What the hay? I’ll write about the thirteenth Doctor Who, too.

Personally, I prefer to be called a Whooligan instead of a Whovian. If you knew me, you’d feel that made more sense. Anyway, while I’m a bit behind on catching up with my twelfth Doctor episodes, I did see the regeneration from twelve to thirteen.

My reaction on Facebook was something like:

The new Doctor is a woman. Cue the precious princes.

You see, I tend to call men with particularly fragile masculinity “precious princes.” They’re the ones who whinge and go mad about women taking over everything and ruining it—with our mere existence, I reckon. I don’t know. I just breast boobily throughout life, titting about the place, really. (Yes, this last sentence was based on one of my favourite memes about how men write female characters.)

At the announcement of Thirteen, Twitter exploded. One creative soul turned some negative comments from The Daily Mail into possible episode titles.

Instead of feeling angry, because let’s face it, this petty outrage from men is so overdone, I fell in love with TechnicallyRon’s clever tweet, particularly with A TARDIS FULL OF BRAS. That hit me where I lived as the most awesome display of feminism that could possibly exist in WhoLand.

I created this meme:

allthebras

What I would give for a giant TARDIS at a con where women everywhere could hang up bras! I wonder if there is a charitable organisation that takes bras and gives them to women in need. Hm. I would love to turn this into something altruistic and geeky at the same time. We fill a TARDIS with brand-new bras, take a photo for posterity, and then donate the bras to charity.

I must ponder this. Seriously. I’ll give it a good think. I know con-organising people!

As for the Doctor being a woman, like one person said on social media, imagine an episode where River Song meets her timelady spouse! GASP! Won’t somebody think of the children??? Someone should think about them. Children are cool when it comes to these things. Adults are the ones who tend to be stupid at times.

Anyway, watch Doctor Who. It’s fun, has bitchin’ theme music, and now comes with moar bras!

Yeah, I knew I couldn’t be too deep or upset about this. Being a woman, I’m used to women doing things. We’re like that. We do lots of different things. It’s not that shocking to us. For some reason it’s upsetting to certain men, but us? Nah.

We could so do time travel. In a time machine full of bras. We so could.

I used to write manuals for the different systems of flight simulators, in an aerospace company. I think I could navigate a little blue box.

/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.

 

Beyond the cupcake.

If you don’t know me, then you might not grasp how shocking the title of this post is. Anyone who’s encountered me on social media or in real life knows that I love cupcakes. My erotic fantasy is Ewan McGregor giving me a come hither look while holding up a tray of assorted gluten-free, vegan fairy cakes. (He can even walk away and leave the tray of cakes, really.)

But as much as I love icing, there’s more to me and my writing than that.

Life in the ’Cosm: not just cake in space

When you write a book you’re also tasked with some self-promotion. I normally would add this tagline: Life in the ’Cosm, a story about love, adventure, and dessert. Or, I’d call it a comedy sci-fi with an unusual amount of cake. beyond-the-cupcake

While my book is funny (I know this because people have told me), and my protagonist Virj Ofreesin loves eating sweets, the story goes beyond the cupcake. Even though every character is made up, a lot of different feelings I had went into the book.

Because I hadn’t planned to get published originally, I wrote without limits or expecting anyone to read it. So, I went down a few roads that I wanted to explore:

  • Discrimination against LGBTQIA people by para-religious organisations.
  • Truly gracious spirituality versus religiosity.
  • Gender fluidity and changing preconceived gender roles.
  • Diversity in sexuality.
  • Dealing with disability.
  • Cyber affairs.
  • Chasing fantasy to the exclusion of those who truly love you.

If you haven’t read the book, you’re probably thinking, This is a comedy? If life has taught me anything, it’s that even during the heaviest and deepest moments, something happens that makes me laugh. My darkest moments also have included some of the funniest memories. I think seeing the humorous side of things has kept me alive.

Warning: an expressive extrovert lives here

Writer Amy M. Young called me an extroverted tornado, but she admits that I am extremely introvert-friendly. So, I have that going for me. Whoot!

While I like to talk about cake and can do it forever and ever and ever, I will get passionate about issues that matter to me. One of the reasons my writing includes characters who are gender-amazing and/or are more than cishet (cisgender and heterosexual) is because the majority of my close friends can claim one or several letters in the LGBTQIA acronym. What they endure matters to me, and even though I’m cishet myself, I really want to include gender and sexual diversity in my books. To me, it’s a reflection of real life.

Because I also manage a disability, it was important to me to include a character in Life in the ’Cosm who deals with one, too. She is also feisty to a fault, and robustly sexually active. You know what? We who live with disabilities like sex. Yet, it’s often thought that it’s taboo to think of us that way. (See my post in the Spoonie Authors Network blog called, Sexy and disabled: yes, you can be both!).

So, I often use my creative writing, non-fiction blogs, and social media statuses to discuss my viewpoints in these areas.

(Btw, if you’re wondering why I didn’t include people of colour as part of my creative writing, it’s only because almost every single character is a different colour from each other. In real life, I am very pro ethnic and racial diversity. Heck, I grew up in Montreal, Quebec. It was like having the whole world in one city!)

So, yeah, and stuff like that.

Anyway, just wanted to share a wee bit o’ insight into my own character. But please do not interpret this as my putting cupcakes as a lower priority in my life. I can love people and be an activist and an author while eating dessert, too. I can multitask, you know.

Hm. This post’s made me hungry. I think I need to merge some ingredients now.

Later, peeps!

/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 Press). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.