I have decided to put my crocheting skills to work for Jesus, mostly because I finally figured out a good way to do that. I will be making scarves and hats to order, and all of the profits will go towards the AIDS crisis. Actually, all of the actual money will go towards the AIDS crisis, since we already have yarn in our budget. Prices are $15 for scarves and $10 for hats, and they can be of any pattern and color you can imagine. I will make these on a first-come, first-serve basis (’cause I’m thinking people will be beating down my door for my awesome crocheted products), and I am perfectly willing to ship them if you live out of driving distance. The money will be donated to World Vision’s AIDS initiative. Spread the word.
I have been thinking about pain a lot lately. This has something to do with my sprained ankle and something to do with my current church situation. That and I have had conversations with more than one person about pain in their lives and God’s absence or part in that.
The thing about writing a story that addresses latent sexism is that I am forced to confront the the sexism of those around in all it’s forms. I am complaining about my writer’s group at the moment, but I have heard similar things from people outside of that group. I have created this beautiful, strong, dominant, sexual woman, and no one can stand it. They say, “Oh she is so smart, so funny, so interesting. Shouldn’t she be arrested? Shouldn’t she lose everything that is important to her? Shouldn’t she be made to repent by the cruelest means you can conjure? Shouldn’t she die?” In other words, you can’t let her live, you must destroy her. They say, “She is not really a casanova. A female casanova would be needy, desperate for approval. A female casanova would be manipulative and hard. A female casanova would be crude and disgusting.” In other words, a female casanova would be, must be, cannot be other than the most depraved kind of human being. I knew that this idea would challenge readers, and make them think. I did not know that it would disturb them so, and that their disturbance would become my own in response.
And yes, I’m probably overreacting. It might have something to do with the fact that my ankle has swollen to the size of a large apricot.
So I’m writing this story about a female casanova, the main point being to question and reverse gender roles. Not gender itself, but the artificial assumptions about the ramifications of gender. And I want to write about how my protagonist is the actor in sexual situations. She initiates, she sets the boundaries of the relationship, she bestows her commitment sparingly as she sees fit, ect. But most of these distinctions are about what happens getting to sex, and the idea I’m playing with is this; should I extend this kind of interaction to the act of sex itself? I like this idea in theory; breaking the myth that because women are entered and men do the entering that the men must necessarily be causing effect on the woman they are having sex with. This is a deeply ingrained concept, which is not entirely without truth. The myth being that it MUST be that way because of the physical act of sex. So I started writing my first actual sex scene, in which the protagonist is effecting sensation in a man. I have run into several problems as I have started this process. Some of them are more practical problems (like the non-literary nature of all the synonyms for ass), but also a pretty major philosophical issue.
I don’t want to write smutty grossness that will only be leered over, fantasized about, or induce disgust. I am not writing this scene or any of the ones that may or may not follow it simply to thrill or stimulate my reader, I’m making a statement about gender roles in the place where they most closely intersect. I have no doubt what my conservative parents (or parents-in-law, for that matter) would think about this particular endeavor. And while I generally have found that that brand of conservatism sacrifices beauty and truth to cleanliness, there is a line that can be crossed there, and I’d rather stay on this side of it.
I feel so thoughtless, so empty, like all my uncontrollable words have metamorphosed into inexpressible feeling. I vaguely want to cry, but I don’t think I can, which is so backwards. I want to write, but not poetry. I’d like to go home and be alone and write beautiful stories. Could that be worship? I think that’s why worship has been so difficult lately, it feels like trying to force those inexpressibles into specific, small, trite words. Maybe if I could just play beautiful music without the words. This is a day when art worship would make sense to me. Could I worship by painting or drawing a portrait or a landscape? I want to give glory to God, but I seem to have forgotten how. I’d rather make something beautiful with the talented hands God gave me and simply offer it to him. See, I am in your image, I have imitated you by creating. Take this woman’s sad face in charcoal, this ocean sunset in oils, this warm blanket of colored, twisted yarn, this delicately woven story, this carefully metered sonnet and be glorified, my Lord.
So my friend Melissa gave me a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for my birthday, after being horrified to learn that I had never read any Dickens. I was not avoiding him on purpose, I just never got around to it. But since I had the book and a break from school at the same time, I decided to read it.
For most of this book I was really confused about the strong feelings people have about Dickens. I have heard both that he’s one of the greatest authors ever, and that he’s one of the most painful authors to read ever. I have heard complaints about his wordiness and unnecessarily long descriptions. I found none of this to be true for the first 350 pages in a 367 page book. He does describe scenes and people in detail, but aside from the occasional intentional repetition, he is no worse in this regard than any other classic authors of his time. I would argue that Hugo is a great deal more wordy than Dickens, as is Sir Walter Scott, and E.M. Forster. Dickens cannot hope to compete in a wordiness competition with Herman Melville or the great Henry James. So this complaint I see as a function of Dickens being read to the exclusion of his contemporaries, which is a sad state of affairs indeed. For those first 350 pages, I also did not find Dickens to be more brilliant than any of the above mentioned authors, and lacked in several regards. His characters are rather flat, to be honest. They are inspiring and obviously spring from a brilliant mind, but they are not dynamic or believable. For example, Lucie, while she is elegantly painted, has no faults. Also, aside from the help she lends her father, she serves no function in the story other than as a sentimental motivational fixture. She pales in comparison to Fantine or Epenine of Les Miserables. The plot was interesting, although it dragged at times, and I really think I would have grown bored with the thing if it hadn’t been for the excellent descriptions. However, all of this mediocre reviewing ended abruptly at the last few scenes, which are a literary creation more beautiful and moving than just about anything I’ve ever read. I’m putting in on the list with the epilogue in Hunchback and the intro in Swann’s Way. It was phenomenal, and worth every minute I spent reading the book to that point. With this in mind, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who can appreciate delayed gratification, since you cannot really appreciate the end unless you’ve read the book before it. It is a sight to see.
Departing from my review of the book, it made me think of something I think God told me about my own writing. He said that I should write about the beauty of the sun reflected on dark waters. That if I try to write about the sun itself, I will blind my reader and they will go away empty. If I try to write about the dark waters alone, I will drown my reader and they will go away heavily burdened. But the only way that the reader can appreciate the depths of the waters and the light of the sun is to write about the reflection. I think that’s what Dickens did with this novel, and it was beautiful. I think to be able to appreciate the beauty of that though, you have to be willing to get through the darkness, which so many readers are not willing to do anymore. It takes patience, a willingness to read through several pages that you do not enjoy in order to understand the beauty that can play off of that. I don’t know if there is hope for professional success for that kind of writing in todays markets, but I will write it anyway. Maybe someone will read it after I’m dead, maybe someone will seize on it and I’ll come to great fame and fortune, or maybe it will sink into a drawer or get lost on an old laptop and never be appreciated at all. But I will be satisfied when I stand before my maker that I used the talent and calling he gave me to the best of my ability. That’s what I set my eyes to today.
Geez, I’m kind of wordy myself, aren’t I?
I hate bras. I hate the whole concept of bras. Your body-parts should support themselves. Neither your shoulders nor your torso were designed to take on the weight of your breasts, and no matter how comfortable or well-fitting your bra is, it can’t hide the fact that it is taking the weight of your breasts and putting it on a different part of your body. And yes, I know, if you don’t wear a bra your boobs will sag as you get older, alerting the whole world to the fact that you are a woman, in possession of breasts, and that you’ve had them for a while. This would of course end the world as we know it. I’m starting to understand why women’s lib people used to burn bras. As underwire is implanting itself between my second and third ribs, it’s hard not to think that the only reason I’m suffering this torture is because it’s socially unacceptable to do without a bra. But there is no piece of attire for men that causes this much pain and is so necessary to an appearance that’s considered decent. Such has always been the way with women’s clothing, from corsets, to feet binding, to bustles, to bras. I’m considering being one of those eccentric writers that advances the cause of woman by wildly overstepping the bounds society has set for us, like George Sand smoking a pipe, or Ethel Smyth writing about bodily functions. I will be known for novels which penetrate the fabric of the human mind and my refusal to wear a bra.
I love my writer’s group for:
Giving me great ideas for my book
Pointing out weak areas in my writing
Offering simple, practical advice on how to make things better
Letting me listen to the writing of my contemporaries
Talking about writing like it was meant to be talked about
I hate my writer’s group for:
Totally distracting me from my Shakespeare take-home final because now all I can think about is how much I want to work my book!
Desperate, I search the world for signs of God
the one who promised me to be always
protecting like a holy lightning rod
to keep the fires of the world at bay.
But I must walk in darkness still and trust
that he is on his way and will not fail
to vanquish evil that would make me dust
I chant this as the darkened skies do hail.
Some say my Lord’s a tiny voice inside
a construct of a woman’s weakened mind
a small emotion moved by ocean’s tides
a subtle warmth in frozen world so wide.
When my Lord comes he shakes the cold earth’s core
And all who see will fear him and adore.
So today I had to have some tile guys come in and measure my bathroom. Last week I had to read Dracula for my Brit Lit class, and today is Halloween. I never like letting strange men in the house when I’m home alone, but today I was particularly concerned about the two Romanian men that showed up on my porch and asked, “Is okay I come in your house?”