Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Yes, people suck. And names get judged. So what are you gonna do about it?

We judge gender, ethnicity, even the style of the book and writing just by looking at the author's name. This is nothing new - it's not like humanity is known for its non-judgmental ways. There are bars somewhere out there, on tiny planets with giant telescopes aimed our way, where multiple-armed universethropologists study how complicated we make everything (they're in bars because they're more enlightened, which discourages them and ergo encourages them to drink).

A recent Jezebel article, Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending my Novel out Under a Male Name, has been making the rounds. Okay, I won't say that these articles/studies/constant reminders that ya, being a female writer has its unique challenges, don't suck. Because it isn't awesome enough already to get creepy e-mails from dudes about how, even though they've not read me, they won't because I'm probably a better lay than I am a read. (I doubt they're experts in either those subjects, quite frankly.)

I've blogged about using your own name on SF Signal a while back, because wow this isn't new. To any female author. Go on and read that post and come back. I'll wait.

You back?  Great.  Okay, thing is, I also realize that, the only way to address it is by women standing up. That's the clincher. The really crappy, annoying, go away you stupid hard clincher. Why isn't there an easy button for this, Staples??? WHY DO YOU FAIL US SO???

Sigh. Stupid failed technology. So, button failure aside, the only way to normalize female names in fiction on genres other than where they're dominating is by, well, making them normal. By using our own names. There is no other way to make a lasting change.

Will that impact our sales?  Well, apparently, yes.  Will it suck?  Well, yes, because universethropologists are getting drunk out there because of us. Oh, and so am I.  But will it be worth it?  I think so.  I really do.

Not immediately. Possibly not in our writing time, which really double sucks because, I won't lie to you, I like money. It buys me food, the love of my cats and the pretty roof over my head. Plus books and limited edition Masters of the Universe figures.  But hey, it's cool, I can just eat a lot of KD and spam.

See, though, I did this thing, and I did it after writing that SF Signal blog post (and therefore not completely unaware of challenges). I quit my job, thinking I could make a go at this, regardless of the fact that I write speculative fiction, and that I think my name is awesome. I still believe that.

Just like I still believe that it'll be a slog to change perceptions. It always is. Ask anyone of colour.

I would, yes, more than likely sell more under a male pseudonym.  But then my social footprint would be purely one of words. I'm proud of that, sure, but I want to make it easier for upcoming female writers, too.

Still, it is all about words, in the end. My mom once told me that my words had power and that I should be aware of mine and use them wisely (I believe she said that following a tweenage hissy fit). I kept that in mind. Until then, I'd never considered power to be anything but physical.

Well, it is. Power is so much more. And, although by keeping my own very female and very French Canadian name on my covers I may be lowering my sales, I think it's worth it.

I'm reclaiming my power through two simple words. For me, those two words are on the cover of every single one of my books, and may they continue to grace many more covers. I'm an artist of words, as are all authors. We know words have power. That's exactly what the Jezebel article is about. That's exactly what I blogged about at SF Signal. So, ladies, let's keep our own power in mind when selecting what goes on our covers.

Let's show those damn drunk univerthropologists that humans can get their shit together still.


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