My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Nut Shot (Social Justice Metaphors)

Dear fellow cis dudes: 

You know how we spend a lot of time saying that women just can't comprehend how bad a really solid nut shot feels.

Duces (cis dudes) talk about how the pain is just blinding, and incapacitating (it makes you throw up and sweat uncontrollably, and probably is completely incapacitating)  and no one seems to get it until they've gone through it.

Of course other cis dudes get it. They nod and say "GOD YES!!" and there's this whole brotherhood of "You GET it!" that surrounds the nut shot.

If women try to say that something else hurts a lot (from childbirth to menstrual cramps) dudes jump in and say, "Yeah, but you barely have to TOUCH our junk for it to hurt." If they liken it to nailing a funny bone we say "No it's so much worse."

We don't even let them compare it to stepping on a Lego.

We basically inform them they can't really wrap their heads around quite how painful a full force nut shot is UNTIL/UNLESS THEY EXPERIENCE IT.

Try to remember that the next time you're dictating to a woman that street harassment is no big deal....or that sexism in the workplace shouldn't bother them that much....or that the double standard of society about her clothes isn't that big a deal......or........



Monday, July 27, 2015

Small Schedule Change, Big Big Deal (Mailbox)

Why is a small schedule impact such a big deal to a writer?  

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And of course you can ask me why I'm such a slacker.]  

M asks: 

Glad you're done with your summer school thing, but I'm confused why it was such a thing. How does a three-day-a-week gig throw such a wrench into the system. Understand I'm asking this not to challenge you, but rather because I've noticed this shit too. I'm doing pretty good about daily writing, someone asks me if I can take on a very small freelance commission for no more than a couple of hours a day, and my writing falls to pieces. Why is it that we add these LITTLE things to our lives[,] like a few days a week and a few hours a day, and suddenly our writing collapses? Shouldn't we still have lots of time left over?

My reply: 

Because there's a meltdown in the sky, M, and writers are living on the edge. (What? That song is 22 years old? Hey....I promised you pop culture references. I didn't say from when. Now sit back down, you whippersnappers! If you're going to be on my lawn, you never EVER say "that joke is older than me.")

I can't generalize all writers, everywhere, for all time, but I can tell you a few things that tend to be true about basically all the writers I've ever met and most of the ones I've read about. We walk an edge. We push our lives into this state of extremely delicate balance. And even though we talk about it like it makes us a special kind of awesome, it's not really always a good thing.

Now, I'm not talking about writers who don't really write. They have about as much time as average folk and can waste it or pick up new commitments accordingly. Some people are very busy, and some waste a lot of time. I'm talking about the writers who write every day (including a lot of household names) whether that daily writing is a stolen half hour with a pencil and a legal pad or a ten hour session that ends with a deep vein thrombosis throwing off a clot into your heart.  (Sorry. I watch a lot of House M.D. reruns when I'm cleaning).  Most of us are pressed right up against our limits, like a woman in a shower scene on Cinemax after dark, so that we can squeeze as much writing in as possible.

Whether you are someone who fills your life with obligations–a nine to five job, family, friends, hobbies–or whether you are a misanthrope working just enough to pay the bills you have to pay, you are probably writing juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust about as much as you can handle. Could be two hours. Could be ten. But the chances are your life is a balancing act. You are spinning as many plates and doing it as efficiently as possible in order to get back to your writing as much as you can.

You know what happens when you tell someone spinning as many plates as possible to stick one more stick with a spinning plate on it....in their mouth? So sometimes it's better to put down one plate to pick up the other. Since most of us probably aren't spinning a lot of non-urgent plates, the only thing we have to sacrifice is our writing. We might be able to keep a little something going on, but our major efforts are likely stymied. (I wrote every day during the last six weeks, but some days it was little more than my private morning journaling.) I just couldn't keep that plate spinning and trying likely would have been the hull breach that led to total structure integrity failure and caused a warp core breach in my will to live.

Look at this another way. Let's say my life is pretty busy (and most people's are). Let's say I work about forty hours a week, have five or ten hours a week of things I can't get out of, and write about thirty hours a week. That means my typical week is thirty hours more than many other people's lives. Eighty hours a week is also a LOT. I'm roughly as busy as someone with two full time jobs. Almost half of that might be a labor of love, but you can't just keep piling things on forever. (Insert a reDONKulous amount of research here about the point at which human beings actually lose productivity and efficiency.) So if you add a 20 hour gig on top of your regular work and your writing, you probably have to give something up. Most of us can't just do 100 hours a week.

First of all, most writers (at least those who love it enough to write every day) have pared down our lives to just about the point where there isn't a lot of unimportant stuff. It's either vital stuff we can't possibly bare to get rid of (work, family, very important relationships), or it's writing. Only one of those things isn't going to explode, implode, fire you, or leave all your shit in the front yard if you start ignoring it.

Secondly, the way overdoing it works isn't like paper math. Creatives generally have to be even more careful about overdoing it than other people. It's not just an equation that you can keep adding to as long as you haven't reached 168 hours a week. There are intangibles in play. The first thing that exhaustion effects is our self-motivation. And also pretty high up on that list is creativity. (Sound like things artists might need?) There's this whole survival mode vs. creative mode dynamic that all people have (and no, Minecraft didn't make this up but it's really cool that an open ended creative game is exploring that dynamic through metaphor), and when we are burning non-creative engines on overload, there's usually a lot of impact to our interest and ability to create. Things like a good night's sleep, imaginative play, and of course reading turn out to be just as vital as the writing time itself.

So be careful M. Protecting your writing time doesn't always mean JUST the time you are physically doing the act of writing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Shorts Returning

Thank you everyone for being patient with me while I took Sundays off during my stint with maddening summer school.

We will return to our daily schedule tomorrow, starting with a short Mailbox and ramping up into the full fury of "Blogust" over the next week. Next Sunday we will restart our "Sunday Shorts" mailbox.

You've all been wonderfully patient.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Your Daily Dose of Awwwww

As you may or may not know, here at Writing About Writing, 10% of every penny we make goes straight into children's literacy charities. While I would love to do some major national charity and give them thousands, I'm a small time artist, I am mostly donating to local charities.

Well, the 2014 donation was to a specific class. An actual SPECIFIC class--Ms. Costell's to be exact. We donated through Oakland Reads, and actually picked one group of underprivileged students who were looking to get some quality readers.

And they wrote us back!! (Which really means they wrote YOU back.) At least a few of them did.

Yes, the kids got the name of the blog wrong, but who cares. If this doesn't melt the icy recesses of your cold hearts, your misanthropy knows bounds untouchable by cuteness.


Prepare yourselves for a HUGE fund raiser in the month of August. Cedric (our cephalopod office admin) is currently tasked with picking another such class of underprivileged young literacista to help. To celebrate "Blogust," Writing About Writing will be upping its usual 10% donation to 50%. That's right....HALF of everything you donate from Aug 1st to Aug 31st will go to a classroom project here in Oakland just like the one above. (Deets TBA, but if you want to donate early, just write "Blogust" in the notes section on the Paypal amounts.)

But wait....there's more.

We have a mysterious benefactor who has agreed to match what EVER Writing About Writing makes (up to $1000). That means that for thirty-one days, any donation you make to W.A.W. will basically be a donation of the same amount to our charity as well as a donation of half the amount to the blog.

I'll keep you posted (sometimes one mysterious benefactor begets others), and have an actual name of the actual charity we'll be helping by August.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Big News

We have big news!
I often ask people to turn off their adblockers just for this site, and if you ever did, you probably noticed right away that something is a little different in the layout of the site.

If not I'll just tell you:

Writing About Writing is going ad free.

I've sort of been hoping to be able to do this for a while, but I couldn't afford to get rid of any income stream, no matter how small or annoying. However, these last few months (and really the last year or so) have shown me that donations are worth much much more than the trickle of ad revenue. I might be missing out on a couple hundred a year, and if something goes viral, I'm sure I'll second guess whether this was my wisest move ever, but it's better this way.

I can get away with a tiny bit more if I'm not running a commercial site, but mostly the reason is I don't like the adsense/Blogger model. I'd rather make a little less getting donations from those of you who really like W.A.W. than to try to beg you periodically to turn your adblock off and be exposed to the pinnacle of a lot of shit I really hate. (Mass consumerism, rampant commercialism, lifestyle obsession.) Besides, you guys are now coming in at the rough average of 20 TIMES more in awesome and generous donations than I was making off of ads. So even though I'm not making enough to really write off any revenue stream, that one is worth the loss.

There may come a day when an advertiser approaches me. I know popular blogs often hook up directly with products, but if that happens it will be a product I really believe in, and I'll be able to make sure the ad itself isn't skeevy.

In case it isn't clear, let me say it again: it was you all and your donations that made this possible. When I started, ads were my ONLY source of revenue. I made about $100 dollars in the first nine months. Now ads are a minor income stream and I can follow my convictions and get rid of them.

That's because of all of you.

You take my breath away, and I will keep writing the best I've got in me to justify your support.

(I'll have to adjust things like my guest blogger payment policy and the "Ways to support us" question in the FAQ, but other than a cleaner layout, less bile in the back of your throat, and the occasional rogue, unbidden, and unconscious thought that how are you ever going to get published without a correspondence course MFA and copy editing by Grammarly, this shouldn't affect readers too much.)