05 August 2019

Genre Reading and Writing. Arithmetic Free.




When it came time to choose a genre to write in I chose fantasy. As a longtime reader of Fantasy, Scifi, and everything in between, it seemed a natural fit. I was a latecomer to women's literature and romance. It didn't hold me the way fantasy did, although I like some romance in my fantasy, and not just Mage/queen/plucky necromancer meets heroic other, falls in love, and produce intrepid little sorcerers. 

I love the big, sprawling messiness of a good fantasy story. The world so different from ours, yet populated by the same type of people with the same problems. How to escape evil, which magical academy to attend, how to pacify rampaging dragons, and oh yes, love among the smoking ruins of a just razed village. 

Not a big fan of dystopian fiction, I must admit. It's depressing to think of all the ways civilization could go wrong. The survivors - because it's always lucky by birth survivors - trudging through a ravaged landscape, rummaging through hollowed-out Wal-marts for food and bullets. Fighting off others of their kind to rise to the top of their pathetic food chain. No groups ever join together to try to make their lot in life better, to try and jump-start an improved civilization unlike the one that got them into this mess in the first place. Are we that narrow-minded a species?

Don't answer that.

I do have a space opera novel I worked on and it's sitting in limbo. It falls prey to the things I hate about dystopian novels, hence my reluctance to go on with it. Time to strip it down for parts. Apparently, though, doom, doom, doom makes for good reading. I do like exploring other worlds and cultures in sci-fi also. Big problem there is the vastness of space and zooming around in it. I get hung up on the technical (im)possibilities because I know just enough science to be skeptical, but not enough to make everything plausible. Which is probably why I chose space opera rather than hard science sci-fi. Much easier to hand-wave the science like a Jedi excusing droids than get lost in the physics. Even though I do love me some physics. 

Romance novels both fascinate and repel me. There's something to be said for the formulaic model and a HEA (Happily Ever After) at the end. Maybe it's the optimist in me, wanting the world to turn out for the better. The cynic whispers in the back of my mind, you think real life is like this? Ha! Have I got news for you. Romance dies under the weight of children, laundry, and whose turn it is to mow the backyard. 

Which leaves women's fiction, formerly called 'chick lit'. About women, mostly written by women. A lot of it is depressing as hell, chronicling modern-day problems in a long, and death marchy manner. Dead/missing children, cancer, parents with dementia. Why do I subject myself to that? Because it's real. I guess I can't live on fantasy alone, and sometimes need to come down from my dragon-patrolled castle and deal with life before I scurry back to my fairy fortified citadel.

All of these genres figure into my fantasy writing, however. I like building worlds, I like creating creatures, but I also like my characters to want love along with their magical abilities. Perhaps love helps or hinders their abilities. Or captures the unicorn. Or saves a kingdom. Or destroys it utterly. The people in fantasyland have the same problems you and I have; we just can't use magic or a sharp sword to solve them. Although it would be oh so satisfying to turn your boss into a spotted hog-sloth. 

My heroines and heroes are your everyday folk who just happen to be caught up in something bigger than they are. Reluctantly shoved into saving the world, they rise to the occasion or give it their best shot while dodging death. This is what I want out of the real world. Since we, as a society, currently can't have nice things, I want to write stories about a world where it can happen. And once my letter from Hogwarts gets here, watch out. I'm going to change the world.

13 July 2019

Philosophy Class Refresher Course

Image by Pixabay

What is it in human makeup that makes us go looking for the answer we want? When did confirmation bias become the norm, rather than something to guard against? Despite my best intentions, I find myself reading Amazon reviews and if I'm iffy on a purchase I read the 3-star reviews and talk myself into not buying the book or dog toy or widget. Is it a symptom of not wanting to spend the money? Or something more insidious?

I really don't want to turn in my philosophy degree over this so my promise to myself is that I will try to be less judgmental. I will try not to pre-interpret or favor the information that I want to see. I don't expect this to be easy. As we grow older bias seems to calcify. You know the answer to calcification, clean liberally with vinegar. I can be both liberal, and vinegary. Accepting and rejecting. I just need to temper things with a spoonful of sugary substance. Like tolerance for other viewpoints.

Back in the Stone Age when I was a philosophy major, I thrived on different ideas and contrasting viewpoints. I devoured books on subjects I knew nothing about. My philosophy professor would whap me on the head with a rolled up thesis if he knew I wasn't giving things a fair chance to state their case.

I've given up on reading the news for the most part. It is so polarized; it's easy to fall into old patterns of reading only journalists whose viewpoints I agree with. I think it has to do with our society's sports complex. We must be winners or associate with winners at all times, or there is doubt about our alpha status. (Man/Womanhood?) My side always has winning arguments. Or so it seems.

What do you do when faced with confirmation bias? I'm open to alternatives or ideas. My natural tendency is to burrow into my introvert cave and not come out to play but the way things are going these days, it seems cowardly not to have an opinion, express it, and back it up with facts. Even in the face of hostility. Can I do it?

Can you?

01 July 2019

New Issue of Gyroscope Review


“A Day at the Beach”
by Constance Brewer
Whiteline Woodblock print
11 x 12.5 inches
Stonehenge paper
Daniel Smith watercolors 

The summer issue of Gyroscope Review is out! A perfect lazy-summer-day read. You can pick up a copy on Amazon. Please leave us a review after you’ve read through the awesome work by our summer poets. 

Submissions for the Fall Issue open today also. Last fall’s Crone Issue was so well-received that Gyroscope Review has decided to do it again. 

The Crone Power Issue

This time, there will not be regular submissions alongside the themed submissions. All submissions must be dedicated to the theme of what it is to identify as a woman over the age of 50 – the power, the satisfaction, the intricacies of being a woman over 50 in today’s society. 

Women poets over 50 remain an underrepresented group and we are here to say that must change. Those who identify as Women over 50, we want to hear from you. This is your issue. 

( We will return to regular poetry submissions for our Winter 2020 issue. )