Eye of the storm

It’s no surprise to many of you that I am not good at maintaining a newsletter. These past few months have been worse than normal on that front. I’ve been in a busy, sometimes stressful, but ultimately privileged position while the world seems to be falling apart around us. Falling apart is wrong. It suggests natural forces when there has been a lot of malicious incompetence through to outright malice at work.

But I’ve been baking chocolate coconut brownies and walking up hills and rewriting government comms and poking at Javascript, and everything I write seems impossibly meaningless. It’s hard to write about the mundane, and yet I don’t want to overstep, to speak about experiences that are not mine.

That’s just been the pandemic side of it.

And the truth is, I’ve been preparing for pandemics since I was nine. Since I read Charlotte Sometimes and then devoured everything I could get my hands on about the Spanish Flu. Part of my MA thesis was on how that pandemic influenced writing.

In my teens I read Jean Ure’s Plague 99 and sequels (which I think may have been the most accurate prediction - the idea of Britain being wiped out except for an extreme radical feminist sect and a cult that worships a nuclear power station seems eminently plausible). Later still, I read Station 11.

Those were the pandemic I had in my head. The reality - for me, here - was both a relief, and unsettling. I don’t feel I prepared for this.

But how do you write about that when people are dying?

And then this week, watching news about police violence towards Black communities in the US, neither wanting to stay silent nor centre my (pretty damn ignorant) white self. Increasingly concerned about the arming of the police here (I wrote to my MP which is a fucking rare thing for me to do).

I quote this one particular Brecht poem an absurd amount (I have a theory that our current reality is an elaborate simulation based on half a dozen Brecht quotes) and yet it’s true:

What kind of times are these, when
To talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors

And yet and yet and yet sometimes my voice is not the voice that is needed at all. I’ve been doing my best to amplify, to quote others. I think Brecht would be fascinated about the idea of retweeting.

If you are fighting on the streets, I’m sending love and solidarity - I hope you are safe. If you’re fighting with donations, by opening your home, by monitoring feeds and communications, by painting, by speaking by writing: love and solidarity, always.

And I shall talk of trees. This is the mundane stuff.

I had a wonderful time at the WisCon and Nebula conventions. The timezones were a challenge - at one point I set myself a 2:45am alarm which I would not recommend to anyone, but both conventions rose, in different ways, to the challenge of pivoting to online events at the last minute. They were events I would not have been able to attend in person, and I got a lot out of both. Thank you to everyone who put hard work into them. I learned a lot and have a lot of notes for future work.

I’m also really excited to have an issue of Capricious, the currently-on-hiatus-but-hopefully-back-soon magazine I edit in the Pride month Story Bundle. Please go check it out! You can get a nice batch of ebooks for not-very-much-money, and support Rainbow Railroad in the process. Notably it includes my friend AJ’s book of lesbian capybara pirate stories, and if that summary doesn’t entice you I honestly feel sorry for you.

Thank you for reading. These are weird times. Stay safe, stay angry.