Sunday morning at breakfast looked like everybody at the con hotel had just gone, “…yeah, no, screw it,” and not gotten up to eat. :)
*I’d* gotten up because I wanted to go to Walter Jon Williams’ guest of honor interview, which I did (although I went into the wrong room first and was pretty torn about leaving what proved to be an astronaut’s lecture, but did anyway). The first half of it was full of what I thought were really great general questions for a writer and I wanted to be answering them! The second half got more specific about his career, but as he said at the end of the hour, “Well, that got us up to 1985, so please come to the next convention for the other half…” :)
(jedward has sorry not sorry, get down low, i dont know why, and walking the wire on his playlist. dammit, norwegian air is supposed to have wifi on board and i’m dying to be tweeting this! also he’s singing a lot to himself, just under his breath, which for some reason i find wonderful. people should sing more! also, just in case anyone wondered: he can sing.)
I bailed on the con after that because I really wanted to see a little of Helsinki without it trying to drown me. This would have been better if I had not somehow failed to put a meet-up with somebody into my calendar and forgotten about it, but she forgave me and I had a nice walk around some harbor-type thing where there were a number of trees shattered by the previous night’s storm.
My impression of Helsinki was that it has wonderfully wide streets, excellent pedestrian areas, very good public transport, amazing bike lanes, a lot of very fit, Finnish-looking people, good tap water (they’ve got signs everywhere saying “you can drink water right from the sinks!”), and a sort of vaguely creepy Bladerunner-ish (to me) corporate ubiquitousness with innumerable signs proclaiming business affiliations everywhere vibe. It felt like being in a city labeled like Nascar jumpsuits. Someone I was with said it had a post-Soviet vibe to them, which may be more accurate, but it wasn’t what came to my mind. :)
I went out to dinnner with friends and tried to find the Dead Dog party, gave up and sent one of our party ahead, then thought we HAD found it and went through a lot of contortions to contact said party member, only to find out later we’d screwed up and he’d almost been at the actual party and we’d called him back. We felt very badly. *moop* And I was a little disappointed to not get to the party because I’d wanted to say goodbye to Nicholas, at least, only as we sat around in the hotel lobby he happened to come through so I got to say bye anyway, yay. :)
Shockingly, I completely failed to get to bed early, although I’d planned to. In the morning, Carol and I packed up, went downstairs to the lobby, happened to see eBear and Scott again, and then took ourselves off to the airport, where, to cap it all off, I sat next to half of Jedward, who smelled too much of cologne. And thus ends my Worldcon 2017 report!
(Except for the pictures post I’m going to do! And anything else I remember later! :))
(Like the moment on the way to the Hugos when I muttered (or so I thought), “That is an *extremely* attractive man,” about the gentleman in front of me, who was someone else’s husband. But apparently 3 days of convention was not good for my muttering skills, because he looked over his shoulder and smiled, which was both funny and mortifying. But my *god*, he really was extremely, *extremely* attractive.)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
The trouble with the first several days of Worldcon was that I was having so much fun I kept lying awake at night grinning like an idiot and keeping myself awake with happiness, which meant that although I technically went to bed about 3:15 on Saturday morning, it was tragically closer to 4 before sleep actually arrived.
And I had a 10am panel.
Frankly, my friends, I did not expect it to go well. None of us did, in fact. We were all privately agreeing that this was probably going to be a disaster, because we were just wrecked and nobody could think clearly and our voices were shot and yeah.
Surprisingly, it went REALLY WELL. Or at least we panelists thought so. :) We were talking about women writing comics and it turned out we had reasonably intelligent things to say, and we focused on our experiences with writing comics but broadened it into women artists as well, and it did seem to go well. We were very pleased. :)
Post-panel I had lunch with my friend Mika, and that was really nice. Then I caught up with Ursula and Kevin, and did an interview for Kevin’s organizational podcast, which was fun. I’ll link to it when it’s available. And it just occurs to me I didn’t actually get any pictures WITH them, which is a thing I keep failing to do. Well, next time. :)
SPEAKING OF NEXT TIME
Dublin has won the bid to host the 2019 Worldcon! I will of course be billing it as the “Come hang out with Catie!” con for the next two years, but to my delight, Diane Duane will be the guest of honor (I had a bet going with myself that she would be, and am smug to have won!) and Ian McDonald will be joining us, and it’s going to be a hell of a good party, so COME ON OVER!
I have real hopes that the core war room writers will all be able to make it, and if enough of us do, we’ll probably see about doing a panel about supporting other writers or something, which would be really neat. I’m so excited! I mean, odds were PRETTY GOOD that we were going to win (we were the only ones bidding), but I’m still unexpectedly chuffed for it to be official and to be able to say it’s time to start making real plans for getting here for it! YAY!
Anyway, during the afternoon I ran into my con-friend Margaret again, and she invited me to a little get-together off-site, which I decided would be nice to drop in to, as I wanted to get away from the con for a little while anyway. So I toddled into Helsinki and dropped by for just a little while, then went out to explore and look for dinner.
Instead I found a thunderstorm. I stopped to take a picture of it rolling in and posted on Twitter to say “thunderhead coming in over Helsinki, aka ‘soon i will be very wet'” and less than a minute later it hit. And when I say hit I mean hit. A huge wind came out of nowhere and snatched up all the grit from the roads and sidewalks and pelted into the air (and my clothes, and skin, and hair…) and some raindrops smashed down and within 90 seconds I was thoroughly damp.
And then the rain *really* started. Huge, smashing, dramatic raindrops that filled the streets in literally seconds and lightning was crashing everywhere and thunder was rolling and I still had to GET TO THE TRAM to get back to the hotel, so I went from ‘thoroughly damp’ to ‘soaked completely through’ and it was frankly exhilarating. If the amount of lightning hadn’t seemed so dangerous I might well have stayed out in it longer, but I dripped my way back to the hotel and took a shower and changed clothes completely, because literally soaked through.
By then I was brainless with hunger and it was still thundering and lighteninging, so I just ate at the hotel restaurant, but one of my friends happened upon me and joined me and we had a lovely couple hours of chatting before deciding to try to brave the celebratory Dublin 2019 partly. Although I went in with the intention of saying “Hello! Good night!” to everyone, and actually kept it. The funniest bit of that was crouching at at a table full of friends and Ian McDonald (who may have the drink taken) leaning over and roaring, “COME TO IRELAND!” at me cheerfully.
“She’s IN Ireland!” said everyone at the table.
Ian, still leaning, took this information under long and careful consideration. Long. And careful. Consideration. And then leaned slightly farther in at me and roared, “COME TO IRELAND!” again, which made us all laugh and I promised I would. (The next day I saw him and he gave me a slightly sheepish nod–I’m pretty sure he hadn’t remembered me, which is fine as it’d been quite some time since we’d last spoken, and I’ve cut my hair since then–and I thought it was all pretty funny. :))
(i’m sorry i’m typing this on the plane and a very cologne-laden young man is in the seat beside me and he took a nap and i looked over at him and i’m about 90% sure he’s half of jedward, altho his phone pictures, which he’s scrolling thru, only seem to have one blonde boy in them, but then i guess they would seem that way unless they were together in a photo and i just have to say that.)
I actually did take myself off to the room after that, but then in the great tradition of sleepovers everywhere Carol and I stayed up much too late talking (it’s the only night we did, and I’m really awfully glad we did, because great tradition of sleepovers everywhere!). We had a long and very funny discussion about Irish accents that featured Colin Farrell’s absolutely false Irish accent he uses while in America and which eventually landed on something that clarified a Thing About Irish English to me!
So Irish people are forEEEEVER saying they’ll be there in two minutes. Two. Always two. And they’re never ever ever there in two minutes. Ever. So! It turns out there’s an Irish word, cúpla, that means “a few”, and that because it sounds like “couple” there’s a kind of slide from Irish to English on that word which means that if you ask an Irish person if they want a couple cookies and they say yes, they then think you’re really kind of stingy if they only get TWO cookies.
But! I am now convinced that when Irish people say they’ll be there in two minutes, they’re moving *back* on that transliterative (is that the right word? it’ll do) slide, and what they really mean is cúpla, and that they’ll be there in a few minutes.
THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!
(oh shit yeah no there’s pictures of both of them, it is half of jedward!!!)
Anyway, we went to bed after that except then I was still giddy and I was remembering that Kari and Camille and I had discussed cosplaying Josie & the Pussycats for Dublin 2019 and I had to post on Twitter to ask if other people kept themselves awake at night thinking that obviously it would be totally reasonable to actually learn to play the guitar and do a tribute concert at the con and then because it was clearly terribly important RIGHT THEN, trying to remember the words to Ballroom Blitz…
…or if it was just me that thought that way. :)
(Kari said it wasn’t just me but I did understand that I was Josie, right? And I was like yes, I did, although I wasn’t sure I was vocally up for that because Camille’s amazing and Kari’s Welsh, so, y’know, obvs. :))
And then I went to sleep. :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
Some of you might remember me talking about a 15,000-word novelette I was working on between wrapping up Terminal Alliance and starting on Terminal Uprising.
That novelette is called “Imprinted,” and it’s the next Magic ex Libris story.
It’s about Jeneta Aboderin, and it’s set roughly eight months after the events of Revisionary.
I haven’t set a publication date yet. There’s a bit of work left to get everything ready, and with Terminal Alliance coming out in November, I’m guessing it will be available in January or February.
I also haven’t set a price. $2.99 would be ideal, because that’s where ebook royalty rates jump from 35% to 70%. What do you think? Does $2.99 seem fair for a 15,000-word story, or should I bump it down to $1.99 and take the royalties hit?
Finally, as long as you’re here, what do you think of the not-quite-finalized cover?
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
The astute among you may notice that Worldcon is over but I’m only just posting Day Three. This is due to a combination of things, firstly that in a fit of idiocy (fun, but idiocy) I was out until 3am Friday night/Saturday morning and was not prepared to write a blog post at that time, and secondly and far more annoyingly, that I wrote this whole damn post up last night, telling myself all the while that I needed to C&P it because it wasn’t going to post properly, and of course I forgot to copy it and then, as predicted, it didn’t post properly, and I lost everything I’d written and it was midnight so screw that noise.
“BATMAN,” said my roommate Carol, loudly and clearly, as her opening salvo of the morning, “was having to investigate a murder on Coronation Street…” Then she fell back asleep for 2 minutes & dreamed I’d insisted she prove she liked my books by licking the side of my face, as a true fan would. NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT LICK MY FACE (or any other part of me unless so invited. O.O)
I got to exactly zero panels on Friday; it was a BarCon day. I had breakfast with eBear and Scott and met a couple of their friends who were very cool, then dashed off to meet Kari for our scheduled morning gossip, which was somewhat thwarted by circumstances. I bobbled around and got a few more signatures in my autograph book, and met Kari and others for lunch instead, which was lovely. Oh, and went around the art show and met a couple of editors, which is always good. :) And I plunked down and a few people came over to say hi and I had a lovely chat with some readers, so that was really nice too.
I also met the most ADORABLE baby Wonder Woman, who was about 6 months old and overwhelmed/wide-eyed at all the noise and people, but when I greeted her she gave me an enormous toothless smile and I was totally charmed. :)
Then, because I had been inside for well over 24 hours at that point, and sitting for most of that time, I took myself on a little walk and found that Finland also has what we call Alaska cotton, which made me happy and now that I’m thinking about it I might go out and pick some tomorrow before I have to leave. (Now it is tomorrow and I doubt that’s going to happen, but oh well. What would I do with it anyway?)
And Then We Went To The Hugos!
I’d never been before, and had a lot of fun. My roommate was the stand-in to collect an award if it was won, so she invited me as her plus one, so I got to do all the shiny things associated with that. (I’d seen Adrian Tchaikovsky earlier in the day and asked if he was going. He said he hoped so, but he had to stand in line amongst the hoi polloi to see if he got in. I said I was fancy and had a ticket, and he said he would tug his forelock in accordance to his lowly station if he saw me. :))
The pre-Hugos reception didn’t have very much food (because of course it didn’t) and so after a while of talking to people–like the nice man pictured here–I went out to the food court and got…kebab. Messy sloppy kebab. (And Adrian saw me, and tugged his forelock!) I took the sloppy kebab into the reception hall and ate it VERY CAREFULLY (I dripped some on my shoe) and people took pictures of me eating kebab in my fancy dress and SEVERAL PEOPLE came over and asked, rather desperately, where I had gotten that, and were tragically dismayed to hear I’d gone and bought it in the food court. :) (The food court was very expensive but surprisingly good. All of the food I had from it was real food of quite decent quality.)
I thought the Hugos ceremony was very well run, and of course particularly enjoyed the bits where my friends won. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Clipping (Daveed Diggs’ group) didn’t win, and delighted when the best editor award winner, Liz Grovinsky, was so rattled she forgot to get her award. There were some excellent speeches, more than one of which made me cry, and then there was also Ursula Vernon’s speech where she told everybody about whalefall because it’s really cool. :)
AND THEN WE WENT TO THE HUGO LOSERS PARTY
We ended up, through sheer good fortune, in the same shuttle van that brought GRRM himself, Nalo Hopkinson & her husband/partner/extremely nice man who was with her, and I think Ellen Datlow and Pat Cadigan, maybe, so we arrived in rather elite company. Beforehand we stood around and complained about high heels (“If only men wore them,” I said, “they wouldn’t be part of formal wear for very damn long. Of course, if it was the 16th century, men WOULD have been wearing them.”
And then a complete stranger came up and said, “Well, it used to be that men were the ones who wore high heels,” and I was like, “That is literally exactly what I just said” and he did, at least, apologize. For God’s sake. Anyway.)
The party was great fun! I talked with Nalo & the Extremely Charming Man (I really do think he’s her husband, and I know his name, but as he’s not mentioned on, like, her Wiki page, I’m inclined to leave his name to himself as his own business) for a bit, and re-introduced myself (for about the 3rd time, but as he said, “I don’t remember anyone who isn’t wearing a name tag,” and I have no expectation of BEING remembered) to GRRM, and met a Chinese editor who said, “Write SF, we’ll translate it,” which seems like an excellent plan, and I got to have a good chat with some Irish friends, and met some new people, and–oh, this was funny. I’d taken a picture of Ursula in her Loser’s Hat and posted it to Twitter, and a Tor editor (that I don’t even know personally!) in the States said “Oooh is Liz in a Loser’s Hat, can you get a picture!” so I did, all within about 3 minutes, and she was delighted and I was delighted and it was pretty funny and fun. :)
I went over to talk to Charlie Stross, who it turned out was on his way out the door (I swear, I talked to him 4 times for 45 seconds each over the entire week, which was not an ideal conversation vector!), so I ended up sitting down with Nicholas and another of the actual Hugo losers, and a couple of Nicholas’s work colleagues who were SF fans but had never heard of fandom and who were apparently having THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES, and next thing we knew it was 2:30am & I’d accidentally kicked Nicholas, who was so tired he didn’t notice until I apologized, so I said it was time for him to take me home (we were at the same hotel) and he did. We capped the night off with a Jamesons at the hotel bar, and I got to sleep around 3:30am.
With a 10am panel in the morning.
IT WAS GRAND, SO. :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
THIS WAS A VERY BUSY DAY AND IT’S NOT EVEN MY BUSY DAY
I managed to go to TWO panels today, which is two more than I usually manage in my entire convention weekend, so I’m very proud of myself. :)
I went to the guest of honor interview with Nalo Hopkinson, which was tremendously entertaining, and then later went to a panel on writing aout climate change, upon which an Internet Friend was presenting. After that I got to talk to her for a bit, which was lovely, and between those two panel things I had lunch with my friend Lithera, who I don’t see nearly often enough.
After those things I managed to grab dinner with another friend who is VERY BUSY this weekend and I might not get to see him again, so I was v. happy to have even just a little time to hang out with him.
Then, thanks to Lithera’s Awareness of Things I Didn’t Know, we went to a concert performed by Clipping, a group headed by Broadway & Hamilton star Daveed Diggs (who played Jefferson and Lafayette in the debut year/album of Hamilton), and we had a ridiculously good time. Although I was unintentionally rude to a friend on the way in and although the air has been cleared over it I still feel badly. (I did not realize I’d been rude at the time but when they said “we need to talk about this moment” I was like “oh shit I was really rude wasn’t I,” so, yeah. Mea culpa. Anyway!)
Diggs is known for (among other things) doing the fastest rap ever done on Broadway in his role as Lafayette, and…he’s really fast, guys. I mean. That man has exquisite control of his tongue, my god. It was great fun and probably deserves a writeup of its own, but that’s not realistically going to happen so I’ll just mention the funniest bits:
“Who here is from Helsinki?” he asks, and like six people give a feeble cheer. He burst out laughing and was like “Um, no, guys, see, where I come from when somebody asks that you yell as loud as you fucking can, so let’s try again,” and he did and the crowd roared and then he was satisfied. *laughs*
And then the encore he came back out and was all “oh, gosh, guys, this is such a surprise, i’m totally unprepared for this,” with all innocence and sparkling eyes, which was just pretty damn funny. :) And then he said, “Okay, I’m going to do another song I can’t really remember the words to,” which he did. He screwed up a couple times, too, and laughed at himself. Oh, and there was a very funny bit where they mixed the Doctor Who theme into the music, which obviously got a great cheer. It was great fun!
I’m basically gonna do a post-con picture post because it’s easier than trying to do one every day on the clogged hotel wifi, but MY DUDES. MY DUDES, I COULD TOUCH HIM. I WAS RIGHT UNDER HIM, MY DUDES.
They were at the convention because they’re up for a Hugo for their album, wich is a science fiction story, and apparently they’re kind of nerds and were REALLY EXCITED to be nominated (seriously, I genuinely think they were, he sounded chuffed!) and I hope they win. But even if they don’t, I got to post “Daveed Diggs just walked by” on twitter this afternoon and that was freaking awesome. :)
Then I wandered around for quite a while trying to find the Dublin 2019 party, which I eventually did find and hung out at and chatted with people and had a lovely time until I decided I’d better go collapse into bed.
And now I shall, because it’s way late. I mean, except it’s not because I’m really still on Irish time, but yeah. Bed now. :)
(the glasses, man. he came out after the show and the glasses, man. the glasses are just NOT FAIR. IDK why, they’re like total nerd frames, but GOOD LORD, MAN.)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
I am in Helsinki for Worldcon! If I was a more organized person I’d have posted about this earlier, but, well, I’m not, so. I’m in Helsinki for Worldcon!
I will be publically available for chatting at the following times:
1. The Dublin 2019 parties on Thursday & Saturday nights
2. From 2-3:30ish on Friday afternoon–informal kaffeesklatch type thing, the Dublin 2019 table will know where I am if you don’t see me in the seating area around there
3. The Hugos on Friday night
4. Any other time you waylay me unless I have stuff specifically scheduled
4a. I have a panel about women writing comics on Saturday morning at 10am so I’ll definitely be there. :)
Anyway, Helsinki! I flew through Copenhagen, which turned out to be exciting because I thought I had an hour layover but it turned out my plane arrived, I got through passport control, and as I was heading for my gate (ON THE OTHER END OF THE AIRPORT) they announced final boarding for my flight to Helsinki. I scurried and said “my connecting flight just got in!” and they gave the board a skeptical look, but the sign didn’t say “closed” yet, so they let me on and closed the door behind me. Whew!
I hate (haaaate) taking public transport in places I know not at all, so I was nervous about the train from the airport to the hotel, but it turned out that it was very well annotated and I made it with no problem. Then my roommate collected me at the train station (THANK YOU) so all I had to do was follow her and get there safely. And now I’m oriented, so it’s all good.
I immediately saw half a dozen people, upon arriving, whom I might have hoped to see at some point over the weekend, so that was rather lovely. We got dinner and our tiny group of three expanded to about 11, some of whom expressed great surprise over my very different hair (and went on to theorize I might be a spy; I told them not to blow my cover :)). Then I wandered around the convention hall a bit trying to get oriented inside, and managed that fairly well, but didn’t go to the panel tat semeed fun because it was already packed full when we got there!
Instead I said to people that Helsinki is on the same latitude as my hometown, so I was going to go outside and be emotional about the light :)
Then I went outside and was like, oh shit no, I really *am* going to be emotional about the light, and it left me feeling a bit verklempt.
But then I found another friend and got introduced briefly to Ellen Datlow who knew my name (*faints*) and I had a bit more to eat and it was a lovely ending to the evening, which is now going to end properly so I can get up early and have more time with the light. ♥ :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
“[O]ver the last couple of days, we got an earful from our fans and others. The issue also caused a second author to ask us to remove her book from the ballot as well. We’ve reconsidered and changed our mind.”
The Dragon Awards were created last year to recognize the best SF/F books, comics, games, TV, and films of the year. Nomination and voting are open to anyone and everyone, and the awards are presented at Dragon Con.
The ballot this year appears to be a mix of genuinely popular work and works where individual authors or groups campaigned hard to get nominated. File 770 published an analysis looking at Goodreads, Library Thing, and Amazon review numbers of the different nominees. I trust folks can draw their own conclusions.
On August 4, finalist Alison Littlewood posted that she was withdrawing her book from consideration. She notes:
“While this would normally be a great pleasure, it has also been brought to my notice that my book has been selected by a voting bloc who are attempting, for reasons of their own, to influence the awards outcome. Essentially, the same group who set out to fix the Hugo Awards are now encouraging their supporters to follow their voting choices in the Dragon Awards.”
Two days ago, finalist John Scalzi also withdrew his book from the award, saying in part:
“The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured ‘us vs. them’ vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.”
Rather, Littlewood and Scalzi tried to withdraw from the award. But according to a follow-up post from Littlewood, Pat Henry of the Dragon Awards is “declining” these requests. Both Scalzi and Littlewood’s books still appear on the ballot.
Henry’s statement, as posted on Littlewood’s blog, claims:
“We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. While we didn’t start the Dragon Awards to foil these two groups, we believe that as we add voters, they will become irrelevant in the our awards.”
Note the false equivalence of rabid puppies, a self-proclaimed group created by Theodore Beale, with “justice warriors,” generally used as an insult against people speaking up for greater representation and inclusion. The rabid puppy slate was posted on Beale’s blog back in June. I’m curious where the equivalent “justice warrior” slate supposedly appeared…
Henry might be right that, when and if the awards add enough voters, slates might become irrelevant. Or they might not. But in either case, that hypothetical future doesn’t change the fact that right now, the awards are a mess, some of the campaigning is ugly, nasty, and hateful, and some authors don’t want to be dragged into that cesspool.
I hope Pat Henry and Dragon Con will reconsider their decision.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Yes, I know, I’m the person in Ireland many of you know, so it ticks that item off the list if you can get me to do it.
Yes, I know, you’re having a wonderful silly time participating and want other people to join in and have fun too.
Yes, I know, it’s just this one thing.
Yes, I know, it’s for a good cause.
The answer is still no.
I am *glad* you’re all having fun with it. It looks like fun! It sounds like fun! I enjoy reading peoples’ adventures with it! And yet I do not want to participate.
Furthermore, the prospect of participating is stressful to me. It is a thing that if I said I would do it, I would be lying. I would mean to. I would want to. And I would feel really guilty about not doing it, but I still wouldn’t do it.
If there is ever a year when I feel up to participating, I’ll tell people. But until then, the answer is no, so please don’t ask.
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
“As an author, I should be able to write about I want! Nothing is off-limits to art and creativity.”
I see this refrain again and again in conversations about everything from cultural appropriation in storytelling (and elsewhere) to writing characters of another race/gender/culture/orientation to writing about rape. It comes up in other contexts as well. “Why can’t I as a white person paint my face brown for cosplay?” or “Telling me I can’t use the n-word is suppressing my free speech!” But I want to focus on the writing aspect for now.
The thing is, you can write about anything you want. Nobody is going to come to your home and take away your computer because you wrote another so-called romance between a Nazi and a Jew. Nobody will revoke your Author’s License for adding another gratuitous rape scene because you wanted “historical accuracy” in your fantasy story about dragons and elves and talking swords. Nobody will drag you to jail for perpetuating stereotypes of magical negroes or mystical Indians. Yay, freedom!
“But no matter what I write, someone will choose to be offended!”
Y’all can see the underlying assumption here, right? That people are simply choosing to be offended — running around looking for reasons to be angry. The implication being that these criticisms aren’t things that any “reasonable” or “normal” person would get upset about. It’s generally just an excuse to ignore criticism and attack the critics.
It’s true that if you write and publish, odds are you’ll eventually produce something people take offense to. Not because there are hordes of people searching for reasons to be offended, but because none of us are perfect. As authors, we grew up in a world full of conflict and prejudice and stereotypes. We make mistakes. We step on other people’s toes.
We’re allowed to write what we want. And people are allowed to be offended. They’re allowed to be angry. Free speech works both ways. We get to write our stories, and others get to offer criticism.
“Well, art should be offensive!”
Being offensive doesn’t make something art. Being offensive doesn’t make you right. (See, for example, the KKK.)
One of the things that makes stories so powerful is their ability to challenge readers. Ask yourself, who are you challenging? Who are you offending?
I’ve seen people hold themselves up as the epitome of courage for daring to write “dangerous” stories. “Look at me, daring to be offensive!” And it’s weird, because most of the time if I read their stories, they aren’t challenging people in power. They’re attacking people who are already marginalized and oppressed. They’re going after those with less power.
That’s not daring and dangerous; it’s old-fashioned bullying.
“What if I didn’t intend to be offensive? Why are people still getting mad?”
I didn’t intend to step on my cat’s paw earlier tonight when he snuck up behind me in the kitchen. It still hurt him when I did. (He forgave me a few minutes later, and went right back to crouching behind my legs in case I dropped food. He’s not the brightest beast.)
The point is, whatever your intention, people are telling you they’re hurt/angry/offended/upset/dismayed by something you wrote. Maybe it’s a science fictional future that omits any people of color or anyone who isn’t straight. If you tell me you didn’t intentionally try to eliminate those people from your universe, I’ll probably believe you.
But intentional or not, you still erased large groups of people from your story. Believe me, you’re not the first. Authors have been writing that kind of exclusionary fiction pretty much forever. Which is part of the problem…
As authors, we’re supposed to be able to empathize and connect with different kinds of characters. Imagine being on the receiving end of this stuff. Of reading yet another book where it’s a few hundred years in the future, and apparently there was some unwritten genocide that wiped out all the black people. It gets really tiresome.
Here’s the kicker. Generally, people aren’t saying you’re a horrible human being who should be banished to the tenth circle of hell to have your giblets chewed apart by rusty robot parrots for all eternity. They’re saying, “Hey, I’ve got a problem with this thing you wrote.”
What you do with that criticism is on you. You can listen to it, and maybe learn something. You can take it personally and unleash your wrath in a Very Pointed Blog Post.
But if you’re so upset about someone criticizing your work, do you really want to double-down and escalate things?
“But we have Black Panther and a female Doctor and women are winning Hugo awards now and why are people holding on to inequity from the past when everything’s better?”
You realize a few victories doesn’t magically erase centuries of inequity and oppression, right? That the effects of institutionalized racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination last for generations? For example, here are some stats on racial inequality in America. Shockingly, things like a black actress playing Hermione Granger didn’t instantly fix it all.
In some ways, things are better than they used to be. Interracial marriage has been legal in the U.S. for a whole 50 years. Same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide two years ago. Women have been allowed to vote for almost a hundred years. (Of course, they couldn’t get their own credit card until the 1970s, and marital rape wasn’t outlawed nationwide until 1993…)
We’ve taken some steps forward. For every one, we’ve had people pushing back hard.
A lot of those dates are a hell of a lot more recent than I would have thought. These are things from my grandparents’ lifetimes. From my parents’ lifetimes. Some of them are within my lifetime. Inequity from the past continues to impact the present. So does inequity in the present.
“You’ve gone on for 900 words, Hines. Get to the point.”
You can write about ________. What you can’t do is prevent others from challenging or criticizing what you write.
Stories are powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility. And lots of rebooted movie franchises.
The point is, you’re responsible for your writing. You’re responsible for the stories you choose to tell, the characters you choose to create. You’re responsible for the assumptions you bring into the story. You’re responsible for choosing whether or not to educate yourself on the subjects and the people you write about.
You own your stories. When they’re brilliant, you own that. When they’re hurtful or offensive? You own that too.
It’s part of being an author.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.