Having A Moment

I am having a moment.

I have pro’d out, as they say, from Writers of the Future. My fourth pro-rate short story is coming out soon (stay tuned!).

TL:DR for the link: it’s a quarterly contest, with respectable pay, for new science fiction writers who have not published more than three stories at “pro” rates (5 cents a word or higher). Multiple Honorable Mentions and Semi-Finalists per quarter, ten Finalists, three winners.

I always thought I’d place or win the contest. I got two Honorable Mentions back about 2005 or 2006.

I was a finalist twice in 2007. Two times in a row. I came close and lost twice over six months. That is a very special pain. I often wonder where I would be as a writer if I had won. (Don’t get me started on how I was shortlisted for Octavia Butler’s last year at Clarion.)

After 2007, I went for a few years submitting ever single quarter, and got nothing. My stories, which had once been loved there, even embraced, were just flung right off.

I got discouraged and angry at them. I’d never gotten any guidance (like they gave other finalists) and besides, a couple of exposés had been published on the high-level Scientologists running the place and their links to cases of institutional abuse. I’m willing to give Scientologists the benefit of the doubt as individuals, but I’m not crazy about organized religion.

After hearing from Anaea about the experience of winning, I’m both relieved and sad. Relieved because it sounds like things are a bit weird. Sad because… I really thought I would win one day!

My wife used to point at a particular dress in a shop window and say “I’ll get that when you win Writers of the Future.”

We used to say “we’ll travel when I win the grand prize in Writers of the Future.”

I am having a moment.

 

EDIT: So, I’m still not pro’d out, with no word on when the new Beneath Ceaseless Skies comes out, and just for kicks, I entered the contest. (Okay, not just for kicks. I really need to earn something off these short stories that have piled up over the years.) I doubt anything will come of it, with my history of heartbreak, but hey… I would love for this post to be proven wrong.

What It Means To Give A Platform To Hate Speech

So, I’m a writer, yes, (with a story forthcoming in F&SF!) and I’ve finally achieved some measure of “success,” as we gauge such things. I publish short stories. Some of them are reprinted or podcast. I hang out with a lot of people in this field and enjoy their company and their respect.

 

I’m not a fan of self-publishing or nontraditional approaches. It works for some people, but I want my work to be a part of the professional sf field as much as I want an audience.

 

At least I did until this weekend.

 

Vox Day, the neo-Nazi who was removed from SFWA for hate speech, has been nominated for a Hugo. This is due, at least in part, to conservative blogger and writer Larry Correia’s recommendation.

 

Correia’s confrontational and dismissive of his opponents. I don’t like his politics or his tone. But he’s absolutely right that there’s no “ballot stuffing” in the Hugos. People widely campaign to win these popularity contests. I thought Lev Grossman was a poor choice for the Campbell in 2011, when a writer as original and refreshing as Saladin Ahmed was on the bill. For that matter, Correia was too. But Grossman, who made the transfer to sf from a long career in mainstream fiction, just plain had more friends. That’s how the award works.

 

So Larry has a platform. He promotes work that he thinks needs exposure in the Hugos, and wants a greater voice for conservatives in the mostly-liberal organization. Some of his recommendations are right-on. Toni Weisskopf at Baen is overdue for a nomination as long-form editor, whether you like Baen’s quirks or hate them. Don’t mistake this, though, as simply a promotion of work based entirely on quality. Larry is promoting a slate of work that reflects conservative and conservative-friendly work.

 

He can do what he wants. But he sure isn’t doing his field, his people, or his allies any favors. When Larry recommended Vox Day, he included the works of a known eugenicist, spreader of hate speech and misogynist. I’m not going to repeat Day’s disgusting words–Bleeding Cool repeats plenty of them above.

 

And the simple face is that if Larry had respect for his community, he would have drawn the line at including Day. He would promote genuine dialogue between liberals and conservatives, not liberals and neo-Nazis.

 

Instead, it’s probably more important to him that he irk John Scalzi, who drummed Day out of SFWA for his hate speech, and is well-known as a liberal. And this under the pretension that this is about “quality of story.”

 

Let’s wake up. It’s 2014. Realpolitik, people. No one votes by quality of work in a vacuum. We’ve all read our friends’ stories first. I’d like to see more Native American writers represented in sf, by hell, because I work on a reservation, and I think Native voices are an important part of the most imaginative of fiction genres. It would be stupid for me to pretend otherwise. I will read everything I can and vote for the best work, but no human being is without bias entirely.

 

We are a community. We need to think about who we are giving a platform to by supporting their work. What happens when a scumbag like Day is given a platform, and given support by, a majority of people in this community?

 

This community is built on the beauty of the imagination. Everyone has a right to imagine the future, to imagine faraway lands, and everyone can access the beauty of the imagination. Day’s platform and Correia and his fans’ support for Day says that certain imaginations are not welcome.

 

(Triggers coming up)

 

Day is recycling and prettifying every abusive man’s “stupid cunt” and “fucking bitch” toward women. And many women who look at the sf field will see it as just another domain of abusive men and those who support them. They will take their voices and their imagination elsewhere

 

Day is recycling and prettifying every racist’s “dumb Indian” and “black thug.” And many Native Americans and African-Americans who look at the sf field will see it as just another organization that gives racism a voice. They will take their voices and their imagination elsewhere.

 

Correia doesn’t seem to get that just because he can recommend Day and he can rub John Scalzi’s face in it, he has a responsibility to his community not to. He hasn’t stopped to think that maybe, if more conservative voices need exposure, he shouldn’t alienate minority and women’s voices in the process. Because he’s characterized his opponents as whiny liberal wusses, he’s not going to bother to engage, he’s just going to provoke the blanket opposition.

 

Just because you have civil rights, doesn’t mean you negate your civil responsibilities.