I took this long-distance shot recently of a pigeon sitting on a cable because I liked the colours, and the symmetry of the lines bisecting the image.
Afterwards, when I examined it on my computer I realised it reminded me, in a metaphorical way, of one of the most frustrating aspects of writing: the waiting.
So much of what you do is hanging about to hear from other people. The sitting on your own creating worlds is just one part of the work. After that there’s the waiting to see if your work will find a market. And since rejection is also your constant mistress (I’ve learned to accept her cold indifference), this often involves sending your work out multiple times, and waiting upon responses constantly.
It doesn’t stop there of course. If you’re lucky to get a sale, then there are often rounds of edits and feedback. All of which require more patience and waiting.
And as I’ve experienced, there are the occasions when you can’t go public about the progress of your projects, despite having signed a contract. Years can pass before you can reveal all that has been happening behind the scenery.
Writing is a long, long game. Projects that you thought were dead for years can suddenly revive like a wizened vampire corpse getting a precious drop of blood. Others possess a blessed existence and charm their way into people’s hearts instantly. It’s impossible to predict what is going to do well and what will languish. All you can do is keep writing and sending work out.
To everyone you are a bird sitting on a wire against an azure sky. When things get announced it seems like lightning on a clear summer’s day.
But the whole time you’ve been balancing on that wire on one leg, juggling balls with wings, beak, and talon.
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
This is on display in the part of the British Museum that is a re-creation of the place’s original style. I don’t know much about the items in the box, but in some ways that’s part of the point: the original style of the museum was not nearly so conscientious about labeling everything in detail. The tidy layout of the box is visually pleasing, though.This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/629699.h
My therapist shared something interesting earlier this week. With the caveat that this is all a bit simplified, and human brains don’t fit into neat lines and graphs, it still helped me to think a little differently about depression and anxiety and stress, and to understand both myself and certain other people in my life a little better.
She started by drawing the following graph:
This fits pretty well with my experience. There’s a relatively straightforward relationship here. The more depressed you are, the less productive you are. (Giving lie to the myth of the tortured artist who’s most productive when they’re depressed.)
Next, she drew a graph of anxiety.
This one also made sense, once we talked about it a bit. If you have absolutely no anxiety, you end up with a lot less motivation to produce anything. Take away all of my deadlines, and I’m definitely less productive and more likely to spend an evening bumming around on the couch watching Doctor Who. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
On the other hand, too much anxiety can be crippling, with the far extreme being someone who can’t even leave their room or home.
So basically, we want to minimize depression and find a healthy and moderate level of productive anxiety. Got it. So far, so good.
What gets interesting, at least for me, is looking at the implications of the two models. If depression is more of a linear thing, it means you have that straightforward goal of getting as far to the left as possible. This also means small steps to fight the depression are more likely to have small steps in improving your productivity. It tends to be a long, slow battle.
I’ve been in therapy and on medication for depression for about two years now. This has had a pretty large impact on the depression, and when you look at my productivity these days … well, I’m doing two books in 12 months instead of my usual one. Smaller improvements have led to smaller changes in productivity, like being able to keep up with washing the dishes. Again, it’s not a perfect graph, but it makes sense to me.
I sketched in two sample changes in mood. If the depression improves by X, productivity also improves by X. That tends to hold true whether you’re really depressed or in a generally good space. (Yes, I’m simplifying the math and assuming a 1:1 slope.)
Anxiety, on the other hand, resembles a bell curve. That means any given change in your anxiety can have drastically different results, depending on where you happen to be on that curve.
Look at this next graph. Both of the horizontal lines, indicating a change in anxiety, are the same. The vertical lines, showing change in productivity, are not.
For someone near that ideal middle-ground, a small increase in anxiety of amount X could have a relatively small impact on productivity, perhaps X or even X/2. On the other hand, if you’re more anxious, the same increase of X in your anxiety could have a much larger impact, hurting productivity by a factor of 2X, 3X, or more.
Likewise, for someone who’s struggling with anxiety, removing just a small stressor could have a very large impact, and help exponentially.
And the exact same increase in anxiety can actually boost productivity for someone to the left of the curve as much as it hurts someone to the right.
This was an AHA moment for me. I spend a fair amount of time working with people and trying to motivate them, whether it’s my employees at the day job or my children at home, and looking at that Anxiety graph helped to crystallize why the same tactic can have very different results for different people … or even for the same people at different times.
Someone on the left side, who seems to be slacking because they don’t really care? Maybe their anxiety needs to be turned up a bit, by talking about potential consequences. On the other hand, for someone on the right side of the graph who’s already close to a panic attack, potential consequences are likely to push them even further, making things that much harder for them. In that case, trying to take a little of that anxiety off their shoulders can help tremendously.
I see some of the same effects with the way stress and anxiety intertwine in my life. There’s a certain middle ground where I can add or remove things I need to get done, and it doesn’t have much of an impact. But once I hit that tipping point, just a small increase in stress can drag me down hard.
Like I said at the beginning, this is a bit of an oversimplification. Human beings tend to be pretty complicated and messy. But seeing depression and anxiety drawn out like this was really helpful for me, so I figured I’d share it in the hope that it might help a few of you as well.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
A couple of bits of news from opposite ends of the literary spectrum this week.
My poem “A Curtain of Stars” is being reprinted in Artemis Journal, a beautiful Southwest Virginia literary magazine that’s being revived after more than a decade of dormancy. Like many of my poems, “Curtain of Stars” is actually quite literal — it was inspired by the starchart-covered curtains Anita sewed for my office.
It’s one of the most wholesome poems I’ve written, and it’s one of those pieces that’s become something akin to an old friend. The only mainstream poetry review I’ve ever gotten reflected on it kindly, I’ve performed a version of it for The Best of No Shame Theatre here in Roanoke, and I included it in two of my poetry collections, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead and The Journey to Kailash (though it won’t be in the forthcoming Hungry Constellations.)
I’m tickled that this poem will reach a new audience inside a book of coffee table quality, and I’m especially thrilled to be sharing space with Nikki Giovanni — the issue’s featured poet.
On the dark side of the world, the third issue of weird horror zine [Nameless] has just been released, and it contains my short, extremely strange horror monologue “Monster,” perhaps one of the least wholesome things I’ve ever written. The story’s title refers to the phenomenon once known as mathematical “monsters”: curves of infinite length that exist within a finite space. We know them now as fractals, and they come into play in the course of a police interrogation gone horribly wrong. I’m grateful (and I confess somewhat astonished) that I actually found a pro-rate paying home for this hybrid monstrosity.
This monster isn’t done — at present Anita and I have planned for this piece to be the closer in my forthcoming short story collection Unseaming, which I’ll be hawking at World Fantasy in November. Brace yourself, as you’ll be hearing a lot more about that down the road. But I’m not quite ready to go into detail yet….
So here's a brief summary:
1) On Monday I moderated an online discussion about genre thrillers with Hachette authors Malindo Lo, Jaye Wells, and Michael Marshall Smith, talking about their respective books Adaptation, Dirty Magic, and We Are Here. You can watch it on Youtube here.
2) On Tuesday I took part in a discussion at BBC Scotland about Scottishness, Arabness, and identity in general under the auspices of World Have Your Say and BBC Arabic. You can listen to it here. My contributions are around the 4 and 30 minute marks; there was quite a lot more I wanted to say at various points, but there were about 50 people in the room, and 3 moderators trying to keep on top of things while not being telepathic. There's also one Tory dunderhead who decides to tell everyone they're wrong to identify as Arab, or something, because history, or whatever. He was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I have many, many thoughts about the whole experience, but will have to give it its own post.
3) I participated in one of SF Signal's Mind Melds! Paul Weimer asked Django Wexler, Kari Sperring, Catherine Lundoff, Derek Johnson, Deborah Stanish, Alisa Krasnostein, Lynne Thomas, Michael D. Thomas, and me to share our thoughts on our favourite convention panel experiences. Everyone shares thoughtful, intriguing, sometimes poignant stories; I talk about butts. So it goes!
4) A review I wrote of Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark and its Problematic East/West Stuff is now up at Pornokitsch. This is my first contribution to Jared Shurin's excellent (and World Fantasy Award Winning!) site and I'm delighted to have work featured there.
All this while reading an average of 1.5 novels a day, applying for Stuff, receiving my middle brother for a visit, and working on getting the Winter issue of Goblin Fruit up this week in spite of the sense-stunning sunshine and crocuses mocking and beckoning me at every turn. And today I received Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World in the post, which is astounding thus far, and which I need to review for ... Well, tomorrow. But luckily my brother's spending today in Aberdeen, so I can head out to Kelvingrove and read this book in the sun and having typed that I'm now longing to do so with a physical sort of hunger, so off I go.
MARCH! You are amazing, and also a directive!
- Current Location:Glasgow
- Current Mood: happy
- Current Music:Medieval Baebes, "Miri It Is"
According to Accuweather's month forecast, we've had our last freeze. I've no doubt we'll have another one or two, but it looks like -hard- freezes are done with. My yard agrees. That means that it's time to start the annual clean out and hedge trimming. This will take up all my time outside writing, I suspect, so if I'm even more scarce around here for a while, please be forgiving. The yard is, like my deadline but not my housecleaning, time sensitive.
The crocus have been in bloom for a couple of weeks now.
The quince is budding (as are the lilacs and the sweet almond.)
The surprise lilies are sending up straps.
The first hollyhocks are coming up.
The daylilies are visible once you pull off their winter beards.
And for no reason, here's a pic of Alwyn sucking face with a peanut butter jar.
On the next day, March 12, protest marches were organized nationwide. At the time, due to deliberate government misinformation — national elections were being held on March 14 — we still believed that ETA, the Basque terrorist organization that had already killed hundreds of people, might be behind the attacks.
My husband and I took part in the protest in Madrid. This is my account from 2004.
Madrid Is Weeping
I had studied mass transit maps, I had a plan: After Spanish class, Jerry and I would catch a number 37 bus two blocks from the academy. That would take us to Plaza de Colón — actually, probably not. If a million people came to the protest march, and I hoped they would, the bus wouldn't get all the way to there. But it would get us closer.
The march was set to begin at 7 p.m., which was when the class ended, and Plaza de Colón, where the march would start, was only a kilometer and a half away, so the trip wouldn't be long, and being a few minutes late wouldn't hurt. Anything in Spain that involved a million people wouldn't start on time anyway.
Through the classroom windows, we saw people heading down the street towards the protest, and I was glad. I wanted the biggest protest march in the history of Madrid. Almost two hundred people riding commuter trains had been killed the day before by terrorist bombs. I had heard some of the bombs. Sometimes my husband took those trains. The terrorists could have killed Jerry, and I would have heard it happen.
Class ended. Our tutor sent us off with good wishes — she had a small child and couldn't go herself, though she wanted to. It was raining hard outside, but the weather report said it was supposed to taper off as time went on.
A bus came quickly, packed with so many people that we entered by the exit door, but the buses were free anyway so that people could get to the protest. We passed a clinic. Because there had been hundreds and hundreds of injuries from the bombing, clinics could not shut down the way other businesses had, but at the doorway, white-smocked people stood on the sidewalk under umbrellas, holding candles, briefly joining the protest as best they could.
The bus got about a half a kilometer farther, then a river of people at a cross-street stopped it. "Does anyone know if this is where we get off for the protest?" a gray-haired woman shouted, and everyone laughed. We all got out, opened our umbrellas, and joined the crowd.
A half-kilometer later, at 7:30 p.m., we entered Plaza de Alonso Martínez, a traffic circle, and we stopped moving. The rain began to fall harder. The temperatures were in the upper 40sF / 8C. Fifteen minutes later, we had shuffled to the far side of the circle. A man finished a conversation on his cell phone, then announced, "The subways are filled to overflowing. The trains can't take pick up any more people. They just have to keep waiting on the platforms."
Maybe as a defense against the miserable weather, the protesters seemed cheerful — although, that morning, I had seen people weeping in the street on their way to work. Maybe everyone felt relieved because they were doing something in response to the bloodshed. Young people had come especially energized, with signs, decorated umbrellas, face paint, Spanish flags hung with black mourning bands, and candles. Students in Spain protest a lot. They knew what to do.
The crowd inched forward, then parted to let an ambulance through. "A drowning victim," Jerry joked. The rain diminished a bit, but my toes inside boots and two pairs of socks began to feel wet. Step by step, by 8:30 we made it to Plaza de Colón with its bright television lights and cameras from networks from around the world, the reporters and their equipment draped in plastic. The pace picked up and twenty-somethings began chanting:
"No estámos todos. Faltan dos cientos." We're not all here. We're missing two hundred.
"Damos la espalda al terrorismo." We turn our backs on terrorism. This involved walking backwards, with a little stumbling and laughter.
"Hijos de puta." Sons of bitches — directed at the terrorists and sung to a soccer cheer. The twenty-somethings liked this a lot.
"ETA y Al Qaeda, misma mierda." Basque terrorists and Al Qaeda, the same shit.
"Ibamos todos en ese tren." We were all riding on that train.
"No está lloviendo. Madrid está llorando." It's not raining. Madrid is weeping.
By 9:15 we had reached the Prado Museum, and the march spread out onto its sidewalks. The weather turned colder, the rain began falling harder, the pavement streamed with water, and my feet felt much wetter. "With all this rain, we're going to grow like plants," a woman said.
We finally squeezed past Atocha train station, where more than a hundred people had died the day before. The twenty-somethings stopped marching and stood, chanting, displaying signs for the banks of television cameras there. They had built a shrine on the huge fountain in the middle of the traffic circle in front of the train station with flowers and signs and candles, which they relit as fast as the raindrops put them out — for peace, liberty, democracy, and the victims.
We had walked over three kilometers in all. We now joined the streams of people headed toward their homes, crowding the sidewalks of the neighborhood where we lived. It was 10 p.m. We got to our apartment, and I set the dripping umbrellas in the bathtub, put on dry socks, sat down on the sofa exhausted, and turned on the television. The drenched twenty-somethings were still going strong, to the astonishment of the reporters at Atocha.
And they said that more than two million people had come to the protest.
— Sue Burke
- Current Location:Madrid, Spain
did reading for today's class
made a deconstruction argument re: ongoing Ross kerfuffle on twitter
planned a chunk of week 12's 2 hr seminar
quick pint with schoolmates
tried to grocery shop but stupid prices
attended long fundraising meeting for Lon Studies Network
read half of next week's class assignment
outlined a good chunk of my thesis conc and a few notes for the cosy mystery section
outlined 4 poss topics for Queens of Crime conf paper
washed utensil holders
cleaned kitchen surfaces
cleaned kitchen floor
consoled sad sister
1 student email
broken shower curtain rod fell on me :(
1 flat maintenance email
1 world con email
dealt w/ 29 emails
1 email to Katy re: plans
dealt w/ 59 emails
talked over decision w/ Katy, Rob, Meg
resigned from AotN via letter
wrote Jacob re: resignation
made grocery plans for week
spoke to sister
wrote to K re: plans
wrote working group email
wrote student email
wrote to cancel attendance at debate
wrote re: TA meeting
wrote Nadja re: her article
wrote to thank K Price for help
grocery shopping at a few places
On the heels of my Reddit AMA, it occurs to me that I should put up the discussion thread for The Tropic of Serpents. This is the place to ask any questions about that book or the series going forward; it is therefore also a spoiler zone, so consider yourself duly warned.This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/629396.h
Entertainment One Television (Hell on Wheels) and De Laurentiis Co. (Hannibal) are developing a series based on Pohl’s 1977 novel Gateway, set on an abandoned alien space station that has since been taken over by humans. The novel has won a Hugo Award, Locus Award, Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
That said, all I need is one big read-through tomorrow ... and Jacaranda will be off to its publisher. It's in a good Draft One stage right now, but I want to give it a final polishing pass before I inflict it upon the editor; and then it's back to Chapelwood. At least until the Princess X edits land, heh.
(Although I really will be working on those two simultaneously. Deadlines say that I must, and they're different enough projects that I think it'll be okay.)
In other news, there's not much other news. I've just been working on the Jacaranda rewrites, and the new site design, and getting some Writer Business sorted - and that's about it. Well, that and the Kitty Business. She had her Little Old Lady Cat checkup yesterday, and she was approximately as thrilled about it as you'd expect.
She's fifteen years old now, so she goes every six months for a once-over - whether she likes it, or not. (Hint: she never likes it. Ever.)
Then today we took Greyson to the dog park, as a pre-arranged playdate with his buddy "Taco." His friend and nearby neighbor Kayak was also there - and after Taco left, they were joined by a small white sausage of a dog whose name I never caught. It was pretty cute, though: the two biggest pooches in the yard, wrestling and playing with the smallest.
Well, it gave me a smile, anyway.
Right! So, that's all the latest.
I'd half intended to come over here and put up a big thing about True Detective, which I loved from start to finish - but I'm still deciding what can or should be said about it. I feel like the whole series needs a re-watch before I could really put any good thoughts together, and I just don't have time for that.
Suffice it to say, yes - I loved it.
And tonight, there will be Justified - without any conflict of interest, because Person of Interest is a rerun. God, I hate having to choose which one to watch later. All these hours in the week, and two of my favorite hours have to overlap.
[:: swears wildly ::] [:: flips table ::] [:: throws a floor fit ::]
Anyway, have a good night, everyone! I'll try to be back tomorrow, posting cheerful news about having hit "send" on that Jacaranda draft. I'd ask you to wish me luck, but really, you should wish me greater self-discipline...
I’m a (very minor) Baen author. I’m embarrassed by this. Honestly, I couldn’t read the whole thing. I got to this pair of sentences and bounced out:
Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not?
Easy peasy. Life is short.
I don’t like Heinlein’s work, generally speaking.
His female characters were, well, not believable female characters to me. On the other hand, as Rick pointed out when I had wound up to quite a rant one day: Heinlein wrote female main (and major) characters at a point in time when few other people did. So, credit where it’s due. He tried. Maybe not very hard, but he tried at a time when few others even bothered.
All the Heinlein stories that I do like are neatly collected into this anthology. “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” and “And He Built a Crooked House,” for example.
What I dislike even more than some of Heinlein’s stuff is some Heinlein fans. My least favorite group to interact with in fandom is The Heinlein Society. Why?
Because when I told them that I didn’t want to have single-author panels for next year’s convention, they went to the chair of a convention I was attending to get her to help them lobby me (in person, live) to change my policy. After that, I never wanted to speak to them again. Never got an apology, either.
I don’t believe in single-author panels for two reasons:
- Panels should be about conversations that expand the audience’s appreciation about a topic. Single-author panels only appeal to big fans of that particular author, and thus have a more-limiting maximum audience than a broader topic.</p>
I consider it disrespectful to the Writer Guest of Honor to have single-author panels that aren’t about the WGoH’s own work. (In the case of someone like Scalzi, including a discussion of Heinlein influences in Scalzi’s work would be a two-author panel, but I’d be okay with that kind of thing, sure.)
One of the things various Heinlein fans have said to me over the years is that Heinlein wrote about his wife Virginia, usually followed by something like therefore he must understand women.
My usual response to that is, “So she married her rapist?” Somehow the topic always drops after that. Mind you, she only married the “good” rapist. IMHO, for a much better book with some Friday-esque themes in it (and without that problematic ending), Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl is a far better book.
Let’s just say there are reasons that BASFA occasionally auctions off a used copy of Friday, someone drives over it or otherwise abuses it, then it gets re-donated to be re-auctioned. Maybe it’s time to scour the local used bookstores for a fresh copy.
If you’re an aficionado of passive-aggressive fannish xenophobia, in which the frothing distrust of people who aren’t just like you is couched in language designed to give the appearance of being reasonable until you squint at it closely, then you’re not going to want to miss this piece by Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
- Mon, 18:44: Thank you @DemsAbroad @adrienne_72 @whitjones for following!
- Mon, 18:45: RT @patricia_linna: Richard Engel is a hottie, but he's smart as hell - that makes him sexy. #maddow
- Mon, 19:18: RT @sgtgoldflea: would #GOP RWNJ's approve of 2nd amendment rights being subjected to trap laws by like womens constitutional rights to abo…
- Mon, 19:21: Relevant Twitter question: would #GOP RWNJ's approve of 2nd amendment rights being subjected to trap laws by... http://t.co/dNyd0pxwZm
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
- Mon, 15:13: Say Goodbye To 'True Detective' With All The Music From The Series | The Playlist http://t.co/spTe2e8QkE
- Mon, 16:51: Rust and Hart flipping each other off. I could watch this all day: http://t.co/VCxpXqlm9n via @giphy #TrueDetective
- Mon, 16:52: @smokes70 LOL http://t.co/s9SWSTzUFV
- Tue, 06:34: RT @NeferFej: What's weird is when white people will come to Black led events about colonialism etc and ask "Why are you saying thee painfu…
- Tue, 08:43: Fox News Misspells “Spelling Bee” http://t.co/trrcSKaOej via @dorseyshaw
- Tue, 08:51: Here's a perfect dish for my fellow non-cooks to cook: Italian Wonderpot http://t.co/wjJKpxcu7U via @@budget_bytes
For some reason, I've always had a thing about pandemics. Maybe it was that childhood viewing of The Andromeda Strain? (I even read the book which is far creepier.) Maybe it was reading about the Black Death during my long 'silver bullet' search? Maybe it's the result of hitting sexual maturity during the worst of the AIDS epidemic? (Oh, okay. Maybe we can blame Stephen King a little. The Stand, barring the ending, is one of my favorite King novels. And the novel did hit the racks the same time AIDS hit the California coast as Captain Trips did.) Nonetheless, pandemics, climate change, and clones are three scientific subjects that fascinate and scare me. Which is why (earlier this month) I caught a couple of articles about antibiotics and superbugs that disturb me. Hell. They should disturb you too. For me, this is personal since we lost my mother-in-law to no less than three different superbugs she caught while in the hospital. So, let me assure you. This is serious stuff. The first article is from Wired Magazine. CDC: Some Hospitals Need Assistance Using Antibiotics Properly (And the New Federal Budget May Help) From the article, "In an analysis of several sets of hospital data, gathered by the agency and also purchased from independent databases, the CDC said it found that more than 37 percent of prescriptions written in hospitals involved some sort of error or poor practice, increasing the risk of serious infections or antibiotic resistance. And in a surprise announcement timed to the release of the federal draft budget, the agency said it is in line to receive $30 million to enhance its work combating antibiotic resistance in the US." The US Government is taking this seriously enough that it has doubled the CDC's budget. That's both worrying and reassuring. First, if anything should wake up Creationists, it's the fact that the age of antibiotics is coming to an end because bacteria are evolving faster than we are. As for those who espouse the concept that Capitalism is a panacea? Well, they should be aware that drug companies are abandoning development of new antibiotics is because of poor profit margins. Mind you, we can only guess at the toll superbugs are taking since American hospitals are not (at this time) required to report superbug-related deaths. (Good thing the EU is tracking it.) This is real, and it's already here.
So, how is this happening? Is it connected to the wide-spread use of those antibacterial scrubs, lotions, and soaps? Is the culprit the hospitals and doctors? The Wired article stops at blaming hospital use, interestingly enough. However, the second article (from The Atlantic) states the biggest abuser of antibiotics are the factory farms. In fact, agriculture accounts for around 80 percent of all antibiotics use in the US. And here is the most sobering thought from a third article: "Previous research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store. But it may be even worse. Using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011."
I keep thinking of certain Libertarians I know that (when I pointed out that we need separation of not just church and state but business and state as well) parroted "But it's in business's best interest to not kill its customers!" Yeah. Business is not so much with the caring-nurture. And here we used to think it was the military who'd turn into the Big Bad.
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
I posted before about the night opening at Kiyomizudera; here’s a more general shot, showing one of the main structures in the complex. We also lucked out in that there was a full moon that night, though in a photograph it never looks quite as cool as in person.This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/629115.h
This week’s Buffy essay is about “Empty Places,” a.k.a. The One Where They Kick Her Out of the House. Were the Slayettes and Scoobies wrong to do this? There’s a lively discussion unfolding here, in the comments thread.
This week I am actually writing the essay on “Chosen,” which will conclude the Buffy Rewatch. I may jump into another rewatch at some point, but I plan to take a few weeks off, maybe write a wrap-up post about rewatching Buffy, and then do some “That Was Awesome” columns for Tor. Don’t worry–whatever I’m up to, I’ll keep you posted.
Speaking of Tor.com, the Lloyd Alexander reread finally came to a conclusion with The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio.
I'm finding, by the way, that going through this many books by a single author at once is getting slightly mind numbing - not to mention that I think it's making me less appreciative of these authors. So I may be altering my approach a bit - starting with choosing a less prolific author to reread this week. Keep an eye out for magical nannies.
(The Disney focus of this week was entirely unintentional, I promise.)
Spring has arrived in its full glory in Ireland, which means you have to get out and enjoy it in case it only lasts a few days…
Cue appropriate music: this is the video for Imelda May’s latest song ‘It’s Good To Be Alive’.
I’ve been a fan of May’s work since I bought her More Mayhem album a few years back.
I’m off to boogie in the sunshine…
Over the weekend, I had another clueless dude try to give me crap for “working so hard to manufacture outrage,” and for always “choosing to be offended.” It’s a tired and unoriginal refrain, but I’m going to try to do something a little different this time. I’m going to agree with clueless dude, at least to an extent. Because he’s right. For me, a great deal of the things I write about, and the fact that I’m upset by some of what I see in the SF/F community, these are choices.
A few of the things I’ve chosen to be offended about lately…
- Big name authors publicly mocking and belittling people for asking for representation in SF/F.
- The rewriting of history to present last year’s SFWA Bulletin mess as being about a single cover as opposed to an ongoing problem, one that culminated with two big name authors using the Bulletin as a platform to accuse those who disagree with them of being “liberal fascists” and anonymous cowards.
- A major convention belittling concerns about sexual harassment and refusing to implement a policy … and then minimizing and belittling the experience of multiple individuals who reported being sexually harassed at that convention.
- The backlash against a Hugo host being transformed into a factually incorrect narrative that rakes an individual woman over the coals in major media outlets for the crime of expressing her fear and anger.
Generally, when folks recycle the accusation that people are looking for things to be offended by, the word “offended” is used as a minimizing tactic. It suggests overly fragile and sensitive individuals with bruised feelings. A more accurate choice would be “pissed off,” “hurt,” or “sick of this crap.” Kameron Hurley uses the term “rage” when explaining that the anger doesn’t come from a minor, isolated incident.
The thing is, most of these incidents don’t hurt me directly. Representation in SF/F? As a straight, white, American male, I’m incredibly overrepresented in my genre. Conventions that don’t take steps to reduce sexual harassment? I’ve been harassed a total of once in more than a decade of congoing, and it’s not something I’m particularly worried about happening to me again. The threats, hatred, and vitriol aimed at women online and in the real world? Hey, it’s not coming toward me, so who cares?
When you’re not the one being hurt, you might not even notice the problem. You might decide it’s all blown out of proportion. Or maybe you admit that yeah, there might be a problem here, but you blow it off because the solution would inconvenience you in some way, or make you uncomfortable.
When you see someone saying they’re hurt or afraid, you can choose to mock that person. You can choose to ignore their concerns. You can choose to blow them off by saying they’re manufacturing outrage and looking for reasons to be offended, as if pain and anger and fear are just another hobby, like collecting spores, molds, and fungus. You can choose to ignore the evidence, to disbelieve the repeated stories of ongoing harassment and the countless people speaking out about specific incidents that make them feel unwelcome and unwanted in your community. You can choose to interpret anger as “bullying,” and calls for inclusion as “political correctness run wild.”
You could also choose to listen. You can choose to believe that when someone says, “Hey, this is hurting me,” they’re telling the truth. You can look around at how racially homogenous most conventions are and believe the people telling you why they feel unwelcome, instead of dismissing it as a coincidence or making up falsehoods about how “those people” just don’t read or don’t care about SF/F. You can recognize that just because a problem might not directly affect you, that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant.
You’re right. I choose to be
offended angry. I see people talking about how finding someone like them in a SF/F story literally saved their life. And then I see people responding with mockery and derision to calls for broader representation. I see people who have traditionally been ignored and silenced raising their voices to speak about their experiences, only to have those experiences dismissed as “butthurt” by those who haven’t had to live through them.
When I choose to be angry, and to speak out about things, it’s because I see people hurting.
No, that’s not quite right. It’s because I see the that the things we’re doing are hurting people. That pain isn’t imaginary. It’s not a cover to try to take over the genre and control everyone else, as one commenter suggested. It’s real. And I’ve got to believe that if more people could get over their discomfort and defensiveness and just listen, they might see it too. They might even be able to help solve some of the problems.
Basically, when people talk about something that’s hurting them, you can choose to care. Or you can choose not to.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I've studied and worked before - I've even studied 3 units and worked before (full time). But... this is definitely harder. I have to concentrate on so much more - nothing I'm really doing is stuff I can do in my sleep or as a routine I've got down pat (like work).
It's a pretty exhausting timetable all told... but the content is seriously fantastic. My favourite lecturer is our Foundations of Midwifery lecturer, her name's Felicity. I have her 3 times a week at 8am in the morning. She is no more a morning person than I am, this is reassuring. Also, I have her last thing on Tuesday (and first thing too) from 4-6pm, and the fact that her brain is leaking out her ears by that point, is also reassuring. Also, she's candid and practical, she talks about what we're really learning, what we're really doing, the skills and knowledge we really need. Her lecturing style involves discussion and asks us to think and engage/respond to her questions. If I have to be at uni three times a week at 8am, I'm glad she's the lecturer I have.
She's the lecturer who's teaching us about comfort measures, about communication and interpersonal skills, about creating safe spaces with our clients/patients both physically and emotionally, teaching us about infection control, palpation, percussion, auscultation and health assessment and history taking interviews. She's the one whom has emphasised the the importance of documentation and detail not just for legal responsibility but in order to provide the best care particularly across multiple health professionals.
She's talked to us candidly about what we can expect when we're out on placement, without trying to scare us off, she's also trying to prepare us, and largely as far as I can tell for things we can't be prepared for until we're there and doing it and getting our heads around the practice of the semester of knowledge we've crammed into our heads. Those of us who are Mums and have seen the inside of a delivery room/birthing centre (or two or three or six) have something of an advantage here, they have some of that knowledge, and same for those of us who've been privileged enough to attend a birth as a support person. But none of us are midwives yet, and that experience is yet to come.
My days are full of learning, I'm studying so much harder than I ever have before - partly it's the opportunity, and being able to do this full time internally seems like such luxury. I wonder how much better I could have done if I'd been able to pursue my Arts degree like this... Partly it's also because the kind of information I'm learning is brand new, anatomy, physiology, psychology - so familiar and yet so different, and foundations of midwifery, so much common sense, so much of what I've learned as part of being a decent friend when your friends are having babies and have small children, but also a whole bunch of other Responsibility things and Practical Expert Support Knowledge and Skills things.
I have the hours - and the responsibility - to spend them learning. But wow, nights like tonight I feel like my brain is leaking out my ears from the sheer volume of information, concepts, critical thinking and opinions going through my brain.
I also have a post about gratitude and commitment, responsibility and accountability I want to write, but right now I'm mostly present to my experience of time at the moment.
Contact hours, extra personal study, not enough sleep, meals and lunches planning with Ral, and the desire to be more social and enjoy Melbourne but... just not the stamina at present. I expect I will get to this weekend and be much like I was at this one, exhausted and desperately wanting to cling to my little nest and quite home time. But... social! Lovely dear friends and partners that I want to bask in the company of. I haven't found a balance or a routine yet, I suspect it will take me some time. In the mean time, I'm trying not to feel too guilty about how little energy I've got for stuff that isn't study/sleeping/eating at present.
This entry was originally posted at http://transcendancing.dreamwidth.org/89
- Current Location:Kitty Nest
- Current Mood: exhausted
- Current Music:nil
Have you ever wanted to ask me anything?
Well, tomorrow you’ll have your chance. At 4:30 Eastern time (1:30 Pacific time), I will be doing an AMA on Reddit — an “Ask Me Anything.” You’re free to ask about the Memoirs of Lady Trent or something else writing-related, but you’re by no means required to; if you want to know what my favorite food is or how my recent karate belt test went, those kinds of things are all fair game.
I’ve never done one of these before. It should be an adventure . . . .This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/628834.h
As of tonight, the belt I wear in karate class is black.
. . . mostly.
My actual rank is shodan-ho, which translates to something like “probationary first degree.” It means I wear a black belt with a white stripe. After my next test (which won’t be for months), I’ll wear a black belt with a red stripe, and then some number of months after that, I will be an actual honest-to-god black belt.
This means I have made it through the “brown belt blues,” i.e. the stretch of time where you feel like you’re making no progress at all. Our dojo has three degrees of brown belt (going from sankyu to ikkyu), and it’s a minimum of 45 classes between tests; at two classes a week, you spend a long time as a brown belt. Apparently a lot of people burn out and quit at that stage. (I myself am guilty of having slacked off for a while in there.) But now I’ve rounded the corner; the end is in sight.
Except of course it isn’t an end at all. Shodan basically just means that you’re considered “trained” — I’d give the serious side-eye to anybody below that rank who set themselves up as a teacher. There’s nigh-infinite room for improvement above that, though. The lowest-ranking teacher at our dojo is third dan, and Shihan himself is ninth. So, y’know. Shodan isn’t “mission accomplished; now I rest on my laurels.” But it’s a landmark, and one that is no longer quite so hypothetical. I could be there in a year and a half, if I’m consistent about making it to the dojo.
My test on Friday was kind of brutal, mostly because I was the only adult karate student testing this month, which means I had to go through the whole thing without any pauses. (Normally you get to rest while the other students perform their kata.) Stances, standing basics, moving basics, four karate kata (two pinan of my choice, jitte, and tomari passai), two sai kata (kihongata ichi and ni), two bo kata (donyukon ichi and ni), thirty-five shrimps, thirty push-ups, running in place for a minute. It took me ten minutes afterward to change out of my gi and repack my bag, I was moving so slowly. But I passed, and that’s the important part.
It’s very satisfying to look at how much I’ve learned. Not the number of kata, but the knowledge of how to perform them: the ability to think about something in jitte and connect it to a similar-but-different move in pinan san-dan, or to catch an error in my own movement before a senpai comes along to correct me. I’ve been doing this for a little over five years, and the progress is real.
Give me another year and a half, and you might even be able to call me fully trained.This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/628718.h
Last weekend, I was on a panel at FogCon about invisible disabilities. I told this story for the first time.
After I’d been working at Apple for a while, I needed a handicap placard. I’ll go into why later.
Apple culture has had an “execs get a pass” culture as long as it’s been around. There’s a story (possibly apocryphal) that Jean-Louis Gassée once saw Steve Jobs park in a handicap space (long before SJ was seriously ill) and JLG quipped, “Being morally handicapped doesn’t count.”
Now, I knew that story before I started at Apple, but what I didn’t know was that more than just SJ got a pass.
At the time, I worked in Infinite Loop 3. There were 4 handicap spaces outside the building, and 3 underneath the building. For pretty much anyone handicapped, the spaces underneath the building were the better accommodation for reasons I’ll explain later.
An average of once every two weeks, there would be a car without a placard in one of those spaces. The first time it happened, I asked the building receptionist (at Apple, they are part of Security) what I should do. She said to give her the license plate #, so I did. In practice, it was easiest to do so by taking a photo on my phone. Over time, I got quite an iPhoto library of said license plates on one of my work computers.
If someone without a placard parked in the handicap space, there’s always the possibility it’s someone who actually needs the space (and the striped zone for a wheelchair)—and they’ve just managed to screw up somehow and forget to put their placard out. Anyone who’s had a placard for a long time has managed that once or twice. So, essentially, it means I was denied a space I was entitled to, and I didn’t know if I was denied for a good reason or a bad one.
Depressed that nothing was happening, I filed a complaint with HR about it.
It kept happening. I kept reporting it to the receptionist.
I go on vacation. Specifically, we go on a cruise. (April 2011, so Tim Cook was interim CEO)
When I come back, my manager pulls me into a meeting, but not a normal one-on-one kind of meeting. He says that while I was gone, some Apple exec got their car towed, and Scott Forstall was angry about it. The way my manager said it at first, I thought Forstall’s car had been towed. Maybe so.
I said, “I was in Morocco on that day. Would you like to see my passport?”
I was actually trying not to laugh at the whole situation, because, looking at it from the point of view of my frustration, it was pretty hilarious.
So I pointed out that there were three handicap spots under the building, and there were three handicapped people using those spaces every single day. Some days, one of us would have to use the outside spaces because another handicapped person was visiting our building.
My manager, I had noticed, was not at all clued into mobility issues. He bicycle commuted from Santa Cruz. Over the mountains. Hardcore stuff. That doesn’t prohibit understanding, of course, but it sure seemed to elude him.
My manager said, and I wish I were kidding, “Well, couldn’t you park in one of the handicap spots in another building?”
I was so gobsmacked, I couldn’t even form curse words in my head. What I wanted to say was, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
So, in order to protect the able-bodied special snowflakes and save them two minutes, I’m supposed to put myself at risk?
What I was aware was that I didn’t need to share the specific details of my disability, so I did not. What I did, however, was say how much accommodation I actually required. I pointed out that I wasn’t in a wheelchair, so I didn’t need the striped part of the space. So if they parked in the stripe zone next to my car (and not next to the car owned by the dude in a wheelchair or the person I didn’t know), I’d know the regular part of the handicap space was available for me.
Which started happening.
Instead of Apple accommodating the disabled properly, I accommodated the able-bodied.
My manager detailed a different way of reporting violations that cc’ed some honcho in facilities, but I never needed to use it. Not long after that, my group moved to City Center, where there were not only green parking spaces (which I could use), but there were also more handicap spaces.
There are a lot of reasons people get handicap placards, and mine is a fairly common reason. When I was shopping one day, my leg suddenly went numb. Terrified, I went to sit in my car (using a shopping cart for support to get there) while I waited for the others to finish shopping. As I sat, the numbness went away.
Turns out, I’ve had a defective lower back for some time, it’s just now gotten bad enough that that happens, and I never know when it’ll happen, how quickly or how fully numb my leg will become (sometimes it’s just slightly tingly), or how much time I have until I actually fall. Because it happens, it makes it unsafe for me to walk across traffic (which is why the outdoor spaces were a significantly worse accommodation, especially since drivers tended to speed around that end of the Infinite Loop oval).
On the other hand, continuing to walk really is my best long-term strategy.
I’m also significantly stiffer in the morning (every morning), and being that much closer really did make it easier to get into the office every single day. The accommodation was important.
In addition to falling, one of the other side effects is extreme pain if I stand too long on hard surfaces, and “too long” can be a minute or twenty. I don’t know until the pain hits. In this case, the pain flare usually precedes numbness, but again, I don’t know how long I have for that, either.
Which brings us neatly to the next section….
My third (and final) manager at Apple believed in the so-called stand-up meeting. For me, that’s an inherently problematic name to call a meeting when you have a mobility impaired person as a part of your staff, though I’m all for the concept of more frequent shorter meetings. It excluded me by its very title.
A good manager might actually come to the new staff member being transfered into the group (as I was) and ask if there’s any accommodation that needed to be made. Which didn’t happen.
A good manager might actually invite the mobility impaired person to the daily meeting. Which didn’t happen. Really.
Only quite a few weeks later did I hear about it from one of my coworkers, but I thought it was a new thing. Turns out it wasn’t, I was just forgotten. In a company where physical presence is as important as it is at Apple, that can cause huge perception issues.
Now, I will grant you: people are mobility impaired in different ways. Some people need to stand instead of sit, and regular meetings are hard for them, so a stand-up meeting better accommodates their needs. For those who need to stand, Apple provides standing desks as an ergonomic accomodation. And I did make a point of standing some every day at mine.
Still, if you’ve got meetings where most people stand, really try to make the person who has to sit comfortable and feel like they’re really a part of the team and not just some fucking afterthought. (Likewise, the reverse for the reverse situation.)
I don’t know how common the execs parking in handicap spaces problem is in other companies (I’d never encountered it before), but it’s surprising that it survived that long at Apple. Much as I liked Tim Cook’s statement about not comsidering the ROI of catering to blind users, it left me even angrier about my own treatment when I was at Apple.
When will people who can’t walk or have difficulty walking be as fully human to Apple?
A young man on a date grudgingly allows his fiance to run a small errand for her boss, only to have her vanish mid-errand. Worse, when he calls the cops in there's little evidence to show she existed at all, let alone disappeared into what proves to be an unoccupied apartment.
This made liberal use of foreign, accent and dark skinned as signals of nogoodnikery. It really was not very good.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
The text version can be found here.
Read by Kate Baker
An interstellar traveler becomes increasingly disenchanted with the means by which she will keep Earth's bored immortals entertained, both because it involves what on the one hand someone could call a form of immortality and on the other a form of mass cannibalism, and because these people are not worth her sacrifices.
This was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1993.
Death death death! But you know, that's tons better than SET's rape rape rape.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment(s); comment here or there.
I’ve got it. The way past the roadblock here in chapter twelve of Apocalypse Pictures Presents. I’ve really got it.
I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it.
I even made some word count. See?
Magic Meter doesn’t lie, folks. I’m moving forward, finally. I’m gonna get out of this chapter yet, and then into the rest of this rewrite.
OK, yeah, I’m not 100% sure about how this new direction will impact one of my subplots. But I’ve never let a little thing like total uncertainty stop me in the past, and I’m not letting it stop me now.
Hell, I even have a snippet:
Gil felt the moment slipping away from him, felt the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the windows, reminding him how much shooting time they were losing.
“Do you hear how paranoid you sound?” he said. “Seriously? Come on, guys. Conspiracy theories make for great movies, but they don’t hold up in real life.”
No updates for Write Club.
|Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown|
- Current Music:"Kid Gloves"--Rush
Hi, I’m Jennifer Lyn Parsons, editor in chief of Luna Station Quarterly. Thanks to Catherine for letting me natter on about my beloved magazine.
Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction online and ebook magazine devoted to publishing and promoting emerging women writers. (Say that in one breath, whew!) LSQ just started its fifth year of publication with the stellar Issue 017.
I am also pleased to be starting this year off with a shiny new website. The spit polishing still needs to be completed before it goes live, but I'm really thrilled with how it came out. Rebuilding the site from the ground up was quite a chore! It will be worth it, though, and should be live for everyone to see soon. I’ll be sure to make announcements all over the place (mostly because I’ll be bouncing off the walls with joy).
Having a high-quality, usable website is important to me, partly because I build them for a living, but also because the reader’s experience is important to me. Presentation goes a long way in making me want to read something on my own time, and I aim to give the readers that same courtesy.
But wait, I should backtrack a bit and talk about LSQ's origins, shouldn't I?
It started about 5 years ago now, during a time when I was unemployed. I found a dearth of truly female-friendly short story venues out there and decided to step up and fill the gap. I focused on speculative fiction because it’s what I read, what I know best.
I focused on women writers exclusively because of the experiences I had while writing fan fiction a few years before. Fanfic is mostly female-authored and the stories that others were putting out there to fill in "canon" details were not only outstanding, but had a special something to them that I found missing in their male-authored counterparts. (And no, I don’t just mean the slash. LOL.)
So, combining those experiences with my web design/development skills, I suddenly found myself soliciting stories.
One of the most satisfying things about LSQ has been the consistent and universal support I've received. I was also delighted when we quickly gained global reach and, to this day, consistently receive submissions from as far away as Australia and as near as the town next door. It makes me really love the internet, trolls and all, because we can come together and support each other across any boundary. We can all cast such a wide net.
Over the years, the staff has grown from just me to a strong volunteer staff of four assistant editors plus an editorial assistant. (That would be Cheryl Ruggiero, Megan Kaleita, Iona Sharma, Andi Marquette and Danielle Perry, in no particular order)
The content has grown, too. I’m thrilled to say LSQ is a lot more diverse than it was when I started out. It’s always had interesting stories, but the breadth of style, subject matter, and the types of characters populating them now is truly diverse. It’s awesome to see these stories coming in and is very encouraging to me as a glimpse of what the future face of speculative fiction may look like.
After a few years of publishing LSQ, I decided to open up a small press to act as a parent company and home for some future projects I’ve got up my sleeve. Luna Station Press was born in 2012, continuing the Luna Station tradition of supporting women authors, but now with the ability to move beyond short stories and into poetry, non-fiction, and, of course, longer works.
It’s kind of an experiment and I get to be an explorer, navigating these new uncharted waters of the non-traditional publishing model. I’m grateful to the authors who have come along for the ride, even through the bumps and turbulence.
Right now the Press is on hiatus for submissions, but I’d love to see it have another growth spurt in the next year or so. I’ve always got great plans for expanding the Press and Quarterly, now I just need a windfall so I can quit my job and focus full-time on making them grow. Heh.
Anyone interested in checking out Luna Station Quarterly can find it at http://lunastationquarterly.com . All issues are free to read online, or you can help us pay our authors by purchasing an ebook edition from Weightless Books at http://weightlessbooks.com/category/form
The press is located at http://lunastationpress.com if you’re interested in learning more about the books I publish as well.
Thanks again, Catherine!
Today's video comes from Feminist Frequency: The Ms. Male Character.
The Three Most Damaging Words You Can Tell Your Son. Traditional gender norms are destructive to men and boys too. Dave Barry learns everything you need to know about being a husband from reading 50 Shades of Gray. This is funny, however there's a problem with it. It's mocking women's sexuality. (Not that I've ever read that book. I don't think I will.) I've a question. Does anyone question whether or not Debbie Does Dallas was a film masterpiece? (It was a bestseller.) So why are we having this conversation about 50 Shades? MakeMeASammich.org nails it again with yet another article about Trigger Warnings: It's About Empathy and Choice. Two Pulitzer-winning reporters tell their story. On XOJane, the Duke Porn Star reveals her identity. (aka--All About Slut Shaming and You.) From MakeMeASammich.org If you're arguing with me, chances are you're a dude. What Dress Codes Say About Girls' Bodies? Passenger's sexist note left on WestJet flight.
In the past, I read a lot of True Crime. My reasons why have to do with my childhood relationship with monsters and my hunt for the ever-elusive 'silver bullet.' I've since quit reading True Crime for ethical reasons. I also read a lot of Crime Fiction which edges (maybe even overlaps) on Noir. Sadly, none of these genres have anything healthy to say about women. As a Feminist, I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that not every story needs to say something healthy about women any more than every story needs to say something healthy about men. The problem we currently face is that a MAJORITY of stories say something unhealthy about women (and other minorities) if they're mentioned at all. We're not dealing with an even playing field here. This is why there's push back, and this is why there should be push back. With that out of the way...
Anyway, I had some thoughts about True Detective.
One of the things I loved about it is one of the things that creates some flaws. It's also how I write, myself. So, I've my own perspective on it. This series falls under the "dark, gritty, and realistic with fantastic overtones" category. Again, that's my favorite. The reason why is because I enjoy stories that question reality. What parts are real? What parts are imagined? It all ties into pattern recognition and how the human brain works. We're hard-wired to see patterns--even patterns where there are no patterns. It's deep in the science of perception. (I've said this many times before.) What we think we see and what we actually see are two different things. We're hit with far too much information via our senses to process it quickly enough to act. If we waited to sort through all that data, we'd never get out of bed. Thus, our brains take short cuts. We base decisions upon previous experiences, or cues that resemble previous cues. We sort through a vast amount of data for the bits that are important. Sometimes we miss the important stuff and walk into a wall, but more often than not we guess correctly--well, correct enough to avoid getting hurt. Whether or not its the correct picture of reality is a whole other animal. That's how people acquire engrained behaviors that might save their lives in a given situation but repeated long-term, that life-saving behavior might be unhealthy bordering on abuse. This is the stuff of the psychotherapists' couch. True story.
So, True Detective. At the beginning it's established that Detective Rust Cohle (played by Matthew McConaughey) sees things that aren't there. This is important to remember. It's easy to loose track of because Rust is the only character with a grip on what's happening. He's the first character that correctly spots and interprets the killer's pattern. It isn't until later that his partner, Detective Marty Hart (and the viewer with him,) signs on with Rust's view of events. But again, we're accepting the point of view of a character who's hold on reality is just a bit off as fact. If you ask me, that's a big factor in this story. Oh, sure. He's reliable enough to be a police officer, but in the trailer Detective Hart (played by Woody Harrelson) tells us he's the reliable one, the steady one. Rust is the smart one. Rust is always philosophizing about this or that. His head is always in the clouds. He's always analyzing things--even overly so. Marty is constantly telling him to shut up. He doesn't want to hear about how we're all just sentient meat and life has no meaning. (Another hint at what's really going on.) Marty wants nothing to do with that. Marty wants to catch the bad guy. He doesn't care why the bad guy is bad. He doesn't want to know what the bad guy is thinking. He just wants to stop the bad guy. Rust, on the other hand, leads the investigation because his brain recognizes patterns that Marty's can't. Over and over, Rust happens to be right. As we come to accept Rust's altered interpretation of the real situation (a serial killer on the loose) more and more, the plot takes on a fantastic quality. The fact that the killer (who we don't see) seems to be very intelligent and very well connected and has escaped previously due to these two factors, gives the killer another layer of power--the power of mystery. That elevates the bad guy in the viewer's mind. It sets a certain expectation.
But what if Cohle is wrong? What if the bad guy is only a dumbass who has read a lot of freaky books--the same freaky books that Cohle has read? Personally, I love the idea that more meaning may have been assigned to the bad guy's actions than was actually there. The story as I see it, is about humanity's sketchy relationship with patterns. What is it that Nietzsche said? Something about gazing too long into an abyss and soon enough the abyss gazes into you? I love the idea that part of what the viewer thinks is the bad guy is what Cohle has put into him. In the end, the bad guy is only himself and a lesser being--not the magical powerful thing that Cohle fashioned him into. I love the idea of investigators walking that tight-rope between reality and the meanings they assign to the patterns they discover and always wondering what's real (and will solve the case) and what isn't (and will become a dead end.) I also like the idea of the mysterious bad guy (once vanquished) not quite matching the image created for him. This is reality. Think about the times when you've achieve a hard fought goal. Don't you usually come out of it feeling "is this all?"
Jeff VanderMeer and I had a short talk about this. He hates the ending of the series. I adored it. But it got me thinking. What happens when you set a story in a realistic world that touches the borders of unreality? If you're not careful, you lose the cohesion of reality. Thus, the author has to work twice as hard to keep things real. Unfortunately, this sets up a certain expectation in some readers/viewers that the end of the story will be (somehow) the ultimate answer to whether or not reality is unreality. Honestly, there's no good answer to that question, and after working with fiction that borders on reality for a while now... I'm of the opinion that you can't answer the question. Because if you absolutely answer "reality is reality and the supernatural elements are all in the character's mind" then reality loses its magic. If you answer "reality is the supernatural" then reality loses its reality and the whole thing flattens out into just another fairy tale. So, I've reached the conclusion that the best answer (as a writer) is the open-ended one. The one the reader arrives at for themselves. Unfortunately, there are readers who aren't happy with that. (See Inception.) Me? I like it just fine. Either way, True Detective is a great show in that its causing these discussions. I much prefer that to simplistic answers.
 It began to feel as though the process of trying to understand the 'why' the genre was evolving into tawdry sensationalism and thus, benefitting the monsters more than the victims. I'm not a fan of that mindset.