Why read this blog, and who am I anyway?
NOTE: I am also on tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ariadneross), if you can’t read me here (please do!), then you can find me there :)
At this moment, I am a tired and slightly crabby writer who has not had enough sleep. I usually get my eight or nine hours, but last night I wrote until 22:00-ish to finish revisions on a long chapter. By the time I unwound it was 02:00 in the morning. I was up at 07:00.
Anyone who is not an intolerant asshole or patriarchal shithead is welcome to read and comment on this blog. Specifically I hope writers and authors of all stripes find this enjoyable and even helpful.
I “ought” to have started this blog years ago, when I first began the draft of this book, so you could follow along with me in the process. At this point it is not “done”, but it is pretty far along. But then, I have lived my life detesting “oughts”. Since I was very little I deliberately would not do something only because it was an “ought”. I grew up in a very Catholic family, lots of aunts and uncles and cousins (who I couldn’t relate to, I was the youngest, the next to me in age was eight years older). And so, as a six year old, I would proclaim to all and sundry: “I am an atheist, because there is no God.” I tried to get into the Catholic thing when I was in my teens, I read Augustine (at first I thought he was okay, but he proved himself to be a reactionary hypocrite), I read Aquinas (intolerant creep); St. Francis was genuine and cool, I liked him. Anyway, I am getting sidetracked as I do.
On the one hand I have to guard against this in my writing. But in sketches and drafts, these sidetracks are not only valuable, sometimes they unlock the crux of the story! I say “sidetrack away”, go down spurs, branches of spurs, dead ends — just be sure to sort it out and tighten it all up in your final manuscript.) By the time I turned 21 or so, I was comfortably back to being my original atheist six year-old self. (I am a spiritual atheist, however — I can hear you orthodox atheists screaming right now, but think about it, shouldn’t “orthodox atheist” be an oxymoron? And of course, this is me being true to my “anti-ought” nature. If you don’t think “spiritual atheism” is a thing, read the French philosopher André Comte-Sponville, he has a nice little book on the topic.)
A few years ago I attended the Leipziger Buchmesse, and a well-known and successful literary agent gave a seminar with a whole slew of “oughts”. My favorite was when he said “so you have a manuscript that is part mystery, part sci-fi, part love story, part thriller?” More than a few in the audience, me included, nodded our heads enthusiastically, a few of us even smiled, which is saying something considering the session was in German. “I would never read your manuscript,” he declared. “You must stick to one genre, in my case, this year, it is chick lit, we can’t get enough of it!” (Like I said, this was a few years ago when chick lit was all the rage of the marketing juggernauts of the big publishing houses.) Of course the room deflated, and I more-or-less stopped listening and started thinking about lunch. And then, not even two minutes later, the same guy says “of course, the really successful author is a genre buster, one who writes cross-genre, or best of all, the one who creates an entirely new genre of their own. We are always searching for the next big thing.”
I got up from my chair and went for a coffee. It was still too early for lunch.