Month: March 2019

Week 13 Update

Posted March 29, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday! It’s a bit later than usual today because, wow, what even is time?

Completed Projects

  • Sekrit Project!
  • 16,950/10,000 words of fiction written

Goal Updates

  • 7/9 short essays for March/April/May
  • 11/12 books read

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 7,704

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 9,346

DemiPrincess2: Chapter 10 is finally done! HUZZAH! Now I can call chapter 11 the chapter of doom instead. I have an outline? Sort of?

Skies: Formerly known as Sekrit Project, this has been finished, rewritten, edited, polished and sent off. Which means… I actually get to talk about it? Maybe? It’s a on spec piece that actually stayed a short story. What even is this magic! I love it a lot. It’s a cosybright SF story that is, I am told, squishable and soft. It’s also decided to the lovely quartzen who encouraged me to write it instead of chickening out. ^_^

Life And Other Such Important Matters

This week has been… nothing but tired. I’m really happy I got most everything on my daily to-do lists done! I’ve been mentioning the monthly list on Twitter a bit. It’s actually larger than the goals list I work through here. Right now there are 7 items left. I’ll complete at least two of hem before the end of the month and none of them are particularly pressing. (Well, recording the Discovery ramble is kind of pressing, but beyond that they’re things I have a buffer for. I’m not happy, but I’ve had to prioritise more pressing matters, so hey. It all evens out.

Stand-out Positive Moment

Finishing the Sekrit Project short story and discovering that it actually wanted to be a short story OMG! Everything else about this week was a haze of tired, sorry. (But also I wrote a short story and it actually stayed short. WHAT.)

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On the semantics of “just friends” and “more than friends”

Posted March 25, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

CN: Discussions of phrases harmful to aromantic people.

On the semantics of “just friends” and “more than friends”

Two of the most frequent and unintentional microaggressions against aromantic people are the phrases “just friends” and “more than friends”, but it can be hard to explain how and why these phrases are so harmful to aromantic people.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea is simple enough: these are phrases that posit that friendship is less important than sex and romance, that we can organise and categorise the importance of our relationships on uneven tiers and that society repeatedly tells us that sex-and-romance is the most important type of relationship a person can ever have. But asked how to explain why this implication exists can be… tricky, and it’s all down to semantics. Semantics, for those who don’t know, is the study of meaning in language. Semantics are what dictionaries use to explain words, if you need a more concrete example of what it does.

It’s easy to assume that everyone can see the implications made by these sentences, but the truth is that that’s not always true. I’ve been asked multiple times, after noting the harm and how to address it, to explain why the implication is there. If it was obvious, people would see it immediately, yet they don’t.

This week, then, I’m diving into linguistics – and semantics specifically – to try and explain why these phrases are harmful to aromantic people and offering suggestions on what you can use as an alternative, often with little visible change in meaning to anyone who is not aromantic.

I’ll start with “more than” because it’s the easiest of the two to explain and I’ll be using the Cambridge Dictionary (but any dictionary will result in roughly the same outline). The key in that idiom is the word ‘more’, so if we want to know how the semantics imply that friendship is less important than romosexual (romantic and sexual) relationships, that’s the best place to start. What does ‘more’ mean in concrete terms.

More, according to the dictionary, means “a larger or extra number or amount”. (We’ll get back to this.) We can also look up the idiom ‘more than’ itself. That nets us the definition of ‘very’, which doesn’t look like it makes a lot of sense in context – I mean what does ‘very friends’ even mean? – but pay attention to how the dictionary says it’s used. This particular idiom ‘more than X’ is part of a group of intensifying expression. Or, to rephrase it, it’s part of a group of expressions that makes something “greater, more serious or more extreme”.

Dictionary meanings can get a bit circular, but let’s jump back to the definition of ‘more’ since it just cropped up in our definitions again. If ‘more’ means “a larger or extra number or amount” that means there are, by necessity, at least two items involved. In this context those items are ‘friendship’ and ‘romosexual relationship’. One of them larger/greater/more serious/more extreme than the other because that is what ‘more than’ means. If one of them is larger than the other, one of them is also smaller than the other. Where there is a ‘more than’, there is a ‘less than’.

And here’s where things get fascinating and we can really start to get a sense of the way ‘more than friends’ is harmful. You see if we look up the idiom ‘less than’, the dictionary tells us it’s a phrase “used to say that behaviour does not have the good or attractive characteristic that is stated”. That’s… rather negative, but it’s a usage that’s automatically implied by the use of ‘more than’.

The sentences “They’re more than friends” and “They’re less than lovers” mean, in that sense, the same thing: friendship does not have the good or attractive characteristics imply by a romosexual relationship.

It can be hard for people to grasp that because, after all, saying “They’re more than friends” doesn’t literally say that friendship is less important and not many people would ever think to say “They’re less than lovers” to imply that they’re just friends.

Oh, wait. They do say exactly that. The thing is that they use different words to do it so we don’t notice it unless we’re paying close attention. Like all microaggressions, if they don’t affect us they can be incredibly difficult to spot and these are no different. Saying “They’re just friends” is effectively the same as saying “They’re less than lovers”, and if you’re struggling to explain why, the dictionary can come to our rescue. All we need to do is look up ‘just’.

Just is a word that has many meanings. We want the adjective because in this idiom it’s used as an adjective. As an adjective ‘just’ means “exactly or equally”, “only or simply”, “merely or barely”, “almost not or almost, “very” or “fair, morally correct”. Given the context of the phrase ‘just friends’, we can discard all but one of them: only or simply. We can prove that this is the meaning used because, in context, it’s the only meaning that makes sense. I’ll demonstrate:

Context

A: Are they lovers?
B: No, they’re just friends.

Synonyms

A: Are they lovers?
B: No, they’re exactly friends.

A: Are they lovers?
B: No, they’re only friends.

A: Are they lovers?
B: No, they’re fair friends.

Only one of those synonyms provides a sensible answer to the question A is asking. But, Lynn, I hear you say. We could also replace “just” with “merely”. And we can, but that would lead us, ultimately, back down the path of “more than” that we just walked. ‘Merely’, after all, emphasises that there is nothing more to their relationship than friendship. Same meaning, different words. We’re also ignoring that ‘fair’ has more meanings than ‘just’ because context.

So our next dictionary stop is ‘only’. Again, the word has a multitude of meanings, bu the one we want is the one that says that we use it to indicate “there is a single one or very few of something, or that there are no others” and that’s… hardly helpful. In this case, looking at the synonym ‘merely’ is a better idea. We’ve already covered that a paragraph ago, but to repeat: ‘merely’ emphasises that the speaker means exactly what they’re saying and nothing else. So with ‘only friends’ we’re in the exact same boat as ‘merely’.

Except. Except. These words, like ‘less than’ imply a negative. They’re a downward idea. It’s, presumably, why saying “less than X” acquired its meaning as “lacking the good characteristics of X”.

Whichever way we want to twist and turn these phrases and whatever positive spin we want to give them, they will always contain an aspect that implies that romosexual relationships are more important than friendships because what these phrases do is posit that one is greater than the other in some way and to some degree.

So how can we deal with that? What if you are, say, a romance writer who wants to write a romance that is friendly to aromantic readers because it avoids these phrases altogether? The answer is simple: don’t use phrasing that creates a tier between friendship and romosexual relationships, but one that puts it on even footing.

For example, instead of writing a blurb for your book that ends on “could they be more than friends?” say “could their relationship be something else?” Or, instead of saying “they’re just friends”, say “they’re friends” and just… leave out the quantifier.

Though the best options are somewhat dependent on the context, it really is that simply to make sure that your language is that little bit more aro-friendly. If you’re a writer, it requires no great rewrites on your part to tweak your language to be more aro-inclusive.

It won’t solve all microaggressions. Many are a lot harder to address than these, but it’s also a lot easier to explain why those phrases are microaggressions and harmful to aromantic readers.

So I hope that was interesting and helps you figure out ways to be more aro-inclusive in your language!

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Week 12 Update

Posted March 22, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals, News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday! Before we get to the weekly updates, though, some general news and announcements. :O

All of my work is now available on Gumroad. I still need to add links to the website, but they’re all available and I’m trying to find my footing in it for more goodies and offerings. Gumroad lets me keep a bigger cut of the sales and if you think the price is too low you can add a tip to what you think is a fairer price, so it’s a good way to give creators you love (and who use it) a better deal.

I’ve also started to explore itch.io, though currently I only have The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake and Patreon-rewards available there. Patrons, you can go to this page to collect ebooklets of the 2017 and 2018 (and later on 2019 etc) stories released on Patreon. If you connect to your Patreon account, you’ll be able to download the ebooklets in a nicely collected format without having to trawl through the posts on Patreon to find them. You shouldn’t need an itch.io account to access them. I think. If all goes well. It worked for me, anyway. Let me know if there are any problems! (The ebooklets are available in both epub and mobi, so you can choose which to download.)

Exploring means that I’m looking at ways to tie this option into the tiers I’ve got effectively and to see what I can do to offer additional digital content more easily based on the options the site offers. I’m still finding my footing, though, so this may take a bit of time to get sorted. I’m excited, though. I hope that it will offer people some fantastic additional value! 😀

Completed Projects

  • Draft 2 of Sekrit Project

Goal Updates

  • 7/9 short essays for March/April/May
  • 8/12 books read
  • 9,246/10,000 words of fiction written
  • 0/1 short story recorded from Feather by Feather and Other Stories

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 5,058

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 10,017

Sekrit Project: Draft 2 has been finished! Initial betareads have been encouraging. It’s… low stakes even by my standards, so I’ve been worried, but it seems to be doing what I intended to accomplish. YAY!

DemiPrincess2: Now, no longer on hold since the sekrit project is done and will soon be looking for a home! It’s been percolating for a while, so I hope to see a fair amount of progress quickly.

Life And Other Such Important Matters

I have been recovering well from my tumble. I mean, not that that was very hard. I just had a cut and needed to take it easy while my body restored its blood levels, but still! Brexit continues to make life ridiculous and, honestly, the past week means I have very little faith in people as a group right now, which feels weird. I’m the optimistic kind of depressed. (Yes, I know that sounds paradoxical.)

I have, somehow, managed to discover an understanding of shipping that I’ve always lacked. I’m still bemused that this discovery happened over shipping one QPR over another potential-QPR, but of course if anything made me understand shipping wars better it would be a QPR.

Stand-out Positive Moment

The stitches are out! Huzzah!

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Lessons I Learned from Serialisation

Posted March 18, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

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Guest Post at The Book Smugglers

Posted March 17, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, News / 0 Comments

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I’ve been particularly slow to update this here because I have had massive update fail, but! Last month, I was over at The Book Smugglers with a guest post about asexual representation in mainstream publishing!

Here’s a snippet to summarise what it’s about:

As an asexual reader and indie author, I see conflicting messages about the state of asexual representation in fiction and my heart hurts. Almost every list of recommendations, every discussion, every moment includes a variation on the lament “There is so little representation” with no elaboration or qualifications. While this essay will prove there most certainly is a lack of representation in fiction, there is also more out there than these articles often suggest and, though it makes little difference to the numbers as a whole, it can have a large emotional impact on individuals, especially those seeking asexual representation. Even if one restricts their search to books published by the Big 5 companies in publishing – that is to say by imprints owned by Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, or Hachette –, there is quite a bit more than people seem to assume.

Working with Ana and Thea has been a writerly bucket list dream for years and I’m utterly delighted with how the post came out. Ana and Thea are amazing editors and have fantastic insight, so be sure to check out all of their blog and their work on other sites such as Kirkus as well!

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Week 11 Update

Posted March 15, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday!

Completed Projects

  • Discuss the Let’s Read Ace Academics future & set up the poll. (Vote if you haven’t already! Help me pick what to read!)
  • Secrit Project!

Goal Updates

  • 0/9 short essays for March/April/May
  • 7/12 books read
  • 4,188/10,000 words of fiction written
  • 0/1 short story recorded from Feather by Feather and Other Stories

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 3,131

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 3,538

Secrit Project: IT IS DONE! Well, the first draft is anyway. Now comes revisions and making it work and then… submissions!

DemiPrincess2: I made some minor copy editing tweaks and kept thinking about it, but the sekrit project has a nearer deadline, so I prioritised that.

Life And Other Such Important Matters

Well, as you may recall I have had a bad tumble. I’m okay except I have stitches in unfortunate places now. That is… pretty much the most exciting thing to happen in my life right now. Boohiss.

Stand-out Positive Moment

I have kind of successfully applied marzipan to a cake! By which I mean I struggled to get it rolled out and applied properly for the better part of three hours, but by golly I did marzipan things. GO ME!

In other news because I have two this week: the manager of the store I’d taken a tumble in called to check on me. The store didn’t cause the tumble or anything like that, I’d like to stress. But it was really kind of them to check in anyway and make sure I was okay. Actually staff and everyone in general were quite kind about it all.

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Multilingualism and Culture in Fictional Settings

Posted March 11, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in My Work / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

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Week 10 Update

Posted March 8, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in News / 0 Comments

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Weekly Accountability

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Weekly updates delivered every Friday!

Completed Projects

  • Reread Chameleon Moon for essayage
  • 2 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • 1 completed new Let’s Play

Goal Updates

  • 0/9 short essays for March/April/May
  • 2/12 books read
  • Pick a new Let’s Read! project and discuss its future
  • 1,057/10,000 words of fiction written
  • 0/1 short story recorded from Feather by Feather and Other Stories

Writing Updates

This Week’s Fiction Wordcount: 1,057

This Week’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 4,854

DemiPrincess2: I… tweaked… sentences. Mostly I spent the writing I did on the short story WIP and I’m letting this percolate a bit.

Untitled: It’s a secret! But know that it was stroppy until I introduced a new character.

Life And Other Such Important Matters

Aaaaaaah, no one’s called back yet. Aaaaaaaah! My anxiety is absolutely ridiculous. Note to self: next time ask for concrete dates.

Stand-out Positive Moment

I’m afraid the week is a bit of a blur. All I can think of for a stand-out moment is last week’s essayage. Oh! Essayage! I finally sat down to reread Chameleon Moon and I am finally in a position where I can start the essay about it! Which I did! It’s going to be… like 5-6,000 words? Maybe? I don’t know. We’ll see.

This Week on Patreon

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Oh Words Words Words

Posted March 4, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in My Work / 0 Comments

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Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

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February News/Week 9 Round-up

Posted March 1, 2019 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in News / 0 Comments

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February Newsletter

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again! Monthly news and accountability! Wherein we round-up everything that happened this past month and set new shiny monthly goals to reach. Ooooooooooh… Also spring is coming and look at what that’s done to my mood. OMG.

Life And Other Such Important Matters

Spring is heeeeeere. And I have toothpaste! Which I should probably explain for anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter. Er, I guess this may stray into dental TMI? I’m not sure. I have a story!

So… I don’t get on with mint. As in it makes my stomach ache and it makes me (want to) throw up and, basically, toothpaste companies are really really invested in their minty freshness. I’ve tried pretty much every toothpaste in my local area that promised to be mint-free. I had one toothpaste that… worked. Wasn’t perfect, but hey I’ll take not-gagging. And then either we accidentally got the wrong tube (possible) or they changed the formula. I haven’t seen the packaging and they revamped the tube, so I assumed, pretty much, that they’d changed the formula to have MOAR MINT.

This is not, I think, outside of the realm of possibilities on account of people expecting toothpaste to be minty and making minty toothpaste ends up reaching more people (and also nets you more competition, but WDIK about non-book big-company marketing strategies), so I was in a bit of a panic because no toothpaste. And yes fine you can do without and all, but it’s kinda important to me to have toothpaste.

Anyway! I despaired. I cried. And then I found toothpaste without mint! HUZZAH! Also without alcohol. I have no idea what it is, but it’s toothpaste that doesn’t appear to make me feel sick. It is also several towns over and not available to me without setting up a whole days’ worth of travel. But that is a concern for future!me.

Also I made the best cupcakes ever. Or at least they will be the best when I tweak the recipe and get them just right.

Featured Post

This month I’ve actually got a post that’s not hosted on my website or Patreon. It’s a guest post I wrote for The Book Smugglers (who are loves and amazing and if you’re somehow not following them yet, what are you waiting for?!)

Asexual Representation in Mainstream Speculative Fiction

While enough books exist that we can make (short) themed lists and can help readers find the subgenre or ideas that they enjoy reading, it is true albeit cliché to say that for many finding this representation is as likely as finding a needle in a haystack. It is impossible for anyone to walk into a bookstore or a library and be directed towards a variety of books featuring representation. Lucky readers may find that a bookstore stocks one or two books. (When I was in Cambridge in 2016, between four major bookstore chains, I could find a grand total of 3 different titles featuring asexual representation and if I had not known what to look for I would have found none of them.)

Completed Projects

  • 8/8 short stories recorded of Tales of the Little Engine
  • 3/3 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • 16/12 books read

March Goals

  • 9 short essays for March/April/May
  • 12 books read
  • 2 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • Pick a new Let’s Read! project and discuss its future
  • 10,000 words of fiction written
  • 1 short story recorded from Feather by Feather and Other Stories
  • 1 completed new Let’s Play
  • Reread Chameleon Moon for essayage

Nice and ambitious to herald in the arrival of spring! If things work out the way I hope, though, this is nothing. (Also, hi. It is a well-documented fact that 10K per month is ridiculously easy for me; it’s making them fiction words that I trip on because all the shiny research topics and people seem more interested in those.)

Honestly, it’s probably the Let’s Play and the recording that’ll give me the most trouble just because I need dogs and people to all work with me and be quiet so my ridiculously sensitive microphone doesn’t record them too. (It’s a Beecaster if you’re curious. I adore it, but wow it’s sensitive.)

February Goals

  • 3/3 discussions of papers in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity
  • 1/8 short essays for March/April
  • 7,865/10,000 words of fiction written
  • 16/12 books read

Awwwwwwww. I actually have a buffer for the short essays, so I’m good. Just a little disappointed because prioritisation meant I had to shove them to the side so much this month. They’re fun. 😀 It also affected my fiction output a little, but trust me it was worth it and it’s not dreadful. I’m still evaluating whether to cut down on them, though, simply because they do take up a fair bit of time to do well right now and I have half a dozen projects I also want/need to do.

Writing Updates

This Month’s Fiction Wordcount: 7,865

This Month’s Non-Fiction Wordcount: 17,058

DemiPrincess2: I made some progress slowly and then I got sidetracked by a short piece. Given DemiPrincess2 is very voice-oriented in its narration, I don’t really like to mix them together. So it’ll be on hold until the short is finished or April arrives, whichever happens first. (Watch me not stick to that now.)

Short Piece: This will be a total surprise. I will reveal only this: there is a meetcute. In space.

Stand-out Positive Moment

I know I just mentioned my essay at The Book Smugglers, but honestly? That is it for this month. Working with Ana and Thea has been on my writerly bucket list for ages. And yes, technically I could have crossed it off last year or so, but now the results of our work is available! Look at what their glorious editing and direction created! It’s a 10,000 word essay (plus citations and footnotes, admittedly) on how ace representation looks in mainstream speculative fiction! I’ve been sitting on this essay for over a year and now it’s here. All our hard work has been made visible and shared and, wow, the initial response was already so overwhelming.

And I love that I was right to assume that I would be missing books I hadn’t heard about because more books. I mean, we’re still a long way off from reaching an average of 1% representation a year even with them, but we’re closer! And more books are being published and, honestly, I just want to squee and squeal because this essay is my everything and on the first day of its release into shiny availability it already did everything I’d hoped it would do.

Also did I mention that working with Ana and Thea was amazing and they are fantastic and so talented and good people? Go forth and call up discussions, little essay! Fly, my lovely! Fly!

How about you? What have you been up to lately? Has anything awesome happened?

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