Really. I’ve been hiding in a corner for all of 2017. You’ve barely heard from me at all, unless we had specific business to transact, or a family event to attend together.
Well, I’m coming out of my corner. Some. A little ways, maybe.
I want to tell you why I’ve been in hiding, but I don’t want to say too much.
I don’t really consider this vague-booking. Vague-booking is making a statement on Facebook (or, I guess, other social media) that grabs people’s attention, but doesn’t tell them what the hell you’re actually talking about. “I’m really upset with you. You know who you are. I think you suck.” That’s vague-booking.
Well, first, this is my blog, so I think that disqualifies my somewhat cryptic content. Second, I’m not hiding information from anyone because I want to taunt them, or because I’m trying to be mysterious. It’s just that I’ve gone through a hell of a lot in the past few months. A lot of it was painful. I’m not ready to talk about it in public. I may never be ready to talk about it in public.
But I wanted to acknowledge that I quit blogging, quit going on Facebook regularly, and, indeed, quit writing, for several months. That’s a big deal to me. I’ve been writing since 1982, writing every day since 1995. I’ve also actively participated in online communities, and before that, in science fiction fandom, since I was in college.
But 2016 and 2017 have brought changes, to my life, to this Country, and to fandom, that have made me pull back. Some of those changes are obvious: my Dad died. My youngest son graduated from high school and started college, and his last months in high school were hard, for him and for all of us. My 47-year battle with Howard County Public Schools, as a student, a teacher’s son, and a parent, did not end quietly. My oldest son graduated from college, moved away, then came home.
America has changed, and not for the better, and it’s been reflected in the attitudes and public behavior of my friends. I won’t call out any individuals, because, frankly, I can’t face the pain of fighting with you about it. I’m tired and just not up to the battles. But some of the things I’ve heard and read on Facebook have made me feel like I wasn’t welcome unless I agreed, or at least pretended to agree, with every position held by certain individuals. I can’t run with the pack, or connect to the hive mind, and the pressure to do so has been way too great for me this year. I was never tempted to give in to that pressure, I was only sad that, if I spoke my mind, I would lose friends.
Fandom has followed America. I’ve given 35 years of my life to fandom, believed in it, cried and bled and sweated for it. Now I look at it and I wonder if I did the right thing. It’s not the community that welcomed me when I was a teenager. I wonder if it ever will be that again. And, believe me, it hurts to feel that way. So I pulled back.
I feel alienated enough that trying to share my thoughts, in-depth, is a scary proposition for me. Everyone’s become so angry that I am sometimes literally afraid to speak my piece. So I don’t. Or at least I didn’t.
But I’m going to try to come back. I’m writing again, working on a project that I’m not ready to announce. I think it’s going to be some of the best work I’ve ever done, and it’s not science fiction. (Yeah, that there is a deliberately uninformative statement meant to pique your interest. Guilty as charged.) I promise that, when that work is mature enough to stand on its own, I’ll share it with you. Right now it’s still hooked to the umbilical cord of my imagination.
And I’m going to share my thoughts on what I’m reading, watching or listening to. Those entries may be very short, but I’m going to try to share one every day—just to get a few thoughts out there, and maybe get my stride back.
I’m back. I’m not the same. Trust me, I’m okay. I’m just different. I hope, in the midst of that difference, I’ll find something to say that you’ll find worth hearing.
I feel your pain. I’ve seen your pain. Can’t wait to see the secret project!
Thanks, Ren. Writing as fast as I can!
I know a bare handful of p[eople that I respect, revel in their intelligence and can disagree with and argue about things (ARGUE-DISCUSS… NOT FIGHT DAMNIT!) and always learn something…. you are one. You;d have to get Pointlessly-Hurtful/CRUEL to make me walk off in a huff (or ride off in a cab). Not happening in this reality. You (YOU of all people!) undersetimate your reputaion methinks… it’re a good’un.
High praise, JV. Thank you.