Not With a Bang, But Also Not With a Whimper

Reading time: about 5 min.
writing  science-fiction  fantasy  community 

I think, at this point, everyone knows that I believe fandom failed me–and it did. And taking time away has been good in shifting my perspective on its place in my life.

I have a very small group of friends who have held me up and supported me over the past couple of years–you know who you are and thank you. I know I wouldn’t be here, now, trying to see where I can make space for myself within fandom again. You’ve helped me more than even I understand. I love our little group and how we’re free with our opinions and aren’t afraid to tell each other that we’re being stupid or misguided.

I’ve let too many people get under my skin and make me feel small and frightened and unimportant. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling that way.

I got such a rush from blocking File 770 on Bluesky that I wanted to unblock them and do it again. I don’t know how Mike Glyer justifies what he does as journalism, because it isn’t. He’ll publish any piece of garbage that he gets sent and his comments are an abusive nightmare. Glyer is thus doing the community an incredible disservice when he doesn’t curate his content when he knows that File 770 the only place that aggregates links on a daily basis about the genre.

I do not propose that I manage my own trash heap, because I’m the only one who’s going to be writing here. I may (probably) aggregate links, but I’ll put them in context, and there won’t be as many of them (sorry, lovers of my previous links posts). And there will never be a comment section here. I’m sure folks who disagree with me will find somewhere else to complain about me, and I’m fine with that.

I know that not everyone likes me. I’ve been told my entire life that I am unlikeable because I am too opinionated and stubborn and how dare I want acknowledgement for my achievements? I should be happy with crumbs.

The SFF community (I use this word loosely) has given me acknowledgement: two Hugo nominations are nothing to sneeze at, after all. I am proud of both of them and of my status of “worst Hugo nominee ever” (thanks, Pat Cadigan). But the community should be ashamed of the way they treated me; I feel like if there’d been a BRW-Fan Writing category people wouldn’t have been so angry about a filthy fan such as myself ending up in what is traditionally a professional writing or art book category. Imagine all the anger at AO3’s win pointed at a single person. Is it any wonder that I broke and needed time away?

But I’ve continued to read over the last two years, and there’s been so much incredible work published. And this year’s Hugo shortlist was also a joy and while I didn’t participate in the process at all, I was pretty happy with the winners. Except for one of the two people I will always put underneath No Award. But they don’t need my approval or even my disapproval, and all I need is to never be on a panel or talk to them in any forum because I will not be able to keep a civil tongue in my head.

I just finished reading Nicola Griffith’s Menewood, the second book in what is now being called the Hild sequence and it is a triumph. I felt immersed in Hild’s world through the language and description of the material culture of the time, and really felt Hild’s struggle with both herself and her world. So on the heels of that, I started reading Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry’s The Bright Ages and despite only having one stinking paragraph about St. Hilda of Whitby in it, it’s fantastic. I wish I’d had this as a primer in my medieval history class in university.

And there’s a new Courtney Milan book that just came out and I started reading it today and can already tell that it will be a delight. It’s called The Marquis Who Mustn’t and while he may not be able to, you should definitely go buy it.

When I was younger, much younger, I wanted to be a poet. And I let that desire die because of the casual cruelty of the Creative Writing faculty at my university. They didn’t mean to harm me, but they did. I try to read poetry on the regular, to see if I can manage to glean some sort of inspiration, but I don’t seem to have the sensibility for it anymore. But I did notice last night that W.B. Yeats, one of my favorite poets, sure does have a lot of creepy-as-fuck poems about young women and girls, so that was fun.

What I do have a sensibility for, though, is writing about books and fandom as well as my own life. And I’m not going to let that part of me die; it has atrophied, certainly, but it’s still there.

I’ve been through hell in the last five years. This month marks the fifth anniversary of my pancreatic necrosectomy, the surgery which saved my life and I have mostly accepted my limitations.

While I was in Boston last week visiting my cousin Liz, we talked a lot about endings and beginnings. Her beginning is that her mother died recently and she can begin to heal from years of emotional abuse.

We talked a lot about our parents and our mothers in particular. They were both obsessed with respectability. My aunt was obsessed about it materially, in that she had to have the best of everything. My mother was obsessed about it in how she brought her children up: the single worst thing I could do as a child was to embarrass her. I never knew what behavior she would consider embarrassing until she pulled me to the side and told me in a heated whisper to stop it or berate me in the car afterwards.

I was the child with no common sense, who was always doing something wrong at family gatherings and yet now, when I talk to my cousins, their main memories of our minimally shared childhoods are that both me and my sister were always quiet and well-behaved. My dad likes to say that she had us on such a tight leash that we had to ask permission to breathe. No one ever noticed that I was constantly moving my feet and legs–what I know now is stimming–and that my nail biting was mostly driven by anxiety. And anxiety is why I always preferred to read a book or a National Geographic to human interaction. I was terrified of doing something wrong and embarrassing my mother.

My beginning is more nebulous. Obviously, the last five years have been very difficult for me, but I also feel like it’s necessary for me to draw a line in the sand and say: this is enough. Not that bad things won’t continue to happen, but I want the balance to be more positive and that starts with me. So even though my belly hurts and I am getting random hives, I’m happy that my hair looks good, my face mask is cheerful, and my Pride Chucks totally kick ass. And that I am here, alive and writing.

The hair is a whole story, and one I need to tell but: I ended up at a Hair Cuttery and found quite possibly the only out non-binary stylist in this part of Delaware and they actually listened to me and didn’t try to feminize what I wanted. Back when my hair was falling out in 2018, I asked my now-former stylist to buzz my head and she refused.

I’m not promising to be quiet and ladylike here or elsewhere, but I’m not going to go out of my way to court controversy. My current philosophy is what the newskies are told on Bluesky: “Block and move on.”

I want to talk about things that make me happy. Right now this is:

  • My hair color and cut
  • A TWSBI ALR in Rose Gold and Black with a F nib (not suitable for glitter-bomb inks, alas)
  • Ferris Wheel Pens Blushing Mushroom ink, which is at least 50% glitter by volume
  • My entire fountain pen collection and the fact that I had the means to buy someone a little fountain pen starter kit at the pen shop near the Capclave hotel (Bertram’s Ink Well)
  • The giant stack of non-fiction I bought with Christmas gift cards.
  • Knitting my way through my stash to the point where I’m going to have to tune up my spinning wheel in order to keep knitting
  • Stickers. So many stickers.