Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing: Too Many Things, or How to Disappear the Intersections

Recently on Twitter, RJ of Riot Nrrd comic fame said something that really spoke to me:
apparently my characters are tokens, just how the disabled queers and trans POC in my life aren't really real because that's TOO MANY THINGS
Writers are told to create multi-dimensional characters so that they are believable, so that they drive the story, so that the reader understands their motivation.

So that the reader may be able to identify with the character.

My, what great big Rejections you have grandma! 28/11/2010

"The Ten Thousand Steps" rejected by Fantasy Magazine. Hey, full twenty four hours on their slush pile this time. Ha!

"Trois" rejected by Rockets, Swords and Rainbows anthology.

Having a crisis of suckage. What the hell am I doing with my life?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sparkly, Shiny Links 24/11/2010

  • Oh my giddy aunt. Hasn't this just been dominating the conversation of late? Claire Connelly at The Drum Unleashed at deconstructs 'what the nice guys are saying about Stephen Fry' in "Some well-meaning men and the dominant gender paradigm". Obvious warning: If you want to retain your blood pressure at a good level, don't read the comment section.

    Says Connelly: "a lot of nice guys truly believe they are engaged in trying to reverse the dominant gender paradigm, but sexist remarks tend to sneak in anyhow. This is for me, at the very heart of the issue: that even the most well-meaning men don't recognise the damage they are doing to gender relations by continuing to make women responsible for the status quo, and fail to understand that women are as much a victim of this paradigm as they are".
  • Over at What Tami Said: "In support of feminist bloggers". Tami tries to deconstruct in the simplest of terms why feminist bloggers write they way they do, and how this has influenced a new generation of feminists, and intellectual think. I agree with her - discovering social justice online has made me a smarter person, as it constantly links me through to different discussions. It really has taught me more than any paid for, bookish education. (via Shakesville)
  • The delightful Garland Grey takes on Privilege Denying Dude (RIP!) and the concept of privilege in general in "A Very Special Episode of Grey Areas: Privilege Denying Dude Edition" over at Tiger Beatdown. If you really need a dude to explain privilege to you (in case a woman's voice is just Not Enough), Garland's your man.

    "Over time, you see WHY the rules of engagement in Social Justice spaces have to flow from the positions of least power. Because if we let [Guy who seems to derive all of his self-respect from his denial of racism and sexism] set the agenda, he will declare that privilege doesn’t exist. And if we concede concepts like “Privilege” or “Mansplaining” or “Kyriarchy” or “Rape Culture” or “Systemic Oppression” – if we let those structural concepts and theoretical matrices be taken from us, we must essentially fight every battle from scratch."
  • No Pink Princesses? Yay! Oh, no female leads of any type? Not so yay. "Disney's male execs to stop making movies starring girls" by Margot Magowan at Ms. Magazine Blog. Disney, I has a disappoint. To trot out a tired old phrase: "Uncle Walt would not be happy with what you've done to his legacy". (via @msmagazine)
  • I went to check out Magowan's blog ReelGirl after reading this piece, and discovered a lovely feminist deconstruction of Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair" in "ReelGirl Star of the Week: Willow Smith". Who would have thought a song so simple, could be so much fun, so enthusiastic and so freeing of image stereotypes!
  • This is what my writing career may end up looking like, and I have to be prepared. Chris McKitterick has "Thoughts on piracy, freedom, and making a living as a writer" at his blog "The Stars, My Destination" (via SF Signal)
  • "Queering SF: Writing Queer - Languages of Power" by Brit Mandelo at talks about how especially important it is to get the descriptions of and words used by queer characters right, so that their worlds and their motives ring true. This is especially important to me right now, because I have been writing so many queer characters, and I am very concerned about getting them right. (via SF Signal)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

VA: "Life Flashes By" - a video game by Deirdra Kiai

This one is So. Cool. I'm so proud of this one - it's my first video game!

Deirdra Kiai Productions presents "Life Flashes By" - 'a game about what might have been'.

Four cartoon characters, one a fairy with wings, stand in a shop

Deirdra describes the story as such: "Life Flashes By is a video game about success and failure in following one’s dreams, about finding love and losing it, and about feeling isolated and out of step with the rest of the world."

In this game I voiced young Charlotte with a very prim, young lady British accent, and teenage Charlotte with a Canadian/British accent mix. Deirdra has also added my name to a credits page.

Deirdra is an independent game developer from Vancouver, with a penchant for the sousaphone.

Writing: No original idea, just original execution?

I swear, absolutely up and down, that I did not read James Tiptree Jr's "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" until after I wrote my latest 'masterpiece'.

If anyone really wanted to query my motives behind writing "Twixt", I'm sure they could point to my current reading list, which includes Tiptree's "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever". I started dipping into this fantastic anthology in the last month, but I only read "Houston" last night.

I finished writing "Twixt" last week.

To say I was momentarily devastated is an understatement.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing: What's The Haps, Mands?

Gosh, I do get a bit carried away blogging about life, the universe and everything that I forget to talk about what I really started this blog about: writing.

Since my last majorly writer update (Sale! SQUEE!), I've been plugging away at my short stories, editing and submitting in a steady fashion. That's all I could ask for about now, but I do feel the personal pressure from myself to do more, more, ever more.

I'm very conscious of time slipping away if I'm not writing, but I do know that if I focus all my energy and time into writing I will learn to hate it and it will become a job, not something that I really love and have been dreaming of doing for so long. I've learned this hard  lesson from other life experiences I thought I must suck all the marrow of goodness out of these things, and when I was done with them (bored, excelled or unable to move any further) I felt an obligation to keep doing them until my soul was crushed under the weight of that obligation.

I don't want to do that with my writing. I want to learn, to become better, to always change, but in no way do I want my writing to become a Have To. I've wanted this too long to squander it on my magpie mentality.

I'm happy that I seem to have plateaued at two states of writing being: I can do a really full on Monday sometimes and totally fall in love with a piece so much that I'll expend my week's writerly energy and explode 6000 words all over the page in one sitting; or I can steadily plug away at 250-500 words a day over a week, using a Monday as a major edit day.

I also have a rule: no writing on the weekends. If I want to I might submit or edit a bit on the weekend, but no new words. I find it leaves me really fresh and revving to go for Monday.

Of course every new piece that I write is my newest favourite! I've just finished polishing a piece where I had to invent how the protag spoke (basically inventing a language), and that was exhausting yet invigorating. So currently that's my fave. But as time goes by and I get rejections and feedback, I'm sure it will fade away and be replaced by something omg noo 'n shiny. It's what happened to the first piece I wrote this year - I'm still shopping it out, and giving it the occasional edit (you wouldn't believe how much it's changed since the first draft! I can't!), and I still believe in it, but the shine's off. I'm sure I'll love it again if/when I ever sell it.

I keep hearing the same phrase a lot: I have great ideas, but I need better follow through on execution. Not enough tension or conflict. Ok, I'm hearing you, I'm working on making myself better, but here's one thing I'm keeping straight - I'm staying true to my style. And if that style is a little rambling, a little laid back, so be it. I'm not going to become some carbon copy of this or that writer or style. I'm staying true to the original idea. If I believe in myself enough, someone (some editor) will eventually believe in it too.

Am I getting better? I'd say my sale to Semaphore is evidence of that. The first ever piece I wrote this year, as I was talking about above? Currently on it's ninth submission. The piece I sold to Semaphore? Was it's first submission (though I'd submitted there before with two different pieces).

I'm so excited to see the December edition of Semaphore. Because it's my start. You don't have to like my writing, I'm not asking you to pimp for me. Social media is an amazing promotional tool for a freelancer, and I'm sure I'll make use of my great networks in the years to come. But right now, it's enough that I believe in myself.

Cat-like typing detected

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hey look, commentary stuff!

So it seems my piece on Stephen Fry has been making it's meandering way around teh interwebs, even hitting Reddit for a few days. It has become my most read piece, reaching over 1200 views.

So, welcome new viewers. My place isn't always about politics or activism. It's my place to talk about writing too. Does what the headline says  - writing, voice, geekery, hulk smashy stuff.

Of course, not all viewers are, or will be, nice. A few have seen an OMG Woman Being Wrong on the Interwebs, and have taken it upon themselves to mansplain.  No thanks, not here.

Therefore I have made a commentary policy. Fairly bog standard: you piss me off, you go bye-byes. This is my safe space, and I make the rules. Also, I can and will change this commentary policy and automatic commenting at any time.

This is not a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you disagree with my commentary policy, see step one.

ETA: As above re: arbitrary changes to my comment policy: I have temporarily enabled comment moderation, because some people seem incapable of reading and following guidelines.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Link Salad 16/11/2010

  • The meme taking teh internetz by storm the last few days: Privilege Denying Dude!
    ETA: The original Tumblr got taken down for some reason (conspiracies abound) but currently someone is keeping it alive through Blogspot.

A white man with messy blonde hair and stubble stands with his arms folded, a smug look on his face, caption reads: Don't be such an angry feminist, you won't get your point across to people

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And still the Rejections keep on coming 14/11/2010

"Me Myself I" rejected by form letter from Clarkesworld

"Halfway Between Asleep and Dead" rejected with a few notes of feedback from Shimmer

"The Ten Thousand Steps" rejected with a bit of feedback from Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Le sigh.

I has a sad

Monday, November 8, 2010

I can nawt haz Rejections? 8/11/2010

"Trois" rejected via form letter from OG's Speculative Fiction Magazine.

"Anthropology, Redacted" rejected with kind words from The Drabblecast.

And back to le sighs....just a little...

Request denied. Resubmit in 30 days for further disapproval

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Stephen Fry Part Deux

Hello Again Stephen,

When I requested engagement on our issues, I did not mean "I shall talk in my most erudite, passive aggressive, dismissive way, and you shall listen while I tell you how wrong you are again". Ahh "Silliness" - It's all too silly to contemplate, so you shall expound and tell us women how silly we all really are for being upset. Ahh yes, another man tells us how the discussion on sexism should go.

You claim that you were putting this idea of female sexual repression out there as such: "I had fondly imagined that in a free and open society one might be allowed to play with such ideas in a reasonable spirit of debate". Surely one such as yourself should understand the rules of the debate: that each side gets to speak their piece and the other side rebut.

However, what has gone down here is not a debate. You said your piece in a forum which was a one sided conversation, and when women/feminists/pesky media finally got a chance to respond in the forums they have, you flounced from the debating table, opened up the opposition to attack, denigrated the forums in which we have to respond, and positioned yourself as the victim.

Yes, we understand the media is a nasty wee beasty who will twist words and seek attention using a person's good name. I am critical of the media on a daily basis for such bottom feeding behaviour. However, it is disingenuous for you to write paragraphs acknowledging this and the status of celebrity in today's society, then turn around and say you are "Just a nobody whose opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s". No matter how twee, sweet and humble you posit yourself as, there comes a time where you must own the responsibilities of celebrity, with the power and privilege that come with it.

So, you were "simply taking a thought for a walk", as if struck by the thought on the spur of the moment and your tongue got carried away with your brain. Strange that you've taken this same idea for a walk on previous occasions:

Regarding your disengagement from media and avoiding reading about yourself, that's fair enough - engaging on every little thing would get tiring and hurtful, and who wants to be told they're a moron on a daily basis, without basis. But this is not a little thing, and refusing to engage on it makes it even less littler. You chose your own forum in which to respond, your own safe space, which is also fair enough, but by refusing to read what was written and asked of you (intelligent engagement with people who know something about female sexuality) you have no sense of what troubled people so much beyond the vague concept that "people were upset, and when they're upset they're angry, it's so silly to be angry and I don't engage with silly and angry people". Goodness, that sounds very much like the Tone Argument. You're intelligent Stephen, I thought you'd be beyond having Feminism 101 explained to you.

"I suppose I might have to find a way to avoid saying something monumentally stupid that finds its way back to Britain." I am in New Zealand. The person you opened up for a Twitter dogpile is from New Zealand. You talk to the world, yet you make out like this is some quaint little Fleet Street ruckus, a storm in a British teacup. For someone who has been a major early technology adopter and one of the biggest Twitterers, this is another disingenuous leap.

"All they have to do is ignore me". Ah another derailing cry from the fingered misogynist. I know the big, bad "m" word can be frightening, but you know what Stephen? Own it. Women have ignored sexism for far too long, and silence condones. If no one is willing to speak out about sexism, how will it ever be solved?

"I admit that I do have a sometimes disastrous tendency, when asked a question, to answer it, often jokingly, or in the interests of ventilating a new thought that has struck, or more or less as the mood takes me but certainly too much without any consideration of the possible consequences." Good good, we're getting somewhere - yes, we all have brain farts. But a sexist joke is still sexist, and still hurts. However, not once in all the times that you have spouted this nonsense have you framed it as a joke or some comedy spiel. The above video seems to be in a serious tone, and the quote from the article that stirred this debate (ahem) were taken in a serious manner by the journalist. My comedy meter is not broken - I'm still not going to laugh when someone jokes "Women, eh? Aren't they just frigid, marriage and baby hungry shrews?"

"I am not, after all, a politician who has to weigh every syllable and its chances of giving offence." No, you're not a politician, but dammit Stephen you're a human being, and human beings of every type, politician or no, should weigh their words carefully regardless, to save harming other people. Basic common human decency. Honestly, is that so hard?

"It simply isn’t my business to pronounce on something that I know nothing of and I’m sorry if the very idea of my even touching on the topic is deemed offensive, inappropriate and outrageous by authorities on gender issues, if such authorities exist." Goddamit Stephen, it's passive aggressive bullshit like this that really gets my goat. Of course you're allowed discourse on topics you may not be so learned on, but don't be so put out if we come back at you claiming a little more expertise and wishing to engage on the matter in a different manner. If such authorities exist? Are you really saying women are not the authority on their own gender or sexuality? Men can be learned on gender issues too if you take the time to listen. This is not listening - this is sneering at our frustration.

In the end, you play the Oppression Olympics and victim cards. We are very much aware of the homophobic bullying, and we're on your side with that. It's disgusting, and should not be tolerated. But we're feeling bullied here too, especially by you with your insistence on non-engagement and non-apology. You're feeling "spanked with a fly whisk"? How about women feeling slapped in the face every single day by the patriarchy, told they have no right to their sexuality, that it belongs to hetero men? How can we be effective allies to you if you're blocking us in such a fashion.

I'm glad that you see your words were "ill-judged", but my guess is not because you feel sad you hurt some of your fellow human beings - it's because you were pulled up and your privilege shown for what it really is. Hey, I recognize what it's like to have your privilege pointed out. It hurts. It sucks. But Stephen, it's not your precious feelings that need saving here.

Not once did you give a decent apology in your response. In fact, it amounts to the standard, sigh-inducing non-apology that the discriminated against get every single fricken' day - "I'm sorry you were offended". I see you recognize your prejudices too, and I'm not asking you to grovel, just a recognition that you have a ways to go to unpick where these prejudices are coming from and that you are willing to try.

And if you're not willing to at least try, then I'm sorry Stephen we can't be friends any more. Because I expect better of my friends. Perhaps you should consider a leash for that thought of yours if you decide to take it out for a walk again.

ETA: Since people are selectively seeing only this blog post - and not even the whole thing it seems - here is my original open letter to Stephen Fry, and the article that sparked the whole debate.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ohh, Ahh Rejection 3/11/2010

"Me Myself I" rejected by Electric Spec, with very positive feedback.

This was another "almost, but not quite!". I had been waiting on a reply for this one, because it had made it through the initial stages, and getting the rejection hot on the heels of my FIRST. EVAR. SALE (squeee!) I can only grin, shrug and say "Oh! Stake to the heart", Paul Reubens original Buffy style:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh, I also got a Rejection this week 3/11/2010

"Halfway Between Asleep and Dead" rejected by Strange Horizons, by form letter.

Not that I care right now!

Post cheezburger satisfaction

VA: Podcastle - "Songdogs" by Ian McHugh

I have narrated Ian McHugh's "Songdogs" for Podcastle.

Click through to the page here, or download here.

This was done in a slightly more Australian lilt, since the story was set in the Outback.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Happy I Could Die...And It's Alright 2/11/2010

It begins here.

I've done it.

You can put a big "SOLD" sign on one of my short stories.

My babe Gaga says it all really...So happy I could die...and cry too...

I'm somewhere in this crowd by the way, since this was recorded at Vector on March 14th.

Link Itty Doo Dah 2/11/2010