Monday, April 29, 2013

A few of my favorite things ...

"... when the dog bites! when the bee stings! when I'm feeling low!
I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so low!"

So, what are your favorite chapters of My Sister Rosalie? I'll show you mine if you show me yours? Okay? Okay.

Okay, your turn. Tell me your favorite chapters, and why, in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is MSR Platonic?

I field this question occasionally.

"Hey, geophf, love your work [shameless self-plug], but is MSR platonic?"

Hm. Is MSR platonic?

Well, what, actually, is platonic love? Is it a love of mutual admiration entirely lacking in a sexual component? Is that what platonic love is?


'Platonic' love, originally, was when Plato, and his students ... effed young boys, so they could keep their minds off the local girls, so they could think about philosophy. "Platonic" love wasn't. It never was. Platonic love was very, very carnal, and homosexual.

It's fascinating how that word, originally meaning something very clear and direct, has come to mean something nearly entirely the opposite: some vague, ambiguous, neutered, watered-down excuse to hide one's true feelings behind 'friendship' because either or both parties are too scared to show what they really feel because they might lose 'this.' 'This' being this frustrating masquerade of 'niceness' and 'sincerity' to cover over true feelings, but 'this' is all we have now, and we can't risk losing that for a real friendship or a real relationship, because I don't want to scare him or her away, because if I do that, then I'll really have nothing, instead of having this ambiguous nothing that I don't really have, anyway.

Hm. So, is MSR platonic? Oh, and by the way, how are your 'friendships' going for ya?

I always love answering that question by saying what platonic is, and then asking it right back to the asker.

MSR brings out a lot of feelings in the readers, particularly feelings of who they are as people. It's really 'interesting' to read reviewers' reactions, because it's always about how they are dealing with their own feelings and thoughts, even if they attack MSR by proxy or transference.

I like those reviews. A lot. "geophf, when are you going to get away from people dealing with their feelings already! I can't deal with mine, so I don't want to deal with other people dealing with theirs."


My best chapter, savaged by someone bored with all this touchy-feely stuff.

Or, "I'm tired of Bella whining! Rosalie should just off her. I can't deal with people being sick and when people get sick around me, I just want them to die."

Somebody actually wrote that. But that's okay, that's not really them expressing their real feelings. After all, "It's just fan fiction."

Keep believing that. Keep believing that what you say and what you think, even if it's just your thoughts and feelings about fan fiction, have no bearing on who you are and your life. Keep living that disassociated life that objectifies everything around you. Hitler didn't have bad people to do his bidding, no, he had people "just follow orders," so it "wasn't their fault."

"It's just fan fiction, so I can say anything I want about it because it doesn't matter. It's not me, it's just my views about a fictional situation that I would totally repeat because that's how I think."

Yeah. Keep believing that.

That's one type of reader, you know: the kind that lets others do the thinking for them. They typically don't like MSR, because it's "slow" and hard for them to "understand."

On the other hand, I like reading reviews where somebody got something that they could take away something I put into that chapter, my heart, that is, and carried it in their own. Because why? Because they opened their heart, maybe for the first time, looked inside, saw something there that they didn't see before, and, seeing it, left a better person.

Not because something I wrote. I'm simply a catalyst or a cipher. No, it's because they went up to the mirror and truly looked.

I'm glad I was there to see you look into your heart. Thank you for looking.

A Scar

This chapter came right from my heart. From the mommies talking at the grocery store to Rosalie holding Lizzie in her hands, trying to comfort her, trying to tell her that she knew, and that it was okay.

We never made it to 'okay.'

Lizzie wasn't the only one who grew up this way, and at a time when families breaking up were new in America, so the parents had to stay together until the kids left the home for college to avoid stigmatizing their children, so the children felt that separation, that breaking, ...

and you couldn't do anything about it.

And then they didn't wait, and so my kid sister ...

So she had to be strong, and the funny thing is that she's the most complete, most no-nonsense person in our fractured family, but she didn't have a happy childhood, at all. Ever.

And, well, me.

I identify with Lizzie here, too.

But I didn't have a Rosalie to tell me any of this, not until today, or when I wrote the second half of this chapter. And I didn't have a Rosalie to hold me and to understand.

So, I just broke, all by myself, right in my third week of flight school.

I so wanted to fly, well, anything in the Coast Guard, and I was there already. I was flying planes.

And then my career was over. Right then. Right that day. All they had to do was have the paperwork catch up with me, which took about two years, it being the military.

So I had to go do something else.

And here I am, 25 years later, doing something else.

Something else is nice.

But it's something else, and if I were flying jets or helicopters, rescuing people out of the Arctic Ocean, would I've been happy? I've saved over 150 people's lives north of Alaska and then rescued at least three teens crossing the border to and from Mexico.

Am I happy because of that?

Lizzie was scarred, and she didn't even realize it until Rosalie pointed it out.

The thing about being scarred? You did the dishes before, you'll do the dish afterward.

Now you know you have a scar there, somewhere there, while you're doing the dishes.

And you can pick at it, scratch at it, or you can pretend it's not there. Nobody else sees it, nobody else cares, so, actually, it must not be there, right? It all happened in the past. And the 'it' was nothing, it was just your parents raising you, as the best they could, and look! you turned out well! Success!

It was nothing, and nobody else sees and nobody else cares, not really. Life goes on, and so must you, mustn't you?

So you can pretend it isn't there, right? It's healed and you're fine. Scar tissue heals, right?

Actually, it doesn't. A scar is a scar, and it either stays or it leaves its mark on you. That little knock you got running into the table's corner when you were a baby? It's still there, ten, twenty, fifty years later. Nobody else 'sees' it, but you still see the bump, and you still rub it, sometimes, remembering.

So, not knowing it's there, pretending it's not there. The road to happiness? Ignorance is bliss, right?

Except that it is there, and it affects everything you say, and everything you do.

So, acknowledging it? "I have a scar. I had this happen when I was a kid. It happened then. But I still remember it. I still feel it, if I think about it, and when I don't think about it, ... I still feel it. I still hunch my shoulders that way. I still look down, or look away, or blush, or cry, and I didn't know why. But now I do know why."

Is that worse, acknowledging it?

It feels worse, so it must be worse. So let's pretend that I don't know it's there, and see if I can get by with that.

Yup. I can get by.

Look at me, Mommy, I'm getting by! I'm all grown up now. Aren't you proud?

Yes, this was a really, really easy chapter for me to write.

All I had to do was to be just a little tiny bit honest with myself.

Friday, April 12, 2013

MSR, ch 69 FBs "Friends with Benefits"

Okay, what happened in this chapter that was supposed to be light and fluffy?

Lizzie said, "I'm not a girl," and whammo! Rosalie had a choice, but either option was a bad one: she could say: 'no, actually, you are a girl" and they'd get into a fight. Or she could say: "You're right, you're not a girl ... when have you ever smiled? or played? or had fun?" leaving Lizzie, drained already, an emotional wreck, nowhere to go but nowhere. 

That's what happened.


Bummer chapter in a bummer story.

Remember my author's end note, oh, ten chapters ago, that it was going to get worse before it got better?

The thing is this was supposed to be a fluffy chapter with Lizzie playing 'ring around the Rosies' and Rosalie smirking at Lizzie's manic behavior, as she ran around Rosalie, throwing buds into the air, warning her not to crash (emotionally, that is).

But Lizzie had to open up her mouth, and out came the words.

But why? Well, of course, 'girl' is a trigger word for her, as she's always questioned her maturity, and more generally, her place in this word. Rootless and friendless (ibid), Lizzie is perfectly set up to fight any and everything, and perfectly set up to trip and fall over every trap laid out in her path.

And to Lizzie, everything is a trap to her. So she can retreat, and get into trouble, or she can fight, and get into trouble.

It happens. Somebody withdraws from the crowd, because they're feeling picked on, so they get picked on because they're the loner so they lash out and get into heaps of trouble.

So, as her friend, as her sister, what do you do? What do you say?


"Yeah, you're right, you're not a girl; sorry." When you're not sorry, and you see her lashing out from her hurt?

This chapter should've really been named "Chapter 69: FB -- friends with benefits." Because, truly, Rosalie is a beneficial friend, as opposed to a superficial friend.

Look what she tried to do: she give Lizzie a light, playful wake-up call: "Lizzie, you're saying words that aren't right."

Lizzy ignores this, gets defensive and angry, and over what?

Over the fact that she wants to pretend that she's not a little girl, and that she wants everybody else to pretend that, too. Because the world of pretense is nice and safe. And pointless. But don't think about that. Nobody else does.

That's how things work. And by 'work,' I mean, of course: 'don't work.' Everybody pretends that everybody and everything's hunky-dory when actually people are alone, isolated, and hurting. But 'I'm fine' 'I'm mature' 'I'm competent' 'I'm doing my job' so if we just ignore the hurt in their eyes and in their posture, we'll all just get along until they pull out an automatic weapon and start murdering school children or throw themselves in front of a moving train, being the seventh one to do that this month.

Rosalie doesn't play the 'I'm okay; you're okay' game we all play, as much as Lizzie wants and expects her to, even though she should and does know better by now.

If Lizzie truly is okay, then Rosalie's okay with that, ... happy even.

But if Lizzie's not okay, and says that she is, and wants everybody else to be okay with that, then ...?

Then Rosalie can say 'okay, whatever,' like everybody else does, confirming in Lizzie's mind that she's all alone in this world, and nobody understands her, nor cares.

Or she can grab Lizzie by the collar and shout into her face until Lizzie gets that she can't fuck with Rosalie's mind like she fucks with everybody else's.

Or she can do what she did in this chapter.

One day. One day Lizzie will be happy, and just be happy to be happy, ...

That's what Rosalie is praying for. That's Rosalie's hope, you see.

Because you know how Rosalie knows Lizzie was never a little girl?

Because Rosalie was never a little girl.

Rosalie wants to see Lizzie laugh and dance and play and frolic, because ...

Rosalie never did that.

If Lizzie can do that, if she can drop all the weight of growing up too fast, but never matured into a woman, self-possessed and self-actualized, that is: she knows who she is and she's fine with that ('fine' being actually fine and not 'I'll pretend I'm fine to get by'), ...

Then will Rosalie be able to do that?

That's too much to ask for Rosalie now. But Rosalie will have seen that done for somebody she loves with her empty, cold, black heart. She can't save herself, but if Lizzie is happy, just for one instant, ...

Then Rosalie will be happy. And will treasure that moment of happiness for the rest of her wretched, bleak, solitary, pointless eternity.

Like Rosalie told the girl: she's being selfish. She so wants Lizzie's happiness.

I wish there were more people selfish like this in the world.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Is MSR femslash?

I get this question occasionally from readers.

Is MSR femslash, or gfs? or bffs? or sisterhood?

Well, what is it?

That's what Rosalie would ask you as you read this story, wouldn't she?

That's the question you ask yourself when you look at a girl you're looking at, right? Is she The One? Is she even gay? or curious? will she like me? will I like her?

Do you know the answers to ANY of these questions before hand?

I don't think you do. Or, if you do, you're already judging her. If she has to be The One, then she can't be herself, and you've already doomed the relationship, because she can't be herself if she has to be The One for you, right?

If Lizzie HAS to be femslash with Rosalie, then all this wind-up is pointless, and they should've been in bed at chapter 2 if I was a slow writer and by the second paragraph in the first chapter if I wanted to get right to the goods, right? That's what femslash is, right? Skip the preliminaries and get right to it.

Well, that's what the usual fare of femslash is, but the really, really good pieces actually do let Bella and Rosalie get to know each other, get to cry a bit because college is hard and Bella's dad dies and Rosalie has commitment issues and a bit of a b-tch and maybe a little (too) slvtty because she's compensating for these wounds she carries in her heart that she has to be that way to receive love, even if it's fake or physical. And you learn to love these girls and when they do fall into each other's arms, it's because they love each other, not because it's femslash and that's what they're supposed to do ...

You know the story I'm talking about? Read: Mechanical Difficulties by HopelessRomantic79.

Now, my BxR story is a little different than that. Okay, it's WAY different than that, and different than most of what I've read on this site.

As you have seen.

But do you see where this is going?

Yeah, you do. Maybe. The thing is I have the whole story mapped out: all three books of it, but Lizzie and Rose are surprising me at every chapter. I had written three chapters ahead of this one (ch 66: Schadenfreude), and I had to throw all of that out, all 12k+ words because Rose just broke down and told Lizzie her name. She wasn't supposed to do that. And Lizzie wasn't supposed to take charge like this and start to arrange things. She wasn't suppose to do this until halfway into Book II.

But here they are, and they refuse to let the plot drive them, no: they are two people, two scared people wondering if this can work, and wondering what 'this' even is! One of them has no experience whatsoever in love, never had a bf, never been kissed, and dropped out of school because people are just too weird for her, so she'd rather live at home with her Pa, who is quiet and safe and predictable. The other girl was raped and murdered by five men, so her whole view of love is twisted and filled with hate: totally unromantic. She's given up on love, seeing it as a power-thing, useless to her, and she's given up on herself, seeing herself as hateful and broken: unfixable, unloveable.

Put those two together and what do you get? femslash? friendship? sisterhood?

Well, what you've gotten so far is 66 chapters of MSR with a lot of anger on Rosalie's part and a lot of tears on Lizzie's part. Both of them have a long way to go before they can ... what?

Well, they've started to heal, just a little tiny bit, they've started to hug some, they've started to open up, just a bit to each other, and ...

And, well ... it's a start. A real start. There's false starts because you try something, and whoops! that didn't work, but instead of being cool about it, Lizzie breaks down in tears and Rosalie gets furious, so there's plenty of backsliding.

But are they trying? And what are they trying for?

Rosalie was right: Lizzie is a little chicken-sh-t, and she has no idea what she wants.

But Rosalie? All you have to do is read my side story: Rose by a Lemon Tree to know that any criticism she has of Lizzie is nothing to the problems she's saddled herself with.

Rosalie knows what she wants. Just ask her. Or, actually, she says she knows what she wants, and is very sure and confident in saying exactly what she wants and how she wants it all to work out.

The thing about Rosalie is that what she says she wants, and what she really wants, may be two different things, but her own pride so blinds her to that difference that she doesn't even know nor acknowledge that there exists a difference at all. So she says she wants to keep her distance, that she would rather have Lizzie hate her than draw any closer to her, for, after all: she's a monster, twisted and evil and incapable of love.

She knows this: just ask her.

But then she gives Lizzie her name, and says she never had a sister ... that is, she never had a girl close to her. She never gave anyone else her heart. Not really. Not to Royce. She planned her future with Royce, with their perfect wedding and their perfect family with their perfectly well-behaved children, but she never gave Royce her real heart, her true love, and maybe Royce sensed this, her aloofness, her haughtiness, and maybe he felt threatened by that: his manhood was called into question, because no matter how much of a man he was(not), he was never able fully to possess 'his' Rose, never fully able to own her nor to make her scared of him and grovel like everybody else did, all this employees and sycophant friends.

Who has had Rosalie heart? Not even Vera, her friend. Because Rosalie could feel superior to her. Vera married low and moved on and left Rosalie behind, because Vera followed her heart.

And Rosalie never did.

Rosalie never gave her heart away, and Lizzie was never given the chance to.

So, can Lizzie muster up the courage to say 'I love you, Rosalie Hale'? because for sure Rosalie's not going to say that. Ever. That is: first. Rosalie can't give her heart away now. It's far too painful.

It really, really doesn't look good, does it?

But Lizzie has grown, and Rosalie, even though she won't admit it, has, too.

So, maybe ... maybe.

And that's my answer. It's not definitive, but does live give you a priori definitive answers? If it does, is that living life, or going through the motions in a limited little box of a maze and calling that life? Life is lived in the questions, isn't it? and finding your own answers to the questions you dare to ask. If someone else spoonfeeds you answers, then do those answers have any meaning? or any worth or value? That is, being given to you instead of earned.

You can be handed a person and told: you're sleeping with her tonight. And many, many girls in the world are told just that. But it's up to them to find in the person they choose the things to love, be in that person in their arms right now, or the one they go out, seek, and find. Or the one that comes to find them.

But you have to choose whom to love, and you have to choose why, right? And you have to make it work, every day.

Is MSR femslash? or friendship? or sisterhood?


That's up to Rosalie to let go of her pride and 'what's right' in her eyes, and up to Lizzie to let go of fear and embrace her hope.

Just as it is for you to give up your pride and fear and embrace your hope, and write your own story. That's what Lizzie and Rosalie are (tentatively) doing, and isn't it an exciting, hopeful, just so different read? And for them, living it, so, so scary, so new?

Is your life femslash, friends or sisters? Do you want to keep living the safe ho-hum life everybody else lives? Or throw your heart out there, get hurt, badly, and, maybe, just maybe, let her catch it and cradle your heart, and you, in her arms, as you cradle her?

geophf, writer of that really weird story MSR signing off; I have to get back to writing that next chapter.