Help a Writer Out

Hello WordPress community and people of the internet! I am working on a short story, and could use some help writing about the worst night out ever.

worst night

Please, share your stories – your personal stories, or a friend’s, or perhaps crazy things you’ve read on the internet. Right now, my scene is a little dull, so I’m looking for inspiration to make it better.

embarrass

Thank you for taking the time to read this post; I hope to read your comments soon!

FURIOUSLY HAPPY. And scared. And back to happy again.

I can add nothing poignant to this post. But you should read it.

The Bloggess

If you’ve been here long enough you know I’ve been working on my second book for the last three years.  I’ve carried it with me every day, adding a paragraph here, deleting another there, reworking a sentence for the eleventieth time because I want it to be perfect, always feeling like a loser because Stephen King and cocaine set unrealistic expectations about how easy it should be to write a book.  If you know me in real life you’ve seen me lugging around a giant manuscript and scribbling furiously in it when inspiration strikes.  You may have asked me why I don’t just use a laptop and then nodded in what you hoped passed for understanding when I explained that I was afraid I’d lose everything I’ve written when the robot revolution happens and computers become self-aware and refuse to humor me anymore because I wasted their potential watching videos of baby hedgehogs in bathtubs.

When I was deciding…

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5 tips for conducting an interview with someone you care about, using StoryCorps’ new app

Pretty Cool; StoryCorps has an app, and shares tips for interviewing.

TED Blog

Anybody with a smartphone can now be a part of the StoryCorps movement. As TED Prize Winner Dave Isay reveals in today’s talk, you no longer have to travel to a StoryCorps mobile booth to capture an interview with a friend, family member or stranger because StoryCorps has created an app, available free to the public. Now, if you can find a quiet place and 45 minutes, you can interview someone whose story has never been heard and immediately upload the discussion to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

When Isay announced his wish at TED2015 last week, the TED community responded enthusiastically, noting that the app could be used to change the narrative of post-conflict zones, honor an entire generation’s stories on a national holiday like Veterans Day, and so much more. The app itself is easy to use, with step-by-step guidance on how to pick…

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Just Sold My Childhood for $5

Remember when I wrote about my odd, embarrassing obsession with Christopher Pike when I was a teenager?

Because I’m, like, growing up and shit, but more because I’m moving across the country at the end of this summer, I sold almost my entire Pike collection.

read it like its 1999

This was the right move.

Yet I couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret as the kid who responded to my ad pulled a five dollar bill out of his wallet, took the box full of books from me, and walked away, all with an exchange of less than 10 words. It would have been ridiculous for me to haul that box across the country with me, but at the same time, how do you say goodbye to a book?

Never-say-goodbye

Part of me wanted to interrogate the kid – make sure he would be a decent foster parent.

ridiculous

Yet true.

Care to share your own rites of passage? The wonderful, the maudlin, the bittersweet – all are welcome!

New Name, Same Me

So… not sure if anyone cares, but I recently changed my online name, and realized that might cause some confusion.

84kb cropped version

You might be asking why I would do a thing like this. A name, after all, does not always smell as sweet.

Hey bae, I got you this stink flower.

Hey bae, I got you this stink flower.

And “writingmom2013” was truly inspired.

ca_eureka

*sigh* Okay, listen. I can tell you the truth, right? I mean, this is just a conversation between two rational adults, who don’t let illogical emotions rule their actions. Who choose the course of action that is best for everyone, even if it’s not some romantic ideal – right?

I feel like I've heard this before...

I feel like I’ve heard this before…

Just kidding.

phew

The truth is, I was just sick of the number in my name. I mean, who wants to be dated, right?

After all, a lady never reveals her age...

After all, a lady never reveals her age…

And so, to make a long story short:

too late

too late

My handle is now “literatemama.” What do you think? Like? Dislike? Want to comment on something random and completely unrelated?

You know what they say... there is no such thing as a bad comment. #pleasecomment

You know what they say… there is no such thing as a bad comment. #pleasecomment

Links that I Like, & Think You Might, Too

  • ‘Tis the season for colds and flus! I’m pretty sure I’ve been ill more days than I have been healthy. Ugh. Yet perhaps that is about to change, now that I know about this fun remedy. (It’s worth a try anyway, right?)
  • If you don’t like the Toast, then I’m not sure we can be friends. (In particular, pretty much everything Mallory Ortberg writes makes me chortle.)
  • If Hermione were the main character in “Harry Potter.” (Replete with feminism and gifs, you will not regret reading this article.)
  • What Kristy Thomas (yes, of The Babysitters Club Kristy Thomas) thinks of the Sweet Valley Confidential series.
  • One Dimensional Female Character from a Male-Driven Comedy. (Because sometimes, SNL gets it right.)
  • I’m a sucker for an infograph, and the classics. This link provides both.
  • A guy wrote a mystery novel with teddy bears, and got extremely irritated at what he perceived to be a negative review.
  • Men are from bacon, women are from lemons. Read.

Signed Copy. Holly Black. Need I say more?

I should probably make this post full of salacious links or something, but let’s face it, I’m too lazy for that.

idol

I do, however, provide linkage to the giveaway of a signed copy of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest.

For those who don’t know who Holly Black is (and if so, why ever not?), she’s a pretty good writer. I was lucky enough to be tempted by a copy of Tithe, which I believe is her first novel, shortly after it was first published, and have been in love with her work ever since.

So, um, yeah. You should probably enter the giveaway (and if you do, can you use this link (same as the one above), because then I get more entries).

And unlike babysitting this guy, it really will be fun.

And unlike babysitting this guy, it really will be fun.

Get Over Yourself – Critics are Relevant for a Reason

I recently went to a holiday party – not the best idea, because I had a migraine the size of Montana and was going to be sequestering myself in a small, enclosed space with a roomful of very nice people who have very different views of the world than I.

Montana

Why yes, I did use “Montana” adjectivally because of the alliteration that resulted. #nerdalert

Amongst these nice people with very different views of the world was a Lord of the Rings fan who has seen the movies multiple times, but not noticed any innuendo in the “friendship” between Sam and Frodo.

Um... okay

Um… okay

We then got into an argument about whether or not “The Hobbit” really needed to be made into 3 films. This ended with a haughty closing down on his behalf, and the words: “Well, when you’ve seen any of the films, I’ll value your opinion.”

04_21_2011_haughty

Now, to be fair, I haven’t seen any of the “The Hobbit” movies. But there is a reason for this.

There are lot of great movies and other works of art. There are also a lot of shitty ones (hopefully not including this blog post…). And while some people might jizz in their pants over every big-budget blockbuster released by Hollywood, other people jizz in their pants over pretentious low-budget indie films, while still other people simply prefer to read the books on which most movies are based.

Unfortunately, there is not enough time to view every movie ever made, read every book ever written, or even get an adequate amount of sleep.

branklin sleep

Due to this lack of infinite time, the best a person can do is know him- or herself well, and make choices to the best of his or her ability that will prove entertaining to him or her. One of the best resources in formulating these hypotheses regarding personal choice entertainment fodder is the critic.

A well written or well worded critical review can be entertainment, in and of itself. Yet what is really sought from a critic is someone whose opinions are generally fairly in line with your own; there is, after all, no such thing as an unbiased review. Some reviews might be more accessible to a wider range of people, but by nature, reviews are subjective, and must all be taken with at least a grain, if not an entire shaker-full, of salt.

salt_shaker

I am writing this blog post partially because I didn’t get a chance to explain myself to some haughty dork I will probably never see again at a party the other night, partially because I write reviews myself and would like to think I am doing it for a purpose, and partially because as a frequent reader of reviews, I actually am of the opinion that well-written reviews have a purpose, even if all of the opinions ever written are not necessarily of use to me.

I have not personally seen any of “The Hobbit” movies. I don’t intend to. And it’s not because I’ve read the book (though I have, several times). It is because, based on things I have read and heard regarding these movies from people whose opinion I think generally fairly reflect my own, based on my own intellectual repulsion by the idea that this one action-packed book is being strung out into 3 movies, likely primarily because Hollywood wants to greedily snatch more money, all indications seem high that I will not enjoy any of these movies.

I could be wrong. I will concede it is entirely possible these Hobbit movies are amaze-balls, and I am missing out immensely because I’m not viewing them.

But if I’m not wrong? If I decide to go see this movie because people whose opinion of the world generally don’t correlate with my own think that I should, and then I don’t like them, that’s a lot of time that is gone. That I could have spent playing with my two-year-old son. That I could have spent curled up on the couch, reading a book. That I could have spent staring at the wall. Each of these Hobbit movies is over two hours long. Two hours is a lot of time to give up to an activity you don’t really think you’re going to enjoy.

Seriously. 2+ hours

Seriously. 2+ hours

Response to the Oxymoron

I came across this blog post the other day, and there are just so many things wrong with it. I’m kind of hoping that it’s all an elaborate hoax to sell books, because the idea that someone could legitimately think in this manner is utterly terrifying. And yet, as a youngish woman, I, like many others, have been the target of a stalker myself, and know that for many men, for some reason, there is a sort of twisted logic that tells them that because they covet you, you should be theirs, regardless of your feelings on the matter.

Ah, being a woman. Sometimes, I forget that I am just a pretty incubator, just a thing, a belonging, meant to be chosen by a dominant male specimen until he feels like tossing me aside for a more attractive, younger model.

But here is my annotated version of one of the creepiest blog posts ever written:

Her smile stimulated the deepest feelings of wonderment inside my being.

This sentence is thoroughly disturbing. The use of the words “stimulated,” “deepest,” and “inside” are all symbolic of the rape culture vibe of this piece. Right in the first paragraph, there are signs that this piece is going to piss me off.

Some people offer fake smiles, but a smile should never be forced.

Interesting that the writer posits a smile should not be forced, yet has no similar qualms regarding a relationship, since stalking is, in essence, the attempt to force a relationship on someone who has no interest in it.

I invited her onto the BBC University Challenge team that I was putting together. “I don’t know if I’m brainy enough Rich,” she said.

“We need beauty as well as brains,” I replied.

Yet more evidence that the author has a rape culture view of the world.

She let me choose a picture of her to use on the form, since she was busy.

That evening, I went through her many Facebook pictures. “Maybe this one?” I asked in a chat message.

“It’s not opening,” she said. “What photo is it?”

“You’re wearing a low-cut black lace-trimmed top. On your pink lips, a mischievous smile is playing,” I described.

“Ermm, if you think I look smart enough,” she replied.

This whole section shows a guy who just… has no clue. She “let” him choose a picture – interesting word choice. It doesn’t exactly sound like she desires for him to pick a photo of her, just that she was like “eh, whatever…” And then, he goes “through her many Facebook pictures.” I mean, sure, a lot of us Facebook stalk, but I doubt we would phrase it in exactly that manner.

Then, there is his choice of a completely inappropriate picture for an application to join a trivia team. This team is theoretically supposed to be about intelligence, or at least rote memorization, but that he has suggested this female join because the team needs “beauty as well as brains,” which makes total sense, because beauty is an integral component of intelligence and trivia testing, right?

Oh, wait… no. That’s completely wrong.

He chooses an inappropriate picture, he tries to flirt as he describes it in a way that probably resulted in some creepy shivers crawling down this poor girl’s spine, and she firmly gave him “I’m not into this” signals by repeating that she’s interested in the resume-building aspect of this team she’s joining.

Determined to impress her and get our team onto TV, I intensively revised my general knowledge. I also frequented the student bar where she worked. I figured out what hours she did each day and went at those times.

Um… stopping by at someone’s place of work once in awhile to say hi is general friendliness. Obsessively pouring over their work schedule and lurking at their place of work every shift is creepy.

A couple of weeks before our University Challenge audition, she unfriended me on Facebook. I was a little shocked and asked her why.

“You’re kinda freaking me out,” she explained. “You’re a good guy but you’re being far too forward.”

“Are you still doing University Challenge with us?” I asked.

“Only as a friend, but nothing more,” she replied.

She’s being honest. She doesn’t hate this guy, but she’s not into it, and she wants to make sure that she’s not sending him any signals that could be construed as a “maybe.”

She does it because she’s worried that he will respond in exactly the way that he does:

For some reason, I then decided to tell her how I really felt; that I had become infatuated with her, and that I was in love with her. With hindsight, of course I wouldn’t have done that. In fact, I would have done almost everything differently but, at the time, I felt compelled to do what I did.

When someone specifically, honestly tells you they’re not into you in a romantic way, you take them at their word. Period.

Then, there’s the fact that infatuation is not the same thing as love, and it’s not clear from this paragraph that the author can tell the difference.

On top of that is the fact that this guy was sent very unsubtle signals that this girl is not romantically interested in him, at all, and he proceeds to respond to this with “I love you.” Like, were you even paying attention?

She pulled out of the team. We found a replacement and failed the audition anyway (I doubt that her inclusion would have made a difference). My dream of winning University Challenge and impressing the maiden was shattered.

Way to pull out the chivalrous, condescending language.

For those of you who think that knights rescuing damsels in distress is a romantic notion to which we should all aspire, let me inform you that you’re wrong, and that I can hold the fucking door open myself, thank you very much. I am not so weak that I need someone else to save me. And when I do need help, it’s probably not from the freak in two tons of metal.

Over the next few weeks, when it became clear that I had no chance with her, my behaviour became increasingly erratic. I would drink 2 bottles of wine and go into a club, climb over the fence after being kicked out, and get into fights. I got banned from my SU, which meant that I could no longer go to the bar where she worked.

But… she never sent you any positive signals. If you were just being wild because you were young, okay. But going crazy because some chick who never even slightly pretended to be interested in you is a little weird. Like, I think the guy who plays Hook from Once Upon a Time is crazy hot, but the fact that he doesn’t know I exist doesn’t mean I’m going to put on a poofy dress and try to throw myself off of a tall building because he doesn’t reciprocate my lust.

Occasionally, I passed her on the street. Once, I saw her in the library, and she smiled at me. She was prolific on Twitter and it often felt like her tweets were directed at me.

Her tweets are not directed at you. Get help.

I wrote love letters to her. I still had her address from the forms that she filled out for University Challenge. I felt a bit guilty using that information, but I wasn’t turning up at her door or anything. I sent a few love letters through the post, rose-themed cards containing poetry and drawings. I also left messages on her phone.

No.

You feel guilty using that information, because that information was not given to you in a personal context. You are abusing your power – in this case, the power of information derived from a position of in a group she briefly considered joining until you freaked her out.

She has told you she’s not interested in you – you are ignoring her personal interests, which is odd, since you supposedly love her.

This. Is. Wrong. Stop it.

After that, I thought long and hard about what I was doing. I think that is when I first accepted that I had become a stalker. Before, I had been an admirer. But what does stalking really mean? It seems to mean that you truly love someone who does not love you back.

I’m pretty sure you don’t understand what love is; it’s not ignoring what the other person wants if it doesn’t mesh with what you wish that person wanted. It doesn’t mean harassing someone, becoming such a toxic presence in that person’s life, that they must turn to law enforcement to try to get you to stop calling them and sending them love letters.

Every great romance is about two partners who are utterly obsessed with each other. Romeo, Juliet, Tristan and Isolde are people who are so passionately and powerfully in love that nothing else matters to them. But what if that feeling was felt on only one side? What if Juliet had rejected Romeo? Would he become a stalker?

Probably not. Given the beginning of that play, Romeo probably would have whined to his friends for a few days before he found someone else to bone.

It seems that modern society drools over depictions of this intense, obsessional love, but only when it is mutual. When it comes from just one side, it is suddenly deemed a terrible thing.

Here, you have a point. Society does depict obsessional love a lot of times – and maybe that’s not the most healthy thing.

Seven months later, when it was complete, I decided to try to make my book known by getting into the national news. I found out that she worked in Glasgow, so I traveled there with a plan. I was going to tell her that if she came with me, and we faked a kidnapping, we would both become famous. We would go into the hills and camp out for a few days while the nation searched. I had brought the necessary supplies.

Why…? I am so confused as to why this was ever even semi-seriously contemplated. First of all, who agrees to a fake kidnapping? That didn’t even work in season 2 of 21 Jumpstreet, which taught us that if you’re contemplating a fake kidnapping, you probably haven’t thought through all the details, and that Johnny Depp is extremely attractive in drag.

And she went to the authorities to get you to leave her alone. She doesn’t want to even see you, let alone plan fake kidnappings with you to try to help you get some book sold.

Yesterday, I saw her on the street and approached her, and called her name, but she freaked out.

It’s almost like you’re stalking her or something.

But the most disturbing part of the post, is its’ ending:

I left Glasgow, and I think our relationship is finished now. I gave it my best shot. I really thought that we would both become famous. We would have disappeared for a few days, people would have read my book, and she could have played the lead role when The World Rose is made into a movie. But alas; I’ll have to find another way.

Oh, I see. So since YOU’VE decided the “relationship” that wasn’t really a relationship is “finished,” now it’s really over. When she explicitly told you, I don’t like you like that, but you decided you loved her, it was okay for you to use information that you had derived in a completely inappropriate manner from an application she filled out for a resume-building activity to CALL her and WRITE to her and HARASS her in a manner that was, at the least, extremely hard to avoid. When she talked to the police, to try to really send home the message that she wasn’t interested in you being in her life anymore, it was okay for you to send her disturbing, creepy valentine’s, and plan to pretend to kidnap her (which, are any of your readers really buying the idea that you know the difference between a pretend and real kidnapping when you don’t even know the difference between a pretend and real relationship – I really, sincerely, truly hope not). But now, you’re kind of over this chick because you wrote an insanely creepy blog post about your insistence to create a relationship where no mutual attraction existed, and in which you admit that you stalked her, but in a “benevolent” way, when that’s not even possible. Stalking, in its’ very essence, is malicious. It is the refusal to pay any regard to the feelings and wishes of a fellow human being, because you don’t feel like it. By admitting to being a stalker, you are admitting to being someone whose grasp of reality needs help, and I sincerely hope that you seek it. Because if you have had trouble comprehending the clear signals, words, phrases, and actions of someone who was never interested in you, then if you do not receive psychiatric help, this cycle will likely repeat.

And that is not okay.