Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sometimes I Am Random


I did random things this week instead of finishing my novella or building the world for my next novel (which will involve super-powers and a necessarily-alternate history) I also planned to submit short stories to several markets I've been researching without mentioning to anyone. But no. It was Random Writing on Websites Week. Writing on the web being ephemeral, I decided to archive the bits I liked best here so that I can download it and save my priceless prose for posterity. Because ego.

Here they are, in inverse order of time wasted:
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1) I answered an open question on a writing site: "how do you keep subplots from taking over?"

I recommend watching the deleted scenes with director's commentary from Gosford Park. Best primer ever, in any format, on the ruthless process of cutting back a thicket of great ideas to better showcase one. Subplots become problematic when their development distracts or slows the main story. Period. Their adherence to genre standard isn't the issue. Plenty of recent YA stories have been ruined for me because a now-genre-standard lurve-triangle took up so many valuable words that the interesting main plot didn't have enough room left to grow.

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2) Did a flash fiction (one-paragraph) piece based on this lovely painting by Steve De La Mare:

Cold mists rose from the forest floor at the fall of night, and predators stirred in the growing shadows between the tree trunks. Elena ran light-foot over leaf and moss and prayed that she would reach sanctuary in time. Never again would she tarry to catch the last rays of the meadow sunshine, no matter how delicious it felt against her bare skin. The risk was too great. Her breath caught harsh in her throat when a chorus of howls rose behind her, and she leaped for safety with a cry of hope. The soft heartwood of her soul enveloped her in layers of heavy warmth as she stepped back, leaving her pursuers to scrape and bite at the thick gnarled armor of her bark.

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3) Got into a great forum discussion about the proper response to bullying, triggered by me posting this article about Felicia Day. (She cut her hair. Cue absurd sexist internet response)

Another member of the discussion preferred minimal engagement like posting positive comments to spreading the actual stories because (I'm summarizing) re-sharing stories about idiots only encourages the idiots and can leave people thinking the world is full of awful people instead of mostly full of awesome ones. My response:

Positive comments are one great tool for redress, but holding bad behavior up for public censure is another powerful one, and that's what sharing stories like this do. Celebs who point at the idiots and cry out, "these emperors be naked," inspire other victims to stand up for themselves against overwhelming social pressure. I agree that people are mostly awesome, but I'm not sure why celebrating these victories would mess up anyone's view of humanity. Finding moldy grapes every time I buy a bag of them doesn't make me hate fruit.

I expressed curiosity as to how sharing stories of people *mocking* anonymous idiots encouraged the idiots, since my experience ignoring bullies only gives them legitimacy. (The answer was that it was felt that while it could be validating to mock the idiots, sometimes it only spread the outrage. I did not question why spreading outrage was considered a negative, since it would've taken us off-topic into boggy territory.)

When asked if there were any situations in which I would ignore a bully, I acknowledged that I always ignored the ones who said, "You'd better come out the back door after school, so I can kick your butt," which happened once a month or so 7th through 9th grade, and I ignored the ones who monkey-hooted at me from their cars as I walked home grades 10 through 12. Basically if you're alone and vulnerable, staunch refusal to engage may be the only way to go, but it isn't a good one. It's an effective short-term defense tactic, albeit only on a personal level, since it only deflects aggression to a new target. It fails as long-term strategy because it will never lead to a change in behavior. Only judicious engagement and a relentless, collective demonstration of opposition can achieve that. Let the outrage fall where it may.

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4 and 5)  I also reviewed stories on Readwave.com, since I'm now one of a gazillion unpaid "staff reviewers" there, and I got involved with a round-robin author page promotional event on Facebook.

All these activities were time-consuming and distracting, but it was nice to stretch my wings in new skies. The promo event bumped my page over 100 likes. That unlocked Facebook's analytics and significantly broadened my audience. All good things.

I would say, "And now, back to writing," but there's a problem: it's Olympics time!






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