Discussion: The Absence of Non-Impactive Abusive Behavior in Books

Earlier this week I was reading a book where the primary villain of the book was also a domestic abuser. His girlfriend put up with being hit and the like because ‘he gave her what she needed in bed’. Other than the fact that this was acknowledged (he smacked her around, she acknowledged some of the behavior was unhealthy, etc.), it didn’t really play a part in the book. Now, while I ranted about the use of sexuality and sex in the book, I did not directly address this in my review. Because this question occurred to me:

 Is it wrong to demand we not see evidence of unhealthy relationships in books where destroying/getting away from/overcoming those relationships is not the goal of the book?

The book that most people are going to think of when it comes to this question is probably Fifty Shades of Grey. However, in that book, the relationship (unhealthy, unrealistic, and twisted though it might be) was the primary focus of the book. This is not a discussion post about books where the unhealthy relationship is the main factor.

But it’s not just romantic relationships in books either.

For example, alcoholism is not necessarily a precursor to physical, sexual, or mental abuse, yet it is not possible to have a healthy relationship with an alcoholic. When you hear people talk about their alcoholic parents, they might say “Well, s/he never beat me or anything like that, but…” And that but tells you everything you need to know.

The fact is, unhealthy relationships are a part of the real world, and one might argue that to keep fiction realistic, we should not exclude the mention of unhealthy relationships.

This is one of those things where I think it’s easy to act/speak out against something you disagree with without stopping to consider if you’re truly being reasonable.

Bad people exist. And the things they do aren’t always necessarily of the murder, robbery, and mass destruction variety. Sometimes they present perfectly normal on the outside, and then they go home and knock the ever-lovin’ hell out of their partner. Maybe they don’t even physically touch them, but they get their rocks off by making them feel like they’re worthless. It happens. So why are we so against it being portrayed casually in fiction?

Graciekat says: I think that the portrayal of unhealthy relationships should be present. I think trying to get into the psychology of the victim and yes, even the abuser as well, can be very important. My issue with some of the more recent examples is that it’s not being portrayed as unhealthy. They’re being portrayed as the normal and something that should be aspired to. Abnormal and unhealthy is being portrayed as romantic, loving and charming. I think the responsibility of the author lies not in trying to leave them out, but rather in how they are portrayed. It can be challenging.As Lilyn said above, it’s very easy for a person to rationalize an unhealthy relationship or habit of any kind. A skilled author can explore those rationalizations through the eyes of the character or the people around him/her. I do not think that it’s necessary to glamorize or shrug off the effects of it, even if it’s a side character with little to no plot motivation. Whether or not the characters in question overcome their challenges or roles is immaterial but in how the author as the omniscient narrator (barring first person) chooses to present the behaviors.

One of my fellow bookworms thought maybe it had something to do with the train wreck mentality coupled with the few books the average person reads per year.  Ie: If we’re going to read about bad crap, we want that bad crap to be the primary focus of what we’re reading. 

It’s sort of funny to be writing this up because as people who read a lot of horror you’d think we’d see pretty much everything. But that’s not really the case at all. Even in horror, while you might see rape, murder, and general evil – you don’t see a lot of casual mentions of bad relationships that don’t have a direct impact on the plot.

Another question that pops up as a direct follow-up is then: When authors do have abusive or destructive behaviors in books, and it’s not about them… are they tacitly saying that these behaviors are normal? I want to say of course not. I think most people will say of course not. But there’s also people who genuinely believe that violence in old-school cartoons like Tom and Jerry led to increased incidences of violence from kids. So….  Maybe authors don’t mention abusive/destructive relationships because they are afraid of this backlash?

Overall, it’s definitely a question to chew on for a while.

 Is it wrong to demand we not see evidence of unhealthy relationships in books where destroying/getting away from/overcoming those relationships is not the goal of the book?

When authors do have abusive or destructive behaviors in books, and it’s not about them… are they tacitly saying that these behaviors are normal?

Mind you, we are not arguing for the inclusion of these types of relationships in books. Merely wondering about their absence.

What do you all think?

 

Names Have Power

…So I Shall Call It Pookie

They say names have power, and knowing a thing’s name takes some of its power away. I believe that words have power, so it’s just a short step to believing in that, I guess. I asked a friend to give me a really silly name. Something you couldn’t say with a straight face that you’d name something scary.

Well,  I didn’t actually say “name something scary”.  I asked her what she’d name her ladybits.

That conversation amused me and worried her, but she had no clue what she’d name them. So, therefore, I’m naming it/them Pookie. Not that she’d name her ladybits Pookie, mind you. Neither would I, for that matter. If I was going to name my ladybits, I’d give them a proper name. Like, Wilbur. Wilbur’s a fine, distinguished name.

As soon as I decided on Pookie, I realized the name sounded very similar to a mythical creature I’d heard about from somewhere. Took me a minute to figure out what, but I got it. Pooka.

No fairy is more feared in Ireland than the pooka. This may be because it is always out and about after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it can assume a variety of terrifying forms.  – Irish Fairies | The Pooka. (2016). Irelandseye.com. Retrieved 7 December 2016

 

Anyways, I saw Pookie again. I really wish I hadn’t. Really, really wish I hadn’t. I’m hoping it was just the temporary obsession with reading all I could about Shadow People that set it off, but… Yeah, that’d be my luck.

One of my co-workers asked me how I was doing today. I just stared at her for a minute, then shook my head and said “You don’t want to know.” Then I walked away because she’s nosey and loves to know everyone’s business.

I’d went to the movie theater last night. Figured it would be a good time to get out of the house, you know? Distract myself with munchies and hot men running around blowing crap up. And everything went according to plan. I had popcorn with m’n’ms in it, I watched a semi-hot man with huge nose going all Grr-Argh on aliens, and life was good. So I wasn’t even really thinking about anything when I went to the bathroom before I left the cineplex. And, of course, mid-washing my hands, I glance up, and Pookie is standing beside me.

Like, literally standing beside me! Needless to say, if I hadn’t already had a thorough tinkle, I’m pretty sure there’d have been a fair bit of leakage from my nether regions. As it was, my lovely fight or flight instinct left me completely deserted and I just froze, doing my best impression of a Tarsier. I wanted to turn my head and look over to see if it was really there, but I honestly couldn’t. It just stood there for a few minutes, about a foot away from me. I couldn’t really see any features or anything. It was… Hm. Like, I knew it was there – it was definitely kind of shadowy – but at the same time there was nothing really solid about it. You know how you see something out of the corner of your eye, but you don’t really *see* it?

Like that.

And then, of course, some lady exits the another stall, walks up, standings in Pookie, and proceeds to wash her hands. Gave me a bit of a side-eye for looking like a bug-eyed terrified goblin, but didn’t say anything.

I just cleared my throat and hurriedly finished washing my hands. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Tell her “Excuse me, but did you not see the shadow thingie you just stepped in?

I think not.

I’m going to place another call into the doctor. Maybe he can see me if it’s a psychiatric emergency? Is it a psychiatric emergency? Or does that only happen when you’re thinking about suicide?

 

 

Favorite Quotes #6: Philip K. Dick

Quote from Philip K. Dick

 

 

Pretty relevant today, wouldn’t you say?

How many times have we seen people put a spin on something? Whether for better or worse, they are able to ‘shape’ things in the way that they wish. Just look at what the fake news sites managed to do with just a few words here and there. Was there even a granule of truth in the lies they were spreading? We’ve also seen news sites that used to actually (at least seem to) report things accurately move towards reporting things in such a fashion that it’s absolutely ridiculous to even try to listen to it anymore.

It’s not even the fake news sites, either! The ones that blatantly make crap up. We’ve also seen news sites that used to actually (at least seem to) report things accurately move towards reporting things in such a fashion that it’s absolutely ridiculous to even try to listen to it anymore.

I absolutely do not hold with Truthers, in any way, but I can see how people would become so obsessed with the fact that everything around them seems to be lying that they could easily lose themselves in delusions.

I think the most intelligent people are able to look at the way the world is going right now and realize exactly how scarily accurate the works of Orwell, Dick, and others are turning out to be. They might not have gotten all the detail right, but just the broad strokes are enough to be terrifying.

Why did I choose this quote? Because I’m bloody terrified of this world we’re living in right now.  The last few months have turned into something surreal. I keep expecting to wake up, and be so relieved I turn religious!

Philip K. Dick was a prolific science fiction writer that lived from 1928 to 1982. He’s most well-known at the moment for his “The Man in the High Castle” due to the fairly recent television adaptation of his work. You may also know his works from the movie “A Scanner Darkly”.  You can find out more about him here: http://www.philipkdickfans.com/

 

 

 

Shadow People on the Street?

Shadow People

Okay, so naturally I go to make an appointment with my doctor last week, and due to everyone getting in their end of year stuff… I can’t get in to see him for a month. Naturally. Well, whatever. Like I said previously, I’ve been hearing this stuff for a couple of weeks, and nothing has happened to me yet. That part really hasn’t changed. Just these random conversations. They’re fairly quiet most of the time, but I swear sometimes it feels like they’re talking right in my ears!

I guess no one really wants to admit that they’re hearing voices,  you know? Uh-oh, skitzo freak. But I seriously doubt I’m that crazy. I mean, it’s not like I have voices in my head telling me to kill someone or whatever. It’s just these random people (pretty sure they’re all guys) chitter-chattering constantly. Well, not constantly. Thank God. Circe. Gaia. pick a deity, any deity fully.

I was super paranoid after that night. Part of me wanted to look obsessively in every single window to see if I saw something again. I would say it was hard to resist, but it wasn’t. Even though I like horror movies and books, I’m a complete wimp. So it was easier to just keep my head down when I walked and try not to look in windows at all.

I feel like a little bit of an idiot, though. Maybe it is all the horror movies, but I… started googling. I know, I know you shouldn’t google crap because it will have you convinced that a nosebleed is really a brain tumor. But, seriously, how many of us don’t google stuff we probably shouldn’t or things we’re embarrassed to ask someone else? Heck, just last week I was googling proper insertion of a Diva cup. (Side note: Ladies, if you’re considering it, all I can say is so far so good! It’s a bit odd getting that intimate in a public restroom with your ladybits, but… no TSS to worry about. No mini diapers to wear. And you can’t feel it!) ….I got off track. Sorry.

I ended up -after a couple failed efforts – googling “shadow people”. Apparently, lots of people have seen these ‘shadow people. There’s even a website devoted to the topic: http://www.shadowpeople.org/ . And I found this explanation somewhere else:

Whereas ghost apparitions are almost always a misty white, vapor-like or have a decidedly human form and appearance (very often with discernible “clothing”), shadow beings are much darker and more shadow-like.” – Wagner, Stephen. “What You Should Really Know About Shadow People”. About.com Entertainment. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Dec. 2016.

I know Wikipedia isn’t exactly the best site, but it had an interesting section on them too (and I checked out the reference books this stuff came from):

“a person experiencing heightened emotion, such as while walking alone on a dark night, may incorrectly perceive a patch of shadow as an attacker.” (“Rapid Psychiatry”. Google Books. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Dec. 2016.)

Which I can almost buy. Except for the part where it wasn’t trying to attack me!

GAH!

So, I was telling myself it was just a one-time thing – or that some people really are just more open to seeing things. That seeing a shadow really meant nothing. Once is happenstance, right?  If it happens again, then I’ll get concerned.

In the meantime, I’m just going to fidget like crazy and hope that either these people go away (preferably) or start speaking English, for feck’s sake!

12/8/16 – Going Crazy Part 2

Well, that was disturbing.

So…

I think I’m going crazy. I mean, I’ve thought that on and off for a while, but after what I saw tonight, I really think I am going crazy. Don’t know how else to explain it. I’ve been hearing people talking. At least I think they’re people, and no, they aren’t talking to me. I don’t think they are, anyways. Because it’s always at least two voices, and it sounds like general conversation most of the time. Sometimes it sounds like one of them is giving orders to the other person/people.

I brushed it off, you know? I have an active imagination, and I’ve had stories floating through my head for years. So I didn’t make too much of it. I decided to just listen in and see where it took me. See what story my brain had to tell. Well, it’s been like two weeks, and they’re still not speaking English. Wouldn’t they be speaking English by now? It’s not like your brain can construct a whole language randomly in your thoughts, is it?

So, anyways, my brain is going haywire. Okay, right. I’m going crazy. There are pills for that. I was actually planning on making an appointment to talk to the doctor tomorrow. You know I firmly believe there’s no harm in admitting you’re having some issues. Aren’t most mental issues just due to hormones or chemicals or whatever?

Drug me up, Scotty, and make the voices go away.

I don’t know why I said “was” earlier. I AM going to make an appointment with the doctor. But I don’t know if I want to tell him about what I saw tonight.

I mean, I guess my eyes could have been playing tricks on me, or whatever.

I was passing under one of those orange street lamps, and I was looking around like I always do. And in the – Okay, look, I know the chances of someone actually paying attention to anything I write here is relatively small, and you’ll probably just laugh, but… Well, it creeped me out. Okay?

It REALLY creeped me out.*

I swear when I looked into the big plate-glass window of the little shop on my way to the corner store, that there was something behind me. But when I looked over my shoulder, there was nothing there.

I know it sounds like a horror movie and I would normally put it down to the fact that I’ve been on a possession bender lately but here’s the weird thing… It wasn’t still. I mean, if this was a horror movie, it would have been still when I noticed it, and when I looked back, it would have been gone. Right?

But that’s not what happened. See, when I caught sight of it, it was a few steps behind me, and when I stopped, it just kept walking. When I looked back at the window, I caught sight of it again still moving. It just took a few more steps and it was… I don’t know… out of frame, I guess?

And it’s not like I got that hair-rising, or goose-bumpy someone-is-watching-you that you see/feel in those movies either. Whatever I saw, I don’t even think it knew I was there.

Maybe I should make an appointment with the eye doctor, too? I don’t know. I’m not due for another eye exam until April. I guess I’ll have to see if it happens again. It was probably just a trick of the light or something.

I guess I probably sound stupid for being all “I’m going crazy”, don’t I?

This is what happens when you watch too many horror movies.


*This is a work of fiction – Part 1 in a planned series.

Reblogged Awesomeness: Writers: Win $200!

Saw this writing contest and thought of all my indie author contacts. I’d love to see a horror writer take a … stab … at this! (Not that I’m bloodthirsty or anything.) Click the picture or the link below to be taken to the site.

writing-contest-1024x691

https://adoptingjames.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/writers-win-200/

Homer and Marge, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Ross and Rachel, Shrek and Fiona…

These are all iconic fictional couples whom we are familiar with. We adore them, we love them. But what happensafter their “Happily ever after?” Do they stay in love? Do they have an unfortunate fallout? Does conflict disrupt their lives? Perhaps the threat of a third world war challenges their devotion to one another?

You tell us!

For a chance to win $200, writers are encouraged to pick any iconic fictional couple made popular by a book, movie, or TV show and enlighten us on what happens after their “Happily ever after.”

Reblogged Awesomeness: Grammar, doubling consonants when adding suffixes.

This is just a quick grammar post I found when browsing around that I thought would be good to pass on. Especially for those with younger kids 🙂

There is a video on the original post, too. Click below to be taken to it.

Source: Grammar, doubling consonants when adding suffixes. Video to help.

Spelling, Punctuation, and Formatting Errors – What’s Your Take?

Even though my own grammar and punctuation is not perfect, by any means, I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to what I’m reading. I’m sure there’s stuff I don’t catch simply because my own skills aren’t perfect, but what I do catch is sometimes enough to drive me nuts.

So, my question is, how much is too much? For independently-published works, where do you draw the line on an unacceptably high number of errors? I give much more leniency to formatting errors because I can understand that sometimes that’s beyond the author’s control. However, in regards to grammar, punctuation, and spelling, if I see three in the first quarter of a book, I get fussy. I understand why people self-publish, and I fully support it, but if a person want to be taken as a professional, he or she needs to present professional work.

If I have to email an author and ask (and I’ve had to do this way too much recently) if they’ve had their work edited for grammar and punctuation, then it has not been a professional presentation. Especially when I end up sending that email less than halfway through the book! Talent is, to be quite frank, not enough. It doesn’t matter how awesome the plot of someone’s book is, if I have to wade through countless errors while reading it, my estimation of that author drops rapidly.

Keep in mind that I am not talking about stylistic choices. Hey, you don’t want to use the Oxford comma? Good for you. Might drive me nuts, but good for you. Is it your style to hardly use commas? Okay, that makes me twitch, but if its a consistent thing that I can easily identify as a stylistic choice I will give it a pass.

However, if I’m reading a book and I come across incorrect homophone choice and inconsistent punctuation? That screams unprofessional presentation to me.  Again, I know this isn’t something that matters as much to a lot of people as it does to me, but….but…ARGH. It drives me nuts. I can’t help it. I’m sorry, but it makes me want to bang my head against a wall!

Anyone want to weigh in? Am I too much of a perfectionist?

Discussion: Authorial Intent VS Reader’s Interpretation

This was a really interesting post. For years I read tons of fanfiction (primarily Harry Potter, with a dash of Buffy and Supernatural.) I still do read some of it, but I’m steadily more picky on what I choose.

Anyways, the blogger explores a couple sides to common issues in authorial intent versus reader’s interpretation, and really makes you think. Not only that, but the comments on the post are insightful and contribute to the conversation!

(click on the pic to check it out.)

Source: Discussion: Authorial Intent VS Reader’s Interpretation

JGG: (Reblogged) To Beat a Grammarian: Commas (Adjective and Noun Clauses)

Been a while since I shared one of these. Something a lot of writers need to be clearer/stronger on. Thanks, Tim!

Source: To Beat a Grammarian: Commas (Adjective and Noun Clauses)