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Project Status 8 – Everybody Limbo

Sorry for the lack of articulate and clever prose this time, everyone. I’m just too tired and too stressed for my usual level of quality.

The book is out on Kindle. It WAS out on Createspace/Amazon in print, but when I tried to fix an error in the description it accidentally put it back through the review process. It’ll probably come out again in a few days. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Ingramspark to finish its review/pre-media process for the print book – during which time the ebook also cannot be adjusted – and then I need to fix the prices. For some reason the cover image is currently listed as not available, which is another headache. And once it’s all over I don’t even know how to find it in the estores of Ingram’s distribution partners, assuming that all books Ingram publishes do go into their distribution partner’s estores (which I’m not even sure about).

So many things have gone wrong, been delayed, et cetera, that I’m stressed up to my gills and haven’t slept properly in at least a week. (And, apparently, was too busy to notice the sudden development of gills on my person.)

I just want it to be over. But even once it is up I still have to market it and do the legal deposit and and and and… I’m in limbo. The book’s in limbo. It’s like a ridiculous dance party ducking under unexpected bars of difficulty and stomping all over my hopes. Everybody limbo!

UPDATE: Apparently no one in my family told the relatives in the UK that I’d published. That means that the whole one sale I’ve made was not, as I’d assumed, just a relative being nice. If it was one of you readers/followers who bought it: Thank you, I hope you enjoy it. If it wasn’t one of you readers/followers who bought it: That’s amazing because that would mean someone completely unaware of my existence found it and bought it. In that case, I thank you for reading my blog regardless of whether or not you care about the whole yet-another-blogger-being-crazy-enough-to-try-publishing bit.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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Help! My Story Has the Mary-Sue Disease (Kindle)

I was going to wait with posting this until the Print and Epub versions were also available, but I’m still waiting on Ingramspark for something and it’s already been two days since this was published. So you’ll get more posts like this in a few days (hopefully) when the other forms of the book become available.

It’s available on Amazon Kinlde here. It’s also available on other versions of Amazon (UK, AU, etc) if you search for it in the Kindle store.

marysuediseasefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700

…I’m not going to be done stressing until all of the formats are published, at which point I will make a Books page for my blog with easy links to them all.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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“You need to get a goodreads! You need to show people your bookshelf!”

Okay, here you go…

my-bookshelf

This is what we call “deliberately missing the point”.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work, On Reality

 

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Project Status 7 – A Hint

Coming Soon?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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On Constructing Folklore

One of the things which bothers me the most in speculative fiction is how the folklore and mythologies are constructed. I love mythopoeia (constructing mythology) and I love folklore, but there’s one thing I see a lot of which drives me so far up the wall that I make friends with the ceiling.

That’s the assumption, by writers, that anything folklore that they write in – fairy tales, myths, legends, ancient prophecies, tall tales, jokes, etc – are basically like little stories in the main story which all work on the same rules. Yes, a focus on the numbers three and seven will appear – along with a few other ‘staples’ of the fairy tale – and the language will take on a more pretentious ‘old fashioned’ air, but other than that they are written as if they are working on the same rules as modern fiction writing. That they have the same sense and polish.

They arent polished. The ‘rules’ of writing a story are rules for polished, planned, stories written at once by one person for the purpose of telling that story. Folklore isnt. Myths, legends, folk tales, fairy tales, etc are the mish-mashed amalgams of many generations telling what they can remember of incidents, jokes, and stories, to each other and themselves, and twisting with each new teller – none of whom save the last (the one who writes it down in what comes to be the ‘final’ or ‘popular’ form) will be professional story-tellers and none of whom will know the craft.

No one who created folklore (as opposed to setting down on the record) set out to write a story. If you want your fictional folklore – your fairy tales, or mythopoeia, or legends for your heroes to go in search of – to ring true, to actually sound like they are folklore and not the author slamming a massive infodump down on a culture it doesn’t mesh with, you have to do one thing:

Take everything you ever learned about how to write a story or write correctly and THROW IT OUT.

Myths, fairy tales, and other folklore do not obey the rules of fiction writing. It’s not just a stylistic tone change. You know the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’? Doesn’t apply here. Truth is stranger than fiction because truth involves the actions of humanity as a group. Fiction, in the modern sense, is not written by humanity as a group – it is written by one or two individual humans. Folklore, like truth, comes from humanity as a group. And humanity as a group is batshit crazy.

Folklore is not neat and tidy. Fiction is expected to be neat and tidy (tie up loose ends, not have plot holes, have characters who aren’t acting like they’ve been slapped half to death with a stupid stick, have a message or theme, etc). Most folklore, for all that there are some very ‘logical’ things within it (like how most vampire’s weaknesses are anti-septics), makes no sense. Consider the modern meme. No one can explain why certain things suddenly become hugely popular and get quoted and remixed to death, but they do and they are – for the most part – nonsensical. Nevertheless, they become a common theme amongst large swathes of the population – and while most fade from existence as rapidly as they occur, others linger …despite there being no rhyme or reason to which or why. The same is true of folklore. The myths and fairy tales which we have had passed down to us are the ones which lasted best – the funniest, or the least confusing – but if you actually read them (not their many retellings and adaptations) you find that they make no sense and that all of the ‘rules’ of fiction writing appear to have been ignored.

They weren’t ignored. They just aren’t applicable. And this is what modern writers creating folklore for their works need to understand. Fiction is orderly, but folklore is chaotic. If you are trying to neatly categorise your gods by what they are god of and your myths follow modern writing structures …well, then, you’ve failed to understand what real mythology is like.

Folklore – myths, fairy tales, the like – should feel alive. The clear, plot-relevant, modern-structured ‘myths’ and ‘fairy tales’ seen in modern speculative fiction don’t. The heart is missing from them. The myths and fairy tales – all the folklore, in fact – that writers create for the world’s they build work very well as little modern stories, but not as myths and fairy tales.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Author Status 2 – Destructive Distractions

So.

I’ve gone through the proof for my first book, the final cover has been decided and paid for (although the final print cover is waiting on the final formatting). I’m going to publish it within this month. I should be worrying about how it’ll be received.

I’m not. I’m too distracted by other things.

Ars Gratia Artis. L’art Pour L’art.

I’ve always preferred art for the sake of art, although I have always understood that for some artists art is for the sake of social change – warnings, improvements, commentary, etc. Nevertheless, when something in the world sufficiently bothers me I think about writing something to try to stop things from getting worse. The political situation on the other side of the world, in another country to which mine in no way belongs, in another hemisphere, upsets me. I want to write to warn those who do not see danger coming that actually the time to act was months ago, when they merrily sped through the DANGER END OF ROAD signs, but that they might stop complete disaster if they hit the breaks before they reach the actual edge of the cliff …instead of in a few years when they’ve plunged over and into the abyss while wailing that no one warned them this could happen. I want to warn them, even though they have not listened to any previous warnings, if for no other reason that then I can wash my hands of it and say that I tried. It’s not my country, though, so it is not my moral obligation to fix the mess they made.

Thinking about it makes me sick. It gives me nightmares. It brings my mind constantly back to the book in my house which lists all those from a single city, including a whole branch of my ancestors’ family, who did not come back from the camps alive. It reminds me that political prisoners and those who spoke out were the first to be dragged away, and that the world’s main resources for social networking and self-publishing are all trapped in the Silicon Valley – so how long before someone who writes something warning of the dangers gets a target painted on their back?

I have health issues, anxiety mostly. Thinking about politics makes it worse. It keeps me from sleeping and it distracts me from what I want to write about. Do I have a moral obligation to write about it – at the cost of my own health, in a best-case scenario? I don’t think so. I am not the only person in the world who can stand up and do something, and it is not my country. I am not obliged to bail them out at the cost of my own health. Could I write a terrifying tale warning them of things to come if they don’t stop hiding their heads in the sand? Certainly. Would they heed the warning? No. They haven’t heeded anyone else’s so far, so why would a quiet voice from the other side of the world change anything?

The part of me that gets angry – the sense of justice, I suppose – wants to fight, both the political problems and the copyright issues that come from fanfiction (trying to get it justified as “Transformative” so you don’t have to ask permission to write it is basically trying to ignore the author’s right to be recognised as the author, which means recognising their right to control their work).

The part of me that is my pitiful sense of self-preservation argues that I am literally (and I do mean that in the correct sense of the word) making myself ill from anger and I cannot actually change anything anyway, no matter how hard I try. If there comes a day when the fight is something directly related to you, it argues, then fight. For now concentrate on your health and on becoming a successful writer. If nothing else, one day if you have to drag them to court to keep control of your copyrighted material (which isn’t even written and published yet), you can slap the damn transformative works organisation people with the bill for all the anti-anxiety meds you had to take to be able to write while worrying about them possibly succeeding in their hopes of using ‘transformative’ to take control of copyright away from writers (it doesn’t matter if they’re not officially doing that, making fanfiction transformative as a loophole will have the same effect down the line – too many fans on their archive already don’t understand why they shouldn’t make money off copyrighted material and some even link their funding accounts to their fanfiction profiles). “No negative effects on the copyright holder’s ability to make art and money” my arse.

The part of me that is disgusted with humanity in general looks at all the warnings in politics and the arrogance of fan writers who want to make it impossible for artists to say “Don’t make adaptations of my work without my permission” and it says “Just let them get themselves killed. They had warnings. They ignored them. It’s on them now.

The part of me which grieves for humanity and the suffering current events are causing is making it impossible to write for my next project or research for the one after that. I can’t concentrate to write.

The part of me that’s currently keeping me from complete insomnia and regular panic attacks has been hiding out in Glen Cook’s books. That’s also slowing down my writing, but unlike AO3 and politics, it isn’t making me cry and forcing me to take valerian and other such things so that my chest muscles will unclench and I can breathe. I need to get more Garrett, P.I. and Black Company books, The Tower of Fear just isn’t impressing me. It’s nice to see non-Medieval-European fantasy for a change, though, I’d started to think fantasy in non-western settings was a myth.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in On L.C. Morgenstern's Work

 

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Yes, All Cars (a Metaphor)

All cars could kill pedestrians. Yes, ALL cars.

“But,” you might object, completely missing the point of the first sentence, “I’M a careful driver. I’D never do a hit and run. I’D never crush an innocent pedestrian who observed all possible safety protocols and was minding their own business when crossing the street at the appropriate crossing. You are just complaining about nothing! Drivers have it hard too! I’D never hurt someone with my car! You can’t blame me for what a few other drivers did! Not All Cars!”

Yes, All Cars.

All cars COULD kill pedestrians.

Do they? No.

Could they? Yes.

Do pedestrians have a way of telling whether all of the cars on the street – whose drivers they do not all know – are dangerous and going to hurt them? NO.

Would you, Nice Driver, think it sensible or stupid to assume that because you are a competent and considerate driver that when complete strangers cross the street you’re driving on they can just wander across the street when your light turns red, without looking both ways too see if a car is going to ignore the red light?

Do you really think that somehow every single pedestrian in the world can just walk across the street trusting all cars to obey traffic laws because they know you specifically would never run a red light?

I doubt it. I suspect you are aware that not everyone drives as cautiously and considerately as you. I suspect that you are aware that it is perfectly reasonable for all pedestrians to be wary of all cars – because all cars could kill them. And there is no way for a pedestrian to know who is driving. And, even if they could know that when you were the driver stopped at the crossing they were safe from that direction, how can they know you’ll never screw up – just a little? You might be on your phone, or distracted, or just a bit too close to the legal drinking limit. You’d never normally be the driver in a hit and run, after all, so surely they should stop complaining and let their guards down while you veer wildly across the street, right? No. Not right. I hope that’s your automatic response, but I doubt it.

You’re a Nice Driver. A Good Driver. So when pedestrians are cautious and look both ways because they know that not all cars obey traffic laws and justify taking precautions by pointing out that All Cars Could Kill Them, you get upset – it wounds your pride to feel included in the “Bad Drivers” category, even though you aren’t – and so you loudly protest at every opportunity that Not All Cars!

Then, one day, while you’re driving cautiously and carefully, another driver pulls a hit and run right in front of you. It’s horrifying. It’s tragic. It’s totally not the pedestrian’s fault, because the car ran a red light and the pedestrian was on the official crossing while the crossing light was green and they had looked both ways before stepping onto the crossing. The pedestrian did nothing wrong. The car was totally in the wrong. And you’re a good, nice driver, so you get out of the car and – without looking anywhere or worrying at all about traffic laws and cars hitting you – walk over to where the victim is (bleeding, half-dead and severely traumatised) being cared for by the paramedics and you say to the victim “It’s your own fault for walking where you were supposed to – for existing as a pedestrian in a world full of cars. How can you blame the car for running over you? You’re a pedestrian: you should have expected it.” Then, feeling mighty proud of yourself you get back in your car, again not having even thought to look out for traffic while you walked and ignoring the pedestrian’s week protests that they DID look out for danger and were expecting it because they always have to (even in their own driveway and home) while you walked back to it.

When you check your phone, still in your car, you see angry and frightened articles from other pedestrians – articles which talk about how dangerous cars are, because not all of them obey traffic laws and no pedestrian can tell from a distance which will. Articles which call for an end to the driver’s Car Privilege – saying that they should come to understand that they are, no matter how nice they personally might be, driving high-speed four-ton metal boxes of death. Articles saying that it is wrong and unfair for pedestrians to have to constantly be checking if cars are going to behave with basic decency, while the drivers enjoy a complete lack of concern for their own – and everyone else’s – safety. Car Privilege, the social movement calls it, an unfair burden on the pedestrians who are forced to take the drivers’ responsibility for them while it never even occurs to the drivers that pedestrians shouldn’t have to live with a quiet, constant, fear in the back of their minds – that pedestrians shouldn’t have to view existing outside their homes as a potential life and death situation every damn time they walk out their front door, even if they stay in their own gardens. Drivers, the social movement says, shouldn’t be allowed to blame cautious pedestrians for existing and claim they deserved it when a driver ignores a red light. That “you just need a good hit-and-running” should not be drivers’ go to reaction to pedestrians who speak out for their rights. That threats of being turned into road pizza as revenge for daring to defend their rights should not be seen as harmless or acceptable – especially because all too often the drivers who do perform hit and runs take the public’s refusal to condemn such comments as validation and go on to deliberately run down other innocent pedestrians.

The articles and the social movement rally around a simple truth: All Cars Could Kill You. But this, this infuriates you. It wounds your Driver’s Pride. After all, you aren’t the sort of driver who performs hit-and-runs. You are a Good Driver. A Nice Driver. So, while you drive, you respond vocally to these upstart pedestrians. “Not All Cars!” you write to them. You explain how you are a good, considerate, driver and they would never need to fear around you. When they inevitably point out that you are a complete stranger who could be making that up, that cars don’t come with helpful Safe Driver alerts for pedestrians and that it doesn’t fucking matter if you specifically are a good driver because all it takes is the one asshole on the road and they are road pizza, it wounds your pride even more. How dare they? You tell yourself. This Car Privilege is a load of nonsense. Drivers suffer too! They, like, can’t text whenever they want and their drink holders aren’t always secure and they have to drive around the parking lot like six times before they find a parking space close enough to the doors! It’s not all cars that are dangerous.

Yes, All Cars are dangerous, the movement replies. Yes, All Pedestrians have near misses. But you don’t want to hear it. You’ve already decided that Car Privilege is a load of nonsense, so you start talking about Pedestrian Privilege and how those pesky pedestrians are so lucky they don’t have to suffer taking their feet in to the mechanic or getting stuck in traffic. Those are real, serious, problems for drivers! They’re totally on par with not being able to leave the house without being subtly, but constantly, on alert because of all the cars on the road ANY of them could be the one that runs the red light and – if not outright kills the pedestrian – at least brutalises them and violates them. Getting stuck in traffic, you decide, is totally equal to living in constant fear that any stranger might take your life or mutilate your body.

You’re wrong. You’ve missed the point. You’re so blinded by your Car Privilege that you can’t see that you’re making the problem worse.  Yes, All Cars Could Kill A Pedestrian. That doesn’t mean that all cars will. It means that they could. Yes, All Pedestrians have experience with drivers abusing them and blaming them for the driver’s inability to stay off the damn sidewalk. It means we live in an unjust world where drivers think their minor inconveniences are equal to or worse than always having to double check that everything is safe, that all of the drivers currently nearby aren’t going to decide your life and bodily safety aren’t worth as much as their desires, that even if you are in your home you could have a rouge car (or the car of one of the Drivers in your family) come crashing through the wall to crush you and leave you with mental and physical injuries which will ruin much of your life (assuming they leave you that much).

The point of the movement isn’t “All drivers are terrible”. It’s “All drivers COULD turn out to be that one asshole and it’s unjust that pedestrians should have to live in constant Fight or Flight mode because All Cars could potentially run their red light and there is no way to know which is which.”

Now replace “Cars” and “Drivers” with “Men”, “Pedestrians” with “Women”, and “Hit-and-run” with “Sexism” and “Sexual Assault” and maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally understand why male privilege is a problem.

It’s been years since those hashtags started, guys, why are so many of you STILL unable to understand a simple concept?

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in On Reality

 

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