On Fear and Freedom

HI babes.

GUESS who is back on their bullshit? YEP yo problematic fave.

I’ve been hard at work and I’ve been digging deep into my archives of fiction that I abandoned for various reasons. As much as I talk about how important to me it is to be writing what the fuck I want to write, I still have reservations and fears in terms of genre and style etc.

For me, reconnecting with genre work has been a long ass hard road. I follow a lot of genre related folks, mags, editors, writers etc. One of the things that I still struggle with is that as much as I read, I often feel like my ideas, the methods in which my Blackness informs my work, is a problem.

It is the type of cognitive dissonance that for me personally is just, so weird. I will watch folks talk and talk and talk diversity but, I still find a lot of places lacking. I have such a need to see a broader acceptance of Black narratives. The narratives that aren’t super comfortable.

HOWEVER.

Now that I have some distance on writing racial pain porn for pennies, I’ve found an old want and am able to fulfill it for myself. If you’ve been here for a minute y’all know that at the root of my work is the need to create representation. Until now, I have really wanted to find joy in representation, in creating something that is just enough to get me a seat near the table.

I wanted to be at the table.

Somewhere in my quest to provide the representation, things felt grim. Of course I’ve had the Daiyuverse but, things were feeling a bit lacking. I felt kind of constrained.

Representation by itself is not enough. It is great. It is my dream. But, it is not enough to sustain me in my creative life.

So, I let it go.

And then, I started fictioning again and I’ve found my joy again.

I’m remembering that I don’t have to give a certain narrative about or around Blackness. That I can do what the fuck I want and still represent.

To the end of joy and shit I love doing, here’s a bite of the fantasy story I am retooling.

The King came out of the privy still buttoning her breeches, her sword clanking on her hip.“So, I looked at him dead in his Gods Damned eye and said no but I’ll sit on her-“Her ribald story came to as abrupt a halt as she did. Standing right there, one ear turning, tail swishing, was the cat woman. She stared up at the King with her enormous pumpkin colored eyes.

“You’d sit on her what your majesty?”Her whiskers twitched. The King stammered and dropped to one knee, unfortunately her breeches were loose and several men got a good half moon. She was too rapt to feel the breeze across her crack.“I, I oh please a thousand pardons Lady Cat. I hope I haven’t offended you. May I ask, what is your name?”

With that, I say good day sir.

Good. Day.

So I am Writing some High Fantasy

I finally restarted working on the high fantasy story I’ve been kicking around and wanting to drown for a while.

When I say high fantasy, I’m using the term in the context of- actually let me slow my roll. I think what I’m doing is an amalgam of swords n sorcery, high fantasy, with a taste of magic, hint of religion and myth. BUT that said, I’ll just say fantasy for now.

We don’t have to be fancy here.

I haven’t touched this story for months. I’ve not been writing a lot of fiction of late. I am very amused by how I’m writing fiction these days. Back in the day, I’d have an idea and BANG BANG BANG 4-5 K done. These days, I’m so interested in exploring particular things in my fiction it just takes me for fucking ever to write it.

I have this ever growing list of things I want to explore in different ways in my fiction. What started out as notes to help me remember (sleep disorders have properly fucked up my memory) has turned into a low key way of doing some plotting and at a glance I’ve been moving those ideas around in terms of what genres I want to play with them in.

Now on to the story at hand.

The working title is Cat Rules Queen. I had an entirely different version done that I hated so I started over. Here is what I’ve realized:

  • Writing literally anything else does not stress me out like writing fantasy does.
  • Trying not to fall down my own nerdhole about the race of beings I’m molding is fucking hard.
  • Trying to keep the language somewhat modern feeling and hearing, without it hitting a tin note is fucking hard.
  • I have a LOT invested in doing this story to my own standards and I’m kind of fucking myself up about it.

That last thing.

Y’all.

I try really hard not to do this because it is a part of the type of human I am but, sometimes I put the worst type of pressure on myself as a creator. I have this vision of what I want this story to be and I keep getting frustrated because I can’t get it quite there because I am not totally sure how to get it where I want it to go. This is sort of beyond my own need to create representation and into WHY the fuck can’t I DO THIS SHIT RIGHT territory.

The latter is really an emotional kick in the heartballs because, I can’t write when I treat myself that way. Thus the story won’t be done and will not be as good as I want it to be.

I put this pressure on myself and it ain’t workin.

So I’ve decided that I will likely publish this story for free at some point and that has relieved me of some of the pressure. Y’all know I’m not ashamed of my writing fuck ups and I feel like this one might qualify. It’s not totally what I want, but I might be headed there if I let myself do what I know how to do.

Other things.

This story has a very particular soundtrack I’ve been listening to a lot of the following while working on it:

  • Opeth
  • Lacuna Coil
  • Coil
  • NIN
  • Children of Bodom
  • Down
  • Five Finger Death Punch
  • Lamb of God
  • Amon Tobin

The music has been very dark and hard while the story isn’t. That is a running thing with me. My music for my writing almost never makes complete sense. I wrote the sweetest little romantic story for my Patreon project as a bonus thing while listening to Slayer. When I listen to the Moonlight Sonata (the whole thing) I imagine writing a super violent, very graphic silent film with that as the soundtrack. Or, I’ve written some nasty nasty hardcore violent kinky smut while listening to it.

My creative process has changed so much in the last few years. After my tries at forcing super seriousness on myself, I’m getting back into play.

I’m hoping that finishing this fantasy story will help. I’m going to put in writing right now that I’m going to let myself play.

Now how about a lil bite?

We come to see where our King Nailah meets her future Queen, the cat woman called Makatza:

The King came out of the privy still buttoning her breeches, her sword clanking on her hip. “So, I looked at him dead in his Gods Damned eye and said no but I’ll sit on her-” Her ribald story came to as abrupt a halt as she did. Standing right there, one ear turning, tail swishing, was the cat woman. She stared up at the King with her enormous pumpkin colored eyes.

“You’d sit on her what your majesty?”  Her whiskers twitched. The King stammered and dropped to one knee, unfortunately her breeches were loose and several men got a good half moon. She was too rapt to feel the breeze across her crack. “I, I oh please a thousand pardons Lady Cat. I hope I haven’t offended you. May I ask, what is your name?”

The cat woman tittered and offered her hand. “I am Makatza. I might forgive you your majesty if, you feed me. If you are really nice I might let you rub my ears.” The King rose and barely got a hold of her pants before she showed everyone whether or not she really had a tattoo in a private place. She kissed the small soft, fuzzy hand. “I shall endeavor to please you. As you allow.”

I’ll get into the feline behavior I studied and how I’m making Makatza another time.

Goodnight.

 

Baby tries Fantasy. Ft Fancasting

Under the read more you’ll find the whole first page of my second try at fantasy. I tried it before with these characters and tried again. Actually I’ll show you the whole thing I have so far. In FACT I’ll include my fancast for it. Because that is a thing I do often. Also pardon if my train of thought wanders at times I haven’t really slept in two days.

My idea for this is this as follows:

  • Gender markers being fucked with. Our King is a woman named Nailah. Her wizard wears dresses because he likes them. King Nailah is a war king. She is a bad ass with a bad reputation and she likes to seduce everyone and hang out with her fellow warriors. Think Gina Torres would play her in a movie after beefing up a bit. Okay a lot of bit, like Linda Hamilton in T2. See here but picture her with locs and with some facial scars and tattoos.

king

 

  • Her Queen to be, is a literal cat person. So I spent some time studying feline social behaviors, etc. and came up with the assholest cat to be a cat person. Her name is Makatza and she’s somewhat of a mystical figure in this fantasy land. I thought a lot about how to incorporate some really specific cat behaviors into a human sized being. The tail swish, one turned ear, being a demanding but totally loveable little butthole. Imagine she’s furry, her middle body is beigy brown and as her fur goes around her body it turns black. But her fur isn’t like tiger fur, think more downy softy fur. Her ears are black, her tail is black and quite long. She isn’t a shape shifter, she is a cat person. Think a body type like Countess Vaughn here, but a bit less busty.
countess
Imagine her as a cat.
  • Our next important character is called Nazar and he is the King’s bestie, former lover and war wizard. He is also very shy and anxious. In this part of this story (there are longer versions and notes)he’s still a bit young and has a bit of puppy fat yet. But yes this face both the younger and the older are what I imagine when I think of Nazar. He’s very loyal, very good at his craft and is a bit confused as to what role he is to play with the King.
nazar
Nazar the Catalyst as a baby wizard.
  • So far we also get a peek at First Regent Bilale who is like the captain of the gaurd, confidant, tactical expert and potentially the man who will teach our King to be a husband. I haven’t decided yet. Picture this gorgeous gent a bit older and scarred up. Like he’s been swinging axes and shit.
bilale.jpg
I just..well. Yeah look at him.

So far those are most of the major players I imagine in my head. There are some others I can’t totally see yet.

But we see why this could be an issue don’t we?

I’m sure somebody will be asking themselves, but where are the White people Shannon?

Well………

Nope.

This magical land is full of black and brown folks (there is a char I picture as Margaret Cho with her shaved head, but that’ll happen later) but yeah. Naw.

What’s interesting is that one person I floated this idea to give me a little bit of the “but that’s not believable” I almost automatically spat out that Junot Diaz quote about motherfuckers reading shit in Elvish and inquired about how many places in medievil Europe were rocking dragons and shit?

I’m not sure how much of this world, I will create but so far I’m pretty into it. I’m working on word-building, like a whole world that is Earthy but not Earth. I’m working on creating some language, some cultural stuff and so far I haven’t gone off the deep nerd end.

Yet.

So here you go folks. It is my birthday and my present to you is a bit of Cat Rules Queen, a fantasy WIP by yours truly. OH also this is entirely unedited exactly as it came out of my brain. No rewrites/correction so don’t trip.

Enjoy.

 

Continue reading “Baby tries Fantasy. Ft Fancasting”

Dragons, Wights, Giants, White Walkers yes! Brown people Not so Much.

First read this where George R.R Martin sort of addresses his franchises race problem.

This jumped out at me:

In June, a fan asked Martin: “There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books?”

Martin replied:

Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest,

Wait..hold up.

So in a fantasy realm that is an analogue of the British Isles…that if you do non racist research you’ll learn is not the fantasy bastion of pure whiteness. We have:

  • Dragons
  • White Walkers
  • Giants
  • Gigantic Wolves
  • Children of the Forest
  • Krakens

ETC

That totally works because well, what is fantasy without fantastical creatures.

But it is so hard to not erase the POC or to use them in deeply racist and problematic ways in the books?

Thinly veiled Latina (hot spicy slutty) stereotypes, people coded as Black referred to as “mongrels” by one of the Whitest White Savioring (Mother) slave lover/dehumanizer, rape rapity rape rape RAPE…all that is completely perfect for an Analogue of some time period in the British Isles that doesn’t fucking exist and that’s all okay BUT it is not okay to put Asian or Black folks in the story?

…………really?

Yes really. It is something I have heard from White fantasy readers since I first wanted to talk about fantasy with other fans when I was a kid.

POC make the story unbelievable.

Even if the people (problematic or not) in the story are described as Black or Asian or Latina they are read as White or if the thing is moved to a visual medium they are magically white or as we found out when the Hunger Games came out, people are disappointed that a character is of color.

Look White authors, white readers this is why POC fans can’t trust you and why we are pissed off.

Look.

If you are going to rely on stereotypes that are harmful to actual readers because you can’t look at POC as full humans or you just won’t, don’t bother.

Stop.

A lot of White authors wring their hands about how “hard” it is to write POC. Look it’s not really that fucking hard if you look at people of color as fully functional human beings. If you don’t actually do that and seriously honest with yourself, I question your motives and everything else.

One of the fundamental ideas about character is that they are in essence fully made beings and if you are a pretty good author you write them with depth.

If you write every other character (even to the non human) with depth and feeling and reduce your token POC to bed warmers, tongueless slaves, slaves or other two dimensional characters I don’t trust you.

As readers if you can legit believe in the perils of White Walkers and that winter is fucking coming and having non white fully formed characters in a story ruins it, well as they say you might be a racist.

Being both a fan and a creator let me show you how I feel about this in a nutshell:

OFFTOFUCK

God damn it.

We live in the fucking future.

It is 20 mother fucking 14 and White people still often act like POC are aliens and there’s no way to actually hear us speak or learn about us without colonizing or assimilating.

Come on now.

Try the fuck harder.

That’s all.