changeling: (writing)
I'm going to copypasta from Tumblr here, because DW/LJ are semi-permanent, and Tumblr is the digital equivalent of newspaper - tomorrow it'll just be a wrapper for fish and chips. And I suspect this is going to come up again.

This is in reference to these two images:



And the following comments appended to them:

Svetlana-Del-Rey (no longer on Tumblr):
Was she going to slap you because you never in any way made him gay in the actual books, taking zero risks/doing absolutely nothing for gay characters in literature, and only announcing your “authorial intent” afterwards for a cheap shot at looking like an ~ally~


Takealookatyourlife:
Gay people are just normal people. We are not told about any of the Hogwarts professors love lives, other than Snape, and it would be completely out of character for Dumbledore to walk around telling everyone about his sexuality.

Did you want her to make him dress in glittery platform boots, a crop top, and decorate his office in rainbow flags to make it more obvious for you? Would that be enough of a stereotype to appease you people? Or what? Please tell me. I’d like to know how you think a gay character is supposed to be portrayed.

And did you miss the Grindelwald chapters in the ‘actual books’? Or was that also not obvious enough for you? Did Dumbledore need to whisper “always” wistfully in order for you to connect that he had romantic feelings for Grindelwald? Maybe you are American and need them to gaze longingly into each others eyes with awkward close ups of their fingers almost grazing each other that Hollywood thinks means ‘true love’.

It didn’t fit into his relationship to Harry to ever say “I’m gay”, and so it was not stated explicitly (you might have noticed the book was told from Harry Potter’s perspective).

The point is though, that he is a homosexual, well respected, powerful, and very loved wizard- and his sexuality doesn’t matter because no one else thinks it matters. a.k.a. no one cares that he loves men, and that is wonderful.


“No one cares that he loves men, and that is wonderful.”

Of course it is. But that still doesn’t equal visibility. Who cares if Dumbledore is gay in her head? Assuming there are 200 students per year level (is there any place online that has crunched these numbers? Just curious), there are at least ten gay students per year level. That’s at least 70 students (on average) in Hogwarts at any one time who prefer their own gender, or who like both. Nowhere are they present in the narrative, even as background colour. Hermione doesn’t pause from her SPEW crusade to tell off a homophobic classmate who’s picking on Luna for leaving Ginny a Valentine.

I didn’t get introduced to a single gay, bi, or trans character. I know who Ginny Weasley dated, but at no point did JKR mention that Neville and Dean had a thing for the whole of fifth year. Or whatever.

Not mentioning that Dumbledore is gay in the books doesn’t really mean a goddamn thing to the QUILTBAG readers who are forever looking for characters like them in fiction and not finding them (unless they read Justine Larbalestier). Yes, I thought that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had subtext. But so do Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. And as a QUILTBAG person, we’re used to reading our own narratives on books. But reading between the lines doesn’t make it a ‘textual’ interpretation, one supported by evidence.

QUILTBAG people are invisible in media, almost all the time. When you read closing chapters like the one at the end of the Harry Potter series (Gillian Rubenstein did one at the end of her Space Demons trilogy, and I hated it about as much), nowhere does it say, “And ten years later, Seamus Finnegan came out of the closet and lives happily with a Muggle”. In so many books, in so many movies, heterosexuality isn’t just the default, it’s THE ONLY OPTION. So even though you can read homo motives on characters, you know that in the next book, in the annotations, in an interview with the author, it will be made clear that those two are “just good friends”. Gay people aren’t just invisible; we’re completely absent. So we doubt our own judgements.

I’m glad that Jo thinks it’s important enough to stress in interviews that Dumbledore is gay. It makes her, the person, the private individual, a gay ally. But it does not make JKR, the author, a gay ally. And it doesn’t make the Harry Potter books queer friendly.

changeling: (writing)
So this thing that I suffer from in my novel writing, historically speaking, is my desire to not commit to too many specificities. It's a safe thing to do when you're writing about a city you don't know well (London from the first iteration of the Fantasy Noir, my current project, back when it was called Mad Gods and Englishmen; although I've been to London and wandered around it I was 16 and it was only for a few days) or if you're not sure where you want your book to take place**.

But the thing is, it's not a *good* thing to do. The reader can tell that you're keeping things misty and vague, and so the place never seems very real. And once you ground a place properly, the location shapes the story.

I'm still secretly a play-writer, and I'm not sure how much I realised that location affects the story and/or characters, as obvious as it seems. But I'm doing some work on the Fantasy Noir, picking up the threads again after a week and a half of having (another) chest infection. This iteration of the book, this complete rewrite without referring to any previous version of the book at all, is set in Melbourne. I wrote that our main character, Alex, catches the tram into work in the mornings because, hey, it's the transport mode of choice when you're just dealing with the CBD in Melbourne. But I'm increasingly getting the sense that trams are going to be important. I'm not sure how important, yet. I don't think the main confrontation with the villain is going to be on a tram in peak hour. I'm not sure they're going to be plot-related important, but I do think they're going to be grounding-the-story-in-a-concrete-environment important.

It hadn't occurred to me before beginning the project, but I guess you can't write a noir in Melbourne without trams. And I'm finding it odd and pleasant that when I'm writing about Melbourne trams in a book set a bit after WWII I'll be writing about W-Class trams (my favourite!), which were very much my earliest memories of trams, and which were the cornerstone of my years at my Second High School. Oh man, and I'll have to remember to include conductors. Which were also part of the first year or two of my life at high school. The conductors were about the only thing keeping the grammar school kids in check.

And, of course, because this isn't just a noir novel but also an urban fantasy (ah, those days before I knew Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden when I thought this was unique), I may also need to work out whether and how the magic system interacts with something like the tram network.

Come to that, I need to work out how the magic system works.


* Really true. I came out of Blues dancing with a Floridian and another Melbourne friend one evening. The Floridian couldn't work out what this woman was doing, standing in the street but not trying to wave down a car. Juz, the other Melburnian, and I worked it out almost immediately: she was trying to peer down the road to see how far away the tram was.

** I kept vacillating between English-seaside-town and Australian-seaside-town for Shadow Boys; in the end I went with the latter, patchworking together bits from different towns I spent summer holidays in. But it's mostly Airlie Beach and Port Macquarie, really, with a large chunk of Proserpine, which is not a seaside town, and the St Kilda pier is stuck in the middle of the strand. It's Proserpine's sugarcane mill that overhangs the town and becomes the Doctor's castle in the other world. And the whole is stuck in New South Wales, somewhere north of Sydney. And, to continue this air of disclosure, it's my grandmother who lives in Proserpine who I had in mind when writing Lesley's family there. Although none of the family dynamics really resemble that branch of my family, Grandma is the undisputed head of it, just like Lesley's barely mentioned grandmother.

Technically, if I were setting this in Sydney or Brisbane at the close of the Second World War, Wikipedia shows me that I'd have to include trams in that, too, as odd as it seems to me in the next century. Quote from a Radio National special on trams:
Robert Lee: At their height, Sydney was much bigger. Usage peaked at over 400-million in 1945, petrol rationing helped with that of course, so that was peak. 400-million is enormous. Just by way of comparison, Cityrail today moves around 200-million a year; in Melbourne the trains and trams each move around 100-million a year, so a total of 200-million, a bit more, for the trams and trains in Melbourne. Sydney moved 400-million by tram in 1945, Brisbane in the same year moved 160-million. So the Brisbane trams, a relatively small network, about 80 miles, moved almost as many people in 1945 as Melbourne's combined tram and train system does today. So huge numbers.

Although since I was first writing this book in 2001 and (according to Wikipedia) the first two Dresden books were published in 2000 and 2001, that's kind of forgivable.
changeling: (Default)
From Cate's Cates:

Wasabi is much more burny than chilli – but it turns out that Wasabi is also an honest sort of assailant. It faces you squarely and hits you in the face, but then runs away, unlike chilli’s evil habit of sneaking up on you slowly, surrounding you, and mugging you when it’s too late for you to do anything about it.


It's trooooo.


As a sort of side note, I was pleased that I'd started using my Dreamwidth again. And then I started building 750 Words/morning pages into my day, and all my momentum disappeared, as I was essentially blogging there each morning. I had intentions to copy-pasta some of that over here, but obviously that hasn't happened. We'll see how this goes; I'm still bedding down that habit, and I would like to keep blogging here. I'm finally enjoying it again, instead of seeing it as something I "ought" to do.
changeling: (writing)
 HO YUS. Just took the first step in the new habit I want to develop - daily 750 words (= morning pages). Even though I was tired and couldn't be bothered and just wanted to go to bed.

BUT IT DID IT. Booyah! *flexes her mighty will*


...And then read fifteen pages of Tumblr. But small steps.
changeling: (writing)
 So Gmail's trying to sell me on a robot vacuum cleaner. A Robomaid, to be precise. It's been the only ad at the top of my inbox for most of today. Based on what analysis of my inbox, I'm not sure, but that's what's in my future, apparently. Robot vacuums.

I have to admit, I'm a little tempted. I've thought about getting one before. [personal profile] copperbadge is lifelong friends with his Roomba. And I quite like a good vacuumed floor. I just hate unpacking the damn machine from whatever corner it's been stowed in and packing it away again when you're done. (The alternative, of leaving the machine perpetually set up in a messy tangle, also makes me grind my teeth.) 

Also, with my chronic muscle tension/pain in my neck, shoulders and back, the idea of doing the vacuum is a far more insurmountable thing than the actual task of the vacuuming (although vacuuming is tiring, especially in the house I currently live in, which is two floors and has *stairs*, a rare thing in Australian homes, which are largely in the Californian bungalow vein).

Another good reason is that, as [personal profile] copperbadge says, Roombas aren't so much vacuum cleaners as they are pets. I'm still renting, and still renting in Australia, which means that having an animal isn't just a commitment to the pet's welfare and sanity and vet bills, but also to potentially locking yourself out of the majority of the available rental properties. It's just a thing that is. And although I desperately want a dog, a small part of me is perpetually scared that I'm going to have to move – again – and I won't be able to find anywhere to live. And although our landlords are okay about the idea of our getting a pet, they're only okay with it, and would much rather that we got a cat (if we get anything at all). I'm allergic to cats. And we've killed several of the large plants in our gardens (the horrible hedge strip and a large tree fern in the front yard and another weird thing and most of the ugly roses) through a combination of casual neglect, conspiracy with the Australian environment and the fact that the built-in watering systems don't work very well. I don't want to push my luck.

The robot vacuums are still $400, and I don't have $400 hanging around. But maybe if I put in my goddamn tax return already (in time for the end of the NEXT FINANCIAL YEAR at the end of this month, WTFBBQ), maybe I'll have a magic refund. Who knows?

So I poked around the website, and read the Testimonials, mostly because I was curious as to what sampling they chose to publish. A lot of the testimonials come from their Facebook page, which is very New Media. And most of them had named them. 

I was surprised at the first time I saw a male name attached to a device called a Robomaid. And then I was intrigued by my surprise. I don't think it's just that the robot's model name is gendered (although that's partly it). I think it's also that response that we have coded into us by Western society that it's The Girl's Job To Clean. And it's interesting to note the names that different people gave theirs: Lady, Rosy (after the Jetson's maid, I can't help wondering), Ruby, Rambo, R2D2, Gidget.

But the main reason, really, when it comes down to it, is that it comes in bright red and is PRETTY (for a given value, considering I'm not a fan of most industrial design styles). I want to spray paint a yellow design on it and call it Tony Stark. 
changeling: (writing)
Neil Gaiman talks in this video about there being three reasons why people keep hiring freelancers:
  • The work is good
  • The work is on time
  • You're a pleasure to deal with

And, he says, you don't even have to be all three! People will deal with you being unpleasant if the work is good and always on time!

(And so on.)


And now I know, working in the industry. I am mostly dealing with freelancers indirectly, but it's SO TRUE. It's safest to be all three, of course, but people will forgive one of the three if you excel at the other two.
changeling: (writing)
And since Tumblr is (in some ways) as fleeting as a newspaper, I'm going to put them here.

Also, I like journalling. And I like that I've been doing it recently, without struggle or effort.

In response to this gif. The text reads: "Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything that you're willing to practice, you can do."

This is something that all artists need to learn. Particularly those that have an ‘innate gift’ for whatever (I tend to find writing and learning music tends to be easier than other people find it). Because your ‘innate gift’ will produce diddly-squat if you DON’T LEARN HOW TO USE IT. All your gift does is accelerate the learning process somewhat; IT DOESN’T REPLACE IT. Your early art will still be terrible, it will just be a bit less terrible than that of someone who finds Your Thing to be hard.

But you know what? If you sit on your well-formed derriere and do not practice your art, that compadre of yours who finds art harder than you do WILL OVERTAKE YOU.

The only way to get better is to practice.
 
In response to a comic written, using some of Neil Gaiman's words from a recent speech:

Always truth. And if the trauma you’ve been through means that you can’t make good art about it, make good art about something else instead. It took me ages to deal with my last breakup, and the last thing I wanted to do was to make art about it instead of grieving.

So I wrote about other things. And one day the grief I had about that breakup will fuel other art. It’s the way things work.

I have another rant coming about why I'm involved in fandom, but it's turning into this Big Long Thing (hurr hurr), so I'm going home now & will finish it later.
changeling: (writing)
So, there's three of us, like the Three Musketeers but female and writers. 'Cause we are. We'll all get published or die trying. I'd write a little bit about how each of us fits one of the characters except I never got around to reading it (yet) and I haven't seen any of the films. I think one character's called Aramis, and that's all you're getting, I'm afraid.

So, J is all in favour of the writing prompt. And I agree with her; you begin with prompts and all of a sudden you're back in the middle of your abandoned third chapter with a new idea for a villain. But I just haven't been sitting down and writing from the prompts she posts.

...but I have been thinking about fanfic again. The first one was spawned from this:


(Stoleded from Tumblr)

Which caused Dee and me to have a lengthy email conversation fleshing out the world. Hells, this would be so much fun to write.

The other one is this photoset here, which apparently I stupidly didn't reblog so I had to go a-Googling. This is the text below the photoset:
Alternative Universe: Eleven & Amy Pond - Time Lady & Human

My name is John Smith. I guess you could say I used to be an ‘ordinary bloke’; a little bit on the awkward side with a boring job and a small flat next to the pub. A year ago I saw a box falling right out of the sky, and then a woman coming out of the box. She called herself the Doctor. She was ginger, she talked a lot and she took my hand and we started running. We haven’t stopped since.

She calls me ‘her stupid idiot’. She hates my clothes. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Which gives me all the feels. I want to rewrite Modern Who with this as Copperbadge did for Torchwood with his Torchwood USA.


... Although I should probably start with something that isn't going to be longfic, like finishing the story I began below this image:
“Once upon a time, a baby princess was born. Her skin was the warm brown of cinnamon, her lips as red as pomegranate, and her hair as black as night …”
changeling: (writing)
As seen here.

1. Thank god Sherlock is still English. I was actually all psyched up for an actually NY Holmes, but for some reason it relieved me that he's English. Although part of me is sad that we don't get to see a NY Holmes.
2. If Sherlock hadn't been made recently, I'd probably be more excited by this. But it did, and I just feel a little 'meh' about the whole thing. Which doesn't mean that I won't watch it.
3. If we're going to do a gender reversal, I think Holmes being a woman is actually more interesting, since Watson is the 'emotional'/'girly' one to Holmes's 'rational' one. Although the fact that the audience stand-in is a woman is kind of nice.
3a. Liu looks hard as nails through the whole of this clip, so her saying that Watson is more emotional is frankly mindboggling. Also I think I could cut myself on her cheekbones. Also, seriously, JOAN? How old is her character, 90?
3b. I am failing at three things today.
changeling: An image of Hermes, painted by Dali (Hermes)
I've been attempting to learn German and Spanish in an incredibly laid-back when-I-have-time fashion, using busuu.com. I haven't done any study for months, but this morning I woke up with the word "conocerte" echoing in my head.

This probably would have heralded more of a learning breakthrough if I hadn't had to look it up (even though it was a vocab word).
changeling: (Default)
Last year I got myself some reading glasses after a few years of being glasses-free. I don't *need* them per se, but they do ease the occasional headache I get from working at a computer, and I'll apparently need them properly a few years down the track.

I took my reading glasses home when I left the office for the Christmas break, and put them down somewhere safe so that, needless to say, I have subsequently misplaced them.

So I've spent the last two days at work reaching for glasses that aren't there when I sit down to focus, and finding that being unable to settle them on my nose has meant that I also haven't been able to settle down to work.

Interesting.
changeling: (writing)
On career progression:
Me: And then after the business card, the business card WITH EMBOSSING.
    I have small but precise career goals. :D
Jess: Embossing…my you are ambitious.
Me: You’ve gotta have a 10-year plan. All the best careers advice says so.
changeling: (Default)
I keep forgetting I have this blog thing and not checking in for weeks at a time. I'd say sorry, but I don't think anyone's surprised enough to miss me anymore. Sigh.

I'm about to move house again (!!) in three weeks' time. I'm excited and slightly stressed. Partly because I also have a novel I said I'd finish writing my novel two days before I move. Jess and I have a gentlewoman's agreement, and all our writing friends know about it. I will be NAMED AND SHAMED if I do not complete it. Although I hopefully won't appear on A Current Affair. [/Aussie cultural in-joke]
changeling: (Default)
"Man, fuck the iPad 4. I'm saving up for those eye-reader implants. People are going to think I'm so proactive and shit in meetings when I raise my eyebrows interestedly, but I'm just turning the page."
changeling: (skinless)
Okay, flist, I have a challenge for you.

I need Benedick/Claudio slash. Seriously.

I just saw Bell Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which I have (shame) never seen before, or read more than a precis of. I completely fell in love with Beatrice (who was beautiful and snarky, be still my beating heart), and I may be a little queer for Benedick too. Who was completely in love with Claudio, who was oblivious.

I need me some Benedick/Claudio slash, and if it includes Benedick/Beatrice, that's all to the better. Especially if it convinces me how Beatrice falls in love with Benedick, because I was JUST NOT CONVINCED BY THAT, SHAKESPEARE. Your/the actor's Benedick falling in love was gorgeously done, but Beatrice? Please. I believed it by the second half, but not at all in the first.

Also also? Benedick coming up to Beatrice as she's crying over her poor cousin and going "BTW, I love you". I totally wanted Beatrice to turn around and go, "NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Come back tomorrow. Srsly dude, have a heart."


Please, someone tell me there is a fandom for these two. Please. This is my new favourite Shakespeare play.

(Also, Austen stole heavily from this play for Pride & Prejudice, Y/Y? Discuss.)
changeling: (writing)
Cassie Claire is coming to Melbourne.

I ... kinda want to go to her event. I refuse to read her books since the first Mortal Instruments lifted material from her Draco Trilogy. (It was just ... weird.)

But! On the other hand, Cassie was part of my fandom experience during my first uni course. I made one friend in uni when he used The Very Secret Diaries as a passphrase (he turned to me and said, "You're not a pervy hobbit fancier, are you?")

So although I don't really read her books, I'm tempted to go see her speak now that she's Cassandra Claire.

I'll probably just dither until it's too late to book tickets, and then kick myself for missing an opportunity.
changeling: (writing)
Sitting here waiting for a podmate to GO HOME so I can put on some music to jive to while I knock over some more work on the Project of Doom (I forgot my headphones to my music player today).
For all I know, she's sitting there thinking the same thing.
changeling: (skinless)
This is the message I've been getting recently. First was PvP's recent comic "Bed Bath and Beyond Thunderdome" with this remark:
It's harder for women to make friends, okay? Women are competitive and catty and just generally unkind to each other.
...which is frankly untrue. I made at least two new friends on the weekend who were women, without trying very hard at all.

Then there was the hoo-ha that happens yearly at comedy festival time where it was said that women aren't funny. Ben McKenzie responded in an article on Crikey, "Angry Angry – Female Comedians can be Funny Funny", and you just need to read the comments to get an idea of the vitriol that gets hurled against women. I've lost count of the number of times when I've seen it explicitly or implicitly stated that a woman's job in her social group is to shut up, and put up with and laugh at the jokes of men. Some of those times have come from women's and girl's magazines on how to be popular or survive a first date. Some of those have been on sitcoms, where the female protagonists have been advised to do the same (and then usually mocked for complying poorly).

A quote from Ben in the comments of his article:
[T]o generalise that to “women aren’t funny” – even in an off-hand comment – is a symptom of a larger problem. This isn’t about women being funny; it’s about that opinion being part of the larger problem of sexism in our society. I think the only real reason people think “chicks aren’t funny” is the last one, that it’s a deeply ingrained understanding of how women are allowed to present to the world that leads to that opinion, so deep it takes some work to expose it.
The final point was made in the article "The Female Body", which makes very good points about the use of dead women in art and fiction for a whole bunch of purposes, and how this reflects our societal attitudes to women (and isn't as dry as it sounds from my summary). What struck me was this quote that was given:
Men and women don’t like each other very much. —Dame Rebecca West
So if you're a woman, we're told, no-one will like you. Other women don't like you (they view you as competition for their men and/or women), men sure as hell don't like you (this one still seems to be more true than the previous, unfortunately; the best you can hope for with some men is a sort of genial contempt, as if you were an amusing dog that had managed to walk on its hind legs), the media certainly don't like you, and advertising executives see you as some sort of magical money funnel without critical thinking skills (My three favourite words! It's on Sale! "thanks" for that, Diet Coke) or, alternately, sexual and passive set dressing to sell things to men.

It sure sucks to be a girl.
changeling: (sick)
I'm suffering rather at the moment from what my folkie friends and I have been calling Typhoid Kevan. Kevan came to the National Folk Festival (over the Easter weekend) with some sort of nasty respiratory infection and spread it around with every affectionate bear hug he gave, and he gave a lot. So I missed the last night of the festival because I was in bed by eight (but Cherie and I watched the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who together, so that was something).

The next day I had to help pack up camp and drive home with Jus – he kindly did most of the eightish hours' drive, though. I did about an hour and a half. Let me tell you: when you're feeling sick and wobbly, the last thing you want to do is stand in the cold and pull up tent pegs.

So then I stayed at home for two days. It was nice apart from a serious attack of Guilt from my Guilt Gnome, who doesn't really believe that I'm allowed to take sick leave, and is afraid that I'm going to be fired for it. There are Reasons for this, unfortunately, but I wasn't really feeling up to having a monster conversation with him/her/it about it yesterday.

Today I'm back at work. I have lots of things on my plate at the moment, the most immediate of which is processing our Annual Reprints. I came in to a desk entirely covered in the sodding things. Piles of textbooks, all with print-outs of corrections in place.

The interesting thing about reprints is that all the pages I have to check pretty much look the same. Some of them are printed and some of them are emailed PDFs, but the corrections should just look like the printed book except fixed. So if someone leaves a pile of books on my desk with no note and pages inside, I'm going to check them against the marked up book and notate my spreadsheet.

Guess what! The piles were just the reprints guy leaving a bunch of books I'd already done two weeks ago on my desk! AWESOME. Just wasted my morning.

I would like to go back to bed now, please.

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