Sunday, December 30, 2012

MSR ch 63: Show or Tell?

So, in chapter 63 ("Safe Side") of my story My Sister Rosalie (MSR) ...

Well, what the hell is going on in this chapter, anyway?

Rosalie has a (perennial) problem: Bella doesn't listen.

No, she just doesn't listen to what Rosalie is saying at all. Here's what Bella does: Rosalie says something, then Bella takes what Rosalie said, and says to herself, "How can I make what she said make me feel bad?"

This is classic Bella behavior, and you see it even, and particularly, here in this chapter.

So, Rosalie has talked and talked and talked for the last forty chapters, and Bella has taken everything Rosalie's said and pretty much beat herself up with every word.

Rosalie, of course, sees this, so what can she do?

Well, she tried direct experience by talking and acting out a little bit of a baseball game, but that so tremendously backfired that now Rosalie has a new rule for herself (that rule will be coming up in a chapter or few) regarding her now equal but still very captive ... well, what is Bella to Rosalie, anyway? Besides a 'hot bod' that gives her tingly sensations all over? Oh, mama!

And Bella's little shriek and blush-turn-away so did not affect Rosalie. At all. Mmhm.

But I digress.

So Rosalie can't tell Bella about things, because Bella just turns whatever Rosalie says into the self-blame game, and she can't demonstrate on Bella directly, because Bella then goes into a panic attack.

So Rosalie shows on herself.

Okay, but what is Rosalie showing? If she were just going for answering Bella's question exactly, it would be very simple: A-B-C, 1-2-3, and you're done, have a nice day.

Rosalie isn't answering Bella's question at all ... or, if she is, it's just an incidental part of what she's aiming for.

What is Rosalie aiming for?

Bella's happiness (as hard as it is to see here in this chapter).

That's what Rosalie is always aiming for.

'Why?' you ask.

My answer: 'shut up.'

The thing about happiness is this: if you're living a lie or in a lie, you really can't be happy, because you're deluding yourself and taking actions in and for that lie that just contribute to that, not to reality, and so not toward your own happiness. For example, you ask for directions to the gas station, and the person on the country road lies to you, you're going the wrong way, blithely unaware of it, until reality hits hard, and now you have an incredibly long walk before you even get to a telephone. If you had been told the truth, you would've gotten your gas and been on your merry way.


Bella is living a lie. According to Rosalie: everyone is living a lie.

Rosalie's seen the lie, she's seen it in how Bella behaves around Edward and how Bella's behaved around herself. She's seen it in her tryst with Edward, in her courtship with Royce, and in her parents, both the living ones and in Carlisle and Esme.

Rosalie wants to give Bella the whole deal. Not just the: 'Okay, kid, here's how you blow off steam so you can go through your day, being a part of the system that grinds you and everybody down,' but the: 'here is the system. Here is what it's telling you what you are.'

So, what's the system?

Oh, just look around you.

Okay, so that'll be the lie (with Rosalie's eventual explanation coming up).

What is Rosalie doing right here, right now?

Well, she's reenacting. What's she's reenacting is up to you. Here's a couple of possible scenarios.

  1. Edward and Rosalie are lovers, as Carlisle and Esme so hoped. Happily ever after (kinda). Yay!
  2. Rosalie's life is saved. Royce is out of the picture, and Edward comes to check up on Rosalie and restore some of her confidence that was shattered by Royce and his companions that she is desirable and that sex can be good and so holy fuck fun. But be with her, as in, 'Rosalie, you're shallow and cruel and heartless, I see that all in your mind [remember, Edward sees what he wants to in your thoughts, he could care less about what your vanity tells you that you're actually a nice person, because to him, you're not; ... nobody is] [except Carlisle and Esme], will you marry me because my pity fuck means I love you? ... not! Oh, and don't hold your breath standing by the telephone, because I'm so not calling you tomorrow.'

This chapter was very hard to publish, because it's just that. Just Edward fucking Rosalie, and Bella suffering through her fantasy of 'what it all means' which she gets so incredibly wrong that Rosalie is out-of-her-mind furious seeing Bella fall apart instead seeing the lie in every single moment of their trysting.

So this chapter was very damaging, and so now the damage control has to follow.

Ever notice that you have to apply a lot more effort into fixing something that's broken, instead of what you could've done, that is: make sure the thing didn't break in the first place.

Rosalie shows Bella through direct experience, because talking about 'hey, this is how you masturbate,' will only leave Bella embarrassed and confused, and since Bella is that way already, a talk would only make matters worse.  So Rosalie goes for show, not tell, to teach Bella about the ways of the world and its lies.

Rosalie? teach Bella about happiness? And broken, raped Rosalie teaching Bella about sexuality?

Rosalie may not be the best teacher in the world.

Just sayin'

Friday, December 28, 2012

Anonymous Reviews

Okay, confession time.

I really, really hate anonymous reviews.

And no, it's not because they are banal, those anonymous reviews I can deal with, but I rarely get banal reviews, as my story My Sister Rosalie (MSR) seems to demand from reviewers that somehow they have to step up their game if they want to dare to leave a review, even anonymously.

That's probably why I'm not 1K+ reviews by now. People are scared to review my story, even anonymously, so I applaud every person who does leave a review. It shows they have moxie and guts.

My kind of person. The kind of person I like to hang with. The kind of person I wish I were at times when I know I'm no such.

No, the primary reason I hate anonymous reviews, is that they ask questions, or implore in a request, or in some other way reach out to me.

And when a person reaches out to me, am I like other fanfiction author(ess)es (primarly), and simply say to myself, 'Huh, that's nice,' and leave that as that?

No, I've responded to every review, every PM, every 'favorite' marking, every 'following' marking. And surprised quite a few people. "geophf, why do you answer me when I've never received an answer from anybody else here?"

Oh, just because you've grown used to slights and rejection, you see that now as the norm? and you now expect that I'll be a callous bastard, too?

Oh, and I can be quite the callous bastard with jerks, vicious, even, just ask around. You give me or my characters any shit, and I'll give it back to you, doubled, and in spades.

But with an anonymous review, I don't get shit. Quite the opposite: I get insights and entreaties ... and. I. can't. answer. them!

So an anonymous reviewer said, 'please, please, please let Bella and Rosalie reconcile; it'd be a perfect birthday present for me!' and I do do that, but in two chapters, not instantly in one, so her next review for the interim chapter is 'WTF! I quit this shit fic!' and the very next chapter, if she had waited, would've given her the reconciliation she wanted, and then, even much more than that, and if she had had a ffn account, I could have explained that this would be coming in two chapters, and please be patient.

So now I've lost a reader, because she implores me to do something, and I do, but not in an instant coffee kind of 'and they magically lived happily ever after, because stupid fanfics provide instant gratification like that' way, but in a 'this is MSR, and you, and the characters have to earn every step forward that they dare to take, and sometimes these steps are hard, and sometimes people stumble, taking them,' slow brewed coffee kind of way.

That's MSR for ya, not all sugary lightness caramel macchiato coffee drink that costs you seven bucks and gives you stomach cancer and brain rot and kidney failure, but a strong triple espresso, that only the strong can drink, and then, in tiny sips, savoring the coffee, even in its bitterness.

Huh. Don't you put a slice of lime in espresso ... or lemon?


Or I get another kind of anonymous review that said ffn is all bad fics (yes), a few barely tolerable mediocre fics (yes), a handful of good ones (yes), a couple of greats (and more than a couple), and then there's MSR, that transcends greatness.

Okay. A couple of things. This reviewer felt shy leaving this review because they felt they were too unsophisticated to leave it?

How can I respond to this person and say that I'm not looking for sophistication; I'm looking for honesty, and heartfelt-ness helps, too.

And why do I have to have other people tell me how great, or how not, my writing is? Why do I need these reviews to determine what my self-worth is, to help to look forward, or to dread, writing that next chapter? After three years of silence, one of my readers, a self-proclaimed 'greatest fan,' wrote me a furious PM and asked what the fvck my problem was, and she said she wasn't calling me a liar, but three years, and no update for Book I, and a Book I title implies a Book II so where are the goods, asshat?

Why did it take the devotion of a fan for me to pick up my pen again, after three years of silence, when this story is in me, has been in me, complete from day one, and I knew it was good, and I knew it could touch people's hearts, but did I write? No. Why? Because I'm a little chicken sh-t, and at the end of chapter 55 ("Beautiful") I knew exactly where the story headed, and I couldn't afford the thought of publishing something that scares me, 'cause it gets dark for a whole book length before anything hopeful comes out of it.

But there was Rosalie, and there was Bella, and they decided to move forward with their own development, even without my consent. But they needed me to write and to write and to write for them to tell me, 'no, we're going our way, not your way, Mr. Control Freak.'

But I wouldn't write, not for three years, because I'm a scared little chicken-sh-t Bella.

But Bella is a scared little chicken-sh-t, dumb as a doornail about the world and its ways, but she tries, and cries, and tries again, and gives up, then finds the strength to move forward, even a tiny little step forward, which she immediately takes back, and falls back even further, because her self-worth is such that she doesn't believe that she deserves her advance toward her own happiness.

And the hilarious thing is, her happiness is in the happiness of others, and she takes it away from herself because she thinks she doesn't deserve it, and in doing that, she takes it away from everybody else in her life.

There's a lesson in there for me, I'm sure. And there's a lesson in there for you, too, if you're willing to take it on, and that is: step forward. Put yourself out there, and take that tiny little risk of reaching out, and letting others reach back to you. It'll hurt, a lot, when you get back not a cloak or a loaf of bread, but a spitting snake, but for every snake in the grass, there are one hundred people's lives better because you reached out, and they and their hearts are thanking you. And out of those one hundred, there are one, or two, or five people who dare to reach back, who dare to thank you. 'Tak' 'Danke' 'Merci' sometimes in languages you don't even know existed, but they are thanking you for reaching out and for letting them reach back to you.

You reach out to me in your review or your PM or your follow, but if you leave an anonymous review, I cannot reach back to you to thank you or to reassure you or to commiserate with you. And I am sadder for it. It makes it harder for me 'update soon' with a next chapter, that is hard enough to write in and of itself, when I'm sad that I've lost a reader because I can't reach back to her to tell her, 'not this chapter, but the next chapter, please be patient' or I can't thank a reader from changing my fic, in my mind, to a good BellaRose fic, to something that's transcendent for them, so doesn't that make my story intrinsically transcendent? And I walk around, all day, with this epiphany, and I can't thank you enough, nor even at all, because I can't reach back to do that.

Okay, back to writing. Good night, my sweet princes and princesses.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

MSR ch 60: a question of rape

In this chapter, Rosalie was in a pickle. Doing what she 'had' to do, and getting caught in the middle of that and destroying a human person that she's trying to save: Bella.

By raping her?

And Bella, finally, calls this out.

Yes, Bella pulled the r-card, but the parallel was so right there for her: Royce raped Rosalie, and now Rosalie is doing the exact same thing to Bella under nearly the exact same conditions. That's what she saw Rosalie was doing.

And, in fact, Rosalie was doing exactly that. Bella said 'please,' 'no' and 'stop' over and over again, and Rosalie just kept going, ignoring Bella's pleas to stop, just to prove a point.

The next question is ... well, the next chapter, there's that question: 'Why?' and then how does Rosalie answer Bella's question if not through direct experience (as that worked SO well, didn't it) and how does Bella recover, ... or is she recovering already?

I struggle with this. A girl is nearly r-aped, so ... how can she stand to be in the same room with the person, the monster, who that morning lost control and wouldn't listen to her?

Ick. Here we go.

The thing is, this is an issue of fiction, but this is an issue that so confronts us today. You're a teenager, and you're trying to find yourself and your place in the world ... fit in? stand out? And the sexual identity is so tied up with all of that, because who are you sexually?

When you're asking questions, you open yourself up, and in opening yourself up, you play games with it, flirting, discovering, having fun, trying to fit in, or trying to stand apart. And you also open yourself up to the possibility heart break and to getting hurt.

Bella isn't, in this story now, ready to face the questions of her sexually identity, and isn't ready to have them thrust on her right this very moment and given the choice right now, whether she wants to not.

But how many of us had to face the same choices, and give in quietly and not make a scene so you can be cool and fit in, even as your very being pays a price for that? Or to scream and to fight with all your might ... and still have to pay a price for that?

And how do we recover from a scar that nobody can see, but you see in everybody's eyes when they look at you? Rosalie asks herself that question: how do I go on? How do I get a new boyfriend, when he already knows I've been raped?

Bella now has do her own recovery, and do it sharing a one room cabin with the very monster that this morning forced herself on her.

How does she do that?

How do we?

An answer: understanding and forgiveness

One of my readers has already answered the above question in her own way. If Bella understands Rosalie in what she was trying, and failed, to do, then, that doesn't make it acceptable, ok, or cancel what Rosalie actually did but it can pave the path to forgiveness. Other thoughts about this chapter (after you've read it, of course)?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Short or long review?

Over time, I actually have written nearly a novel about reviews, but any review, positive, negative, short, or long, is very welcome from me.

For me, I find I can have a conversation with somebody who speaks from their heart, ... so, longer or shorter? I don't know. I don't care. Read a chapter. Does it touch you somehow? Did you like it? Did you hate it? What in the chapter touched you ... and why?

That ... writing that way ... can be really, really hard, because when you read about something that Bella's going through, or that Rosalie's going through, and it brings you right back to your moment in your life, or when your friend was hurt so badly in that way, well ... it's hard to confront that, and to talk about it.

I know. I know every chapter I write and publish.

But then ... if you aren't writing from the heart ... what's the point?

You know, some people write: 'Love this story! Update soon!' and that's all they can write, right now, and writing even that for them is a huge step in their lives. It's a very, very brave thing for them to step forward and write to somebody, me, who's writing their lives in plain English right out there for everybody to see, and they so open themselves up to my response, and what might that be? After all, I'm very hard on Bella in my writing, will I be hard on them?

And then, surprisingly, I thank them for their courage. And, eventually, I ask them ... 'What, specifically, did you love? Why?' Where were you laughing? crying? when you read this chapter, ... and why?

I ask myself these questions in every chapter I write: why am I crying and crying right now? Or if not, why am I skirting the truth? What am I afraid of, and why? Why am I not brave? Or, I WILL be brave here, and write from the heart, and publish this chapter, even though doing so scares me to death ... every time.

Yeah, I've died a lot.

And have been shocked when I'm not vilified, but actually honored and respected for opening my heart and sharing these things that break my heart or that I'm ashamed of, and I find I can live, and breathe, better, because I dared, and touched somebody else's heart.

But then, this is your review, your risk, your step forward.

Any review is a step forward, and any step forward is a good one, and even a stumble and fall is a good one. After all: you're living, and reflecting on what touched you and why.

So, dear reader, read my chapters, if you wish ... and review what touched you, if you wish!

... and welcome to the first step of the journey of living the examined life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On criticism and analyses

So, I've publish ch 56 and 57 of MSR since my last posting.

Some questions have come up by my readers in their reviews, and I've answered the reviewers directly, but I've come to find that sometimes people have the same or similar question, and answering it to one person does not allay the general concern.

So, I've decided for now, to offer some analysis on the chapters I publish as questions arise, and to publish my thoughts on ... well, these thoughts.

Hubris, I know. It treads the line of "I wrote it, so this is how I think you should read it." It does tread that line. You, as the reader, have the right to read, or not to read, what you read in what I write, and it may very well be a failing of conveyance on my part, and not of understanding or comprehension on yours.

So, there's the danger of hubris, but there's also the danger of safety, for me, in writing analyses. And the safety (the danger of safety) is two-fold. I'm making a statement of analysis, and who are you, as the reader, to gainsay what almighty I have stated. That's one danger. I've a very strong personality, and it's easy for me to say 'thus and so,' and it may be difficult for you to state an equally valid position that you have that I'm entirely blind to.

The other danger of safety is this: it's all so easy for me to glory in what I wrote and, on top of that, it's so easy to analyze that, instead of what I should be doing: writing that next chapter, and daring to publish it. Analysis, as an art, is consumptive. It's safe to say 'this writing is this style' or 'that style,' as the consumer: you are critiquing what is there. But if I as the writer, settle into the mode of a critic, then I'm not producing. It's safe to critique, because what is there has gone through that horrifying process of creation, then molded into something readable, and then the author has submitted that work for publication. All the hard work was done in the past, and the critic has the easy job of picking apart something that was oh-so-painfully put together.

This is not to say I do not appreciate every review. Because I do. Every one of them I have received (and I have also received some vitriolic ones). This diatribe is directed at myself, not at you: you are brave to write a review, as, on average, one in every thousand of my readers actually write a review, and most the reviews, I find to my delight and surprise, are substantive.

No, this post is a reminder to myself. I'm posting an analysis on what I wrote, AND my job, as a writer, is not to self-analyze my own work, Mr. Narcissist, but to write, and to write, and to write.

Let me tell you a secret. I hate writing. Every chapter I've written since chapter 12 and on, I've cried, sometimes in bits, over days and weeks, sometimes, continuously, over a stretch of hours at a time. I hate that. I wish, I so wish, that I were the reader of MSR, enjoying, pondering, anticipating each chapter, instead of being the writer, having all in my head already, and dreading each second I take thinking about putting words to paper, and then publishing those words, each one of them not quite what I wanted to be or to say, but there they are, now published, as I wait for the reviews that don't come, and for the reviews that I fear that will.

That doesn't matter. God gave me the gift of writing. And He won't asked whether I liked it or not. He'll ask what I did with that gift, and He'll ask me 'why' when I didn't.

So, analyses to follow.

And, yes, when I have the courage and fortitude to say 'yes' to the words, writing to follow, too.