Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

image by Rob Wanenchak

image by Rob Wanenchak

People love you. You need them. You can’t live without them. They help you. But in the end the only person who can make you well is you. – I’ll Be Yours For a Song

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but what kicked me into it now was two things. The death of David Bowie turned out to be a big one, and it was primarily sparked by what people were saying regarding what he personally meant to them: That he stood for the idea that it was okay to be weird and awkward and vulnerable, that outcasts have worth and value. That if you love what you do, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. And so many of my friends – and acquaintances/colleagues/whatever – are creative people and also people who have felt weird and ill-fitting for most of their lives.

Though I think a huge majority of people feel that way. I think some people are just better at faking that they don’t.

And the other thing was this post by Chuck Wendig on self-care for writers, specifically the part regarding shame.

I want to write about shame more some other time, because it’s something that I’ve been struggling with on a number of levels, and it’s been enormously difficult. But what I’ve especially been wanting to talk about is vulnerability, and being open, and not pretending to be okay.

Which I think too many of us feel like we have to do.

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thoughts on The Big Space Movie

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Yeah, hi. So you know how I consistently do that thing where I say I’m going to write here more? And then I don’t? And then primarily I pop in to deliver news bits and I pop out again and I don’t reappear for a couple weeks at least?

Really not gonna do that anymore.

This used to be at least semi-personal as well as professional. Then for a variety of reasons I moved a lot of stuff onto Tumblr. But Tumblr is, uh, not a good place for me professionally. It’s my place where I get to be and pretty much always am at my least professional. I need to come back here a bit, and I think I might be able to do that by making this more personal than it’s been. Not everything needs to be about books or whatever short story I have out there this month.

(I HAVE A SHORT STORY IN STRANGE HORIZONS THIS MONTH. JUST BY THE WAY)

(THERE’S COOL ART IF YOU LIKE COOL ART. WHICH I DO)

Anyway, I saw Star Wars last Thursday night, like apparently literally everyone else I know except the people who already saw it. My spoiler-free review is that it’s good and you should see it (and if possible see it in laser-projected 3D IMAX, which we did because we’re fortunate to live near the Udvar-Hazy annex of the Air & Space Museum which you really must visit if you never have, they have an SR-71 and the Discovery space shuttle among like a hundred billion other things).

My spoilertastic thoughts are under the cut.

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Life and seconds – slowly working up the courage.

Here’s a mini-confession (and it annoys me that it feels like a confession at all, because I don’t think it should): I’ve been writing a lot of fanfiction this past year.

Like. A lot. A frankly embarrassing amount. Or anyway, I am embarrassed by it.

It’s been a rough year. This stuff has become incredibly important to me, so I want to write about it here on my writing site, but I’m very nervous, so I’m still trying to get myself together enough to do it without being convinced that everyone will conclude that I’m unprofessional for putting so much time and effort into this when I could have been writing things for which I could be paid, and they will never speak to me again and never publish my things anymore and shun me at cons.

This is silly – I hope – but I still feel that way.

However, how I tend to manage things like this is to close my eyes and jump. So soon I’ll probably go ahead and do it, and damn the consequences. The shunning and whatnot.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of the most important one, because I was just rereading it. Because.

He measured his life in weeks.

That was wrong. We divide our lives up in all kinds of ways – decades, years, months and weeks and days, and there are those few of us fortunate enough to look back and count one full century – and each incremental measurement is a form of perception, a way of knowing, but the truth is that lives are lived and should therefore be measured in seconds.

Seconds are all it takes for everything to change.

Seconds to meet someone, to speak to them. Seconds to start down a road you don’t even realize is there, seconds to get into something and have no idea what you’re getting into. Seconds to hear a voice, touch someone’s hair, skin; seconds to inhale and breathe them in. Seconds to break something open, something you’ll never be able to close. Seconds to see something and never see anything the same way again.

Seconds to look at someone and see only them, and never want to see anyone else for the rest of your life.

There’s a story – not this one, but you may know it. Death is in that story, and one day, accompanied by her brother, she does her work. Makes her rounds. She visits people, she takes their hands and leads them away, and one man gets philosophical about everything. He looks around and says that he had quite a run, didn’t he? Fifteen thousand years, in fact. That’s pretty good.

Death tells him that he got what everyone gets. He got a lifetime.

We only get one of those, and it’s wild. And it’s so precious.

Because it’s seconds long.

Sword and Star cover reveal!

As usual I’m behind getting something here on the actual blog, but the cover for Sword and Star, the final book in the Root Code trilogy, is now out there in the wild (kinda already included it in my Award Eligibility post). Soak in its pretty:

swordandstar_1200x1800hr

It’s also up for pre-order. Release date is December 21st, so it will be available for presenting to yourself or loved ones or just anyone you feel like slinging a Big Gay Space Opera at.

Personally I think that’s a nice thing to do in just about every case.

 

here are my stories what are award-eligible

If you care; I always feel weird about making these, but here we go.

I had a pretty good year, short-story wise. Had a pretty good year novel-wise, in swordandstar_1200x1800hrthat I had one come out – the (VERY LONG AWAITED, AT LEAST BY ME) follow-up to my debut Line and Orbit, Fall and Rising. Publisher’s Weekly called it “a satisfying and provocative hybrid”, and said the relationships were “honest and engaging”, which is very nice.

There’s also the final book in the trilogy, Sword and Star, coming December 21 (and available now for presale) – juuuuuuust in time for Christmas.

In short storydom:

  • “Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained” in Uncanny Magazine kicked things off for me this year. Story about a woman who finds herself fitted with a prosthetic limb after an accident, and the limb doesn’t fit well – psychologically and emotionally, not physically. I wanted to write a story about human relationship with intimate forms of technology, and where the line between “real” and “artifical” lies, as well as the value judgments we make when we draw those distinctions.
  • “A Shadow on the Sky” in Mythic Delirium. This is in many ways yet another installment in what’s becoming a series of what I’ll call “drone fiction” on my part – explorations of the relationship between humans and unmanned aeriel vehicles. A woman suffers tragedy when her home is destroyed and becomes a kind of goddess of vengeance, capturing enemy combat drones and making them into an army of which she’s the queen. Some people make a pilgrimage into the desert to find her and hijinks ensue. Bad, dark hijinks.
  • “Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale” in Shimmer. Probably one of the most relentlessly dark things I’ve ever written (a huge amount of what I write at present is very dark, in fact). A slow-burn and somewhat chaotic second-person narrative set in an unspecified post-disaster world, desperately yearning for the world that was while being forced to confront the world that is and the unimaginably terrible thing the character is contemplating doing in order to survive.
  • “eyes I dare not meet in dreams” in Cyborgology. This one… Guys, this one is weird, and I’m not talking about the story itself – though it is also weird. Cyborgology is not a traditional short story market at all; it’s a group sociology blog run by some friends of mine to which I sometimes contribute. It does do fiction, and I wrote this in a fit of annoyance about the treatment of female characters in fiction and posted it. And it took off a bit on Twitter. I’m immensely proud of it, and in fact I think it’s my favorite thing I published this year, as well as the best. Given its publication place and circumstances, however, I’m a bit nervous about it being overlooked. So if you read and like it, please please spread the word about it. Normally I really get uncomfy with overt campaigning, but I think it might be warranted in this case.
  • “It is Healing, it is Never Whole” in Apex Magazine. Written after a family member committed suicide, and I think part of an attempt to process. In a strange and vaguely industrial afterlife, spirits collect the souls of suicides and transfer them to a train that takes them on to points unknown. But one worker finds a soul that connects with them on an entirely new level, and wonders what it all means.
  • And finally: “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” in the Queers Destory Horror! edition of Nightmare. This is the other story I’m most in love with, and it rivals “eyes I dare not” in terms of my Nightmare_37_October_2015estimation of quality. I think it might be one of the best things I ever wrote, in fact. It’s certainly incredibly personal. It’s about graduate school, mental illness, connection and disconnection, technology, and hope battling hopelessness. It’s incredibly dark, and very triggery for anyone who has issues with graphic depictions of suicide. Really it’s kind of a snapshot of a particular mental state. A graduate student finds themselves being consumed by their dissertation in ways that go far beyond the norm, as they immerse themselves in the history of a year of an epidemic of documented suicides – a year they lived through.

So yeah. Them’s my stuff. If you read, if you consider for any awards, if you just like the damn things, thanking you kindly. Again, I think this was a pretty good year in this respect. A hugely difficult one, but good. Hope the next one is also good sans at least some of the difficulty.

filling holes in the world

by Elizabeth Leggett

by Elizabeth Leggett

Today “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” – my story for Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Horror! issue – went live, so you can read it here. If you want. If you do, fair warning: it’s about suicide, so if that’s a trigger for you, proceed with caution. Mental illness is also in there.

I’ve been writing less in the way of short fiction recently – disappointing, a little, because I love the form – and I think there are a variety of reasons for that, but I think one of them is that the kind of short fiction I write has taken a darker turn, and it’s more difficult to stay in that place for any length of time. It’s more difficult to go there at all. A lot of my fiction has always been dark, but at some point, a little over a year ago and maybe more, I made the decision to finally turn inward and write things with material pulled from some of the rawest and most painful parts of my psyche. The first true result of that was “Singing With All My Skin and Bone”, also published in Nightmare. It was terrifying to write. It was incredibly cathartic. It came very quickly; I finished it in about an hour and it needed very little work afterward.

It was terrifying in part because it’s about dermatillomania, which is a disorder that isn’t much talked about and isn’t well understood – by people who don’t have it; the people who do understand it all too well. It’s an incredibly difficult kind of mental illness to talk about, because it involves compulsive behavior – which we also don’t understand very well – and because it involves self harm in a context we don’t usually see it. I hate and am not playing the Mental Illness Olympics game, but as a culture I think we have an easier time talking about self harm as a result of depression than self harm as a result of literally not being able to stop.

Enjoying it, even. As a kid I found it soothing. Painful but soothing. Still do.

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My Capclave schedule!

It is thus:

Friday | 5 PM-5:50 PM | Where Are The Happy Futures?
Friday | 6 PM-6:50 PM | Writing in Multiple Genres
Saturday | 10 AM-10:50 AM | Survival of the Short Form
Sunday | 12 PM-12:50 PM | What To Do After The Rejection Letter
Sunday | 1:30 PM-1:55 PM | Reading

For my reading I’ll probably be doing my story in Queers Destroy Horror! plus something else if time permits. I also plan to have cookies or cupcakes, I have not decided which. :D