Prejudice in Writing: Where I’m Coming From

Why is talking about prejudice important? Why do I think need to talk about prejudice? If you read my last post in this series (also known as my first post, which you can find here), you can see a few reasons why I think prejudice is something we need to talk about. Now I’ll talk briefly about why I think I should talk about it.

It’s easy: because I want to write. Because I do write.

This is a topic that is a part of my writing experience. Just because it’s a topic that may cause people to fling digital mud at me doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t talk about it. That is cowardly, and I try very hard not to be cowardly. Or I just have a big mouth. I’m never quite sure.

In my family we have arguments, a lot of them. At my (Catholic) school we were encouraged to discuss difficult topics: we talked about abortion, marriage, sex, drugs, alcohol, religion and everything else you could imagine (but wouldn’t think happened at a Catholic high school). My friends and I regularly call each other ridiculous during late-night “conversations.”

It helps me to be open-minded, which is a good quality in a creative person. I want to take everything in. I want more information. I want more points of view, more opinions. I think it makes me a better writer. I think it makes me a better person.

I won’t lie: this will be difficult and I may say some things that frustrate or upset you, but I’m willing to listen. This isn’t supposed to be me shouting into the abyss. If I wanted that, I’d keep a journal. So, let me know what you think.

Do you talk about difficult things with people you trust? How about online? Do you think prejudice (in writing and reading, specifically) is something we should talk about?

 

Prejudice in Writing: It’s Not Being PC

This is a subject that I’m always nervous to talk about, at least with people I don’t know very well (like nearly every person who’s reading my blog). It’s a subject that everyone has an opinion on with a lifetime of experiences to back up those opinions. It’s a subject that is…  volatile, to say the least.

Prejudice.

Yes, I know: I’m opening myself up for a whole lot of internet-hurt (hate) here, but this is a vital topic. Just because it’s a difficult issue to bring up doesn’t make it any less important to discuss; in fact I would say that it’s more important to talk about difficult topics. They’re difficult for a reason.

So… let’s talk about it.

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I Really Sound Like That?

There are quite a few studies out there that say that most people don’t like the sound of their own voices. Most of those studies also explain why precisely we don’t (it has something to do with the difference in how we hear ourselves when speaking and how we hear recorded sounds), but that doesn’t matter in this post. In this post I’m going to talk about finding my blogging voice.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a wordy person. Some (most) would say that I can be pedantic, even. Usually they’re right. There are a lot of random facts rolling around in my skull and I can get distracted by them, so I end up rambling. I hope to cut down on that — at least in writing.

When I first started blogging I was worried about sounding like an idiot (I don’t know why; I’m usually quite smart), and that translated into being wordy in a much less entertaining fashion than I normally am. Since then I’ve relaxed a bit and I’m becoming wordy in a way that I hope is much more entertaining. Hopefully.

Finding your voice is one of the things that’s shouted at beginning writers almost as often as “Write what you know.” It’s also one of the hardest things to find because the only way you can really find your voice is to write. Just like most other forms of art, we need to practice to get good at it.

But, really, what is “voice”?

It’s you. Voice is how you put yourself into your writing that makes it unique to you. Not on any sort of conscious level,  although it can be downplayed or emphasized on purpose. Your voice is the soul of your writing, it’s your soul put into the written word. Don’t hide who you are in your writing; that’s what readers remember.

My favorite authors (and bloggers) all have distinct, developed voices that I can identify in moments. This is what I hope to find for myself. Even if I’m never a great or even a good writer, I want a part of my soul to show in how I write. I want the people who know me best in my personal life to be able to tell that these are my words, and I don’t want people I meet online to be disappointed by me in real life.

Have you found your voice yet? How did you? Do you think I sound interesting or would you like to hit me over the head with something very heavy just to shut me up? (It’s more understandable than you may think.)

 

**I’m an idiot. Mostly I’m an idiot technologically. Sorry to everyone who read the first (non) draft. This is the one I intended to post.**

 

The Lost Art of Letters and the Writer

Dangerous words, but I’ve been thinking. In school, I took an AP Literature class, which meant learning not only about their work, but the authors as well. Some of this was done through first hand accounts, usually their journals and letters. I hated the work, finding it tedious and boring, but it did help me understand their stories, novels, or poems.

Some writers still keep journals. I keep an art journal that is half-filled with words. Every once in a while I try to keep a written journal that I seem to inevitably get bored writing. Many others actually succeed at the task, though, and we’ll have that when their works become classics for future generations.

Even those who don’t keep journals often track their lives digitally. They have Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and any number of other accounts. You can even see what they’ve eaten over the last week with their Instagram account. I don’t do many of those, but I have a sporadically used Twitter account, and fandom Tumblr. I also have these blogs.

But what about letters? What in our modern world is replacing the snail-mail letter?

I can’t be sure about that. There’s e-mail, but that’s not as easy of a transition as you may think. With all of the other forms of communication, we no longer have to tell our nearest and dearest about the latest goings-on; they can check Facebook for that. If they want to know what we feel about the latest in popular culture there’s our Tumblr account. Our Twitter will often let them know what we’re following in the news and how we feel about it.

We don’t quite have the same personal connection in writing anymore. The things that they used to write about in letters show up in our various forms of social media, or we can just call up our close family and friends to talk directly. It’s dangerous.

I like writing letters and e-mails. I don’t have a Facebook account, so I actually do have things to tell people when I e-mail them. However, I’ve noticed that not everyone is that great at writing back. Some people (often my creative friends) love the opportunity to write with someone. Others wonder aloud and often why I don’t just get a Facebook.

When they do write back, it can just be bad. The grammar is horrible and there isn’t much capitalization or punctuation. Even worse, some of them have used txt-speak outside of texting (where it doesn’t grate quite as much), and have quickly learned not to do so with me. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

I could be stuck in a past that’s just not here anymore, but I think I have a point here. How much are we losing by not writing to each other? Writing privately to someone allows the ideas to form in a way that we often don’t get in the public forum. Is this a loss to us as writers (or creative people in general)? Is this a loss to the future generations or do Twitter and Facebook and everything else make up for it?

What’s in a Name?

Many writers use pen names. Sometimes they started writing in a different genre from the one they’d started in. Maybe they’re disguising their gender (especially in genres like romance). It could be something as simple as not liking the name they were born into or the name they took on marriage. In the age of internet, it’s something that has even more consequences.

I started writing with a pseudonym of sorts. Everything connects to who I am, and I’ve been consistent, but I started at a very young age and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t affect looking for a job or getting into college (I was also a precocious child). The thing is: I don’t know if I want to keep writing under a pseudonym, not when I (hopefully) get published.

Many cultures hold strong beliefs about names, but Hawaiians believe that a given name is what a child becomes as an adult. In fact, Hawaiians traditionally didn’t give names until the child’s first birthday (which is one reason first birthday parties are such a big deal here), and a lot of thought and meditation goes into it. An equal amount of thought would have to go into choosing a pen name for me to feel comfortable with it.

This name does have certain connotations for me. I like it, even, but it’s not the name I inherited from my father or the name my parents gave me. I’m mixed-race, as well, and I wonder if I should try to pull in more of my heritage in a pen name (Spanish isn’t too unusual for readers, but Hawaiian might raise eyebrows).

 

Then there’s my fandom dealings. The reason I have a pen name to begin with is that I was heavily involved in the Potter fandom. I’ve even written fanfiction and essays, and I’m currently blogging about my newest re-reads. That’s another reason why I’m not sure if I should write original fiction under my fandom name, or if I should branch out. I have what may be a surprisingly large following for my fanworks.

It’s all very confusing. This isn’t even something I really have to think about until I get an agent or a publishing deal, to be honest, but it does bother me.

Right… so, I’m worrying about something I really don’t have to worry about now (I have a tendency to do that). Do any of you write under a pseudonym? Do you think it’s worth the trouble?

Heartbruises and Black Ink

An absolutely brilliant look at another type of writer — one who need inspiration more than planning. Highly recommended blog that doesn’t have enough followers.

Oh, The Blinking Cursor:

Today’s post wasn’t on the blog schedule.  I want that out and understood, because it’s going to be a weird one.

We can call it motivation, I suppose.  But in a very real sense, at least for me, and I would assume for most people who write emotionally, who write poetry, their motivation is… emotion.  It’s what fuels a writer like me, fuels me.  If I don’t feel anything for what I write, its like there’s no soul to my piece.

It seems that writers of my ilk seem to thrive on heart-bruises.  A double edged sword, to be sure, because it means there’s constantly conflict.  In order to craft, we need it, and that means there is… rarely peace in our lives.

…an old writer friend of mine wrote a poem, and the following stanza is from it [see it here].

“…give me something to write about

won’t…

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What Do You Mean, “How Do You Write”?

The idea for this post didn’t come easily. I hadn’t yet started writing anything regular (a buffer is a good idea when it comes to me), so I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with the post. Should I write more about pre-writing, or maybe how to deal with the inevitable question of whether I can call myself a writer? It all seemed too contrived and, frankly, rather boring.

To try to figure it out, I was talking with a close friend, and the conversation went something like this (it’s paraphrased):

Her: Hm. How you write. How it makes you feel.

Me: I just… write. I don’t know how to explain it.

Her: Hm.

Me: I mainly just… write.

Her: Okay, how do you prepare to write?

Me: What do you mean?

Her: You really do just sit down and write, don’t you?

Me: …I think so.

It sounds like less work than it is. I do a lot of pre-writing or I have the story set up in my head when I sit down to write. So… when I do write, I am just putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and the words usually flow easily. My notes and outlines are next to me so I can refer to them, and I’m constantly re-reading what I’ve just written. If I’m having trouble with a word or phrase, or I’m unsure about a fact, I highlight it or circle it and work on the issue later. It doesn’t usually slow me down.

Unlike others, there is no specific place or set-up needed for me to write. I don’t need music or a sunny day in the park; I need a computer or my notebook and a pen. I never had the luxury of choosing the place when I had time or the level of noise, so I can write as easily at a party as I can alone in the library.

My writing habit is that I never had the opportunity to form a habit. A part of me needed to write, to tell a story, so I wrote when I had the opportunity. I’ve been known to stop mid-conversation so I could scrawl something in my notebook or on a napkin or (a few times) on my arm. Yes, I’m that odd.

So, when people ask how I write, I don’t have a response that doesn’t sound obnoxious, but it is honest. All I do is write.

What do you do? Do you have specific set-up that’s needed to write? Do you need music or your desk or can you write anytime, anywhere? When you can’t get what you want, can you still write?