To the ends of the earth, AFP

I keep thinking that I should stop following Amanda Palmer. She’s super cool, and all that, but her follower re-tweets fill up half of my Twitter feed. I mean, do I really need to know which of her fans are excited to have tickets to a show? But then, she does something amazing, again, and I find that I do want to see all those irrelevant (to me) fan posts. I want to share in their exuberance.

Last night, I saw the video of Amanda Palmer’s in-concert ¬†rebuttal to the Daily Mail’s review of her “wardrobe malfunction.” It made me cry. I’m not talking the delicate, graceful tears-in-my-eyes sort of crying. Oh no. I was literally sobbing with joy. I was kind of relieved that I happened to be home alone.

Granted, I had a strangely emotional week, but sitting at my dining room table sobbing in joy? Why?

I thought about it, and I’m going to try to explain.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched her NFSW video, Dear Daily Mail, Sincerely Amanda Palmer, you should do so! Go ahead, I’ll wait. Let me repeat, though, NSFW.

Here’s the thing, with their puerile fixation on Palmer’s nipple-flash and outfit, their complete disregard of her music and performance, the Daily Mail is reinforcing a critical stereotype. In our culture, a woman’s primary task is to shield her body from men, while a man’s primary goal is to gain access to it. In this scenario, when Palmer’s forbidden bit was exposed, their goal was achieved and nothing else mattered. Not her music, not her performance, nothing.

In her rebuttal, Palmer explodes this stereotype by completely disrobing mid song.

The thing that is so very amazing about this isn’t the act of disrobing. As she points out in her lyrics, no one needs to steal a peek at her boob – there are plenty of naked pictures of her on the internet, many (most? all?) of which she posted herself. Palmer is well known for celebrating the female form. Brava!

What blew my mind was that she took off all her clothes…and then kept on singing. She did not use her nudity for shock value, or as some sort of titillating reward. She used it to make a point. Her point, bless her heart, was that she is more than just a beautiful body. She is an artist and a musician. She stood up there on stage, wearing nothing but elbow-length fingerless gloves, and got a crowd of people to pay attention to her lyrics. Consumate, generous entertainer that she is, she got them to sing along to a song they didn’t know and to jubilantly guess the word that rhymes with “ripple.” ¬†Her body was not their end game, her music was.

I will keep following Amanda Palmer. I will follow her to the ends of the earth.

Rejection, False Hopes and Imaginary Friends

I got another short story rejected this week. I took this one hard. It is not my first rejection, but until now, my reaction has been action. I take another look at the story to see if there is anything that I missed in my last edit, anything that I can change to make it “more awesome.” I reexamine my choice of venues and try to believe that “not the right fit” is an honest statement rather than a polite way of saying, “Fuck off, you pretender.”

Not this time though. I took this one hard. I ate nachos and chocolate. I told myself to do yoga but played video games instead.

So why the difference? Until now, I’ve experienced two categories of responses: immediate dismissal (e.g. Clarksworld, you rejected my story in three days, I love you) and silent indifference (e.g. Analog, you have had my story for four months. Reject it already. Let me move on.). This time, shortly after submission, I received an email saying, essentially, “Congratulations, you’ve been elevated from the slush pile. Your story now has a 50% chance of rejection, rather than the usual 97% failure rate. It may take several weeks to reach a final decision.”

Fifty percent!?! Them’s good odds! Suddenly I had hope. Apparently, I had not had that before. It was a lovely sensation. A week later, as you may have guessed, I got another, “not the right fit” email. Sigh. GIVE ME CHOCOLATE!

I think I liked it better when submissions were more of an experiment, a scouting mission. “Will this magazine-that-I-love like my story? Is this the sort of thing that they might publish?” For a week there, instead, I was actually thinking “OMG, OMG, I might actually get published!”

I need to learn to keep my cool with these things. I can get excited when (WHEN, not if) I actually see my name on a cover.

I also need to lay off the Twitter.

(no, wait, let me explain)

I have learned to looooove Twitter. I went online and found all these lovely people who read, discuss and write speculative fiction. I found WOMEN who love SciFi – lots of them! I now follow authors who are passionate about their writing and their genre of choice. They talk about the SFWA and Clarion and Readercon and what panels they are on and… And I was so happy to find this community. We’re all writers here, talking about writing (and gardening, and feminism, and dessert). These are my peeps!

Except, of course, they are not. I am following them, but they are not following me. Nor should they. They are authors. I am fan and a beginning writer. Sitting in on these discussions between authors has made me feel like one of their buddies, like I’m an author too. Thus I am suddenly surprised and hurt when my work gets rejected, “But, no, hey, I’m part of the feminist SciFi gang.”

I was not surprised that Twitter gave me imaginary friends, social media does that. But here I was feeling imaginary accomplishments as well. Here I am, having to remind myself that I’m new at all this.

It doesn’t help that my writer’s group is on hiatus for a month. Usually, they give me a space, once a week, when I get to feel like a writer. With them around, I know that my stories will be read by at least five people. With them, my stories will have the opportunity to move, or entertain, or frighten a handful of people, at least. That makes me feel like a writer. I feel a bit adrift without them, reverted back to my previous non-writer self.

Hmmm. There. I’m starting to feel better already. Silly me, I didn’t need chocolate or video games or even yoga. I needed more writing. I should have known that. That’s okay, though, I’m still new at all this.