The other day I went to Barnes and Noble and the unthinkable happened…
I didn’t buy a book.
I went to the bookstore and I didn’t purchase any books. Not even one that I thought looked cool but knew deep in my soul I would never read….a.k.a a quarter of the books currently in my possession.
I went home with nothing.
Once or twice my attention was stolen by an intriguing premise but ultimately I would place them back on the shelf, forgotten.
I couldn’t figure it out.
I have been a reader my whole life. Why was I suddenly feeling so indifferent to literature. Why couldn’t I experience the same level of excitement that I normally feel while lurking around a bookstore? Why did I feel so apathetic about the whole enterprise?
I’ve given it some thought and I think I have come up with a semi-rational explanation for my sudden reading slump.
This will seem like a shallow and potentially absurd complaint but…it felt like every book I came across was trying too hard to change my life.
When I read the dust jacket of all these lovingly crafted tales, most of them were imploring me to let them teach me about the human condition or understanding life and love and….I wasn’t interested.
That was it. That was the problem.
I didn’t want to be molded into a better human being.
I didn’t want to have my world-view reshaped. I didn’t want to have all the ills of the world revealed to me or have some nihilistic hippies wax poetic about the futility of existence.
I wanted to have fun reading.
That’s not to say I never like a transformative reading experience or that books with poignant messages don’t have their place, but every so often I just want to read.
I want to retreat into a fictional world for a couple of hours and have it not mean anything.
I want to laugh and cheer and get excited purely for the sake of it and not because it “starts a conversation” or “it’s bringing awareness to something” but because it brings me joy. Maybe I will forget about it later on in life since it gave me no permanent message to cling to, but it will have brightened my day, or week, or even month.
Is that so wrong?
Am I a pleb for having a desire to escape from the intellectual questions of our time in favor of placing a metaphorical ice-pack upon my throbbing nerves?
If it is, maybe I don’t want to be right.
Hell, I didn’t become a reader because I was interested in changing the world. I did it because it allowed me access to worlds I would otherwise have no entrance to, meet people I normally couldn’t.
Not every reading experience has to be meaningful.
Sometimes all I need is a vacation from reality.
If any of you have recommendations for a good read I am all ears.
Disclaimer: I have not seen, nor do I plan on seeing Peter Rabbit. My opinions are entirely based off of information I obtained from reading articles online detailing the scene and it’s execution (no pun intended). If you have seen the movie yourself and would care to share your opinion on how this particular instance was portrayed in the article I have linked in this blog post, please feel free to do so and correct any misconceptions I may have.
I never thought I would write about Sony’s ‘Peter Rabbit’ movie simply because nothing about it intrigues me. It seems like just another paltry cash-grab from the perpetually idea-starved Hollywood. The jokes are flat, the demeanors of the rabbits are nothing like their book counterparts, and it is doubtful the production team have any interest in giving the classic story the dignity it deserves.
And yet here I am writing about it, not in order to give my opinion on the film itself as I still have no desire to watch James Corden and his ilk leave rabbit pellets on my childhood, but to give my two cents on the latest controversy.
One revolving around a scene that transpired between the bunnies and Mr. McGregor.
“A human character named Tom McGregor is allergic to blackberries. In a quest to gain access to his garden, rabbits pelt him with fruits and vegetables before using a slingshot to send a blackberry flying into his mouth. It works. Mr. McGregor struggles to inject himself with an EpiPen and then has anaphalaxis and collapses”
And, for once, I can sort of get behind the whole outrage machine. I should likely reserve judgement until I’ve seen the film myself, however from what I’ve read it seems pretty clear.
Peter Rabbit is a a goddamn psychopath.
He essentially tried to murdera man onscreen.
Of course people are angry about this. It makes complete sense why so many would want to see this pulled out of cinemas. If I was a parent, I-
“I’m pretty sure Beatrix Potter will be turning in her grave about now,” Ms. Rose, who lives outside Guildford in Surrey, England, said in an interview on Facebook Messenger. “Allergies are often not taken seriously enough anyway. To have them trivialized on the big screen by such a popular character is immensely disappointing.”
Mr. Mendez said in an open letter to the moviemakers that they should not mock food allergies, which are often life-threatening.
“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger,” it said.
So let me get this straight….people aren’t angry that a beloved bunny from a timeless classic tried to commit homicide to raucous applause by his peers. They are mad because it trivializes food allergies…..
THAT is what you took from that scene? Not the fact that it grotesquely depicts a man’s air passages slowly constricting until he collapses from lack of oxygen and is presumed dead?
An adorable bunny in a blue waistcoat with an English accent attempted first-degree murderin a kid’s film and it’s portrayed as a joke! Get some perspective!
Would you feel better if he’d used a garden hoe to decapitate McGregor, or would that be offensive to the children of impoverished farmers?
Seriously, it doesn’t surprise me so much what offends people so much as why it offends them.
People being white middle-class women with a “can I speak to your manager?” haircut.
I understand food allergies should be taken seriously and to be complacent with a sufferer’s diet could have disastrous consequences. Nonetheless, the way these women carry on about people with food allergies make it sound like they’re some sort of protected class that has endured centuries of persecution.
Was there a food allergy holocaust I wasn’t aware of?
Were children with food allergies sent to do slave labor in peanut butter factories until they swelled up like Viola Beaugarde?
I realize I’m being flippant here, but it just fascinates me that people can stray so far from the point. They have something they could be justified in having a problem with, and they focus more on the method in which the attempted murder was carried out than the fact that a murder was attempted at all.
Or at the very least they could make an argument that what he did was very mean-spirited and shouldn’t be praised as being funny. That line of thinking actually makes sense and argues that it’s teaching kids to be dicks to one another. At least that’s a somewhat reasonable claim.
But nope, it’s aaaaall about the food.
There’s even a hashtag circulating meant to bring awareness to food allergies as a result of this film.
Look, we get it. Food allergies are serious. But not everything needs an awareness campaign.
Yes, they made light of something horrible and I would argue that it may have been misplaced in a kid’s film.
However, if you’re that worried about it, I don’t know, maybe talk to your children about it instead of getting into fights with random strangers on the internet.
At the end of the day, it’s just another pointless cog (or hashtag) in the outrage machine. We can only pray that this movie scandal, like many before it, will be quickly overlooked in favor of another overblown whine-fest courtesy of the maternal internet users of the Western World.
Article: Sony Apologizes for ‘Peter Rabbit’ Movie’s Allergy Scene by Jacey Fortin
Truth be told, I probably could have updated this blog a long while ago but I didn’t want to because I have not been satisfied with the content I’m working on. As of this writing, I currently have five blog posts in my drafts folder and two short stories I want to post.
Over the past few months I have been planning, writing, and editing blog posts only to immediately delete them due to their rambling nature.
I still have strong opinions.
I’m just trying to articulate them in such a way that is palatable for the masses.
……Or at least for the handful of friends that read and enjoy this blog.
I know perfection isn’t a thing and I should just bite the bullet and get this crap out there to be read, but what is a writer without ego? I need to feel as if I’ve done my best work for that particular project and I haven’t been getting that feeling from anything I’ve been producing thus far.
So don’t worry if you’re worried…. which you’re probably not because you have a life and aren’t concerned about whether or not some random stranger on the internet is posting content in an already overly-saturated market of media.
But yeah. More content is coming and I’m doing my damndest to make sure it gets out there soon…ish.
It’s in the works! Book reviews, some personal essays, stories, it’s all coming!
Is there anything quite as beautiful as writing the first draft of a story?
Every moment is primed with intrigue, wonder, and mystery.
You just paint everything on the metaphorical canvass as you see it in your mind’s eye. Ideas pour forth from you like a soda fountain filled with Mentos
You pat yourself on the back for every clever line, every twist and turn, every unique character.
Then, once the dust has settled, you must look back on your writing….
And realize that literally everything is horrible.
There are plot-holes everywhere, nobody’s motivation makes sense, the action is either too slow or too fast, the plot is too predictable or disjointed. The list goes on and on.
The worst part is realizing you’re actually going to have to fix this crap.
All it takes for your hard work to be torn asunder is the word “why.”
Why didn’t they just do this? Why didn’t they do that? Why didn’t he ask her this? Why didn’t she stay at home instead?
You will have to answer these questions and many, many more 😀
Not only that, but you may have to remove some of your favorite sequences in order for the new continuity to make sense. That means hacking away at that razor sharp dialogue and those gorgeous descriptions, leading you to meander down a road rife with uncertainty.
Well…you could ask someone to be your beta reader and get their opinion, but then they may question your literary genius.
You can’t have that.
But really there’s nothing for it.
It’s just another stumbling block on the road to success, or, as is often the case with writing, another mine in a minefield of never-ending despair and disappointment.
Perhaps in between drafts you should take a break. Let it sit for a while and then come back to it when it’s had time to cool. Then you can turn your keen eye to the festering pile of dung that is your first draft with a clear perspective and can dispose of it accordingly.
Regardless, I think this may be one of the hardest parts of writing. Besides… everything else.
Perhaps I’m just whingeing over semantics here, but I had to get this off my chest.
When I purchased the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s book on short stories I was very excited. Not only am I a fan of Gaiman’s writing, I am also a big fan of his narration. His dulcet tones and faint English accent make him a perfect narrator.
I was preparing myself for another boring day of organizing charts upstairs at the dermatology clinic where I worked and I needed something to listen to in order to keep the monotony from reducing my brain to yogurt.
So I placed the charts on a table, plugged in my earbuds, and I began to listen.
Gaiman gave a perfect introduction into this collection, explaining how he’d come to discover the term “trigger warning.” He conceded that, while trigger warnings may be well intentioned, sometimes we need to read things that make us uncomfortable, that force us to ponder imponderable things, see the world in darker hues.
He warned us readers (or listeners in this case) that what we were about to read would likely disturb us.
I listened for several hours, nearly finishing the book in it’s entirety during a single shift. It was interesting, imaginative, captivating, visceral, everything a book should be. However, there is one thing that it was not: triggering.
I loved the stories, loved the narration, but I kept listening with a growing sense of expectation. Is this the story that’s going to trigger me? Is this the story that’s going to challenge my preconceptions about life and put me on a 2001: A Space Odyssey styled journey to self-discovery?
The answer to that would be a nope.
Again, I loved the stories, in fact I consider this the best short-story collection I’ve ever read.
But with a title like Trigger Warning you expect something a little more…triggering. That’s not to say they weren’t disturbing. There are stories with murder, revenge, cannibalism, monsters, stalking, etc. They’re horrifying and dark with lovely twists and turns, but nothing I wasn’t expecting from something written by Gaiman.
And they were not what I was advertised.
Now, it’s not Gaiman’s responsibility to make sure that I, specifically, have all of my desires met. He is perfectly entitled to write what he wants and I believe he he does an excellent job of it.
However, let me explain why I was a bit disappointed.
There has, I think, been a shortage of books and stories in recent years that truly push the envelope. Books and stories that challenge ideas and behaviors that we see routinely in our day-to-day lives.
In our new easily-offended world there are any number of taboo subjects that deserve to be explored, but it would seem as if no one has the nerve to tackle them in a literary capacity in a long while, lest someone get their grandma panties in a wad.
I was hoping that Gaiman, in his uniquely stylized way, would touch upon such subjects or, at least, ignore the restraints that these perpetually offended people insist writers use. Nonetheless, there wasn’t much in his book that would truly “trigger” someone, provided that person doesn’t live in a perpetual state of duress.
I just wanted something a little more challenging. I wanted Gaiman to approach the likes of Lovecraft or King and throw down the gauntlet, saying, “No, gentlemen, this is scary.”
I’ve read a handful of the Sandman comics, I know what he’s capable of.
I only wish he’d gone balls-to-the-walls the way he did with that series.
Earlier this month, a parent voiced concerns to the school board about racial slurs in both of the novels.
“Right now, we are a nation divided as it is,” the mother is heard saying in an audio recording of the meeting on Nov. 15. She tells the board that her biracial son, a high school student, struggled getting through a page that was riddled with a racial slur.
“So what are we teaching our children? We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by any means,” the parent said.
To those that have taken it upon themselves to suspend these novels, I have one question:
You have read these books, right?
The complaint seems to be that reading the N-word makes people feel uncomfortable. Well, here’s the thing: It’s supposed to.
You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable when you see someone being marginalized in these books. You’re supposed to feel indignant when a man who never did anything wrong is convicted for a crime just because he’s black. You’re supposed to feel angry, sad, sick, etc when you read the N-word.
Furthermore, just because a book has something in it, that doesn’t mean the book is in support of that thing.
For instance, The Dovekeepers has genocide in it. Does that mean it’s saying genocide is a good thing? OF COURSE NOT!!!
Tess of D’Urbervilles has rape in it. Is the author saying sexual assault is okay? NO!!
The entire point of both novels, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is that racism is wrong. That it’s morally reprehensible. That no one should subscribe to this way of thinking.
It’s so glaringly obvious that I’m genuinely bewildered as to how anyone could possibly miss that.
But it seems as if these people don’t want to look at the big picture. They simply want to obsess over details instead.
Apparently if you don’t read about racism, evaluate offensive language, or discuss why it’s wrong to make judgments about others based on skin color, our checkered past will magically go away and we’ll have always been an accepting society.
Who would have thought it?
Maybe we should ban The Diary of Anne Frank and other books about the Holocaust too because those kinds of books could teach people to be Anti-Semitic.
Can you name one person, one solitary person, who was inspired to become a bigot by reading To Kill a Mockingbird? One single soul? Do you know anyone who has read this book and thought “huh, racism seems pretty cool, now that I think about it.”
I can see a true racist being indifferent to it or claiming it’s propaganda, but I cannot name anyone who has read To Kill a Mockingbird or Huck Finn and decided to become a member of the KKK.
If you have, send me a photograph of this person. I want to see them. I want to put them on Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. I want them to be poked and prodded by scientists in a laboratory because this sort of thing does not happen.
I wonder if Harper Lee or Mark Twain ever thought that their books would one day be banned by people who are against racism.
Someone please resurrect Mark Twain so he can write another book about how stupid people are in the 21st Century. I would read it so fast I would tear through it like tissue paper.
If you have perused a YA section of a bookstore in the last three years, then you’ve likely come across the cover of a fairytale reimagining.
Perhaps one book tells the story of Cinderella, a valiant warrior, who loses her magical boot in the middle of a battle and an infatuated warlord must return it to her. Or maybe another centers around a wolf-hunter named Red who falls in love with a werewolf that killed her father, the huntsman.
Regardless, I once thought reimagining fairytales was a creative thing to do.
I loved Wicked in my tween and teen years and all the interesting questions it posed about how history can be biased towards the victor.
But it seems like there’s been an overload of “new” fairy tales in the last few years and it’s made me question if most of them are even truly necessary.
Are most of these books actually trying to improve upon or modernize great stories, or are they just using fairytale references as a crutch to make a quick buck because they don’t think these novels could stand on their own?
In truth, it depends on the book.
If there are nods to the classics here and there, it’s tolerable. However, if it follows the exact same path as it’s predecessor, just with more feminism and modern sensibilities, then it becomes predictable and a drudgery to get through.
Because we already know what’s going to happen.
I think the creative drought in pop culture also feeds into this crisis. The publishing and film industry are so paranoid about losing money that they are just rehashing stories that they know work. Fairytales have been around for centuries so, in theory, stories that feature classic characters should turn a profit.
I’m not saying we should completely do away with reimaginings. Maybe we could just take a break from them for a decade or so and come back to them later.
Perhaps writers could create their own warrior princesses that have absolutely nothing to do with any previous fairytale.The princess could have a sentient sword or a best friend that was turned into a battle stallion or something. Maybe she could fight her wicked stepfather for a change.
It’s been over a week since I’ve updated this blog and I’ve been feeling guilty about neglecting it. I would use the excuse that I’ve been busy (and I have), but more than that, I’ve been emotionally rung out (haven’t we all) and I didn’t trust myself to use this medium without making it all about my thoughts and opinions about the events that have been taking place in my country.
I didn’t want to talk about politics because a) you probably don’t care about my politics and b) that’s not what this blog was intended for.
As turbulent and scary as the events of the last few days have been, they have assisted me in getting where I want to be with my writing. It’s easier to retreat into a shell and concentrate on a fictional world of your own design when people you love and care about are engaging in a verbal civil war.
I’ve absorbed myself in enough online articles and videos about the election that my brain finally cried “enough!” and demanded that I switch gears. There’s nothing I can do about the political climate. Time to put my focus on something I can control.
I can’t control what other people say or do or think or feel. However, I can control what I do and I’ve decided that I want to write my fiction, thank you very much.
For the next several weeks my primary focus will be on school, work, and my novel. Nonetheless, I will try to update more frequently.
I hope all of you are doing well no matter what side of the political aisle you stand on.
I suspected this day would come. I had just hoped I would be more ready for it.
I realized upon rereading the most recent draft of my latest project that I would not be able to do my characters justice in such a short amount of time.
If I want to tell the story and give it the emotional gut-punch it needs, I will have to increase the length and expand it into a full-length piece.
My original plan was to go big and then just chip away at it piece by piece until it was the right length. However, the longer I write the less likely that seems. The story keeps getting bigger and bigger, the characters have more and more to say. A measly 65 pages won’t suffice.
It has to be a novel.
But Rachael, you say, what’s wrong with a novel? After all, novels are what really make money.
Yes. But I am a painfully slow writer. It takes me, on average, two to three hours to write two pages and that’s if I know what I’m doing.
I expected to knock this bad boy out in a month or two. Now it will likely take me over a year.
You don’t understand how many projects I have planned already. Now they will be backlogged forever. Or at least until someone else comes up with the same idea I had and publishes it first.
I love writing this story, but….
I have another time travel story, a crazy writer story, and a fantasy story all waiting for me to return to them and here I am hacking away at this monster of a project.
Well, there’s nothing for it.
I need to get back to work on this thing, or who knows how long it will take for me to complete it.
For everyone else is NaNoWriMo. For me it’s OhMyGoHoAmIStOnThChMo– Oh My God How Am I Still On This Chapter Month.
Good luck on your projects, good reader. I will need it with my current endeavor.
I have been since I was a wee one, scribbling Fairly Oddparents fanfiction inside of a notebook on a long car ride home.
There have been freak instances when I’ve produced quality material during the daytime, but it usually involves having a magic talisman and whispering ancient languages into the wind while standing on a cliff in Ireland.
You wouldn’t understand.
Anyway, under most circumstances, if I attempt to make sweet literary love to my novels I usually wind up staring mindlessly at my screen. My brain liquifies and I just start thinking about the universe and politics and getting a job and all sorts of horrible things. I feel this sense of guilt like I should be doing something else. Like cleaning or cooking or paying those things…what are they called? Bills? Yeah, those.
However, during the night time it seems like everything just clicks. The guilt is gone, the apprehension is gone, the boredom of being trapped inside my own consciousness where no one can hear me scream is gone. I’m free to explore my mental domain. More importantly, I’m enjoying myself as I do it.
Sometimes I experience the same feeling when it is overcast and rainy outside.
What is this phenomenon? I wish I could say.
Does anyone else experience this issue, or is it just me?