Do you hate E. L. James ? #fiftyshades


Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

James is worth nearly 60 million pounds. She’s sold more than 125 million copies of her book worldwide, one of them to me.

I didn’t have the stomach to finish it, because the language quickly got in the way of the images in my head, which, I have to admit, were none too pleasant in the first place. I’m nobody’s prude, but I like my erotica well-written.

Erika Leonard James got taken out on Twitter recently, according to this article on Guardian:

But alongside the serious queries came a deluge of questions that made fun of James’s much-criticised prose style, including jibes such as “Do you get paid per adjective?”, “Have you ever held a dictionary?” and “Did you ever consider using a thesaurus, or did that sound too much like hard work?”

As well as her writing style hashtag users also referenced the similarities between her work and that of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer with questions such as: “What’s the minimum distance you have to stay away from Stephenie Meyer at all times?” and “Did you see the abusive relationship of Bella and Edward and think ‘hmm needs more abuse’.”

While others were more creative in their criticism, with queries such as: “How many roads must a man walk down before he devotes an entire room in his apartment to the abuse of young women?”, “50 Shades takes place in 2011 but Anastasia, a journalism student, is mystified by the concept of BASIC EMAIL?”

A whole lot of readers, and let’s face it, a ton of writers, are not pleased with her. I read some of the tweets, and was sorely tempted to retweet them. I held back though.

Yes, her books are badly written. A simple edit could make them so much better. And while I can’t accuse her of inspiring abuse, as some have done, I do cringe at the dumbing down of English writing.

But people (presumably, mostly women) all the way from US and UK to Brazil and China are reading her– so there’s a gap she fills. I don’t think I, or anyone, has the right to look down on folks for their reading tastes– people will read what they want to read.

And if you give James credit for nothing else, she’s a good businesswoman. The empire of merchandise she’s building, based on her novels, is proof positive.

She is a real person, according to Daily Mail:

Her husband no longer writes out of the garden shed and she has graduated from a table in the sitting room: instead, both have their own studies. She moved her sons from their state school to a private sixth form and was the first person in the UK to buy a £60,000 red Tesla Model S electric sports car when it was launched last year. Pictures this week also showed her driving a blue ‘Chelsea tractor’ complete with a number plate ending ‘SXY’.

But, despite the Hermes and Tiffany bracelets she has bought herself, Leonard in many ways remains resolutely down to earth, slipping seamlessly between her new life in LA, where she can sometimes be seen sipping wine in the garden of the £1,500-a-night Chateau Marmont hotel, and her old life in West London. She continues to frequent her favourite pub in Ealing, where she goes to play Scrabble or take part in the weekly quiz night or simply for Sunday lunch with her family.

And while she has become a fan of regular manicures and pedicures, she still has her hair blow-dried in Acton, does her own supermarket shopping and walks her two Westies, Max and Mini. She even taught her youngest son to drive recently. Quietly, she has also made vast donations to charity — according to her company records, in the region of £1.2 million to date.

And it is this part, the part of E.L. James being a human like any of us, (despite her freakish success, her deplorable writing skills and Everything Else : I’m not posting excerpts because this is a PG 13 blog, and the internet is so awash that a simple google search would tell you more than I ever can)— this is the part that holds me back.

What has she done, after all, other than produce some bad fiction? Does being on the internet give people the right to bring anyone down? Yes, she’s a public figure, and as such, ‘fair game,’ but must we put her on trial for making money out of incompetently-written smut? She’s a wife, a mother, and isn’t robbing anyone, or misappropriating funds (unlike most corporates and politicians). I might change my mind, but this is what I think right now.

What about you? Do you think E. L. James deserves the flaying she gets? Have you read any of the books? Do you have opinions on her writing, and its effect on the publishing world? Have at it in the comments (keep it PG13).

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

Do You ever Wonder about Your Own Death?


Do you walk in Beauty?

Brief life, Long death

I’ve wondered often about death, for as long back as I can remember. I’ve thought quite often of the cessation of life– of what happens when I cease to exist. Probably because I’ve seen quite a few deaths up close and personal, lost family members to illness or accident.

What gloom and doom, I can hear some of you say– but the fact is, if you’re reading this, you’re alive. And if you’re alive, you’re going to die, just like me or anyone else, all living creatures must die.

This morning I read an article by journalist and philosopher Stephen Cave who wonders about a fly he has accidentally swatted to death.

“…it seems to me quite reasonable to think that the death of the fly is entirely insignificant and that it is at the same time a kind of catastrophe. To entertain such contradictions is always uncomfortable, but in this case the dissonance echoes far and wide, bouncing off countless other decisions about what to buy, what to eat – what to kill; highlighting the inconsistencies in our philosophies, our attempts to make sense of our place in the world and our relations to our co‑inhabitants on Earth. The reality is that we do not know what to think about death: not that of a fly, or of a dog or a pig, or of ourselves.”

He goes on to wonder at length about the significance of death, our own and that of the people and living beings around us, and I think the entire article is well worth the read.

 I’m not entirely sure what I think of death, mine, or anyone/anything else’s. I’ve written, briefly, about death on this blog. About the death of my fish, the cyclic death of fish babies, and their mating parents, of my betta and his suffering.
From the post about my dead betta, written three years ago:
But then, what do I know of suffering, and how do I know whether a short suffering is any less hard to bear than a prolonged one? Does a small fish suffer? Does it suffer as much as a human? Is the suffering of the human more evident to me because a human is bigger than a small fish, and the fact that I am a human myself?
I’ve blogged less often of the loss of family members and friends, and then not directly, because this isn’t really a very personal blog. But as anyone who has read my fiction would know– my preoccupation with death and suffering has remained– be it accidental, suicide, or murder and a variety of deaths in between.
My thoughts might change, but as of today, I believe a death hurts as much as the attachment to the dead person or animal or plant.
  • Which is why a friend’s death is devastating, whereas a man dying on the opposite side of the world, who you read about in the news, causes much less alarm. A pet’s death is painful, but the death of a random fly or snail isn’t.
  • Following from this, the prospect of one’s own death is the most scary to some of people, because they’re most attached to themselves, or their survival instincts are alive and kicking. Which isn’t a bad thing.
  • The bad bit, according to me, at least, is not confronting death at all, keeping it taboo, a faraway topic to avoid. No point in trying to ignore the inevitable. Not that thinking about death day and night is the solution, but thinking about it once in a while can’t be all that bad.
What about you? Do you think of death? Your own death? The death of those you have lost? How significant is a fly’s death: is it a tragedy, or a catastrophe, or both?
For anyone reading this post without a blog account– the discussion is also up on my Facebook Page: Damyanti at Daily Write . Would love to have your Facebook comments there.

Children are Children, aren’t they? #IndiawithPakistan


The mothers of Pakistan's murdered children

The Mothers of Peshawar

As a young girl in India, I learned to hate Pakistan. I was told the history of this country with my own, how we were once one nation, and are now bitter enemies.

I saw the Kargil war. On TV, yes, but its horrors did not go away.

I saw each terrorist attack on India, there were many, and was told Pakistan was behind each of them.

But today, when I see the seige on Pakistan’s children, those young lives snuffed out before they could properly begin, I cannot remember that they are from a country I was taught to hate.

For years I’ve been on to the politicians of both countries: they’ve flamed up hostilities between the two nations whenever things got hairy within either country.

Today I stand with those mothers in Peshawar, whose children wouldn’t come back.

I’m not a mother, but I’m a daughter, and I’ve seen mothers.

I cannot begin to imagine those households where children would return from school in coffins.

So those of you who tell me Pakistan deserved it, that they had supported terrorists once, that they’re villains who murdered Hindus in Kashmir, I have no time for you. Those who tell me that Muslims and Islam are the problem, I have no time for you either. Those Pakistanis who blame India for this, I’ll spend no time on you.

I hang my head in shame, because I’m part of a world where children are murdered to raise funds, where some people can find it in them to feel good about what happened to those children and their families.

The beauty and goodness in this world must be coming to an end if the murder of children does not receive universal condemnation.

Mohammed Ali Khan, 15, a student in a Peshawar school, will not return home today.

I choose to name and remember him, and remember his fallen friends. I choose not to name his murderers, and dignify their existence with a name.

And if children are butchered in schools, it is a collective failure of all of humanity, including mine.

I stand with the mothers who lost their children yesterday, the Mothers of Peshawar. I give them my puny strength, and my puny voice.

Children are children, whether they’re born in India, Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.

——————

Have you read about these mothers and their children? What can we do to bring sanity and peace into this world gone mad? What do you have to say to the grieving mothers of Peshawar?

Are You Really Dead When They Say You Are?


The Evolution of Death

The Evolution of Death

What is the one certainty of life? Death, right? But it is the least discussed of topics. People call you morbid, negative, depressed if you talk about it.

To me, since we’ve all got to face it some day, what’s the harm in touching on it once in a while?

I recently came across an article that talks about the moment of death, and what fascinated me was that the scientific community is still uncertain about the exact moment of death:

 “Most of us would agree that King Tut and the other mummified ancient Egyptians are dead, and that you and I are alive. Somewhere in between these two states lies the moment of death. But where is that? The old standby — and not such a bad standard — is the stopping of the heart. But the stopping of a heart is anything but irreversible. We’ve seen hearts start up again on their own inside the body, outside the body, even in someone else’s body. Christian Barnard was the first to show us that a heart could stop in one body and be fired up in another.

As I went on to read it, I was intrigued by the concept of life residing in various parts of the human body, not just in the brain or heart: (Warning: this gets a little gory)

“What’s alive and what’s dead breaks down when we get above the cellular level,” Sorenson says. “Pathologists don’t feel comfortable that a brain is dead until the cell walls break down. True cell death is a daylong process.”

…Cell death is far removed from brain death. As shown, brain death can be declared when only a few brain cells have actually died. Cells in the remainder of the body are alive and kicking. Brain-dead patients being sustained as beating-heart cadavers are still supplying most of their body’s cells with blood and thus oxygen, so total cell death is nowhere in sight. Cell death begins in earnest when the heart stops beating and the lungs cease to breathe. No longer being pumped through the body, the blood will drain from the blood vessels at the top of the body and collect in the lower part. The upper body will become pale, the lower body turning much darker, looking bruised. This is livor mortis.

Even at this point, however, most cells are still not dead. After the heart stops, brain cells will die in a few minutes. Muscle cells can hold on for several hours, and skin and bone cells can stay alive for days. Cells switch from aerobic (with oxygen) respiration to anaerobic (without oxygen) when the blood stops circulating. A by-product of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid, which is what makes your arm muscles hurt during arm wrestling or your legs hurt during a hard run. When you are alive, your blood flow clears out the acid, but in a dead person the body stiffens. This is rigor mortis. Rigor mortis usually begins about three hours after the heart stops and lasts thirty-six hours. Eventually all of the cells die. After rigor mortis come initial decay, putrefaction, black putrefaction, and butyric fermentation. Somewhere in these processes — taking as long as a year, depending on the conditions and the weather — is a moment of death. Where that is may be impossible to determine.

To get a better picture of what I’m talking about, read the article– because it talks not just about the moment of death, but the question of selfhood, and how important human beings really are, are we the ultimate in evolution?

Do you ever wonder about death? Do we think more about death as we grow older? What is death, really? What is the moment of death? Are you really dead when they say you are?

What Relationship Advice would you give your 16-year old self?


Bloggers accepting Blog Awards

Relationship advice to your 16-year old self

This isn’t a relationship blog, so yes, the question I ask is a bit out of the blue.

But after the recent Santa Barbara shootout (where the killer who had failed to get the attention of girls, stabbed and shot people due to ‘loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires ‘ , one of the responses really caught my attention.

It’s worth the time to read it in its entirety, but I’m quoting here the significant bits:

the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well….

….other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

I’ve met my share of men who don’t get rejection. I’ve met girls obsessing over guys who didn’t know said girls existed. I still know kids who’re going through the same struggles. I used to be a nerd myself, always more interested in books than people.

With the years, now, the (entirely subjective) solution to finding the right romantic partner/ husband/ wife is very clear to me, and this is what I’d tell my 16-year old self:

Find the folks who have the same interests as you, and you’ll never be alone. Make friends with people from the gender you’d like to go out with. If a girl can be friends with some boys, she can always find a boy she can have a relationship with. Same goes for a boy. Learn to respect the person you want a relationship with.

Kindness and compassion are the best qualities to look out for in a person if you’re looking for a long term relationship. Looks fade over time, as does stuff like popularity.

—-

In my WIP I have three adolescents, one of whom has trouble fitting in. I’m wondering what sort of advice his parents/ older self should give him. What would you say to your 16-year old self about finding friends, and lovers?

—–

Today’s Bloggers I recommend visiting!

As part of helping spread the love in my community, I recommend three bloggers on each post, and today’s bloggers are:

Keith Channing: I really enjoy his photographs and the accounts of his life in close communion with nature. Put him on your blogroll, and you won’t regret it.

Rosie Amber: A blogger more supportive of the writing community is hard to find. She uses her blog to support authors of all sorts of books.

Peter Nena: Amazing horror writer, kind friend. Follow him for some spine-chilling stories.

Now, go make friends with these amazing bloggers!

 

 

Would you Write for a Good Cause?


Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines

Album:Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines

End of 2013 I wrote a piece of flash fiction based on  Hymn of Faith by Jochem Weierink  from the album  Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines, which was created on a theme of Hope.

Authors from all over the world wrote stories inspired by musical compositions from this album, now compiled into a companion e-book anthology “Beyond the Binding”. Today the cover is being revealed all over blogiverse, and Daily (w)rite is part of the Big Blog Reveal for this amazing book. Samantha Geary, a cool blog friend, and now part of team Damyanti for the A to Z Blogging Challenge has helped create this miracle of collaboration, and I thank her for including me in this wonderful project.

Here’s the Blub for “Beyond the Binding”:

Embark on an exciting journey “Beyond the Binding” of the imagination with 29 authors from across the globe, in a groundbreaking collaboration where music meets fiction. Surrender to soaring compositions as they surge through the veins of every story, capturing the triumphant pulse of the notes in heart pounding sci fi, enchanting fantasy and gripping slices of realism.  

All proceeds of the Composers for Relief  album and Companion Collection ebook will go to Gawad Kalinga (“give care”) and GVSP (Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme), to support the relief efforts for victims of the deadliest natural disaster in Philippines’ history, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

————————————————————————————

Here’s the gorgeous cover, flanked by my story of Hope based on Hymn of Faith – Jochem Weierink :

Beyond the Binding: Composers for Relief Companion Anthology

Beyond the Binding: Composers for Relief Companion Anthology

Darkness slow and deep, I lie quiet, quiet, still, unmoving, unbreathing in a dark, sugary sleep: no pain, no joy, no sight, no sound, no taste, I remain floating, distant. It is too much, I shall not wake up, I shall stay in this cotton wool world, its soft-sleepy music lifting me up through the roof, through the banisters, the rooms up above, through the entire weight of the building, its steeple, I shall keep rising like a frothy bit of cloud.

I shall not face it, hell, I have no face to face it with. Yesterday, they told me I have to be prepared, there is not much of a face left under the bandages. I was alive, that was the main thing. He’ll come and finish me, no use these tubes and covers and kindly voices, but I don’t tell them that.

I wanted to see my face, my not-face, my face he had snatched from me. I wanted to know how much damage a cup of liquid could cause, a Venti-sized, green-and-white plastic Starbucks cup of acid slung into me, all that burning afterwards, oh the burning, the hot needles of burning in each pore of my cheek, my forehead, my throat, my breasts, my stomach. I thrashed and snatched at the bandages, so they tied my hands, for my own good, they said, and put me upon this cloud. I will stay here in this cotton-wool cloud, see them when I can open my eyes better, when my left eyelid is unglued. The important thing is, they said, you still have eyes, we can save your eyes. Now, sleep.

Two months since I lost my face. It is doing well, they said, you’ll go home next week. And don’t worry about him, he’s in jail, and he’s not coming out any time soon.

I have seen it. I’ve seen the black mask. I’ve seen one eye glued shut, and the other, unblinking pupil. I have seen my teeth, no lips, two gaping holes instead of my nose. I have seen my head, peeling strips of skin. All my blonde hair, gone. Nothing a wig and some make-up can’t fix, they said, you’ll see. I threw things at them. I threw words. Bad words. I wanted to throw the bed at them, the room.

Shush my darling, they said, hush, we’ll bring you back your face. Promise. They patted my face with creams and oils, with words and smiles, with soft looks, with the love of my parents. They brought me my dog, who recognized me. Licked my face. Tickled me. Made me laugh. Laugh. Laughter.

Look! How beautiful you look, Frieda, darling, they say, holding a mirror. I look into it, and I see their hands on my face, their laughter, their love, their tears, their sleepless nights, their hands holding mine, their starched white uniforms, their lab coats, the stethoscopes, the bedpans, the tubes, the jars of ointment. Two years.

I look.

I have eyes, I have a nose, I have lips, I have cheek, chin, throat. I have hair. Not my hair, but still, hair. The main thing is, I have a face.

I will not hide. I will face the world. I have a face to face it with, after all.

I smile. And they smile with me.

I’m beautiful, and so are they.

——–

Please support the cause by purchasing the beautiful album Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines available NOW on ITunes , Amazon CDBaby and Spotify and the companion anthology “Beyond the Binding” available soon on Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Sony, Diesel & Smashwords.

What do you think of the cover for Beyond the Binding? Would you buy the album and the anthology for a good cause? Would You Write for a Good Cause?

What Do Fish Think?


Fishy thoughts

Fish Thoughts

I love my aquariums, and they sometimes work into my fiction writing process.

I fixed new lights on one of my aquariums yesterday. Watching the fish glow under the LED, slow down and hover because this light makes shadows inside the aquarium, mimicking their natural environment, I began to wonder: what do fish think– what are the thoughts that blink up and light their tiny little minds? Do they think at all? What if we knew their thoughts?

And as any writer knows, ‘What if’s can sometimes lead to great stories.

I went back to look for instances of when my fish have inspired me, and found this old blog post— the writers amongst you might identify with it:

As some readers of this blog know, I have a pair of Black Angelfish.

Every two weeks or so, like clockwork, they lay about a 100 eggs, guard them till the babies hatch, hover around the hatchlings still attached to the leaves, try to carry them in their mouths and keep them safe once the babies are free-swimming. Only about 50 babies are left at this stage.

Then for the next three days, they do their best to sustain the babies, which dwindle from 50 to 25 to 10 to 5 to zero. This is because I don’t know what to feed the babies— am both scared of, and don’t know how to, breed mosquito larvae, which is their food.

A day after the last baby has disappeared, the angels are at each other, kissing, fluttering, chasing, back at the mating game. A day later there are eggs again.

I wonder if they remember their babies. I know they are capable of some kind of association/ memory,  because they know when I’m around and come begging for food, and dance around like mad puppies when I have the food box in my hand.

I no longer know how to feel about the regular births and deaths.

But I’ve learned the passion of creation by their example: write like mad, polish them like mad, submit like mad, and even if the babies come to nothing, set about making my writing babies again.

And just like with the angelfish babies, rejoice that they lived and swam free, at least for a while.

Who knows, maybe someday, one of the angelfish babies would survive. It would become more than a tiny tadpole, actually grow fins and swim at large.

In the meanwhile, what I and my angelfish can do is create, with passion and commitment. Results be damned.

———

What do Fish think? Have you ever wondered what your pets think about, the cat, your dog, that hamster? Has your pet ever inspired you to create art or stories?