Those two things are not related, I promise.
However, I wanted to let you know where I’ve been (moving across town), and Chris Squire dying was what gave me the impetus to pause in my unpacking and dash off a blog post.
If you read this blog at all regularly, you know I love YES. Well, Squire was the foundation and heart of YES, to me. Here he is being Fish-tastic.
Anyway, back to the unpacking. I’ll come up for air again soon, I promise.
This interview with Cassie Clare and Maggie Steifvater is circulating on the Twitters today, and I found it thought-provoking. Writers do indeed have kind of a peculiar relationship with readers in this day and age, and when readership crosses over into fandom it can become even more fraught.
(I know Cassie Clare is a particularly polarizing figure – I remember this from my Goodreads days – but she’s also a human being trying to juggle the conflicting demands of fame and creativity, and as such she has my interest and my sympathy.)
There have always been reclusive writers; Salinger comes to mind, but he’s hardly the only one. I totally get that impulse. Fame can be anathema to creativity, for some of us. I want to say it’s an introversion thing, but who knows. I need more data to make that claim. There’s a special kind of scrutiny reserved for writers, however; we are expected to be wise and witty at all times. For me (and I don’t believe I’m alone in this), the idea that people are watching expectantly, waiting for me to be brilliant, is death to brilliance. My wit is, in my experience, a bit like Michigan J Frog:
That is to say: busting out all over when left to its own devices, limp and croaking when a funny dance is demanded of it. I am happy to perform – I quite enjoy an audience – but it has to be in my time and on my terms.
This doesn’t mean no one should scrutinize my work or attempt to engage me. More that I can explain my own rules for the “wedding math” Stiefvater mentions: I will smile back if I have the energy to spare, if you’ve caught me at the right time, but that isn’t always the case. If I don’t engage, it has everything to do with me being self-protective of that recalcitrant singing frog. It’s nothing personal. I love you all and deeply appreciate your enthusiasm. My first duty, however, is to my health and work.
Or maybe I do. Here’s Lauri Õunapuu rocking the hell out of the Estonian zither:
Did you know a zither could do that?? Well, now you do.
So I did an interview with Lauren Zurchin at Lytherus. It’s long, but go listen if you like, and by all means enter the Shadow Scale giveaway. Thanks to Lauren for the good talk and the opportunity!
Before you watch it, I experienced a moment of intense brain-farting during this interview as I was talking about my trans friends, and I am worried that my clumsiness will make folks (real people, who matter to me) feel hurt or unloved. It was one of those times when you say something and it just doesn’t sound right, and then you flail around like the proverbial bull, knocking porcelain shepherdesses off the shelves. I am thoroughly embarrassed by it, and I’m sorry to be such a verbal klutz (there’s a reason I’m a writer and not a talker).
Here’s a little lesson in the use of the word “trans” today (as I understand it, as was outlined for me by the patient friend I turned to as soon as this interview was over, because I knew I’d screwed up). Usage is evolving, which is kind of exciting really, but it means that if you’re as old as me, and were actually alive during the time of the Roman Empire, it’s easy to get confused and stumble. Trans is not just a prefix anymore, but is becoming a stand-alone adjective. “Use it the way you would use queer,” said my friend, and that’s a useful guideline.
Because here was my brain-fart: I uttered the phrase “trans friends,” and my sad, wee brain thought “transfriends,” with trans as a prefix. It means something slightly different as a prefix, when it’s used in words like transubstantiation or trans-unsaturated fatty acids or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As a prefix, it means “across,” and so I got absurdly snagged on the idea of how one could be an across-friend.
It may seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but 1) I really don’t want to hurt people with my bungling, 2) I really am embarrassed, in particular because I knew this and knew better, 3) the only way, in my experience, not to get hung up on words that are emotionally or politically charged is to say them more often. To practice. Alas, practice means sometimes hitting wrong notes along the way.
If you watch the video, you may find that there’s some other place I’ve dropped the ball without even noticing (we two Southern white ladies talk about diversity and PoC characters and we do our best but there’s so much potential there). Do not be afraid to let me know. This is why we came down from the trees (as another friend of mine likes to say), so we can talk and work and make things better.
First draft of the infamous Tess in Boots sent to Captain Editorpants. Now I shall sleep for a thousand years.