Professor: Your essay must be 3,000 - 6,000 words
I must admit that as someone with more than a passing interest in how cultural constructs are treated as facts, I’m fascinated by swearing. Here is what swearing is: the arbitrary assignation of excessive power to one word over another. Some folks will say that swear words have more power or are more profane because of word meaning, but that’s not true. If it were, “screw” and “mate” and “rape” would be bleeped out like “fuck.” Other times, people maintain that a curse word’s offensiveness comes in because of intent. That when someone uses “fuck” they mean it to be worse than “intercourse.” I don’t think that’s true, either, because some of the nastiest words I’ve ever heard are “thank you,” said in a way meant to mean “I wish you were dead.” When you think about it, it’s a bizarre concept: that we make some words special by making them forbidden. That we somehow think that a single word without any context whatsoever can be offensive. Anyway, swear words don’t bother me. You’ll never curdle my milk using one on me.
Now, that said, as a writer, I’m very aware that they work on many other people. If I’m using them in a novel, it’s because I’m trying to tell you something. I’m trying to make you feel something about a character that I don’t think I could pull off as effectively in a different way. Remember how my goal is always to move a reader’s mental furniture around without them knowing I have? Sometimes swearing will make you feel a certain way about a character faster than any other method.
And sometimes it is just more hilarious.
Occasionally a reader will tell me that I don’t need to use swearing. They will follow this up with this well-worn phrase “you have a good enough vocabulary that you don’t need to use THOSE words.” Yes, I do. I do indeed. Since I don’t need to use them, that means I’m choosing to use them. If you trust me to be using non-swear words in a skillful way, please assume that I’m wielding my fucks and damns with the same contemplation.
As should all of you other writers out there. They’re just words. Handle them with care.
Professor: Your essay must be 3,000 - 6,000 words
For readings on the correlation in horror between puberty and the monstrous, see:
I will add Carol Clover’s Men, Women, and Chain Saws here, although she’s concerned more with identification, monstrous-feminine as men’s horror, and the maternal aspects of possession tales (including a section on possession as oral penetration). Although both Creed and Clover are important feminist horror theorists who work in Psychoanalytical lenses, Barbara Creed talks more about transformation than Carol Clover does. And transformation is key to horror movies about how women are terrifying.
For variations on a theme, watch Ginger Snaps, Carrie, and Teeth together.
(Bonus: here is Kristeva’s Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection for free online)
I’m 90000% sure I wrote the text below this but it doesn’t link to (probably ff) anywhere. it’s important to keep sources in posts so that you don’t disorient authors about their own pasts,
All of this is why there need to be more female horror writers and directors—and reviewers. Jennifer Lynch should be one of the top living horror and suspense directors right now.
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?
Quick question to the general populace: who wants to join my band Unnecessary Lesbianism? I only play the triangle, but I know we’re going to make it big.
Isn’t this lovely. I’m really honoured to be on Leigh’s list which has all authors I love and respect (as I do Leigh herself). I was just reading an interview with David Levithan, who has helped change the face of children’s publishing, and he talked about this very thing and listed several authors he loves and admires too:
I think, while there is still a long way to go, that it is really beautiful we can talk about this, and celebrate it, and have a lot of authors and books to talk about, and come together in love and respect and hope for a changing world despite, you know, the absolute raving bags of seagull poop who talk of writing about love as ‘scandalous’ ‘for sales’ ‘to make a statement’ ‘to be politically correct’ or whatever other absolute obvious nonsense they talk about to disguise the fact that the hatred in their own hearts makes them uncomfortable and they just want the discomfort to go awwwwwwway.
Quick question to the anon: how on earth does two people loving each other make a book ‘not good’? How and why does it *ruin* a book for you? And if it does… the whole world is full of so many different loves. If it does, the whole world is going to be ruined for you. Unless you change. I hope you do, because until you do, it’s not the world that’s rotten and twisted: it’s you. Not the world, not stories, not authors, not characters, certainly not love, but you, you, you.
I hope you’ll remember that in the future.