NEW WEBSITE

Hey there!

I’ve been meaning to start a new website for ages, and I finally got around to doing it. All my new posts are moving to melissabrinks.com, which is much more professional and has a nicer theme. If you don’t want to mess around with a feed aggregator but still want to keep an eye when I post, consider following me on Twitter. I post all my new writing there as it goes up and a lot of other things besides.

Perhaps some day I’ll set up a redirect on this page to point you in the direction of the new stuff, but for now, consider clicking over to the new blog and subscribing there. It’s nicer, I promise. Look at that Instagram widget, that lovely pink link text, the slow fade from white to pink. It’s neat.

Hope to see you there!

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Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola. Columbia Pictures. 2006.

Drabble 82 – Quaintrelle

Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola. Columbia Pictures. 2006.

While I prefer things a little on the simple side, there’s something intensely interesting to me about opulence to the point of turning lurid. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that looks baroque or rococo, but I’m fascinated by the ways that layering beauty on beauty on beauty feels grotesque.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been rich that I find the ways that wealthy people spend their money so intriguing. I think of what I’d do if I had an extra thousand dollars per month and some of it is certainly self-serving, but gilded banisters and mother-of-pearl dishes are low on my to-do list, especially not together.

There is an assumption that, if somebody who is not wealthy has something nice, that they do not deserve it, that they should spend their money on something else, something practical. Luxury is reserved for the wealthy. That’s BS. The poor, the disadvantaged, the middle class, are just as, if not more, deserving than the rich. I think about this when I splurge and get dessert with dinner, when that small voice in the back of my mind says that I haven’t earned it, because I’m not worthy.

To that voice, I offer two manicured middle fingers and a smile.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Santa Muerte

Drabble 31 – Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte

One of the few things we can be sure every culture has in common is a concept of death. For some, it’s the Grim Reaper, the silent, cold, unforgiving death who waits and watches for you to die. For others, it’s Santa Muerte, who is, aside from being a sort of psychopomp, also associated with healing and protection.

She’s worshipped today, often by those who live on the fringes of society–the poor, LGBTQ+ folks, and, unfortunately, also by criminals. That means that her followers are often suspect for no reason other than that they find comfort in a saint who offers protection and safe passage to the afterlife.

Ordinarily I use this space to talk about something in my own life, but Santa Muerte isn’t a figure from my own culture. Rather than projecting myself onto a culture that isn’t mine, I want to link to a couple of articles–one on some of the reasons particular communities worship Santa Muerte, and another on cultural appropriation, Día de los Muertos, and white peoples’ (such as myself) lack of connection with our lost loved ones.

They’re both interesting reads, and I want to tread carefully in this post because I typically write fantasy and writing fantasy about a culture I don’t belong to means I have great potential to fall into harmful, racist tropes, even if I have no intention of doing harm. I welcome criticism on that front–though this is fiction inspired by a religious figure, the potential is still there, and I’m happy to have a conversation about anything I’ve done wrong. It’s very easy to let fear of doing things wrong stop us from speaking or writing at all, but I think I would rather fail spectacularly and learn so I can do better next time than let myself write only about people just like me.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Drabble 17 – Ambrosia

Ambrosia

I was aiming for a decadent picnic photo and I think I found it. Image Source: ElliotJames via Flickr.

I’m not going to talk about my love for mythology. I’m not going to talk about my love for mythology. I’m not going to talk about my love for mythology.

But isn’t it interesting the way word meanings change over time? A food that makes you immortal becomes a dessert known for its cloying sweetness. There’s probably something poetic there, but I’ve always been a fan of the interpretation that immortality is more liable to make you bitter. How long can you appreciate all the beauty that life has to offer before it starts to grow stale with age?

It doesn’t have as bad a rap as, say, fruitcake, but canned fruit, coconut flakes, and heavy cream do not a food for the gods make. Don’t get me wrong–I like ambrosia, or at least the variation we have up here in the upper left corner of the United States. My grandma’s is particularly good. But the idea of gods sitting around eating canned fruit cocktail in cream is kind of funny to me.

So here’s a drabble.
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An Introduction, By Way of Rejection

Starting any new venture requires an introduction. The hard part is that introductions are terrible. If it’s possible to introduce yourself in a way that doesn’t feel forced (aside from, you know, actually reaching out and shaking someone’s hand), I haven’t found it yet.

It’s almost easier to do it in third person, except that when you do that you’re usually writing a bio for something and writing bios is also terrible. You have to achieve the right balance of ‘here are my accomplishments’ with ‘here, look, I’m actually a human being and not just an ego,’ which is a) impossible and b) stressful.

I probably shouldn’t spend an introductory post writing about how much I hate introducing myself, but if there’s one crucial fact to know about me it’s that, while I love talking to people, I’m also shy and awful at doing the introducing. I’m also terrible with both faces and names, so if you know me in person it probably took me at least three meetings to figure out why you looked so familiar.

So instead, I’ll talk a little bit about rejection.

Rejection is hard. I’m a writer; I know rejection. I’ve submitted four times to paying markets and have been rejected three times—the fourth is still up in the air. It stings every time.

Of course rejection stings. When I’m rejected, my mind immediately begins to fill in the reasons. There are many, but they are most easily summed up by me not being good enough. And there are so, so many ways to not be good enough. I lack the experience. I lack the creativity. I lack the talent. I lack, I lack, I lack.

And maybe all of those things are true. Though I have more experience than some people, others have more than me. I might be creative, but sometimes I read the work of others and my brain feels like a shack in the middle of tangled woods in comparison to others’ vast universes. And sometimes people tell me I’m talented but I don’t see it because I read my work knowing all the secrets, where it’s going, how I constructed it. When you’re rejected for something, any positive feedback you’ve ever received sort of melts away into the ether—everyone who has ever said anything nice is lying, deluded, or has bad taste.

Writing this (and presumably reading it, too), it sounds like garbage. Because it is garbage. Yes, some people might be overly nice to spare your feelings. Some people may, in fact, have bad taste. But they aren’t all wrong, which is what I keep trying to tell myself.

It’s incredibly easy to get discouraged when everything you think might possibly be worthy of being read by other people gets rejected. So instead of letting rejection be the proof that I’m a writer (something I only feel comfortable saying because I do write for a living, even if it’s not fiction—another weird notion I need to break), I’ll let my writing speak for itself.

So here’s the plan—a plan that’s been hatching for, oh, over a year or so. I like weird, archaic vocabulary. I like writing. I like etymology. I need to work on describing things. So you get Words, Et Al: a drabble per week based on a weird word. Normal blogs, too, once I figure out what a normal blog is, but the drabbles are required.

Also, if you want an actual introduction, here’s one I wrote recently for a thing:

Melissa Brinks is a freelance writer and podcaster with an affinity for cats, cooking, gardening, and investing copious hours of her life in fictional worlds. She’s been reading since the ripe old age of three, and an intense dislike for the treatment of Susan Pevensie ignited a lifelong desire for better, more interesting female characters. As a social justice cleric and aspiring nice person, Melissa does her best to encourage others to think, read, and consume critically, and in doing so help the world be a kinder place. Melissa lives north of Seattle with two mewling, furry children and her long-suffering husband.

You can also find out more about me on my about page, or by following me on Twitter, or by listening to the podcast I do with my best friend, Fake Geek Girls, in which I giggle about loving fictional characters too much and also talk about like, feminism and stuff. If you want to chat, great! Send me an email or tweet at me; despite being terrible at introductions, I will happily chat away about pretty much anything.

So that’s it. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve left this document open for an hour or so because I don’t know how to properly end a post. If you have tips for ending a post, share them in the comments!

That’s—that’s how you do this, right?