Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Still here, mostly

I'm still here, still trying to write.  The likelihood that I'll win this month's Camp Nanowrimo is dropping with every hour, and I've just overall overbooked myself.  I have no idea if I'll be able to fix it anytime soon, either - while my depression seems to be doing better, my anxiety is through the roof and becoming just as debilitating.

But that's not why you're here, reading.  The next project I'm planning is to submit a proposal to this anthology, which is in honor of Sir Terry Pratchett with proceeds going to Alzheimer's research.  It's going to be a little hard for me, because I'm not particularly good at humor, but I really want to try.  I'll be playing with a few ideas, and seeing what I can put together.

Meanwhile, back to trying to wring some words out of the ether.  Good luck, all!

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Quarter Check-In

Well, I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things.  I've been writing fairly regularly, and I think I stand a chance of making it for Camp Nanowrimo this month.  (Note to self:  the next time you think about doing two swaps on Ravelry that are due the same month, which also happens to be a Nanowrimo month?  Don't do that.)  It seems like a good point to check in against the goals I set for myself at the end of last year.  Things have obviously shifted in priority, so it's also a good time to redefine those goals.

  • Complete draft of book 2 of Paranormal Investigations, Inc.
    • Due: April 30
    • Q1 Status:  This one got put on the back burner, as this series is the one that feels too much like Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series.
    • New due date:  Uncertain
  • Complete draft of Church of Book
    • Due: August 31
    • Q1 Status:  I think I'll meet this goal, even though it isn't the same Church of Book it was when I first drafted these goals.  I've basically started from scratch, and it's my current Camp Nanowrimo project.
  • Win at least one of either Camp Nanowrimo or Nanowrimo
    • Due: November 31
    • Q1 Status:  In progress for the April Camp Nanowrimo
  • Complete edit of Paranormal Investigations, Inc.
    • Due: December 31
    • Q1 Status:  As this is on the back burner, it's being pushed back for now.
    • New due date:  Uncertain
  • Submit at least one short story for publication
    • Due: December 31
    • Q1 Status:  Haven't even started anything regarding this yet.
Speaking of short stories...At Norwescon the weekend before last, I went to a panel on story structure.  As the structure of Church of Book has changed, I wanted to get a better sense of what tools I could use, and in general the panel was very informative.  However, I did ask the panel about my specific structure (essentially, flashing back to historical moments that explain the magic system, and then flashing forward to the main contemporary story) to see if it at least made sense.  Most of the panel said yes and gave me a few suggestions, but Steven Barnes, one of the panelists, stopped everyone and asked me if I'd been published.  When I said no, he started looking doubtful.  He said that the structure I proposed was "fifth grade material", and he wasn't sure if I was out of kindergarten yet.

I spoke to him after the panel, asking if he thought I should even bother continuing with the book if he thought it was so far beyond me.  I was upset, I admit - Mr. Barnes is a well-known and well-respected author, and one whose advice I value.  I've never been one to appreciate if someone tells me that something I want to do is beyond my reach, which didn't help matters.  Mr. Barnes told me to go ahead and continue, but not to focus all my effort on it, and to write short stories and submit them in the meantime.  It didn't matter to him that I'd submitted stories before, because it wasn't something I was doing right that second.  "Being a writer is about what you do every day," he told me.

Well, I agree with that last sentence, but I don't know that I agree with what I need to do.  I need to write, and regularly, obviously, but I don't think waiting to submit works until they're right means I'm less of a writer.  A writer writes, after all.  And this one is going to write.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Politics of Everything

It's been an interesting few months to be a fan, and things have come to a head this last weekend with the announcement of the nominees for the Hugo Awards.  io9 has probably the best write-up about the situation, but the short version is that a couple of fairly big authors decided to put together "slates" of potential nominees, and used their clout to help get these slates onto the short list for the Hugos.

Now, anything that relies on feedback from the public at large is going to have groups that have agendas that have nothing to do with the actual merits of the award.  It isn't all that surprising that there was some backlash from last year's nominations and wins, but it's still incredibly frustrating.

As readers of this blog/people who know me IRL know, I'm a lot of things.  I'm a feminist, in that I believe people should be treated equally, regardless of gender.  I'm a minority in world of fandom in a lot of ways - I'm a woman, I'm mixed-race, I'm mentally ill, etc.  There are certain (very small, thankfully) groups within the fan community that would rather I left their sandbox alone, lest I get my cooties all over them.

I spent this past weekend at Norwescon, which will always hold a special place in my heart as the first convention I ever attended.  I was surrounded by "my people" - people who enjoyed what I enjoyed, who would catch the semi-obscure references I throw into conversation on a regular basis, and who would be able to give me recommendations for other things to try.  It's a wonderful weekend in a place that tends to ignore all those things that I am, and actively rejects that group of fandom that doesn't want us.

Even there, however, there was no way to get away from the politics.  There were entire panels dedicated to diversity in games and books, and learning how to deal with the people who want to maintain the status quo.  There were ribbons for badges to help people become more comfortable in their environment by making their preferred pronouns clear, and their comfort with complete strangers.  I appreciate that the effort is being made to make people comfortable and give them a safe place to geek out, but it still saddens me that it's necessary to be so explicit in making sure that people treat each other like, well, decent human beings.

Mostly, however, I'm just tired.  I'm exhausted by the fear I feel every time I express an opinion.  I'm tired of the amount of time I spend policing my language to make sure that not only do I not offend, but also that am "enough" - feminist enough, Hispanic enough, supportive enough of those who are under constant attack.  I'm tired of knowing that any moment, an author or other content creator whose work I enjoy will have something come up online which will make their work "problematic", and I'm tired of justifying continuing to consume their content after finding out about their problematic tendencies.  I hate that reading a book or going to a movie is a political statement, and I'm terrified that if I ever do become any kind of public figure, the words I'm writing right now may be used against me.

The glow of a weekend of geekdom was marred by the outrage regarding the Hugos.  I realize it's completely naive, but I want to lose myself in a world with characters that are interesting and ignore the real world for a while.  I read to learn, and I read to escape, and right now what I want to escape is the world surrounding fandom.  I'm just afraid that it's becoming too much to ask anymore.