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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Joss Whedon and why he's ruined television for me

My absolute favorite writer of all time is Joss Whedon. So much so, that most tv shows just can't live up. (Though I will be the first to admit that Castle comes super close!)

I'm unashamed to admit that, on occasion, I am still known to bust out my Buffy DVDs and sit down for nostalgia's sake. This show touched on so many themes that are still relevant to people's lives and I miss the smart, campy way he can engage his audience.

My favorite, in many ways, is actually his show Firefly -- which by all intents and purposes should have lived a long and healthy life on FOX; had they not placed it in a ridiculous time slot (9pm on a Friday night-- this was in 2002, before DVR and online streaming were so accessible) and screwed with the original vision of the writer (i.e. run the shows out of the original plot sequence from the get-go). This show has held onto tremendous cult status -- even now. Most recently is the Browncoat's (rabid fans of the show-- yes, I'm one of them) attempt to get Nathan Fillion money to buy the rights based on a flippant remark on Twitter.

That said, I've pondered away many hours about Joss and what it is that makes his writing so relevant. Most recently, I've asked that question in regards to my own writing. What can I do to incorporate the elements of his writing that I most gravitate to? Though I will never have his Whedony witticism, I'd like to say that I can at least give a tip of the hat to the man who inspires me most.

Hell, I even have this t-shirt from back in the day.

And if my book ever were to become successful-- to the point where I were going to shows like ComicCon, I'll be the geek in the corner wearing this bad boy. Yup, that's me.

But what is is about him? His writing in specific? I think it's because he gets it. The fact that as humans, there is no true line between good and evil. Right and wrong. It's all based in the perceptions and those perceptions are skewed based on your life experiences or what you've been shown. What you've been taught. What's been omitted.

In Firefly, he turns the notion of being a prostitute on it's head. In the future -- in his world, there is a status known as a Companion, which is highly esteemed. The main characters are basically thieves, yet we love them and root for them over the big bad Alliance.

In Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, he takes a villain and makes him lovable. "Besides, there are kids in that park. Meh."


To be the type of writer who can see the varying shades of gray and help the reader to remember that sometimes our perceptions are wrong. Sometimes they are intentionally misled. Sometime they are dead on.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Misplaced Perceptions

Okay, maybe it's just me... but what's the big freakin' deal about this new breastfeeding doll that's coming out? It's hit the major news networks as "creepy", "too real for comfort", etc... and I have to ask myself -- why the hell do I live in this country? I mean, seriously? This is worthy of discomfort?

If you are unfamiliar, please educate yourselves.

Let's be frank, I am an unapologetic progressive who believes that we need to stop flagellating the public over issues that are a natural and normal functions of the human body. Yes, that applies to dolls, too. Children learn by emulation. The question is -- what do we want them to emulate? That is my first and foremost question. Is it creepy to have a 6 year old "nurse" her baby? Really? Because to me, it's creepy to have a 3 year old boy with a realistic toy gun. (Though I'm not against that either) Just sayin'.

So this might turn into a feminist-like rant, but what's with the demonization of all things women? No - not even that, the TABOOization of all things women. Yeah, yeah... Eve... Garden... apple... blah, blah, blah. I'm not buyin' it.

Come to think of it, it's not even women -- it's all things sex. As a culture, we're ironically obsessed with it. Yet, we want to... what? Control it? Why? To what end?

With women and girls, in particular, the stigma is greater. The innate power given at birth to create and nourish life is tainted by the desire by society (which is run, in a great part by men) to put a damper on it. Is it some sort of inadequacy compensation? Or does it go deeper than that?

Think about it... it's okay for men to go around topless - hell, it's practically preferred. Just look at the Twilight series. (Yes, women are just as obsessed with the pectorals of the opposite sex as men are) What would happen if a women did that? Yet... it's sorta necessary at times.

Back to this doll... I have a daughter. She has her "babies" and it never occurred to me to worry about how she's feeding them. I nursed both of my children and I'm proud of that fact. Anyone who does a minute's worth of research can see that the benefits are astounding. While I acknowledge, it's not for everyone (one of my best friends and co-conspirator of my book tried and was unable, for example), I am appalled that we are still considering it "creepy" in today's standards.Why is it creepy to teach our daughters that nursing our children is how babies are fed? Do you think the ancient people around the globe had this problem?

Yeah, I get it. You don't want to think about the fact that the 6 year old girl nursing her baby has "girl parts". But she does. And there is nothing wrong with it. Get over the hang ups in your head and see reality for what it is. We all spend so much time convincing ourselves that our world view is the right one -- the only one.

But guess what? You're wrong.

We all are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing can be a lonely sport.

I've recently come back home from a week long trip to Sedona, Arizona and I'm having a hard time getting back into my normal routine of writing. Not so much the routine, I guess. Just the writing. I'm still up at 5am (despite the dreaded two hour time difference), but my attention span isn't there. Does anyone else suffer from this? I don't know if it's because I need to go back in, reread and immerse myself again... Yeah, maybe that's it.

For those of you who have never been to Sedona... Go. Right now. Plan your trip, pack some bags and go. The energy out there is amazing! The hiking, the views, the people... the food! I never realized how awful our food is in Minnesota until I ate out there! Real, health conscious restaurants -- and they're all over! Not just one! I think I saw one pizza place in the whole city (Piccazo's). We have at least 6 here in my town. Gah! But I digress... Ranting a little. Nutritious, whole food options are a hot button issue of mine. My bad.

In many ways, Sedona woke some things up inside me... besides Minnesota's complete lack of health consciousness. LOL! It made me realize how much I enjoy nature. The outdoors. Exploring. It reminded me that when we explore, the mind chatter goes away. Because it pulls you into the Now. Isn't that what Eckart Tolle is always talking about?

But really, when we are experiencing life, the need for the mind chatter subsides. Call it spiritual if you want. Call it just taking yourself out of your normal element. Whatever. I find the way the brain works fascinating.

But back to writing... I'm close. REALLY close to having my first draft done. This world of Pendomus has been in my head since October of last year and it's getting painful to not be able to share it. It's like it's bursting at the seams to break loose... but I keep getting the internal signals of "wait... wait..." Blarg! I don't wanna wait! I want people to read it! I want to know what others think of it, dammit. LOL!

The ironic thing is, when I started the book, it was for the book's sake... the story's sake. It had to be told and it chose me to do it. No seriously. It chose me. Of that, I have no doubt. Now, I feel my ego creeping in. The desire to know what other's think. The sickening feeling of self-doubt. The squishy, ishy feelings of "Why am I doing this?" or "What if it's no good?" or "What if no one will read it?" I don't know why. I don't even know why any of that should matter.

I love my story. I love my characters and the world they've shown me. Even if I'm the only person (which, logically, I know I'm not - I have close friends and family who have also read some or most of what I've written) who loves them, so be it. Right? They are the internal workings of my subconscious mind anyway. Right?

The ego... now that's a funny thing. In some ways, we can't function without it. In other ways, humanity would be better served if we just put it in check or got rid of it all together. I love the quote by Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." And I really try to adhere to that. To me, that means doing things for the sake of doing them - it can seem altruistic. But really, it's just keeping it simple. Trying to release the ego from attachment because all it does is get in the way.

So why is it being such a pain in my ass now? Why do I feel so antsy to get this out, but feel that the timing isn't right? It's like the universe is sending me some sick joke. Karmic mixed signals. Nice.

In addition to writing, I'm trained in graphic design... so I've been tweaking my twitter page. Playing with images, since it seems hard to find the words for the story. It's been three days since we got back and I've probably written a total of 500 words.

Writing to me seems to be a lonely sport. On one hand, I have this rich, complex world and complex characters... I enjoy living there in my head and being a part of it. But in this world, I'm alone. I am a part of a creative group (not just writers, but most are), but we meet monthly at best. I don't have an online support yet and maybe that's what I need? To find a writer's group. Then, it opens the can of worms of what happens to your stuff if you post it? Can people steal it? What if it gets out on the web? Does anyone else worry about this sort of stuff? Is my fear just a stupid thing I need to overcome and do it anyway? Or are my fears warning signs that I need to stay away until I have this done?

The things that are catching my eye right now are self-publishing blogs and sites. It seems to be the way people are going now, and it's really enticing to me. But then I go back to being alone. Doing it all. I do that so much and I'm not sure I want to do with with my writing, too. But if there was a place for it... wouldn't it be here? I can design my own sites, my covers... I can format the book and publish it on Kindle (or wherever) and maybe that's the direction I need to take? Start there?

From what I read out there, many publishers and agents won't even represent you until you have a few thousand fans. THOUSAND. Yeah. I have 36 on my fan page. How do you get thousands if you are afraid to get your story out there? That leads me back to self-publishing in eBook form first. See what happens. Other authors like Amanda Hocking seem to be doing great this way. (Another MN author - LOVE IT!) I would love to have the kind of success that she's managed to obtain for her worlds.

Wow. Did you catch that ego trap right there? Yup, spiraled right into it, didn't I?

You know what? Maybe I need to stop worrying about my method of publishing and just finish the damn book, eh? What am I so afraid of? Maybe this is why I get the mixed signals? Go (because it WANTS TO BE WRITTEN!) and Stop (because it's not ready for all this publishing nonsense yet anyway!)

Whoa. You know... this is why I love writing. I think I just had a damn epiphany just now. Did you feel that?

I did.

Okay, universe. Uncle. I'm gonna get out of my head so I can get into yours.

Lesson learned.

Shut up and write.