Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

Housekeeping, now with 110% Extra Rant

I want to step outside the reviewing stuff for a moment and do the talking about the blog and writing and reading in general thing. Firstly, I want to say thanks for all the support and encouragement and just all-round engagement from those of you reading and commenting. Talking about books, and writing, and, well, sex, is rarely boring for me, so it’s great seeing some conversation happening around these things.


Secondly, I’m sorry about the infrequent updates. There isn’t an excuse, the reasoning is that I have a fair bit going on in my life and I work in a job that’s fairly full on and which manages to eat into my off-work time –in that I’m often asleep—and therefore won’t be reading or reviewing (or writing!) with the speed I’d like to be. I also like to have several things on the go at once. In amongst reading, writing, skating, working, sleeping, interacting with my kids and trying to write, I have a serious love of gaming, and it’s been months since I played anything properly. Mass Effect 2 has stolen my heart, and it’s a rare moment when I can get use of the TV and gaming consoles in my house, so when those opportunities arise, I grab them with both hands and go into defence mode. I also read other stuff: there are at least three manga serials I’m completely nutty about, and I love my non-fiction. Someone told me the other day that “the more you do, the more you get done”—I’m not sure about that, but it means that anything I do takes longer than it should.


(Curiously, someone commented about “where do [I] get the time to do such lengthy reviews?” and the simple answer is: I don’t. I grab time from other things, and I don’t do plenty of things a lot of people do, like go out to movies, watch TV, take vacations, do social shit, etc. I also work in a job where I sometimes get time to read around work. [No complaint about this, either: it’s just about choices and preferred activities. Also: I type and think very quickly. Ever heard of NaNoWriMo, that thing where you write a 50,000 word novel in November? One year I set the benchmark higher because—well, there were a few reasons for it, actually—I felt like it, and I wound up writing 200,000 words. I never finished the novel, either. And I actually developed some serious RSI, but overall, I wasn’t losing sleep or missing work or anything else to do it. I was actually disappointed: I’d aimed to get 250,000 words done.])


Thirdly, I’ve seen the two subsequent Shades novels at Savers, and since The Administration is seven books of awesome, I guess I could keep on doing the Shades series. Unless I hit a point with them like I did in the third book of Twilight, where I went, “You know, I just can’t read this any more. I don’t care.” Perhaps having the motivating factor of getting to snark on the internet to drive me on might make me see these through to the end.  I seriously cannot wait to get into some of the later Administration stories and hope people can stick with me on the series: I still believe it’s the most underrated thing in the literary world ever. I believe in it like Warrick believes in the sim. It breaks my heart and frustrates me, though, that it’s only got such a small audience.


Also, I want to do some meta-ish posts about stuff, but am worried that I’ll start talking about stuff that happens far further down the track in the Administration series, so I’m really trying to hold off this.


And finally, when I announced that I was doing a readthrough of Shades, a friend of mine pointed me towards another blog which is doing the same thing. I make a point of NOT reading Jennifer Arnimtrout’s reviews until after I’ve done my own, which just adds to the motivation in getting my own finished. Anyway, if you like this stuff, Jennifer’s reviews are awesome. ( They’re very funny,  and I find it hilarious, and kind of haunting that sometimes we both pick up on similar things. (The Lion King, for example.) The fact that people on the internet have attacked her for daring criticise the series is mind-boggling, though, and if anyone needs some love, it’s her. (I don’t know her, btw, and haven’t read her books, but her blogging is lots of fun.)

Unfortunately, though, Jen’s hate haters. 😦 The accusations that criticism equals cyberbullying are baffling and unfair: criticism = saying “This stinks” or “This stinks and this is why.” Cyberbullying: saying “You stink and you are a horrible person who should jump under a bus/we’re going to kill your kids and rape your cat because we don’t like what you say/OMG, you’re [insert characteristic that’s not hurting anyone else in here]? Die, you horrible hellbound evildoer.” Hell, YouTube comments offer more examples of cyberbullying than snark blogs do.

Frankly, unless you’re being unfairly mean to someone on the internet or advocating doing awful things, I don’t think you deserve meanness and death threats. Picking on and laughing at terrible writing (or other public displays of awfulness) mightn’t be in everyone’s taste, but it’s not hurting anyone. E. L. James made millions out of the books, so I think the joke’s on us anyway. If I hear someone saying that she should be degraded/injured/raped/killed for the awfulness that is the series, then fine, I’ll flip the shits. But I haven’t heard anyone saying that stuff, just laughing at the terribleness of the book.

Let’s face it: if you put something out publicly, you’re asking for a response. And you have no right to dictate if and how people respond to you. You don’t want your book laughed at? Take measures to minimise the chances of that happening. Research things. Get an editor to read it first. Take their suggestions on board. You don’t want argument? Go out of your way to remain silent. (No matter WHAT you say, if someone wants to be offended by it or start drama and you’re in their line of sight, you can guarantee you’ll piss off someone. Maybe that’s just my experience of fandom talking.)


Equally, I’m not saying people have to love what Jennifer Armintrout and other readthrough bloggers including yours truly are doing, and we’re just as open to criticism as E. L. James is. What I am saying is there’s a difference between saying “I respectfully disagree” or “I don’t really like what you’re doing,” or “You made a mistake in [xyz]” and “You are a hideous example of humanity and you are going to burn in hell for this” and variations thereof. And for everyone whinging about snark blogs and asking how people have the time to write them: couldn’t you be using YOUR time to do something other than read them and hate? I don’t trawl the internet looking for stuff to piss me off: I have limited time on this planet and I’d rather spend it doing things I enjoy. (And yes, I enjoy snarking. And I enjoy making other people amused. And I enjoy being useful if it’s no skin off my nose. To some, my blog offers this… so, hey: whatever diddles yer skittle.)

Anyway, where are the real issues to get pissed about and to fight for? While I’m writing this, CNN is talking about how terrible it is that rapists are getting punished, shelter animals are being posted on daily “kill lists” and networked all over FaceBook in the hope that people will come through for them in 11th hour pardons, and twelve year old girls who know even less about sex than Ana Steele are being called dirty fucking whores by random men on the internet. Surely these things are more worthy of your time and anger than whinging about someone rolling their eyes at a book you happen to like, right? (I like disagreement and debate, but some of the nastiness I’ve seen levelled at Jen has been ridiculous. Honestly, people: if you’re reading Shades, one assumes—and hopes—you’re adults. Fucking well act like it.)


All right, rant over; I didn’t intend for things to get that long, but hey, I didn’t once use the word “fervently” or talk about my inner goddess or my subconscious, so I’m still in a good mood. Catch you on the flipside, folks: where we get the invasive potential mother-in-law who taught Grey about people’s boundaries!


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14 thoughts on “Housekeeping, now with 110% Extra Rant

  1. niamheryoumind on said:

    There’s some kind of UK or OZ film coming out soon about inner goddesses or The Modern Woman or some kind of weird cooking singing house-wife with screaming children stage show woman with a web cam and a missing and naked husband thing so if I hear “inner goddess” used to describe anything or anyone again I might fly into a rage and kill. Everything. It’s just the most overused term this century. And the last one.

    Sorry. Good post. Good link. *loves*

    • Jen ROCKS. And I love her work. 😀

      And uh-oh. That sounds kind of really awful.

      “Inner Goddess” sounds like something Annie Sprinkle talked about in the early nineties during those Women’s Sexual Enlightenment workshops she ran to teach newly-divorced newly-awakened hippies where their clitoris was.

      I could understand Ana talking about her inner goddess if she was into that stuff, but she seems to have no knowledge of sex beyond what she’s experienced with Grey. She doesn’t even know the names for her own body parts… how the hell has she figured out that she has an Inner Goddess?

  2. I really do hope you with with the whole Administration series. I love it with all my heart and I have recommended it to several friends, and they love it as well. But book one isn’t as mindblowing such as First against the wall. I know that’s a long way to go but that book = perfection. Pretty much every book with Carnac messing around is terrific.

    • >>>> I have recommended it to several friends, and they love it as well.

      YAY! I’ve annoyed my friends about it but no one’s into in in my immediate vicinity. *is lonely* I just keep being glad there’s the internet otherwise if I ever had found it, I’d be wanting to discuss it like crazy adn not having anyone else to meta and squee with. 🙂

      FAtW is epic. I’m really taken with Control, too, though. *bounces*

      >>>> Pretty much every book with Carnac messing around is terrific.

      You should have seen the FaceBook updates Carnac was prompting from me when he rocked up and started working his magic. *cackles* 😀

  3. mannafrancis on said:

    Secondly, I’m sorry about the infrequent updates.

    Don’t be sorry! You’re making stuff and giving it away for free. That never requires an apology, even though people surprisingly often seem to develop an incredible sense of entitlement about getting their free stuff delivered exactly when and how they demand it.

    (My husband has a theory that if you do something for free three times, people then start to expect it as a right. If you bring in cakes for the weekly meeting once, people are grateful for the treat. Do it twice more, and on the fourth meeting people want to know where their cake is, goddammit. Also, last week you brought two kinds, and this week there’s only lemon and they don’t even like lemon, WTF? The internet is like that, times a thousand.)

    All that said, I’m really looking forwards to meeting Grey’s mother.

    • He’s SO RIGHT. I used to do a volunteer service for fandom stuff and it amazed me how people would get gnarly about updates not happening when, well, it’s fandom and it’s meant to be fun. At one point I was like, “I’m working 12 hour days, six days a week and on my day off I’m usually NOT thinking about fandom” and was snarkily advised that “Well, everyone has a busy life.” (Not so busy if you can whinge about stuff like that!)

      >>>> The internet is like that, times a thousand

      YES. It is. Maybe the lack of face-to-face stuff encourages it? We’re still seen as a service provider or “part of the machine?”

      >>>> I’m really looking forwards to meeting Grey’s mother

      Me too. She must be pretty fucking scary to have turned her kid into THAT.

  4. Thistle on said:

    Still loving your blog! I wanted to let you know why I’ll rarely be commenting anymore though. Unsurprisingly, my work network has decided your blog is NWS and has blocked it. Happily I can still read your posts in email (for now…). I do most of my blog reading at work, so commenting is usually out. Sorry!

    • Aw, thankyou. And yeah, I’m surprised that my workplace hasn’t done the same thing. (It has blocked, like, every fanfiction site ever though.) Unfortunately, given the nature of Shades, I don’t know how to make it work friendly. 😦

      • Thistle on said:

        And oddly, it’s NOT blocked this morning. Our filter is really odd. It blocks a Japanese snack blog I like, which doesn’t have one bit of NWS stuff on it. And noooo! Don’t try to make it work friendly! It’s better as-is! If it gets reblocked, I can keep reading in email.

  5. My morning just got so much better! I’m so glad to hear that you’re going to continue on the Shades series. Book two is my favorite and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on it. 🙂

  6. So happy you’re planning to stick with the whole Administration series. My favourite bits are the short stories, and also FATW. I love how there’s just so much to comment on in terms of the characterization as you go through the series, so I’ll be happily reading and commenting on your posts for a while yet.

    And THANK YOU for posting that mini-rant about how criticism doesn’t equal cyber-bullying. I’m so tired of seeing these echo chamber communities where any independent thought is set upon by angry hordes with a mob mentality. I understand that a lot of people have tried very hard to build supportive writing or fandom communities and to tone down the critiquing for writers who are just starting out. But once you’re published and making millions, all bets are off and all snark is on.

    • Some of the shorter stories are just breathtaking. ftr, I adore Control, and Gee is amazing and brilliant but damn, that is not going to be an easy one to write about. I also love some of the other character study stuff, though, too: even when Warrick and Toreth are talking or having sex or something, because of the way the stories are written, there’s always more going on under the surface.

      And thankyou! I love your comments and am so please you’re here! 🙂

      >>> And THANK YOU for posting that mini-rant about how criticism doesn’t equal cyber-bullying. I’m so tired of seeing these echo chamber communities where any independent thought is set upon by angry hordes with a mob mentality.

      No worries. This is one of MANY examples I’ve seen this week where I’ve seen the accusation pop up as a hurt reaction to criticism (the other examples I can think of weren’t about books, either: one was about dodgy business operations, another one was about camwhoring with some seriously revolting imagery) and it shits me that something that really hurts people– and usually defenseless, harmless people– gets used in a chilling effects kind of way to shut down any dissent or criticism.

      If this was fanfiction in my fandom, I would either be clicking the back button and pretending I never saw it (or I wouldn’t be reading it to begin with: there aren’t a lot of het pairings that do it for me anyway and it’s usually because of the creepy gender role imbalance stuff in the writing), or gently suggesting the writer get a beta reader because I’d noticed a few continuity errors. (The funny thing is, I actually HAVE seen a fic in one of my fandoms which greatly resembles Shades, and I remember the shitstorm that came about when people dared suggest that maybe the writer needed to do a little bit of research and consider the overall message of what she was writing. The writer, and her fans, carried on just like the E. L. James fans who’ve been attacking Jen are. So seeing this is kind of like getting de ja vu.)

      >>> But once you’re published and making millions, all bets are off and all snark is on.

      Thankyou. Once you’ve hit that point, one assumes that your work is already standing on its own literary merits or fanbase or whatever anyway, and a little bit of dissent about it means absolutely nothing. I’ve bought a few absolute horrors which I could snark about and which deserve it, but unlike Shades, no one’s claiming they’re books that will sexually liberate me and save my marriage and that they’re sexy, well-done porn for women. (God, I could meta about THAT concept and how much the idea of “Mommy porn” makes me want to hurt people, too, but all in good time.) Thankyou for the support. 🙂

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