X is for Xanth
The Xanth books (The Magic of Xanth series) hold a special place in my heart for a number of reasons – among them, that the world was my first foray into grown-up fantasy.
I say it that way because I was seven years old and had read through apparently everything of interest in the young adult fantasy section at my library at the time, and had thus wandered off into the adult fantasy section. The Xanth books often tend towards brightly colourful covers, and one caught my attention quickly. I took it back to my mother, told her where I’d found it, and after a bit of deliberation, it was approved to be taken home.
I would say I never looked back, from that first jaunt into the adult fantasy section, but that would be a lie – I often read YA fantasy even now. It is certainly true that Xanth only deepened my love for fantasy, however, and did so in the form of a book that introduced me to a world with so many more books and stories to discover. It was probably one of the best things from the adult fantasy section that my wee self could have chosen that day, years and years ago.
W is for WENDIG.
(You know? That’s a really weird phrase. “Eat your heart out”? I can’t seem to stop staring at it.)
Anyway, today I’m going to talk about Chuck Wendig and his fabulous, glorious blog. I’ve followed him for a little over a year now, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Not just about writing, either. So, in true Wendigian (Wendigese?) fashion, I will be doing:
The Top 5 Reasons You Should Read Chuck Wendig’s Blog.
This post will get a little personal, simply because I don’t know any other way to explain what I am attempting to share here.
S is for Sexuality
So. . . This topic may seem a little bit strange – after all, an asexual’s insights on sexuality in fiction? Fair enough. I have to say, though, I have come to realise over the past few years that the way I read sexuality (and sex) in stories can be very distinct from the way, well, almost everyone I know reads the same things.
Before I show you my perspective on sexuality in fiction, let me tell you where that perspective is coming from – I am grey-asexual, which, in my case, means that I do experience attraction (though never purely on aesthetic appeal) and I do have a sex drive, which can focus on other people, not purely hormonal.
That said, while on some levels I can understand the views and impressions and attraction discussed by other people, by characters, easily enough, there are some ways in which I am simply left baffled.
R is for Representation
Going in line with my earlier posts about consent is another issue that’s becoming important to me. Representation.
This one is a stickier subject–especially for writers. It’s one thing to rally up and say we need more X representation, but knowing how to go about achieving that can come with some difficulties.
So many of our stories are about straight, white men. We see them everywhere–in movies, on TV, in our books. Recently on the literature front, we’ve seen an influx of leading ladies, which is good. It’s a fantastic start.
But so few of our stories have anything besides straight, white people. If we look around us, anyone can see that the world is filled with a plethora of different people, of all genders, skin colors and ethnicities, sexual orientation, and religions. Where are their stories? Why is it always the same person appearing over and over again on our screens and in our books?
Well, honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I possibly don’t want to know.
What I do know, though, is I think this is a terrible disservice to the actual world we live in. Continue reading
N is for Non-Fiction
I write fiction. I write a lot of fiction, honestly, and it is largely of a fantastical or supernatural bent. Even when the worlds and characters for whom you are writing are far removed from our world, however, one shouldn’t discount non-fiction as a resource, or as a source of fascinating things to know – and use.
Non-fiction is incredibly important to the writing of fiction, even when you’re creating a whole new world from out of your own head. After all, everything that we write is, in a way, filtering our own world, and the more of our world we know, the more clearly – or distortedly – we can hold that reflected image of another world.
I’m always collecting random snatches of information – we all do, I think, though perhaps I am more prone to chase down something purely because I can than most people I have met. I store those random bits and bobs in my head, whether or not I’ve a particular reason to do so, out of habit.
You might be amazed how often they come out again, either while I’m writing, or when someone else asks me a question for their writing. Even, at times, when I’m reading, sinking into a world fully established by someone else.
M is for Martin
Before I even begin, I just want to say that I have not finished reading the books (I am in the middle of A Storm of Swords), nor have I seen any of the new episodes of Season 4 on HBO. So no spoilers, please.
Okay! Ready? Game of Thrones.
It’s no lie that I’m pretty much in love with this series. So as soon as I saw that I had the letter ‘M’ for our A-Z Challenge, I immediately knew I was going to do a post about the creator, George R.R. Martin. It was like, destiny.
As much some people complain about the many, many characters in the series, I actually quite like it. The world is large and lush with details as it is, and the story that Martin is telling can’t be summed up with just a few characters. If he had left out even half of the voices that he has in his novels, there’s a good possibility that we wouldn’t even be able to follow the politics of the story. Political war like the one in A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t created in a vacuum–there are many, many people that contributed to its creation. Continue reading
(Stay tuned til the end… I have a question to pose!)
L is for Letters
When was the last time you got a letter? Not a bill or advertisement or obligatory birthday/Christmas card, but a real, handwritten letter, sent with no particular holiday or duty in mind?
When was the last time you wrote one yourself?
Technology may have increased the speed of communication, and some people truly do prefer the electronic form of salutations, but for many other people the speed has done little or nothing to increase the quality. We forward jokes, “like” memes, retweet marketing tips, post quiz results, occasionally type a few lines via email… yet rarely do most of us having something meaningful to say through technology.
Closing the Distance
One of the joys of email is the ease with which we can communicate with people who might be very far from us. But nothing really closes the distance more than the tangible.
Back in 2005 I gained a pen pal from Holland. I have binders full of our emails from the days when we stayed in touch nearly daily, but one of my favorite letters from him is the one I got in the mail. It was a simple letter, containing nothing as personal as many of our emails, but it was my first chance to see his handwriting. To hold something he had held. To see something he had spent the time on me for. Handwriting a letter does, after all, take more time than typing an email. That one letter closed the distance in a way even phone calls and video chats couldn’t. It was something tangible we’d both held. That alone made it different. Continue reading
B is for British (poets)
I’m the nerd who didn’t major in English or Literature or Teaching and still took Classical British Literature courses in college because I thought someone forcing me to take the time to read my favorite authors sounded fun. (And it was.)
In fact one of the only reasons I didn’t add English/Literature as a sixth Associates degree to my repertoire was the fact that it required several courses in American Lit. There is a small a handful of American Lit I enjoy (primarily the work of poets, no surprise there) but most classical American prose puts me to sleep… at best. (Really I’m being kind.)
I could wax poetic about the joys of British Lit for days, but for A-Z I’m going to keep it to a brief introduction of three of my favorite British poets today. Continue reading