Total dental freeze,
tempura and sashimi
not a good mixture
I have been browsing through my old blog periodically, examining the sort of things I was posting when I started out, and offering up any of the worthwhile bits. My landscape, physical and social is very different now… in this particular period I’m revisiting, it’s about fourteen months away from a major upheaval. But 2002 Alyx has no idea whatsoever of any of that. She’s burbling along, figuring out Livejournal, writing her way through the early days of Rumble’s kittenhood, our first months in the condo on Woodland Drive, and things like the tail end of Buffy’s original run on network TV.
Today’s time-travel gold comes from May 23rd and consists of a couple of haiku I wrote after having my mouth frozen for dental work and then embarking on sushi for supper. The first is above; here’s the second.
Lively half of tongue,
balances roe between teeth
lip gets chomped instead
Kelly Robson and the miracle of mirrors.
Over on her blog, Kelly has advocated an elegant solution to the current battle over rebranding the Hugo Award. It is this: abandon the rhetoric, step back from telling stories about who’s doing what and and why they’re wrong on the Internet, and pay a damned mediator. It seems to me that the World SF Society or Sasquan might have some seed money, since the latter’s garnered something like 2000 more voting memberships than usual.
The idea is for stakeholders to fundraise the necessary dosh, pick some leaders, hire the pro, and talk our collective way to a solution. Then (if a Hugo rule change to prevent system-gaming is part of the package) presumably we’d implement it over the next several conventions.
Now that Kelly’s original post has had some time to air and counter-arguments have come in, she’s examined those, too. Chief among the questions is the issue of whether people on one side or the other are capable of or willing to negotiate in good faith. To which: hey, you can’t know if you don’t ask.
The theme of both posts is simple. This whole thing sucks, right? It’s either seek a solution, or play “You said, I said, no you said,” whackamole in our blogs indefinitely, while the rest of the world–or the devoted fannish book-reading portion of it that cares–wonders when drug-addled clowns got bored with their usual pursuits, like running the Western democracies and poisoning the planet in a mad pursuit of all the dollars, and moved on to hobby pursuits like setting flamewars amid the literature of ideas.
Creating posts about how a bunch of writers are wrong, evil, passe, misguided, dumb, gulag-builders or covered in bees has its charms. Snark is fun. But not only does whackamole take time that should go first to creating fiction, the current strategy also saps energy from the important work of making the field more diverse. And we were getting traction with this, people. I don’t want to stop. I want to continue seeing our best love, energy, talent, words and Tweets going to singing the praises of “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn,” by Usman T. Malik, to asking if you’ve seen Kai Ashante Wilson’s “The Devil in America,” and to noticing that Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles are getting asked some ludicrous questions about She Walks in Shadows. Maybe someone could even get the hell over there and say something smart.
So. If you are going to Sasquan, and if you know someone who has influence over any of the players in this particular power struggle, consider having a chat with them. About letting go of the namecalling, about trying to agree on a way forward.
I decided to time travel back to May 16, 2002 today, and revisit my first ever blog entry, back on Livejournal. I found Rumble still a kitten, and me writing a piece for a critique group deadline. That group, the Fangs of God, has since gone by the wayside. (The entry doesn’t offer any clues as to which story it was.)
Kelly and I had moved into our Woodland Drive condo six months before I started at LJ, leaving Chez Frank behind. Our Greece trip with Snuffy had occurred about a year earlier. Marriage equality wasn’t even on my radar yet, though it was coming very soon! And we hadn’t yet joined the choir now known as Out in Harmony.
The entry has that “Oh, hey, a blog, I need to learn how to drive this thing” that many of you probably remember from your own first forays into the web diary form. Shakespeare it ain’t, but I enjoyed looking back.
The first chapter books I read (and reread, endlessly), starting when I was five going on six, were a series of history books that had belonged to my mother, all written for red-blooded American girlz. They were biographies, many of them about the childhoods of various U.S. presidents’ wives. The practice of history in these books was not exactly rigorous. Even the non-FLOTUS women’s stories were whitewashed in a way that meant, for example, Jane Addams and Julia Ward Howe’s entire lives were covered in a hundred pages, with charming anecdotes, and without a single mention of the suffrage movement.
I know. Boggle boggle boggle, right?
These were been the books that gave me the typical view of a woman’s viable career options: saint/martyr/kindling, presidential spouse, cannon loader, author, native guide, or founder of such organizations as the Red Cross or the Girl Scouts. I also remember them as having happy endings all round, for Clara Barton and Louisa May Alcott and even for Sacagawea. Though not for Joan of Arc, unless your philosophical outlook can be best summed up as Too bad about the horrifically painful execution, honey, but you got to go to a coronation, and that had to be cool. Also: yay sainthood!
(Joan’s bio was from a different-but-related series; she was the one non-U.S. citizen in the batch).
When I initially launched the Heroine Question interviews, it didn’t occur to me for a second to question whether I should be using an ungendered noun, like hero or protagonist. Or woman protagonist. Honestly I’m a sucker for a good pun, and even more of a sucker for a bad one: I have an entire pinboard full of the things.
I spent twenty minutes of my life making this.
Basically I had a vision. And that vision was a series of posts entitled “Caitlin Sweet kicks Heroine!” and “Martha Wells on her Heroine Habit” and equally questionable clicky fodder.
When I reached out to that first raft of authors who’d be doing heroine here on my blog, I had a fair expectation, based on most of them being in my age cohort, or near that vicinity, and the fiction available to us when we all were kids, about some of the answers I’d get. I’d limited the field to written works or their authors–no TV, no movies, no frickin’ Lara Croft. I figured there’d be answers within the SF and fantasy realm: an essay on Lucy of Narnia fame, maybe Alice of Wonderland, or Meg Murry of A Wrinkle in Time. (That one’s coming.) Tiger Lily from Peter Pan. I also anticipated, correctly, that someone would mention Anne of Green Gables and Jo March from Little Women.
I also thought we’d hear about Emma Woodhouse and Jane Eyre and Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins and Scout Finch. And authors: Agatha Christie, Nelly Bly and Mary Shelly. (Erma Bombeck was a surprise, but a welcome one.)
I expected my interview subjects would sometimes be picking female characters from novels not generally considered to be genre fiction, in other words. Women who weren’t engaged in universe-saving or fleet-footed-adventuring or anything remotely approaching derring-do. It didn’t, when I was coming up with this particular series, even occur to me that heroine had to mean anything other than 1) showing up to carry a given literary work; 2) inspiring a young writer-to-be.
Much of this unquestioned assumption of mine grew from the fact that heroine was the catch-all term within the educational realm for girl characters. “The heroines of Jane Austen’s novels…” is a time-honored lit crit phrase meaning Lizzie, Emma, Ann, Fanny, Katherine and that drummer whose name I can never remember. “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s hot-tempered heroine…” has long been a valid mouthful of a way to refer to PEI’s favorite redhead. You know, when you’re afraid you’ve somehow used “Anne” one too many times in an English essay.
(Pro tip: Just say Anne again. The essay’s about her… it’s cool.)
Oddly, I think if you said “Jane Austen’s heroes are…”? The answer you’d get much of the time would be Darcy. Knightly. Brandon.
Is this good? Well, no. When one looks at it squarely, it’s even, perhaps, a little queasy-making. The above three dudes aren’t world-savers and they aren’t even the protagonists of the novels they’re in. So it’s sad that some might find it easier to credit Willoughby with heroism for plucking an injured Marianne off a hillside than to bracket Anne Elliot with Tomoe Gozen when the former insists upon visiting a broke and sick old school friend, against her family’s wishes.
Does heroine still have a use, and does it lie solely within the realm of classic literature? Are there modern heroines who aren’t heroes? Should I rename this series “Girlhood heroes of …” or “Chicks we worshipped way back when…”
More importantly, if I do retitle, is there some way to get a faintly tasteless string of puns out of the deal? Extra points if you make me sorry I asked this.
Friday happened and I didn’t manage to post anything… honestly, because I forgot I was trying for a few gratitudes to wrap up the week. But…
One of the things that is exceedingly lovely for me is that notes are coming in from my trusted readers on the nth-draft version of The Nature of a Pirate, and the feedback so far leads me to believe that it’s about as good as I think it is, with a few fixable flaws to give it personality.
Even now, Kelly is typing madly at the last of what I know will be an excellent and insightful round of comments.
Two: I have begun work on what I hope will be a short story (as opposed to a novelette, or a novellismo, or a novella, or some other deitydamned long thing, that is) and I’m dictating the draft. Its working titles are “The Perils of Slow Reflexes in Meatspace” and/or possibly “The Euphemism Font.” Dictating meant I could work anywhere, and I spent a happy couple of hours on the shore of Lake Ontario today, looking at all my fellow sun-worshippers, enjoying the breeze, committing fiction, laughing at doggy antics and taking the occasional bird photo. Then I went to the bakery and bought a serious load of Forno Cultura cookies and bread items, which is a source of gratitude all on its own.
Third and finally: I am beginning to bash away at the beginnings of having a Redbubble store for a few of my best photographs. What this means, eventually, will be that a handful of them will be up all the time for the ordering, as prints, greeting cards, tablet skins, and what-have-you. And when someone asks for a print of something specific, as sometimes happens, I’ll add that to the mix, possibly on a limited-time-offer kind of deal.
What it means now is a lot of experimenting and play, some of it with photos that will only be up until I determine exactly what I want. One of the current experiments is the above shot of CinCin, which–thanks to Cats of Instagram–is now and will probably remain the shot of mine seen by most humans anywhere ever.
If you’ve asked for a print in the past, still want it, and remember the shot (or can even describe it using your words) let me know and I’ll bump it up the queue. And yes–the dragonfly close-up will go up soon, I promise, once I’ve racked up a few more experiments.