ON ISLAMOPHOBIA

There is an organized anti-globalization group holding rallies across Canada in opposition to M103, the new motion by Liberals asking the government to stand against anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia. I wrote a message to them over Facebook, on their rally page for my old hometown, which if I don’t post here will probably never see the light of day because they will delete it. So here it is:

M103 is not an affront on free speech. It seeks only to condemn Islamophobic speech, not criminalize those who have spoken. It does not say you cannot criticize Islam, only that you should not hate Muslims. That you would fight to be able to say racist things free from consequence is extremely telling.

Your fight against diversity is dangerous. We are all human. We all feel joy and sadness and pain. And Canada, like the United States, is a nation of immigrants. We stole this country from Native Americans. The least we can do is welcome everyone.

Your fear of Sharia Law is irrational. Sharia Law has no effect on our system of government. We do not live in the Middle East; in fact, Middle Eastern people flee their countries to seek refuge in Canada. They want to live in a First World country (or really any country where radicals aren’t trying to kill them, because Muslims are those most targeted by extremists) because we are supposed to be kind, and respectful, and free. They are not coming into our country–OUR country, meaning THEIRS too when they immigrate–to cause trouble. For many, Sharia means they have a personal responsibility to integrate into Canada respectfully by respecting their neighbours, paying their taxes, and following our laws.

If you want to keep women, children, and Canadians safe, try treating them with respect. Try teaching them to be kind. Try defending ALL Canadians, especially Muslim Canadians, because they are the Canadians hurting right now. They are the Canadians feeling a surge of hate rising from around the Western world. They are the Canadians slain by shooters whose heads are filled with your nationalist rhetoric.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. And right now, the most dangerous consequence of you exercising your right to free speech is that you are inciting others to violence.

Please stop fighting diversity before you get more people killed.

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/20/factors-to-consider-about-sharia-law-and-m103.html

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/02/23/transparent-double-standard-on-freedom-of-speech-kanji.html

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know nearly enough about Islam, or Muslims, or the Middle East. But the things I do know I only know because I’ve watched Muslim people explain how Islam is a peaceful religion, how the misogyny and homophobia in the Middle East is not a problem with Islam but instead a problem with poor leaders twisting Islam to suit their needs. And all of this reminds me of Christianity, an equally peaceful religion that has been warped throughout centuries to justify homophobia, racism, misogyny, you name it. But I don’t see anyone in a position of leadership calling Christians dangerous. I don’t see Christians failing to drum up support for anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-women movements based on their faith. For Christ’s sake, White, Christian America just voted in Trump, a lying billionaire manchild who shares nothing with his voters besides skin colour and a complete lack of anything resembling empathy or charisma.

There are countries in the Middle East that are undoubtedly less safe than Canada, which is kind of the whole point. Refugees are fleeing horrifying conditions of come here. No one leaves their home unless home might doom them. But instead of showing courage and rising to the occasion, there are Canadians who would give in to fear, and hate. Much like the French government, who hid behind claims of being pro-women’s rights while telling women what they can and cannot wear, these people claim they work for the safety of their people, in this case Canadians (see: white Christian people.) But all they do is make our world more dangerous for everyone.

There is no one more dangerous than the bigoted and the irrationally afraid, but very often they are the majority. They make the laws. But history has shown time and time again that they are on the wrong side. As people ignore the hard data, including studies that say immigrants and refugees are much less likely to even commit crime, they will continue willfully being ignorant. They will continue being the British Empires and the Confederates and the Nazis of the world.

I’m fucking sick of it. We should be compassionate to people in need. It shouldn’t be so hard. (Plus, for the record, it’s what Jesus would do.)

/endrant

July 2016 Writing Update

Dear Diary,

It has been a very long time since I’ve updated my blog, which is a thing I knew would happen because I’m rubbish at social media. I have so little time as it is, I’d much rather be spending it on writing than writing about writing, or pretending to be clever for an audience of approximately no one and maybe my mom.

Which is why instead of writing anything substantial, I’m doing another writing update and adding it to my word count for Camp NaNo (because I’m rubbish at NaNo, too.)

Benson and Cactus:

Psych! There’s no news here. The Benson and Cactus flow has trickled to a stop, and I’m just sitting here waiting to hear anything from other parties involved.

I’m thinking about putting the trailer and one-shot up on here, but I keep running into technical difficulties. One day.

Short Stories:

I do have real, exciting news for this section, but I’m not allowed to go running my mouth about it yet. Without naming names, I have a short horror story coming out in a beautiful hardcover anthology very soon, and I am very happy about it. The usual suspects of my body of short stories still get submitted, come back rejected, get edited, and get submitted again. I’m also hoping to write a new batch after Camp NaNo. I’ve got all these ideas and they just won’t let go.

Things I can’t turn into legit short stories usually end up on hitRECord.

EDIT: Cat’s out of the bag! My short story, Drive Safe, will be appearing in Flame Tree Publishing’s Murder Mayhem. Yusssss.

Shadow of a Boy:

Ninety-nine rejections and counting. I have essentially given up on the agent path for this one, and am now whittling down my list of small, independent publishers. If they reject me, maybe I’ll put this one aside and come back to it in a couple years, but right now Shadow of a Boy looks destined to wallow in obscurity.

Victory Lap:

Ah yes, the book I’m supposed to be writing right now. This contemporary YA full of sex, drugs, swearing, and gender identity your grandmother might scoff at, is my Camp NaNo project. I’m hoping to churn out 30 000 words by the end of the month, and if Riley joins me we’ll have a first draft done. Then I can put it aside, focus on other things for a while, and polish it up in time to write my next exciting adult solo novel for NaNoWriMo.

The Curious Collection of Abigail Prodd:

Last update’s secret project! Miranda and I have just polished the manuscript up enough for her to finally agree to have beta readers tell us everything that’s wrong with it, and after that we’ll be submitting to agents! I have a lot more hope for this one than anything I’ve ever written, which scares me a little. It’s basically a Laika film in book form, only with social justice themes instead of villainizing crossdressers. (The Boxtrolls is one of my favourite movies, but I understand the upset.)

No Thank You, Monsters:

And finally, I have a picture book manuscript out in the world. I love picture books. Much in the way we live in the golden age of quality television, it is a great time for beautiful, funny picture books. I hope Tiffany and her loud, annoying monsters will be joining their ranks soon.

Bam, blogged.

ON DAVID BOWIE, THE POWER OF NOSTALGIA, AND WILLFUL IGNORANCE

King_Jareth_with_the_Crystal

When I first listened to David Bowie, I was trying to impress a girl.

She was a couple of years older than me, liked glam rock and Terry Pratchett, called herself a writer, and talked like she knew everything. Where this could have been something that aggravated me, I instead became altogether too infatuated with her. I doubled down on writing and considered her my writing rival, despite never having read a thing she’d written. And I immediately looked into all of her favourite things, immediately knowing all of her favourite things because she loved to talk about herself–a blessing for a shy kid with no idea how to talk about anything.

Luckily for me, one of her favourite things was David Bowie. I pirated all of his biggest songs, “Space Oddity”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Heroes”, and they soon became a significant section of the soundtrack of my teenage years. I continued listening to Bowie long after I stopped liking this girl and started liking her best friend. I put on Bowie in the background whenever my best friend came over, and we’d play video games while I moped about, complaining about how Bowie reminded me of how much I was in love with So-and-So at the time.

A lot of my emotions and memories are inextricably connected to Bowie. He became an idol of mine, among the first on a constantly growing list of artists.

So I was a bit put-off to find out that David Bowie was a rapist.

In the 1970s, David Bowie had a threesome with a fourteen- and fifteen-year-old. Said fourteen-year-old was Lori Mattix, a girl heavy into the groupie scene, who would later go on to engage in an abusive relationship with Jimmy Page, and who has been very vocal about her time romancing rockstars. Then, in the late eighties, Bowie was accused of rape and taken to court.

Immediately, I wanted to defend him when I found all of this out. I’d already known about Jimmy Page, but I didn’t really care because I’d never been a huge Led Zeppelin fan. Bowie was a different story. And it is important to note that Lori Maddox doesn’t consider what happened to her rape. On one hand, it’s wrong of us to tell other people how to view their sexual encounters, and she makes sure to remind her interviewers that she still sees her time as a groupie consensual. On the other hand, she also considers being kidnapped by Jimmy Page’s manager and being hidden away as a glorified sex slave for three months “romantic.”

Sexual abuse is complicated, from perpetrating it to surviving it, and feeling victimized is but one head of the hydra. It is not uncommon for abuse survivors to deny that what they experienced was abuse. And while the world loves to complain about false accusations, only 2-4% of rape allegations are false (in Canada, at least.) I could argue, as well, that he’s no Bill Cosby.

But.

None of this excuses Bowie’s actions. I really don’t want to make excuses for him, because I don’t want my emotions to get in the way of my integrity. I know it makes me hypocritical to want to defend Bowie, when I’m the first person to scoff at the thought of supporting Orson Scott Card or Bill Cosby, two monsters I’ve never given a damn about. I imagine this is how Cosby fans felt when over thirty women accused him or drugging and raping them.

Undeniably, Bowie abused his power as a rich, famous, older male. On top of that, he had periods throughout his life where he was (admittedly) a bit of an asshat. Rape or not, no matter what anyone says, he is in the wrong. He did a shitty thing. It’s easy to feel betrayed when we allow celebrities so much space in our heads, and it’s hard to realize we never really knew these people or the things they were capable of.

I didn’t know David Bowie beyond the way he made me feel, and maybe it’s for the best that I never met him. Heroes so rarely live up to expectations, and even David Bowie was only human, no matter how often he tried to blind himself to the fact. But it also doesn’t change the role Bowie’s art has had in my life. It sucks, and it is upsetting, and I pray that I never find out the horrible things done by the remainder of my heroes.

(Neil Gaiman, please don’t have sex with minors.)

Now, when I listen to David Bowie, I’ll remember crushes on girls and games with best friends, and these memories will be tainted by the thought of Bowie as a rapist. I’ll try to figure out which songs he wrote were him remembering that time he had a threesome with a couple of underage girls.

Perhaps it’s better this way, when it’s so damn easy to remain blind to the horrible things our heroes do.

On Rejection

Walking to practicum, my cell phone in one hand and Perks of Being a Wallflower in the other, I check my email, and I see that I’ve got a response from an agent who just requested a partial.

The way I get with agents is a lot like the way I get when I have a crush on someone. I’ve read pages of this woman’s Twitter account, and like twenty interviews on how she chooses clients, and also tales of her happy clients and their successful lives as writers. I’m attached to the idea of this woman representing me.

And, similar to my crushes, knowing I’ve got a message pending is an emotional rollercoaster. Only, it’s an unfinished roller coaster that inevitably sends me plummeting to my death. Thing is, I’m already on the rollercoaster whether I like it or not, and even if I think I know what’s at the end of the track, I’ve got no choice but to keep going.

So I open the email, and I read it.

That’s when it hits me, a gust of existential angst unlike anything I’ve felt since I was a teenager. For a moment, I wonder if there’s even a point to anything at all. Why bother writing when all that’s waiting for me is rejection after rejection after rejection? My whole emotional bomb shelter, built up by years of being told I just wasn’t what people were looking for right now, suddenly came crashing down around me.

It’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to move, and it’s hard to exist at all.

Then it’s over. I’m at practicum and I turn my phone off and put my book away, and I get to work thinking, “Shit, that was weird.”

It’s been a long time since I took being turned down that hard, even if it lasted all of thirty seconds. (I don’t know if being at the emotionally-draining ending of Perks really helped.)

In grade eight, I dated three girls. Each of them dumped me. By the time the third one told me it wasn’t going to work, I was a wreck, spending lunch time with my forehead pressed against my desk while she was literally sitting right there because we had the same group of friends.

My next few romantic rejections, that’s just how it went. Walking through the woods, crying, singing along poorly to indie pop love songs (the kind where love is always tragic, flawed, and impossible to maintain.) Crying more.

When I began taking writing seriously, it was a bit like that. Less crying and singing along to “The Bleeding Heart Show”, but enough to stop me writing entirely when I was told I used commas like William Shatner.

There was a lot of struggling to rediscover the point of it all.

But eventually, you harden. Like calluses on your knuckles. And you can handle things a little bit better. Never great, but better. By the sixtieth magazine or agent rejection, it was okay, because I would just write something else or submit somewhere else. I would move on.

The only way to succeed is to make it through the rejections. And the only way to better handle rejection is to be rejected.

Sometimes I do worry about hardening too much, becoming cold and numb to the whole process. That doesn’t seem especially helpful to the passionate process of writing (or loving.) But I won’t turn into a robot overnight, and if yesterday’s agent-related panic was any indication, I’m not as tough as I think anyway.

The point is, even when the pain and sadness piles on top of you and you start to suffocate, you’ve got to crawl back out again. That’s the only option you’ve got.

I urge you, whoever you are, whatever you are struggling to do, don’t give up. Don’t let rejection stop you.*

And I promise I won’t, either.

 

*Unless you’re doing something non-consensual that harms other people. Don’t be a dick, you guys.

November Writing Update

Dear Diary,

Having a blog is all about pretending you have an audience until you do, eventually, have an audience. Or until you give up and your blogging life fades away along with your hopes and dreams, and you flee to Vegas to become an Elvis impersonator.

So, that’s where I’m at, I guess.

Anyway, in an effort to actually do something with this website I’m paying for, I guess I’ll do a writing update!

Benson and Cactus:

First off, Benson and Cactus made its first appearance at a convention in September! London Comic Con was a fun little introduction to the convention scene. We didn’t get a whole lot of business, but I got to try out manning a booth and talking to people, so it was a learning experience. I was planning on doing a full post about Benson and Cactus on its own, but the B&C train sort of halted to a stop yet again, so I’ll save the full thing until we start to actually put up comic pages. (For now, here’s a link to the website and our bitchin’ trailer.)

Short Stories:

For a long time (after realizing I had a long way to go before anyone wanted to publish me) I only wrote short stories. Some of them found homes, some of them did not because they simply weren’t good enough, and four of them are still out there because I’m convinced they are, in fact, good. Hopefully a fifth is about to join the long journey to publication, as I’m hoping to whip up a story for an anthology before next Sunday. In other short story news, I’m also hoping to post some short stories that couldn’t quite cut it in the real world on this blog, though maybe I shouldn’t be posting sub-par material up here…

At any rate, I’ll definitely be posting my first published story, “Old as the Sun”, closer to Christmas, complete with new illustrations from Benson and Cactus illustrator and 80s nostalgia groupie, Isaac Elliot-Fisher (visit his website here). So far I’ve edited and sent out this fucking story to family and friends every Christmas for five years, so let’s hope I can finally put it to rest.

Shadow of a Boy:

Last November I started writing what I called a “semi-autobiographical fantasy novel” for NaNo. I now call it a “literary fantasy novel” which I hope does not sound just as awful when I query agents. I only wrote around 20 000 words during NaNo, but over the course of this year I remained dedicated to my second book-length project. In June, I finished the first draft. In September, I started querying agents.

Lucky for me, I am no stranger to rejection. In fact, I have six years’ worth of literary rejection, roughly as long as I’ve taken writing seriously. When I wrote my first full work, a novella called The Facility, I foolishly sent out sixty queries and became something of an expert on the failing end of the querying process.

To date, I’ve queried 87 agents regarding Shadow of a Boy.

29 of them have rejected me. Well, 29 of them have told me they’ve rejected me.

Two of them have requested partials though, and one even asked for the full manuscript, though they did end up passing on the project.

I know this book is a hard sell. I’ve known that from the beginning. It’s Canadian fiction, first of all, and it’s way more literary than it is fantasy. Having queried almost every agent I could possibly query about this project, I might be out of luck traditionally if they all pass.

I might end up having to Andy Weir this thing and put up chapters on my blog.

Victory Lap:

I’m also co-authoring a contemporary YA project with my oldest friend, Riley Wood (who you can find on Twitter as @CanuckRiley). Apparently I’m pretty good at writing like a whiny teenager, but without an awful story about a vampire hunter and a hobbit, a less awful story about a Christian junkie and a murderous, masturbating android, and countless hours of ATV: Off Road Fury, this never would have happened.

Secret Project:

And finally, my NaNo project for this year, a TOP SECRET middle grade project about a haunted children’s museum, written with my favourite person, Miranda Moth (found on Twitter as @MirandaMoth). Technically we’re cheating, because we’re two people and we’re not exactly doubling our 50 000 word count goal with a middle grade book. But I’ve always been more concerned about writing a good book and meeting new friends during NaNo than I have with actually winning.

Because I love stretching myself too thin, so I almost hit up another writer friend of mine about retrying our middle grade superhero novel, but I think maybe I’ll wait a bit. After all my collaborating, I’ll probably need some time solo anyway.

As always: agents, hit me up!

Well, that’s it. Blog post accomplished. I’m a winner.

On Feminism

Regardless of intentions, it’s a movement’s loudest voice that determines everything: the way it’s perceived, the good or bad that it can do for people. This is why, while supporters of the Gamergate movement defended themselves by saying the movement was about journalistic integrity, all the public saw was the defending of a status quo and the abuse of women. It didn’t matter what their intentions were as a group, because the loudest voices made sure they stood for hate and little else.

This is also why, when I hear about the sects of feminism I’m not a part of, those who embody the Amazon warrior trope, claiming men are lesser and obsolete, I can’t help but shrug. I don’t know if these feminists exist, though my ignorance certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I honestly don’t really care. They exist along with the feminists who bash trans women and feminists who only stand up for white women, far outside the intersectional safe havens I spend my time in.

I call them bad feminists, but I’m told that’s not true. They’re all different sects of feminist. So maybe it’s wrong of me to call anyone a bad feminist. Maybe I should stick to calling them bad people.

It might just be the articles I read, the culture I’m a part of, but the loudest voice for feminism I hear isn’t fighting for female supremacy. The voices I hear are sticking up for everybody. They aren’t tearing down men and rising up women. They are fighting for men to be seen as caretakers. They fight for men, women, people of colour, and people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum to be seen and heard and respected. And they fight against those who wish to silence the perceived minority.

And I think that’s what the public is hearing, too, when see they Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about feminism, or when there’s a popular Buzzfeed article about women’s rights, or when women hold topless protests in the name of equality.

Anti-feminists don’t appear to be fighting for anything other than the tearing down of feminism. They say modern feminism is useless and that we should embrace “humanism” or “egalitarianism” (as if one can’t be an egalitarian and a feminist), but they’re not the ones I see fighting for it.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you label yourself. There are bad people who call themselves feminists, and there are good people who rally against feminism. What matters is what your do with your label. How you treat people, no matter their skin colour or sexuality or religion, no matter whether or not they call themselves a feminist.

Being a good person is more than assigning labels.

And let’s be honest, we’ve had hundreds of years to work on men’s issues and Caucasian issues. Just because others want a turn does not mean we need to freak the fuck out and cry about how we’re being “persecuted” and “made into minorities”. In fact, crying about white people being a minority just proves you know how shitty things are for them.

/endrant

Dear Diary

And so I dive deeper into the murky waters of social media. My blog will likely continue my current trend of neither being seen nor heard, almost as if I really were drowning in the ocean, all alone, while others on the horizon are fished out and given film deals for their survival stories.

I’m being melodramatic. Hopefully there’s not too much of that.

Anyway, I have a blog now. I guess I should, like, put stuff on it. Gonna do that now.