“Oh I don’t know where it is, Jane. You put the body there last time.”
Challenge: Tell a story in one short dialogue chunkette.
The World and Writing of Rosie D. Ruthers from Erotica to Paranormal Romance to Pulp fiction and Essays on Writing and More.
“Oh I don’t know where it is, Jane. You put the body there last time.”
Challenge: Tell a story in one short dialogue chunkette.
Cliches aren’t an inherent problem. Shocker. I know. You’d never expect Rosie to say something like that, but it is true. Cliches are not an inherent problem in writing or life. The problem with cliches is twofold sincerity and whether or not they’re boring. A cliche fails when it feels insincere. Let’s put it another way your partner can say “You look great”, but you’ll usually be able to tell when they are really serious or just spouting platitudes. Why? Because there is a difference in tone. Whether your reading a book or a blog you can tell the difference between someone writing passionately and with more than a passing interest to get a concept out.
I say this because I think there are a lot of writers who like the idea of writing and the concept of telling a story, but who don’t want to dig into what they’re writing enough to make it feel authentic. You pick up a book or read someone’s story page and your met with an obvious love of the concept of a character or a relationship, but the writer hasn’t made the story worth your while. They love the idea of this handsome young lad sweeping this girl off her feet…but there is actually no relationship between them except for the writer telling you so. They never have serious conversations or bond beyond steamy scenes, and even if your’re left with a bit of enjoyment you can’t quite believe in their relationship.
Plenty of blogs and stories that I started have not been finished for that very reason. They’re concepts with no depth, and that’s how you fall into the cliche. You don’t sound sincere even if you sincerely want to tell your story. D.D Griggs and I talked about this the other day. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction there are cliches and themes. She writes self-help books, and 70% of them are similar or have similar themes that are cliches we can all spout to a certain degree. Writers like her put those cliches into a context and a way of living that is incredibly important, but we’re all familiar with self-help stereotypes of conferences, yogis, and hippies. Most people can tell you one common philosophy in self-help, but neither of those things are inherently bad. What makes a self-help book succeed or fail is a matter of someone liking the author’s style, but more so it is a matter of whether that author is speaking from a place of sincerity and belief. That’s what keeps those cliches from being a problem.
When cliches become a problem is when they’re boring and don’t feel genuine. A blogger talking about “the power of positivism” and working out won’t grab your interest if they are just issuing copy-pasted ideas to their audience. If they don’t let you in to who they are you don’t feel like you can trust them because all you see is surface cliches. The same thing happens in fiction. If you have a book about a werewolf romance that is just paint by numbers it may make money…but it won’t make you an audience for the next book. It won’t get you the sort of repeat readers you want because the readers can tell you aren’t in it and you’re not giving them anything interesting. By that same token, someone else can write the exact same plot (and people do this and do it well) but they make the characters more sincere and write with more passion. They try to keep the story interesting and their readers see that. In blogging and ebook writing I see a lot of people just regurgitating what they think will get them blog follows or downloads, and then I go to forums of people upset and complaining about not getting sales. Well, you aren’t giving a unique product. You give something that is pain by numbers…and so have hundreds of thousands of others, which has hurt the market in many ways all on its own. These writers just don’t see how the cliches aren’t what hurts or helps a story or blog or what have you. It is a matter of how something is written and the tone that allows readers to connect.
Cliches can be powerful tools not only when you subvert them, but when you embrace them with the intention of making them interesting and bringing somethign new to the table with all the sincerity you can muster. This not only applies to the page or screen, but to how you talk to people as well. I hope you keep that in mind when writing holiday cards this season or are getting ready for New Years.
Until next time…
Can you believe in yourself while acknowledging your limitations? I think a lot of people assert that you cannot when the reality is, so long as we are fair and compassionate to ourselves, we truly can. We often forget to be kind to ourselves because we notice our flaws more than we ever realize. We must accept critique with grace, but remember to never let those critiques define us or undermine our self-confidence. No one is perfect, and we must not only recognize that, but accept it as part of our reality as we grow as people. It is hard, but the effort is worth it.
Lust. We all like to think we know what it is, but do we really? Do our textbook definitions encompass the depth and variety of what lust truly can be? I don’t think it does that often, and when we write or talk about lust we have to acknowledge it isn’t as simple as alarms going off in your pant regions. So let’s get down and dirty into what lust is…and yeah we’re also going to talk about pants region. This is only a little taste of this issue, but there is far more to be written about this. I’d love to know you’re opinion!
Of course this post barely scratched the surface of it all, but I wanted to begin unpacking a bit of this awesome and complex thing we call lust! What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Tell me what’s up!
In the heat of the battle in the midst of burning magic and the beastial cries of warring animals that blended with seering human screams I found myself reminded of New Year’s Eve 1923.
So this is the first line of my nanowrimo story which will be published under another name so. This is all you’re getting . Not sure it’s going to his 50,000 words or not but I think it’s going to be fabulous.
Clark never returned my calls, but who could blame him when everything fell apart because of my weakness, but even as I say that I know he played a role in our own destruction; He loved me too much.
No prompt this time.
Crickets could be heard in every bell tower, every open field, and on every tree…however not a human voice found its way into the air; not a human voice was left to speak.
My mother used to watch Bionic Woman, but I could never get into it until now. That chick, the bionic woman, had complete control of her body. Her limbs moved like an Olympic athlete, her body was tough as steel, and she could do things others couldn’t. That show was on when my mom wasn’t even born, but she watched them because her grandfather watched them. We often do things because we see them, because we can, and because we experience fleeting joy. Guess that’s just how it goes.
“As I think these things I lose track of time” I mutter as I pull back my hand again. Twelve dozen servos click and lock beneath my pseudo-human meat flesh. Pop. Snickt. Pop. It is quiet, but I hear it. It is three and one half servo rotations away from how my hips react to making love. The difference between one movement and the next is minimal to most people, but folks like me notice everything. Some adapt entirely, but others just end up here.Pop. Pop. Snickt. Wrr. It is quieter than the way this artificial hand pounds into skin and the flesh of the man who now lays in a pool of blood. He looked at me like I was the devil earlier. Hell he even asked. “Then the devil must have excellent taste in fashion” I said. It was a good one. Then he got what he got coming.
The money that was in his pocket surrounds us like thrown confetti at a party if confetti was $8,000. It waffles in the wind, but it won’t get away. It’s already a tad wet. This guy took that money from Miss Loretta’s fundraiser, and that really pisses me off. Her school does a lot that the public schools will not or can not, and besides that I don’t suffer theft in my presence. The nerve of this dirty ass turkey. He’s as dark as I am, dressed in a suit and tie, but underneath his nails and on his skin there is a fine grime. They dressed him up, but he still walked like a guy who didn’t know anything of real value but knew where to bum a Mercedes. Someone, I reason as I land another punch causing a loud crack in the man’s jaw, put him up to this. I grab the man’s collar and land several more punches until the man is a mass of swollen purple meat bubbling up blood. I’m not sore or tired though and though I should be out of breath my lungs remain steady. Later when they ask me I will say “I beat him because he was a bad man. I kept beating him because I enjoyed it.”
There are no secrets here anymore.
“Gretchen,” Louis says. My heart flutters like butterflies have filled it up. I swear my womanity is escaping and I want it back. It belongs in this neat little jar I have that I only bring out for Sex and saturday nights. Little s on saturday, and big on Sex. That’s how it goes. Even without looking that ebony Adonis is grimacing and I know it. He has never liked my methods. The turkey drops to the wet cement like a sack of garbage and I turn around to Louis. He’s a tricky fellow, mostly because he is honest. Most people never believe where we met. We were actors in Othello. Yeah, two classically trained black actors. The world needs more of those right? Eventually I stepped out of the spotlight but Louis with his neatly trimmed inch thick afro and his immaculate burgundy leather jacket was forced. Too much attitude and too tired of playing bit parts. It wasn’t choice. He just wasn’t and isn’t grateful enough. White folk expect it from us, black folk always accuse us of not having enough when we give it. I didn’t mind, but Louis did and let it be known. So his fine ass self ended up there with me, but I don’t think he minded too much. Men like him were tall and powerful, built for both speed and strength. He needed to use his body somehow even if most times he let me do the work.
“I count all that’s missing.” Louis looked at the man, shook his head, then cracked his back. As we stood between those two towering buildings he looked like he didn’t belong for a second. Irony being of course that he was and is more street than I’ll ever be. He’s really not my type, but he’s smarter than most and he only does what he knows he has to. We were very different.
“You good?” He asks, and all I do is nod. It doesn’t matter if I am or not because punching time is done. Nothing blocks out the world anymore and I slowly exit my bionic limbs and come back into my organic body. My allergies are starting to kick up and I suddenly become aware of the pressure at the front of my skull. I can taste the cold wet air and smell the meat wafting on the wind. I can feel the tightness in my shoulder’s from being so tense and I relax with a slow steady breath. Louis hands me a thick navy blue handkerchief. I wipe the blood from my knuckles. If there were real nerves and blood behind those knuckles how would it feel? I never punched someone before my…upgrade. I was a good girl after all. I begin to hand the handkerchief back to him but he just snatches it and like he’s some worried parent he begins wiping my cheeks. I thought it was just stray drops of wet, but I must have just been ignoring the blood splatter. He drops the cloth back in my hands as though wanting nothing to do with it then looks at the bloodied man with irritation.
“Come on then.” And like nothing happened we walk out of that alley with our heads held high. The cops standing near the alley entrance stand up straighten and stop leaning on their cars. We give them a solemn nod then step aside so they can go get that piece of garbage I left on the ground. They look us over carefully, and then with big beaming smiles say:
“Have a good one guys.”
It takes me ten years to get to this. I wish I knew what this was.
Whenever we get back to the office Louis takes off his coat and if I’ve been busy while we’re out I’ll take a shower. It is nice that we had an office shower, but really it is only because it used to be an apartment. Kinda still is considering how often Louis slept there. I toss my coat on the rack, walk past our desks and down the hall past that annoyingly tiny galley kitchen and hit the bathroom. Peeling off these sweaty clothes feels amazing. The cool air hits my skin and within moments the chill roles over me. The thing about prosthesis is that the nerve feeling isn’t the same. Every time something new touches you then you have to readjust, to remember that not all of you is you even if it belongs to you, and then accept it. I just sigh most days, turn on the shower, step inside and get clean.
It is no surprise when I turn my head and see Louis standing there in boxers, watching me with a smile.
“Can I join you?”
He doesn’t need to ask. Its just the routine. So he takes me in the shower from behind, grabbing my hair hard, and grunting in my ear. We don’t know how this got started. One day after a particularly hard job we started drinking then started doing more talking than drinking. As though we both feared we said too much we decided to do something else. We haven’t talked as much since that night and I think he prefers it that way. As he thrusts his thickness into my depths, forcing soft lustful moans from me I realized I could not care. I like Louis and he does like me, but love ain’t the game. Sometimes when I’m filing our cases I catch him watching like he does want that to be the game. Then sometimes when we’re fucking in the shower, and his hands are on my hips he says “I wish I could…I want this all the time”. I’m the only woman he does it bareback with. I know I usually run his errands with mine. He dates a number of cute girls. I’ve stolen one or two away from him without any hard feelings, so he gets plenty of action. But he thrusts in me without hesitation and with such relish his whole body shivers. Sometimes I wonder if he does it because part of him hopes I’ll get pregnant, that it will force him to be open with me. The risk just gets me off. He always finishes first and leaves me with that incredible warmth inside, but he is a gentleman and keeps going until I’m satisfied as well.
Usually we’ll be back at it again by nightfall in another room, on a desk or chair, once on the kitchen counter. But I can already tell by how he strokes my neck afterwards that tonight won’t be one of those days. He’s feeling something inside himself tonight. I can’t help with that.
An hour later we’re at our desks. He researches a case while I make sure our files are once again in order. He’s been quiet even for him, and I guess it bugs me when he gets like that.
“You got plans tonight?” I ask.
“Nah, well, I’m gonna see.”
“Date?” He always got awkward about that sort of thing, but he knew he didn’t have to.
Never a good sign with him. After three years I knew that meant he took some sorta case on the side or got mixed up with some shit. At this point all I could do is laugh, and he looked up at me like I’d lost my damn mind
“Gonna need me to save your ass?”
He chuckled and leaned back in his chair, tucking his hands behind his head like he had some grand master plan. Whatever it could be probably meant me getting involved at some point.
“No. Not tonight. You should take it easy.” He looks at me real hard like I’m some sort of enigma for a second. The hallmarks of some rare and distant sympathy flickered in his chestnut eyes as though he were recalling some long forgotten thing. He always reminds me of the men I saw growing up, but unlike their fragile insecurities that gave them an aura of false pride Louis turned inward into some sort of ancient seer. Now his confidence radiated erratically and his whole demeanor shifts on thoughts I will never know. Through it all he looks at me softly as though he has words to say, but all he can do is put them aside for a better time. As quickly as it came in it vanished. Part of me aches. I yearn to see what it is. I yearn to take him apart. Mystery is a weakness we share. “If things get rough I’ll call you.”
“Yeah, do that then.”
I do not know what else to say. With him I rarely do.
Not sure if I’ll keep this story going. I have some ideas but I don’t know.
I am really interested to hear what people are writing about these days?
What type of writing? What genre? What themes? What message? What stories?
Let’s get together and #support each other by sharing what our current projects are?
I’m waiting excitedly!
Everything is relative. When we look back at “romance” we look back with rose tinted glasses. No mention of women as property, no mention of all the people who never had a chance to find love, but only to find like, no chance to figure out their sexual interests or if they matched. For many black people in America, until recent history showing public affection was seen as inappropriate, our love and affection constantly equaled sex. Recently I spoke to a gay male friend of mine and we agreed that so many people see him kiss his boyfriend or hold his hand and immediately think of intercourse. Years ago the same acts were associated with people who looked like me because we were inherently sexual and sexualized in the common narrative. Kissing was indecent and making yourself a target. Let’s not forget the many who had no choice in who they loved or whether they could leave or go. Many things have changed and to say the old way or the new way was better across the board is a bit myopic. Today people have a lot of choice and perhaps we abuse or misuse it to a certain degree, depending how you measure. Maybe we focus too much on “happiness” and not on “contentment” like eastern cultures and how every culture used to.
Sex has become a gimmick to things. Commercials, movies, and yes Undressed or Sex Sent Me to the E.R on TLC all treat sex like some novelty and not a point of fabulous exploration and raw human experience, if not connection. Meanwhile romance is something defined by whoever feels they have the best definition at a given time. For generations now people have been bemoaning the death of romance as technology, free love, and sexual freedom have become more normalized in western society. It can’t be denied that some things have been sacrificed in the face of technological ease and connection. I can’t be denied that plenty avoid romance by swiping to sex and seducing…even lying for it in ways that’d be unimaginable decades ago. Still we cannot say what has changed the fundamental concept of romance except people’s attitudes:
Women have options now that women 40, 50, 60 years ago did not.
More people travel constantly and often, moving from place to place, making it harder to find connections at all let alone love.
Because of people exploring more and experiencing more they require more attention to those who can understand or be willing to understand that fact.
Divorce isn’t as frowned upon, and perhaps this is not so beneficial in some ways. Why? So many people pine for the ideal romance, partner, and relationship without realizing in the old days you had to make do. So many ignore or destroy good things in search of a perfection that will never and can never exist. We say “Don’t ever settle”, but then never want to admit that if you want certain things you have to settle. You have to accept another human being for all their good points and bad whether you love them or hate those points if you want to be with them. You have every single right to say “No”, but we have this real problem now of saying “Never settle” and in the same breath saying “You you need to have a “real” reason to reject someone”. If you can’t deal with someone’s issues or if you don’t want what they do a lot of times you become the bad guy even as you’re told to not settle for what you can’t stand. What we need is contentment in our romance. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is a moment of time, but contentment occurs even in unrest, it is the willingness to say “I am fine with this relationship and situation, and enjoy the continuance of it” instead of “I want to just constantly stay happy and the moment I’m not everything is wrong”. Very technical I know, but I’m being technical so you can see the difference.
Years ago if you got divorced some people wouldn’t give you the time of day….and at the same time plenty of people engage in aimless sex and wake up wondering why they feel used. How we talk about sex and romance is so limited, so driven by structures and intentions we can’t even see because they’re “normal” to each generation. Romance evolves and changes, and we need to evolve and change with it. Does that mean romance is dead? Did it in the 1960s? 1920? 1990s? I think not…but it does change in ways big and small…but everyone’s relationship and romantic views differ.
I kissed on the first date. I had my first kiss when I almost had my first…everything else. I am a libidinous woman, but I love holding hands on long walks. My lover brings me flowers sometimes. Other times he greets me with a hug so fierce my back pops and all I can do is laugh. We met on OKCupid which still shocks people and even disgusts some. The internet isn’t real to them. It is this technological thing separate from life when it is really interwoven in a lot that we do. I’ve met some of my most important connections that way. Some I’ve known almost a decade if not more, and that is more than most “friends” I’ve spent time with in the same room. My view of technology is human centered. It isn’t simply a tool, but a process dependent on quality human interaction, use, connection. The internet would be nothing if we couldn’t send pictures or messages about our kids, pets, and family that could make people feel something! Anything. I spent way too much time online as a teenager…but I had more friends over private messanger and on video game servers than in real life. I had more romantic overtures there by shy peopl who liked my spark and my ability to listen than in the small pool of bullies, anti-black people(which includes other black people btw), and small mindednes I was surrounded with in my school and county. Was that good? For personal growth yes, and I know I am not some unique case. People find ways to connect however they can.
As humanity has grown and changed we have adapted new ways of connecting. Perhaps we’ve lost others that were uniquely valuable. We should continue to praise and teach that value. A love letter can mean more than one ever realizes. I gave my lover a homemade birthday card a few months after we started dating and he told me he takes it out every now and again when he feels alone or depressed. We can also text, and do, every morning and night when we’re too tired to talk with words. Monday we spent the evening making a delicious fondue with a recipe we found highly rated online, and it came out great because people shared their tips and tricks. We had an awesome date because of that.. Technology, sex, romance, and humanity…we’re still figuring those things out. Heck we’re just now acknowledging all the people in the world who don’t have sexual urges, who don’t see someone and go “I wish I could kiss them”. We figure these things out as we go. It is the only thing we can do, but to bemoan the death of romance is to ignore all the new ways it manifests for different people and all the ways people still hold tight to old ways.
Romance is in the hands of those who want it.
It is not a series of specific acts or actions.
It is a series of acts or actions specific in the intent and meaning of those engaged in them.
Playing video games with a lover seems horrid to some and like paradise to others.
Going out to some stuffy restaurant is uncomfortable to some and a dream to others.
Walking along the lake seems like pointlessness to others and heaven to some.
We cannot guess the realms of love, or limit them for others with measures that cannot possibly capture the ranges of expression.
Inspired by this nice little post Is Romance Dead? Though I obviously disagree with some points I think it is an important viewpoint and read and consider.
Also if you’re interested in random comics stuff and why I posted so many old Romance Comics…I’m an avid collector.
I highly recommend checking out Sequential Crush an online archive and analysis of girls romance comics that explores any and all facts and details of these protoypical romance stories in away that is entertaining, personal, and quite frankly fascinating. I’ve been a long time fan of the site and think they do a lot for preserving an often over looked part of the romance genre. The runner of the site is the granddaughter of Green Lantern creator Martin Nodell, and she does more than live up to the family legacy by offering unique takes that really have helped me understand romance better from a perspective I didn’t know about until reading more.
If you’re interested in comics in general check out this fascinating read too:
I Used To Sell You Comics: Kids Love Comics (And how that makes comics better for everybody)