A Year Ago, I Confessed Some of the Worst Things I’ve Ever Done to Women: Here’s What Happened

On October 8th of last year, in the wake of the Pussy Tape, and, more importantly, this twitter thread, I decided in a fit of conscience and madness to write and publish this.

[Serious trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault. You don’t need to read it. The important bits will be requoted in what follows.]

I didn’t want people to know. More than that, I didn’t want those things to have happened.

But they did happen. I did those things. And if it’s taken this long for me to human up and acknowledge them, well, that’s on me, too.

I could make excuses. I was young, dumb, and full of cum. I didn’t know any better. I came of age in the ’80s, when rape culture was just culture. Men were supposed to want sex, and anything shy of actual or threatened violence was on the table for getting it, be it deception, cajoling, or just getting her drunk enough to let you take her panties off and do what you wanted. I was a product of my environment.

Those excuses are bullshit. Basic human decency isn’t hard to grasp once you admit to yourself that other people are people.

[For the record, I still don’t want people to know, I still don’t want those things to have happened, those things did still happen, and I’m still sorry. Like then, I am still terrified of hitting ‘publish’ when I get to the end of this, because even though I don’t think of myself as a good person, I still prefer that other people do.]

Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men took that watershed moment to reflect on rape culture and their place and participation in it, either personally or politically. Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men are taking the opportunity now. But some are. Continue reading “A Year Ago, I Confessed Some of the Worst Things I’ve Ever Done to Women: Here’s What Happened”

The WIP’s Journey

So about four years ago I had a fun idea for a short story. It was a fantasy story, which was a little off the beaten path for me at the time. By which I mean I didn’t write fantasy, had no aspirations to write fantasy, and though I grew up reading it and still do and really dig the new directions people are taking it in these days, I was much more interested in what I termed ‘near-future speculative fiction with emergent magic realist elements.’

But this fun little idea wanted written, and I thought, what the hell, let’s see where it goes.

So, a little background before I tell you what the idea was. Like many nerds, I spent a good chunk of the ‘80s playing Dungeons & Dragons. Outside every dungeon there’s a tavern, where the players go before the adventure to learn some important backstory and play at a last huzzah before the adventure, because some of the party might not come back. At the tavern, there’s wenches, and more often than not their job is not only to bring food and drink but to absorb sexual harassment. Not unlike far too many of their counterparts in the real world. Men will be boys, after all.

The tavern wench is the most non-player-y non-player character there is. Seriously, there’s not even a TVTropes page. At least there wasn’t last time I looked.

So who are these women, I asked, and three women answered. There was Marinie, the tavern-keep, an aging beauty with a bastard son and a jaundiced view of the the world. There was Perse, who was shy and quiet and didn’t want to talk about her past, or much of anything, really, and not because she’s afraid, either.

And then there was Brenaea, working to put herself through magic school. She had the most to say of all of them, and while the other two pretty much are who they are, she was the one still in the process of becoming who she would be. It was clear pretty quickly that this was her story.

So I had some characters. The setting was obvious. The tavern’s near a dungeon. The dungeon has a dragon. There’s a magic school there, too. Sure, it’s chock-full of tropes, but it was enough for a short story, right? And obviously the story was how do I get these three into and through the dungeon to save the day?

Easy. First I needed some even tropier adventurers to come along and mess everything up by waking the sleeping dragon (thanks, JRR). The last dying one returns, bearing the McGuffin, and it’s up to the wenches to save the day. How do they make it through the dungeon? Well, Marinie’s been working the bar and talking with survivors for years now, and she’s managed to put together a map. Perse’s got mad skillz, because of course she does. And Brenaea, well she’s the one with the education to tie it all together. And the dragon, well, the dragon turns out to be a little different from what the classics might lead you to expect.

Hm. That’s a lot to pack into thirty pages. Maybe it’s a novellette. Or a novella. Oh, shit, I am writing a novel, Continue reading “The WIP’s Journey”

Litany Against Trolls

I must not engage. Engagement is the time-killer. Engagement is the little trap that brings total exasperation. I will face this obvious attempt to start a pointless and frustrating argument. I will permit the temptation to engage to pass over me and through me. And when I have scrolled down I will look at the screen where it was. Where the troll has gone, there will be nothing. Only pictures of cats and other people’s children and food will remain.

RandyCon Writers’ Retreat Wrap-Up

Should have taken more pictures.

Let me just say that the Winter 2015 RandyCon was a rousing success. Songs were sung, jokes were told, and many thousands of words were written, or, in the case of the revisers, unwritten. I myself churned out almost 9000 words, which is around thirty-five pages for any non-writer-folk readers this blog post may attract. I killed off a character, introduced the Big Bad, wrecked the town and the magic school, and my protagonist did something unpredictable and that I didn’t like but that showed me a little more about who she is and what she’s capable of.

So yeah, I feel like it was pretty successful.

For those still scratching heads, RandyCon is a twice-yearly writers’ retreat put on by Randy Henderson (a hell of a writer and a hell of a nice guy, you should check out his books here) at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend, WA. It’s a decommissioned military base that used to house artillery for coastal defense that’s been repurposed as a rudimentary resort and office park, and RandyCon happens at (I’m guessing) an old NCO barracks. It’s a pretty good setup: big kitchen and common areas, and four wings of three or four small rooms each, with a bathroom in each wing. There were thirteen of us, all told (although there was some coming and going), and we all brought treats and provisions and took turns cooking and cleaning and so forth.

Daytimes are for writing Continue reading “RandyCon Writers’ Retreat Wrap-Up”