Friday, February 06, 2015

All Sort of Things I'm Up To...

I just spent about a half-hour queueing things up on the School for Wayward Demons Tumblr page. During the process I was chatting with a friend who encouraged me to link to my other Tumblr page (which if you go there RIGHT THIS INSTANT, you'll see I did.) It's a funny thing, my resistance to... invading this sacred fan space I've made for myself with self-promotional things. It's REALLY silly when you consider that I have no qualms about posting links on my fan tumblr space to my reviews of manga or my podcast or my fan fic. She asked me if I was afraid to tarnish my professional reputation with my fan one. My response? No, it's the other way 'round.

I'm really protective of my fan spaces. I don't mind people knowing about them. In fact, I will happily give out my fan name or my AO3 account handle to anyone who asks me at con. I'm very, very proud that at CONvergence last year, in the women's bathroom, I had someone shyly ask if it was true that I was "junko from AO3." It turned out, the woman asking was the person who podfic'd my Bleach/Free! x-over, and, once I confirmed and she told me who she was, we did the dance of squee with each other.

So, it's not like I care if people who are my fan friends find out I write professionally, or vice versa.

I guess it's strange, but I almost feel like self-promoting my original fiction on my fan sites sullies them somehow. I mean, I should get over that, because, as my friend said, "The data stream is so fast. No one will really notice." Which is VERY, very true. I used to worry that if people found out I was a professional writer on my AO3 account that the tenor of the conversation would change. The very last thing I want is for people to stop telling me when I suck because, you know, I guess you know better because you're some kind of pro. Which is, of course, bull.

I sometimes wonder if that's partly why Rachel and I don't get many comments over on or why they're not more critical on either of my Wattpad entries. (It could be, too, that both those venues require some kind of log-in.) But, I think, often people are reluctant to tell someone they perceive as a professional that they'd like to see the story go another direction... face-to-face/directly. Obviously, people are happy to say all sorts of things about professional writing on review sites once a book is done and dusted. I mean, I can understand this hesitance. People are afraid of being yelled at. But, I THRIVE on critique. I love it. And fan fiction has been a great place to be treated like a peer by a large number of people again.

At any rate, I suspect I've said all this somewhere before. It's one of my favorite topics to hold forth on. But, so if you want to tell me what-for (and check out some of the new content that's been added) on Wattpad, there is a new installment of School for Wayward Demons up: Gabe Runs (into Darkness.
Also, my review of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist (#64) is up on MangaKast.

In other news, I finished reading Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta. It was the first of the books I've read so far that are on the Philip K. Dick award nomination list that I would call straight-up science fiction. It's also a very... subtle, quiet book, despite having a LOT of tension woven in throughout. I found it very interesting. The story follows a woman who is the tea master's daughter in a future Scandinavia where we've depleted much of the Earth's viable drinking water. There's been a kind of post-oil apocalypse and the 'past world' is shrouded in mystery, mostly understood by the things recovered in the plastic graveyards on the outskirts of town. I would totally recommend the book without any reservations, so long as you weren't expecting a rip, roaring, page-turning thriller. The ending is also very much a downer, and the only sense of hope comes from the prologue and the implication that there might be a second book to continue some of the threads that don't really get answered. But, I didn't mind that, surprisingly.

Now I'm waiting for Book of the Unnamed Midwife to show up through Inter-Library Loan. Then, the last one will be the Jonathan Strahan book (which he seemed to have edited, Reach for Infinity which I'm reading last because I'm not a big fan of short story collections.) In the meantime, I think I'm going to start a Melissa Scott book that Shawn nabbed off Amazon when the Kindle version when on one of those 99 cent sales.

Not much else is going on. I finished up the two seasons of Tiger & Bunny that Hulu had, and have, on recommendation, started watching Zenkyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance while I wash the dishes. It's quite a shift in tone, I must say. Zenkyou no Terror follows two very disturbed and unusual young men (who to refer to each other by numbers because they were raised in some kind of horrible orphanage) who are exacting their revenge on society by... well, by being terrorists. So you know, from heroes to villains. It's a bit of whiplash, but I'm enjoying Zenkyou no Terror the same way I enjoyed DeathNote. It's kind of fascinating to go deep into the criminal mind. Like in DeathNote, there's a smart, vaguely outsider to root for on the other side, on the good-guy side. So, I've got that to cling to. I'm very, very worried for the female character in Zenkyou no Terror, but you know... it's early days. I'm only on the fourth or fifth episode so far.

Like much of fandom, I'm anxiously waiting for the arrival of this month's Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan. The things I've seen on Tumblr from the raws make me kind of happy (*anxiously grabs abs*)... I'll have a review up as soon as we see in English

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Dog whistles, Code, and Insider-ism

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, like you do, and I came across this: "Why 'Fandom is Family' is Problematic". It's a collection or round-up of tweets (probably involving a much larger discussion) about the phrase 'fandom is family' and why we should stop using it. First of all, I've actually never heard this phrase in my long association with SF fandom, and I tend to agree that family is not ALL THAT to everyone and it certainly should not be a phrase used to shelter abusers, etc.

What I'm reacting to is the idea that fandom (and it's not clear which 'fandom' is meant here, but maybe SF con fandom?) is unwelcoming because it has so many in-jokes... or...? I'm not sure, because I think, in point of fact, that the very term "not welcoming" is a dog-whistle for the Tumblr-generation/fans.

I'm not saying they're not right.

When I first entered con fandom, I felt very lost. I didn't know the routine. I didn't know the lingo. I didn't have many friends who went to cons. In point of fact, I dropped out of con fandom until I was a newly energized/hungry writer and saw the advantages of meeting people by being on panels. It should be noted, too, that I am, and have always been, a vey out-going and social person. It's not normally hard for me to make friends with strangers.

So it's absolutely true that a person's first con can feel very... exclusive, excluding even. Certainly, LONELY.

I experienced that whole feeling of exclusion all over again, despite years of being in sf con fandom, when I entered the anime fandom (and the anime con fandom, both of which have their own sets of rules and entire language books full of code and lingo and acronyms.) I even posted here that what i needed for the next Anime Detour was a translator to act as my guide.


I never felt it was the duty of the con runners to make me feel "welcomed." I felt weird about my lack of knowledge--uncomfortable even, but I didn't let that stop me. If I felt any sense of privilege it was a self-empowered one, which was to say I NEVER DOUBTED THAT I HAD THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE, I just had to figure out HOW. I also never doubted that figuring out HOW was on me, and me alone. So, I thought, "Alright then, I need to ask what does mean?" I need to call up my friends and say, "Okay, who here is going with me?" I asked my more anime con savvy friends, "So... when someone is in costume, do I talk to them 'in character' or... What? How do I interact here? What are the rules?" In my early SF con days, I found someone I knew and asked, "Okay, so what DOES it take to get on panels? How do I volunteer for the stuff I like?"

I'm not saying this because I feel like "kids these days" (or people new to fandom) don't have the same where-with-all that I did/do.

But, because this term gets bandied about a lot, I do wonder if "not welcoming" actually is for them one of those words they use that means something that my generation doesn't quite understand the same way. I wonder if it means more than what I'm describing. I'm wondering if there are very specific ways in which the younger generation feels less empowered to just participate, despite the things I described above.

I'm not sure.

I want someone to tell me. I want to understand. I want to hear the stories that will open my eyes, so I can FIX the things for you (and, ultimately for all of us.)

In the meantime, I have to guess from context.

One of the back-and-forths in the twitter round-up made it seem like one person felt left out because Michael Thomas joked about "TRUfandom" (which is also a phrase I didn't know). She said, basically: "Whelp, see what I mean, I don't know this stuff." To me, that's not being shown the door, and having it slammed in your face, that's just BEING NEW. I've had the same experience as an old-timer, getting onto Tumblr and going to Anime cons. I never felt unwelcome. I just felt NEW.

We all need to learn each other's language.

I think that this is less 'insider-ism' than just the way sub-cultures operate. I sometimes have to use the urban dictionary to parse out what my neighbor is saying to me or what comments on my fan fic mean. I don't think my neighbor or the fans of my writing are trying to insult me or exclude me or intentionally make me feel unwelcome. In fact, each time I deciphered a bit of the code, I felt brought closer in. When someone left me ILU on my fan fic, I'd no idea for sure what that meant. I looked it up, and it means "I love you!" or "I like you" and is kind of just a term of excitement, bonding, or, as my subculture would call it, squee.

I really think that when Michael made his comment his intention was inclusion, as in, 'like that joke we have about TRU fandom, you and me." Yet it was seen as endemic to the problem.

I think we need to stop assuming hostility from each other.

Fandom needs all of us, young and old.