Finally Published

The article I wrote for www.interfaithfamily.com has finally been published. You can find it by clicking on the link below:

My First Purim

I’m happy the article was published, and the editor wrote me an email asking me to write another article for them so that’s exciting. Looking back at the piece, though, I’m not satisfied with it. I feel like the quality of my writing is poor. I tried to take a conversational tone and that certainly worked, but there are multiple places where I didn’t word things the way I would like to have worded them. This dissatisfaction is probably because the article had such a long span of time between the writing and the publishing and I’ve grown as a writer since then. At least that’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t give up on my work.

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm  Comments (1)  

I’ve been writing

And not posting :P

I got offered $100 to write an 800 word essay for a website. I should be getting the author contract today. I’ll post about it when the contract has been signed.

In other news, I read an interesting article on why first-time authors are typically in their 30s: “Why New Novelists Are Kinda Old”. It made me feel better about my slow progress as a writer.

It also linked to a site (herewith a list of reasons books get rejected, explaining that getting a reply takes a long time because of all the rejections. Presumably, if you wrote a good book/poem/whatever it would take longer for you to hear back than if you wrote something that went to the trash heap immediately. I choose to take this as a good sign since some of the journals I submitted poetry to took FOREVER to get back to me – well past what was indicated in their posted timelines. I read the list, and I’m assuming I’ve been rejected for reasons 8-13:

8. Author is working on own problems in the book.
9. Book is dull/flaccid/underperforming.
10. Book has been done already.
11. Publishable book that they don’t see why they should publish.
12. Talented author who wrote the wrong book.
13. Good book that house won’t get behind.

I’d like to flatter myself that it’s #13 but who knows? I do know that I can write reasonably well so I’m sure it isn’t reasons 1-7. Guess I just have to keep working!

Published in: on July 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm  Comments (2)  

On Writing and Working

If you ask me – the hardest thing about being a writer is working a full-time job while you’re getting started (and possibly forever). I’ve got both a full-time and a part-time job because I work in the nonprofit sector so I’m underpaid and I’m unwilling to fall into the “impovershed writer” stereotype. The thing is, when you’re working 60-hour weeks with literally no days off it’s incredibly hard to find the time to write. In the last month I’ve written all of one terrible poem and a few paragraphs on one of the novels. It’s bad. My new plan is to clear out a time for myself to write every evening (or every morning on the days I have a night shift at work). I’m also setting myself specific deadlines for when I have to have things completed (a chapter, a certain number of poems, a certain number of words etc.) and reward myself when I complete them. The other great idea I had is something that I did in college – carry a tiny notepad and pen in my pocket so I can write whenever I have an idea.

If you write, how do you do it? When do you find time? Do you have a set routine or is it more sporadic? If you do have a set routine, how do you make yourself stick to it?

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm  Comments (2)  

This Blog Was Written By a Woman?!

Just for fun, I tried out this Gender Analyzer and it says that both of my blogs – this one and my cooking blog were written by a woman. Funny… All this time I thought I was a man. Just for kicks I tried a few of my friend’s blogs – apparently we’re all women (or we write like women?) despite our actual genders.

So this got me to thinking: is there actually a difference between men’s and women’s writing? I’m not sure I believe that there is.

People have argued that women’s and men’s speech is different. In addition to claims that men use humor more often than women and that men interrupt women more frequently than women interrupt men I found a lot of people who asserted that women use more qualifiers like “sort of” and “I think” when making assertions, more polite phrases like “would you please,” more emphasis words like “very” and “really,” and more tag questions in their speech. Several people asserted that men’s language is more clear and assertive than women’s language, which is more passive and “implicit.” The broad theme here is that men’s language is supposedly linked to competition and dominance, while women’s language is linked to submission and attempting to create a community of relationships.

I’m willing to believe that this is true sometimes. I’m not willing to believe that this is universally true, since to me it seems offensive and stereotyped. I don’t think men are all competitive jerks constantly interrupting people, and I don’t think women are unclear and submissive in their speech. I’m sure there are people who fit these stereotypes, but I’m equally sure that there are lots of people who don’t (since apparently I’m one of them).

Ok, so assuming I buy into the idea that men and women have different speech patterns. It seems plausible (though it’s not nearly as extreme and pervasive a difference as the theories I read seem to think it is, but whatever). Would this difference actually translate into people’s writing? Well here’s where it gets tricky. I’m ignoring poetry in this argument since I think it’s such a completely different genre that it would need its own argument. In a work of fiction I’d have to say no – you can’t tell the author’s gender by their writing (at least not if the writer has any skill). Whether the writing is feminine or masculine would depend on the narrator of the story. You wouldn’t write a story with a five year old first person narrator the same as you would a story with an omniscient narrator. Gender is similar – you wouldn’t write a story with a male narrator exactly the same as you would a story with a female narrator. Ok, so what about other sorts of prose? I don’t think essays are particularly gendered, since the nature of the genre doesn’t allow for many of the supposedly gendered speech patterns. Scientific writing certainly isn’t. This brings us to blogs, which is what started the topic. If a person’s gender was to influence their writing anywhere this would be the genre for it, since the narrator and writer are the same person. I’m willing to believe that a person’s gender could be visible through their writing style. Clearly mine isn’t – or maybe those detectors just aren’t strong enough to tease apart female and gay male?

What do you think?

Published in: on May 7, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Comments (4)  

Amazon.com Censoring GLBT Books?

Post by author/publisher about the situation.

List of books that have been censored.

Post by author whose ranking was removed.

Call to boycott with phone numbers of customer service and board of directors.

The Amazon spokesmen said this was a “glitch” in the sales rank feature and they’re working to correct the problem. I don’t know if I buy that – this whole thing seems fishy to me. I’m boycotting Amazon until this whole “glitch” is fixed and we get an explanation.

Edit: Apparently they’re censoring books on disability and sexuality as well: LOOK.

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 1:22 am  Comments (3)  

Comment Threading (and 224-Word Palindrome)!

WordPress finally has comment threading! Woohoo! Read about it
here
.

And here’s the Palindrome

Published in: on February 21, 2009 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Twitter Fiction

I hate twitter. I make no secret about that. I have no desire whatsoever to read inane posts about the minute details of people’s lives. I deal with that sort of thing enough when I live through the more boring parts of my own life. I can’t stand the fact that people can now export their twitters into their blogs because it means that to find the meandering, thought-provoking posts I love I have to wade through lists of mindless tweets. For similar reasons, I also hate facebook status feeds. If I want to know the minutiae of someone’s life, I ask them. I don’t want it popping up on my screen in feeds and blogs where I didn’t expect or desire it. The entire thing seems very hollow to me. I could follow someone’s tweets for an entire year without feeling even remotely close to them, whereas having one deep conversation with someone or following their (thoughtful) blog can foster a much more substantial connection than seeing them every day.

I read a New York Times Magazine article that explains how twitter, facebook feeds etc. can create a state of ambient awareness that makes people more connected to each other. I’m skeptical, but here’s the article:

NY Times Magazine Article

However, that’s not the point of this post. In the Jan 16-22 issue of The Boston Phoenix, there is an article titled “Novel Idea: Twitter Fiction, Post-Modernism, Post by 140-Character Post” that I found interesting. In the article, Mike Miliard talks about people who are writing novels with twitter. Some of those people are writing novels together, one tweet at a time. Now this is an idea I actually like. When I was a child I used to love telling group stories. My friends and I would sit around and make up a story together, each person contributing a chunk and then passing the job to the next, until we had reached the (usually crazy) ending. In recent years, I’ve tried doing this in livejournal comments and the results were similarly entertaining. I don’t anticipate joining twitter anytime soon, but perhaps my next blog post will be a group story…

Boston Phoenix Article

Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  

Writing About Sex

I’m currently working on Rearrange The Sky and getting stumped somewhere pretty unexpected. Sex. Now, I’d like to think I know a lot about sex since I’ve had a lot of sex. [If you're my mother: I was just kidding. I'm still waiting for marriage.] Despite this fact, I seem to have trouble writing about sex. And since I’m writing a quartet of love stories this is becoming a bit of a problem. I can’t avoid sex altogether because it’ll start to seem unnatural. Besides – it’s kind of important to my plot! I feel like I’m performing a delicate tightrope-walking act. One misstep and my characters have fallen into a bad porno full of terrible clich├ęs, another misstep and they’re back in 6th grade health class with its clinical language. Not to mention the difficulty writing about sex with trans men when the common terms used for their anatomy are often seen as offensive and upsetting to the men I am writing about.

What do I do? I’m at a loss. I’ve been reading as much porn as I can get my hands on (purely for research purposes of course) and it hasn’t helped much. I even got my hands on a copy of The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers by Elizabeth Benedict. It’s a good book, but I still feel like my sex writing is horribly mediocre. The biggest problem? I haven’t found much to use as an example for my writing. My sexual pairings are:

1. trans man on hormones with top and bottom surgery and cisgendered man with cerebral palsy
2. trans Daddy on hormones with no surgery and cisgendered boy
3. non-transitioning male-bodied genderqueer and pre-everything trans man
4. femme trans man on hormones with top surgery and non-transitioning genderqueerish female-bodied butch

The mechanics alone are enough to make my head spin, and then when you bring in factors of race and gender and privilege etc. it’s enough to make me want to scream. Perhaps that’s the point. Transfolks navigate a lot of difficult spaces – particularly where sexual intimacy is concerned. Sex with a trans partner is usually not an easy and unthinking “insert tab A into slot B.” It’s complicated. I want this book to show those complications but I also want it to show the beauty and sexual creativity that can result from them. I want this book to show my characters – trans men/genderqueers/men with disabilities/men of color – as whole people with average sex drives – not as the sexualized creatures of porno or the tragically celibate figures of medical textbooks. Unfortunately, as often happens with sex, my head is getting in the way. I’m so worried about how to write that I’m having trouble letting go and allowing things to progress naturally.

Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm  Comments (2)  

New Years & Anger

One of my New Years resolutions was to blog more often so here I am.
Remember how I got accepted for publication in Agenda Poetry’s Online Broadsheets? Remember how that was supposed to happen in August? Still hasn’t happened. I’m pretty peeved. If I didn’t know better I’d think they were a scam rather than a legit poetry journal. I think it’s time to send them another email asking why they’re almost six months late with their newest issue. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over this past year is that literature moves slowly. You submit your writing and you wait for an eternity just to hear back. You’d think they could act a little more quickly – especially for rejections since those are generally form letters and presumably it takes less time to send those. Ugh.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Very Useful

If you’re a writer, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been dazzled by a project only to drop it when the writing gets tedious. You’ve sat down to write and waited for inspiration to strike, but when it did, you were easily distracted from the task of writing so you never got much written. Fear not! There is a cure! It’s called Write or Die and it’s the most useful website I’ve ever stumbled across. You just go there, type in a word or time goal, and set it to whichever grace period (Forgiving, Strict, or Evil) and level (Gentle, Normal, Kamikaze, or Electric Shock) you want. Then you start typing in the box provided. If you stop typing and pass your grace period, various things happen depending on your level. On “Gentle,” a pop-up appears reminding you to start writing again. On “Normal,” the site plays annoying chipmunk-esque music until you start writing again. On “Kamikaze,” your work begins to erase little by little until you start writing again. I still haven’t figured out “Electric Shock” mode yet.

This may just be the best thing for writers since the invention of the pen! Here’s the site address:

Write or Die

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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