Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Post of Ultimate Writing Advice! (Or not.)

In the 80s film Better Off Dead, a skier is standing at the top of a hill, trying to prepare for a race that's way over his head. A girl points down the slope and gives him the following advice: "Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way, turn." If I am ever in a position where someone thinks I actually have writing advice to give, my reply will be basically that. Because I don't know how to give any other writing advice that doesn't go, "Oh, yes, you can/should totally do XYZ, because I did XYZ, and I [insert list of my accomplishments here]."

Because my success (however I define it) might've had nothing to do with XYZ. Maybe it just happened to be that the editor needed one more story for that "Enchanted Car Washes" issue, and bam! I just happened to send an enchanted car wash fic. Maybe an agent thinks that novels about enchanted car washes are about to become the next big thing, and there, I win again.

I think there's a big tendency in the writing world for us to say our rejections were just a matter of taste or bad luck and our successes were because so we're awesome that no one could resist us. And that feels good as long as the successes keep coming. But I don't think you can hold those two conflicting ideas in your head all the time, especially in the face of a long string of rejections. Either you're going to come to the conclusion that everything is luck or you're going to come to the conclusion that you just don't write well enough. The latter is a great way to shake off Golden Words Syndrome. But there's something horribly demoralizing about seeing self-improvement, getting hit with more rejections, and then getting told by someone that said rejections just mean you're not good enough. Now, I don't think getting published is totally luck-based. I do think putting your manuscript in Times New Roman rather than Wingdings helps your cause. But outside of the basic advice to not be a creepy idiot and to write in competent English, I think just about anything else goes.

All you can do is try stuff and if that doesn't work, try other stuff. Don't discount the improvement you see in your day-to-day writing, even if you're the only one who seems to notice it's there. Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Frozen, Superheroes, and What I See in the Toy Aisle

Dear Disney,

If you are going to make such marketing moves as calling a Rapunzel movie "Tangled" and an ice queen movie "Frozen", please be aware that the boys who flocked to the theaters might have actually enjoyed the movie. Yes, the romantic plotline between Hans and Anna goes over my son's head. Yes, if you ask him, he'll tell you that the movie is about how Elsa runs away because she's looking for her glove and then a giant snowman chases them all. But still, he enjoyed it and I think he might be wondering why everything related to a movie that's supposedly for boys and girls is completely bathed in pink.

And on that note, Disney, let talk superheroes.

Did you know girls can be superheroes? Really, it's true. There's these characters called the Sailor Soldiers and these other characters called the Powerpuff Girls and they're actually whole teams of super-heroines! Check them out. But that's not all. Girls and boys can be on the same superhero team! In fact, you may be surprised to know that boys will not be horrified at the idea of a girl pictured with the mostly-male team. So when you go to make something related to Guardians of the Galaxy or the Avengers, can you please stop cutting the few girls on the team out of every single image?*

Seriously, not every little girl dreams of being a princess. Some just want to kick the bad guy's butt.

Sincerely, Me (mommy to one boy and one girl.)

*Of both these issues, I notice the lack of girls on the superhero stuff way more than the deluge of pink in Frozen. And to be honest, the former irks me way more than the latter.