Being as I am MGC’s Thursday writer, I usually wind up writing something about Thanksgiving. It’s rather expected, me living in the USA and all, and particularly meaningful this year, not least because this is my first Thanksgiving as a citizen.
The last two days have demonstrated one of the other things I’m very thankful for: I am unutterably thankful that I am no longer the leader of Sad Puppies.
It was a very valuable experience, and I learned a lot (some of it not the kind of thing one reports openly in public, since a non-stop stream of profanity tends to be off-putting and scares the cats), but it was so far out of my comfort zone I damn near lost the poor thing.
Let’s see… To start with, I’m not a leader. I’m not a follower, either. I just do my thing and if other people like it good for them. I’m also not prepared to sit back and complain when I can step up and do something about a situation which is how I got myself into this in the first place.
I’m the world’s worst marketer. I mentioned in the comments of Amanda’s post that when I die the world’s net marketing ability will increase.
I’m also about as introverted as it’s possible to get; and horribly, cripplingly shy. (Shut up, you. The Internet is different). Frankly, it was terrifying to stand up in front of a probably-hostile audience at the WSFS Business Meeting and say what I felt had to be said. I’m surprised it wasn’t obvious that I was shaking.
Hosting a suite was also new territory for me, and bloody intimidating territory at that. I’m the one who sees a party and heads in the other direction, so semi-permanent open house from the close of the Business Meeting until whenever? That’s hard.
I’m thankful – immensely thankful – that I went ahead and did all these things despite them looking to me like massive cliffs (with overhangs) before I started. I’m also thankful that I was able to make some new friends in the process and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. And that, yes, most of those I interacted with were people. Fans, of the small-f variety who simply wanted to enjoy their genre (I will admit to taking a little extra care to not get too close to those I knew were rather more… shall we say doctrinaire?).
Above all, I’m thankful that my goals proved to be achievable and that I did make a lot of progress in the places I thought needed movement.
My goals were never to “fight” anyone. I’m not good at that, and it would just look like the lies spread by the uber-doctrinaire were true. More than that, argumentative, political screeds instead of talking about great books wouldn’t achieve one of my main goals, which was to appeal to the people who have been quietly wondering what’s going on, but believed what they were told because that’s all they’ve heard. Not everyone goes chasing contrary perspectives on Facebook, and not everyone has the time or the energy to look past the sound-bite. Being open, honest, straightforward, and doing exactly what I said I’d do made it obvious that there was no generic “puppies”. Standing up at the business meeting and making my point respectfully and politely made it clear I wasn’t trying to destroy the Hugo Awards, even if others there had different ideas about what the best path forward might be.
I saw that policy bear fruit over the course of the four days of meetings: the first day it wasn’t uncommon for references to be simply to “puppies”. By the final day, many more speakers were prepared to make the distinction between Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, and accepted that the two groups had different goals (despite liking a lot of the same works).
I also wanted to build a list of recommendations – science fiction and fantasy that readers here (and anyone else who chose to participate) thought was awesome. There’s a lot of new stuff published all the time: the only reliable way to find the good stuff is (as it always has been) a combination of reading it yourself and word of mouth. I personally found some wonderful work I would never have looked at without the recommendations, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what bubbles up through Sarah’s list.
So can we please all quit bitching over what’s past, appreciate the good things we’ve got in the present, and work towards improving the future.