Friday, 7 December 2012

Mindset Cafe: 2012-12-07

Libraries in stories and legends, not getting turned on by horror erotica, women characters as real people, bloody Doha again and superhero underwear.

Stories for stories

I'll keep this one short but portentous (hopefully). A Facebook friend set me off on a path, which led me to this fascinating article on notional libraries  which kept me interested for hours after I read it. The ideas described in this article has inspired many well-known authors and informed many of the works that spec-fiction readers and writers admire. Personally, a story about a book or a library grabs my attention immediately.

Reading and writing

It's been an interesting week, as far as my writing is concerned. I started out thinking about EL James who, in spite of the ire against her, has been a major phenomenon in publishing. A post on a Facebook horror group mentioned the words 'dark erotica'. I asked a separate question on what it is and where the limits lie, and arrived at a difference between 'dark erotica' and 'erotic horror'. During the exchange I decided to give it (erotic horror) a go, and  spent a couple of hours writing a piece of flash.

Once I finished the story's third round of fixes, I found myself worrying about my ambivalence towards it. It's always satisfying to finish a piece of writing, and I got that sense of completion this time round. What struck me was that I was not aroused by it, neither during the writing process or on reading it. It's a fun premise, but not a thing I would enjoy personally. In fact, I was more struck by the callous savagery that came through in the piece.

There might be a bit more, but that will depend on whether or not a premise arrives that wants to be written. I can't imagine setting out to consciously find another premise along those lines. Having said that, I now know it is churning away somewhere in one of the gutters of my mind, so goodness knows what will come up.

The exercise of gender became the topic of another exploration. Women writers have been making the news, and, aside from the challenges facing them, I wanted to find out about writing believable female characters.

Most media panders to readers and viewers with certain stereotypes of females. Feminists seek more equitable treatment for women, sometimes in ways that become excessively strident. ("So, I'll just ignore that because it's a bit loud and grating, you know.") The third option is the gender neutral approach. None of these approaches lead to entirely realistic portrayals of women. The challenge is to portray a 'normal woman', as one response to a subsequent Facebook question put it. The idea of a woman opening up a conversation as opposed to the man's immediate 'action plan' was one point that was highlighted. Job options and incomes were among the others.

There has to be more than that. I'll let you know and I will carry on asking questions as I learn.

Mother Nature and other terrifying things

The Doha climate talks are ending. Hopefully they will be a bit more effective than the endless Doha Round (in our dreams). One thing is clear is that wealthier nations are not going to easily abandon their emissions, and poorer nations that are less able to adapt, are not viewed as anything important. "What's a swamped island nation or two among friends." The irony of the thing is that if poorer nations are to benefit from emission reduction mechanisms, they will have to become polluters themselves.

And finally...

Superheroes wear their underpants on the outside (weird when you think about it). How well do you know your superhero underwear? Take the quiz here...

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