Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Of Mad Queens, plot arcs, and audience expectations

Image result for game of thrones
Disclaimer: this post is less about writing and more about pandering to my obsession with Game of Thrones.

This week, after eight heart-rending, nail-biting, roller-coasting seasons, we saw the ugliest barbed iron chair in the world go the way of scrap metal by one dragon's wrath - not before Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, The Unburned, etc, was stabbed to death by her lover right in front of the throne she had always fought for but never got to sit on.

A lot of people expressed their disappointment with the way the show handled Daenerys's arc, but to me it made perfect sense. Daenerys wanted that throne so badly, and was ready to do so much to occupy it, that it kind of seemed to me it would never happen (because it's George Martin, you know). She was probably the most epic character in the series; moreover, she was a Targaryen, and that line isn't known for their mental stability. It is only fitting that her end should be tragic, culminating in the loss of friends, sanity, goals and, ultimately, life.

It is also very fitting, in my opinion, that the one who thwarted the madness of the Dragon Queen should be no other than Jon Snow, a.k.a Aegon Targaryen, the ultimate embodiment of A Song of Ice (Lyanna) and Fire (Rhaegar). 

Was Dany's descent into madness rushed? Uncharacteristic? Crudely handled? In my opinion, the seed had been planted a long time ago. The lovely queen was never averse to spilling a few gallons of blood for the supposed greater good, and again, she is a volatile Targaryen. A few provocations, the hint of disloyalty from those close to her, a threat to her claim to the throne, and things naturally go downhill really fast. 

Perhaps most importantly, however, this plot twist follows the principle of Killing Your Darlings. Everyone loved Daenerys (except those people who hated her). Everyone admired her (even those who hated her). Her death leaves us shocked, indignant, bereaved. That's the genius of both the books and the show. There are no promises. No guarantees. No character is safe. 

I'm off, my friends. I'm going with Jon Snow and Tormund into the vast wilderness beyond the Wall (which apparently had been rebuilt in record time). I hope Tyrion joins us soon. If you ask me, he has paid his debts to humanity ten times over.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Blood Heir again: the victory of sanity

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the insane blow-up of PC culture around the soon-to-be released fantasy novel Blood Heir, in which some precious snowflake allegedly found some gross insensitivity to offend their delicate feelings. This resulted in an online shaming and bullying campaign which ultimately caused the poor overwhelmed author, Amelie Zhao, to pull the book and write an apology letter.

In the past few days, I have found out, to my delight, that the book is going to be published after all, and is due to be released in November of this year. I can't express how immensely pleased I am. I don't know the author and haven't read the book, but no one deserves to be ganged upon that way because of some stupid hyped-up charge.

"When the controversy over “Blood Heir” erupted, battle lines were quickly drawn within the close-knit children’s publishing community. A small but influential group of authors argued that the novel dealt insensitively with race and the legacy of slavery, and was an affront to nonwhite communities."

Is it only me, or does it sound like someone was looking for a reason to be offended?

I only hope that the author and editing team did not decide to make any major changes in the text, pandering to the violent righteousness of our Thought Police.

So let's just take a moment to celebrate the victory of sanity, creativity, and artistic freedom, over a PC crazy, hypersensitive cultural movement obsessed with #ownvoices, 'representation', cultural appropriation, and trying to shut people up because #notyourstory.

I hate racism, oppression, and bigotry with a passion, and I firmly believe that so do 99% of the thinking, feeling, writing human beings the author community consists of. One would be hard pressed to find a single expression of real racism, sexism, fascism, or any other infamous 'ism' in mainstream modern fiction. It appears that this is no longer enough, though. Nope, these days one can be punished for not expressing enough loyalty to a certain agenda.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Working from home: can you pull it off?

D.C. McNaughton offers some solid no-nonsense advice on time management and productivity when working from home, and you should definitely read it if you're straddling the fence between an office job and switching to working remotely - or if you've been working from home for a while and feel like somehow, you just aren't getting anything done.

Writing is no different from any other freelancing in that sense, except perhaps in having even less interaction with people and upfront payments.

There are many different reasons for wanting a flexible remote position, and mine pretty much guarantee that I will be interrupted often and in very challenging ways.

As the readers of my blog know, I am a homeschooling mother of four young children, and I have no hired childcare or household help. I have to be extremely disciplined in order to accomplish anything at all, and when I compare myself to other writers, I remind myself that I shouldn't measure my productivity up against anyone who doesn't have little people tugging at their leg and whining "mom.... MOM... Momomomom" all day long.

But anyhow, there are those people. Those who think that if you don't commute to work, it means you don't work. Those who disrespect your time because you don't have anyone but you dictating your work hours, and who feel that they can drop in on you at all hours because you're always home. Those who get offended when you get off a lengthy phone call because you actually have stuff to do.

Things get more challenging when you live with "those people". You can shout yourself hoarse saying you're working, but it's unlikely to make much difference in someone else's attitude.

You had better just make sure you have the right one - keep going on with a balance of flexibility and self-discipline - you got this!