20 June 2014

You Want to Write About THAT?

It's often said that writing is a lonely enterprise. There's good reason. Writers live inside their imaginations for long periods of time exploring story lines, picturing their characters, considering conflicts. When asked about a current WIP, we find it difficult to explain because we're still exploring possibilities. But if you live with a writer, are married to a writer, or just care about one and hope to keep the relationship on a happy note, never, ever say, "And you want to write about that?"

During the course of research, especially when writing historical fiction, we come across information that is rather hard to digest today. For example, in Dragon's Legacy I included the deplorable situation where white men kidnapped Irish children from the Mexican families who were adopting them not because they were concerned about their welfare but solely on the notion that white children should not be adopted by Mexicans. Never mind the fact that, at that time, the Irish were considered "non-white" lesser beings, unemployable and segregated from white Ango-Saxon Protestants on nearly the same scale as Mexicans and African-Americans.
Never mind that it was a Catholic agency placing Catholic children with Catholic families. White men rode into the mining towns of Clifton and Morenci during a summer thunderstorm and pulled children from their beds at gunpoint. Some came down with pneumonia as a result, some were shipped off to white families who used them as slaves. It was an ugly incident--and I wanted more people to know this happened.

Recently, my spouse asked what I was working on, so I told him. I tried to discuss the horrific practice of tarring and feathering. Hence the title of this post. I'm certain that most people--and definitely most Americans--have never considered just exactly what being tarred and feathered entailed. How anyone ever survived it amazes me. And yes, I do want to write about it, describe it in full detail, and show how the people of the times reacted to such a practice.

I don't think I'll be using the spouse as a beta reader, however.

Happy writing,

12 June 2014

On the Rejuvenating Nature of Naps

There was a time when Latin cultures incorporated down time into the daily routine. Siesta was prevelant throughout the world as a result of the Spanish colonizations. From Madrid to Manilla, from noon until three or even four, quiet reigned the afternoon.

Here in the Southwest, siesta remained ingrained in the culture until World War II. Businesses
closed during the hottest period of the day, allowing their workers to rest, catch up, and slow down to avoid heat exhaustion.

It's a grand idea. When the outside temperatures are 107 to 110, it's toasty. Moving through the heat takes more energy, wears you down, and makes you sleepy. So it's a great time to take a nap.

And so I think I shall.

Happy writing,

05 June 2014

And Now For Something Serious

"Facebook is only supposed to be for fun and lighthearted catching up with friends," so I've been told.  "Don't put such serious rants or depressing news on FB."

Well for one thing, you're missing the entire power potential of social media if all you want are rainbows and lollipops coming at you. Used to be  newspapers would rally the populace to make societal change. Now it's Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, and whatever else everyone uses.  There are important issues to know about, events going on that affect you, your family, and possibly the generations to come. So buck up, buttercup, and read on. Changes need to be made and one of the biggest is the misogynistic culture constantly bombarding us.

Perhaps you have heard of the mass shootings in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago. How a young man became so enraged at "not getting any" that he went on a murderous rampage, particularly focused on a sorority house. The debate about mental illness and gun control is not what I wish to address here (though that is definitely a much needed discussion) but the environment in which this young man felt entitled to sex so strongly it was a logical progression to kill those who had denied him. Yes, he also killed others who had mocked him or otherwise disagreed with him, but his so-called "manifesto" was essentially a rant about his inability to get laid.

What encourages this attitude, this thinking that women OWE men their bodies? One of the best analyses of the current overriding acceptance of rape culture is by an intelligent young man named Arthur Chu, who was a very successful champion on the game show, Jeopardy!  In his May 27, 2014  article, "Your Princess is in Another Castle", Chu presents a valid point:
But the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well.
While his point of view is focused from that of a "nerd", this is the mainstream male culture perpetuated in society. From religious extremists who feel so strongly about denying education to girls that they condone shooting them, to legislators who state "Rape is just another means of conception", to the offensive notion of a "trophy wife", misogyny in all its forms is applauded and upheld as "proper family values" around the world.

It has to stop. Change must start with teaching our sons from the cradle that women are not property, prizes, or rewards. That every woman has her own brain, her own dreams, and her own goals. Don't pine over or stalk anyone who is not interested in you just because you think she would be a prize or a notch on your belt. And "No" means fucking "NO", damn  it.

As Mr. Chu states, grow up.

Happy writing,