We're expected a few more inches of the stuff over the course of the day. I have the "First Snowfall" happiness that I'm determined to enjoy. By February, I'll be cursing the cold.
Karate classes were cancelled last night, so I spent some time doing nothing, then made dinner for Dev and I, enjoyed a little television with him, then charted out another wellness book. Much of today is for a little bit of unexpected, but not unwelcome, work.
But there will be romping with dogs in snow.
I've been blown away by its continued visibility. It's a rare day that someone doesn't view it here or over at WordPress. Between the two, it's around 4000 views. And just when I think it's finally trickling off, a sudden influx of viewers will come from a new Facebook or Tumblr link. Now I'm getting visitors from Google+. I have no idea how many people have read it at those other sources.
I'm blown away by that. (I know a great many folks wouldn't blink at those stats, but I'm an unknown small fry, so the numbers surprise me.) I'd originally written this up for a double-handful of people because I'd found the incident both interesting and unsettling. They urged me to give it a wider audience, and I'm glad I did. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
I'm also a little weirded out by the article's reach. My website stats tell me folks come from all sorts of online places to see that post, reading from six continents, so I assume there is some conversation about it somewhere -- but it's not mine to participate in, or even know about. I just hope the conversations lead to better awareness on the part of men and women, and a greater ability to see the smaller manipulations that so often escape notice and acknowledgement.
Lastly, I can report I've not been subject to any backlash. Considering what has happened to others discussing harassment, that does surprise me. (I wonder if it's because "Blair" is somewhat gender-ambiguous.)
Crossposted to BlBlair MacGregor Books.
That's my outdoor solar lamp. (Frost is covering the little panel on top.) The citronella candle is hiding behind it.
The boy has taken himself off to work, packing Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. The remaining leftovers are packaged and/or frozen for future meals. The turkey carcass is tucked in the freezer for future soup, and the dogs are mightily disappointed they weren't allowed to take it outside for themselves. (Raw bones are okay, but cooked bones are not.)
Now I'm settling in with warm cranberry wine, goat cheese and sourdough. I've a little noveling to do today.
Making the 50K NaNo goal isn't going to happen, but I did get 20K of first-draft fiction down. This is a big deal, since my fiction projects since Viable Paradise have been all about revising previous works that were salvageable. That 20K of this month is all brand-spanking-new and shiny. Yes, I stumbled around, wrote and deleted at least as much as I kept, and wandered down some research roads when I should have been pounding out words. But I am having fun, so screw the wordcount. :)
Besides, a bunch of other cool things happened this month, and I wouldn't have wanted a miss a single one of them.
(Okay, maybe I'd have wanted to tinker with some of the events, but not miss them altogether. Hee.)
With all the rest of our family in Denver, and the solitary folks we usually invited to join our holiday having also moved away, Dev and I are on our own for Thanksgiving. He and I planned a fairly simple and standard menu--turkey, latkes, roasted squash with maple glaze, broccoli, cranberry sauce. I offered all sorts of pies and cakes and sweets as potential desserts. Dev asked for chocolate chip cookies. Sure, why not?
Every year, I am thankful above all to have been granted the challenge of raising my son. He has increasingly taken on the behaviors of a young man over the last year--pitching in more around the house, taking on responsibilities at work, managing his own schedule, being responsive to the emotions and such of the people around him. I still have to kick him into gear at times, and--like the rest of us--he'd rather play than work, but it's nothing in the whole scheme of things. He's a good kid.
He'll have to pop into work late this evening to help prepare for tomorrow, then he works every day of the long weekend. He's rather excited about it because he's not only eligible for sales commissions this year, he has refined his skills to the point of winning a regional sales award. He is already planning what to do with his holiday pay: Xbox One, video camera, new microphone... and more of that darned auto insurance, of course. :)
Me, I'll be writing.
If you’re male, or female but educated in self-defense primarily by males, you will say True. If you’re female, aware of the dynamics that most commonly lead to real self-defense situations, you will say False. If you teach self-defense, and want your students to understand those dynamics, you will say, It’s a pile of crap, and believing it could get you killed.
The whole, “If you have to fight” notion has its place. When you’re teaching and training aggressive young men who believe physical strength is the measure of their worth—and are itching for the chance to prove themselves worthy—getting them to control their impulse to fight is necessary. It’s also valuable for teaching the basic principle of self-defense: avoiding a confrontation, by reading the situation and/or removing oneself from it, is an excellent protection technique.
But in the real world, it’s of little practical use, and believing its absolute truth can indeed get you killed.
I imagine the originator of the quote assumed most fights would be between two men—likely an escalation of a disagreement, or perhaps an interruption of a criminal act, or even a war undertaken when negotiations went sour. So sure, your first step should be to deescalate the situation and avoid violence. Maybe the quote is meant to imply folks who don’t want to be attacked should avoid attack-rich environments–the clichéd dark alleys and isolated parking garages. Okay, fine.
But it ignores the fact the majority of “fights” women will face in life don’t happen in dark alleys and scary places. A woman is most likely to be attacked in her own home, without warning, by someone she knows.
And if you teach self-defense or martial arts, and you don’t know that fact, you are putting your female students in danger.
By telling a woman she should always avoid a fight, you encourage her to let dangerous situations escalate beyond what she might be able to counter. By telling a woman the fight is an indication of failure, you insult the woman who decides to fight when attacked in her own room, in her own bed, by a man who has deliberately earned her trust.
And if you believe having to fight means you’ve done something wrong, I don’t want you on my side should a fight ever come around. I want the partner who knows it takes both parties to resolve a conflict, but only one to decide violence is a better idea. I want a partner who knows from experience that life and people are unpredictable, the bad guys don’t let you choose when an attack happens, and you don’t always get a heads-up before someone takes a swing.
Fighting back is a choice, not a failure.
Coming next: We Already Knew That on the odd habit men have of discovering sparring techniques aren’t effective in a real fight, and the assumption they should tell the women-folk (as if women weren’t already acutely aware of it).
Crossposted at Blair MacGregor Books.
Despite all the reading and research I've done on raw feeding over the last year-plus, I still couldn't shake my fear of feeding the dogs raw chicken bones. Thus I sat on the back porch as they ate, ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble.
Ty the Wonderdog had no trouble at all--expected, since he lived on the farm for years and dined on... whatever he and the other farm dog sniffed out in the woods. Seriously, there was a patch of meadow up the hill from our house we nicknamed The Bone Yard because it was the dogs' favorite place to stash their treasure when they could eat no more. I once found a... a thing that so grossed me out, I was determined to get rid of it. After a couple attempts the dogs foiled, I decided to dump it in the fast-moving river, figuring the coyotes that roamed in the woods down there would eventually grab it. That was not to be. Instead the dogs swam down the river to retrieve the thing and return it to The Bone Yard.
So yes, Ty is quite accustomed to raw food.
Gambit was another matter. He was absolutely certain he should love-love-love the chunk of raw meat in his mouth, but he couldn't figure out how to eat it. By the time Ty was licking his lips in satisfaction, Gambit was just starting to experiment with tearing off little nibbles. Ty looked on as Gambit went from nibbling to gnawing. I'm sure he would have pitched in to demonstrate technique, if I hadn't been watching. But in the end, Gambit succeeded in finishing his meal.
Seven raw meals later, it's obvious they're not having trouble with bones, or any other part of the meal. Gambit still takes longer to eat his portion than Ty, but danged near any creature would take longer to eat than Ty.
As for the miscellany:
I've been scolded about working my arm too much--a scolding brought about because I was stupid and re-injured it and am back to wearing a soft brace all the time.
Related to the above, I'm sitting on the Black Belt Review Board today--very excited to watch one of my students test, and excited/sad to watch three adults of my own cohort test because I was supposed to be testing with them.
We shall see how much progress I can make on Crossroads before the end of November. Yesterday was my day to believe everything I write is junk. Stupid junk. Stupid, derivative, incomprehensible, boring junk. But I've been here before and, just like my occasional certainty I'm a clumsy and substandard karateka, the feeling passes.
The above feeling was shown the door this morning, when I got a note from a friend that said his coworker liked my first book and wanted to know when the next one would be coming out.
And, in the most important news of all... DEV PASSED THE WRITTEN DRIVING TEST AND NOW HOLDS A REAL LICENSE. This means that, on Sunday, I can hand him the car keys, he can drive himself to and from work, and I can stay home.
It also means the beginning of fret-festivals every time he leaves the house on his own. I'm assuming the edges of that worry will dull over time, much the same way as every other fear.
Lastly, and least importantly, I've been feeling restless again. Truly, I should have figured out how to have a career as a travel writer. It's been months since I've traveled more than 50 miles from home. I'll be heading to Denver in December, but will be staying with family, so that doesn't really count.
If we’re paying attention, what we write tells us a great deal about ourselves.
This little dialogue exchange and I went back and forth for two days:
”Besides,” Luke said, “I’d hate to tell the Old Man I let you leave town without even getting a little sparring in.”
“Nothing manipulative about that statement,” she muttered, and narrowed her eyes when he gave a guilty shrug. “First of all, you don’t let me do anything, Sensei Luke. Second, don’t call him the Old Man anymore. I don’t like it. Respect matters.”
She expected him to give the eye-roll of irritation or the cocky grin of indulgence most men would have responded with. Instead, he offered her a solemn nod and met her gaze.
“Text me the address,” Jack said. “If I’m still in town, I’ll drop by.”
Why was it so troublesome?
I was worried the main character, the woman who goes by Jack, would sound too bitchy.
That’s a problem, really. My problem. I don’t much like discovering how deeply certain biases sit in me. It isn’t comfortable. But it is real, so there ya go.
There isn’t a thing Jack says to Luke that isn’t true. Luke is being manipulative, he has no right to imply he has authority over her despite their relative rank in martial arts, and calling a past teacher the “Old Man” does strike Jack as disrespectful. But she isn’t asking Luke to change, nor is she offering him the chance to realize he ought to change. She tells him—point blank—what’s wrong with what he is saying. There is nothing “bitchy” about it.
I say many things like that in real life, but I realized I say them with the notion, “And if you think I’m a bitch for saying so, I don’t care,” in the back of my mind. That’s a problem as well, but a realistic one. People–and more often than not, the “people” refers to women–who draw lines and limits without couching them as optional deeds or giving the other person “credit” for acquiescing are often named pushy, humorless, angry, bitchy.
My decision to self-publish was and is driven by many reasons. But at the core, the decision comes from wanting to tell my stories my way, as professionally as possible, and connect with readers who like them.
Jack is a woman who has decided she will no longer put up with the little falsehoods expected of a woman who gets along by getting along. She doesn’t want to play nice anymore by couching honest criticism in sweet diplomacy. She still has plenty of insecurities, faults, and demons from the past, but she’s going to call bullshit when she hears it, and she expects the other person to be adult enough to handle candor.
I’m sure I’ve come across these writerly decisions before, but I can’t remember being quite so aware of it.
Crossposted at www.blairmacgregorbooks.com.
As you can see, many of our trees are still wearing the last tatters of autumn fashion. It's an odd thing, seeing golden leaves above fresh snow. It wasn't much more than a dusting of white, and it disappeared by the afternoon. But it must have startled the trees before it melted because most dumped their remaining leaves in a hurry, leaving us with puddles of color on the snow. Temps overnight will hit the upper teens. By Sunday, temps will hit 60. It's all "normal" for the awkwardness or season-transition.
I've had my own transition awkwardness going on the writing front. Every one of the learning novels I've written--those that contribute to my million words of crap--has been fantasy. Pseudo-Celtic in the beginning, then created pre-industrial worlds. The voice in those novels evolved over time, and the voice for Sword and Chant is distinct from Sand of Bone, but they all shared certain traits that mark them as more traditional fantasy tales. I can play with language--rhythm, flow, word choice, and patterns--in a way that, to my ear, doesn't work well in other genres.
Now I'm working on Crossroads of America, set in present-day Indiana. That traditional fantasy voice doesn't work here. The moment I let my attention wander, especially when I'm feeling the flow of the story, that old voice takes over and the characters suddenly sound as if they've been transported from a different culture and time. The process has become one of write, delete, write again, revise, and finally move ahead. Writing forward without revising seems the poorer option to me. The sooner I get comfortable with the modern voice, the sooner the story feels real.
I'm almost there. The last section didn't contain throw-back metaphors, archaic phrases, or any piece of dialog that sounded too much like iambic pentameter. (I am far too fond of "akin to," for example.) But I stumble over describing modern settings--a weird writing quirk, if you ask me. After all, if I can give the reader an interesting setting they've never seen before, it shouldn't be hard to describe a bar in downtown Indy. Oh, but it is!
So I feel akin to (there it is!) those trees, holding on to my leaves as the snow flurries move in. Maybe soon, I can drop all those dead leaves, pretty as they are, and move on to the next thing completely. The challenge makes me glad I chose Crossroads as my NaNo project, though. Without the push, I might have let this project sit forever as a "maybe someday" thing. Instead, the story is beginning to connect and I'm gaining greater flexibility as a writer.
Whether I hit 50K or not, I win.
(Can you tell I'm happy with this project? I am!)