July 27th, 2009


Fairyland Chapter Seven

Lost Girl

33 Misfortunes

As time goes by, I think this is my favorite essay on writing ever.

And it's not even about writing. It's about programming.

But it holds perfectly true for me and writing, and sometimes there are days like today--not helped by it being in the mid-eighties for the first time this summer--that sleep seems impossible. And there ain't no melatonin I can take.

After cheerily churning out 6,000 words on Satuday I spent ALL of Sunday arguing with myself about fairy alchemy and what that would consist of, excoriating myself for lack of being good at coming up with Plot and threat-matrices for my characters, and hating life. I baked, I knit, I played Rock Band, I wrestled with my dog--still couldn't sleep.

I think I sort of have the chapter in my head now but I'm still not really happy with it. I feel like there's some Awesome I don't quite have, that my ideas are not Awesome enough yet.

Whenever I complain about things like this, my Beast always kisses my forehead and exclaims: Thirty-three misfortunes! Which is a Russian saying for everything being a mess. My brain always wants to add: but a bitch ain't one to that, because I am a decadent American girl. But I feel like that today--nothing's really all that bad, I'm just bookblocked. The root here would be cockblocked, not writer's block--I don't really believe in writer's block. Or at least, I can't believe in it and keep functioning. But my personal lameness, procrastination, and inability to come up with sufficient Awesome can get in the way of congress with my book.

Apropos of nothing, I was deeply creeped out by this video, sent to me by pachamama , in which the universe mocks my noble sacrifice by pointing out that if you strip the goth make up off of her, Amy Lee and I are apparently secret twins. (The money shot is at 1:49--justbeast  and I both sort of jumped back, that's how eerie it is.)

Aaaaand the gem just came out of my nose piercing. Literally just fell onto the keyboard with a little plink. WTF? Second nose piercing to bork itself in a week!

  • Current Mood
    exanimate le flat
modern lit

The Silent F

So there's the whole kerfuffle going on about whether or not the Science Fiction Poetry Association is, or ought to be, inclusive of fantasy poetry. Mainly because, in response to a review of Star*Line over at seajules, someone suggested that, respectfully, SCIENCE FICTION RULES, FANTASY DROOLS, which brought up memories of the suggested name change years ago to the Speculative Poetry Association or the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, and to which the collective response was: LOLZNO.

upstart_crow,tithenai,time_shark, the usual suspects, all have good posts on it. rose_lemberg  has a roundup.

I'm not here to write a thoughtful post explaining why a little fucking respect for other sub-genres might behoove all of us within the non-realist community, or that the Rhyslings have been dominated by fantasy poetry for years, or even that maybe, just maybe, everyone should focus on writing poetry that doesn't embarass itself and stop arguing about terminology. Though I usually refrain from even discussing things that are already drama storms, I'm rolling up my sleeves--I aim to make trouble on the internet.

Because you know what? I'm fucking sick of it.

I'm sick of being looked down on by science fiction authors for one damn reason or another, the endless accusations from the SF camp that fantasy isn't as rigorous, or Important to the Intellectual Development of the Species, or h4rdc0r3, or whatever it is they hate about fantasy this week. Once, at a convention, another author turned to me on a panel and told me that my entire genre was just "kowtowing to Daddy Tolkien." The rest of the panel laughed and nodded agreement. After making some generally rude remarks about Daddy Heinlein and Daddy Asimov, I actually went to check the convention booklet to make sure it was a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, because I had never felt so unwelcome as a fantasy author.

Because the simple fact is? I cannot think of a single instance where fantasy authors en masse have risen up and demanded that the "S" be removed from SFWA or SFPA or any other organization claiming to represent all of us.

And yet every so often someone has to barge in and tell all of us fantasy writers to GTFO, so they can have their rocket club without us.

Good grief, why? Who cares? Is SF such a delicate flower that it will bear no other genres before it? Where is the threat here? Why must an entire group of writers be expelled in order to keep an acronym sacred?

I'm sick to death of being the silent F in SF, of being told that what I do is somehow on the face of it less rigorous and deserving of serious thought (the academic attention debate always seems to come back to science fiction, since, you know, Tolkien is the whole of fantasy and he gets plenty of academic love) than slimy alien fic. I've talked before about what I think are the underpinnings of this atrocious prejudice, but at this point, the point of yet another dude telling the fantasy writers in his midst to leave, I don't even want to dignify it with re-stating analytical arguments. It's clubhouse behavior, that's all. It has nothing to do with keeping the SFPA pure and free of icky, girly fantasy.

This doesn't even get into the insidious and intellectually dishonest implications in the old saws about how SF is about the future and fantasy is about the past, or the terminology we use--hard and soft--to describe each...or, even, how gendered this whole discussion is, with men trumpeting a rocket-shaped horn and laughing behind their hands at us girls and our silly fairy tales. Nevermind that both genders write both genres, somehow these conversations always seem to fall uncomfortably into a formula of a male SF author rudely calling out fantasy authors, and female fantasy authors trying to respond calmly and logically, explaining the virtues of accepting them into the club they had foolishly thought welcomed them, while not being listened to in the least, and receiving rudeness their male brethren simply do not in return for their peacemaking efforts.

Well, you know what? I am many things, but a gentle peacemaker I am not. At times like this, I'm pretty sure the F in SF stands for "fuck you."

Fantasy is an amazing genre. It contains some of the greatest literature written in the history of the world. It embraces possibility and strangeness and passion and magic--and sometimes there's even science in there. Rigorous science, even. It's as hard as you want it to be. I am a fantasy writer and a fantasy poet and I will go to the mat for my genre.

It's not even controversial to point out that fantasy as a genre right now is dynamic, growing, innovative, and bustling. Current SF? A bit anemic, a bit derivative, with a few stellar books here and there. So much so that all Neal Stephenson has to do is cough and he is assured of a place on the Hugo ballot. (Shit, I feel bad just typing that. I don't want SF to be a dwindling genre with a dwindling and increasingly curmudgeonly audience. I love SF. But of course in screeds against fantasy no one feels the need to say they love fantasy, no, really, some of their best friends are fantasists. So why do I feel guilty pointing out that this is not exactly the Golden Age?)

But it's all about labels, right? SF Clubhouse. Fantasists Keep Out.

The fact is, fantasy is by far the more inclusive term. It could easily be argued that science fiction is an exclusionary term while fantasy is inclusive. All science fiction is fantasy, not all fantasy is science fiction. And yet we never go around screaming that SF authors should go soak it, mainly because that is dick behavior, and doesn't do anybody any good.

I mean, it sounds ridiculous to even say it, right? I hereby move that the SFWA and SFPA be changed to the FWA and FPA in order to welcome all non-realist writers under their umbrellas.

Why, it's like calling it herstory instead of history, or something!

And yet, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than kicking out anyone who doesn't have enough ray guns or alien cats in their work. But it doesn't even get brought up at meetings, because the SF guys would have a collective coronary. But we fantasy writers, we just take it and take it and don't even ask for that silent F to be pronounced. Nobody is afraid of pissing off the fantasy contingent.

Well, I'm pissed off. I'm, dare I say, mad as hell, and not taking it anymore. Fantasy is here to stay. It's only the oldest kind of literature for fuck's sake. So pull up your big boy pants, learn to play nice with others, and in the words of the post that started all of this, get over it.

  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated

My Worldcon Schedule

Once again, thank you to papersky  and elisem  for making it remotely possible for me to go to Worldcon--this is my first, and I'm super excited.

This is my schedule!

When: Fri 11:00
Location:  D-Vitre
Title:  Writing Workshop W
Session ID:  661
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Karin Lowachee
Description:  Critique session for previously submitted manuscripts

When: Fri 17:00
Location:  P-512BF
Title:  Folklore, Science Fiction and Fantasy
Session ID:  537
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Edward James, Greer Gilman,
Janet McNaughton, Maura McHugh
Moderator:  Edward James
Description:  Folklore is not fairy tale. It's a body of knowledge
about the way the world works.

When: Sat 9:00
Location:  P-522A
Title:  Author Reading
Session ID:  240
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Greer Gilman
Moderator:  <Not Available>
Description:  Greer Gilman, Hal Duncan, Catherynne M. Valente.

3-254 Sat/Sam 17:00 1hr 30min
P-513C Costume and Craft/Costumes
et artisanat
Traditional Women’s Crafts and
Cynthia Gonsalves, Emily Wagner, Catherynne M. Valente
There’s always a woman who weaves
beautifully, a goodwife who can dye like a
dream, and maybe even a spinning wheel.
But what are these crafts really like? What
goes into them? How do you write them
plausibly? How do you create the kind of
society that supports these activiities. And
how does gender fit into all of this?

When: Sat 18:30
Location:  Other
Title:  Catherynne M. Valente Signing
Session ID:  1522
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente
Moderator:  <Not Available>
Description:  Catherynne M. Valente Signing

When: Sat 21:00
Location:  P-512BF
Title:  What Our Things Say About Us
Session ID:  940
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Delia Sherman, James Cambias,
Mindy Klasky
Moderator:  James Cambias
Description:  That collection of kibble you are hiding under the bed
is a lot more revealing than your palm.

When: Sun 9:00
Location:  P-512CG
Title:  How Not to be a Jerk Online
Session ID:  930
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Kate Nepveu, John Scalzi,
Michelle Kendall
Moderator:  John Scalzi
Description:  Is there an equivalent of Miss Manners for this modern
age? How to avoid flamewars and actually learn something.
Duration:  1:00 hrs:min
Language:  English
Track: Human Culture
AV/Internet request:  None

When: Sun 12:30
Location:  P-522B
Title:  Writing for a Living
Session ID:  788
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Howard Tayler, Mandy Slater,
George R. R. Martin
Moderator:  Me
Description:  Is it possible to make a living as an independent writer
or graphic artist? Where does the internet fit in the equation? The
practical aspects of the writing life and self-employment.

When: Sun 15:30
Location:  P-524C
Title:  Rainbow Futures
Session ID:  178
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Cecilia Tan, Graham Sleight,
Jason Bourget, Lila Garrott-Wejksnora
Moderator:  Graham Sleight
Description:  How does media SF deal with gay and lesbian characters?
Is the real world moving too fast for the genre?  Can SF show us a
future where sexual orientation isn’t a big deal?

When: Sun 22:00
Location:  P-518BC
Title:  The Future of Sex
Session ID:  30
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Howard Davidson, Peter Cohen,
Catherine Crockett
Moderator:  Me
Description:  From teledildonics to sexually transmitted diseases
things are changing in the bedroom (and elsewhere!).

When: Mon 10:00
Location:  P-511A
Title:  Movements in Fantasy
Session ID:  566
All Participants:  Ann VanderMeer, Catherynne Valente, Maura McHugh,
Violette Malan
Moderator:  Maura McHugh
Description:  Kathryn Cramer recently remarked that - unlike SF -
movements in fantasy (like New Weird) are only a recent phenomenon. If
so, what are the trends we should be looking for in coming fantasy

When: Mon 12:00
Location:  P-513B
Title:  Interview: Writers with a Unique Voice
Session ID:  923
All Participants:  Catherynne Valente, Greer Gilman
Moderator:  <Not Available>
Description:  Two writers with distinctive voices interview each other
about what influences their personal style and how they write. (ZOMG!!)

I am thrilled about getting to be on a panel with scalzi , and finally getting to go to a nineweaving  reading, as well as dual interviewing with her! Feel very weird about moderating a panel with grrm  on it, especially since he presumably is a lot better at writing for a living than I am, but hopefully will be up to the task.

Now, I didn't get a kaffeeklatsch, which is cool, but I had it in my head that if I did get one, I'd make the mango coconut marscapone muffins and bring fresh Portland coffee and maybe even some of my homemade chutney it would be like a thing. I'm not at all disappointed not to have a KK, I'm disappointed not to have an opportunity to bake for you guys. I am weird.

So anyway, would anyone want to have an impromptu bakeyklatsch in one of the common areas/consuite? Saturday afternoonish? Or Thursday anytime, if people are going to be there early? How many would want to come? RSVP here with your preferred timeframe. If more than, say, half a dozen want to do it, I will produce muffins! We could also have a literary activity, like...bring your favorite paragraph from a novel to read aloud...

  • Current Mood
    chipper chipper