How To Go On

I am facedown on the floor, folks, and I don’t feel like I’m getting up anytime soon. This week is gutting. This year is gutting. It’s relentless. It hasn’t felt so hard to hold onto hope in a long time.

But there is so much further we could fall. There are yawning caverns beneath our feet, just waiting.

Don’t set your sights on 2020. You can’t wait that long. We can’t wait that long. You need to start fighting now, as soon as you can manage it.

That’s the key, though: as soon as you can manage it.

Take the time you need to deal with your grief and anxiety, with your disappointment. Take the time to understand what’s most important to you and where you need to focus your energy. Ask for help if you need it. I needed it. I’ll need it again, repeatedly, for a long time. I’ll keep asking.

Take some time to reflect. Take some time to read about other people’s resistance and their advice for you, like these steps on how to survive autocracy. Most importantly, take time to relax and focus on the good in your life. To enjoy yourself, a book, a movie, a sitcom. Go see a Star War. I’m going to see several! Read some fiction, write some. Listen to a poem outside in the sun. Take a nap instead of checking the news. Take care of yourself first. You are important. You are needed. We don’t want to go on without you.

Talk to people you trust about why you’re scared. Put your safety first, but don’t hide behind your desire for comfort if you’re already safe. There are so many people who aren’t going to be safe for long and they need us to fight for them.

And when you feel like you’re ready, start here:

Do whatever you need to strengthen your own situation first. Are you part of a vulnerable population? Do you need to make sure you have your documentation in order in case your gender or marriage is no longer recognized? In case your citizenship is no longer recognized? In case your immigration status is scrutinized, or your religion, or your affiliations? Could you lose access to healthcare? Are there alternatives? Things you can do now to guard against future catastrophe? There are so many people and organizations who are ready now to help you. If you need help finding them, tell me and I’ll help you.

What can you do for others now? Not next week, not next year. What is the first step you can take, right now, from where you are? Write it down, then do it, then cross it off. Then you can figure out the next one. Right now, you only need to worry about your very next step.

What organizations in your immediate area will need your help to protect people? Reach out to them now. Many will be overwhelmed by support that will trickle away in the next few months as passions subside and the natural human instinct to seek reassurance and normalize horror starts to take over. Set a calendar reminder to reach out again in three months. And again in six. Find places that could use you and make a commitment to be there. Set up donations if you can afford it.

Talk to your friends and family and coworkers. Do you know how many people don’t actually know what’s at stake? It’s a lot. It’s a surprising amount of a lot. Find common ground, if you can. Educate, if you can. Sometimes you can’t, and that’s okay, too. You aren’t required to try to change anyone. You aren’t required to try to change even one.

Who is running your city, county, and state after this election? Get their names. Get their contact info. Throw it in a Google doc. Start asking them how they’re going to work for you. Start telling them to vote for and write legislation for the things you want. Do it as soon as you feel like you can.

Who is going to represent you in Congress now? Get their names. Get their contact info. Tell them what you want them to do. Tell them what you won’t support them doing. Not sure what to say? Find an advocacy group that deals with the issues that concern you and ask them. Most will already have sample letters or emails or phone scripts you can use.

Still not sure what to do? This Twitter thread lays out the mechanics of effective communication with your elected officials.

Who is running for election in 2017? 2018? (NOTE: All of the House of Representatives is up for election in 2018. ALL 435 VOTING SEATS OF IT. Along with 33 Senate seats.) We need to start organizing and pushing and working now to get the people we want into those offices so they can protect and promote the policies we want.

Here are all the Democratic Party branches in every state, Puerto Rico, DC, and abroad. That’s who we need to push to lead the fight. I’m sorry if you still believe there’s someone else who can do it. There isn’t. The Democrats have a larger coalition than anyone else. The Libertarians can’t do it. The Green Party can’t do it. The Worker’s Party can’t do it. Bernie can’t do it. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Keith Ellison, and every other next-hope you have can’t do it.

But you can. We can. Let’s go.

Hamilton, Necessity, and hidden truths

It’s National Parks Week, and this summer will mark the 100th anniversary of the congressional act that created them. Admission to most parks is free through this weekend! Maybe there’s one near you? Short trips and mini-breaks are a priority for me this year, and for the first time in a long time there’s a tangible list of places I feel compelled to see and could actually afford.

We took a road trip to western Pennsylvania last weekend to visit Fallingwater (more than you probably want on that in a bit). It’s about a five hour drive from home with gas and food stops, which is an excellent road trip distance. You may already know this: that’s a perfect length of time to make your unwilling passenger listen to all of Hamilton. (Twice, if you’re lucky.) Not only that, but they can listen to you get real nerdy about the sublimity of a show that loves hip hop and history as much as it hates the original Cranky Old Fingerwagging Fusspot John Adams. Everybody wins! If everybody is into showtunes, Leslie Odom, Jr, and lyrical jokes at the expense of Thomas Jefferson’s staggering hypocrisy, that is.

Continue reading Hamilton, Necessity, and hidden truths

Hugo Awards eligibility & endorsements

I think I’m technically eligible for the following Hugo Awards, though I have zero illusions about winding up on a ballot. There are so many great people out here doing killer work while I flail away on the sidelines.

Best Fan Writer for Twitter/Tumblr/this haphazard blog (especially the Galavant reviews) and the recaps/reviews I do for The Televixen (Into the Badlands & Fear the Walking Dead) (I think?)

Best Fancast for Bossy Britches

Best Related Work for this overinvested and extremely swear-y defense of Jupiter Ascending. (Haha, “best” related work; I just want people to see me get defensive about space opera.)

More importantly! Here are a few of the things I’m endorsing for Hugos this year, most of which are on my nomination form: Continue reading Hugo Awards eligibility & endorsements

Phone anxiety but you want to be heard? Try this.

With Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for SCOTUS today, I think it’s important to call the Senate Judiciary Committee to remind them, as Twitter puts it, to #DoYourJob. To let the vacancy remain open until after next February would be an egregious breach of their duty to their constituents and the nation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write out what I wanted to say before a staffer answered the phone. Something resembling words came out of my mouth, but they weren’t all that coherent.

If you think that might happen to you, feel free to use this, which resembles what I wanted to say:

Hi, I’m calling to ask the committee to do its job and work with President Obama to confirm his Supreme Court nominee.

For what it’s worth, the staffer who answered my call said three things (“Good afternoon, Senate Judiciary Committee,” “thank you, I will pass the message on,” and “have a good afternoon.”) and no more. They did not ask for my name or number or constituency, and the whole call took 32 seconds according to my phone log.

Gee-whiz ideas & mystery novel reviews

Last week Mary Robinette Kowal asked for volunteers to beta a portion of her short story idea generation workshop. After the great experience I had in the Narrative and Diversity workshop with Mary and K. Tempest Bradford, obviously I cleared my calendar and grabbed a spot before the class filled up. (I highly recommend any version of that narrative class if it fits your schedule/budget btw.)

wholeThe short version: you start with a gee-whiz idea (the Big Bad Wolf wants out of his job, say), then using a series of questions (where, who, what do they want, what do they stand to lose, what stands in their way, &c.) flesh out the characters, settings, motivations, and complications. Our first session ran over, and I wasn’t able to attend the followup the next day, but we covered the basics — including a revisit of the MICE (milieu, idea, character, event) quotient for structuring narrative threads. It was so helpful to get a new view of planning out a short story. I get a lot of those gee-whiz ideas that fizzle into nothing because my plotting is weak and I don’t follow Ron Swanson’s advice over there.

This explanation of the class is probably as clear as mud! Lesley Smith has a much more comprehensive review over here. If you have a chance to do any of Mary’s other classes, go for it! You can also check out the Writing Excuses podcast, which is full of great advice and exercises.

In media consumption news, Law & Order still has me deep in its sensationalist claws. I’ve managed to read quite a bit around it, but, no, I won’t be reviewing the absolute mountain of Star Wars pro- and fanfic that litters the last week or so of my internet history. (Except to tell you to read Before the Awakening because it has lovely little backstory encapsulations for the new trio.)

THE STRANGE CRIMES OF LITTLE AFRICA (2015, book, Chesya Burke)
Murder mystery set in Harlem in the 1920s. Though some minor layout issues and spelling errors kept knocking me out of the story, it was a real treat to step into Harlem of the 1920s and follow Ida as she investigates a thorny — and personal — mystery. Lots of familiar names of the period, enough that I also stopped every few chapters to refresh my memory of some of the historical significance. If this is going to be a series, I’ll definitely read more. ★★★★☆

HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES (2015, book, Daniel José Older)
True urban fantasy, almost unputdownable, first in a series! SO GLAD I WAITED UNTIL THE SECOND BOOK WAS RELEASED TO READ THIS ONE. Great worldbuilding and some of the best dialogue and narrative voice I’ve read in a long time. Older has a killer grasp of the cadence of everyday people speaking to each other and thinking to themselves. (I’d put him in the same category as Stephen King and Tana French when it comes to feeling like their fictional characters could walk right off the page.) The paranormal takes the front seat here but, to be real cheesy about it, without losing its heart. ★★★★★

SILENT IN THE GRAVE (2006, book, Deanna Raybourn)
Historical romance/murder mystery, first in a series! Saw a passing retweet that this book was cheap on Amazon, so I grabbed it on a whim and devoured it in less than 24 hours. Wonderfully vivid characters and a twisty mystery that had me utterly convinced of who did what at least seven different and completely wrong times. ★★★★★