Archive for the Rants Category

Open Letter to People Who Do Not Matter

Posted in Rants, Seven Deadly Sins on February 27, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Why do I address a letter to you, if you do not matter? I address it to you because I am endlessly hopeful that someday, you will listen to me.

You see, I am a patient person. Laugh for a moment. Get that cleared out. Yes, I am a volcano, sharp-edged and passionate. But that is the surface. The waves may whip up, but it passes quickly and without incident. I am patient when you playfully mock my speech, not understanding that I choose my words so carefully because there are days when I cannot speak at all, days when I stutter, days when the words are in my head but not on my tongue. I smile and joke back, because it is good to talk, and I did not do that for too long.

I laugh when you say that my aggression, my temper and impatience are an act. I don’t care if you think my music, my clothes or my hobbies are silly or a reaction to my upbringing.

I am not easily angered. But there are things which do anger me. Let me share those, so that I won’t be tempted to claw your tongue out next time you talk to me.

Please stop telling me that I just need to find the right church. That I should keep going until I do. Do not talk over me, reprimand me, or become condescending when I say I do not need a church.

I do not need to find the right church. I do not need a church. This is not reaction to a bad childhood experience, nor backlash against my conservative upbringing. It is because I find church to be meaningless to me. I gain nothing from listening to someone else tell me what his experiences, his beliefs or passions are. I can get that from a book, and have tea too.

I do not need fellowship. If you knew me, you would understand that I have a low tolerance for other people. I have had everyone in my head but myself for years. The most holy experience that I can have is utter silence, and that cannot happen so long as one person is in the room.

I do not need your god. He is not my god. I do not hate him, but I find him contradictory and judgmental. He has no meaning to me, no call to serve. Believe me, I tried. I tried with all the passion of a child who believes that she is going to hell, that she can be saved if she just loves hard enough. I have my own gods now, and your god does not like that. Save the lightning, please.

My church is the rugged face of Pyramid Peak. My cathedral is the Desolation Wilderness. My chapel is the open hillside where I watch the storms that are my hymns. My fellow worshipers are the hawks, the horses, the coyotes. My reverence is the total peace of a night without people. My prayers are songs and my songs are prayers. Please, don’t try to judge me for this. You don’t understand. You don’t need to understand.

I won’t tell you my beliefs. Please don’t tell me yours. That is not something that needs to be known. We are in a world of over-share. Let this be personal. Leave the sacred secret and cherished. This is what keeps me alive, please do not try to haul it out for autopsy.

Also? I said I don’t want children. I will not be ‘changing my mind in three or four years’. If you think I am, you do not know me, do you? There are things that change in my life, but they are not many. This is something I have known for years. I am not wholly a woman, it is true. I do not identify entirely as a woman, either. It is a gender that I have worn uncomfortably, even as I love it and luxuriate in some of the gifts it brings. I have never thought of myself as a mother, nor imagined myself with babies. It is fine for others, but it is not my path.

There are enough unwanted children in the world. I have worked with some of them. They left an indelible mark on my heart. It was not the fat babies and cooing cherubs, but the little-old girls with HIV, the beautiful girl who took my hand and made me her eyes. It was the boy who had been burned, with his plastic-skin skeleton, and the boy who hit a horse on the nose until he was shown how it hurt the horse. It is the kids that society misses that I love.

If I ever desire children, I will reach for them first. Not out of pity, oh gods no. It is out of admiration, honor, respect. These children saved my life. The autistic, the brain-damaged, the abandoned. I would die for their memory, and I would selfishly keep every one of them.

I will not change my mind. Please, keep your judgments to yourself. I don’t hate children. I love watching my friends with their children. My young cousins can bend me backwards with a look. One of my special children from years past can reduce me to tears with a word or touch.

I am used to being judged. I have been judged since before I could speak. That does not matter. What matters is that you do not listen when I try to speak.

I am not easily angered. Irritated, yes. Yet these things will always make me angry. Judge me if you wish, but remember, I will lose all respect for you. When you judge me and dismiss my opinion, it reduces you to the level of the people I have struggled to leave behind. The ones who give religion a bad name. I used those people as examples of what not to be. I used them to become who I am today.

You Do Not Matter because I have ceased to listen to you. You have become the noise that I flee, the irritations that I see over my shoulder in the mirror. You do not matter because you do not listen. So much white noise in your own ears, you’ve forgotten that there are other ways.

You do not matter to me, but I hope that someday, a blanket will fall over your head. I hope it drowns out the noise and lets you look at the world from someone else’s eyes. I hope you will someday find peace in silence, strength in your own eyes, and love in your own heart.

Then you will matter, not just to me, but to the world, to your loved ones, to yourself. Good luck.

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Job, Not Reward: Links

Posted in Rants, Uncategorized on November 5, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Manuscript formatting for both long and short stories.

Janet Reid’s blog, always fun, informative, and blunt.

Also by Janet, Query Shark, a must-read for anyone writing queries.

The sheer amount of information in Nathan Bransford’s blog is astounding.

Colleen Lindsay has experience in many areas of publishing, spanning quite a few years. Lots of tasty morsels here.

Rachelle Gardner posts tons of helpful columns for writers at every stage of publication.

Timothy Hallinan has a lovely long series of articles on how to succeed as a writer. Go. Read it.

A great collection of resource links.

There are a ton of other places to find info. But these should get you started. Enjoy!

It’s a Job, Not a Reward

Posted in Rants, Theories and Thoughts, work, writing with tags , , , on November 4, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Well then, that was special. The happy-happy about where I live is that some moron decided to put the cable box right at the entrance to our subdivision. Right at the side of a very busy road. A very busy road that has many, many accidents right at the entrance to our subdivision.

Seeing the pattern here? Yeah. There was an accident this afternoon apparently, so I’ve been without internet for four hours.

Of course, I did all the non-internet stuff early this morning…when I still had internet. And since half of what I needed to do today was ONLINE…it hasn’t been quite as productive a day as I was hoping.

Oh well.

I guess this means (since at the time of writing, I STILL don’t have internet…) that I might as well write a nice long post.

About…hmm. Nothing springs to mind.

Ooo, I know, a rant. Yes, a rant.

See, I’ve seen a lot of questions basically saying ‘how do I get published?’ ‘how do I write a query letter?’ etc etc etc. Those are all good questions, right?

Well, kinda. But the problem is, a lot of the time, it’s pretty obvious that they want the easy answer. Most of these questions are easily answered by a quick Google search.

And you know what? That’s how I found out all my answers. Every time I answer someone’s questions about something related to writing or publishing, I swear they say ‘wow, you know so much!’.

Behold the power of Google. There are literally hundreds of blogs, ‘ask the agent’ and Q&A sites. Agents and publishers have Twitter too, where they talk about the daily problems associated with publishing and give lots and lots of hints and tips. And, to top off the deal, there are writer’s forums, where you can go read, ask and learn.

“But there’s so much! How do I know what’s real?”

This is actually a really valid question. There must be a dozen ‘how to write a query letter’ sites out there…at least. I stumbled all over those for a while before I figured it out. It can be hard sometimes, to figure out what is valid and up-to-date.

That’s where reading the articles on agency sites, and SFWA can be so useful. They tend to keep up pretty well with what you need to send.

Reading the blogs of newly-published authors is useful too. A lot of the time, these people are going to be talking about what it’s like, how they did it, what they have to do. This is not only good, but priceless.

What you don’t want to do is go around asking ‘how do I get published? How do I write a cover letter?’
Every successful author, agent, editor and publisher has gone through years of research, experience, study and confusion. Do you really expect to bypass all that? That’s what classes and seminars are for. Agent and writers get paid to do those. It’s part of how they make money. Shelling out advice for free is nice and some people will do it, but they get dozens of those questions every day, and the best you’ll probably get is a ‘go research’.

If you do get that answer, don’t get pissed. That’s virtual suicide. The publishing world is a small, tightly-knit one. Everyone has lunch with everyone else. So if you do go off about how unhelpful someone is, chances are, you won’t be all that welcome any more. It’s not rudeness. It’s you have your job, they have their job.

And that’s really what it boils down to. You have your job. Consider the research to be schoolwork. Read, study, do your homework. Writing is a job. No one’s going to do it for you.

So next time you have a question, Google it. There’s a lot of stuff out there to find.

Tomorrow I’ll post some of those resources. After all, it is always nice to get a bit of a headstart from someone!

*edit* Apparently, it’s just me that got lucky. No internet at all, and something seems to be broken. So I’m offline until at least tomorrow night. Gotta love it.

An Inherent Headache

Posted in novels, Rants, writing on October 23, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Ay carumba I hate editing. With a burning, snarling passion. It’s one thing with a short story. Twenty edits on a short story is better than ten edits on a novel. But see, I’m a short-tempered perfectionist. I want to be perfect… right now.

Delusional what?

Add that impatience to the fact that Inherent is a strong, strong concept, and you can imagine how high my expectations for this story are. I’m working with pre-existing material too, or at least a lot of it is already in place.

And yet, I loathe this book and feel like I’m up against a blank wall. I zone out after a few pages. I still can’t figure out why one character is doing her particular thing.

This story was too ambitious for my skill level I think. Red Sun was a mess. I’m actually trashing and rewriting that novel. I don’t think that’s the right move for Inherent.

I wanted it done by Jan. 1. But, can I do that? I’ve been fiddling with it for two months now. I need to step back and gain perspective.

The real problems are Txikia and Sviera. Please, please, do yourself a favor and never try to write a truly mad character as a lead. No. Just…don’t. Sviera really doesn’t have reasons for half of what she does, and she’s moving farther into insanity with every expenditure of her power.

Txikia has her own plans, and her own revenge. She’s working towards a similar goal as Sviera, but from different motivations and at cross-purposes. She’s an anti-hero playing the villain.

The other problem? 110,000 and this book is rushed. Badly. So I have two options.

Plan A: Break apart Logrozana, Abadinur and Kadaraita into separate books to make a trilogy. Abadinur, at just shy of 50,000 words could easily benefit from another 30,000 words. Logrozana and Kadaraita could also be at least doubled.

But trilogies and not only cliche, they are hard to sell. So I’d need to try and lead off with something else to find an agent.

Plan B: Take 1 week to rip through the book, deleting right and left. 3 weeks at 8000 words a day, pounding out a plot change, expanding, editing. STILL have a finished rough by the end of December, and hopefully, both the pressure and the clear eye I need. I’ll probably do that anyways, although December is a terrible month to do that in.

At the moment, I quite honestly hate writing as a business. I love it as a hobby, but I’m going to try and take the rest of October and the first half of November to write what I want, research, read, take a breather, because I’m burned out at the moment. And I have other things crowding my mind and making writing share too little space.

Dammit.

The Right Way?

Posted in Musings, Rants, writing with tags , , on September 29, 2009 by Jaym Gates

School seems to give us the idea that there is a right way to do things, and a wrong way. No possible multiple avenues, no right-hand versus left-hand. Do this, do it this way, have this result.

Anyone who knows me, can guess how well that worked. I clearly remember a 6th grade math assignment. We had to do a sheet of problems and show our work. I got an ‘F’ on the paper. The teacher told me I’d gotten every single answer right…but I’d used the wrong method.

Er, if I got the RIGHT answer EVERY time, wouldn’t that suggest that I did do them correctly? Color me confused. I’ve always had dyslexia issues with math, but that one incident set a deep-rooted hatred for math in my black soul. I can’t do the problem right. My mind just doesn’t work that way. I can’t show my work, because I don’t Point A—>Point B—>Point C. I’m not that linear. Therefore, I barely scraped through math with a lot of tutoring and acing my tests.

Oh yes, let me qualify this a bit. Even in my worst subject–math–my test scores were always years ahead of my grade-level. I can do long division in my head but not on paper. I can trace a series of past minor events over the course of weeks. I have a photographic memory. Placement tests screwed me because I aced them, and then couldn’t do the work.

English is the same. I can’t diagram a sentence to save my life, and “i before e except…” still aggravates me. But I’m the resident spell-check/dictionary/encyclopedia for any place I work or socialize. I write fiction and have had non-fiction published, but I’d fail a sixth-grade English test.

In short, I always get the correct answer. I just don’t get there on the same route most of my teachers/peers do. This has always been a troubling facet of my life, to say the least!

How does this relate to writing? I taught myself the craft of writing. I read everything I could get my hands on, studied query letters and drafts, practiced. And found that the ‘right way’ didn’t work for me, again.

I don’t do three drafts. For a novel, I only have two ‘drafts’: the really rough one, and the one that got padded up. After that, I go through it over, and over, and over again. What counts as a draft there? Each time I finish going through the book? When it’s done? Hmmm, is it ever done?

For short stories, again, the two drafts. Rough, polish, submit. Editing is easy in short stories, since I write at second-draft standards at least. I don’t make character charts, I don’t sketch out every event.

I listened for months to friends bitching about their creative writing classes. How there was a certain style the teacher liked, how most things they submitted just weren’t up to standard, or how a teacher used her own work as a standard.

How is that creative? How is that teaching the students how to be creative? Why is the human mind so intent on structuring creativity and expression?

The best part of being human is being creative. We compose heart-breaking music, paint breath-taking art, write soul-chilling books. Our view of the world is shaped by what we see, hear and read. Every one of us responds differently to the same piece of art or music, we give the protagonist a different face from the one our sister gives her.

Art and creativity, whatever form they may take, are an integral part of what makes us a unique species. Our personal reactions build our personalities. But it is what we give, rather than what we take, that defines us. We can read a thousand books and write one paragraph to a local newspaper. Which will be known? Which will be remembered? The single paragraph. Art is a community project, bits and pieces and baring a bit of your soul in public. Art is human soul and emotion.

And when it comes to the human soul, to emotion, there is no ‘right way’. This isn’t a hive-mind, a dictatorship. The mind is sacred, holy, the domain of itself and whatever it chooses to believe in. It is not the right of anyone to dictate how we think, we feel, we see the world.

I think we need fewer classes in the ‘Right Way’, fewer teachers who have a yard-stick and expect a student to hit the right points at the right time, fewer parents who send their kids to soccer, karate, ballet, swimming, theatre and whatever else can be crammed in.

We need more time for kids to stop and think. More time for them to finger-paint, to play in the mud and yell at the sky. More time for the adults to be right out there with them, throwing leaves and singing off-key songs. Less time to be ‘right’, to do ‘the right thing’, and more time to live.

We need to take time to be human.

(For the inevitable comments… No, I’m not advocating racism, anarchy or the dissolution of morality and the school system. I’m advocating letting yourself and those around you draw a breath of fresh air.)

Oh my god…

Posted in Personal Life, Rants on August 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

…I am going to be exhausted next weekend. And this day is already odd.

First off though, I went through some ‘junk’ folders on my desktop. Most of them are catch-alls for ideas, unfinished stories, etc. Now, in the days before I started writing short stories, most ideas got tossed in there for the eventual novel.

Well, uh, there are some pretty nice things in there. Things just BEGGING to be short stories. Which means that I have my writing scheduled until the end of the year most like. Woohoo?

In other news… I was told today that I’d make someone a great wife. I’ll spare you my rant, I’m proud of myself for sparing the offender the rant. But that really does make me see red. I mean, is that REALLY the best you can imagine for me?

Oh, and what triggered that comment? “You are always going aren’t you? Always working hard.” Um, yes. So apparently that means I will be great at keeping this mythical husband happy.

Bullshit. And this was a smart, attractive, 30-ish professional woman telling me that. Did I mention bullshit?

Whoops!

Posted in Personal Life, Rants with tags , on July 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

So apparently, Firefox has this warning that you shouldn’t try to run Yahoo toolbars or anything on it. Because, y’know, it’s incompatible. Well, that apparently also assumes that Yahoo asks if you wantto run one of their programs. And Yahoo does not ask me these things.

So, basically, I have internet… And haven’t really had a browser. I still have to clear the search history every time I want to use Firefox. *faceplant* Goddamned Yahoo, way to live up to your name.

In other news, I’ve started a new short story. I have a loose plot, a nice setting, and 600 words down. It will not be part of the Shadow and Soul world at this point. It is fantasy however and it is character-driven. It’s also written present-tense with very little dialog. I’m hoping to make it a similar feel to Write a New Name but to keep it under 6000 words. So it should take me about 15 days to do the rough draft, since it isn’t my primary focus. 400 words a day, m’thinks.

Now off to drop my mother off at Enterprise and then on to work on 3-ish hours of sleep! (I have not had a night this week over 6 hours. Yay summer.)