Political Correctness: The Cake Is A Lie

Hello, hello!  A few days ago, I posted the following image on my personal Facebook page and one of my friends thanked me for it.  I’m still not entirely sure whether she meant it as a “hey, I never thought about it that way before” kind of thing or as an “I can relate, as someone has done this to me” kind of thing.  Either way, I was a little taken aback.  Have we, as a society, really become so politically correct that we can’t take kindness at face value?  That we have to be told when people are being nice even if it clashes with our personal beliefs?  I even went so far as to read the comments on the original post (never read the comments), and people were actually arguing that saying ‘You’re in my prayers’ to someone you know is an atheist is like serving PB&Js to someone you know has a peanut allergy.  So, you’re going to go into anaphylactic shock because of something someone said?  That’s a mighty severe allergy you have there.

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This isn’t common sense?

 Seriously though, when did we become so caught up in ourselves that we couldn’t look at things from the other person’s perspective?  Honestly, I noticed a significant rise in this type of behavior when people started encouraging “political correctness.”  The Right argues that political correctness is a restriction on free speech.  The Left argues that it’s simply about being respectful and that there’s no hidden agenda.  I’m sorry, but any phrase that contains any form of the word ‘politics’ is hiding something.  That’s what politics are: the art of who can hide their true agendas from the public the best.  It’s sad, but true.

When we can no longer walk down the street during the holidays and wish people a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Kwanzaa or whatever we celebrate for fear of offending someone, things have gone too far.  When we can’t try to comfort an acquaintance the best way we know how for fear of offending someone, things have gone too far.  When sincere attempts at kindness are met by snark and anger under the guise of political correctness, things have gone too far.  So yeah, this whole political correctness thing has gone much too far.

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This.  So much this.

 There’s no hidden agenda behind political correctness, but in order to be truly PC, you have to fit the mold created around that ideal.  You can’t be overtly religious, you can’t have your own opinions unless they match everyone else, you can’t be different.  But America was built around differences.  It’s not called the Melting Pot for nothing.  We should celebrate our differences, not try to squash them out.

Don’t get me wrong, the basic concept or goal behind political correctness (treating each other with respect) isn’t bad at all, just the execution of it has perverted it into something else entirely (hence, the cake being a lie).  You see, respect goes both ways (even if politicians on both sides would have you believe otherwise).  Personally, I’m not someone who believes in the power of prayer, but I’m not going to disrespect someone else’s beliefs by telling them not to pray for me because of it.  Just like when I tell someone I’m sending them good vibes, I don’t expect a lecture on science calling my vibes pseudo psychological hippie crap.  That’s the kind of crap that’ll make me never talk to you again.  Learn to accept kindness at face value.

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That works too.

 In other words, stop worrying about being “politically correct.”  Be kind.  Be respectful.  Remember that we’re all different and occasionally people are going to inadvertently do or say things that go against your personal beliefs.  And if someone ever truly hurts you, whether physically or emotionally, by all means let them know.  But if it’s simply a case of their beliefs clashing with yours, let it go*.  After all, if we were all the same, the world would be a pretty boring place.

*This only applies if they’re being nice and respectful to you.  If they’re being asshats, do what you have to do.

A To Z: Songs To Write By

Hello, hello!  As you can probably tell by the title, I’m having a hard time coming up with topics again.  Suggestions are most welcome.  Anyway, I decided to do an A to Z list (by song title) of songs that (usually) end up on my writing playlists.  Granted, every story is different and requires different music, so this is in no way comprehensive.  In fact, my current WIP has been written with little to no music.  Sometimes, noise just gets in the way.  But, when I do use music, you can be pretty sure the following songs will be playing.

A: “All of Me” by John Legend.  In case I have to write one of those sappy love scenes.  You know the ones.

B: “Battlefield” by Blind Guardian.  Because power metal makes everything you write sound more epic.  Even when you’re sure it sucks.

C: “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi.  “A” and “The” don’t count.  But this is the opening of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which reminds me of Shinji, who reminds me that it’s okay to write characters you know some people are going to hate.  Because I love to hate Shinji.

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She’s not wrong.

D: “Did You Hear the Rain?” by George Ezra.  It’s a new addition for my list, but it’s awesome and that’s enough of a reason.

E: “Eres Tu” by Kany Garcia.  Because sometimes you just need a bouncy song when you’re slogging through the tedious parts of stories.

F: “Float On” by Modest Mouse.  To remind me make everything worse before it gets better, but to have my characters take most of it in stride.

G: “Girl Anachronism” by the Dresden Dolls.  The song is great, but anachronisms are bad in stories.

H: “Hiai to Melancholy” by Matenrou Opera.  No special reason.  It’s just lovely.

I: “I Come with Knives” by IAMX.  For all those weird scenes that you sit there going “what the hell is wrong with this person?” as you write them.

J:  “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars.  Because sometimes I have to remind myself that I originally liked these characters for some reason.

K: “Kraam” by Bodyslam.  A soothing Thai song is always appropriate.

L: “Love Me Dead” by Ludo.  Because sometimes I have to write about unhealthy and creepy relationships, but Ludo makes it fun.

M: “Muma -the Nightmare-” by Buck-Tick.  Because Buck-Tick, that’s why.

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What’s not to love about Buck-Tick?

N: “Neo Universe” by L’arc en Ciel.  Upbeat for all the happy moments, rare as they may be.  Plus, they have Hyde-san.

O: “Odd One” by Sick Puppies.  Because everyone needs moral support sometimes.  Even the voices in your head.

P: “Postcards” by James Blunt.  For the sappy scenes.  I swear.

Q: “Quitter” by Edgewater.  Sometimes rage is needed in stories.

R: “The Rest of My Life” by Less Than Jake.  To remind me to include internal conflict as well as all the fun stuff.

S: “Sympathia” by Versailles.  Just because I really like it.

T: “Thank God I’m Pretty” by Emilie Autumn.  To remind me that even the luckiest of my characters need to have issues.  Everything, even beauty, has a downside.

U: “Ugly” by the Exies.  Because sometimes I forget how to do teenage angst.  Songs like this help me remember.

V: “Vinushka” by Dir en grey.  Creepy, rage, dark, disturbing.  That’s the kind of stuff Diru is helpful with.  Also, beauty and depth.

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Plus, Dir en grey has Kyo-san.

 W: “Wolfen (Das Tier in Mir)” by E Nomine.  Epic music makes for epic stories.  Also, werewolves.

X: Xanadu by Moi dix Mois.  It’s actually the only song on my computer that starts with x.

Y: “You Can’t Be Missed if You Never Go Away” by Cobra Starship.  In other words, heed that call to adventure and leave me alone.

Z: “Zakuro” by Vaniru.  It’s another one of those that I just like.  I don’t know the words, so I can tune it out if I need to in order to write.

What are some of the songs that usually go into your writing or painting or whatever other creative outlets you pursue playlists?  Feel free to share some links in the comments or on my social media pages.  And don’t forget to suggest some blog topics or ask me some questions if you have any.

See ya!

Writing The Personal: Anything But That

Hello, hello!  I really had no idea what to write about today, so I went through a bunch of those list type blogs of “topics for writers,” which usually aren’t all that helpful.  One question that seems to show up on all the lists is “what’s the hardest thing you’ve ever written?”  You mean aside from all of these blog posts?  I don’t know.  I’ve never had a difficult time with any particular piece beyond the normal troubles a writer has.  I’m uncomfortable writing in the field of science fiction and pretty much anything with a political theme, but only because I’m not used to those genres.  There’s really only one thing I actively avoid in my every day writing: anything personal.  I mean yeah, there’s always going to be a part of me in everything I write, but I’ll probably never write a memoir or anything like that.  I’m boring.  Who would want to read about my life?

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That’s why I don’t write about myself.

I don’t care for slice of life books.  Or diaries.  Or journals.  Never have.  My life sucks enough, so I’d much rather escape into fantasy and the like when I’m both reading and writing.  Happy endings aren’t entirely necessary, but adventure and magic and awe are.  I’ve felt that way for as long as I can remember.  I’ve never really kept a diary or journal or anything like that for the same reasons.  I tried.  But it got really boring really fast.  Every diary devolved into a list of shows I watched or songs I heard.  I’m sure that type of writing is cathartic for some people, but I always preferred to avoid it.

Of course, there were times I was forced to write from a personal perspective.  You can’t take poetry writing as an undergrad without being “encouraged” (read: coerced) into writing about yourself.  I always felt dirty after it.  Especially if it was something I had to share with the class.  All the words sounded stupid as I said them out loud.  I either felt like I was bragging or complaining, both of which are things I try to avoid most of the time.  At least back then I avoided them.  I’m just an uncomfortable topic for me.

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Basically.

I still remember one assignment from my Introduction to Poetry Writing class that I ended up taking much more seriously than I ever intended to.  The writing prompt was along the lines of something as simple as “write a poem speaking to God” with the caveat that we had to take a cliché and make it our own.  We sat in a circle and somehow I ended up having to read last.  Everyone else wrote vague and super happy poems, then it came to me.  I didn’t even print out a copy because I didn’t want my mom to read it (she was snoopy like that).  I memorized it and offered to email it to the teacher who totally understood.  It was angry and personal and I have always thought of it when I thought of things that were difficult to write.  It’s part of the reason I started actively avoiding personal writing.

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Seemed appropriate.

What about you?  What’s the hardest thing for you to write about?  Is there a topic or genre that you actively avoid?

And, for anyone wondering about that poem, here it is:

Dear God

by Shawna Borman

I want to believe
That love is blind
And the world is kind
And that we all have time
To fall in love. 

But that’s a lie. 

I want to be loved
For who I am
Despite what I am
By someone who doesn’t give a damn
About the outside. 

But that’s not going to happen. 

I want to thank you
For saving me
From who I know I would be
At the price of not letting me be free
To make my own mistakes. 

But I can’t. 

Because…

I want to be beautiful.
I would be.
I could be.
I should be!
But this, this isn’t a matter of “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” 

I want to walk
With my head held high
And turn the eye
Of every guy
In the room towards me.

I want to be shallow.
I don’t care if they love me for what’s on the inside,
Because first they have to like me for what’s on the outside.
If the outside’s not for keeps,
No one’s going to want to dig too deep. 

And I want to hate you
For the way you made me.
But I don’t know your face,
Don’t know your name,
Hell, I don’t even know if you exist. 

But I need you to be a part of my life,
Because even though I blame you,
It’s still easier
To believe that I’m one of your creatures,
Than to know that I’m just a freak of nature.

How Role Playing Made Me A Better Writer

Howdy howdy!  A friend of mine from the Yahoo chatroom days has been talking about “the old days” (hard to believe it was ten years ago) when we stayed up all night talking and (usually) participating in multiple role playing scenarios.  Not MMORPGs or Magic or D&D or any of that.  We mostly stuck with the chatrooms and a few forums.  Stuff like that.  I admit I wasn’t a hardcore RPer.  I didn’t know all of the rules and different styles (single lines versus paragraphs and all that), but there were a few worlds I enjoyed hanging out in.  Anyway, I got to thinking about those days too and realized that they helped turn me into the writer I am today.  Here are the three main ways RPing helped make me a better writer:

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And better at faking my way through adulthood.

1.  The fact that it actually made me write.  I’ve never been very good about writing without deadlines, so I didn’t write much when I wasn’t in classes.  Rping with people forced me to exercise the creative parts of my brain on a regular basis even outside of school.  We built worlds and characters with words.  Then, we put those characters through hell.  And we usually invented a bunch of disgusting weapons to push everything even further.

2.  It taught me a lot about character and world building.  There was nothing worse than getting into a scenario and having a character “magically” beat the crap out of someone they should’ve been pulverized by.  No, your character did NOT spontaneously gain the ability to shoot fire from her palms with no lead up to it.  Take your beating like a man.  Then there were the people who randomly put hiding places in already established open areas with no cover.  Really?  The importance of adhering to established world rules and character attributes was not lost on me back then.

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An old character of mine.  Drawn by the aforementioned friend and colored by me.

 3.  I think the most important aspect of RPing is that it’s collaborative.  I’m still not big on group projects, but it taught me how to work with other creators to make a world that combined our ideas.  We had to work together or else everything fell apart due to petty bickering.  Or, if we managed to create a world, but we didn’t agree on things, wild inconsistencies would pop up in the stories.  We didn’t have to stifle our individual voices, we just had to blend them together.  It makes the whole idea of future collaborations a lot less repulsive.

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Like “Didn’t we just go over that?”

 So yeah, RPing really did help me become a better writer.  I keep telling my friend that, while I miss the chatroom days, I still kind of RP, I just do it solo now.  That’s what writing is: building worlds and characters, then putting them through hell.  A solo RP.

What about you?  Did you ever RP?  Do you still do it?  What would you say it taught you about writing?  Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject here or on one of my social media pages!

Until next time!

A Day Of Art

Hello, hello!  Last week, my friend Marika invited Dad and I to go to the Dallas Museum of Art with her and the munchkins.  I’ve lived roughly half an hour away from this museum all my life and can only think of two other times I’ve been there, so we decided to go with them.  We spent the afternoon wandering around some of the exhibits.  Dad kept getting too close to the fancy furniture, so the staff kept a wary eye on him.  We got huffed at for allowing one of the munchkins to touch a sculpture (to be fair, it was outside and looked like a fancy garbage can, so yeah).  We also got to talk Masterpieces and Stephen King with the guy in the gift shop.  All around, it was a nice day away from actually writing (and yes, I’ve been a good little writer with meeting my word count lately).  Sometimes, getting away from your own artform and exploring others is healthy.

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And sometimes, it’s just weird.  All pictures courtesy of Marika.

 I’ve always liked art anyway, so it’s not hard to imagine me finding plenty of inspiration in a museum.  But I admit that I was a little surprised by just how much inspiration I came away with.  For instance, the  Irving Penn exhibit (open until August 14) had a few images that are still stuck in my brain almost a week later.  One of them, which I don’t have a picture of, was an eye in a keyhole that had a keyhole reflected in the eye, kind of like a tunnel effect.  I don’t know why it’s stuck with me, or if it’ll cause a story to blossom, but it gave me something to think about.

Aside from inspiring the writer in me, I was also tempted to draw again.  There was quite a bit of abstract work that was interesting, as well as some things that looked like they were drawn by a three year old (not my cup of tea).  But, it was actually the furniture on the fourth floor that really made me go “Ooo, I could do that.”  Meaning that I could draw similar patterns, not that I could build anything.  I’ll leave the woodwork up to Dad.

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I could definitely draw a swirly design like this.

 Then, there were all the things that weren’t exactly inspiring, but they were simply beautiful.  Not everything has to make you think or make you want to create.  Sometimes, we just need some eye candy.  On the second floor near the room where you can see one of the restoration areas, there was the Wittgenstein Vitrine (a fancy display case the DMA restored).  It’s a really ornate box decorated with silver and pearls and opals and moonstones, etc.  But I wouldn’t even know what to display in it, let alone what to write or draw about it.  It does nothing for me except sit there and look pretty, and that’s okay.  We need that just as much as we need the inspirational things.

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A corner of the Vitrine.

 So, what is this post all about aside from me telling you about my day at the museum?  Nothing, really.  I’m just saying that it’s okay to take a day off once in a while to explore creative outlets outside of your norm.  Put down the pen or step away from the keyboard and go explore a museum or go to the symphony or whatever.  It might help you recharge, and you could have fun in the process.  I know I did.