Balanced Discrimination?

In this world of hyped-up political correctness, labelling and the push for artists to emotionally support, woo, and pamper the egos of a (potential) audience even before they have set foot in an exhibition, opened a book or hit play on that movie. Direct Discrimination thrives loud and proud with every cry for mythical balance through forced diversity.

Charades masquerading as ‘discussions’ that only bend one way do nothing but deepen discrimination such cryers profess to want to correct.

I wonder, once the arbitrary scale tips, what would they go for next?

Honestly, in the real world, there are far more significant problems to be concerned with. Still, my little blether to the void here will focus on the area that prompted my little rant- horror literature – eventually.

Before that, though, be warned, according to an online stranger who was ignorantly assumptive, judgmental, sexist and racist towards me, I was also thrown the mighty slur of the day with regard to my input in a ‘discussion’ (see point above. I know better, but we all fuck up sometimes) about female horror authors. The insult that screams (of the thrower) a lack of discussion skills and intellect… a ‘Karen’.

Yes. Because I disagreed, I’m a Karen….

First time I’ve had that one. Which made me ponder, was this nameless individual compounding the sexism they had already expressed? A Karen? Is it like calling someone a Cunt as a slur, specifically for a female? And female to female, that reeks of anti-feminism. Somewhat backwards for folk screaming for ‘progress’.

Anyway, I decided to ‘look it up’. Since it’s slang, I had a wee look on Wikipedia. Given the context, I really had no desire to do any real academic research with this, even as a student of linguistics. Wikipedia describes ‘Karen is a pejorative term for a white woman perceived as entitled or demanding.… The term is often portrayed…depicting white women who use their white privilege to demand their own way.’ It goes on, ‘the term increasingly appeared in media and social media as a general criticism of middle class white women,’ – so racist, sexist and classist! A bit much, eh?

If my name was Karen, I might be extra peeved at this derogatory and discriminatory slang. Since this person made assumptions about my race, class and gender that had the nameless sharpen their pitchfork and wield the mighty ‘Karen’, it says far more about them than it does me.

The insult also reeks of that well-documented American arrogance and ignorance — one that seems indiscriminate of gender, race, socioeconomic status, political and religious affiliation. Breaking news to those that fall into that bracket: your country is not the centre of the universe, the world is bigger than your echo-chamber. Funny, apparently those that disagree must “do better”. Being from one of the most deprived areas of Scotland, where poverty, crime, gang and drug problems flourish and the lifespan of the female is lower than anywhere else in the U.K. Having fought and lived through prejudice and discrimination from both ‘my own’ and beyond, and that’s only a tiny peek of the tip of the iceberg. Well, to say I scoffed would be an understatement. And I’m not going to go into the rest concerning the cultural and sexual trials. Because none of the personal anecdotes should matter in this context, none of it makes one person’s viewpoint more or less valid than another’s when it comes to how we choose art. Such blatant judgment and ignorance certainly detracts credibility; the nameless ‘wordsmith’ made a right fool of themselves. But hey, that’s the majority of social media, right. Hmmm, a scale that needs correcting?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m overly sensitive to name-calling. My history has ensured my thick-skin. I am just a bit of a wormhole thinker. As I mentioned, another term often used in the U.K. is – Cunt, another pejorative. As a slang word for vulva, it naturally wields strong female connotations that are intended to be derogatory. I used to cringe if I read or heard the word ‘cunt’. But that was a long time ago. My consideration and view has changed; being a woman, a feminist and sexual, I can’t see anything derogatory about the female anatomy. It’s a marvel. The cunt is a damn mighty and beautiful piece of our biology. The cunt is to be respected. She is a place of many wonderful things — life’s most intense pleasures and, indeed, a gateway to life itself. In other words, All hail the cunt!

I can’t deny that my turn on the word was also influenced by seeing the Vagina Monologues in Edinburgh many years ago.

The following is a post I shared on social media that echoes the points fuelling the anti-feminist, racist, classist and sexist ‘insult’:

More often than not, when I view a painting — I see the painting BEFORE the artist who created it. This applies to photography, sculpture, literature, music etc.

I want to see what someone is portraying with their art first. Then I may be intrigued to want to know more about the creator behind the art – information that they choose to make available. As a consumer of art, I’m not entitled. None of us are.

I don’t look for the personal details of the creator before deciding if they are worthy for me to look at their art. Most folks don’t. Hell, imagine if we all ‘researched’ every creative involved in a movie before hitting play…

I am not going to seek out an artist based on what they look like, their gender, sex, cultural background, beliefs, heritage, politics, religion, who they fuck…

Now, I’m not saying that these things don’t filter into what is created, but none of those details makes a person’s art ‘good’! Nor does knowing them make you a ‘better’ consumer or person, even if it feeds your ego to think that it does.

Oh, and I am ‘part’ of several ‘marginalised’ groups; I will never use any of that to get eyes on anything I create because not everything is public property.

Now it’s an opinion, a fact of how I consume art. Life is extremely short. When reaching into something such as horror fiction for fun, leisure, enjoyment, and escapism, why is there this sudden expectation to ‘balance my reading list’ for personal attributes of author ‘diversity’ sake? I want to be entertained. Perhaps if I wanted to fuck them, I’d be more concerned with their sex, gender and orientation. Then it would hold relevance.

Perhaps art and artists need anonymity to thrive in a world that feels increasingly entitled to more personal details to feed this absurd mythical ethical balancing act for little egos.

Mid Year Update

Talk about curveball 2022! Another year of madness! There were plans. Big beautiful plans! And while those plans still exist, there has been movement because of those unexpected transitions life has her way of throwing. Personally, I’ve had some family upsets which I predominantly have to deal with and process alone (my partner, of course, has supported as much as one can). I’ve angered, been frustrated, hurt, grieved, run myself in circles, hurt some more, and accepted. Because sometimes that’s all we can do. Accept to find crumbs of peace and carry on. It just takes a little time. It’s a process many are familiar with. It’s been heavy.

Following the acceptances of a triple-pronged hit, I’ve another unexpected ‘bump’, who made himself known in a dream. My kids are excited about another sibling to teach and get up to extra mischief with. Since I have complicated pregnancies, and this one has already given us some wobbles, I’m (again) doing everything within my control to keep this little one inside until late 2022, ideally early 2023. My cervix needs a mantra, and this is the last! The instant physical hit means I’ve been heavily fatigued, and as of that wasn’t enough, I’ve been hammered with mine and the kids’ second bout of Covid of 2022. Because I wasn’t wiped enough by the heavy graft underway in my uterus, I am zapped because my lungs are in battle, and my body feels like it’s been used as a punchbag.

Moving in from all of that, onto the writing front update:

My novella, Asylum Daughter, released on 8th May 2022.

Redesigned the cover art for Murmur: Collected Horror.

Launched Clan Witch Etsy store for book related merchandise and signed copies.

My short story collection Incesticide: Collected Horror is available for preorder, releasing on 14th December 2022.

My sassy, immensely talented, and inspiring co-author, Ruthann Jagge and I launched our website, BrazenFolkHorror.com, for our upcoming 2022 release, Delevan House and future projects. Ruthann also released her fantastic solo debut novella in January 2022, The New Girls’ Patient; if you haven’t read her, this is an excellent example of her extraordinary work that should be on any horror fan’s reading list.

I’ve still been editing work for other writers and publishers via Word Refinery and also published poet Rafik Romdhani’s collection, The Crash of Verses.

I am working on my degree course too.

The latest developments has zapped my study schedule. I hope to recover enough to make up for that soon. Deadlines are looming! Anthology wise, unlike in the previous two years, I have not responded to any open calls. My dance card has been packed. I have gratefully received several invite opportunities but unfortunately had to decline several. One that I was able to submit a piece to was with KJK Publishing’s The Horror Collection: Nightmare Edition, which has just been released. It’s the biggest collection of the twelve-book series and worth picking up for a good flavour of many popular independent horror authors currently putting our new materiel.

More still to come for 2022, and 2023 is also beginning to fill up with a couple of accepted invites, continued work with my brazen co-author in crime and at least one (hopefully two) solo release(s). One of which will be a collection of poetry and drabbles, Clan Witch: Found Shadows.

Clan Witch on Etsy

A couple of years ago, I put in the work and opened an Etsy store. However, I closed it quickly — before doing any marketing — due to other commitments that took priority over maintaining a wee shop.

This year, I’ve rejuvenated the storefront and opened the doors. It’s a far more efficient way for customers to access books that I have in my stock and other specially designed book merchandise available only via Clan Witch. So rather than posting availability on the socials, Etsy will be the go-to place. Books will still be available across the usual retail channels such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Waterstones etc. But Etsy is the place for merch, out of print versions and signed stock.

Clan With on Etsy.

ClanWitchShop

New Cover Art

Murmur: Collected Horror

I have a collection, ‘Incesticide: Collected Horror’, releasing later this year, which borrows an album title (much like my first collection in that hat-tip). I deliberately designed the cover for the upcoming with an indie-artsy feel in homage to its namesake.

Murmur: Collected Horror‘ felt a little out of place since that cover didn’t reflect the feel to the same extent as the newbie. I decided to redesign the jacket. This is what I do when I procrastinate!

Updates are processing with immediate effect on ‘Murmur: Collected Horror‘. I have a small stock of paperbacks (I’ve no hardbacks left) with the original cover. Once they are gone, they are gone! That makes them extremely limited.

Once I check what I have, I’ll update on Facebook and on Instagram — if you want one, you can drop me a DM on one of the socials once posted — first come, first served.

Apologies, for the paperbacks I have remaining in stock it will be UK postage only.

Previous eBook cover, 2021 (left), New eBook cover, 2022 (right)
New print cover wrap, 2022, Murmur: Collected Horror

Dead Waltz

A ghost waltzed through me
When I slept deathly deep
Slumber disrupted
Taking advantage
As he did with my
Friendship, my loyalty
My trust, my body

A ghost waltzed through me
Like I was his to enter
No choice but surrender
And I welcomed his touch
Through disgust
Distaste, mistrust
Did I lay down the mat?

A ghost waltzed through me
Did I invite him inside?
An open window, door ajar
In a tongue unknown
A serenade degrade
Billows clouding smoke
Butt of some joke

A ghost waltzed through me
I played dead

Don’t move
Don’t whimper
Quiet heart
Don’t breathe
Don’t stir

A ghost waltzed through me
I lay still.

Painting

In a bid to quieten the noise of my ever clattering mind of dammed mayhem – which has peeked somewhat during the catastrophic year of 2020 – I’ve been painting. It feels like so much is just teetering on the edge of absolute disaster this year. I’ve started sketching and painting a little again to try help with the old back to basics breathing and slow down the hammering of heart. Playing with colour that’s slightly less messy than words. Find a smoother rhythm. Artistically this is not something I’ve done much of in years – with the littles I’m more the manager of arts.

I like the economic and environmental benefits of print on demand products compared with mass production so, beyond books, I’m giving this a whirl by sharing some Art Prints and a few other products over at Society6.

My profile is in its infancy so will grow. There are prints, notebooks and a few other items there featuring some of my artwork – continuing the Indie creative life venture! Please check it out, and if you like buy something that has unique Indie artwork printed especially to fulfil your order and give it a share – Thank you.

Natasha

https://society6.com/clanwitch

Upgaze Moon Rabbit
Moon Rabbit
Comet Stone, View towards Ring of Brodgar, Orkney
Comet Stone, View towards Loch Stenness, Orkney