It’s been a while since I last posted here. Blog neglect gets to be very real this time of year 😉 Also it’s hard to write when I have no theme or coherent thoughts on a subject. Then again, most of my thoughts seem incoherent.
However, I am also reflective again and find myself with time on my hands while I wait to hear back from job prospects and wonder how to keep myself afloat during this lean period with no income. Most of my thoughts focus on WisCon, which I attended last month.
This year I anticipated the con even more than last because this is the one time of year I get to be in the same physical space as people I adore and feel safe with. I anticipated more so this year because it meant seeing a dear friend who no longer lives in the same city. Of course, I looked forward to the panels and other events the con brings and found it to be an overall enjoyable experience.
Each panel I attended had some excellent points and only a few had some WTF moments. Then again, most of the panels I attended were all or mostly Black women. However, the two panels I attended Friday got the weekend off to a great start. Manic Pixies, Magical Negroes and Other Iconic Harmful Tropes discussed many of the tired tropes and stereotypes still found in speculative genres. However, the panel did not simply list the tropes. It also explained why these tropes continue to prevail and gave some examples of works (books mostly) that do credible jobs in averting these tropes. Drawing attention to the tropes has the power to show writers how to do it, but it also works to show what not to do and may even make writers more creative.
The Misandry, Reverse Racism, and Other Imaginary Creatures panel was also quite informative but approached with a lighthearted, fun spirit. Our moderator showed us some great artwork capturing these imaginary creatures and the panel explained some encounters in which they were said to be these fascinating mythical creatures. While the panel was enjoyable, it brought to light the ways in which writers and those of us derisively called social justice warriors must deal with the tears of the privilege who for some reason want to believe they are oppressed.
Saturday was a great and not-so-great day for the panels. The day started off great with an early morning panel, Podcasts for Beginners. Whether or not you are interested in podcasting, there was some great information to help understand what indie podcasters endure with the only reward as the possibility of reaching like minds and adding a much needed voice in a predominantly white, male landscape. Anyone considering starting a podcast or needs tips on sustaining an existing one would have learned so much from this panel.
Size Acceptance 201 had a great premise but was marred a bit by a generation gap and apparent unawareness from the moderator. The panel touched on many issues connected with size/fat acceptance and the ways sizism harms people who do not fit the thin ideal. For instance, finding sympathetic doctors who treat symptoms rather than perceptions of fatness can be difficult when seeking medical care. However, there were some issues about who should be centered in discussions as well as crediting those who pioneered fat acceptance movements. Still, the overall discussion had quite a few productive moments.
The next panel I attended was one I proposed and moderated, Just Say No to #DollarStoreThor: A Sleepy Hollow Panel. Due to a last minute addition, we ended up with seven people on this panel and it was so much fun. It wasn’t all about trashing the show even though we definitely had a lot to say about that. The tone was more of betrayal and had we been given a bait and switch with the series, especially given the Fox Network’s history with Black-led shows. And Struggle Witch. We talked a lot about Struggle Witch. Of course, we also talked about how the show could get back on track and what we hope to see with season 3. I really enjoyed the passion the panel brought to the subject and wish that TPTB actually listened to their insight on the show. But…
Tired as I was after that panel, I attended “Infodump,” “Mary Sue” and Other Words That Authors Are Sick of Hearing. Admittedly, the panel was not about what I thought it was about. It focused on an article of the same name printed in i09 about what words authors would like to see retired. While the panel went over the terms listed in the article, there was some defense in why they were sometimes useful, especially in helping to identify what was problematic with the writing. However, there was some random fuckery on the part of an audience member who thought it was a good idea to unnecessarily use the n-word as an example. Fortunately, the situation was handled rather professionally because in my sleepy state, my filters were off and I was planning to meet this person out in the hall.
Sunday was another great day for panels, mostly because they were primarily led by Nerdgasm Noire Network. The morning panel Is Anyone Listening? Black Women’s Experiences in Podcasting addressed the issues the panel faced as Black women trying to make themselves heard in a medium with an overwhelming white, male, cishet presence. Podcasting gives many people (such as myself) access to voices that more closely align with their own, but sometimes they are difficult to find amidst the more dominant voices. Furthermore, growing and sustaining an audience can often be difficult when Black women are considered niche.
Nerdgasm also led another awesome panel called Leading Ladies of Color. The panel discussed some of their favorite women of color in television right now. While they focused on the WOC they loved, they also addressed problematic aspects of these characters even though many are given more complex characterizations than many WOC have found in the past. Then of course there are also problematic leading WOC (who will remain unnamed) who failed to live up to expectations whether through their own doing or because of what they had to work with. A favorite moment of mine was when an audience member brought up web series and how they are also giving us more nuanced representations for WOC.
I had to make a choice for which panel to attend during the first afternoon session and I chose Standing in the Sun: How Shonda Rhimes Redirected Hollywood’s Spotlight onto Intersectional Feminism. Great choice because the panel came from the perspective of fans with great admiration for Rhimes even though they were rightly critical of her work. They explained what she did right in her shows as well as addressed where she could do better. As a newer fan, I had to explain why I thought that Rhimes has gotten to a place where she can make her feminism do what feminism is supposed to do. There were also squees over cast members, favorite and least favorite moments from the shows and lots of feelings about having a Black woman practically take over the biggest night of television. [The panel I also wanted to see, Are Casual Gamers Considered “Real Gamers,” should be available as an NNN podcast in the coming weeks.]
The last panel I attended at WisCon was also my most highly anticipated: Nerdgasm Noire Network Live at WisCon. For the first time almost since the show started, NNN had all six members of the podcast in attendance and totally brought the spirit of the podcast to the con. I had so much fun listening to debates about John Diggle vs Joe West, Gotham City vs Hell’s Kitchen and other topics and even won some awesome nerd swag: the premier edition of the En?gma comic by Kimberly Moseberry and Jonathan Price and some artwork of a character called Prodigy from a series I forget the name of but I think it’s got something to do with Trinity. Although I’d planned to attend another panel on Monday morning, it was canceled, so the live show was the perfect way to end the panel sessions.
Otherwise, I spent the weekend as the official NNN groupie and wouldn’t let them shake me 😀 I had a great time hanging out with the girls and talking with them about lots of random shit. I also got to see some other friends and wished I could have spent more time with them, but we didn’t catch up until Sunday and I was only able to sit with them during the morning panels. A rainy day left us in the hotel room and became a hostage situation when we were forced to watch The Room. Yeah that movie. Thanx, Maria. At least I did get to show off my Concrete Park and Nuthin’ Good Ever Happens at 4 a.m. comics…
Spending time with my Nerdgasm friends also leads me to the moving on part. I got some positive reinforcement on some things I’m writing. I told them about the series I’m working on and there was some interest. I’ve also gotten some feedback from an awesome beta reader, so I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m planning on posting it once the summer solstice hits. I still have not decided whether to post biweekly or monthly. I feel that biweekly could possibly push me a little harder than I’m ready for at this point, but monthly could be too long of a wait between chapters, a confusing fear of mine given that I already believe that people could get tired of me if I post too often.
Anyway, I will hopefully have my mind made up on the posting schedule by the time I post the first chapter. In the meantime, I am trying to bring myself to submit a short story to Tor. This is a major market and could be a great opportunity if the story is accepted. However, I don’t have lots of confidence that the story lives up to speculative expectations as it is primarily character rather than plot driven (as pretty much all my writing is). I am also working on a grant that could really change my life if accepted, but the deadline is months from now.
I am also participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon in a couple of weeks. The Write-a-thon was great in helping me maintain writing goals last summer and this summer I plan to use the time to focus on the series and maybe the novel. People are allowed to sponsor me but, if I am honest, I’m not really sure how that works. Believe it or not, this is my third time participating…
Anyway, that’s what’s been up with me these past few weeks. I haven’t started to panic about no work yet and hopefully I won’t have to. In the meantime, hopefully I’ll still have some writing from For Harriet and I’ll hear about the proofreading positions. If you wanna stay on my butt about keeping up my writing, I won’t mind at all. Now let’s just hope I get something fiction published sooner rather than later…