Writing advice is... well... cheap. You can find it everywhere. It's mostly harmless, as far as it goes, but then - sometimes - I come across a list which I begin itching to annotate. Here's one such:
1. Your novel is not a personal journal. Consider the reader.
Sounds pretty basic, but when you unpack it the whole thing is nonsense. Absolutely, a novel isn't a personal journal - and there is a lot to be said about the adage that when you find yourself not telling a story but preaching a sermon from your own personal soapbox it's time to pack up the Speaker's Corner paraphernalia and walk away. BUT. This sort of thing is painfully obvious. It will scream from the page, if it is practised. All you have to do, in order to "consider the reader", is to remember that a story's PLOT and its THEME may be two very different things - and quite possibly there are themes that you shouldn't consider writing about because you are too close to them. On the other hand all rules are there to be broken and if you are a powerful enough writer AND are very close to an issue what comes out in novel form can change the world. Sure, consider the reader. But first of all, consider the writer. The potential "reader" of a potentially published book is a long way away while that book is still being created. The best way around this is to get a trusted beta reader, possibly one whose worldview isn't identical to your own - if your first reader tells you that you're preaching, tone it down. Problem solved. But it's the writer who needs to be considered here. The readers aren't there yet. Not for a long while.
2. Writing is a business. You enter into an agreement with a reader. You agree to entertain in exchange for their money and emotion. You agree to inform for their time.
No. PUBLISHING is a business. Writing is something else, something that is a difficult cross between an art and a craft. And your only responsibility is to provide the best story that you are capable of producing. What happens to it afterwards... is not yours to control. What you "owe" the reader is that,a nd only that. And once it's out of your hands, readers who pick up the published version of your story are going to bring their own baggage, their own vision, their own interpretations into the thing - and you have absolutely no way of knowing (and therefore cannot be responsible for) what emotions your book arouses in them. You cannot, CANNOT, write the perfect book for every reader, and trying to do it will kill you. And just what does "agree to inform for their time" mean, exactly? Sure, I've learned some of the most fundamental human truths from fiction. That's partly what it is FOR. But it isn't a class, or a course, or a school. Fiction is lies breathed through a tissue of silver that is a thin veil of truth; the thing that the readers get from this isn't "information". They can go to the encyclopedia (or, in these cyberdays, to Google) for their information. They want wisdom from ficiton, not knowledge. And wisdom has never been a "business". You cannot put a price on wisdom. So writing that wisdom down is not a business, as and of itself. Publishing... is a whole different animal.
3. Readers don’t like charmless heroes. Just because your protagonist happens to be an anti-hero does not mean you are free to make him or her 100% unlikable.
COrrect - to a point, But charm isn't required, really. What is required is that you CARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO A PROTAGONIST. The most likeable character in the world is rendered irrelevant when the reader fails to connect with that character to the point of caring about their ultimate fate. I can list numerous novels where the protags were charming as all get go and I couldn't care less which way they jumped. And if this were the ultimate rule what about, say, Thomas COvenant (whose charm quotient was as close to ultimate zero on the charm scale as it is possible to get - and who somehow - through pity? through sheer frustration at his existence? - still managed to protag his way through a number of successful novels...)?
4. Only experienced novelists who have successfully completed two published books should attempt to use an anti-hero as a protagonist.
Ferchissakes. See point 1. You're preaching again. One man's anti hero is another man's, er, freedom fighter (for whatever freedom you care to be fighting for). If you are good enough you can make it work - it's been done. IT HAS. Successfully. Hannibal Lecter, anyone...? Elric of Melnibone? In other words, beginning writer, you may not succeed the first time you try something like this - but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try it if a particular story is where your passion lies. Passion trumps rules. You'd be surprised where you can take a reader if you and your story (and your anti-hero protagonist) set their soul on fire.
5. Antagonists should be people, not things.
Okay. So then "Jaws" should not have been written. "The Perfect Storm" should never have been written. For that matter, if you take it to an extreme, the One Ring in "Lord of the Rings" is the ultimate antagonist in that story. Really, now? Really? I'm sure you can add to this list. Even the most basic and pared down list of posssible plots includes "man versus nature" - so there's that; and there are any number of objects which have worked quite well in literature as "antagonists" over the centures that we have been telling stories. Could we be just a tad less prescriptive and a little more open minded here...?
6. If you aren’t willing to listen to advice, if you aren’t able to learn from your mistakes, and if you aren’t prepared to let go of stories nobody wants to read, you will probably not succeed.
...you mean like me, here, taking THIS advice apart...? [grin] But seriously. Yes, you should listen to advice from more experienced voices. Yes, you are going to make mistakes (please don't think you won't) and if you are any good at all you WILL learn from them. There ARE stories which you will love fiercely but which you will have to shelve and get on with something new if you want to get anywhere at all. But first... but first... you have to write those stories, you have to make those mistakes, and you must not be afraid of that. This is what the writing apprenticeship is all about, and everyone's gone through it. EVERYONE.
7. You have to read a lot to be able to write.
The first thing in here so far which I can greet with a complete and unequivocal AMEN.
8. Using examples of famous authors who were published more than 30 years ago to justify long passages of description in your boring manuscript is not a good idea. Publishing has changed. Readers have changed.
Hm. Robert Jordan, anyone...? Describing every step anyone in his books ever took, every meal they ever ate, every breath they ever drew...? And yet somehow still read...? How about "Game of Thrones" with its thousands upon thousands of pages worth of description...? I think the rule is, "don't be boring". The readers haven't changed THAT much - "don't be boring" is all that is required. You ARE allowed to write lush and detailed. Yes, you damned well ARE. Just know your limits, and stop before you get there, is all.
9. Self-publishing does not mean you don’t need to pay somebody to proofread and edit your book. Readers are insulted when they find mistakes in books. It’s like serving guests dinner on dirty plates.
Yes, okay, I'll go with this. Writers are notoriously too close to their own work. If you do NOTHING else with your self=published book, invest in a good copy editor. Trust me on this. You can thank me later.
10. Always delete the first three chapters of the first draft of your first three novels. It will always be filled with backstory you don’t need.
ANY piece of advice that begins with "Always" or "Never" is to be discarded immediately. Because there is no such thing. There is NO "one true way". yes, you are likely to err on the side of starting your story before it really begins, especially when you are just beginning to practice the craft - but following this bit of advice blindly is simply going to land you in quicksand because the backlash can be fierce - yes, you don't want endless exposition in the front of your book, but you also don't want to fling characters about whom your reader doesn't know nearly enough to care about what happens to them straight into the jaws of conflict, and expect your reader to stay while these strangers are inexplicably whacking at each other for reasons which you (because you followed this advice) mercilessly cut out from before the conflict happens. yes, there is a lot to learn in the writing craft - and one of the most important lessons is that of Michaelangelo who, when asked how he created his statues from a block of marble, responded that he started with the block and just chipped away everything that wasn't the statue. If the first thing you happen to find as you're chipping away at your block of marble happens to be a hand, don't chop off the fingers because you haven't figured out the rest of the arm yet. Shake hands, be nice. Take it easy. Let us get to *know* your story before you throw it snarling in our face. And remember that no rule is absolute - think about James Michener and his "And the Earth cooled" beginnings - and look at how that worked out for HIM. Repeat after me - there IS no "Always". There is just you, and what is best for YOUR story. Yes, by all means listen to advice - but in the end write the best story you know how to write, and then trust it. That is your only debt to the story, and to anyone who takes it forward after you're done. The readers will take care of themselves.
I already used 'there's always room for Jello.' So, 'How do you spell
releif, releef, releaf, success?"
Two things, both awesome:
A totally ridiculous Star Trek: The Backcompatibalized Original Original Series vid that makes me happy and stuff:
Popular Science magazine recruited a bunch of SF authors and artists to play futurist! Features John Picacio, Scott Lynch, Nancy Kress, David Palumbo, Ian Tregillis, Dave Seeley, Karl Schroeder, Daniel Dociu, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Bear (that's me!), Stephan Martiniere, Kathleen Ann Goonan, James S. A. Corey, and Vandana Singh.
Another year, another adderal shortage. My grocery store pharmacy turns me away saying it's been backordered for two weeks, and what comes in will go to the people ahead of me in line.
Right, this dance again. Google is mostly filled with hits about the last shortage, so maybe it's not happening again. Nope. It's happening again.
My local Walgreens is also out and suggests locations in Hialeah and another part of Miami full of terrible streets (more terrible than Hialeah). "No... I'll call around, thanks."
I call the Walgreens near my work.
"We don't have it, but the the Walgreens on East Granada Avenue does."
"Cool. Where is that?"
"I don't know, I'm not at the physical location, but I can give you the phone number."
Really? I know the location of places without actually being in the physical locality, but what do I know, maybe I'm magic. Given that the first Walgreens I called asked if I was anywhere near Hia-lee, I think you see the address too. "Uh, sure."
I've never seen that area code before. I live in a county about 2,000 miles square, so it isn't every day I see an unfamiliar area code. I look it up.
It covers Daytona Beach and Volusia County.
This area code touches the Georgia border, 400 miles away.
I think I'm going down terrible street tomorrow.
This entry was originally posted at http://damselfish.dreamwidth.org/72344.h
Oh, why not? Maybe it's just today's fad, but nobody's going to suffer if it never shows again...
This afternoon I’m not really in the kitchen anyway, except for washing dishes (I am learning not to say “washing up”, because it confuses Americans) and sorting stuff after the yogi dinner last night and before Katherine comes tomorrow.
I am however in the back yard, smoking bacon. Not that it needs much attention. Every twenty minutes or so I wander out and chuck a handful of soaked vinewood chips onto a few sullen coals, and a minute later the grill is leaking smoke from all its orifices. It has a lot of orifices. Cook’s Illustrated says it’s the worst in its field, for poor construction and gaps all around. I like it, though. Probably because I know no better, but hey.
Oh, and I boiled some rice for later. We’ve got cold grilled pork in the fridge, and long beans from the farmers’ market, so obviously I’m thinking Chinese. Probably just a fry-up of rice and pork and mushrooms, with the beans on the side. (Karen tends to like things served separately, I tend to like everything mungled up together in a single convenient dish; I may call this a compromise.) Ginger in the beans, garlic in the rice, soy in everything.
The bacon's been on for an hour and a half, which is probably enough. If I had a Thermapen, I'd know. I'm still dithering about that, but really I ought to stop with the dither and just splurge. Meantime, I just rely on smell and taste and feel, and what kind of cooking do you call that...?
You can tell I wasn't a gardener, when I was writing The Garden. If I had six barrowloads of leaves these days, they wouldn't be getting anywhere near my compost-heap. They'd go in black bags and sit in a corner till they broke down into lovely leafmould, however long it took.
In other not-very-related news, I thought I might take a leaf out of Nigel Slater's book(s), and start a kitchen diary. It might actually be useful to have a searchable daily record of what I cook, what I use, what works and what doesn't. (On the other hand, of course, my record at keeping daily records is not great; but on the other other hand, it's a shame to quit before I begin. Better to start and fail than never to start. Etc. So I might. Hell, I might even post it here. With tags. My record at remembering to use tags is even more risible, but, y'know. Try again, fail again. Fail better.)
Good news: the roofing hell appears to be nearing its close. The inspectors came by today and gave their ok, which, yay. The yard still has roofing supplies everywhere and the driveway still has a large dumpster but by any standards this is an improvement. Also, I am able to get a passport after all, so, another improvement.
In this improved mood I offer you a discussion of attempted murder in the Regency era, over at Tor.com: The Quiet Gentleman.
I always believed when I was unpublished, that my best strategy was to try to write a book that it was impossible for someone to turn down. The idea that you only have to write a book that is good enough to get published is wrong. If you are angry about a book that was published that you think is terrible, and you think—I can write something that good—that isn't good enough.
If you want to be published, my advice to you—my best advice—is that you write well enough that people will come to you to ask you for work to publish. You want to be writing so well that when an editor reads your manuscript, it makes him/her say “I have to publish this book.” You don't want to be the book an editor uses to fill a slot. You don't want to be the author who gets lost in the shuffle after publication. You don't want to have a career that is over after one book.
When I was a teenager, I had a swim coach who used to brag that he once beat Mark Spitz in a race. Well, it turned out he beat Mark Spitz ten years after Spitz was in the Olympics. Lots of people had beaten Mark Spitz at that point. He was no longer Olympic class. It was a low bar. And that's not the bar that gets you to the Olympics.
Set your sights to the writing Olympics. Don't just try to be published. Try to be the best book of this kind ever written. Try to be so unique and so incredible that you knock the socks off readers. You want to be in this for the long haul. You don't want to publish one book. You want a long string of great books. Don't you?
Dear SFWA Members:
Many of you have contacted us recently about your concerns regarding the actions of a SFWA member, including the recent misuse of the sfwaauthors Twitter feed. The Board has been engaged in a discussion of the various responses the organization may offer. Any action we take must conform to our bylaws and procedures, and will take time. Be assured that the Board is not idle on this matter, but must be deliberative to assure that any action is fairly reached and correctly implemented.
The Board continues to be open to your comments and concerns. You may reach your board representatives at the following e-mail addresses:
Jim Fiscus, Western Regional Director (firstname.lastname@example.org ), Lee Martindale, South/Central Regional Director (email@example.com ), Cat Valente, Eastern Regional Director (firstname.lastname@example.org ), Matthew Johnson, Canadian Regional Director (email@example.com ) and Sean Williams, Overseas Regional Director (firstname.lastname@example.org). You may also contact Bud Sparhawk, Treasurer (email@example.com ), Ann Leckie, Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rachel Swirsky, Vice President (email@example.com ) and me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was sitting there with a plate of french toast and checking email when a message popped up from Tom Dark of the Heacock Hill Literary Agency.
“Greetings and Salutations,” he proclaimed!
Well, no. Actually he opened his email by saying, “I see you’re a snide supporter of the ‘Absolute Write’ gang.” He then proceeded to spend approximately 900 words explaining that Heacock Hill has been the victim of a vicious hoax “purposely instigated by ‘Absolute Write’ and/or ‘Writer Beware.’” He described Absolute Write as a cult, informed me that he was not Jewish, and added that he was also not Miriam Silverstein.
All of which left me with three questions.
Question three was easiest to answer, and once I made my way back to the right table, I sat down to examine this email in more detail. As near as I can make out, someone wrote some nasty comments about this guy, including things like, “You want to go around and write your little PEE BOY SQUIRT OINKER BULLSHIT all over my stuff, go ahead.”
This may or may not have been on the Absolute Write site; if it was, the moderators at AW have removed it as inappropriate.
Therefore Absolute Write is a cult. Or something. I’m not sure. I was still disoriented by the french toast mishap.
Absolute Write does have a thread about this agency. Please note: this is the link that Dark himself sent me in his email. Following that link reveals … folks talking about how Tom Dark sends weird/creepy-aggressive emails to people.
Despite the fact that Mr. Dark has a pretty cool superhero name, I was starting to get a little weirded out by this point. I skimmed another nasty comment someone apparently sent, and jumped to the end, where he states:
This little cult that pretends to “protect writers from fraud” have been pulling this sick game for years. Years ago they also attacked our founder, in her eighties, with lies about fees charged. We see how these lies have spread unchecked to sites that also refuse to check up on the malicious libels they’re serving to perpetrate. We see how some sites have falsely characterized this as “a controversy.”
A lawsuit is time- taking and expensive. If we must get around to it eventually, we certainly will, and with the intent to simply get rid of these vicious, hypocritical phonies, very loudly….
Maybe we won’t have to. A little insider info for you: a good many editors are getting sick and tired of this gang of hacks, finally.
He then wished me a fun career, turned into a puff of dandelion fuzz, and floated away in a maple syrup-scented breeze.
Being the inquisitive fellow I am, I headed over to the Heacock Hill Literary Agency where I found, just as Dark had claimed, that they “do not charge up front fees.” I also found zero information about who their clients were or what books they might have sold. So I emailed Mr. Dark asking if he’d be willing to share.
Dark was quick to reply, letting me know that:
We, I, represent a bunch of people, some, real mighty. I don’t care if you know who they are. Couple up and comers are on my personal blog. We do care that those concerned know who they are. We do care that we, and they, don’t have to put up with the rancid lying shit your buddies smear around.
Huh. Okay, I’ll happily admit that one of the comments he sent me included some nasty antisemitic name-calling, apparently directed at Dark. But why did he feel the need to tell me all about all of this? As I explained to him, I didn’t even know who Tom Dark was, nor the Heacock Hill Literary Agency.
To which he explained:
Wasn’t that you who wrote the snide “apology” about some “Write Agenda” thing on your blog? When I looked into these cronies of yours are, what I found from these so-called “sock puppets” independently pretty much matched.
Oh wait, I see the connection. Mister Dark had a guest post for TWA, wherein he spends 2900 words (yes, I did a word count) to explain that everything Absolute Write said about him was a lie by lying liars who lie, he has lots of important and brilliant clients that he won’t name, and he really was popular, so there! Also, something about flying monkeys.
By now, I was having fun, so I did a little more digging and found a blog post wherein he talks (anonymously) about a few of his clients, including one who sadly didn’t work out.
Now, the crazy lady instead left such a loud-mouthed message on my machine I thought it better we wrote quietly. She wrote back loudly, officiously declaring how to do my business and how this certain last-minute thing I happened to be doing was totally impossible.
Is “stupid c**t” politically correct English? It’s scientific.
So that’s what’s been wafting through my inbox. I’m sad to say that the only things I made up here were that bit about the french toast and Dark’s ability to vanish in a poof of dandelion fluff.
Short version: Classy “agent” is classy.
PS, When Mr. Dark discovers this post, he is more than welcome to share any details he wishes that might help establish his credentials as a successful agent and counter the scammerish red flag of refusing to list any clients or sales. But trolling and name-calling will be deleted and/or kittened, depending on my mood.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
As I mentioned in passing yesterday, I finally succumbed to the inevitable and started a jewelry business. The bit that is actively hilarious to me is that after several years of bouncing one particular idea around and delaying in that way that perfectionists do, because perfect is the enemy of good - better to charge by the hour with a jewelry concierge service, or to go with a percentage, or to have a flat fee, or to demand counter-clockwise Morris dances on the 1st of April, or ...? - literally as I was formatting my jack-of-all-trades jewelry website (I buy, I sell, I design, I fabricate, I appraise, I tap-dance, name it, I'm probably trying to build a page for it) I came across a reference to somebody who had the same idea around the same time (but without the personal issues, 'cause, man, 2010 sucked) and made it happen. She has a really cool website.
I wasn't even looking for jewelry-related things! It was a suggested article on the "Harlotry" series that I like to follow on The Gloss!* Good on Ms. Clarke, I say! But the sheer unlikelihood of the universe putting that link in my way today made me giggle.
*Admitting this doesn't make for my proudest intellectual moment. On the other hand, a few minutes ago I tweeted a silversmith's suggestion for an indestructible manicure, so I may be slaloming towards rock-bottom.
Slightly creepy question that makes me wonder what someone would make of my google history: what is the best way to slit someone's throat? Preferably without getting drenched in blood?
The setting is early middle ages, and the person being killed is not an enemy but a friend facing an inevitable long, slow death - the slit throat is intended as a mercy kill (incidentally, is there another more reliable/quicker/less painful/generally better way of ending someone's life with a sharp blade? Perhaps a severed cervical spine/brain stem? And if so, what's the best way to accomplish that?). From what I can gather, the best way of doing it is to stand behind and cut hard and deep enough to sever both carotid arteries, which aren't as close to the surface as the jugular but bleed out much faster. I'm not a doctor or an assassin, though, so I may be wrong. Also, how much force/how sharp of a blade does it actually require to cut really deep like that? How fast does death come? Is there another more reliable/quicker/less painful/generally better way of ending someone's life with a sharp blade (perhaps a severed cervical spine/brain stem)? And if so, what's the best way to accomplish that?
Search terms include "severed carotid arteries," "how to slit a throat," "best way to slit a throat," "slit throat forensics." I also found the youtube video of Clint Malarchuk getting his throat cut by a hockey skate, which is not for the faint of heart (although he survived, thank goodness).
Is there a good reason to have someone in a boarding stable at night? I want to have a confrontation there after hours, and I had it in my head that maybe the guy who works there stayed overnight because...I don't know, they're really expensive animals and fires and emergencies are a thing. (And very wealthy people board there, the type to "spare no expense.") But I know next to nothing about stables, and now I'm worried the whole idea sounds silly. I tried looking on google, but I just kept getting job openings at local stables, which was not as helpful as it sounds. (tried several variations of "kinds of jobs in stables," "what it's like to work in a stable," and just plain old "boarding stables.") To be honest, most of the information I'm plotting with comes from reading other books set in stables, because the internet keeps directing me to local business websites that don't do much to tell me what it's like to work there.
ETA: The story is set modern day in New England. Thanks for all the great replies!
So, in the interest of actually being held accountable for stuff…
I’ve joined the Clarion West write-a-thon: my goal is to have 50,000 words of my (untitled) novel set in a post-apocalyptic, colonial Paris completed by August 2 (ok, maybe by end of August). Can’t say much about it (I *hate* talking about what I’m writing while I’m writing it), but it’s got fallen angels, Vietnamese dragons and immortals, and plenty of magical fireworks.
You can see a snippet from the WIP on my write-a-thon page–as well as information for donating, and links to all the pages by fabulous other writers such as Rochita Loenen Ruiz, Stephanie Burgis and Floris M Kleijne.
Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard
Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.
A zoomable map of all the libraries in the US. (via) Compare to this map of all the rivers.
Timelapse of auroras over Norway, including freakycool interactions with clouds. (via)
Using only one type of metadata, club memberships, to determine that this guy Paul Revere is a person of interest among Boston's 250 leading citizens, at least from a Crown Intelligence point of view. (via)
A cool, rainy morning at Hollins U., just outside Roanoke. Everything is green and quiet. Delia & I are sitting at our Dining Room table (AKA EK/DS Command Central), checking email & FB, waiting to wake up enough to be hungry & start talking to each other. And occasionally jotting something down on the "To Get/Do" list for our 6 weeks teaching here for Hollins University Children's Literature MFA. All of my writing seminar students got their first assignment in early, so I have 6 story fragments to read today; then maybe I can dig into some of the library books I grabbed last night. The most beautiful library in the world! Hmm, might be time for cereal.
In various discussions of my issues with hand-foot syndrome, people have asked if I would consider using Dragon or some other dictation software. The short answer is, "Not yet."
I am in no wise philosophically opposed to using such a solution. In my Day Jobbe life, I have more than a passing familiarity with Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology. It's wonderful stuff and can be quite powerful. I like the concept plenty. ASR can be liberating on a number of fronts, from the narrowly technical to the profoundly creative. There's only one small problem.
I don't talk like I write.
For a long time I've been of the opinion that if you stuck a professional writer's head into an fMRI machine (presumably whilst still bolted to the rest of the professional writer in question), you'd find that the speech center which lights up when composing fiction is distinct from the speech center used for ordinary, everyday communication. It's English as both a first language and a second language. In my case, my written fiction syntax and style are noticeably different from my spoken syntax and style. Sentence length and complexity, word choice, rhythms — I'm two different people.
The writer who's been in careful training since 1990 is a different speaker than the blabbermouth who might use Dragon. The stories each of me can and would tell are quite different.
So while I'll turn to Dragon if I can, once my hands give out if they do, I don't want to go there too soon. I'll lose something essential. I might gain something just as wonderful — I am open to the possibility — but right now I value what I have while I still have it.
I still don't have a coherent set of JayCon photos, but Narrow Path Photography was there, and did a wonderful job of documenting the event.
Check out the whole set.
Photos © 2013 Narrow Path Photography, all rights reserved.
Your Tuesday moment of zen.
Chinese style temple at Kharakhorum, the ruined monastery at the site of Genghis Khan's lost capital. Photo © 1992, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
The Adjustable Cosmos — An animated short film with certain affinities to my Mainspring trilogy. (Via
Early stop-motion with real insect characters — Uh…
Watch A Robotic Cheetah-Cub Run
Materials Scientists Build Chlorophyll-based Phototransistor
The Faulty Logic of the ‘Math Wars’
Global Attitudes toward Homosexuality — Generally, the more religious a country, the less accepting its citizens are of homosexuality: Ah, the magical link between bigotry and faith.
IRS scandal: Is partisanship overshadowing facts? — Is the sky blue? Is water wet? When you have one party explicitly dedicated to inventing its own facts regardless of objective reality, then by definition partisanship overshadows.
QotD?: Are you in neat little rows sporting canvas frills?
Image: Monika Schoffmann, "Hochzeit"
In his memoir, Wedlocked (reviewed in this month’s issue), Jay Ponteri turns his gaze to an area often neglected in the many conversations on marriage: the personal, emotional aspects of a sometimes strange, perhaps failing, yet still highly significant institution.
If you’re looking for other perspectives on marriage that might address some of the questions raised by Wedlocked, here’s some recommended reading:
This month, The Atlantic has a fascinating feature on same-sex marriage its influence on modern marriage.
“Marriage, seen this way, is a rigid institution that exists primarily for the rearing of children and that powerfully constrains the behavior of adults (one is tempted to call this the “long slog ’til death” view of marriage), rather than an emotional union entered into for pleasure and companionship between adults. “
In that it functions as an another way of looking at marriage, same sex unions appear to be changing marriage for the better. By reimagining marriage as a partnership between two people rather than exclusively between a man and a woman, same-sex marriages offer a way to see what “genderless marriage” might look like -- and it looks pretty good. Among the perks are increased communication about responsibilities, since same-sex couples can’t fall back on gender assumptions and stereotypes when it comes down to how they divvy up chores.
But perhaps the problem with marriage isn’t that it’s mostly a gendered institution, but that it’s a monogamous one.
In the 2001 book The Myth of Monogamy, David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton turn to the natural world for answers and find that monogamy is an unnatural mode for most of the animal kingdom -- including humans.
“Anthropologists report that the overwhelming majority of human societies either are polygynous or were polygynous prior to the cultural homogenization of recent decades.”
-- David Barash in Salon | The myth of monogamy
And if you’re wondering about what non-monogamous relationships might look like in practice, here are two popular guides for people possibly considering polyamory (and other forms of non-monogamy): Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy’s The Ethical Slut and Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up.
Sorry, no quote again. Stomach bug got me.
speaking of which, anything bug your characters today?
It was, mostly, a boring, trivial and annoying day.
But the evening was lovely. Lynne and Lisa were at my place; when they I walked with Lynne down Third Avenue and up bank, and it was a lovely, cool evening, not quite dark yet even though it was around ten o'clock.
Seems to me I should think of something cool to do to mark the solstice. But what?
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