A shower of links

April already. Has spring sprung properly where you are yet?

6 Reasons Writers Can’t Write….
Victoria Grefer on the Crimson League blog about the commonest reasons writers get stuck not writing.

Here are six things, that in different times or in various combinations, have prevented me from writing. It’s important to do your best to understand why the task feels daunting when it becomes that way. Often it’s easy to blame the BIG reason, the obvious reason, when the true barrier might be a combination of different factors. Sometimes, addressing the obvious issues doesn’t do quite enough to get us motivated again.

On Core Themes, Genre writing, Romance
Jeannie Lin talks about the way her Buddhism affects the themes in her work and how the writer’s core beliefs direct what they write about and how well it fits into the genre.

I’ve wondered at times if it’s because I write in a setting that’s not considered well-known or comfortable — see previous note on uncertainty. Is it unfamiliar territory and characters that automatically created that sense of unease that doesn’t let readers fall into the fantasy? Or is it me? My central theme and philosophy guides me to present that type of uncertain world. I know I’m certainly drawn to those sorts of perilous, uncertain settings.

Can Creative Writing Be Taught? Not If Your Teacher’s A Prick
Tim Clare responds to Hanif Kureishi’s assertion that creative writing courses are ‘a waste of time’ and the fundamentals of creative writing can be taught. Quite sweary!

A caveat: Mr Kureishi may well have been misquoted, or the Guardian may have selectively quoted from a much more nuanced provocation in which he cleverly undercut the feigned pompous belligerence of his opening lines and went on to say something deeply worthwhile. Perhaps he was just pretending to sound like a jaded bellend, blithely opining in an artful pastiche of the sort of lazy, cockish discourse that would shame the comments section of a Yahoo News article about a snorkeling goat.

How to Offend Everyone and Make Yourself Cry: Writing Diversity in Fanfiction
Jordan West on The Mary Sue site about having the nerve to start breaking out of the comfort zone and increasing diversity in your work. Aimed at fanfic writers, but useful for everyone.

Representation and diversity are a hot-button topic in fandom. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fannish Tumblr that doesn’t feature reblogs about feminist action, racebending, and queer history, but the themes of those blog posts are just as absent on the AO3 as they are in mainstream media. We give lip service to progress, then pour hours of work into supporting the same systems and ideas that make progress impossible.

Just like any big problem, I think a lot of what holds us back is not knowing where to start. As much as we want to write more inclusive stories, it feels lot like trying to clean someone else’s basement. What is all this stuff? Where does it go? Is there a system? Will it eat me?

Why I’m Saying “Fuck you” to Clean Reader
Joanne Harris’s reaction to the now infamous Clean Reader app that’s been stirring us writers up this month.

First, what counts as “profanity”? Close inspection of the “acceptable alternatives” suggests a very strong Christian bias. Therefore, “Oh my God!” becomes “oh my goodness!” “Jesus Christ” becomes “geez” and so on. “Bitch” becomes “witch” (bad news for modern pagans), and by now we’re already beginning to see some obvious problems emerging.

The fact is that these “acceptable alternatives” are all taken from modern American slang, and not only do some of them make no sense in the context of English literature, they are likely to be far more intrusive (and potentially, more offensive) than the word they are meant to replace.

Fuck You, Clean Reader: Authorial Consent Matters
And another reaction to Clean Reader, from Chuck Wendig. If you applied Clean Reader to his blog posts it might explode…

I am an author where much of my work utilizes profanity. Because fuck yeah, profanity. Profanity is a circus of language. It’s a drunken trapeze act. It’s clowns on fire. And let’s be clear up front: profanity is not separate from language. It is not lazy language. It is language. Just another part of it. Vulgarity has merit. It is expressive. It is emotive. It is metaphor.

I Know Something You Don’t Know
KJ Charles on the Love Bytes review blog about how much backstory about the characters the writer needs to know and needs to leave out of the story.

I don’t think the reader needs to know what the hero’s childhood kitchen smelled of, unless it was the incense of the Satanic cult who met there on Thursdays. But the author does have to know the character, deeply and intimately, so that if it became needful, she could tell you those things.

Should You Quit Writing?
Chuck Wendig on how to decide if you should or shouldn’t quit writing.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: I am not qualified to answer this question. You should probably not listen to anything I have to say on this subject. Your entire writing life and career should not hinge on anything that comes oozing out of my beard-hole.

My answer to this is a completely unhelpful YES and NO.

Time Travel and Timewashing by K.J. Charles
KJ Charles on Joyfully Jay about the tricky balancing act between reality and reader expectations in historical novels.

And readers impose their cultural context and judgements without even thinking. Be honest: when you have a mental picture of a hero, he’s probably bare-headed, clean-shaven and non-smoking, even in periods where the likelihood is a hat, a beard you could hide a badger in, and a stinking cheroot. More crucially, he’s probably a radical left-wing extremist (in terms of the time) in his views on racial equality, democracy, women’s rights, slavery, child labour. Very few of us want to read about someone who genuinely doesn’t see a problem with owning human beings, preventing women from voting, or sending children up chimneys.

This is what I call timewashing: whitewashing the past with the benefits of the present.

8 Reasons Why Authors Are Assholes
Delilah S. Dawson on why author & reader face to face interactions can sometimes go sour.

Whenever I get home from an event, I worry that I was somehow an asshole, or that I messed up, or that I disappointed a reader or potential fan. I mentioned this issue on Twitter and Facebook, and my feeds BLEW UP, which tells me that many people feel this way on *both* sides of the panel table.

Authors are not perfect, and I’ve had plenty of books ruined for me after sub-par interactions with their writers. And that’s why I’d like to talk about why an interaction can go wrong.

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