Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Week So Far


I met my new primary care physician, got a tetanus shot but not the Covid booster, and did some grocery shopping. Back at the room, I DM for too long and made a few revisions to one of short stories. Then about 11 I stood up and fell back down on the bed. The legs were wobbly again when I made it to the bathroom. This is when I started feeling woozy. That is why I made no notes on Monday.


I woke up feeling woozy, with a vague nausea. This put me on edge during work. 

I made it to the sheriff's for registration.

Then back here to my room. I read some emails but did not feel like writing. I watched a little TV. Something about Superman and Lois puts me to sleep. I set the alarm for 4 AM hoping for a better day.


Up at 4. I did get a paragraph revised and ate a bagel and hopped myself up on RC Cola. The bus came. It was like 9 below zero.

Work went well enough until I screwed up clocking out. The Doctor's office called and my tests came back ok. 

I ate dinner. Started shivering, it was that cold even in the room with heater on. I spoke with K. I answered a long email from K. I showered. My sister and I chatted. Now I am finishing this report.

No word from my PO.


Writing: Dialog

I like writing fislog. It lets out the voices in my head, is my usual explanation. I have read novels without much in the way of usual forms of dialog (see E.L.Doctrow's Ragtime) and ones where it is almost all dialog (give Robertson Davies' Cornish Trilogy a read). I like the ones with dialog. I think this is how to show character

I agree with what I read in The Art of Masterful Fiction Dialogue. This is a long, thoughtful article on what is good dialog, with examples, that should be read. All I will quote is the following, just to give a taste:

And look for these culprits that show flawed dialogue:

 Overuse of characters’ names in direct address (“You know, Mary, that I’m right . . .”)

Using speech tags with every line

Using flowery verbs for speech tags (“Go away,” she cajoled . . . or extrapolated or interjected)

Using inappropriate verbs for speech tags (“Go away,” she sighed . . . or groaned or wished)

Putting a speech or narrative tag at the end of a long passage of speech identifying who is speaking instead of placing it close to the beginning

Using flowery adverbs to tell how the words are being spoken instead of showing the emotion (“Go away,” she said angrily)

Having all your characters sound alike, even though they have different personalities, backgrounds, and cultural influences

Using “on the nose” dialogue, which means saying exactly what a character feels and which isn’t very believable

Padding scenes with a lot of unnecessary discourse such as boring greetings

Lack of contractions in speech of characters that would use contractions in conversation (as well as in the narrative and internal dialogue in POV)

Showing dialogue floating in space: talking heads that aren’t attached to bodies engaged in activity and in real places in your scene

Lack of an interesting, effective THAD for your scene (Talking Heads Avoidance Device)"



Feeling Divorced

I watch the news more now that I do not have a radio. Yet I have this sense of feeling a divide between the world and me.

Russia threatens Ukraine but from my room this threat of a big war feels unreal.

Covid threatens Indiana without me feeling any engagement with this problem.

More and more comes out about Trump trying to stay in office and this I find raising my blood pressure but only a little.

I do not know if this feeling if being divorced from strong feelings on these wider issues is an after effect if my imprisonment or of my age or the Zoloft. It does not feel like apathy  - it lacks any sense of the guilt apathy gives not know if it is a good thing or not. Time will tell.

What does move me is this feeling I get when I think my PO will keep me from finishing my writing.



I do not understand incels. Nor do I really understand the pornography culture amongst the young. You may be thinking that I must be lying as I am a federally certified perv. No, this is the truth: I was never enamored with pornography which I thought of as boring in its formulas and pathetic in its execution. The illegal porn I did see added a layer of vileness.

But the incels seem  to think themselves entitled to sex. When I was their age we thought sex was a matter of luck. Yes, there were those who preyed on drunk girls at parties. Yes, there was some who did not know the meaning of no. They knew to keep their activities to themselves. They did not write manifestos justifying their behavior.

So I read Katha Pollitt's  review of Amia Srinivasan's The Right to Sex with interest, hoping to understand this new world.

Given her interest in incels, it’s odd that Srinivasan doesn’t mention the largest group of losers in the dating and mating game: older women. You would expect a feminist to have noticed that women over forty, let alone over sixty, are written off by many men their own age (or even older), while plenty of women are interested in older men.... Interestingly, women who haven’t had sex in a decade do not go around murdering strangers. As far as I know, they don’t even set up online forums devoted to raging against their lot. They just get on with life, as women tend to do.

That last sentence proves the superiority of women.

And the review touches on porn:

... Call it the revenge of Andrea Dworkin. Perhaps, Srinivasan suggests, the anti-porn feminists of the 1970s and ’80s, who predicted the sexual landscape evoked by these students, were not behind the times but ahead of them. It’s a bit disappointing that Srinivasan veers from this important point and ends the essay with a vague call for sex education that would endow students with “an emboldened sexual imagination.” I’m not sure what she means, but good luck with that. Here in the United States, kids are lucky if they learn that sex before marriage won’t ruin them for life, let alone about the many ways that couples can please each other. Perhaps there is no large-scale solution for the ubiquity of porn that promotes “violent, selfish, and unequal” sex. “Feminist porn” has been about to happen for about as long as the male birth-control pill. If it was ever possible to ban porn that caters to misogynistic or clueless men, which I doubt, the internet and the profit motive have made it impossible.

When I was a teen there was a thrill in sneaking into a bookstore to see the Playboy or Penthouse centerfolds. We  did not mistake them for reality. We knew they were unreal. 

We also had access to The Penthouse Forum and the works of Xaviera Hollander. They gave a thrill, an education and less chance of getting caught by a bookstore clerk. The sex therapist I have been sent to by the government asked on her intake interview when I began using porn. I read using as viewing. I may be wrong in my reading but using pirn was never a thing. Trying to learn what to when some female (almost always an older woman) finally deigned to have sex with us is why we read Hollander. Maybe enough of what we read stuck to our brains when lightning finally struck and we were faced with the terror of actual performance.  We knew we had to please or never get another chance. Force never presented itself as pleasurable.



Why Ride the Muncie Buses

Okay, it is an advertisement but I - a consistent rider - agree with Top Five Reasons to Ride a MITS Bus Today! This system is better than that of Indianapolis.

I do really like the app. It shows where the bus is on its route. I find it soothes my paranoia of missing my ride.



Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Writing: Plots

I think of plots as the lines on which to hang characters. I guess I got this idea from reading Shakespeare. Still, I worry that I have no idea I know what I am doing - a by-blow of writing without being publishing. 

So I read Plot and Structure: How to Use Structure and Subplot to Add Suspense by Joslyn Chase on The Write Practice. The article defines plot, how to create structure, and then discusses a six point plot structure. Right now I am trying to decide how much of what I have written fits in this structure. While reading it, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep came to mind as fitting in this structure and how John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy does not.

She also gives a plot structure for short stories I had not seen before:

I started writing short stories using a nine-point, three act structure consisting of hook, backstory, and trigger in act one. Crisis, struggle, and epiphany in act two. And plan, climax, and resolution in the final act.

 She then provides a succinct explanation of subplots, their design and use. 

Do give the article a full read snd then think on it.



Prison Abolition is NOT Just Getting Rid of Prisons

I was not sure what I would get it of reading the group interview on Bazaar regarding Abolition. Feminism. Now..

In 2003 author, scholar, and world-renowned activist Dr. Angela Davis published Are Prisons Obsolete, a landmark book arguing that prisons, along with other carceral institutions, should be abolished. It’s a subject that Dr. Davis has been rigorously studying and organizing around for decades, especially during her own period of incarceration and then acquittal on murder and kidnapping charges in the ’70s. Now Dr. Davis, in collaboration with fellow scholar and writers Beth Richie, Erica Meiners, and Gina Dent, has revisited the subject of anti-prison activism in her latest book Abolition.Feminism.Now.

While I agree on the uselessness of prison, I was worried that this book would fall into the same error as the abolish the police movement - remove, not remove and replace. I was wrong:

...We think about the process of getting rid of prisons in conjunction with presenting new modes of justice. We cannot continue to have a retributive justice system if we want to imagine new ways of addressing the issues that prisons simply cannot address. Justice, in the form that we know it, is always designed to deal with one individual case, leaving all the structures intact that are responsible for the reproduction of that violence. But we see justice as transformative, as transforming not only individuals but transforming our societies. This is one of the major arguments of the book, that in the same way we have to learn how to think in structural terms about racism, we also have to think in structural terms about gender violence.

But it is so easy for politicians and bureaucrats and judges to preen about being tough crime like they were Batman  patrolling Gotham City. As if toughness were all that was required to make citizens feel safe. Batman still has to rud Gotham City of The Joker, or to improve the lives of Gotham City's citizens 



The Week So Far

Monday I met my new primary care physician, got a tetanus shot but not the Covid booster, and did some grocery shopping. Back at the room, I...