Thursday, February 15, 2018

So my WIP has a school shooting take place on Valentine's Day.

It's not the same circumstances, of course. I planned this out sometime in October and I've been struggling with the scene and the rest of the book since. I was thinking about my book yesterday during work--my real life calendar having caught up with the one in my fictional world--as I planned out my outfit for my date with Flip later that night. When I heard about the actual high school shooting that occurred in Parkland, it was later in the afternoon. By then, I wasn't thinking of anything at all except where Flip and I were going for dinner.

It took until today. I was thinking about it today, as I read tweets, watched interviews, yelled at Marco Rubio through ResistBot, and thought about Dave Cullen's Columbine. I stopped long enough to finish reading They Both Die at The End and to be mad at unrelated stuff that's happened to people I know.

In part, it feels insulting to write a scene based of the kind of tragedy that my country witnesses en masse and then does nothing about. This Valentine's Day shooting didn't led me to the one I am writing about, but that's because other shootings like it led me to the subject-matter.

So I stretch thin my abilities to try and capture the horror that comes from such an event, and now I wonder if I'm trivializing it in the lackluster effort. If what I'm trying to say is ultimately worthless and the attempt makes a mockery of what real life survivors and victims' families feel.

Of all things, maybe one shouldn't write about death until they've actually brushed past it.

I'm not close to it at all. I don't know when I'll be. But from this vantage point, it still manages to hurt. And yet it's less than nothing compared to what the survivors and the victims' loved ones feel.

I hope we do something about it. But I don't think we will.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Certainty

Now Playing: Maurice Ravel - Jeux d'eau

I saw that today was Virginia Woolf's birthday. Because I've been feeling both sentimental and bitter, I got to thinking about something she wrote once that's stuck with me.

Last Valentine's Day, I gave Flip a collection of letters he was meant to open from the 14th of February till his birthday in late March. It was roughly one to two letters a week, and one of them included some of Virginia Woolf's suicide note to her husband, reproduced here in its entirety:

Dearest, 
I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been
V.

Emphasis mine.

It's surprising to me that, looking back on it, I didn't read much Virginia Woolf in my time at university, even after countless English courses that had a heavy emphasis on diverting from the only-white-male-writers-canon. I figure a lot of my classes felt it their duty to expose us to work we might never see in any other place, so there was a lot to include and not enough time to include it all. (It proved interesting. I read Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp rather than the more famous Uncle Tom's Cabin and I'm forever grateful for that.)

That said, I did read Mrs. Dalloway and some excerpts from Woolf's other work, and I rewrote two pieces of fiction in her style in two separate, unrelated classes. (I always seemed to do well with remixing authors' styles. At least I have that going for me as a writer). Though I can't speak for the quality of those remixes, Woolf's style is so distinct, writing like her was both easy (because I knew what I had to do) and challenging (because I didn't know how to make it sound as good as she did). And in general, I love that even those male-centric literary classes can't deny her influence and skill.

But way before Mrs. Dalloway and the excerpts and remixes done in her style, I'd read that suicide note more than once on Wikipedia. I'm not too sure how I stumbled on it. All I know is that it must have been when I was very young, because I've always thought back on her note to her husband. Long before I understood the complexities of mental illness, and certainly long before I ever knew what love was meant to be.

When I was drafting that letter to Flip, I was a little afraid he'd find it needlessly morbid to quote from a suicide note of all things.

But I did it because being with him helped me understand Virginia Woolf's last written words a little more. When I was younger, I couldn't decipher how she could both say that no two people could have been happier than they had been while proceeding to end her life. Surely a great love, a real love, would triumph above the kind of pain that could cause someone to kill themselves.

Like I said, I didn't understand the complexities of mental illness. It's tragic for more reasons than one that her disease took her life away, and that it was likely seen as unconquerable in her time. (And that it's still that way for a lot of people in the present day). But I understand now what she meant.

I understand that even if love can't always save us, it can still be there in the most hellish of places. It's not a sword to conquer your demons. It's not the light that wards off the darkness. It exists on its own, sometimes so strong it's untouched by that which taints life.

That can be wonderful. And terrifying; mostly for when we believe it can be all we need to save us.

At the very least, I can say I'm lucky. I'm glad if love is going to keep its steady grasp on me, it'll be because of Flip. With him, it's the wonderful kind. I hope he can say the same about me. I hope we can always say the same about each other.

Whatever happens to us, I know, with certainty now, some form of love will always be there between us.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Magnetic

Whenever I'm lazying around in Flip's apartment, neglecting laundry or dishes or reading, I'll hang upside down from his bed and let episodes of Gossip Girl play endlessly in the background. It's not the kind of show I need to pay attention to and thankfully I'm not invested enough to rage at the idiotic, harmful, or outright ridiculous plots that happen. I pay enough attention to admire the fashion and the urban landscape and the constant drinking.

But it was during a scene featuring Taylor Momsen--who I love because of The Pretty Reckless--that I heard a kind of amazing song playing in the background. If there's one thing Gossip Girl ever got right, it was the music.

Despite only half-paying attention, I adored the first two lines immediately:

Little skinny girl she's doing it for the first time
Little skinny girl she's doing it and it feels fine

Then I rewound a few seconds, because I loved the singer's voice. I looked it up but stumbled on the original version. The rest of the lyrics are:

She's taking hold and I'm holding on
Holding on and my sense is gone
I got it you got it she's got it
She's taking hold of her sins now for the first time
Well she's been told about sins now but it feels fine
She's taking hold and I'm holding on
Holding on and my sense is gone
I got it you got it she's got it


I don't know anything about music or lyrics so I can't talk about the composition or format or whatever else, but I adore how simple the song is, at least just from the structure of the lyrics.

Then I went looking for it on Spotify, I found:
  • The original by The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Their acoustic version.
and covers by:
  • Oliver North Boy Choir
    • featured in the episode.
  • Mercurium
  • Les Demoniaques
    • I can't find anything else about these artists and this is the only song under this name. It doesn't help that Googling sends me to links of a horror porn film from the 70s. 
    • Wait, got it: Dum Dum Girls + Tamaryn
So far, I'm in love with every incarnation of this song, no less in part because they make me think of one of my characters, Lola, in mood and lyrics. I think she'd like each version too. I've never listened to a song and liked almost all interpretations of it--like most people, I'll usually pick a favorite (original, cover, other cover) and rank them accordingly. But I can't in this case. Each one is the definition of magnetic to me.

There were other songs on Spotify titled "Teenage Lust", each with their own atmospheres and meanings. Versatility makes total sense, given the topic.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Memories

Quick note: I loved The Last Jedi. Loved it more than the disappointing shallow borefest that was Rogue One and liked that it took  a hell of a lot more risks than Force Awakens did. I love Rey, and Finn, and Rose, and Poe, and Kylo Ren, and old man Luke and great General Leia and adorable BB8 and that weirdo Benicio del Toro character who needs no name because it's Benicio del Toro. I hope the fan reaction I've seen doesn't push J.J. Abrams to wuss out and retcon a bunch of the surprises included in the film in the finale to the trilogy. I know it has flaws, but I loved it all the same because it prioritized emotional complexity and interpersonal relationships and inner turmoil above just doing a retread of another Star Wars film. (I'm not saying there haven't been any legitimate criticisms, but a lot of the ones I've seen seem to be grounded in "but it wasn't what I wanted"). It didn't feel safe, and that's what I need out of my franchises, even if it pisses people off.

Last week was also Seattle trip, coinciding with my birthday. Due to money troubles and general sadness, it almost didn't happen. The day before (December 12) I got into a mild accident and Briar Rose suffered a little for it; the possible cost of fixing it and the shook it put me in almost led me to cancelling the trip, but my parents reminded me how excited I'd been to go and how I couldn't let shitty mistakes ruin making memories that'll be important to me.

And I'm glad I went. Bought a lot of poetry, saw a lot of cats, ordered a lot of coffee from a lot of neon-haired people. I wonder still if I'll end up there and if I'll get used to grey skies after a life under the always-sunny-Miami.

If I did live there, I'd never run out of coffee shops to write in.



My birthday wish?

Be a better driver.

The other birthday wish is buy more poetry. And travel some more. Twas fun.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.