Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: February 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Weekly Goal Follow-up: Feb 23-27, 2015

Well, I got my wish to get out of the house this week. The sun came out on Tuesday and cabin fever got the better of both of us, so we went out on a lunch date to a Thai buffet we’d been wanting to check out (JK’s Thai Buffet in Broken Arrow; not a big selection, but what they had was definitely worth the trip), then stopped by Krispy Kreme to take advantage of their free donut giveaway (and, in what was probably an unwise move, picked out a dozen to munch on over the next few days). Then Wednesday, after our semi-weekly Sprouts run, we paid an impromptu visit to Oklahoma Joe’s to try out some of their bbq sandwiches for lunch. Afterwards, we swung by our favorite used book store, where I picked up a good grammar reference book along with a Jennifer Crusie paperback and a Steampunk novel.

By the time we got done with our weekly Aldi & Walmart run on Thursday, I was ready to not leave home again for at least a week. Which is a good thing considering we’re in the process of getting snowed in again as I type this.

In other news, I finally did our taxes this week, and I don’t want to talk about how that turned out. I’m just glad I can finally check off that square in my bullet journal. As for the rest of this week’s goals, here’s how those turned out:

  • Daily prayer time
  • Daily novel writing

I didn’t manage to write every day, but I added over 1,100 words, which is a big improvement over last week, and I outlined the next several scenes to keep things on track.

  • The critique and editing gigs that filled up my Fiverr queue over the weekend, plus a sample edit for a potential direct client.

I’m taking a break from the last of these as I write this. I’m hoping to get it done before I shut down this evening, but I may have to end up working tomorrow to clear it off my plate so I can start in on book editing projects next week.

  • Write & post two more blog posts
  • Finish reading Let’s Get Digital
  • Update the descriptions on various Fiverr gigs
  • Add some features & static content to this website

Nah. I barely managed time to blog, let alone add anything extra.

  • Make a pot of chicken soup from scratch

Hah, no. Partly because my husband keeps cooking hearty casseroles and partly because I’ve got all this instant pho stocked up from last week’s trip to the Asian market. Maybe I’ll finally make it tomorrow, though.

  • Get out of the house for something other than groceries

See above.

So it hasn’t been a terribly unproductive week, but it could’ve been better, particularly on the noveling front. At any rate, it was enough to tire my brain out, so I’m looking forward to a weekend of vegging out with another Gilmore Girls marathon.

How was your week? Any big weekend plans, or would that require shoveling snow?

He lived long and prospered.

So, Leonard Nimoy passed away. I’m not usually one to jump on the celebrity death commentary bandwagon, but I gotta say, this one hurts. But it’s a comfort, at least, to know that he did, indeed, live long and prosper.

I wish I could think of something more poignant or elegant to say, but I’m too busy being bummed. Besides, his final tweet does a better job of it than I could:

Thanks for many perfect moments and memories, Mr. Nimoy.

Weekend recap & goals for the last week of February, 2015

bullet-journalWelp, I did not get my taxes done this weekend. I don’t have an excuse, really, other than that I just didn’t feel like it the least little bit. Saturday ended up being a lovely, spring-like day, so we lit the fire pit and spent most of the day hanging out in the backyard, recovering from one week of wintry weather and bracing for the one to come. Sure enough, on Sunday it snowed, and I couldn’t be bothered to do anything more rigorous than crocheting whilst huddled under a thick quilt on the sofa and watching Gilmore Girls all day.

I did manage to finish a set of boot cuffs I started last weekend, though. And then in an attempt to use up the yarn I also made a lacy hair kerchief. See?

Weekend #crochet output: boot cuffs & a lacy hair kerchief

A photo posted by Jean Bauhaus (@jmbauhaus) on Feb 23, 2015 at 12:54pm PST

All of which means that taxes are one of the big rocks that needs to be sure and get done this week. Possibly today, even, depending on how the rest of my To Do list goes.

This week’s goals are focused on putting the “big rocks” in the jar first — and learning to discern what is really a big rock and what is merely a pebble; sometimes it’s a lot harder to tell the difference than you’d think. For me, the big rocks are A) things that definitely must be done and can’t be put off till later, B) things that are necessary for my health/sanity/well-being that won’t get done at all if they don’t get done first thing, and C)client projects with an impending deadline. Everything else is pebbles, gravel or sand.

Other than the taxes (which for various reasons fit definition A), the other big rocks I’ve identified for this week are:

  • Daily prayer time
  • Daily novel writing (so far, so good — I got over my block enough this morning to get a decent start on the next scene of Ghost of a Chance)
  • The critique and editing gigs that filled up my Fiverr queue over the weekend, plus a sample edit for a potential direct client.

That’s enough to keep me pretty busy all week. As for pebbles — the stuff I would really like to get done if there’s time — they include:

  • Write & post two more blog posts
  • Finish reading Let’s Get Digital
  • Update the descriptions on various Fiverr gigs
  • Add some features & static content to this website
  • Make a pot of chicken soup from scratch
  • Get out of the house for something other than groceries

For that last one, we might go out for a lunch date and check out a new Pho place nearby. We’ve also talked about taking our work to a Panera or Starbucks for a few hours a week for a change of scenery. As much as I complained a couple of weeks ago about how tiring it is for us introverts to have to go someplace every day, I admit that even I start to get cabin fever if I stay cooped up for too long, and all this snow is making us both a little stir crazy.

Your turn! What are the big rocks that are going in your time jar this week? How do you distinguish between what is an actual big rock and what is just a pebble? Or do you think Stephen Covey needs to take his rocks and shove them someplace really dark and unpleasant? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

How to Write a Novel in 16 Easy Steps!

Image by mpclemens via Flickr Creative Commons

Step 1: Get a new story idea that you’re totally stoked to write.

Step 2: Spend hours outlining and plotting that puppy.

Step 3: Start writing!

Step 4: Write about three chapters, then decide your B plot should be your A plot and your A plot should be put aside for the next book in the series.

Step 5: Throw everything out, including the outline and start pantsing it from the beginning.

Step 6: Just as momentum starts to build, have life become unusually hectic and force you to stop writing for about a month.

Step 7: Get back on that horse. Make progress. Sluggish progress, but still, progress.

Step 8: Get to what you think is the halfway point and celebrate!

Step 9: Get a little bit past the halfway point and realize you have no idea what needs to happen next. Spend days opening the file, staring at it while munching Cheetos, then closing it without writing anything.

Step 10: Feel like an utter failure, fraud and phony who will never finish another book again. Eat more Cheetos.

Step 11: Debate whether to throw it all out and start over, or keep going, knowing that probably at least 50% of it will have to be completely rewritten.

Step 12: Decide to keep going, because a finished broken draft is better than an unfinished draft and you’ll never finish if you keep going back to square one.

Step 13: Push yourself over that wall, bit by bit, one word at a time.

Step 14: Get sudden inspiration as to how everything comes together and get totally stoked.

Step 15: Write like the wind!

Step 16: Reach the end. Collapse. Have some celebratory Cheetos. Try not to think about all the rewriting ahead.


Currently, I’m at steps 9, 10 and 11 as regards Ghost of a Chance. I haven’t written on it all week, save for 334 words on Monday that I’m pretty sure are going to get deleted. I think the problem is that I’m at a point where what I feel is best for the main character and the story is conflicting with my own personal morals and values.

That might sound odd, but for a writer who happens to be a Christ follower but who doesn’t market herself as a “Christian Author,” this tends to be a thing that happens. My characters want to have sex! But they’re not married! And my mom might read this! And people from church! And what will God think? Will I be glorifying sin? Am I gonna get in trouble? Arrgh!

I always end up going with what’s best for the story and truest to the character. After all, not all my characters share my beliefs and values, so it would be weird for them to behave as though they did. Still, as a rule of thumb I try to write things I won’t be too embarrassed for my mom to read, and sometimes that rule gives me anxiety.

Sometimes that rule has to go out the window. This may be one of those times.


What about my end-of-week update on how I did on my goals for the week? Here it is: outside of getting caught up on my freelance editing queue, I got frick-all done besides. Between the weather and hormones, and all of the gluten- and cheese-filled comfort foods those two things compelled me to munch on all week, my focus and energy levels were shot. This means I’m going to have to spend tomorrow doing our taxes, but really, I’m just happy to be caught up on the client stuff, and I’m really, really glad it’s Friday.

How did your week go, dear reader? Better than mine, I hope. And for the writers in my audience, what kind of conflicts tend to derail your writing, at least temporarily? I want to hear all about it in the comments!

How to write [insert adjective] female characters

Your “strong female character” doesn’t have to be a Buffy clone . . . although she’s not a bad template to start with.

I see variations of this question from time to time on writing blogs and forums: “how do I write ___ female characters?” Usually the blank is filled with either “strong” or “convincing.” I also see various answers. The most recent iteration was on Terrible Minds, wherein Chuck Wendig makes the very excellent point that making a female character physically strong does not make her well-developed.

But what I want to know is, are we women really so mysterious and difficult to write? Granted, there are some differences in how men and women process information and emotions that can be useful to know about when developing your characters. Men tend to be better at compartmentalizing whereas women tend more to let the different aspects of their day mingle and interact.

For example, say (hypothetically) my husband and I have an argument early in the morning. He’s going to have an easier time setting it aside to focus on his work and other relationships, whereas I’m more likely to stew and obsess and let it affect every aspect of my day until we resolve our disagreement and make up. But other than that, we both feel the same things: hurt, angry, frustrated, sad, etc., because minor gender differences aside, we’re both human.

And that’s the key to writing convincing/effective/strong female characters: remembering that women are first and foremost PEOPLE, just like you. We feel the same things and react the same way to situations and circumstances as you do. We, by and large, have many of the same interests, basic desires and motivations.

There may be some women out there who only ever want to talk about men and shoes and hair care products or whatever, just as there may be some women who only ever want to talk about their kids and housework and what pregnancy and breastfeeding did to their bodies, but these women are in the minority (and most likely women who appear to fall into these categories only do so in certain company or during certain phases of their lives and don’t deserve to be caricaturized like this).

Interesting women, MOST women — women worthy of being protagonists — might be interested in these things but they’re also interested in art and politics and religion and books and TV and film and pop culture and current events and their families and their pets and music and crafting and making art and food and cooking and good restaurants and good beer and good wine and good Scotch and comic books and role playing games and video games and sports, and, and…the list could go on forever.

Women generally want the same things men do: to be loved, accepted, understood, to have people in their lives who they can talk to and count on, for life to be more easy and uncomplicated than hard, to avoid drama, to get a good night’s sleep, to be respected and treated like competent adults, to be recognized and rewarded for accomplishments, to be emotionally supported and encouraged in pursuit of their goals. Women have big dreams and desires that often don’t include landing a man and/or having babies (although some women do dream of being wives and mothers, but that’s usually not ALL they dream of, just like how men who dream of having families someday also have other pursuits).

Want to write a strong/effective/convincing female character? Start with striking out “female” and just focus on writing a strong/effective/convincing CHARACTER. This doesn’t mean you should just write a man with breasts. What it does mean is that your focus should not be on making your character convincingly female, but on making her convincingly human.

Give her quirks and complications and interesting interests and desires and realistic motivations and logical reactions. Make her imperfect and screwed up in interesting ways that help drive the plot. Give her weaknesses that balance her strengths, and vice versa. Make her smart enough and emotionally strong enough to keep her head and take care of herself and others in a crisis.

Give her steel-toed boots and a big gun or martial arts training or superpowers if you want but know that physical strength is not a substitute for emotional and spiritual strength. Don’t make her so tough that she doesn’t have a soft side, or so soft that she can’t be tough when it’s required.

Just look at the character who started the whole “tiny butt-kicking girl” trend — Buffy Summers. Buffy is physically strong, yes. But what makes her a compelling character is not that she can beat up vampires. What makes Buffy a great character is that she fights, and survives, emotional battles that often take a greater toll on her than her many physical altercations. Buffy can train her body to be able to take on the biggest, baddest hell-beast out there, but nothing can prepare her for betrayal, or having to slay her first love, or losing her mom, or battling severe depression, or getting involved in an abusive relationship and having to find a way to heal from all of that. It’s not the super-powered Slayer side of Buffy that makes you care about her; it’s the human side, with her normal human desires, and all of the totally relatable human travails that she endures.

And that’s how you write a strong, convincing, interesting female character.

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think makes a great female character in the comments, and while you’re at it, tell us some of your favorite female characters. I’ll start: Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Buffy Summers, Leia Organa, Marion Ravenwood, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Kerrin Murphy, Suzannah Dean, Diana Scully, Olivia Dunham, Michonne, Aeryn Sun, Kate Beckett and Abby Mills, to name a few.

Your turn!

Weekend Recap, Tea & Creativity, and Goals for February 16-21

Today is a snow day. Although work-at-home types like me don’t really get to take snow days, do we? If we did, instead of writing this in my office I’d be camped out on the couch with my crochet/knitting bag marathoning Gilmore Girls on Netflix… which is pretty much how I spent yesterday, come to think of it.

What’s weird (well, not “weird” so much as “typical for whacked-out Oklahoma weather patterns”) is that just two days ago it got up to 70 degrees and my husband and I spent the better part of Valentine’s day enjoying our backyard. We finally fired up our new fire pit (acquired a couple of weeks ago; before we could use it we had to obtain sand to line the bottom, a useful bit of info that they don’t bother to print on the box to save you a return trip to Home Depot) and enjoyed the sun for a good long while before heading inside for homemade pizza and a movie (we had talked about possibly checking out a new (to us) Thai place, but we were both so tired we decided to take a rain-check on that).

And then less than 48 hours later… Bam! Winter, biznatch!

It actually arrived shortly before we turned in last night, and I kept getting woken up throughout the night by the sound of ice and sleet hitting the windows (and, at one point, thunder). So I’m really having to push hard today to get past the urge to wrap myself up like a burrito and do what’s necessary to lay the foundation for a productive week.

Which brings me to this week’s goals:


  • Write on the novel every day.

(I’m not attaching a daily quota. At this point, any words that get added are big progress.)

(I finally started reading this last night. Hopefully I can get through it all this week, but it’s pretty info-packed, so we’ll see).


  • Catch up on my editing queue so I don’t have to tell would-be clients that there’s a two-week waiting list.


  • Complete various financial paperwork that needs to get done
  • Stick to my low GI/GF/DF diet all week long
  • Do our taxes
  • Keep up with Tea & Creativity

This last thing, Tea & Creativity, is something I started doing last week — taking a break in the afternoon to get off the computer, brew some tea, and spend the time it takes to drink my tea before it gets cold making art. So far, because I’ve always wanted to learn to draw, this has involved doodling (see below), but it’s by no means limited to that. I expect at some point there will be haiku or song lyrics or other types of verse, and possibly also dusting off the various musical instruments I never have time to practice anymore.

Coffee & creativity. #doodling while husband shops at Gardner’s.

A photo posted by Jean Bauhaus (@jmbauhaus) on Feb 13, 2015 at 9:16am PST

Although the point of this is just to have fun and relax and not worry about who will see it, I’m posting the results of my sessions on Instagram, and you’re welcome to join me there. If you do, let me know — we’ll start a hashtag.

Note that I left off exercise and cleaning goals. Trying to keep it simple this week. The house is just too cold to get motivated for either, plus the editing and taxes are going to keep me so busy that trying to fit in workouts and housework will just add unnecessary stress. I expect that once this cold spell is over, though, the weather will stabilize enough for me to start a regular walking routine, and hopefully also get motivated to do some spring cleaning.

Check back on Friday to see how it all goes this week. In the meantime, do you have any goals to tackle this week, big or small? Any words of encouragement to help me meet mine? I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments!

Weekly Plan Follow-up: February 9-13, 2015

bullet-journalI’m still liking my bullet journal. I wasn’t able to experiment with it this week like I wanted to, but in its basic form, it got the job done.

I didn’t meet all my goals this week, but it seems I never really do. Let’s look at how I did.


  • Write at least 250 words per day on Ghost

HA HA! No. I think I managed a little over 300 words on Monday and over 400 on Tuesday, and nothing after that.

Nope, but I did finally finish Stephen King’s Dark Tower series last night. So I guess I’ll read LGD before I start in on another novel.


I got the big things that were making me twitchy crossed off my list, and I can take the whole weekend off with a clear conscious, so mission accomplished. Hallelujah.


  • Stretch/work out at least 3 times this week (one down, two to go)
  • Vacuum the house
  • Wipe down sinks and maintenance clean 15 minutes/day

Ha ha ha ha!

  • Look into whether we can afford to get me health insurance before the deadline
  • Complete various financial paperwork that needs to get done


  • Finish my crochet bunting (pieces are blocked — just need to assemble)
  • Stick to my low GI/GF/DF diet all week long
  • Vote in Tuesday’s local election

In my defense, I didn’t sleep that great this week, either. Also, Matt found reasons to go run errands every morning this week, save Monday, and all that going has left me worn out. Morning errands also make it really difficult for me to get focused and find my groove the rest of the day, too. If I had my way, we’d go do that stuff in the afternoons/early evenings after all the work is done, but he likes to get to places as soon as they open and beat the morning rush. And to be fair, traffic in the afternoons/evenings is a biznatch (don’t tell Tucco we said that) (oh yeah we also found time to watch Better Call Saul and so far it’s great).

How did your week go?

Goals for February 9-14, and my introduction to the bullet journal

So as I mentioned on Friday, no sooner did I share my weekly planning method here last week than I up and decided to try something new, and that new something is keeping a bullet journal. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a quick intro video, or you can skip it and read my explanation below:

If you didn’t watch the video, basically a bullet journal is a handy, all-in-one way to keep your calendar and To Do lists, along with pretty much anything else you want to keep track of, all in one place, for those of us who do this better with pen and paper than with gadgets and apps.

It’s kind of an evolved version of what I was already doing. The genius thing about it — at least, for me, the thing that totally makes it work — is the index page. Not just its existence, but the way it’s set up so that you don’t have to have all of your various projects and topics on consecutive pages, and yet it’s still organized and easy to find what you need.

I also like that it’s highly adaptable. There’s no limit to what you can include. So far, mine includes my daily tasks and deadlines along with Bible memory verses, grocery lists and daily pill reminders, and a section dedicated to tasks relating to growing my author mailing list. The daily lists include bullets that are basically mini diary entries mixed in among my To Dos.

My daily bullet journal for the first week

My daily bullet journal for the first week

The other thing that makes this workable for me is how easy it is to migrate tasks and keep track of them once they’re migrated. This is a must because of my tendency to over-schedule myself and overestimate how much I can get done in a day. Of course I could already do this with my old planning method, but not without cluttering up the page, plus my old way made this stuff difficult to track.

This blog post has a lot of great ideas for customizing your bullet journal. She also has printable calendar grid pages you can paste in if the list format doesn’t do it for you.

The only drawback is that it doesn’t really include a way to record and track weekly goals. I’m still pondering how to incorporate that, or whether I really need to. So far, just going over the big monthly task list and incorporating items from that into my daily lists seems to be working. It might even be working better for me, but the jury’s still out on that. At any rate, maybe these weekly blog posts will serve in that regard.

Speaking of which, on to this week’s goals!

For the purposes of these posts, I’ll keep the three main categories that I introduced last week.


  • Write at least 250 words per day on Ghost (it’s not much, but I’m anticipating another busy week, and this should be doable. It’s definitely better than not writing at all).
  • Let my mailing list know about my free book.
  • Write and schedule 3 blog posts (this one counts!)
  • Start reading Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran.


I’m still behind here, even though I ended up working Saturday to help catch up (at least that was a formatting gig, which wasn’t too mentally taxing, and I was able to listen to a podcast while I got it done). My goal for this week is mainly to meet my deadlines and close out my active projects to make room for new ones, and to get it all done by Friday so I won’t get myself stuck back in the dreaded cycle of having to work weekends because I’m exhausted and useless during the week.


  • Stretch/work out at least 3 times this week (one down, two to go)
  • Vacuum the house (done!)
  • Wipe down sinks and maintenance clean 15 minutes/day
  • Look into whether we can afford to get me health insurance before the deadline
  • Complete various financial paperwork that needs to get done
  • Finish my crochet bunting (pieces are blocked — just need to assemble)
  • Stick to my low GI/GF/DF diet all week long
  • Vote in Tuesday’s local election

So those are my goals for the week. What about you? Do you have any pressing goals to share? Are you trying anything new, or maybe quitting something old? How are those New Year’s Resolutions coming now that we’re almost midway through February, anyway? I’d LOVE to hear about it in the comments!

Weekly Plan Follow-up: February 2-6, 2015

I wish I could say that sharing my weekly plan was super motivational and helped me kick this week in the hinder; but alas, I really struggled to accomplish anything this week.

I blame the Super Bowl. Well, not the actual game, but the social event and the cleaning and preparations leading up to it, which kept me from really having any time to properly rest and recharge my batteries. When I don’t do this on the weekend, I end up running down midway through the week and becoming virtually useless. Such is what happened this week.

So how’d I do as far as meeting my goals? Not great. Let’s take a closer look:

Writing/Publishing/Author Platform

  • 2500 words on GHOST OF A CHANCE (500 words per day)

I managed to write about 1790 words total — 1112 on Tuesday and another 679 on Wednesday. Monday I used up all my words on prepping blog posts for the week, and by yesterday I was starting to fall behind on my freelancing projects and had to skip it. Same for today, although I’m hoping to fit in a brief writing session before I shut down this evening.

  • Write and schedule at least 3 blog posts (this one counts!)
  • Finish the “First 10K Readers” video series (more on this in a later post)
  • Implement mailing list advice from the training video

These are about the only goals I actually met this week.

I haven’t even managed to start this book yet.



  • 2 ghost blog posts and 4 Facebook page updates for steady client

I needed clarification on what the client wanted for these posts, and while I was waiting for them to get back to me my book editing and formatting queue filled up and I had to move on. So this still needs to get done.

  • 2 editing gigs via Fiverr

I delegated these to Matt.

  • 1 book formatting gig via Fiverr

This one turned out to be a lot more work than I’d anticipated. I’m hoping to get it done by tonight–if I don’t, I’ll have to work tomorrow, which I’m really trying to avoid so as not to perpetuate the whole busy weekend, useless work week cycle.

  • Add graphic design and author platform services to this here website

This is going to involve moving my portfolio over and writing a bunch of new copy, so it’s proving difficult to fit in.

  • Update Fiverr profile info to include Matt




  • Stretch daily
  • 20 minutes of maintenance cleaning daily
  • Dust & vacuum the living room
  • Finish the finance book I’m reading
  • Block and finish my crochet bunting
  • Meal plan based on what’s on hand/make Sprouts/Aldi lists
  • Make a pot of goulash w/ thawed ground turkey before it goes bad

Ha ha ha! Nope. None of these. I think I stretched on Monday, or possibly Tuesday? But it didn’t happen again after that. I did manage pretty well to maintain the house, but not in any kind of organized fashion. I’ve barely had time to read and haven’t had the energy to touch my bunting, and our kitchen sink is currently having plumbing issues that makes cooking problematic, so we’re relegated to what we can either eat cold or pop in the microwave so as not to dirty too many dishes.

So… not the most productive week ever, or even in recent history. I think I may have overscheduled myself–I have a terrible tendency to overestimate how much I can do in a certain amount of time, and underestimate how long it will take me to finish things–which is something I need to keep working on, but I think the main problem, as stated at the top of the post, is that I just need to get some proper rest so I’ll be more focused.

My bullet journal, so far

My bullet journal, so far

One thing I did, though — I forgot to share the “if I have time” items I’d listed, one of of which was, “look into bullet journaling.” I managed to fit that in Monday evening, and by Tuesday morning, I’d thrown out the planning method I shared on Monday (or at least, set it aside for the time being) to try this method. So far I’m liking it, and I think it’s an improvement over the other method. I’ll go into more detail about it next Monday, but if you’d like a sneak preview of what I’m talking about, check out these links:

Bullet Journal

The Post To (Maybe?) End All Bullet Journal Posts

So did you take up my challenge? How did you do? Were you more or less productive than I managed to be this week? Tell us about it in the comments!

An Okie reviews August: Osage County

Image via IMDB

Image via IMDB

My husband and I sat down to watch this movie last Saturday, mainly out of curiosity. It’s not the sort of thing we usually watch, but it was filmed practically in our backyard, and we felt compelled to see exactly what Benedict Cumberbatch in Oklahoma looks like, because when is that ever likely to happen again?

Gotta say, I didn’t care for it. This is partly because I felt like it kind of bashed Oklahoma (and Oklahomans) and perpetuated a lot of unpleasant Okie stereotypes — poor, bitter, cousin-marrying hicks who are racist against Indians and who knows who else (even though the vast majority of “white” people in Oklahoma are part Indian) but at least the playwright (who also wrote the screenplay) is actually from here, so it was criticism from an insider. Fair ‘nuff, I guess.

But mostly it was because this left me feeling the same way most non-musical plays (as well as literary fiction) usually leaves me feeling — depressed and wondering what, exactly, was the point? The whole “story,” if you can call it that, can pretty much be summed up thusly: angry, unpleasant people sit around sniping at each other in various settings for three acts, the end. There’s no real plot, no clearly identifiable protagonist to root for, no clearly identifiable antagonist because everybody is antagonistic to each other. Nobody arcs — nobody learns something about themselves or grows as a character; everybody is exactly the same at the end of the movie as they were at the beginning.

Bleah. I will never understand why so many literary critics slobber all over this sort of thing and disdain so-called “commercial fiction” — both genre and mainstream — that has actual plots and characters that you can care about and root for and actual development of those characters. Especially because doing those things is not easy, and doing those things well is really hard. Do you know what’s easy? Having your characters do nothing but argue for three acts. Bleah.

I do understand why this sort of thing works as a play, though. It’s a great showcase for acting. In this case, it made an excellent fight ring for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts to try to out act one another (it’s telling that I thought the most natural performance came from the one actress in the film that I’d never heard of before; and before the Sherlock fangirls hurt me, Cumberbatch did a pretty good job, too). Still, it seems to me an even better acting challenge is to portray, y’know, character growth. Otherwise known as that little thing that makes a story an actual story.

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