On politics, or lack thereof

I am not a very public person.

Being professional is something that everyone who works should be capable of - but in general, that’s eight hours a day, five days a week. Professional behaviour is a very narrow range of polite, considerate, and largely vanilla interactions; it’s a way of navigating a world full of strangers. (Yes, there are other ways.) When you are among friends, you aren’t professional - you’re friendly. The behaviour is different.

I don’t know everyone who will read these - or any of my other - words. But if there’s nothing personal in them, they’re not actually interesting or compelling.

But if writing is very, very personal, it can also be edited. It can be checked for clarity. It can be vetted by in-house editors (alpha readers, friends, long-suffering spouse). It can be shelved. If the inherent anger in some of my writing is overwhelming the point I’m trying to make, it can be set aside until anger is less white-hot.


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A question about male gaze

Last night, when I was falling asleep at my keyboard and did not want to sleep, I went off to the internet to read about books. (Not my books, though, because that frequently wakes me up in the Bad Way, because - author.)

One of the books was a novel called Stormdancer. It is the first in a series that is set in not-Japan but which makes use of elements of Japanese society in a kind of “this is cool, let’s use this” way. This is a book, according to quotes in reviews, which is firmly anchored in the male gaze.

The protagonist is a woman.

I’ve been thinking about books, written by men, in which women are handled well. Or, to be more specific, in which I think women are handled well. It’s a question I used to be asked while working at the bookstore, and therefore a question I’ve turned over on the inside of my head, time and again.

And this morning, because I am writing and my creative writer brain has slowed, I have returned to this, having spent an evening reading about male gaze.

All of the male authors I’ve recommended or cleared as “writing women well” (Sean Stewart for example) are entirely absent male gaze.

(I once asked Sean Stewart how he handled his women, because he was one of the few male authors whose viewpoint felt so natural to me I would have believed he was a woman if I hadn’t met him, and he said “It’s not magic; I just write about them as if they’re…people.” One of the ways he achieved this, I realize in hindsight, is jettisoning male gaze.)

Male gaze irritates the crap out of me. Most of the women I know who notice their bodies are likely to say “I need to lose weight around my thighs” or “my stomach is so flabby”, so if you really want to write from a female viewpoint, you don’t have your character notice her fabulous perky breasts or creamy skin or etc. Because. Well.


Is there a female gaze that has the same weight, and is irritating or reductionist in the same way? Do male readers feel reduced to uncomfortable margins by female gaze?

I realize that this is a touchy question. I am actually interested in the answer and will accept any answer that is given that does not constitute a personal attack on any other answer that’s given - but I want people to answer without fear of censure.

Where is my outrage? Here. It's here.

The title refers to this post, by author Nora Jemisin. It is worth reading. It is not going to make your night any happier.

But then again, I'm not going to make your night any happier. I don't know if people will find this post triggery--but it will descend, in all probability, into rant and a genuine, visceral anger. So this might be the time to scroll past.

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Edited because it's != its, and in theory I know this

My Worldcon Schedule

This is sort of cross-posted from the writer web-site.

I have one half-finished post closing the entire “love as endurance” train, but I have been page-proofing and deadline crushing. Working on three books during a single year is perfectly reasonable -- as long as nothing goes wrong. When one of the three has to be nuked to page zero (twice! A new record for me) and one has to be ripped apart and entirely restructured (which for me has about the same effect as page-zero nuke), it is a touch stressful because the resultant loss of time looms large. I mean, HUGE.

And: my husband and I were planning on attending the Worldcon together - but then, Jean Charest, in an attempt to disenfranchise the student population, called an election for September the 4th in Quebec. What this means is that my husband has to be in Montreal for the two weeks or so leading up to that election.

So, he’s not coming. It is entirely a first world problem, but I was really, really looking forward to the time together there, and now have that life-under-the-weather feeling.

At any rate, my worldcon schedule is:

Friday, August 31: 1:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Reading: Michelle Sagara West


Friday, August 31: 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Writer’s Workshop, Section G.


Saturday, September 1: 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Kaffeeklatsche with Michelle Sagara West


Sunday, September 2: 3:00 - 4:30

Autograph session 15: Brenda Cooper, Jack McDevitt, Kathryn Sullivan, Lawrence Watt-Evans,  M Todd Gallowglas, Michelle Sagara West, Mike Resnick, Takayuki TATSUMI


I’m going to take a couple of author’s copies of Cast in Peril to Chicago, because they just arrived, but only a couple because: no car (I have no driver’s license, and am therefore flying in).

As the mother of an Asperger child

I want to talk around the edges of the events at Readercon. I've never attended; I've only -- until now -- heard good to great things about it.

But in the wake of the events that occurred there, I've seen a few comments that crop up from time to time - always as an excuse or a defense of harassment: It's Aspie behaviour. He probably doesn't know any better.


This is, imho, garbage.

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Confluence 2012 schedule, or where Michelle will be

I have been off-line with family things (mostly good) and the time crunch that often brings with it (mostly hair-pulling). But next weekend, Thomas and I will be driving down to Pittsburgh to attend Confluence 2012, where the GOH this year is seanan_mcguire, which is exciting!

I have a final schedule:

Fri 8:00 pm  Helpful Hints 

Rand Belavia (F), Seanan McGuire, Michelle Sagara, Bud Sparhawk

The creative process--it differs from person to person, but there have to be some general things that everyone uses.  How does the process start, how can the germ of an idea be fleshed out and built into something fantastic?  What kind of "oh, that's clever, I wouldn’t have thought of that..." tips can be used to make the stories better?


Sat 11:00 am I Read Your Story and…The Problem/Strength As I See it

Michelle Sagara, David Barr-Kirtley, Heidi Ruby Miller, Jon Sprunk

What are the strengths and weaknesses of critique groups and beta readers?  How do you determine what ARE good groups and readers?  Our panelists discuss the trial-and-error they've gone through in finding their first-readers.


Sat 1:00 pm (this is 2 hours long) Writing Round Table

Paul Anderson, Jason Jack Miller, Michelle Sagara, John Alfred Taylor     

Probably the scariest panel of all.  Writers talk about what they do.  The bare bones of what it takes to put the words on the page, how they got started, what inspires them, why they keep doing it and why they all appreciate those of us who read it.  Very definitely free form conversation.  (this is going to be moderated by Paul Anderson who should be able to keep people talking for at least the two hours)


Sat 5:00 pm Autographing 

Michelle Sagara, Lawrence Connolly


Sun 10:00 am Kaffee Klatsch           

Michelle Sagara, Bud Sparhawk


Sun 11:00 am I Wasn't Always This Awesome        

Tamora Pierce, Michelle Sagara, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry      

Stories about reviews and other less than complimentary comments.  How do creators handle the less-than-laudatory statements of their work.


Sun 12:00 Reading          

Michelle Sagara

In which Michelle has an opinion

If you spend much time on the internet in writers’ circles, you will no doubt have heard about the Stop The Goodreads Bullies web-site. Set up by anonymous bloggers, it purports to be a site created by concerned readers, readers who are dismayed and outraged by the bullies on Goodreads. These so-called bullies are reviewers. They are generally very snarky reviewers.

In order to stop these bullies, our concerned “readers” have gone through the effort of anonymously outing them in public. They have posted their real names, as most of them write pseudonymously. Not only have they posted their real names, but they have also posted their home addresses, their phone numbers, and (some of) the restaurants and parks they frequent.

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I have a new computer, and some thoughts about it.

A little bit of background history, here.

I write on my laptops. I no longer work on desktops unless something peculiar demands it. This started some time ago, when our house could be populated by computer geeks who would sit down at the nearest desktop to web surf; I wanted a machine that I could close and tuck away. If the contents of my work machine were to be wiped out by user incompetence, I wanted to be certain it was my incompetence.

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