I just finished reading Walking to Mercury. I found it harder than The Fifth Sacred Thing, because it’s closer to reality– Fifth Sacred Thing is in some respects a far more realistic utopian fantasy than most of them, but it’s still a utopian fantasy. I was able to appreciate that here was a vision of utopia that didn’t ignore the fact that not everybody is going to get along, and not everybody is going to have the same vision, while still maintaining an awareness that this was unlikely to ever come too far into my reality, and some parts (like the bees) were just plain fantasy.

Walking to Mercury isn’t like that. It’s real– it’s set in a time that really happened, nothing in it is particularly implausible (What about that bit where they imply Home Front’s terrorist attack was actually a false flag operation by the DOJ, you ask? Sadly, I don’t find that implausible in the slightest.), and the protest at the end seems to be based on something Starhawk actually lived through, since she’s written elsewhere about having protested nuclear wars. I found it very hard to cope with as a result, and it took me a few months of patiently working my way through a few chapters at a time, especially the beginning where the experience of being young and in a world that doesn’t fit is described in such detail.

Because it’s realistic, it leaves a stronger impression– and I’m more interested in that world than in the one described in Fifth Sacred Thing. I observed to my partner that the problem with reading Starhawk’s books is that it makes me want to have a vision, and got the response “Careful what you ask for, you may get it.” To which I answered “That would be why I call it a problem.” I’ve asked the gods for wisdom before, and usually I end up with the universe crashing down on my head. Because life experience is how one gains wisdom, and if you ask for something vague you’re likely to get it in the most life-altering possible way. And I’ve also been at conventions and listened to people who work closely with individual gods talk about the ways that makes their lives… uncomfortable. I think it’s best summed up in The Curse of Chalion, actually, which is a fantasy book, but a well-researched one: “You are the tool. You are not the work. Expect to be valued accordingly.”

So I do not have the kind of hubris it would take to sit before the altar and ask for a vision. But Walking to Mercury is still enough to make me want one– to want to see the world that cleanly, to have some vibration deep in my bones that this is what I am meant to be doing. Which renders it powerful writing.

The Infinities of Writing

I read something recently that talked about how writing is the only creative art where a huge part of the culture is how difficult it is to sit down and actually do it. Most creative arts people actually want to do and enjoy doing, but writing culture includes a lot of “and now I am wrestling with myself trying to get down to actually working on this thing that I supposedly enjoy doing.” Certainly I’m no exception to that, but it’s been getting easier to deal with lately, in part because I changed how I think about it.

The thing that’s hard for me in writing is that it’s perfect and infinite in my head. The story could be any of a hundred things, and they’re all wonderful and perfect, and it could go in any direction I choose to take it. There are thousands of versions, usually I’ve thought of all of them, and usually I’m thinking in high-concept: “I want to do a story about saving the world and equality and relationships, and it’s going to have a diverse cast and well-rounded characters and I’m going to avoid all of these common tropes and be truly original!”

Writing it down collapses the waveform. I go from having infinitely many possibilities to having one precise analysis of one of these visions at one moment in time, and usually it’s a pale imitation of whatever my high concept was. There’s actually a wonderful example of this line of thought in The Hours (the movie; I’ve yet to read the book) when Richard is telling Clarissa what he wanted to write about: “No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less.” You can’t write down the vision in a way that lives up to the vision; it’s impossible.

The way I’ve been getting around this is thinking of it as putting into a form that can be shared. Having the vision of these characters and these stories (or in the case of poetry, this overpowering emotion) is wonderful, but it’s not actually useful if it isn’t in a form that can be shared with others, and until we perfect telepathy, I can’t just communicate the vision. Even if what I write down is a pale imitation, even if it’s one moment of one slice that could never communicate the whole, I still have more than I did before, because now I have it in a form that I can show to other people and try to communicate it to them. And as I keep trying, I get better at communicating the vision. I communicate a little more of it each time.

I may never get to the point where I’m satisfied with my work. I don’t think writers do, at least not the ones possessed by visions. But I’m communicating a little more of what I see each time, and even if what I’m putting out there is a pale imitation of what I want to put out there, isn’t that better than never putting anything out there at all? Isn’t it better that I’m trying to share my vision?

(This post, by the way, is a self-demonstrating example. It is so much less than what I wanted to communicate to you about writing– but hey, I’ve got a blog post up discussing something substantial, so maybe you will all read and comment and tell other people about it, and I will get people who want to read my writing.)


I swear I still exist! I’ve just been extraordinarily busy and exhausted. It should calm down in a couple of weeks, although I’m going to try to put up a real post before then. Today I was off having Samhain, which was a lovely ritual followed by a lovely feast. And next time I go to one of these things I really need to make something substantial and real-food for the potluck part, because everyone brings desserts, and while desserts are my specialty, they seem to be everyone else’s specialty too.

I’m too tired to get into it now, but it strikes me that there should be an ideal math of number of people at a potluck to be assured of sufficient variety to feed everyone but not so much food that there’s no hope of the group eating it all.

Happy Samhain, everyone!

It’s Here, It’s Here!

My contributor’s copy of Like a Circlet Editor has appeared! It’s here! It’s here!

I’m very excited by this, if you couldn’t tell. I now have a book with my name in and story in it that’s actually going to get sold to people. And it has “With contributions by…” on the back and my name is at the top of that list!

And to think, I almost didn’t submit this one because I thought it was too weird. This demonstrates the importance of just biting the bullet and sending stuff in, even when you think you have no chance of being published. Actually, I’ve just broken an important truism of publishing here: this is the first thing I ever submitted anywhere. The first thing you submit never actually gets published.

On Seduction

I’m a bit late to the party, but I found this article today and it baffles me. Mostly because I look at this and think that the men must have some culpability here. Sure, deliberately setting out to break up someone else’s relationship is unquestionably rude and mean, but she’s not actually controlling the men’s actions here. They’re the ones making an active choice to “sneak out at midnight” to talk to her and whatnot. Enabling cheating is unethical (I want to be very clear here: I do not think the men bearing responsibility absolves her of all of hers), but cheating is even more unethical.

Maybe it’s the terminology that hides the ways this is problematic: “stealing” men, like they’re objects. I find it fascinating that women have no agency until the men are going to do something that makes them look bad, and then suddenly the women have all the agency and men have none. This same thinking with the genders reversed was actually one of the hallmarks of a previous abusive relationship of mine: “You can’t talk to men; they’ll sweep you away with their evil smiles and you’ll wind up sleeping with them!” I was always like “I think I have more agency than that. Really.” The message never seemed to get through. You can’t steal someone who doesn’t on some level want to be stolen.

I can’t picture the tactics she describes working on any of the men I know. Partner tells me that’s because I’ve self-selected for social circles where I’m unlikely to meet the kind of men who go for this sort of thing. It just seems like if someone can get swept away from his existing girlfriend just because someone different has popped up, that suggests his original relationship was perhaps not all that stable to begin with. Yes, it sounds like she had a problem and I’m glad she’s fixing that about herself, but I think there’s also a very problematic attitude towards men displayed here, that sees them as not responsible for their own actions.

New Twilight!

So, Blogtember kinda… faded. I offer as my excuses that I was extremely tired and am still recovering from a cold I caught from my partner. Having a bit of trouble eating, and I’ve given up altogether on trying to swallow my calcium supplement. All the things kind of happened at once. I will try to do better.

One thing that might help me do better: there’s a new Twilight book out! With the genders of all the characters reversed! Yes, for real, genderswapped Twilight is a thing now. I was the exact right age for Twilight the first time around– at least, the first book– and I was actually a little actively annoyed when it first became a phenomenon because now everybody was making fun of it when it wasn’t actually that much sillier than any of the other paranormal romances everyone was reading. I do think none of the sequels lived up to the first one, though, and by the time of Breaking Dawn I was getting actively annoyed with where the story had gone.

All that said,  I will probably go out and acquire a copy, and I will probably not be able to resist posting about it here. Especially since both Jenny Trout and Cleolinda Jones say that there’s probably an entire gender studies paper in it. (I’m not actually all that well-versed in gender theory, but at some point we’ll get my discussion of the hidden feminism of Walker, Texas Ranger, so I’m at least paying some attention.)

So y’all have that to look forward to.

(Also, there’s going to be a print-on-demand edition of Like a Circlet Editor. The fact that this includes a contributor’s copy is probably just as exciting as the getting-paid part: “Here is this print book! That has MY STORY in it!”)

Like a Circlet Editor Cover Reveal

So if you’re wondering what happened to Blogtember… well, life got really busy all of a sudden and I didn’t quite have time to deal with it! I actually do intend to make up the ones I missed later, and try to get back to them for this month. But meanwhile– you’ve heard me make reference to the story I sold to the anthology. Well, today is the day of the cover reveal (technically; it’s after midnight), so you lucky people get an image of the cover and an excerpt from my story. First, the cover:


Isn’t it lovely?

And an excerpt from my story:

“So the initiation is what, you spend time trying to convince all your new editors that everything is real and see how credulous they are?”

The editorial director shook her head. “Oh, I don’t allow that kind of game here. Initiation is sending you off to have an experience with one of the ones we have a relationship, that likes playing with the new humans and who we can trust to keep you safe. Vampires and werewolves are the easiest to find, but there are a fair number of fae around who like this game too. Ice demons, to the best of my knowledge, aren’t real, so I can’t readily send you off to one. If this is some deep heartfelt fantasy of yours, I apologize—it’s always best for the work when I can send someone to live their deepest fantasies.”
I looked around the table. Everyone seemed to be entirely serious about this idea. Not a single person appeared to be hiding a smile or restraining laughter. Either they were all very good actors, or there was something else going on here.

“So you’re telling me that vampires, werewolves, and fae are all real and ice demons aren’t?”

“Pretty much.”

“Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”

How ridiculous does that sound, oh audience? Do you think everything is real, or is it just an office prank by the Circlet staff on their shiny new editor? Tune in when it goes on sale, for answers to these questions and more!

Now, there are also some links I’m supposed to give you.

This should take you to the Circlet post announcing the cover reveal. At time of posting, it led to a not-found thing, but I imainge that will be rectified as things go on.

You can pre-order the book on Smashwords:

Also, there’s a raffle! Go look at the raffle! You could win copies of 25 ebooks! I would totally participate under those condtions.

That about wraps it up. I’ll post as I can, children, but in the end I have to go out and face the storm.