Spoiler Warning: It is all but impossible to talk about Wandavision without some serious spoilers. So if you haven’t seen it yet and you plan to, click away and come back later. You have been warned.
Speaking of a spoiler warning, funny story. The darling husband and I had been planning to watch Wandavision but we hadn’t quite gotten to it yet. Then, we were watching Youtube and stumbled on an Honest Trailor for Wandavision. Normally we watch those right away. But there was a giant spoiler warning at the beginning. This prompted us to watch it, finally.
And man, the twists in this!
So, now that you’ve been fully warned, let’s talk about why Wandavision works.
First off, I don’t know that Wandavision would have worked for people who aren’t old-school tv fans like me. A lot of the fun from the first few episodes comes from the constant references to older shows. I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched. This was pure nostalgia and it worked so, so well.
Worked into that, though, are some eerie moments. Right from the start, we see that not everything is how it should be in this picturesque little world. The first episode could have been an episode of Bewitched, except for the man who almost dies at their kitchen table.
It’s so dark a moment, then everyone goes back to what they were doing like nothing ever happened. This is done perfectly. It almost makes the audience feel like they might not have seen what they thought they saw.
Another thing that worked well in this show was the depth it gave to two Avengers who weren’t as well know. I mean, I know Wanda. I know all about House of M, and the epic No More Mutants moment. But from the movies, not so much. Wandavision gives us a chance to see both of them in a new light. In a crisis, in joy. We see more of Wanda’s background. It fleshes them out, makes them real people. And this is something that these characters needed.
Finally, I appreciated that this story didn’t have a fully happy ending. But, if you read House of M, you kind of knew that. Wanda has to make a torturous decision. She has to give up everything she’s ever wanted to do what’s right.
It’s hard, it’s heartbreaking, and it needed to happen.
Let’s be real here for a second. It’s just us writers here. Some stories have happy endings, and they should. Like every single Adam Sandler movie. Stupid happy. Some stories don’t have a happy ending. Just like life doesn’t always have a happy ending. Old Dan and Little Ann died in Where The Red Fern Grows. The Baudelaire children never find their parents or their friends. And Wanda doesn’t get to have her perfect Pleasantville family. Because if that’s how those stories ended, then they wouldn’t matter as much.
Now, all that being said, there is one reason why Wandavision doesn’t work.
If you haven’t seen The Avengers movies, this story isn’t going to make any damned sense to you at all.
Part of that is the feature, not the bug. The Marvel Universe is supposed to be all one big story. Every character’s tale fitting into the next one’s, like puzzle pieces. You have to see it all to see the big picture. But that’s daunting for someone new, who hasn’t been watching from the start.
This is a flaw of the whole Marvel setup, in my opinion. If you’re going to get into the story, you’ve got a ton of watching to do. That’s great if you want to do it. But if you just want to dip your toe in, then this amount of material might just scare you off.
I have this problem. It’s a little embarrassing, but I want to get better. And I thought maybe it might be a problem some of you have too.
I have a weird problem taking advice from people younger than me. It makes me feel uncomfortable, as though I’m failing somehow.
Yes, I’m aware this is incredibly narrow-minded of me. Especially because I’ve been on the receiving end of the abuse that kind of mindset can cause.
Back when I first started this blog, I was the manager of a shoe store. And I had an assistant manager who was a bit older than me. She was in her forties and I was in my twenties. She got hired a few days before me, as a part-timer when I was hired as an assistant. When I became manager, she was my obvious choice for assistant.
Well, she wasn’t really. I shouldn’t have done that. Because she never missed a chance to make me feel like I was screwing everything up.
Spoiler, I wasn’t. I had the job because I had years of retail experience and management experience by then. I was qualified for the job, she wasn’t. But that wasn’t enough to knock that chip off her shoulder.
Alright, I didn’t tell you all that just to complain. I did it mainly to point out that I should know better. And if I don’t learn from the experiences in my youth then I’m a garbage person.
I don’t want to be a garbage person. So, here are four reasons why I’m trying to listen to younger people.
So many young artists are just killing it
I follow several people younger than me on Youtube. Caitlin’s Corner, Amanda Rachel Lee and Temi. They are all inspiring, upbeat, helpful women who are creating great content. They also happen to all be younger than me.
This doesn’t stop their videos from being a bright spot in my week. And they’re far from the only ones. Artists, writers, singers, online business people are all out there doing great work in their twenties. And I don’t want to miss out on that work.
They have different life experience
Let’s go back to my example from the shoe store. I was qualified to be the manager over my older assistant because I had led a different life and made different decisions. Those decisions meant that, despite my age, I was more qualified for the job.
What kind of asshole would I have to be to not realize that other people have that same experience? While I was working retail and writing books, Amanda Rachel Lee was learning to design bullet journals. Of course, she can teach me a thing or thirty-seven about them. Temi was devoting herself to improving her art. She can draw like no one I’ve ever seen.
We have got to value the experiences of others and the lessons they’ve learned from them. That’s why it’s so great that we’re all different. I can learn from them, and others can learn from me and all the effort I’ve poured into being a writer.
They have the experience of their elders to build on
Let me tell you another story. When I was growing up my grandma was good with computers. I mean, for the time. She taught me to use her old pc. She taught me to go online, access things in DOS, all that. So, when I started using computers myself, I had that foundation to build on. I didn’t need to learn it all again, so I could go steps farther.
Every generation has the experiences and lessons of the ones who have gone before them. There are lessons they don’t have to learn. I didn’t have to sort out how to use DOS, I was told how. So, I could put that time into going further.
The same can be said for younger people. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel, they’ve got it. They have time to discover and tackle new problems. Then, reach back and help us with those.
I wanted to be listened to when I was younger
Scratch that. I want to be listened to right now. I’m only thirty-four, turning thirty-five in June. I think I have things to teach people older than me. And I know for sure that I did when I was younger. So, of course, other people can teach me. And if I want to be a better person, as I always do, I need to be willing to learn.
So what do you think? What lessons have you learned from people younger than you? Let us know in the comments.
Money is something most writers have a sticky relationship with. We’re artists, we don’t do this for the money. But we need money to, you know, live. We have day jobs until we make enough money writing to sustain us full-time. If we ever make enough money writing.
Then, there’s spending money on writing itself. Now, you don’t need to spend much money at all to write. But to get projects finished, published or in front of people’s faces might be a very different situation.
The problem is that money spent on writing is like money spent on anything else. Some things are a good investment, and some are little better than setting your precious dollar bills on fire.
Today I’m going to go over some of the best and worst ways I’ve spent money on my writing. This is a personal list based on my own experiences. What worked for me might not for you, and vice versa. If you’ve had different experiences, please let us know in the comments.
The worst ways I’ve spent money on writing
Let’s start with the obvious item. Unless you enjoy pretty stationary, you don’t need to buy it to write. I’d caution you against buying a pretty notebook for your rough drafts. Your rough draft is going to be just that, rough. It’s not going to help you write freely of garbage if you’re doing it in a plush leather-bound notebook. I might be biased, though, since I’ve literally burned rough drafts before.
Another thing I don’t spend money on anymore is contest fees. This might be up for debate, but I just don’t do it. At least, not yet. It’s a And if you’re going to pay to be in a contest, make sure you do your research. Some, like the ones hosted by Writer’s Digest, are perfectly legit. Some are run by heaps of steaming trash masquerading as people who are only there to steal your hard-earned money. Even if they are legit, though, paying for a contest is kind of like buying a lottery ticket.
Here’s something that I thought would be a bigger help than it was. It’s something that sadly ate up a ton of money throughout my career. It’s advertising. I have tried to advertise my books on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Amazon. None of these have ever produced enough sales to make them worth my time and money. Can’t say I didn’t try.
Finally, I have a complex one. I put a ton of physical copies of my books, thinking I’d be able to hand-sell them. Then, I didn’t. I had a bunch of events lined up. Then I had to cancel them. Then covid happened and now I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to schedule any more events. So that’s a lot of money sitting in my house staring at me. Don’t order copies of your book unless you know what the hell you’re going to do with them.
The best ways I’ve spent money on writing
I’d like to start here with something that I pay for every single month, my Dabble subscription. This isn’t sponsored, I just love them. Dabble is my word processing software. It’s the one I’m working on right now. It’s not so important that you subscribe to this exact software. It’s just important that you have one that you enjoy and that fits your needs. Good writing software has been worth every penny to me.
Another thing I spend money on that I consider worth it is my WordPress site. It allows me to do a lot more fine-tuning, get ad info, and all sorts of fun things. It also gives me options to personalize the look of my site. I plan to do a full website remodel later this year. I’ll consider this upgrade invaluable then.
One thing I’ve put a decent amount of money into is having my self-published works edited. My goodness, this is expensive. But it’s a must if you’re not going with a publisher. Even if you have to save up a while before you get this done, don’t publish without it. You just don’t know how much better your work will be afterwords.
Despite my feelings about fancy notebooks, I do invest money in tools I use and I love. Like the felt tip pens that I write with. Actually, it’s just those. I can use any old notebook to write rough drafts (so long as it’s college ruled). But these pens are a must, even if they’re a dollar a pen. Having something that I can hold comfortably and that works so well for me is worth it.
Finally, I cannot emphasize enough that I’ve never bought a book about writing that I regretted. On Writing, Dase Macabre, Save the Cat. Everything that Natalie Goldberg has ever written. Every one of them taught me something different and I value all of them. I honestly never think a book is a bad investment.
No post this week, guys. Please enjoy this short story instead.
I know a lot of witches these days are real out in the open about it. They go online and share spells like recipes, post pictures of their alters. There’s about a hundred Facebook groups for witches. That’s great and all, really. I’m super happy for everyone who can be so open with their craft.
That isn’t me. I mean, I would love for it to be me, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have any problem getting right out there with the rest of them, openly buying sage at the farmer’s market and filling my home with witchy goodness.
I have a calling, that’s the problem. You see, I was abandoned by my mother when I was four. There was a man, but it’s a cop out to say that was why. There was a bottle, and that was always the reason.
But I don’t waste a lot of time worrying about her. I was adopted by my uncle, a great witch and a great man. Only problem was, he was in Japan at the time. While he hustled to get himself back to the states and start the adoption process, I was in foster care.
And this foster lady, man, she was the best. She was the absolute best person I have ever, and I mean ever known. Her name was Birdie, and she just scooped me up and took me right into her home. Because of her, I was able to stay safe, happy and cared for until Uncle Howard was able to come get me.
Birdie passed on a few years ago. I could never thank her enough for what she did for me, though I sure tried while she was alive. When she started getting sick, she started getting me involved in the foster care program. And, I mean, what was I going to do, say no?
But I’ll tell you right now, no one lets you be a foster mom if you’re a witch. Even Uncle Howard didn’t tell them he was a witch until they were all done checking up on him.
“I know it’s not fair,” he explained to me. “But lots of things aren’t fair. The mundanes just aren’t in a position to understand. Our eyes are open farther than theirs, so we must be wiser. Especially if you’ve got to adopt a child. My lord, is that a struggle. Those people will criticize you for wearing the wrong color socks.”
So you can understand. My practice was in the closet, my alter and tools literally in the tiny closet of my bedroom. But so help me, I was going to be a force for good in children’s lives.
And so it’s gone for years, until a few weeks ago. When I got a call late in the afternoon about a little boy.
“His mother was in a terrible car accident, and didn’t make it. He was at his sitter’s for a few days, but of course they can’t keep him forever,” explained Esther, one of the better caseworkers. Some of them were far too aggressive, dropping children off who had no business being away from loving parents. Esther was never that sort. She just didn’t seem to have an ounce of emotion in her except for disdain. I swear, I’ve never seen the woman smile, not once.
“Bring him right over,” I said, casting a look at my kitchen counter. I had been intending to put together a honey jar spell, but that wasn’t happening now. I made a dash to get things put away and picked up, lighting a candle in the living room for strength as I went.
Soon enough Esther was there, with a little boy with dark hair, a crop of freckles, and a look of distance in his eyes.
“This is Douglas,” Esther said, handing me a suitcase of the boy’s things. “Douglas, this is Wendy. She’s going to be looking after you for a little while.”
The boy, Douglas, looked me up and down. I gave him the smile I’ve done my best to master over the years. It’s not too happy, since of course most kids aren’t here under good circumstances. But it was, I hope, comforting.
“Come on in, Douglas. We’ll get you all settled,” I said, holding my hand out to him. He took it.
Some kids are a handful right from the start, loud and screaming. They’re scared, and they react like animals backed into a corner.
Some, like Douglas, are silent as a tomb. Those are the ones who worry me. Sadness and grief are a poison. We’ve got to draw them out, suck them away from flesh and soul before they start to rot.
Esther nodded. “I’ll give you a call tomorrow,” she said, and reached out to shake my hand with her own gloved one. What a weird woman.
With Esther gone, I closed the door, and started the business of tending to Douglas. He was standing very still in the middle of my living room, looking around. “Want to see your room?” I asked. He nodded, but still said nothing.
Even if he was silent, he was agreeable. We put away his things, a few changes of clothes and some toys. Tucked in the front of his suitcase was a stack of origami paper. This was a surprise. Even more of a surprise was when he snatched the stack away before I could touch it and set it reverently by his bed.
“Do you do origami?” I asked. “Like paper folding?”
He nodded. Apparently that was all the interaction we were going to have for awhile.
It was a quiet afternoon that melted into evening. Douglas was sort of like a very polite, very obedient ghost. He sat in his room until I asked him to help me with dinner. Then he ate well enough, and sat on the couch to watch tv with me. We watched a movie, and he didn’t say a word.
After a shower I got Douglas into bed. “I want you to know that you’re going to be safe here for as long as you need to be,” I said. “And you can talk to me about anything. Trust me, you can’t tell me anything weirder than I’ve heard before.”
Douglas nodded, his dinner plate eyes never leaving my face.
“I was in foster care when I was little,” I said.
“Okay, well let me know if you need anything. My bedroom is just on the other side of the living room. Sleep well.”
He nodded, and pulled the covers up to his chin.
I left the door open just a crack, and left the living room light on. I was feeling off kilter. I know it was only the first night. I also knew that healing whatever was broken in him wasn’t really my job. My job was to keep him safe, well fed and cared for until the state figured out where he was going.
Still, he was so sad. He hadn’t been abandoned by a distant mother. His mother, who had presumably loved him very much, had died.
Feeling uncomfortable to the point of itchiness, I decided there was nothing for it but to do a quick cleansing. I grabbed my palo santo, and started cleansing. With a twist of my finger I sent the smoke through the whole apartment, except Douglas’s room. I didn’t normally use magic to move smoke, but I didn’t want him to hear me walking all around the place. It might make him nervous.
A few minutes after I started, though, Douglas popped his head out of the door. He looked around, as though excited.
I tucked the burning wood behind my back. “Just lighting some incense. Sorry, does it bother you?”
His face deflated. Slowly he shook his head, and went back into his room.
I have a habit on the first day I have a new kid of waking up and getting them to help me put together breakfast. It’s not just food, even waffles with strawberries and chocolate chips, that gets a kid to warm up to me. It’s the act of cooking together.
When I approached the bedroom door, I didn’t hear anything. I gave a little knock, having learned better a long time ago than to just throw open a door.
But after waiting a few minutes, I didn’t hear anything. Worried, I opened the door.
Douglas was sitting in the middle of the room, and I saw why he’d had all of the origami paper. It was scattered around him, some folded into pieces and some waiting to be touched. He must have been up all night, playing with it. And as I opened the door, the air was full of paper birds. Cranes, blue jays, any sort of bird that could be folded into paper, fluttering around Douglas’s head.
How had I not sensed it?
At the sight of me, Douglas dropped the birds. They all fell onto the ground with soft, pattering sounds. He looked at me, terrified.
“It’s okay,” I said, kneeling down. “It’s okay. You’re a witch, aren’t you?”
Still, Douglas said nothing. His eyes looked like they might pop right out of his head, looking at me.
“Don’t be afraid, I am too.” The words popped out of my mouth before I even knew I was going to say them. But as the words were out now, I couldn’t take them back. So I decided to prove myself instead. I lifted the closest bird to me in the air, and fluttered it around him. I even got it close enough to peck his nose.
To my surprise and relief, he laughed.
Then, he spoke. “I thought my mom was here last night. I thought I could smell her.”
“The palo santo,” I said. “I was cleansing the house.”
He nodded. “She’s not gonna come get me, is she? I really miss her.”
“No, Douglas, I’m sorry. She’s gone. But you can talk to her.”
Carefully I gathered the young witch in my arms. We went out, and collected things that reminded him of his mother.
A sample of the perfume she wore.
A leaf from the park they’d played at together.
A stone from the driveway of the dental office she’d worked at.
All of these things we put on my alter together, and we lit a candle. “Now,” I said, “she can hear you. Go ahead and talk to her.”
I stepped away, letting him have some privacy.
There was a knock on the door before he was finished. I went to see who it was, and felt my chest tighten.
It was Esther. And the closet that held my alter was wide open, with Douglas perched in front of it.
There was nothing else for it, I couldn’t very well pretend I wasn’t hope. So I opened the door.
Esther stepped in, looking around. “Good afternoon. I brought some of Douglas’s clothes. Where is he?”
“He’s, um,” I stammered, but she’d already brushed past me. And right into my room.
There sat Douglas, giggling. He had a paper crane floating in front of him. “I’m getting really good at them,” he said.
“I, I can explain what’s going on,” I said, rushing behind her.
“Explain what?” Esther asked. She turned to me, and smiled. For the first time, I noticed a gold chain around her neck. It led to a tiny, moon pendant.
“If you have anything to explain, it’s what took you so long. Young lady, how many witches did I need to send into your house before you started teaching them the right way?”
And just like that, Douglas and I were out of the broom closet.
And then it was April, and then it was Spring. And then it was poetry month and a prose writer tried to clumsily sound poetic.
I love poetry the way a child loves a cat. I don’t understand it, but I know that I love it.
Poetry is an art form more prose authors should consider practicing. Not because I think we’d be particularly good at it. But because understanding words in that way will help any writing. A poet considers each word carefully to invoke the emotion of a moment. They take wordplay to a whole new level.
That being said, I was listening to an episode of Writing Excuses that gave me a question I do not have an answer for.
What is poetry?
I’d like to say it’s like porn. I know it when I see it. But that seems like an oversimplification and a lazy joke beside.
I’d advise all of you to listen to that episode, as they answer the question better than I ever could.
Anyway, here’s a list of ways you can celebrate Poetry Month. I hope you enjoy them.
Read your favorite poems and share them on social media.
I do this all the time, but this is the month for it. Poems are the perfect thing to share on social media. They’re short, they convey emotions and experiences. And they’re much better than celebrity gossip and fights with strangers.
Write some of your poetry, even if it’s bad.
Especially if it’s bad. Poetry is a way to express yourself. It’s a way to give a voice to things you might not know how to say. It’s a way to commemorate a moment, a feeling. So even if it’s bad, it’s art. And the world never has enough art.
Look into word art.
Since we’re talking about art, let’s discuss word art. Think micro-fiction or a poem paired with some awesome visual art. This is a really fun thing to create, layering creative methods on top of each other. Using one to elevate the other. I love it. If you’ve never tried it, you should. You might love it too.
Learn about a new form of poetry.
There are so many kinds of poetry, it’s sort of staggering. One that I love is found poetry, the method of finding a poem within a page of pre-written prose. But there are so many other forms. And this is the month to learn about a new one.
So what do you think? How are you celebrating Poetry Month? What’s your favorite poetry form? Let us know in the comments below.