Monthly Archives: June 2016

Defining Creativity and Rationality.

How methodology affects results

There is a really persistent underlying discourse in the English language and culture: duality. Everything is black and white, male and female, tall and small, right or wrong, good or evil. One of the assumptions about real science is that there is very little creativity involved. Science is logical, rational and ‘cold’. I hold a Bachelor of Science AND a Bachelor of Arts, and I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth.

Science vs Everything Else

Human beings tend to prefer simple over complex, and science is neither ‘cold’ nor is it solely rational. A scientist is not the opposite of an artist. A scientist follows the stream of science that interests them. They are certainly not unemotional when they are in the ‘my work requires funding’ stage of their career (stressed would be one of the words I would use instead). In Australia, most scientist aren’t that well paid, and generally work for love (like writers and artists) rather than fame and fortune.

Science = Magic without the lies.

I love this website and can recommend it highly.

By buying into the discourse that science is rational and cold as opposed to art being warm and creative, two stereotypes are perpetrated. Being an artist takes a lot of training and thinking and expensive equipment as well as talent … as does being a scientist. Passion is something of an over-used cliché these days, but both art and science take real passion. As a writer and a scientist, the conflicting stereotypes would indicate that I have a split personality, rather than mad fangirl that I am in reality.

Warning Science Ahead

The perceived opposition of science and art is as fake as the culturally perceived duality of night and day, and is lazy writing. A day can be broken down into morning and afternoon, and what about sunset,sunrise and twilight and a dozen other ways of describing the zeitgeist of a moment. Don’t fall into the trap.

 

 

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Filed under Creative Non-fiction, Creativity, Stereotypes, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, writing, Writing Style

Book Critiquing

Steampunk-Book-Tim-Baker

As I am thick in the midst of a jungle of editing, my mind is automatically editing anything I read or watch. This phenomenon has caused me to ponder the processes of critique. In particular, I am comparing the difference between editing, critiquing and reviewing (as I understand the processes).

Book reviewing is about finding the right audience for a narrative, and less about breaking the narrative down looking for what is good or bad about it. A good book review wants to draw the attention of the people who will enjoy reading that topic book/narrative. It might point out flaws, but it will be quicker to list the good things. It is supposed to make you want to read the book.

Book with fossils

A critique is done by your tutor/mentor/ beta reader. They will list all the flaws, in great detail, so you can fix them. As well, you will be told what is working and should be left alone or with minimal alterations. Unfortunately, book reviews are often critiques as well. One could argue this is to let the author know what is wrong, to help them with future projects. As the book they are reviewing is already published, it is kind of hard for the author to fix any major issues at this point.

When I do a critique, I always try to ‘sandwich’ two positive comments around any negative observations. As well, if I point out a problem, I always try to suggest a solution. After all, that is what a critique is for … it isn’t meant to be an attack.

Every possibilty

Editing – whether you are doing your own editing or doing it for someone else – can be polishing or can be a smash and restructure. Reviewing and critiquing focus on works close to completion; editing is working with rough drafts and works-in-progress. It is more part of the writing process rather than the ‘afterwards’.

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Update on the Steampunk Work-in-Progress

datamancer

Have any of you been wondering where I’ve been the past couple of weeks? I was lost in edits, structural edits, hacking the jungle of my first draft into trained topiary. The second half of my novel still needs plenty of work, to the point I am culling characters and conflating plot lines. As I have to be on the top of my game, it leaves me mentally exhausted. The blog has suffered.

I tend to use this blog as a ‘warm up’ for when I an writing. When I am editing, I warm up by reading. However, I am at a point where I need to both make structural edits, and rewrite various scenes to balance the narrative flow and correct the plot discrepancies. So, here I am again!

I will attempt to update at least three or four times a week from now on, even while editing.

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Écriture Féminine Mécanique: The Steampunk Feminist Perspective

Robot woman from Pinterest

manufacturing-a-womans-sentence-virginia-woolfs-criture-fminine-mcanique-11-638

In reality, a mechanism has no gender or sexuality, even if it is painted pink and covered in lace, or gunmetal grey and carrying weaponry. Even the most sophisticated computer -designed to mimic feminine or masculine traits, like Siri – has no innate gender. Our Western society posits ‘normal’ as ‘male’, and so most robots are thought of as male, unless the robot is overtly feminine.

Begging robot

Is this robot ‘gendered’ in your opinion? If so, do you see a masculine or feminine mechanism?

This androcentric designation of gadgets and robots had been used within the Steampunk literary genre as well. Unless you specifically write against this, it is a very easy lazy writing trap to fall into. However, it also doesn’t work if you designate all your robots and gadgets as ‘female’; unless you want your inventors to be characterised as straw feminists.The TV Tropes website has a page dedicated to the phenomenon of androcentric gendering.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MenAreGenericWomenAreSpecial

ruptures and spaces

As the English language has an underlying Patriarchal discourse, language cannot be considered a gender neutral medium. Western culture in the Victorian era was staunchly Patriarchal, but that doesn’t not mean that Steampunk narratives have to mimic that cultural prejudice. In fact, I would argue that the Steampunk literary genre should embrace the concept of Écriture Féminine because of the overwhelming Patriarchal discourse, to give balance and a postmodern resonance to any narratives.

Even if you are writing in an androcentric manner for the purposes of parody and/or satire, you should be writing with the awareness of how your word choices define gender within your prose. Écriture féminine isn’t – and shouldn’t be – limited to women writers. It is just another brush to add to your writer’s toolkit.

a-very-rough-guide-to-feminist-criticism-4-638

 

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Filed under Écriture féminine, Feminism, Gender and Sexuality, Sociolinguistics, Steampunk Feminist, Steampunk Themes, Uncategorized, Writing Style

Victorian Crossdressing as a strategy for Victorian Political Issues

Cross dressing Temperance Parody.

Men cross-dressing as a parody of the Temperance Movement.

Strange to say, cross-dressing was often used by staid Victorian-era men to make fun of views in opposition to their own Patriarchal discourse. This cross-dressing was a kind of negative social pressure applied to any group where women were shown to be politically active, like the Suffragettes, the Temperance Movement or the Dress Reform Movements. They wanted to depict such women as ugly and too ‘masculine’ to be taken seriously, because, you know, only spinsters and old man-hating harridans want equal rights and respect.

AN-ARIZONA-SUFFRAGETTE-antique-vintage-crossdressing-photograph

An Arizona Suffragette

This type of attack wasn’t limited to photographs. Postcards and cartoons were also written and illustrated to conform to this strategy. Because pretty girls don’t want to hang out with all the plain ones … plainness is catching, don’cha know?

Do you know what this says to me? That some men prefer dressing up as women to serious debates about basic human rights.

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Filed under Feminism, Gender and Sexuality, Steampunk Feminist, Uncategorized, Victorian Era

What Orlando means to me, living here in Australia

The reason that the rainbow has become a symbol for sexualities other than straight, is because sexuality and gender are a spectrum, not a black and white phenomenon. A rainbow is a symbol of hope. It is a promise that – one day – there will be peace and acceptance. Today is not that day …alas.

As politicians rush to make political hay out of this tragic event in Orlando, let us remember that this tragedy wasn’t about politics, it was about hatred.  Hatred is born out of fear, and fear is born out of ignorance. He was an ignorant, fearful, hateful man who perpetrated this atrocity upon all those innocents. He felt threatened by the freedoms enjoyed by those precious young people who were dancing, and who were happy in a way he could not understand. So he washed that freedom away with bullets and blood.

The dead and maimed, and their friends and families, are not the only victims. The survivors will never be as carefree or happy ever again. The whole LGBTQIA community is shaken and more fearful than they were before the atrocity occurred in Orlando. This is community that is already under siege, fighting for their right to be accepted. They have to watch as haters gleefully celebrate the deaths of their innocent friends and relations.

Living in Australia, one might think it would be easy to put a comforting distance between this massacre and myself. Not true. To paraphrase John Donne:

Any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

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1871 Avery Butterfly Needle Cases for Steampunk Cosplay

I always have my eye out for interesting gadgets for the Steampunk Cosplayer.

This beautiful needle case is a perfect example.Not only is beautiful to look at, it is beautifully constructed.

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