After a long car ride I made it to Colorado. My friend Rosemary and I braved the highways together and more the merrier for it. Now that I’m here though, I’m hiding behind my screen in the guise of writing. Now, of course, I am actually writing, but I’m hiding from people that I haven’t seen in over a year. What if they don’t remember me? What if I forget their names? What if I’m a big old goony mess?
I already know the answer to that.
It won’t matter. My Sirens Sibs are the best. They’ll forgive me my faux paus and misremembered names. We’ll bond over the books we read and the sheer joy of being out in the world again.
So I’m about to kick my ass downstairs to revel in the time I have here.
But first… I’m going to finish this page. Anything else would be a rook mistake.
So, I’m a fake extrovert. According to all the personality tests, I’m equal parts extro and intro. This month is a full on test of those results. I’ve co-paneled HORROR 101 and spoken on an actual stage in front of people I didn’t even know for PTSD: Triggers &Lies. Next weekend is reserved for Sirens packing and the utter meltdown I’ll have when I can’t fit my metaphorical banjo into the literal suitcase.
The PTSD talk gave me the feels. It wasn’t just me typing to an invisible audience who might or may not even exist. I could see them. They listened and asked questions. I felt “normal” while doing it.
After proving to myself that I can do this, I think I’d like to do it again and hit the character developing/writing angle a little harder.
If you have the chance to attend Writers in the Field next year, do it. It was a fantastic experience. If you were there, thanks for attending.
This could get wordy, y’all, so cup yer butts or my wind’s gonna blow’m out.
First a recap:
2015- Holy shit! What is this place? OMG Look at all the females here! HOLY shit! I just met a trans woman! Everyone is so fucking smart and well-read. OMG am I stupid? I never thought I was stupid before. Wait, I get a tiny dessert too? Fanfuckingtastic. But I want all the things at the auction! Shit, it’s time to go? But my brain… it’s been cracked open. I didn’t know there were groups of people like this. Help! How do I keep this feeling????
2016-Holy shit! People remembered me from last year! Oh fuck’s what’s their name?? I can’t see their badge!! Oh MORE people that are so fucking amazing! Why have I always felt so alone? You liked my story in Queens and Courtesans? OMG, thank you!!!! But my brain… the crack’s bigger and the idea that I’m OK keeps leaking in. What? Wait? You don’t think I belong? YES I fucking do. And so do you. Everyone’s entitled to a bad day. Shit, we gotta go home? OK, but I will always come back.
2017- HOLY shit, quit fucking crying you big baby. You just got here! OMG AGAIN? VE Schwab was NOT talking about you. Quit crying. People want to sit with me at lunch. Ask me to dinner. They want my ideas on things. They’re asking me like I’m equal – like I fucking matter. Seriously, quit fucking crying. It’s annoying. Motherfucking Kate Elliot asking me (ME!!!) to sign her copy of Queens and Courtesans. Speechless. More of those goddam tears. Canned air. Gallons of water. Oh shit, Artemis! The feeling of being mother fucking home in a place I’ve never been. And now my tears aren’t for me. They’re for this world where people are born, grow old, and die without ever feeling the love and ACCEPTANCE I feel at Sirens. May we never truly leave.
It’s a weird and jagged line I walk between anticipating something exciting and anxiety about it. I don’t worry so much that I’ll say something that brands me an idiot among geniuses, that’s a given. And I’m OK with that because I’ll turn it around. I don’t worry that someone’s not going to like me any more. I’ve lived enough to know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t have a lukewarm personality and probably don’t care for those that do. Casper Milktoast would not be my bestie.
The fade from anticipation to anxiety starts when I pack my suitcase.
We were blue-collar poor growing up. My father was a fireman and my mother stayed home. That meant my clothes consisted of hand me downs from my cousins (one was a female and rail thin and the other was male that outweighed me bout about 50 pounds), garage sales or shift stores, and for special occasions Sears. As a kid that suited me just fine.
In high school I discovered that I didn’t have the gene or eye necessary to put an outfit together. I lied to myself that I didn’t care.
Then there was the Army. I didn’t have to worry about what I wore. But it fed into the idea that I didn’t know how to dress myself like an adult type person.
Back to the anticipation feeding into anxiety. As I’m packing for my trip on Thursday (it’s Sunday now) I realize that I’ve been buying pieces here and there all year for this conference. There will be people from everywhere – all walks of life and incomes. And I don’t want to fit in or stick out. What’s that about?
It’s ridiculous that I am so excited to be heading to Denver for Sirens, but freaking out about something so banal as clothes.Especially since I know that it doesn’t matter how much I’ve spent on everything, I’m probably just going to wear jeans and a t-shirt. It’s what makes me comfortable.
In case you’re not much of a YA reader, let me tell you about this book Catskin.we have the outsider (he’s an albino) and the mysterious stranger (she’s wounded) and the rest is pretty much magic between the covers. The covers of the book, people. Something about it puts me in the mind of Susan Cooper’s novel The Grey King – just a bit. And who didn’t love The Dark is Rising series? You? Oh. Well I suppose it’s fine for you to be wrong then.
As a kid I read some pretty fantastic fantasy: Tolkien (of course), Madeleine L’Engle, Terry Brooks, McCaffery, Tad Williams, Zelazny, and the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz. Loved them all. In all honesty, I haven’t read much in the way of traditional fantasy in a good 15 years or more. Urban fantasy crowded it out.
That said, I’ve started a story for the Queens and Courtesans anthology. That is so outside my wheelhouse it gives me phantom pains in my femininity. I’ve never read much romance. And all the queens (not princesses) I’ve read about in fiction are more like delicate flowers in a hothouse than main characters.
SO… I opened the door to my wheelhouse and stepped outside. That knocking sound is just my knees. It’s cool. I think an alternate WW2 teleporting princess and entourage story is necessary in the world. It’s close enough to the shore that I haven’t lost sight of my wheelhouse and lets me explore another facet of storytelling.
Life, man. It just keeps keeping on whether you like it or not. Whether you’re paying attention or not. Whether you’re blogging or not. Lately there’s a lot of the not.
Haven’t had much to write about, so consider yourself spared details of day to day yakity-yak, bowed up to sound pretty.
However, I’m currently doing a little something for myself. I headed up to Colorado for Sirens 2015, as recommended by Rosemary Clement Moore (who is a dedicated blogger, unlike myself).
This place’s the home I never knew I wanted, and the friends I never had. We are determined readers and writers, looking for the female like us, the female that moves us. The female who won’t be moved. The theme is Rebels and Revolutionaries. It’s incredible and life altering. Without being too irreverent, I hope, I can say I’ve found my hadj.
TL;DR: Find your people. Trying to make it on this rock without your tribe is stupid. It’s a Rook mistake.
Rook Riley: writer, game enthusiast, and all around linguistic bad ass