to occupy mental space

i think im officially a nonbinary trans girl. like im just coming to terms with the ways that my gender nonconformities bring me joy and how those gnc things arent still within the realm of Womanhood for me esp as a trans woman. this realization isnt negative per se which is cool because its a good Neutral feeling abt my alienation from womanhood while still occupying its social and mental space AND deviating from its normativities. im on like 5 different levels of alienation from 7 different things but its good

Cushing Library Event

I gave a lecture on worldbuilding in SF/F and did a question and answer session on the TAMU campus last night, as part of Cushing Library And Archives Hal Hall Lecture Series. It was a great audience of students and faculty, and I had a lot of fun.

Here’s the talk I gave about worldbuilding:

What is worldbuilding? Briefly, it’s the setting you create for a fictional work, including the type of landscape, the environment, the climate, as well as the people who live there and their cultures. It’s the physical and mental space that your story occupies.

Worldbuilding is all about choices. Even if the setting is a real world place, (like the way The Avengers was set in New York) you will be making choices. Where do the characters live, what things do they need there, what is their income level, what is the weather, what is their community. That’s all worldbuilding.

There are also settings that are fictional but are meant to be understood by the reader as real. One older example is in the book Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. It’s a fictional setting inserted into a real world place, so seamlessly that readers can’t tell if it’s based on a real town or not. You can find the spot on the map where it’s supposed to be, it’s just not there.

But the kind of worldbuilding that most people think of when they hear the word, is in secondary world fantasy. That’s fantasy that does not take place on earth, but in its own invented world. Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, are secondary world fantasy. It’s sometimes called created world fantasy. Or just fantasy.

Worldbuilding is an element of a fantasy novel, but like all the other elements, plot, story, characterization, it can’t exist in a vacuum. Who your characters are and what their goals and problems and agendas are is going to be wrapped up and inseparable with the world they live in. Worldbuilding can and should help drive your plot and be essential to your story. The best fantasy stories can only take place in the world that was created for them, they can’t be removed from that context without changing things that are essential to the story and the characters.

For example: My current fantasy series is the Books of the Raksura. The main character is an orphaned shapeshifter who can transform into a flying creature who looks like what we would think of as a demon. He has no idea what species he is, but has to hide his ability to shapeshift because the species he most resembles are the predators that everyone is terrified of. He finds his own people by accident, and then has to try to fit in to a complex matriarchal culture that he has a very important biological role in.

The themes of that story are about identity, about finding your place in the world, finding a place where you belong when it’s maybe a little too late for you to adapt your behavior to fit in. There are themes about gender roles, about sexual roles, and there’s a lot of fighting and chasing and adventure. Those individual themes can be removed from that setting and put into a real world context, but the specific way this story uses them really can’t.

Worldbuilding for fantasy can be realistic, which is where you think about things like how your magical floating city in the clouds gets its food, water, and the other necessities of its infrastructure, and how it deals with its sewers and garbage. The solutions to those problems can of course be magical. And you don’t have to tell them all to the reader, unless they’re important to the story. But knowing how the nuts and bolts of your magical city work can inform your worldbuilding with a sense of verisimilitude.

Some people believe that fantasy by definition has to take place in a kind of world that’s basically a caricature of medieval England. It has certain inalienable characteristics. Everyone wears hooded cloaks, because it’s always cold and rainy or snowy. Everyone’s white. Women have limited employment choices. In fact they have two employment choices: princess or whore. Or sometimes nuns, if they’re lucky. The government is a monarchy. Everyone eats stew and there are a lot of taverns to sit around in and meet the rest of your party.

It used to be called “derivative” because the assumption was that the author didn’t do research on the real Europe, the real England of the medieval, or any other, time period. They read other people’s fantasy books and copied them. Derivative fantasy tends to be about as much like the real middle ages in Europe as New Orleans square in Disneyland is like New Orleans. Except everyone knows Disney New Orleans isn’t real, isn’t supposed to be real, and a lot of people think the faux medieval world of these novels is “historically accurate.” (air quotes) That’s an excuse, and it’s the kind of excuse that’s a lie.

That standard faux medieval setting is not real, it is not even close to the historic reality. It’s a choice. It’s a secondary world, a created world, made up of the author’s choices. Making all the characters white, erasing the rest of humanity, and taking any kind of agency away from women characters are choices the author made. It doesn’t have to be that way. But people who don’t read fantasy assume, and will tell you, that those derivative worlds are all fantasy is, and they are wrong.

The not so secret key to fantasy is that your secondary world can be anything you want, and there are an inspiring and astonishing variety of worlds out there.

I’m going to talk briefly about three of them.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

All three are secondary world fantasy novels with magic, all three were published last year, all are critically acclaimed and have been on various genre award lists. All three are examples of stories that would not be the same if they were removed from the context of their created worlds.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin takes place in a world where catastrophic seismic disturbances are commonplace. These disturbances literally destroy and remake the large portions of the landscape periodically, and it’s a struggle for the various peoples who live on this planet to survive, and retain some grasp of the history of their world. There are people who are born with a kind of magic who can control these seismic disturbances. You’d think that would solve everything, but people being people, that is not what happens. As the book goes on we see more and more evidence that parts of their history have been deliberately concealed to manipulate their society.

The worldbuilding is told in what I would call a very spare style. We don’t learn a lot about what people are wearing or what they eat. There isn’t the abundance of lush material culture detail we see in other fantasy novels. The pace is fast, and we learn what this society is like by the way various characters are treated, what happens to them when they conform, and what happens to them when they resist. We’re getting a glimpse of the history of this world, and it’s that history and the radical changes that the world has undergone that help drive the plot. Through the worldbuilding we begin realize that there is a mystery at the heart of this world and the characters are just beginning to uncover it.

It’s an example of the fact that fantasy secondary worlds don’t have to be static, don’t have to be pre-technological. All worldbuilding should drive the plot and the story, and this is a great example of that idea in action.

Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson is a short novel that was published as a novella, but which packs a huge amount of worldbuilding into a high concept, intense story. It’s set in a place somewhat based on medieval Africa, with huge trading cities like Axum in Ethiopia or Benin City, but it’s entirely original. As the story goes on, we realize the main character’s magic is based on real science, in that he’s magically manipulating his environment based on scientific principles. It’s a short book, but the descriptions, the language, is intense and vivid. The author uses the main character’s memories of his past to fill in detail as the characters travel to their destination. You have this world in your head in full color, and it’s fascinating.

It’s an example of how you can have all the swords and fighting and adventure and magic you want, without having to set it in the same boring rain-soaked taverns of white male faux-England.

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard is set in an alternate world version of late twentieth century Paris, except the world has been all but destroyed by a magical war. Parts of the city are controlled by Great Houses, using magic to protect their dependents and maneuver for power. The magical war has been just as devastating for the environment as it has been for the people, and we see a world where the Seine is black with debris and dangerous to even approach the bank. Dying angels occasionally fall to earth from heaven, and their bodies are broken up and sold as part of the magical economy.

It’s an example of a fantasy setting that uses a real world place. You can follow the actions of the characters on a map of our Paris, but it’s a Paris with magic and a different history. One of the main characters is Vietnamese, brought to Paris to fight in the war, and through his perspective and memories we get some idea of how different the rest of the world is.

This is an example of how to make a real world setting fantastical, and how adding magic and changing history can transform a real world setting.

So in conclusion, your worldbuilding will say as much about you as a person and as an author as any other part of your story. There’s very little in the fantasy genre that hasn’t already been done, but what makes it unique is you. There are no rules, no guidelines, just choices, made by you.

Short Stack of Pancakes

Submitted by maggshouse19

“Imagine person A of your OTP is roused in the middle of the night by loud banging and crashing coming from downstairs, and the first thing they notice is that person B is no longer in the bed beside them. They hurry downstairs and find B, the smaller member of your OTP, on the floor in the kitchen, unharmed, having been standing on a chair to reach something on a higher shelf and fallen when the chair tilted over, dragging down half the contents of the shelves with them.”

long prompt, and since they live in NYC here I didn’t do stairs. Also, it’s kind of short but I really hope you enjoy it! Thank you for submitting, I had fun with this one!


It was a calm Tuesday night, and Lucas Friar had fallen asleep next to his beautiful wife Maya Hart.

It was pretty quiet for NYC, just the occasional car going by disturbing the silent evening.

That was, until a loud clatter from the other rooms awoke him.

He shot up quickly, wide awake in an instant.

“Maya, did you hear that?” He whispered.

No answer came, and when he looked to his right, emptiness occupied the space previously belonging to Maya.

Lucas mentally had a quick rush of nervousness, was Maya ok? Had someone taken her?

He grabbed his baseball bat, and cautiously opened the door.

He crept in his socks around the apartment, carefully not to step wrong in fear the floor would creak, alerting the intruder of his presence.

When he reached the kitchen, the boy couldn’t believe his eyes.

Maya lay on the floor, with a load of pill bottles, Band-Aid boxes, and bandages sprawled over her. A tipped over chair sat inches from her.

“Maya?” He tried to stifle a laugh.

“Yeah I know. Laugh all you want.” She sounded a little angry, a little sad, and even a tad bit amused.

“Baby, what happened?” Lucas asked, squatting next to his spouse on the floor.

“I couldn’t sleep and my head was killing me, so I went to get some Aspirin.”

He nodded, letting her know he was listening.

“I then remembered that you usually get the medicine, because I’m too short to reach. I didn’t want to wake you up because you looked adorable and cozy while you slept, plus you have that big meeting at work tomorrow. I decided to stand on a chair to get it, the chair tipped, I tried to save myself, and here we are.”

“I’m sorry, Pancakes.” He joked.

She glared at her husband.

“Don’t even test me right now, Huckleberry.”

The cowboy held up his hands in fake surrender.

“You’re okay though, right?” He got serious.

“I’m fine, Ranger Rick. My confidence is a little sore, though. Why was I made so short?”

“Maya, I love your height. It’s perfect. I can rest my head on it when we hug, it’s fun to lean down to kiss you, and we fit so well when we cuddle, well when you let me.” Lucas trailed off.

Maya smiled slightly.

“Anyways, Maya Penelope,” He teased her nickname. “You kick ass, no matter how tall or short you are. I would love you anyway you are, I’ll love you forever and always, unconditionally.”

She was quiet for a moment.

“You’re such a sap, Friar.” She laughed. “But thank you, I needed that, now let’s go back to bed.”

They stood up and he slung his arm around her shoulders.

“Anything for you, my short stack of pancakes.”

cassievanlauritzen  asked:

Hi Bee! One tiny little prompt for you: Dads!AU BabyDamian gets lost in the park, and both Jason and Dick (you can choose whether they are together or not) freak out. Maybe it's finally Tim who finds them? And Jay gets mad but Dami does something cute and he can't stay angry anymore :)

Title: Escape Artist
Characters: Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Damian Wayne
A/N: This would probably be like…days before Jason and Dick get together romantically. Like, they’re still in the ‘will they/won’t they’ stage. I based this on the canon idea that Cass and Steph never met Jason, so wouldn’t recognize him post-resurrection, at least not yet. The girls actually keep it a secret, though bug Dick to all hell about it, and maybe try to stalk a little. For those who don’t speak baby, Damian was telling Jason “No sad, no sad.” towards the end.

Other things for Nevolition’s Dad!Jason AU


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+/- [14-10-14] vs [19-10-15] - Self-portraits almost a year apart; virtually the same sitting position (I am almost always sitting in my portraits. All the best conversations are had while sitting), same turtleneck; different perception of composition. These two images side by side are incredibly revealing of my life then and my life now in terms of the mental, emotional, and physical space I occupy/ied.

So much to say. I am just happy to be here, breathing, learning, and creating.

But if you close your eyes

The spoilers about the songs included in the season finale just inspired me Blangst, fight (only verbal but just as hurtful) Title from the aforementioned song that is stuck in my head (eh-eh-oh, eh-oh …)

“You lied to me. Again.”

Kurt’s voice doesn’t even rise. It’s not a question, it’s not an accusation, it’s just stating a fact and in some ways, it’s even worse. Blaine winces but doesn’t look away. “I was sure I could convince June to let you—“

“Let me?”

Blaine blinks and frowns at Kurt.

Let me? As if you’re allowing me a spot in the grand Blaine Anderson show?” Kurt repeats, his voice growing colder as he advances on Blaine but stops at arm’s length. “As if I need you to let me take the stage?”

“It’s her conditions, not mine, Kurt,” Blaine pleads, “and I really wanted you right here with me. She just –“

“She just can’t have the spotlight removed from her perfectly acceptable, perfect Alpha gay plaything!”

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Say fifteen different people look at a cube.

These people are not all occupying the same physical space, so obviously, one person’s mental picture of the cube is different. Some people are above the cube. Some people are below it, or beside it. Some people are very close to the cube and some people are very far away. 

Everyone sees a different cube. This is why arguments are so damn hard to resolve, because we all think we’re talking about the same cube but in reality there are fifteen different ones. 

Right and left

With my right hand

I pick up my heart

That you tried to tear apart

I pick up my trust and pride

I take back the mental space you occupied

And the nerves you loved to ride

The only thing I can’t have back is my precious time

With my left hand

I let go of the pain you caused

I let go of the thoughts I thought

I drop all of the anger and strife

I drop all of your negative energy

And all of your lies

The only thing I keep is the lesson learned about who to let in my life

Copyright © Future Poet November 2015 All rights reserved

Right and left

With my right hand

I pick up my heart

That you tried to tear apart

I pick up my trust and pride

I take back the mental space you occupied

And the nerves you loved to ride

The only thing I can’t have back is my precious time

With my left hand

I let go of the pain you caused

I let go of the thoughts I thought

I drop all of the anger and strife

I drop all of your negative energy

And all of your lies

The only thing I keep is the lesson learned about who to let in my life

(Written and submitted by @futurepoetsblog)