I've been thinking a lot about how important it is to do things that matter - things that make a difference in our community of SF/F writers and readers. There are many of them. Speaking up for people who are being abused is one. Combating the suppressive cultural institutions that silence people and keep them from their full potential is another. Participating in a community that questions itself and renews itself, and keeping eyes and ears open to others' viewpoints, as well as to documented evidence that might run counter to one's own gut impressions, while participating in public discourse.
Recently, it's been brought home to me how all of these goals are not necessarily aligned with one another. The discussions surrounding Requires Hate have created a constant demand to "take sides," but there isn't just one simple set of sides in an intersectional world. Our statements and actions cannot be extricated from our identities (and our construed identities). There is no way I can find to make a statement about her attacks on me, or her use of social justice language, without having my intent - or my unintended effect - cause more harm somewhere than good. For what it's worth, I believe today's post from Jim C. Hines, Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes, effectively parallels many of my thoughts.
So I've decided to take a different approach, and ask myself a larger-scale question:
What kind of change do I want to see in the world as a result of all our struggles over the last several years? I want to see more diverse voices showcased and valued in SF/F.
In my own writing, I'm doing my best to portray diverse voices and cultures. But in the grander context, my efforts feel small. I may help representation in fiction this way, but this struggle is not just about that. It's also, critically, about supporting real people in this business who have diverse and fascinating viewpoints that might go unheard. I'm not an editor, so I can't advance these writers and their voices by buying stories. But I do have my own project: Dive into Worldbuilding!
Beginning in December, Dive into Worldbuilding will become an ongoing showcase of important, diverse voices and perspectives in SF/F.
For those of you who may not be familiar with it, Dive into Worldbuilding started when I discovered that Google+ allowed video hangouts. I started getting together with a few of my friends to talk about worldbuilding topics. This turned into a much more official thing very quickly. I'm grateful to all of the participants and special guests who have come to share their viewpoints and unique insights.
The goal of Dive into Worldbuilding was always this: to discuss worldbuilding topics from a cultural and linguistic perspective that went beyond the superficial, and to hear many different people participate in the discussion and share their views. At this point it has become a long series of YouTube videos and topic reports that I've written up, which you can find here. I've also been lucky enough to have special guests who are experts in particular areas of worldbuilding come and talk about their work.
Now, I'm going to take that further.
During the month of December, I'll be having three specially scheduled guests to kick off my new model, and I'm very excited. Please note that the scheduled times are chosen by the guest authors:
Aliette de Bodard Wednesday, December 3, 2014 10am Pacific on Google+
Maurice Broaddus Sunday, December 13, 2014 5pm Pacific on Google+
Joyce Chng Thursday, December 18, 2014 5pm Pacific on Google+
During the weeks of Christmas and New Year's there will be no hangouts. However, in the new year, I plan to feature at least one author per month who can give us special insight into the worlds they have created, their own worldviews and special expertise. I will announce these guests here and on social media as I'm able to schedule them. Guest authors will be specially scheduled, but the remaining weeks of the month, we will meet at A NEW TIME, 3-4pm Pacific on Wednesdays, to discuss various other Worldbuilding topics. As I have done to this point, I will write up each hangout after it occurs so that people who wish to scan the discussion without watching the video can do so.
To me, worldbuilding has always been about trying to go beyond, to ask deeper questions. Deep investigation of our own world and its complexity is critical to being able to create unique, fascinating fiction. In my own way, I hope to amplify the voices and visions of more people in our field, and I hope you can join me!
If you wish to participate as a guest author or as a discussant, you can contact me in the comments here, on Google+, Facebook, Twitter (@WorldbuildDive or @JulietteWade), or Ello, and we will make the necessary arrangements to get you in.
This week, please join us on Google+ at 3pm Pacific, Wednesday, November 12 to discuss Making Up Words! This should be a fun one - I hope to see you there!