#BringThemHere

From GetUp! – an email earlier in the week:

The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has ruled that detaining people in Australia’s abusive Manus Island camp is illegal. That means they must be freed.1

So what happens next? Peter Dutton says ‘nothing will change’2 – but that’s just the final, stuttering scratches of a broken record. In reality, the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia are urgently deciding how to deal with this ruling.

We need to speak up together, right now.

Legally, the government might have a few options – but morally, there’s only one. The Manus Island camp must be closed, and everyone the government illegally imprisoned brought to safety in Australia.

Click here to sign the petition to #BringThemHere

The Australian government’s offshore detention regime has always sat on shaky legal ground (i.e. it’s illegal under international law), but the last six months have seen its corporate and popular support plummet. A growing number of voices – from doctors to investors – have spoken out against the human rights abuses in the camps, and the people power of #LetThemStay is turning the tide.

#LetThemStay showed that more people than ever support allowing people seeking asylum already in Australia to move into our communities. Now, we must prove once and for all that our shared compassion extends to those on Manus Island and Nauru.

While the government is scrambling for a response to this ruling, we need to say loud and clear that the people the government has imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru should be brought here to safety, and the camps closed forever. Sign the petition to #BringThemHere: http://www.getup.org.au/bringthemhere

Today’s news is the latest blow to the government’s brutal offshore detention regime. Together we can make this blow decisive – and build compassionate policies in its place.


Right now is a time of flux. Things are happening and the pressure has ratcheted up again. We have good news – like the protests that occurred today (Friday 29th) and will occur tomorrow (Saturday 30th).

There is also awful bad news – like the man ‘Omid’ who set himself on fire being declared dead (I swore when I read that).

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-29/nauru-refugee-who-set-himself-on-fire-dies/7371112 (trigger warning for suicide).

We have to act, now. I’ll be going down to the Melbourne rally. I will also email my local representative. Things have to change. It won’t be easy, but it is right.

Come on, Australia! We’re better than this – so let’s #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

 

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WT&TT: Outlining (reblogged)

Rob Hart (via Chuck Wendig’s blog) makes a few good points: outlining is good but remember it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. (The amount of times I’ve had to change my outline around a bit because something’s changed on me…!)

Rob Hart: How To Put The Toilet In The Right Place

by terribleminds

* * *

I went into my first novel without an outline.

I regret this!

It took five years to write the book. Characters appeared, disappeared, and reappeared. Entire threads were repurposed, rethought, trashed, and untrashed.

It was like if you’re building a house, but the blueprints are constantly getting changed, and the builders aren’t communicating, and suddenly there’s a toilet next to the fridge. And you have to figure out how to move it, but once you do, it screws with the plumbing lines…

So you hammer away and hope it comes together in the end.

And it did, mostly. I am immensely proud of New Yorked, but looking back, I see the gutted piping that didn’t get relocated. Publishers Weekly, in their review of New Yorked, said:

“The book’s relentless pacing and strong sense of place (happy face)compensate for the incoherent plot line (sad face), which prevents it from being truly effective (very sad face).”

It sucks to hear, but it’s not an unfair point.

One of the lessons I learned from New Yorked is: I’m the kind of writer who needs an outline. I knew the beginning and I knew the ending, but the middle—that’s where the plans got mixed up and the basement stairs suddenly led to the roof.

So for my second book, City of Rose, I knew I wanted a strong set of blueprints. The question was: How? There’s no one right way to outline. So I took a couple of tries, sketching things out, jotting down ideas.

Then I came across something that really worked for me.

Read more by clicking on the title. 

WT&TT: Simplicity and Elegance in Storytelling

Chuck’s advice makes sense. It makes more sense when taken as a whole than when read in small chunks, so head over to his website.

Remember to ask: what’s the motivation?

After finishing the F Words and Character Personality Types, I asked that question of each character I had a heading for. Try it!

Simplicity And Elegance In Storytelling

by terribleminds

I went off a bit the other day on Twitter regarding overcomplexity in fiction — I’ve seen it too many times now, especially across SFF and across thrillers or even horror novels, where convoluted characters motivations and plots get in the way of a damn good story.

A chief example of this in film right now is the James Bond franchise. The re-do of Casino Royale is a nearly perfect package — its packaging of the character and the plot are compressed so tightly, it turns an otherwise coal-black franchise into a shining fucking diamond. It’s a lesson they forget in the follow-ups, where the work just gets more bloated and convoluted and everyone seems to act in thrall to a blither-blather knot-tangle plot rather than acting in service to the elegance of the first Daniel Craig installment. Actually, Tarantino’s films have gone this way, too — Reservoir Dogs is about as tightly woven as they come. Then, with each successive release, his films get bigger and more tangled and seem more in service to his style and his lack of narrative control rather than to telling the aforementioned damn good story.

Read more by clicking on the title. 

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

WT&TT: On Sentence Fragments & Stylistic Jibber-Jabber (reblog)

Chuck Wendig talks about author choice and reader preference. I use both run-on sentences and sentence fragments, though I think I’m more partial to the former. It all depends on what fits best. Or, to quote Chuck,

“Writing involves a series of stylistic choices. Sometimes these choices mean breaking rules. It’s okay to make these choices as an author. It’s okay to not like these choices as a reader.”

Read more here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/02/09/on-sentence-fragments-and-other-stylistic-jibber-jabber/

REBLOGGED: Self-Care for Writers

Ten tips from Chuck (in his usual style) about a really important thing – self-care.

Self-Care For Writers: Some Tips!

by terribleminds

Back when I was in elementary school, we used to do that thing on Valentine’s Day where you wrote little crummy cardboardy valentines (often from Your Favorite Brand™) to your other class members and of course you saved the good ones for the kids you had a crush on and of course there were those poor sods who always got way fewer valentines than other kids even though you were supposed to write valentines for everybody. It was cruel and strange and an odd sort of training for being a writer.

Because really, our books and our stories are all paper valentines. We write them and send them out into the world to crushes and non-crushes alike and we really hope you accept them. And we really hope you give us a valentine back.

We are all just authors standing in front of audiences asking them to love us.

Buy our books, yes. But also, love us.

It sets us up for a lot of heartbreak. Which is nobody’s fault; it is what it is. We stick our hearts not on our sleeves but on the paper and then we slide the paper in front of you and watch your face to see how you react. And this isn’t just one to one. This isn’t just us asking one person if they liked our book. It’s cumulative. It’s us asking hundreds, thousands, all the people to dig what we’re doing. Or at least to recognize that we’re doing it. And that can be hard. It is compounded by the fact that as I said in the last post (Your 2016 Authorial Mandate!), we’re all clothes drying on the line — we are not well-protected as a creative species.

As such, it is up to us to protect ourselves to some degree.

Self-care is very important for a writer. Let’s talk some tips.

Read more by clicking on the title above.

Knee Update

It’s been two weeks since the knee accident. Things are going pretty well, considering.

A week after it, the knee looked like this:

Still quite swollen, but going down. As of a few days ago, the swelling had almost completely gone, though it’s still a bit puffy:

We went to see an orthopaedic surgeon (OS) last Wednesday and I’ll start physio next week. The OS told me to start using my knee again (gently) and explained the reason why the knee popped out. My lateral ligament (ligament on the outside of the knee which helps hold the kneecap in place) is stronger than the medial (inside) ligament. That will mean that in semester break I’ll be looking at some keyhole surgery to correct that, but for now I have to do physio and just take it gently.

So far, that’s gone pretty well. I’m no longer exempt from household tasks, which is a good thing now that’s been clarified. I’m even getting along without the small brace/guard I used for a while (see pics). The only problem I have at the moment is my leg doesn’t want to stand up straight. I think that’s because it feels more stable slightly bent or something. I’m working on that and we have the physio on Monday, so that’s not too much of an issue really.

I should be fine (touch wood) to go back to uni once break is over. I’m happy about that – I like doing things in person better than online anyway.

I’d like to publicly thank my mum, who has done a lot for me during this time, starting at the hospital and continuing through the first week and after. I understand the phrase “there are times you just want your mum” better now. 🙂 Thanks for everything! I’ll try to be better at responding now I’m on the mend.

Value your body! I’ll be glad when the knee joint feels a bit more stable.