speaks for itself, doesn't it
alara_r

Leonard Nimoy dead at 83
alara_r
Oh man. I worried this might happen when I heard he'd gone to the hospital, because I knew his health had been declining -- 83 isn't young -- but it still hurts.

Leonard Nimoy was the first actor I ever identified as a separate, recognizable person I was obsessed with in addition to the character he played. I watched Mission Impossible and In Search Of solely because Leonard Nimoy was in them. When I was a kid and we first started hearing the rumors about a new Star Trek series but Nimoy would not be signing on, I swore up and down that I wouldn't watch it because it wouldn't be Star Trek without Spock and Leonard Nimoy. (I am talking about the series that never happened, which was replaced with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Yeah, I'm that old.) I remember being in hog heaven when I got hold of the Spock vs. Q audiobooks, because Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie were, like, my two most favorite actors ever, playing my favorite characters. Nimoy's "I Am Not Spock" is the only actor autobiography I have ever read, still.

I never included Spock in fic much because my tastes changed as I got older, and I started preferring to write the characters I don't identify with as main characters. I continued to write Picard, Xavier, and nowadays Twilight Sparkle because I could bounce them off characters like Q, Magneto and Discord, but there are no antiheroic trickster archetypes connected with Spock... Kirk is close to Trickster-As-Hero but is a little too orderly and buttoned up (Magneto's not Trickster, I like Magneto for different reasons that don't apply to Kirk either.) But I still love and identify with the character, and I've always liked and respected Nimoy as an actor and as a person. He was smart, and talented, and all evidence suggests he was a decent human being, and possibly even a feminist (he did a whole photography book on the concept of the Shekinah, the female aspect of God in the Jewish Kabbalah. Until I heard about that I had no idea the Jews even had a concept of a female aspect of God, since that part never made it into Christianity.)

This makes me sad. I mean, the man was 83, I knew this was coming soon enough. But damn.

Regarding fanfic, health and fat shaming
alara_r
I have a problem.

I am plotting a story about a character who is recovering from torture. The character is suffering from fantastic disabilities (ie, the loss of abilities that normal real world humans don't have in the first place, not disabilities it would be awesome to have) and PTSD from what they have endured. Because they were starved while in captivity, and because they are depressed over their new disabilities and because food is one of the few pleasures they have left in life, they start overeating. A lot.

Now in this fictional universe, no one bodyshames anyone for being a different weight, because it never happens in canon and so I declare by fiat that this particular world doesn't have this particular evil. However, the same is not true for our world. So when I have a character who naturally has a thin, wiry frame overeating, and because the character was physically weak from being tortured and starved and isn't particularly driven to recover their physical strength, this results in seriously negative health consequences, I'm not doing this because I fetishize being skinny or I want to shame the character for getting fat... they aren't even getting fat, they're too skinny to get fat quickly. They're putting on weight faster than they can convert it into muscle, which makes their physical weakness worse, and their body type is all wrong for it, but it's not about what they look like or how much they weigh. It's about the behavior being literally unhealthy -- it's making them weaker, giving them back pain and circulatory problems. And I don't mean for "unhealthy" to act as a proxy for "sinful" or "mentally broken" or "bad", either; this is someone who's been through hell, unhealthy coping mechanisms are normal and to be expected from someone who can't get any kind of therapy and who has problems reaching out to friends for help.

But I live in a world where perfectly healthy people are shamed for eating too much to meet an unrealistic beauty standard, and told the reason they are being shamed is that they are "unhealthy", as if failure to be healthy is a crime or a sin. I don't want to perpetuate these pernicious attitudes in my writing. But ironically, if I were setting this in our world, I could raise the issue of "health" masquerading as moral shaming so I could shoot it down, because the character who is trying to point out to the torture survivor that the overeating behavior is unhealthy is not doing it to be a moralistic scold but because literally the character fears that their friend could die, or end up bedridden, from the combination of unwillingness to exercise (or even complete physical therapy) and the overeating. (Also because they are living on this character's charity, and have made the household grocery budget more than double.) I can't do that, because the characters themselves don't come from a world where fat shaming exists, so I can't raise it as an issue in order to shoot it down and prove that's not what's going on.

I don't want the character who is trying to help to be seen as a fat-shaming judgemental ass, and I don't want readers to agree that the traumatized character should stop overeating because they think people who eat too much are disgusting horrible slobs who deserve to be shamed; I want to present it as what it is. The behavior's a coping mechanism to deal with something horrible; it is understandable, and forgivable, and it is certainly healthier than the starvation the character was subjected to under torture; but it is still, literally, not healthy, it is getting in the way of the character's physical recovery, and a friend would be right to be concerned. Given the baggage our world comes with, I am very worried about this... but at the same time I feel like writing it any other way would not be true to the characters. 

For all the people with depression
alara_r

I just read a blog post from a very talented young writer suffering from depression, which led me to want to post this.

The nature of your illness is that your brain will latch onto any thought that it can to justify why you are unhappy/apathetic/unable to wake up in the morning. So very likely you blame yourself for your depression. You think, you just need to get over it. Your life is fine, no one used to beat you every day, you're just being a whiny little goth emo wussy with first world problems, there are people being massacred somewhere in the world and yet here you are wanting to kill yourself, what's wrong with you? You don't deserve to feel this way. There are people with real problems in the world. Blah blah blah.

Bullshit. All of it is bullshit. Your feelings are real, and they are not your fault. They aren't necessarily anyone's fault. Depression is a physical illness that alters the chemistry of your brain. It can be caused by life circumstances -- being in a prolonged state of despair or severe anxiety over things that are really happening can cause your brain to get stuck in that mode, so even getting out of those circumstances doesn't make you happy, and then you blame yourself for not being happy because what kind of an ingrate wouldn't be happy at escaping such awful circumstances? No. It's not your fault. Depression can also be caused by simple genetics, nothing at all is wrong with your life, you just hate yourself and wish you were dead and it's all your fault you're such a whiny emo bastard. No. Not your fault.

You cannot wish yourself out of depression any more than a diabetic can wish themselves a new pancreas. It is biochemical. It's happening in your brain. The essence of you, your fundamental selfness, is not depression. It's more like, for whatever reason, your brain has stopped manufacturing neurotransmitters that you need to live and be happy. Don't blame your brain, it's not its fault either, any more than it would be your arm's fault for not being able to lift stuff after it got broken. You can do things that might help kickstart your brain into making the stuff you need -- get more exercise, change your diet, surround yourself with things that make you happy -- but they may not work. That is not your fault.

You don't want to take meds. You think they're a crutch. Newsflash: when your leg is broken you need a crutch. You think taking meds would acknowledge that you are permanently broken, or insane. No one wants to be broken or insane. Well, you might be permanently broken, and maybe you need glue. Refusing to admit to yourself the facts won't make them go away. It's not your fault. Your illness wants you to believe there is no hope, so you'll latch onto any reason to believe all of this is your fault and it's just because you're pathetic and you deserve this and NO. None of this is your fault. You may possibly have the power to fix it, but that doesn't make it your fault.

None of the meds you've taken have worked for you. That's not your fault. Maybe you're on the wrong meds, or maybe you just won't respond to meds. Still not your fault. There are other treatments. It may possibly be something in your life that hurts really badly but that you can't bring yourself to admit to, like maybe the career path you have been planning since you were 6 and that you are locked into and everyone expects of you is actually turning out to be something you hate. Or maybe you're gay or transgender or asexual and you're terrified of the lack of support you'll get from anyone you love. Or maybe you're in an abusive relationship but you haven't admitted that to yourself yet. Or maybe you're in a job you hate profoundly but you need to pay the bills so badly you can't admit how much you hate it.

It's not your fault. None of that is your fault. But there are ways out. Other people who have been under as much pressure as you have found ways out. Some problems, it's easier to escape as you get older. If that's the kind of problem you have then hang in there; don't despair, you may find a way out and it might be sooner than you think. Therapy can help, if you can get a good therapist. There are lots of bad therapists in the world. There are also good ones. If you can't get therapy talk to a friend, vent on a blog, get it out there somehow. Being locked in your own head will make you worse.

I have been through this multiple times. My future career plans were destroyed by a bout with depression in grad school that I refused to acknowledge for what it was because surely my life was too good to warrant me being depressed about anything. Ten years later I almost killed myself because my boyfriend yelled at me for buying the wrong tomatoes. I've had nights where the entire concept of love just up and vanished, and I cried hysterically because I couldn't remember what it felt like to love or be loved and I thought I would be that way forever. I've had years where the slow low-level dull grind of depression wore down my brain until I couldn't concentrate on anything and then it was my fault that I turned stupid and wasn't getting any work done. I know what it's like to want to die to silence the voice in your head that says that you're awful and nothing is worth anything. I know what it's like to be too apathetic to bother to do it. I know what it's like to be unable to call a doctor to get help because that would involve interacting with a human being and anyway it won't help and I deserve it anyhow for not being strong enough to just fix it. I'm forty-five years old and I've been struggling with this thing on and off for longer than some of you have been alive.

It's not my fault. It's not your fault. Do everything you can to help yourself, and when you can't because the voice in your head says you're too awful and worthless to deserve to be helped, remember that that's not you, and it's not true. There's a reason the Kinks said "There's a red under my bed, and there's a little yellow man in my head, and there's a true blue inside of me that keeps stopping me from touching you, wanting you, loving you"; there's a reason Trent Reznor said "It won't give up, it wants me dead, goddamn this noise inside my head". You're not insane, you're not literally hearing voices, but there is an emotion being imposed on you that you don't deserve to have to feel and it is not your fault and you're not crazy, you're just depressed. There's nothing wrong with your rationality, but rationality is driven at its base by first principles that are set by emotion, and there is something wrong with your emotions and it is not your fault and many many other people have the same problem and many of them have gotten help. And sometimes you get help and you get better and then it comes back. It's not your fault. You can get out of that one too. And if you don't get out it's still not your fault. And if it kills you it's still not your fault. But fight it anyway, because it's not your fault but you don't deserve to have to suffer it and you have a lot to give the world and you deserve to be happy and to accomplish the things you wanted to accomplish in life.

No one can step in and rescue you from yourself. Your loved ones and your friends may be able to help you to fight this battle, but they can't fight it for you. Your illness tells you not to bother to fight because what's the point anyway and you deserve this and you're not worth saving. NO. That is the noise inside your head, the one Trent Reznor was talking about. That's not you and it's a liar. It will try to kill you or to ruin your life. It might win, and if it does, it's not your fault. But try not to let it win because FUCK THAT STUPID VOICE IN YOUR HEAD YOU DESERVE TO LIVE AND BE HAPPY AND YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS AND IT IS TOTALLY FUCKING UNFAIR THAT YOU GOT STUCK WITH THIS ILLNESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T DESERVE IT AND IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT AND FUCK DEPRESSION ANYWAY IT DOESN'T DESERVE TO WIN.

You have the right to feel what you feel. It is a real feeling. But it is caused by an illness. You cannot make it go away by "being strong" anymore than you could make cancer or diabetes go away. You need care. You need help. And you deserve these things. Maybe someone else made it go away by "being strong", but maybe theirs wasn't as bad as yours or maybe they ate some foods that drove it into remission and anyway they are not you. Still not your fault. You're not weak. You're ill, and it's not your fault, and you deserve help.


Need some information
alara_r
I need to know what resources I can use to research training methods for animals from circuses and zoos circa late 1800's through mid 1900's. Specifically, if you are not humane and you do not care about animal suffering, but you do not want to damage the valuable and rare animal you are trying to train, how would people have gone about training wild animals to do tricks? I don't need to know how it's done now, I'm looking for older methodologies for a fic. Anyone out there know of resources I can use?

55K booyah!
alara_r
So I don't do traditional NaNoWriMo because I don't like to be tied down; my muse does what it wants, and 50K words is actually not a novel, not in science fiction. It's not even publishable unless you go selfies or you're already a name.

But I have had it in my head for many years that I wanted to prove to myself that I *could* do it if I chose by writing 50K words in the month of November. I wouldn't necessarily restrain myself to a single novel, or to stories I started in the month of November, but I would do 50K words.

Just hit 55K for the month of November last night. BOOYAH!

They're all My Little Pony fics featuring Discord because yes I have a new obsession. Although he's actually Q in more than half of them, so it's really an old obsession in a new form.

Links to the fics under the cut.Collapse )

Well they are sort of Q fics
alara_r
So I've posted all of my Q as Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fics on alara_works.

Yes, it is a series about cartoon ponies. Deal with it. It also has John de Lancie playing the God of Chaos, so, well. This was probably inevitable. :-)

Index post to all fics so far is here.

Going to worldbuilding hell
alara_r
I have just spent a couple of hours inventing an imaginary language to be spoken by an extinct race on a planet full of talking, brightly colored magical ponies.

I am going to worldbuilding hell.

I regret nothing
alara_r
I have written My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic.

Because Discord is Q. No, seriously. The notion of Q going and being the God of Chaos on a planet full of beings that are incredibly powerful, but not a match for the Q, is an amazingly perfect fit to the headcanon I've held for Q for twenty years. Lauren Faust even had them animate him snapping his fingers when he does stuff. (For those not familiar with the series: the producer wanted the character, a spirit of seriously annoying but not totally malevolent chaos, to be essentially based on Q, and then found out that John de Lancie was free and available to do the voice acting. So they got John de Lancie to play an animated spirit of chaos who was based on Q. And Q can take any form he wants and visit any planet he wants. How does that *not* end up with "Discord is Q"?)

I have several stories in mind, actually, but this one knits together the MLP episode "Keep Calm and Flutter On" and the TNG episode "Deja Q". Thus far it's mostly comedic, establishing, well, what is it like to have the Spirit of Chaos for a friend? A lot of the fanfics I've read so far seem to go with post-reformation Discord trying and failing to contain his chaos, or do nice things for people with his chaos that end up not working out so well, or stuff like that, but in my universe Discord is Q and therefore he pretty much knows what he's doing. Sure, he's been incredibly immature for billions of years, but it's not like he isn't usually several steps ahead of everyone else. So what I'm setting up is, why is Discord genuinely willing to make a friend right now, as opposed to pretty much any other time we've seen him either as Discord or as Q, and also, establish what that friendship looks like, in a way that's fun and makes him sympathetic without being OOC or forgetting what an enormously annoying pain in the ass he can be.

It's never going to go all that dark -- frankly, if I want to write grimdark, I have fandoms it fits into a hell of a lot better than this one -- but it's not going to stay silly comedy, either. I've finished somewhere between a half and a third of it.

And also, I have no title for it yet.

Meme (aka, let's see if anyone's still reading this)
alara_r
Copypasta'd from astrogirl and others.

I have 130 works archived at AO3. Pick a number from 1 (the most recent) to 130 (the first thing I posted there), and I'll tell you three things I currently like about it.

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