Well this makes me uncomfortable

So, let’s talk women, but that’s not going to get me in trouble at all. Actually, it really does, I’m terrible at writing women to the point I’ve written stories that featured one female character, because I know I don’t do it well.

First of all, let me explain, I’m not sexist, or at least I don’t think of myself as sexist. I just struggle with the perspective, even though intellectually I know we all see the same world, and reactions and motivations are the same – when I write a female character it just doesn’t read back well. Anyway, that’s my problem, it’s something I’m working on, my protagonist is a female badass type, and a mother.

All that being said, over the years I’ve read many bad portrayals of female characters, most are bad because of the stereotypes, perceptions, behaviours and sidelining which belongs in decades ago, if it belonged at all.

I recently came across a  blog post that tackled this in a really clever way, it’s by a woman called Meg Elison and was on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, link here and at the end: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/if-women-wrote-men-the-way-men-write-women 

It’s entitled, If Women Write Men the Way Men Write Women, which makes as uncomfortable reading as you can imagine. Some of them would make uncomfortable reading whatever the gender of the character, others if it was a man that was the focus, you would accept with few questions, after all lads are just lads, you switch the roles though and you can see why it would feel demeaning. Cads are a fact of life, but a female cad does feel wrong – and yet the behaviours, and the results are the same.

It’s a great thought provoking article, and I highly recommend you read it, it’s definitely worth five minutes of your time. I’m suddenly conscious of all the times the murderess in murder mysteries is somehow always more wicked and evil than their female counterparts, whether or not their crimes were less or more.

As I continue to write male and female characters I’m going to try and keep it in mind. Terrible behaviour is terrible no matter who does it, and if other characters are going to react differently, I’d still like the story to treat them the same.

What if Women Wrote Men the Way They Write Women

StockSnap_QKFY1FBMG3

That’s a nice little hobby you have there… Hmmm

Now I’m returning to writing, and to blogging, I thought good place to start in my new run of blogging was to attempt to explore both what storytelling is, and what it means to me, or why I do it. However, as it turns out, that’s actually much harder than it sounds. So I present to you the inconclusive answer, in time I will revisit this subject with a bit more self awareness.

In this entry in going to discuss why I write, there’ll be a disproportionate amount of randomness, segues, grandstanding, self depreciation and no doubt you’ll see the words “I don’t care what you/they/anyone thinks”,  but don’t worry it’ll only be after seeking your praise.

The post will be in three parts :

  1. What is writing/storytelling to me?
  2. What do I get out of it?
  3. What do I enjoy most?

Let’s begin

1. What is storytelling to me?

Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisationtheatrics, or embellishment. 

Wikipedia: Storytelling

It’s simple right? Storytelling is the act and at of sharing anecdotal or fictional stories. Writing is the act of committing words to a static medium. 

But who wants a clinical description? No, to me storytelling it’s about exploring, experiencing, and growing these fictional worlds floating round my mind, and then finding a way to convey them to an audience. 

In truth, I’m not great at that last part, that’s a confidence thing though, when I do set out to write fiction or most things, I do so with an audience in mind and intent to share it when them. 

2. What do I get out of it?

One last thing about what storytelling is, is that it’s about is potential, because a great piece of writing can change the world, whether it’s big or small, whether it’s an actual effect on the real world or simply how someone experiences it – writing can do that, and everything written has with in it that potential. 

Don’t believe me? Tolkien has touched the world for millions of people, he don’t just write he created while universes, with interconnected narratives, has spawned a genre, and an industry, made some people incredibly rich, and sent others to barreling through nerdvana.

Jane Austen who didn’t just define the modern romance, but how through relatable characters and comic twists, but also how social commentary could be highlighted in accessible ways. 

I could go on, but we’ll get way off topic, but definitely look out for a future post about how writers can and have changed the world in some fashion. 

That potential is exciting to me when I write for two reasons, firstly that I may have an idea that could reach people on the level my favourite authors have, and secondly that they a story I’m writing may change me, from learning new things like how a fusion generator works to how I approach the challenges in my life. The latter is nearly always true, the former continues to be an ambition I aspire to.

3. What do I enjoy most? 

The challenge. I’m not going to pretend to be good at storytelling, I struggle for originality, I struggle for the technical things like grammar and structure, and I struggle for confidence in what I write… and that is what makes it fun. The more I write, the better I get and one day I’ll overcome the things I struggle with.

I love challenges, that’s why I like to play pool and snooker, I’m terrible at them, but those moments where I overcome my own weaknesses there is a glory – more so when there are others to offer praise, so here I am sharing my thoughts and my stories in a blog, in the hopes others will see something of merit., and say “well done”, or “thank you”.

Well well well… look at who’s darkening your door step

So I’ve been gone a while, but I’m back. I lost my mojo for a bit, combination of many many factors, which ultimately are dull, and uninteresting compared with what’s going on in your life, and the world in general – but it was important to me at the time, and it dragged me away from writing, and blogging.

As the title suggests, and the first line, (because apparently reiterating your point, however pointless is the best way to get it across), I’m back. I’m currently working on a project, an epic piece though slightly unoriginal in a world populated by George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, and many others… but it’s fun, and maybe along the way I’ll stumble into a something unique and interesting in the world of fantasy story telling.

I have other ideas piling up, which is great suddenly the creative juices are flowing again.

And I’m half way to fixing my site up – I’ve reinstalled WordPress, and managed to upload all my old posts and comments, (which turns out is very easy), but it’s still running slow.

I’m not sure what I’ll be blogging about – just a journal of my life writing, commentary on writing news, a significant amount about NaNoWriMo this year and future years, (and if that’s news to you… surprise! I’m obsessed with the non-competitive writing competition), a challenge or two, and I’d like to analyse other people’s stories, not just writing but other media’s too – because I find it fascinating. I’ll try and sort out things like that out, but I’m all a quiver at being back, and to be writing for  a few weeks, and I wanted to share that.

Writing Playlist Summer 2013

Well this is awkward, I wanted to post about my new writing playlist. In the past, I used Spotify and it wasn’t too bad export the list to make it postable, (words not the music itself – though sharing that on Spotify was easy too if someone had Spotify). Now I’ve switched to Amazon Cloud Player – all my tracks stored within easy reach of my phone and my laptop without the chaos of thousands of MP3’s loitering, in many cases with duplicates of duplicates.

However, Amazon don’t make it particularly easy to export the text of a playlist – so to show you mine it has to be a cut and paste job via Excel – took two copies and pastes to get the whole thing out. This is how dedicated I am to sharing.

This is actually my longest list thus far, and it’s just under half what it started off as. However I’m happy with it.

Music is, and always has been important to my writing process, for three reasons:

  1. It gaves me pacing and rhythm
  2. It focuses the mind, and it can distract the mind from over focusing
  3. It’s inspirational

For me to add it to a writing playlist it usually has to conform to three out of these four criteria:

  1. It requires no effort to ignore
  2. It doesn’t jar with the worlds I’m trying to create
  3. It fits with world’s I’m trying to create
  4. It eggs me on, exercise music for the brain

Of course there are always exceptions, and it’s entirely subjective, which it’s my list, and probably in it’s entirety only works for me. However, I share to compare and discuss, so feel free to comment with any suggestions.

My playist for Writing, Summer 2013

Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 135: The Voice on the End of the World

This is the 135th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

The Voice on the End of the World, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 14th April 2013

Word count: 632

The story:

“All you have to do is crawl inside and pull the wire,” the voice over the wireless headset said.

“I’m not going to survive am I?” Carol asked.

“Its already too late. I’m sorry, we didn’t know it would be uncovered,” the voice said soberly.

“I liked you better when you were flirty,” Carol said, “This will save everyone else though?”

“We think so, it will at least stop it spreading,” the man on the other end of the call said, “If there were any other way… If there was any way at all to save you, I would make sure it was done, even if I had to hop in a helicopter and do it myself.”

“Thank you,” Carol said.

“When you go in,” the man said, and Carol appreciated bringing the conversation back to business, “The cables going to be far in, it’s bright red. Pull with everything you’ve got until it comes loose. That will stop the reaction and the radiation will begin to subside.”

“What’s it going to be like in there?” Carol asked.

“It’ll be hell, it’s going to be hot, your hands and feet will burn every time they make contact with a surface. You’ll feel your hair melting, and your vision will be impaired.”

“Wish you’d stopped at hell,” Carol said.

Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 134: Interplanetary Politic

This is the 134th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Interplanetary Politic, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 13th April 2013

Word count: 460

The story:

“What makes you want to be president?” the journalist asked, then tipped her microphone forward.

The senator took a calming breath, “I want to make a difference. This world we live, well the universe really, faces unique and immense challenges, and as head of the World Government, I believe I can help us through it.”

“There’s some controversy over the office of World President, many member nations have expressed a wish to leave, or even disband the World Government. President Hutton founded, and headed the government for four terms, without him, will it stand?” the the journalist asked.

“I wouldn’t say it was under significant risk,” the senator said, “People are worried, the future is uncertain, it’s understandable. However, humanity has the greatest opportunity to shape it’s own destiny since since someone shared the secret of fire with their neighbours. The first rounds of the presidential elections will be in a few months, everyone will vote at least to see where it will go, before anyone chooses to leave.”

“Thank you Senator Wetherby,” the journalist said turning back to face the hovering camera. The senator walked on, where his press consultant and Chief of Staff awaited him.

Continue reading

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 133: The Pitch

This is the 133rd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

The Pitch, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th April 2013

Word count: 820

The story:

“This it?” the General asked looking at the stand.

“That’s what all the fuss is about,” the executive said.

“Its not very intimidating,” the General noted.

“This weapon isn’t a threat, if you pull the trigger while it’s pointed at someone, they will die. Armour, cover, none of that matters. It has a one hundred percent kill rate, and it’s spot on accurate. No loud bangs, not even the puff from a silencer. It does one thing kill,” the executive said.

“Can we wrap it in something more terrifying?” the general asked.

“A wolf dressed as a wolf?” the salesman asked.

Continue reading