Month: May 2015

Delightful imperfection, contradiction, my past, and Sailor Jupiter

I’m in the process of fixing a weird bug in my blog (where some posts show as having no comments even though the comments are right freaking there) and that requires checking over a lot of my old posts. It’s kind of fun, amusing, weird, inspiring, and embarrassing all at once.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go back and delete the more ridiculous or random posts. I know people who have done that. I even know one person (cough Sarah cough) who likes to “burn it all down.” Old journals, old blogs, old photographs, everything. She can be sentimental, but she prefers to rely on her own memory. She doesn’t like anyone being able to root through the relics of her past.

I’m the opposite. I love looking back on my history (and the histories of people I care about) in all its delightful mess and imperfection. Oh sure, it’d be nice to have a pristine version of myself presented to the public — but then again, I’m not a pristine person. I’m flawed and ever-changing. Is there a point in hiding that?

(Also, few people besides myself will ever go back into the archives anyway. Why hide what no one’s looking for?)

As with most things, it’s all up to personal preference. Me, I’m leaving my past alone. But I do understand the temptation to delete or obscure.

“How Sailor Jupiter Made Me Who I Am Today” by Amanda C. Miller

I always was drawn to Makoto for her interesting juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine. Her version of womanhood was complex, well-rounded, and unique to anything else I had seen in kids shows before. She was at the same time strong and sweet, badass and gentle. On the one hand, a tough self-sufficient independent woman who had lived on her own for years and answered to no one. On the other, a hopeless romantic who liked crushing on cute boys and secretly dreamed of becoming a beautiful bride someday.

I also remember the episode where she gets a lady crush on Haruka, which was not so much about sexual confusion, but more the fact that she deeply admires how Haruka is confidently able to reconcile the masculine and the feminine parts of herself, and doesn’t apologize for how anyone else receives her. Someone else’s confusion or inability to put her in a box is their problem, not hers.

Sailor Jupiter was my favorite too. There’s a superficial similarity — we’re both brunettes — but this essay helped me articulate the deeper parallels between me and Makoto.

I’ve always loved being “one of the boys.” I even went through a (deeply regrettable) phase of believing that “girliness” was a bad thing. But the truth is that even when I was in denial about my femininity, I had wonderful female friends, strong female role models, and a fair number of “girly” tendencies. Thank goodness for all that.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m able to look at my various traits without shame, and without assigning genders. I’m able to see that sensitivity and toughness can go hand-in-hand. I might not be as confident as Haruka about it, but I’m getting there.

You don’t have to sacrifice an ounce of your strength in order to maintain your femininity, and vice versa.

London in photos

flying 02
london 004
london 019
london 038
london 057
london 093
london 135
london 145
london 167

Question everything

Related to my last post, I think that as I get older, I am less interested in definite answers, and more interested in the questions themselves. Asking and exploring.

From “What Do We Want from Writing?” by Tim Parks:

It’s time to rethink everything. Everything. What it means to write and what it means to write for a public — and which public. What do I want from this writing? Money? A career? Recognition? A place in the community? A change in the government? World peace? Is it an artifice, is it therapy? Is it therapy because it is an artifice, or in spite of that? Does it have to do with constructing an identity, a position in society? Or simply with entertaining myself, with entertaining others? Will I still write if they don’t pay me?

And what does it mean to read? Do I want to read the things other people are reading, so I can talk to them? Which other people? Why do I want to talk to them? So that I can be of my time? Or so that I can know other times, other places? Do I read things to confirm my vision of the world, or to challenge it?

(Note: The rest of the piece is kind of pessimistic, not very much in line with my mindset. But I liked this part.)

Why I share experience instead of advice

I love Sarah Enni’s podcast, First Draft. It’s basically a series of interviews with YA writers, conducted over the course of a cross-country road trip.

Episode 32 features Kiersten White, one of the authors whose blog I followed religiously when I first started learning about the business side of publishing. She was ahead of me on the path, and I learned a lot from what she was going through. Also, she was wickedly funny. (And still is, on Twitter.)

KW: I feel like blogs are a great way to hone certain skills, especially humor. Because humor in writing is its own language. And so you really need practice with it.

As with so many writers, Kiersten has blogged less and less over the years. In this First Draft interview, she explains why.

KW: I used to give a TON of advice on the blog. Like, I would give writing advice, I would give publishing advice. But honestly, the more I wrote, the more I was like, “Oh, I don’t have ANY idea what I’m doing, and I don’t feel comfortable telling anybody else.”

KW: I see people who are just starting out, they give a TON of writing advice. They give a TON of publishing advice. Because that’s what they’re figuring out, and so that’s what’s on their mind, that’s what they’re interested in. Once I was sort of IN it, I was like, Well, I’m not interested in it anymore, because it is what I’m doing. It’s not something that I’m aiming toward, it’s something that I’m IN.

KW: And then yeah, I just felt a huge fraud giving writing advice, because it’s like, Well yeah, that worked with that book, but with this book, NOTHING is working. I think the more you write, the more you realize, Oh I’m terrible at this.

SE: Yeah I think that IS the trajectory a lot of people take, who have done blogging as a regular part of their journey to get to a certain point. And then you learn enough to know that you know nothing.

(I will resist the urge to make a Jon Snow joke.)

I don’t think I’ve ever really given much writing advice, largely because of what Kiersten discusses above. I’m a writer, but that doesn’t make me a writing expert. I’m just like every other person trying to put words on the page. What works or doesn’t work for me is constantly changing. I don’t even know if that means that I am inherently fickle, or that I simply haven’t found the right method yet. Either way, all I can do is keep trying different things and hoping for the best.

What I prefer to share is my experience. Not “This is what you should do,” but rather “This is what I have done and how it went.”

(For the most part, that’s how I try to approach all things, not just writing.)

Hopefully that’s as valuable and interesting to others as it is to me. It’s why I listen to podcasts like First Draft, and why I still read writer blogs even though I know they can’t give me a magic formula. I like hearing about everyone else’s experiences. I like tapping into the mutual struggle. It makes me feel less alone, and sometimes it sparks ideas — a new technique, or something that I can incorporate into what I’m already doing.

Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered why I don’t talk more about my career or my works-in-progress, that’s why. I will say this, though:

1. I am always open to questions.

2. I have saved up a bunch of notes from my time in the query trenches and on submission. Someday I will turn those notes into posts.

3. You can find really great advice on writing at Laini Taylor’s site Not For Robots, and really honest perspectives on publishing at Natalie Whipple’s blog Between Fact and Fiction.

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