Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Progress of a Sort; and, Sorry I Stood You Up

I seem to have lost a Sunday. The gaming group met for breakfast in order to get more time playing, and by the time we got home I'd forgotten all about the Garage Sale.

Maybe I'll do two next Sunday to make up. Or, maybe I won't.

I'm up to the Fifteenth Chapter (for some reason Len wanted to number them that way rather than the usual formats; don't look at me, I just work here) and have no sense whatsoever of how confused the reader will be at starting where we do, or at what pace I need to feed out details, or how many are really necessary, or whether cutting the first three chapters will change the last one sufficiently that I have to cut it, too.

But you wouldn't expect to know that stuff on the first pass through.

So far, my big regret is losing one sentence: "They'd probably had cream at dinner, but a strawberry is like a woman - what it is makes us smile and what it wears is lagniappe." I love that sentence. An awful lot of Len is in that sentence. But let it go. It's not the first darling I ever killed, nor will it be the last.

And the one-line pitch for a completely different book keeps rattling around in there, but hasn't miraculously improved while I wasn't looking.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time to be Flexible

An IT person was once approached by a business administrator frustrated by the persistent refusal of IT to submit time estimates on the grounds that there was no basis on which to make them. The business administrator asked: "How long does it take you to write a line of code?"

If you substitute "line of poetry" or "sentence of story" in that sentence, you will be able to make much the same response as the IT person did, whether you've ever written a line of code yourself, or not.

Because it's all the same thing. Lines and sentences, paragraphs, books, coherent arguments - they're all an end product of a process of accumulation, analysis, experiment, test, refinement, reanalysis, revision, more accumulation, etc., that takes as long as it takes. You can, with deadlines and good work habits and concentration, move them along efficiently; but what you can't do is multiply the length of time it takes you to do one unit, multiply it by the other units, and come up with a realistic time estimate. Time estimates are always guesses based on your past experience, your sense of the complexity of the task relative to other similar tasks, and hope.

I've been writing this stupid one-line pitch more or less continuously since, I dunno, May? Maybe April? It rolls around in my head and whatever I do to it, it's still dreadful. I have the entire rest of the query put together. Only the damn pitch holds me up.

So I'm going to go start a major rewrite of the lesbian western (except I think it's more accurate to call it a transgender western). It'll take less time.

But I'll still be working on the pitch.

Maybe one day I'll wake up with a workable draft of it in my head. Probably about the time I hit a snag in the rewrite. If I'm lucky.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Timing. I Don't Have Any.

You know how sometimes all you want to do is fire off a quick query before you settle in to concentrate on some different project, but you suddenly see how you might restructure large chunks of the book to make it move faster, which might or might not make it more saleable?

Yeah, well, that's where I am with Len. I'm also supposed to be working on a pitch line for Nightmare in Shining Armor and reading up on Texas/border history and folklore so I can hold my own at WorldCon. But I'm wondering if maybe I should start with the shots Len hears, flash back a bit to leaving home and Maudie's rejection, reveal all that in bits and pieces. Basically start at the end of chapter three and spread the first two chapters out to appear as internal reflections during the slow bits of Len getting from Point A to Point B.

Because the problem I have over and over is that, told linearly, the first two chapters don't mesh well with the main action of the book. The characters in them don't even appear again till the final chapter when she runs into her brother at the State Fair. I'm not certain that this is a weakness in the book in any absolute, objective sense; but I'm certain it's a characteristic of the book that makes it harder to sell to a person who got 150 new queries today and still has 20 she didn't get to yesterday. I'm also certain it doesn't hurt anything to experiment with it - the old version will still be there, after all. So I'll be doing it, but I have to stop myself from sliding right into it. This is a full-focus job.

And the pitch line for Nightmare is as fun as ever. At the moment it reads: Galen drinks foster sister Bethany's blood to drain the bad stuff out of her life; but their shared fantasy deteriorates even as it comes true when Galen's called on to slay a vampire. Pretty sure that sucks. Which isn't as big an asset in the genre as you'd think.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Redirect

So I'm going to be lazy this morning, but you'll thank me for it.

The blog Disability in Kidlit addresses subjects of vital literary interest, and in particular the recent post Discussion #3: What Would You Like to See More of? is chock-full of brilliance. Like for example, from S.E. Smith:
I don’t want to see the disability version of the whitewashed form of diversity sometimes seen with authors trying to write characters of colour where a one-off mention is made to a character being Black or Latina/o and it never comes up again, depriving characters of cultural context–I want to see a character’s disability mentioned and playing a role in the narrative, but not as its own character. (A wheelchair user who’s a hacker, for example, and gets frustrated with the stairs at the local hackerspace. A schizophrenic character who thinks her meds need adjustment when she really is seeing ghosts. A D/deaf or HoH teen witch who’s pissed about uncaptioned YouTube videos. Get imaginative!)

That bolded bit is brilliant!

Of course, you'd have to know quite a bit about schizophrenics and schizophrenia, and by that I don't just mean library research. Knowledge can be acquired. I've known a few schizophrenics, but not intimately. Enough to know that they can be annoying to be around, if they don't accept or understand their own condition, but that if they're on top of their illness, the accommodations others have to make around them are no more onerous than adjusting to someone with mobility problems: i.e., not onerous enough to make a fuss over. A writer with schizophrenia (Virginia Woolf was, remember, so don't try to tell me that having this condition is enough to disqualify one as a writer!), who works with mental and emotional conditions, or with a close family member with the condition would be in the best position to do so. But it's not impossible for a sufficiently dedicated researcher with no direct experience, yet. After all, a person with a disability is simply someone who doesn't mesh perfectly with the world around her - and who hasn't felt that way at least occasionally?

And it could be awesome.

And enlightening.

And completely mutilated in the blockbuster Hollywood movie adaptation; but of what awesome and enlightening work is this not true?

Anyway, you the reader or I the blogger may not be up to carrying out some of the specific ideas presented, but this should be enough to get you thinking. Because these are reasonable desires and the road to fulfillment is wide open. And creativity springs from limitation.

(And bookmark or follow that blog while you're about it.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Upcoming Public Conversation, or What Am I? Crazy?

I got my schedules for LoneStar Con - the World SF convention in San Antonio this Labor Day weekend - and boy am I intimidated. Here's how it looks:

What Happened to US-Based Spanish Language Publishing?
Friday 10:00 - 11:00
Less than a decade ago Spanish-language readers in the US were looked upon as next big untapped market, a rare bright spot of growth in the otherwise saturated book market. So what happened? Did US publishers fail to find the Spanish readers, or were they never there to begin with?
Liz Gorinsky, Peni Griffin, Norman Spinrad, Rudy Ch. Garcia (rudy.ch.garcia@gmail.com), Miguel Angel Fernandez

Dear heaven, what did I checkmark to make them think I might be qualified to sit on a panel like this? I’ll be in the audience but the amount of research I’d have to do to be a useful contributor is too much. Somebody should really represent the educational/MG/YA angle though. Why didn't they get Guadalupe Garcia McCall to do it? She’s teaches MG and is on the front lines of the demographic wave.

Yellow Roses: Texas SF/F Authors and Traditions
Friday 13:00 - 14:00
Women writing sf/f in the Lone Star state talk about their work including their influences and challenges.
Elizabeth Moon, Peni Griffin, Stina Leicht, Lillian Stewart Carl

I’ll be there with bells on. Figurative ones, anyway.

The Future of the Border
Friday 14:00 - 15:00
The future of the (US-Mexico) border as fortification, as passage, as imaginative interzone, as DMZ. The future of the Mexico-US relationship, including the Mexicanization of the US and the Americanization of Mexico.
Madeline Ashby, Walter Hunt, Peni Griffin, Dave Hardy, Chris N. Brown

I’ll have to do research for this to make sure I'm up to snuff. Oh dear, I'll have to go to the library, however will I bear it? :)

Alternate Mexicos and Alternate Texases
Friday 16:00 - 17:00
Dave Hardy, Alberto Chimal, Harry Turtledove, Peni Griffin

Bring it on.

Mexican Folklore
Saturday 10:00 - 11:00
Carole Parker, Bridget Duffy, Peni Griffin, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Miguel Angel Fernandez

More research to make sure I've got stuff at my tongue's end, but I can do this. It's too bad the Anglo names outnumber the Spanish ones but I'll try not to run my mouth too much. I work best as a support figure in this context.

You've Got Texas in my Epic Fantasy: The Lone Star State as Setting/Influence in Speculative Fiction
Saturday 12:00 - 13:00
Texas is a weird place. They have a whole city devoted to staying Weird. What makes Texas so weird? And how does the weirdness of Texas spill over into its massive creative community? Our panelists will attempt to futilely struggle with an answer that may be bigger than San Antonio.
Peggy Hailey, Martha Wells, Don Webb, Howard Waldrop, Peni Griffin

Ha! Yes! Bring it on!

Xenoarchaeology in SF
Saturday 13:00 - 14:00
Xenoarchaeology, a field of hypothetical science concerned with the physical remains of extraterrestrial civilizations, can be traced back to the Giovanni Schiaperelli's 1877 observation of channels on Mars. Xenoarchaeological themes are common in science fiction. Examples of xenoarchaeological fiction include Arthur C. Clarke's novel Rendezvous with Rama and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Frederick Pohl's Gateway, and The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt. Come and discuss this popular subgenre. What might real xenoarchaeology look like?
Marianne Dyson, Charles E. Gannon, Peni Griffin, William Ledbetter

I hope I’m not too disappointing in this one but I know Marianne, I'll be hobnobbing with archeologists soon, and I’ll give it a go.

Cambrian explosion: a Developmental toolkit for complex body plans
Monday 11:00 - 12:00
Peni Griffin, Mel White, Jeffrey Shanks

I’m so sorry, this is waaaaaay too early for my limited paleontological expertise. I was hoping for megafauna. I hate to leave them with only two people, but I couldn’t contribute enough, even with research. I hope to be in the audience asking intelligent questions, though.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Like What I Like 'Cause I Like It

So there's this thing that keeps happening, across a broad spectrum of my pursuits.

For example, I may be trying to have a critical discussion of a recognized classic, and become the butt of a sneer along the lines of: "Well, I refuse to be impressed with all you Shakespeare-reading posers." (I don't expect you to be impressed; I expect you to skip conversations about Shakespeare if you don't enjoy Shakespeare and let me and the other people who do like it talk about how to pronounce the puns if we want to.)

Or a game may (okay, probably will) be undergoing an edition war (in which players of the new edition and players of an older edition square off and insult each other's taste in game mechanics) when the next edition comes out; at which point some player of the new edition will say something like "Oh, so now all you hipsters who play 1E will have to move on to 2E in order to remain remotely relevant, while the rest of us move on to 3E." (Relevant to whom?)

Or I may say "No, thanks, have you got anything low-sodium and vegetarian" and be pounced on with a diatribe about how hypocritical I am, pretending to be better than the speaker. (I don't like meat and it gives me health crap, all right? You're the one injecting a moral dimension into my food choices.)

All of this comes down to the same thing: people who do things, not because they're right or fun or interesting or healthy or what they happen to feel like doing, but out of an expectation that other people will react to them a certain way for doing those things, and assume that this is the only reason anybody does anything.

We judge others by ourselves. Only once we accept that can we see other people's points of view and write them as rounded characters, or accept them as full human beings and learn to phrase what we wish to say to them in ways that they will be able to hear and understand, rather than both of us talking past each other.

Bear it in mind next time someone does this to you, or you hear yourself doing it to someone else. It's disturbing, and annoying, but it's also interesting.

And all is grist that comes to the mill.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Fun with Titles

Sometimes you just sit and make lists of titles, you know?

You don't? Well, have some.

The Assimilated Man. I feel like I may have remembered rather than invented this one.
Storm Front. (And it's sequel, Storm Back? What about Storm Side?)
In Case I Forget.
Mountain Time.
The Bad Old Days.
Hot Potato, Bad Tomato. A Love Story. (Insomnia, what can I say?)
Of Course I Will, If You Want Me To.
Bad Love. And its sequel, Good Hate. All wrapped up in the final book of the trilogy, Neutral Indifference.
Neural Pathways through the Forest of the Mind.
A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Chernobyl.
Building a Better Mantrap.
Brunettes Have More Money.
The Torrid Latitudes.
Cruise Ship of Destiny.
The Flying Minuteman.
The Dogs of Peace.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sense of Place

Yesterday was my birthday. I took it off, though not entirely voluntarily. I was wiped from showing downtown to a woman who's resided in San Antonio for five years and has finally decided she wants to live here.

Far too many people hunker down in their homes and their limited drive radius, and never get to know and love where they're living. I don't understand it. Okay, it's kind of hard for me to get out of the study sometimes, too, but when I do go places, I go there mindfully. I want to know where I'm going, what used to be there, what's cool about it.

Every place has something cool about it. Take it from an ex-service brat. Every. Single. Place.

And everywhere in the world is boring from inside a car. Get out and walk! Bicycle! Take the bus!

I resented moving as much as we did - two places in Texas before my long-term memories started forming, then two places in Alaska, my folks' home town in Iowa while Dad was in 'Nam, a suburb of Washington DC, and a long, long tour in West Texas. But it gave me good habits and a strong sense of the importance of place. Except for the Texas-Alaska move, we drove from station to station, and we stopped at historical markers. It didn't occur to me till I grew up that being in a car all day with three squabbling children might have motivated any of these stops; I internalized the notion that what's on historical markers is important enough to stop for. And it is! When she found out where we were going, Mom would check books out of the library about it, both nonfiction and fiction when she could find it. Once we were there, we went and looked at the things people from elsewhere traveled to that place to look at. When we lived in the suburb of DC, we visited the Smithsonian more than once. We took day trips to the places around us. Where ever we were, we lived there.

And when I came to live in San Antonio, this approach rewarded me more richly than it is possible to say. This town is endlessly, fascinatingly lovable. So when my friends need a native guide, I'm who they call. I may be a bit out of touch with where construction is this week or what the current bus schedules is like - but I can tell you the ghost stories for the buildings we walk past. I can take you where the egrets fish. I can show you where Switching Well happened and tell you about the clock tower of the Southwest Center for Arts and Crafts, which used to be the Ursuline Academy. And going with Old Ben Milam into San Antonio. And the bathing houses, and the bridges, and moving the Fairmount, and the riot at the auditorium, and the floods. I can give you the facts, and the stories, and the slightly dubious things the guides on the boats say.

I know this because I love it. And I love it's fun. And it's fun because it feeds my brain. When I go somewhere else, I want to go looking for this same kind of fun. I'm not afraid in strange places. I've got a little common sense and I know how to do the lost tourist dance - I'm not going to get so lost I can't get home.

Your town is as wonderful as mine. But if I visited you, I would want you to prove it to me.

Can you?

What's stopping you?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Interlude, with Animals

I realize that it's dark and Miss Thai is not sitting on my keyboard. So I go down to the back door and call through the screen, singing the Thai song (which is the chorus of "The Boxer" with a string of "Thais" instead of "La la li") to summon her. It's dark. Something white, but not white enough, approaches with cat-like approaching sounds. I turn on the outside light to be sure.

"You called?" The raccoon on the steps sits up and twitches her whiskers at me.

"You are not my cat," I say.

"But I live here," says the raccoon. "You might as well let me in."

"Sorry," I say, and go call out the front door, where Thai appears. "Where have you been?" She demands. "Get up there on the computer so I can snub you!"

I know it ought to bother me that raccoons live in our attic, but they keep the rats out and in any case none of the people who were supposed to bid on projects to exclude them from the attic has ever gotten back to us. I believe the height of our roof terrifies them. The coons don't get into the trash because there's nothing worth their while in the trash. It all goes on the compost heap. I don't really garden enough to keep a compost heap, but it's well worth it for keeping the wildlife and the sour smells outside rather than in.

And Thai typically snubs me elaborately for five minutes or so. If she really wants to punish me she stays outside out of my line of sight as I call and call and imagine horrible deaths she might have suffered, then appears magically as soon as my husband comes out to look for her.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Behind a Beard

Here's a profoundly uncomfortable place to go for those who write books about relationships for grown-ups, and particularly those with an historical bent: The Beard Marriage.

I'm not sure how or when the term "beard," obviously with the connotation of the "fake beard" as an emblem of disguise, came to be referred to apparent heterosexual relationships adopted to hide one or both partners' homosexual identity. It can't be very old, since the concept of sexual identity is a modern one; but of course it's been done as long as societal pressure started tending to force adults into male/female procreative teams regardless of personal preference; i.e., as long as marriage has existed as an institution.

Marriage was invented, as near as I can tell, as an economic relationship, and in some societies (like classical Greece) the nature of marriage has been so fundamentally different from our modern Western norm as to be unrecognizable. In those cases, a bonding between people with incompatible gender preferences or identities would not be included in the category; but that still leaves huge swathes of time during which an irreducible minimum of people found themselves in married couples that were sexually irreconcilable and had to make the best of it. And if you stop and think about it, the situation is tailor-made for high-tension relationship drama.

Take the least problematical case: Both parties are gay, and the marriage is undertaken between friends as a mutual protection from the noxious societal nosiness directed at single people in general and people with nonstandard preferences in particular. Both understand the situation and they work together to protect each other's real love lives. That sounds workable, doesn't it?

Well, yes, but - what about the person each party could really fall in love with? If they both develop strong love relationships, but need to maintain the front of the happy married couple for purposes of passing with the community, what kind of juggling goes on? How do the lovers feel when they see the married couple playing their act at parties? What happens if the lover and the spouse don't get along? What if the married couple decide to have sex for reproductive purposes? What happens when crises arise in two interlocking relationships at once - if the lover gets sick and the spouse has to relocate for work? Would it even be possible to maintain permanent same-sex side relationships, or would they all break themselves against the rock of the Official Marriage?

And how do the bonds of friendship change, in the context of a formal, legal relationship? As anyone who's ever been around a divorce knows, marriage is a powerful closed system, even when it fails. No one outside it can safely interfere - no matter how toxic the couple, it will close ranks and turn as one against intruders. And if the couple isn't toxic, if it's companionate and compatible and a complete marriage except in the crucial area of sexual union - my goodness, how does that work?

Then there's the green card marriage. In times when getting out of one country and into another is urgently important and absurdly difficult, one way to facilitate the transfer is to marry a citizen of the country desired. During World War II, gay citizens of England and America were regarded by their friends, and to a certain extent by themselves, as especially appropriate providers of this sort of marriage of convenience. It might even come to feel like a duty, to someone who couldn't legally marry a romantic partner, to provide this escape route for an asylum seeker. W.H. Auden's marriage to Erika Mann was of this type, and to the best of my knowledge it succeeded in getting her out of Nazi Germany without causing much in the way of headache to either of them. But it can't always work that smoothly. What if the danger being escaped is more subtle than Nazis? What if the government is being particularly nosy? Many of these marriages were between relative strangers - what if the asylum-seeker, or the would-be economic immigrant, turned out to be someone who didn't merit the gesture? Someone, perhaps, who was willing to blackmail a putative husband who would lose his job if outed? That's a potential thriller plot, I think - especially if the husband is in a confidential government job.

Finally, let's consider the most common type of beard marriage during the twentieth century - the great deception. The one in which a homosexual raised in a homophobic environment lies to family, spouse, world, and frequently self in order to enter a heterosexual marriage. Such a union is doomed to failure, but is capable of looking like the neo-con ideal of nuclear family life. Given the prominence of claustrophobic marital traps in late 20th-century fiction, how is it we have so few explorations of this model?

I've always felt that "Would you want your daughter to marry one?" should be an effective slogan for gay rights. Because I'm positive that 90% of parents who pressure their gay children to enter heterosexual marriages would recoil from the prospect of their sons and daughters lying to the mothers and fathers of their grandchildren and raising their children in a dishonest household, if they could be made to see that this is what they're asking for. Because there aren't often any villains in this scenario. It's a case of everybody doing what they think they're supposed to do and trying to make the unworkable work. Mutual bearding at least provides a small space for honesty inside the disguised couple; one-sided use of a beard is cruel and corrupts the process from the git-go, even - maybe especially - when the gay member of the couple is marrying his or her straight best friend. Which, face it, is far the most common scenario when this sort of thing happens in real life.

It is even possible, given the screwed-up idealistic way sex, marriage, and family life have been treated in popular media and public education since the early 20th century (and to a certain extent before that) for a person to grow up with his or her romantic and erotic urges entirely separated, so that he (to obnoxiously pick a pronoun for ease of composition) is only capable of romantic feelings toward women, but only capable of erotic feelings toward men. What possible happy ending can he manage to extract from his life?

Enough nuances and possibilities exist here that I could go on all day. Honestly it makes the range of soul-searing dramatic possibilities open to purely heterosexual couples seem limited! Perhaps it's the excruciating pain without any viable villain to blame it on that keeps people from writing about it; perhaps it's fear of casting a villain and having that villain taken to represent all wives, or all husbands, or all women, or all men, or all heterosexuals, or all homosexuals, or all parents.

The time to write books about this is now, when the practice still exists but its causes are dying; when we can finally talk frankly about such topics without being automatically labeled "obscene," and minds are in the process of changing.

Perhaps, because I hardly ever read a grown-up book, the subject is addressed more commonly and more intelligently than I think it is.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

For What It's Worth Coming from Someone White as Rice

So yesterday in the morning I read Lee & Low's blog post about why diversity in children's books isn't any better than it was 20 years ago, and went out to do yardwork while I had cool morning to do it in and composed a post on the topic. Which is difficult, because in a lot of ways - as a middle-aged white woman writing in a field traditionally dominated by middle-aged white women - it's not my discussion to have. The conversation is not about me and what I can do is limited, though I hope I manage to do that limited amount. But I'm in the middle of it anyway, and the problem won't go away on its own, so it's not out of line to have an opinion.

And then I crashed like a helicopter driven by a chimp and don't remember any of the things I meant to say.

But I can tell you this.

Yesterday, I got a royalty statement and a check. A sizable check by the standards of the checks I've been getting lately. For Switching Well, which is 20 years old this year. An educational company bought some subsidiary rights, and now I may be able to put something into my Roth.

Switching Well has, of course, two protagonists. Both are middle-class white girls, swapping places across a hundred years of time.

As far as I'm aware, the only controversy there's ever been about this book is over the scene in which Ada, from 1891, is plopped down in modern San Antonio during Fiesta and, far too trusting, is nearly carried off by a child molester. I've never understood exactly why this scene is sufficient to get the book shut out of some libraries (without due process; I know this by hearsay talking to public school librarians) - it doesn't contain anything outside the standard "stranger danger" dramatizations that have been shown in schools for decades, and in fact I relied on modern schoolchildren's familiarity with the "stranger danger" meme to keep them ahead of Ada in this scene and enable them to understand what was going on. One teacher who had me for a school visit with her class of underachievers told me that this scene was when they sat up and started to take notice and get engaged with the characters. But whatever.

The point is, I did not feel I could avoid race when writing this story, and I did not want to. Racial issues were part of the suite of cultural changes and continuities with which both girls were logically confronted. Since 1891 was before Jim Crow laws (which surprised me; the impression my history classes had left me with was that Jim Crow rolled over seamlessly from slave codes after Reconstruction ended, but it's more complicated than that. It always is.), I was surprised at some of the ways this manifested. I didn't dwell on this stuff, but it's there, especially in the case of Violet, the black girl who becomes Ada's mentor and guide through the inadequacies of the child welfare system. One of the notable things about the nineteenth century system modern girl Amber encounters is that she's placed in an all-white orphanage; but I also stuck a misdiagnosed deaf child into that orphanage, because the tendency of deaf children to be misdiagnosed as "feeble-minded" was one of those things that leaped out of my research. None of this is or can be the focus of the story, but it's there, for what it's worth.

Practically everyone's favorite character is Violet, by the way. And the same teacher whose class was electrified by Ada's near-miss with the child molester has a deaf child and was enthusiastic about the sequence with the misdiagnosed deaf child.

The point being that, even if you and your protagonists are from the privileged categories of people, the diversity issues are there. It doesn't harm your story or your chances in the market place to acknowledge them. No, truly, it doesn't. I have 20 years worth of checks from Switching Well to prove it.

I can tell you this much about racism, sexism, ableism, and all the other societal tendencies that group us into more and less privileged groups: It's always present. It's always complicated. Talking about it often doesn't seem to do any good, but ignoring it does harm and talking about it - doesn't.

Don't be afraid to take your story down those uncomfortable paths we mince along every day. We're on those paths anyway, and so are our audiences. We might as well acknowledge that.

It's something we all have in common.