Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Triumph of the Vagina

I’m not known for my subtlety hence I ‘try’ to steer clear of contentious issues. So when:

US citizen, Todd Akin, the plonker, committed political suicide by claiming women’s bodies have a natural defense system against the possibility of pregnancy in cases of ‘legitimate rape’, I bit my tongue and stayed out of the fray in the belief he'd get what was coming to him.

Enter George Galloway, the UK version of the plonker, who appears to view rape as ‘really bad manners’ and ‘bad sexual etiquette’. By now my tongue was a shredded mess and entering the fray looked like a long glass of chilled water after ten days in the desert.

Then in rode Lani Diane Rich, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author, with quite the most erudite piece of writing I have read in many a year, and my tongue is now recovering and I still have a job.
Here’s what she wrote:

Psst. Politicians.

My vagina didn't bankrupt this country or send all the jobs off to other countries. My vagina doesn't work 17% less than a penis, yet it gets paid 17% less. My vagina doesn't call anyone who disagrees with it a socialist and expect that to end the discussion. My vagina also considers the entering of said vagina without express permission as rape. PERIOD. (BTW, that includes transvaginal ultrasounds.) My vagina reserves the right to defend its borders, so to speak, and if you're gonna complain about all the babies on welfare and wax indignant about abortion, perhaps you could shut the hell up about birth control, which prevents everything you seem to have a problem with, except the fact that my vagina has sex, which is none of your damn business anyway.

Please remember that no matter what stupid ass legislation you try to pass to prevent it, my vagina will be voting this November.

Bloody brilliant!  On behalf of my tongue (and women everywhere), I thank you Lani Diane Rich.

Check out Lani's work at

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cocking the Halo

You know you are not a bad person :-
·         When you can drive for an hour along unfamiliar, too-narrow. traffic logged roads, up hill and down dale, with a squalling baby (make that screaming) and still comfort the mother with a ‘don’t worry, all babies do this’.  A big fat lie, most babies sleep. My teeth are 5mm shorter from the gritting and grinding.
·         When you want to throw your arms round all those young people receiving exam results (and failing) and tell them to stuff the system, to go out and define themselves.  I hate the fortnight during which A Level and GCSE Level results are released.

·         When you keep your weak platitudes to yourself and just listen when a distraught man of 87 years tell you his wife of 50 years is unlikely to live beyond the weekend and you miss an important meeting.
·         When you really, really want to write so bad, blood is oozing from your pores and you forbid yourself to go near your ms for at least a week because your family come first. (Hmm, wonder if working between 2-4 in the morning would be excusable?)

·         When you smile sagely instead of picking up a knife and slicing the people dancing on your last nerve ‘because it’s not their fault’ – my ass.
·         When you agree to a birthday party you really don’t want (in fact, the very idea of it channels thoughts of self-harm) because it means so much to those throwing it.

This list could continue but frankly, reading it back, it’s a little bit too navel gazey.  Think I’ll take my tarnished halo, twirl it round my forefinger as a stripper might a g-string, release and leave it where it wherever it falls (hopefully close to a pub or for a laugh, on a bald bishop’s head.

So what act of contrition have you performed today (ok, this week)?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Knock me on my ass – I beg you

We are told that to throw a reader out of the story, to have them pause, lose their thread and need to re-read a passage is a massive author fail.  Hmm…I’m sure I can think of worse sins, not least boring a reader to death but that would take this post in a different direction when, for a change, I’d like to celebrate. Celebrate the exquisite moment of being tossed out of a story and knocked flat on your ass.

For me all it takes is a certain turn of phrase. It might be that the choice of words is shockingly original, or humorous, or beautifully cadentic* but more often than not it will be down to the image painted.

 she watched as black cinders showered, like so many dead moths…  ­

This snippet stopped me dead in my tracks and haunted me for months.  It still does. It’s so damn powerful.  The piece from which it is lifted was crafted by recently contracted, Shehanne Moore, writer of romantic historicals, and I thank her for that very special moment when, as a self-confessed speed-reader, I skidded to a halt, re-read the line (many times) and thought…bugger me, I want to be able to write like that.

I’ve taken the liberty (with Shehanne’s permission) of including a fuller extract here, but for me, it all comes down to that single sublime image.  Fury (the heroine) has a contract for Flint (the hero) to sign.

  “After all, I wouldn’t like to make it difficult for you, or suffer more in your embrace than necessary. No.” She smiled and tilted her jaw.  “Now, why don’t you just make your mark on the paper?  So we was it you put it again...get to it?” she said, tossing him the pen.
    He caught it and stared, for a long brittle moment. Then with an abrupt movement he tossed it on the floor, where it clattered and rolled, blobbing ink across the tiles.  Wordlessly he walked to the end of the dressing table and held the paper in the candle flame.  Flames came from it and she watched as black cinders showered, like so many dead moths, onto the marble surface of the table.
    “What....what do you think you’re doing?” she gasped,
    “What you said, Fury. Making my mark. Now, that’s your terms. Here’s mine.”

*Cadentic is one of those words loathed by Spellcheck because I’ve made it up.  Basically on my planet, it means the beat of a pulse or rhythm.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Kaboom – Unashamedly Dropping the F-Bomb.

My instinctive reaction to the smug who dismiss foul language as lazy and symptomatic of a restricted vocabulary is an elegant, Fuck Off!  

Elegant because it’s uncluttered, immediate and leaves no room for misunderstanding, surely the Holy Grail for writers.

There aren’t many reactions that can be captured in two short words and fuck used on its own can convey myriad emotions – physical pain, surprise, shock, anger, despair, amusement, pleasure – so why use a string of unnecessary words when one will do? To avoid causing offence?  Nowadays?(Please refer to my reaction in the opening sentence.)

Few words work harder than fuck. I haven’t been able to think of one, so maybe the dissenters are right, I’m vocabulary challenged. But used in the right context fuck reigns supreme. Four letters of the alphabet combined into a single word that can world-build, reveal character/personality, carry emotion like no other. I am in awe. Somehow other epithets lack the same class.

However, please note the caveat ‘used in the right context’.

And there are certain words over which I do hesitate, ‘God’, ‘Christ’, or ‘Jesus’, because I don’t wish to offend or disrespect an individual’s sensitivities – but fuck isn’t and never will be one of them.

Which word works hardest for you?