I strongly suspect marriage isn't a good choice for most people, male or female or other, at least not as currently defined. Men aren't socialized to suppress their selfish or narcissistic tendencies--or to value female time and labor--so they easily fall into exploitative patterns and give up on the partnership when it requires more sacrifice than they can tolerate.

Women are often forced into matrimony by economic pressures, held in a dependent situation by the need to provide for children in a society that doesn't pay them what their work is worth, and rendered destitute when their husbands get bored…

And one of the most popular across all nations and religions

Photo by John Price on Unsplash

I’ll cut right to the chase. The most dangerous belief in the world — and probably the most widespread — is the belief that life is fair.

In spite of the appalling lack of evidence supporting such a notion, people are determined to believe that everybody ends up getting just what they deserve.

It’s a comforting idea. It suggests the world somehow makes sense. It even has some plausibility, as long as you don’t think too hard about it. Actions have consequences. Crime doesn’t pay. Hard work is rewarded by success.

Except some crime does pay quite well, in fact…

Your article makes an important point. Story structure matters, along with character arc, realistic dialog, tension, theme, and many other elements and tools. World building is another skillset, as is research to make sure you get the factual elements right in every story.

Where you go astray is in asserting that good sentences are easy to write. The rules of grammar are not difficult to master, but great writing requires a well-developed vocabulary, an ear for cadence, an understanding of how to mix long and short sentences to take advantage of the impact of both, facility with figuration, and the ability to say what you mean clearly. All of those take years to master.

Many readers will forgive weak writing if you tell great stories. But writers are also custodians of the language, and we have a responsibility to treat it with respect and celebrate what it can do.

Having just returned from a sort of extended writing conference--a 3-year MFA program--I agree. We need community and inspiration and the guidance of more experienced writers.

I intend to include the cost of conferences into my professional expenses budget in the future, along with the price of writing tools, books on craft, research-related travel, journal and contest submission fees, etc.

The main point I would add to your advice here is to take stock regularly of your needs. If there are gaps in your writing skills (e.g. character or place description, screenplays, tonal shifts in poetry), then a skill-focused workshop…

Stephen King says he never plans his stories. He says he just creates characters, puts them in problematical situations, and starts writing to see what they do. Stephen King probably lies about other things, too.

There has to be a plan. True seat-of-the-pants writing is fine for NaNoWriMo, where all you care about is word count. But a story needs a plot, and good plots don't happen by lucky accident. Without a plan, your characters will wander and your readers will lose interest.

On the other hand, too much planning can also be a problem. …

Your message--why we must end the malignant reign of racism--is vitally important. Sadly, it will never change the thinking of the ones who think the power structure favors them. Those people need scapegoats, and they can't bear the thought that they might be wrong. So the more you confront their irrationality and inhumanity, they more they cling to their identity as members of the "winning" team: the rich white men who make the world's decisions.

So you're preaching to the choir. And that's okay. I've been singing in that choir a long time now, and we need all the inspiration…

This is where I always come down with regard to friends' decisions about beauty-focused medical procedures, that their choices are nobody's business but their own. My opinion of their choices is of no more relevance than my opinion of their skin, their features, or the shape of their bodies.

What we have to challenge and eventually change is the cultural attitudes that value women according to how closely they conform to certain standards, most of which are unrealistic and unhealthy, and the attitudes that would discard most of us when we reach a certain age.

Sex is good, and love is good, though either can be bad. The extremes are where the difference makes them anything but equal.

Bad sex is a disappointment; great sex makes your day. In either case, the feeling dissipates in hours.

Great love gives you reasons to endure in spite of everything. Bad love makes you want to die.

A beautifully written story, as are all of yours.

Also a gut-wrenching reminder that sexism and misogyny are among the most fiercely entrenched of human traditions. My dream is of a world where patriarchy is shameful cultural memory on its way to becoming a historical curiosity.

My opinion as a former psychologist is that most men are--not biologically but because of cultural conditioning--far too emotionally immature to handle the responsibilities of civic leadership.

Mine was the generation of "Make love, not war." It wasn't just the draft and the atrocities of Vietnam we protested, but the inhumanity of corporate culture, racism, homophobia, and the depressing predictability of ticky-tacky suburban lives. We sang, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." And we didn't just mean give them flowers.

We were rejecting the ethos of acquisition, meaning both materialism and possessive relationships. We were aiming higher, toward a world in which all deeds and choices would be valued according to how they affected the balance of love in the world.

I would give anything and everything to be in love again. And even more to be in a world where love is honored over money.

Edward Robson, PhD

Retired psychologist, wordsmith, teacher, MFA candidate. Buy me coffee: ko-fi.com/edrobson. ecrobson@gmail.com

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