fiction by falsely equating, “I wrote anything today,” with, “I am hard at work on ALL my writing projects!” But I’m not stupid, it would just seem that way if you read the previous sentence. I know when I’m lying to myself out of sheer laziness. I can’t procrastinate on a client’s work if I want to eat people food and sleep in a bed rather than a cardboard box next month, but missing my fiction writing doesn’t have such dire consequences.

So at this point I’ll try anything to self-motivate.

So there you are. A yearly word counter. Why not, it could work.