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I've not left the house in eight days. Presently, it's sunny and 23˚F, though it feels like 10˚F with windchill. Things I only know because of the internet. The last few days, the sun and rain have made a small dent in the mountain of snow. The streets of Providence have begun their annual disintegration, as potholes open up all over. Not that it matters to someone who seems never to leave the house.

I'm feeling much, much better. This has been an odd cold, for Spooky and I both. I've dubbed it the "Long Island Express." Fast and hard. It was sort of like a week and a half of sick, all in three days. Still, I'd rather it be that way, than lower-grade misery for ten days.

I suppose yesterday was a half a day off. I didn't actively write, but I did work. Email, and looked over copy editor's marks on "Tidal Forces" (soon to appear in Johnathan Strahan's Eclipse Four). I lay in bed while Spooky read back over all of the seventh chapter of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and made line edits. I see now that the seventh chapter is done, and I'll begin 8 today. And I see that this novel may only have nine chapters, so...the ending is nearing sooner than expected. Which feels very, very strange, considering I actually only was finally able to begin it in earnest in November (after, I think, three false starts over the preceding eight months).

---

Thanks for all the potential "if I were" questions posted yesterday as comments. There were some excellent ones, and all have been cut an pasted into a file I keep for such things. But, as it happens, I thought of a very good question last night, which I'll probably post tomorrow. I think it's just the right balance of disturbing and erotic.

---

The thing I was going to get into yesterday and didn't, another highly questionable Amazon.com "review" and the issue of Sarah Crowe's sexuality. I quote:

Over all, I liked the book. I did get a bit irritated with the author constantly telling the reader that Sarah is a lesbian.

Now, I should note up front that the reader did, indeed, like the book, and she gave it four out of five stars. And, originally, I wasn't going to carp about this. But it's been eating at me. I will try to be succinct, because it's actually a very simple problem. To begin with, "the author" wasn't "constantly telling the reader that Sarah is a lesbian." It was Sarah who did the talking. The interauthor whose journal makes up most of The Red Tree. There are plenty who would say that's an absurd distinction, but I disagree. However, that's not the meat of the problem here.

To put it as simply as possible, most gays and lesbians spend a lot more time thinking of themselves as gays and lesbians than most heterosexual men and women spend thinking about the fact of their heterosexuality. This is simply true, and it follows from the repression and discrimination and hatred visited upon queers. When you aren't "the norm," when, all your life, the validity of your desires and loves has been condemned and questioned and, at times, attempts have been made to beat it out of you, it changes how you see yourself. It's unfortunate, but it's true. Maybe someday a time will come when this isn't true, and no one will give a second thought to being a lesbian. But, for now, we live in a society that rarely misses an opportunity to remind us how we deviate from a heterocentric expectation. We spend a lot more time thinking of our sexual identity (which is not the same as thinking about sex) than do straight men and women, because it has become a label. A tag with which to distinguish us from everyone who isn't a lesbian. And if you're straight, and you still don't get this after hearing an explanation, I'm sorry, but you're just not trying. Sarah grew up in the Deep South, one of those parts of the country where it's very hard to be queer, and has, no doubt, spent much of her life taking crap, and yes, she'd quite frequently think of herself as a lesbian. Ergo, she'd write about it. The Red Tree is her book, her voice, her story.

I grow weary of the "I have nothing against lesbians, but why do I have to read about them?" crowd. It's hard not to see this as closeted or thinly-veiled homophobia. Hets are not entitled to live in ignorance of lesbianism, any more than lesbians are entitled to live in ignorance of heterosexuality. This is the world you made, now butch up and live with it.

---

The rest of yesterday. Dinner was the third day of quadrupedal chicken stew. Because I was too bored to stay in bed, and too sick to do much of anything else, there was a lot of WoW. We're finishing up the Twilight Highlands with Shah and Suraa, which means finishing up the meat of the Cataclysm expansion. The Twilight Highlands has been, by far, the best of the expansion. The scene where Alexstrasza attempts to destroy Deathwing was very nicely done. Most of the Twilight Highlands quest chains are good. While Uldum is pretty to look at, it shoots itself in the foot with all the "Harrison Jones" silliness. At least the Twilight Highlands quests mostly take themselves seriously.

Mostly. But...I would be lying if I tried to pretend that my love affair with WoW isn't coming to an end. Blizzard continues to dumb down the game (and it wasn't exactly a bright child to begin with). And they continue to inexplicably whittle away at warlock abilities (and, I assume, abilities for other classes). Yesterday's big patch took away the "drain mana" spell, which I rely on quite a bit in PvE. It's beginning to look like I'll be able to get a laptop this spring, exclusively for gaming, and I suspect that when I do I'll be dropping WoW for LoTRO and Rift (Spooky's doing the Rift Beta, and it's an amazing game). I need a lot less funny and far more coherent, consistent storylines. I need a world that isn't afraid to take itself seriously, and game designers who are a little more considerate of players. Blizzard, you've lost me.

And now...I make the doughtnuts. Comments!
greygirlbeast: (death&themaiden)
No, The Red Tree didn't win the World Fantasy Award, but that in no way diminishes my pride and my joy at having been nominated. And my congratulations to all the winners. And my thanks to Peter, who would have accepted for me, had I won.

Here is it, Día de los Muertos*, and me without calaveras de azucar. Truthfully, I've never had a sugar skull, but would love to someday.

Sirenia Digest #59 should be going out the subscribers this evening. There were a few problems with the first PDF that are being corrected, and we'll get it out to you as soon as everything is just so. Yesterday was spent on the issue's layout. Today, I have to go back to actually writing, and, truthfully, it's a sort of relief.

---

I really dislike getting angry first thing in the goddamn morning. Or, well, early afternoon. For that reason, I try to avoid reader comments about my books on Amazon.com. This morning, I slipped up, and found this, posted anonymously two days ago by "R.M.B." (I've not bothered correcting R.M.B.'s misspellings):

I was very intrigued with the reviews of this book. It sounded great and I couldn't wait to read it. I was very dissappointed and quit after about five chapters. As is mentioned by other reviewers, the main character is very foul-mouthed and difficult to like. Also, and forgive me if this is a spoiler, in all the reviews and the synopsis I saw on this book nowhere is it mentioned that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line. It's certainly not the first (nor I'm sure the last) book I've read that contains this element, but as that is not my taste and certainly not what I thougt I was getting here, I felt like that little detail was hidden. Frankly I feel a little mislead and wish I could get my money back. I can overlook some of these issues in some books, but this one was'nt one of them.

So, yeah, here's some angrifying shit (thank you for that word, Kristin Hersh). And suddenly I'm having flashbacks to that last (and horrible) Readercon 21 panel this past July, during which I had to listen to people complain that books ought to come with warning labels. Is it wrong for writers to respond to critics? No, not in the least, and I don't know who thought up that tiresome old chestnut. Regardless, I want to be clear that what I am responding to here is not the fact that the reader disliked the novel, as a novel, but to the reader's homophobia and sense of entitlement.

To start with, had she or he actually read "reviews of this book," he or she would have known that Sarah and Constance were lesbians. Few reviews fail to mention Sarah's sexuality, or the fact that she becomes involved with Constance. Ergo, the "reviewer" is either lying and didn't read reviews, or means cover blurbs when he or she says "reviews." Secondly, it is no one's responsibility— not mine and not my editor's and not my publisher's and not Amazon.com's —to inform anyone "that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line." Does R.M.B. think books should notify their readers when there are very heavy straight plots? Of course not, because, remember, heterosexuality is normal and to be expected. It's a given that straight characters will suit the "tastes" of most readers, so this sort of warning would be silly. Obviously. So, never mind the disgust that betrays this reader's homophobia, there's the entitlement issue, that she or he has a right to be informed of queer characters, so such characters can be safely avoided. Same old shit, different goddamn day.

Is this worth me getting upset over? Yes. Maybe it wouldn't be, if gay men and women were accorded the same legal rights as straight men and women. But we are not. We are targeted as deviant. We are shat upon. We are relegated. We are shunned. We are threatened and murdered for loving those we love, and, ironically, told we cannot die in war. We are told we are sick and need to be cured. Even were all this not true, I would find the expectation that a book about us ought to come with a warning utterly abhorrent. So, yes. Sarah Crowe is a lesbian, and she's also "foul-mouthed," and if that gripes your ass, don't read my goddamned novel. If your sensibilities are so easily assaulted, do some research before you buy a book. Don't publicly whine after the fact, because the world can't be bothered to hold your little hand and cover your little eyes and keep you safe from all you find distasteful. And if you are going to publicly speak your opinion about a book, criticize the actual book, instead of using it as a platform for your loathing of queers. Want to review a book? Then review the fucking book, asshole.

There were other things I was going to write about in this entry, but I'm too angry. The whole goddamn world is falling into ruin, and people have time to be offended at queers. This shit has to stop somewhere. To quote Malcolm Reynolds, my favorite space cowboy, "So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you."

* My mistake. Día de los Muertos is November 2nd. Surely, I knew that.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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