Tag: Not-An-Essay

8 Things To Keep In Mind When Boosting And Supporting People

Posted May 11, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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One thing that, in my experience, comes up a fair bit when people see aces and aros ask allies to speak up about the issues we face too is the idea that people can’t boost our voices or issues because something else is happening that affects that person directly. This post, however, won’t look at aces and aros specifically. It looks at general ways I’ve found that are important when speaking up about the hurt done to other marginalisations when your own marginalisation is being hurt too.

It is written from an ace perspective on account of the fact that I am ace spec, after all, but I have done my best to keep the tone of this piece neutral-to-positive and general. It’s also, because I spend most of my time on Twitter, going to use Twitter terminology more than anything else, but I think it applies across various platforms. I hope you’ll find it useful, so let’s dive straight in with the first and, in my opinion, most important point!

1. Keep talking about your own issues.

Seriously. Don’t stop talking about the issues that you and your community face to talk about someone else’s. For one, if you don’t share that marginalisation, that community doesn’t need you to speak for them. For another, your voice regarding what’s happening in your community matters! It’s important!

Do you know who’s qualified to talk about the issues you/your community faces? You are. Don’t stop speaking just because another marginalisation is asking you to boost their voices.

This is especially true and especially important when multiple trashfires are happening in different communities simultaneously. Talk about yours! You don’t have to make threads to discuss what’s happening in another community unless you choose to. People just want a boost in visibility. That’s all.

If you share both? It’s okay to pick and choose which one matters most to you if you need (or want) to. Focus on whichever topic is more important to you at that time. You’re not obliged to talk about both (or either) of them. Just… Do try to boost both if you can.
Relatively, if you think the best approach for you is to focus on making positive and inclusive art and boosting the same, that is absolutely valid. You do what makes sense for you. Everyone does activism in their own way (and this is activism) and there is no One True Way.

2. Retweet or otherwise boost other marginalised voices.

Okay, so you’re dealing with your own stuff, but you see a tweet about something another marginalised group is dealing with. Why not hit that RT/reblog or like button? Even if you don’t engage with it otherwise, that will help the issue become visible to other people and it sure as heck will make the people you’ve retweeted/reblogged feel like they’re being heard and seen.

That’s basically it, though. Whatever you’re dealing with, unless you’re in the middle of a tweetstorm or aught, why not hit that RT button? It only takes a few seconds and a single click and your extended reach could help a lot.

Yes, even if your reach is only tiny. You know that saying about small things adding up? That applies here too. Lots of boosts from people with small reach adds up. It’s like crowdfunding. If 100 people can only chip in $1 each, the total sum raised is still $100 dollars. That can still make a huge difference!

But this is social media, so chances are that a boost is going to reach more than one person. I’m terrible with numbers, so to make maths easier for me (and you!), let’s say that each RT boost will reach 10 people who’ve never heard of the issue before.

If 20 people boost one of my tweets, that means that 200 people whom I could never reach on my own saw that tweet. If those people then boost your boost, that reaches another 20 people each and… that’s… like… 20 times 20 number of people who’d see it so that’s like 400 people? (This is a genuine question.) In any case, that one RT you gave me has the potential to reach exponentially more people than I could reach on my own. And all of that just for a few seconds of effort to hit a button!

3. Don’t speak for the people you’re boosting. Speak with them.

If you don’t share the marginalisation, you are not an expert on what they face. Let them speak for themselves. They’re perfectly capable of it and usually prefer to.

Just to be clear: that doesn’t mean “don’t talk about what other marginalisations deal with”. It just means “Don’t make your voice the only voice your audience sees”. Remember that you’re boosting the people, not the issue.

There are things that, if you don’t have a particular marginalisation, you will never understand in the same way. There are nuances you’ll miss and microaggressions that you might accidentally repeat. You’re trying the best you can, but there are just some things that you can’t see because you have privilege along that particular axis. Sucks, but that’s life.

If you want to speak with people, by all means do. Your voice will be welcome. But please remember this isn’t about you. Do your best to centre the people who are being hurt.

You may not always succeed. That’s okay! We’re people. We mess things up. It happens.

Relatedly, this also applies to including ways for people to support you financially without including ways for them to support the people who are actually being hurt the same way. Yes, I know that it takes a lot of effort and emotional labour to speak about an issue like, say, why something is erasive, but remember this is not about you. If you direct people only to places where they can financially support you, you’re making that thread about you and your voice, even if you include links or boost other people’s threads at the same time. They’re doing the same labour you are and, if you don’t share the marginalisation, at a much greater personal cost. Remember to centre them.

It’s okay to tell people “Hey, if you want to support me, here are ways to do it” if you also focus on ways they can support people of the marginalisation you’re boosting! Please remember to centre them in this area too! They could often use the boost!

4. Recognise that it’s okay if you, personally, cannot boost a specific instance.

Really, it’s okay. People don’t know your circumstances. If you, personally, cannot boost something at a specific time, that’s okay. You, personally, are just one person and self-care is important. Also we can’t boost all the things all the time. It’s exhausting and leads to burn-out.

Just… If you never boost a specific group or topic, even when you’re aware of an issue, and you do routinely boost other groups, the people from the group you never speak about will notice. And at that point, you may have to ask yourself why you never boost that particular group because it’s clearly a pattern that only occurs with that particular group.

5. Recognise that not all marginalised groups get the same level of boosting.

Let me be very clear here: this is not me trying to play a round of oppression Olympics. This is just a simple fact because not all marginalisations are equally widely understood or discussed. Asexuality and aromanticism are largely invisible, so of course straightwashing an aroace character is going to have less visibility (and thus less boosting) than straightwashing a gay character is.

The thing is, though, those smaller marginalisations will notice when they don’t get the same level of boosting and they’ll talk about that amongst themselves. And when they do, someone somewhere is going to tell them that they have no right to be upset about the issue because X, Y or Z is far more important.

That response is what turns it into oppression Olympics. That response is telling marginalised people how to feel and that their issues and oppression isn’t as important as another. So don’t do that. If people are hurt by the lack of support, allow them to talk about that without trying to shame them for it.

Sometimes, members of these groups will vent about the differences in boosting. Sometimes they’ll discuss it amongst themselves. I stress: they’re not doing that because they want to say “Oh, we’re more oppressed than others!” They’re doing it because, actually, it really hurts to see others speak up for or boost everyone else and they just want to talk about that hurt, process it and deal with it. And yes they often also phrase as “Why us? Why does no one listen to us? Why does everyone else get boosted?” because those are valid questions to ask when that’s why you’re hurting. (I have yet to see anyone decide that the answer is “Because we’re more oppressed!” It’s usually something along the lines of “Because we’re invisible”.)

Now, obviously, if someone is making threads about how their issues are more important or trying to derail existing discussions, that’s a different matter. Do not do these things. They are wrong on so many levels and, really, the only thing it accomplishes is that you’re hurting the community you’re trying to help. You’re also hurting the other community that was originally being discussed. Don’t do this. It is harmful to everyone.

6. Be prepared to learn.

Issues don’t just disappear because we RT them (though we can dream and wish). If you’re RTing a specific instance once, chances are that there are more examples of that instance either in the past or in the future that you’re not aware of. That’s okay! You don’t need to be aware of each instance individually ever!

My point here is that when people are talking about issues they face because they’re part of a marginalised group, chances are that this singular instance is an example of something systemic. For example: an article discussing how Jughead might still be ace (and makes no mention of his aromanticism) is a single instance of aro erasure that you can call out. But there have been articles that did it before and there will, almost certainly (T_T) be articles that do it afterwards. It’s a pattern of aro erasure.

Sometimes you’ll easily be able to see how the system repeats itself. Sometimes you won’t. But just because you can’t see it that doesn’t mean it’s not there. (Remember: if you don’t share the marginalisation, you may not notice it. Heck, even if you do share it, you may not notice it at first!)

Anyone, calling out a specific instance once likely isn’t going to do much besides making you feel good for helping.

Be aware of the fact that specific instances that gain discussion traction are often symptoms and examples of a wider problem. You don’t need to know (or recognise) all the individual instances. You do need a rough idea of what the framework it occurs in is, so you can speak out against the framework the instances occur in. And that requires a bit of effort to learn what’s happening in that instance you saw and why it matters.

You don’t have to drop everything to learn about that framework right there and then! Especially if you’re dealing with an issue in your own communities or have personal issues that mean you’re not up to learning new things, you don’t have to drop everything immediately. Again, you are important too. Focus on yourself. Practice self-care. You matter.

But when you’re in a better place and can manage it, try to learn about the issues those other marginalisations face. You want them to learn about the issues you deal with too, right? If you’re never willing to learn about other people, you can’t really expect them to be willing to learn about you.

7. Self-care is important.

I’ve said that a few times and in different ways, but it’s worth repeating and giving it its own point. As many people have pointed out, if you’re marginalised in any way self-care is the most radical thing you can do. I assume that, if you’re reading this, you’re marginalised in at least one way yourself. If you’ve ever spoken out about anything, you’ll undoubtedly know that doing so comes at a price. Trolls will find you and harass you for it. They’ll do the same if you speak out for people whose marginalisation you don’t share.

Practice self-care. Don’t feel obligated to take on more than you can handle. See also: don’t speak for others. That’s a related issue. Often, I see people think that “help us” means “speak for us and get attacked by the trolls for us” and… Listen, I won’t deny that it can be nice to have someone else handle the brunt of the troll attacks for you, but that doesn’t mean they should. No one is obliged to take on trolls. If someone chooses to, that is incredibly generous of them, but it should be their choice.

If you don’t want to take on trolls for another group, that’s okay. Never let anyone tell you that it’s not. It is not your job or obligation to take a proverbial bullet for other marginalised groups.

Take care of yourself too when you boost other people. Boost in ways that balances with your needs and personality.

8. Consider boosting positive things related to a marginalisation.

Again, I’ve mentioned this before, but I thought it deserved its own thread. So something is trash and people are hurting? Boosting their hurt and their discussions isn’t the only way to boost people from that marginalisation! You can also boost positive things that people from that marginalisation have done or are doing!

For example: if a white author publishes a racist book, boost non-white creators and encourage people to support them financially. That creates positive visibility for the people who are being harmed by that instance and it can introduce people to new favourites and marginalised people to creators who share their marginalisation. It is powerful to read books by people who get you.

Marginalised creators often need the boost for visibility and many struggle financially, so your boosts of their work can offer concrete support in a way that boosting the conversations and threads can’t.

And on that note, I think that’s me all rambled out. I hope this is helpful to you! Please do use this post as a jumping out to add more things people can do or shouldn’t do while boosting others. And let me know if I’ve messed something up or left it unclear. Let’s work together to make the world a more inclusive and positive place for everyone!

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Lynn’s 3-Step Guide to Getting Started with Indie Publishing

Posted May 5, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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I’ve been asked recently how to get started with indie publishing. That’s… a slightly tricky question since, like so many questions, the answer is roughly “It depends”. That’s not me being coy! It really does depend on who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your budget it and what you want to accomplish. There’s more but that’s a good start!

Nevertheless there are a few basic things that you’ll need to take into account if you want to pursue self-publishing. First and most importantly: you need to research your options. You need to know what you want to do and what will work for you.

For example: Do you want to publish to Amazon exclusively? Do you want to publish via Draft2Digital, Pronoun or Smashwords? Do you want to offer only ebooks or only print? Or do you want to offer both? What about audiobooks? If you want to publish print books, do you go with CreateSpace, IngramSpark or some other publisher entirely? Do you hire someone to do the work for you or do you want to invest the time yourself? Do you want to set up a small imprint for your own books? If so, can you design the logo yourself or do you want to hire someone to do it for you? What are the benefits and drawbacks of any and all of these choices? Etc, etc.

That’s… a lot of question to throw at you, sorry. They’re important, but you don’t have to tackle them all in one go! For me, personally, the biggest issue was anxiety, so for me the main thing that I needed to do was a quick way to get my work out there and then sort the rest later. It’s not a strategy I recommend unless you need it, but it’s a strategy. Anyway, let’s break it down a bit by looking at what you need before you get to that “hit publish” button.

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Thoughts on the ‘Thief’ gaming franchise

Posted April 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Games, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Yesterday, I saw a YouTube video discussing the differences between the original two Thief games and modern AAA games in general. You can see that video here, but for the sake of convenience and because I want to tangentially continue what the video talks about here are the main points of what AAA games nowadays do:

  • Quest markers make for lazy gaming
  • Level design draws your attention to the fact that you’re playing a game rather than immersing you in the world.
  • They add so much content that the game loses focus
  • They don’t use the environment and game design to further the narrative and instead rely on cutscenes and cinematics
  • The games often offer high rewards for low player effort and token rewards for going off the beaten path

I highly recommend watching the whole video as it makes some great points about modern day game design as shown in AAA gaming. I don’t always agree with everything, but it’s a relevant and salient discussion topic. For me, what I like about the video is how much it put into words exactly why I love the original games so much and why the reboot disappointed me so badly. But there’s a few things that the video doesn’t cover that I wish it had.

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Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Posted March 29, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

CW & TW: Discussions of arophobic and acephobic content.

Note #1: Comments are turned off by default on this post for mental health reasons. I’m really sorry to aromantic readers who wanted to comment. If you want to reach out to me via other means, please do!

Note #2: Im not aromantic asexual, but alloromantic demisexual. While I’ve done my best to ensure I’m not accidentally perpetuating arophobia, I cannot be 100% sure I’ve succeeded. Anything in this post/article that perpetuates arophobia is my fault. I apologise for it in advance. In the interest of full disclosure: an aroace friend read this over for me as a sensitivity reader, but any and all issues in this article exist because I messed up.

Note #3: OMG! I am the worst! So so so so many thanks to my friend for reading it over for me. <3 Again, any and all issues in this article are 100% on me, not them. If you think I messed up, blame me and only me. ‘s My doing. Also, please tell me so I can try to address it asap?

Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Firstly, let me start with this: I am not here to discuss whether it’s okay for Riverdale to write Jughead as an alloromantic allosexual (or an alloromantic asexual). It isn’t and this is not up for debate. Let me explain why as briefly as I can.

Jughead may be a fictional character, but there are real people who are aromantic and/or asexual who deeply identify with the way Jughead has been written. For some, Jughead is the only fictional representation of their experiences that they’ve ever seen. For some, it’s the only positive representation they’ve seen that doesn’t imply that they’re broken or inhuman.

If you look through the Twitter hashtag #AroAceJugheadOrBust, you’ll see many aromantic and asexual people discussing their experiences an what Jughead means to them. You’ll see people discussing how good it felt to have words for their experiences and to have anything at all that doesn’t imply that they’re not broken, are human, are normal just like everyone else.

Those who were aware of the Archie comics were aware that Jughead was written in a way that very strongly suggests he is a touch-averse aromantic asexual and has been since the comics began a good 73 years ago. In 2016, Chip Zdarsky, then the writer of the Jughead comics series, confirmed that Jughead is asexual by explicitly using the label on the page in the comic. There is no such explicit confirmation on-page that he’s aromantic, though there are panels where he declares “I am not a romantic person” in front of the whole school and, with the exception of cross-overs or comic alternate universes, he has always been written as someone who doesn’t like to be touched, who isn’t interested in dating or kisses and who thinks that burgers are better than sex.

So can you argue that Jughead is not aromantic? Sure. You can also argue that water is dry, mind you. Even though the comics don’t use the words (except 2016’s use of ‘asexual’) because the coinage of these terms and our understanding of asexuality and aromanticism is fairly recent, the Archie comics offer us 70+ years of behaviour that very strongly implies that Jughead, if given words for his experiences, would describe himself as a touch-averse aromantic asexual.

We frequently use far less evidence to theorise that a character is, say, gay. (Some examples from recent pop culture: Sherlock, Smallville, Supernatural, Merlin. Just to name a few. And, uh, not to open a can of worms here, but in a post about aro and ace erasure, I can’t mention Sherlock Holmes without pointing out that his inclusion here is problematic since he’s widely read as an asexual character.)

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Anxiety, Using Labels and Yuri!!! On Ice

Posted December 17, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Daily Life. The text 'Lynn's Living Life' underneath the cameo silhouette of a woman. Daily life updates.

Yesterday, I attended a job interview. I have anxiety, so a daylong trip that involves going to another country for a short interview is, well, let’s just say I spent most of today balancing needing to keep my sleep rhythm proper and needing to recuperate. I’m really glad that everyone I met was super nice to me because human kindness really helps me out. But even with human kindness the parts where I was travelling on my own were… not great.

I won’t go into all the details, but since it followed so closely on Yuri!!! On Ice episode 11 and because Yuuri’s anxiety has been on my mind a lot, it is something I’ve been thinking about and have been since I watched Yuuri’s flashback to last year’s Grand Prix Final where he failed. It also features VERY MILD spoilers for YOI episode 11.

Content Note: Descriptions of how anxiety manifests for me and related food issues as well as descriptions of how I talk about anxiety.

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Demisexual Writing Tips

Posted October 28, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Last night, I did a short(?) series of tweets discussing tips on how to write demisexual characters in your fiction. Those tweets have been storyfied here. WHOOHOO! The tweets focus on how to write demisexual protagonists, though it’s probably general enough to give you an idea on how to write any kind of demisexual. (That said, less screen space and no pov time makes it really hard to show a character as explicitly demisexual, so my recommendation would be that, if you want to include demi representation in your stories, make it a prominent character, so you have the space needed to explore how demisexuality works.)

And because I tend to write out longer tweet threads/storms like this before I start tweeting, here’s the original too. It’s slightly different at points because I do rephrase a little as I tweet, usually to allow for the character limit, but it’s effectively the same thing.

tl;dr best tip version: Let characters become firm friends first and then slowly layer in your demisexual character’s sexual attraction. Layer it. Also read the linked tumblr posts on how to avoid invalidating other ace spec sexualities and, when you’re looking for sensitivity readers don’t forget about the rest of the spectrum. Everyone will have something valuable to say about how you handle it!

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Book Release: The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake

Posted August 31, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in My Work, News / 2 Comments

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The Princess who Didn't Eat Cake

The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake: a demisexual fairy tale

Available from: Amazon (Ebook), Payhip

Read the story itself on Wattpad

Once upon a time there lived a princess…

When the kingdom discovers that their crown princess doesn’t like cake, chaos ensues. How will the royal line ever continue? Cake is essential to a good marriage! (Not to mention, the rejection of his cake was deeply insulting to the baker-prince who proposed with it.)

…and the stableboy who loved her…

The princess befriends a stableboy. She’s oblivious to the fact that he’s in love with her. The stableboy does his best to explain to the princess what is so wonderful about cake, but it takes an arduous journey to convince her to try a slice.

…in a kingdom that didn’t want to understand…

The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake is a demisexual fairy tale. It aims to introduce people to the concept of demisexuality and to offer a rough idea of how the world may be experienced by people identifying on the asexual spectrum. It offers both the titular fairy tale, a brief essay explaining what demisexuality is in more detail and a short list of books featuring demisexual characters for anyone who would like to see more representation in fiction.

Content Note! View Spoiler » If this is sensitive material for you, please tread with caution.

Surprise release! Yay! It is out and available! Well, to some retailers, at least. It is still percolating its way to most others, but I couldn’t wait to share it with you all! Call me impatient. (Because I am.) But here it is! A handy-dandy ebook version of The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake, accompanied by a short essay for additional information and a short list of other books to explore! It’s also a little more polished and doesn’t feature the word ‘cake’ quite as often as it did.

It should be available for free from most large e-retailers within a few days. The exception to this is Amazon, sorry! Amazon won’t let authors release ebooks for free and it’s not all that happy about authors asking them to price-match either. T_T So I’ve set the price there as low as I can for now. I hope it’ll price match for me automatically, but this is actually something where I could use readers’ help! If any readers could contact Amazon to inform them that the booklet is available permafree elsewhere, I would be super grateful. The more people inform them, the more likely it’ll be price-matched and stay that way.

I’ve released the booklet for free on large retailers because I’m hopeful that their reach will allow more readers to discover the story and, through it, raise more awareness of the asexuality spectrum and demisexuality in particular. Payhip includes DRM-free epub and mobi files and is available on a pay-what-you-want basis, in case you like what I and the booklet are trying to achieve and you want to support a queer indie author produce more stories. (But that is totally optional.)

Please do spread the word to anyone you think will enjoy it or find it useful. I am happy to talk to you about the asexual spectrum and demisexuality too if you have any other questions. I admit that non-fiction is not my strong point, but I’d be happy to do my best to answer any questions you have.

This is the story that sparked the longer DemiPrincess project that’s currently on sort-of official hiatus while I piece my heart back together. (I am getting there and I still aim to have a completed first draft before December.) But the DemiPrincess novel isn’t going to be a particularly good educational opportunity. Sure, it’s longer, but that also means it’s going to have a lot more elements to draw attention away from the focus and it can’t use the cake metaphor quite as easily as a short piece like this can.

I think that about covers it. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

*flails and hides*

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A Look at the Covers of 34 Translated Novels

Posted March 4, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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As part of the Year of International Reading, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at the covers for translated novels. Specifically, this post deals with the covers given to books that have been translated into English. I won’t be looking at the imagery, though. I’ll be focusing on the text available on these covers and talking (generally) about those.

YAY! Lynn is actually including pictures in something! The books are taken from a variety of genres to help showcase that the way English publishers handle translated covers tends to be similar. You’ll see similar trends in books translated from English into other languages. I’m focusing on English covers because that’s the language sphere I’m most familiar with, is the most accessible across the world and where I’m seeing conversations about diversity and translated works happening. These trends are, to the best of my knowledge, present and common within the Western cultural areas, but I can’t speak for other areas in the world.

Below the cut lie 117 covers divided over 39 mostly large images. People browsing on phones or browsing with bandwidth restrictions may want to exert caution.

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Internet Identity Defaults

Posted February 6, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 4 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

Hi and welcome to my (sporadic) year long posting on international reading! Today’s post starts off pretty generally and was intended to be a starting point for pretty much all posts regarding international reading I might make this year. Then stuff happened and now it’s actually the second post! This particular post deals with internet identity defaults, or, put in something a little clearer, some of the assumptions people make about other people on the internet. Because those assumptions are… going to come up a lot and everyone makes them at some point or another.

Disclaimer note: This post will pertain largely to a Western cultural sphere. While there likely is some overlap with the experiences non-Western cultures I cannot (and do not) speak for them. This post thus covers a Western perspective on default assumptions on the internet.

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Workshops and Non-American Writers

Posted January 16, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Thoughts. The text 'rambling thoughts' underneath a burning lantern. For rambles, thoughts, and not-essays.

I never thought that one of the first non-fiction posts I would make this year would be one on workshops. But here we are. Apparently that’s what I’m doing. Yesterday, I dove head-first into work and emerged to find that my Twitter timeline had exploded. It took me a while to catch up on what, exactly, had happened.

Briefly: Neil Gaiman made a promotional tweet for the Clarion workshop and a lot of people were hurt by his phrasing. He’s since clarified that it was hyperbole, but to a lot people it was yet another case of (micro)aggression and people spoke out. If you want to see an eloquent and thoughtful discussion on why people were upset, I recommend India Valentin’s response on Tumblr.

In the discussion that ensued on Twitter (and elsewhere, I’m sure, but I saw it solely on Twitter), I saw a handful of people mentioning the existence of a non-American perspective, but I saw very little discussion of what that perspective might actually look like. I know some of my readers might be interested in hearing my thoughts, so… I’ve done my best to sort them out into something at least somewhat coherent. (tl;dr version: if you’ve been following the discussions, I think it’s pretty similar to what other people have been saying but with a slightly different angle.)

Below the cut, then, lie those thoughts. Bear in mind that I’m coming at this discussion from the perspective of a white non-American who has never yet set foot in the US. I have never attended any prestigious workshops and will likely never be able to afford the prestigious ones anyway.

As said, they may be rambly and a smidge incoherent, but I hope not.

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