Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve at last! I hope the day finds you happy and well–enjoying the day, not in shopping, wrapping hell . . . 🙂

Two days ago the kids and I made gingerbread for the first time ever and we spent yesterday building houses and decorating little people. Since this is a writing blog, let me just say: not enough good things can be said about flat characters. Except for Ed . . . Well, he’s an all right guy except that he’s loses his head in the drink at every party.

Oh, Ed. Not again.

There was also an awkward moment when some girl my daughter knows showed up topless . . . However, I think it was more embarrassing for her than it was for us. Wrong party, Gingie-girl.

The cat was inordinately pleased with the day’s events and plans to use her powers of mind control to get us to slather icing and candy on everything every year.

Ahhhhh . . .


I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is, Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

In 2010, may you eat lots of cookies, have lots of laughs, be surrounded by people you love and who love you back, and despite any hard circumstances, experience peace and joy.

These are for you!

I leave you with a quote that really moved me, and I think it’s my wish and plan for the New Year.

If Christmas means anything, it should mean that, like shepherds of old, we catch a vision of the world as it ought to be and not as it is. This is the season where we should renew our determination to do what we can, each in our own way, to build a world founded on human brotherhood and concern for the needs of others.” ~ Tommy Douglas, a Baptist preacher who went on to later become the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party in Canada

Have a lovely Christmas. God bless.

~ Ev

Sex, violence, morality, and other scintillating-somewhat-scary subjects . . .

I spent a lovely morning reading and contemplating various writing blogs. Kathy Chung (of Kathy – Rambling—a new blog I will now frequent) wrote about questions of morality that she’s been pondering because of one of her characters.

Joseph Grinton (Writing about modern romance), also newly frequented by me, had thought-provoking words in How To Write Sex Scenes.

I didn’t come across a blog post that opined on how much detail should be given in depicting violent acts, or discussed how to write violent scenes realistically, or tackled realism versus gratuity, but somehow (and not just because I think Sex, Violence and Morality makes a grabbing title) the three things seemed linked in my mind. Writing about them (and similar high-octane subjects) demands a certain bravery.

In the early days of my fiction, I realized that I was guilty of writing in the same manner that I watched scary movies as a kid. Scary music cues something Awful about to happen—swoop, blanket over my eyes. Smack, hands over my ears to tune out screaming and howling . . . I’d actually ask, “Is it over yet?” and wait for confirmation that the most horrible bits had passed before I’d peek again.

In writing that avoidance technique looked like this: Write a hook or some great invocative scene that foreshadows emotional or physical (or better, both at once) danger to character. Insert # # # to show that time has elapsed. New scene starts immediately after Event deemed too violent, too sexy, too something-scary to delve into comfortably. Often, since the reader needed to have some knowledge of the ordeal, I would do some sort of recounting, usually in the form of a conversation between the sufferer of the atrocity and his/her close friend.

“I can’t believe you went through that.”

“I can’t believe it either. I thought I would die when Joe pulled that knife on me and proceeded to—”

“It must’ve been even more terrifying because it probably triggered childhood memories of watching your own mom be killed in front of you . . . ”

“It did—but I managed to summon the will to fight, because I pictured my own daughter Macy’s little innocent face—I want her to grow up strong, to not feel like being a victim is inevitable the way I always did . . . ”

(Okay, please, please note, my writing was never really that bad—or Gah, I hope it wasn’t! But if a person avoids showing events as they happen, unnatural, stilted summary scenes become necessary—and if you’re even thinking, “My summary scenes aren’t stilted. They’re graceful and elegant,” go slap yourself and delete/rewrite the scene!)

I’m still working through what I feel is a good balance between portraying life as it is really experienced and what is too much—a completely subjective line, I realize. And I still battle with self-consciousness and worry. What will people think of me when they see the things that make up my head? What will people close to me say if my stories don’t line up with their ideas of morality? GAH—I write sex scenes and have children who read—awkward! I keep returning to the fact that to avoid writing something because it makes me (or someone else) uncomfortable is stupid and goes against the very reasons I write: to explore the world I live in, to figure out what I think, to yell into space: I am here, trying to figure things out . . . And in the end, if I offend or make someone close to me feel awkward? Well, they don’t have to read me.

So how about you? Are there topics you “don’t go”? What scenes are (were) your Kryptonite? Have you found ways to overcome your inhibitions? Should writers even try to overcome a shyness? Maybe some boundaries are good things . . .