My camera failed to launch despite a sound check the day before that showed it was fine. However, that didn’t stop us from having fun on Juliette Wade’s Google Hangouts show! We talk about Philippine mythology, Spanish colonization in the Philippines, and how that fits into my body of work.
It’s been a while! First things first, I was awarded a 2018 James Tiptree Jr. Fellowship.
“In her application, Cruz described the many faces of feminism and resistance in the Philippines: “Together, warrior, witness, writer, and witch amount to a uniquely Filipino feminist identity that live on in strains despite the erasure of colonization. I hope to reclaim and round these out by telling stories led by such characters.” Funding from the Tiptree Fellowship will help Cruz continue her work on an ongoing series of alternate-history stories set in a present-day Philippines inhabited by Filipinos and local mythological creatures. Each story is written as a feature article by a sharp-eyed Filipina journalist who seeks to heal and galvanize her society by writing and bearing witness, and eventually by becoming a warrior and perhaps even a witch.“
“The Tiptree Fellowship program, now in its fourth year, is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are changing our view of gender today. Each Fellow will receive $500. The work produced as a result of this support will be recognized and promoted by the Tiptree Award.“
I was awarded based on my Archipelago Daily series of short stories. If you’d like to read the first in the series, head on over to Expanded Horizons!
Secondly, if you’ve got an attending or supporting membership to WorldCon and are looking for work to nominate, I have two novelettes that are eligible:
- “Odd and Ugly” in Writers of the Future vol. 34, Galaxy Press (April 2018)
- “Song of the Mango” in Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction vol. 10, Epigram Books (May 2018)
The last five years have been pretty tough on me, though that seems to be the norm for 20-somethings. But 2018 in particular was a year of upheaval: I had the worst mental breakdown I’ve ever experienced in my life, quit my third job, twisted my ankle, lost some friends, got into some major fights, zeroed out my savings. It feels like I spent most of 2018 just trying to stay afloat, alive.
But I also started the work from home life at a job that treats me very well, got to go to the US to accept an award, met tons of new friends, finished writing two short stories (hopefully three before the year’s out), got published a few times, started working on a visual novel, received funding for Worldcon 2019 in Dublin, began rebuilding my savings, returned to antidepressants after months of mental fog.
Five years ago, I would’ve labeled this year “good” or “bad.” I find that I can’t do that now. I don’t feel like I’m just stagnant or coasting anymore, but it’s not all smooth sailing either. And maybe the label isn’t important. What’s important is the most prominent lesson I learned this year–that is, to renegotiate my boundaries with my career, my loved ones, and myself.
I don’t know what 2019 will bring. But here’s hoping that the 2013-2018 problems finally begin unraveling. And even if they don’t completely go away, I hope I learn to be okay with the pace that I go at things and okay with the fact that not everyone will be okay with my pace.
Happy New Year to everyone 😊
Sexual harassment and assault happen more often than you think. It’s just that survivors stay silent for fear of not being believed.
Whether you’re reeling from the outpouring of sexual predation accusations in Ateneo or the Brett Kavanaugh trial re-triggered awful memories for you/the people you love, I’ve put together a little primer for the friends and loved ones who would like to help and support someone who underwent such a terrible experience (sometimes more than once).
- Assess your own emotions and state of mind first. So you’ve heard the news that someone you care about was harassed or assaulted. Is it perhaps making you go through the stages of grief? Are you perhaps a survivor too, re-experiencing your own traumatic event after hearing about what someone you know went through? All these feelings are normal. They serve as your gauge as to whether or not you can be of any help at this moment in time. And if you can’t be? That’s perfectly all right. There’s a reason why airplane emergency procedures tell you to put your oxygen mask over yourself before helping anyone else–take care of yourself first.
- Always ask them what they need first. This one particularly applies to assault survivors. If you can be there for them physically and you happen to be affectionate, ask them if it’s okay for you to touch them. The assaulted often feel disempowered from make their own choices; you’ll be doing them a kindness by letting them decide your interactions. After this, ask them how you can help: do they need someone to drive them to the doctor? A listening ear? Someone to research a specialist? Someone to help them write down and file a complaint? Would they rather not do any of the above and just need the company of someone they trust? Or are they simply too drained to perform normal activities under circumstances, such as eating, drinking water, calling to pay the bills, and so on? Help them with whatever they need to the best of your abilities.
- If you don’t know what to say to them the first time you hear of their story, you can use any of these phrases. If you’ve decided to reach out to them, know that it is terribly easy to say the wrong thing. These phrases will not only deepen their trust in you. Some are keys to helping them release their emotions. They are: “You’re not alone.” “It’s not your fault.” “I believe you.” “I’m sorry that happened to you.” “That should never have happened to you.” “I’m here to help in any way I can.”
- Figure out what kind of help you’re willing and able to offer. This is especially great once you’re reassured that your loved one has people in their support network who are already helping them do the heavy lifting, but you’d still like to be of some help. Not someone who’s good at holding or listening to difficult conversations? Do you not have the time or mobility to be physically there for your friend? Pictures and videos of cute animals, as well as care packages, are always welcome. Even if it’s just a link to a funny meme, your loved one will be heartened to know that you’re thinking of them. As an example, batchmate of mine whom I’d never really spoken to in person recently reached out to me, admitting that they are not good at the above mentioned things, and yet she sent me a link to a philosophy video. And though I honestly have yet to watch it, I was really moved by her wanting to help me.
- Remember that your loved one will need support for the long-term and not just for the next few weeks and months. Don’t forget to check up on them from time to time. If they still don’t want to talk about what happened, spend time with them anyway. Help them around the house or arrange for a hangout or vacation somewhere new.
- Don’t make their experience about you. This is why it’s important to check your own emotions and state of mind, first. You may feel tempted to deny that this ever happened to your loved one, because your anger and guilt at having been unable to protect them overwhelms you. You may feel a reflexive impulse to doubt their experience and defend their attacker/harasser because that person treated you very well in the past, and it is difficult for you to reconcile the attacker/harasser’s two sides–or that you may have never really known that person at all. You may even want your loved one to keep quiet because you either can’t stand the idea that you may have been complicit in a system of abuse OR you feel that their speaking up will ruin your reputation or the reputation of the group you both belong to. If you experienced something similar yourself, their own experience may even make your identity feel threatened because you brushed off your own experience the first time and don’t like thinking of yourself as a victim. You’re not to be blamed if these feelings are your first impulse–the important thing is that you do not act on them. Focus on your loved one, their experience, and the fact that you pledged to support them no matter what.
- Don’t assume you know what’s best for them–and order them to do it. Let’s say you’re in their corner all the way. You set a meeting with them in a cozy cafe, pay for their order, and tell them to tell you their story–or if they don’t want to talk about it, you start telling them to go see a therapist, start filing a report, and so on. Recognize that these are all what you think you would do in such a situation. Though these are all good deeds in and of themselves, you haven’t asked them how they would like to be treated and what they would like to do moving forward. As a result, you’re putting unnecessary pressure for them to move on and therefore indirectly invalidating their experience. Let them decide how, when, and where they would like to manage their own pain.
- Don’t put a deadline on their healing process. You don’t ask a cancer patient when they will be healed. Similarly, you don’t ask a survivor when they’re going to get over what happened to them. If you do, you’ll put unnecessary pressure on them–and they’ll start to think they’re broken or abnormal if they don’t meet the “deadline.” As mentioned above, supporting the sexually harassed/assaulted means being in it for the long haul. Understand and accept that their experience will have changed them, but you don’t have to alter your relationship with each other for the worse with this kind of reaction.
– Me, a sexual assault survivor
When established actors, musicians, writers, and other people of note die, many people get on social media and write so many words to elaborate on their broken hearts and flowing tears.
There have only been two such people for me–Terry Pratchett and Ursula Le Guin.
I’d always dreamed of meeting them, Ursula especially, and now I never will. So I had all the more reason to look forward to this documentary, which I backed on Kickstarter some time ago. Well, the backers-only link dropped last week and I got my chance to watch it earlier today.
The documentary is a thing of beauty, well worth the money I spent in order to help bring it into existence. You can tell that it was made with love: from the evocative music to the startling animation to the in-depth discussions of some of her best-known work (the four Earthsea books, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossed, and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”) to the well-shot scenes of Ursula giving readings, discoursing with her husband, walking on the beach. It’s also a brief look into the fierce, clear, intelligent mind of Ursula Le Guin. Honestly, I didn’t want it to end. I’d recommend this documentary to those who’ve always loved her work and those who are just beginning to discover it.
There was just one rub.
The documentary was interspersed with interviews with not just her close family, but with other writers–some of whom were her contemporaries, such as Margaret Atwood and Vonda McIntyre, but most of whom were her younger colleagues. The latter included Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, and China Mieville.
And I have to say, it irritated me that a documentary that gave so much focus to Ursula’s struggle–to write more heroic female characters and to identify with the feminist movement despite being a wife and mother in the 70s–interwove that section with comments from three male writers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Gaiman, Mitchell, and Mieville had more screentime than any of the other interviewees, including Ursula’s husband and children. I’m pretty sure that Margaret Atwood, whose work is as thought-provoking and as genre-redefining as Ursula’s, had less than a minute of talk time altogether.
One particular scene that struck me was Neil Gaiman saying that he considered it an honor to present Ursula with the National Book Awards medal. I mean, I’d consider that an honor too, but there was something about the way that was presented that made me think, “Why do we need the affirmation of a famous male writer to underscore how important Ursula and her work is to science fiction and fantasy?”
All in all, it’s still a pretty damn good documentary, one that rightfully–and joyfully!–celebrates the life and work of a giant of literature. It’s also a fitting farewell.
Some good news at least 🙂
Philippine Speculative Fiction 11, which has my week 4 Clarion story and first-ever sci fi tale “Call of the Rimefolk,” is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo! If you like solarpunk Manilas, gay interplanetary romances, and psychic ice snakes from Pluto, you’ll like this story 🙂
And I’m a little late on this one, but Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good funded on Kickstarter! This one has my week 5 story, “Blushing Blue”–a tragic tale of Category 5 storms and tattoo magic.