December 4th, 2012


Disability for Writers

I found some fascinating discussion about a disability equivalent to the Bechdel Test for female content.  Here's an early version.  It references the Dave Test and the Rolling Test.  A different version appears here.  If you compare the versions you can see how people sometimes want different things from portrayals.

Crowdfunding makes it easier to get these things.  I have characters with handicaps; people who want to read more about them can request a return appearance.  Or they can suggest new characters, or whatever.  I like that.

Looking at the different tests, my scoring varies.  They all include the presence of a disabled character.  Check, I have a bunch of those.  Whether the character has a goal in the story or not -- that varies.  Sometimes the disabled character is the main focus, other times there for background parity, but I don't use them as literary lawn ornaments.  Some people like background parity and others hate it.  (Background parity: when a motif can appear without making the whole story necessarily about that thing.  It can be ordinary, it can be in the background like everyone else's traits.)

Whether the disability matters to the action is important to me; it's rare that I set a disabled character as protagonist without factoring in how their disability affects their path through the world.  In background parity, it may or may not come up much. It bugs the crap out of me when a writer puts in a disability, but it's like window dressing and doesn't affect the action even when it should.

I also tend to avoid the disability stop-tropes, mentioned in one version as "Death, Cure, or Revenge."  Being a minority isn't a "get out of death free" card in my writing, but I am slightly more protective of such characters.  Sometimes my characters can get adaptive equipment, but a complete removal of disability is really rare.  That's still a touchy issue: I've had people complain about the Eye of Fate in Monster House.  For me it's an integral part of the daughter's character, though, because it affects how she perceives the world and thus how she interacts with people.  She is still different.  Revenge rarely comes up, but then, most of my disabled characters were either born that way or got handicapped through no-fault situations.  So it's just not relevant for them.  I do have an inkling of an idea for a disabled villain, but I think "revenge" is less precise than "stop the adversary."  More generally, I suspect all the stuff is simply a fancy fractal branch off my core of "I don't write what everyone else is writing, unless I pick up a popular motif to twist it into a corkscrew."

I'd be happy to see more stories that pass any version of the disability Bechdel.  Not just because they are more respectful, but because if you look at the requirements, you see that those angle toward stronger stories in terms of literary structure.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you all for your time and enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "games and toys."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "Secondary Feathers" (Fledgling Grace, 18 verses).

What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "games and toys." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme.  Prompting is free!  Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.  Finished poems become available for sponsorship.

Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A new feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.

3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  "Secondary Feathers" belongs to the Fledgling Grace series and has 18 verses.

Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl.  These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size.  If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day.  If donations reach $300, you get a piece of bonus material relating to a poetic series.

Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "games and toys."  I'll be soliciting ideas for players, toymakers, referees and other gaming judges, game pieces, toys, famous playthings, foreign playthings, playgrounds, game rooms, places where games and toys are made, the history of playthings, playing with games or toys, interference or other mishaps during play, cheating, teamwork, breaking or repairing toys, gaming strategies, special occasions associated with games or toys, funny names for playthings, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Secondary Feathers.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

Poem: "Secondary Feathers"

Since the linkback perk seems to be missing in action, I'll post it myself.  Comment here with your links to the December 2012 Poetry Fishbowl to reveal verses, one per service where you link.  "Secondary Feathers" is now complete.  Linkers include: janetmiles, catsittingstillzianuraycadenzamusesiliconshamanthesilentpoet

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Poem: "Hidden Seeker"

This is the second freebie for today's session, courtesy of new prompter DW user elliemurasaki.  It was inspired by a prompt from minor_architect, and also by the World Walkers setting of kajones_writing.  You can read about the magic of the thirteen families on the author's website.  There are shyders in this poem again, and it's posted here prior to approval, so its canon status is indeterminate at this time.  The poem also fills the "hiding" square in my card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest.

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