So my fine peeps, I am working on a new book!  After a long sabbatical doing lots of making, I am back to worldbuilding — this time with my friend Gary Kloster.  We have a great new world we’re working on, and I hope you’ll like it.  It’s my desire to start keeping up with this blog more, so please: watch this space for more soon!

I’ve been reading lots of reports of assault, spray painted swastikas, vandalism and hateful messages on commercial displays on Twitter. I’m actually more frightened now than I was yesterday.

Weirdly it makes me see how a reversal of the “city is dangerous” trope could happen. The countryside is much less policed; if someone decides they don’t like you at an isolated gas station or as you camp somewhere or whatever, you are screwed. And now people think they can do it with impunity. It would be easy to retreat in fear from going out into the American countryside, but that would be wrong.

I read an article yesterday about how a lot of “nice” people who voted for Trump did so because they live in a very limited environment. They never see the Other, so they are afraid of it. They never go outside their small community, so they see other places as scary and full of scary people. They are more likely to be racist and homophobic simply because they’re not exposed to anything but people like themselves. Studies have shown that it’s easier to think badly of people you don’t know and haven’t talked to.

It left me wondering if the answer to some of this is more circulation, more people moving into/through these places that no one visits, or some way to get these people out of their ruts. The coastal areas and the metropolitan areas get a lot more travelers coming through, a lot more variety of people settling there, so the people who live there are more comfortable with people unlike them. Is there some way we could unclog the arteries of familiarity?

Given that the country is just about to embark on a long slide toward more open-minded people being afraid to move outside their comfort zones, I think it’s likely this schism will get worse. And worse, until we have a Hunger Games view of the world on one side, and a Deliverance view of the world on the other.

We can’t let fear stop us from being a united nation who takes care of itself. There must be some way to break the stalemate.

I have no answers to this, but it feels there must be some way we can break down this mutual avoidance. Any ideas?

Vegas is weird. It reminds me of those fish that lure little fish into their mouths with the shiny light. It’s hot, flat, and unchanging in texture in the residential areas, full of malls and condos, with a hostility in the local populace that comes from living in a place based on greed and avarice. The whole gambling lifestyle I find creepy (particularly the way it pervades all of Nevada, in the lowliest convenience stores and the bus stations, and the way all the poor people flock here to try to strike it rich). It’s pretty much everything I don’t like about American culture, all in one place, which makes it amazing and horrific all at the same time.

Given the position I’m in (a Californian from a bohemian-lifestyle family who married an Englishman), it should be a real study in sociology; but somehow, with Trump looming over the presidency, it feels a little apocalyptic. With all the awfulness going on in the country right now, I can’t help but notice how unsustainable it all is: the electricity, the water, the bad processed food and huge quantities of factory-farmed meat, the fact that no one seems to notice any of this but goes heedlessly on into the hedonism of it without a qualm. It feels a little end-of-days, like the last years of Rome: bread and circuses.

That said, the Strip is amazing, and the sheer glitz of the endless acres of gambling machines in each hotel is mind-boggling. It’s an amazing show, even if it’s not my cup of tea. Everyone should see it once, if only as an object lesson, I suppose!

Also, it’s pretty great to go out to breakfast and see people in Starfleet uniforms and Klingon outfits at the tables around you, eating eggs and bacon.

I suspect a lot of people who read my tweets the other day about giving up on writing thought I was having a snit because I didn’t get into Clarion.  I wanted to clarify my stance on this, because it’s hard to explain on Twitter the underlying truth behind my statements (and I probably shouldn’t have tried, anyway, but that’s another story).

I had, actually, already decided that I was going to give professional writing another year before I moved on to a less Sisyphean life-work. And I was really hoping I could leverage the Clarion thing in the meantime, get a leg up in that last push to break through the ceiling I’ve been hitting.  So yes, I am frustrated, and gobsmacked, and disappointed; but when I say I may be giving up on writing, I’m also being practical.

I’ve been trying to break into the professional world for 18 years now.  At 52, I’m beginning to feel my mortality; several of my friends are sick or dying, a number of them have already died, and I’m looking around me and wondering what I really want for whatever time is left to me.  Based on my friends and my aging parents and all my favorite role models that have died this year, I am coming to realize that I don’t have the rest of eternity to do something with my life. So the decision to give writing another year is not so much pouting as self-preservation.  I want to have a joyous life, to be healthy and happy, and to do something meaningful that has an impact on other people.  I don’t want to scribble quietly to myself until I’m old and then die, having made no impression at all on the world (and especially, I don’t want to give up on making other beautiful things in the effort of doing that).   If writing is not doing it, I’m going to have to give it up at some point. I want to use my time wisely.

And you know, it’s not like I don’t have other mad skillz to draw on, so maybe, if this isn’t working, I should go do some of those things!  I have a degree in fashion design and have worked in garment production, I have an MFA in sculpture, and I have plenty of ideas for amazing business ventures that I’ve been dying to do, but been putting off in an effort to get somewhere with my writing.  I tried doing both writing and those things, but with teenage children and aging parents and a job, it was just too much.  So I concentrated on the writing.

So I’m crossing my fingers and holding my breath that some agent will love my book and get me properly published.

To be honest, by letting go of my desire to be published I actually find my writing is improving.  I have been increasingly making myself miserable in the effort to write something, anything that will sell — and by giving myself permission to shrug it off, I am freeing myself up to write what I WANT, rather than what I think publishers will like.  In that  moment where I said, “fuck you guys!  I’m going to just write for fun,” I have found a certain amount of passion that had been slowly draining away over the past few years.   Let’s see how the next 9 months go.  Whatever happens, I am feeling better for having the time limit.  It seems to be giving me more options, rather than less.

No Scientist, I

I just came across this article on Medium yesterday and it’s really made me think a lot about the choices I made in my early life, choices that, unknown to me, have limited my options ever since.  I’ve been doing …