Michaeline: A Question of Conformity

Old French print of a person dressed perfectly as female Mmme Beaumont on half of the body, and male Chevalier D'Eon on the other half. It's the juxtaposition that doesn't conform.

“So, you want me to conform? All right! I’ll conform! I’ll conform in a way you’ve never seen before! I’ll be the best damn conformer you’ve ever seen.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Kay’s post this week has me thinking about The Right Thing To Do. She’s written a three-volume story about (amongst other things) the heroine resisting marriage, resisting marriage, and then finally succumbing to what is still a social ideal in our culture: the state of matrimony. In other words, conformity.

But from what Kay’s told us, her heroine is not going to conform in a completely socially approved way: wedding in Vegas with costumes and glitter. For Kay, the point isn’t the wedding. She’d like to skip writing about it and let the reader imagine the wedding.

But her beta readers are pressing her to conform. I, myself, talked about how a wedding is a very traditional ending to a series – a big set piece of glitz and love that rewards the reader with a big piece of wedding cake for putting up with all the trials and tribulations. So, Kay’s in a bit of a bind; in her gut, she wants the clean ending – a light smear of frosting. But many of us are pushing for flowers of marzipan and silver dragees. And Kay, at one point, said very simply and with great eloquence, “Crap.” Continue reading

Michaeline: Gordon Ramsay Crossover Writing Lessons, Part One

Gordon Ramsay with a lamb around his neck and shoulders.

Gordon Ramsay took this little lamb to school. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

WARNING: Profanity. (It involves Gordon Ramsay. What did you fucking expect?)

To a certain extent, art is art is art. Still, I was surprised how applicable some of the lessons Gordon Ramsay taught his restauranteurs were to the art of writing.

Here’s the deal: I’ve avoided Kitchen Nightmares and that kind of reality show because I heard there’s a lot of yelling, and humiliation just isn’t my jam. But I was feeling depressed, spending entirely too much time on YouTube, and the only interesting thing in my recommended feed was a clip from such a show. I’d seen Gordon Ramsay on things like Jimmy Fallon, so I decided three minutes of my time was not too big of a loss.

Dear Readers, three minutes turned into hours and hours of binge-watching over the last couple of weeks. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I’ve seen British Kitchen Nightmares, American Kitchen Nightmares, clips and full episodes, and an assorted chocolate box of Gordon Ramsay all over the modern media. And I regret nothing.

Yes, there’s yelling and sometimes humiliation. But there’s also a combination of mystery Continue reading

Michaeline: Heigh-ho, Trigger!

Queen Isabella in a luxurious riding habit on a horse, surrounded by supporters

Heigh-ho, Trigger, away! (Oh, yeah, Trigger was the cowboy’s horse. Still, same concept. Get on the horse and ride.) (Queen Isabella brought to you via Wikipedia Commons.)

I’m talking about anti-procrastination this month, and I’ve got another link-heavy post, but I hope you find it useful. Last week I talked about using hypnosis to boost your motivation. I know it sounds crazy, but many writers talk about how the process of writing is a trance. In this YouTube video, Stephen King said, “You fall into a kind of a trance if you do the same passes over and over.” He’s talking about setting up habits and triggers. Eating breakfast with his wife, having a pot of tea, and so on. These things tell his backbrain, it’s time to write.

Musician and novelist Nick Cave also called the creative process “an altered state in itself” when he talked with NPR recently. “I wake. I write. I eat. I write. I watch TV.” It’s worth listening to his interview to get a really no-nonsense sense of process (and be sure to read the transcript for extra thoughts).

So, if writing is a trance, it helps to set up triggers to put you into this trance. Continue reading