Even When We Don't Want to be Ourselves

October Microfiction: Even When We Don’t Want to be Ourselves

The stories in this series are based on the artwork of Chiara Bautista which is amazing and gorgeous and you should look at all of it.


Wolf and Bunny artwork by Chiara Bautista

She discarded the rabbit face in the water where the moon self still cast some light. Now that she was here on the earth she wanted a single identity. To be one of the persons.

No matter. The Earth’s rabbits found her, anyway. In the swamplands they approached her in uncharacteristically untimid ways. They knew her for one of them. And she loved them for that.

She wandered the swamps in a funk. She had detached herself from the night sky and dropped here to get some perspective, yet she still wasn’t happy. Or fulfilled. Or even sure what she wanted. To feel. To be. Nothing got solved.

She came upon the skull, half sunk in the mud and grass. She washed it, pressed a bright red flower to the place where an ear would be. That was enough.

Hello. That was the voice of what was left. A girl. No, a fish girl.

“How did you get here? This isn’t your place.”

This isn’t yours, either.

Click here to continue reading.

Squad Goals

Squad Goals – Or: We Need Better Communities

Recently, I finished 2+ weeks of amazing conference experiences. It started with the XOXO Festival in Portland, OR, which I attended for the first time this year. And then a few days later I sailed off for my fourth stint on the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat Cruise. Having these back to back gave me more insights into a thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: the value of communities; how we need both large ones and micro communities; how the two types serve different but necessary purposes; and how to foster the best parts of both. Recent events also have me thinking about where communities and friend groups fall down, why that happens, and who tends to feel the impact of it the most.

Ride or Die

On the second Conference day at XOXO YouTube star and insightful film critic Lindsay Ellis delivered her talk on how she dealt with being attacked by an online mob of Nazis over a year-old, snarky tweet. The incident is summarized well over on Wired1 and I’ll embed the talk itself once it goes online. The bottom line is that hundreds or thousands of neo-Nazis and GamerGaters and similar ilk coordinated an attack on her designed to make her lose her job and fear for her safety. She did not lose her job, but the emotional impact was huge.

And the worst part was that most of her friends did not speak up for her on Twitter and other public online spaces because they knew the attackers would go after anyone who interacted with Lindsay in a positive way. There was one big exception: Hank Green. He tweeted: “This is a Lindsay Ellis appreciation post” which then brought hundreds of positive messages into her mentions. Hank also responded to some of the big names who shared the disingenuous, attacking tweets and posts about her in an attempt to make them understand the real situation. It didn’t always work, but he did that thing.

Lindsay stated that this was the first time in her life as a professional online personage that someone who was higher than her in the power structure–be it in a workplace sense or a social power sense–had stood up for her in this way.

That shocked me. Because I know Lindsay knows many, many of the high profile geeks and online celebs that run in those circles. Many of them are cis-het white dudes; i.e. people with privilege and some measure of protection from these kind of attackers. But Hank Green is, apparently, the only one who stepped up.

Continue reading “Squad Goals – Or: We Need Better Communities”

Notes

  1. About halfway down the article. You can search for ‘white genocide’ to find it. []
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Originality podcast episode #29: Pantser, Plotter, Architect, Spy

In this episode we talk about the F word: failure. Bob Ross didn’t want you to be afraid to fail, and neither do we. So we discuss mistakes and how to frame those experiences to be productive instead of destructive. It’s not as woo-woo as it sounds, I promise.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

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Originality podcast episode #28: 50% Art Stuff, 50% Life Stuff

In the past year I’ve had many occasions to think about the value of community and having a close-knit cadre of friends you can count on. It’s key to my mental health, my creativity, and everything that’s important to me. And that’s what this episode is about.

For about a year and a half I’ve been part of an artist’s collective with five other amazing woman who inspire me with their creativity and their compassion: Alethea Kontis, Monica Valentinelli, Stina Leicht, Shveta Thakrar, and Leanna Renee Hieber. I wanted them on the podcast to discuss the wonderful microcommunity we’d built and so I could talk with Aleen about how to take what we’ve done and apply it across time and space. Leanna, unfortunately, could not join us, but I got the other four together for a conversation and the whole thing turned out far better than I’d hoped.

This is one of the episodes of ORIGINALity I’m proudest of and I hope you’ll give it a listen.

It’s also a nice intro into a post going up later this week in which I expand on many of the ideas discussed here about community and trust. That one’s been brewing a while…

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

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Originality podcast episode #27: Once You Know the Rules You Can Break the Rules

In this episode Aleen and I talk about the line between inspiration and appropriation. We get into the value of learning by copying and also what questions to ask yourself to ensure that your final product isn’t still a copy. We also dip into the nuances of drawing from different cultures, how to interrogate what really interests you about that culture, and what to do when you mess up.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

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Originality podcast episode #26: Everything is Really Difficult

In this episode we talk about habits and how and why they don’t work for everyone. We start with routines and how they often help prepare your brain can help you reach a more creative place (though not for everyone). Then we discuss how we use bite-sized goals and rewards to keep working, why “grit” is super annoying, and the importance of taking time to step back, look at the big picture, and be kind to yourself.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

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Originality podcast episode #25: You Are Not Alone

In this episode Aleen and I discuss bring creative while under the mental toll of life in America in 2019. There are many potential ways to deal with this, including gathering up friends, family, and community who sustain your creativity, using data to figure out what works for you, when you should or shouldn’t listen to “experts” about how to create better, and why it’s good to ask for help when you need it.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and pictures of cats and also subscribe.

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ORIGINALity podcast episode #24: Bury Your Shoulds

Get your shovels, because in this episode Aleen and I discuss the dreaded “shoulds” and how to bury them so you can focus instead on what you want to be doing. We also talk about the importance of saying “no” to things, the powerful motivation of avoiding a 9-to-5 job, and how to find a word count goal that works for you.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

Wolf and Bunny 1

September Microfiction: The Moon Fell Off The Night Sky And He Went Looking For Her

This story is based on the artwork of Chiara Bautista.


Wolf and Bunny artwork by Chiara Bautista

She didn’t so much fall off the night sky as she allowed herself to detach, come away, to drift. She wanted, just for a little while, to see things from a different perspective. So much time above the little blue and green planet, watching over it, playing her part in the push pull of water and energy. Acting as a light in the darkness.

Sometimes she would look down and see herself reflected in the waters. The big ones as well as the small. But it wouldn’t be her whole self, her true self. And who was that, anyway?

Click here to continue the story.

Take a Peek at Ruby vs the Big Red Bug

If you follow me on social media you likely know that I recently completed the draft of a middle grade novel. YES, I FINISHED SOMETHING. I’m over the moon happy about it. And I really love the book.

I did not intend to write a middle grade novel or any novel other than the Egypt one I’ve been working on. This all happened because of The Picture Game. I was with Alethea Kontis and we decided to gear up for writing by doing a 10 minute picture game. I had the perfect image, one I’d recently come across on Facebook. I showed it to Alethea, I set the timer, and the stuff below just came pouring out of me. I thought I was maybe writing a short story, but after I read it to her, Alethea said: “You know that’s the first chapter of a middle grade novel, right?”

This is the curse of having writer friends. they’re always telling you that things are novels.

After much noodling over the idea I created a rough outline, then told the whole story to a roomful of people at WisCon. They all loved it and told me I had to write it.

So, I did.

I’ve been posting chapters of the first draft on Patreon — one per week. Chapter 10 just went live and there are 16 chapters total plus an epilogue. You can join my Patreon if you want to read all the chapters. One week after I post the epilogue I’m taking all the chapters down. So if you want a sneak peek of this book just know there’s a time limit.

To tempt you further, here’s the first part of the first chapter:

Read the beginning of Ruby vs the Big Red Bug