June 27, 2019

early rules for an eventual novel


To let the book ferment in my head for years and years before I actually start writing it.

Write a little bit, think a lot, write a little bit more.

“I hated the idea that there can be such a thing as a masterpiece and I hated the fact that I wanted to try to write one.”

A novel with many storylines, many loose ends dangling – and some of the loose ends are tied up, some are partly resolved to varying degrees, and some are left dangling – so as you continue to read you are always unsure which storylines will be completed and which will be left incomplete.

A novel about kindness and tenderness.

A satire of a novel about environmental collapse.

Trying to write a really long book.

The world needs people. (Or at least it used to. Perhaps what it needs now is in fact considerably less people.)

This isn’t science fiction therefore we don’t need to explain how the kittens first develop telepathy.

I didn’t invent sex.

When she was young she of course wanted to be famous.

A novel without a single protagonist, with so many protagonists it’s impossible to keep count.

A story about how millennia ago evil magicians planted oil deep in the earth so that it would someday be discovered and destroy humanity.

Never again: ripped from the headlines. No more: ripped from the headlines.

Letting ideas percolate in my head for many years before eventually writing them down.

“I think I will eventually write another book, someday, but I’m not working on anything at the moment and have no immediate plans to do so.”

I thought I would try to write about the emotional complexity of sex, which isn’t necessarily something I know very much about.

A person who sets up a museum in their home.

A horse that climbs into a boat.

Reading a non-fiction book and encountering a minor character, a character mentioned only in passing, but who is clearly portrayed as despicable, and then gradually realizing the character is based on you.

Being a public figure whose private life does not match up with their public image. The fear of being exposed or being blackmailed.

Spending years trying to find your idol, finding him, at which point he attempts to scam you out of money.

Not actually writing a novel, but fantasizing about writing a novel.

“I never found out if that book actually existed.”

“Climate change is so interesting because it, more so than other crises, reveals the neoliberal demand for "individual responsibility" as being an ideology whose sole function is to protect the ruling class from collective action.”

[Bonus: you can find my possible first attempt at the preface here.]


Aravinda Ananda Quote


One of the processes for dismantling white supremacy is, oddly, building up white people’s sense of fundamental worth and belonging. Not entitlement or superiority, but a deeper feeling that they do belong among other humans and will not be discarded as they learn. The last thing I want to do right now in my stage of racial identity development is hold space for white people; I actually want to get really far away from them. But you can’t shame someone out of a shame aversion, and so working with white people has become very important for me. Caucusing in order to do that kind of hard work of drilling down into white assumptions and fragility in a way that can hold people and bring them through the work has been so valuable. It responds to that call to “hold your people.”

- Aravinda Ananda, from Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture


June 22, 2019

Nora Samaran Quote


Men with avoidant attachment styles may not notice the confusing nonverbal signalling they are actively doing very early on that prevents safety from happening with women they want to nurture and support, who may become more and more imbalanced towards them in response.

Since ‘absence of nurturance’ is just an absence, it can be hard to recognize early. When early avoidant responses to requests for closeness are not noticed as such, attachment science teaches us, ‘protest behaviour’ – the distress when needs aren’t met – may get louder over time, in ways both people are contributing to and neither understand. It becomes all too easy in a patriarchal culture that values rugged individualism over interdependence to call an anxiously-attached woman ‘crazy’ without noticing the parallel avoidant responses that are contributing, that are ‘crazymaking’. In other words, it takes two to enter into the avoidant-anxious trap, but patriarchal culture normalizes an avoidant style and stigmatizes an anxious style, wherever it appears.

None of this is worthy of shame; fundamentally, all of the insecure styles are based in an unquestioned belief that people will not be there for them and that nurturance is somehow a problem rather than wholly desirable and good. Avoidant attachers ‘know’ from an early age that the ice will break, the chair will collapse, best not to try. Insecure attachment styles are not chosen, are not conscious or intentional, and it is an understatement to say they are not easy to change. They deserve understanding, compassion, and empathy.

And yet living without loving, secure attachment bonds is the loneliest experience in the human repertoire.

- Nora Samaran, The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture


June 18, 2019

The more novels I write...


The more novels I write the more deeply I question the ethics of writing fiction. (Perhaps this has something to do with taking things from life and from the world and transforming them without the ability to give proper credit.)