There and Back Again

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

May 24, 2012 -- 4:19 A.M.

Not much news. I got back from a trip to Washington D.C. for my younger brother's graduation a few days ago. I'm still recovering from travel and from the fact that I was spending eight to ten hours on my feet every day, which is not something I'm used to. We took my grandmother, who is disabled on a trip, in a wheelchair. It's the first time we've used it, and I gained a whole lot more sympathy for the disabled rights movement. I didn't consider myself particularly unsympathetic before, but I certainly was unaware. To all the conservative articles complaining about small businesses losing money because they had to sand their ramps down an eighth of an inch, I say SCREW YOU. Because sometimes that eighth of an inch matters. There were several times where pedestrians had to stop and help me push my grandmother up a sidewalk because I was literally not strong enough to get her up over a crack. And the steep grades constantly made me afraid that my, err, rather full-bodied grandmother was going to roll over the top of me if I lost my balance. It was nice that so many people were willing to help, or go out of their way to make sure my grandmother had good opportunities. It was a really fun visit. I especially loved the Library of Congress, which had fantastic architecture and some really cool Aztec and Incan artifacts.

The real tragedy of the trip is that, after going through a security checkpoint at one of the Smithsonians, I was looking for a bench to sit down and redo my camera case properly, but I couldn't find one on my level and so I went down the stairs and my camera slipped out.

There are few things so discouraging in life as hearing your thousand-dollar camera going BOINK-BOINK-BOINK down uncarpeted marble stairs. My lens broke, but the camera itself seems okay. I'm pretty sad about it. The lens will probably cost $300 or $400 to replace. You'd think they'd realize the need for benches after security checkpoints.

I'm trying to pick up momentum on my book again after the trip and managed to write 3000 words today, which is something, but I'm finding it hard to find my enthusiasm. The main characters are good, but the side characters are...problematic. I realized that *VAGUE SPOILERS* I'm using a disabled character as a throwaway sacrifice to further an abled character's storyline and one of my other side character's story arcs can be reduced to "you need to accept child abuse because it's for everybody's good!" The trouble is, I intentionally was playing around with tropes here--IE, 'the women who is stuffed into the refrigerator is a man this time' and 'how much free will does a hero who sacrifices himself for the community ala Harry Potter and every other fantasy messiah out there actually have?'--but there's a rough line between undermining/reversing a trope and just feeding into it. Then again, how much time/word space can you devote to every idea? It's tough, really. It's easy to criticize, but a lot harder to produce work that responds thoughtfully to criticism. Over-analysis of one's own work can be quite paralyzing, but I don't see how it's possible to produce something that's high quality in terms of intellectual stimulus without this kind of thought.

I'm hoping all this will iron itself out in the narrative if I just force myself through. I've seen a lot of blog posts offering criticism on works, and authors' responses to criticism, but I've never seen a post by an author about how to write while keeping criticism in mind. Oh, there's the "be more aware," which is all very well, but there has to be some stepping stone between awareness and producing strong work.

I don't really know what to do about it. And I think the "ignore it because someone will be offended no matter what you do" argument is intellectually and morally bankrupt, so that's not good advice.


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