Do You Deviate?

by Renee Miller

According to Meriam Webster, deviant is defined as, “Different from what is considered to be normal or morally correct.” So, the opposite of deviance, in my opinion, is conformity. In art, I think conformity is the enemy. Don’t you?

You there. Yes, the one who disagreed. You’re outta here. Go on. Take your shit with you.

Norms, as most of you probably know (I hope), are rules and expectations, which members of society use to determine right and wrong. Deviance is the failure to conform to these norms. Social norms are different from culture to culture, so what’s deviant for you might not be deviant for someone else. It’s all so subjective. Sigh. In most societies, fighting is considered deviant, because we shouldn’t physically harm one another just because we can, and yet, boxing and ultimate fighting exist, and we LOVE them. So in that context, physical violence isn’t deviant. It’s a sport. Killing each other is also deviant in most cultures, except of course when the law dictates it’s okay (during war or as a punishment, for example, not that I’m taking sides on either, so just calm the fuck down). See what I mean? It’s all so confusing.

Deviant behavior is generally given a negative light, but we still embrace it. Why? I think it’s because many of us realize there are many positive things that can occur as a direct result of deviant thoughts or behavior.

Yes, extreme deviance, such as murder, are not good at all. Bad deviance. Don’t do it. Deviant behavior or ideas that lead chaos and/or violence is not a great thing either. Don’t be deviant in a way that creates a cluster-fuck of awful. Do it in a way that helps us evolve and become better humans.

Be the type of deviant that forces social change, for example. How does being weird or “not normal” change anything? If an act deemed as “deviant” occurs often enough, it can eventually become accepted. Once upon a time, women weren’t allowed to read. If we could read, we might think, and if we thought—gasp—we might question or neglect our womanly duties. The horror! Our bold lady ancestors were having none of that, though, and women secretly learned to read and write anyway. Soon, there were so many women reading, the menfolk were all “Fuck it, boys. They’re doing it anyway.” Sure, it wasn’t as simple as that, but you get my point.

Deviance also helps us adjust to change. It’s terrifying when something new comes along. Alternate lifestyles, new technology, and the like are scary for many people. But those brave few who embrace these initially deviant and unpopular things help the rest of us find the balls to check them out for ourselves.

Using the oppression of the female gender as an example again, remember when women weren’t allowed to vote or how it was frowned upon for a gal to wear pants? Remember when it wasn’t okay for a girl to love another girl (or a guy to notice his team mate’s sweet ass)? (I realize we’re still struggling with same-sex relationships, but stay with me. We’ve come a long way.) A few so-called deviants did things differently anyway and over time, the deviant kids made these new things less scary, and now we all have pants and (in some cultures) we can love whoever we want to love and women can vote.

The downside, I suppose, is that deviant behavior can also be used for evil. Religion, for example. Back in the day, many folks used religion as a reason for murdering countless women (and some men). They were burned, drowned, and whatever else the judge in question deemed appropriate. These behaviors are definitely deviant. I mean, in polite society, we do not kill people for doing naughty things like magic. However, with enough time and enough preaching, the church’s murderous ways were accepted as the norm.

That’s bad deviance. Don’t do it.

We chose to embrace deviants here at Deviant Dolls, because the dolls believe in pushing boundaries. We believe in change and individual expression. We love the outcasts, because the outcasts are the ones who typically break new ground and burn the old, useless institutions that do nothing but stop or slow down progress. Besides, we’re all deviants in some way. There is no single person in today’s world who follows every single law/norm/moral society dictates we should follow. Whether you smoke, drink, gamble, masturbate, hate your asshole neighbor, drive above the speed limit, make an illegal u-turn, cheat on your taxes, pick a scab, or whatever, we’ve all deviated from what we’re told is right. Sometimes we even have good reasons for it.

The only way to change what is normal is to do what is not normal. You must question the preconceived notions of what is morally right. You must challenge people to look outside their box and view the world from another perspective. This can’t be done if you don’t deviate a little bit. In writing, the willingness to do what isn’t “accepted” is extremely important. It frees us creatively in a way that is terrifying and awesome.

That is why we are deviant and it’s why we encourage you to be the same.

NOT the bad deviance. No murders, rapes, burglaries or whatever’s going to hurt someone else or get your ass thrown in jail. Do the deviance that has a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

There. Now you’ve been disclaimed and informed. Go be an innovator and a shit disturber. We’ve got your back.

 

Typewriting Monkeys

by Katrina Monroe

 

 

This past Tuesday, my older daughter had her first softball game of the season (and second, because this league likes double-headers and pissing parents off). Unlike last year, this year the girls are allowed to do fun stuff like slide and steal bases. My daughter stole her first base and, as she stomped on it, she clutched her heart like a Victorian ingénue who’d stumbled into the Red Light District. She’s the smallest girl on her team, so this drew a collection of “D’awws” from the other moms.

Then, one turned to me and said, “I can’t believe you’re not videoing this right now.”

My first thought was, “Fuck off.”

My second thought was, “Oh, shit. I should.”

But I didn’t whip out my phone like some twenty-first century gunslinger. I continued to watch my daughter play.

Later, I felt a little guilty. My parents live in Florida, which is a far fucking cry from Minnesota, and rarely get to see my kids. A video would have been nice to show them. Or I could have had it to transferred to DVD to embarrass my daughter with later. Or I could have just had it to watch over and over again when she’s irritating the crap out of me and I need to be reminded of her good qualities.

But then I stopped feeling guilty because I’ve been feeling guilty a lot lately.

As writers, we feel two things predominantly: overwhelming excitement over a project and guilt.

Guilt over writing too much.

Guilt over not writing enough.

Guilt over sacrificing time with family, friends, and “real jobs” to get the fucking words on paper because we need to sleep at some point, too.

It comes from every angle. And sure, sometimes people have good intentions—You’re looking pale, maybe you ought to go outside; Have you eaten?; Tequila is not a fruit—but in the end, the most torment comes from within and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Except stop feeling guilty.

You didn’t write today. Instead, you planted your ass on the couch with a cup of coffee and a plate of cookies and read the shit out of a book that’s been on your to-read list for months.             Good! Where do you think inspiration comes from, anyway? The toaster?

You didn’t read, either. You took a walk. Or went grocery shopping in peace (praisethelord). Or bought the fancy coffee and watched people quietly argue over that bitch, Jennifer.

Good! How do you expect to be worth a damn to yourself (or anyone else for that matter) if you don’t take the time to do nothing once in a while?

You spent eight hours in front of the computer, typing like a trained monkey, because the words just wouldn’t leave you alone. The house is a wreck, there’s no dinner on the table, and your significant other is seriously concerned over the state of your lightning-fast fingers.

Good! Protect that writing time fiercely! If you don’t take it, no one is going to give it to you, and you’re not going to write that book. Or play. Or script. Or whatever it is that makes your little heart go pitter-fucking-pat.

You’re not a typewriting monkey, and you’re not a useless human being for spending the bulk of your mornings making shit up, either. You’re a person. Or a humanoid cephalopod; we don’t judge.

Do what you think is right for you in this moment and the next, because no one else knows better than you. And for fuckssakes, stop feeling guilty about.

I don’t. Not anymore.

The Long Game Baby

 

by Renee Miller

 

Sometimes I wonder what the Christ I’m doing. Here I am, starting a collective of authors, which, in case you’re wondering, is a lot of work that doesn’t involve even a single pat on the back or anything, and I’m working the day job, and I’m writing, and I’m marketing, and I can’t even afford a goddamn island. I’ve been at this writing and publishing shit for almost ten years. What have I got to show for it? Well, not much on the surface. I still work a day job, as I mentioned. Still fight for every single book review, both good and bad, still agonize over how to sell a goddamn book. Still dream about one day, getting up, leaving my jammies on, and writing from sunup until sundown, while my adoring fans eagerly await the dropping of my next title and my maid, Julio, massages my poor, tired shoulders. Yeah, Julio, right there… Oh! Julio, you’re so bad.

Oh, the dream…

Where was I? Oh, right. You guys see very little forward movement in my career, except, perhaps, for the mounting number of titles on my Amazon page. Hell, I don’t see much movement either. It’s depressing. It’s soul shattering. It’s fucking infuriating.

WHERE IS MY FUCKING FAME AND FORTUNE?

Actually, I’ve achieved a great deal behind the scenes. So have many other authors. This site, DDP, is new, but none of its authors are. We’ve been around the block, some of us many, many times. Bunch of publishing whores. That’s us.

The thing is, smart authors know publishing isn’t a quick payoff kind of game. It’s a long, arduous process with few rewards and a shit ton of bullshit.

The key to success is baby steps.

And an addiction to unhealthy things.

Maybe a bit of ego.

Masochism…

And baby steps.

First, learn how to write. Anyone can write a book, but it takes skill to write a GOOD book. You have to learn that first. Me? I started with a couple of children’s books. Awful children’s books. Then I moved on to horror. Awful horror. Then I wrote a romance. It was also awful. Then I said, wait. I need to figure this shit out. I spend a few years learning instead of just vomiting the shit from my head.

It was a lot of hard work. I spent at least five years JUST LEARNING. I didn’t publish my first book until about three years ago. And I did that myself. I had a traditional contract once upon a time, but it didn’t pan out. This up and down world of publishing is like that sometimes. Give you a series contract, publish your book, put you through the agonizing process of writing a second book you never even planned, then the edits, sobbing, and then, “sorry, we’re closing” and you never hear from them again.

Where’s my fucking money, man?

Another tangent. I apologize. I admit, some days, I hate this fucking industry and contemplate packing it in. But I don’t.

Baby steps, I remind myself.

I hear so many authors bitching and moaning about all the hard work they’ve put in. Why aren’t we seeing a payoff? Why aren’t my books selling? Why isn’t this agent making me rich? Why the fuck can’t I get anything but a small fucking press contract? Why don’t the agents love me? Aaaaageeeeennnnntssss!

Slow down, buddy. Just breathe. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

How many “big” publishers are there? That’s right FIVE. Used to be six, but shit happens. Anyway, there are five major publishers for all the wannabes out there.

  1. Hachette Book Group
  2. HarperCollins
  3. Macmillan Publishers
  4. Penguin Random House
  5. Simon and Schuster

Each of these publishers have a shit ton of imprints and divisions, but many of them don’t accept unsolicited or unagented manuscripts. So, here we are. What are we left with if we can’t land an agent, which is a fucking nightmare process that doesn’t even guarantee your book will be published before your grandchildren are born?

We have small presses. Sure, they’re small and sure, you won’t see a shit ton of sales or forward momentum, but sometimes success requires taking a chance and being willing to sit back and watch what happens.

Yeah, you say, but I’ve already worked with small presses. ANOTHER small press would be a lateral move.

 

Not necessarily.

You need the RIGHT small press. The reality is in today’s traditional industry, our best chance is with almost entirely small press, boutique press, new press, etc. Very few big names are offering new talent a shot, agented or not. If they do give you a chance, odds are you’ll see mediocre results. Is that a tear? Stop being a little bitch. This industry isn’t for crybabies.

What’s a girl to do? Well, first you get a few books published with respected small presses, maybe release a couple on your own, and then you work to achieve some decent sales and reviews, and then you network. Maybe you sign a not-so-great deal just to get yourself lined up for that no-so-great-but-slightly-better-than-the-other-one deal. It’s okay. We all have to kiss a frog now and then. Maybe blow him. No judgments here. Just don’t spend the night. Network again. Market. Oh, look, more networking. Some writing. Writing. Queries. Crying. Hello unhealthy addiction to booze, food, and/or narcotics, and back to writing.

Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Once you’ve done this a few times, for an undetermined number of years (the actual number is a vague calculation based on the tide, the phase of the moon, alignment of the stars, the weather in Spain, and what you had for dinner last Tuesday), you get a better shot at an established or at least respected agent and then maybe, MAYBE, a shot at impressing the bigger publishers.

Long game, baby. Buckle up. It’s not a smooth or even very fun ride.