"I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game."

Toni Morrison (via jaegerjaques)

I love this so much. Wow.

(via simplytonka)

(via deservingporcupine)

"Diversity is not only about bringing different perspectives to the table. Simply adding social diversity to a group makes people believe that differences of perspective might exist among them and that belief makes people change their behavior. Members of a homogeneous group rest somewhat assured that they will agree with one another; that they will understand one another’s perspectives and beliefs; that they will be able to easily come to a consensus. But when members of a group notice that they are socially different from one another, they change their expectations. They anticipate differences of opinion and perspective. They assume they will need to work harder to come to a consensus. This logic helps to explain both the upside and the downside of social diversity: people work harder in diverse environments both cognitively and socially. They might not like it, but the hard work can lead to better outcomes."

How Diversity Makes Us Smarter - Scientific American (via wildcat2030)

(via yaflash)

12 Ways Writing is Like Running 50 Miles

  1. It’s so easy to do the first part. Everyone can write a few chapters. It feels great.
  2. You start hearing about people who are doing better than you are. You feel like everyone is passing you. Maybe they are.
  3. You need aid in the form of food that makes you happy and encouraging smiles from strangers or family and friends.
  4. Sometimes it gets messy. You just have to keep going.
  5. You feel like you are all alone. There is no one who seems to be doing what you are doing for miles around.
  6. You have to keep going, making tiny goals.
  7. You have to readjust your goals when you realize you won’t be able to finish in your goal time.
  8. You need to tell other people what you need.
  9. You need a support crew to look after the home fires for a bit.
  10. You may get lost and have to start over again.
  11. When you can see the finish line, everything gets easy again.
  12. After the finish line, there will be casualties and you will need to recuperate.
"Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new."

Ursula K. Le Guin (via kushandwizdom)

(via seananmcguire)

10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

  1. Start typing the phone book. Eventually you will think of something better to type.
  2. Start a new novel.
  3. Take a few days off.
  4. Give yourself different seasons to write, a revision season, a drafting season, and a conference/promotional season.
  5. Think of athletes who have been over-trained. What do you need to do to rest up and get ready for another season?
  6. Try writing by hand for a while.
  7. Give yourself permission to write badly.
  8. Write a book that no one will ever publish. Write a book for yourself.
  9. Type in a first line from someone else’s novel and go from there.
  10. Give yourself permission to have writer’s block.

What a First Chapter Should Do:


1. Make the Reader Feel Something.
You want to evoke an emotion. It can be a negative emotion. It can be a positive emotion. But an emotion is almost always going to be associated with a human character. If your main character is not human, you are going to have to work awfully hard to make the reader feel an attachment to the character. Try to show the character as human as possible in the first chapter. You want the reader/editor/agent to really want to find out what happens in the next chapter. And reminder here: impressing the reader/agent/editor with your big words or pretty language isn’t an emotion that is likely to make them want to keep reading, all on its own.

2. Introduce a Character who either desperately wants something or desperately needs/fears something.
This is one of the main reasons that a prolog can be a problem. Even if you have a prolog character who is desperate, if you change povs in the next chapter, you may lose your reader. Ideally, you want to keep the same protagonist from chapter one to chapter two and show this character doing something to get what s/he wants or needs. An active character is always better than a passive one. But the reminder here is: don’t let worldbuilding overwhelm your character, especially in the first chapter. No matter how much you might want to tell the reader about all your cool stuff, if you don’t have a strong character attachment in the first chapter, you are likely doing something wrong.

3. Be Unique.
Sometimes this means having a unique voice, but it can be many other things. If you are doing a paranormal romance (which I’m still seeing at a lot of workshops), make sure your set-up is unique and that your dilemma is unique. If it feels like the same-old, same-old, my eyes glaze over. Don’t tell me that there is an evil bad guy and your mg protagonist has to save his father and then the world from this evil. Don’t tell me that your two main characters have been in love for centuries, but keep losing track of each other and have to find each other in a new incarnation. Don’t tell me that a vampire hunter and a vampire fall in love.

4. Show Conflict.
You don’t need to introduce the main conflict of the whole novel in your first few pages. In fact, you probably don’t want to because it takes too much set-up to explain the stakes and the worldbuilding. But you do need conflict in your first few pages. Conflict shows us about characters and it moves things forward. It makes things feel real and important. It makes characters feel real. So if you have characters who agree with each other or who don’t argue in the first chapter, who are passive or not talkative, reconsider.

5. Is Clearly Written so that the reader knows what is going on.
This cannot be overstated as an important part of a novel. I know so many writers who are so concerned with proving that they can write as well as the greats in their field—or better—that they forget that a story needs to be understood to be valued. Just make sure that you aren’t honing your words to the point that they lose all meaning. We need to know who people are, where they are, and what they are doing. It seems simple, but it can be very hard to achieve.

jaymug:

How to be a successful creative.

jaymug:

How to be a successful creative.

(via lismock)

bec-centigrade:

writergrrrl:

pervocracy:

postwhitesociety:

hm

I think the “women are mysterious” thing can also come from:
1) Women actually being quite clear, but not telling men what they want to hear.  ”She said she doesn’t want to talk to me?  So many mixed messages and confusing signals!”
2) Women not having cheat codes.  ”I tried being nice, and she didn’t have sex with me.  I tried being an asshole, and she didn’t have sex with me.  Come on, there’s got to be some kind of solution to this puzzle!”
3) Women not being a hive mind.  ”First a woman told me that she likes guys with big muscles.  Then the very next day a woman told me she thinks muscles aren’t attractive at all.  Make up your mind, women!”
4) An individual woman doing something confusing, and instead of asking “why is she doing this now?” men ask “why do women always do this?”

5) Women sometimes don’t say what they’re really thinking/feeling because society has taught us that certain emotions and reactions are unacceptable (i.e. you must be nice to men even when they’re creeps because man feelings are delicate and must be protected at all costs).
6) Women sometimes don’t say what they’re really thinking/feeling because we’re used to our thoughts and emotions being invalidated and can learn to invalidate them ourselves.
7) You didn’t even fucking ask. 

8) You see women as NPCs instead of people, so when they act like people you’re surprised and wonder how such a sophisticated NPC can exist and what algorithms drive it, instead of interacting with her as a human being.

bec-centigrade:

writergrrrl:

pervocracy:

postwhitesociety:

hm

I think the “women are mysterious” thing can also come from:

1) Women actually being quite clear, but not telling men what they want to hear.  ”She said she doesn’t want to talk to me?  So many mixed messages and confusing signals!”

2) Women not having cheat codes.  ”I tried being nice, and she didn’t have sex with me.  I tried being an asshole, and she didn’t have sex with me.  Come on, there’s got to be some kind of solution to this puzzle!”

3) Women not being a hive mind.  ”First a woman told me that she likes guys with big muscles.  Then the very next day a woman told me she thinks muscles aren’t attractive at all.  Make up your mind, women!”

4) An individual woman doing something confusing, and instead of asking “why is she doing this now?” men ask “why do women always do this?”

5) Women sometimes don’t say what they’re really thinking/feeling because society has taught us that certain emotions and reactions are unacceptable (i.e. you must be nice to men even when they’re creeps because man feelings are delicate and must be protected at all costs).

6) Women sometimes don’t say what they’re really thinking/feeling because we’re used to our thoughts and emotions being invalidated and can learn to invalidate them ourselves.

7) You didn’t even fucking ask. 

8) You see women as NPCs instead of people, so when they act like people you’re surprised and wonder how such a sophisticated NPC can exist and what algorithms drive it, instead of interacting with her as a human being.

(Source: ethiopienne, via seananmcguire)

"I feel like that’s the thing that’s holding back many young women writers, and many young women in general now—this idea that we don’t put our work out until we believe it’s immaculate, and there’s no such thing as perfection to begin with. Secondly, the lack of a perfected idea never stopped men from speaking out! To be successful I think you really have to shove yourself forward, and I consider myself really lucky that I’ve never held myself back in those ways. To a fault! I’m sort of a pamphleteer for my own work, standing on a street corner ringing a bell, shouting, “Look what I made! Look what I made!”"

Elizabeth Gilbert (via robinwasserman)

I feel that Elizabeth Gilbert is right, but I wanted to talk a little bit about bell-ringing, and why women are held back, and how much people resist women shoving themselves forward—how much they resist women doing something that might lead to success.

Compliments are two-edged swords for women: thinking well of yourself is a dangerous activity people will try to stop you engaging in.

I remember vividly being sixteen and having a friend come up to me and compliment my outfit. ‘Thank you!’ I said. ‘Wow,’ she said, and blinked. ‘Normally people say—oh hey, I like *your* thing, but no, it’s cool you just said thanks! It’s great you’re so confident!’ ‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘No, I really like your top. I’m sorry.’

And from then on, I remembered to compliment back rather than act like I was so great I could just take a compliment. If possible, I complimented first, just to be safe!

And there’s nothing wrong with complimenting other people. And my friend is and was a lovely person. It wasn’t her fault she said it, or my fault I took it that way. It’s that this is a system that tries to get you coming and going.

THE WORLD: Have high self-esteem generally.

LADY: I’m so cute.

THE WORLD: Uh but don’t be vain!

LADY: I’m so smart.

THE WORLD: Do not be a stuck-up bitch!

LADY: I quite like my…

THE WORLD: Gosh you think HIGHLY of yourself, don’t you?

Girls are trained to say, ‘I wrote this, but it’s probably really stupid.’ Well, no, you wouldn’t write a novel if you thought it was really stupid. Men are much more comfortable going, ‘I wrote this book because I have a unique perspective that the world needs to hear.’ Girls are taught from the age of seven that if you get a compliment, you don’t go, ‘Thank you’, you go, ‘No, you’re insane.’ “ - Lena Dunham

It’s not that guys don’t get insecure, too. Of course they do: they are human. But it’s true that girls are *taught* insecurity, via a barrage of social pressure… pressure from everybody.

A friend of mine wrote a post a few weeks ago talking about being a woman writer online, and the things you heard from people while… being a woman writer online. Two of those things were: it didn’t sell so she’s a failure, and the other was: it did sell and I liked it but it’s rubbish.

Those two things (she does sell/she doesn’t sell) can’t be true of one writer at one time: obviously she was talking about stuff that happens, across the board, to women writers. Several people, of course, rushed to inform her that she was a bad writer (so she deserves what she gets!) and a bad person (so she deserves what she gets!). Because of course, she had to be whining about how she was treated personally, and she had to be told she deserved it.

Pretty classic method of trying to shut someone up. And never mind that a LOT of women writers, with a lot of different careers, reblogged it: probably they were bad people too, or bad writers too, or whiners, or making everything about sexism, or when they thought it applied to them they were mistaken. (So silly.)

I see this all the time, from people who are openly like ‘Yuck, feminists’ in real life, to people online who are like ‘I am one thousand per cent dedicated to feminism, and I haven’t noticed that a huge amount of my hatred is devoted to women doing it wrong and I love no lady real or fictional as much as I love Bucky Barnes/Tom Hiddleston/Joseph Fink/Derek Hale/a member of One Direction chosen by lottery.’

And it has a profound effect on women’s ability to do their jobs. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, not being a bell-ringer for your work is holding you back: but being a bell-ringer for your work is something that comes with the risk of being attacked, feeling lousy… and stopping being a bell-ringer for your work, learning it’s too risky, sacrificing a bit of yourself to preserve the rest.

This training makes women very quiet for a while, because that’s how self-doubt works: you don’t think ‘it’s the world, the world’s all messed up.’ You think: it’s me. You think, I just have to do better. You’re ashamed that you didn’t do better before you spoke up. 

But there is no way to do well enough: there is no time there won’t be pushback when you speak up, because the desire behind the pushback, conscious or unconscious, is not for you to do better. It’s for you to stop.

Emily Gould’s talked about the impact an online attack had on her professionally.

I felt fear doing events around publication. Not stage fright, fear for my physical safety. Instead of planning celebrations I was arranging with bookstores and my publisher for adequate security at events. I felt worried that the location of my apartment had been revealed in so many profiles. It’s not like I experienced physical trauma or was tortured but I felt under attack. This wasn’t something that “happened on the internet” or something that could have been avoided by “just unplugging.” Talking to readers, doing events, and promoting books online is my job.

I still haven’t sorted out what kind of damage was done.

http://emilygould.tumblr.com/post/98563959520/just-want-to-say-this-to-have-said-it

And leaving aside individual examples, science has shown the barrage of nasty messages women get for just existing, let alone daring to do something.

The study found that female bots received on average 100 malicious private messages a day while the male bots received an average of 3.7. ’ 

http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/03/cyber_harassmen.html

So ladies, getting harassed about thirty times more than dudes? And that’s just online… think about what happens in real life, like Joanne Harris having a publisher reject her based on her ‘lack of physical appeal.’

http://joannechocolat.tumblr.com/post/97879457176/are-you-too-fat-to-get-published

One cannot help but think ‘Gosh, if I was receiving thirty times less crap, I might have a better opinion of myself and I might get more done!’

And it’s not just online, and it’s not just publishing, sometimes it’s also your nearest and dearest who have an interest in shutting you up: the people you love and should be able to trust.

Zelda Fitzgerald had her work stolen from her by her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, who frankly said he was just typing out her diaries sometimes, and she was depressed (who can blame her!) because stories written solely by her got more money when F. Scott Fitzgerald was listed as co-author… or when he was listed as the only author!

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323393304578362314070442492

It’s very reminiscent of the way Walter Keane pretended that he was the one painting his wife Margaret Keane’s paintings, which were a phenomenon in the 1960s. 

(She won the court case by having a paint-off.

MARGARET: I painted the paintings. Hey, I’ll paint one right now! In court. Let’s both paint one! Right now. In court.

WALTER: I… uh… brought this note from home to say I’m delicate, so…)

And yet, *would* the paintings have sold like they did if everyone had known they were painted by a lady from the start? I don’t know, but I’d guess probably not.

Which doesn’t make it right. Women deserve credit for their work, and they deserve a fair valuation of their work, and often they do not get either.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/23/magazine/style-an-eye-for-an-eye.html

(THE WORLD: You want the CREDIT?

LADY: Well, I made it…

THE WORLD: But maybe you didn’t! Maybe your husband did it! Maybe your brother Branwell did it!

LADY: And also, work takes time, and I need to eat.

THE WORLD: And now you want to get PAID? Where’s your pride in your work, you money-grubbing ho?

LADY: Oh, *now* I’m meant to be all about the art?)

It is not just one’s husbands who snake women’s work: writing novels at all used to be sneered at as a lady thing, and then suddenly men started doing it and there was serious important literature, and women should stop doing that thing they invented! On a smaller scale but in the same vein, a woman called Victoria Lambert created Doctor Who, but no women have been allowed to write Doctor Who episodes for six years and counting.

It is not, of course, writing but all work done by women that is devalued in various ways: Female scientists’ contributions are overlooked and forgotten, teaching changed from a male-dominated job to a female-dominated job in the 1800s when people realised a) oh no all kids need teaching! and b) oh wait thank god we can just pay the ladies half as much… and it is still a female-dominated and thus underpaid job today, the games industry chases women away savagely (http://elizabethsampat.com/the-truth-about-zoe-quinn/), actresses are not given their own movies to lead (51% of the population, 10.8% of the lead roles in big movies!), women directors are just not given jobs (6% of 2013’s big movies had women directors), women take jobs as film editors instead of directors and then are not given credit for their contribution to films (e.g. Thelma Schoonmaker, who has edited all Martin Scorsese’s movies since 1980), women have 5% of Fortune 100 CEO positions, Taylor Swift gets it in the neck for writing songs about her own love life while Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, to name but one dude, can do the same thing for a decade and nobody cares.

It’s not easy to love yourself or what you do or what you have created. It’s not easy to promote yourself or praise yourself. The whole situation is fixed to make it difficult. 

Bell-ringing is so complicated. A writer friend of mine asked for several promotions she knew male authors who sold less well than she had received: she got turned down. So she literally invented a new kind of promotion. They gave it to her in sheer puzzlement.

(It worked, and since then many people have been given that kind of promotion. Mostly dudes. The writer friend who invented it has been criticised a lot for not being a true artiste, and being arrogant. The dudes who got the promotion she invented have almost without exception gone on to win prizes women seldom win, be reviewed in many major publications that feature very few women, and talk about their own genius and get others to talk about it too.)

Dorothy L. Sayers, a badass writer who knew what she was talking about, said it was surprising anyone going through the wringer of sexism ‘retained any rag of sanity or self-respect.’

That’s why bell-ringing is such a complicated thing. It’s why shoving yourself forward is so difficult. ‘Well, just do it anyway’ is good advice, the only advice possible, but it’s also important to acknowledge what gets in the way of doing what we want to do. So that for every time we get pushback or feel ashamed, we remember to celebrate rather than be ashamed.

Despite the pressures of the world, so many women have done and made so many things! Just concentrating on writing, they: invented the novel. Popularised science fiction. Now, they’ve popularised young adult fiction and invented new adult fiction. 

So, if you manage to get by and think you’re not so bad most days, that’s a triumph. If you manage to create something despite the voices inside and outside your head telling you not to, that’s amazing. If you make a mistake, own up to it, but know it’s probably not as bad a mistake as everyone is rushing to tell you it was. If you feel shamefaced about something you have done or made, that’s an injustice the world has put in your way—it’s not because you did or made something to be ashamed of. If you can create something, and believe in it and yourself enough to talk about it and think about how to get it out in the world… you have accomplished a series of amazing deeds. You have triumphed against a series of adversities.

That’s something worth bell-ringing about.

(via sarahreesbrennan)

(via sarahreesbrennan)

16 Ways to Conquer the Blank Page

  1. Turn off the internet.
  2. Start writing a letter to yourself about the book you want to write.
  3. Take a book off your shelf and start typing in the first page of that book.
  4. Go back to the page you wrote before and edit it.
  5. Go back and reread what you wrote the day before.
  6. Set a timer and force yourself to sit in your chair (with no internet) until it goes off. If you have to sit long enough in boredom, you may find yourself suddenly able to write.
  7. Draw what you think will happen next.
  8. Talk—out loud—to your characters and complain to them about the blank page.
  9. Find a photo on line of a character or landscape for your book and simply describe the photo.
  10. Write what wouldn’t happen next in your book.
  11. Write a line your character would NEVER say.
  12. Type the phonebook.
  13. Write about the sound of silence.
  14. Reread a book or watch a movie that you hate. You may find you suddenly have something to say.
  15. Starve yourself of books or movies, any source story. You may find you NEED to write to fuel the part of you that can’t get story any other way than through yourself.
  16. Write a list of questions that you have for your book.