Rockstar VS the Fans: What is it you really want?

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“Overwhelmingly negative”  is not something you want to see on a game that has such a hardcore following is Grand Theft Auto. If you are new to the franchise and you were excited to see a new game come out and wanted to hop on that train, then get ready with your fists up because the blows are flying.  Grand Theft Auto V is not unlike other games in the Grand Theft Auto series or franchise aside from the fact that mods are absolutely 100% band. That’s right, one of the most fun things to do in a PC game is use mods and Grand Theft Auto is no stranger to having its mods be a source of controversy for the media. The big deal was back in 2014 when some then supposed hackers modded the game that would allow them to virtually rape another player in the game. At this point in our lives and at this point in the discussion of mods and violence in video games, you might just shrug your shoulders and say that’s what happens. After all even in Halo you can get tea-bagged mercilessly without a mod. The big deal is that teabagging really and rages the majority of male video gamers. Not to say that the rape mod was and raging female Gamers but it definitely concerned parents when they’re young children would log into the game to find their character being raped.

Think I’m kidding?

When the accusations begin to fly towards Rockstar that their game included rape, they blatantly denied it. Granted what they said is true; their game does not include rape it was implemented by the fans. But in Rockstar’s defense their’s is not the only game where this happens. Aside from massive teabagging there was also an incident in the game DayZ where a female gamer complained that she had been cornered by two male characters and was murdered and then they simulated having sex on her corpse. Modded or simulated character rape in games is not something new but has come into the light once again with the mod restrictions for Grand Theft Auto V.

A vast majority of mods for video games are surprisingly not harmful. There’s a favorite for Skyrim that turns dragons into various characters from Thomas the Tank Engine. Even in Grand Theft Auto there were mods for ridiculous things like riding a UFO or submerging the game’s entire world underwater. But like most things, Grand Theft Auto fell into the hands of the trolls. Trolling is a natural part of online play and should be expected by new Gamers and old Gamers alike. The trolling has usually been tolerated as you could mute a character or block a player. Some mods in Grand Theft Auto, like going around without your pants, didn’t really hurt anyone aside from being mildly disturbing. But that all changed when the rape mod was created and you could suddenly make characters that were not your own do things against their will. The mod in question literally comes with a menu that you can choose from and force on to other players.gta revierws.PNG

Even having your character forced into something they might not want to do or you might not want to happen to them could seem like something that should just be shrugged off. However, the issue was that the mod glitched your game and there was nothing you could do after you had been raped. Your character would be stuck in the bent-over position or would randomly begin another action inside the mod menu such as pole dancing. You also couldn’t do anything to the character assaulting you. The mod had control of your character and essentially made the one raping you invincible.The subreddit for Grand Theft Auto V is full of complaints like this one. After several incidents like this and the subreddit exploding with stories and YouTube being flooded with GTA online rape scenes, Rockstar stepped in but only with a toe. They said that people who cheated to get millions or even trillions of dollars and use such mods would be punished at Rockstar’s discretion. Much to the dissatisfaction of some players, there was a large majority of modders and rapers that were never punished.

Flash Forward to 2017 and the release of Grand Theft Auto 5’s mod restrictions.  Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two was so fed up with the legal action that was threatened against them that they banned the popular modding tool  OpenIV. They didn’t just ban and have the modding tool shut down. No they ordered a cease-and-desist to the developers of OpenIV. This might just sound like a slap on the hand of an adult telling you to cut it out, but a cease-and-desist order is a legal order. This means that if you do not stop the action that is being asked of you, then it can be taken up in court and set before a judge. For a small-time developer that just wants to create mods for people to have fun, this comes out of the darkness scarier than a Freddy Fazbear. It means that you have to stop the action they’re asking you to or you will be in some deep legal trouble.

The tool was banned for Grand Theft Auto and the backlash was unbearable for Rockstar Games. All one has to do is sign in to Steam and look at the reviews for Grand Theft Auto V to see that they are overwhelmingly negative. A brave soul opened up an account on change.org to have fans sign a petition and rage and flame until Rockstar Games relented and tackled its parent, becoming the rebellious teenager we all hoped it would be. Slapping its parent company in the face, Rockstar Games has decided that OpenIV will be usable again. Surprisingly enough just the other day Rockstar actually said that it believes in the responsibility of its fans to play the game like the adults it was intended for. They also stated that they hope Take-Two will not actually be taking legal action.

Rockstar was questioned about single player mods as the general concern seems to be for Grand Theft Auto online. Rockstar replied saying “Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property  rights of third parties. This does not apply to  multiplayer or online services; tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or use or importation of other IP in the project.”

Passion for the games? Responsible creativity? At least they said it doesn’t apply to multiplayer or online services. No matter where you stand on the topic or whether you think it’s an expression of free speech or not, mods are technically allowed in any game. The only thing that is currently super punished in the gaming world is scripting and that usually has to do with eSports and competitive play.  Think of it like using hormones or steroids for athletes. Yes, it will ruin the playing experience for you, but it’s not illegal and is not necessarily punishable. And really we should all be standing applauding Rockstar for standing up to their parent company and defending their fans. It’s an extremely unpleasant sight to come in and see that your character has been raped or to see it being done and to be absolutely helpless. But what are you going to say to the griefers in Minecraft? To the people who come in and destroy your entire house that no doubt took you hours to create?  It’s all a form of trolling and so long as they are not harming your actual bank account or your physical person, the damage is repairable.

And in case you were wondering, the petition on change.org has almost 80,000 people signing it. That’s a lot of people that play one game. If you have those 80000 people trash-talking your game to their friends that’s at least a whopping 100,000 people who will not be buying your games in the future. Or if they think you’re going to be a weak developer under the toe of your parent company, then they might not risk it and play your game even then.

On a brighter note for those who enjoy it, Rockstar has said that it is in contact with the developer of OpenIV and that they will be discussing the situation. Whatever the outcome it will be better than completely shutting down the modding tool. However, Rockstar did mention that their rules do not apply to multiplayer or online services including functions that could be used to impact the other players. So while you may not be able to forcibly and virtually rape your fellow players, you will still be able to mod using OpenIV.  This will have gamers asking themselves what it is they were actually upset about. Will you be satisfied with the outcome that Rockstar has with the developers of the mod tool? Or will you, as a gamer, be enraged that you cannot virtually rape those around you?

We know that there are other mods in there that are malicious that don’t include rapes but the point is they are all focused on other players in an extremely harassing way. Of course you get pleasure from harassing another person, you’re the one in charge and in power! But if you have to come to a video game for a power trip then you should mod yourself a new life.

The point is, both sides are speaking to each other and there will no doubt be a resolution soon. We should all be rejoicing that Rockstar has stepped up on  behalf of its fans and those with the creative thumb that want to enhance the game. While some mods are obviously terrible to experience, the fact that gamers love your game so much that they want to enhance the experience for themselves and share it with others shows true creative heart and love for the game. And how often does a developer actually stand up for its fans? In the history of video games it has definitely been a very rare sight. In some cases it is the gamers versus the creators. Fortunately, Rockstar isn’t being offended at the decision for gamers to mod the game, declaring it more enjoyable. They are touched that fans want to have creative in put on their games. Like a brave warrior, Rockstar has stood up to its parent, slapped them across the face, and declared that we shall have our freedom.

As it stands, OpenIV is still banned and you cannot use the mods even in single player. However, with a little responsible chatter between the developers of OpenIV and Rockstar, hopefully we will see mods return at least to single player games.  As gamers though, we should be asking each other what is it we miss about the mod?  Was it the power play or was it the ability to fly around on UFO spaceships?  Rockstar thinks its fans are responsible…Think about it, gamers!

The Basic White Girl (and Non-White Girl) Conundrum: The Most Anti-feminist Thing This Feminist Will Ever Write

This is not about race. This is not in defense of “white privilege”. This has nothing to do with that. This has to do with women.

There is this fad of hating white people in general but the favorite subject of ridicule is the white girl. You’ve seen the hashtags floating around about white girl problems, and even the offensive basic white girl slogan. I’m not here to talk about race and get defensive, I’m here to talk about a gender issue. Society is laughing at this white girl and, like women always have, she is laughing it off and saying “Well, I guess this is my place in society and everyone is going to abuse me for it.” Like always, the modern day white girl is being abused. She is not being abused because she is white though. Like I said, this is not about race. She is being abused because she has adhered to the societal and traditional roles of Puritan America. Let me explain.

 

Brunch. Starbucks. Leggings. Ugs. Cool weather. October. Oh, very white girl.

This girl likes brunch because her day starts either at 6am or before. She wakes up, makes her kids breakfast and lunch, packs them up, cleans up the kitchen and takes them to school. She may do the shopping then. By the time she has a breather, she’s been up for about 4 or 5 hours and is hungry. It’s 10am. It’s brunch time. She calls up her friends and they get together because the life of a basic white girl is lonely. The house is empty and she’s working alone. Starbucks because she is tired and there is one on every corner. Her life operates on convenience. And Starbucks tastes good. She loves that one little pleasure she has in her lonely, busy life and you are laughing at her trying to find happiness. Leggings and Ugs because they are fast, easy, and she can move in them–dash to save the baby, run around the store to gather all her family needs. Cool weather because she works hard, physically, and is hot all the time. She is moving, stressed. So yeah, she likes it when things cool down for her.

Like I said, this is not just a white girl problem, but even women of other races who are adhering to this role are getting flack for it and told they are a “basic white girl”, which is supposed to be a really rude insult to those not of the white variety. You are telling the women who raise the future of this country that they are basic and stupid and less valuable because they enjoy these things, when all they are doing is what they were trained to do.

Women are finding it hard to break out into the workforce and I know we’ve come a LONG way since the 20s and even the 60s. But the fact that a phrase like “basic white girl” even exists and is meant to be mean shows that we still have a long way to go. Some women have laughed it off and even learned to apply the phrase to themselves, but honestly, it’s a form of defense. “Haha, yeah,” she laughs nervously, “I’m so basic” and sips her PSL. But inside she wonders why you have to call her that and what she did wrong. As Thomas Moore said, why do you educate people in a certain way then condemn them for the way they live out that education? These women are doing their best and people have the nerve to laugh at them and devalue them?

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. But we can’t let women know that, can we? No, they must be laughed at, and put down. Told they are basic and not important. God bless the women who fill this role and do it with grace, because the rest of you aren’t.

American Illness: A Tragic True Story

There are two harsh truths about America. One, it loves to be the leading lady when a drama about viruses or illnesses crop up. Two, it’s impossible to find good help in America.

I like to think I’m the type that works hard and I like to think of mankind as just that: mankind. We are not all separate races, we are the human race. I don’t discriminate between anyone. Unless you are absolutely lazy or smell really bad because you haven’t showered in three weeks, I won’t have any reason to dislike you. But Americans like to be disliked. Remember, drama queen. Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 3.10.11 PM

It was a normal day at work: all the old people were not waking up and I was taking them to the bathroom half asleep and wheeling them to their first meal with their eyelids droopy and lips limp. I went to check on one resident who I don’t normally handle and she wasn’t feeling well. I asked her to go ahead and try to sit up. That was all it took. Next thing I know, I’m diving for the garbage to catch her projectile vomit so I don’t have to steam clean the floor. Woohoo for Spider-Man-like reflexes. Another day saved and all was well.

The next day rolls around and I wake up with a very communicative stomach. I can’t even move in my bed without a squelch, a rumble, and a burst of bubbly anger. I pull myself up and march into work any way, sure that the day would be nice and simple since it was just some training on Alzheimer’s. No such luck. An hour in, I’m discreetly charging to the bathroom to allow the last night’s dinner a safe home in the porcelain throne. I sit back down. not an hour goes by and I’m not quite so discreetly visiting my queenly realm once again. Naturally, I left the meeting as soon as I could and spent a day sleeping. I have never slept an entire day. I’ve never even slept past 10am. I knew it must have been serious so I took the whole next day to rest up, knowing I have 4 days to work right in a row, all starting at 5am.

Today, I got to work with a still upset stomach, though much better than the first day. “You had a whole day to rest!” you shout. “You should be fine!” I dare you to go to work with this particular flu. I was not hungry, but my boss had bought us all pizzas to help ease the pain of all of our residents being in quarantine thanks to the virus that was going around. Big mistake. The oils, the processed meat, the gross cheese–it could have been anything. By the end of my shift, I was almost doubled up with puke-alert again. My own fault. I still hauled hundreds of pounds of old people around, wiped poopy bums–the lot. I finished out my 8-hour shift, stayed for the meeting after, and went to Wal-Mart for my mother after.

Here’s where it gets good. Tired, ill, and ready to vomit in the parking lot, I stepped across those very convenient little lines behind the stop sign that are for pedestrians going from the lot to the store. You know the ones. I was trudging across that when some kind of car slammed on its breaks just close enough for me to feel the heat from the grill against my knees. I nearly jumped out of my skin and dropped my purse to face the offending windshield. The lady inside rolled down her window and screamed through a snuggle tooth, “Black people go first, bitch! Out the way!”

In my own defense, I guarantee that women will not being going to her job at 5am with vomit waiting to erupt out her nose and mouth. Granted, I hadn’t puked in about 24 hours, but that pizza was not settling well. And now, I felt even more sick.

America is ill and not feeling well. No, I’m sorry, she can’t come out and play.

The Writer Who Works Out: Code for Laziest Fitness Teacher Out There

yoga-241609_1280It has been some time since I’ve written and I’m going to put on my “good grad student persona” and say that it’s because I’ve been working hard on school and work. I believe with all my heart there is some truth in there. I may also be moving up the ranks in League of Legends, but no one knows that.

This is post of utility. I want encourage other writers and computer-hoverers out there to get up once in a while and stretch your lungs. I have been doing a self-imposed workout plan for five weeks now that I called “Six Weeks Until Xena”. Yes, I upped my workout game and healthy living in order to become the Warrior Princess. Since I’m almost done, all I have t show for it are thighs too large with muscle for my old jeans and some more stamina. Not the results I wanted, but I’m sure if I go six more weeks, I’ll tone down and shape up. I plan to go again but this time with less strict planing.

How many times have you started a workout plan and then had to give up because you cannot get into that routine. Or maybe you said you’d wake up at 6am and failed after a week because you are just not a morning person? I tried to be a morning person thanks to this guy (http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/08/14/how-to-become-a-morning-person/) and it was awesome for a little while. But then I fell off one day and got really discouraged (writers do that, when they fail–no matter what–they fail HARD). Everyone says do your workout in the morning to wake up. Hah, I can’t wake up before 9am. So sad, I know. But I did try. For months!

So here is what I want to tell you: Do not try. Now, don’t freak out. YES, WORKOUT! But let it come. I no longer do my yoga, Insanity DVDs, or belly dance routines in the morning. I started using a Spinning bike at about 1pm and suddenly my workout was better, I had energy for that gross 2pm slump that everyone hates, and I felt better. I just cannot concentrate if I haven’t some work or school or homework (or whatever!) by 10am. So I ditched the morning workout and I do it whenever I can. If I see I have an hour before something, I cram it in and think of nothing else while in my workout. WHAT ABOUT WRITING? It’s ok, I have a blessed 30 minutes before bed (even I’m crazy tired) that I try to hammer out 300 or 500 words. Just push that much longer. It’s ok.

That’s what I want you to think about while your working out and getting in no matter the time of day: It’s ok. A 1 hour workout is ONLY 4% of your day. You can do it. Don’t rush it, don’t stress while doing it. When you workout, think only of your body and feel its inner workings. I love time with my body, while I’m working it. It does things to my psychi as well. Don’t stress over it.

Here is a list of things to try:

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1st, to help you out, here is a link to a timer I have set up: http://www.intervaltimer.com/timers/5745947 This is my personal timer. I use it while I’m working or studying. I set a timer to work for an 1.5 hours or just 1 hour. When it goes off, I start some music and start this timer. It’s just 8 minutes. It gets your blood flowing and gets you awake again. Don’t forget to breathe.

2nd is yoga. You may feel weak when first doing it, but trust me, it gets easier and within a few months, you will have the muscles to feel relaxed while doing this. I recommend Fightmaster Yoga. She is free, professional, fun, and has many, MANY videos to choose from: https://www.youtube.com/user/lesleyfightmaster

3rd, go to your library and get a workout DVD. Your local library is FREE and almost unlimited in its resources. Get dance workouts, fast paced cardio, fun weight training–anything that sparks you interest. Use it for the week you get it barrow it, then get a new one. Fresh workouts keep you interested and excited about getting a new DVD.

4th, eat right. I’d say in my experience, eating right is about 70% of healthy living. I am not a fan of veggies, but I do love veggie dip. I eat celery, carrots and broccoli often enough. It has also gotten to the point that I cannot stand candy and cake. I prefer fruit pies, fruity yogurts and just fruit (nature’s candy!) in general. Impossible, you say? Nope! I love grapes more than I love Twizzlers. Try it. You’ll get there!

5th, and lastly, DO NOT cut out carbs and proteins if you are going to start exercising. The point of exercising and eating RIGHT is to get into a habit that you can maintain for your WHOLE LIFE. When working out, you need that protein to build muscle and you will need those carbs for fuel. If you are just now adding a workout to your life, don’t cut the carbs but don’t add to them too much either. This workout is new for your body and the amount of carbs you eat is fine. You are adding more work to your body and cutting off its fuel supply is a bad idea. Just don’t stuff you face. Eat slow, take small bites and you’ll be fine.

I hope this helps someone. I had intended to put more links in here, but I’ll save those for later. In the mean time, have a great day and may you find more power and strength in your days!

It’s all in how you look at it: I like my story better

candle-386607_1280I toasted tonight in the dark to a candle. I clinked the glass, cold wine against warm fire. Where do I go from here? Do I tell you about the fire? About how the candle was almost burnt out; hot, liquid shimmering in a dangerous light. I’ve written about nearly burnt out candles for a long time. The first poem I ever wrote involved one of those. It was about societal cannibalism. A candle burning low is so symbolic. The contrast is my wine. Cheap, and from a grocery store that gouges the prices out through customer’s eyes, the wine was pink. A pale reflection of red. Diluted, dainty, faint. It’s cold because it tastes better that way. It’s too sweet to be room temperature, and not sweet enough to allow itself to be really cold. It’s a stupid wine, can’t make up its mind. I drink it because it’s all I have. That and the chocolate I bought. Hearshys with almonds. I had a line of movies set up to watch tonight by the light of this candle. All with shirtless, gorgeous, ripped men. It was to be a lovely night with warmth, outside and in, flowing through my veins, calming my mind. I started it off hardcore, taking my antidepressants with a swig of this symbolic wine. Then I warmed up, lit the cnadles and turned on Smallville. Not at all what I was planning. These things never do go as planned. I am drinking and taking melatonin so that I can fall asleep before my sister gets home from her date with her boyfriend. She keeps me up and then I’ll never get to my workout in time. If I can make myself do it. About the fire though, I can’t remember what I was going to tell you about it. I think I was asking where it was all going. The point is, I was alone and if I wanted to make it worse, I’d say I was taking drugs and drinking alcohol. And playing with fire. I was also losing my mind because I toasted to the fire, clinking my glass to it. But that sounds ridiculous. Why tell a stupid, depressing story, when instead I can say I had pink wine with chocolate while watching some Tom Welling. Much better. Happy Valentines Day.

I Suck At Academia

notes-514998_1280What feels like a long time ago, I was a 17-year old college freshman who didn’t want to get a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing. I wanted writing classes, tips, tricks, and the know-how, but I didn’t want my stories anywhere near academia. I didn’t want them to be tainted or changed or turned into creative pieces that weren’t me. I didn’t want to write for the man, as the saying goes.

But after my disastrous novel-publishing experience (with a company that will remain unnamed), I caved and went to a writing class. I loved it and took more and more until I realized that I needed to major in English if I wanted to keep writing. So I did. I rocketed on to get honors, make the Dean’s list every year, get published in 3 college magazines, and get some scholarships. Now here I am in grad school, pulling B-s on my 25-page academic papers and failing miserably. All because I didn’t go for creative writing.

I understand with this academic and scholarly, pedagogy-centered writing I am a fish out of water (or a reverse centaur, which is very awkward for me to think of). I need to realize this and conform to the writing style if I want to succeed. Ew, there’s that word I hate. Conform. It means taking your spark out; that spark that Donald Maas encouraged writers to hold on to. I know there are ways to still have a unique, fun tone in academia, but really there’s not either. Academic writing is like the science-math person among creative writers. It’s for a different people. I am a chameleon though, so I should be able to pick it up. I just can’t make myself do it.

This is why I (and others like me) have to work even harder than others who are in love academic writing. I read all the text books and required reading so I can participate in discussion. I write all the papers I’m told. In grad school, this is already 6 or so hours of work. Then I do 2 assistantships worth of work as well. We’re up to about 8 hours of work. I also hold a job outside of school and the assistantships. Then, finally, I get to come home and work on the one thing I care about: creative writing. I may be lame and narrow-minded for only loving one thing this much, but that’s who I am. There are enough people on the planet to do other things. So now, I have to squeeze in creative writing time around working out and staying healthy.

What I, and others like me, have to do is crazy. Time management is my new major. I am so organized and together that I can come home to write. I have to be, because I want to write creatively more than anything else. So I have to work harder and put out thousands of more words than the regular grad student. But I will do it because I want to pay bills in the future, and because I want to be a story-teller. And I will. One day.

I Don’t Believe In Love So I Wrote a Romance Novel

At the end of October, I had fully intended to use this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to finish up and polish the sequel to last years “Camelot Project”, which had a brief life of it’s own on Blogger where I posted chapters. I have an outline for the second novlove-316640_1280elette, have started a few chapters, and kind of know where I want it to go. But then something inside me said, “No, write that romance novel.”
“What?” I laughed. “The one I’ve been joking about writing for years?”
Yup, it was that one. When I say “that one” I don’t mean that I’ve had one planned out for a while or any remote idea of a plot. Just that for years I’ve known that romance will probably sell faster than my fantasy epic and I’ve always had that as my backup. Now, some of you may have the same reaction my psychologist did the other day when he asked about my relationships and I said I’d never had one.
Silence. “Really?” Silence. “Ever?” Ahem. “How old are you?”
Total disbelief. Tells you something about the world we live in, huh?
So why should I write a romance novel. HOW? Fortunately, I have a great imagination. But I know, as some great “real life romantics” will say, that I could never imagine the feeling of being in love. Probably not. And neither can they, not the way they’re telling it. Love is a chemical reaction in the brain and is strengthened by sex. Love is not a heart thing. Not this, romantic, guy-girl thing people long for.
I don’t believe in love. Only because I haven’t seen it or experienced it. Yes, I kind of have a concept of it because I’m a Christian and there is that whole Jesus’s Love thing, but that’s another post for another time. I don’t really want to experience it either. I watched my three older brothers fall in love, date, and get married.
They were complete morons while in love. I have never hated them more than when they were dating. My best friend was impossible while dating.

I don’t want to be that moron. I’d rather be under control and plan my time around myself and work and school. I’m that selfish, some will say. Sure, sure. You want to know the real reason I don’t believe in love?

Because the world doesn’t. And the world has ruined it. There is no love, there is only sex and I believe them. And I don’t want sex. This novel was hard for me to write then because it was like fantasy. A fantasy the world doesn’t believe in. But then I read a passage in the wonderful book “On Writing Romance” by Leigh Michaels where she said that your romance novel will only work if it ends with once in a lifetime love. I laugh, out loud. Who believes in that? I guffawed.

But it got better. Dangerous Books for Women had a quote about how romance novels were about women who chose to love to a higher standard. That really stuck with me as I try to hold myself to the highest standard I can. How fascinating these romance novels were turning out!

I was encouraged to keep writing by telling myself that there may be some people out there who still believe in a committed love. In a “once in a lifetime love” and strong women who chose to love to a higher standard. Could there really be people out there who want that kind of love? But, oh yeah, romance books are unrealistic. My bad! Let’s move on then!

Morals, Rejection, Projects–Oh my!

I am probably the ∞th person to use the phrase from the great film “The Wizard of Oz”. I took it, changed it up a bit and made it my own. Sort of. This is a really bad example of what writers do. Or what I’ve read writers do. I’m not really sure what “real writers” do any way. I know a few on Facebook who actually reply to me (and like my status on occasion!) so I suppose I could ask them.

But this post is already boring, right? You don’t want to read me jabbering away! I don’t either!

I think this must be an issue with some of my writing (other junior writers listen up!). I write a lot of my own thoughts in my writing. According to Donald Maas (who politely declined to be my agent) the best part of the fiction is you. You are the best thing you can put into your fiction. Now, this doesn’t mean making your character like pistachio pudding (YUM!) because you do. No, it means that your point of view is the most unique thing about you. A good writer makes that point of view accessible to a wider audience. Pretty cool power, hu? Imagine being such a good communicator that 50% of people who read you nod and say, “Ah, yeah, I get it.” Oh, to have such power! That power is your voice. Or your words. Whichever.

Sometimes finding your voice is hard though. I literally didn’t have mine figured out until last year. I just turned 25 and thank goodness I figured that out! I thought I knew it when I was 17. I was positive I knew my voice when I was 21. But it wasn’t until I moved to Ohio and was literally writing every day (no, literally) that I found my voice. I had to practice, use other people’s words, make them my own, and then realize I was ditching them because I liked my ideas better.

imagine how much better a writer I would be today if I had practiced every day from when I was 17? I feel like my stories (which get revisions unlike these blog posts) would be masterful. I’d be head maven of the order of the bards! Well, okay not really. I look at my rejections as a challenge now. No, I don’t have it all figured out and did cry a little when I got another one the other day. But you know what? It takes about 50+ rejections to make me stop writing and only one to get you in. That’s the reality I had to remember when sighing sadly at all those rejections. I can take a million of those. But one in (with an agent or publisher) and that is a far greater step forward than one rejection will ever be. But I think it’s my voice still.

A friend of mine read a short story that I was particularly proud of. He liked some of the characters, said the story was good, wanted more of the fantasy element I was creating, but said that my main character’s moral filter was bothersome, condescending, and mine. Yes, he said that every time my POVC made a judgment call, it was mine coming through. If this had been the first time it happened with a story, I may have let it go. But people have been saying I have bad writing because I have a POVC who wants to cut his ties from his druggy friend who treats him like dirt. Now, I cannot make excuses for failings in my writing, but this “goodness” in my POVC was his flaw too. He was almost sunk and sucked into a downward spiral that would ruin his life because he could not cut off this friend and live his own life. But he had to make the decision to be a badass, ditch the jerk, and start anew. To me, that was a nice moment and a good character development section. And yes. They were my morals (I’m not a fan of drugs since some friends of mine were hospitalized by a high driver who walked free) but this story was not about that. It was about my poor POVC growing a spine and leaving someone who was toxic and manipulative.

Aaaaaand, I have no time to write about projects. But that’s okay.

Junior writers, my fellows, don’t sacrifice yourself in your writing to please the masses. You will always, ALWAYS, piss someone off. “Utopia” by Thomas Moore pisses me off. But I love that book. It’s my favorite thing to get into a heated discussion over. Read things that piss you off. Read things that challenge you (in a good, healthy way). Read things that will make you stare off into the distance thinking about. Don’t read to be stroked and told what a good, smart person you are. You already know you’re awesome. Reading is for brave people who want to be challenge.

The Only Thing You Have To Worry About Is Being Kicked Into A Well

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Image by Kashif Mardani

In my head, the ideal life is writing when I want, on what I want, how I want. But you can’t be trusted to write that kind of thing. People have to know you before they trust you. You have to trust yourself. You have to know a lot before you can write a lot, I think. And I think you should know a lot.

I’ve been struggling recently with my class reading. I have a lot to read. For one class, we have 3 books, online readings, and handouts to get through and none of them are easy reads. Plus, I’m a slow reader. AND I’m not into the pedagogy side of what my major is teaching. Rhetoric and Writing seems to be for those who want to make a career out of teaching. A year ago that was totally me. But now, I want to be a writer who teaches. I only want to be a teacher because I know once I have that gig, I’ll have it for a little while–longer than a freelance job any way. I also hold two part time graduate assistant jobs, teach a dance class at the gym, and work the front desk. I’m a wee bit busy as it were. But all that reading! I need it for class and my projects, don’t I?

My professor said it was alright if we only got 80% of the reading done, but that makes me lazy and the next thing you know, I’ve only read ten of the fifty pages we had due. But at times like that, I get a lot of creative writing done to send out (and have rejected…)! I have to find a balance of what to get done. On the one hand, I need to write creative stuff (that bad stuff I mentioned in my last blog that is fun to do) so I can send it out and try to get something published outside of my school’s literary magazine. On the other, I need to know this rhetoric and digital stuff so I can do my school projects well and sound smart. And I mean, this is the stuff that will pay me later. Right?

I’ve decided to break it down the middle. I need this well of knowledge that is filling up from all this reading. I may never directly apply this stuff, but I need to know it. It gives me ideas, makes me think of media and literacy in a whole new way, and challenges me. All of this is good. I also am learning to take pleasure in writing book reviews, grants, technical writing–all that “boring” stuff (I’m a novelist and a fantasy writer at that, cut me some slack!) that will pay me sooner than a short story will. I need to abel to dip into this well of knowledge and use it for other kinds of writing. However, I have an addictive (and lazy…) personality. I could easily fall into this well and never get out again. I could be so caught up in writing academically that I never write “Once upon a time” again!

But that’s not what I want. So I warn myself thusly: “Alright, you have time at work to finish this chapter. Then, you will have your academic writing done by 3pm, no later because of class. Then, you will start a timer and you will 500 words of fun stuff.”
I don’t have just one “fun” project I’m working on and rather than stare at one that I can’t get my juices flowing for, I open up Write Or Die 2 and use the given prompt in there. Or I even go to seventhsanctum.com and get some nonsense from those generators. I save those little 500-word bits for later, just in case SOMETHING can come from them.

But the point is the balance it out. Yin and Yang. Jedi and Sith. Spock and Kirk. That kind of thing. I don’t want lose myself in that well (and then haunt some people). I want to stay the way I am and entwine my worlds. I never wanted academia to touch my creative writing, but I’m grateful for the lessons it’s taught me that I can apply to my creativity.

If It’s Fun It Means You’re Doing the Wrong Thing!

Here I was being a good student and grinding away at my chapters in Collin Brooke’s “Lingua Fracta”, when I realized I had left my Netflix open and BBC’s “Sherlock” was vying for my attention. “Remember to be put the audio books on your iPod!” it whispered as I tabbed over to close the wonderful distraction as fast as I could. “Hmm, yes, iPod. Music,” I thought. “Let’s check real quick on this creative commons web site real quick just to make sure I bookmarked the music I want to use for my Dracula project!”

The End.

I then spend 20 minutes listening to sound bites and wondering where I could use this beautiful piano/violin duet. The index? The ending where you’ll read her last words? The next thing I know, I’m day dreaming about my projects and how fun this one is going to be. “I could get a lot done with this attitude!”, I think to myself. How great would that be? But no…

I want to write on my creative writing ideas, stories, and little novel ideas that I’ve had for years but I cannot make myself do it. But I’m sending stories out almost every week, surly that counts as profitable! It does, my dear fellows. It does. And that Dracula project? That’s for school, for crying out loud! I want to work on Dreamweaver too to iron out how to work it so I can tackle the page I have to build for my book review. What do all these have in common and why can I not get them done?

Because they are fun.

Yup, that’s right. Whenever work that is fun, and I know I’ll have a great time doing comes up, I ban myself from it. It feels like a waste of time. Somewhere along the lines, I convinced myself (or the world told me, or I was raised to believe–whichever theory suits your fancy) that if I was enjoying something, I was doing it wrong. Back in my church days, my favorite line was from the movie “Little Women” when the mother says “Nothing provokes speculation more than the sight of a woman enjoying herself”. This was in reference of course to my friend and I enjoying music, clothes, and movies everyone else thought were bad (read: sinful). Why does the world do this? If you like it it must be bad. No, it has nothing to do with religious teachings or that influence. I honestly believe it’s a kind of American thing. Yeah, most Americans these days don’t want to work at all, but back in the day (and I’ve always been something of an Old Soul) people worked and worked hard. Somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that I must be working on something (and if I’m unhappy I’m doing it right) or I’m wasting my time.

I don’t know how to conquer this right now. I put work off until it’s not fun to do. I’ve almost done that with a short story I was super excited to work on and now I’m just like, “Well, I better write that” and I can’t remember what was so great about it! So until next time, I have something else to think about.