Writing, Restoring, Empowering: A Post of Many Things

Today is for planning the next six weeks of my writing life. I've been fortunate enough to sell nearly all the stories and poems in my inventory, so while I'm waiting to hear back from agents about my novel, I thought I'd take a break and create some new things to share. One of the stories came to me whole cloth in a dream, and while the dream logic of it will likely need tweaking before it works as narrative, I'm still excited to finally be giving it some attention. The title came to me in the dream as well; Sing the Crumbling City. Another story is rooted in my distaste for the pseudo-philosophical concept of metanorms and my desire to write the evolution of a female anti-hero. It might be called Chachalmeca, but I'm not sold on the title yet. I also need to unearth a few unfinished poems from the journal I jotted them down in and polish them up.

Today is also the second day of the regular Kundalini yoga practice I've been trying hard to establish for myself this summer with intermittent success. I'm learning the hard way that in spite of my vegan diet, which is helping me to dodge a few genetic bullets, I need to be more active if I hope to remain healthy while pursuing my writing career. These last several months I've been far too sedentary, and my middle-aged bones are starting to feel it, so finding Kundalini practice has been a real boon for me. It's spiritual, aerobic and great for my body. I'm hoping it will restore some health to my ankles, lower back and knees and help to preserve that health going forward.

Finally, today is for the empowering words of editors and writers in the speculative fiction community, which I've been delighted to read. Jeff Vandermeer and Rose Fox have both written posts that expand the ReaderCon conversation outward from its origins in the problem of sexual harrassment in the speculative fiction community. Vandermeer addresses the reality of power imbalances between editors and new writers in Editors, Influence, and You and assures new writers that abuse of this power imbalance is "absolutely, terribly, awfully wrong". Rose Fox shares an encouraging anecdote about her early career in You Will Work in This Town Again. Both empower writers, especially writers who have been harrassed or who feel they've committed career-ending mistakes in the speculative fiction community. Both have empowered me.

So while many people have written that they're not comfortable attending ReaderCon any longer because of the way Genevieve Valentine’s complaint was initially handled (and such is their right), I've had the inverse reaction. Because of the speculative fiction community's overwhelming support of fair treatment and safe gathering spaces for its members and because so many have come forward and shared the negative experiences they weathered on the way to success, I feel safe going to ReaderCon next year. And that's a big step for me.

I've written previously about my 'bad Clarion experience' without offering the details I should have been shouting from the rooftops while the situation was fresh. Some of that experience was the result of my own vulnerabilities, and some of it was the result of simple personality differences. But some of it was scapegoating, and much of it was an abuse of power that has since motivated me to avoid the places where I might encounter the abusers. Places like ReaderCon. And while it's true that I'm not a twenty-something woman, that doesn't mean I haven't been afraid that I would be targeted if I went, and my career is precious to me.

I remain convinced that it's a bad idea to detail my Clarion experience; it's water under the bridge now, and I don't think any good can come of it. However, if I can afford it, I'm going to ReaderCon next year. And if I can afford it, I'm going the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that. I'm not going to miss any more opportunities to share my work and meet new people. I didn't create the circumstances that made Clarion such a bad experience for me, so I'm not going to hide from the people who did any longer, and I'm never going to be silent again.

What happened to Ms. Valentine was awful, and I don't want to make this a 'me too' post. But I'm tremendously gratified to know that there are so many ethical, honorable people in the speculative fiction community, and I'm glad of their strength on her behalf. That strength has precipitated healing conversations, and I've benefitted from them. So to those of you who have spoken, thank you.