Puddles

Well, I step away from science fiction and fantasy fandom for a year while I have a baby and come back to a disaster.

I’m not going to rehash the mess, since I’m a latecomer and I’m just piecing it together for myself. But somebody’s pissed the rug, so to speak, and made things awful for everyone.

I won’t say I didn’t see Big Nasty Things coming, since I’ve said it publicly before and publicly lamented the state of the genre. I didn’t see THIS particular mess coming, but it’s hardly surprising that it happened. The genre is one of those squishy places where people who are NOT necessarily like-minded come to meet in the middle, and squishy places like that have bad footing. You say the wrong thing to the wrong person and suddenly it’s a free-for-all in the mud puddles.

It doesn’t usually happen, though, because skiffy people are usually fairly tolerant of people whose belief systems are different than theirs. I mean, I’m a conservative Catholic mother of seven . . . and some of my best friends in that world are pagans, Wiccans, atheists, gays of one sex or another, and geeky men who have opinions that are like acetone– spend too long around them and you can feel the paint peeling on the walls from the force of their beliefs.

And I got along pretty darn well with them all for years. Some of my happier memories of internet chat involve a bunch of science fiction writers and fans just shooting the shit in an IRC client on Thursday nights.

But things have gotten uglier, in the world and in the genre. Things in publishing have taken a weird turn since those long-ago chats. Fantasy went from swords-and-sorcery cornball (which we roundly decried) to hard-bitten epics (which grew to monumental proportions thanks to GRRM, but nobody really has done anything comparable in sales yet) to . . . a whole freakin lot of fantasy novels that are barely-disguised erotica. I mean, seriously, it’s awful these days. 90% of the stuff published in fantasy seems to be vampire/werewolf/wizard porn. I dunno what happened.

I mean, I know what happened. We all chased the sales. That’s what writers mostly do– we write what sells. And that leads me even deeper down the rabbit hole of should-I-shouldn’t-I start writing again.

I’ve already started playing with ideas in my head. I have two main characters who, I believe, I could write about with passion and honesty and a ruthless sort of love. I even have a title which I think is pretty great and a basic conceit that could play out in a series of books without being too tired and lame.

Because, let’s be honest here, writers write. And as much as I hate the things that have happened to science fiction and fantasy, I’m still a fan and I’m still a writer. Not a successful one, no, but I’ve gone through a lot of things that most people don’t ever have to deal with. If GRRM has ever changed a diaper, I would be shocked. My daughter will be 20 soon and she’s still in diapers. It’s a whole different type of life.

And I miss writing. Not the grind so much as the way it feels when it’s going well and you’re in the groove and the characters take life and do things you don’t expect them to.

So, yeah, going to write.

Whether or not it will be fantasy is an entirely different question. I tend to think “yes” because I’m not ceding my interest in the genre to ANY side. I’m my own side, so to speak, the side of the independent reader and writer who just watches it all go down . . . and gets back to work.

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