Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Thoughts on the Hugos

I haven't really commented on the whole fiasco with the Hugos this year. I'm not a big name writer, and I haven't been as involved in the fandom while I fight cancer. So, I don't have a stake in the awards in the simplest sense - I'm not nominated for anything and I haven't lobbied on behalf of anyone who did make the official nomination list. The only stake I have is in the overall Hugo's integrity, which I believe we all have a stake in.

As I've read, watched, and listened to various points of view --I refuse to call them "sides"--I've reached the following conclusions:
  1. Some Sad/Rabid Puppies* really believe there is a conspiracy against their fiction. I haven't seen any evidence of this, but I know how heated opinions can get in fandom.
  2. Some Sad/Rabid Puppies intentionally gamed the system because they were butthurt over never winning an award. It's hard to lose, and there is the temptation to "right" the perceived wrongs, but it doesn't make it just.
  3. Some people were caught up in the Puppy slates, both those who supported the Puppies and those who did not. Those who stayed or withdrew were damned either way.
  4. A lot of good fiction was either pushed out, withdrawn, or tainted because of the scandal.
  5. Nobody truly wins when SFF stays fractured.
Based on results from the Hugo ceremony last night it's clear that the voters were not going to be intimidated by slates and championed diversity in the SFF fandom.

This year was ugly. I saw people who I admired become monsters. These people came from several points of view, but mainly from a particular one. And that particular point of view was often disingenuous. Look, there's room for a variety of beliefs and types of fiction under the SFF banner, but there is no room for hate. In those moments of weakness, we need to ask ourselves, is this what it means to be human? Is this who were want to be?

We should be celebrating each other's successes. Fellow writers aren't the enemy. We're all adding our own unique spin on the world. Isn't that was SFF is?

What happened this year guarantees there are no winners. Let's be better. Let's write better. Let's make SFF fandom a place where we're all welcome and can celebrate the best fiction there is.



*Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are two different groups of writers who feel wronged by the overall SFF fandom. They both swing more conservative, with the Rapid Puppies extreme far right. They perceive the Hugos as flawed and run by an elitist liberal clique. Their movements are to bring science fiction they perceive as being slighted into the mainstream award-worthy sphere.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Big C

So I have cancer.

For a while, I thought about how to tackle this devastating news. What does this mean to me as a person? Am I going to die soon? Do I kill my hopes and dreams? Is this all I am now? Do I keep it to myself? Do I tell my family? Friends? If I do tell people, will they think I am looking for attention or that I don't want to work?

These are questions I'm still wrestling with, but as time goes by, I've become more and more open about my diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer 7 months ago. I probably had it longer than that. We tried medication to preserve my organs for potential child-bearing later on, but the medication has had minimal effect. It appears I have early grade cancer, but it won't be staged until after I have surgery. Naturally, I'm hoping the cancer hasn't spread, but I won't know until I have surgery. I won't be able to have children.

I've been devastated.

I'm not sure why some of us--I can't speak for all cancer patients, obviously--feel like keeping it a secret is best. I'm sure it's a personal decision. For me, I think it was a bit of pride and denial. Like, if I don't talk about it, it'll all just go away. That works fine for a while, right until you have to face it all over again.

I've been slow in telling people. I told my parents first, then the rest of my family. I told my closest friends, and then I told some people on social media. I told my bosses. By the end of six months, most people who knew me knew about my diagnosis. If my students know, they haven't said anything.

But I do think you reach a point where you have to own it and not be ashamed of it anymore. I still go through the cycle and grief: what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? If I had only done this or that…Which of course just throws you deeper into despair. It's counterproductive, but I would be lying if I said I've made it past that.

The reason I've decided to talk about it here on my blog instead of behind cryptic messages is that I don't want to be ashamed anymore. I don't want to be afraid that people will pity me and not love me for who I am. I have cancer, and I need to be strong to beat it.

This is why I might have been more distant. This is why I had to take a break from writing. This is why I am sad and haven't had the same joy I used to. Every day is a struggle and I shouldn't be embarrassed about that.

So this is the new normal for me. I have cancer. As a workaholic, it's hard for me to slow down, but I know that I need to take care of me right now. I can't say what will happen to me tomorrow, but I am not living in shame anymore.