Watching My Language (or, On the Quest to Gender-Neutralize My Speech)

Eowyn - I'm no man 2

It’s a tiny, seemingly throwaway phrase I hear uttered every day – from my own lips included – and it drives me just this side of batty.

As a writer, I’m very concerned and interested in the language I use, both on paper and verbally.

Part of the reason I’m such a slow writer is because, for me, every sentence is a search not just a word, but the exact word – the word that conveys the precise sentiment of what I’m trying to express.

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Replaying Xena: Season 3 – Camp, Comedy & Secondary Character Development

Will the real Warrior Princess please step forward?

Will the real Warrior Princess please step forward?

I originally started my replay of the seasons of Xena Warrior Princess to help me in re-conceiving an old, shelved novel of mine that I want to rewrite set in Ancient Greece.

Of course, I recognize that what will help me most in this endeavour is a thorough study of actual Ancient Greek history since Xena, although a rollicking good time to watch, is historical-ish at best – a work of historical fantasy that’s at times quite heavy on the fantasy, straining the linearity of the historical timeline to the limit.

(This season alone, Xena has dealings with legendary Celtic queen Boudicca, with Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in ancient China, and against the Persian army on their way to the Hot Gates at Thermopylae.)

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Everything Already Troubling About Fifty Shades of Grey, and Then Some

Fifty Shades of Grey coverI really did try.

After years of hearing and reading complaints about E.L. James’s BDSM-erotica bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey – after having previously convinced myself I’d never read it – that the kinky subject matter didn’t interest me; that I didn’t want to join the global sales bandwagon; that I was too good for so-called “mommy porn” – I came to have a change of heart.

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Character Study: Cookie Lyon from TV’s Empire (it’s the bad that makes her so good!)

Like 17 million other people, I’ve been watching Empire.

And in keeping with the prevailing opinion, I think it’s a great show.

When I told my sister I was watching it, she expressed surprise.  Not an unexpected reaction given most of what I watch is either fantasy, sci-fi, historical, or about science and nature.

However, Empire, at its core over the first season, is a succession drama, which I always love and happen to be writing myself in a historical setting.  As well, I have a prior history with stories about record companies thanks to the 1985 movie Krush Groovewhich my sister and I watched together and both enjoyed.

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Should Writers Abbreviate Their Names?

J.K. Rowling

This post is more accurately titled “Should Female Writers Abbreviate Their Names?”, since they are, it seems, the writers who most commonly do so.

The short and simply answer to the question is, of course, “They should do whatever they want.”  For I’m not here to dictate otherwise, especially given the numerous different reasons a female writer would choose to use her initials instead of her full name:

  • She had a given name that’s difficult to pronounce or spell
  • To create a new identify for writing in a different genre
  • To maintain a measure of distance from her non-writing life
  • Because another author has her exact same name
  • Because she dislikes for her given name
  • To emulate classical male writers who used abbreviations, such as C.S. Forrester, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.D. Salinger

Just to name a few.

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Replaying Xena: Season 1 – The adventure (and my binge-watching adventure) begins

Xena - Sins of the Past

One season down, five more to go!

My decision to re-watch all six seasons of the show Xena Warrior Princess – which is set in Ancient Greece – corresponded with my decision to someday rewrite my shelved first fantasy novel as historical fiction, also set in Ancient Greece.

That and because Xena is such a thrilling character – my favourite fictional character, in truth – whom I hadn’t watched since the show ended in 2001.

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On Female Ghostbusters, Gimmicks, and the Nature of Storytelling

Ghostbusters original cast(1984).

Ghostbusters original cast (1984).

By now, most people have heard about the plan to reboot the movie Ghostbusters with an all-female cast.

Some people are really excited about it.

Others are really upset.

Like really upset, to the point of borderline self-righteousness, with words like “gimmick” and “pandering” receiving a thorough workout.

Maybe I’m just splitting hairs over semantics, but in and of itself, I don’t consider a gimmick to be a negative thing.

All marketing and media uses gimmicks or “hooks” to attract a target audience, in this case the hook being the casting women where previously there’d only been men, ostensibly to attract – at least in part – a target audience of female viewers.

Which right there may well be the real issue.

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