a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
Entries tagged with ideas.race 
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Yuletide reveals are revealed! My stories this year were "Two for Tea", a Questionable Content fluff-fic about Faye and Bubbles opening a tea shop with Hannelore as their tea sommelier, and "The Odds", a mashup of both* Ghostbusters films and Daniel José Older's Bone Street Rumba books, in which Holtzmann and Reza make out on the firehouse roof and Patty and Winston join the battle against the corrupt Council of the Dead.

* 1984 and 2016. There are no others.

Both stories were pinch hits. I've been on the list for ten years but this is the first year I've actually done anything with it, which is ridiculous! "Two for Tea" was done within seven hours of picking up the pinch hit; I got the central idea right away, and the only question I had was whether to do it as a story or as a series of scripts for comics. Then I started writing it as scripts and it worked and I went with it. When it was done it was done, minimal tweaking, totally painless. I am desperate for some Questionable Content fan artist to illustrate it.

While I was in fanfic mode, I started thinking that it would be fun to do a Holtzmann/Reza crossover sometime. Then a Holtzmann prompt came across the pinch hit list and I leaped on it.

"The Odds" took me a week, including pretty extensive workshopping. It was a really good week. When I reached the 1500-word mark the first night and realized how much more story I had left, I was a little daunted, but I kept going and kept going. One night I hit the wall of tired that usually means I need to stop for the night, and I thought "I'm not actually that tired, I bet I can write more" and I wrote another thousand words. I want to bottle that feeling.

Every time I needed inspiration, I found it somewhere. Of course there were some factual things I had to research—Baptist funeral customs, double underarm holsters, what kind of nuclear physics people do at Berkeley and how many women are in their physics PhD program, what the roof of the Ghostbusters firehouse looks like—and I reread Midnight Taxi Tango and rewatched Ghostbusters 2016 to study character voices and make sure I had my references right. But to my eyes the story is one long litany of other nods: to the original film and the awesome backstory for Winston that was cut from it, to Daniel's phenomenal word-portraits of Brooklyn and of black women building amazing lives for themselves (it's not coincidence that Patty has to leave the Ghostbusters world for the Bone Street Rumba world to find fulfillment), to a friend's experiences as a female physicist and other friends' experiences of being neuroatypical and hard of hearing, to someone I knew once who is way too much like Kevin, to my own queer New York life before and after my years in California, to the early days of my relationship with X, to my collections of books on urban history and astrological phenomena, to what it feels like to be building a happy life on the brink of a troubled era, and to my beloved city. I personally recommend every one of the Chinatown restaurants named in the story, by the way, and Ginger's is a pretty good place to shoot pool and chat up queer ladies. And if you're in Lower Manhattan in the summer, you'd better hope a thunderstorm comes through and makes it smell nice for a bit.

Being on vacation was essential. If I'd had work on the brain I don't think I could have sat down every evening and written a couple thousand words. Of course, if I hadn't been on vacation I wouldn't have been picking up pinch hits.

I was really nervous about the amount of AAVE in the dialogue and ended up haunting #yuletide and emailing people on the beta list and even spamming friends of mine in search of a native speaker who had the time to read a 6500-word story right before Christmas. (I did eventually find one.) I'm also not the biggest GB2016 fan and know nothing about how Holtzmann fanfic is typically written, so I found more betas who could cover that. Then one of the betas pointed out that a black woman having nothing to do except set up her white friend with a love interest was a racist cliché, and she was totally right, so I wrote the Patty and Winston scene and that made it 8000 words. I did a lot of nitpicky revision, pass after pass after pass, and made my last update about two minutes before the archive opened. And then I spent something like 24 hours feeling high as a kite on accomplishment. IT FELT SO GOOD. The writing, the critting, the revising, all of it just felt amazing.

After the bulk of "The Odds" was done, I beta-read a bunch of stories for other people, which was fun and a good use of all my post-writing energy. A long time ago I gave up on the idea of writing groups, but I had such a great experience both beta-reading and being beta'd that I started thinking maybe I should reconsider that stance.

When I came down off the high I started poking at my original fiction projects and immediately froze up. I don't know what it is about prompted, tight-deadline fanfic that frees me to write so fluidly. I hope I can figure out how to write other stories that way, because it felt so good and I want to feel that again. I'm not one of those people who feels coerced by the muse; if I don't enjoy writing, I don't write. But I enjoyed writing these stories tremendously and want to enjoy writing Valour and Persuaded that much too. There must be a way to do that, right? Even after work picks up again? I really hope so.
rosefox: Me pulling hair away from my face, trying to see. (confused)
The other night I dreamed I wrote a book and forgot entirely that I had done so. Blocked it out of my head. So when [livejournal.com profile] mrissa said "I read an ARC of your book and it's pretty good" I was utterly confused. And then she said "But there were some problems with the way you portrayed the Middle Eastern market" and I was even more confused. I felt bad that I had committed racefail and I couldn't really fix it because I didn't remember writing it.

Then there was a lengthy dream scene about rolling up RPG characters. The DM wanted us all to have 200 [something] but the base character I picked from the book only had 60 [something] so we agreed that on any day when I was in a bad mood I'd get an extra hit die because I hit harder when I'm grumpy.

We started playing the game, and I guess we were LARPing because I started doing a folk dance with five of the other players. We danced in pairs and I mostly remembered the steps from my country dance days but it was hard to keep track of the steps and play my character at the same time. My dance partner was much better at it than I was and kept gently reminding me not to keep my legs so straight because this was a different era than the one I was used to dancing in.

In character I was snooty with racist undertones to the other characters who were dancing and as myself I felt bad about it. "Feel bad about racism but have plausible deniability" was apparently the dream theme. Ew. >.<

The dream ended with a giant Jewish holiday dinner with lots of friends and friends of friends. [livejournal.com profile] rose_lemberg and [livejournal.com profile] prezzey called to tell us all that they were getting married, except their child actually made the call because he wanted to and they thought it would be fun to let him. It was very sweet. And the more observant Jews at the table taught me some interesting things about holidays and fine points of observance and schisms and so on.

And then I woke up, wondering how I managed to write an entire book and forget.
rosefox: A man and a woman holding hands, labeled "INVISIBLE QUEER". (queer-invisible)
Some ignorant person wrote a piece for Wired about the Hugos that included the following:

Since 1953, to be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future. Past winners of the rocket-shaped trophy—nominated and voted on by fans—include people like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Robert A. Heinlein. In other words: the Gods of the genre.

But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.


This is wrong. I went on a long Twitter rant about how wrong it is. (Thanks to [twitter.com profile] tehawesomersace for Storifying it.) Specifically, it erases the marginalized people who were writing and reading SF/F from the very beginning of the genre--including erasing Arthur C. Clarke's homosexuality--and thereby erases the active and passive oppression that kept many of those people marginalized. The idea that SF has "expanded" in "recent years" is false and extremely damaging.

Among the many responses to my rant was this from [twitter.com profile] adamndsmith:

Genuine question: In your op, what's the best way to fight whitewash? Education on minority history? More critical editing/editors?

I replied:

It needs to be fought on multiple fronts. Most important is a self-check step by both editor and publisher. "Whose story am I telling here? Whose story am I not telling? Why am I not telling that story?" You train yourself into it, like "what's wrong with this picture" games.

For example, look at the 1960 Hugos shortlist. You have to train yourself to look at that and see what's missing: the minority writers, the minority content. Maybe it's hard to see until you compare it with the 2013 shortlist. And then you have to be careful not to draw the wrong conclusion (that no great work was being created by minorities). That process of self-education is the only defense against bigoted enculturation.


Adam emailed me some follow-up questions, asking how someone outside the field could know to look for the missing history. My response was that there's always missing history. And since I was already feeling wordy, I provided a case study, which I'm replicating here in case anyone else might find it useful to have an example of how to apply general missing-history-finding techniques to an unfamiliar community or context.
Tiny skateboards )
A couple of footnotes to this:

1) I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'm missing obvious questions that could be asked about minority and marginalized people in the fingerboarding community. (EDIT: For example, as [personal profile] seyren points out in comments, I didn't think of looking at ability/disability, which is often an overlooked axis of oppression.) I threw this together in under 15 minutes. It's just meant as a starting point, as an example of how to begin to look at a completely unfamiliar group through the lens of "which stories aren't being told?", and as an illustration of how easy it is to find the traces of missing history once you get in the mindset of looking for them.

2) I owe a tremendous debt to all the minority and marginalized people in and outside of SF/F who've taken the time to educate me and others on how to look for what's missing in mainstream narratives, especially [personal profile] karnythia, [twitter.com profile] djolder, [twitter.com profile] chiefelk, and the late and greatly lamented [personal profile] delux_vivens. Self-education is obviously critical, both because we learn best and most thoroughly when we put things in our own words, and because leaning on marginalized people and asking them to pour their hard-earned knowledge into you is exploitative. But there are some generous folks out there who have spent a lot of their time handing out free clues on the internet, and I'm extremely grateful for the clues they've handed me.
rosefox: "Angsty about it?" "No" "Yes you are" (angst)
Ugh, got hit with a massive wave of insecurity today. I keep picturing the three of us out in the world with FutureKid, and everyone assuming that J and X are "Dad" and "Mom" and I'm a friend or something. Realistically I know that X and I will immediately look like the classic Brooklyn lesbians-with-baby couple (you should have seen us the day we showed up at the cat shelter in Park Slope and realized we were wearing matching rainbow jewelry... gayest moment of my life, and that's saying something) and people will probably assume that J is the "friend". Or because J and I are the chatty extraverts, we'll look like a couple and X will look like the third wheel. Or who cares what strangers think anyway. But I'm not going to be a biological parent, and we have to fight the state and jump through absurd hoops to get me recognized as a legal parent, and all of X's pre-IUI appointments are at 8 a.m. (so they can do same-day bloodwork) and I'm on a West Coast schedule that makes that feel like 5 a.m. for me and I really can't be there for them, and right now I just feel so disconnected from the whole thing and it hurts and I'm sad. And desperately, desperately insecure. Which is triggering my dysphoria too, because why only care that strangers won't see me as part of my family or as the parent of my child when I could also care that they get my gender wrong? Bah.

X promised me that on Saturday we'll go shopping for baby things together (not a whole lot, since they aren't actually pregnant yet, but just some onesies or something) and that will help. Unless I sit down on the floor of Old Navy and burst into tears. You'd think I was the one getting all hormonal.

I would really appreciate any words of support from non-bio parents and parents-to-be out there! Not just "once the baby comes you will absolutely feel like a parent" but sympathy/empathy from people who've been in an emotional place like this. Fellow-feeling. You know.

Bonus: I had a total foot-in-mouth day on Twitter (I think I managed to piss off four separate people, mostly without meaning to), and meanwhile Daniel has been totally splendid and fierce and eloquent, and so the insecurity says that he's the visible "parent" of Long Hidden and I'm relegated to a dark dusty corner or something. And I'm white and that cancels out all my queerness and transness and polyness so really who am I to talk about being marginalized anyway. And augh brain shut. up.

I haven't had to deal with insecurity this bad in ages. I have no idea how to deal, other than by maybe having a good cry (why couldn't I have cried while everyone else was awake? I hate crying alone) and going to sleep.
This page was loaded on 20 July 2017 at 12:47 GMT.