The Hugo Thing, And Other Fairy Stories

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Ink & Feather
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I first became active online when I was eleven or twelve, back in 1998; I’d just started high school. To use the internet, I had to go into my mother’s study and use a 56k dial-up modem that sounded like a series of cartoon pratfalls. My first proper blog, if you can call it that, was attached to my Elfwood account, after which I progressed steadily to fourms, private sites, and finally to actual blogging and collaborative platforms. I posted poetry, short stories, book and film reviews, and political opinions, but though I got into plenty of arguments and even made a few friends, I doubt I had more than a dozen or so readers at any one time, and most of them were people I knew IRL. I was shouting into a void, but that was fine, because I’d never expected an audience: I just wanted to write, to get my thoughts out, and to put them somewhere that wasn’t a poorly-labelled Word document on a shared computer.

All through my teens, I kept it up. For a brief period during university, I even had my own paid website, called Wordwench, maintained and coded by my then-boyfriend. Though there were sometimes long hiatuses between posts, and despite the trail of abandoned sites and usernames I left behind me over the years, I always wrote, even when I didn’t know who I was writing for, or why, or whether anyone was listening. You can backdate my desire to be an author to the same year I discovered the internet, too; and maybe that’s significant, and maybe it’s not, but either way, even when I was too shy and paranoid to ever put my actual novel-attempts online, I kept writing them, kept blogging and arguing and posting opinions, because it never occurred to me not to. Aged sixteen, writing in response to a friend’s amazement at how much I wrote, I ended an otherwise wholly unmemorable poem with a single decent phrase:

“My words are a sonar, a path to be walked.

I write like a whale sings.”

And even though the sentiment now feels bombastic and self-aggrandising, at some base level,  it still also feels true. I write as a form of self-navigation. I don’t know how not to write, how to just have thoughts unmediated by ink and script and keyboard. The older I get, the more I feel like a chimaerical creature, three-headed, trifurcated into distinct personalities – how I seem to strangers, how I seem to friends, how I see myself – whose only point of overlap is the part of me that writes; which is, perhaps, the only real part. I so often feel dissonant within myself, but words are anchors, words are steel and sky and the blood that hammers me in place, the fire that keeps me functioning when all other sparks go out. When I have been depressed, sunk in dark trenches, lit only by small hopes as dimglowing and treacherous as anglerfish, it has always been three words, the same three words, that pull me out again: what happens next? I thought it was a mantra I conjured in high school, words to sooth the moon from my eyes on endless insomniac nights, but years later, my mother told me I’d said the same thing in childhood, too, whenever a bedtime story ended. What happens next? my girlself asked, and perhaps that’s why she grew up to be a writer. How else could she find answers?

Because the truth is, stories never end; we just exit them a while, like passengers alighting a train with no final destination. There’s always a thing that happens next, and a thing after that, and a thing after that, most of them small, but a great many not; and these are the things we live for. And now, such a thing has happened to me: I’ve been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, alongside four other people I immensely respect – Abigail Nussbaum, Liz Bourke, Kameron Hurley and Mark Oshiro – and even though there’s been controversy in other quarters, such that part of me feels I ought to discuss it, in truth, with everyone who’s already contributed, I don’t feel I can add much more to the discussion, and so you’re getting this instead: a rambling Once Upon A Time about a girl who was bitten by words, infecting her with liticism, which tragically has no cure but a life spent writing; and how, all these years later, I find myself with an audience, and a peer group, and a place in a community, and some small, tangible proof of the fact that enough of you like what I write here that you nominated me, and so – thank you.

That’s all I wanted to say, really. Thank you. It means a lot.

  1. […] The Hugo Thing, And Other Fairy Stories (Foz Meadows) […]

  2. Congratulations. You really deserve this nomination.

  3. delagar says:

    I was so pleased to see you’d been nominated! It’s well-deserved. Congratulations.

  4. brennalayne says:

    Congratulations! You absolutely deserve it. Your writing is powerful and articulate, and you always have something important to say.

  5. hawkwinglb says:

    It is a very humbling honour to be on the ballot in company with you, and Abigail, and Kameron. (And Mark Oshiro, but I don’t follow his work the same way I do you guys.) What you guys write has been an inspiration to me.

  6. Foz, your line above about dark trenches and anglerfish is now on my Wall of Inspiration. Thank you, and congratulations.

  7. DesLivres says:

    I have been lurking around your blog for quite a while now. I am absolutely delighted with your nomination. It is well deserved.

  8. bringreaner says:

    Love this, very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m going to have to try using your mantra, both for my personal life, and my writing.

  9. hierath says:

    Massive congratulations, well deserved!

  10. puppups says:

    Congratulations from a long-time lurker! Truly well deserved.

  11. Tasha Turner says:

    Congrats, well deserved. I’ve been reading you longer than Kameron and enjoy both. Liz’s name is familiar but I don’t think I’ve read more than a handful of post. I’ll have to check out the other two.

    My husband and I have both sent posts by you to the other with a “you must read this” and been like “oh you follow her too, good”. You’ve given us a number of conversation starters. Thanks. 😀

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