a quiet little certainty
what's my compass for how I want to act?
Hi friends 🍵👋
The below newsletter was supposed to be sent out from Tinyletter. Unfortunately, I’ve been having issues with delivery, and the support team hasn’t responded to me yet. As such, you may get this as a re-send from Tinyletter sometime in the next few days (I seem unable to cancel the send while it’s on hold). If Tinyletter turns out not to be a viable platform, I’ll continue looking for another one, though the alternatives will be slightly more involved. I wanted to send this one out in a timely fashion, but hopefully we’ll have a new home by the next one.
I expressed in my last newsletter some concerns about Substack, and after reading more about the situation, it didn't feel values-aligned to stay on here, at least not until they stop being indifferent to the harm some writers on this platform are causing to the trans community. (Yan Yi, who writes The Reading, wrote more eloquently about it here.) Tinyletter seems like a good choice given the energy I have available these days—but given that I’m sending this from Substack still, it may not turn out to be the one. It's tough with technology platforms; I'm hyper-aware of their various ills (not least because I work in tech for my day job). There will always be something, but I can at least try to minimize the harm I personally participate in.
I'm not overly tired, but I do find myself in a state of needing to conserve energy these days. I have a lot to do, and a lot of it I'm very grateful to do, but constantly working isn't great for anyone. Things that were already on my plate have expanded, and I've added on more. I'm also trying to make sure I don't just spend all my free time on writing or writing-related activities. That is still work, no matter how appreciative I am of the opportunities.
I started writing this newsletter because I wanted to share thoughts on writing, craft, and process. It's not that I've used up all I want to say, but I find myself wondering how freely I can say it, exhausted by all the caveats. If you're part of the writing community on Twitter, or if you lurk on it, you might have felt discouraged by some of the messiness occurring this week (it's almost like every genre had something). I know I was. If you don't know what messiness I'm referring to: that's good! You don't need to. If you do know, these are things I've wanted to share, except I feel better saying them in the safety of my own newsletter. (Though I do recognize this is also public. It just feels less out there.)
Here's a recurring thought I've been having: I don't want publishing to take away what I love about writing. And I don't want my love of writing to take away my kindness, authenticity, or joy. I don't want to succumb to the social media pressures of appearing right. I don't like how it demands that everyone have a take on everything, immediately, on things they're not even involved in, or things they don't have actual knowledge of. What you do is more important. How you act, out in the real world, the steps you take, the relationships you build, the way you treat others: that's more important. I know interactions on the internet are very real. There is real harm, and real good, being done between internet individuals every day. Lately I feel like there has been too much rage sans meaningful action, that people are just thirsty for drama and eager to telegraph virtue by jumping into the fray. I've felt the pressure sometimes. And it sucks, because I always want to be genuine, but the current ecosystem makes me second-guess whether I am.
What helps me is focusing on honesty and action. What do I really think? How do I really want to act? And how would I act if no one else in the world ever knew what I was doing? What if my action will never be publicized, never offered up for others' consumption? What truth do I want to live with when I look back on things? That usually helps. It helps me find my way back to what's true for me, which more often than not is kindness. Honesty. Caring for those who I can care for, while being fair to myself. Helping the communities I'm part of. Signal boosting, if applicable, in an honest way. Doing work that I believe will be impactful. Something that will make a difference, maybe take it a step beyond a broadcasted belief.
I want to be a real person. I know that's not always totally possible on the internet. I know being a creator means additional constraint in that department. And I think boundaries are good for everyone. But if I ever feel my real-person-ness, my values, starting to erode because of publishing, or social media, or even writing, one of the most precious things to me—then I'll step away from it. It's not worth it.
On a more hopeful note, though: several of the folks that occupy my heart I have met through writing. And some of these friendships were purely online (before eventually I ended up in their city and got to have a coffee with them). There is so much good in this space, too. Writing does so much meaningful, soul-expanding work. If you've been feeling discouraged by how vicious things seem, how fraught this space is—I hope you can find solace in the words instead, and the folks in your periphery who can hold your hand. (If you haven't found them yet, I wrote a post on how I try to build community last year. Trust that they're out there!) In the end, it's the true words and the true people that matter.
News and things
I'll be doing a reading as part of the Strange Light Speculative Fiction Reading Series, hosted by Book Moon Books, this coming Tuesday, April 13, at 5pm PT/8pm ET. I'm looking forward to hearing from Rebecca Roanhorse, and hope you'll join us! Register at this link.
I chatted with Christina from @book.sh3lf on Instagram Live the other week. If you missed it, you can view the recording here!
I'm featured in the latest issue of Locus! Part of the interview will be up online later this month. I'll send it in the next newsletter, but if you'd like the full version, you can pick up an issue here.
I wanted to share another interview I did, this time with Megan Kakimoto in Full Stop. I'm very grateful for Megan's thoughtful questions.
I don't plan my stories much - I wish I could, but so far it's not a method that works for me - so having a kind of frame helps me keep things moving, gives me some constraint to play with.
Gabino Iglesias wrote a thoughtful review of Never Have I Ever for Tor Nightfire. I continue to be immensely grateful for all the care and attention readers have poured into this book. ❤️
With its combination of diverse characters, various geographies, nods to mythology and folklore, and different genre elements, Never Have I Ever is a wildly entertaining collection of touching, eerie stories that showcase Yap’s range. It also has the kind of dark core you can’t look away from, partly because you want to spend more time in that world and partly because you’re afraid of what might happen if you do.
Reccs and things
R.O. Kwon: A Case Against Killing Your Darlings
I want any novel I write to be full of darlings. If possible, all darlings.
I've been enjoying listening to Under the Bleachers, a podcast where two adults watch teen content and then discuss it. And I'm not just saying that because I recorded an episode with them (we watched the 2011 Beastly...which was an experience). Isa and Jane are fun hosts, and many episodes have made me laugh out loud. (I'd recommend the episodes on Twilight and Tiny Pretty Things to start!)
That's it for now, friends! Thanks as always for reading. If you haven't yet, I hope you are all able to get your vaccines soon.