I am not the punchline to a fucking joke

Yeah, I’m swearing. In the title to a blog post. There will likely be more swearing in the post itself. Deal with it. Because I am pissed, right now.

[Trigger Warning: This post talks about suicidal thoughts/ideation and the act itself as well as referring to one author’s utter lack of tact with regards to same. If you’re not comfortable reading, that is completely okay and I understand—I’m only semi-comfortable writing it.

If you do continue reading, for context, please read the following post by V.E. Schwab. It explains and links to the things I’m going to refer to.] 

(Trigger warning was copied verbatim from this post by my friend L.M. Murphy)

The writing community always seems to be in the middle of some shitstorm or other. Especially if you either are, or follow YA writers. It makes sense that they would be at the center of things. After all, they’re the ones influencing the people most at need of having someone who understands them. Which I’ll get back to, later.

In the past couple weeks, the YA writing community has had not one, but two shitstorms brew up. I stayed out of the first one. There were others who were tackling the Voya mess far more eloquently than I could have. So, I left them to it.

But this time… This time, I am the one being attacked. And for once in my life, I am going to stand my ground. Because I owe it to all the kids who are currently where I once was. And I owe it to those who saved me to pay it forward.

So… let’s start with my story. I’m not going to get into why I was suicidal. I had my reasons. But I’m not ready to share them yet. I hope that there never comes a shitstorm that forces me to share them. But, you don’t need to know my reasons to understand what I’m about to say.

I was six the first time I tried to overdose on the heart medicine that, among other things, slowed my heart rate down. Yes, I was well aware of what I was doing, and what the outcome would be. There were other attempts over the next eight years or so.

When I was twelve, I met the girl who was the first one I could really talk to about my reasons. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t alone. There was someone who understood me. At fourteen, I had another friend tell me that the next time I tried a stunt like that, he would damn well let me die, then bring me back so he could kill me himself.

Those two friends saved me. They gave me someone who understood me, and let me know that there were people who would care if I died. I’m still not completely better. I feel the same way about being suicidal as my father feels about being an alcoholic. “There is no such thing as a recovered alcoholic, only recovering.” Funny the difference a suffix makes.

But, being suicidal is the same. At least for me. I will always be suicidal. I’m just much less likely to try to act on it now than I was as a kid. I can deal with my inner demons better now, than I could then. Doesn’t mean they aren’t still there.

But, enough about me. I am not what this blog post is about. This is about Tommy Wallach, and his disgusting post (since taken down) about literary suicides, ranked by emo-ness. Not to mention his even more disgusting joke about jumping off of the bridge on the cover of his latest book.

Yes. You read that right. There is a writer – a YA writer – making jokes about suicide. Think about that for a minute. Remember my opening to this post? About YA writers being the ones influencing the people most at need of having someone who understands them? THIS is how this asshole uses his influence? By joking about suicide?

Look, fuckhead. By your joking, you are literally telling the kids who most need understanding and compassion that nobody cares about them. That their inner demons are worth joking about. That THEY are a joke.

And they deserve better than that. They deserve someone who understands them. They NEED someone who understands them.

Suicide is not a fucking joke. It is many things. Something different, maybe, to everyone who considers it. But one thing it is not, is a joke. For me, it was an escape route. The only way I could see to get away from my inner demons. When the inside of your own head is your own private corner of Hell on Earth, suicide looks like a viable option – a way out. For many others, it’s a cry for help.

But, what happens when those crying out for help read the bullshit Wallach posted? What message do they receive? That there is no help coming. That, in fact, nobody cares enough to help. To those who have never been there, that may seem like a jump. But trust me. it doesn’t take much to convince someone who already feels useless at best, and like the world would be better off without them at worst, that everyone else agrees.

Tommy Wallach, on two separate occasions, encouraged his own most vulnerable readers to commit suicide. And he is, to give him the benefit of the doubt, too stupid to even realize it. At least I’m hoping that’s his “excuse”. Because the alternative is that he knew damned well the kind of message he was sending and he didn’t fucking care.

And I’m trying really hard not to be cynical enough to think that. I’m trying really hard to not think that someone could be that callous. Though, that is hard in light of other things that have been said in the wake of all this.

And dear Gods, where to begin? Actually, I’m going to focus on the one that pissed me off the most. Let’s talk about the people calling those who attempt or commit suicide weak, and fragile.

You see, to someone that IS suicidal, calling us weak and fragile goes right back to what I said before about feeling like the world would be better off without you in it. Survival of the species requires that the strongest survive, right?

But, we are not weak. We are not fragile. It takes more strength than you could ever know to put down the gun or knife or razor blade, put away the medicine bottle, take off the noose, step away from the ledge. And believe me when I tell you that most of us HAVE done those things at least once.

So, fuck you, Tommy Wallach. Fuck you anyone who thinks this is a joke. Fuck you anyone who thinks that people like me are weak and fragile. There is a horrible, vindictive side of me that wants to tell you that if you think that you could really get into jumping off that bridge, maybe you should go ahead and do it. I admit that I tend to lash out, sometimes. It’s my way of protecting myself.

But, you know what? Maybe you SHOULD get out of the writing game. Especially out of YA. Get yourself, and your idiocy, away from kids and teenagers who deserve much better than you. Because you should not be talking to kids. You should not be influencing the most vulnerable demographic there is.

I’m going to get off my soap box, now. I will just close by repeating my title. I am not the fucking punchline to a fucking joke. I am not weak, or fragile. It took me years to get to a point where I, more often than not, do not believe that I am a waste of space and air that the world will be better off without. And I can’t let myself go back there.

Actually… I am not going to close this post with that. Instead, I am going to leave it with a message to anyone who is currently where I used to be. You are not alone. Whatever led you to where you are, there are others who have been there, who are currently there. There are others who understand. You are not a waste of space. The world would not be better off without you. Hang in there. Find someone to talk to. A therapist, or even an understanding friend. Do what it takes to get yourself through this in one piece. And feel free to tell people like Tommy Wallach and his trolls to go fuck themselves. Because you aren’t the punchline to a joke, either. You are not weak. You are not fragile. And you deserve better.

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Accountability September 9, 2016

I’ve given up on coming up with creative titles for these posts. By definition I’m writing them right before bed when I’m fucking tired as fuck. (I swear a lot when I’m tired. Oh well. There’s swearing and sex and violence in my novels. Anyone who would be turned off by a little swearing isn’t going to like me, anyway.)

Anyway… Today was a bit of a bust on the productivity front. I did the write ups for two more scenes before work this morning. As well as fixing the numbering on the ones I had already done, and starting to fix the numbering on my scene cards in Scrivener. (Because the two scenes I wrote up today were ones that I didn’t have on my outline, yet, so the numbering is a bit of a mess now.) I planned on getting more done at work, today but… I forgot my notebook at home, and also forgot to set the file to offline mode in the dropbox app on my tablet. So, while I had the current version of the file, it was read-only. And my tablet does not have a data plan, so without wifi, there was no way to finish downloading it.

As for exercise, I got in 10,557 steps at work. Since forgetting my notebook was only one of many things that went wrong today, I… was too emotionally drained to bother with exercise. I don’t have work tomorrow so will hopefully be able to get up the energy to do one of my exercise videos. I’m going to need it with not having work to get my step count up.

I also didn’t bother with my Italian or Dvorak lessons. Tomorrow! I will start tomorrow!

All in all, today was kind of a dud. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day, as they say. See you then.

Accountability, September 8, 2016

Okay, not the most creative title, but it is almost midnight and I am tired. I’m starting daily mini-posts to give updates on all my things I’m supposed to be doing every day, for accountability. So, here goes:

I don’t remember where I left off yesterday, but I currently have a total of 7 scenes that I have noted who is in the scene and why they’re there, the main conflict in the scenes, the purpose of the scene, and the “twist”. I’m kind of hoping to finish this step this weekend – and I currently have a total of 63 scenes to do this for. So… 63-7= 56? in three days? I can do it if I buckle down on it, I think.

According to my fitbit, I walked 13,067 steps, today. I didn’t get in any other exercise, but 13k steps is exercise enough, right?

Starting tomorrow, hopefully I will also be adding my Italian and Dvorak lessons to these posts. I really want to get going on those again. Especially the Dvorak. I have a spite goal for Nano of 250k – despite my Nano record when I wasn’t working full-time being less than 150k. November is going to be INSANE.

This post was originally longer, but I accidentally deleted like 2/3’s of it, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even come close to properly recreating it. Oh well. I’ll be checking in again tomorrow night.

Save me from Twitter melodrama

Back in October of 2013, I was in the Nano forums playing around while preparing for my first Nano. There was an interesting looking board there called Beyond 50k. I figured it was a kind of after November thing. Like what to do when Nano is over, but your novel isn’t finished yet. So, of course it confused me that there were already posts in it. So, being the curious person I am, I clicked on it to check it out. And I found my people.

I discovered that there was a whole community, a subset of Nanoers who planned to write more than 50k. And since I was kind of hoping to also write more than 50k, I started hanging out in that subforum and in the chat room they all hung out in. They all became my friends. More than friends. These people are my family. I’ve never met any of them in person, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. They are an amazing group of people. And while we call ourselves OA’s, which is short for overachievers, there is no discrimination. You can completely fail Nano, not even do the “normal” 50k, and still be “One of us”.

So, what does this have to do with Twitter melodrama, you ask? Well, Camp Nano starts on Friday. And for camp you get to set your own goal. Somebody tweeted about how someone in her cabin had a goal of 800k and asked “who is this asshole?” So, of course, there was a whole lot of jumping on the “trash OA’s” bandwagon. I could have let it go. But… Remember what I said in the last paragraph about us being a family? Keep that thought in mind.

A girl I followed got onto this bandwagon, too. Mind you, she used to be an OA herself. I met her through my OA friends. But, whatever. But then she did the unthinkable. She posted a screenshot of one of my friends’ Nano profile – complete with hir username – showing hir word count. And called hir an asshole. Yes, my friend is an asshole for daring to write more than this girl could.

So, I informed the chat room of what was going on. And then it turned into a shitstorm. We descended on this thread in force. And why shouldn’t we? Here were a group of people talking bad about us, just because we wrote more words than they did. Of course we didn’t take this well. And when someone most of us had thought was a friend called out one of us by name and called hir an asshole? Fuck no, we weren’t going to take this lying down! We’re a family and we look out for our own.

By the time the dust settled, most of us were blocked, both by this girl and by her husband. And for quite a few of us by other random people in the thread. I got blocked by two people for asking someone why the OA’s are the reason he only ever posts in his regional forum, when most of us never post outside of Beyond 50k because of the shit we get everywhere else. A bit later, I got blocked by three people (including the girl that started this mess and her husband) for pointing out to someone that it’s not an “imagined” slight if they’re calling people out by name while calling them assholes.

Meanwhile, there was another, totally unrelated, issue going on. The girl in question is pregnant and having a VERY rough time. A friend, and fellow OA suggested that she might want to consider terminating because something seems to be very wrong here. (Okay, not the words she used, and her exact wording maybe came out wrong.) I’m going to come out and say that I don’t agree with what my friend said to her. This is her decision to make. And even if the pregnancy ends up killing her – taking that chance is still her choice to make. And I don’t think it’s up to anyone, with the possible exception of her doctors, to tell her any differently. So, I understand why she was hurt and angry over this.

But, she handled it very badly, herself. And somehow this issue got dragged into the whole OA issue and basically somehow became all one issue in this girl’s eyes. And so anyone disagreeing with her on either issue got blocked. Then again, considering she’s not the only one to block us, it’s really not just her and not just those two issues getting conflated. They ALL seem to think that it should be illegal to disagree with them.

And it gets better. She was complaining to a mutual friend (who eventually got blocked for calling her out on her shit) about how the pregnancy thing and the OA thing are two different things, but that some people seem to be conflating them. Well… I guess that she counts as “some people”, but think that maybe she shouldn’t complain about “some people” doing something – when SHE is the only one doing it.

She also told a bunch of people that the girl that suggested she consider terminating her pregnancy was possibly moving to the same state as her and this scared her. Because apparently she has decided that my friend is going to kidnap her and force her to get an abortion. She proceeded to tweet a bunch of screenshots showing her conversation with my friend. She posted screenshots because she couldn’t just link – my friend’s account is locked. This then led to some of them threatening my friend.

One of these people happens to have her full name, complete with professional title, and where she works up on her twitter profile. So, another friend wrote a very professional e-mail to this woman’s bosses about the issue. Since, by using her professional title and having her work as part of her handle, she is, whether she intends it that way or not, representing her company. This led to the first girl tweeting about how the girl she had reported for harassment on Twitter is now harassing one of her husband’s Twitter friends in real life.  Because reporting harassment is also harassment. Didn’t you know that?

Which kind of begs the question of if reporting harassment is harassment, then weren’t they harassing my friend by reporting her to Twitter? Or is something only wrong when someone else does it? The idea that this self-centered CHILD is going to be responsible for a helpless baby by the end of the year is kind of frightening, really. Where is the baby going to fit in a universe that is still expected to revolve around its mother?

So, getting back to the two separate issues being conflated in this girl’s eyes… Another friend came in to the mess late and tried to have a civil conversation with her. She said that she understood why she was upset about the baby thing, but that what this girl said about OA’s hurt her. She got blocked. No dissenting opinions allowed, yo! Only people that will participate in the pity circlejerk are allowed to follow her. If you disagree – about anything – then fuck off. Her opinion is the only one that matters – no matter the subject. Unless you agree with her. Then you’re cool. Feel free to rant along with her.

So, that was my weekend. I got blocked by FIVE people (at least, who knows how many others on that thread have blocked me) for daring to suggest that people shouldn’t be jerks or call people assholes. A friend got blocked by probably at least two people for saying that she agreed with the girl on the big issue that was hurting her, but that she was hurt by the smaller issue that had upset us. I guess that everything they do is perfect. So, not only are you not allowed to disagree with them, you aren’t allowed to be hurt by anything they say. They are perfect, yo.

And the worst part? Until this weekend the girl and her husband were my friends. Now I’m one of “Those Assholes” because I dared to voice an opinion. About Nano. I lost two friends because I refused to pretend to be okay with her calling a friend of mine an asshole for WRITING TOO MANY FUCKING WORDS. I guess that under the circumstances it’s not really a loss. But… Seriously people. Grow the fuck up. You have a baby coming. At some point, one of you needs to become the fucking adult, here.

Vampires, Age, and Romance

So, I have an awesome scene from Magic’s Curse (Vampires of Sangue Collina book 5) writing itself in my head, lately. I love this scene so much that it has made me decide that Adam needs to be a POV character in that book, so I can include it. Because it’s a very private scene between him and his boyfriend.

Here’s the thing, though. And it’s an issue that I really have been running into from the beginning. The issue is age. One of the problems some people seem to have with Twilight is the age difference. Since Bella is a teenager and Edward is actually close to, if not over, a century. The argument being that looking seventeen doesn’t mean that he still IS seventeen. And so people have a hard time figuring out what this hundred year old guy sees in a teenage girl.

And I do get that. But, at the same time, I have similar things going on. Eli is about two hundred years older than Catie. Marcus is over a hundred years older than Dani. Nicolaus is around a THOUSAND years older than Ana. And then there’s Adam. Even Adam doesn’t know how old he is. The one thing that there is no doubt about is that there is a BC in his date of birth. His boyfriend is still mortal when they start dating. So, I now have a guy who measures his age in MILLENNIA dating a guy in his late 20’s or early 30’s.

And I worry about the squick factor. I worry that readers might have a hard time understanding how they could have anything in common. I worry, in short, that that aspect of the various romances going on might be compared to Twilight. Granted, I try to handle it a bit more realistically. Eli is almost constantly worried about the age difference. He calls himself an old man, and actually wonders what Catie sees in him, partly for that reason. I do kind of explain it as age being relative – and doubly so for people who can be expected to live forever. What’s a few centuries when you’re facing down Eternity? (Or rather, Catie explains it when Eli tries to say that he’s too old for her.)

And the thing is, the fact that these May/March-of-next-year romances are probably pretty strange is hardly ignored. William and Laura are close in age, and the girl that set them up even told William that she would never try to set him up with someone older because of them maybe not having much in common. Which in a way begs the question of what makes these couples so different. Granted, that’s very much shown with Catie and Eli. And I guess I just need to make sure to show WHY the age difference is a non-issue for the others, too. I just don’t want anyone weirded out by it.

Anyway. This is what I’ve been thinking about lately. How to show these relationships between characters whose ages are centuries or even millennia apart without it seeming weird. Without anyone going “how does he not think of her/him as a child?”

So, have any thoughts on this subject? I do want to take how this might look to future readers into consideration – while staying true to the story as I see it.

Furious 7 Has Given Me Major Feels – Spoilers Galore

Okay, fair warning, if you haven’t seen Furious 7 and you want to, now is the time to turn away. I will spoil the entire thing if you keep reading. You have been warned.

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Still here? Okay, here we go. So, between the fact that Paul Walker died while still filming and the fact that the tagline on the DVD case was “One crew. One last ride” I went into this fully expecting Brian to die. I just didn’t know when or how. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And then there was so much that really seemed to be foreshadowing his death. Starting with his wife telling Dom that she’s pregnant again, but she hasn’t told him yet because something about making him feel trapped. I admit that I was too busy flailing to fully understand the reasoning she gave. Because of course, my thought was “Dear Gods, he’s going to die without ever knowing about the baby, isn’t he?”

And even before that, the assumption that they were going to be killing Brian off made his first appearance in the movie heart-breaking. We first see him as he’s dropping his son off at preschool. I was already tearing up just from seeing Paul Walker’s name in the opening credits. (My first clue that this was going to be a very rough two hours.) So, the whole “Oh Gods, he has a KID” was just… yeah. I was crying. And then we find out he’s about to have another one. Right before his (or was it Dom’s? I’m a little unclear about this) house explodes. Which gave Mia another reason not to tell him about the baby, because she knows he has to go deal with this, and she doesn’t want him distracted. By this time, all I’m hoping for is that Dom will end up telling him right before he dies, or something.

And it just gets worse. One of their friends dies and at the funeral, Dom says that he can’t go to another funeral. And I’m thinking “You still have one more to go to, Dom.” Because, I’m expecting this. Not to mention that this is how foreshadowing works. Somebody saying something like that at the beginning of a movie, usually means that there will be another funeral before the end. And we all know whose funeral that is likely going to be, don’t we?

And then the yelling at the tv starts. Because we get to a scene where Brian is trapped on a bus that is about to go over a cliff. And my reaction was “No! Not like this. I know he’s going to die, but not like this.” I am so caught up in waiting for him to die, that I totally forget that there are scenes he’s in that haven’t been seen yet that were in the previews. It wasn’t until after the scene was over that it occurs to me that THAT scene was in the previews.

So, they all survive that mess, and they’re back in LA. Now Dom and Brian are going to go after the bad guys without the rest of the team. Well, apparently Dom thought he was going alone. But as soon as he said why he was going alone, I knew that Brian was going, too. He said the rest of the team were just drivers, they weren’t prepared for a war. Well, Brian is, or at least was, a cop. Of course he wasn’t going to let Dom go alone, because Dom’s reasoning for leaving the rest of the team out didn’t apply to him.

So, Brian calls Mia. She finally tells him about the baby, so at least he isn’t going to die not knowing. And he tells her he loves her, and she says he sounds like he’s saying goodbye. She tells him to say something else, and he tells her to hug their son for him. Which still sounds like a goodbye, actually. And at this point I’m very glad I’m home alone watching this, because I don’t even try not to cry, anymore.

So, a whole bunch of action stuff happens. Including a fight for Brian while he’s trying to get to a satellite thingy to give their hackers access to something that I don’t fully understand, but was actually the whole point of the movie. (But, I was too busy waiting for horribleness to really notice the plot. Plus, I haven’t seen 4-6, so really had little idea what was going on, anyway.) And then the unthinkable happens. It looks like DOM is dead. And I lose it. I’m yelling at the tv again. “Oh Gods, I was prepared for Brian’s death, but not Dom’s too. I don’t think I can take this.”

And then… nobody dies. Dom recovers, and Brian was never actually in all that much danger – at least once he got off that damned bus. The movie was over for a while before it really sank in that nobody died. The writers and director were magnificent bastards who played their audience like a fiddle. And it was beautiful. You spend the entire movie on the edge of your seat waiting for the inevitable. And then the inevitable never comes.

And yet, the ending is rather bittersweet. It takes a while for it to sink in that they gave Brian Happily Every After. He’s retired from racing, and from the FBI, and from everything about that life. He’s living on the beach with his wife and son, and with a daughter on the way. But of course, the actor that plays him is dead, and the real reason they ended it the way they did was to retire the character.

Plus, you can tell that the last two scenes were actually filmed after Paul died. They’re supposed to be happy scenes, but you can see on the actors’ faces as the other characters are watching Brian, Mia, and their son that this… is them saying goodbye. And then it ends with Dom driving away, presumably to go home. He’s stopped at a red light, and another car pulls up next to him, and you just know that it’s going to be Brian. They have something of a race, but actually pace each other. And again, there is that LOOK on Vin Diesel’s face. That “this is goodbye” look. And the final shot before it goes into a tribute to Paul Walker is this symbolic, sad in context, shot of the cars. The road splits, and Dom takes one branch off to wherever he’s going, and Brian takes the other one, presumably to head back the way he came. The camera follows Brian’s car for a minute, and then it goes right into the tribute.

And that did it. I was gone. It was an awesome movie, and I need to watch it again after watching the other six. So, I’ll know what’s going on, and I can actually WATCH it without waiting for the horribleness. But it was so sad, and I cried my way through it. Because I am a huge dork, that way.

Conquering Fears and Being Inspired by “Children”

A girl I follow on Twitter recently left her mother’s house and moved in with her boyfriend. She’s seventeen. As a woman old enough to be her mother, I SHOULD be shaking my head and talking about “kids today”. I am not. Instead, I’m proud of her. That may seem strange to most people, but then, if you don’t know her situation, why should you be expected to understand why I would be proud of her for this?

The whole story is not mine to tell. Suffice to say that she comes from a very religious background, that while not exactly Duggar-ish, certainly had its moments. But, it’s more than that. I’ve been following her for about two years, now. During a time in my own life when I – a grown woman – was afraid to tell my family that I would rather pray to Zeus than to Jesus, this girl introduced me to a group of TEENAGERS speaking their minds and damn the consequences. It was inspiring. THEY were inspiring.

While I was being all worried about the more religious people in my family being offended and lecturing me about my own religious beliefs, there were these kids risking a hell of a lot more. My aunts could decide to not talk to me, or even to lecture me. They could not take away my phone, my computer, my very freedom. They could not lock me in my room. They could not force me into some religious boot camp. They could make family functions difficult, but they could not make my very LIFE a living Hell. And what these kids were pouring their hearts and souls out about was a heck of a lot more major than a religious belief.

It was at least partly because of these kids that I finally filled out the religion section on facebook. And then blogged about it. Because if these kids could be open and honest about aspects of themselves that could get them severely punished, what was I so afraid of? My heart bleeds for these kids who are just trying to hold on, to survive until they can get out and find people who can truly accept them.

And it wasn’t even just the ones that lived in fear that inspired me. I was inspired by those whose families accepted them just the way they were. And those whose issues were race related rather than something that also set them apart from their families. Because, these are KIDS taking to their blogs, and to any news outlet that will give them a voice, to talk about major issues that affect them. And you know what? They are smart, articulate, well-spoken articles these “kids” are writing. And I am in awe.

The political activists of the future aren’t sitting around waiting to be old enough to be given a voice. They are damn well claiming their voice, NOW. And anyone that has a problem with that, better just get out of their way. Because THEY are our future, folks. And you know what? The future is looking pretty damn bright.

So, thank you to Kelly, and Camryn, and Eliel, and all of the other teen and twenty-something bloggers who are already out there, taking a stand. Thank you for being braver than I ever was or could be. Thank you for giving a glimpse at a brighter future. I am proud to know that someday this world will be in your very capable hands.