Reading Diversely–Update

I thought I was doing well. It’s shocking how not well I’m doing at being thoughtful in my reading choices. It’s been a month and a half, more or less, since my last post. Here are my numbers:

48 books read (I’m on drugs after minor surgery. I’m aware my numbers don’t add up, but I can’t make them and I give up)

32 by white authors

14 by authors of color (that’s less than half! better than 20% in Februrary, but I still have a lot of catching up to do)

42 by women

5 by men

If you count the books I have started but not finished but mean to go back to, it’s even worse: 10 books (really?? Who is the midst of 10 books? 3 are poetry collections, if that helps)

All of them are by women.

One will probably be DNF.

4 are by women of color.

6 are by white women.

This is me trying and still reading mostly white women. This is my library not having any poetry collections (on the shelves in front of me the day I went) by any of the black women I looked for (Gwendolyn Brooks, Marilyn Nelson or Maya Angelou). This is all of our book club books this year have been by white people. This is also me deciding to try to read all of Margo Lanagan’s books.

Amazing books by authors of color I’ve read so: Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brisset, Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon, and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (which is going on my best reads of 2015 list)

Reading Challenge–Reading Diversely

I tried not to look at the other results when I was searching for K.T. Bradford’s article on xojane I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year, but unsurprisingly, it looks pretty bad. Mostly I wanted to do this for my own information, but now I don’t mind adding my noise against the ignorant, the racists and the sexists.

Last year, I recorded reading 76 books. I know I read more like 120 books, but I get lazy and I read fast and I forget what I read. Which is why I want to write down what I’ve been reading in the first place. Anyway. Since high school or college I’ve consistently read many more women than men, so that’s a given.

2014

Women authors (presumed to be white): 63 out of 76

Women authors of color: 5 out of 76 (yeesh)

Men authors of color: 6 (ditto)

Men (presumed to be white): 7

Look at that. Even given my bias against men, I still managed to read more white men than either women or men of color. That’s bad.

As for content:

6 books had a character with some kind of disability or disability was important to the narrative (the wording here because of a memoir)

22 books had characters of color

4 books had a LGBTQ character

66 books had a woman main character or focused on women

Those numbers are a little soft since I read a number of books about writing (by women) and a bunch of SFF that had non-humans as the main characters.

I was already doing better in 2015 before the challenge:

31 books read

7 written by people of color (6 women, 1 man)

28 written by women

That’s still 24 books by white women.

The Difference between Procrastinating and Waiting

It’s taken me this long, 10+ years since I started writing again, to mostly be able to tell the difference between procrastinating and waiting.

Procrastinating is when I have something to write, but it feels too hard, or I’m being lazy, or I just can’t get started (because writing is scary, yo!).

Waiting is when things need time to come together in my mind, thought A colliding with thought T; the idea for a scene that’s not quite right yet because I’m looking at it wrong or because it’s default, it’s boring, it needs to be turned on its head or twisted 30 or 125 degrees before it’s right for what I’m working on; or it’s something I’ve got wrong and until I figure out what it is and go back and fix it, I can’t go forward.

The things I do when I’m procrastinating look very, very similar to what I’m doing when I’m waiting, but the internal feeling is very different. If I’m procrastinating there’s an edge of irritation, of impatience, directed at myself, that I’m not writing and I should be writing. It might take a bit for me to notice, acknowledge and act on it, but it’s there.

When I’m waiting, I have to wait. I can’t rush it. I can’t force it. I can coax it, by feeding the garden inside me where my writing comes from, by reading fiction and non-fiction and watching TV (sometimes really great fiction and TV, sometimes really bad fiction and TV), exercising, hanging out with friends. Whatever fills the well.

Sometimes I still get it wrong. Sometimes I’m procrastinating when I think I’m waiting, and vice versa. But slightly more often than not, I’m finally figuring it out.

777 Challenge

I’ve just been tagged by Alison Cherry to do the 777 Challenge. The rules: post seven sentences of your work, start on page seven, seven lines down. The following is from my inspired by the Byzantine Empire meets 1910s suffrage NYC meets bio-based technology science fantasy that may or may not be YA:

My grin felt like it would break my face. “We won!” I shouted at him and his face did crack, his mouth and eyes open wide, his usually unflappable bay mare jigging under him. I allowed myself to believe it was surprised amazement but a cold worm of worry turned over in my stomach. “I told you,” I crowed, “I told you I could win.”

“What have you done?” He shouldered into me and seized Red Nettle’s reins, pulling cruelly at his mouth to halt him, and that more than anything brought home to me the depth of his horror. Magister Peres did not abuse his horses. Ever.

I’m tagging Casey Blair, Tam MacNeil and Shawn Anderson, but only if they want to play.

Random Excerpt from my WIP

Just because. (Or because I’m procrastinating.)

With a Shield, a person could not be augmented without their knowledge and consent; parents told their children stories about the poor unfortunates in Zyxx who didn’t control their own Shields and the wretched victims in the Land of Those that Speak, where they didn’t have Shields at all. Children whispered stories of the wild blending of animal, plant and human there or the cruel augmentations the stronger forced on the weaker.

The idea of not having my Shield was very disturbing.

Also, I’m on Tumblr now at The Fourth Gorgon.

Viable Paradise — Things I Wish I’d Known

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new here AND it’s almost time for the new VP class so I thought I’d mention a few things I wish I’d known beforehand: 

The topic of the one-on-one sessions are completely up to you. You can take the opportunity to ask for specific feedback on your submission or you can ask anything at all (within the bounds of polite behavior). I wish I’d gone in a little more prepared, but my sessions were still awesome (probably due to the quality of the instructors, not my tongue-tied, shy questions). They are there to help you improve your writing. 

You can ask the staff anything (even if it seems slightly beyond the bounds of polite behavior). If you’re having trouble adjusting, let them know. If you unexpectedly get your period (or whatever the manly equivalent is) they will go out and buy you supplies and it will be no big deal. They are there to help. They are also writers and attendees of previous VPs and know lots of things.

I never used my laptop during the sessions but it was still important to have. I took handwritten notes and two of my classmates recorded the sessions and made them available to the rest of the class. Two years later I still go back and listen to them, but it would have been great to have my own–especially of the group critique sessions, where a certain person with the initials PNH speaks at the speed of light. Just saying. YMMV.

It’s ok to ask the instructors if you can follow up with them after VP is over. I am terrible at this. I’m still kicking myself for not following up with Uncle Jim.

I brought an eye mask and ear plugs and I used them. I could have brought the whole pack of earplugs and shared them with people who didn’t. They were crucial for me to get to sleep.

Everyone is telling you not to go in sleep deprived: DON’T GO IN SLEEP DEPRIVED.

And don’t forget to have fun.

ETA suggestions from the VP community: Get a flu shot! If traveling from overseas get a travel health insurance policy to cover you.