Can’t sleep; the works-in-progress are gonna eat me.

Hey, readers!

Remember the time when I was only writing one book? That was fun. It was easy and breezy, with no real deadlines and no expectations. After all, it was just an accident.

However, now that it’s also been accidentally published and I’ve been thrust into the world of authory types, I find myself getting really excited about arranging the alphabet some more! I’ve written short stories that I want to build into a silly space opera anthology, punched out a few guest-blogger articles, jotted down words for book two and book three, scribbled some ideas for a Xav and Viv prequel novella that I want to explore, and HAAAAAALP! I need a couple of extra brains to assist me with all the things!

Ever get like that?

ScardyCait

Can’t sleep; the works-in-progress are gonna eat me!

 

For the first time in like, ever, I am going to have to make a priority list for my creative writing. I suppose this is not a bad problem to have. But if I don’t do that, my brain will explode into blobs of goop. What’s also important for me to remember is that I have to manage my cognitive function as well as my physical limitations. Slow and steady wins this spoonie’s race!

On top of writing my own words, I am the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, and a manuscript editor for indie authors. Lots of word things are happening in this wee Celt’s life. Balance will be important.

What’s hardest for me to keep in mind is not to compare myself with others. The authors I know have been writing for years and they have more books and short stories as a result. I spent a couple of decades as a technical writer and a musician. While they were writing novels, I was banging out user guides and my drumkit. Right now it’s vital that I just I enjoy my own journey.

Thankfully, as I was lying in bed last night, I had an Ah ha! moment for book two. That’s great because for months I was wrestling with how to get out of a certain place with my characters. But a silly idea occurred to me, which makes me grateful that my preferred genre is Silly, and off I will go to write another silly book. Can I say silly one more time? Sure. SILLY!

I have read tweets from other authors who have several WIP on the go, and it’s interesting to see how they manage them. Some are quite content to have a bunch of unfinished stories about the place, others feel overwhelmed, and yet other others manage to eventually get them all written. I guess it’s an individual outlook and comfort sort of thing. Me? I don’t like having unfinished projects, but I also know about project planning from my tech-writing days. I think having a prioritised list with proposed scheduling will calm me down. It will give me a guideline, too, on what to be focusing on, and I can sort of see how far I’ve come. I will try to write sequentially, but will also allow for Wait, I hafta write this idea down! sorts of things. Because hey, they happen.

My latest short story is about a spoonie, which I’m hoping to submit to an anthology. It’s a first draft, so I’ll want to finish that one. And then I will work on book two, which I affectionately think of as The ’Cosm Breakfast Club. (I was a teen in the ’80s, you understand.)

In the meantime, I will try to breathe into a paper bag, prioritise, put up tentative schedules, and then just play in my sandbox, because writing is so much fun for me. I don’t want it to be a stress. I’ve got such great support in my life, too. I want to have a blast doing the thing I’ve longed to do all my life.

(Raises pen high like a sword.)

And now, to wording all the words! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

(That was supposed to be a battle cry, but it came out a bit piratey.)

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Networka blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness.

Um, peeps without disabilities, we need to talk.

making-the-splot-face2

Yeah. So. Here’s the thing. People without disabilities, many, many of you need sensitivity training when it comes to disabled folks like myself. Like, big time. Because you don’t even know what you don’t know. And you’re hurting us with your ignorance.

Last weekend at a conference, I was scheduled to be a panelist to discuss how to write characters with disabilities in speculative fiction. I was all like, “Whoot, this is my jam! I am so gonna sit back with my fellow peeps and we’ll share stories and learn from each other.”

Except.

Except.

Sigh.

Nobody gave me any heads up that of all the panelists, I would be the only one with a disability. I discovered it as the talking began. My heart went into my throat but it’s not like I could flee the room. There were people who had come to learn. I have journeyed the spectrum from being invisibly to visibly disabled. I’ve a voice to speak about the prejudices hurled against people like me. I know how I want to be represented in writing. I’ve written characters with disabilities myself. I had stuff I could contribute to the discussion.

Oh. Shit.

I did my best to bring across the points I felt should be addressed: give us personalities, make us sexy, don’t create inspiration porn, we don’t need to be cured in your stories, and don’t write us to be pathetic and sad.

When I felt more and more questions were being directed at me, by a pretty rockin’ audience I might add, I felt really on the spot but I reached into the knowledge I did have and answered as best as I could. Without prep. Without another panelist in the know to correct me or add to my perspective.

Because I don’t have all the disabilities. There is a wide diversity of them, and I would have loved to have seen that representation. You just cannot have a panel about a marginalised group of people that should be own-voices, and fill it up with non-disabled people. Even if others with disabilities had to cancel, it’s better to cancel the entire panel, in my opinion, than have one person try to carry it. Or at least ask the one person left if they mind being a soloist. What if I had been ill? The entire panel would have had no representation of people with disabilities.

It’s akin to an LGBTQIA panel comprising only of cisgender, heterosexual people.

Now, I must say I have no issue with writers who aren’t disabled including disabled characters in their stories. Go for it! Get your sensitivity readers and make sure you don’t tread into own-voices territory. But just like how I include queer characters in my stories and have them thoroughly vetted by sensitivity editors, I stay away from certain stories I couldn’t possibly write because I wouldn’t have that personal, experienced perspective.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate non-disabled authors who do their research and want to offer their experience on a panel such as this, but I feel the vast majority of the panelists should be own-voices. Ideally, all the panelists would be own-voices, but we’d encourage you all to include disabled characters and then give you advice on how to do it best.

You know, like how I thought we’d do on that panel.

*cough*

I was shaken, livid, and really upset when it was over. I know I carried myself in my fun Cait ways, because I liked the audience and again, wanted to offer what I could. But throwing me into that situation with no warning was not acceptable.

Thankfully, I have the support of other friends with disabilities and we’re going to work together to help educate in these spaces.

Because an education is needed.

No one should be made to feel marginalised in what should be their safe space.

I’m making the Splot face right now.

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

Why Every Author Needs Neil Armstrong

Imposter syndrome—every writer with a pulse gets it. I sure as heck do, and I’ve noticed that every single one of my author friends has been struck with it, too, from time to time. It’s when you are overwhelmed with feeling you don’t belong somewhere, even though people have invited you into that space because they recognise your credentials, talent, and [insert awesome thing here].

In the last few weeks I’ve been knee-deep in imposter syndrome. I will be sitting in on three panels at Limestone Genre Expo 2017, and though I enthusiastically entered my name for them, I’ve nearly drowned in a sea of self-doubt about my validity to attend the conference at all. I mean, I’ve only written one novel. It has cupcakes in space. I’ve edited a few manuscripts, but does that make me a person who knows things?

Then last week, too-amazing-for-words Derek Newman-Stille asked me to be the guest author on an hour-long radio show (Speculating Canada: it’s only won five Aurora awards, so, no big deal. GULP!). The topic was about writing, being a disabled writer, and writing characters who have disabilities. EEEK! I don’t know anything about that, I thought. Except maybe that I am a writer, with a disability, who writes characters with disabilities. Oh. Oh, yeah.

I’m not going to lecture you, saying, “Stop having imposter syndrome! Believe in yourself!” Instead, I’m going to advise you that whenever it strikes, think: Neil Armstrong.imposter-syndrome

Read this incredible anecdote from author Neil Gaiman (you might have heard of him):

Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did.

(Read more on the Official Neil Gaiman Tumblr post!)

Right? If Neil Armstrong feels like that, maybe we all do.

Besides screaming, “NEIL ARMSTRONG, NEIL ARMSTRONG!” I cope with imposter syndrome in the following ways:

  • Medicating with cupcakes (don’t judge me).
  • Reminding myself that people wouldn’t get excited by my presence if they didn’t feel I could contribute.
  • Remembering that everyone started somewhere, and even the seasoned ‘experts’ probably feel uneasy on occasion.
  • Taking a deep breath and writing down the things I do know about topics, or how I can offer something in the space where I’ve been invited (notes make me happy).
  • Reminding myself that I can learn a lot from the experience and make new contacts.
  • Realising that if everything goes topsy-turvy, I can always snuggle under my furry blankie when I get home, because it understands me.

So, I get you, fellow impostery-feeling peeps. I do. Would you do one thing for me right now? Would you take a deep breath and say it loud, and say it proud with me? Okay, here we go:

NEIL ARMSTRONG!

Ahhh. I feel better. Hope you do, too. You’re all right, and you deserve to do the thing and be the person. Okie-dokey?

I’ll try to remember that, too.

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.