Posts tagged with "self-consciousness" - Faerye Net 2011-02-28T15:01:29+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Life stories 2011-02-28T15:01:29+00:00 2011-02-28T15:02:40+00:00 <p>I hate writing biographical statements for myself. It makes me feel almost as clueless and awkward as writing business letters. I feel like I&#8217;m wearing some sort of Victorian costume, a very formal cage: who is this person? And can she move in any natural fashion?</p> <p>Ah yes, &#8220;she&#8221;. Most bios are in the third person, so some of the odd formality comes from stating your life&#8217;s facts and achievements from a false seat somewhere over your left shoulder. &#8220;Felicity Shoulders was born within sight of Mt. St. Helens, nine months to the day after its eruption,&#8221; I write. &#8220;Felicity Shoulders lives in the wooded hills of Portland, Oregon, with an engineer, a cat, and more computers than she can count.&#8221; Somehow it feels as if the narrator from <em>Am&eacute;lie</em> is trying to sum me up and finding my life insufficiently whimsical. &#8220;Felicity Shoulders pourrait &ecirc;tre un peu plus interessante.&#8221;</p> <p>However, bio-blurb I must, and so I&#8217;ve worked at it, on the theory that practice should improve the muscle. I think it has. I&#8217;d estimate that when I write a new bio now, I feel only 20% the desire to writhe out of my own skin from embarrassment that used to strike me. Of course, being able to write toward the words <a href="" target="links">&#8220;nominated for a Nebula&#8221;</a> helps. My skin does have some advantages, after all.</p> <p>But now, as a consequence of that happy pair of n-words, I have to write a new blurb, and the first person is specified (hooray for specificity!) The first person should be natural. No invisible floating perspective, no avuncular French voice. Just me, telling you about how I and my little story got here. And somehow, now, that feels almost as bad. I can&#8217;t sum anything up. I can&#8217;t tell you who I am or why you should care. When I find a potentially fruitful track, I find myself wandering down it far too long, until I&#8217;ve spent all my allotted words just telling you about reading my dad&#8217;s Science Fiction Book Club hardbacks as I grew up. Even in my own skin, it seems, I lack an overarching perspective.</p> On making a difference 2010-10-04T17:15:01+00:00 2010-10-04T17:15:57+00:00 <p>I <a href="" target="links">tweeted</a> yesterday about a <a href="" target="links">student teacher being reassigned for admitting he&#8217;s gay</a>. It&#8217;s a story that came to my attention <a href="" target="links">through my <span class="caps">RSS</span> reader</a> but, sadly, is local: the district where this student teacher was originally assigned is the one where I went to elementary school.</p> <p>I wrote a letter yesterday, planning to send it to the Superintendent and post it here, but an attack of cynicism shook that intention. There&#8217;s a lot of easy, feel-good (re)activism that goes on here on the interwebs. You submit your name for an online petition, retweet something, and ta-da! You are an activist! Writing one letter is sort of the same thing: drive-by activism. It&#8217;s shallow, brief, and perhaps accomplishes little but puffing up the letter-writer. Some might say one person picking up a pebble, repeated many times, will move a mountain; but it&#8217;s easier to find historical examples of dedicated mountain-movers pushing boulders over years and decades.</p> <p>But on the other hand, this news story isn&#8217;t coming from another state or another country, the vast hinterlands of Elsewhere that filter through webpages and <span class="caps">RSS</span> feeds into our consciousness. This is where I grew up. This district, thanks to the execrable <a href="" target="links">Measure 5</a> (which my family campaigned against while I was matriculating in that school district, and which is why I ultimately left), is underwritten by Portland&#8217;s tax dollar as well as Beaverton&#8217;s.</p> <p>I&#8217;m not endorsing a proximal approach to morality and politics in general, since all too often that means a cozy sort of privileged insulation. But in this case I think it&#8217;s reasonable: perhaps I can&#8217;t make a difference in every case of homophobic discrimination in the world, or even in America, without devoting my life to it. But this is my neighborhood, this is my home. If I <em>don&#8217;t</em> speak out, I&#8217;m letting this be part of my home without protest: my silence says this discrimination is acceptable. (Just like not voting at all is an extra-effective way of voting down taxes and ruining our schools! That&#8217;s a little <a href="">Measure 47</a> joke for the locals.)</p> <p>Perhaps I look a little foolish, and perhaps I&#8217;m an armchair activist. But I&#8217;m printing out my letter, and I&#8217;ll post it here tomorrow. Because this is where I live, and because <span class="caps">LGBT</span> people live here too.</p> Awards Eligibility 2009 2010-01-16T14:49:05+00:00 2010-01-16T14:49:19+00:00 <p>Apparently it&#8217;s an accepted practice to post lists of your Nebula- and Hugo- eligible pieces for the delectation of passing voters, but it&#8217;s a dashed awkward sort of thing to do, especially when you have no pieces to list. I didn&#8217;t publish any spec-fic during 2009.</p> <p>However, this is my second (therefore, last) <a href="" target="links">year of eligibility</a> for the <a href="" target="links">John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award</a>. If you register for an attending or supporting membership at <a href="" target="links">AussieCon</a> before January 31, or if you attended/supported last year&#8217;s Worldcon, you could <a href="" target="links">nominate me here.</a></p> <p>Well, that wasn&#8217;t so bad. I managed to get through it all without hopping from foot to foot and babbling in manner of Bertie Wooster. Maybe by next year it won&#8217;t feel so very uncomfortable. Toodle-pip!</p> Write a fan letter, I dare you 2008-09-15T10:59:28+00:00 2008-09-15T11:16:05+00:00 <p>In my very limited experience of publishing (one story, baby! As a former teacher says, &#8220;In jazz, we say as long as you&#8217;ve been paid once, you&#8217;re a professional.&#8221;), fan letters are splendid little bombs of joy. I use the term &#8216;fan letter&#8217; generally: obviously, having published only one story, I cannot receive &#8216;fanatic&#8217; missives declaring how the writer has read all the kajillion stories I&#8217;ve written et c. et c. Also, they weren&#8217;t paper. I received a few e-mails around the time of my publication, one from a fellow writer and a couple from readers, saying they read and enjoyed my story. One chap said he hoped I published again soon.</p> <p>Is it necessary to describe how thoroughly my day was made by these things? When I saw my name in print &#8211; in <em>Asimov&#8217;s Science Fiction</em> no less &#8211; I felt the world would change. As I&#8217;m fond of quoting, I felt &#8220;Perhaps there may be golden trumpets!&#8221; But there were not, of course, as my more rational mind predicted. I still went to Queequeg&#8217;s every day, encountered the same scammers and scallywags, rejoiced if the weekly tip haul worked out to $1.60 an hour. What those e-mails told me was that I had been heard. Which, after all, is half of why we do this, right? Otherwise we&#8217;d all be Emily Dickinson, content to hoard our scribblings. When you&#8217;ve been heard, the world <em>has</em> changed. Your words are part of the internal universes of those who&#8217;ve read it, and knowing that, you feel changed as well.</p> <p>I hadn&#8217;t thought about it that deeply, or for a while, when I read the <a href="" target="links">September 2008 issue</a> of <em>Fantasy &amp; Science Fiction</em> the other day. The novella in it, &#8220;Arkfall&#8221; by Carolyn Ives Gilman, was wonderful. An intriguing setting, a compelling character conflict, and soon enough a fascinating plot. I enjoyed it immensely, not only for those separately listed elements, but for the way they interacted and informed each other. It was a beautifully balanced thing that caught the imagination and heart.</p> <p>And so, when I put the magazine down (always a sign of a good story: you can&#8217;t go on ravenously to the next), I wondered if I should look up the author and send her a note. I never would have considered this last year, but for some reason the idea did arise, and I couldn&#8217;t dismiss it. <em>I&#8217;d feel so foolish!</em> I thought. <em>What would I say?</em> Some slightly less gushy version of what appears above between &#8216;An&#8217; and &#8216;heart&#8217;, obviously. <em>But why should I suddenly start sending appreciative e-mails?</em> The answer to this one was just as obvious: because now I know what a difference it makes. I also told myself that sci-fi has a more collegial atmosphere, and it wasn&#8217;t really that odd to send a spec-fic author a note &#8211; very much of the spec-fic culture. (I don&#8217;t actually know if the literary mainstream engages in this note-writing activity or not, since I won&#8217;t be published in it until next summer &#8211; anyone want to enlighten me?)</p> <p>So I sat down and searched up her e-mail, wrote her a note, and pressed &#8216;send&#8217;. And you know what? She did appreciate it. Even widely published authors want to know they&#8217;re heard. I don&#8217;t know whether it made her day, but it sounds like it brightened it. So next time you read a story in a magazine that really strikes you, that you can&#8217;t stop thinking about, hang up your self-consciousness on a peg and write a fan letter. It&#8217;s a simple way to spread a little happiness in the world.</p> <p><em>For fun, I formalized the rules I made up for myself before writing the aforementioned e-mail: <a href="">here they are</a>.</em></p>