Writing Is a Hungry Hippo

Do you like lounging on the couch with a box of bonbons and your favorite show running on TV?

Oh I remember the time when I could still do it without getting fidgety. But when you are an aspiring writer and your head is flooded with stories, it’s difficult to take a break from your craft or put distance between you and your work even though it’s usually very healthy. When you have a passion like writing, just sitting still and not doing something for your passion is pretty damn difficult. I’ve noticed that the need to write has become so ingrained over the years, it’s nigh impossible to just relax and watch telly and air your stuffy head for a moment.

So I tell myself, no, you have to relax now, forget about writing for a moment. But after a few minutes I find myself sitting on the couch with a laptop, writing or planning something, or beta-reading. T is playing the guitar next to me, practicing some song his band is planning to record, and JAG or Adventure Time or whatever we happen to dig at the moment is running on TV. Yeah, I’m supposed to watch it, give a friggin break to my brains. But after a moment we are drawing some of the characters and scenes from our stories. I’m thinking about going back to the WIP. We’re getting fidgety. T is arranging a photo session to get the covers done for another WIP of ours or he starts doing dry-fire drills with the 9mm, something in addition to watching TV. I’m wondering what I could do for our story to make it better without tampering with it again (because I know that at the editing stage, it’s counter-productive to edit it all the time; you become blind to the mistakes pretty quickly). But, hell, I know we should be watching TV and relax.

I feel like I need to get out. But even then, when I am out there, I’m just thinking about how to make the story better. I dump the boxing gloves and go bare-knuckle ‘cause I’m writing a bare-knuckle boxer. I look into the nightless summer night and wonder how I could best put its beauty into words. Everything I do, everywhere I look, the writing process, our passion, is there, and I’m feeding it all the time. In fact, it’s impossible to stop feeding it.

I think I’m finally beginning to understand what people mean when they say they live and breathe writing. Though to me, this passion feels like a hungry hippo asking for food, and I don’t mind feeding it.

How about you, guys?
How does your passion to write affect your everyday life? Can you do anything without somehow linking it to your writing process, whether it’s about wondering how to describe a certain action or image with words or embarking on some mad quest to be able to write it better?

– K. Trian –

Bitch, Please

ChocolateI’ve been doing on/off research on one of my characters, who is in our — and the story’s — society less privileged than I am (every fiber in my body fought against putting it like that, the very idea of accepting that someone is “less privileged” feels wrong and victimizing). This means I have to be very careful when writing my character so that I don’t accidentally insult a large portion of people who are marginalized despite, e.g. being in the majority in the US according to some studies.

“As much as 64% of the United States adult population is considered either overweight or obese, and this percentage has increased over the last four decades”

Yes, so I’m talking about writing an overweight/slightly obese character. She’s 295 pounds even though she’s only 5 ‘4” tall, which is pretty heavy. I’m aware I’m not writing an alien, I’m just planning a character somewhat different from me when it comes to shape and size, but in this case, I feel like it’s important to do a lot of research to better get into the mindset of an overweight, young woman, learn what kind of self-esteem she may have, her mental state in general, whether she suffers of EDNOS or perhaps hypothyroidism, whether she’s accepted her size or constantly fights it and so on.

The first thing I’ve learned during my research is that I have to lurk. Because I’m so incredibly privileged (read: thin), I’ll be in trouble faster than a klepto in a candy store if I open my mouth in one of these safe spheres marginalized people have built, such as blogs and discussion boards. I’m, of course, allowed to express opinions, but usually it’s a Very Bad Idea and impolite to boot.

Anyhow, I was pretty happy for a while, lurking about, reading people’s experiences and stories about their life as an overweight person (because I’m privileged, I’ll refrain from using the word “fat” that some still consider an insult), finding some ideas and view-points when it comes to building my character.

But then I stumbled on this: Thin Privilege Checklist
The way I understand it, I, as a thin person, should be able to say ‘yes’ to every part. My jaw hit the floor. Seriously, who thinks being thin keeps you safe from criticism from strangers, from hurtful comments related to your weight? From people sticking their nose to your personal business like eating habits?

Whoever wrote this checklist, I feel like telling her/him: “Bitch, please.”

Suddenly I don’t feel so meek after all. Here are the points that I have to say “no” to (bolding added):
• I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.
• I am not grouped because of the size of my body.
• I am not identified by the size of my body.
• My masculinity or femininity will not be challenged because of the size of my body.
• I can go home from meetings, classes, and conversations and not feel excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped, or feared because of the size of my body.
• I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.
• I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.

Almost every day someone points out I don’t eat enough, and brings me extra food at work (usually desserts). I’m grouped and stereotyped as an anorexic / orthorexic / one of those health nuts who are afraid of chocolate. I’m not feminine enough because I haven’t curves and a big bust. Friends and family criticize my weight as in “you don’t eat enough / god you’re thin / here, eat more potatoes! People stare at me because I eat salad during lunch (“oh, she must have anorexia!”) or bike to work (“oh, she doesn’t know how to enjoy life!”). Seriously, because our culture (and I daresay, especially women) are so obsessed with food, I can hardly eat my salad in peace without someone asking “how on Earth are you going to survive with just that?” Sometimes, e.g. when out with friends, I’m too embarrassed to order anything green even if I wanted it, because someone’s going to comment on that. I know it’s stupid, and usually I really don’t care what others think, but it does gnaw a bit if people talk, wonder if you’ve got an eating disorder.

But I guess you guys are right. I should go “bitch, please” at myself, and stop whining, because thin people are never judged incorrectly and harmfully by their appearance, excuse my slight bitterness.

Either way, at least I’ve found lots of brain food when it comes to planning my character, and am able to see certain aspects of life from another person’s point-of-view. That’s something, still, right?

How has character / story research widened your world view?

-K. Trian

Sources:
Flegal, Katherine M.; Carroll, Margaret D.; Johnson, Clifford L.; Johnson, CL (2002). “Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2000”. JAMA 288 (14): 1723–1727. doi:10.1001/jama.288.14.1723. PMID 12365955.

Boys, Sheath Your Swords for the Summer!

Prepare to get your boxers and panties in a bunch.

Months ago I wrote a blog rant about Finland’s Eurovision song Marry Me by Krista Siegfrids, which was deemed sexist because women shouldn’t be madly in love blah blah that’s chauvinism blah blah master is a curse word yadda yadda.

Now the first-world feminists of Finland have done it again. This time the target of their rage is Cheek’s summer hit called Jossu (feat. Jukka Poika). It’s a so-called annual kesäkumi-song, written to promote contraception. Every year a Finnish artist or band writes a song about sex and the importance of using the rubber, and the song is ordered by one of the biggest radio stations in Finland, Yle X, as well as the Red Cross.

In this post I will compare Jossu to an earlier kesäkumi –song by a female duo PMMP called Kumivirsi (“rubber hymn.” omg, blasphemy!).

Jossu (2013) is a song about a boy who has a reputation of sleeping around (probably a BS rep anyway, right? Right, haha, high five!). But then he falls in love with a girl called Jossu who has a habit of dating several boys at the same time and this kind of upsets the protagonist.

Jossun kaa olin omissa maailmoissani (with Jossu I was in my own little world)

en harkinnut omilla aivoillani (didn’t use my brains)

His friends try to warn him: “dude you’re gonna get your heart broken. You ain’t her only bf” :

Frendit koitti soittaa (My friends tried to call)

ja varoittaa (and warn me)

Oh, poor guy— wait, no, guess what this is?

Slut-shaming! Yes, I’ll say it again, slut-shaming! Cheek, why have you written us a song about your broken heart? Don’t you know that it’s misogynistic, chauvinistic, sexist, and labels women as HUGE SLUTS which is A BAD THING! You have no right to share your teenage heartache with us, get it? Also, stop being such a pussy. Just deal with it. She dates three guys at the same time. So what? Consider yourself lucky you get any action at all. No reason to get upset if you find a used rubber which isn’t yours in her tent while you guys are doing it.

***

Kumivirsi (2009) is a song about a lady looking for love during summer time. I love it how girl empowering it is!

Vaikka olen nainen niin isken niin kuin mies (even though I’m a woman, I hit [on people] like a man)

Asettukaa riviin, tänään prinssi valitaan (line up, today I will choose my prince.)

I feel so empowered when I listen to this; I feel like I have the courage to line up the guys according to my whim–while I at the same time condemn beauty pageants for women–and look at them with a critical eye, hmm, he’s got a nice ass, but his muscles are bigger, oh but his eyes are dreamy, who am I gonna pick? Boys, jump through hoops of fire, I wanna see who jumps the best! And I love the pun about hitting, ‘cause you know, men are known about punching each other and their women too, while women suck at punching, I mean, you should see my right hook! It’s pathetic. I can’t punch at all, I—

think I’m gonna puke now because I’m so full of shit.

***

If truth be told, I find some of this debate about Cheek’s song hypocritical and double-standard-y. PMMP was never accused of sexism or reinforcing stereotypes (which in this day and age surprises me, to be honest), but if a boy feels kind of cranky about a girl deceiving him, he’s slut-shaming. He’s a sexist.

Yes, I understand there’s this problem in our society that women who have an active sexual life are more often frowned upon and bullied than men, which sucks, and that there’s this whole stud vs. slut juxtaposition (by the way, have you heard the term ‘manslut’? Is that positive or negative?). It’s a sad phenomenon, but I hardly think Cheek contributes to this. It depends a lot on the person who listens to the song and interprets the lyrics. My honest opinion? I think he intentionally misheard the lyrics of a ’90s pop hit Jos Sulla On Toinen (If you have another [lover]) by Taikapeili, ’cause it can also sound like Jossulla On Toinen (Jossu has another [lover]), and ended up writing about Jossu who is somewhat polygamous. Cheek doesn’t even use the word ‘slut’ (or its Finnish equivalent) in the lyrics. Likening him to the dipshit assholes of Steubenville based on the song would be taking a step–nay, leap–too far.

Besides, there are these marvelous concepts like SlutWalk. That’s the spirit! That’s when we women reclaim the term, like gays reclaimed ‘queer.’

Yet let’s face it, man or woman, you are going to feel real shitty if your crush isn’t of the monogamous type. I think everyone has the right to write a song about that, just like everyone has the right to criticize it and raise debate and discourse over it. It’s always good to talk about cultural phenomena, and maybe it’ll make boys and girls think how they treat e.g. a friend who has an active socio-sexual life. I guess I could tell a close friend s/he’s a total dick-bitch if s/he fucks around without letting his/her partners know it was all about copulation, but in the end everyone’s sex life is their own business.

Seriously, it’s possible to sleep around without being a jerk about it (duh!).

Enjoy the summer guys, and keep your swords sheathed if you decide to have happy times with a stranger.

Have a happy summer!

Have a happy summer!

Enjoy the summer gals, and if someone tells you in a shitty attitude “you’re such a slut” just say you’re proud of it and maybe punch them in the face BECAUSE GIRLS CAN PUNCH.

-K. Trian

Sources & further reading (Finnish):

Lyrics from songlyrics and Lirama
Jossu-kolumni ei ole plagiaatti
Jossulla on monta
Jossulla on maine
Cheek
Jukka Poika

I Can Shapeshift into a Hare

by K. Trian

I took a class on Children’s Literature a few years ago, and we had to read that novel about the sparkling vamp who falls in love with a vapid high school girl, you probably haven’t heard of it. Anyway, I wrote a paper about it, can’t remember the topic anymore (probably some feminist rant), hence I did some author research and found out that the saga was inspired by a dream of Bella and Edward hanging about on a meadow. Apparently that was also where Meyer got the whole sparkling vampires idea from; a dream.

I wish my dreams looked like this.

I wish my dreams looked like this.

That explains a lot, considering how nutty dreams can get. In a dream it makes perfect sense that a group of ugly, hairy super villains drug the world leaders and imprison them in a half-burnt-down city and, through the leaders, control the whole world. Naturally the First Lady of the Evil Republic is a South-Korean artist who stuffs dead bodies inside her fleshy, bleeding “paintings.” Also, a change of pants will lock down the whole Villain HQ, so you have to be prepared to climb elevator shafts because there are no friggin’ stairs, and even if you can shapeshift into a hare, it’s no guarantee you can escape the prison city.

This is what my dreams are really like.

This is what my dreams are really like.

Sometimes a dream can incite a story idea though. You can take a part of it, like T did when he dreamed of a huge, violent riot, and we ended up putting that into Solus. But it’s a pity that no matter how you try, the terror of the dream just doesn’t come off as real from the pages as it did inside one’s head. That can be frustrating as well, but on the other hand, it’s also a great writing exercise. A dream can also work as a writing prompt, it doesn’t have to lead to an entire story.

Have your dreams made their way into your stories? Inspired you? How do you feel about basing stories on dreams? Feel free to share your thoughts!