My Fascination With Flight: Part 1 – First Time Off The Ground

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of flight. From birds to dragons, to airplanes -things that can fly, to flying myself. And now it’s creeping into my fiction – in the novel I’m shopping around right now, there are multiple characters who are pilots and flying plays a huge part in the plot. It seems inevitable, looking back, that I would eventually start writing about flying – the only thing that stopped me before was not knowing anything about planes besides the basic theory of aerodynamics. I figured writing about them is the closest I’ll get to flying them myself.

So I’m going to do a series of posts about planes, and my experiences with flight.

My first experience was at Crow Duck Lake, on the Whiteshell. My Dad’s got a family friend who runs a fishing resort out there, and we used to go out there every year. Bill, my Dad’s friend, had a little yellow Twin Otter docked by the beach, and one day he took us up in it. After that, the first time I was on a commercial aircraft, it was nowhere near as exciting.

It’s not for everyone – people who are afraid of flying would handle that even worse than a commercial plane. I loved it, and I can’t even describe what it is that I love about it. I’ve been up in a small plane once since then – a Cub, flown my my mother’s second husband’s father (my step-grandfather at the time, and yeah, my mom’s on her third husband, so I can’t even just say my step-grandfather.)

Being in a small plane like that, it’s a completely different experience. You can see better, out the windows, and where you’re going, more like you can see out of a car. You can see the ground, and the lakes all around. You can feel being in the sky.

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Movie Review: Flight

Denzel Washington plays a commercial airline pilot with a drinking problem, who, faced with a broken plane tries a crazy desperate move to stabilize it, saving the lives of most of his passengers. But then they find out he was intoxicated at the time, and the powers that be are going to try and pin the blame for the crash on him, rather than the failure of the plane due to lax maintenance that actually caused the crash.

It was a great movie, and Denzel Washington plays a very convincing drunk, speaking from the perspective of someone who’s lived with one.

What I found interesting though, was mostly because I’ve been working my way through Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling in Modern Fiction, by Donald Maass. I just finished a chapter on emotional arcs, and of course I was watching the structure of the story told in the movie in terms of what I’d learned form the book. It followed those techniques very well, and escalated the moral conflict in the main character right to where he hit rock bottom. It was one of those plots where the main character  could have chosen any moment to end the story, and turn his life around, and the story would have ended there, but he didn’t – he continued making bad choices until he reached that low point where there was no return.

And the writers could have written a story where he wasn’t presented with those choices where he made the wrong decision, but the writers knew what they were doing, and paced out crises, and the main character was forced over and over to choose to lie to protect himself, presenting characters who are facilitating the lies, encouraging him. And to cope, he falls deeper and deeper into the alcoholism that got him into the mess in the first place.

Anyway, good movie – well structured, well acted.

Thoughts On Women In Geekdom, Cosplay, And Steampunk (and Dieselpunk) As A Response

Ok, so a dickhead made a dick move the other day, and made a dick post on facebook.

Ok, I don’t need to reiterate everything that’s being said all over the internet, but John Scalzi had some great snarky tweets about it. He’s awesome for defending women in geekdom and women in general. My husband has the same feelings, and it’s one of the many reasons I love him, of course. And anyway, the internet is kinda coming down on this poor dipshit’s head anyway, so I don’t think I even need to. The internet’s good that way.

But it got me thinking about women, and how women are wedging their way into the world of geekdom that has traditionally been a haven for white males. I recall friends in my D&D group walking into 7-11 with PHBs in their bags and one of the other customers going “Hey, you guys play D&D? You should come play with us, we have a girl in our group.” And my friends, who are a bit more mature than the typical geek crowd, perhaps, going, “Good for you, we have three of them.”

I’ve never been in cosplay. I love dressing up in costumes, but never saw myself as a character in a book, or comic or movie. So when I started going to cons, I made costumes like a medieval princess, and when I wore my wedding dress with the white cloak, I called myself The Snow Queen.

Last week I went to Comic con for the first time ever. Won’t go again – lineups were far too long, and it was far to crowded for me to enjoy it. But there were some awesome costumes, and yeah, there were some attractive girls dressed in some revealing stuff. Those are the brave ones who are comfortable enough with their bodies to do that.

But there was also something else, that I wasn’t expecting. There were multiple women dressed as Batman. Women dressed as Robin. Women dressed as Superman. I didn’t see one single Princess Leia in her metal bikini, I swear to all the gods, but I did see one woman dressed as Han Solo.

A few months ago, I discovered that one of my cousins, who I live too far away from to know very well, is into cosplay. She has an amazing FFVII cosplay costume. She cosplays Cloud.

I think what this is saying is that we women are trying to tell the comic book and gaming industry that we’re not happy with the female characters they’re creating. We don’t want to dress up like sluts in order to conform to your fantasies, but look what you’re giving us to work with.

Then there’s Steampunk. There were a couple of Steampunk tables, and they were dressed up. But with Steampunk, there isn’t as much material where there’s definite images of the characters to cosplay. And within the Steampunk community, it seems to be more the norm to make up your own character or alter ego. Which results in something far, far more friendly to women. A woman going Steampunk can go anywhere from a corset an bustle, to a lab coat and safety goggles, to a geisha kimono with a clockwork fan, to coveralls, flight jacket and flight goggles. And none of it needs to look slutty. In fact, the victorian and edwardian times that the look intends to anachronize (if that’s not a word, it is now), is all about the prim and proper, girl’s-got-to-protect-her-reputation sort of feel.

That and the Steampunk and Dieselpunk communities have never, to my knowledge, been the exclusively male community that geekdom at large has been. There’s never been that attitude that we have to keep the girls from taking over what he have here.

I’ve seen lots of women into Steampunk these days, but it’s not a girl’s thing either. I’m not sure what the numbers would be, but I’d bet the involvement rates of both genders to be fairly close to 50/50, and that’s something you don’t see in a lot of communities.

Which is really cool.

Remembrance Day Thought

I’ve seen this quote before, but I’ll link to where I saw it posted today on the livejournal of Elizabeth Bear: http://matociquala.livejournal.com/2159340.html

I don’t know anyone who’s gone to war, but war tends to be something I write about. I think it started when I read the Westmark Trilogy, by Lloyd Alexander, which is a hearbreaking story of a country in the throes of civil and international war. It always rang very powerfully for me, and when I read later that it was inspired by the author’s own experiences as a ground infantryman in WWII, I understood how Alexander made the tragedy and senseless death feel so real.

By all means, honour the deaths of soldiers who died for an honourable cause, but try to remember that this day was originally set aside to mark, not the day that men died, but the day they stopped dying.

Celebration To Commemorate My 100th Twitter Follower

So, I went all the way to Vancouver and me the Steampunkette and the Clockpunkette in person, for the first time. We had a ball together, and I can’t wait for another chance to get together with them. (Crossing my fingers they can make it out to Winnipeg for Keycon next May.)

Anyway I’m slowly accumulating twitter followers, and have thought, you know, I should do something special, when I hit 100. I thought of a giveaway, but I don’t know that I’d necessarily be giving away something that my 100th follower would want. I’ve kind of agonized about having that thing be posting a short story for free – any short story I’d be willing to post would be one I still think I could sell, and if I post it for free, I can’t sell it.

But I’ve decided I will do it anyway, because you people deserve something for sticking with me, and this is something I can give to all of my followers. (As opposed to the twitternauts who follow me, wait three days, and when I don’t follow back because their entire feed is tweets trying to sell me something/what they had for dinner and how many times they go to the bathroom, they un-follow me.)

Well, I’m sitting at 99 twitter followers. So if you want to see that story, I’m @Lindsay_Kitson. Follow me, and the story goes up. It will be posted permanently on my website, as free content, for anyone to read. Link will be posted here and on http://www.thepunkettes.com.

eta: And there we are – up to 101 now, at the moment. I had faith, but I wasn’t sure it would happen quite that fast 😛 Formatting the page for the story now while I procrastinate finishing today’s scene for my nano novel.

Thoughts on Writing Forums

I’m on a number of writing forums, and I’m a little torn on how useful they are. I found them a lot more useful back when I was a beginner writer (maybe because I didn’t know better), but these days I see more and more stagnation within a group.

Perhaps this as partly because the group I was on the longest has recently had a change of moderators and the new moderator has a bit of a stick up his butt, rejecting posts of mine that were perfectly within the rules of the group, for violating made up rules of his own. I had to make him check with his supervisors, and get the ok to post it. But I’ve kind of given up on any really deep, intelligent discussion on that particular group.

Because the other thing I’ve noticed is that the published authors – they don’t stick around. There are dozens of published authors who used to hang out in that group, but they’re not there anymore. They’re not chiming in with their opinions on answers to questions from beginner writers. Instead, the questions of beginner writers are being answered by members who have been vociferous for years about their opinions. Members who speak in a very authoritative tone, but are not necessarily validated by professional publication.

And then sometimes I see noob questions being answered by the stalwart and vociferous members, where it seems like very old ideas are being cemented – truisms that I have seen (on blogs of professional writers) refuted, many times over. But in these forums of near-exclusively unpublished writers, these sort of things that amateurs stumble on are not receiving the same educated answers I see coming from professional writers. Because the professional writers *are* out there answering these questions. On their own private blogs.

Instead these questions are being answered in the forum with “Well, in my novel (which the poster doesn’t mention is unpublished and therefore this opinion is not validated to be successful) I did it this way.” There’s the occasional “I like it when an author I’m reading does it this way,” or “So and so published author did it this way” but those are shockingly rare.

And it seems, as soon as people get published, they disappear off this forum. Maybe it takes a year, or maybe they post something every few months for a while and then disappear. But they’re not contributing on the same level they used to.

Is this because their opinions are getting trashed by the select few in the forum who think they know better than anyone else? I don’t know. I do know that when I see those noob questions being answered with a million variations of “I do it this way”, I’m not even tempted anymore to chime in, because I don’t think it’s worth it. I don’t believe that anyone there will pay attention if I direct them to a professional author’s blog, where their question is answered, or to a book where the technique is used, or the problem they’re dealing with is worked around. I think my comment will be lost among a hundred other comments of varying value.

I dunno, maybe this is a sign I’m settling into my own style and way of doing things. There’s nothing wrong with amateurs sharing ideas, it’s just that I see so much of a couple of people pushing their own way of doing things. A little like the critique circle phenomenon of eventually everyone in the group writes in the same style.

Anyway, the last time I tried to post something that was publishing related, and not “writing related” (because apparently publishing is not writing related? wtf?) I was directed very cutely to one of those tiny little forums called blogs, where I can post whatever I want. I think that’s where things are going though. That forum is dying, and I’m enjoying having my own blog, and following other author’s blogs – being able to control who I see posts from, and see more posts from actual published writers. I think that’s the way things are going to go.