Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blue Eyed Devils

Seeking Avalon: This Is What I See

I've tried to stay out of RaceFail for the most part. Not necessarily because I am a coward or because I wanted to avoid the issue. Mostly because I didn't feel like it was my turn to speak. I felt, in many ways, RaceFail, outside of the terrible things said by members of the SF community, was at its heart a way of fans of color to connect. A way for them to say, "Hey, I'm here and I really wish you would stop saying and doing things to hurt me." I am a white woman from the Midwest. When it comes to race, I am more than well-represented. So, I kept quiet and let the people who have waited for DECADES to have their voices hear speak.

I see now that I made a mistake.

While I was being quiet and listening in, but holding my tongue, others decided to speak for me. The others that called fans of color names like orc and nithing. The others that devalued their experiences. The others that fought very hard to keep these voices silent by doubting their identities and casting ridiculous agendas upon them. The others that try to paint the outrage and anger these POC feel as mental illness as the above link shows.

I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm not like these OTHER white people. That I'm so different and a special snowflake and all that. I'm not. It makes me ashamed to admit that those white people are in my tribe. Those people that say such vile, hateful, awful things are my neighbors and my relatives and my friends. I don't know any of the white people directly involved in Race Fail personally, but I still have to claim them. I still have to own up that I come from a culture, a white culture, that creates that and SUPPORTS that in ways both subtle and obvious.

And I am sorry.

I'm sorry for every POC that has felt insulted and belittled by a white person in this discussion. I'm sorry for every potentially awesome conversation derailed by a white person that was uncomfortable with the concept that they DO have White Privilege. I'm sorry for every POC that has felt scared or angry or hopeless because a white person refused to hear their voice. I'm sorry that despite there being a black President of the United States, we white people are still up to our dirty tricks.

It hurts. I'm not going to lie. It hurts to know that I look like the bad guy. It hurts to know that there are POC who will hesitate to speak to me because of what white people have said or done to them. But then, I guess that is the point. And indeed, it sucks to have the tables turned.

But maybe that is the point. Maybe only by understanding what it is like to be judged by the color of your skin and by the words and deeds of others simply because they look like you do, will we finally get it. The thing is, with our heavy backpacks of privilege, I'm not sure that the people that need the lesson most are getting it.

It makes me sad. It makes me angry. But most of all, it makes me feel ashamed.

Monday, February 9, 2009


This blog will be undergoing a few changes here in the next couple days. I've made a decision about what to do with this space and that is to use it to focus more on my actual writing and weed out the clutter. In a couple days, I'll actually make a post with substance.

Friday, July 25, 2008


So, beyond the initial post, I haven’t touched this blog for awhile. I’ve noticed that a lot of people apologize for long absences. I find it both sort of amusing and vaguely annoying when 60%+ of postings to a blog contain some manner of apology for not posting as much. I think most rational people understand that as a human being, sometimes life gets in the way and you just don’t have time to do things like post. Or even sometimes shower. So, I shall say that life has been busy and leave it at that.

And I’ve been playing entirely too much World of Warcraft. Mostly at Evil Boyfriend’s insisting. As new parents, we aren’t very wealthy right now and that game is cheap entertainment. I don’t see the addicting qualities of it so much. I mean, it’s fun, but I couldn’t sit at a computer and play it for hours upon hours as some people. *cough*Evil Boyfriend*cough* Add this in with a brand new part-time job that I started last week, a new baby that is endlessly distracting, and the normal, everyday drudgery of life and, as you might guess, not a lot of writing is getting done.

THINKING about writing is getting done, though. That is a step up from where I was a couple months ago, where I didn’t think much about writing period. Now, I think about story ideas and I think about editing my novel and I entertain vague ideas about a sequel to the novel that I had released from Double Dragon E-books. But no actual writing yet. I’m sort of wondering if I have psyched myself out like I did with my toenail over the weekend.

See, I’m terminally clumsy. It’s a family trait that I inherited from my father. Anyway, I went to the farmer’s market with my parents last Saturday (it was my first time and I am definitely a convert) and they give you these nifty red wagons to cart your goods around in. My parents and I shared one (which will not happen again as we ran out of room very quickly) and, after we were finished, I volunteered to return the wagon on my way back to my car. Well, just before parking the wagon, I ran it right over the pinkie toe on my left foot.

Ouch. Big Ouch.

I bit back a colorful string of curses because there were small children around and I don’t think I could have dealt with parental glares as well as the pain in my foot. So, I hobbled back to my car and went home.

Fast forward several hours.

Evil Boyfriend and I were putzing around the house, playing with the baby and making lunch from our stash of newly acquired fruits and veggies. Being my usual graceless self, I kicked a wall HARD. Hard enough to knock off most of my already damaged pinkie toe nail. Evil Boyfriend, being a good judge of first aid, decided that the toe nail needed to come off. Cue me freaking out and squirming away every time he came at me with tweezers. I was in hysterics for about fifteen minutes because, for me, the anticipation of pain is worse than actual pain. I mean, come on. Pulling off toenails is a classic torture! And I was expected to just let Evil Boyfriend do this without a whimper! Finally, after a few tears and some yelling, I submitted to the torture of having what remained of my toenail yanked off.

It didn’t hurt even a tenth of what I was expecting. I was more psyched out by the IDEA of how much it was going to hurt than by the actual pain itself. I wonder if I haven’t done this with my writing. It has been so long since I sat down and actually wrote that I’ve convinced myself that I am worse at it than I actually am. Maybe I just need to sit down and write. No more obsessing about what project to work on or what words to use or who the heck is going to buy my writing anyway.

Turn off brain. Engage muse.

So much easier said than done.

Anyhow, I will be participating in PBW’s Left Behind & Loving It workshops. I’m hoping that might help to kick some of the cobwebs out of my brain and get the juices flowing again. I’ll likely be posting any thoughts, notes, etc.

I’m off now to nurse my toe. While the pain of actually ripping out the toenail is not as awful as the torture manuals suggest, walking around without a nail hurts. Maybe that’s the tortuous part.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Post: A Confession

Hello, everyone. My name is Crista and it has been over a year and a half since I finished a novel.

Actually, make that 1 year, 9 months, and 21 days to be exact.

I always thought that after I finished my first novel, it would be easier to keep going. At least that was what all the writing advice I read told me. I bought it, too. I remember finishing my first book and being so elated because that hurtle was done. It was all down hill from there. Easy-going. Now I would be finishing books just as fast as my fingers could fly over the keyboard.

It wasn't quite like that.

I finished my first novel and fumbled around for a while, looking for the next book. I found it while playing a lot of the game Zuma. Don't laugh, but I actually got the idea for an Egyptian-themed fantasy novel while playing that game. So, I started writing. The book took me over a year to finish, but I did get it finished. The first book proved to me that I COULD finish a novel. The second taught me HOW I finish a novel. I'm not one of those writers that sits down and writes a set amount of pages everyday.

I usually hash up a "road map" of what I'm doing over the course of the novel. This is so that I don't get too far off course while writing. Then, from there, I seem to be a lot more organic than planned. Sitting and writing a set amount everyday seems to hamper my creative process. I work much better when I furiously write for a couple weeks then take a couple weeks off to "refill the well" so to speak. I take longer to write, but I also write fairly clean first drafts. Most of the time I only need a line edit.

I thought that figuring out what works for me would be the key to blowing open the writing hatches.

Again, it isn't quite like that.

I finished my last novel in August 2006. Since then, I've written 200 pages of absolute dreck on a Regency romance that desperately wanted to be a sea monster book SET in the Regency, a little bit on a V for Vendetta rip-off that I didn't recognize until about 60 pages in, and a couple pages here and there on failed short story ideas. That's it. For months, I've felt like I've lost my writing mojo.

First, I thought that I was just burned out from Nanowrimo and the Regency Monster Mess that resulted from it. So I resolved to give myself some time off to read books and watch movies and not think about writing until I WANTED to come back. Then Tony and I began dating and I thought that my romantic happiness was killing my creative drive. After all, aren't most artists unhappy creatures that find inspiration in their misery? I have been so far from miserable in the past year that I figured that I had scared off my muse with my delight.

I saw through that line of bullshit about six months ago. Then I thought my new job was eating too much time. Then I thought that my pregnancy was creating stress that kept my muse at bay. The latest excuse that I have been nurturing is my dissatisfaction with my latest publishing experience. I'll get into likely in another post, but I will say that Dust and Shadows has been released. No, I am not promoting it. In fact, I'm sort of wishing that it had never happened. But that is another story for another post.

And, before you think I have ignored them, I have also included laziness and lack of writing talent on the long list of reasons why I can't write. I've spent about a year pretty much convinced that I am not a real writer and that I need to "go back to school and get a real job". Like maybe becoming a baker or something. Even though I don't want to go back to school. Even though I can't see myself doing anything else but writing for the rest of my life. And while I love cookies, I really prefer it when someone else makes them.

I've been entertaining this long list of excuses as to why I have all of these brilliant ideas and no motivation to write and they have all been wrong. The real reason for my creative constipation has been right on my hard drive, staring me in the face for the past six months. My last novel is the real blockade between me and my writing.

It sits there, waiting to be edited and sent out into the world, like its predecessor. It laughs and mocks me every time I open another file to jot down ideas for another book. Don't get me wrong, I like the book. It has interesting characters and a great setting. I only have one problem with this book.

It has two more waiting to come after it. That is two years of work. TWO YEARS.

I have discovered my writing style. It is much more conducive to big stand-alone novels. That is what I WANT to write. I have three ideas in a notebook right now that are just that. Big, stand-alone novels that I can throw my energy into and then move on to something else. The easiest solution would be to just ignore that book and move on to something else, right?

Then, my inner editor kicks in and berates me for giving up on a complete novel that is only about three weeks worth of work away from being sent out. How am I ever going to become a published and paid writer if I write novels that never see the light of day? Considering what a slow writer I am, this is the equivalent of throwing away a year's worth of really good work. I feel like I CAN'T work on something else until I edit and send out this novel.

But my more artistic side doesn't want to do it. In the event of a publication, I will likely be contractually obligated to finish the trilogy. Given the nature of the industry, a new writer only gets three shots to "make it" before they aren't offered a new contract. Do I really want to waste all three of my shots on one story? I have confidence in the story, but only to a point. There is a big part of me that would rather write three stand-alones and hope to hell that one of the three sticks. If I publish a trilogy the first time out, I am pinning all of my hopes to one idea. That doesn't make me comfortable.

So I'm stuck. The two sides of my brain are at war and all writing action has stopped. I've tried any number of creative solutions. The book is about as stand-alone as I can make it. All story lines are wrapped up except the big, over-reaching one. I've thought about trying to combine all three books into one, but the first book alone clocks in at over 500 pages. I wish I could just make a decision. Edit the damned book and send it out or suck it up, shelve it, and work on something else. I feel like something has been missing since I haven't been writing. I miss it.

But for now, my mind seems to be at an impasse.

Maybe I should go buy those cookie sheets now.