ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Mar. 22nd, 2019 03:20 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Sorry for the late post! The site is running realllly slowly now, but at least it’s up, and the Internet outage is over! Here’s hoping it stays up. We’re apparently having a nor’easter right now. -ctan)

One of the things Bart used to say often is the problems aren’t that you can’t learn what you don’t know. It’s that you don’t know what you don’t know. He was talking about things you can only learn through performance and experience in front of an audience, things you can’t practice or prepare for because you can’t even imagine the situations until you find yourself in them.

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Writing the Other: Conflict and Inclusion
ICFA 40 Panel with JR Richard, Keffy Kehrli, Usman Malik, K. Tempest Bradford, Nisi Shawl

This panel did not have a description in the online schedule, but I marked it of obvious interest to me! What follows in this post is my attempt to capture what was said. I believe I caught about 60% of the remarks, so this is not all of it, and sometimes I may have mis-typed, mis-heard, or misunderstood what was said, so please do not take these as direct quotes. They may be paraphrased. Please check with the individuals here before you quote them based on this pseudo-transcript.

The panel began with the panelists introducing themselves:

Nisi Shawl: I am a writer and editor, and increasingly this year a teacher! And I coauthored a book called Writing the Other with Cynthia Ward. I teach classes on Writing the Other with this woman to my right…

K. Tempest Bradford: I am a sf/f author and I’ve been co-teaching for Writing the Other workshops, and I admin the classes we don’t teach ourselves. We’ve been doing this for 4-5 years and it’s my fault Nisi is teaching more classes!

Usman Malik: I am a writer of sf/f, subspecializing in horror.

Keffy Kehrli: I am a sf/f writer and I only have shorts stories out. And I edit Glittership, an LGBTQ magazine We dont restrict to LGBTQ authors, so I get a lot of people “writing the other.” I’m also getting PhD in genetics so if I space out I’m probably thining about genes.

JR Richard: I’m a sf/f writer and playwright and I teach creative writing, playwriting, design, and slam poetry to school age children.

Nisi: The first thing I wanted to ask the panel for are some examples of inclusion and conflict in writing the other.

JR: I think that for me, it’s about educating ourselves: as someone with privilege and someone not with privilege—I am female and queer and I go by she/they, but I’m white. And in a previous panel someone said writers go “oh, I have awoken! so now I have learned and it’s done!” And that’s not how it works…? You are always evolving and learning. I have learned what is my lane and what is not my lane. I have learned when people are faking it. I am also Jewish and just read a musical that was written by people who aren’t Jewish and they got what a mitzvah is wrong. Being wrong can be hard for those with privilege. Conflict is hard for people with privilege to accept. When they say “I don’t even see color, I don’t care if people are pink and blue…” they are skirting a conflict that makes them uncomfortable.

Nisi: But do you have some examples?

Keffy: Specific works to cite… I’m trying to think. I tend to forget things that really piss me off. So I have trouble citing examples. There are two things I see a lot when it comes to conflict and inclusion. If you’ve read a lot of sf/f—especially older stuff even beyond just Tolkien—a lot of the models you get for conflict in fantasy works tend be to problematic. They tend to include the other as the enemy. So if you base inclusion on how you read it as a kid, it may be problematic to start with. Tolkien is a great example of how not to do it. The second thing is if you have come up with a villain and you realize you have a very white, straight story, and now you decide oh, I’m going to make this character black, you will possibly run into a very serious stereotype without having realized it. If you put in a queer character without considering how the intersection of that identity with stereotypes you will run right into a problem with them. I see it in submissions where someone decided to make a character queer without seeing how it impacts the story.

Usman: My thought process over the last few years has been A) when I write a story I don’t write the other, I write ME. But you need people who have lived that role. If they write that story, they write about their own experience. That is your cement block for me. We need representation in every sector you can think of, every art. B) Great writers or anyone worth their salt are trying to be authentic. Authenticity is the heart of all good art. It doesn’t matter if you need to know intersectionalism — it’s great if you do, but you don’t need to know any of that if you are working with authenticity and honesty. I have a story set in inner Lahore, Pakistan. I have lived in Lahore, Pakistan, but not in inner Lahore where my parents had lived. So I went back home and visited people there and then I wrote that story. Those are my people and I still felt I had to go and study them. In the Internet, in what I call the Troll World, the ones who are complaining are inauthentic to what they are doing. They are bad writers. That’s how I think about it.

Tempest: There are a lot of conversations about authenticity but also Own Voices writing, people writing within their own identity category. They are from the identity and they are writing that identity. But there becomes a conflict in which their authenticity is challenged by people whose idea of that identity comes from inauthentic things! (laughter) Kate Elliot gave a really great lecture on this about a review of Ken Liu’s book Grace of Kings. This one reviewer was like “when I set out to read this, I thought I would find an authentic experience of Asian culture, like what I saw in a movie I saw one time.” (audience groans) They have this view of what is “authentic” which is often a stereotypical or really offensive view, and if you do anything else, the audience is very against it. This also causes a problem with people who are trying to write the other and have actually learned the lesson and are doing it well. Say they write outside of their racial cultural whatever, and it’s very nuanced and layered and great, and they send it to an agent or editor. They get told “but you’re white, so you can’t write about Native Americans or black characters” or whatever. Or the editor will say this is not realistic because the black people are not in a gang. The Native Americans are not alcoholics. You didn’t write those stereotypes, but because it’s not what they expect they think it’s wrong. So the conflict comes when what do you do when your editor tells you something like that? We tell them: don’t let them make you put racist nonsense into your book. You may need to call an expert in the subject who has some clout. This happens a lot.

Nisi: I think, Usman, you do write the other when you write someone from a different economic class. You also wrote about orphans. Those are not you. But I take your point about your representation of the other. Recent someone was telling me how “diverse” the cast was from Crazy Rich Asians and I was like: it’s not diverse at all!

Tempest: They’re all Asian! Using the word “diverse” to mean “not white” is every problematic.

Nisi: Who is writing what and who’s including whom—in their anthologies and their publishing stables—those are questions we’re asking.

Keffy: I can say for Glittership I try to be as inclusive as I can, but it’s always a caveat because you can’t be perfectly inclusive. Because there are a limited number of stories, but there are an unlimited number of intersections. Usman gave a perfect example. It’s OwnVoices because it’s Pakistani but it’s not OwnVoices because it’s not inner Lahore. I have one benefit over anthology editors in that Glittership is ongoing, whereas an anthology is out. If you fucked up and put no women in it you’re stuck with it. Inclusion is a process. I’m always trying to reach out to people I don’t have represented. Sometimes though they send me something that I just don’t like. I try to write the nicest rejection letter I can so that they’ll send me more. One of my problems is that some of the groups I don’t have enough fiction from is that I don’t have enough authors sending them to me. Part of it is that there’s a perspective that LGBTQ fiction is very white and that you can have all the types of queers as long as they’re white. I have to be very specific I want more writers of color.

Nisi: But can you clarify? The authors you reach out to are …?

Keffy: I don’t publish any fiction that isn’t queer. There are many authors who I would love to have, but they haven’t written anything fitting for my magazine. I will literally just email people and say “yo, send me stories.” It’s so easy for poeple to get into the idea that if they don’t see a story from people like them, then they think they shouldn’t send theirs either. Sometimes as an author you don’t want to try. No one wants to get the rejection that is like “well, but none of them are drug dealers.” That’s rejection and getting stabbed in the heart. It’s on ongoing process. I go through Fiyah Lit Mag and email all their contributors “Hey got ay queer stuff?”

Tempest: I really feel like in sf/f we have a giant problem where there are not enough editors who are not white cis men. This is especially a problem in anthologies. Most of the major year’s bests are compiled by white cisgender men. The exceptions are like Ellen Datlow, which is great, she’s there because of her seniority, but sometimes there’s not a lot of new people being brought into that. Every time I hear about a new years best it’s edited by John Q Whitefellow. When it comes to talking about stuff like World Fantasy and them not inviting and black people or women to be guests of honor for example. They just invite NK Jemisin and if she says no, they just go back to John Q Whiteguy. They say there aren’t enough others around. (They’re wrong.)

Nisi: When I edited an anthology, Nalo Hopkinson was asked to do it first. And she said no, you should ask Nisi instead. One thing we can do is keep pushing off the requests to someone else you know. I have edited three anthologies now and helped edit a few others. I make a spreadsheet and I track where are things coming from, what races are they, are they bi or queer or cis, et cetera. I don’t go for a quota but I am very conscious with trackable data about who I am getting.

Tempest: It’s good we have some editors who make an effort to understand things outside their understanding. I think Neil Clarke and John Joseph Adams do a good job with that. JJA does a good job because as the SERIES editor for a year’s best he brings in annual editors who are from more diverse points of view. He’s had Charles Yu and NK Jemisin. And then that influence rolls on.

Keffy: I do see a definite impact of my identity on my submissions. I see many more trans and nonbinary stories and authors than I did at Shimmer magazine. There I saw many women who were driven by the female editors there. As a transman I know that is impacting who feels comfortable submitting to me. But so is the fact I’m white. People want to hope they’re sending to a warm, welcoming place for them.

JR: The situation in my hometown in the theater community is very segregated. Nebraska has about a million people and it’s ridiculously segregated. There was busing when I was in school. I produced a show called Woman in Omaha. The show had women each given 5 minutes to do a thing under a pink tent. I told them I went to Omaha Central High School and I haven’t done anything at The Union, which is in the middle of the black area of town. Me and my husband were the only two white actors they had that season. I asked my friend Beau if she would co-produce with me. Most of the theaters in town will completely whitewash a cast. The white producers keep saying [non-white] people don’t show up to auditions. But it’s because they think they won’t be welcome in that space. Denise Chapman tells a story that a guy came in to audition with his dreads inside a hat like he was trying to hide it. She told him, look be yourself, and he just began to glow once he could be himself. I think A Woman in Omaha was really great and a moment of intersectionality. Anoterh example, we were doing Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin; it is all about being a black woman in musical theater. And in the Q & A after this white woman in the back stood up and said “well, but why aren’t all of you auditioning at the Playhouse?” It’s because the Playhouse’s idea of being inclusive or adding diversity is to do The Color Purple and Raisin in the Sun.

Nisi: Which is like 60 years old. Let’s talk about is conflict inherent in inclusion? Does inclusion automatically mean exclusion?

JR: I hope inclusion doesn’t mean exclusion! I think it means I can walk into a room with people of diferent faiths but all have a respect from what each of us are doing. Discomfort in inclusion, when you have grown up as white as the default in Omaha, Nebraska, it can be uncomfortable to step out of that and realize white is NOT the default and then be scared to mess up and not be inclusive. If you’re not uncomfortable in a situation either you are not pushing yourself enough or you are comfortable in your little box.

Keffy: I think conflict is inherent in inclusion but it’s also just as much in exclusion. Conflict that has been externalized I brought inside and you have to deal with it. I think that’s where a lot of the discomfort comes from. It’s not about whether black actors get in the door, it’s about whether they’re being treated correctly once they’re inside. That’s part of it. It’s a reframing of the conflict that already exists. I don’t think inclusion automatically means exclusion, but sometimes inclusion just moves the exclusion line elsewhere. Like with the expanding acronym of LGBTQ etc where do you cut off the letters? Who is left off when the bus leaves the stop? I try to be aware of that. Being a queer magazine there are people who don’t think they’re being excluded.

Usman: Exclusion versus inclusion — usually exclusion is a variant of colonization. If someone is doing that, the end result is always supremacy of some sort. Whether it happens by set mechanisms or systemic change, conflict is going to happen. The other thing is you know we were talking about editors and submission before. ICFA and the sf/f world is very different from the MFA world and the horror world. A horror antho came out by a well-known, big-time writer and I was reading the TOC. Out of 27 stories, one was by a woman. That editor is a friend of mine. I brought it up, and he came on my page and got mad. I don’t think people are deliberately being evil. But people are too arrogant to admit that things should change. There is a lack of humility on the people who are perpetuating the system. Even in the LGBTQ community there can be that arrogance. Another thing when you are a 16 or 20 year old brown kid sitting out there, they don’t know what we’re talking about. This is a very European and North-American centric discussion. We are already excluding 90 percent of the world.

Tempest: Then people who are rarely excluded claim that inclusion makes them excluded. Like if there is a “slot” for a woman in an anthology they feel that slot might have been taken away from them. I had a conversation with a co-worker that every country has one representative in the U.N. He felt America should have a bigger say. But why? Why should that bother him? I was like: what are you talking about. Of course it should be one each. But he was thinking America is the best, we deserve more etc because that’s what he’s been taught. So in his mind automatically America should get more seats in the UN. But in anthologies they’ll say yeah these are the “best” even if they haven’t made any effort to reach out to other cultural contexts. They’ll say “You can’t ‘exclude’ these (white authors) because that’s exclusion!” There’s a weird sense of fairness to these people. When I did the reading challenge. This one guy was like “oh you’re right I’ve only read one women in five years!” But when I suggested he read only women for a year he was like “But that wouldn’t be fair!” like that was going “too far.” As if one year versus five would swing the balance too far toward women even though he just admitted that only reading one woman in five years was too little.

Nisi: I was doing a reading at a place in New Orleans through a college there. We went to a home in a neighborhood. Outside black kids were playing with their bicycles and baseballs and the organizers told me I want those kids to come to this reading because I don’t want them to think this isn’t for them.

Keffy: Many things have been improved by the Internet. In the days of postal submissions I would not get stories from Nigeria. So there is more outreach than there was. But I run into the problem that there are countries where if an author sent me a story they could be putting their life in danger. The Brazilian elections recently, they elected an extremely anti-queer president. He’s Super-Trump. But right after that, I went through my submissions and I had submissions from Brazil. There are people who are going that far to get their message out. Most of the people of color who send me things are part of a diaspora in some way, and rarely from the indigenous countries. It’s hard to reach out.

Usman: I think the organizations are very smug. SFWA and the others, they feel they are doing a lot of outreach. They don’t get a lot of funding. Arts have lost their funding. But we have Codex and SFWA and ICFA, but how connected are we with the rest of the world? When is World Fantasy going to be “World” Fantasy? It’s taken ten years for the most briliant writer in India to get a reprint into Nightmare magazine. The way we know about Vandana Singh and Maryanne Mohanraj is because we’ve MET them. They’ve been at the cons. What about all the out of the country writers?

Nisi: Yeah. A lot of the people I know are from Clarion West.

Tempest: But that’s where the whole rolling down the hill thing happens. You open the door a little wider each time. But for people outside the US it’s a different trajectory. The staff on the Writing Excuses cruise give a scholarship for writers of color. It’s a networking opportunity. We have all these people now in our network. Con or Bust is another organization that was started because of POC being economically disadvantaged.

Nisi: I tried to talk about this in an essay I wrote called “Unqualified.” One way you are made to feel unwelcome is by a high economic bar. Lowering that bar proves you are welcome. One who is really reaching out is Neil Clarke who is reaching out to people of different nations. About the cascading effect of when you open opportunities to clueful allies, if you open up to people of color, then again we can further that. Alex Jennings, Ghita, all of these are people stamped with the approval of science fiction credibility, and they can now open the road further for other people.

JR: I also want to talk about elitism here in the US that I see a lot of with my students. I run a playwriting workshop in a special ed program. Often they have never had a creative writing class of any kind, ever. I also work in low income public schools. A lot of the time there are refugees or kids in low income families and there is such a gatekeeping. You have to have a cover page. You have to use Times new roman font. Etc. Stories are rejected for these gatekeeping reasons. I have one refugee kid from out of the country and he had written a beautiful story. He had written it on his phone. We had to figure out how to get it off his phone. We had to figure out how to get it out of there and reformat it and all these things (and then it wasn’t even accepted). I went to an MFA program but not everyone can do that.

Nisi: Not everyone can take 6 weeks out of their lives for Clarion even if they get a scholarship.

Keffy: There are such problems with so-called standard manuscript format. I don’t really care. I get things in all kinds of fonts. It’s in Word. I just change it. There is no standard anymore. With postal submissions there was a high barrier to entry. But do any two magazines have the same format now? I had to copy my whole story into a notepad file to submit it in plain text into on magazine’s submission form… I decided never to do it again. Some of it is just… ugh. The thing is, I didn’t know anything about any of this until I started going to conventions. I would go to panels of editors, some of whom will remain nameless, but they would go on these tears about the (sarcasm) horrible things writers did like using the wrong font and how can anyone take that writer seriously? I have anxiety disorder so I was so worried I didn’t get absolutely everything right. I was afraid I didn’t speak the right lingo. So I am trying to make my submission handle-able for me and my co-editor. We have a submission form to make it doable for us, but it’s important when you are curating anything which things are really barriers to entry.

Tempest: What information someone has access to so often gets brushes aside. Someone types something into the Internet and they don’t know where they land has the wrong information. There are a lot of scammers out there. The people who get taken advantage of is because they accidentally landed in the wrong place. They weren’t dumb or not savvy. The only reason I know anything is I once opened the right promotional email and ended up here instead of the wrong place. and it must be even easier to land in the wrong place if you’re not from North America.

Keffy: Like JR said, there are a huge amount of places where they don’t have computers but they all have mobile phones. There are kids right now writing full novels in the back of the English class on their phone.

JR: There was a teacher at our school who was holding back giving notebooks to the kids because they had to “earn” them. Me and my boss were so mad at that. They are only reading white men from the 1930s and so if we go into the class and we say we’re going to write poetry they go “yuck! ugh!” because they think of writing as something that is for “him” and not for themselves. And I say no, we’re going to write what YOU want to write.

Nisi: OK, let’s open it to questions since we’ve got 45 minutes left. Oh no wait, only 15 minutes left! Where did the time go!

Tempest: We got talking.

(Then came questions from the audience but my fingers are cramping so I’m going to stop typing.)

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Mar. 15th, 2019 03:07 pm)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The next morning I was tired but everything felt less like an existential crisis than the night before. At least at first. That was before Ziggy took a call where someone–Barrett, I assume–tried to convince him to fly to LA for something. He said no, but the creeping dread about everything industry-related crawled right back up my legs and took hold of me by the throat.

Good thing the first thing on the schedule that day was medical then, eh?

Read the rest of this entry » )

I’m in Orlando for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA, pronounced “ick-fah”) where today the guest of honor, G. Willow Wilson, gave a terrific keynote speech at the luncheon in which she talked about how it is that some writers (particularly marginalized writers) get labeled “political” while others (of the most privileged groups) do not.

Some of you who read my blog might remember me getting into a Twitter storm in 2016 at a romance convention when I tweeted that a white, heterosexual, married writer had advised new writers “don’t be political on social media. Be Switzerland. Be neutral and don’t take sides.” My comment to that (on social media) was that only someone who is a member of the privileged class has the privilege to “decide” whether to be political. The rest of us don’t get to “choose” whether to be political or not because merely by existing we are perceived to be making a political statement.

G. Willow Wilson’s speech went right to the heart of that issue. What follows is a pseudo-transcript of about 60% of her remarks. I have recreated this from my notes, so please do not ascribe any direct quotations to her without checking with her first. Any errors are my own and I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t make a few while transcribing. (One little typo can change a “now” to a “not” and reverse the meaning of a sentence, entirely!)

I do these transcript-type blogs for my own record of things I find really noteworthy to talk about and to give folks who couldn’t attend the conference a taste of what was said. I stress again it’s only a fraction of what was actually said.

It begins with an introduction of the speaker by David Higgins, the vice president of the IAFA (hosts of ICFA) and then G. Willow Wilson’s remarks.

G. Willow Wilson GoH Speech March 14 2019 ICFA 40

Introduction by IAFA vice president David Higgins: You may have heard the Captain Marvel film just had a spectacular opening weekend, as the first female solo superhero film in the Marvel franchises, which has put to shame the [former Marvel CEO] Isaac Perlmutter’s wikileaked memos delineating his/the company’s anti-woman bias. I like to think that no one would be more excited by the success of Captain Marvel than Kamala Khan, the creation of our of our guest of honor, G. Willow Wilson.

Kamala is such a Captain Marvel fan, she writes fanfic about it, and [when she is imbued with superpowers] takes on the mantle of Ms Marvel. Although I myself have not written G Willow Wilson fanfic (audience laughter), I did help create the cover of this ICFA program. [Which depicts G. Willow Wilson and Mark Bould in comic book fashion fighting against unseen enemies.] Please let me let out my inner fangirl and gush about how much I love Ms. Marvel.

Let me also talk about the post-911 diversity efforts by DC to internationalize the Green Lantern corps. In the creation of Simon Baz there are elements combatting some problematic stereotypes while doubling down on others. Ms. Marvel, by contrast, is a great pleasure, and I teach Ms. Marvel in my class. Kamala doesn’t fit any of the easy labels that my students have been taught previously. Although they want to refer to her as Arab American but that’s not exactly true, she’s a second generation Pakistani American. My students arrive at [a really long string of words: second-generation Pakistani American millennial from Jersey City].

Part of the brilliance of Wilson’s writing is that Kamala’s identity isn’t oversubscribed to any one of those adjectives that describe her. Kamala comes to life and isn’t just a representative of a social category. Like her, Islam isn’t just one easy-to-understand thing. The fact that Kamala is a millennial is also important. Furthermore Kamala is loving, quirky, and inspiring. Wilson exhibits the same humor and sophistication in her other work. Cairo was recognized as a top pick by Library Journal, etc. [Long list of G. Willow Wilson’s accolades, and a detailed description of the novel Alef the Unseen.] Having finished a five-year run on Ms. Marvel, she has now started writing Wonder Woman for DC. And just days ago, The Bird King was released, a novel that tells the story of the last Emirate of Muslim Spain.

G. Willow Wilson: Wow, I’m apparently very busy! (Laughter) In my job, since I’m on these very specific comic book deadlines, you have to hit them month after month, but it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees. I have to move on to the next and the next. You don’t get to sit back and think, wow, I did such a lot of stuff. But hearing that list makes me think, wow, no wonder I’m so tired! (laughter)

Thank you for having me here. I can already see why so many of you love this convention so much. It combines the best of fan run cons like Westercon and an academically rigorous exchange of ideas. This has already begun to seed ideas into my brain. I wanted to talk a little bit about the theme of the conference this year: Politics and Conflict. I wanted to say something about the trends I see as a writer today in both books without pictures as well as comics.

When I saw the theme, I thought it could not be more timely than to talk about politics and conflict in genre. The roles that politics play in the genres we typically consider escapism, these are at the forefront of what we struggle with at the far end of the political spectrum. Not everybody who writes about politics is considered a “political” voice, while others are automatically considered political. It’s played out in interesting ways in my own career and life. Who is labeled “political?” To talk a bit more about that I’m going to tell you an origin story.

Once upon a time in 2009, I got the most extraordinary piece of hate mail. Every line was a different color. One was red, one was blue, the next one orange… Someone put a lot of work into this it, like a work of art! It was the old Internet so someone put a lot of work into a lot of highlighting to make it like that. This anti-fan or non-fan accused me of being part of the, now let’s see if I can remember all the parts: “socialist Islamist homosexual attack on America.” And as I read it back in 2009, I thought to myself wow, that is not a real thing. (laughter) But it sounds fabulous! (cheers)

This was before I took my email private so I used to get this kind of thing, but never one with such a load of hyperbole and such a work of art! But what was interesting to me was that I got this letter because I was doing a guest writer stint for J. Michael Straczynski on Superman. He was having some health problems and had to take a couple of months off, and I was going to tread water for three issues until he got back. Anyone knows that when there’s a big-name writer on the book who takes a break, the idea is you don’t change anything. You put everything back where it was when you started, and wait for the big-name writer to come back. I was told to “use Superman as little as possible.” I was happy to just have my name on the book and these filler issues were about Lois Lane reconsidering her life and going to her old stomping grounds. The artist they gave me came over from erotica and only knew how to draw women in 3/4 profile with this [stunned] expression her face. So maybe it’s not a surprise they weren’t very well received. But by writing these very mild, banal, filler issues of Superman I was labeled political. This occurred to me was something that was going to follow me. No matter how ridiculous and banal what I wrote was, I would be labeled political.

It was interesting to me to note that some people who wrote political stuff, on the other hand, were NOT labeled political. Some of you may know Fables by Bill Willingham, which is a large ongoing poignant exploration of fairy tales and fairy tale tropes. He was really the first to do that, widely imitated later; he created a genre-defining work. But he wore his Republican credentials on his sleeve. He is a friend and mentor. He was very generous with his time and insight, and when he was the toast of the comic book industry he would throw these infamous parties at Comcion. But he really wore his conservative politics on his sleeve. His beliefs come up not infrequently in Fables. I’ll read you this little bit:

The main character is talking to Gepetto, and there’s big conflict coming between fairy tale creatures. The main character says to Gepetto have you ever heard of Israel? Gepetto [asks him about it]. The character answers: Israel is a small country that is surrounded by countries who want to destroy them. They have a lot of grit and iron and I admire them. [Description goes on for a while.]

It really struck me that if I had said anything similar in my own work, praising real world events or countries, and putting them into the mouths of characters who were owned by a giant media corporation, I would have lost my job. But when I just tread water and write banal Lois Lane stories, here I get these hate letters. Bill Willingham could do this and face no reprisals. And all I had to do was exist and still face reprisals.

Why does that difference exist? When we’re talking about comics and graphic novels, these are a unique medium because they are visual. Those of use who are born with sight, we learn to interpret images automatically. But writing and drawing comics we learn to interpret things in a special way. You learn things as a comic book writer like if you want a cliffhanger it has to go on an odd numbered page, so it was be on a page turn rather than a spread which would be a spoiler. How do different readers interpret different gestures? It becomes political in a way other media do not because it goes straight into our brain that doesn’t differentiate truth from fiction. We believe what we see. And we begin interpreting what we see from the moment we see it whether we realize it or not.

And then when you are writing superheroes in particular you are using characters people grew up with. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the great irony is that superheroes are meant to reflect the zeitgeist, what’s going on right now. But people get very attached to the version of the character they grew up with. So when you reboot Spiderman and make him a black kid from New York or Batwoman a lesbian, and you do it just so you can tell a new story, something fresh and current, you get labeled political. That gets labeled a political and not artistic choice. Who owns those images? Corporations or writers or the fans? Who owns the characters, who owns the discourses around them? What do we do when there’s disagreement?

SF/F welcomes the reader to interpret the work because it is so symbolic. It invites us to put ourselves in the work and imagine things wildly beyond the bounds of our daily lives. There is conflict built into these genres that invite interpretation; interpretation invites dispute and discussion. It’s not always easy to know why we label certain things certain ways and not others. It’s been interesting to see this play out as I write Kamala Khan. My run on Ms. Marvel is done and I am now handing it off to Saladin Ahmed. The label of innate politicalness–here I am inventing words–is something that is kind of a spectre that has been hanging over this since the beginning.

I was talking with a mentor of mine and the editor on Ms. Marvel [Sana Amant] about how to navigate that political descriptor. I knew we were going to carry certain labels. A lapsed Catholic from Milwaukee with a typical American backstory wouldn’t get the same labeling. [Making Kamala Khan who she was] shaped the series by forcing us to put care and attention into every aspect of the series that we wouldn’t have examined otherwise.

We set our expectations quite low. We said let’s shoot for 10 issues and it will be really cool, and then we’ll probably go right back to what we were doing before. We didn’t know she’d have a shelf life. Kamala had the “trifecta of death”: new characters don’t sell, female characters don’t sell, minority characters don’t sell. The retrospective is that of course these various other projects failed for various reasons. But we had to create something that had joy and beauty in it and didn’t reflect the terror we were going through in the production of the series. Our editor Steven Wacker who championed us, our colorist, etc. the whole team. We worked more closely with the artistic team than any before or since because we knew there was zero room for error. When you have a character who doesn’t fit in a box, there is a burden of representation that unfairly falls under scrutiny. So everyone has to bring their A game at all times. Then we got to 10 issues, and then to 20, and then 30 and then 50, and then the trade paperback hit the New York Times bestseller list, and then the second one did. And we realized that we had pulled together a team that overcame the low expectations. Kamala survived and will outlive all of us.

[This success] can open the door for more. We have been living in a bottleneck for talent. When we didn’t consider representation [and only wrote/published for the dominant group/dominant paradigm] several generations of talent built up behind that bottleneck. That talent might have been lost if it weren’t opened at this extraordinary moment in history.

I’d like to close by saying nothing is impossible. If there is anyone who knows that for sure, it’s the people in this room. Thank you.

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Jan. 10th, 2019 02:35 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I woke up from a nap a while later. It was dark but, you know, it was winter, so it was only like six o’clock? Claire was out cold.

She had picked the bedroom that had the window that faced the back. I had tried to steer her toward the other one, which only had a small side window, but having less exposure to the outside walls meant it was better insulated and therefore warmer.

She was bundled under the covers, sleeping in a ball, her mouth open and snoring lightly. I decided not to wake her.

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Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

OK, a couple of folks had asked for this, and I promised during the anniversary livechat that I’d post what was available. I finally took inventory and here’s what we’ve got. Orders placed before December 1st I will be able to ship within the USA in time for Christmas but note that Hanukah starts on December 2 so if you need anything that soon, better order this week to make sure it arrives in time!

Basically we’re down to red DGC notebooks, omnibus book volumes, and T-shirts. All the tote bags are gone.

I’ll give a free red notebook with each order of at least a T-shirt or omnibus received before December 1!

Click through to see all books and shirts available:

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Oct. 16th, 2018 01:59 pm)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Remo took Mel and Ford back to the motel, and I took Court and Ziggy. When we got there Remo asked if I wanted to pour one out for Jordan and I said yes. Ford could sleep through just about anything so we all gathered in Remo’s room where the motel staff had put a crib.

We each brought our water glasses from our own rooms and Remo poured us each a small amount of whiskey while saying, “I’m trying to cut down.”

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Oct. 3rd, 2018 03:06 pm)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Here’s the chapter that should have been up yesterday! -ctan)

I want to take a moment to try to express how important Ziggy was to me at that moment in time. The night before, after I’d seen Claire to bed, he and I had cuddled by the tree while Courtney set up a spot for herself to sleep.

“This is weird,” I said.

“What’s weird?” He kissed me on the jaw.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Sep. 25th, 2018 07:18 pm)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

When Claire didn’t come back downstairs after an hour, a small debate ensued about whether we should go and check on her. While me and Courtney and Janine were arguing about it, Ziggy just went and looked in on her, and then came down to say she was lying down but she was fine.

I went up to check on her myself another half hour or so later. She sat up in bed and looked somewhat annoyed to see me.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Sep. 18th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I got out of cooking duty because I had to be the one to go get Ziggy at the airport. Not that I would have minded cooking, but with Claire and Janine butting heads over how each little thing should be done, it was probably better that I vacate. Claire had done a lot of the work of baking the cookies, but when it came to preparing this dinner, it looked to me like she was sitting back and criticizing while Janine did the work.

At the airport I parked the car and then went inside to wait. There were not a lot of people around and the holiday Muzak was horrendous. I figured the best place to wait would be at the bottom of the escalator to baggage claim, where there was one lone limo driver standing with a piece of paper with someone’s name on it. That gave me an idea. I had to beg a piece of paper and a pen from the woman working the newsstand.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Sep. 13th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The next day was Christmas Eve proper. Court and I got to the house maybe an hour before noon to find Janine and Claire in an argument and Landon nowhere to be seen.

“Traditionally,” Claire was saying, “we would have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and open gifts then and on Christmas Day it would be just what Santa Claus brought.”

“You are out of your mind. We never did that,” Janine was saying in reply.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Sep. 11th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Of course it turned out that Christmas cookies are not just any cookies you happen to bake for/on Christmas. There was a specific kind of cookie that Claire had in mind. She told Landon all about them while we were rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters, all about how making these cookies was a family tradition. I had no memory of making these cookies before, but you know, I figured maybe I was banished (or hiding) in my room while that was going on…?

So the thing with these Christmas cookies is the baking is just the first step. Then comes the decorating.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Sep. 4th, 2018 04:45 pm)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Sorry to be posting late! Monday holiday confused me. But here we are! -ctan)

The next day Remo left and Claire declared it was Cookie Baking Day. I didn’t realize that the traditional holiday calendar had Cookie Baking Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day, but to hear Claire tell it, we would have been committing some kind of sacrilege not to observe it.

“You need to get more butter. We’re going to need more butter than this,” Claire harangued Janine as Janine was on her way out the door to work, opening and closing the fridge, the cabinets. “And flour. This probably isn’t enough flour.”

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 23rd, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I had forgotten what it was like to live with people who were on hair triggers all the time. When I was growing up I had considered it mostly Digger and Claire. Once I thought about, though, I realized it was also my sisters. But when you’re a kid and you go off it’s “just a tantrum” and no one cares that much. Whereas when an adult loses it, it’s a big deal because there are consequences. Or there can be.

I remember Remo’s house being a refuge if for no other reason than it was really hard to get a rise out of him. Learning that there was a place where I didn’t have to watch every little thing I said or did took a while, but having that place probably saved my life.

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Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Okay, it’s been a million years since we did a liner note, and ctan’s too fucking busy, so I’m doing one anyway. Cool?

ctan herself was just in California and got together with some readers out there in some kind of, like, zen garden tea place. (In Berkeley of course.) Where do you guys want to have the next meetup? If you start planning now, it could happen.

A longtime reader of DGC is running her own web serial called WELCOME TO PHU and is doing a Kickstarter right now for a book of it, COMMIT TO THE KICK: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tryslora/commit-to-the-kick-book-1-of-the-twinned-trilogy?ref=hero_thanks

The Web Fiction Guide describes it as: “Welcome to PHU is a web serial about the students who go to the fictional liberal arts school of Pine Hills University, and the folks around them. It’s about magic, and love, and football, and music, and taekwondo, and just about anything else that college students might get involved in. And magic. Did we mention the magic?”

So go check it out. THE PHU KICKSTARTER HAS 11 DAYS LEFT so get on it, eh?

Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who.

I thought I’d share this tweet video I saw where Will Smith tells the story of how he became the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” after having a Top 40 rap hit and almost going broke afterward:

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 21st, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The next morning we were awakened rather early by the phone ringing in our hotel room. It was Barrett and it was urgent.

“There’s a rehearsal you have to be at and the only flight out that makes sense is two hours from now, so you need to get going.”

“Two hours from now?” Ziggy’s voice cracked with morning roughness. “You know I’m like an hour from the airport, right?”

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 16th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I don’t have too many illusions about being a “good son.” I mean, I am pretty sure I am not one. That doesn’t mean I’m not a good person–that’s a whole different discussion. When you talk son or daughter, though, you’re talking about a very specific thing, and that’s how you relate to your parents. It’s really about what your parents think of you as you relate to them. Isn’t it?

But of course your two (or more, I don’t judge) parents may not agree on either what makes a good son or whether you meet the criteria.

I wish I knew why it mattered to me.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 14th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The next evening we went back to the same mall. Me, Remo, Courtney, Ziggy, and Claire. Janine had abdicated her vote into Court’s hands. Ziggy and I had already bought something for her and no one argued with us–by which I mean Claire didn’t object when we said we had. Court and I were put in charge of getting something for Ziggy, while Ziggy and Claire went off together to find something for Remo, and Remo… I lost track of what Remo was doing.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 9th, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

I saw a T-shirt the other day that said something like this: there are two kinds of crazy, the kind where you’re sure there’s something terribly wrong with you, and the other kind. I think the shirt was pithier, since that sounds like a lot of words to put on a shirt? What had caught my attention was that it was plastered across the rather nice chest of a bouncer, so I was a little distracted at the time I was reading it. But now that I think about it with a broad canvas of that size there was plenty of room for words.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
( Aug. 2nd, 2018 09:00 am)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

By the time Ziggy and I arrived at the house there was a full-blown apocalyptic argument going on between Claire (of course), Janine, and Courtney. Remo opened the door for us and we made a beeline for the kitchen while the three women had their knock-down, drag-out fight in front of the Christmas tree. Then he went to make peace or something, but we could hear it all perfectly well. It went something like this:

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