This week’s Friday Five is more of a Seven.
Pictures of What I’ve Been Up To
So in the time between the last (simply scintillating) post and now, I have been up to the following:
Going to the Reptile Expo
And the Steampunk Fair
Cooking a mountain of gift produce from The Boyfriend
Hulling more walnuts
Making the most amazing hummus
Dealing with various intense work-related things
Agreeing to be in a Christmas play that my coworker is directing.
Want to be name a nebula? NGC 7027 has been known since 1878 but still lacks a name. They’re taking suggestions.
There were mad adventures to be had this weekend, thus no new posts yet. I’ll get caught up in the next few days. Until then, enjoy this visual of Neil Gaiman’s answer to the question of “Fiction: Escapist?” that I linked to last week.
Five things to do to reduce your stress:
Knit. People who knit (I’m included) swear that there are times during which we have to choose between knitting something or killing people. Knitting has saved lives. There is something beautifully zen about the repetitive movements. The tactile experience–soft yarn, smooth needles–is grounding. Seeing repetition add up to a finished project is unspeakable satisfying. Really people, learn to knit.
Kill someone. Yeah, I know. Coming after the “don’t kill, knit,” recommendation, this sounds kind of funny. But stay with me. Years ago I had a boss who could have been the template for Stupid Bosses Who Make You Stay Awake At Night Wondering How They Got Hired. She was unbelievable. I wrote her in as a character in my NaNo novel (under a different name and profession, natch) and killed her off quite satisfyingly.
Quit your job and live off the land. Everyone’s doing it these days.
Implement mind control so that everyone behaves the way you want. This could get tricky if more than one person sees this advice. I recommend you act fast and prevent anyone else from reading this. (It will most likely reduce their stress, too, since they’ll have become mind-controlled zombies, so you will have singlehandedly caused world peace. Use your powers to have them award you the Nobel Peace Prize.)
If you’ve followed these four, why do you need a fifth suggestion? You should be feeling happy and relaxed right now.
The Trifid Nebula–click on the picture to get a full description.
From Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr:
Q: Quick question, do you think that writing/reading fantasy books can be a form of escapism for people who generally feel bad about their lives or bad about themselves in general?
A: You have to go read the answer. Brilliant.
(I think the last line is going to become my tagline.)
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
When I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, I was struck by his down to earth statement that a writer has to be true to his or her characters. One cannot sanitize just because ones’ audience might object to something a character says or does.
I liked the feeling of freedom I got from this. I had noticed my own writing going flat when I forced my characters into or out of situations just because it was “right”. But it was a frightening thing. How is any writer supposed to just ignore public opinion?
My first brush with this came during my third NaNo novel when one of my main characters swore. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure how my friends would feel if they knew. It was mild; I think he said, “Hell.”
But then, in my fourth NaNo novel, my protagonist found herself seeking answers in the company of a psychic–something I didn’t agree with and certainly couldn’t excuse to my friends and family. I had to let it go and let my character make her own way through the novel. Regardless of how I felt about it, it made perfect sense for her to be doing what she was doing.
Categorizing a book (or a character) as “good” or “bad” misses the point, I think. It’s not about whether one morally agrees with the book, the writer, the plot, or the characters. It’s about what what learns through it.
What book do you treasure but feel reluctant to recommend, whether it’s because others might not understand, or because it reveals more about you than you like to admit? (For me, it’s a number of books–but Stephen King’s On Writing comes to mind at the moment. 🙂 )