Writing: On the most important question to ask yourself

Let’s not waste time. I think the most important question to ask yourself as a writer is this:

“Why would I care?”

“Why would I care about this story?” “Why would I care about this characters?” “Why would I care bout the topic(s)?” “Why would I care about what happens to the characters and the story?”

2 sides

This question has two sides:

  1. You: the writer — Why would you care? Why? Why write? Why write this?
  2. You: as the reader — Why care reading it? Why care reading any story at all?

Intellect does not do it

Talk to me and try to explain. I will probably not care about anything you say until that moment you start hitting your emotions. Why care? Why care about you when you do not really seem to care about your work?

“I love you”

Imaging saying “I love you.”

Easy. Three words. “I love you.”

Just move your mouth. Say it.

But what do you feel? Do you feel anything? Do you feel anything towards and for the person you address it to? Do you care? Do you care about him? Her?

Where is your heart? Where are your emotions? What is happening to you? What happens to your eyes, to your facial expression? Do they remain blank? Do you get mushy? Does anything happen at all?

What if you try with someone else? What happens there? Then? What if you despise that person? Or secretly yearn for? Are you able to say it at all?

Why care?

What do you love in your work? What would you like to read yourself? What is amiss in all the books you have read until now? What hunger has remained unsatisfied? Which stories and type of stories can you not get enough of?

Who are you? Where do I see you in your work? What do you have to bring me? What can I give to you? Do you reach out to me from in-between your words? Do we make contact?

Can you make me fall in love with your work? With your mind? With you?

Why I think people care about your story

  1. It touches emotion — Your story touches an emotion. Maybe two. Maybe even more. They make some readers laugh, other cry, others scared.
  2. It shows something of you — Whoever you are and whatever you do and believe. In an honest way. Or a glorified way. A funny way. A sad way. Or whatever. But you are there. In your work. In the events that happen in those stories.
  3. It is about emotions — Apart from touching emotions, the story is about emotions. Your character (instead of being a dead puppet being tossed around) moves through them. From angst to anger to sadness to happiness to fear to determination to whatever.
  4. They can identify — With whatever is happening in your story. There is something in your work that speaks to them. That they like. That fills a need. That resonates. Excitement, love, power, strength, wealth. It can be your characters. The things they meet. The adventures they have.

Why people don’t care

  1. The topics do not speak to them — The reader is simply not your type of audience. The story is like offering only fish to someone who strongly prefers meat. (First step: find someone who does like ‘fish’.)
  2. The writing and the voice are still raw¬†— While a lot of things might already be good, the written words simply do not communicate to your reader. Your story-development might still be dull. The way you “speak” to your reader(s) and the way you expose elements might still be raw and lacking that edge to really hit your reader. (Solutions: find what excites you in your story. Look closely at your writing. Have others read your work. Edit, edit, edit.)
  3. Your work might come over as boring — Or flat. The words lacks life, excitement, fire. It might be droning where it could be singing. Your characters might lack life themselves. It ends with disappointment.
  4. Your words do not convince — Any story works with suspension of disbelief. All stories describe events that only happen to a very few people and usually not in the way you describe it. (Solutions: work on the internal logic of the events in your story. Make it all fit and snap together.)
  5. You lost control — Somehow your story might have taken control over you, dragging you in directions showing more experienced readers that you simply lost it. (Solution: go back to your original idea. Spend more time thinking about what you really want to talk about.)
  6. Your research was insufficient — Especially when writing about things that you do not know about (but your reader does) you can mess things up by creating ridiculous situations that might even be insulting to the readers who know where you don’t. (Solution: do better research)

Why would you care?

And so we come back to the original question: “why would you care?”

Why care about telling stories?

Why would people care reading them?

Why do you care reading stories of others? What do you find in them? What is missing for you? Where is the gap?

Concluding

“To care” and: “to love” are two things that simply happen to you from a part of your brain you hardly have any control over.

I fell in love with Science Fiction and care in my writing about everything related to self-realization (and anything that stands in the way of that goal).

For someone I know this is “the truth” and anything related to being true and being real. For you it might be something completely different.

Regardless of what other people will try to tell you or will try to push you to (“you should really do this or that instead of what you are doing now”), follow your own heart.

In most cases “I think you should…” is actually: “I would love to do or write X, but find it more convenient if I can manipulate you in such a way that you’l do it for me.”

If and when you find the things you really care about, the reader will usually feel the change in your writing. Usually it becomes more powerful while taking less and less effort (relatively speaking) to really nail it down.

ūüôā

Writing: slow shift

I have been sitting on around 200.000 words produced in the last 6 months in 3 long stories and 6 short stories averaging around 8 000 words each. The reason why you have not seen anything yet, except from the occasional posts is that I am writing and editing them in clusters. I produce, have them read and reviewed by people I know, produce more as that happens, rework what I get back, write more.

Shift 1: from telling to showing

There is a slow shift in my work. From explicit messaging and info-dumps I have slowly been learning how to show these things, instead of telling about them.

You can talk about injustice or inequality, but it has proven to be much more effective (oh big surprise) to show it and show it more, to the point where it now starts to hit emotional levels I did not hit in my stories before.

Shift 2: using less words to make more impact

Some stories I wrote contained pages and pages of info-dump. Or hundreds of words to put down one single concept.

I now deliberately edit these lumps back to parts of roughly 60 words, to a maximum of 100 words. Anything that does not communicate clearly or is secondary information is ruthlessly deleted.

Shift 3: towards studies on power, politics and choice

As I start to understand more and more what I care about, my stories are becoming more and more political. That politics revolves mostly around the systems of oppression and inequality: in attempts to dissect and expose several aspects of these topics.

At this point in time that involves: sexism, racism, classism, power and power play. What I am investigating now is the ambivilence of the roles of any and all players in the game I play within my stories. Within conflict, all parties are wrong. All have motives and motivations with dirty spots and stains. In some cases, like with “Sunrise” this dirt is explicit as my main character has very selfish motives, is explicit in het choices and is willing and able to sacrifice others to reach her goals. In stories like the most recent: “A girl and a horse” this is more or less hidden in plain sight in the things that happen in the background.

What is mostly interesting for me now is to see how the current systems of power we take for granted can be dissected and turned around to expose more dirty mechanics underneath. Like the “normalcy” of gender and gender-roles or the “normalcy” of “justifyable” violence.

Each of these stories is like a work of practice in which I get closer to that point where I can tell everything in three simple strokes of the brush.

Shift 4: becoming more aware

Following several people online I have become more aware of several aspects of identity, erasure and discrimination I overlooked until then.

This includes the mechanics to silence those groups including ways to ridicule and erase their voice.

My “Inclusive writing” series is one aspect to ground that for myself.

 

2061 — 2261 After the Singularity

A short flash-fiction story.

17 November 2061 — The day after the Singularity Mass Upload

NOE — Not upleaded entity

UE — Uploaded entity

[NUE] No. And again: no.

[UE] But: eternal life and so.

[NUE] With all those assholes on the list, I rather die.

[UE] You are crazy.

[NUE] Eternal life with assholes.

[UE] Crazy. You.

[NUE] We will see in 200 years.

It had been a hard decision. Even now it filled him with anxiety. What if they were right? Uploading your personality, living forever blah blah blah.

The thing was: he did not like most of the people who would be uploaded. He did not like the hype around it. He did not believe in the choices made. It felt more like an escape plan for the idiots who were not able to cope with life itself. A mass escape into eternity with people not even able to cope with every-day life. Fighting for the rights to upload their cats and dogs as well.

In his hand he held the silver heart with the photo of him and his boyfriend. Who would be gone tomorrow.

16 November 2161 — 100 years after the Singularity Mass Upload

[NUE] Hello? How are you?

[UE] … [no response]

Europe and the United States had become empty. After the physical bodies of the Uploaded died, only a few like her had remained. And they were taking it easy. Out of twelve people only one child was born.

She was very much the same as a hundred years ago, apart from the seventh sex change, making her non-sexual for a change.

The people in the moon had stopped responding around 30 years ago, after a final goodbye to Earth, living in completely simulated worlds running in the converted atoms of that rock: riding the waves of quantum physics. Copies were running in Ganymede and the ice of Pluto.

16 November 2261 — 200 years after the Singularity Mass Upload

[NUE] Hello? How are you?

[UE] … [no response]

A part of her personality had moved in. Then moved out again after virtual centuries had passed. It was how she had once imagined the afterlife, Maya, the world in-between. The endless recycling of dreams and imagination. The endless variations of the self. Moving left and right in endless scenarios of “what if?”

The worlds she had traveled through where wonderful. Amazing. Of incredible beauty, cruelty and structure, depending on who had created it. The people she had met… were different. Some of them she had known from her past. None of them were the same after life after life after life in their imaginary worlds.

She herself had changed. To be limited by reality, by her physical body, to be able to live forever in slow-time, to see life pass around her, to find what drives her, to get rid of what she once believed had changed her profoundly. To travel through the sun, to travel to the stars had changed her perception on the scale of everything only experience could do.

People still uploaded themselves in a quest for eternal life in a perfect, limitless world, but they were seen mostly as escapists now. Afraid to be confronted by life.

She opened the silver heart. The photo inside was long gone. She placed it next to the black ball that had been the first upload of her boyfriend then. The memories of heartbreak and the fights as strong now as these emotions had been then.

[NUE] You there?

[UE] Yes.

[NUE] How are you?

[UE] Happy. And you?

[NUE] Happy.

She smiled.

[UE] I am glad you are still there. You can always join us.

[NUE] No thanks.

[UE] Sure?

[NUE] Sure.

[UE] OK. Bye.

His voice was soft, rounded, sweet.

[NUE] Bye.

The connection closed.

“Being a writer” and business models — kicking the Dutch out (into the world) part 2

Here is the tweet that triggered this post (bold added by me):

The writer must have follow-up: more stories in English, a *published* novel. Translating shorts is no viable business model.

And:

Also, a priority learning point for the Dutch scene is that (international) success does *not* come free

Even though the context changed in the hours that followed due to the exchange of tweets that followed, I felt like zooming into several aspects that were uncovered still and Tweets really fail as an instrument of expression.

This is my response and part of my “Kick the Dutch out (into the world)” series.

Kick the Dutch out (into the world)

  1. Open letter¬†—¬†To the Dutch SF/Fantasy world. It all started here
  2. Part 1¬†—¬†The basis: Get them out into the world
  3. Part 2¬†—¬†A response to “Being a writer” and business models
  4. Part 3¬†—¬†Calimero, Imitation and Identity
  5. Dead horses¬†— If you think¬†all has been tried before¬†and things are useless
  6. Stepping stones¬†— A¬†post¬†about what is missing.

“Being a writer”, “Viable Business Models”, blah blah blah

In short

I respect the vision, but completely disagree with the above when no nuances are made. Not everyone strives for “that one thing” (whatever it is) and there are many ways to define “the writer”, none of them more “true” than the other.

“Kick the Dutch writers out (into the world)”

See this post from earlier today. In short:

  1. Translate them to English
  2. Make them available online
  3. Collect them in one place (links, publication if wanted)
  4. Curate the collection by preferences by people

Stepping stones

I wrote an earlier post on Stepping Stones. In short:

There is a gap in the Dutch SF/Fantasy scene. You can write, you can get published, but there is hardly anything between “Fan publications” and “professional”. See the image below.

Stepping stones: the gap

To stimulate writers to bridge that gap, I believe the following things are key:

  1. Writer friends — People who help you. Who are writing as well. Who want to achieve similar goals.
  2. Coaches/editors — People who help you improve yourself. Who look at your work and advice you where to put more energy, where to spend the next weeks developing yourself. Who also are there for you when you get stuck.
  3. A platform — A place where your work becomes visible.
  4. Eyeballs — Getting read. By hundreds, by thousands of people.

Reaching awesomeness

As a writer, you can choose many directions. If you want to reach awesomeness it means you will have to work for it. Like running a marathon you need to train. To practice. To work. To push yourself to your own limits.

Awesomeness is like making a chair, look at it and say: “this is a chair”. Then destroy that chair and make a better one. Then destroy that one until you have something that is YOUR chair. Then take the details and make those details YOURS as well. Then have experts look at it and take their feedback. Then work that feedback into your chair and make it even better and more exiting.

Chairs

Chairs: differences in craftsmanship

The balance is where you master your materials, make people stop, look at your work and provoke an interaction, a hunger for more of what your produced: “This is exiting! What else did he/she made? I want more!”

That second chair is not created by a lazy person.

“Success does not come for free”

Indeed. And this is your problem as a writer and/or craftsperson. There is no magical shortcut teleporting you from A to B and making you awesome overnight. Great writing comes from practice, understanding both your craft and yourself and taking risks in your own work. Risks mostly in doing something “not so popular”.

Stop complaining about it

The idea that the lack of motivation of some or all writers in the Netherlands is a “problem” as seems to emit from the quoted tweet about the “learning point” above is simply overlooking basic human nature. Out of 10 people who say they want something, only 1 is willing to make the effort. Out of 10 who are willing to make that effort, only 1 or 2 are talented. And so on.

It is a game of numbers. Out of a random 100 people, 98 people suck. Two might show promise.

Just be clear on your expectations. The whining about “people with lack of motivation” is just that. Whining. People differ. People’s self-knowledge differs. Some people think they suck ass and might be the most awesome whatever, ever. Some will try relentlessly and never grow beyond a certain point. Others think they are completely awesome and will never produce anything worth looking at.

Welcome to reality.

The real question is not “how do we change that reality?” but: “what will you do with that reality?”

Who is “the writer”?

The “writer” is at first someone who writes. A story. A poem. A blog-post. This can be once a year, once a month, once a decade. “I am the writer of this specific post/story/poem”.

To claim the title: “writer” in general, like in: “I am a writer” changes the game a bit. Let’s start with this:

  1. Regular — You write on a regular basis.
  2. Published — You have been published at least 2 times and at least once a year
  3. Still doing it — You are still writing

Adding subjective bullshit

Now, let’s make it more subjective. When I apply MY specific version of “writer” to you, you also have to comply to this:

  1. Deep and thoughtful¬†— You write deep and thoughtful stories that touch at least two or three relevant contemporary issues in a balanced way, from multiple points of view
  2. Inclusive — Your world contains all kinds of people. You write FOR the people you write about. ALL characters are well-rounded.
  3. At least 40.000 words per month — You write AT LEAST 40.000 words per month. In blog posts, short stories, novels and/or novella’s. 60.000 is better. If you produce around 100.000 of proper quality I might call you “equal”. “Less is laziness” and “with less you are not a real writer”.
  4. At least 300.000 words per year — And again I am being mild, assuming not everyone can write 300.000 words in 6 months time as I did.
  5. You do this in English — Otherwise: why bother?
  6. You blog — You blog. Write articles. That deal about stuff that makes people think. AT LEAST 4.000 words per post. You spend no more than 3 hours. Otherwise your post is just a word-fart and you are wasting precious time. Hardly anything of substance.
  7. You edit — You spend 2 out of three days of your time editing, because spending less time editing is not editing but just brushing things up.
  8. You work on at least 3 novels and 6 stories a year — Which you will finish all, edited and ready for publication. And I am being mild here.
  9. You can achieve an output of 10.000 words per day — 20 days in a row, making a total of 200.000 words in one month. Without editing.
  10. You do this full-time for at least 6 months in a year — Because when you do less, you are not really taking it seriously.

Now, if any of this is making you feel bad about yourself — especially the 10.000 words per day and 6 months full time — I achieved my goal.

I am also full of shit.

Back to basics

  1. Regular¬†— You write on a regular basis.
  2. Published (maybe)¬†— Being published does not define “being a writer”. It defines: “being a published writer”
  3. Still doing it¬†— You are still writing
  4. Open for feedback? — You might want to consider critical feedback in your loop.

“The writer must–“

“The writer¬†must¬†have […]”

A writer “must” or “has to”… nothing. Nothing. Must: Nothing. At all. Here is why:

  1. Personal goals — Why do you write? What is it you want to tell and achieve? Where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
  2. Personal taste — When is a story “good” to your personal taste? Who do you want to mirror to? Who is your hero?
  3. Personal levels of ambition — How ambitious are you? How do you show that? Where that that show?
  4. Willingness to invest — How much are you willing to invest in that? How much is sufficient? Are you doing that?

When this is all in line, all in balance, you are doing a good job. Even if this is one story per year or per decade. It might be possible your work is unreadable or boring as a result. If it is not your goal to do otherwise, who gives a shit. You are doing what you want to. Happy. Joy. Awesomeness.

When you want to become published/win a price

Not all writers strive to be published. Or win a price.

When you do want to become published or win a price, the game changes. You are no longer only pleasing yourself and some personal fans. Especially when you want to be published in the “better” magazines (online and/or offline).

People will read your work with a more critical eye. It will have to pass the slush-pile reader. It will then have to pass the editor. To achieve this, your story — at least — has to be:

  1. Well written — A beginning, middle, end. Engaging. About something. Proper buildup of the chain of events.¬†
  2. A pleasure to read — Proper buildup of sentences. Not too many platitudes. Surprising. Rythmic.
  3. Alive — With characters that speak to you, a background (stage) that you an almost feel and touch, and so on.
  4. Feel fresh — Even when your topic has been written about and used 1.000.000 times, your approach to it offers something different. Your vision feels fresh.

To achieve THAT you need to:

  1. Practice — Write. Write. Write. Do finger-practices. Write for the hell of it, without any other goal than to try something new.¬†
  2. Challenge yourself — Go beyond your own ideas. Try something hard, new. Like: using different points of view. Or: using a dead object as your main character. Or: start with something completely random and stupid and make a well-rounded story out of it. Whatever.
  3. Edit / learn to edit — understand where you are doing too much. Where you are not doing enough. Where you are lazy. How you are lazy. Where you want too much. Where you are hammering the obvious. ¬†And so on.
  4. Have at least one critic reader — Who will point out the shit you produced. “This is too long. That does not work. That is useless.”
  5. Accept criticism — Anything that makes sense. Even if you do not agree AT FIRST. It is possible that your reader simply does not get your genre (“I really did not like the heterosexual relationships in your story. It grossed me out totally” or: “Why are they talking… at all?”) so not all criticism is useful. But when two people point out: “all your characters are flat” there might be a point there.
  6. Make it awesome — Make it awesome. (And “awesome” here is relative, not absolute) For you. For your readers. Do not accept with “good enough” unless you have a deadline. When you write and feel: “this is awesome” and you read it back and you think: “I really am awesome here” you are getting it.
  7. Edit more — Cut the fluff. The things that do not work. The sentences you think: “I need to rewrite this, but it is almost impossible to get it right”. Scrutinize your sentences: are they to the point? Do they support the story?

To start “becoming a writer” like that, you could start with:

  1. Write at least 5 stories per year — Write them. Edit them. Make them as good as you can. Have them proof-read. Edit and correct. Have them proof-read again. Send them.
  2. Learn to write better — Write about writing. Write about your own writing. Write about how you can write better. Read books, analyze what the writer did. Write reviews on what the writer did from the point of view of a writer. Whatever. But learn. Study. Master it.
  3. Send your stories — Send them to magazines. Get them out there.
  4. Think like a professional — Learn to understand your (future) editor and publisher. Why would they buy your story? Would YOU buy your story? (“Sure, because I am awesome!” is not the answer.)

International success (does not come for free)

The many faces of “international success”

“International success” has many possible faces. “Being published and paid for English language stories in an online magazine” can be one. “Being published” another. “Winning an Britisch or American genre award” a third.

Payment, costs of translation, mastering the language

To get to any of these places is “hard work” indeed. You probably do not master the English language as well as the average English speaker does. And it will take a lot of effort and frustration to type and write as fluently in English as you do in your own language. And if you do not chose to go that way: translation is another option. Costing you about 10 to 15 cent per word when done by a professional. Costing you¬†5 to 10 cent more than you will receive (a payment of 5 cent per word on average) when you sell it.

Competiton

Another factor is the competition. Where in a country like the Netherlands, you have maybe 20 to 50 fellow writers aspiring to be published somewhere and where it is not that hard to become one of the top-10, in the English-speaking area you have about 10 to 30 times as much competition.

So when your story is on the slush-pile, you are competing with 100 other writers instead of 10 or 20. And there will be 5 to 10 writers clearly better than you, showing a more mature style of writing. And if there are only 5 slots for publication, your story will not make it.

Quality

You need to be good. When you say: “this is a good story”, you have just reached the bottom line of acceptable. And so you need to take it and lift it higher. Work on it more. Instead of 1 edit, you will probably have to edit it 3 times. Remove clumsy writing. Remove irrelevant scenes and sentences. Become more clear on your intentions with and within certain events in your story.

It starts with: what do you want?

There are ways to get (out) there. It starts with you. Why do you write? What do you have to tell or add? Why spend all that time writing? Why listen to others? Why ask and take feedback? Why improve something you already think is good? If that is crystal clear, the work, the price you pay is just part of the process.

Why “I do if for fun” is completely legit

The idea of the Najade: GTDO fund is not to encourage people to become professional, to build an international career because we MUST blah blah blah something something bullshit. It is to show what is going on in relationship to SF and Fantasy in the Netherlands. The average, the bold, the good, the awesome. It is to destroy the language barrier.

If your writing is just recreational, if you do not really have a clear vision on this, if you do not aspire anything, that is perfectly fine. You have just as much rights to be seen as anyone else. And thus the right to become translated. And I welcome you, regardless of my personal taste.

Curating and curators — taste and “quality”

Part of the “next steps” in the Najade: GTO fund is the concept of a central site and curators. People from different kinds of publishing backgrounds willing to cooperate will create their personal lists of favorites, telling you why they think it is worth to read the stories they selected.

The distinction between “what is good and what is not” is made by those curators.

Your first novel

Seriously. Who gives a shit. Write a shitload of short stories. Build a name. Build your skills. Become awesome.

Once you master story-telling, think about writing a novel. Spare yourself the waste of time on doing the wrong thing first. Your. First. Novel. Will. Suck. Big time.

Better make it suck less by doing a lot of practice. And — while doing that — getting published with your practice-material: your short stories.

Write your novel. Your first or second novel. Fail. Finish it. Whatever. Write at least 6 different short stories while you do it, and experiment like there is no tomorrow. Then write another novel.

Viable business models

In writing and publishing there are no “viable business models”. Writing and/or publishing books and stories is the worst you can do. If you want a viable business model, here is one: “Don’t write/publish. Get a job. Earn money”.

5 cents per word, 4 weeks to 4 months

Even when you sell your stories, here is reality: each word delivers around 5 cents. That is 50 Euro/USD for 1.000 words. 500 euro for 10.000 words.  It will take between 4 weeks to 4 months before your story is taken from the slush pile. THEN it needs to please the editor.

Book deal? Not viable

Getting a book-deal? Awesome. You will get a 2500 Euro advance and 1.50 euro royalties (on average) per sold book. Sell 2000 books and you earned a total of 7500 euro. If you are lucky to sell so much copies. Most writers do not.

Writing is not a viable business model. Working at McDonalds is financially more rewarding.

Publishing business? Not viable

And publishing? The same story. It is better to start a coffee-corner with delicious home-made apple-pie. Or sell french fries.

Publishing is not a viable business either.

Going Dutch: or how not to do it

Energy in wrong directions, looking at the wrong examples

The main problem with many Dutch initiatives is that the energy usually flows in many wrong directions. We tend to compare things with initiatives elsewhere which are already 10 stages further, forgetting they started somewhere in a crappy place as well. It has to be “perfect from the first moment” and “ambitious, but not too ambitious”. I found in many goodwill-projects I was involved in in the past that people think you have to: “solve a lot of problems first” and: “simple solutions are not good enough” as: “if it comes easy, it cannot be good”.

False issues, non-existing problems

Most problems in a project (including writing) are usually not real-world issues, but created by the project owners themselves and thrown on the road ahead as obstacles because: “you have to be prepared for and overcome those ahead of time in case of ‘what if'”. Most of these problems never occur. In most cases, the project owners themselves kill that project before anything even has the time to rise.

Step by step

The idea that things start from a little seed, that you nurture that little seed, that many seeds will not bud and many others will be eaten by the birds seems to be alien. It is usually easier to look at the points of failure. 100% must pass. Loss is unacceptable.

Loss/failure as a default aspect of the learning process

In reality, loss is the default mode. You take it. You accept it. You continue. You reduce and eliminate it by learning from the past and doing things slightly different.

Business models, seeds that die? Irrelevant

The talk about business models is irrelevant in this stage.

I am not intending to spend time or worries on the seeds that die. They will do so anyway. It is part of reality.

Even if out of 20 stories only 2 are awesome, my money is well spent. In 5 years some trees will grow out of all the seeds.

Concluding

In my old work with Ator Mondis, which followed a similar approach as the American SF magazines under editors like John Campbell did: actively seeking writers, stimulating them to wrote and stimulating them to write better, I learned that you can not force writers to become better writers.

They do this, do not do this, but most importantly: most of them have a completely different view on things and a completely different agenda than you do.

The basis

To avoid many mistakes I made with Ator Mondis, twenty years ago, I do things radically different.

  1. Create a fund
  2. Have the best 5 or 6 stories from the Paul Harland Prijs translated.
  3. Donate the translation to the writer without any strings attached
  4. Step back and let things happen as they go

Platform

Additionally I:

  1. Create a platform to assure ALL Dutch stories written or translated in English can be found in one single place.

Approach

There is no business plan behind it, except:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Keep costs low/minimal
  3. Do it well
  4. Do not strive for perfection

Writing: “CHATWINGTHEHT — Part one of the book of Marcus Flipsen”

The Tapeworm Chronicles just got a new and even scarier sequel

Where I thought “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” was awesome, Kaptein upped the game with ten notches in “CHATWINGTHEHT”

Undead children! Amsterdam! The Golden Age! Rembrandt! The rise of an old apocalyptic cult! Ghosts! This is Urban Fantasy at its best!

“CHATWINGTHEHT”. Until the very end you will be wondering who or what¬†CHATWINGTHEHT is. And the answer will surprise and shock you. Chilling to the bone.

Dan Brown; make place for Peter Kaptein

OK. “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” is not even written and we already have a sequel.

The night watch

The night watch

CHATWINGTHEHT, a plot summary (or something)

It is 1641. Marcus Flipsen, a young¬†Postlutherian Sacramentalist and¬†one of the descendants of Koen Flipsen: Demon Hunter, gets a new assignment when a dead body of a black man is found, infested by tapeworms, with the secret sign of the Anabaptists scorched in the chest and a note reading: “CHATWINGTHEHT” in the cold and stiff hand: written in blood on the processed skin of a dead human baby.

While dead newborn children haunt the night, possessed by demon spirits, hungry for human blood, Rembrandt van Rijn suffers from flashes of a frightening future, ghosts of slaughtered soldiers haunt the Sloter Plassen and several signs seem to lead to the resurrection of the presumedly dead leader of the Dutch Anabaptists, Marcus Flipsen is forced to take on this assignment as well.

And he is only 16 years old. [THIS IS ALSO POSSIBLY A YOUNG ADULT BOOK: ALERT!!!!]

How are the city patrons related to this? Who is the girl bathing in golden light in one of the most ambitious painting of that time? Why is Marcus Flipsen forced to hunt yet another mystery? How is he related to Rembrandt van Rijn? Why are so many traces ending in the harbor where the Dutch trade ships arrive and set sail again? Who is the dead man and what is binding everything together?¬†What is happening overseas? What is this talk about slaves shipped from Africa to New Amsterdam? And how will this all eventually lead to the fall and loss of New Amsterdam twenty years later as is scratched by the visionary Van Rijn on the missing part of the Rembrandt painting: “The Nightwatch”?

Nothing is what it seems. Even Marcus has a dark secret, hiding from the light. [SPOILER ALERT: His name is actually Marcella — AS THIS IS URBAN FANTASY AND SUPER FEMINIST LITERATURE!!!1!22!!3! — and he is born as a girl!1!!1!]

A globe spanning mystery unfolds.

You will find a frightening and enlightening vision on the Amsterdam of the Golden Age where Rembrandt van Rijn painted his masterpieces and the Netherlands rose to new heights with the Dutch East India Company: to dominate global trade for two whole centuries.

In his quest to uncover the truth, Marcus Flipsen will uncover things and events the Dutch rather have erased from history.

Writing: Playing the Exotic card once again: “The book of Koen Flipsen, Demon Hunter”

Kaptein’s: “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” succeeds in¬†super-ceding such classic works as: “An American Shogun in India” and “Yamada Monogatari: DEMON HUNTER”

“The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” by Peter Kaptein is a Literary-Fantasy tour de force full of exotic Dutch people and locations!

I am looking forward to the two other parts of the Tapeworm Chronicles

Demon Hunter

The book of Yamada Rice Berg: Demon Hunter

As this is probably fantasy nonsense written by some American guy, playing the “Exotic card”, I decided to do the same. But better (tapeworms! Research! Dutch Exoticness!).

So I will re-mix this story-idea (from the blurbs) into: “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER”.

Exotic Exoticness!

Pittoresque typical Dutch family portrait

Educated! Smart! Full of style! Well dressed! Artistic!

The summary

Read with me:

In an ancient Japan¬†NETHERLANDS where the incursions of gods, ghosts, and demons into the living world is an everyday event, an impoverished nobleman named Yamada no Goji¬†KOEN FLIPSEN makes his living as a demon hunter for hire. With the occasional assistance of the reprobate [FUNNY SCOUNDREL SIDEKICK!] exorcist Kenji HANS, whatever the difficulty – ogres, demons, fox-spirits – for a price Yamada KOEN will do what needs to be done, even and especially if the solution to the problem isn’t as simple as the edge of a sword. Yet, no matter how many monsters he has to face, or how powerful and terrible they may be, the demons Yamada KOEN fears the most are his own!

From the reviews:

Yamada KOEN himself functions as the knowledgable agent during the readers’ exploration through Parks’s KAPTEIN’s recreation of Heian Japan Medieval NETHERLANDS (the period preceding the “Warring States”¬†DURING THE 80 YEARS WAR WITH THE SPANISH and the rise of the Shogun SOMETHING King Willem Of Orange the First). Yamada FLIPSEN is both observant and thoughtful, bringing his surroundings to life for those familiar with and those alien to various aspects of Japanese DUTCH culture, history, and mythology present in the work. Yamada’s FLIPSEN’s quirky monk companion Kenji HANS provides a solid foil, and occasional kick in the rear [HA HA HA HUMOR!], to the dogged demon hunter himself.

Parks KAPTEIN’s [bla bla bla something something: awesome writing]. ¬†The settings are diverse, bringing the reader into contact with large swaths of Japanese DUTCH culture both near to and far from the Imperial ROYAL court. The characters are, for the most part, well-developed with the dubious or mixed motivations that make for good storytelling. Importantly, the demons and ghosts Yamada FLIPSEN deals with are interesting and compelling.

There! I wrote my summary.

Some backdrop

¬†“An impoverished nobleman”

Nobles could be (and usually were) knights at some time. It was good to go out on your horse, fight some battles and (around 1200) earn your own piece of land with stinky poor peasants free to boot.

In the period this story plays, the Netherlands are a province of Spain. Willem of Orange, the city-holder of several provinces in Holland is revolting against the Spanish with the Spanish Inquisition as a main trigger and possible personal gain of power as an underlying motive (in the story).

But how can Koen Flipsen be a impoverised-nobleman? One that lost his wealth as we see above, has enough battle-experience not to be torn to shreds with his first encounter and to becomes a DEMON HUNTER!!??

Let’s review Dutch history as the peoples of the Internets see it.

The fall of the Dutch Nobles

On the slow decline of power of the Dutch nobles (Wikipedia):

Part of the shifting balance of power in the late Middle Ages meant that besides the local nobility, many of the Dutch administrators by now were not traditional aristocrats, but instead stemmed from non-noble families that had risen in status over the last centuries.

[…]

Under the governorship of Mary of Hungary (1531‚Äď1555), traditional power had for a large part been taken away both from the stadtholders of the provinces and from the high noblemen, who had been replaced by professional jurists in the Council of State.

What we see is a shift of power. Leading to a decrease of influence (and income) by the nobles.

More on Dutch nobility: where did they come from?

In the Early Middle Ages, there were, in each province, a number of feudal lords who often were just as powerful, and sometimes more so, than the rulers themselves. In the middle of the fourteenth century, quarrels between the feudal lords reduced many families and castles to ruins, contributing to the Dukes of Burgundy’s acquisition by conquest or inheritance of many of the provinces forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On poverty / loss of money and “religious radicalism” by the lesser Nobles in the time of the Dutch insurrection, from¬†this source:

the lesser nobles were embracing¬†religious radicalism¬†and becoming more¬†extreme in their talk. These men had¬†lost a lot of money¬†as a result of price rises –¬†money which they could not recover. William could not be seen to be openly supportive of men who were becoming radical and potentially de-stabilising. These men turned to Louis of Nassau – the brother of William of Orange. In 1565 they formed the Compromise. It had two main aims:

1) to end the power of the Inquisition in the Netherlands

2) to get Philip to withdraw his orders to enforce the findings of the Council of Trent.

These Nobles would later unite as “Geuzen” or “Beggars” (see below) and they slaughtered several Catholics in the war with the Spanish. I exclude that part for now, although it will be one of the crucial and life-turning events in the life of Koen Flipsen.

We now have a possible explenation WHY Koen Flipsen (van Bergen to Zantum) has become a disposessed Noble. To make the backstory fit more, Koen is probably a Calvinist.

His battle-experience can come from fighting with the Geuzen in the first rebellion led by Willem of Orange.

The 80 year war, Willem of Orange and the Geuzen

From WikiPedia

After his arrival in August 1567, Alba established the Council of Troubles (known to the people as the Council of Blood) to judge those involved in the rebellion and the iconoclasm. William was one of the 10,000 to be summoned before the Council, but he failed to appear. He was subsequently declared an outlaw, and his properties were confiscated. As one of the most prominent and popular politicians of the Netherlands, William of Orange emerged as the leader of an armed resistance. He financed the Watergeuzen, refugee Protestants who formed bands of corsairs and raided the coastal cities of the Netherlands (often killing Spanish and Dutch alike). He also raised an army, consisting mostly of German mercenaries to fight Alba on land. William allied with the French Huguenots, following the end of the second Religious War in France when they had troops to spare.

The motive for Willems revolt can be found here:

Later, in his¬†Apology¬†(1580), William stated that his resolve to oppose the King’s policies had originated in June 1559, when, during a hunting trip to the Bois de Vincennes together with the duke of Alva and King¬†Henry II of France, […] the latter two had openly discussed a secret understanding between Philip and Henry which aimed at the extermination of the Protestants in both France and the Netherlands; William at that time had kept silent, but had decided for himself that he would not allow the slaughter of so many innocent subjects.

Slaughter! The murder of innocents. Freedom of religion!

And this:

A major cause of Dutch discontent was the heavy level of taxation the population was required to pay, while support and guidance from the government was hampered by the size of the empire.

Taxes! Nobles becoming poor!

¬†Beside the hard-line Calvinists, that opposition consisted of the¬†Dutch nobility, whose¬†power had declined¬†in favour of that of the despised merchant class that the regents represented, and the factions in the other provinces, such as Utrecht and Friesland, that heartily resented Holland’s supremacy.

Despised merchants!

The Dutch nobles joined forces after the failed attempt to come to a compromise related to the placards against heresy in the Netherlands.

Charles de Berlaymont, allegedly remarked that the petitioners were no more than beggars (Geuzen), who deserved a good thrashing, and that the Regent need not be afraid of them.

[…]

¬†That evening the petitioners held a banquet at which they toasted the king and themselves as “beggars.” Henceforth the¬†Geuzen¬†would be the name of their party.

Calvinist wittiness!

More on the Geuzen.

Geuzen (French: Les Gueux, English: the Beggars) was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles and other malcontents, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen (French: Gueux de mer, English: Sea Beggars).

On Willem of Orange’s other possible motives (Wikipedia):

Although he never directly opposed the Spanish king, William soon became one of the most prominent members of the opposition in the Council of State, together with Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn and Lamoral, Count of Egmont. They were mainly seeking more political power for themselves against the de facto government of Count Berlaymont, Granvelle and Viglius of Aytta, but also for the Dutch nobility and, ostensibly, for the Estates, and complained that too many Spaniards were involved in governing the Netherlands. William was also dissatisfied with the increasing persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands. Brought up as a Lutheran and later a Catholic, William was very religious but was still a proponent of freedom of religion for all people.

Mine! More power! Restore the power of the Dutch nobility! Too many Spaniards!

We have war. We have motive for war. We have a King to Be (Willem of Orange) with shady motives. Murder and battlefields! We have the basis for a fruitful backdrop.

Ghosts and demons

From the blurb we have:

  1. Ogres —¬†¬†“large, hideous, humanoid monsters” according to WikiPedia. Check. Strong, big, feeding on human beings. Chck.
  2. Gods — Well, we have the Greek ones and Odin and Loki. I guess — as we follow the blurb — that they will be there. Maybe some followers. And an appearance or two.
  3. Ghosts — Poltergeists, the souls of the dead. Since it is war there are many dead people. And many ghosts.
  4. Demons — Let’s go Christian here. While most are technically spirits, we put them all on one heap: not of God and thuis evil. We have the Flemish¬†Kludde, a mischievous spirit who can shape-shift and wants to ride your back. There are the¬†Cambion who are half-demonic offspring of humans and Incubus/Succubus. We have imps, which are quite harmless. Belial/Baal. Nymphs¬†who are spirits of nature and live everywhere. Witches¬†who “slept with the devil/a demon”.
  5. Fox spirits — Which can be represented by a talking fox. In Dutch and French legends we have Reynaart the fox, an “anthropomorphic fox”¬†who is considered a trickster. Why not make this a spirit. “Descendant¬†of Reynart! What is it you wish!”

Nice to know:

  1. Malleus Maleficarum The standard book published in 1486 on witches and witchcraft. A copy is in possession of Koen.
  2. Section 13 of Rituale RomanumExorcism

Koen Flipsen (van Bergen tot Zantum)

Koen can– and will have the background to become a fierce, haunted, dogged demon hunter.

Probably Koen does not like peasants, as they are unwashed and poor and he is from noble backgrounds. So his clients will be other Nobles. Who will probably loathe and fear him. But being noble also means he — according to Aristotle — has values and virtues and can be trusted.

As Aristotle was just as reliable and awesome as a source as Nietsche (crazy and fucked up) for your day to day advice and the Nobles were usually few, Koen probably is just another profiteer, robber, gambler, half-inbred liar in conflict with himself, his assumed virtues and his strong or loose bonds to the Church. (I decided he is a follower of Calvin.)

Probably Koen’s last name will include some places to indicate his former reign. “Koen Flipsen van Bergen tot Zantum”, where “Zantum” is a made-up name and “Flipsen” does not make any sense to begin with AS THIS IS FANTASY!!11!2!3!! and thus it is allowed.

For all discrepancies sake I will also use some reference to stuff that is not Dutch nor/or not part of that time. (And if I do it properly I will have some non-Dutch people praise the story for its “historical correctness” and “deep insight in Dutch culture”)

What else?

Old age, bad breath and tapeworms

Probably Koen is in his 40’s and with his own set of problems from being malnourished / having not really the best diet and from worms and other parasites living in his intestines due to bad¬†hygiene¬†and eating half-raw meat. (And I wonder how many Fantasy-novels deal with that problem: “When he stood he felt something still hanging down and as he pulled it, more slowly came out of his anus.” TAPEWORM! I do not remember Tolkien had any intestinal parasites in his world-building…) He will also — very likely — have bad breath, bad teeth and teeth missing, on top of raw scars and several broken bones set in a crappy way on the battle-field.

Dragon Ball Z 

Like Goku, Koen will wear lead parts on his body to weight him down and force him to keep his body strong by normal daily use. In order to be able to defeat the demons.

Koen can not transform into something resembling a Super Sayan, however.

How did Koen become Demon Slayer?

Koen starts seeing ghosts after an almost deadly blow on the head by a war-hammer when he was 21. Since then he can see spirits and ghosts eveywhere (hello, cliche). He gets his name as Demon Slayer by murdering a possessed leader of a Spanish batillion. Leading to all kinds of strange happenings that day.

There! Nobody asked me to make it into a literary masterpiece. So: done.

The 80 years war

The 80 years war between the Dutch and the Spanish is a very rich backdrop for many reasons and I can take the rise of King Willem of Orange with it.

The exoticness of Dutch people is present in many ways by the way.

Dutch Navy Badass Cornelius Tromp

Dutch Navy Badass Cornelius Tromp, 1645 or something

Blond hair (well… many of them, excluding Cornelius Tromp). Blue eyes. Fair skin. Crazy as fuck. Bravado. Style! The Germans and the Nordic people — including those wretched Vikings — might have touched some of it, but only the Dutch have and had it all.

The Dutch invented stuff, including a representation of the solar system and several uses of wind energy. We had boats and overseas trade. We kicked Great Britain’s butt several times, including blocking the Themes with a chain. We were the scorch of Spain by pirating their ships with gold and silver over and over and over again. We used¬†guerrilla¬†warfare. I might even use my own, unique and wonderfully correct historical research on the Dutch War Barrel Organs.

Next steps

I am too busy now to work on this further. Three stories to finish. And other thingy things that are required when you are doing stuff and so.

So I will get back to this probably a month from now. (sad face).

Inclusive writing, part 2: Dropping cultural sexual bias

Why “male” and “female” is incredibly relative

Last week I read the wonderful post: “‘Biological sex’ is socially constructed“, which summarizes in a very brief and wonderful way many ideas I support as well. A long quote (enter added by me):

The thing is, in real life, very few people actually match up with all five categories.  There are, of course, genetic differences that account for a decent percentage of human births like XXY, XXX, XO, and XYY (apx 1:500 births though it could easily be more than that since we don’t do genetic testing for all people and even at that ratio if there are over 6 billion people in the world 1:500 means there are a whole lot of genetically intersex people out there) but it goes far beyond that.

There are people out there who have XX chromosomes, a vulva and vagina, ovaries, male secondary sex characteristics and male hormones patterns.  There are people out there who have XY chromosomes, a penis, testes, female secondary sex characteristics and female hormone patterns.  There are even people out there with XY chromosomes, testes, a vulva, a vagina, female secondary sex characteristics, and male hormone patterns and there are even people with BOTH male and female secondary sex characteristics at the same time and people with BOTH male and female hormone patterns at the same time regardless of their genes, gonads, and genitalia

I wrote this following first sentence of a new short story shortly after.

‚ÄúYou need to feel your anger,‚ÄĚ she said, looking down at her, scratching the short beard on her chin, scratching her flat chest. ‚ÄúYou are not touching it.‚ÄĚ

Society and the male stereotype

From a random search find: “Circle of moms” (Corrected the lack of capitals)

Now he is 6 and he only wants to play with girl things… I allowed it a few years ago and thought he would grow out of it… And now that he is in school… He is very well liked by all of the kids in his grade… But his only friends are girls… I asked him if he had any boys that were friends? He said they were all mean to him because he told his class his favorite color was pink!! (He does not act or have the personality of a “normal” boy his age. He’s not rough and just not into what the other little boys…) I try not to say anything to him. I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable or insecure in any way about what he likes…

How wonderful. At least she understands “normal” is not exactly “normal”

Let’s focus on this specific sentence:

He does not act or have the personality of a “normal” boy his age. He’s not rough and just not into what the other little boys…

Boys and men are “rough”. They play with boys toys. They do not cry. They are practical, like to pay with mechanical things, cars. They like manly sports. Soccer. Baseball. Girls are more care-taking, playing with dolls, liking soft colors, gentle things. (And — to cut this short — this is all complete bullshit. Whatever you THINK you see and whatever SHOULD be there is the result of cultural stereotypes. Repeating it: it is bullshit.)

Take a look at this (from the same thread):

My son is almost 12 and is very like your son. He doesn’t play the usual ‘boys’ games and still loves to sort through my wardrobe whilst I play his model and he gets me changing into various outfits! He also still likes to occasionally paint my toenails and every night he brushes my hair whilst we chat. I love that he is like that! It means that when other mums are complaining that they aren’t as close to their sons anymore, I am very close to mine. Don’t get me wrong, he also plays video games that I detest and he doesn’t do the girly things quite as much now, but it still keeps us closer than his friends with their mums!

How can this be wrong? This is a very normal boy as well. And very normal human behavior. Care-taking. Loving. Doing “girly things”. And as a side-note: the sexual bias of this specific boy can be towards male and/or female bodies and is completely unrelated to his other behavior or non-stereotypical preferences.

How and why do we connect behavior so tightly to the body?

If his father is in the picture, see if he could spend some quality dad time with him and show him what it means to be a male or little boy. […stuff about church…] Although, hanging out with girls can be fun, because their cute, he needs to be in balance. He needs to be offered opportunities where he’s able to fun things that boys do.

So, because the boy likes to play with “girl’s stuff” he is “unbalanced”. He “needs to be shown what it means to be a male or little boy”. Penis==”manly stuff”. Vagina/uterus==”girly stuff”. Raising boys and girls is that sick-makingly simple in some places.

This gender-stereotyping is quite normal where I come from as well: the Netherlands. If you — as a person in a male body — behave “too much of a female” it will lead to hostile reactions.

Society and the female stereotype

To be added.

She, he, it

Homosexual males I knew tend to refer to other gays as “he”, “she” and/or “it”. “He” is in most cases a referral to a male who acts according to the local male stereotype. “She” is either a male being mocked or behaving more “feminine”. “It” is again either a mockery or someone who is detested (as in “would not want to touch it“) or considered standing outside the binary sex-roles. Another form of “undefined”.

Homo, bi, hetero and asexuality

On the scale of sexual preferences (towards humans) we can distinguish four to six main types (out of several more):

  1. Homosexual — Or same-sex. This includes both male- and female homosexuality. I consider this “primarily homosexual” as there can be slight variations and light/dormant desires towards people of the other sex
  2. Bi-sexual — In some camps, bi-sexuality does not exist. “You are pretending/not making a choice”. Bi-sexuals are somewhere in the middle of the sexual spectrum. Both male and female bodies are sexually arousing. There is no inner need ¬†“to choose sides” in a binary model where “you are either/or”. “Either/or” is bullshit.
  3. Omnisexual — Or/related to “pansexual“, which is like an extension on bi-sexuality. Where bi might limit itself to male and female bodies / male and female body images, pan- and omni-sexuality says to include all variations; including mixed physical “gender specific” indicators like the penis, the vulva and the breasts.
  4. Sexual fetish — Which includes the sexual attraction to physical objects.
  5. Heterosexual — Heterosexual is on the other side of the spectrum. Heterosexual people prefer predominantly people with bodies of the other sex.
  6. Asexuality — Asexuality has very different shapes and forms. From “I do not feel any sexual arousal from either male or female bodies” to “I don not want to have sex” to “I choose to NOT want or have sex”. Asexuality does not (automatically) exclude physical¬†intimacy¬†like caressing, cuddling, snuggling, kissing or (mutual) masturbation. It simply does not include sex. A very good view can be found, starting with “Platonic love is a problematic term“. Asexual relationships can be within the full spectrum of homo- bi, omni and hetero fields of attraction.

Monogamy and polygamy

In the Euro/American culture, monogamy is considered the “normal”. There might be several reasons for that. One is the aversion of the leading religious streams against everything that is not a man/woman procreational (breeding) unit. The second is economical. Monogamous relationships and marriage have some deeper relationship I have not investigated yet. What I do get is this: “Marriage is an economical agreement”.

Polygamy and polygamous relationships have several nuances which are hardly understood when you look at it from a heterosexual monogamous point of view. Within a monagomous heterosexual world, sexual partners are rare. Once a potential sexual partner is “taken”, he or she “is no longer available”. It is/feels very much like the game of “Musical chairs”. When the music stops, you have to be quick, or all chairs will be taken and you will be the one left out.

The simplest outside/in way to look at polygamy is that of “friends with benefits”. You meet someone you like. Maybe you feel sexually attracted. And maybe you will have sex. When these friendships become more close, “extended families” or “constellations” start to form. Good friends within your close circles are and can be (ex) sexual partners. People you can trust. People who will stand up for you when you are in trouble and people who will be there when most other people will abandon you.

Good friends are not exclusively limited to polygamous people.

The idea of “taken” is relative in polygamous constellations. When you are “my” partner, you are not exclusively “mine”. If and when you feel attracted to someone else, it is not my position to withold you from having an intimate relationship.

It is again Samual Delany who explores (as one of the few in the field of SF/F) polygamous relationships. “The Star Pit” ¬†(hardly any reviews online) and “Heavenly breakfast” are maybe the most clear examples that come to my mind. In these two stories, the “family unit” is formed by the polygamous constellation / the extended family. In these two stories, there is always someone available (or SHOULD be as is the case in “The Star Pit”) to take care of the children. To bring them to school. To help them with homework or problems. The “burden” of child-raising is spread over multiple adults, instead of just two: the biological father and mother.

Including other species

As this post is on “dropping cultural sexual bias”, ¬†inter-species relationships is a factor not to ignore in this conversation.

Our human sexuality and our human feelings for tenderness (not to be confused with each other)  are not limited to inter-human sexual relationships. Any other species CAN be sexually attractive. While the idea is strange to our culture, it is not uncommon for humans to have sexual relationships to and with dogs, sheep, pigs, goats, donkeys and horses.

As this is an unknown area to me (my main question is “what about mutual consent?” but that is probably a completely rediculous one.)

Do some googling and you will enter some of the less and maybe least acknowledged parts of human sexuality.

Questioning the sexual attraction to children

The human brain apparently is done developing around the age of 21, 22, as — according to my memory — that is when the human¬†frontal lobe is done developing. That frontal lobe is able to project current actions to future consequences. “What if?” and if I understand properly, that is one of the last stages in the development.

The question is: when is something “consent” if you can not oversee the consequences AND when you are still very gullible to manipulation by someone else. When is something rape? When is something “manipulated consent” and thus still rape? When is something truly consent?

The issue with¬†pedophilia is cultural and complex. “Should we involve children in sexual acts?”. The Greek of old days, apparently, considered the age of 12 appropriate to start sexual relationships between boys and older men (see Wikipedia:¬†Pedastry) and they were probably not the only and first or last culture to do that.

It seems the human brain is wired to develop a strong preference for people of minor age. Strong enough to ignore common sense and to risk imprisonment. To exclude this group due to its current and partly demonized status — directly associated in European culture to non-consensual¬†sex/rape and murder of children — is ignoring a part of human sexuality that IS there as well.

The next series of stories: including more of the ignored

Next to picking up rather widely ignored topics like mother/daughter, mother/son, brother/sister/sister/brother relationships, polygamy, polyamory and using countries and cultures deliberately NOT American I also decided to deliberately drop gender bias.

You can say: “yes, but it has already been done by…” I think Joanna Russ and for sure Samuel Delany (in “Triton” and for sure in “Stars like grains of sand”). –This limited list shows I am very behind on reading by the way.

And I say: show me 100 other books and 100 other writers who do so as well within the genre of SF and Fantasy. The majority of what you can read and find is dominantly Christian / based on European/American culture / promoting and defending monogamy / heterosexual / male dominated. And that stuff has nothing to add to me and bores me to death.

I deliberately use “ignored” here. There are several “reasons” you can give to explain why — as a male, female or whatever author — you are not going beyond the known and trodden paths. One can be your own specific bias. Either cultural or sexual. I accept that.

It might also be laziness. “Everyone is doing it and I never considered anything else”. That is OK as well.

End

While it started, around 10 years ago as: “why is almost every story I read male centric, heterosexual and reflecting views on inter-human relationships that are very limited and anything BUT absolute?” now — to break that mold in any way possible and constantly push those borders into new territories — has turned out to be an incredible source of inspiration.

It forces me to re-align my opinions and break out of my own pre-conceptions from a very binary male/female, male-centric and human-centric social construct I grew up with, within my own culture in the Netherlands.