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The Ada Initiative and ‘Citizen Editors’

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Blog Posts, Uncategorized | 0 comments

It might be good for the world, though temporarily stressful for one’s marriage, to edit an anthology together, as Leonard and I discovered when we created and published our speculative fiction anthology Thoughtcrime Experiments together in 2009. Despite the risks, maybe you should become an editor. “Reader” and “writer” and “editor” are tags, not categories. If you love a subject, and you have some money and some time, you can haul under-appreciated work into wider discourse, curate it, and help it sing.  X
I appeared in Sumana Harihareswara’s Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology long before I ever thought of becoming an editor myself (in fact, the anthology was my first pro publication!), but her post today on the Ada Initiative and ideas for citizen editors* resounds even more with my added experience. While I’m not currently planning to publish a science fiction anthology, my work with self-published and indie authors has also made me think more about the responsibilities and potential of indie publishing. 
Harihareswara’s post is rich with links to additional information for writers, editors, and fans, and closes with a call to support the Ada Initiative, a program to end harassment and make science fiction and technology communities a pleasure to participate in for all people. It’s work that is incredibly important and tragically timely (to the point that I feel far more relieved that I should at not having attended many conventions this year, given the reports I’ve heard). I’m also reminded of one more initiative I’d like to boost visibility of: the BDG Editor-In-Training Program, which helps amplify the voices of editors who are queer and/or trans people of color by providing training and support in media and editing skills. In the words of Black Girl Dangerous, “Many of us who have the most to contribute to important conversations happening in indie media, including conversations on race, gender, queerness, economic injustice, disability justice, issues affecting youth, etc., have the least amount of access to the training, education and experience needed to be successful in contributing to and leading independent media movements.” 
Sometimes I’m brought up as an example of diversity in sci fi, for my gender, and while I appreciate people being excited for my inclusion (especially given all-too-recent incidents when no women at all were appearing in certain big genre anthologies**) it’s very important to remember I’m a cis, white woman—my challenges are minimal compared to many. 
This post is also fascinating in that I’ve learned today that not only do I share a table of contents with Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning author Ken Liu (I knew that—I’ve been a low-level but genuine fan since reading ‘Single Bit Error’ in my own copy of Thoughtcrime Experiments), but that he credits his career to the publication that put us on that table of contents! 
*’citizen editor’ is a term I just made up without reference to any external source while trying to concisely compact the ideas of Harihareswara’s idea-rich post—like ‘citizen science’ but perhaps without the hierarchy. Citizen scientists are, after all, still limited by the technology and knowledge they have access to, making them helpful but in somewhat narrow roles of data collection and simple analysis. Citizen editors aren’t limited in that way at all. If you have some knowledge of how writers & writing work, and can figure out how to use Kindle and a POD printer, you have the primary resources to become a citizen editor all the way from acquisition of manuscripts through publishing and publicity.
**I don’t think most people visiting my blog are interested in playing devil’s advocate, but to make my point very clear, I do not claim that I specifically would be entitled to appear in any of those anthologies, especially not at that (very very early) point in my career. Women were robbed of a position on Mindblowing SF’s TOC (and others), but I would not consider myself one of them. All the same, being a young writer at the time, I wasn’t precisely discouraged, but was certainly frustrated to see that gender, along with race (if not in any way as straightforward as mustache-twirling misogyny and racism, through good-ol’-boys-club networking and perhaps simple myopia), was a thing that could count against people like me and writers I admired, even in the highest ranks of the field. Part of the reason I wasn’t truly discouraged was that such discrimination felt more rarely encountered among the indie publications I still mostly publish with. Which I think goes to support Harihareswara’s point. 

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