Why So Quiet?

“Why so quiet?” asked no one of me, ever. Yet, here I am, writing my semi-regular excuse for neglecting to post a thing in ages. Come to think of it, I wonder what the ratio of actual posts to posts about why I haven’t posted, might be. But I digress…

A photo of fog on a lake reflecting nearby trees in full day but the lighting is dark.
Here’s a picture of fog on a lake for no other reason than that content with images gets more clicks. It doesn’t have a thing to do with this post otherwise.

Why so quiet? A while back, I wrote about how I needed to level up on the corporate side of my career, and I followed through. I made my day job my focus and my priority. I dug in and worked hard. I became more mindful of my tone when pushing back on policies and processes that were…inefficient. And hot damn! The work paid off. An opportunity arose and my name was suggested. I interviewed, and ended up with a dream role, one that I really believed in. I thought I was going to help save the world (as much as a content developer can, anyway). I even did that cliché go-getter thing where I viewed every frustrating challenge as an opportunity to problem solve and showcase my ability, excited to advance my career and do some real good in the world.

And then, without warning, they cut funding to the project and my contract ended.

Now, if you’re in the business of writing and developing content, particularly in contract situations, you know that this is common. The whole point of contract work is that you’re disposable, no matter how talented or experienced you are, and dismissal often has more to do with budget than performance. Still, in this case, I was very lucky. A spot opened up on my previous team and I was able to negotiate a transition into that role. I lost a project, but not my job altogether, and during a pandemic when lots of people did lose their jobs, I counted myself blessed and moved on.

But I was still (am still) heartbroken about that contract ending.

The only real thing that softened the blow was knowing that my fiction writing was still there, and I still had control over it.

So, the first thing I did was cut mental funding to a project.

The novel I was working on is on hold indefinitely because it read like my own personal therapy session spiced with ample shade at everyone I’ve ever met. The bloodthirsty demon I’d created to splatter gore all over the place did nothing to cover immature writing and hackneyed dreck that my work should have evolved well past by now. Maybe someday, once I’m finished working through all my personal shit, I’ll revisit that piece and make it something worth reading, but today is not that day.

I do have a project I’m actively working on. It began as a short story and has expanded from there. And the more I write, the more ideas I have. I think—and I don’t want to jinx it—but I think it might end up being a worthwhile novel. But that means it’s going to take more time. A lot more time.

And I’m watching the hourglass. I see said time slipping away. I know how long it’s been since I put anything viable out into the world (approx. 6 ½ years at the time of this writing), but y’all…let’s talk about the world for a second.

I am of the belief that for a writer to create a really beautiful piece—poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction—the writer has to care enough about the human condition to pour all that creative energy into saying the deep, meaningful thing. Well, after the last two years of watching people ignorantly refuse to help protect each other against COVID-19, and the last ALL of my living years of hearing people’s heartless responses to social injustice, and that people are still not doing much about the climate crisis, all I really want to say to humanity is, “FUCK OFF! FUCK RIGHT OFF, RIGHT NOW! Get off my lawn. Lose my number. Delete my email. Don’t find me on the apps.”

And if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

So yeah…that’s why I’ve been so quiet.

On the Importance of Strong Female Characters

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From the Women’s March; Seattle, WA; January 21, 2017

I was fortunate enough to attend the Women’s March on Seattle, a sister to the Women’s March on Washington DC. Before I lose you, I have no intention of talking politics in this post. What I am going to talk about is something I can’t believe is still controversial: the importance of strong female characters in fiction.

As I marched with 175,000 other humans (the estimate at the time of this writing), I noticed countless signs referencing some of my favorite female badasses from fiction. I took in multiple nods to space rebels, vampire slayers, and warrior princesses and knew—without a doubt—that every last person who argues that female heroes aren’t interesting or “won’t sell” is absolutely full of shit. I saw little girls in Wonder Woman costumes and Princess/General Leia t-shirts (I was wearing a General Leia shirt myself), and knew—without a doubt—that the strong female characters we see on screen and read about in books really do have an impact on us and how we view ourselves, each other, and our roles in the world around us.

What would General Leia do?

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These three signs caught my attention, but you couldn’t swing a pink pussy hat without hitting a Leia Organa reference. Considering that Carrie Fisher was a badass in real life, this is not surprising. If the dead really do get to hang around and see what the living are up to, I’d like to think that she got a giggle from the “Carrie Fisher sent us” sign.

I’d like to think that she’d be proud to be our rebel leader.

Are you ready to be strong?

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Fans of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer not only know where the words on this sign come from, but many of us can recite the entire speech—if we can get through it without crying, that is. Submitted for your misty-eyed pleasure:

For people like me who rarely view embedded videos in an article, here are the highlights:

They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power should be our power…From now on every girl in the world who might be a slayer, will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

-Buffy Summers

A whole damn lot of us made our choice and are ready to be strong.

And then there’s this:

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The picture says it all.

Xena will always have a special place in my heart. It was a Xena poster I hung on my wall to remind me not to take any shit, particularly from real-life Joxers.

I’ll never forget the time I told a guy that I was a big Xena: Warrior Princess fan and he responded, “You know Xena and Gabrielle are lesbian icons, right?” Well, I hadn’t actually known (naïve me, I guess), but the only troubling thing about finding out was this guy’s tone and his obvious suggestion that there was something shameful about being a lesbian icon. Fuck that noise.

So here’s the thing…

The articles reminding us that one march isn’t enough are already flooding my feeds—as well they should. Marching is great, but there is more work to be done. There are the things we can all do as citizens; then there are the things we can do that are more personal.

I’ve always known that the presence of strong female characters in fiction is important, but this march solidified for me what a great female character can inspire in real life women. As a result, my dedication to writing these characters has been renewed. I intend to contribute as many badass women to the fiction world as I can because…well…I can. And of course, I don’t want to do it in some pandering political way—obvious and boring as hell to read—but in a way that’s honest. A way that inspires.

I suppose I can call it my duty. I prefer to call it my privilege.