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interrobang studios
May 18th, 2016 07:52 am
I am technically on vacation (read: helping sister move) and super-behind on everything computer, but we did go see ca:cw finally yesterday.

That movie was the best attempt I have ever seen at translating the feeling of reading a major superhero comics event book to the big screen. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not but if that's what they wee trying to do they did it perfectly.

two comments on characters )

None of my wip fanfic is any more jossed than it was before so there's that. (Does anyone else get the experience of watching new canon and going "wow that was a super-cool reference back to that one scene. In that fanfic nobody but me has ever read.")

(22 comments | Reply)

May 11th, 2016 01:10 pm
I accidentally finished reading The Scorpion Rules last night instead of all the many many other things I am way behind on. It's very good, as pretty much everyone who's read it has said, and if you like that sort of thing you should definitely read it. It starts out seeming like it's going to be your average formulaic SF dystopia where repressed, good-girl, Special protagonist meets Manic Pixie Dream Boy and decides to turn against The Man with him even though it seems hopeless, but then about halfway through, MPDB's badass grandma appears and everything suddenly goes off-script.

Anyway, somebody talk to me about:

1. Just how much Ardmagar Comonot, Anaander Miaanai, and now Michael Talis are apparently MY TYPE;
(1a. effectively immortal; all-powerful rulers who have given in to 100% pragmatism at the cost of conscience but do not enjoy this; are not quite human; are finding this whole "embodiment" thing more complicated than you might think; cope with this through acting out.)
2. How much I regret learning that they are MY TYPE;
3. Why I have suddenly discovered three of them in A ROW none of whom have large fandoms help;

(7 comments | Reply)

April 29th, 2016 10:43 am - Garden update, feat. discussion of phobias
So when I was a kid, and people asked what you were scared of, I always said "vines and climbing plants". Which, you know, even then was probably more of squick than a phobia, but I didn't have anything I was really terrified of, other than, you know, the standard stuff like "my parents dying" and "forced social interaction" and "making phone calls" and that's kind of a downer when they want you to draw a picture of it.

But you will admit that plants that move so fast you can see it happening and have little hairs that grow into things and strangle them and pull down buildings and trees and mountains. Are creepy. (Also I read a short story in Ranger Rick Magazine about a kid who watched too much television and got covered in vines that grew him into the couch, which *was* pretty authentically terrifying okay.)

I though I was mostly over it because around here you can't really go outside anywhere but manicured lawns without being okay with climbers and tendrils and runners, plus pulling down wild grapevine is actually really satisfying and you have to be willing to touch it to do that, but then yesterday I went out on the back porch and discovered that the Trail of Tears pole beans I started last week (on KUEC's rec) had come up and then grown over eight inches tall *in two days* and, friends, I am apparently still capable of being scared of climbing plants. They are bigger than the dirt I planted them in, and all the dirt is still there. SORCERY.

I had a dream last night that they had found the sticks I put aside for trellis and coiled around them and pulled them up and were waving them around stabbing people.

(Mushrooms and spiders and mice and snakes and frogs and millipedes* and worms? Adorable, I would like to pet them please. Triffids? boring and also incredibly disability-phobic. Old Man Willow? Eh, kinda creepy, but also kinda restful-sounding. Pea plants? Wisteria? Jesus fuck, dodder? RUN.)

*Millipedes, not centipedes. Centipedes aren't scary but when they move they just have an aura of "thing that should not be" about them. I teach people that you can tell the difference between centipedes and millipedes because millipedes are little hard-shelled caterpillar-like creatures, and centipedes make the human hindbrain go 'augh why all the skittery legs make it stop' and so far this has not failed me.

(30 comments | Reply)

April 19th, 2016 06:04 pm
I have to vote tomorrow.

herein I talk about my local elections, skip if you are sick of US politics, although this is basically 80% strategic voting, 20% face-punching, and 0% policy discussion )

Isn't democracy fun. I shall reward myself for voting with sweet potato fries from the outdoor food stand next door. And possibly a sausage, if they have sausages there. ^_^

(20 comments | Reply)

April 14th, 2016 09:43 am
1. In honor of National Library Week: Does anyone have recommendations for SFF-ish stories in which the main characters are Hero Librarians (you know the type, Magical Librarians or Librarians in Space or Secret Agent Librarians or Ghost Librarians or whatever) in which what the librarians do is actual librarianing?

Because it seems like, in at least 90% of what I've found, what the Hero Librarians have as their mission is keep information away from people, which is, like, the opposite of a librarian? Librarians are supposed to increase access (all sorts of access), not lock stuff away.

But it seems like in genre fiction, librarians always end up locking it away instead. I even read a book by someone who works in my library system! and should know better! about Librarians in Space, and yet it still ended in them destroying the Space Library because the information was too dangerous to make it freely available.

Augh. Those stories can be super-fun but That Is The Opposite Of Good Librarianing. Not that RL librarians have always lived up to the ideal of increasing access, but they haven't always failed it, either, and in SFF it seems like they always do.

You occasionally get secondary-character librarians who are all about increasing access to information and resources (although even then you're just as likely to end up with Madam Pince, or an overprotective monkeyape, as you are someone helpful). And sometimes you get stories where their Librarian status is basically just a cover for being a secret agent or something. But I want stories where the librarians are heroes and the heroing they do is about being librarians.

I want to find stories where librarians are the main characters and use their Special Librarian Powers to help people get the information (or other access) they want, not to gatekeep. Librarians should be the anti-gatekeepers. Librarians should be fighting the gatekeepers with all the eldritch powers at their command. Librarians should be traveling through time and space, not to find and lock away a dangerous book, but to get the patron those g-d-damned-job-creation statistics if they have to go to HELL to do it. Librarians should be having open teen programs in the large meeting room on how to fight the shadow-creatures of the dark, not having secret initiations for the elite.

Anyone have recs?

2. If you were interested in the population-in-worldbuilding stuff I posted last week, that entry now contains long comment clarifications on societies where kids don't necessarily have two genetic parents, societies where everybody does not inevitably die exactly once, and why 'average family size' and 'average number of siblings' do not mean the same thing.

Also: I tried my best to keep my language non-cis-centric in that post, but it was. hard. Partly because, in terms of the population-level statistics, even when demographers are theoretically using the numbers to mean "people with the physical capability to get pregnant", what they are actually counting is "people the society classes as women". Because they are including women who do not have the physical capability to bear children in that number, and do not distinguish them from women who don't bear any children for any other reason, usually with no particular effort to class trans women differently from any other women who do not have the physical capability to bear children, as long as their data source includes them as women.

(Obviously this fucks things up in the opposite direction in terms of there being a nonzero number of men who bear children. And nb people aren't really. included much. by population demographers who work with humans. which sucks. But it's how the numbers are counted.)

Anyway, I tried to use "women" only when I meant "people a given society classes as women," and use "people with the hypothetical ability to bear children" when the reproductive anatomy was what was actually relevant, but I realize I probably failed in multiple ways, so suggestions on how to do better when talking about this kind of thing are welcome. :/

(36 comments | Reply)

April 5th, 2016 01:28 pm - The Importance of Siblings
So, as part of Hugos, I have read a lot more different original-worlds in a very short time than I have for awhile, so here is a worldbuilding rant aimed at Most Of The People Who Wrote Secondary-World Stories I Read:

If you are writing a world with a high death rate among young people - whether it's due to disease, war, accidents, space vampires, cage-fighting, spectacularly failing the magical initiation, your paper-and-balsa-wood wings failing at a terrible moment, being dragged away by Mysterious Masked Figures, whatever - your characters should not all be only children.

Siblings. )

So, conclusion: If you are killing a lot of characters, make sure most of them have siblings, and at least some of them have lots of siblings. You can have most of the siblings be dead or in another country if you need them out of the way, but they should at least exist.

(74 comments | Reply)

April 1st, 2016 02:57 pm
I did my Hugo nominations! I didn't read half as many things or half as well as I ought, and I liked less than half of them half as well as they deserved. And I didn't nominate as much as I was planning to, either, because I came home yesterday and crashed out on the hammock chair instead of finishing my noms. But I got in everything I really wanted to get in, and it's done one way or another! And now I get to read WHATEVER I WANT without the pile of Hugo-eligible stuff staring at me balefully from across the room. I can get to finally read the new Vorkosigan book! And the new Young Wizards book! And most importantly, the last-ever Dragonbreath book!

(I was good and only nominated Ursula Vernon twice. <_<)

...not that the Hugos stopped me from reading the first 14 volumes of Naruto and nine volumes of Dragonball and two large tomes about sea monsters but you know sometimes you just have to read old manga and books about sea monsters.

Being a Hugo voter is really hard work, guys. I think I am now morally opposed to fan-nominated awards, not for any fairness-of-awards reason, but because if I put in that much work I wanna be getting paid for it. I will probably not be doing that again, whew.

Let's see. I've signed up for Camp NaNo again, which is good because I've been slacking on that. I'm also signed up for MCU Rolling Remix, which sounded fun, and I really liked the last remixy thing I did, although I suppose I should actually watch Age of Ultron before I write mine. I planted some peas in the garden last week but I don't know if they're coming up yet (something is coming up, but is it peas?) and I should really do some more garden stuff this weekend. And I signed up for the get-in-shape challenge at work, because they give you prizes, and I've already been trying to do jump rope to build my cardio (reading about ninja training is good motivation for this). I started where I'd feel like death after 25 jumps; after six weeks I feel only a little bit like death after 4 sets of 50, which I guess is progress, but it's progress from a pretty low floor.

ANYWAY. I was thinking about reviewing some of the short-fiction stuff I read for Hugos, but there are several of them where my review would be "I would have nominated it but it has boy cooties" and that just wouldn't have advanced the dialogue at all really. Anyway, if you want to ask me my thoughts on any of the things rated on my list of stuff to read ask and I will ramble. (If you want to know why I didn't read one that's not rated, there is no answer, except that I didn't get to it in the list.)

(8 comments | Reply)

March 17th, 2016 03:07 pm - question for no particular reason
Poll #17373 Dear my Les Mis people,
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 11

So if you were writing a silly AU where all the Les Mis characters were American politicians, and you had to pick one of the below for the plot to work, which makes more sense?

View Answers

Gillenormand was a Democrat, Tholomyes was a Republican
1 (9.1%)

Gillenormand was a Republican, Tholomyes was a Democrat
5 (45.5%)

5 (45.5%)

in other news, I found my missing USB drive, and now that I have the chapter back the Ridiculous WIP is chugging along again! Serves me right for being to discouraged to try rewriting it from where my backup left off. This is now officially the second longest thing I have ever written, and I've gotten to the point where the intrigue plot stars coming to the fore. (In chapter 8. The intrigue plot starts appearing in chapter 8. I am so good at this. If anybody was considering writing a novel-length WIP on a premise that they dislike about a pairing they don't particularly ship with no particular idea what happens next, I recommend it, it's wonderfully freeing.)

(Every other time I've done this I've ended up falling in love with it too hard and blocking myself trying to be perfect, but the politics AU seems to be immune from that so far. #$@^% politics.)

(Also found the glasses. They were out in the yard, having been snowed and rained on, and missing their nosepieces, but otherwise ok. I have been wearing them without and I think they're actually more comfortable this way. All things come to those who are too lazy to seek a replacement?)

(9 comments | Reply)

March 9th, 2016 06:04 pm
Somebody linked to Bleed Out recently, which is a novel-length murder mystery/casefile Naruto fic that I enjoyed greatly, so now I'm on AO3 (re-)reading all the Kakashi/Iruka fic. My life is hard sometimes.

This is one of those pairings where I was never really in the fandom but it makes really good comfort reading for me, so I come back to it every once in awhile and it's still good. (I would give you some recs but I'm in "go on AO3, sort by bookmarks, filter on "-sasuke" to get rid of the ones where it's a background pairing or where canon plot is actually relevant, read everything" mode, so it would be an unhelpful recs list.)

let me attempt to explain kakashi/iruka fic to you )

Oh! And speaking of ninja training, the weather has been really really springlike the last couple days, so today I went on a walk to the park for the first time this year, and sometime over the winter they replaced the kind of sad monkey-bars based playground with what appears to be a ninja training facility. There's a mini climbing wall! And a bunch of actually kind of scary spinny things that make you work on strength and balance or die! I am totally going to walk down there and become a super ninja by the end of the year.

It intrigues me though, because of the ways in which it's so different in, like, intent? From the playgrounds they were putting up through my childhood.

First that it's so clearly based on "adult" equipment - this was designed by someone who had been to rock-climbing gyms and parkour training and stuff; it amuses me that we've come full-cicrle already from adults asserting their right to play on jungle gyms to kids' playgrounds being built to call to mind the adult version.

But also - that it's being aimed at different kids. The playgrounds I grew up with, unless you were lucky enough to find one that still had swings, were pretty boring by the time you were nine or ten, because you were too tall for a lot of the stuff (like the slides and ladders) and a lot of the rest wasn't good for much except just running around like a wild thing. They were clearly designed for a peak age of about four. This one, on the other hand, has a recommended age of 5-12, and all the equipment - while I could see it was designed to also work for smaller people - was fine for an adult-sized person too.

And - everything could be played with if you were the only person there. Again, that's different from what I remember - a lot of the stuff we had was really only fun as part of imaginative play with a group, or the kinetic things needed people to push and people to ride in order to make it go. All of this stuff is carefully balanced so one person can make it spin all by themself. And I totally support building teamwork, but as someone who was sometimes the only kid on the playground, I appreciate that they are acknowledging that we are not in the middle of a baby boom in this area, and also we are a suburb that is designed to make it hard to make friends with the neighbors, so kids often are the only kid their age in the park.

Anyway. Ninjas.

(5 comments | Reply)

March 7th, 2016 07:16 pm - the inevitable fall of global capitalism
Have one (1) post about the US elections and then I will shut up for at least a month I promise. )

(35 comments | Reply)

March 3rd, 2016 03:32 pm - let's play good thing/ bad thing again
Good thing: They finally got me scheduled for my election judge training! Yay, tonight in the snow I get to learn our new voting system which will actually involve a hardcopy record of the votes for the first time in decades!

Bad thing: ugggghhhh can I just ignore politics until the inevitable fall of global capitalist civilization is finally ovvveerrr.

Bad thing: Still haven't found the USB drive with the next chapter of the fic I was using to ignore the election, I think it fell out of my pocket in public somewhere and is gone forever. (Also still haven't found the glasses, which is more worrying, because I know I lost them at home or in the yard somewhere, but where??? And also the warranty expires in like a week, I was going to try to get them replaced, but the warranty does not cover 'lost them'.)

Good thing: I think the only thing I lost from the drive was the one chapter, because I'd backed it all up after finding it after the last time I thought it was gone for good (last week). (I hope I never gave anyone the impression that I have my shit together.)

Good thing: Losing the USB key motivated me to finally finish the second original novelette! (I've been keeping the original stuff on Drive because that way I can't use "I lost my USB key" as an excuse for not working on them.) Thinking about what I put in the last post helped. It's a crappy ending but it's serviceable and the whole thing needs a major, major total revision anyway.

Bad thing: I have been super-unmotivated to write. Also to read. Or listen to podcasts, or watch TV, or basically anything, because I have been in a "what's the point of it all in the face of the coming climate catastrophe and fall of global capitalism anyway?" It's amazing how few things there are in existence that don't remind me of the upcoming fall of global capitalism.

Bad thing: ...I think maybe I will not be finishing Baru Cormorant before it has to go back to the library.

Good thing: Baby camels. Baby camels helped. Camels are an invasive species on three continents, so I'm pretty sure there will still be baby camels regardless.

Good thing: Also I got my period, which generally works as a total mood reset for things like nihilistic despair over the coming catastrophic fall of our technological civilization (I realize this is the best menstrual symptom ever, I'm not complaining). Plus I remembered one of the stories on my to-write pile was a little thing about Death set during a pandemic after the coming climate catastrophe and fall of etc. etc., so I started writing that, and it has really cheered me up a lot.

Bad thing: I forgot my cup so now I have to stop home after work to get it so I don't bleed all over the training and maybe won't have time to get a good dinner. That I will complain about.

Bad thing: I am so so so so blocked on doing revisions on the stories I've actually written. I know I have whined about 'revision is hard' before, but that's, like, 'revision is hard' is actually. Several steps beyond where I have gotten, which is 'I printed out the story and am now afraid to re-read it because WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD BE IN THOSE PAGES. What if it's terrible? What if it's good??? I don't know which would be worse actually.

Anyway, talking out the endings thing helped, so I'm going to whine about revision here at length, you have been warned )

I don't know if that helped. Maybe that helped. Somebody, tell me what I need to do next in order to revise the thing.

(15 comments | Reply)

February 29th, 2016 04:03 pm - predictive text
I have lost the USB drive that has the latest chapter of my WIP on it (other things I have lost in the last 24 hours: my glasses) so here is a replacement using the chapters that I already had uploaded to AO3 and this Markov chain predictive text generator and a little bit of repair to the punctuation, since the generator doesn't seem to understand quotation marks very well.

(May contain spoilers for future chapters. Sort of.)

Chapter Seven: hidden depths. )

...that may, just possibly, be better than the chapter that's missing.

(4 comments | Reply)

February 25th, 2016 04:21 pm - Being a Participant
1. I keep scrolling through network and suddenly seeing a locked post on a journal I've been reading in network for awhile and being like huh? since when did they grant me access? And follow me apparently? I am not cool enough for them to follow me! So, here is your periodic reminder that if I suddenly add you back after ignoring you for ages, it's because I am bad at noticing stuff apparently, and also if you want me to add you, you should talk to me, because I am probably PRETTY SURE you are way too cool for me to be the first one to speak up.

2. Speaking of social incompetence, subset mine, anyone else going to con.txt this summer? Anyone else want someone to share a hotel room? It feels much less like I am a loser with no friends if I have a roommate. If splitting the cost is an problem, we can working something out, because as Jamie Kincaid said, I have income now. If you're thinking about going but not sure because you've never been, I promise to be your Native Guide and let you hang around with me if you feel alone.

(...I am bad at finding roommates.)

Also they have put out the call for panel suggestions already, as long as they are ones you want to mod, and for once... I got nothin'? I am still mostly in the same primary fandom as last time (?? how did that happen??) but it's not a huge fandom at this point, and after four con.txts I've done most of the ones I can do, so all that's left is stuff other people would have to mod (like HJOw TO REVISE THE THING).

Anyway if you've been to con.txt and can think of a panel you'd like to see me mod, feel free to suggest something, no guarantees... <_<

3. Hugos? Here is a list I have made, mostly by compiling all the stuff I had bookmarked on Pinboard, of fiction I would kind of like to read before nominating. I share it here just in case anyone cares, and also so I can find it later. I'll be adding star ratings as I read stuff and may be adding new stuff too. I will not be getting through all of it before the end of March.

Warnings: I don't endorse these, they're just things I've seen recs of. Also I don't promise they're in the right length category, I'm just going by what was on the recs.

Novel )

Novella )

Novelette )

Short Story )

Supplemental )

(24 comments | Reply)

February 23rd, 2016 05:47 pm - reading, 'riting, and rambling
Somebody 'round here recently posted about a highly-recommended book they'd read and really liked, until they got to the end and realized the author had killed all the queers, and I can't find the post again and wish I could, because I'm wondering if they read the book I just read...

It did get me thinking, though, about Kill Your Queers as a story formula, and why I was so surprised when this book did it, even though this book basically telegraphed from beginning to end that a certain character was going to be toast. And I realized that the first time I ever encountered that as any kind of a story element (really, the first time I ever encountered explicitly non-het canon characters) was in Diane Duane's Tale of the Five, where the founding myth of the culture is the story of Lion and Eagle, a pair of male lovers who take up divine power to defeat the Shadow, even though they know they will die of it, and they do. Major ending spoilers for Door into Sunset under cut )

...So anyway. Other than reading the novels you all recommended I have still been trying to figure out how to write original stuff, and as part of that I'm reading a how-to-write book, which I picked up solely because it was the only one available at my library that was supposed to be focused on revision, since when I asked y'all for 'how to revision' recs I got no bites. :P

Anyway, spoilers: 3/4 of the book is just a retread of dude's previous 'how to write a saleable novel' book, and only the very end is about revision. But! Tying back into the bit above about killing your characters! I got to the chapter on characters, and the section where he was pushing very hard on how you have to make sure your reader is invested in your characters, all your characters, make them care! make them care a lot! Even if it's just a minor walk-on who will be killed two chapters later!

And I legit recoiled, and it took me a bit to figure out why, but, okay: Read more... )

..and speaking of two-and-a-half novelettes, which is really one novelette, 60% of a novelette, and 90% of a novelette, let's talk about endings.

The orig story I'm currently trying to finish is nearly finished, and has been stuck at nearly finished for a very, very long time. I just keep writing stuff and hoping the ending will come and it doesn't. I know where the plot finishes - the POV character comes to a decision, or rather decides not to decide - but I don't know how to make that an ending that'll actually make the story feel finished.

With fanfic - as you have probably noticed if you've been reading me for awhile - I usually just go 'eh, I'm tired of messing with this, so I will tack on a final reaction shot, call that a denoument, and post it' but I am well aware that is lazy as anything and, judging by the comments I get assuming there will be more, really unsatisfying.

Endings: even this post will have to have one sooner or later ) I don't know if that actually solved my 'how do endings' problems but at least it helped me figure out what I like in an ending. (which basically comes down to 'do what Ann Leckie and/or Diane Duane did', which probably shouldn't be a shock...)

In conclusion, writing is hard. Revising is hard. Reading is fun but makes me think too much. The end.

(15 comments | Reply)

February 10th, 2016 05:01 pm - it's been awhile since I did any Ethical Dilemma Posting
Ok, so, since I'm apparently in the mood to poke at dangerous things, let's have a discussion about names, and pseudonyms, and when it is and isn't okay to connect them.

I've been wanting to talk about this for..a while. Because slash fandom (and several online communities it's adjacent to) have very strict ethical norms about connecting the name a person uses with other names they may have used in other times or contexts, best summarized as: don't.

There are of course exceptions: when the person themself is completely open about connecting the names, it seems to be considered generally okay to make the connection yourself, but to still call them by the name they prefer.

And then there are the cases when the person is changing names solely in order to engage in shenanigans: for example, I have rarely seen anyone object to the names being publicly connected if someone is sockpuppeting to evade a ban.

But then we get into trickier situations, where a person has perpetrated fell deeds under multiple names, but also had actual probably-valid reasons for using multiple names, and that's when it starts to get really tricky, right? At what point does a community's need to know about a pattern of unacceptable behavior outweigh a person's right to (re)define their online identity?

non-detailed discussions of the sort of situations you might expect under cut )

(39 comments | Reply)

February 3rd, 2016 03:05 pm - Hugo noms
So! Hugo noms are coming perilously close, and of course I have not done half the reading I meant to.

Does anybody have any recs for 2016 or 1941 Hugo-eligible novels I should make sure to read before I nominate?

So far I have read:

Ancillary Mercy
Dark Orbit
Sorceror to the Crown
Darkness on his Bones
Castle Hangnail
The Ill-Made Knight

(and several of the 1941 ones on the novella/novel line)

They were all good enough I should not be sad if they won, but none of them hit me in the head with Yes! This should definitely win a Hugo!

I have Unbound and The Traitor Baru Cormorant waiting for me, I could maybe get through three or four more if I really push, so what should those three or four more be? Things that are likely to push a rec up my priority list: not by a white cis dude, stand-alone complete in one volume, someone on my reading list thinks it deserves a Hugo, and either secondary-word fantasy with magic or science fiction with spaceships (especially SF with spaceships, not enough of that around lately). ETA: being also Campbell eligible would also help.

...Also I have a bunch of folks' Hugo-eligible short fiction recs bookmarked, but I would not object to recs/links for that either. Or Fanwriter - the problem with that is too many possibilities, no obvious way to narrow down...

I'm actually in better shape than I expected to be for most of the other 2016 categories - I know my noms for Graphic Story, Dramatic Presentation, Editor (Short Form), Zines, and Fancast, will never be able to judge Editor (Long Form) and more or less know where I'm looking for Related Work and Artist. 1941 recs for any of those would be welcome, though.

(41 comments | Reply)

February 2nd, 2016 10:00 am
I'm about to leave for my first ever gynecology appointment! Everybody in my local life has decided that means they should share their gynecology visit horror stories with me under the guise of 'advice'. Any of y'all want to join in? :D

(If you want to, srsly, go ahead - I'll be back from the appointment by the time I can read these comments, at which point the worst they can possibly do is provide better-you-than-me schadenfreude...)

(64 comments | Reply)

January 28th, 2016 11:59 am - snow
So, it snew! That happened. I live, and am back at work trying to catch up with half the staff still stuck on cul-de-sacs. We only got about 20 inches but apparently people just up the road got 36. It was a fun five days of snowed-in-ness, during which I shut the laptop in case of power outage and then just... didn't get around to opening it again even after the rist of power outage was over.

This sounds super virtuous, but tbh my laptop is so cranky these days that it is not a pleasure to use it. Also I spent most of that time listening to podcasts on my phone while playing solitaire, so it actually wasn't virtuous at all.

The podcast I was listening to is Rex Factor, recommended by sister, which is reviewing and rating all the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. So far I have made it from Alfred the Great to Mary Tudor. And earned 85 stars in the solitaire app.

So far, the podcast is mostly making me think - other than 'wow, I don't remember nearly as much British political history as I thought' and 'this is actually a really good way to do history' - is just how much power women always had. Like, you read 'feminist history' things that talk about shifts in womens' rights over time, or that pick out individual powerful women, but what you get going through right in order like this is that there was almost always a woman running things. Like, there's occasional gaps, like some of the Saxon kings who outlived their mothers and grandmothers and then deliberately didn't marry, or the last decade of Henry the 8th's reign after Queen Katherine was too old to lead his armies for him anymore. But what the versions that pick out the powerful women make it easy to miss is that they weren't actually... exceptional? Like, I'm pretty sure up to the point where I am, there were about as many Queens of England who led armies to battle as there were Kings of England. (Well, maybe fewer numerically because they've tended to live longer, but as much time in power, anyway.)

Anyway, also it's got me thinking that I need to study up some dynastic history that isn't British because that's really the only ones I've ever studied. And the podcast listening has woken up the princesses who live in my head, who need at least some history influence other than British, since they live in what is basically Doggerland. (Every little girl had princesses they made up and have whole dynastic histories for, right? Mine are eight sisters: one of them becomes an architect, two become ruling queens, one becomes a sorceress-saint, one becomes a knight, one becomes a scholar, one becomes a banker, and one never amounts to anything much. Only one of 'em marries a prince; he marries her because she promises to win his war for him if she gets to run the country afterward and he's like, eh, better her than me.)

...anyway, of course that means I've gotten NOTHING ELSE done except some snow shoveling and some fingerloop, so that's fun.

I want to do a whole long rant about how they're pushing really hard to clear the roads at the expense of pedestrian access, and if previous patterns hold, there will still be five-foot piles of snow on all the wheelchair access ramps come Easter, but you can probably take that as read.

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January 17th, 2016 07:30 pm
So today I have been ruining my life reading Yuletide fic and the OT3 tag on Pinboard, and that mixed up with other discussions and the nonfiction book I'm reading, and I started thinking about my ur-fandoms.

Not the fandoms I was in before I was in fandom, but the things I was fannish about before my memory starts. (And my first dateable memory, I was two-and-a-half, so---)

Wee!me, basically, was fannish about: Sesame Street, Snoopy the WWI Flying Ace, and the Grinch.

Which is basically: muppets and people in furry costumes, many of whom don't speak English; dashing fighter pilots; and last-minute conversions to the side of good.

That is to say, goddammit, Star Wars.

....also why aren't there more fighter pilot AUs in fandoms I read, I even wrote one, I did my due duty
and why hasn't anyone written a fic about Sesame Street: Coruscant where Big Bird gets a lightsaber
ok I was also fannish about Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser but I'm not sure how that fits into the pattern

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January 16th, 2016 02:13 pm - Advice if you've misplaced your writing
Someone on my reading list asked for advice on what to do when you think of yourself as a writer, but you've lost the desire or need to write. And I ended up writing a 5+1 post in reply, and I've seen this question come up again and again, so here is a list of things that helped drag me out of my years-long writing slump and that I start looking at these days if I feel like I'm landing in one again. These are not answers, these are "things that it might be helpful to try". Maybe it will be useful to someone?


1. If you really don't want to write anymore, then don't worry about it. You are a writer if you have written, and sometimes life or brain chemistry or whatever turns off the desire/ability for awhile, and that's ok, and it's ok even if it doesn't come back ever. (Either Mur Lafferty or Ursula Vernon - I forget which - recently said a thing about how the world has plenty of writing, the world does not have plenty of People With Their Shit Together, so if you get to pick one and only one of those, you will be doing the world a greater service if you pick the latter. That's good wisdom, if those are options you've got.)

2. If you want to still feel like A Writer but don't want to write, you can decide you're recharging, or building up life experience to use in books later, or being a diarist instead of a novelist right now, or whatever. This old post on writing exercises includes a lot of things I do, and frame or reframe as being about writing, to feel like a writer even when I haven't been adding words to stories. Reminding yourself that you're progressing even if you aren't getting words on page can help loosen up the words, too.

3. Read things that make you want to write - I find that I'm most excited about writing original fic when I'm reading a lot of original stuff in the same genre, most excited about writing fanfic when I'm reading a lot of fanfic, most excited about making comics when I'm reading a lot of comics, and least excited about writing fiction in general when I'm reading things that are not a kind of book I want to write. For me, specifically, the best to get me writing is stuff that's almost what I want but not quite, there's something very wrong with it, and then I get inspired to write my stories to fix it, dammit.

4. If you've been trying to write toward certain stories, drop them and just let yourself write silly pointless things instead. When I have a lot of WIPs I'm trying to be serious about and have a lot invested in and then lose my joy in writing, sometimes letting myself just forget the wips, and write drabbles or ficlet memes or dirty limericks, or just noodle on something that I know will never be a good story, helps loosen up the muscles and remind me of why I want to do this. (For some people, words-a-day-of-freewriting goals can help with this, for some people it just makes it worse.)

5. Spend more time alone in your head with yourself. Especially in this era, it's really easy to constantly surround yourself with podcasts and radio and books and blogs and so on. And without even realizing it, you don't have any time left in your days for your stories to speak to you. And that doesn't give them enough soil to grow enough to want to be written. I personally find I never want to write as much as when I'm doing long walks every day with nothing else to listen to, but other ways of getting time alone with your thoughts can work too - putting the book away at night before you're tired enough to sleep or setting the alarm half an hour early to lie quietly in bed, coloring books, yoga, spinning, actual meditation, woodcarving, Lego, twiddly phone games, staring out the bus window or coffeeshop window, whatever. Just turn off the podcasts and the TV and shut down the socializing while you're doing it, and try to listen to the stories in your head instead, and maybe the the stories will start trying to get out again. (If being alone in your head is really bad for you right now, don't try this. See above about having shit at least marginally together being always more important than writing.)

+1. Last-ditch desperation move: hack your brain chemistry. By that I do NOT mean 'go off the meds that are keeping you functional' or, gods forbid, 'become Ernest Hemingway'. But humans have a specific brain system for modelling what other humans do - it helps us be social animals - and when it goes into overdrive, that's when the stories start bursting out of every pore. And sometimes it just stops working the way it used to, and it's a brain thing, not a mental thing, and if you really need your stories back, you might have to look at what might have changed the way your brain is operating at the hardware level. And sometimes it's something you can't fix (like a chronic illness) or something that is absolutely worth trading your stories for (like parenting a small child, or not being clinically depressed anymore).

But, especially if you really need your stories back and nothing else will work, it's worth looking at the little things, like: has your caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or other recreational drug consumption changed? Have your sleep patterns changed? Your eating habits? Your exercise habits? The amount and color of light you're exposed to? Stress levels? Cuddling allowance? Socialization? General background noise? Humidity and temperature? All those background physical-body things that can change our mood without us noticing can also screw with writing mojo, and even if you can't get them back to where they were when you were last writing, you can look for things you can tweak to try to compensate. And if you absolutely have to finish a story THIS WEEK, sometimes you can find hacks that will jumpstart the writing even if you don't want to make them a lifestyle choice. Me personally, I have learned from experiment that reproducibly and independent of all other factors, the stories stop flowing when I'm caffeinated, and they go into overdrive when I'm chronically sleep-deprived without benefit of stimulant.

...and if you tried all of those and still got nowhere, I'm tapped out. Anybody else have anything that's worked?

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