My actual thoughts on Gardner Dozois

There’s been a lot of chatter in the threads dealing with the William Sanders rejection letter fiasco to do with my post last week where I said “The fact that Gardner Dozois brought up the specter of a lawsuit makes me wonder what’s hiding in his rejection letters.” Some people (generally people who already dislike me, but perhaps also some who I respect) feel that I was, in a roundabout, backhand way, calling Dozois a racist, sexist, bigot. I have two things to say to that.

The first is: if I felt this way about Dozois, I would actually just say it. I’m pretty damn blunt. And I’m not afraid to call out racism where I see it, even if the racist happens to be an editor. If I had actually felt that Dozois was racist, it would not have been a sidelong comment.

The second is: when I said “it makes me wonder” and elsewhere in the post “I’m extremely wary” I meant just exactly that. When people don’t address the elephant in the room, and that elephant happens to involve bigotry, my spidey sense starts to tingle. I do wonder what that means about them. I particularly wondered what it meant about Dozois, because I wouldn’t have thought he’d have anything in particular to worry about regarding rejections in the wild. His talking about lawsuits and copyright made me rethink that.

However, it turns out that my assumption about why Dozois wasn’t addressing the elephant in that Asimov’s thread was wrong. According to people on that board, he was attempting to follow the rules of that space. He also posted elsewhere that the issue of professionalism and ethics is very important to him. His priorities are not my priorities. And much as I may disagree about priorities, I don’t feel that makes him a racist.

There’s a difference between not addressing bigotry and being a bigot. I do definitely feel that not addressing is wrong–it should always be addressed. Not just in this situation, but in the SF community at large. But calling someone out for not addressing is and should be different from calling them a bigot. (Heck, he may be addressing it in places I don’t see. I just don’t assume people do because, in my experience, people don’t.)

If Dozois himself feels that I called him a racist or similar, then I’m definitely sorry about that. (The if is only because I don’t actually know how he feels on the issue.) If people I know and respect feel I did that, hopefully they don’t anymore. I don’t particularly care what certain other parties think on the issue. They get pissed when I wake up in the morning instead of dying in my sleep. At that point you just can’t win.

My Contribution To Post A Rejection Letter Friday

My Contribution To Post A Rejection Letter Friday

Now that I’m back to my home computer, here are some rejection letters I’ve recieved. I post them not because they are particularly funny or heinous or anything — they’re pretty standard — but because they both come from publications that I work for or have done in the recent past. Both of the editors who rejected me I now consider good friends. (Yes, Kris, you are my good friend.) Onward!

Dear Ms. Bradford,

Thank you for submitting your story “Enmity” to SYBIL’S GARAGE. Unfortunately at this time we will not be accepting your submission for publication. We enjoyed your story, however, it’s not quite right for the magazine. We hope you consider sending to us again.

Sincerely,
KD
Editor
SYBIL’S GARAGE

and

Dear [my real first name and, may I note, spelled WRONG],

Thank you for your submission to Fantasy Magazine, but it didn’t quite grab me, so I’m going to pass on this.

all best wishes,
Sean

That second rejection was for Black Feather, BTW.

Nothing scathing, as I said. But funny for me, considering.

Both of these stories were/are going to be published.  This is one of the reasons why writers share rejections.  To show that even when you don’t wow one editor, you may wow another.  And that editor’s not being wowed has no absolute bearing on your ability to wow elsewhere.

Post A Rejection Letter Friday

Apropos of the ridiculous focus on whether or not posting rejection letters is common practice/professional/legal/cuddly/appropriate/blue rather than on the exposure of crude and offensive racist language, I’m officially declaring it Post A Rejection Letter Friday.

I already posted LeGuin’s.  I’ll post one of mine this evening, because the one I want is on my home computer.  In the meantime, post one of yours!  In comments, in your blog, anywhere.  Link back to nostalgiaforinfinity, just cuz :)

I’m getting more famous by the day

Dave Truesdale is a wee upset at me:

Tempest is angry at everyone and everything that doesn’t fit her narrow worldview. And everyone who disagrees with her on even the tiniest little thing she either labels (nay, screams is) a racist, a sexist, or a homophobe; and yet she labels this forum as full of racists, sexists, and homophobes, and doesn’t see how William can stand it over here. Talk about the utter arrogance and self-righteousness of her non-stop rants! She’d find sexism or racism in a blade of grass, for crying out loud. Rush was right after all, about her sort. I didn’t use to think so, but I’ve seen her type prove Rush right time after time after time. Whew.

Someone needs an emergency bitch-suction operation.

Oh yes he did.

The only good thing I can say is that at least he says things about me in public forums where I’m free to disagree or just laugh at him appropriately.  At least he gets as close to saying things to my face as he can without actually being in the same room as me. It’s super rare to find someone brave enough to actually have a face-to-face conversation with me about any issues I talk about often (race, sexism, etc.).

But I find it incredibly funny that he responded to my annoyance with the level of nasty on the boards by being nasty about me.

Dear People On The Asimov’s Boards and Elsewhere…

…who are quibbling about whether it was legal for Luke to post that rejection letter or any rejection letter, let’s get one thing straight: No one would be whining and crying about this had he published a rejection that said:

Dear Luke,

Your writing is very good, but this story isn’t right for our market. The spec element isn’t strong enough for our tastes, but you might do well to try more literary markets because I feel the story has a lot of merit.

The only reason this is upsetting to Sanders and, I assume, certain other editors, is because that letter revealed bigotry. Bigotry that Sanders assumed Luke shared with him (and he might have) and thus he felt safe expressing it. It seems to me that the only reason this would worry any other editor is if they realized that rejections they’d sent out might reveal their own bigotry in some way. That would scare the shit out of me, too. Know what? I can’t feel sympathy for you over it, though.

We can spend the next week quibbling over whether or not rejections are private correspondence and whether it’s unprofessional to post one to public or private spaces. (I don’t believe it is based on the fact that, since I’ve been a writer, writers have shared rejections, either in whole or in part, in forums relating to writing. Also, I agree with those who’ve said that once a person says truly despicable, racist things in letter form, professionalism is already off the table.) It may very well be true that, from a legal standpoint, Luke didn’t have the right to do what he did. But, again, would anyone care if it hadn’t revealed what it did?

The fact that Gardner Dozois brought up the specter of a lawsuit makes me wonder what’s hiding in his rejection letters. Why else try to scare Luke in that way? Maybe it’s just general fear on the Internet that people of his ilk seem to have. Either way, it makes me extremely dubious about Gardner and anyone else who focuses solely on the whole private/public correspondence bit and not the raging bigotry. As Celia said elsewhere, this is similar to what got David Moles in trouble with SFWA. The people in question couldn’t defend their (terribly disappointing and, in some cases, disgusting) words and opinions, so they fell back on whining about privacy.

I’ve made a man of straw, would someone like to use it?

ETA: It’s been brought to my attention in comments that Sheila Williams was the first to bring up lawsuits. I mistakenly thought it was Gardner mainly because Luke mentioned him, not Sheila. That still makes me sad, because I am still annoyed with all this focus on whether it was okay for Luke to post the rejection instead of the important issue: Sanders’ bigotry.

I also hear that people are mad because I’ve cast aspersions at (on?) Gardner Dozois. I elaborated in the comments, but basically I stand by my assertion that I am extremely wary of people who jump to “How horrible of Luke to post that letter” and not “How horrible of Sanders to say such things!” Those who do not speak out against bigotry usually do so because they are afraid/intimidated into not doing so by their peers or because they just don’t see the bigotry as being all that bad. (There are other reasons, too, these are just the ones I come across most of the time.) I have some sympathy for people who fall into the first category and absolutely none for people who fall into the second.

Daughter of ETAThis very thoughtful comment explains how, in the context of the community and rules of the Asimov’s board, this particular annoyance began.  Unless someone who actually hangs over there wishes to contradict this, I’m going to choose to believe this is how things work there.  Which means that everything is Stephen Francis Murphy’s fault.  And I have no trouble believing that.  Above when I said there might be other reasons for reacting to the “oh, ethics and copyright!” and not “arg, bigotry!”?  This appears to be one of those other reasons.  I’ll amend my opinions accordingly.

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement

Despite the Internet’s efforts to make you feel otherwise, every thought you have during the day, every next step you make in the course of your hour, everything you eat, is just not that damn interesting, people.

Now, the majority of you confine this kind of thing to Twitter, which is great because it’s a choice whether to follow you in such a way or not. But now the heinousness of Twitter to LJ (and, apparently, WordPress) is upon us. There is still hope, though. If all your daily tweets go in one post, that’s fine. But I ask, on behalf of people like me who really do not give a flying fuck what cool thing you just saw out your window or that you found your favorite pasta sauce at Whole Foods: Put that shit behind a cut.

Don’t make me ask again.

Write-a-thon Week 3 Brings Amazing News

Write-a-thon Week 3 Brings Amazing News

Week 3 starts today and I have two bits of good news to report.  First, according to the CW workshop admins, people donated enough money in a little over 48 hours to cover the cost of purchasing new laptops for the students who lost theirs to theft.  You know how earlier today I said there were times I just wanted to walk away from this community?  Well, this is one of the reasons I don’t.  We are a community and we take care of each other in times of need.  People’s generosity always amazes me, even though I see it time and again.  Thanks to everyone who donated or spread the word.  I’m sure the students and admins and teachers appreciate everything and will always do so.

Speaking of generosity, I just got a note from a write-a-thon coordinator letting me know what sponsorships have come in so far.  A few people went ahead and donated their money (Linda Addison did so with the warning that she knew where to find me if I didn’t write — eek!) and some of them weren’t on the list I was keeping to see if I’d reached my goal yet.  Well lo, with the addition of these fine folks, I found out that I met my goal of having $1000 pledged!  In fact, the total is actually $1010 if I meet all of my writing goals.  And I have a ton of motivation to do so.  Thank you, everyone.  This really made my day.

So!  This week I’m thinking of doing chapter 2, since I have a vague idea of how it will go and I’m interested to see where my girls will take me next.  This is probably going to be a longer one, so I’m back to grinding out 1K a day or so.  Should be interesting as I’m going to be upstate for most of the week.  At least it’s a nice place and quiet in the evenings :)

William Sanders, Senior Bigot, Helix

William Sanders, Senior Bigot, Helix

I love writing science fiction and fantasy, I love reading science ficton and fantasy. I love (some parts of) fandom, I love (many parts of) this community. But there are times when I really feel like I could, and should, and must, walk the hell away before I end up hating all humanity. This is one of those times.

From a rejection letter William Sanders of Helix sent out:

I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people – at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can – and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

[…]

the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he’s being mendacious (like all his kind, he’s incapable of honesty);

Full letter here.

You know what makes me so mad about this, beyond the obvious? I want to like Helix. It’s published some great stories by some wonderful writers (some of whom are my friends). But all of that is canceled out by the insane bigotry on display in that letter. And people like this are not shunned, cast out, or made an example of.

As I said. There are times.

ETA: Sanders responds:

Son, hasn’t anybody ever told you that public posting of a private email message is contrary to the rules both of accepted internet practice and common courtesy?

I do appreciate your efforts to be fair – certainly far more so than most of the other people in this ward, ah, group – but the fact remains that you’ve done something both socially and professionally unacceptable in posting it at all. So if you had any idea of submitting anything else to Helix, forget it. I won’t work with people who pull this kind of shit.

I suppose this is what I get for trying to be a nice guy, and give you a little encouragement rather than the standard thanks-but-no-thanks form rejection. Silly me.

(I notice, too, the presence in the lynch mob of another person I’ve tried to help, and to whom I thought I’d been particularly kind. No good deed, etc.)

Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context – that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)

But I don’t feel any need to defend myself, or Helix, to these people; indeed I doubt that there’s anybody outside their little Mutual Masturbation Society who gives a damn what they think about anything at all.

They are cordially invited to have intercourse with their precious selves. I’m sure most of them could use the practice.

That makes it all better, right??

The contributions by lwe/Lawrence Watt-Evans on the thread are… special, as well.

Daughter of ETA: There is more commentary here and also here with the full rejection reposted, since apparently the person who was rejected deleted it from the original thread.  Speaking of the rejected person, he’s put up a post explaining that we’re all taking Mr. Sanders out of context:

There is a truly despicable Muslim character in my story. Sorry, world. Maybe I was playing into prejudices. Sanders was talking about that character, so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue rant, it was targeted to the content of my story. In context, his comments were directed at MY character and those types of extremists. People are taking it out of context and interpreting it too broadly if they think that Sanders was referring to all Arabs or all Muslims. I’m sure that if my character was a Timothy McVeigh-like extremist, Sanders would have used different but equally scornful language. The extremism of MY character is what drew his ire, and so if there is any blame it’s MY blame.

I’m sure you can image what I have to say to that.  Lucky you, I posted it in the comments. I would cut Luke some slack due to him probably freaking out a little when Sanders was all “You’ll never be published in MY magazine again!” except that from his description of his own story I’m not at all convinced that he didn’t write something sketchy and racist himself.  I’m willing to be proven wrong.