On riots

Adapted from a conversation today on facebook, about riots in response to police brutality.

Have you ever felt like you were asking for something and being ignored? Asking and asking and asking. Mostly asking for something to stop, because it hurts you. And the people you’re asking just kind of laugh and ignore you? If they respond at all, it’s to make it a joke, or to tell you to stop being what you are? And eventually, you ask louder and louder, and they start getting defensive and a little uncomfortable and block you out, and finally one day you just start screaming, and they get upset because you’re hurting their ears and why are you so angry anyhow, you’re making them FEEL BAD, god damn, and maybe you eventually get through that the thing they were doing MATTERS to you and maybe they change a little, either because they understand, or maybe they don’t understand but they don’t like being screamed at either, and then things return to how they were, but maybe a little bit better in that one way.

And later, you’re being hurt again, in a different way. And you ask for it to stop. And you’re ignored and laughed at. And you know, KNOW that it’s going to end in screaming again and you’d really like for that not to happen, wouldn’t it be nice if they would JUST LISTEN and take you seriously and adjust their behavior? But they don’t and the whole cycle repeats. And there’s a little bit of improvement, but only a little, on a very specific issue.

And next time, next time…. you ask and ask…. and you know it’s going to end with screaming and they tell you how you’re HURTING THEM, why do you keep HURTING THEM and you try to explain but it takes another few cycles before they learn to try and listen before the screaming starts (or maybe they never do).

Have you ever felt like that? I’m curious.

For so many people, what I’ve described is just ordinary life. They would describe themselves in all the same ways you describe yourself, except there’s some element of their life they can’t, for whatever reason, remove themselves from. It’s just that their ordinary life features some element of oppression and diminishment that is so… typical… that those who have never experienced it can’t even imagine what it’s like because they accept that it’s normal. But it’s nothing very remarkable, nothing far away, no storybook suffering. It’s right there, ordinary. It’s the mother who works all day at a job and all evening running a household while her husband watches TV. It’s being careful when you drive because being pulled over could lead to death. It’s being told that you’re emotional, weak, a criminal in the making. It isn’t cinematic trauma. It’s just a life, underneath.

Some people speak of a line of civilians protecting the police lines as a way of ‘ending the madness’. I have no idea what ‘end the madness’ even means. How does a line of people in front of the police stop the police from murdering people? Aren’t they simply more potential victims?

Ah, I see. You explain. The ‘madness’ is the property destruction and looting.  Of course.  And you go on: Minorities must be like Dr. King: peaceful, and effective, and dead.

And so: you are continuing to make the same error as so many others: that the madness began with the destruction and the violence. That the murders are not madness. You are saying the screaming is the problem, not what prompted it. And you are idolizing a murdered man over all of the living people working every day to find a peaceful solution and being ignored, over and over and over again. They have been patient and they have been good, for decades since your hero was killed, and yet they are still being killed. How long must they be patient and must they be good?

Because I can tell you, from personal experience, that being good and asking quietly and politely for change does not produce change. All it leads to is death. And the reason for this is exactly what you are demonstrating: you condemn the aggression and ignore everything else in order to idolize somebody who you believe behaved appropriately.

Indeed, rioting is madness. It is a city’s tortured soul expressing itself. It is a city cutting itself. And a line of people protecting the police will not do anything at all to cure the madness. All it is doing is hiding the razor blades.

Violence never made anything whole again and the people protesting are the ones who know that best. The people who forget that are the ones in positions of power, because they are sheltered from violence. They drive people to the brink of violence and believe they can escape unscathed, despite the many proofs presented by history. I don’t know if they think, “This time it will be different,” or if they’ve been so sheltered from violence they no longer remember what it feels like to be driven into a corner with no other options left.

You don’t know the right response but you’re sure it isn’t violence? Yes. The ‘right response’ is making sure that what happened doesn’t ever happen again, and that power is denied to the people who assemble peacefully, while the people who do have the power to make the ‘right response’ choose not to, over and over and over again.

The ‘right response’ is people like you, older privileged white people, getting passionately involved before the protests become violent: using your power and your privilege and your concern for property to do more than armchair quarterback. The ‘right response’ is noticing and stopping this before a city screams. Yet again. The ‘right response’ is not on the victims. It is on us.

It’s a new year.

Happy New Year! It’s going to be a busy year for me: I’m hoping to release CITADEL OF THE SKY (Book 1 of a new fantasy series) in May, and then a collection of SENYAZA short stories (about the first year after MATCHBOX GIRLS) in July, and finally the fourth SENYAZA novel in October. I’m also planning on going to Norwescon and Worldcon this year. AND I’m writing something new. Busy busy busy, how will I manage– oh.

On the 5th day of this new year, my 7 year old broke his leg. Very exciting, kind of traumatic. He’s adapting to his full-leg cast, his baby brother is adapting less well to the temporary loss of a playmate and I am trying to learn to juggle time even better because man, as distracting as this is, it is absolutely not the time to delay on projects that might earn a few bucks.

I finished the draft of DIVINITY CIRCUIT in November and I’ve been sitting on it since then, letting it season, waiting for beta readers. Meanwhile I’ve been working on short stories. I have so many short stories left to write: a couple more for the INFINITY KEY Kickstarter, bonuses for the WOLF INTERVAL Kickstarter, and extra material to put into the collection.

(Speaking of WOLF INTERVAL or INFINITY KEY or MATCHBOX GIRLS: if you’ve read them, would you consider writing a review on a retailer site? Those help in very concrete ways, in that lots of algorithms skip over books without a minimum number of reviews. Much appreciated.)

I’ve just finished a novelette about Penny. It’ll go out to INFINITY KEY backers in a week or so, and be generally available as part of the Year One collection in June or July. I haven’t titled it firmly yet but I think of it as ‘Penny and What Happened After’.

Next up, by request, I’m writing a very short vignette? story? about the Queen of Stone.

Then, THEN, I’m switching gears for a while to work on my 2015 project, Astromantica. I’m very excited by it. It will be something quite different from anything I’ve done before and as such it will require a whole new process. I’ve bought new markers and some sketchbooks to get myself started. 🙂

Enter Autumn

(micropost copied from Google Plus)

A week ago, it was summer. Then we had an extended rainstorm that spanned two days. It came alongside colds! A leaky roof! Jeans! Limos at the high school student’s house across the street!

Today, it is clear and beautiful and warm. I’m back in shorts. But it’s autumn. I don’t know how I can tell. I’ve always loved autumn. It’s an energetic season for me. The air feels different, and the colors seem to paint themselves even before the red and gold leaves arrive. Everything seems full of promise.

Maybe it’s just 15 years of attending school is to blame, reversing the role of spring and autumn in my yearly cycle. I like spring, too– but spring is for green growth. Autumn is for sparks, and kindling the fires that will last all winter.

Another busy Wednesday

Once again things have been eating up my Wednesday! But today I’ve been planning something fun that I’ll announce in a month or two, as well as getting important things done in the non-writing part of my life. It was good, but it totally obliterated the new writing slot I’ve finally found.

My writing schedule ends up shifting around a lot, as the people I live with move around their schedules and needs. I’ve finally decided that I need to start writing in the mornings again. Yesterday I did that and it worked very well. And something awesome happened: I discovered I was prioritizing finishing the writing task I had set myself over doing the chores I needed to do. Normally I either write for a fixed amount of time, or I can only write when I’ve accomplished the other major requirements of the day. A leftover, I think, from when I used to work in an office and could never convince myself to write true narrative while at my desk. Now that my ‘day job’ involves taking care of a house, I can’t neglect it for writing!

Or at least I couldn’t, even though I knew nobody would really mind. So I was delighted to hear myself thinking, “I’ll do those dishes if I have time after I finish detailing the rest of my locations.” I really hope I can keep it up!

I still have a post planned about the Big, Big World, and the challenges I’ve encountered in trying to plan a global story. I might get to it tonight, but if not, I’m pretty sure it’ll be up by next Wednesday. Meanwhile, I hope you have a great evening!