I’m Getting Married!

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Aaand one day after taking this picture, my hands were all scarred up again.

So.

We’re taking a break from our usual programming to make an announcement–I’m getting married.

I know, I know. This has nothing to do with writing. But hey.

Definitely Not Dave, my magicianly counterpart, proposed on Valentine’s Day. He went down on one knee in a restaurant and everything. He had the good grace to not include a magic trick in his proposal–for which I’m forever grateful.

So I’ve been sitting on my arse mostly since then, talking to my mother and looking at Pinterest wedding boards. If you’ve never had the need to look at Pinterest wedding boards, I can tell you right now that there are few things more depressing than reading a slew of articles entitled ‘Ways to Plan A Wedding for ONLY $10,000!’, one after the other. Until you lift your eyes, you enter this cream-puff-and-sugar-plum fantasy land where you can spend $10,000 dollars on a wedding.

Then you put the Kindle down. You realize you still have to pay taxes, and you have like eighty bucks in your bank account.

And you say something like oh Jesus what have I done.

And then you say something like how much blood can I sell. Followed, sometimes, by can I donate eggs? How does that work? Do your eggs sit there, like, on consignment? Does my egg-harvest have to sell for a payoff?

And then you realize, that, a week ago, you hadn’t ever really even thought about what your wedding is going to be like. Half your relatives are telling you, sanctimoniously, that ‘what really matters is that you love each other’. Except for Aunt Agnes, who’s sanctimoniously telling you ‘what really matters is that your bridesmaids have matching dresses’.

You witness women in comment threads tearing each other apart over the appropriateness of using (legasp!) a cake server for your wedding cake that has already been used. You debate whether or not ‘virgin’ is a term that can really be used to describe a cake server, and whether it’s more or less ironic when it’s used to describe said item in a wedding context. You’re uncertain, actually, what a cake server is. You would ask the brides-to-be in the comment thread, but actually, they seem really mean, and you suspect they can smell blood from like three miles away.

You wonder, fleetingly, if you’re really a woman at all. You’ve given so little thought to this. Aren’t you supposed to have dreams about this sort of thing? Actually, weren’t you supposed to start that Pinterest wedding board about when you hit fifteen? Was there Pinterest, when you were fifteen? Probably not. Oh, God. You’re an elderly bride. Luckily there’s an entire board of ‘modest wedding dresses’, and it’s followed by like half a million people. ‘Modest plus size vintage lace’…oh Jesus. Two hundred thousand other people are interested enough in ‘modest plus size vintage lace wedding dresses’ to follow the fricking modest plus size vintage lace wedding dress board.

It starts to seep in, after a few hours of horrified Pinterest browsing, that people spend way too much money and time on this. Which you kind of get–I mean, it’s a big day, right? You debate stuffing your fiancee into a hunter green suit with a bow tie. You realize he would unengage you faster than a quasar rotates, should you try to stuff him into a hunter green suit with a bow tie. (And maybe he should. How would you like it if some pushy broad tried to stuff you into said suit?)

You know you should be making a sanctimonious post about the depth of your love for each other, preferably with some Instagram-filtered graphic and a retro handwriting font. ‘Two hearts, one soul’ or some other hackneyed bullshit. You know you’re not supposed to focus on the wedding. This means you’re shallow and detail-oriented. Well, hell, you knew you were shallow and detail-oriented. Obviously, this is something your fiance likes, or he wouldn’t have proposed.

Right?

Right?

Maybe you can just get your wedding photography done at Wal-Mart. There’s a setting with a rainbow in the background, and you’re ninety percent certain they’ll add in an eagle if you pay a little extra. Rainbow-eagle themed wedding! Fuck yeah!

Wait, you’re not allowed to have a sense of humor about this.

Are you?

That’s the thing. You don’t really know. And, judging from all the wedding stuff you just perused, the one thing you definitely aren’t allowed to be on your wedding is you, if you isn’t particularly graceful and lovely.

So I’m starting another blog. A wedding blog. It won’t be updated very frequently–especially not right now, since we’re not having the ceremony for at least a year–but I need something to help me through this, and I need somewhere to vent about all the puffy taffeta-and-lace foolishness I encounter along the way. Because from what I’ve seen online, everybody pays five thousand dollars for a photographer, and everybody is a size four, and everybody has strong opinions about stupid shit like whether or not an antique cake server is acceptable for a wedding, and nobody drinks cocktails which are not served in vintagey Instagrammed splendor.

Yeah, it’s ‘my special day’. There are fifteen dollar glossy magazines that cram that fact down my throat quite well. But it’s got to be possible to have a nice wedding without creating a salt-circle and selling your soul to a wedding planner. I don’t ever want to be one of these people who jabber on endlessly about wedding colors and bridesmaid dresses and blah blah blah. I just want to have a happy event to start our lives together.

And, okay. I want to have it catered.

Here’s the link to my brand new wedding blog, if anyone wants to follow it–it’ll be entertaining, prommy proms:

The Bastard Bride: A Wedding Blog for Girls Without A Favorite Disney Princess.

You’ll notice the first post on there is this post. Because obvious reasons.

And, a last aside:

So I found a quiz online, purportedly to tell me ‘what style of wedding dress fits me’. I clicked on it, thinking it would ask for things like my height and weight and body type. Nope. No. Instead, it asked me questions like ‘which Disney princess would you like to be’, ‘which of these four movies (all romantic comedies) is your favorite’ and ‘what’s your favorite type of wine’. Ugh. Ugh. UGH. This industry clearly needs an enema. It needs to have the Sex in the City flushed out of it in the same way a trumpet periodically needs its spit valve exercised. Ugh. Ugh.

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Existential Retail Christmas Post

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'Santa' and 'Satan'--just one typo away.

An Existential Retail Christmas

Here’s a great way to tell, if you’re slightly sadistic, whether or not your significant other has spent a good portion of his or her life working retail.

Wait until your bundle of joy is asleep. Creep closer, ever closer, to that cherubic slumbering visage, snuggled up by its pillow. Inhale, softly, and whisper into one shell-like ear:

“Wake up! It’s Christmas!”

Does your beautiful angel awake with a scream or a groan? Does he or she begin weeping, throw the pillow, attempt to hide under the bed? Does he or she mutter, with no provocation, the phrase: “no returns without a receipt?”

Your significant other has spent at least two Christmases in retail.

If your significant other is still working a retail Christmas, engage in this experiment at your own discretion. Ugly things might be said. Ugly things might be done. You might end up spending Christmas single.

You see, Christmas is a merry season in which people shop compulsively, usually at the last minute, for items that may or may not be appreciated by another person (they’re called gifts). These gift things don’t just grow on trees. They’re produced, often somewhere very far away, and are shipped in finite amounts to the retail location at which you’re currently shouting at someone because there are no more blue blenders in stock. That tired looking person who is patiently explaining to you, for what’s probably the fifteenth time today, that the next shipment will be in Monday, and if you really need one there are a few red ones in the back, has little to no control over whether that blender is there or not. The nametag on his or her chest brands him as one of the lowest-paid cogs in a vast grinding machine. Or, if you prefer, that person is an expendable human sacrifice, thrust out in front of you as a distraction tactic from the inexplicable rage you feel as another human pawn piece being slung across the board in a game of the consumerist gods.

Simply put: it isn’t that person’s fault your blue blender isn’t in stock. And, when you send off that email to corporate in a fit of pique, this person will get not only shit from you, but shit from management, where the blame for your absent blender could be more justifiably placed.

So. This Christmas, in the spirit of peace, love, and brotherhood that everyone is supposed to espouse, try not screaming at a sales representative for something that representative can’t control.

If your significant other is the nametagged cog placed in front of angry shoppers on a daily basis in the month of December, here are some tactics you can use to help make his or her Christmas nominally merrier, which in retail terms means ‘make it suck not quite as much’:

1. Don’t complain when the light is on early in the morning.
Your spouse is getting up before dawn to get paid a very small amount of money for making sure rich people have all the rich people things they need. The bathroom light is on because he or she has an existential horror of getting dressed for this day of torment in the dark. Don’t complain if the light wakes you, or the sound of the coffee maker, or the smell of the curling iron heating up. You can go back to sleep. Your life, for the next month, isn’t a raw vortex of mindless purchases. No one wants to be able to answer the question ‘did you get dressed in the dark this morning?’ with a guileless ‘yes’.

2. Buy liquor.
“Merry Christmas! Here’s a fifth of vodka on December 5th, so you can drink to forget.”

3. Do not, DO NOT, play Christmas music at home.
Thanks to the years I spent in big box retail, I now know every single word to ‘Santa Baby’, ‘Feliz Navidad’, and that Mariah Carey pile of bullshit. It’s been five years. I still froth at the mouth whenever a store’s muzak releases one of these little gems of excrement in my vicinity.

4. Let ’em bitch.
Retail Christmas is a horrible, soul-sucking thing. Your partner is working retail, and therefore can’t afford therapy. They do, however, have you. Nod and look sad when the stories begin. It might not mean a lot to you that some old dude patronizingly patted your S.O. on the bottom, but it sure does to them. If the stories become too much to bear–and there will be a lot of stories, so they might–learn to tune out. Sympathetic noises are all you need.

5. Make dinner.
You know what the worst part about coming home after fourteen hours of retail hell and transportation is? It’s making dinner. Why, by nine in the evening, is this not done already? Trust me, she isn’t spending her shift planning a four course meal for the late evening. She’s spending it contemplating the endless void of greed and self-righteousness into which humanity, for one month a year, sinks.

If you can’t cook, invest in some ramen and mac n’ cheese. After all, during Christmas, the body is a mere walking vehicle for information about coupons and return policies. Give it something to sustain it, sit back, and pray the end is in sight so you can have your spouse back.

Long story short: Christmas has become a vaguely symbolic pan-all holiday during which we ostensibly celebrate the birth of a penniless child in a manger by throwing as much money at retail giants as we can. If you want to celebrate in the ancient spirit of the holiday, try honoring the poor, like Jesus did: don’t scream at sales associates. After all, they spend your ‘holiday season’ working like dogs. Because of your need for a ten speed bicycle, many of them won’t get to spend Christmas with their families, or get more than one day off of work. Yes, we’re all sorry you won’t have that toaster oven in time to bring it down to the beach house when your vacation begins on the nineteenth. But somehow, somehow, it’s difficult to feel very sorry for you.

It’s been a while since I’ve done the big box thing, and Christmas still bums me out.

Happy Holidays. I hope you spend them somewhere far away from humanity, admiring the beauty of nature with the people you love most and neither giving nor receiving presents.

Diabetes Awareness Month: Things to NEVER Say to Your Type I Diabetic Friend

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Photo from alex27 @ freeimages.com.

Because it’s November, we’re doing something a little out of the ordinary this blawg.

November, for the millions of you who aren’t aware, is National Diabetes Awareness Month. No, there isn’t a ribbon. At least, I don’t think there’s a ribbon. If there is, I hope it has Wilford Brimley’s picture on it, and the word DIABEETUS in flaming pink letters down the side. (UPDATE: there IS a ribbon. It’s grey. Boo-ring.)

Anyway. You don’t get pink soup cans, and no one cares if you go braless. (Except me. You can totally show your boobs for diabetes awareness. Totally.)

I, however, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when I was seven years old, so I’m all about spreading the word.

I could share inspirational messages, but I get tired of those. If you haven’t gotten the gist of ‘you can do it’ by the time you’re old enough to read, you’re never going to get it.

Or I could share the struggle, which I think is the traditional thing to do. But the internet is chock full of people ‘sharing the struggle’, and that shit tires me out faster than inspiration. If I struggle a lot, it’s the only thing I’ve ever done, and it seems perfectly goddamn ordinary to me.

So, instead, a little information:

There are two basic types of diabetes (actually, there are more, but for blawg purposes we’re going to talk about two); Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes is an incurable autoimmune disorder where the pancreas doesn’t produce the hormone insulin, necessary for blood glucose regulation. Type II diabetes is, at least in the beginning, insulin resistance, where the body DOES still produce insulin, but has trouble absorbing it.

Not all diabetics are the same, and not all diabetes is created equal. (Obviously. Mine’s better.)

Type I diabetes, like that of yours truly, is an auto-immune disease in which your immune system (for reasons still not totally clear to science) starts attacking insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas, which usually regulate the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. As a result, Type I diabetics are insulin dependent–they have to inject insulin, usually produced by those pesky betas, to keep their blood sugar from rising. Type I diabetes is usually, but not always, diagnosed in childhood, and is, while not inherited, often previously apparent in the family tree. (My grandfather, for instance, was also a Type I diabetic. My grandchild would likely be a Type I diabetic too. People claim it ‘skips a generation’, though that’s absolutely not scientific fact). Type I diabetics account for roughly 5% of the diabetic population; Type II diabetics are the other 95.

Type II diabetes is a condition where the body becomes insulin resistant. Type II diabetes can be controlled through healthy diet and medication, though Type II diabetics may occasionally require insulin, temporarily or permanently, to bring down blood glucose levels.

Type II diabetes can, with good diet and exercise, sometimes go away. Type I diabetes is a syringe-laden plague you carry your whole life, inherit through no fault of your own, and pay exorbitant sums of money to feed with medicine that, if absent, would leave you dead within a matter of days.

Not that it’s personal, or anything.

Anyway, now that you know a little about the diabeetus, here are five things you should never, EVER say to your Type I diabetic friend. All of these have been said to me, on numerous occasions. DO NOT be this person. DO NOT.

1. ‘Did you get diabetes because you were fat?’

No. I got it because genetics. When your body is first adjusting to man-made insulin, in fact, it can cause you to gain a few pounds–however, uncontrolled Type I diabetes often causes weight loss. When I was diagnosed, my blood sugar was 647, and I was VERY thin.

2. ‘Should you be eating that?’

Why, thank you, Tinkerbell! My hand was aiming for the carrot sticks, but, in a moment of temporary blindness and insanity, I grabbed this giant hunk of chocolate cake instead. Why, if you weren’t here to function as the reasoning senses of an adult mentally capable woman, I would have gorged mindlessly on chocolate cake until my pancreas exploded.

I’ve been doing this as long as some of you have been alive. I know when I can eat cake and when I can’t. Would you tell an overweight woman she ‘shouldn’t be eating’ something? Mind your own business.

3. ‘If you eat less sugar, it’ll go away.’

While this is, arguably, semi-true for Type II diabetics, your Type I diabetic friend is getting just a little tired of your dietary advice. I do not explode when I touch sugar. I do not explode when I touch pasta.

For that matter, sugar itself isn’t the enemy–a diabetic counts carbohydrates, not sugars (though sugar will make your blood sugar spike faster than low glycemic index carbs such as pasta).

If you eat less bacon, your fat ass will vanish. Would that be polite to imply in conversation? No? Mic. Dropped.

4. Diabetic-Friendly Treats.
While your effort to accommodate is really kind, please pause before you reach for the Sweet n’ Low. Consider asking your diabetic friend: ‘I can make this sugar-free. Should I do that?’ Each diabetic, again, is different. Some folks treat sugar like C4. Some folks treat it like C4 that tastes DELICIOUS.

Cookies, no matter how much Splenda you pack into them, still contain carbohydrates, as they contain flour, milk, etc–so a Type I diabetic can’t eat even the most sugarless of cookies like a non-diabetic person can. Everybody else doubtless wants the sugar, don’t go making a separate batch just for me.

Sweet n’ Low tastes like shit. Sorry, but it does.

5. ‘My (insert relative here) has diabetes, and she never–‘
That’s great, boo bear. I’m glad your relative has a system. I have one, too. What’s true for one person might not be true for another–f’rinstance, even though it goes against common wisdom, I take my lunch insulin after lunch. Why? Because I’m at work, and I’m not always sure if I’ll have time to eat the right amount of carbs to counteract the insulin I take. It’s better to have my blood sugar be slightly high than slightly low–the first will just make me grouchy, the second might have me passing out on a sales floor.

Other fun conversation bits have included misguided (male) attempts to forcibly ‘improve my lifestyle’ for the sake of my health, offers of Victoza (a medicine used to treat Type II diabetes) because ‘it worked really well for me’, and a loving but deeply erroneous desire to cure my Type I diabetes with essential oils.

Long story short: I am a healthy and fit youngish person. I’m a vegetarian, I don’t do drugs, and I rarely drink. I’m a little overweight, but I have an active lifestyle, and am in no immediate peril from kidney shutdown/blindness/amputation. So, please, save your lifestyle advice for your kids.

Because it is not okay to tell someone their incurable autoimmune disorder can be cured if they’d just lose a few pounds. Sure, the advice is probably well-intentioned and the result of ignorance, but when did ignorance become an excuse and not a deficiency to be remedied? I don’t know anything about engineering: therefore, before I try and tell an engineer how to build a bridge, I’m probably going to need to google it at the very least, and, you know, maybe shell out a hundred thousand dollars to go back to school.

I’m lucky: being diabetic doesn’t affect my life very much. I’m healthy, young, in good control, and I’ve only been hospitalized a few times. I can work an ordinary job, go out with my friends, live life, in short, like a garden-variety human.

Maybe it’s a disability and maybe it’s not. I, personally, tend towards the not–everybody has something wrong with them. But, long story short, I live with it every day. You, person telling me it’s a ‘simple problem’ essential oils can cure, do not.

Before you try and give me life advice, think about the stuff that’s wrong with you. Would you want ME telling you how to ‘manage’ it, if it’s something I’ve never experienced?

Condiments are People Too

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Photo cruelly cropped from a lovely original by icaro leite, at freeimages.com

Five Totally Worthwhile Condiments

Okay, guys. I should’ve done a writing post today, and I know it.

But the fact is, I’m sick n’ tired of talking about writing. I talk about writing all the goddamn time, and there’s so much more to my life that you, my captive audience, need to know all about.

Like how I feel about condiments.

Let me explain myself. I’m not talking about the make-your-own mayo, squeeze-your-ketchup-tomatoes-by-hand kind of condiments. Those are great, of course. I have my tomato relish and celery sauce recipes in my mindbrain, where no computer crash will ever rob me of them.

But sometimes–sometimes. You have fries, or Wheat Thins, or toasted baby arms, or whatever crispy snack you prefer, on a plate, and LEGASP, no time to make your own ketchup, like a proper frontierswoman. Should you abandon all dignity and head for the Heinz?

Hell, naw. Have standards, you tramp.

My fridge groans with condiments. The door shelf sags outward under the weight of a glass jar and bottle invasion. Want mustard? I’ve got like fifty kinds of it. Want soy sauce? I don’t even know what that is any more, be more specific. I know, I know, premade condiments are just full of preservatives and food coloring and GMO death omg. But get off your high horse for a minute. Stop thinking about how every particle of nourishment that passes your lips is poisoning you. And admit it: sometimes you just want to grab a goddamn bottle out of the fridge.

So, for today’s post, instead of nattering on about plot holes and guns going off in the third act, we’re giving you five of Emily’s trusty premade condiment staples. Why? Because why not. You can’t tell me what to do. Long live the rebellion. Aspfhrrgsgfl;.

(A NOTE–I wouldn’t actually buy any of these things on Amazon. The prices are, on average, about three times what I pay in my hometown. But I wanted to show you what I get. Because I love you.)

Pickapeppa Sauce–Pickapeppa is a minor god among somambulent sauces. Where others sleep, Pickapeppa mainlines coffee. Where others whisper, Pickapeppa roars.

Pickapeppa has a sweet, almost molasses-like tang, with orangelike afternotes and more sourness and sweetness than heat. One of the ingredients on the bottle is ‘peppers’, but don’t worry, the only people who’re going to find this spicy are your ninety year old grandmother and her toothless daschund. I used to love it on burgers, in my meat-eating days, but it’s good on everything else ever as well. I even put it on vanilla ice cream once (yes, because I am insane).

Doubanjiang–You like Sriracha? You think dotting your morning eggs with Sriracha is spicy and adventurous? Fuck you, buddy. (Actually, I love Sriracha too. Poured straight into my mouth. In shots.)

Doubanjiang (Pi Xian being my chosen variety, though it’s hard to find, at least in a relatively rural area) is what Sriracha became when it grew up and got some years of working experience. It’s a red broadbean paste made in Sichuan province, traditionally left to ferment and mellow, sometimes for years, in large clay pots. (Is the cheaper stuff made that way? Is Pi Xian made that way? I have no idea). There’s a spicy version, which tastes deep and spicy and a little earthy, and a non-spicy version, which, to me at least, tastes a little bit like miso paste. I use the spicy version in mapo tofu, but it’s also great on eggs, as a dipping sauce for fried tofu, with plain rice, or anywhere you require red spiciness ever again ever.

Banana Sauce–The first time I tried banana sauce, I wasn’t completely sold. I saw a bottle at my local asian market, and it was cheap, and I was like what the hell, why not.

Two years down the line, banana ketchup has become my permaketchup.

It doesn’t taste that different from bottled ketchup, really. A little sweeter. The kind I get is deep red in color and has an unusual gloppy texture. Seeing as it’s made from bananas, I’m guessing it has enough red food coloring in it to kill you slowly. But man oh man, is it addictive. It’s a Philippino thing–they use it on all sorts of stuff, spaghetti dishes being the one I’ve seen the most when I google ‘banana ketchup’, which I do more than I’d want to admit–but, not being from the Philippines, I should probably leave that up to the folks who’re masters therein. Me, I just put it on everything I used to put ketchup on. Thank you, trusty bottle of banana ketchup. Thank you.

Duke’s Mayo–If you’re not from the American South, you might not have heard of Duke’s. This is because you’ve lived a sad, colorless life, and your southern-style salads are devoid of true meaning.

Why do people swear by Duke’s? Because it tastes better. I don’t know what else to tell you, but it does. It probably has a host of non clean living ingredients that make it taste better, but dear Jesus, I do not care.

I slipped up last week. My grocery store had Kraft two for one and I, like a moron, bought Kraft. After my first cucumber salad came out sad and tasteless, I went right back to the damn store and made everything okay. I owed it to my boyfriend. No one should have to take that Kraft shit.

Green Pepper Jelly– What a strange thing to make jelly out of, you say.

Your mom is strange, I say right back, sticky-sweet green goo oozing out of my face hole.

Green pepper jelly is sweet. You probably figured that out–it is a jelly. But it’s got this funky sharp and earthy aftertaste that’s worth talking about, and keeps it from being totally cloying (which is, to be honest, how I find most jellies after brief exposure). And it’s green. Which is, really, all I demand from most food items.

Useful anywhere you need a jelly, but I have two particular uses for which I adore it: one is inside cornmeal thumbprint cookies around Christmas time (I use green pepper jelly for the green ones, red pepper jelly for the red. How cute.) and the other is on Wheat Thins, in combination with cream cheese. I have no idea where I got that one. I think it was Mom. But it’s awesome.

And, bonus points!

Chow chow. Oh, chow-chow. What are you, exactly?

Deliciousness. Sheer, tangy, sweetie, yellow deliciousness. I put you on hot dogs for years. I’ll put you on soy dogs for more years. My collards are incomplete without you. Actually: any green I make is incomplete without you. I’ve forced you into chicken salad before, and I was sorry for it. You didn’t belong there. Next time, I’ll just serve chicken salad with a scoopful of chow-chow beside it.

Chow-chow is…a relish. Of some sort. It comes in both sweet and spicy varieties, both of which I recommend. I left it off my original list because I couldn’t for the life of me tell you exactly what’s in it, but by God, a condiment listing without chow-chow in it is sadly incomplete.

There you go. Non-writing silliness, and God Save the Condiments.

Vegetarianism: Where D’You Get Your Protein?

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Photo from the talented Krisztian Hoffer, freeimages.com.

Where D’you Get Your Protein?’

Hi there, readers. My name is Emily, and I’m a vegetarian.

Well, let me be honest. I was vegetarian for many, many years growing up, and then I fell off the wagon. Why? Because bacon is delicious. It really, truly is. Anybody who tells you a thick slice of tempeh is ‘better’ than bacon is either a liar or has no good remembrance of what bacon tastes like. Bacon is the taste of angels playing saxaphone. It’s the taste of soft-focus eighties love scenes on a white bearskin rug. It is. OMFG. Awesome.

But we’re back on the wagon now, and my friends have questions for me. Okay–a lot of them have the same question.

I’m not going to go into my reasoning for re-vegging here–you have some other vegetarian friend who’s given it to you already, at length, probably with a beer or bottle of whiskey balanced on one knee.

So don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those ‘vegetarian lifestyle’ posts. I don’t think there IS a damned lifestyle, and I get very tired of people who try to tell me there is. Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you’ve earned a street festival and a pride float, or have the right to attempt changing the dietary decisions of your friends and family. Bacon is, after all, delicious. And some people want the delicious.

So don’t worry about all that. I’m posting this vegetarian-themed blog for a single reason–a surprisingly scientific reason.

If one more person asks me ‘where I’m going to get my protein’, I am going to scientifically murder a busload of babies.

I don’t know how the complete myth that meat is the only food-substance containing protein has continued on into the modern age. Not when we have nutrition labels on everything, Google at our fingertips.

Grains and legumes have a TON of protein. So does dairy, obviously.

And here’s the thing–your daily protein requirement? Not that tough to meat. (Like that pun, eh? Eh? EH?)

A woman requires 46g of protein a day, a man 56. Let’s examine foods with protein in them for a second, shall we? Let’s start with my sad little work lunch.

I had, for lunch, a TastyBite serving of Jaipur Vegetables and a greek yogurt. I scarfed down a bagel for breakfast on my way to work. Go on, whine about processed foods and not-enough-veggies for a while. I’ll just smile blandly and turn a deaf ear.

Done? Okay. Here’s my daily protein count so far.

Bagel with cream cheese: 13ishg protein
TastyBite Jaipur Veggies–14g protein
Muller Lowfat Greek Yoghurt With Candied Almonds–13g protein

Woah! It’s only lunch time, and I’ve already had forty fucking grams of protein. Incredible, no? Without eating any meat. And, most importantly–without even thinking about it, until I started typing this.

And I WILL have some ice cream for dessert. Not sure what’s for dinner, but there WILL be ice cream for dessert. The 46g requirement will be reached.

So, hmm. How to put this.

Thank you for your concern about my protein intake. Even though I’ve NEVER heard you mention protein in conversation before, OR concern about how much of it people in general eat. Even though you couldn’t name five non-meat foods that contain protein. Thanks.

If you really cared about the health of my tubby little self, you might want to ask those¬† what’re-you-eating questions about calories and fat. Trust me, THAT total for today’s food isn’t nearly as pretty. Jaipur vegetables, apparently, don’t come ‘skinny’. Ice cream does, but I prefer ice cream that doesn’t taste like country-fried ass.

(On a writerly sidenote: does anyone else grind their teeth to near-combustion every time someone refers to a low-fat food as ‘skinny’? No, that food IS NOT SKINNY. Not unless it’s spaghetti, or julienned carrots, or something else very narrow. What that food is, in fact, is ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’. Stop it, incorrect euphemisms. STOP IT.)

Anyway, sorry for taking up y’all’s time. I’m posting this mostly so I can print up some nice little cards with the URL for this post on them and hand them out to the next fifty people who feel the need to ask me this question.

Here’s a link, if you were curious, about twelve non-meat sources of protein, and wow, most of them are just as good as a goddamn steak. Sure, the author confuses ‘whooping’ and ‘whopping’, but not everyone’s a twitchy grammarian with a hair-trigger temper, and many good points are made.

Love,
E

Writing What You Damn Well Please

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WRITING: Writing Whatever You Damn Well Please

That’s right, you guys get a ranty-rant this week. I’ve got one other post coming up (a request post, woo!) but it might be an hour or two until then. So, in the mean time.

I wanted to talk about something I’ve gotten very tired–very, verrrry tired–of seeing around the internet this week.

I can’t say it’s a trend. I’ve seen a lot of these articles (particularly about women–there’s something intrinsically wrong with a post titled ‘How to Write a Female Character’), over a long span of time. But this week, for some reason, I keep running into them–and every time I do, whatever the subject, I feel that special little twist in my cackly heartmuscle that means I’m going to go motherfucking crazy soon, so I should probably post a rant.

There are a lot of people, on all sides of the political spectrum, all of them well-meaning, who seem to feel your characters should be a certain way, say certain things, react certain ways. Your female characters should be more assertive, your black characters more liberal, your male characters more masculine, your priests less stereotypically mild, take your pick. I’m not kidding. Pick a way you want your character to be, and someone’s written an article about how incorrect it is to portray a character that way, or how unpopular it now is, and how you ‘should’ do this, this, and this, or people will be offended/no one will ever read your story.

Guess what, guys?

It’s a story. It’s a motherfucking story. It’s fiction.

Not only that, it’s my story. You’re welcome to approve or disapprove of the way I’ve written a character. Of course you are–it’s a free country. But if you don’t like it, the answer might be, instead of telling me to write differently, to read someone else’s book.

There are assertive ladies out there, yes. There are also timid ladies. There are assertive men and there are timid men. There are mild priests, sanctimonious priests, raucous priests, blasphemous priests (if you don’t believe me on the last one, cut one off in traffic). There are gentle and kind Muslim men. There are Muslim men who’re real assholes. There are Muslim women who have been helped and healed by their religion, and Muslim women who have been hurt and repressed by it.

We’re all writers here. Why is it–why the hell is it–we can’t seem to understand that a character is just a character, and a story is just a story?

If I write a story about (just for example) a Muslim woman who takes strength and courage from her belief in Islam, I am by no means saying all Muslim women are happy with Islam. If I wrote the opposite story–the story of a woman oppressed and beaten down by her own faith–I would by no means be saying all women are. If I wrote either one of
these stories about a Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, take-your-pick woman–the same goes.

You see, here’s the thing. We don’t exist in a saran-wrapped bubble of our own little economic/racial/religious/gender-based identity. I don’t, for instance, only interact with and write about straight white atheist liberal women.

But, if you do or don’t–you’re damned whatever you do. I go into writing knowing that. I’m encouraging cishet cultural norms if I don’t write a few queer characters, I’m misrepresenting queer people if I do. Some people are thrilled I’ve chosen to write about a queer character at all. All of which is fascinating to me as, you know, I write fantasy, and therefore don’t represent anyone on this earth particularly.

But that’s the nature of the beast. Some people are going to love what you’ve done and some aren’t. That’s how it is, and that’s fine.

Just don’t try and tell me how to write, and I won’t try and tell you how to review.

This person is in my story because my story needs them. They have many other characteristics than the one I’m apparently portraying incorrectly. A green person in a story might be a part of green minority culture, but he’s also a loyal man, good to animals, generous to his family, a pretty mean cook. Who knows? You do, because you wrote it.

We are all–all of us–part of a very big, very complicated, and very multilayered world. Our characters, whether you write literary fiction (whatever the hell THAT is precisely) or F/SF, are based on the voices of our world. You should always remember that each voice is different, and the color of our skin, our gender, our sexual orientation, etc., has nothing to do with that. Our voices would all be different even if we were all green, four hundred pounds, and female.

So write the voice you hear.

Don’t write the voice you think is truest to you belief system, or closest to what Donald Trump says it should be, or is most politically correct (is it sad that Item B was what I thought of as ‘precise opposite of Item C’ in forming that sentence?).Or, the saddest yet perhaps the most common–don’t write the voice you think is most popular. If your character is a shy and timid girl, don’t write her brash and assertive because that’s how women are ‘supposed’ to be now. Women aren’t ‘supposed’ to be shit.

Write the voice you hear.

Let me repeat it, to make sure you understand this:

Write the goddamn voice you goddamn well hear.

And all that stuff people might say afterwards?

Fuck ’em.

You wrote your story, and now you’re going to reap the benefits (or punishments) of doing so. And that’s just how it is–writing is open to interpretation, and people are going to interpret. You can’t stop ’em–nor should you.

But don’t let them (or fear of them) stop you.

I say it over and over on this blog, but I’m going to say it again.

Write whatever you damn well please.

It’s the only thing you can do.

Political Notes From the South

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Political Notes from the South

Usually, I try to avoid talking about current events on this blog. They don’t have much of a place here, it only starts a lot of unpleasant arguing, and, frankly, most of them are painted in such lurid colors across the media canvas I hardly feel the need to add my own voice into the mix.

But I DO have something to say about all this Confederate Flag nonsense.

Let me start off with a little autobiography. I’m a woman, twenty seven years old. I have traveled north of the Mason-Dixon line twice in my life, and I’ve spent a total of three days–THREE days out of the roughly 9,500 I’ve been alive–outside the South. I haven’t received an especially rigorous education. My family isn’t especially progressive, or especially regressive. Nobody’s a flaming racist (well, nobody much, and certainly not me). I’ve lived a fairly normal life, for someone south of the Mason-Dixon.

I–and most of the people I know down here–think flying the Confederate Flag is pretty dumb.

I do NOT think the Confederate Flag stands for bravery, or loyalty, or anything much except a war that should’ve been over 150 years ago, and has been romanticized, perfumed, and anointed far beyond its use except as a lesson in history books, drowsed over by kids more interested in what they’re having for lunch than class content.

I do think people (individuals, please read) have the right to FLY the Confederate flag outside their own homes. I think it’s a pointless and moronic thing to do, and, yes, a racist thing to do as well. However, letting your freak flag fly is a right protected by the first amendment, as is my right to tell you you’re a moron.

But that’s all whatever. Because, in spite of some of the alarmist stuff I’ve been seeing, I don’t think anyone much is interested in repealing your first amendment rights and ‘banning’ the Confederate flag. Stores have taken it off their shelves? Well, tough, that’s their right. And what goes up in front of government buildings is a matter for the government to decide, and has no bearing on the first amendment. God, people, get it together. Not everything you dislike is an attempt to take away your freedom.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. All that shit’s been said to death, and I’m tired of all of it.

What I’m here to say–PLEASE stop assuming this nasty mess gives you the right to blanket-refer to an entire region of the country as rednecks, hillbillies, hicks, morons, undereducated, etc.

Please, Jesus.

I don’t give a shit about my ‘heritage’ as a Southerner. But that’s not what you’re attacking, when you say ‘all Southerners this’ and ‘Southerners that’–when you say those things, you’re attacking me, as a person who happens through pure accident of birth to live in the South.

I’ve seen plenty of questionably-spelled post-vomit coming from our nothern states. Plenty of racism, plenty of ugliness, plenty of stupid. I wouldn’t say you assholes up there are, en masse, any smarter than us assholes down here.

No, none of your rejects are clinging to a Confederate flag. Of course they aren’t–you guys won that war, remember? This does not, however, mean your rejects are all shining examples of human equality and compassion. They just don’t have a handy banner to unite behind for the Great Moron Crusade that is our current century.

So yeah. Flying the Confederate flag is dumb. I’m not arguing with you here. Hell, I’ll join you in calling the people who do it idiots.

However.

We’re not all racist morons. We’re not all undereducated, ignorant, inbred, potbellied, alcoholic, all those other fun labels your blowhards have been flinging like poo-laden orangutans all over the internet. As someone who’s pretty proud of her brain, seeing this blanketing happen just makes me grit my teeth.

So please. Please. Don’t lump all of us in with those flag-waving dickheads. All right? Can you do that for me?

Otherwise, I want you to take that piece of lox slathered bagel you’ve been munching and blow it out your Yankee ass.

Got it? See how not fun that is? How totally not cool? I feel a little bad for saying those things, even as an example.

However.

Call me ignorant one more time. I fucking dare you. But if you do it, here’s the deal–any arguing we do in the comments thread will be conducted in sonnet form. Petrarchan, because I hate you and want you to think better. If you get me mad enough, we’ll move to sestinas. FULL sestinas.

The first person to break meter probably fucks his own sister in the mud patch outside his doublewide. I mean, obviously. You’re from whatever arbitrary place in the world you’re from, so that’s what you’re about, right?

Writing With Emotional Immediacy

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WRITING: Emotional Immediacy All Up In Your Business

Someone–I think it was Orson Scott Card, but then again, I always think it was Orson Scott Card–once said this: don’t tell your readers about the apocalypse. Tell them about a pair of child’s sneakers hanging from a telephone wire.

Yes, it’s good show vs. tell and all that writer-writer nonsense. But that’s not what he meant–at least, it’s not everything he meant.

We’re not a species made up of big-picture thinkers. Life is overwhelming, and so are some of the things that happen in it–when a person talks about justice, for instance, the inevitably give you an example of what justice is. Justice is a criminal going to jail for a crime, a police officer getting indicted for shooting an unarmed citizen, your stepsister dropping the remote she just stole from you in the fishbowl and shorting it out. Take your pick.

But we’re not built to look at justice and automatically get it. The one word, ‘justice’, isn’t going to bring a tear to anyone’s eye. On the other hand, the story of a man wrongfully held on death row for fifteen years for the slaying of three people he never even saw might–the story of his first day out of prison, the sun shining, the daughter of one of his supposed victims waiting at the door, all grown up now and smiling, to take him home. Maybe she always believed in him–maybe she cried when they sentenced him, standing beside her grey-faced and livid-lipped father in the courtroom.

That’s a story that might inspire some emotion. And it’s a story about justice and forgiveness–the need for it, the lack of it, the way you can sometimes find it in the strangest of places. (Does the father ever forgive him? Does he meet them at an Applebee’s and buy our ex-con a steak? Do his hands tremble when he pays the tab?) And the smaller you go with the details–the father’s shaking hands, the daughter’s floral perfume, the way the ex-con eats, as though he were still hunched over a prison trencher, one arm around his plate–the more affecting the story will be.

It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that the only other people most of us would ever know were the folks around us in the village, maybe a feudal lord up in the manor, a priest in the village church. We’re social creatures, and we care about those we know better. So give us somebody to know. Give us something to care about.

Don’t think of it as show vs. tell. That gives it all the immediacy of a Tuesday in grade school. Think of it, instead, as a sort of emotional deconstruction–don’t write a story about the horrors of war, write a story about Private Will Henckels, nineteen years old, whose mother stitched his name in every pair of his underwear in bright red thread, so he’d be able to tell which pair was his on even the darkest corner of the front. Write a story about the Iowa State science fair, in which he won second place last year for a project about talking to plants. And then write a story about the bullet that went through Private Henckels and the moment he woke up in a hospital bed, went to scratch an itch on his left leg, and realized that leg wasn’t there any more.

We can’t deal with tragedy head-on. We don’t know how to respond to the deaths of innocent people, mass murder, genocide. We all know these things are wrong, but what can we do about it, other than say what we all know?

Think about the times someone close to you has had a beloved family member die. Not a lot to say about it, is there? Just ‘I’m sorry for your loss’. And you both stand there for a minute. And you know what’s happened. You know there’s a corpse in a coffin in the next room. But you don’t talk about it.

You just stand there.

But as a writer, you can’t just stand there. You’ve got a story to move forward. So you talk about the drapes. You talk about your wife sending an arrangement, taking what felt like five years to research what flowers were appropriate for a funeral.

You don’t talk about the senseless deaths of nine people, gunned down in a church while worshipping. You don’t talk about the young man who shot them, whose eyes are cold and flat, and whose manifesto is terrifying.

You talk, instead, about a flag. You talk about a symbol of racism and hatred and a bygone era. You do this because the real thing–the deaths, the sociopath, the red raw hatred–are, in some ways, incomprehensible. You talk about something less terrible as a substitute for the great unknown, a more approachable canvas for your condemnation and horror. You talk, in short, about the symbol, because the real thing is too awful for what even I recognize are ‘mere’ words.

Is it cowardice? Is it distraction? Or is it just what we are, how we are?

At the funeral, you utter a few pat phrases of comfort, and you stand there.

Then you talk about the drapes. 

WRITING: Why I Curse

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Writing: A Brief But Most Impassioned Missive on the Subject of Vulgarity

A NOTE: If you have a problem with strong language in novels, that’s just fine. It’s your right to feel the way you feel, just like it’s my right to say fuck a lot in my story. My anger here isn’t directed at you. Unless, of course, you’ve felt the need to get all up in arms with me about it. In which case: fudge off.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I hope this epistolary concoction of mine, now commonly called a ‘weblog’ or ‘blog’, finds you and your spouse exceedingly well. I hope weather in the place you currently reside is good, and your friends and family have suffered no misfortune since we last had one of these strangely public private chats.

My health is good, and my family is very well, and the weather is delightful, thank you for wondering.

You may have begun to wonder, with suspicion I fear is common to all my readers, what fantastic and whimsical Turn this missive is about to take. Why, you may ask, eyes round, is this sovereign Person, previous empress of the word F-, writing in a fashion which suggests longhand, fountain pens and inkwells, and swirling my own farts in a vintage brandy glass before inhaling deeply?

Because I’m making a point, sweethearts. Life without vulgarity–it sounds different to me. It sounds like a Victorian novel, without the occasional ‘damn’ thrown in there. The lengths a writer can go to to avoid vulgarity can ruin a novel–nothing pulls you out of a world quite as fast, after all, as a group of tough soldiers standing on a battlefield around their recently dismembered comrade, whispering ‘oh sugar’ in shocked tones.

I see this question asked a lot around the Interwebs: ‘should I use cursing/vulgarity in my book’? And my answer is, and always will be:

I don’t know. Why don’t you want to?

If the answer to that question is ‘because I’m not sure it belongs in this story/coming out of this character’s mouth’, then no. No, you probably shouldn’t. Because it doesn’t belong in the story.

If the answer is ‘because Aunt Mabel would unfriend me on Facebook/I’m worried I’d lose readers/it’s not appropriate to the age group I’m trying to reach/someone might be offended if I say ‘damn’ in it/etc.’, pull your head out of your ass and do it.

I curse. A lot. I’m not proud of this fact or ashamed of it, it’s just part of who I am. The curse words in my linguistic flow are like the exfoliating beads in my morning cleanser. A brief, momentary brightness. A typographical em-dash. Mix metaphors as you will.

As I’m the sort of person who cusses, a lot of my characters are also the sort of people who cuss. They’re ordinary people, common people, people of small means and low circumstances. Soldiers, innkeepers, convenience store clerks, fifteen year old kids (who cuss more than the rest of us. Sorry, moms.). Prostitutes. Magicians.

People who don’t, by and large, say ‘sugar’.

Of course, when one of my characters is the type of person who says sugar, or doesn’t curse at all, then they’re portrayed that way. Because story.

My language is, when in novel form, not uniformly bad. I drop an f bomb or two and, okay, sling more shits than a plumber’s supersoaker. But my vulgarity is fairly limited, and, outside of language, there’s little that keeps my book from being pretty clean. Here are some comments I’ve gotten (always in private, tch tch!) on my usage of the mother tongue:

1) ‘Vulgarity just makes you look less intelligent.’
What?

Did you not bother to read the rest of the words? ‘Cause I have a pretty big vocabulary. And I use those words too. When they’re the right word. (I’m sitting on a post about archaic words I’ve learned from my recent dive into Dickens. I am excited as fuck and you should be too. You’ll learn what a pettifogger is, and more on the best word ever: megrims.)

2) ‘It makes you look so common.’
So what. Nice attempt at shifting the blame onto ‘society’, that elusive bugbear, however.

This is the unisex companion to one girls used to get a lot: ‘it makes you look like less of a lady’. Hang on, let me check something–yep, vagina still there. However, oh my goody gumdrops goober goodness. You mean I’ll never be presented into society?

You couldn’t figure that one out earlier, like when I was born?

3) ‘People won’t like you as much if you’re vulgar.’
And there it is again! Not you, the commenter, but people. All of them out there. You know, them. The same people who, I assume, shot JFK, and rigged 9/11.

Here’s the thing, person who certainly isn’t people. As far as my novel goes, I don’t care. If someone’s shallow enough to like or dislike me based on my language choices in a novel, let ’em. It’s not like they were close friends of mine to begin with.

You read the book. You either like it or you don’t. Don’t get me wrong: I love my fans, and I respect all my readers. If someone reads my book, sees the f word, gets offended, and puts it down, well, I’m sorry we didn’t get along better. This person is making a choice for themselves and not complaining to me about a choice I made for myself, and I can respect that.

But for the person who whinges about my language to me, as though I’m a customer service department fielding complaints: I don’t take requests. You get what I give you.

4) ‘People won’t trust/respect you as much if you’re vulgar.’
Again with the people. These people. So judging, so limiting. Especially when expressing an opinion you don’t want to tell me you also hold.

And, again, the same reply: if you don’t trust or respect me, a person you barely know, because of my language choices, and you feel the need to tell me this out of some misguided sense of earthly duty, you’re a few steps higher on the ladder of pseudo-literary shame than the Grammar Nazi. You’re like the Goebbels of the English Language. And that’s your right. No one’s saying you can’t make your choice that way. Yep indeedy. Jawohl.

Also, when you’re in jail and you need to make that one phone call to someone who you absolutely know will bail you out, I’m willing to bet your first worry isn’t whether or not he says fuck a lot.

5) ‘You’re damaging your career options by being vulgar in public.’
This is the one I’ll give some credence to, because it’s true. You won’t ever be able to work somewhere superconservative if you, like I, have a filth-smearing online presence that, in addition to expressing intelligence and good communication skills through a written medium, says fuck sometimes. (And how nice of you, person who isn’t in any way people, to be so concerned).

However–how much money is it worth to you to substitute ‘sugar’ every time someone says ‘shit’ in your novel?

Answer carefully. Your sellout point is a good thing to know, just like your safeword.

I’m mentioning all this because, yes, I get a little tired of fielding it, but also as a word of wisdom for you kids who aren’t sure if ‘sugar’ is the word you’re looking for.

These people who’re telling you it’s ‘disgraceful’ to use a naughty word. These people who’re telling you it’s not what ‘well bred’ people do. These people who, in the least vulgar way possible, are implying that you’re a vulgar piece of shit, and certainly don’t deserve induction into whatever passes for proper society these days:

These people are censors, bigots, and bullies, just the same as the dickhole who cut you off in traffic and called you a cunt. They’re just keeping a G-rating on it, which doesn’t mean it’s any less bullying or censorious. It’s the same ugly thing in a prettier and more self-righteous wrapper. And, again–perhaps it doesn’t deserve to be in such a shiny wrapper when, you know, out and out telling somebody they’re worth less because of their language choices is such an ugly fucking thing.

The choice as to whether you should use shit or sugar is up to you. It is your choice, and yours alone. And it has nothing to do with you, or the Neighbors for a Purer Tomorrow who’re lurking out there, waiting for something new to be outraged by.¬† You’re not shouting it out to the rooftops, where everyone can hear it–you’re writing it down in a book, where people can choose whether or not they’re exposed.

No. This choice has to do with your story.

Does your long haul trucker say fuck, or fudge? If he says fudge, why? Because, let’s be honest–we all kind of expect a long distance trucker to say fuck. The opposite for a grade school teacher, a pastor, Aunt Agnes with her knitting needles and coke bottle glasses. And again, if they do say fuck: why?

If there isn’t a reason for it, it pulls us out of your story. It reminds us that there’s some little person at the typewriter, plugging away, praying like hell she isn’t (or is!) going to offend anybody. It reminds us that those pious braggarts, those constant offendees, those people whose quavering constitutions are so delicate they can’t even bear the knowledge that someone, somewhere, is saying fuck, are out there.

And they call enough attention to themselves without your help.

So cuss at will, soldiers. Cuss laissez-faire. Because if it’s the right word for your story, it’s the right word, and fuck everybody else. Anything else–any adaption, modification–would make it a lesser story.

And that’s a bigger sin than saying damn every once in a while.

How to Cure Writer’s Block

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How to Cure Writer’s Block

You guys know all about Emily Dickinson, right? Of course you do, you’re writers and you read stuff. You know Emily Dickinson was a total shut-in. You probably spent those fifteen minutes of your middle-grade English classes where she was introduced totally, and I mean totally, pitying Emily Dickinson. I mean, she was a shut-in. There were flies and poems about death and stuff.

Then you got older. You got a job, got a car, got a family maybe. And at some point in all this–some day where you sat back and realized you got a grand total of five minutes alone today, and you spent most of those five minutes trying to pay your electric bill by phone with your husband’s credit card, which you may or may not know the security code for–you realized.

Emily Dickinson’s life of shut-innery was starting to sound pretty goddamn good to you.

Not all of us get to just sit around the house and write whenever the mood strikes us. If you do, bully for you, but there’s even less of an excuse for you not to write. Most of us, if we don’t have jobs, have house duties, payment duties, cooking duties, kid duties. Real life, whether we want it to or not, has this irritating way of filling up our time. And when you finally do get to your typewriter/word processor/fancy journal, you realize you’re so damn tired, and you have no idea what to write.

Before you know it, you’ve been doing that for a week (even on your day off), and oh my goody gumdrops goober goodness, aren’t you just so delicate, and soooo creatively blocked, boo hoo hoo.

Here’s the trick, and where my post title starts getting involved: you are not a unique elegant snowflake. Your life duties are not so special they exempt you from writing. If you want to be a writer, you have to do one thing, and one thing only, to earn that title, and that is, unsurprisingly:

You gotta write.

Mind you, I don’t think writer’s block exists. At least, not in the way it’s frequently portrayed as existing: there’s not a lot of sitting around on your bum imploring the Muse, grasping a stylus in your ink-spattered hand, cursing the gods who have stolen your own particular herbal infusion of talent. If there were, I’d be doing it. It’s good theater.

Writer’s block is what happens (and note my italics on this) when you don’t write enough to keep going.

Writing, like any other task, has momentum. Yes, your own story-time isn’t the same as time in real life. However, when you’re writing something long, there are parts that are easy and hard to write, and you’ve got to write both of them, because who the fuck else is going to do it? And here’s the thing–

–if you stop for a while. If you put off writing that hard part for too long. You, like a bike wheel in a pothole. Are going. To get. Stuck.

On the other hand: if you keep chipping away at it, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. If you keep slogging away, even though you got three hours of sleep last night and your boyfriend expects dinner simply because he gets home later. If you devote your coffee break at work to writing a few sentences here and there. If you, in short, ignore every possible rule telling you to wait for inspiration to strike, and fit in as many minute wordgasms per day as possible:

You’ll get to a point, eventually, where inspiration does strike, and it all gets easy again. For a little while. Until it isn’t any more.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no muse. There’s no divine voice of inspiration, no ‘right moment’ to write, no special place or music you need to produce a few lines of type on a blank page. Writing gets romanticized, demonized, portrayed as an art form of capricious difficulty, and it is none of these things. All it is, in its basest form, is stringing characters together until they form words and sentences on a piece of paper. A child can do it. Somewhere, a child does do it, probably better than you or me.

There are moments you’ll be able to do it better than others. (I do believe in inspiration, as long as you don’t sit around on your ass waiting for it). There are moments where you write something you think is pure fucking genius, and these are the moments you write for.

But these moments aren’t every moment (and I want you to think for a minute about other aspects of your life, and, really, when was the last time you expected those to all be heartbreaking works of staggering blah blah blah?) And the only way you’ll reach these moments–the only way you’ll ever ‘un-block’ yourself–is to keep writing, even though you’re blocked.

Do the sandwich guys as Subway stop making sandwiches whenever they feel they aren’t creatively sandwichwardly motivated?

No. Fuck no, they’ve gotta get paid. Why the hell do you think it’s so different for you?

Long story short: if you want to get over your writer’s block, force yourself to write something. If you want to get over a ‘hurdle’ in a particular story, force yourself to crawl over it, one irritating inch at a time. Who cares if you’re producing literary geenyus every moment of tappity-tapping? That’s what editing is for. If you want, you can come back and write the whole damn scene over later, when you have your Best of Bjork limited edition vinyl and your Bedazzled typewriter to hand and the yarrow stalks predict a good writing day.

For now, just get it done. And once it’s done, you can go on.

This is how you get anything, anything in the world, done.

Happy tough love motivational post Friday. I’m here to answer any questions you might have, field any invective you might throw, etc.

EFR