white tiger (normal)

NaPoWriMo 2011 Open Mic

November! November's almost here, and November is a good time for writing. Me being me, I think November's a good time for writing porn: so here I am again with my National Novel Writing Month project: National Porn Writing Month. In 2009 I made it to 21,000 words, in 2010 I got past the 37,000 mark, and this year my goal is to reach 40,000.

I like how the open-mic idea worked the last two years, but I'm going to tweak it a little bit this time. With the previous open mic posts, I just asked for idea comments - essentially, "hey, tell me to start something." You can still do that - and comments are screened, so you can still do it privately.

This time, let's have another option: you can tell me to finish something. The poll here has the titles of a bunch of unfinished work from my Google Docs. Some are proper titles, some are just idea-kernels; some have a paragraph or a snippet written, some have a couple thousand words written; some have obscure subject matter you wouldn't guess from the title, some have really, really obvious subject matter. Like the comments, votes are private.

As before, the comments and poll votes will become my to-do list for the month.

A footnote: I am also going to make a recommendation, this time around - if you have an iThing or a Kindle, you might want to start using Instapaper. FurAffinity is miserable for text presentation, and while Dreamwidth is much better, you might want to read something that's just content formatted for your mobile computamatron. It's a great "grab this for me so I can read it later, Internet connection or not" service.

Finally - thanks to everyone for being so helpful to writer-kitty last year and the year before. ♥ ♥ ♥ I feel good about this year.

Content originally published on my Dreamwidth blog - you'll need to go there when you want to comment. (comment count unavailable comments so far)
tiger tiger (normal)

Change of Policy

Due to the increased volume of spam, which the owners of LiveJournal appear to have little interest in preventing, comments will shortly be disabled on all of this LiveJournal's entries. The Management regrets the inconvenience.

Content originally published at my dreamwidth journal. Comments there will receive punctual attention.
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xeno kitty 3

Phone Update

General note: I just changed phone numbers. Please use my Google Voice number if you've got it. If not, please comment and I'll drop you an email.

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chair leg of truth (rage/rant)

On Extremism

Oh look, Krinn venting. This is an angry post that is unlikely to be read by anyone who it attacks - but it needed writing.

I finally realized why it rankles me when people say “oh all extremists are alike.” The part I already knew was that generally, “oh the extremists on both sides are equally bad,” is
Not Even Wrong
(or possibly wronger than wrong). This is especially evident when people talk about atheism and theism (you may not like Richard Dawkins, but there are theists who want to kill you) or about matters of politics (you may not like Noam Chomsky, but Barack Obama thinks it’s okay to send flying death robots to other countries and use them to kill people).

But aside from that - when people like the imbecilic Haim Hariri say that “the extremists in the two edges always end up in the same place,“ that’s not actually a factual statement. That’s a dismissive statement, a tribalistic statement, an unthinking statement. That says - “these people are all different from me, they must all be the same.” The only way that extremists are the same is this: they all threaten the status quo. When you say “all those extremists are alike,” all you are doing is allowing yourself to class all extremists with the ones you think are Just Crazy - you are sparing yourself from having to think about what the extremists actually advocate. That is an absolute cop-out - it is a thought-terminating cliché and should with the rest of its brethren be ruthlessly extirpated from the human discourse.

The extremists all want to upset your comfort, and there the similarities end. Pretending that they - that we - are all the same, is fleeing from the responsibility of critical thought. Further, it’s abdicating discourse-power to the people who are counting on you to stop thinking when confronted with unfamiliar ideas - the people who are moving to extreme positions because you proudly “centrist,” proudly “moderate” wankers inevitably split the difference between two positions without considering the merits fully.

So I’m pretty fucking tired of hearing about how feminism is as bad as patriarchy,
how atheism is as bad as the Crusades,
how socialism is as bad as fascism,
how my hard-won hard-thought hard-endured convictions are not worth actually thinking about or engaging with or considering: they’re just another set of extremisms.

Fuck that noise.

Enlightenment for all beings is my extremism: for all that I think they’re wrong, that one status-quo-threatening point of commonality among extremists all means that they’ve actually thought about the way the world is - and the way it could be. That’s a bigger step towards enlightenment than just taking the weltanschauung your culture gives you and living in that box all your life.
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Today's Mordant Chuckle

There has been book-upheaval in my life lately - a great many books are passing out of my life, which means I'm rediscovering old books as well, and on top of that, there are some new books. One of them is Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates, about the mid-17th-century wave of Puritans from England to North America. That lent me this:
Because of the "city on a hill" sound bite, "A Model Of Christian Charity" is one of the formative documents outlining the idea of America. But dig deep into its communitarian ethos and it reads more like an America that might have been, an America fervently devoted to the quaint goals of working together and getting along. Of course, this America does exist. It's called Canada.

I like how Sarah Vowell can make an old and rather tired joke worth one more brief chuckle. Also, at the halfway point, the book as a whole is good at noting both virtues and flaws of the Puritans. It makes a good companion to the sometimes bone-dry Albion's Seed coverage of the same people and time.
xeno kitty 1

NaPoWriMo 2010 #8: Retcon

I was still annoyed over those last two stories, so I decided to write something dumb. Really dumb. Really, really, really dumb. Crackfic! I started a crossover, and then I realized that to rationalize it I needed to drag a third universe into the crossover. Also when I got stuck, I made myself insert pop culture references. So yeah - about as dumb a thing as I could come up with.

To the three or four people who actually care about all of the universes in question, this will probably be really hilarious or really horrifying. I'm okay with that.

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Total November word count: 19,249
xeno kitty 1

NaPoWriMo #0: Open Mic

It's almost November again, which means it's going to be National Novel Writing Month again, which means that this journal is going to spring to life for National Porn Writing Month. Sweet leaping Buddhas, I haven't posted anything since July. Oy. But - onwards!

We're going to play this game the same way that we played it last time: comment with kinks you wish to see, the comments will become my to-do list for the month. Comments are screened - speak freely. Y'all were quite helpful last time, even though some of what you inspired showed up elsewhere and much later (speaking of which, I plan to crosspost the results of this to FA this time because apparently I have an audience there too).

I made it to about 21,000 words last time - I bet I can make it to at least 30,000 this time. My goal is to average 1,000 words per day.
tiger tiger (normal)

Persepolis, The Immutability Of War, And Blistering Cynicism

Violence is not a way of getting where you want to go, only more quickly. Its existence changes your destination. If you use it, you had better be prepared to find yourself in the kind of place it takes you to.

And another was this: liberation is not just a matter of removing an oppressive government. It can seem that way when you live under tyranny. Nothing is more comprehensible than people living in apartheid South Africa, or under Saddam, thinking: if only that government were removed from power, things would be better. They would have to be. After all, how could they possibly be worse?

Unfortunately, there are almost always ways in which things could be worse.
Hilzoy, Obsidian Wings

I finally read Marjane Satrapi's memoir "Persepolis," and it's quite good. I'll have to track down the second half. It sits on my little comics shelf alongside two other serially-published memoirs told in spare black-and-white comics about living through terrible times, through authoritarianism, war, and fear which focus on a single family living through it: Maus and Barefoot Gen. To compare them is to be reminded of the common features of grief and pain. If you're videogame-minded, you could begin reading with a simple intonation of "War ... war never changes" and it'd be reasonably apropos.

Persepolis addresses the Iran-Iraq war and the Islamic revolution in Iran from the limited perspective of a youngster. This doesn't make the rendition less powerful: Satrapi pulls off some very effective graphics in service of rendering the parts of the war that touched her childhood, and doesn't fail to notice that, Islamic theocracy or hypocritical-Christian plutocracy, the war is predictably fought by those who cannot pay to be exempted from fighting it. It's an easy book for Americans in some ways, because the role of America in destroying peace in Iran is mostly elided. I like to think that Satrapi assumes that her readers know it, but I wouldn't share that assumption. Even the history of Iran still within living memory has generally been thrown down the memory hole in American culture, leaving just a gaping, halfwitted "why do they hate us?" attitude that stinks of fake innocence. So, like Maus and Gen, it focuses on the easier angle - hey, these are real people that are affected by this, and it is wrong to reduce them to abstractions, to "Islamofascists," to "the Axis of Evil," to "enemy combatants." I think that the comics medium serves this end very well, because in the unadorned style of the three books, the characters need more participation and empathy-building from the reader, their ethnic differences from the American mainstream minimized. That short-circuits a certain amount of knee-jerk judgment.

Persepolis, plus the quick rereading of the other two that I could do without getting excessively blue, brings to mind a familiar surliness. The necessity of works of media, patiently pointing out over and over that war is still hell, is annoying. The lesson is simple. The lesson is rarely learned by the people who need it - not least because those people tend to be insulated from the consequences of their decisions. If you're discussing privilege, frankly that one should be at the top of your hit-list.

I had to discuss politics with my family again recently. I should learn to avoid that: sometimes it makes me more uncomfortable than discussing either sexuality or religion with them. My mother is your average Democrat (i.e. somewhere a little bit to the left of Obama) and my father is a disillusioned centrist-Republican (to Obama's right, but voted for him anyhow). My father is also the son and grandson of San Francisco police officers, so the police force is a bit of a sore spot that I might need to avoid. In the latest discussion, I had to keep pushing my talking point: high power and low accountability means inherently untrustworthy. That's my problem with virtually all law enforcement organizations. If you assume that police/FBI/Gendarmerie Nationale officers are average humans of reasonable goodwill - and I believe they are - that still leaves us with a problem, because the track record shows us that average human beings with access to power and shields against consequences do terrible things, routinely. Especially when, as is the case with law enforcement organizations, an "us versus them" mentality is entrenched in the culture, and accountability measures are seen as weakness or hindrances to getting the job done.

Because of my politics on that front, I can't avoid seeing that theme cropping up in all three comics. Power, its exercise, and its expansion are all there, and the persons seizing power have every incentive to entrench themselves and none to letting go, toxic feedback builds up over and over, and eventually a dramatic simplification is effected in the form of collapse. This was Germany, this was Japan, this is Iran, this is the United States. I certainly hope that the latter two can avoid collapses. Collapses suck. But both need radical simplifications, need to escape long-standing toxic feedback loops (it is a foregone conclusion at this point that the TSA does vastly more harm than good, and so does the Revolutionary Guard). No one currently in a position to effect that change has an incentive to do so, and most of them have profound disincentives. Barack Obama sure as hell isn't going to improve matters: like Clinton before him, pretty much his only claim to fame is being better than the alternative (John McCain thinks that the suspect - suspect - in the recent Times Square bombing attempt shouldn't have been Mirandized: if you couldn't see that coming, you need shades, a cane, and a dog). So what's going to solve it?

On my bad days, I think that killing the right people would solve the problems, or at least remove many obstacles to solving them. That's why I keep rereading the quote at the beginning. Violence is not a way to solve your problems faster. Violence takes you on a different journey, and you necessarily reach a different destination. "Better government" is especially tricky, here, because it's one of those things where the destination doesn't really exist without the journey: it is a process of refinement, and you cannot have the latter stages of the journey and their benefits without taking the beginning of the journey. Violent revolution is a different journey. Satrapi's story, and the others, are part of the vast chorus of knowledge that violence is not a solution.

The problem is, still, that attaining a certain level of power in the world-system that we have requires systematically deafening yourself to that chorus. Regardless of what they believe or claim to, there hasn't been an administration in my lifetime that didn't act as though it believed that killing the right people solves problems neatly and with finality. Likewise none of them have been able to understand the results when killing more people fails to solve problems. That's part of why America is not a white hat in international affairs, and why the wars in Iraq and Afganistan - and possibly Iran - will not solve anything. They are incapable of making matters better as long as the people in charge believe that killing more people can solve their problems.

Some days I feel like electing HK-47 president: now there's someone who's straightforward about using violence. Short of that, though, we're going to keep getting Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas: people who make plenty of nice statements and gestures and flourishes about despising war and last-resorting and loving peace and don't make any substantial action to renounce or even scale back violence.

I'm going to try to get my young cousins to read these books: Barefoot Gen and Persepolis are about children their age, so maybe they'll empathize. Maus can be for the grim adolescent stage. That gesture probably means that I'll have done more for world peace than George Bush. Pfui.
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Lovecraft Openers

I was rereading, and I found a thing to admire. Despite his failings as a prose stylist, H.P. Lovecraft could put together one heck of a first line sometimes. That's a specific trick of the writing craft that I struggle with - I like to think I'm getting better, bit by bit. Behold:
When Randolph Carter was thirty he lost the key of the gate of dreams.
Beautiful! That sentence is pretty much a tiny story in itself, and pretty much the entire plot and action of the story is foretold there, and it tells us about the protagonist and what matters to him. I aspire to regularly write first sentences that good. Flipping through a compilation at hand here, I found a few others that are good or admirable.
  • Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge.
  • It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to show by this statement that I am not his murderer.
  • Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreams Walter Gilman did not know.
A good first line is in its way a piece of micromarketing, its objective very clear and succinct; it must make you want to continue. The first page is also important, and there is never a point where solid writing is bad to include, but generally, your time will be well-spent if you pour it into making the beginning of the story something that snaps attention to itself, something that resonates with the rest of the story, something that provokes the "and what happened next?" response that keeps a person reading. These are commonplaces. I repeat them so that I will keep them in my own mind, and apply them better.

Also here are a few first lines from my current drafts, which I would of course be grateful for feedback about.
The species differences between the four whist-players at the table in McAdam's Pub were less noticeable than that the lioness' clothes and fur were growing stiff from all the blood that had been drying for a few minutes; the rest were merely scruffy.
It was principally the persons who had a great deal invested in the notion that the End of the World was with a terrible swift sword approaching who regarded the return of the Fae as a sign of impending LaHaye-esque Rapture; to everyone else, it was a tremendous inconvenience, an opportunity for great commerce and great swindles, and above all finally something new to talk about.
Every town has a high school for fuck-ups; Ant Creek was ours, and the fact that I was teaching there shows that when I say "for fuck-ups," I don't just mean students.
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Moustache twirling

"By Gad, sir, this Internet Argument has gotten out of hand, and I'm in a mood to take no more cheek. Happily, the local broadsheet's scribbler wishes to enter the matter into the public record, and being a man of honor I will proudly state my position before the body politic. I'll have them take a daguerreotype-portrait of me. Hmmm, where shall I pose? I want to convey that I'm a serious man in good standing in my community, a knowledgeable, prudent, and sagacious fellow. I have it! In the refurbished torture chamber of my castle!

There are extenuating factors, but it pleases me to imagine this.