These will be scattered because I’m in the middle of today’s wordcount, and therefore I don’t have time to make them clear or organized in any way. Book 3 proceeds!
I’ve had time to process the Hugo win, a little. Mostly I did it by spending yesterday introverting and writing, because that’s how I chew on momentous things. Didn’t quite hit my target — only 2000 words instead of 3 — but still did okay.
But now I’m finding my thoughts wandering in directions both personal and contextual. Partly that’s because people keep asking me how I feel. I’m not sure how to answer this question, when it’s asked. Fine? Happy. A little hungry, though it’s too early for dinner. A few key points of information have pushed me to actually think about The Meaning of The Hugo, though. First off, an interviewer today pointed out an old interview I did back in June of 2011 that asked me where I’d like to be in 5 years. I jokingly said a Hugo would be nice. WELP. Gonna have to come up with a new 5-year goal, huh? Then Orbit’s publicist pointed out to me that I am apparently the first black woman to win a Hugo for a novel. No, OEB didn’t; she got hers for short stories. Folks who like to fact-check, can you confirm? But if that’s true…
Well, what if it is? What does that mean? In practical terms, it means I can look forward to years more of being confused with Nnedi Okorafor (and every other black woman in SFFdom), who also won a Hugo on Saturday for her marvelous novella “Binti.” The Puppies would have you think it’s a sign of the oncoming white guy apocalypse, or Affirmative Action Gone Wild, or some conspiracy to pick a random writer, because she’s a black woman, and give her a coveted honor that she cannot possibly have earned, because she’s a black woman. I started to write an Open Letter to them, calling for them to finally wake up and realize they’re a laughingstock as well as ineffective, but… man, fuck those guys. They’re never going to change. And I’ve got shit to do.
Meanwhile there’s a swath of SFFdom that would have you think the opposite — that my identity has no bearing on me winning, or on my writing, or anything — because race and gender have no bearing on white male writers so why should it re me? (Hint: it has bearing on white male writers.) That’s the segment of SFFdom that is generally bewildered by the whole discussion of diversity because Colorblindness ™ and I Never Ask What The Gender Of The Writer Is Before I Buy A Book ™ even though their personal bookshelves contain 90% white guys. These are the folks who really don’t get the readership’s calls for diversity, but eh, they can at least try to give the market what it wants, so they then send me yet another magazine invite rather than do anything to change or improve themselves. (Gotten two more in the past few days, pre-Hugo, but post-rant.)
Both of these ways of looking at the genre are useless. But I can’t do anything to change them, other than continuing to do what I do — write the best I can, share it with as many people as I can, and talk about what all of it means. I’ve passed off some invites toward other black authors who are awesome but under-read. Otherwise I’m business as usual.
So that part of my life isn’t going to change. What will? Well, I imagine all my books will soon have stickers on them saying “HUGO WINNER,” in bookstores everywhere. That’s nice, but doesn’t really have a lot of impact on me, directly. I’ll probably end up on a few more college syllabi, so my sales might get a positive bump. That’s good too. Beyond that? Well, now I’ve got a reason to get that second tattoo. Right shoulder, stylized black rose. I think now I can work up the nerve to ask Elise Matthesen about commissioning a necklace with all my nominee pins and such, as I’ve always wanted to do. Might wait ’til I’ve got more money, though, because good artists don’t do good work for cheap and she deserves anything she asks for it. Also, I’m gonna eat that slice of Key Lime Pie I got from Butter & Scotch on Saturday night, because I’ve been saving it. Gonna call my Mom, too.
And then I’m gonna finish my wordcount. Because at the end of the day, that’s all the Hugo means: that I’m a good writer. But I knew that already. The external validation is nice, but at this stage of my career, I didn’t need it. I know who and what I am.
So back to work.