All Posts Filed in ‘rants

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I’m sorry, I’m a mammal. There’s only so much to be done about that.

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Here’s how I feel lately:

I need to get my teeth whitened. My hair needs to be dyed. Why are my boobs so big? I need to be stronger. I need to be thinner. I think my head is weirdly misshapen. The flesh around my bra straps is grossing me out. Why are my freckles so uneven? Do I need a spray tan for this wedding? I wish I had a proper lip line. I wish there was a way to get your legs waxed without having to grow your leg hair long enough for waxing. I wish the people who design clothes and the people who design bras would just get the fuck together and figure something out. My feet hurt in my shoes.

I’m tired of every single part of me needing to be changed to be acceptable. To be likeable. To be normal. It’s exhausting.

Recently, I was in a bar. A friend’s girlfriend was telling a story about the time she went six months without shaving her legs. The guys fell around laughing. “Gross,” they yelled, miming throwing up. “Ew!”

“Well,” the girl said, shrugging. “I wasn’t getting laid anyway, so I figured: who cares?”

“Of course you weren’t getting laid,” one of the guys hollered (disclaimer: one of my favourite people in the whole world, and in every other way the most tip-top human I know). “Who’d fuck that?”

You know what we hear when you say stuff like that, fellas? You know what you’re saying when you judge hippies with hairy pits or complain about leg stubble?

You’re saying, “In your natural state, you gross me out”.

The way you were born is not only not good enough, it’s repulsive.

You need to be different than you are to be likeable. To be attractive. To be anything other than revolting?

Really? Is that what we’ve come to?

I may be overreacting slightly, but I feel like there’s no longer any piece of me I can leave alone. Everything has been scrubbed and scented and de-haired and dyed and plucked and coloured in. And all you get at the end of that is to feel like maybe you’ve done enough to blend in for another day. To not creep anyone out with your warm-blooded body that makes sweat and grows hair and digests food. It’s not making me pretty – it’s just bringing me up to not gross.

That’s gross.

End rant.

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This is my concession speech.

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One of the hardest things about letting go of Sparks is dealing with the expression on people’s faces when I tell them I’m putting it aside and working on something else. BUT YOU WERE ALMOST FINISHED!, they say. Yeah, no, I wasn’t.

Not even close.

YOU’RE GIVING UP, they cry. QUITTING! DON’T DO IT. HOLD FAST! BE STRONG! KIA KAHA!

And then I punch them in the teeth.

It’s exhausting, and it’s horrible, and it’s just not POSSIBLE for someone who has never written a novel to understand how I could want to give up so close to being done. Or how far from being done I actually am.

(Em, if you’re reading this, this is not directed at you — but should hopefully go some way to explaining why I bit your head off and changed the subject when you brought it up last night.)

I can say that you don’t know how hard it is to write a novel until you’ve written a novel, but that statement, by definition, means you don’t know how hard it is to write a novel until you’ve written a novel. You can grasp it intellectually and accept that it’s probably harder than you think, and in the process of writing you begin to discover the truth of it, but you can’t KNOW until you have written. A first novel is always going to be a blind fumble. No matter how many books you read, how much you plan, how many agent blogs you follow, how detailed your outline, how anal your plotting… you’re still feeling your way in the dark.

Sparks is a mess. It’s not a terrible mess, but it’s not the kind of mess I can fix with a red pen and a better-worded sentence. This doesn’t mean I’m asking for pity, or doubt myself, or even think it sucks — just that it’s a first novel. It was a dry run, a first attempt. Things happened that I didn’t expect; things didn’t work that I thought would. I was still working out how to weave an A plot and a B plot together, how to build scenes and characters, how to balance dialogue and description…

(Oh man, even writing this is making me want to lie down and cry, because all the non-writers are hearing is QUITTER! QUITTER, SCAREDY BABY QUITTER!)

Could I fix it? Maybe. If I gave it another six or nine months and pulled the whole thing apart and re-wrote massive, massive sections of it. MAYBE I could make it be what I intended. But it would be a phenomenal amount of work, and I’m only convinced I could make it better. And better is not even remotely the same as good. And it would still be YA, and a mystery, and in first person. It would still be something that feels like a trial, like I was trying to work out who I wanted to be, rather than something I actually am.

At this point, the only reason I’d consider keeping going is because some days it seems easier than admitting to everyone that I gave up, and no you can’t read it, and no I won’t finish it, and yes it will probably spend eternity with [INSERT SCENE WITH PARENTS HERE] markers from my last incomplete set of revisions.

I hate those things. I understand why everyone else hates those things. But that’s not a reason that’s worth nine months or a year of my life. If I cared passionately about this story — if I thought this book could be salvaged, and made to be great, and to represent me and my writing and what I want to say to the world — I would do whatever it took. I’m not quitting for the sake of quitting. I’m also not going through a rough patch or in need of some positive reinforcement.

This isn’t a decision I’ve come to lightly. I’ve been a fucking mess about it, to be brutally honest. I’ve cried myself to sleep; I’ve stayed awake all night. I’ve eaten far, far too much KFC. I’ve agonised and agonised, but at the end of the day this isn’t the book I want to be writing. It doesn’t feel right, and that’s the beginning and the end of every argument I can have with myself about it.

This didn’t happen yesterday or last week or even last month. I wrote the first sentence of this book well over two years ago — I’ve lived with these characters and this world every single day for the last 14 months, and I’ve mourned this shit like nobody’s business. I’ve been through denial, and anger, and then I spent a month or so making bargains with myself — keep editing while you’re still plotting After, fix chapter one and you can buy new shoes!, if you work out what needs to change, you don’t have to do it until you feel better about it — and then, sho’nuff, depression hit. I’ve sobbed on the phone to my mother at 1am. I’ve spent days eating chocolate and watching DVDs in my pajamas. If I had known how to locate a container ship to Guatemala, I would have hopped one.

Trust me, I’m not just burnt out. I don’t just need to take a break. There isn’t a course I can do or a class I can take. I won’t get over it. I can’t push past it or work through it.

I’ve made my decision, and more importantly, I think I’ve finally accepted my decision.

I woke up this morning and for the first time, I felt like I could live with those [INSERT SCENE WITH PARENTS HERE] markers. My ribcage feels 10 pounds lighter. I’m not chained to this thing anymore, to this idea of how I wanted things to go or my own fear of failure and obsession with perfection. I have to live with those things, but I’m making the right decision. I have a new idea; a vastly, exponentially BETTER idea, and I’m going to let myself focus on it. I learned what I needed to from Sparks, and I’m happy with what I did. But I have to let it go.

So, bless you, people I love. I appreciate you only want the best for me, I really do. But if you tell me I’ve come too far to give up one more time, I will knife you in the face.

Sigh. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drink until I throw up on myself. In the good way.

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To be fair, there’s probably not that many talking cats in a forest.

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Last week I signed up for a Goodreads account. Since I’d just finished it, I decided I’d slap up a review of The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan so it would look like I’m planning to do stuff with my account (spoiler: I’m probably not).

I was pretty much just intending to say YAY CHRISTOPHER IS MY BOYFRIEND YAY, but then I looked at other reviews and realised that other pretend-authors review, like, themes and crap. So I figured I’d better balance it out by commenting on something I liked less (excessive use of the word ‘darling’; over-protective actions of multiple males towards perfectly self-sufficient and kick-ass heroine, thus undermining her self-sufficiency and ass-kickery) + YAY CHRISTOPHER IS MY BOYFRIEND YAY (because he is. And you can’t have him. So there).

I felt kind of nervous doing so, but I didn’t want the other kids on Goodreads to think I was totally shallow (YAY CHRISTOPHER YAY) and vapid (BOYFRIEND! BOYFRIEND BOYFRIEND YAY!)… so that’s how that went. And then, because this is how life works, THE AUTHOR COMMENTED ON MY REVIEW. And I was crippled with guilt for saying something less-than-complimentary about her beautiful word-world just because I wanted to look cooler than I am (CALL ME, CHRISTOPHER!), and I felt bad for days. DAYS.

And then I was NEVER GOING TO DO THAT AGAIN.

But then I read the SEQUEL.

And God, guys, I have THOUGHTS. Like, real ones this time. Not just about how Christopher is super hot and NEEDS TO BE MY BOYFRIEND and how his damaged hands that keep him from his MUSIC make me want to… wait, yeesh, has my mother found this yet? (I doubt it, or she would have called me about all the KFC this blog consumes.)

Rarely have I wrestled so with a book. Partly this may be because I read a climactic chapter while soddenly drunk and eating frozen burger patties in bed, I’ll admit, but I think I have all sorts of thoughts about dropped threads and un-unpacked ideas (WHERE DID THE CATS GO? I LIKED the cats! Also WAIT WOLF WHAT WHERE? Machine who what?)… but I also LOVED it. It’s dense and chewy and everyone has valid motivations for their actions and I thought the various races and relationships were extremely well-handled, and I enjoyed all of it very much… but I often understood very little of what was happening in the wider sense. Partly because Wynter, the narrator, was kept in the dark so often that at points it felt like everyone else in the story knew more than she did (and could do more about it), and partly because topics or themes or HUGE REVELATIONS seemed to appear and then sink without trace pages later, never to return… and partly because sometimes I was VERY DRUNK.

BUT I REALLY DID LOVE IT.

(Especially Christopher.)

But I have learned my lesson, so my thoughts will die here with me. And you. And the world wide webosphere.

I have more on reviews for another time, re: reviewers on Amazon who make me cry and rage when they mark down YA books for nothing other than dodgy language or sexual content. I was tootling about wish-listing (I’m all up in technology lately, right?) Wake by Lisa McMann, which I am v. excited to get my peepers on in the near future, and I noticed that she has a whole slew of one star reviews, many for no other reason than because there’s a homosexual situation and bad language in her book. For teens. Teenagers. People of a teen age.

I have multiple problems with this, not the least of which is persecuting an author and her work for nothing other than affronting delicate sensibilities. I can understand parents wanting to protect their children from mature content, in which case DO NOT GIVE THEM THE BOOK! But posting a review flagging the writer and her work as terrible to all of planet internet just because you disagree with her word choices? Or because there are GAY CHARACTERS?

Well.

Christopher would flip you off. Er, you know — if he COULD.

But this is not another time, so!

(My mother would also tell me to stop being so opinionated in public. And I would agree with her, but be unable to help myself. Such is my curse.)

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I took The Walk. So there.

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So, on my interweb dating profile, I have Hanson listed as one of my favourite bands. This does a stellar and immediate job of exposing the pretentious twatwads, as they’re the ones whose e-forays open with ‘YOU SEEMED COOL UNTIL YOU MENTIONED HANSON HAR HAR’ — and then, delightfully, continue on with whatever drivel they were spouting about themselves, which generally boils down to ‘I like stuff, and sometimes things, but also, like, whatever’, which I hope causes at least some of them concern as regards their lifestyles, but probably doesn’t. Which depresses me greatly, but isn’t my point.

I never know quite what to do with these people. Do they really think that insulting something I like is going to endear them to me? Is it a Barney Stinson imply-she’s-ugly-to-keep-her-needy thing? I love NPH like birthdays love cake, but mocking my taste in music before you know my name doesn’t bode well for our future road trips, Potential Date. Which is also not my point.

So here it is: humanity, your preconceptions and narrow-minded views are lame.

And, in this case, don’t even make SENSE. Would it not be reasonable to assume that if someone, as a child, was talented enough to write and perform a very catchy pop song, that perhaps – just perhaps! – they would GET BETTER as they got older? That there have been 13 WHOLE YEARS between Mmmbop and now, and perhaps Hanson used that time to grow up? To further develop as musicians and as people? To GO THROUGH PUBERTY?

Look, I get the stigma with the JoBros and associated Disney commodities, who (I understand) are essentially shiny-haired puppets in tight jeans, but Hanson weren’t manufactured. They’re not cracked out or cracking up. They’ve been writing and performing solid pop songs for a VERY LONG TIME and they’re pretty gosh darn good at it! Time passes at pretty much the same rate everywhere, as is its wont, so they’re adults now, with wives and children and silly facial hair — and yet the world is still collectively certain that their voices never broke. I’d bet a non-essential organ that none of these e-guys have even HEARD a Hanson song since 1997, but they’re all perfectly comfortable in judging me for enjoying them.

And sure, you either like upbeat pop with big choruses and clap tracks and gospelicious harmonies and sweeping, extravagant bridges or you don’t — but I do. I love all of those things, and I love them done by Hanson, so if you actually want to get to know me, maybe you should consider BACKING OFF MY SHIT! I’ve seen them perform three times, in three different countries, and they’re wonderful live. And nice. And approachable and passionate and have very nice skin, and take being told they’re fucking amazing by drunk, grabby Kiwi girls with truly exceptional aplomb.

(Look, it was 2004. Tequila had been taken.)

I’m not actually intending to try and convince the internet to listen to Hanson — just questioning why NEGATIVE has to be our species’ default setting. DIFFERENT doesn’t have to be BAD! You don’t have to like what I like, or do what I do — in fact, I don’t recommend it. The writing part is, like, HARD, and I freely admit to also enjoying The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, and Cicadas, and pulling the tufts of fur between cats’ toes, and chocolate sauce on pizza — but why you gotta KNOCK IT BEFORE YOU’VE TRIED IT, Y’ALL?

I’d like to hope that if a nice internet profile told me he enjoyed Tuvan throat singing or playing the didgeridoo, I’d be willing to keep an open mind despite my lack of experience in such matters. It might turn out not to be my bag — let’s face it, it’s PROBABLY not my bag — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid bag. Why can’t we all just let everyone do whatever it is that makes them happy (as long as that’s not drowning kittens or pushing old ladies down stairs) without feeling the need to pass judgement or get all up in each others’ business? If I was feeling more ambitious (or crazy!) I would go so far as to attempt to make some kind of comparison between the way humanity loves to snap-judge and put down and draw lines with the current position of organised religion on certain key issues (also, the ratings of Supernatural), specifically as regards what Jesus INTENDED with the do-unto-others-ing, and what history has chosen to take from it.

YES, THAT JUST HAPPENED. Dislike of Hanson = oppression of the masses. SNAP, WORLD. YOU’RE MAKING ME CRAZY.

Kelly emailed me just before all WHY CAN’T PEOPLE ALL JUST BE NICE, AND GET OUT OF MY FACE? Which just about sums it up, globally.

*************

EDIT! Now with audio visual aids!

Change in my life – yes, a cover, but a VERY PRETTY COVER. In person this gave me chills. CHILLS, I TELL YOU.

And the video for Great Divide, from ’07 album The Walk. It’s fun! And it has a MESSAGE! Hanson are not only super duper grade A auditory awesome, have their own label and NEVER FAIL to brighten my mood, but do some truly delicious charity work as well.

They’re way cooler than you, that’s all I’m saying.