babarnett: (farscape aeryn hell no)

So, there's been a lot of drama going down regarding the SFWA Bulletin put out by, you guessed it, SFWA. Due to other obligations over the last few days, I haven't had time to organize my thoughts on the matter until now, and at this point, I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said more eloquently by others. If you know me well enough, then you can pretty much guess where I stand on the matter. If you don't know me so well, if at all, then let me try to put it as succinctly as I can.

When it came to the SFWA Bulletin's fetishistic cover art with the woman in the highly impractical chainmail bikini, I merely rolled my eyes and thought, "Really? Still this?" But then it got worse. I'm seriously bothered by how often women's accomplishments are conflated with their looks, especially when said conflation happens in a publication that serves as one public face of a professional organization to which I belong. And when that publication--which my dues help to fund--then allows the people responsible for such conflations to meet criticism with an ill-informed, straw man-wielding rebuttal, I go from seriously bothered to seriously aggravated.

To add to my exasperation, in between all of the above we got the Bulletin article where the improbably proportioned Barbie was extolled as a good role model for girls because "she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should." Look, dignity is a good thing, but I don't see any reason why women have to be quiet about maintaining it. That, and the only reason Barbie's quiet is because she's made of plastic.*

I am not going to deny people their right to spout off all manner of ridiculous crap, and they have all manner of venues in which to do so, especially on the internet. However, 1) other people have just as much right to call them out on their ridiculous crap, and 2) the publication of a professional organization should not serve as a megaphone for speech that disrespects a large portion of the organization's membership.

When my SFWA membership comes up for renewal in the fall, I will very likely renew it. The advocacy work that SFWA does on behalf of authors is the main reason I joined, and I'd hate to lose that because of the issues concerning the Bulletin. More importantly, there are people actively working to address these recent problems, so I'm hopeful that some positive change will come out of this. Still, I totally understand and respect why some other people have chosen not to renew their SFWA membership after this whole kerfluffle.

And now that I've written far more about this than I was planning to, it's time for me to call it a blogging night and go get some fiction accomplished.

*Also, anyone who thinks Barbie represents "quiet dignity" never encountered a kid who played with Barbies the way I did. My Barbie dolls were usually helping my He-Man figures fight monsters. I also had a Western Barbie whose head broke, so when you pushed the button that was supposed to make her wink, instead her head would rotate all the way around, Exorcist style. That, of course, led to me putting my Barbie dolls into many a horror movie-style scenario. Pretending your Barbie doll is possessed by an evil demon? Not so much with the quiet dignity.
babarnett: (farscape aeryn hell no)
Opera is among the musical genres I enjoy, both as an audience member and as a singer. Opera is not to everyone's taste, of course, but that can be said of any musical genre. Rap is not to everyone's taste. Nor is country. Nor polka. The list is quite long. 

There's an unfortunately common perception that all opera fans are elitist snobs, but really, we're not. Some are, true--no one musical genre has a monopoly on dickish fans. But most of us don't look down at our noses at all other musical genres. In fact, a good many of us listen to other types of music as well. Here, to keep a running list of what's been playing on my computer as I write this entry: Vienna Teng. Loreena McKennitt. Lisa Gerrard. Garbage. U2. Amy Winehouse. Elvis Costello. Dar Williams. All not opera.

(That said, I do think some people write off opera without giving it a fair chance. For those who think it's nothing but fat people singing, I suggest you look at this little clip of operatic beefcake. Even if you don't find the music impressive, the abs on those guys most certainly are.)

Now, the rant: yesterday I came across an opera-related blog post, and one of the comments on the post accused folks in the opera world of purposely keeping the art form dependent on private donors and grants in order to keep uneducated lowbrow undesirables from listening.

Cue me falling out of my chair in a fit of hysterical laughter.

[sarcasm font on] 

Yes, as an opera lover and someone who has spent most of the last decade working in fundraising for performing arts organizations--four of those years at an opera company--I can assure you that it is true: we love begging for money and remaining dependent on the whims of people with deep pockets. Especially the cranky eccentric ones who might stop donating if we take an artistic risk or do a production they dislike. We certainly don't want to increase revenue from ticket sales; that would bring in the riffraff.

And the grants. As a grant writer, my job description has always specifically stated that I am responsible for securing grants so that we can keep the undesirables out of the seats. I've certainly never spent time writing proposals asking for money to fund the education department's efforts to provide curriculum-based arts enrichment programming to inner-city students whose cash-strapped schools have cut all of their arts teachers and activities. We certainly wouldn't ask for funding to help bring those kids to see a performance. They might enjoy it and want to come back. We can't have that.

I've also never had to write proposals for marketing initiatives specifically aimed at attracting new and diverse audiences. No partnering with other non-profits for community outreach activities that will be free and open to the public. No radio or television broadcasts. No movie theater simulcasts. No ticket discounts of any kind. In fact, we should probably cut the advertising budget next fiscal year. The elitist insiders know where to go.

And it's especially fun depending on government grants. Because it's not like government arts funding sources are ever in danger of being cut.

[sarcasm font off]

On that note, I leave you with an example of how the Opera Company of Philadelphia is trying to keep away the rabble:

babarnett: (farscape aeryn whatever)
2011 and I do not seem to have gotten off on the right foot.  These last two days have been rather strong with the FUBAR side of the Force, but it's all stupid trivial crap which has the added annoyance of making me feel bad for wanting to complain because it's, well, stupid trivial crap.

Trying to look to the positive: this week will likely continue to be all manner of FUBAR, but next week I'll be a part-time, working-from-home gal again.  Hopefully that will mean some time to start a new short story.  My silly poll for which idea I should tackle next ended in a tie between the My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel prequel and the town where dying is forbidden.  That means my muse, Jim Bob, has the tie-breaking vote.  He just glanced at his tool belt, belched, and told me we've got the tools and materials already set out for the MBFEFN story, so we should work on that.  And then he belched again.
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
I'm not even going to try to catch up on all the flist action from last several days.  So if you experienced awesomeness or some other kind of -ness worth noting and I missed it, fill me in.  As for me, it's been:

Week before last = Strong with the suck
Last week = Strong with the suck
Weekend = Busy but pleasant and over too damn quick
Today = Strong with suck

I'm noticing a pattern.  Luckily, Wii Boxing proved a good antidote to today.  Yay for healthily channeled aggression!

The Writerly Update
All the aforementioned suck has meant little writing time and little progress.  Blah.

Submission Land
On the less sucky side, I scored my first-ever pass up to GVG at F&SF:  "One of my readers liked this story a lot, but I'm afraid I didn't connect with it."  Same story got me a "your story was close" from Clarkesworld and probably only my third ever personal rejection from Strange Horizons, so I have faith in the little bugger.  Sell, damn you!  Sell!
babarnett: (torchwood ianto monday)
Monday's almost here again already?  Seriously, weekend, WTF?  I thought we were getting along.  Or is that what the migraine was about this morning?  You needing your space?

The Writerly Update

I had a good deal of time to spend on the novel revisions this weekend, which was nice, though it felt more like reconstructive surgery than it did writing.  Saturday I finished figuring out how I could tackle the mess that is chapter 10, but something about the chapter still didn't seem right.  I finally realized that the weird pacing and disconnect between scenes was simply a matter of packing too much in--this Plot A stuff needed to happen in separate chapters with some Plot B in between.  So I spent this afternoon figuring out how to rearrange things in a way that moved the story along better yet still made dramatic sense.  And by gosh golly goshums, I think I did it.  After some splitting and shifting, chapter 10 is now chapter 12 and 14, chapter 13 is what was originally the latter half of chapter 9 and is therefore done already, and chapter 8 is no longer the hugely long beast it was, because now it's chapter 8 and 10.

Yes, there was an insanely anal-retentive diagram involved in figuring all that out.  Why do you ask?

A Writerly Pet Peeve

Here's something I hate: I'm taking a look through Ralan's and Duotrope's and spy a new publication with decent pay rates, so I check out their website and . . . they offer no clue as to who the hell is publishing this thing.  Or worse yet, they list their editorial staff using what amounts to screen names.  Sorry, no.  You want to know who I am when I submit a piece?  That's fine, but it's only fair that I know who you are too, and DragonElf isn't going to cut it.
babarnett: (pushing daisies hell no)
I posted back in June that I had sold my story "The Rite of Life-Giving" to Flashing Swords after a long and tortured submission history that went something like this:

May 2006: I write the story
June 2006: The story sells to an online publication after a rewrite request
Sept. 2006: The online publication folds before the story is published
Jan. 2007: Five submissions later, Flashing Swords folds while the story is in their slush pile
Nov. 2007: Two submissions later, someone has revived Flashing Swords, so I try again
Dec. 2007: I get a rewrite request from Flashing Swords but I can't figure out how to address the requested changes, so I decline
Sept. 2008: Four submissions later, another magazine folds while the story's in their slush pile. But I finally figure out how to tackle that rewrite request, so I do it and try the story again at Flashing Swords.
June 2009: Several queries and at least two editors for the magazine later, the story sells to Flashing Swords
Nov. 6, 2009: A teaser cover and TOC for issue 13 is posted, so I begin to think this story is finally going to see the light of day
Nov. 20, 2009: An email is sent to contributors announcing that publication of Flashing Swords has been suspended indefinitely

Between all of that and the fact that this is one of the few sales I've made this year, about the best response I can muster is, "Balls." At least they waited until the day after my birthday to deliver the bad news.
babarnett: (ash o rly)
I've been coming across variations on this gem far too often lately: "It's science fiction/fantasy/supernatural horror, it's not supposed to be realistic!  Geez, whatever happened to suspending your disbelief?"

Suspension of disbelief.  You keep using that term.  I do not think it means what you think it means. 

From the man who coined the phrase (with some bold from me for emphasis):

"In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Unfortunately, I keep seeing people toss around the phrase suspension of disbelief with no awareness that an equally important phrase accompanies it: semblance of truth.  In other words, yes, the story's werewolf/alien/elf/what have you is not something found in the real world, which is why you damn well better give me a world with a consistent reality and people who act like real people--a semblance of truth--if you expect me to buy your premise and go along for the ride.

/end grumbling

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