My first publication!

Well, it’s official. My flash fiction piece Ixtab Takes a Day Off was posted up at Abyss & Apex Magazine!

I wrote this as an homage to one of my favorite stories, Dostoyevsky’s Dream of a Ridiculous Man, which is about a man contemplating suicide who changes his mind after an encounter with a little girl.

This was my first real attempt at flash fiction. It literally took two hours to write the first draft and I’m still happy with the piece, so yay!

I’m actually experiencing all kinds of emotions. Intense pride. Excitement. There might be a little fist-pumping boogie around the room to very mediocre pop music with my 4 year old happening.

Though I also feel a little…let down or something.

I’m beginning to suspect that every milestone along my writing journey will feel like this. Every time I achieve a goal, I see the next goalpost in the distance. Being an obsessive, type-A person, I just move right on to the next thing. Finish a book. Get a short story published. Edit a book. Query agents. Done and done.

Next is getting an agent and starting the publication process. Then publish a book. Then pen my best selling series. And then I RULE THE WORLD…okay that last part isn’t a realistic goal. To be fair, none of this feels realistic. But it’s happening so I figure I’d better pay attention and make sure I’m enjoying the journey!

PS Profanity warning in the story…sorry mom.

PPS Haha, just kidding, my mom actually taught me how to curse.

On Writing the “Other”

Photograph by Johan Ordonez, AFP/Getty Images

This blog post, 12 Fundamentals Of Writing “The Other” (And The Self), by Daniel José Older is timely.

Almost all of my stories are at least partially about people not like me. As an anthropologist I worry a lot about cultural appropriation and how to avoid it, but I still have moments of fear. I ALWAYS assume that I suck (see #2 on his list) at writing/understanding the other, but it is still a risk and so I enjoyed reading this post a hell of a lot.

I especially liked this one:

“7. Ritual ≠ spectacle.

I recently edited Long Hidden, an anthology of speculative fiction from the margins of history. My co-editor Rose Fox and I received a number of submissions that had no speculative element at all but featured non-Christian ceremonies. Other people’s cultures/beliefs are not fantasy. It’s one thing if a demigod or spirit is out walking around, interacting with the world, and even that walks a complex line, but to have people simply celebrating their beliefs be a “fantastical” element is racist cultural imperialism.”

My academic specialization focused on religion and, over time, I came to believe very strongly that ritual and religious belief is something that should always be held in respect (barring abusive beliefs, etc). I’m not Catholic, but I would never feel comfortable doing what PZ Myer did to a communion wafer. I don’t believe the cracker is actually the body of Christ, but some people do. In my opinion, religious belief is, for many people, a central, emotional, visceral, authentic part of who they are. Religious experiences aren’t just something fabricated, they are deeply felt and genuinely important. Which is why I always cringe when I see depictions of non-Western ritual as some kind of cool, weird entertainment.

Ritual does a lot of important things (helps individuals genuinely feel part of a group, verify and vivify their belief systems, etc) and so I always hesitate to represent ritual of the “other.” However, in the book I’ve just finished I do depict a few Maya rituals, and so I’m very glad to see this post from Daniel José Older, because it reminded me to always be thinking about these things.

How is this even real?

This is one of the latest images released by NASA taken by the Hubble telescope. The long-exposure image shows us the deepest space that human eyes have ever seen. In just this tiny quadrant of space they have counted thousands of galaxies.

I literally cannot wrap my brain around these photographs. It looks like a mediocre sci-fi illustration to me because the implications of this being real are too humbling for me to process.

More information and big, zoomable photos available at NASA.