dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
I was going to write today about the wonderful trip Matthias and I made to visit friends in Poznań -- our first time in Poland -- and how it was restorative and healing and hopeful. I probably will still write about that trip, but events have pushed it from the front of my mind.

I'm writing, of course, about the dismal UK local election results (and what they appear to predict for the general election in June), and the crushing sense of hopelessness I'm seeing all around me -- both among friends and colleagues here in Cambridge, and among friends all over the world more generally. My colleagues and I had a big screaming rant over lunch, and I think it helped. I thought I'd share with you what I said to a colleague who was feeling particularly down. These are the things I remind myself when I feel at my most hopeless. I'm not naive enough to think they'll save the world: the situation is dire in so many places, and the barriers we face are considerable. But I've been repeating these things to myself to keep myself going after Brexit; they've been helpful to me, and maybe they will be helpful to you.

  • I take satisfaction from knowing, if humanity survives, that in twenty, fifty, one hundred years' time, historians will judge harshly those who got us into the various messes currently plaguing the world. Children will learn about those responsible at school, and write essays castigating their failures. People will build careers explaining the political, social and moral failures of those who are currently running things. This may not comfort you, but it comforts me.


  • We may be powerless against the vast political tidal waves currently sweeping the world, and not everyone will survive them. But we have power to be supportive, uplifting and kind in the smallness of our everyday lives. We have the power to donate to or signal-boost a fundraiser for friends in need, to buy a cup of coffee and sandwich for a person sleeping rough, to be polite to a retail worker or call-centre worker or barista, to donate to a food bank, to join a refugee support network, to make art that comforts the powerless, to build, to teach, to vote, to love.


  • It is impossible and overwhelming to try to fight against every injustice and cruelty. It will grind you down and erode your capacity to help and hope. It's far better if you pick just one (or two, or three, or whatever you feel able) issue or cause to support, and throw as much of yourself and your energy into that issue, or those causes. And make sure it's a cause or issue where you can actually help in a meaningful way. By all means boost the causes of others, and, where appropriate, join forces -- we are stronger together. But focusing on one thing doesn't mean you care most about it, or don't care about other causes. Don't get hung up on doing activism in a certain way -- not everyone can march or demonstrate, not everyone can attend meeting with political representatives, not everyone can phone or write letters, not everyone has money to spare to donate to their chosen cause. Don't beat yourself up about this: it doesn't mean you don't care or aren't helping. It means you are using your energy and skills in the most practical, helpful way.


  • Be as pragmatic as you feel comfortable. By this I don't mean accept the status quo, or allow harmful people to be involved in your cause because they achieve results. Instead I mean don't strive for instant perfection, instant results, or instant, monumental change. Learn to think of incremental change not as a compromise, but as a starting point for further changes. (By this I do not mean people should accept scraps and be grateful for them, but rather to think in the long term and focus on survival.)


  • I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, but I have to be able to get out of bed in the morning, and these things help me.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    I'm sitting here drinking a cup of tea and eating salted caramel fudge in the late afternoon sun, and thinking it's been a pretty great weekend.

    Yesterday we mostly hung around at home, apart from an hour or so when we went out for one of the talks at Cambridge Festival of Ideas (this is a free programme that runs every year, a series of talks and panels by a mixture of Cambridge academics and other speakers on various topics, aimed at the general public). The panel we went to was about new media, and panelists ranged from fairly senior editors at Buzzfeed and Open Democracy to an academic doing research on the role of the media in Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, and was excellent, although it didn't really tell me anything I didn't know. We've been trying to take more advantage of events like this — there's always a lot on in Cambridge, frequently free and generally right on our doorstep, so we're trying to make an effort to go to as much as we can.

    Today we went to Apple Day at the Botanic Gardens. This happens once a year; you can taste about fifteen varieties of apple (kinds you can't buy in supermarkets), and buy bags of them to take away. There are stalls selling stuff like apple juice, cider, jams and cakes, honey, and (our favourites) cheese and gin. We walked away with three bags of apples, cherry sloe gin, and some cheese. There are also a few food trucks, a stall selling coffee and cake, and activities for children. We went last year and it was overcast and occasionally rainy, but this year the weather held (always a bit of a gamble in the UK in October) and we had a fabulous time in the autumnal sunshine, eating apples, bumping into a couple of friends, and wandering around the gardens. The only drawback was that you had to queue for ages for everything, but we were aware this would happen and thus weren't shocked by the long, slow-moving queues.

    Now we're back at home and just lazing around until dinner time.

    Over the past few weeks I've oscillated between cheerfulness and moments of crushing despair, and had to do things like avoid reading any news or thinking about the state of the world. At times the darkness, cruelty and sheer violence of the world has been overwhelming, and it seems like many people I care about are going through particularly difficult times. It's left me feeling helpless and despairing, and struggling to know what I can do in the face of it all. But every so often there'll be these moments of kindness and gentleness, existing almost out of time, like a pause in which I can gather my strength. This weekend was one such bright moment. I have to store it up with the others, for later. These brief moments of warmth and light are a small, fragile thing, but I have to believe that they will be enough.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    My dear friend Mia ([twitter.com profile] likhain) and her partner Cy ([twitter.com profile] Sable_Fable) are going through some difficult times right now, and could really use your help. With their agreement, I have set up a fundraiser at YouCaring to help cover rent, bills, ongoing medical expenses and other living costs. I am running the fundraiser, but funds go directly to Mia and Cy.

    Both Mia and Cy have always been very generous with their time and energy and have supported others in the SFF and fannish communities in various ways, and it would be great if those communities were able to help in whatever way possible. On a personal note, Mia has been greatly supportive of me over the years, and I really value her art, words and friendship.

    The fundraiser link is here. Please give what you can, and please share as widely as possible on as many platforms as you can. All support and signal boosting is greatly appreciated.

    If you need any more information, please feel free to get in touch with me.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    2015 was a really good year for me. Matthias and I both had full-time jobs, I received my new residence permit, I got to spend Christmas back in Australia with my family for the first time in three years, I had no PhD to worry about, and there was lots of great stuff going on in Cambridge, with awesome people to hang out with. And, for the first time since about 2010, being online felt fun.

    A lot of this was because I started the year with a lot of clear goals and ideas about what I wanted to do and experience in the various areas of my life, and thought a lot about what I could do (what was within my control to do) to achieve them. I was also lucky in that I have a lot of really wonderful people around me in pretty much every part of my life, who were always there to make stuff that much better.

    So I guess my purpose in making this post is to set out a few more goals for this year, to see if that does the trick for the second time.

    I will absolutely be continuing with 2015's goal of stop, collaborate and listen. Some of the best parts of 2015 involved working collaboratively with others — both at work and outside it, and I learnt so much simply by reading and listening to others' words, and not charging into a situation with my mind already made up. So, more of the same, as far as that goes.

    I focused a lot on reading lots of new work in 2015, and while that was great (Station Eleven! Sorcerer to the Crown! Black Wolves! Silver on the Road!), I used to be an avid rereader, and I really missed spending any time hanging out with old favourites. The most soothing thing for me is to dip back into a much-loved book, reminding myself all over again why its characters' existence is such a consolation to me. For that reason, 2016 is going to be the year of rereads.

    One of the things that was so great about a lot of the new people I met last year was that they introduced me to a huge amount of fantastic online short fiction and poetry, most of it freely available. I'd not been much of a short story reader before last year, and while it's still not a natural fit for me (I read for character, and I find that longer storytelling mediums such as novels or TV series work best for that), I'm glad I got such an introduction to the form, and really appreciate the recommendations. So I will certainly be continuing with short fiction in 2016.

    One thing I didn't do a lot of, and the absence of which I felt, was long-form blogging, particularly essays and reviews. I used to write a lot of those, whereas last year I think I just wrote four reviews, two of them fairly short. I'm not going to pressure myself with writing goals or a target number of posts, but rather simply say that in 2016, I will write more.

    That goes for fanfic as well. All I wrote last year was my one Yuletide assignment, but I have a lot more stories in me. There's the Five Wives-centric Mad Max fic that takes place after the movie, and the alternative ending epic Galax Arena Presh/Allyman story I've been planning forever, for starters. So yes, I will write more fic.

    One thing that did wonders for my mental health last year was to focus my energies on things that made me happy, celebrating the successes of friends, rather than constantly drawing attention to the actions of horrible, hurtful people. Long may this approach of mine continue! And with that in mind, I would love it if people could share things in the comments that make them happy. It can be stories (both fic and pro), it could be a beautiful piece of art, it could be a piece of meta you're proud of, a song that makes you dance, a particularly hilarious Twitter or Tumblr exchange, or something else that hasn't occurred to me.

    I hope this year is good to all of you.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    I've been doing this particular meme every year since 2007, and I find it a really good way to keep track, and take stock, of the meaningful moments of any given year.

    Questions and answers behind the cut )
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    Filipina writer Rochita Loenen-Ruiz ([twitter.com profile] rcloenenruiz on Twitter) and her family are going through a very difficult time right now, and could really use some support. Friends and colleagues of Rochita have set up a Go Fund Me page for Rochita, and would really appreciate any donations and/or signal boosts.

    Rochita is a wonderful and thoughtful writer. She's got a novel underway, and most of her recent published work has been nonfiction. You can read some of it here at Strange Horizons. She also reviews and interviews other writers over at her review blog.

    She is one of the most loving, generous and giving people I know. I'm aware of a small fraction of the work she does behind the scenes, mentoring and supporting young and emerging writers, particularly those from Southeast Asia. She has worked hard with others to build and strengthen communities within SFF and create spaces where marginalised voices can be heard. On a more personal note, she has been encouraging and supportive of my own small contribution to the SFF conversation, and has always been happy to boost my work.

    I hope we're able to give her at least a fraction of the support and generosity that she has shown others. I would appreciate the funding drive being shared widely and in many fannish spaces. I have spoken to Aliette de Bodard, who is one of the organisers of the drive, and she has said that Rochita and the organisers want it shared in every space possible, including those on the fanworks side of fandom. It goes without saying that you can link to this post of mine on any platform. Send me a message or comment here if you have any questions. Please help if you can.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    That title doesn't quite scan, but it will have to do.

    Via Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, probably the best thing I've read all week: Nine Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible, by Kai Cheng Thom. Really important stuff.

    Read this essay by Sofia Samatar about being a black academic.

    On a related note, Black Sci-fi Creators Assemble at Princeton and Imagine Better Worlds than This One, by Rasheedah Phillips.

    Kari Sperring talks about justice, socialism, fantasy utopias, and Terry Pratchett.

    Here's Alana Piper on the myth that 'women secretly hate each other'. Nothing throws me out of a story faster than female characters with no female friends, so this post was right up my alley.

    Kate Elliott needs your help in a workshop on gender defaults in fantasy.

    Shannon Hale writes about writing outside her culture. Note that at least one of the recommendations of books 'by Asian-American authors' is not by an Asian-American author, but rather, a Palestinian/Egyptian-Australian. It's still a good list.

    Rochita Loenen-Ruiz interviews Zen Cho. I wait impatiently for my copy of Sorcerer To The Crown to arrive.

    As always, the new posts at Ghostwords are a delight.

    Two new reviews are up on Those Who Run With Wolves:

    Vida Cruz reviews Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter.

    I review Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall.

    It has been twenty years since two formative works of my teenage years, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and the film Hackers, were released. Here's an interview with the Hackers director.

    The Toast remains amazing. Two of my favourite recent posts: Dirtbag Milton (I remember studying him in uni and being furious about how badly he treated his daughters), and How To Tell If You Are In a Lai of Marie de France.

    I hope your weekends are glorious.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    Slightly flippant title, wildly inaccurate characterisation of my reasons for doing these linkposts. Over here I am gearing up for a much needed long weekend, after one of those weeks that just seem to go on and on and on.

    Kate Elliott wrote a great post on 'Diversity Panels: Where Next'. I would encourage you to read (most of) the links that follow, particularly the panel discussion at The Book Smugglers, which I included in a previous linkpost.

    Some (unintentionally Australian-centric) Hugos follow-up posts:

    Liz Barr of No Award livetweeted the Hugos.

    Galactic Suburbia did a podcast discussing the results.

    On a less awesome note (in the sense of this needing to be said at all), Sumana Harihareswara responded to the use of the Hare Krishna chant in the Hugos ceremony in an extraordinarily open-hearted and giving way.

    A lot of people were sharing this (old) 'How to (Effectively) Show Support' by Dahlia Adler. This part particularly resonated with me:

    There is a really big difference between being a person who only rages and a person who both rages and makes a real move for change. And maybe people don’t realize that. Maybe they don’t get how. But I’m tired of seeing raging with no support counterbalance, and I’m tired of people thinking raging is enough without backing it up in a meaningful way. I’m tired of people not realizing how limiting the effects are when all you do is talk about who and what is doing things wrong and not who and what is doing things right.

    (Incidentally, I think the first person I saw sharing the post was Bogi Takács, who very effectively shows support with regular roundups of #diversepoems and #diversestories recommendations.)

    Aliette de Bodard has set up a review website, designed to host reviews of 'books we love, with a focus on things by women, people of colour, and other marginalised people'.

    Here's Sophia McDougall doing a podcast with Emma Newman. My poor, Romanitas-loving heart hurt when Sophia talked about one particular scene in Savage City involving the Pantheon. (I know at least one friend is currently reading the series for the first time, so it might be wise to avoid this podcast until you've finished - it's mildly spoilery.)

    More on the invisibility of older women authors, this time from Tricia Sullivan.

    Ana has gathered some great, library-related links at Things Mean A Lot.

    'Breakthrough in the world's oldest undeciphered writing'.

    Via [personal profile] umadoshi, these photos of the world's oldest trees are really amazing.

    I hope you all have wonderful weekends.
    dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
    ETA: Putting the whole post behind a cut, for including discussion of abusive behaviour and links to posts that discuss the same.

    Post is behind the cut )

    Comments are screened, and will only be posted publicly if you indicate that that's okay.

    ____________________________
    *I also feel that if you were happy with Kameron Hurley's win last year for Fan Writer, it's hypocritical to view Mixon's presence on the ballot as illegitimate. Although Hurley had a larger body of fan-writing work, and while I can't know the motivations behind those who nominated and voted for her, I suspect she owed her presence on the ballot in the Fan Writer category to her essay 'We Have Always Fought', which resonated with a great number of voters, and for this reason could be said to have been nominated on the strength of a single work. Your mileage may vary on the validity of this comparison.
    dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
    This week's linkpost is all Terry Pratchett. I came to his writing later than most, as I was in my early twenties before I read a single word of his. A good friend of mine and I had made a deal: he would watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I would read Pratchett. I think it was a good deal for both of us. I started with Guards! Guards!, and never looked back. My favourite Pratchett book is Small Gods, for all the qualities that made Pratchett such a powerful writer: warm humour, a perceptive understanding of human nature, an intelligent way with words that included rather than excluded, and a patience with human frailty.

    This is a Storify of Pratchett's last tweets. (Warning: bring tissues.)

    Here Nymeth provides her reminiscences at Things Mean A Lot.

    Jo Walton recalls her first meeting with Pratchett over at Tor.com.

    I also liked this piece by Julie Beck at the Atlantic.

    The obituary at the BBC is here.

    As usual, xkcd says in a few words what would take me several thousand.

    I think, however, that Abi Sutherland says it best:

    He saw the monstrosities of our world: economic inequality, racism, sexism, religious bigotry, the abuses of narrative and myth. And he made them irresistibly ludicrous, laying them relentlessly out until their inner absurdity smothered them, until the least bizzare and most reasonable thing in the story was that it took place on a disc resting on the backs of four elephants standing on the shell of a giant space turtle.

    He was both wise and kind.


    The world could do with a bit more wisdom accompanied by kindness.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    This week's linkpost is up a bit early, and contains many fabulous things.

    I'm a huge fan of Sophia McDougall's review of Birdman: over at Strange Horizons. In it, she compares the film to Boris Johnson. It's an apt comparison.

    Here's a great interview with Samantha Shannon. 'Cities are made of narrative' indeed.

    Aliette de Bodard's description of her subconscious as a library is a fabulous metaphor, and one that I might steal myself!

    There's a great set of guest posts over at Ladybusiness on 'What books are on your auto-recommend list?' (For the record, mine are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, the Pagan Chronicles series by Catherine Jinks, Space Demons, Skymaze, Shinkei and Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein, Parkland, Earthsong, Fire Dancer and The Beast of Heaven by Victor Kelleher, the Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall and the Crossroads trilogy by Kate Elliott.)

    Episode 4 of Fangirl Happy Hour is up. This week Ana and Renay are talking Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Jupiter Ascending and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I'm not quite as critical of S.H.I.E.L.D. as they are, while I think there's room for difference of opinion about the feminism of Jupiter Ascending, but as always, I appreciate their thoughts.

    The first few guest posts about representation and diversity are up on Jim C. Hines' blog.

    Shannon Hale talks about gender segregation at readings she's done at schools. It's heartbreaking.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article by Robert Macfarlane about language and landscape. Beautiful stuff.

    I really liked the recent BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. This interview by Julia Raeside of Claire Foy, who played Anne Boleyn, goes a long way towards explaining why.

    For reasons that will soon become apparent, although I can't provide a link to it, the #readingAuthorName hashtag on Twitter has been a powerful and positive movement. It works like this: think of an author whose works moved you and shaped you into the person you are. Tweet about it. Add the hashtag #readingAuthorName (obviously replacing AuthorName for the author's actual name). Feel happy.
    dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
    This week's linkpost is up a bit early, and contains many fabulous things.

    I'm a huge fan of Sophia McDougall's review of Birdman: over at Strange Horizons. In it, she compares the film to Boris Johnson. It's an apt comparison.

    Here's a great interview with Samantha Shannon. 'Cities are made of narrative' indeed.

    Aliette de Bodard's description of her subconscious as a library is a fabulous metaphor, and one that I might steal myself!

    There's a great set of guest posts over at Ladybusiness on 'What books are on your auto-recommend list?' (For the record, mine are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, the Pagan Chronicles series by Catherine Jinks, Space Demons, Skymaze, Shinkei and Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein, Parkland, Earthsong, Fire Dancer and The Beast of Heaven by Victor Kelleher, the Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall and the Crossroads trilogy by Kate Elliott.)

    Episode 4 of Fangirl Happy Hour is up. This week Ana and Renay are talking Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Jupiter Ascending and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I'm not quite as critical of S.H.I.E.L.D. as they are, while I think there's room for difference of opinion about the feminism of Jupiter Ascending, but as always, I appreciate their thoughts.

    The first few guest posts about representation and diversity are up on Jim C. Hines' blog.

    Shannon Hale talks about gender segregation at readings she's done at schools. It's heartbreaking.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article by Robert Macfarlane about language and landscape. Beautiful stuff.

    I really liked the recent BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. This interview by Julia Raeside of Claire Foy, who played Anne Boleyn, goes a long way towards explaining why.

    For reasons that will soon become apparent, although I can't provide a link to it, the #readingAuthorName hashtag on Twitter has been a powerful and positive movement. It works like this: think of an author whose works moved you and shaped you into the person you are. Tweet about it. Add the hashtag #readingAuthorName (obviously replacing AuthorName for the author's actual name). Feel happy.
    dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
    Melissa and Haley of Permission To Live were raised in the fundamentalist Quiverfull movement. This movement teaches strict adherence to 'traditional' gender roles - women are not allowed to work outside the home, children are to be homeschooled in order to avoid 'secular' influence, marriages are arranged by parents, and contraception is to be avoided. Melissa and Haley bought into all this - Haley had a job as a pastor, their marriage had been arranged, they had four children in quick succession, and Melissa was poorly educated and ill prepared for any work outside the home. Four years ago, Haley came out publicly as a trans woman, and the two began a new life. These days, Haley is working as a hair stylist, Melissa works as a kitchen manager, their older children are being educated in public school, and the two women have a new and supportive social circle, having left fundamentalism behind them.

    Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669 children during the Holocaust, celebrated his 105th birthday with family and friends, including some of those 669 children and their descendants. There are around 6000 people in the world who owe their lives to his actions.

    The Everyday Sexism project is now a book. Sometimes there's a power simply in speaking, listening, and realising that you, as a woman or girl, are not alone. That your experiences are real.

    One of my friends from Cambridge started a blog on Tumblr about the experiences of women in sport, either as participants or fans. She even got retweeted by Mary Beard. If you are a female sports player or fan, you might want to consider submitting to my friend's Tumblr. She would also really appreciate word about it being spread.

    The 'biggest dinosaur ever' has been discovered in Argentina.

    A street vendor in China caught a baby who fell from an upper-storey window. The whole thing was captured on camera.

    All over the world, people have taken the time to do this to public spaces.

    Your weapons are already in hand
    Reach within you and find the means by which to gain your freedom.
    Fight with tools.

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    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    rushes into my heart and my skull

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