Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fear of?

I was migrainey this weekend, and could not make myself write a blog post. Sorry. Much better today, but getting a query out and starting a new sewing project are time consuming.

I am also having a little difficulty, at the moment, forcing myself to perform serious, coordinated, public speech. This makes querying very hard indeed, as terror seizes me in the moment before hitting "send" or sealing the envelope. I don't know what this terror is about, but it's remarkably similar to fear of the dark, both in the way it feels, and the degree to which it is productive or meaningful.

The good news is, it's only fear. No one has ever yet chopped off my hands for daring to send a query, any more than the monster has ever seized me from behind on my way to the bathroom. The important thing here is to know that, once I get the button hit or the envelope sealed, the fear will go away. (As it will when I return to bed, feeling every so much better. And no, it never, ever occurs to me to turn on the lights.) So that's an incentive to do the deed and get it over with.

This is not the same as a full-on anxiety attack. I don't get short of breath, I don't shake, my chest doesn't hurt, none of that stuff. If querying gives you those symptoms, seek professional help - it's no good resigning yourself to never getting what you want because your body is doing stupid crap to you so you can't take the steps necessary to deal with it. Not when there is such a thing as professional help!

If you're afraid of doing something that is necessary to get what you want, and it's not a full-on treatable condition, and you don't face the fear down and do what is necessary - you not only not going to get what you want, ever, guaranteed; but you will also continue being afraid. All that is necessary to make that sick feeling go away is, to do the necessary thing.

Anyway, if I fail to meet your Free Idea Generation needs in the future, I suggest you get on tumbler. The thing is overflowing with them. Rejected Princesses, for example, chock-full of real-life (more or less) heroines you never heard of. Medieval POC is also chock-full of inspiration. So, see, you don't need me! (Slinks off to cut out slacks.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Idea Garage Sale: That Witch Girl

That Witch Girl story I linked to still bothers me.

I don't like even calling her "Witch Girl" because that implies more than is known; also, the Italian usage of it may imply something different than what leaps to my English-primary mind.

The key thing is the contrast. Why and how does anyone get buried in a dishonored position in an honored place? How sure are the archeologists that she was buried face-down, and that the position is not down to the body shifting in the coffin during decomposition? (Or even, because she was buried alive?)

She was 13 years old. How does a thirteen-year-old girl arouse enough ire and respect to be buried dishonorably in a place of honor?

And then I look at who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year and remember, Oh, yeah, teenage girls are awesome. Teenage girls require the entire weight of societal disapproval, scorn, and trivialization to keep them down, and then it often doesn't work. If anybody's going to get that kind of reaction, it's a teenage girl!

She was a 13-year-old girl. She had some kind of power. She was not mature enough to wield that power safely; was she mature enough to take advice without relinquishing it? What kind of power was it? Over whom?

She died. Does that mean she couldn't exercise that power on her own behalf? That she trusted the wrong people?

Did she save anyone else?

This is a book that deserves to be researched; but it is a theme that deserves theorizing ahead of the data.

Friday, October 10, 2014

News: Death Sucks :P

Zilpha Keatley Snyder died.

All I ever wanted was a career like hers. But our own career is all we ever get. I never met her, so this is not a personal loss. The books, after all, are still here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

News: Art is Older than You Thought

For the longest time, the assumption has been that the cave paintings of southern Europe indicate an artistic revolution that happened when humans got to Europe.

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been paying attention to archeology's big picture, some artworks in Indonesia, when someone gets around to dating them, prove to be even older.

Yup. That's how it works. If we had the first piece of art, it would hail from Africa. Like everything else human.

We really, seriously, need to get used to that.

Nothing is more human than art. If there's art, there's a human. If there's humans, there's art. Count on it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

News: Italian Witch Girl Burial

A Vatican archeological team has dug up an unexpected burial in northern Italy. In a privileged position in front of the church, the 13-year-old girl was buried in the disgraced face-down position, and she was not at all healthy while she lived.

Nothing revealed so far indicates why she was buried this way, but she's already been dubbed "The Witch Girl," and if you don't see the YA novel waiting to happen here, I don't even know why you're at this blog.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Idea Garage Sale: Someone Your Own Size

One of the reasons bullies exist is, that people like to feel powerful, and some people are so ineffective in the world, that tormenting those who can't fight back is the only avenue they see open to them to gain this satisfaction.

One of the traditional admonishments of bullies is the odd one: "Why don't you go pick on someone your own size?" As if picking on people weren't a bad thing in and of itself. (And as if the reason weren't clear enough: "Because I might lose a fair fight.")

But suppose we have a bully character who takes the implied advice.

How does she determine relative size? A kid in a wheelchair may be the same size, but at a physical disadvantage - how does she count on the "size" scale? And just because the bully perceives a physical disadvantage, doesn't mean it's real - perhaps the kid in the wheelchair has highly-developed upper body strength, not to mention a large metal object she's adept at using. Adults viewing an altercation between a large muscular kid and the scrawny science nerd will not factor in the nerd's grasp of strategy and knowledge of anatomy, which the bully knows make her the most deadly opponent in sixth grade.

How different is bullying from a dominance battle between two animals who must share territory?

What about cyberbullies? How do you judge relative size on the internet? Especially since nothing is done in isolation there - one side or the other is capable of attracting a swarm, and it often can't be predicted ahead of time which.

Suppose a person who starts as a bully, but is intelligent and self-aware enough to understand and admit to herself her own motivations, realizes that the only other people the same size as her are - other bullies? And she starts picking solely on them?

Does that turn her into a hero over time? Does it turn other bullies into victims? (They'll certainly think so - nobody howls louder than a bully who gets some of his own back.)

Does it matter why she does something; or does it only matter how she is perceived by those around her?

Dig too deep here and you get into the insoluble problem of human evil. So don't dig too deep. Stick to developing the character.

What even counts as a happy ending here?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dreaming the Solution

Last night I had a dream that clearly exposed and worked out some major plot problems.

Unfortunately, I realized about five minutes after waking up, they were for a book I am not writing and know nothing about.

Hmph.

Butt back in chair. At the moment I don't even believe in the WIP. Which is not a reason not to work on it.