The Mistressworks Meme

Came across the female equivalent of an SF masterworks list, the Mistressworks Meme, via the backlist of Galactic Suburbia podcasts.

As I went down the list, I was struck by two things: First, I haven’t even heard of a lot of these authors or their books. Out of 96 titles on the list, I’ve read 13 and have been trying to find copies of 8 for a while now. Second, I’m angry that there are a number of cases where Hugo/Nebula winners by female authors have been out of print for decades (Dreamsnake, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang), whereas award winners by their male counterparts are perennials on store shelves. It pisses me off that the history of women in literature often seems to be written on sand, disappearing in each era so people can make the tired old case that women are either newcomers or are just not as good.

One thing I really like about the Galactic Suburbia podcast, aside from offering lots of great recs and commentary, is that one of the podcast’s creators is doing a complete survey of women in Australian SF, and one of the things she’s looking at is the gap between the number of women being published in a given year and the number of mentions they get in everything from best-of-year roundups to acknowledgment sections in books: the ways that they have historically been erased from the conversation. And it becomes clear that one of the internet’s gifts to feminism is that both the original works and the conversations about them don’t have to go out of print anymore, which makes it easier for women to draw on continuity and remain part of the dialogue. So right now I’m both angry and hopeful.

And very grateful to work for the Jewish Women’s Archive, where this use of the internet is part of our core values.


Safety kit

Just remembered this, and wondering if I was the only kid who did it: I kept an emergency kit with me when I was young in case I got sucked through a dimensional portal, which seemed to happen all the freaking time in books and TV shows. I fit it into a box of kitchen matches, since that seemed pretty compact. The kit included a spool of twine, matches, a mirror, first aid supplies, a golf pencil, and (because I couldn’t figure out how to pack rations that were both compact and non-perishable) packets of duck sauce.

Anyone else, or just me?

Driving at night

In the past three years, I’ve edited some old writing and written down snippets to save for later, but being sick really shut down most of my inner life, so I didn’t write anything substantial. But for the last few weeks, I’ve been kicking around two or three ideas for novels, trying to find plots that would turn those characters and settings from static ideas into living stories.

Two days ago, I wrote an awful, boring paragraph of internal monologue for the story I thought was least likely to work. Yesterday, I took that awful, boring paragraph and reworked it as dialogue. Then I turned it into four pages single-spaced of a beginning that needs to be edited, but is good enough to be getting on with. Today I know what the following three scenes are.

I never write like this. I always write out a plot summary and break it down by scene, I fiddle with each scene in my head until I have it letter perfect, and then I write it down. I feel deeply uncomfortable writing a story that doesn’t have a plot yet and may not have a viable ending, or writing down scenes I know aren’t quite right yet so I have scaffolding to write what’s next. But I’m put in mind of the EL Doctorow quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”