It makes me think - are we all made like this? (not literally)
Stop doing everything. Don’t say anything or be anything. Get as small as you possibly can without disappearing. Don’t exist. Or keep existing, but differently than before.
Remember: criticism is the same thing as wholesale condemnation and also murder, so react accordingly.
Apologize, but don’t really mean it, and plant a seed of secret resentment so deep in your own heart that years later you can’t even remember that you’re the one who nurtured it and made it grow, it seems that much like a native part of you.
Sink into a hole so deep that no one can ever find you.
No. No. No. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no NO. NO.
JUST DIE. JUST GET SICK AND DIE AND THEN YOU’LL FEEL TERRIBLE YOU EVER SAID THOSE THINGS BECAUSE I’LL BE DEAD AND YOU’LL BE SO SO SO SORRY AND YOU’LL WISH YOU COULD BRING ME BACK BUT YOU CAN’T.
Give up on all of your goals immediately.
Tell everyone you know about the criticism, but in a way that makes it clear that you expect them to publicly find it ridiculous and assure you there’s not a shred of truth to it. Do this repeatedly, first while sober, then later after several glasses of wine on a Wednesday afternoon when no one else is really drinking except for you. “Can you believe it?” Ask them that repeatedly. “Can you believe that? About me?” Ask until no one will meet your eyes.
Spit until your throat bleeds.
Remember that life is a rich tapestry.
Become so rich and strong and tall that you’re a giant made out of gold and nobody can hurt you and everything you do is perfect and you can use your laser diamond eyes to melt the lungs of your enemies.
Dwell on it.
You can either be perfect or the biggest piece of shit who ever existed but not both, so if the criticism is right, you are the biggest piece of shit who ever existed. If it is not right, you are perfect and everyone else is wrong.
Fall in love with whoever criticized you. Don’t walk away until you’ve ruined their marriage.
Whisper their criticism every night to yourself until you have it memorized, word for word. Remember it forever. Have the words stitched into the shroud that covers your body before you’re lowered into the tomb so you and your criticism can embrace one another for eternity.
Do not rise above it. Never rise above anything. The sky is no place for a human.
Be sure not to separate the tone of the criticism from the content. If it was said ungracefully, it cannot be true. If it was said reasonably, it cannot be false.
Send an email explaining why you don’t deserve to be criticized, then another six emails after that, each one explaining the last, like a set of Russian nesting dolls that don’t think it’s your fault.
Set fire to something that was once beautiful.
Run into a cave and break your ankle so that people have to come find you and they see you lying at the bottom of this beautiful cave and maybe there’s a waterfall and the light from the crystals makes you look really beautiful and they say “Are you okay?” and you say “I think so” and they say “oh my God have you been here alone this whole time with a broken ankle” and you say “it’s okay” and they say “you’re so brave” and you are brave and you look so beautiful surrounded by cave crystals and everyone stands over you and says “oh wow” and “you poor beautiful thing” and “I’m so sorry we let you run into the cave but I’m so glad we found you” and let them carry you home and promise to be your best friends forever and that everything’s their fault and also they named the cave after you and you’re prettier than all of your enemies and your enemies all died of jealousy while you were in the cave.
Remember that there are only two kinds of people in the world: fans and haters. No true fan would ever express a criticism of you or your work; conversely no hater could ever seek to engage in a good-faith debate about something you said or did they disagree with. Dismiss everything everyone has to say about you.
If it’s a close friend, say “Thank you for being so honest with me,” and then never talk to them again.
Do something with your feelings right away. It doesn’t matter what. Lash out, make a sculpture, whatever.
Log into YouTube and call someone “living Hitler” and “a waste of skin” until you feel better about yourself.
Remember, if someone doesn’t like your work, that means they don’t like you, and they wish that you had never been born, so just lay down in the road and die.
Beautiful prose that captures the crazy fantasies we have in response to criticism.
Men are brought up to make pronouncements and have ideas; women are brought up to listen, chat, congratulate, offer support, and listen some more.
Instagram selfie of the #con10 Demystifying Social Media panel. Meta!
Right now, children’s literature is seeing an intense flare-up in the ongoing conversation about the diversity crisis in children’s books. While this conversation has been going on for decades, now social media has given the people having it megaphones, and they are using them to brilliant ends….
I really wish people who know little or nothing about YA literature would stop writing about YA literature. just go and read something by Francesca Lia Block, Melina Marchetta, Malorie Blackman, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Rainbow Rowell…
tee hee hee
"Rise Like a Phoenix", 2014, Conchita Wurst (b. 1988)
Those who know me will know that I would gladly leap at the opportunity to include Eurovision in this blog. Happily, that time has come!
After a tight tussle with the Netherlands (deservedly with its Fleetwood Mac country), Sweden (sorry, boring!), and, surprisingly (though they did fall away), Armenia and Hungary, Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst eventually blitzed the field with the James Bond theme-like “Rise Like a Phoenix”. (though really, Italy and Switzerland deserved many more votes!)
The creation of singer Tom Neuwirth, it was expected that Conchita would do well but that social conservatism would cruel her chances of victory. Certainly, Israeli transgender Dana International won in 1998, but before many of the more conservative Eastern European States joined the competition.
Well, perish the thought - the immaculately bearded Conchita won by over 50 points! And, despite the grimly homophobic response from Russian politicians, only four countries failed to deliver votes for Austria (Belarus, Armenia, Poland and San Marino). Conchita actually came third in the popular votes in Russia and Azerbaijan (dragged down to sixth and tenth, respectively, by the “expert” juries). She also garnered big points from countries such as Ukraine (8 point), Romania (8 points) and Georgia (10 points, where the expert jury votes failed), to bolster the predictable support from Western Europe.
Conchita’s win is a slap in the face for rising official homophobia, such as Russia’s appalling “gay propaganda laws”. In any case, Russia is smarting from the booing of its votes (though that was scarcely deserved for its 17 year old twin representatives, despite the silly connected hair and see-saw). Seems that annexation of parts of neighbouring countries does not go down well with the Eurovision crowd (though, disgracefully, it also led to the disqualification of Georgia in 2009). Ukraine, by the way, beat Russia by 24 points (and that hamster wheel is, um, clearly an excellent metaphor for the ongoing crisis). Russia came seventh, but its high position is virtually assured by a large ex-pat community in parts of Europe, and it received unusually low votes from Ukraine (4 points), Latvia (2 points) and Estonia (1 point).
In a victory for tolerance, fun and opposition to bigotry, Conchita defiantly declared in victory that “we are united and we are unstoppable”. Indeed!
I love Conchita <3
Sneaking in at the last minute, it’s a shelfie for April! What we have here (in addition to a guardian squid) is a stack of books by women who were directly or indirectly formative on my writing process before THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA was finished. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, just suggestive… it’s what I could easily grab from my paperback shelves in a minute or two. For instance, I forgot to grab anything by Janny Wurts, Melanie Rawn or Margaret Atwood.
Going down the column, we have:
DOOMSDAY BOOK … Connie Willis
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS … Ursula K. LeGuin
WAR FOR THE OAKS … Emma Bull
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS … Octavia Butler
THE SNOW QUEEN … Joan Vinge
THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD … Patricia McKillip
DOWNBELOW STATION … C.J. Cherryh
THE WALLS OF AIR … Barbara Hambly
RATS AND GARGOYLES … Mary Gentle
BURNING BRIGHT … Melissa Scott
THE POISON MASTER … Liz Williams
THE NEMESIS FROM TERRA … Leigh Brackett
MIRROR DANCE … Lois McMaster Bujold
SWORDSPOINT … Ellen Kushner
I’m not a fan of Willis’ most recent work (I think BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR is unacceptably sloppy) but DOOMSDAY BOOK is a startlingly unflinching examination of scholarship, attachment, and loss. THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is justifiably a legend in its own time; I am also one of those weirdos who actually really likes THE DISPOSSESSED even if the subtitle “an ambiguous utopia” makes me snicker ruefully.
WAR FOR THE OAKS… where to begin? This was the city I dreamed of as a kid, lit up with magic and danger. So many of my theories on fantasy were formulated from awe of this book or in argument with it. That’s the mark of Emma’s greatness— she writes books you can have fabulous arguments with.
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS (and its predecessor PARABLE OF THE SOWER) were essential instruction for me in the art of the slightly unreliable narrator, and in helping me to realize that an author didn’t necessarily have to beam approval at everything a protagonist thought or did. As the years go by, I also find the world events described in these books to be frustratingly less and less implausible.
THE SNOW QUEEN is a big, sprawling, mythically-informed science fiction novel of the sort that’s sadly not seen very often these days.
THE FORGOTTEN BEATS OF ELD is heartbreakingly good, and started teaching me about the eventual relationship I wanted to create for Locke and Sabetha. See also OMBRIA IN SHADOW and the slightly flawed (strange tonal variations) but still rewarding RIDDLE-MASTER sequence. McKillip is a treasure.
DOWNBELOW STATION, my favorite C.J. Cherryh novel (though I’ve many yet to read). Tensely plotted conflict on cultural and character levels, showing off one of the biggest brains in science fiction.
THE WALLS OF AIR (part of the Darwath Trilogy)— interestingly enough, I’m not a complete fanboy of the Darwath books. They have some flaws I find frustrating, but those very flaws were extremely instructive to me, and the good parts are still quite good. Hambly in general is superb… DRAGONSBANE is a stone-cold classic that deserves wider fame, and THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT was the book that got me into vampires in a big way in the early 90s.
RATS AND GARGOYLES— it makes no flippity-fucking sense in the final analysis, but what a glorious, phantasmagorical, mist-drenched occult cityscape it has, and what a pack of brilliantly weird characters running around in it…
BURNING BRIGHT was recommended to me in the 90s by a gaming friend. It was one of the first novels I ever read that attempted to deal in a deep and thoughtful way with the serious gaming mindset, and the art of modeling the world atmospherically/artistically as well as physically. It was also one of the first novels in which I encountered an overtly homonormative society.
THE POISON MASTER’s lush atmosphere really hit me in the last year or so before LIES coalesced from scattered notes into concrete chapters.
Leigh Brackett was the unheralded queen of the field in the early 1940s, a writer with unusually advanced narrative sensibilities that have kept her work much fresher over the decades than some of the museum pieces still nailed to the walls in the Halls of Classic SF. She was a formative practitioner of science fantasy and a deep, sympathetic thinker in an age ruled largely by the facile and the jingoistic.
In the 90s, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga was leaping unstoppably from strength to strength, and I would argue that the MIRROR DANCE / MEMORY duet is still the highest of the sequence’s many high points.
Last but not least, SWORDSPOINT, by that damned Ellen Kushner, who floats on light and shoots genius beams out of her eyes while the rest of us are still fumbling around in the kitchen, wearing no pants, and trying to make coffee. Every field has someone like that. Ellen is ours.
Anyhow, your weekend assignment is to read all of these, and to remember that while a relatively small number of tiny-brained dickheads are making an awful lot of noise lately about how terrible it is that mere wimminses are taken seriously in the SF/F world, that’s because they’re bigots. On the inside, bigots are always frightened, grasping, desperately inadequate little creatures. They make so much noise because they can never feel sufficient in their own skins.
I think I just swooned. Anyway, the sky went dark and Scott Lynch appeared amongst a gang of frolicking putti tossing swords and apples and roses that twined and mingled and resolved themselves into something very nice lying spread out on a table for all to enjoy.
This is a great list.