Jul 11

So many ideas

I’m near the end of the first full day of this year’s Readercon, and I have learned/heard about/been reminded of so many cool things.

The last thing I went to was a slideshow on fantasy maps, during which I decided that the next draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from last year is going to be a stand-alone, incredibly detailed map. Or, if not stand-alone, an atlas, with detailed keys.

I went to the Interstitial Arts Foundation Town Hall Meeting, and unexpectedly stumbled onto an opening for editor of the IAF Tumblr — I won’t be alone, but I’m going to get to start contributing significantly to the Interstitial Arts Foundation, which I’ve wanted to do since my first Readercon. The tumblr is called interstitialarts. There isn’t really anything there yet, but soon.

Soon.

I’m going to head back out and do more cool stuff now. I might blog some more this weekend, just because there’s going to be so much awesome stuff to blog about. If not, tty Monday.

Jul 10

Podcasts I’ve been listening to:

I Should Be Writing: This is one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, after Michael Stackpole’s The Secret, and I’m glad I picked it up again. It’s by Mur Lafferty, and the tagline used to be “The podcast for wannabe fiction writers, by a wannabe fiction writer.” That second part has gone away, now that Mur has a couple books published by a major publisher, but she still comes from the perspective of the difficulty of the everyday work of writing, discouragement, fear, and writing through & living with mental illness.  And she does great interviews. She’s how I found out about China Mieville. Easily one of my favorite podcasts.

Yo, is This Racist?: I found this one recently: it updates 5 days a week, and the format is Andrew Ti and a guest, usually a comedian, take voicemails asking if things are racist. Generally, the answer is ‘yes.’1

99 Percent Invisible: Everyone listens to this one, right? It’s a podcast about design. They talk about awesome things.

Stuff You Should Know: The podcast associated with the website ‘How Stuff Works,’ episodes are generally pretty long and I skip about two thirds of them. But I know a lot about avalanches, the effects of global warming on Venice, and Monopoly now! (I knew a lot about Monopoly before, but this was a lot more thorough than my past information.)

Hide and Create: Another writing podcast. I listen to several writing podcasts, and I just started this one recently. I can’t remember why. But it’s pretty good, and I haven’t unsubscribed.

  1. Note: I’m white. It was recently pointed out to me that white people blogging about race should make sure to prevent that fact from slipping by unmentioned.

Jul 09

Readercon starts tomorrow night and I am super excited

This weekend is one of the biggest things I look forward to every year1 — Readercon, the only convention I can afford to go to.2 It’s like three days of going to a college that unashamedly teaches a full curriculum of sci fi and fantasy, with loads of teachers who are intimately familiar with the field, and textbooks that are priced as if everyone involved were human beings who cared about each other. (The textbooks are the bookstore. Mostly, they’re just cool books.)

It falls right in the middle of summer, which is awesome because I kinda hate being out of school, and Readercon is like a dry stone in a wide river; it gives me a place to stand and catch my breath.

And though I still don’t have any professional fiction sales, this year for the first time I’ll be going as someone who’s paid, regularly, as a writer! Well, as a journalist. Which is still basically a writer!

This is also the first year I’m going without my friend Mike, whose job is sending him to California this week. It’ll be a new experience, being there alone. Maybe a little scary, but I think I can deal.3

  1. One of the things I look forward to most? One of the biggest events that I look forward to? One of the things I look forward to that is literally physically large in size? I don’t even know.
  2. Basically: I can afford one convention a year, and for about five years now Readercon has beat out Anime Boston. Although, tbh, not-going-to-conventions would beat out Anime Boston at this point in my life.
  3. Note to self: double check that I have all my medications packed.

Jul 08

Got to use a camera today

So, good cameras cost like 5 or 6 hundred dollars. I’ve wanted one for years, but I’ve never got one — because I don’t strictly need one professionally, and because I honestly don’t think I’m going to end up investing the amount of time into a hobby that feels like it justifies that size of a purchase.

Still, I really like using cameras, and today for work I got to borrow one to take some photos.

My therapist has pointed out that as a coping mechanism for things I’m upset about, I identify the systematic problems in American government and cultural structure and imagine versions of reality where my problems don’t exist for anybody.

So it’s easy to come up with scenarios in which I’d get to use a camera more often. I could have access to a resource sharing art group that had cameras I could check out regularly. The economy could be set up in a way that didn’t incentivize proprietary technologies and non-compatible devices, so that the prices of technologies drove down faster and I could afford a good camera. I could have decided to go to art school after high school. That probably would have been a good idea.

Still, I’m grateful to now be in an environment where I’m probably going to get to play with cameras some more.

Jul 07

Jesus take the wheel — on avoiding self-censorship

The novel I’m working on is going pretty well, I think. And the reason I think it’s going pretty well is that I’m trying really, really hard not to stop myself from putting in stuff I want to put in.

For some reason (that reason is fear and self-doubt) when I write, most of the time, I throw out about two thirds of the ideas I have. Mostly, it’s the ones that seem particularly good. I think, ‘can’t do that, it’s too risky,’ or ‘that’ll turn off editors,’ or ‘I’ll save that one for later, when I’ve proven that I can write.’ Consequently, a lot of my work is pretty boring.

The biggest one, though, is ‘what if my family reads this?’ Which is the one I’m working hard to ignore this time around. I read somewhere recently that you should write as if everyone you’ve ever known is dead. So if I imagine that my whole family is dead, it’s a lot easier to let myself write a book about a genderqueer twentysomething dealing with the aftermath of emotionally distant, neglectful parents and an abusive older brother. If I then refuse to leave out the kitchen sink, I get to open the book with a eulogy for that older brother, saying exactly everything that *ahem* my character wants to say about *ahem* her brother. Plus, I get superheroes, and magic, and a super-tower in the Greater Boston Area for queer kids in need of protection and support.

And if editors don’t like it? Well, I’ll keep writing new stuff after, but I’d also like to hold out for an agent / editor who *does* like books about queer superheroes and messages like it’s okay to hate your abuser even if they’re family.

And also I’m really loving the idea of superheroes’ agents.

Jul 04

It’s ‘murica day

I actually managed to mostly avoid patriotic fervor today. I think it might be because it’s storming here — a lot of stuff got rescheduled to tomorrow.

I got into an argument with an anarchist on Tumblr to celebrate the holiday, anyway.

America is a hard country to be patriotic for. It’s just so damn mandatory, you know? Even if there are things I like about America, I can’t stand how gung ho people get about it, and the more U-S-A chanting I hear, the more I want to yell at people about slavery or the shitty parts of the constitution or Japanese internment during WWII or the prison-industrial complex or drone strikes. We do so damn much wrong, it pisses me off that people are uncomplicatedly proud to be American.

So, fuck the 4th of July, America’s most jingoistic day. (Apart from, like, all the other ones.)

Jul 03

Superheroes!

So I’m stepping away from the story I was working on, with the nb superhero with smoke powers, in order to loop back around to my first novel, draft number 3, which takes place in the same setting.

The thing is, I’m tossing the character who had the most competence for action in the first two drafts. He was pointless — he had no real motive to participate in the plot, only ever did stuff by the prodding of the new main character or also-tossed peripheral character, but the book has a lot of action-adventure stuff going on, and he was the one who knew what he was doing.

I’ve done a lot of developing in the setting since the previous draft, including the addition of a ton of superheroics. And I’ve decided how I want to give my protagonist the skills she’s going to need to succeed in the plot without the help of a pointless peripheral professional adventure dude.

She’s going to be a superhero’s agent!

This solves two problems: 1.) I wanted her to be in town for a convention, so she could be present for the plot but without having to live there. Superhero conventions have got to be a cool event, so I’m looking forward to writing about one. And 2.) Superheroes’ agents have got to have some amount of self defense and espionage training, otherwise they’re a serious potential point of weakness for a hero.

Jul 02

EGS: Tedd’s gender

My favorite character from one of my favorite webcomics just found out that trans identities are a thing. That’s significant because he1 has, since gaining access to transformation technology very early in the series, routinely switched between masculine and feminine bodies as a matter of course and personal comfort.

I’ve been reading El Goonish Shive since I was in high school, so probably for about 10 years now. Fluidity of gender identity has always been a major theme, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time that transness as an aspect of identity and a part of language has come up.

I haven’t got much else to say, except that the last two panels of that strip kinda make me choke up every time I read them.

  1. The possibility of changing pronouns hasn’t come up yet, but Tedd goes by ‘he’ as of panel 1 of yesterday’s comic.

Jul 01

I wish Google Glass was cooler than it is

That’s not a totally perfect title for this post, but it’s approaching what I want to say.

Caitlin recently got a few trial pairs of glasses from a site called Warby Parker, who send people sets of non-prescription test glasses to wear around and find which ones they really like, before committing to a purchase. I tried one of the pairs on, and I really liked it.

I’m honestly a big fan of the glasses-as-accessory thing. But it’s got such a bad image, tied to pretentiousness, condescension, and hipster elitism. It’s a huge bummer. Wearing glasses with non-prescription lenses, that don’t have some other function, like sunglasses or eye-strain-minimizing computer glasses, is kind of like wearing a fedora: no matter how much you think you’re conjuring Frank Sinatra or Indiana Jones, you’re actually projecting “I’m a misogynist and I think little girls aren’t real fans of My Little Ponies.” And it doesn’t matter how much I just like the look of glasses on my face, wearing them will generally read as “I think I’m smarter than you and your taste in music sucks.”

So, the thing about Google Glass: However glasses come off as a fashion choice is sort of negated by their actually having a function, right? So if Google Glass hadn’t accumulated the mass of its own socially awkward prejudice, we’d probably be on our way to cool smart glasses, which I could get.

A while ago, Wired did a cover about wearable tech (pictured, right) and they had a product design company come up with concept art for the glasses and watch in the picture. It looks way better than Google Glass, doesn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t want those exact ones, but as the article explains, you would with that device just get a pair of whatever glasses you wanted and clip that little brass thing onto the side.

I think this is probably a flawed premise, altogether. Basically what I’m saying is “I wish that objects didn’t accumulate meaning.” And there might be a lot else wrong with my premise — for example, is it appropriation for a person with adequate unaided vision to wear an object that communicates visual impairment? I’d like to contest its being tied to hipsters, but isn’t hipsters’ main thing taking significant objects from other contexts and using them as cheap accessories? Would that appropriation actually be diminished or negated if the glasses were functional for some other purpose?

Jun 30

Unmanageable minutiae

I wish that everybody were trustworthy.

There’s nothing going on in my personal life that’s prompted this concern. Right now, I’m annoyed that I can’t have totally, comprehensively integrated computer systems that managed to remind me of every little thing going on in my life, because (a.) like two thirds of my devices / apps can’t talk to each other, because proprietary shit, and (b.) there’s basically no way I could know whether any or all of the developers I might otherwise trust with that amount of info and access are safe to trust with that amount of info and access, and the people with the resources and motive to put something like that together are overwhelmingly less likely to be trustworthy, and the trustworthy people who might do it are overwhelmingly likely to be bought out by untrustworthy people specifically because they can exploit the access that I will by that point be reliant on.

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