Confession: I have a Scottish fetish. To be more precise, it’s Scottish accent/dialect fetish. I need subtitles to understand what, say, Sharleen Spiteri says in interviews, but damn, does she sound amazing! When I found out Outlander, the TV series, existed I just had to jump in. Scots! Kilts! Someone called Jamie that apparently is worth watching!
I managed three episodes. I think the first moment when I winced in second-hand embarrassment was when Claire consumed a mug of broth as her only meal for the day, then refused breakfast. In the next scene she brought Jamie a nice picnic basket. While I understand that Claire is magical, since she travelled back in time… oops… spoiler alert… I was not prepared to see her magicking a lunch basket out of thin air. Scottish accent or not, my writer’s mind kept screaming “this makes no sense!!!”.
The second and last bit that made me facepalm so hard I gave myself a bruise was Claire’s excellent plan to become the best doctor she possibly could in order to prove to the Scots they should get rid of her as soon as possible. I would compare this to a mouse going to hang out with a cat in order to prove that cats don’t eat mice. It actually made me yell at the screen the same way I used to when watching True Blood and yelled “y u so dumb Jason Stackhouse!!!” I couldn’t go on after that.
None of those things happen in the book. Claire is more or less forced to become a doctor, and she’s just doing her thing while waiting for a good moment to escape. The lunch basket is explained in one sentence – she goes to the kitchen and asks if she could get some lunch for Jamie. I don’t see how magical baskets and amazingly stupid plans improve the story, but hey, I only managed three episodes. There’s a good chance she hit herself on the head as I blinked, or something.
Confession: I am not enjoying the world in 2018.
Obviously, I don’t mean to say that the entire planet has nothing to offer me. I’m not enjoying the news, the outrage, the furious exchanges on social media. I block certain words, phrases, unfollow people who seem perfectly nice and reasonable…until someone says that one phrase or criticises that one idea or…etc. As a chronically ill person I have a limited amount of spoons, and I have to decide how to distribute them. Realising how much energy reading those tirades cost me and how little I actually learned from them made me disengage. There are times when I will see X commenting on a post by Y in a way that makes me absolutely seethe with rage. I deal with this by blocking X, then hiding the post.
Unfortunately, it appears I can’t completely block worldwide politics, climate change, or countless acts of violence that media love reporting on. A brief look at the front page of HuffPo makes me gasp. A remark from a family member makes me want to cry in powerlessness. Twitter keeps me informed whether I want to be or not. I’m not going to give examples, because why would I? Look at the news yourself.
In my second work-in-progress novel (WIP2) the main protagonist utters the following phrase: “A responsible adult should be taking care of this, not me!” It’s not a good thing when a fictional character speaks with the writer’s voice, but Gareth and me are in 100% agreement over this. Gareth, by the way, is 32. I am 40.
When I was 10 years old, I couldn’t wait to be a Grown Up Man. My mom would buy the most delicious sweets – chocolate-covered marshmallows – and give me one a day. Perhaps two if it was a holiday. (For sake of transparency, that was Communist Poland and getting more sweets wasn’t as simple as popping out to the corner store, but try and explain this to a 10-year-old.) I promised myself that one day when I’d become An Adult I was going to buy myself those marshmallows and eat the whole box in one go. Twenty-five years later, after an exceptionally heavy shift at the forge I opened a brand new box of exactly the same marshmallows, and started eating them mindlessly. I made it through half a box until I began to feel sick. Clear proof that adulthood sucks – as a child I would also have gotten sick, but I would have enjoyed it.