The Ship Sets Sail

A ship lays anchored in the harbor

With a mast most tall and sails most bright

 

The moon’s reflection rides on the waves

But no silver sphere is in the sky

 

A lantern guides her way to the ship

But she marches without any haste

 

Tonight she sails for adventure

For knowledge

For truth

 

The Land of the Moors has called to her

And she knows well that she must obey

 

With a heavy heart she turns her head

To glance behind at the dark-skinned man

 

Her eyes plead with her lover

But his expression cannot be read

 

Will he even remember her face?

Her kindness

Her love?

 

Or is she destined to fade away

With the slow decay of weeks and months

 

She boards the vessel with her sisters

Nothing can be changed or undone now

 

All she can do is pray to the gods

That he will want her when she comes back

 

 

© Amy Sophiamehr

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Hate the Book, not the Author: A Defense of Twilight and Stephanie Meyer

I first got into the Twilight series because my sister was raving about them, and yeah, I’m not afraid to say that I enjoyed them. What I really appriciated about them was Meyer’s daring to go so far outside the typical vampire templete, giving them a twist that we had never seen before. She went farther outside of the box than I intend for the vampires in my would-be paranormal romance. And for that she has my respect as a fantasy writer.

I could never get into the movie adaptations. I watched the first one, thought many of the creative desicions made were awful, and chose not to engage with the rest of the films. But that didn’t deter my appreciation for the books. Yet unbeknowst to me, there was an entire counter-cultural crusade against the Twilight series and Stephanie Meyer herself that went on during the late 2000s. YouTuber Lindsay Ellis made a phenomenal video about the hate Meyer got, which I highly recommend.

Ellis gives thoughtful insight to how “we, and by we I mean our culture, we kinda hate teenage girls.” So because Twilight was shamelessly geared towards this demographic, it became a target for that wider, societal contempt.

I’m not saying that there isn’t any legitmate criticism that can be made against the Twilight series. There are a slew of feminist arguments that can be made for the sublte and sometimes overt misogyny represented, but a cultural phenomenon such as this in literature and film should be taken in stride as a learning lesson, not as a call to grab one’s pitchfork and set the author’s house ablaze.

The popularity of Twilight and the like reveals unflattering elements of the human condition that many wish just didn’t exist or at most were restricted to a small minority of teenage girls and wine moms. But with over 100 million copies sold, this reveals the painful reality that we haven’t evolved as a society as much as we would like the think we have. So rather than analyze why some unhealthy social constructs represented in books still have a dangerous hold on our collective psyche, people instead choose to lash out at the author for the unforgivable offense of writing the book in the first place.

I find the distain for Meyer in a small way comparable to the distain for Trump. The current president makes himself very easy to hate, but I must admit that I don’t so much hate Trump as I am saddened by the sizable chuck of society that gave Trump power. Before Trump I would have thought American society as a whole has moved beyond racism and sexism at least enough to easily dismiss someone like Trump. The fact that he now runs the United States is very telling of all the blind spots our society still has.

In short, we shouldn’t hate Stephanie Meyer nor think of Twilight as this blasphemous stain on modern literature.  She didn’t do anything that society didn’t allow her to do. Twilight is not the worst in the YA romance genre when it comes to promoting sexist stereotypes, but because the series grew to be so big, Twilight and its creator have been highjacked as the ambassadors for everything we despise about certain social problems that we still face.

You can hate Twilight, but that hate should be directed towards something constructive, not mindlessly fuel disgust for the author and anyone who dares to enjoy Twilight.

 

 

The Lonely Life of a Writer

Writing is a curious combination of solitude and solidarity. The process of writing a piece of work is often a lonely journey, yet it creates a product that is intended to be shared with the world. Hopefully the result is for a community to engage with a text and find comradeship through their shared experience and analysis.

So often my spurts of prolific writing have been triggered by circumstances where I found myself alone. More specifically, writing has been a response to what I have perceived to be involuntarily solitude. Bear in mind that I am referring to my creative writings, not any writing I have done professionally through my work as a grant writer or other positions.

My first foray into FanFiction came about by the reality that I could not participate in soccer, theater, or any other extra-curricular activities offered by my high school. This was because I lived 45 minutes outside of the district, thus I resigned myself to the reality that logistically I would never be able to commit to any club. Writing then became a hobby I could do on my own.

My current spurt of writing has emerged partially due to the deliberate self-isolation in which I have engaged over the last few years. This isolation did not manifest itself by choice or preference; it came to be because I was avoiding a relentless cyberbully and their flying monkeys. I didn’t know who I could trust and therefore veered on the side of caution.

I do not regret the precautions I took, given the severity of the situation, but it still saddens me to think that I had to repress my otherwise social self. Once again, writing gave me a creative outlet and a sense of direction/purpose when so many variables were beyond my control.

The cyberbully has since moved on, but casting aside the lone wolf lifestyle I adopted out of survival has proved a little bit of a challenge. I am getting better, though. I now take willful steps to increase my socialization. I’ve started a book club among my neighbors. I’ve gotten back into online writing groups. I go to yoga.

Still there is an inevitable degree of seclusion when one devotes a sizable chunk of one’s time to writing. It isn’t exactly a spectator sport. No one wants to sit there as you trudge through a particularly grueling chapter. But there is the hope that a type of togetherness will come with the finished product.

Unknown Poet

This is a short poem I found ten years ago crumpled on the floor of the library at my high school. I never found out who the poet was, whether it was classmate or if someone had simply copied down a more well-known poet. But I often refer to this few lines when I’m lacking inspiration.

The sun slowly smoldering

He waits

As the moon drips across the sand

He prays

After the cracked dry clouds blanket the sky

He dances

The Market of Exploiting Aspiring Writers

The Facebook Algorithm Gods have taken note of my shifting interests. My newsfeed was once peppered with Fashion Nova and interior design ads. Now it is littered with blurbs for writing workshops, editing services, and “fail-proof” self-publishing packages, all of which, if I even click to inquire, costs at least several hundred dollars.

Now don’t get me wrong; some of these things can be quite useful, and I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that you get out what you put in, whether on a specific project or in any aspect of life. However, I can’t escape the clawing feeling in my stomach that there are those waiting to capitalize on aspiring writers’ dreams without any intention of actually helping to make those dreams come true. I don’t want to think about the doe-eyed aspiring writer who gets sucked into an unfair deal not out of stupidity, but simple inexperience of what one should expect.

The world can be cruel, and there are too many people who view naiveite as something to cash in on. Scammers are down there in the lowest scum of the earth, in my opinion. I find the monetization of human vulnerability disgusting and reprehensible. I think they are either too lazy or too incompetent to make a living in any honest way and thus resort to scamming. That and they must have no souls, or at least they allow the anonymity of the internet to desensitize them from the human being on the other side of the screen.

Of course scammers are not restricted to the publishing arena. I myself almost fell victim to a scammer posing as a legitimate business. Fortunately, I had the wits to detect that something was amiss and called the bank to stop the check from going through. They never got the $750. Tough cookies, scammers!

The publishing world is fraught with potential scammers, from shady agents to vanity presses whose major income come not from the sales of books they publish, but rather from desperate authors fronting the costs of publication. Fortunately I’m not yet at a point that I need to be thinking about dodging scammers yet. I first need to cough up a first draft.

Nevertheless, as I find myself being lured into these advertisements on Facebook, I need to remind myself that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. I believe in the romanticized life of a novelist, but I mustn’t be blind to the hardships that can come with that territory, and that anyone trying to completely discount those hardships is undoubtedly selling something.