Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On reading and writing what you love

*✲゚*。✧ Happy new year! *✲゚*。✧

This post was inspired by this conversation where Ann Leckie said many wise things. It isn't my year in review; rather it's a post of thanks.

2013 was the year I started reading Yoon Ha Lee religiously, got head over heels into the works of Nicola Griffith and Ann Leckie, and discovered Elizabeth Wein's stunning YA historical Code Name Verity. I'd also been reading Kameron Hurley for a while, Aliette de Bodard, and a great many other writers - I've been trying to read more specfic to shore up my familiarity with the genre (though I do break away from that sometimes, the Wein isn't speculative as such!). It's all been, I think, good news. Because other people like them too, characters like Nyx, Breq, Hild, Verity and Aud Torvingen or all the powerful, dimensional ladies of Aliette's fiction. This is what I love to read and want to see more of! And I am far from alone. These are authors that, as I hardly need to point out, have been received fantastically and applauded thoroughly. Yay! I've also met wonderful writers (on twitter, at least) like A. C. Wise, A. J. Fitzwater, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Alex Dally MacFarlane and more.

When I write I'm not looking to shake or upset - upset things might fall over and break, after all! Instead I write what makes me happy, whether that's ladies with heart bees doing things, genderqueer cyberneticists changing the course of history, gender-fluid soldiers struggling against inevitable tragedies. Whether anyone would want to read these is chancier, though I've been honestly really surprised - for a short fiction writer (and a really new one, both to writing and to the genre) I've published fairly well this year, with two stories in Clarkesworld, one in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in outstanding anthologies: Jonathan Oliver's End of the Road and Mike Allen's Clockwork Phoenix 4.

Two of my 2013 stories will be reprinted very excitingly and 2014 is looking really good, too! At minimum, editors like my work enough to publish me - and they hardly mind if a character of mine is sometimes male and sometimes female, or if they're women married to women. None of them ever made me edit somewhat unconventional pronoun choices either: the singular they for a genderqueer character, the occasional switch from 'he' to 'she' for the same character. Nobody's ever asked me to change names that might sound odd to some ears - Lunha, Xihe, Esithu - and when it comes to pronouncing mine everyone's been perfectly lovely (even though my surname must be a beast!). I've never had to compromise, and for this I've been so lucky and am tremendously grateful. Editors are true treasures. I've worked with some of the very best and that's been a real privilege.

But before I could get to the point of actively writing and submitting, it helped enormously to see that there are writers who've gone before doing the things I love, and who do it with confidence and success. This gift of courage is so precious, whether or not it's intentionally passed along.  It gives me space to believe that the stories I want to tell could *be* and that there'd be an audience for it. And there has been! I've been delighted and surprised every time someone reviews my stories or tweets to let me know that they've enjoyed my fiction. Role models and influences have been incredibly important for me as a writer, not just because they inspire my fiction but because they open up possibilities. They've set a precedent. They fill me with optimism, not least because I'm looking forward to more of their works as well.

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

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