Monday, August 16, 2010

There Are Worse Things I Could Do

by Kathleen Bradean

My apologies to Rizzo. The worst thing she could have done is pull a Sandy and change her identity for a man too cowardly to admit he liked her. (If the names don't strike a bell, I'm talking about the musical Grease.) It drives me nuts when women are told through books and movies that they have to do that to get their man. Screw him. Move on to someone with balls. (Or better yet, someone without balls. In lesbian stories, this obliteration of self doesn't seem to happen. Quite the opposite.) Clichés in general are bad enough, and seem to get worse in erotica, but everyone should know that by now, so I decided that wasn't the best way to tackle this topic.

Then I thought about writers behaving badly (to other writers, readers, and publishers), but that’s not terribly interesting except in a ‘car wreck at the side of the freeway’ way, where you get a little thrill out of the quick peek you get and then drive on, grateful that you’re not entangled in the glorious ego splatter that everyone is gawking at.

Slipping into a state of complete pettiness, I was tempted to snark about how unfair it is that I don’t write boring novels that literary critics will fawn over. But that falls under my second peeve, doesn’t it? While it might be all the rage for erotica characters to have flashing emerald eyes (one might even call it a cliché), the green-eyed monster isn’t flattering on anyone.

As long as I’m talking about things I do that I don’t like, here are a few others:

Occasionally, I indulge in genre snobbery. That’s bashing another genre for it’s perceived – and sometimes real – shortfalls. Theodore Sturgeon said that 90% of everything is crap, which means it’s possible to read a couple books in a genre and only see the crap. That’s not exactly a fair basis to judge something on, especially when it’s compared to the 10% of excellent stuff in a different genre. Yet yesterday, I witnessed an astonishing piece of dismissive sniffery of another genre (not romance, go figure) on an erotica writer's list. You’d think erotica writers, including me, would be more forgiving of the 90% rule, and I do try, but yeah, it happens.

Every time another writer posts announces a sale or a book release, I get depressed for a moment. When I say congrats, I mean it, because I am happy for them. It’s me that I’m disgruntled at. My output has never been high, and I should just learn to live with that.

I have crutches. Not actual crutches that help me to walk, but writer’s crutches. I wish I’d learn new, better ways to describe things. Oh – and I keep making the same damn typos. Form instead of from, prefect instead of perfect. Plus, I have this terrible habit of cruising around Face Book and Twitter when I should be writing or reading.

Of all those things, there isn’t one I’d call a pet peeve though. It’s not as if I’d slap a collar on one of my faults and take it for a nice walk. They’re more like feral peeves. But I forgive myself for those slips, because I figure that there are worse things I could do. Like start sentences with conjunctions, or use incomplete ones.


  1. Oh I sooo agree on the Grease thing! That scene just makes me bristle with outrage!

  2. Oh, Kathleen,

    "Every time another writer posts announces a sale or a book release, I get depressed for a moment. When I say congrats, I mean it, because I am happy for them. It’s me that I’m disgruntled at."

    I do identify! I should be writing right now, not fiddling around with blogs and sending out emails...

    "Feral peeves". Cute. Do they shape shift?


  3. Janine - That's one of those moments you want to be a writer, so that you can fix the crap endings. I read the Mad magazine send-up of Grease before I saw the movie, and they slammed it for making ONJ slut it up for her man. (Yay for Mad!)

  4. Lisabet - Shape-shifting feral pet peeves! I can envision the anthology now. Unfortunately, I won't have a story ready in time, and I'll get depressed when it's released.

  5. Kathleen,

    A wannabe feminist in my lit class started to tell me that Grease was a wonderful 'harmless' movie. That was four years ago. I think she's still seeing a counsellor after the way I put her right.

    Good peeves. I believe I have to blame you for this week's topic :-)


  6. Ashley - have my peeves been in your rubbish bin again?

  7. Argh, I HATE that "Grease" ending! The only thing it's good for is lecturing teens about why it's awful.

    But I do like starting sentences with conjunctions.

    My pet peeve (subject to change without notice) is Too Many Vampires. I just think they'd be more intriguing if there were fewer of them.

    Ha ha... my "verification" word to post this comment is "winge." How did they know?

  8. Sharazade - vampire feral peeves! This just gets better.

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  10. I love it when you write about flashing emerald eyes. They may be a cliché in erotic fiction, but they work great in your nonfiction essays about erotic fiction.

    And back in the '70s, my MAD magazine habit saved me the trouble of seeing a lot of movies! ; )

  11. Jeremy - Buying MAD magazine was my idea of doing something really dodgy back in 7th grade. Then my cousin introduced me to National Lampoon.

  12. Hi Kathleen;

    I relate to what you say about sometimes feeling disgruntled with yourself when you see another writer getting published. I'm beginning to suspect this sentiment is universal to the human condition. I know that in Buddhism it is specifically addressed as a virtue requiring a disciplined effort to cultivate to enjoy the success of another person as though it were your own.

    I'm also a hideous typpist.

    Garce, recovering from his own little car wreck

  13. Garce - I suspect it's universal too, but I'd still like to get over it.

  14. Kathleen,

    Oh thank you. Thank you!

    Few months ago I posted a note on FB about my struggles with jealousy. Specifically, in relation to writing. Simply put, it's easier for me to celebrate the successes of other writers when I'm doing well myself.

    Awful. Yes.

    Honestly, I stopped reading writing blogs for a while because I couldn't bear the boundless successes of my peers. Wow! Another publication. Great! You've almost finished your novel. Meanwhile, writing my novel felt as I were chipping away at a glacier with my thumbnail.

    Awful. Yes.

    Are you familiar with the writer, Lillian Hellman? She said if she could offer one piece of advice to young writers it would be to never listen to other writers talk about themselves or writing. :-)



  15. Alana - on one hand, it's comforting to know it's universal, on the other hand, yikes!

  16. I'm sure it's universal! It just took courage to admit it.


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