everything i do is so fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes

Page 6 of 6

One down… five to go?

AGH. I somehow always manage to forget that summer = BUSY. Usually this is because everything that I’ve promised to be involved with happens in the summer. You would think that I’d figure this pattern out at some point, but no.

So, what is up with the Write-a-Thon? I’ve written every day (although I missed clicking the button once or twice, oops). And, though I’m woefully behind, I have finally finished A Draft of A Short Story that turned out to be not so entirely Short — and really I would have been better off if I’d just said HAY GUYS IT IS NOVELLA.

Except, I didn’t, and instead I spent the time trying to cram a great big huge story down to a short story length. In the end, I have 6,666 words (yes, that many exactly) of a draft-nobody-else-gets-to-read. This is, incidentally, why I didn’t write a bunch of updates. I kept getting embarrassed after the end of week one that I hadn’t finished a short story yet.

But now I have! Even though I had real writer’s block as opposed to my usual problem, which is that I’m moping because I intensely dislike everything I write. I fixed that by writing on the Link light rail which is a surprisingly good place for me to write. I would do that every evening, but I’m worried the light rail people will freak out if I go to the airport and back for no reason except that I want to sit on the train.

So far I’ve raised $124 and I have $132 in pledges (which means I need to write faster.)

The little bar is turning GREEEEEEN.

This story is going to need a lot more work before I can send it out, sadly, if I get that far. But, the path to publication is littered with the eviscerated bodies of failed projects, so whatever.

The Clarion UCSD Write-a-What Now?

This was going to be some super long exciting post in which I talked about how much going to Clarion meant to me, etc. However, almost all of those posts read pretty much the same, and I’ve made a bunch in the past. Almost all of which are somewhere on my LiveJournal account because I didn’t bother reposting any of my stuff here. Because, come on! It’s the internet! It’s a series of links!

(And if you’re reading this from LiveJournal, I still love you! I even check my friend’s list. I’m just enjoying the WordPress ability to schedule posts.)


I am doing the Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon. Which is great for me, because it doesn’t officially start until Sunday. I would already be muttering profanity under my breath if I was doing the Clarion West Write-a-Thon since it started last week, and I have done nothing.

The Write-a-Thon is pretty much what it sounds like (and since I’ve tweeted about it once or twice, I suspect everyone I know has already heard about it — but that has never stopped me from posting about something before). As a fundraiser for Clarion, I’m writing stuff and convincing people to donate to keep the workshop going.


Clarion Write-a-Thon

Clarion West Write-a-Thon

Incidentally, I have an intense and unreasonable dislike for the word “Write-a-Thon.” I mean, the event is awesome, but I always stare at the word. Capitalization varies. Write-A-Thon, Write-a-Thon, Write-a-thon, write-a-thon. …Yeah.

So, between June 24 and August 4, my goal is to write six short stories, since I currently don’t have any to send out.

You know what is the saddest feeling as a writer? When editors are like, “HEY, so… I have this magazine that pays pro rates, and you aren’t in my slush! You should send me something!” But you’re me, and so you’re like, “Yes! I will do this!” And then you remember that not only do you have no new, fresh, awesome stories, but even the trunk is empty because you were afraid that one day in a moment of weakness you’d send them out. So you pressed the giant DELETE FROM THE UNIVERSE button. But even knowing that those stories should never have seen the light of day doesn’t end the sad, sad, writer feelings.

My Write-a-Thon page is here. The photo was taken in the Bellingham Airport just before I got on the plane to go to Clarion San Diego in June 2008. I had no idea what I was in for. Heh heh heh. /huttlaugh

There are two options for donations this year. First option is a straight up sponsor, which is a donation to Clarion UCSD. The other option is a pledge. As of right now, I have a little bit over $100 in pledges. This means that so far, for every short story I finish during the Write-a-Thon, Clarion will get another $18. The higher the pledge amount the more terrified I will be of failure the more incentive I have to succeed!

If you’d like to participate, you can still sign up for the Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon until June 24.

Some advice for people heading to Clarion:

At Wiscon, I was on a panel about workshops that was utterly remarkable in that the audience primarily consisted of people who hadn’t been to major SF workshops yet. This was a pleasant surprise, since usually when I’m on a Clarion and/or workshop panel at a con, I show up to discover that almost all of the audience has already gone to Clarion. I mean, at that point, we might as well just have a pan-Clarion bar meet-up. One person was an incoming Clarion West student, though, and she told me that one of the things I’d said on the panel was helpful. So, I’m fighting down my natural urge to go, “ADVICE BLOG POST? BLEEEEECH” and writing this.

When you’re at Clarion for six weeks, you’re supposed to write six short stories, one for each week. These stories will then be critiqued by your classmates and instructor.

You should write stories that require you to use techniques you’re unfamiliar with, in genres that you don’t typically touch, with themes and characters you’ve never considered writing about before. Stretch yourself. Challenge yourself. Learn some shit. Blah, blah blah.

Everyone says that.

Okay, so here’s the important part: Do not write these stories with the intent to publish them later. They should still be complete stories, obviously. It needs to be enough of a draft that it can be critiqued. But your goal for these six weeks is to learn how to write better stories, not to sell these six. I mean, if all you want is six weeks off of work to write short stories for publication and send those off? Shit, you can do that at home.

I’m not saying you can’t or won’t be able to sell those stories, just that you have every other moment outside of these six weeks to sit down thinking, “AND NOW I WILL WRITE AN AWESOME STORY FOR BLAH MAGAZINE.”

So… when I was at Clarion, I had not written very many stories. In fact, I had only written three short stories at that point (one of which was The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived, one of my application stories). Writing a whole SIX short stories in a six week period was going to be a huge stretch for me. I thought, well, at least I’ll have six more stories to sell later!


So. I did end up selling my first three stories. Two of them went out the door with fairly minor rewrites, one of them is completely unrecognizable from its original form. Which is good! Because the original draft sucked.

But weeks four, five, and six were pretty much unmitigated disasters. These aren’t even in the category of “Oh, I’ll just rewrite them,” because the shit goes all the way down to the premise. I got super stressed out while writing them which is why they were all written between noon and 3pm of the day that I needed to turn in my drafts (by 3!). I hated writing them. I hated that I knew they weren’t going to sell while I wrote them. I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it anyway. I mean, I could have just gone downstairs and taken pot-shots at Hugo Award Winning Authors with a water pistol. Or pick through the giant wad of glued-together action figures that Grá found in a dumpster. Or go to the beach and wonder if it was the nude beach, and if it’s a horrible faux pas to be at a nude beach with pants on.

I turned the stories in, and I did learn some stuff from the critiques… but mostly I shot myself in the foot. I felt like crap because I knew that they weren’t going to sell, so no matter what the crits said, I couldn’t turn them around. So why bother. (Eeyore moment.)


I knew that other people, better people, amazing people, had written award winning stories at Clarion! Because those stories were in the archives! And someone from my class had looked them up! So I knew that it was possible! But my stories weren’t that good yet. So, obviously, I had failed at some imaginary Clarion … measure. And by imaginary, I mean really super imaginary, as in, probably only in my head.


You’d think that I’d have figured out that this was an unhealthy way to look at my Clarion experience as of, oh, August 2008. But no. It kind of dragged along behind me for a few years like a string out of a cat’s butthole. That part probably won’t apply to you unless you’re similarly neurotic (or a cat). But I felt for a long time like those unmitigated disasters from weeks 4-6 were proof that I’d wasted at least half of my Clarion experience, and someone else would have been a better choice for my spot.

Phf. I learned plenty from those stories. Like, how to not write something that sucks the same way again.

But, my point isn’t that you can’t write salable stories at Clarion, or that you should write crap on purpose. I’m just saying, if you get stressed out, remember that you’re ONLY writing for the workshop and to learn some shit. It’s okay. Just write some stories, try some things. Worry about your Duotrope stats when you get home.

At least that way if your Clarion stories suck, they’ll suck in new and interesting ways.


(This is one of the blog posts I’m writing as part of my participation in the Clarion UCSD Write-A-Thon.)

I understand about the scissors.

If you follow me on Twitter or pay attention to news about trans people, you’ve probably heard about CeCe McDonald.

If not, go read this: and this: and this: There’s more, but I’m going to trust your Google abilities.

Last month, CeCe took a plea bargain (manslaughter) rather than going to trial for murder, and yesterday she was sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $6,000 in restitution. There is a lot fucked up about the situation. A lot. Including the fact that since she is incarcerated, the state of Minnesota will make its own determination of her gender to decide where to imprison her.

Everett Maroon quoted the judge in his most recent blog post on the subject: In his words to Ms. McDonald at her plea bargain, Judge Daniel Moreno stated that in introducing scissors into the altercation–which was not the first weapon brought into play, as she’d already been lacerated with a broken beer mug–“You realize. . . you endangered other lives.”

Other lives. Yes. Because as long as it was only her life being endangered, that was acceptable. Because, hey, she was trans and black and that made some drunken assholes angry, and we all know how that’s supposed to end.


Let me tell you a story.

This was either early last year, or late 2010. I could probably figure out the exact date, but I’d have to dig through Twitter and I don’t feel much like it since I have more than 14,000 tweets. (Holy shit.) I’d been on testosterone for about a year at the time, but I still did (and still do) go to work female. If you’re curious, it’s because even though I bind my breasts for cons and other pro SF things it hurts and I can’t do it every day.

One night, this entitled, somewhat off-kilter asshole was aggressively hitting on three Asian, female, college students in the back of the bus. They were giving him every indication that they were so very uninterested, but he didn’t care. I would have said something sooner, but nobody had an escape route while the bus was moving and I am a Seattle-ite to my deep and rotten core. Direct confrontation? Oh, shit no.

When we got to the Northgate Transit Center, he tried to give one of the women his phone number, which she refused. The entitled asshole then turned to me.

“How do you like that? I talk to her the WHOLE RIDE and then she says she doesn’t want my number! What do you think of that?”

So, I admit that my next move was not incredibly smart. In fact, with my 20-20 hindsight, it was pretty fucking stupid. What did I do? I answered his question honestly. I told him that he’d been harassing those women. See… before transitioning I’d always been the unattractive girl. Unattractive cis girl. The type of unattractive that gave me the magical cloaking power of Straight Guys Don’t Want To Fuck Me, So As Far As They’re Concerned I Don’t Exist.

Except that testosterone had given me a more masculine face and my voice had already dropped. I’d just stepped onto the curb when the entitled asshole noticed.


I crossed the bus lanes to the sidewalk, and I didn’t look back until I had some distance between us. He was still cussing. Cussing and explaining what I “deserved.” He hurried to get in front of me and head me off at the crosswalk that was between me and my car. Then he stopped there and stared at me.

And I thought:

This is it. The odds finally tipped against me. After a lifetime of being lucky, I’m going to die in a mall parking lot.

It felt like everything I’d ever wanted for myself was collapsing down into a number. Trans person #whatever dead for the year. Another name for someone to read the next November 20th. I wondered if he had a weapon on him.

I wondered if I had anything on me that could possibly be used as a weapon. The only thing I knew was that if he came after me, I was going to fight back. Because here’s the thing: when people attack trans people, especially trans women, I have absolutely no reason to believe that they’re not aiming to kill. Because I’ve read the stories. Because I’ve seen the numbers. And right then, it didn’t matter who or what I was, he thought I was trans female.

But I was lucky, and this particular asshole decided that verbal abuse was enough for the evening. I got in my car and locked my doors and watched all the entrances to that floor of the parking garage until I stopped shaking enough that I could drive home.

I was lucky.

But if I’d had scissors or a knife on me and that guy had attacked me? I wouldn’t have hesitated to defend myself. There’s no question.

And here’s the other thing — from the moment this started, the fact that I’m white provided protection. On the bus, I didn’t look “exotic” to this guy, so he didn’t harass me. Afterward, when we were off the bus, it may have factored into his decision to leave me alone after all. And if shit had gone down, it would have made it that much more likely that people would believe me that I acted in self-defense.

So that’s some of what I think about when I hear about CeCe.

I’m not afraid of heights

I’m not afraid of heights.

Not really.


Sometimes I get nervous when I’m standing next to cliffs, or on the roofs of buildings, or near windows, or on tall rocks, or after I’ve climbed onto the shoulders of a very tall person.

Not because I think I’m going to fall (except if it’s a very fidgety tall person), but because some part of me, some little itsy-bitsy, very unscientific, very not-so-good at self-preservation part of me still doesn’t quite believe that I can’t fly.

And that itsy-bitsy, very unscientific, very not-so-good at self-preservation part of me remembers being a kid and climbing up onto my dresser, and imagining really hard what it would feel like to go flying down the hall and out the door and past the dog and over the fish ponds and the creek and EVEN over the hill and the race car track. Maybe even to Australia.

And that itsy-bitsy, very unscientific, very not-so-good at self-preservation part of me suspects, even though this is obviously not true, that the biggest reason I never actually managed to completely destroy the rules of physics was that I always put pillows on the floor for my inevitable fall. So of course I landed on them.

But I’m not really afraid of heights. I’m afraid of my lack of fear of heights and that that temptation to launch myself out into space will eventually just be too strong, but then on the other hand WHEN I’M DIVE-BOMBING PIGEONS I’LL BE THE ONE LAUGHING, ASSHOLES.

I think if you pretend that this is an extended metaphor for art or something, I sound less alarmingly unhinged.

My Wiscon 36 Schedule

This is my schedule for the upcoming Wiscon 36, taking place in TA-FREAKING-DA Madison, Wisconsin, May 25-28.

My programming doesn’t start until Saturday because my plane doesn’t get in until 5pm on Friday. Why am I missing almost the entire first day of Wiscon? I’m going to go see THE WALL again with my father the night before (Thursday). Yes, I have seen it before. Yes, I’m going to see it again. YOU CAN’T STOP ME.


Intersectionalism: It’s Not the Oppression Olympics  Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm
Ian K. Hagemann (moderator), Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Beth Plutchak, Julia Rios,  and Vanessa Vega
Many of us experience discrimination and oppression of many kinds, often concurrently. Blah blah solidarity blah blah. (Instead of introducing myself, I might instead engage in a well-meaning but probably stupid critique of the term “Oppression Olympics,” much to the excitement of all.)

Intersectionality in the Writing Workshop Environment Sat, 9:00–10:15 pm
Vylar Kaftan (moderator), Keffy R. M. Kehrli, and Ibi Zoboi
Intensive writing workshops can be incredible life-changing experiences. But what’s it like to attend them as a writer of color, a woman, a trans person, a queer person? Etc. (This is one of those where I was like OH HEY, I WAS GAY AT A WORKSHOP when I did the initial sign-ups, and now I’m like, oh, crap, can I talk about that for a whole hour?)

Outer Alliance: New Writings in LGBTQ SF/F/H   Sat, 10:30–11:45 pm
Julie Andrews, Therese Arkenberg, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Catherine Lundoff, and Julia Rios
Readings from recent work featuring LGBTQ protagonists and themes. Outer Alliance is an organization created to combat homophobia in SF/F and to be awesome.(YOU’RE COMING TO OUR READING RIGHT? RIGHT?)

“But it’s not for girls!” Sun, 10:00–11:15 am
Caroline Pruett (moderator), Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Pat Murphy, Katherine Olson/Kayjayoh, and Jessica Plummer
Legitimate complaints about sexism in comics, video games, and other geeky media are often dismissed with the argument that they aren’t “for” women and girls—and since women don’t buy comic books and/or video games as much as men, they have no right to complain. (My presence on this panel should help to further confuse various con attendees as to what, exactly, my gender is or isn’t. I admit that I’m mostly showing up to mock the trend of needing to protect the sacred ballsacks of men everywhere by prefixing all words with MAN when it’s a dude using the item in question. It’s not a den, it’s a MANcave. Etc.)

Beyond Binary: Genderqueer & Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction Book-Party  Sun, 8:45 pm–Mon, 3:00 am
Keyan Bowes, Brit Mandelo, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman.
This release party for the anthology Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction will include readings by contributors, plus tea and cookies. (It’s a party! PARTY.)

The SignOut (scheduled) Mon, 11:30 am–12:45 pm Capitol/Wisconsin
Includes a whole ton of other people, many of whom actually have published novels or collections, unlike me!

ALL OTHER TIMES: Shenanigans.

Belated Con report?

Wow, wow, wow. So it’s taken me so long to write about the stuff I did in March/early April that the first question is probably just — why even bother at this point? (Eh.)

In March I went to Rainforest Writers Village (Session 2) and Fogcon 2. Fogcon was unfortunately followed a week later by Norwescon 35. I learned my lesson as I dragged through Norwescon and subsequently spent the rest of April being an anti-social little troll. Or something. Never do cons two weekends in a row unless I can take the week in between off. (Yes, I’m a wimp.)

Fogcon was a fun convention, though the hotel construction was a bit of a bummer. However, the bartenders made my favorite kind of screwdriver — the sort that is only very faintly yellow-orange and makes your face go numb. I forgive hotel bar prices if the drink is 90% vodka.

I’m not sure how I feel about the panel lengths at Fogcon. I’m apparently rather used to conventions in which the panels are 45-50 minutes so even super interesting panels longer than that feel like they’re dragging a bit. Although, the Body Image 201 panel was a nice exception. It’s always good to end panels feeling like there’s more to say.

I’m sadly unsure of whether or not I’ll make it back to Fogcon, unfortunately. It’s just at a terrible time of year for me — there’s a six week run in late winter / early spring that covers 6-7 other events I’d like to possibly attend (many of which are local), as well as my birthday. I think I’ve spent my birthday at home twice in the past 15 years, and one of those was spent frantically vomiting up words for a cheap freelance assignment.

Norwescon also went well. I was pretty busy, especially on Friday. In addition to programming through the weekend, I gave four critiques as a pro for the Fairwood workshop.

It’s still weird to me to critique as a pro even though I also did so in 2011. While I technically meet the loose definition of what passes for professional in SF writing (SFWA member, sold some stories, burned through my Campbell eligibility), I don’t feel particularly advanced compared to the people I meet on the other side of the table.

The panels I was on went well enough, including the two I was most concerned about: Transphobia 101 — which is a gigantic topic, and LGBTQ speculative fiction — which I read and write of course, but I often don’t remember to keep a running tally of which books had which queer characters.

And, as last year, I was completely spoiled for my reading. Full room again, despite the fact that I was reading at 9:30pm and it was an unpublished story that really isn’t very genre-like at all, except if you look at the title and then squint extremely hard at the rest of it. And nobody walked out when I said it wasn’t going to be spec fic! Woo!

Despite being reasonably well received, I subjected the story to another round of revisions to cut out 600 more words. So now I’m fucking around, wondering if I want to mail it out or Get More Readers Who Know Stuff About Outside Of SF/F. Procrastination. Gotta love it.

Coming up, I’m going to Wiscon, the Locus Awards, and PAX. I might be at Foolscap or Orycon, BUT… for various reasons, I have to stop spending money on cons.

And, I love cons. Love, love, love, them. But… I have to finish this novel. And some short stories. As it is right now, I like being at cons, but I’ve been feeling more and more like a faker over the past two years of this productivity slump. Ugh. I even hate typing that.

If only I could get paid for Twitter. >_>

Website redesign, WordPress, etc.


Pretty much I’ve just gone and joined the WordPress club, mostly because I was tired of my main website being a pain in the ass to update and I like this whole “post scheduling” thing. Also, because I’m too cheap/broke to pay someone to design one for me. Have a webmaster? What, do you think I’m someone important or something?

Assuming everything works correctly, people will be able to read my posts on either or my livejournal and comment both places.

Basically, very little has changed. In fact, this post is primarily so that I can test settings.


Moving to WordPress

Under construction… or whatever. Check out the bio page or contact me at: kehrli at gmail dot com.

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