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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

I was ridiculously charmed by this typo in the online transcription of a 1919 Loeb Classical Library edition of Martial’s epigrams at Archive.org:

“That Martial was capable of a very sincere and lusting friendship is shown by many of his epigrams.”

Indeed it is.

As the rest of the Loeb introduction mentions, we don’t know much about what the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis got up to between the collapse of Nero’s court and his acceptance into the favour of the Flavian imperial dynasty—well, other than what he complains about in his poems, such as his lousy walk-up living space. That allows for a lot of leeway for him to make a guest appearance in The Knife of Narcissus starting in Book 3, the new installment that releases on Monday.

Martial’s poems show up before he does, as graffiti in public spaces and copied into various unauthorised editions; then the poet himself arrives, selling the equivalent of holiday greeting cards and busking in the marketplace. As one of ancient Rome’s raunchiest poets, he’s a perfect fit for Lucius’s taste in literature, even though he doesn’t turn out to be the sort of person Lucius expected him to be.

Martial left behind an enormous output, and one of the most fun (and sometimes outright funny) parts of my research was finding poems to fit the various parts of the story; then translating them to use as-is or with tweaks to suit the scene (we’ll assume Martial wrote a few first drafts). And if I needed a new turn of phrase for an age-old act, Martial was a good place to look for creatively inspiring wording.

Pliny the Younger, one of Martial’s illustrious patrons, called him “a man of genius, of subtle and quick intelligence, and one who in his writings showed the greatest wit and pungency, and just as much fairness….But it’s likely his writings will not last. Maybe they will not—but he wrote them as if they would.”

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Girl cooties

I haven’t been very posty the past couple of weeks, which I’d like to blame on being consumed by NaNoWriMo, but which is mostly due to a heavy workload at the day job. But I’ve been babbling in the comments sections of other blogs, and there’s an interesting conversation going on at Jessewave’s about female characters in m/m. It broadened in the comments into a discussion about f/m scenes in m/m (and vice versa). Angela Benedetti wrote an insightful reply bouncing off one of my comments—reposted on her own blog—about staying true to a story versus compromising on content in order to reach more readers, and it’s well worth a read. It certainly left me feeling more inspired to finish the NaNo project and less fretful about the potential audience/market for The Knife of Narcissus.

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I blathered so much on the Dear Author blog about this, I figure I should gather my comments together here just for the record. It was in response to fan reaction to the ending of Allegiant, the third book in Veronica Roth’s dystopian YA series (soon to be a major motion picture, etc. etc.); and another YA author, John Green, complaining that young readers whose hearts were broken are “wrong” about how to read books and have an obligation to be generous to the text (his words). There was a moderately long discussion on Dear Author (only 50 comments at this point, so actually not that long), and I’m sure the conversation has been longer elsewhere. It reminded me of some of the books of my tweenhood and teenhood that broke my heart, and one in particular that feels like a close parallel to the Allegiant situation. Mostly, I just find myself irritated by Green’s comments, which are rather silly, bumptious, and removed from reality.

It seems terribly disingenuous to write novels with a goal of bringing out strong emotions and fierce engagement from young readers, and particularly from teenagers craving emotional heights, and then when they react with fierce emotion to tell them they’re doing their feelings wrong. Young-adulthood is tumultuous enough without telling kids their own emotions are incorrect. I don’t know that Roth is saying this, or whether she’s graciously rolling with the reactions to the story she wanted to tell; but Green should know better than to tut-tut at readers.

Should readers, teen or adult, be threatening an author over an unsatisfactory ending? Of course not—and I have no objection to sitting anyone who does that down and giving them a firm discussion on inappropriate reaction and going over the line. Does the creator of anything “owe” people specific outcomes? No—though it may affect sales/viewership. But there’s no profit in informing people they’re incorrect to feel passion, love, elation, satisfaction, or downright hate over a story, or even over just the spoiler about a beloved story, if they’ve already invested emotional energy into living in the world.

Especially when so much of the fan base is female. Girls are told much too often that they’re doing it wrong, what with all their silly girly emotions.

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Don’t be afraid to do different. Don’t be afraid to tell stories the way you want to tell them. With genre or page count or style, with voice or plotline or character, I say hop the rails, I say kick down the walls, I say tear up all that yellow DANGER DO NOT ENTER tape. Be bold. Ride the sharp turns. Gallop down the mountain switchbacks. Tell your stories the way you want. Tell the stories that aren’t married to a safe and previously-established pattern.

Author Chuck Wendig has some great posts about writing—on technique, inspiration, and just getting words on the page and pixels on the screen—on his blog. There’s a new post today about revving up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with links to some of his greatest hits. This post from April, quoted up top, made my day. (I was going to note that Chuck’s language is usually NSFW, but then, so are most of my stories.)

I’ve been enjoying his Miriam Black series. Very intense.

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