…’Cause a squiggly line is still a line, right?
Sometimes I want to tell characters in my fiction, “I refuse to sacrifice my privacy to protect yours. You’re figments of my imagination, damnit!” But that would lead to all sorts of other problems (Geoffrey, especially, would have a sharp retort if I tried to use that argument), so I just have to run with it, figure out what’s really bothering me, and stop letting the lot of them redirect my attention. Yes, I know JG doesn’t like what’s happening in his story right now (and that applies no matter what definition of right now you choose), but Bad Things Happening is necessary for the plotline. He doesn’t like being a character in my stories, he shouldn’t have applied for the job.
(Speaking of which, here’s Starhawk, a character from some of Barbara Hambly’s fantasy novels, talking about what it’s like to be a fictional person working for that author.)
At some point I realized that it’s usually a bad idea for me to read reviews of books that I love. Inevitably, there’s someone who doesn’t just dislike the book (which is fine) but also says something inexcusably stupid about it. Like saying that the author of War for the Oaks ‘jumped on the urban fantasy bandwagon’ because that subgenre is so trendy now. Excuse me?!? Urban fantasy (never to be confused with paranormal romance) wasn’t a trendy thing back in 1987, when that novel was published. Far from jumping on a bandwagon, War for the Oaks is one of a few novels that built the wagon, so to speak.
And then there are comments like ‘Every character in this sci-fi has anime hair.’ What. The. Fuck. Anime hair? Seriously??? (Today, I’m sublimating my rage through the use of excessive punctuation.) Why? Is it because one minor character wears his hair long enough to pull back into a ponytail? Or because the villain is… a redhead? *rolls eyes* I’d have more expected some reader, totally not noticing the distinctly feminine name of the author, to accuse the author of pulling a ‘Marty Stu’ with the protagonist’s height, because for some reason kids these days assume that a tall character is always a result of the author compensating for being short.
Yeah. ‘Cause, y’know, a woman who is five-foot-eleven has to compensate for being too short by creating a fictional person who’s nine inches taller than she is…
And speaking of readers making bizarre accusations of Mary Sue or Marty Stu (usually I’d type that with a slash to indicate either/or, but that punctuation mark has a totally different meaning amongst fanfic writers), I remember when someone on a peer-review site told the author of a sci-fi story called Cedeforthy that his protagonist was ‘unreasonably tall’ because the guy was slightly over six feet. The truth is, the character was a bit shorter than the author. It’s all relative, and normal is wherever you’re standing.
Besides, the so-called rule about ‘never create a fictional person who in any way resembles yourself’ is bullshit. We made fun of it, my friends and I, back at university when we were all into RPGs. Idiots claim that creating a game character at all like oneself will result in insanity and death (for the player or for someone else) if the character is killed during the course of the game. Well, guess what? The only character I ever lost during the course of a game was the only character I deliberately and blatantly (in my view, anyway — apparently most people didn’t notice) based on myself in all the ways that matter. I was pissed off about the character dying because it only happened when other players annoyed the GM to the point that he felt he had to end the campaign in a way that would prevent it from being started back up later, but I certainly didn’t become violent about it. Anyway. We joked that the First Law of Gaming is “Don’t Be Yourself.” (The Second Law of Gaming, in case you care, is “Don’t Scare the Normals.” It is a good guideline, just because some non-gamers can be dangerous if alarmed.) Then we’d make lists of all the ways we were unlike our characters, to prove that we were not being ourselves in whatever RPG we were playing. Grace had one that started with “I’m the short daughter of a botanist, and I’m terrible at math.” (Go ahead, Loyal Reader — three guesses which novel character she’d adapted for a game…)
Speaking of that (and coming back around, sort of — leave any ‘gyre’ jokes out of it, damnit), I’ve got a photo that I have been wanting to post just because it’s funny, in a weird, obscure-fiction-reference sort of way:
This is a box that Grace got from her mom, the botanist. (Plant pathologist, actually.) Grace’s mom uses a lot of Petri dishes in the course of her work. Grace got this empty box that had once held Petri dishes when she needed boxes for packing to move — university students never have the money to buy real moving boxes from U-Haul or wherever. So. Look at the writing on the box (circled in this photo to draw your attention to it). I mean, a box that used to hold Petri dishes, that came from her mother’s lab.
Well, I think it’s funny. And so does my twin. It can’t be all that obscure, at least not to people who have read Emma Bull’s novel Falcon. (Tell me, Loyal Reader, do you get it? Think back to the scene where the protagonist has that bad argument with his mother in her lab… Nope, you don’t get it. *sigh*)
These days, Grace uses this box to keep patterns in. She sews a lot, and draws her own patterns for much of what she makes, and having one place to keep them all helps maintain order. (Word choice for the sake of making a joke is so deliberate here that my computer is about to explode from the weird-humor-ness of it all. Either that or start complaining that I don’t respect its rights as an ‘ideally synthesized individual.’) …And any connection between this topic and previous ones in this post exists solely in the mind of the blogger. 🙂
Many, many blog posts ago, I mentioned something about working with Grace on an art project. I suppose I can talk about it here… As I said, Grace sews a lot. One of the things she does is make anthropomorphic cat dolls dressed in various historical costumes. The first one she ever made — the one that got her started doing this — was a gold-furred, gold-eyed tomcat that was supposed to be a feline version of a character from a science fiction novel. She named the cat doll Damion, “because that’s the part of his name the character doesn’t use.” (Like yours truly, the fictional person in question normally uses his middle name in place of a surname.)
Anyway. Anthropomorphic cats…
It all started with a book and a button. The button was in the shape of a stylized rose, and made of some silvery metal. Perhaps you see where this is going… Grace had made only a few of her cat dolls when she got this idea, but after seeing that button — and buying it, of course — there was no going back for her. A bit of debate over what the author really meant when describing characters’ appearances (Grace says a writer who calls a kilt a kirtle cannot be relied upon to use the term hose correctly, either, and as much as it pains me, I must agree), and a moderate amount of taking notes and doing math to determine relative proportions… and a lot of worrying whether or not fan art is even a good idea, given how one of the parties involved feels about fan fiction, and eventually the Nine Tomcats project was established as Something We’re Really Doing. (The name is based on — admit it, you were expecting me to say patterned after — the title of the first book in the series which contains the not-feline characters these cat dolls were inspired by.) There will be more than just nine, of course: the nine tomcats have four sisters. And various other relatives and associates, from both sides of the tree.
We haven’t gotten very far with this project (my job is mostly brainstorming and concept art, plus doing the math when necessary), and clearly there will not be even a few of these critters finished by early August (there’s a semi-local science fiction convention that would be the logical place to have them in the art show), but just talking about it will give both of us more motivation to keep working. I promise photos once there’s something to take photos of.
These are the kinds of things I think about when not thinking about writing — often more than one at a time. And yes, caffeine could have something to do with my recent blogging habits. 🙂