Friday, 5 July 2013

Writing Diary: Leaving SFWA and Updates

A floral notebook with the caption: Polenth's Book

My writing diary starts with a less happy thing, of leaving SFWA. But there's a general update on where everything else is going at the end, which is much happier.




Leaving SFWA

I joined SFWA because I saw it as a good networking opportunity and I wanted to vote in the Nebula Awards. I did the latter, though it turned out the former didn't really happen. Not on the online forum anyway, which was usually quiet, apart from the odd outburst of older members trying to beat down newer members for wanting to change things.

Over time, it's become apparent the forum behaviour was a small part of a much bigger problem.

People have been quick to say it's not the majority of SFWA behaving this way. This is true. Most members aren't doing or saying anything at all. Apathy means when a new member is attacked, they'll get little support. Apathy means there's a push not to deal with people causing issues, in the hopes it'll go away. Apathy never changes anything.

This can be seen with the way these issues have been handled. There's a tendency to not do anything, up until the point where it all becomes messily public and something has to be done. It's not only recently that these things have been going on, but it's only recently it's all become public, so the organisation feels they have to act.

Before that, we had apathy. We'll have apathy again for anything that doesn't become public.

It shouldn't be forgotten that SFWA is a private club with paid membership. I think a lot of people have forgotten that when it comes to people leaving. There's talk about new members having a responsibility to change things, to volunteer time and to keep paying money. Basically, that new members are responsible for clearing up someone else's mess.

Which is all the more reason for me to leave. Coming up with the membership fee was hard for me. I'm not able to put in volunteer time, attend meetings or pay more money. Had I known there'd be pressure to do so, I wouldn't have joined in the first place. I mistakenly thought I could be an average member, without being expected to change everything due to being in marginalised groups.

My responsibility isn't to SFWA. It's to me. It isn't good for me to be around people who think I'm not entirely a person, and I'm destroying science fiction by my presence. Nor is it good for me when I'm surrounded by dozens of others who agree it's bad, but won't help because the situation is complicated, and maybe it'll go away, if only I was nicer about it. (I'm polite, I don't swear and I can't get angry... but still, I'm not considered to be nice enough. Something to ponder if you're thinking about someone else, "Well, they did get a bit abusive." The only behaviour truly considered 'nice' is to not complain and allow others to treat you however they want, which isn't something anyone should be forced into.)

So I'm letting my membership expire, and I'm making it clear: it's not the responsibility of marginalised people, or people targeted by bullies, to make the club more welcoming. Anyone who volunteers time in those circumstances is doing the club a favour (and a rather thankless one, as the usual response is to rant at them and say they're ugly and just want attention). It's up to the club to make itself more welcoming, to treat all its members as people, and to speak up in support of people if they're targeted.

Instead, I'll have more time and energy for writing and art*, and I can keep on destroying science fiction one story at a time.




General Writing Update

Rainbow Lights is now on Smashwords and I've put the opening story on my website. I used the Smashwords beta system where I uploaded an epub file, rather than letting them convert it, because I like awesome cosmic control. Hopefully they'll expand that to allow other formats to be uploaded.

It should start appearing in other ebook stores as Smashwords distributes it. The main book information page will have links to those as they appear.

In future self-publishing, I have a steampunk novelette which will probably come out some time in August, but that's a provisional date.

For possible trade publishing, I'm getting along with my young adult novel and some short stories. This led to a moment I tweeted:

Typo of the day: moonbeans. Grow your own moons!

Which means I now have to write a story with moonbeans in it. All in all, I'm hoping to have a whole lot more moonbeans in my writing life, and a lot less of the other stuff.




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* In non-writing news, I've applied for an art course, and I'm waiting to hear about interviews.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

"Keep changing science fiction one story at a time."

That's a line I keep thinking myself A LOT this year. I've just reached the point where I can join SFWA and I'm so...exhausted watching the whole thing break down. Then finding out the history of gender/race/queer fails in the past and...I just can't. I was so excited at the thought of joining 6 months ago, and now I'm terribly terribly sad.

So, yeah. Destroying and remaking the system the only way I know how, with Mah Wurdz. Right after I get over the sadness of knowing we're Not Wanted. Still.

Hang in there *power fist*

prezzey said...

This is excellent. Thank you so much for writing it!

I never joined the SFWA and I'm glad. *sigh* It also really bothers me when people try to get already marginalized members to volunteer their time... somehow always for less compensation than the white men would receive, and often with no compensation altogether. I strongly agree with what you had to say.

Polenth said...

Amanda, Though it is sad, I'm glad some of this has become public, so people are forewarned. And the internet does mean it's easier to meet people who do want you around.

prezzey, It all really boils down to thinking if we want to be treated like people, we have to prove we're actually people and worthy of those rights. We're supposed to work for it. Whereas people in non-marginalised groups get rights automatically with no proof or work required. Which isn't how it should work, because if they're rights, they should be automatic for everyone.

fairyhedgehog said...

It's going to end up a purely white, male, hetero, middle-class club. Any other prejudices I've left out?

They're idiots.

What annoys me most is that for me science fiction is about new ideas, new ways of relating, about opening things up. Not about maintaining the status quo at all costs.

I'm glad you've taken the decision to leave although I'm sad about the reason that you needed to. And I'm glad your story writing is going ahead so well.