Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wine - alcohol in general - has never been a taste I've acquired, and so I cannot compare the silence to wine, nor murmur of how I drink it like wine and sigh with satisfaction. Having basked in this for a month now, I still notice that wondrous, lustrous silence. I've never prayed, and so do not know how to give thanks for the soft texture of the night and the great dimensions it governs, for there is a depth that can only be found in a silence that spans topography, in which a car door, the call of a sleep-startled bird can be heard across the valley. This emptiness and stillness is a treasure the likes of which I may never take for granted, and shall forever be of a value for which there is no number large enough to encapsulate. The grunt and tick of hard drives, the wheeze of the fridge, the sound of gutters shifting in the wind, my hair rustling against the pillow, the sound of my breath in my throat, once again I can hear the pulse of blood, my blood, my pulse. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I'll Walk With You

Over at Book View Cafe, Vonda N. McIntyre has put forth the idea "I'll Walk With You".

I’m distressed to see that some folks who were planning to come to Sasquan are thinking of skipping Worldcon this year. 
Because they’re frightened. 
I understand why people are frightened, given the racist, misogynistic, and dishonest screeds they’ve been subjected to. It isn’t — alas — unusual for verbal abuse to escalate into physical abuse; and anyway verbal abuse is no fun to begin with. 
But I was thinking about what might help counterbalance the situation. 
Have you seen news reports of people responding to threats against a particular group by offering “I’ll ride with you”? Here’s the first Google hit off that phrase: 
I will walk with you at Worldcon.

Finances being what they are, I won't be attending any of the large US/UK conventions this year, thus there is no decision for me to make. However, if money were no obstacle, what with PuppyGate and Vox Day continuing to be exactly what he is and the general climate of the SF&F publishing scene...I'm not sure if I want to attend. 

So I'm pleased to see #illridewithyou translated into the con-going crowd, with other Worldcon attendees offering to walk with anyone who doesn't feel confident roaming around the con. The culture of ribbons and badges is an already set up means for advertising this, and I've seen mention of formal organisation by the con organisers. What with more and more conventions implementing and enforcing anti-harassment policies, I hope this is another step toward making the convention scene less threatening and intimidating.

It's actually wonderful to see this without being directly involved. #illridewithyou will always draw an intense and rather complex emotional reaction from me, and I suspect it will be some time before I can write about it coherently (just composing this post has been difficult, and it isn't even that great a post). This I can view as someone offering to stand with me. Even though I am not attending and don't know most of the people stepping up in the comments, just seeing how many and how quickly people have volunteered for this is a warm ribbon around my heart. Visible and unconditional solidarity matters, it really does. I cannot speak for anyone else, but knowing this has started matters to me.

Once again, this doesn't have to be about the privileged being white knight for the oppressed. Those who feel threatened by what is going on in the scene, by the culture and climate of the world we live in and the fact that the bigots seem to be getting desperate and dangerous in their resistance to change; remember that you are not helpless, nor do you need physical prowess or the right gender or skin colour to act of your own agency. 

I created #illridewithyou as a non-white woman who learned of another non-white woman aiding a third non-white woman. 

The solidarity and support of allies matters, but needn't be waited upon. If I could attend, I would put my hand up too, advertise my presence, and just be visible. For my sake, and for all others who feel the threat and encroaching silence.

I might have created the hashtag, and I might be one of many grains of sand on the SF&F beach, but right now I'm not the person to seed this idea on this beach. Thank you, Vonda, for taking that first step.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hey! A Good Thing!

Before the hashtag, there was 'Acception'.

'Acception' was solicited by Gillian Polack, who was specifically hunting stories dealing with cultural baggage. Being equal parts immigrant and coloniser in a colonised land, it was very much a theme close to my heart. 

I honestly don't remember how the story transitioned from a partial drafs with all the excitement of a damp hanky to the version that went to print. In fact, I don't really remember writing this story at all. I edited it. It required (and because writers can never let alone I think it still requires) editing. Perhaps it is what others mean when they say a story came through them; not from them.

Baggage has had a turbulent life as a book, and after much heartbreak and man obstacles, it has finally returned.

The Post-Hashtag audience may be amused to know that the story I wrote takes place during the coming revolution, which takes place in Melbourne, the protagonist of which is Tessa Kum. Yeah, I really did that. Hero Complex out the wooza except not really.

The Before-Hashtag audience I daresay may be relieved that the hashtag didn't pan out like the story did. Funny. Even after all these years, this story is still precious to me. I'm not sure I could or even would write that narrative again, but being written I find myself returning to it. Perhaps because the story says something I needed to hear, and still need to hear.

There are also some marvellous pieces in this collection. Stand outs for me are the stories by KJ Bishop, Yaritji Green and Monica Carroll. Excellent tasty stuff. 

Baggage can be bought as paperback or ebook.

For that matter, 'The Fate of All Wens' is available as an ebook together with 'By the Moon's Good Grace' by Kirstyn McDermott in Volume 12: Issue 3 of the Review of Australian Fiction. McDermott's story is current shortlisted for a Ditmar, so you don't just have to take my word for it when I say it is an incredible, powerful piece of work. $2.99AUD for two stories is pretty excellent. That's less than a fancy cup of tea and you get owlbears and wolves and all sorts of lovely words and images and perhaps some not so lovely ones too, all of them so worthwhile.

Tangentially, the Triumvirate over at the Galactic Suburbia podcast have named myself as well as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu tie winners for the Julia Gillard Award of sort of general feminist badassery. The Galactic Surburbia award for activism in SFF goes to Sofia Samatar for her awesome acceptance speech calling out the elephant in the roof: Lovecraft's unfortunate head.

The Julia Gillard Award was named after former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in particular for this speech:

Which, look. She had some abhorrent policies, but this remains for me the greatest use parliamentary speech time EVER. 

Am honoured to be a grasshopper amongst giants, am honoured to accept anything in the name of this speech.

One person is not a movement. One person plus one person plus one person... and we are heard. This recognition is for everyone who reached out and took part. Carry on being awesome. 

Monday, February 09, 2015


I knew I had to let those last two posts stand for a while, without speaking over the top of them, so I did. Then I thought the usual recap/new years post would be a good way back in. Now it's February.

Swift acclimatisation is no longer one of my skills. The past year felt like the whirlwind dance of the unbalanced; reacting, correcting, overcorrecting, reacting, reacting, reacting. Then blindsided. I think, maybe, possibly, now the fall has ended. The bounce, the settling of all my pieces as gravity has its way, and it will have its way. Things have stopped moving, but I don't yet have my bearings. Disorientated. Echoes of vertigo. Nothing is moving but the storm inside this teacup.

Developing chronic illness means your days become filled with demonstrations of all your limitations. As the levels of ability and functionality you took for granted are stripped away, so too does your world become smaller. Examples of what you cannot do are presented one after another after another. That is the effect – not side effect, the effect – of chronic illness.

It has been near impossible for me to keep this thought from tripping over the edge and into seeing my illness as proof of my own personal failings. For years I have struggled to accept the stiflingly close horizons of my illness. Being better than I was does not mean I am yet anywhere near acceptance.

Illness has robbed me of many memories, but not how it felt to take mobility and endurance and clarity for granted. My muscles and sinew remember. My brain remembers. I have not become smaller at all, but anything that could be called a resource has been drained. I could be full of health, but I am hollow.

And this fucking hashtag, it just threw all this in my face with all the subtlety of an asteroid. In the Pre-Hashtag Era, I thought I understood the pain of saying, "I cannot." It took a while to surface what with all the abuse and hate and attention, this tired old dilemma trying to be something new. It is not, in fact, a dilemma at all.

The part of me that always wanted to be a revolutionary or go on a great and epic quest for the fate of the world has been screaming, shrieking and shrill, that I must go! Get out there! I've made a difference and it isn't change but it's not nothing and this is an opportunity that you cannot engineer and will never happen again and just fucking pull yourself together and launch.

Because I'm a sucker and an idealist and an angry minority and I've had a taste of power, and the potential was-


-well. If you know it then you know it.

I could see change in that. Actual change. Infinitesimal, but change.

I want change. So bad. To bring it about with my own hands I wouldn't even stop to consider. Not a doubt. Not a moment.


I cannot.

I want to, and, I cannot. This is my reality, and there's no amount of "You just gotta believe!" that will alter anything. Even if I do not accept my illness, I have years of practice at recognising my limitations when I come charging up at them. None of us believe we will ever be that hero making all right with the world, but then, I don't know that many of us are presented with opportunities to do so either.

It was never going to happen, so I have lost nothing.

But now I know, and my daydreams aren't as extravagant as they used to be. This is a learning that hurts, and even as it hurts, still I look at that wilting opportunity and long for the what if...

Nothing has changed. I am still an undisciplined and intermittent writer on a part-time income due to chronic illness. This is still a personal blog. It started with inane trivialities of my life, evolved into a rather entertaining playground, and has lately been a sandbox for sorting out my thoughts. This visibility will no doubt cause its nature to evolve again. There are no plans to open comments again, for starters. I've not the spoons to moderate, nor much desire to give the haters another channel.

Whatever I choose to do with this space, it is personal. It is for frivolity and whimsy as much as the weight of the world. I write for myself, and specifically regarding this blog, I do not wish to fall into the trap of writing for a perceived audience. I am a writer. This is writing. Nothing has changed. This is as it always was. My online activities may be more cautious, but only for my own sake. I must not become a persona. I must not perform for a perceived audience. Just think, and write.

Tessa, stop justifying yourself.

This is my space.

It is good to have it back.