I stopped counting years after I turned 121. I’m not sure why that number. I had been very careful to remember all the other big days – different milestones they meant, the people who came and went during each successive celebration, but the big one-two-one seemed so unimportant to me. So insignificant.
Just as I planned to begin my day like so many before, I lost concentration. Distracted and derailed by who knows what. I wasn’t sure where it came from, but it tickled my brain in the most unpleasant way. An itch you can’t scratch. I turned in circles, trying to make it disappear but it wouldn’t. It lingered there, whatever it was, and conquered any tiny remnant of the old fashioned word “birthday”.
People said I should be excited by this new year, but I wasn’t interested in celebrating anymore. Balloons were always the same, cake was never as sweet as it used to taste, and frankly I had enough stuff to tide me over for the next hundred years. Everyone had the big hundredth birthday bash or the ever-increasing two-hundredth birthday ceremony, but the second life, as we called it, those second hundred years, were less reliable than the first half but twice as reckless. Even still, it was just another day. A broken record of a song I had grown tired of years ago.
In a frenzy to find the source of my discontent, I searched my house like a blissful robber, turning over furniture, pulling out drawers. I inspected the attic and the basement just the same, peeling back layers of dust until the air became thick with the past. Something compelled me to keep going, just like always. Something forced me into each passing second, maybe the same thing that locked my face in youth. That relentless pull to the future, never knowing what might come, but knowing it inevitably would.
Thing was, no one could stop me from aging. No one could stop me from living, either. You’d think after a hundred and twenty-one years I would have seen it all, done it all, and I had, but only the things people thought were meant for a normal life. What did that mean anyway? I kept going, kept pushing, kept waking up and falling asleep, kept eating, kept dreaming, I went non-stop because on this train there was no final destination. My journey was a never-ending loop.
For once I wanted to slow down, look around, breath the crisp air, and truly get to know the people and places I called home. The phantom noise or maybe smell gripped me as I stood in my disheveled kitchen. Was it the drone of bees or the squeal of a car breaking too fast? Was is the laughter of children or the smell of fresh bread? I realized had experienced this sensation before, I had searched for it in the eyes of others, but I couldn’t seem to find the source.
I turned over cushions and bedspreads, upended everything I owned. The one thing left was the hallway mirror, glistening with a shimmer of sunlight. But even when I searched behind it, even when I felt along the wall for any sign of disturbance, I came up empty. I fixed my eyes on my own puzzled gaze staring back in the mirror. What was I looking for?
Over the last few days I’ve let the Oscar nominations settle and collected my thoughts together in a fashion that can only be described as one of my most rambley-rants ever. Might as well jump right in:
First and foremost #OscarsSOWhite
Hello, people who might as well be the same individuals aging over their lifetimes! You all look so….so….white today. Is this 2016? Maybe not…I thought it was.
Look, they all deserve to be nominated, well, I’m assuming since I haven’t seen every single movie but I’ve seen enough to know there are people on this list who I believe SHOULD be on this list. Cate Blanchett, Eddie Redmayne, Leo, sure but he should’ve been nominated for Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can way back in the day, but I digress. There are others who should be on this list, too, who aren’t and not surprisingly, they aren’t white. *coughs* Idris Elba and Michael B Jordan *coughs*
It frustrates me because this means getting from that list of “Should be Nominated” to “Actually Nominated” obviously has a “must be white” clause attached to it. This isn’t news, though. If this was the first time in recent memory this happened with the Oscars, I’d brush it off and give another chance for next year’s crowd. But it’s not the first time and this is now two years in a row of utter bullshit.
It’s this kind of nonsense that keeps the list of Latin@ and Asian actors/directors to the tiniest list imaginable. Seriously…go ahead and name a few. A few is all you’ll get. I’m exhausted with seeing white people given all the roles and even more so white people in roles that should be for PoC (ex. Emma Stone in Aloha). There are plenty of talented actors waiting for their chance to shine who totally could make it if the roles meant for them weren’t given to whites all the time. But again…this is nothing new.
Another gripe I have is with the fact that genre fic movies are very rarely considered for Best Picture or Best Director. They get pushed to special effects or sound mixing categories as if the content of the movie itself is somehow unworthy because it’s speculative in nature. I’m very pleased to see Mad Max and The Martian on the list of nominees because those films were incredible but come on. They have 10 slots these days for Best Picture and Star Wars didn’t get in with 2 slots unused? Yet, The Big Short gets the nom which is a total white guy wank fest. Maybe I’m biased there, but it feels like an insult to speculative movies and I’m a little hurt.
I’m generally disillusioned with Hollywood anyway. They keep making sequels and spin offs and prequels and reboots and I’m so sick of it. There are so many incredible stories out there to be told and they can’t seem to stretch their imagination to the fact that stories outside of the usual straight, white, cis-man might sell. OH LET’S JUST REMIND YOU ABOUT A LITTLE THING CALLED STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS. OR MAD MAX. OR THE BLACK WIDOW MOVIE EVERYONE WOULD WATCH THE SHIT OUT OF. Every type of story sells. Every type of story has an audience.
I am seriously going down a rabbit hole here but I’m also so done with how they showcase the stories of people of color and people within the lgbt community. If you haven’t noticed the pattern yet, this is it: people of color are shown in sports movies, cultural based comedies, period pieces, and somehow being saved by white people. Queer folk are in coming out movies, or movies where they are killed. So there’s that, too. All of these types of movies have their merit…in ways…but when they’re the only depictions of these groups it ends up creating this harmful stereotype that it’s the only place they belong. That those are the only movies they can be in and thus the only character an actor can be nominated for.
Side-note: I’m enjoying all the LGBT love lately in movies, but…like…how about having queer actors play those parts. Kthanks.
Other side-note: The reboots I am in favor of have been putting more women in leading roles which is excellent. New Ghostbusters, New Ocean’s 11. Yes, please! What about an all PoC cast for something! Or a group of rainbow friends!
Back to my ramble, if Hollywood produced more diverse movies, no one would think they were “unusual” or “pandering” or meant for “certain” people. They would just be movies–for everyone. And then there wouldn’t be irrational worry about how they will perform at the theater because people are going to watch a good movie, not count how many straight dudes they can pick out of a line up. And nominations for the Oscars will be for who gave the best performance, not for being able to flash the white card.
Yes, I’m an optimist…idealist…whatever you want to call it. And yeah, there will always be racist, homophobic, transphobic haters. But…
This is likely not the most eloquent collection of my thoughts, or the best way to express them, but I’m tired of it all. Honestly, I hope Chris Rock tears the crap out of the Academy during his monologue. They deserve it. Maybe that’ll help the Academy to remember to nominated the people who deserve it, too.
\back to your regularly scheduled book program
Happy New Year!!
With a new year comes New Years resolutions! Beginnings offer fresh starts, new pages, and clean slates. People tend to focus on dieting or working out at this time, but if you ask me, there are far more important resolutions to make: Doing what makes you happy, saying “no” more, ignoring the haters, stepping outside your comfort zone, embracing positivity and so on. Along these lines of personal resolutions, I thought it might be fun to talk about writing specific resolutions.
As a people, we writers are notoriously filled with self-doubt and second-guessing — we really are our own worst critic. These self-imposed pressures can lead to little writing, less confidence in allowing others to read, and sometimes (sadly) giving up. That’s where these writing resolutions come in. I’m going to focus on what my resolutions are, but I’d love to hear from all you lovely people, too! I hope together we can make 2016 a word-filled year of success!
I have an unfinished MS from NaNoWriMo and I would like to complete it by the summer. It’s a little over halfway written but a total and utter mess. Instead of focusing on how much editing it will need, I want to finish without letting the impending work ahead stop me.
Embrace New Betas
I adore my betas. They are my rocks. Reliable, informative, thoughtful, keen-eyed and all around awesome people. For some new projects, however, I need readers with identities my current betas do not have. The idea of insulting someone or hurting their feelings terrifies me, but I will resolve to tough it out in favor of a better reviewed MS.
I am a constant over-thinker. Every book I read makes me second-guess my own abilities and has me wondering “Am I really a good writer?” “Am I worthy of this profession?” which is nothing but detrimental to my success. I know myself enough to know I will always over-think, but I can at least try to stop comparing myself to other writers/books. Every author’s style is different and every story is different as well.
Revisit Old MS
I wrote a story nearly four years ago that had SO much potential, but I was afraid at the time of going the distance to make the words on paper live up to the hype. Impostor Syndrome to the max. This year I will rectify that and edit the story to be the best it can be.
Blogging allows me to get out of book-writing brain and practice my creativity and craft in short spurts. I intend to write more writer’s sketches/flash fiction this year in order to keep pushing myself and continue to grow.
Make Small Goals
The publishing journey is made up of several dozen smaller goals. Instead of getting down on myself for not achieving the BIG goal yet, I will spend my time achieving smaller goals. I can begin the year by checking this one off as I have set these goals for myself above!
What are some of your writing resolutions for 2016?
Typically I don’t get this personal on my blog, but here it goes. I’ve been out to my friends and family for quite some time now, but even still, I’ve never been the type of person who has felt the need to announce my sexuality over a loudspeaker. Granted, my twitter is pretty rainbow-tastic.
Regardless of the setting, I speak my mind, I say how I feel, and I am unapologetically me with everyone I know. However, I have felt for years that I’m sort of…invisible. Not literally, I’m not that awesome. Just that a very important part of who I am gets erased all the time. With my straight friends, I’m straight. With my gay friends, I’m gay. Moreover, somehow people believe my sexuality changes depending on who I’m in a relationship with. But that’s not how it works and it can be very frustrating to feel I don’t fit or that I’m not seen. I honestly blame this on the excruciating lack of bi representation in any and all media.
Growing up I was a voracious consumer of all things–books, tv, movies, comics, fanart, fanfic, etc. But I just never honestly saw myself in those places. Yes, I identified with bookish girls, the x-men, kids with anxiety, tomboys, suburban misfits, wizards, etc., but it wasn’t until last year, when I was 25 that I actually saw ME! It took a quarter century to see all of myself in something and that’s a damn shame.
I have been a HUGE fan of the Avatar World since it came out ten years ago. I watched Aang with adoration and awe (honestly the greatest MG fantasy of all time, bar none. If you haven’t watch it, watch it now. I’ll wait…), so when they announced a sequel series featuring a female lead I pretty much lost my ever-lovin’ mind. Korra was just like me in a lot of ways, so I stuck with her story over the three years it aired, viewing every episode with my brother or little cousins the day it showed. Korra’s story was the YA version to Aang’s adventure so on top of darker themes, there was a lot of romantic drama between Korra and her friend Mako as well as her other friends, Asami and Mako. Triangle of death basically.
When the finale hit, I completely expected Korra and Mako to reunite after being split for a couple seasons. I had much preferred she stay super bamfy by herself, but it would be fine. Mako had grown and I was cool with him by the last season so it was no big deal. After all, my fanship of Korra and Asami wouldn’t ever be happening in a million years. That was all for funsy. Imagine my utter shock when this happened:
I literally was lost for words. And I basically never shut up so this was a BFD! As I watched the finale with my cousins, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There had been some hints for Korra/Asami but I thought I had been reading into them given my person bias. I stared at the TV totally flummoxed by the fact that my fanship was actually the canon endgame couple. Two girls were the final couple in my favorite series in the world! The series with the female lead that I saw myself in!! They were both like ME!!! (Check this out for similar reactions to mine aka ALL DA FEELS) I let it all sink in until I literally exploded from squees that night. Happy cried my little eyes out because it had taken so long to finally see all of myself in something.
From that moment on, I decided I was on a mission to find as much other material where I could see myself. I read a bunch of books and found Far From You, I watched a new series and found The 100. I was actually starting to see myself in more places and that’s when it hit me about how fracking important representation in stories actually is. Think about how many stories are about straight, white, cis-males! Countless amounts. More diverse representation is desperately needed. It can be life saving. It can be life changing. It can remind people that they’re not alone even when they feel like they are.
So a year out from watching that episode, I find myself in a very different place from then. Korra gave me something I didn’t know I was looking for: Hope. Hope that I could see myself in more places, hope that other people could see themselves, too. Hope that one day it wouldn’t be ground-breaking to have a character like Korra. The hope that people who felt different or like they didn’t fit wouldn’t feel invisible any more. If I can have even a small part in making someone or some people feel seen/heard, then I’ll write as many stories as I possibly can.