capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
[personal profile] capriuni
So I am signal boosting.

Here’s the homepage where B.A.D.D. is explained, and links the the eleven previous blog festivals are are archived: Diary of a Goldfish -- BADD 2017

I’ll be posting my entry on my Tumblr blog, and also here, on Dreamwidth (for those who find Tumblr inaccessible). And in the meantime, I’m signal boosting.

Have a gander at what I wrote last year, just for a taste (on Tumblr): What the “Social Model of Disability” Actually Means.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Yesterday afternoon, I had the good fortune to take a stroll through Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park on what was arguably the first day of the year. In that park, adjacent to Queen Street, are a couple dozen cherry trees. Much younger than the ones in High Park and by Robarts Library, these were in full glorious bloom when I saw them.

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 1 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 2 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 3 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 4 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 5 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 6 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Sakura of Trinity-Bellwoods, 7 #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura

Into the sakura #toronto #trinitybellwoods #parks #spring #cherryblossom #sakura
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Posted by Alma Alexander

Love is one of the guiding principles of the human condition. Things have been done in the name of love – both great things and evil things – that defy explanation, or rationalization. Love is what love is, and when it comes down like a ton of bricks there is nothing you can do except be buried in it.

Come on, admit it – what is the first thing that  comes into your head when the issue of “romantic love”  is invoked? The deathless (if you can call it that) Romeo and Juliet,  isn’t it? But yet, remember the envoi from that play –


For never was there a tale of more woe

Than that of Juliet, and her Romeo.


It isn’t a love story, except in the shallowest of ways. It’s a story of two unformed teenagers and their infatuation and obsession with one another. This is something that ends badly for literally everybody, starting with the two young lovers themselves – and yet this is the ultimate romantic thing, something that is as firmly attached to the idea of romance as are red roses and chocolates and Valentine’s day (yes, I know. They’re just as shallowly symbolic…)

But there are many kinds of  love out there.

There is the bolt from the blue – the love at first sight, the instant attraction, the laying of eyes upon another person and – you know – just KNOWING that that person is The One, there will be nobody else ever ever ever, and then you just march down a well-trodden road, into wedlock, into bed, not necessarily in that order (depending on whether you’re doing Classic Fairy Tale or Urban Contemporary). The attraction that perpetuates the species – and it’s the fairy tale love where the destined prince meets the destined princess and their eyes meet across a story and that’s that, game over, they they are on the Jumbotron camera kissing and oblivious to everything else around them.

There’s a concept coined back in 1979 by a psychologist by the name of Dorothy Tennov who wrote a book called “Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being In Love”. She uses the word to describe the being-in-love state of mind, a romantic attraction, all the way into obsession, into fantasies which may have little to do with the true state of affairs, into a desire to form and maintain a relationship with the object of that love (and have that love returned).

Other writers have chimed in with definitions, one being “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves intrusive, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation from the object of interest” (Albert Wakin and Duyen Vo, in a scientific paper, no less – look up “limerence” on Wikipedia and you’ll find the link to the PDF) or “an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object (LO) involving intrusive and obsessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation” (Lynn Wilmott, in her 2012 book Love and Limerence: Harness the Limbic Brain.

Limerence, in other words, is that heady act of falling in love and waiting for the person you love to return your affections. Limerence is when you are rushing about giving or receiving flowers, and cards, and soppy poetry, and gazing into each other’s eyes over candlelit dinners – the falling in love with love  scenario. And it’s good, it’s great, it’s what people gasp for, that’s why romance as a genre is such a global phenomenon, that’s why rom coms work, that’s why people like fairy tales with their happily-ever-after endings.

But much of this first-burst, heady, obsessive  love is left behind as a relationship deepens, left at the beginning. Many stories never go beyond the two people who are destined to be together falling in love. That’s enough, that’s sufficient, the rest – as a professor of mine at University was fond of saying, annoyingly, because it was never true – follows. You’re supposed to assume that this is at once the end of a story (they met they fell in love what else do you need) and the beginning of another, which you aren’t telling because life goes on.

And it’s that “life goes on” part that rarely gets addressed in stories, ones that sell, anyway. The part that doesn’t deal with the hearts-and-flowers limerent obsessions, but the part where “being in love” settles into just “loving”. Into a context where you see past the façade of your loved one, past the perfect camouflage and then beyond, deeper, into their flaws and the things they do that annoy you…and you still love them. The kind of love that made my mother’s earnest offering of “We’ve been married for 52 years” to my father’s hospice nurse so heartbreaking – because that was a love that had lasted half a century, cracks and stains and everything else included, two people who had shared a lifetime and who might not have been remotely “in love” with one another at the end but who nevertheless loved each other, understood each other, held a place in their lives for one another which was shaped so that THAT PERSON would fit in it. The kind of love I remember from the context of the two old people who lived next to my grandparents when I was a child – the wife died first, an old woman in her late eighties, and her last words to her ninety-some-year old husband were, “Don’t let me wait for you too long.” He died three days after she did. They had been married for almost three quarters of a century; existence without one another – without the solid bedrock of having that other person there, of sharing a life and a lifelong love – was incomprehensible, and impossible. And in some ways that is a far more intense statement than ever has been made by a young lover’s impassioned  declaration that it will last “forever”. The young lover doesn’t know that. These people, the people who were still holding onto the sentiment at the end of their lives, they lived it.

And all this, that’s just the romantic aspects of love, the coupling part, where you find a partner and you live life with someone beside you – which is a basic human instinct. What shall we say about other kinds of love? About the love between two friends, with nothing romantic in it but with all the devotion you can possibly think of? About the love between a parent and a child (and how it is possibly the greatest of all griefs to bury a child of your body before you can die first as you’re supposed to according to the natural way of things; there are people who never recover from something like that)? About the way that a beloved dog or cat can shred your heart into confetti when their too-short lives blaze and fall into ashes within the brackets of our own existence, about how you can still tear up at the memory of something cute or silly or brave or simply unique that some pet you once knew had done, years after those pets have left you?

About the love of country? About the love of faith? About the love of  a tree, or a house, or a book, or an idea?

One of the most incredibly powerful things about any human being – and therefore about any character you might create in a story – is their capacity to love. Find a reason for a character to love, and you give your reader a unique way of understanding that character from the inside. What that character loves, and how they love it, is a formative thing, a fundamental thing, and it is a window into that character’s soul. This is a great and powerful thing. Love well, and use it wisely.



New Worlds: The Etiquette of Names

28 April 2017 01:00 pm
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Posted by Marie Brennan

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Closing out the topic of names (at least for now), let’s dig into how they get used.

This is something I think Americans sometimes have trouble grasping, because our society has jettisoned a huge percentage of the etiquette of names. The speed with which we get on a first-name basis with one another is shocking by historical standards — assuming we don’t just start there right out of the gate. (Writing this post, I realized I don’t even know my neighbors’ last names, because we all introduced ourselves with first names only.) In many cases, the only gradation of formality we mark is whether you call someone by their actual name, or by a less formal nickname.

But in many times and places, including various parts of the world today, the given name is reserved for people with whom one is on fairly intimate terms: family members, maybe very close friends. For everyone else, or in non-private situations, you use something else.

In some cases this will still be their name, just a different component thereof. Where there are multiple given names, one may be for private use (for example, a childhood name), the other for public (the name taken at adulthood). If the society has family names, those commonly get used for more formal address. The difference between forms of address can convey a host of social cues that get lost if there’s no etiquette of names: two friends or sweethearts moving to a first-name basis is a watershed of intimacy, while a social superior calling an inferior by their given name can be a way of asserting their power. Meanwhile, a close companion suddenly addressing you by your family name could herald a sudden gulf of distance or hostility, while in a more hierarchical context it might be a way of conveying respect. (In the movie Hidden Figures, it’s a huge moment when the white manager addresses her black employee as Mrs. Vaughan, instead of Dorothy.)

Names often don’t operate on their own, either. In English men are formally addressed as mister/Mr., a term derived from “master.” The female equivalent was “mistress,” but over time it bifurcated into Miss and Mrs., the former indicating an unmarried woman, the latter a married one — a distinction that never got made for men. Ms., derived from the same source, formerly enjoyed scattered usage as a way to address a woman whose marital status was unknown, but now it’s acquired currency as a way of ditching that question entirely. Several European languages follow a similar pattern (señor/señorita/señora; monsieur/mademoiselle/madame; Herr/Fräulein/Fräu) — if you happen to know of one that marks the marital status of men, please do share!

Other forms of address differentiate based on rank. As the “master”/”mistress” example implies, even today’s routine etiquette has its origins in those gradations; “sir” and “madam,” which we now deploy to be polite to just about anybody, used to be much more restrictive. (But don’t get confused; “sirrah” was used for inferiors, not equals or superiors.) In Japanese neither marital condition nor gender factor in — men and women alike are -san in basic address — but there’s a host of other honorifics that mark status, like -sama (formerly used for lords; now used much more widely to convey deference), -sensei (not “teacher” so much as a term of respect that gets used for teachers, doctors, and other noteworthy figures), -senpai (a senior student or someone in a comparable position to you), all the positional titles within a company, and more.

Going back to English, there’s a whole complex framework of etiquette around addressing nobility of different ranks: this one is a “my lord” or “your lordship,” but that one is “your Excellency” and this other one is “your Grace.” Ascribed virtues take the place of names. Furthermore, personal names often vanish in that context, replaced instead by estate names; William Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, could be addressed and referred to as Lord Hartington. Even to his good friends, he might just be Hartington, or possibly Cavendish, but rarely if ever William, Will, or Bill — at least to anyone other than his immediate family members.

Speaking of family, sometimes that can also take the place of names. Many cultures around the world eschew the use of personal names within a family, seeing it as more respectful to use kinship terms. In English we do that a little bit; very few of us call our parents by their names, and if a grandparent’s or aunt’s/uncle’s name gets used, it’s usually prefaced by the appropriate term: Grandma Nell, Uncle Fred. But extensions of that principle that sound natural in other languages — younger sister, elder brother, second cousin, etc — sound clunky in English because we don’t have specific terms for those relationships, just adjectives we can tack on when we need to make distinctions. Then there’s Arabic, where an adult may be addressed as the father or mother of their child (Abu Mazen/Umm Mazen). And, of course, kinship terms can be used as honorifics, their literal meaning discarded; in some societies any elderly man or woman is a grandfather or grandmother to a respectful stranger, and sometimes the middle-aged are similarly aunts and uncles.

Several people in the comments on an earlier post shared anecdotes about running into trouble when they tried to replicate this kind of thing in fiction. It’s true, the shifts between names can be difficult for a reader to follow; when I first picked up Dorothy Dunnett’s historical novel The Game of Kings, it took me a while to really internalize that Lymond, Mr. Crawford, Francis, and the Master of Culter were all the same person. (Estate name, family name, given name, and title as heir to the Barony of Culter.) But the flip side is that once I had internalized it, the shifts between those names added power to the story: someone referring to the protagonist as Francis was as good as shooting off a rocket to signal that the character speaking had a particular relationship to him. The intimacy of a nickname (which I understand figures heavily in Russian literature), the formality of a title, the reminders of familial structure encoded in a kinship term — those all add to the story.

So while including them creates a variety of challenges, I’m in favor of more people tackling those challenges, figuring out how to present them so the reader gets trained in the necessary habits of thinking. Even just the basic etiquette of given name vs. family name + title is something we see very little of anymore.

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27 April 2017 10:54 pm
yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)
[personal profile] yhlee
Joe and I did not realize that the anime Fate/Zero was a prequel to Fate/stay night, thus leading to a brief WTF??? when we hit the ending of the former. Can anyone who's familiar with both tell us without being too spoilery, in general terms, whether Fate/stay night is as, um, traumatic and Nightmare Fuel-laden as Fate/Zero?

P.S. We also did not realize it was an Urobutcher show when we completely randomly picked it to watch. HA HA HA HA HA the more fool us.
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Posted by Fred Clark

Rayford Steele gets a thrill from the idea that he is living in “the most cataclysmic period in the history of the world.” That thrill — which plays a big role in the allure of Rapture-mania Christianity — comes from the idea that this makes him special, that it makes his life more meaningful than it might otherwise seem. That attitude only makes sense from an extremely self-centered perspective: Sure, the apocalypse means widespread suffering and death, but it makes MY life more significant, so on balance that’s a plus.
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Posted by News Editor

Alternative Truths

BVC member Phyllis Irene Radford and her collaborator Bob Brown announce that their anthology, Alternative Truths from B Cubed Press, launched this morning with best-selling numbers on

“In true American tradition, we lampoon our politicians – particularly those with overblown egos. And our current President has an ego big as – well, a wall. His own staff member provided the inspiration for this anthology when she used the term “alternative facts.”

Since the President won’t come to the correspondent’s dinners, we’re bringing it to you. Alternative Truths is a collection of twenty-four stories by authors specializing in genres from political commentary to science fiction and fantasy. Once started, it’s impossible to put down. The topic of prevarication is addressed in manners from humorous to deadly serious. Contexts range from the past to dystopic futures. The collection is powerful, provocative, and in some cases – hopefully not precognizant.” R. Kyle


karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are planning to do a code push late this weekend, at approximately 8pm PDT / 11pm EDT / 3am UTC on Sunday, Apr 30 (or May 1 for you transatlantic types.).

I don't have a list of changes for you yet, but most will fall into the following categories: things users have complained about to support volunteers, things support volunteers have complained about to developers, things [staff profile] denise has complained about not working the way she expects them to (and as we all know, The Boss is Always Right), and things that were printing warnings over and over in the production server logs, making it hard to spot when less frequent, more urgent errors were being printed. Oh, and also all the unused code I ripped out at the roots, which if you notice that, I did it wrong.

To sum up: we are rolling out a bunch of requested changes, so thank you all for your feedback!

If you're new to Dreamwidth and interested in tracking our development process, our commit logs are published to [site community profile] changelog and [community profile] changelog_digest, and every month or so, one of our volunteers will translate those often-cryptic entries into witty, informative code tours! The most recent one was published on April 1, so we're about due for a new one. Hint, hint.

We'll update here again to let you know when the code push is imminent!

The Americans 5.08

27 April 2017 09:22 pm
selenak: (Claudia and Elizabeth by Tinny)
[personal profile] selenak
I'm currently at a conference, thus can only be online very rarely. Sorry for delayed replies etc. Anyway, onto the 80s and their spies.

Read more... )
naraht: (other-Deborah)
[personal profile] naraht
Picked this up in Oxfam, having seen the original French version recommended in language learning forums. (Someday...)

I hadn't heard of Marguerite Yourcenar before this, but she have been a sort of Belgian Mary Renault. Mid-century female writer, bisexual, spent most of her life living abroad with a female partner, wrote historical novels about gay men in the ancient world. (New Yorker article about her)

Her style (or the translation, which was done by her partner) is self-consciously literary in a way that makes Mary Renault look like the middlebrow hack writer that she was. (Kidding, except in the sense that I'm not.)

And although I'm not that far through the book, she seems to have had a rather more humane outlook than Renault. An interesting read.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
East on Bloor, evening #toronto #theannex #bloorstreetwest #bloorstreet #evening

Walking across Bloor just east of Bathurst on Tuesday evening, I saw a perfect scene of a cyclist wheeling east under a sky very nearly electric blue in colour. Happily, I had a camera with me to preserve this scene.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
TFW you calculate that the Venus Equilateral Relay Station probably had decades if not more than a century's worth of breathable air for the 3000 people on board.
spiralsheep: Evil commandeers the costume budget (chronographia Servalan Evil Costume)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- A Fete Worse Than Death poster for amateur dramatics and, seen opposite on the verge, ding-dong the wellie is dead.

A Fete Worse Than Death poster for amateur dramatics, Worcestershire 04-17

Ding-dong the wellie is dead, Worcestershire 04-17

- Reading, books 2017: 34

14. Christopher and Columbus, by Elizabeth von Arnim, 1919, novel. The heroines are vacuous and spoiled 17 year old junkerbrats who can't even recognise their own possessions without a maid (both vacuousness and spoiledness being faults inflicted on the teenage girls by their parents, obv), and their selfish thoughtlessness leads to them carelessly ill-using the possessions of other people who aren't in an economic position to constantly replace stolen or damaged items such as hairpins and nail-scissors, so I didn't warm to them as protagonists despite the many amusing observational moments. (2/5 off to the charity shop)

• Because I always quote these examples of changing usages 1: It was terrible to see Uncle Arthur very nearly gay, and both his wife and the twins were most uncomfortable. "I wonder what's the matter now," sighed Aunt Alice to herself, as she nervously crumbled her toast.

• Hmm: they were more than ever convinced that nothing in the way of unfriendliness or unkindness could stand up against sun and oranges.

• "Young gurl, you may be a spiritualist, and a table-turner, and a psychic-rummager, and a ghost-fancier, and anything else you please, and get what comfort you can out of your coming backs and the rest of the blessed truck, but I know better. [...]"

• Because I always quote these examples of changing usages 2: Houses have their expressions, their distinctive faces, very much as people have, meditated Mr. Twist the morning of the opening, as he sat astride a green chair at the bottom of the little garden, where a hedge of sweetbriar beautifully separated the Twinkler domain from the rolling fields that lay between it and the Pacific, and stared at his handiwork; and the conclusion was forced upon him - reluctantly, for it was the last thing he had wanted The Open Arms to do - that the thing looked as if it were winking at him. / Positively, thought Mr. Twist, his hat on the back of his head, staring, that was what it seemed to be doing. How was that? He studied it profoundly, his head on one side. Was it that it was so very gay? He hadn't meant it to be gay like that.

• LOL widows: descriptions of the dreadfulness of the early days of widowhood, when one's crepe veil keeps on catching in everything - chairs, overhanging branches, and passers-by, including it appeared on one occasion a policeman.
The Chicago evening papers, prompt on the track of a sensation, had caused her friends much painful if only short-lived amazement by coming out with huge equivocal headlines:

The Best Part of Writing

27 April 2017 06:08 am
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Posted by Nancy Jane Moore

working writerMany a writer I know claims that the best part of writing is rewriting – going back through the piece and making it work.

Others hold out for writing the first draft. I think that is particularly true for those of us who define ourselves as pantsers. The fun part is figuring out what the story is, which we usually do by writing it.

But the other day I figured out my real favorite part of writing: The thinking part.

I was lying in bed, and began to work out in my head how a story was supposed to work. I got it figured out, and then I got up, made coffee, fed cats, had breakfast, and sat down at the computer. It was like pulling teeth to get myself to write it up.

I’m not a lazy lie-abed. I walk everywhere, partly because I frequently do great thinking while walking. Often I create a complete scene and repeat it to myself enough to remember it.

Then I get where I’m going and confront the reality that I have to write the damn thing down.

Figuring the story or the essay out is the fun part. Everything else is work.

Back in the distant past, before alphabets and paper, the storytellers and thinkers did the work in their heads and then told them to others. I’m sure there was work involved with that as well – I suspect they practiced and that they refined their stories and lectures over time – but it was work done mostly in one’s head.

But then the Sumerians – as I recall it – came up with writing things down, and since then we’ve had to struggle with the work of writing. Since humans are inventors, we’ve created a plethora of writing and publishing tools over time, leading up to today’s amazing world in which we have machines and software that can do almost everything.

Most writers have strong opinions about writing tools. Some only write with fountain pens on legal pads. Others swear by word processing software of the past – Word Star or Word Perfect. I’m sure there are a few writers who still use a typewriter.

A lot of people use the latest fancy writing software. Scrivener gets the most praise these days. It apparently has places for storing your research and saving your chapters separately (which probably works better for outliners than it does for pantsers).

Me, I use a reasonably current version of MS-Word, partly because that makes it easy to send the story out to beta readers and editors and partly out of inertia. It works. I used to save everything in RTF back when some operating systems did not speak kindly to others even when both purportedly ran Word, but these days I find that anything saved as a doc file can usually be opened by someone else.

I gave up writing by hand as soon as I learned to type, replaced my old manual typewriter with a correcting electric one when I could afford it, and got my first computer for writing purposes in 1983. But right now I’m fine with basic Word once I remember how to take out the automatic grammar correct (which is usually wrong) and automatic spelling correct (which is usually right but distracting) and just write.

I might try Scrivener or one of its kin if I do a nonfiction project where I’m going to want to keep close watch on my sources for the bibliography and footnotes. But for most stories and essays, basic word processing suffices.

But it still doesn’t solve the pesky problem of having to write the damn stuff down.

I suppose I could try dictating. The software that translates dictation to the written word has improved over the years. But that still involves translating the ideas from my mind into sentences with punctuation and proper grammar.

When is someone going to come up with an app that takes my thinking directly from my brain and puts it on the page? That’s the writing tool I want.


rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Underneath #toronto #bathurststreet #davenport #tunnel #night

Walking part of the way home tonight, heading south then west from St. Clair West, I passed by this mural on the rail underpass on Bathurst just north of Dupont.

Writing and depression

26 April 2017 07:26 pm
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
I don't think I have anything new to say about writing and depression, but I'm struggling with it right now and trying to reboot myself out of it, so I thought I'd talk about that.

For anyone who's new here: I have bipolar I, which means that I spend significant periods of time depressed. I also cycle very quickly sometimes, so I can go from elated to suicidal within a single day or the course of hours. Needless to say, besides sucking in its own right, it makes writing, which I think of as a somewhat neurosis-inducing career [1], an additional challenge.

[1] I am pretty sure there are non-neurotic writers out there! But I am literally, professionally diagnosed crazy, and I have spent time in the psych ward for suicide attempts, so...

When writing gets hard, it comes down to routines. Writing is easy when it's a fire in the mind and the words blaze to be let down on paper (or typed into the computer, or whatever--I write both longhand and on a computer depending on my mood or the particular project). But inspiration is completely unreliable, especially when depression comes calling.

My routine goes something like this. Note that I don't claim that this works for everyone! Just this is what I do, and it more or less works for me. Sometimes better than others.

1. Get out of bed. Sometimes this is the hardest step.

2. Get food into myself. I have this rule that no writing happens until I have eaten something, even an oatmeal packet. Bodies are weird (or anyway, mine is! maybe yours is perfectly fine :p). If my blood sugar drops, I turn into a depressed suicidal wreck. I find this completely maddening considering that I'm overweight so you'd think that I could survive for a couple extra hours off fat reserves, but nope! Not so lucky. So I try to remember to eat at intervals. Even so, there's this period in the late afternoon/early evening where I usually have to take a break from writing no matter when I started because my blood sugar is too low for me to concentrate. (This is usually because I'm trying to time dinner to be convenient for my husband and daughter. If it were just me, I would eat smaller meals every four hours and that might work better.)

3. Get exercise. Sometimes I skip this, but I read somewhere that you should try to do the most important things first in your daily routine. I figure exercise is more essential than writing, or anyway, it should be higher priority. Also, I sort of cheat in that right now I'm mostly doing the world's wimpiest exercise biking, on a bike that has a built-in desk, and I use that time either to do reading (right now I'm beta reading for someone, for instance), or write fanfic. I could even use that time to do work-writing rather than fanfic-writing. It all depends.

4. Get shower. Because I am so wimpy, even wimpy exercise-biking leaves me drenched in sweat.

5. Make tea. I allow myself one cup of caffeinated tea a day. Right now that's a Republic of Tea black tea flavored with almond, which honestly I don't like all that much--I tried it out of curiosity and discovered the almond flavor didn't agree with me. So when the tin runs out I'll switch it for some other black tea. After that runs out, I start making herbal teas instead. Too much caffeine can trigger mania or hypomania, or just generally screw with my sleep (and screwing with sleep can mess with bipolar cycling--it's a whole Thing), so I try to not to overdo it.

6. Settle in to write. I turn on iTunes, set the whole thing to Shuffle, and attempt to write at least one sentence/song. Most songs are pop/rock songs of 3-4 minutes. This is not a recipe for blazing fast writing. What it is, is conditioning. My brain gets the idea that every time we switch to a new song, I should get back in gear and get writing. My philosophy is that slow and steady wins the race. I don't produce words particularly fast--I know there are fast writers out there, but I'm never going to be one of them. But I do believe that accumulating words a little at a time consistently will also work.

One of my problems is low morale, and a related problem is being intimidated by high goals. So I set low goals. One sentence during a song of that length is eminently doable. In fact, spurred by one thought, I usually end up writing more than one sentence. And that's good! Likewise, when I am at my most depressed--when I can barely string two thoughts together, or when I feel like everything I have ever written is completely worthless, I set my goals very low. As in 250 words/day low. These days I have novels to write so I can't do that forever, but even 250 words/day is better, in terms of sustaining momentum, than 0 words/day. It's simple mathematics. If you write 250 words/day, you can eventually write a novel, even if it takes you a while. Whereas with 0 words/day? You'll never get there.

This is not to say that you should never take a break! I have 0-word days. Weekends are usually dead time because I have family obligations. Sometimes the depression is just too much to deal with. But there is a difference between occasionally taking a break, and never writing. The latter is what I seek to avoid.

In the meantime: what helps you when you're dealing with doubt or depression? Tell me one thing you like about your own writing, if you like. :)
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Posted by Fred Clark

The Trump administration today released a slap-dash, vague, one-page document on the subject of "Tax Reform." It offers little in the way of details, just a series of somewhat-connected bullet-points relating to this general theme. This is not a plan or a proposal, but a wish-list of the various -- and often contradictory -- ingredients that Trump's various advisers might want to see should such a plan or proposal ever get written. But, hey, if a loosely related series of bullet points is good enough for the White House, then it's good enough for me.

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