Having something to say
and like most of the things Russ tosses off as if they are effortless, this latest installment of Russ-thought made me think. Real Thoughts. I’m up to my eyeballs in pre-release, and so I can’t give this set of thoughts the time to percolate they deserve. “I apologize for the length of this letter; I had not time to write a short one.” So it goes.
Russ and I have never discussed his Southern Identity. I’m a Yankee, after all: an exile on this side of the Mason-Dixon. But to my Yankee eye he seems less a Southerner than a sophisticated, literary person. Like so many educated southerners, he speaks and writes in much the same idiom as his northern friends. Likewise his tastes in music and literature don’t have the effect of an “I’m from the South” t-shirt. He’s passionate about southern lit, of course, and evidently about southern culture in general. But when we first met I took him for a fellow Yankee exile. Which of course just means I thought he was a lot like me & the people I usually hang out with. You know, he’s an interstitial kind of guy.
I was forcibly struck, on reading Russ’s blog post, by the universality of the angst experienced by interstitial artists. Russ stands between Southern and something bigger (American, perhaps? I can’t say for sure) and feels uncomfortable about his perceived lack of Southern cred, just as the interstitial writers whose work Mercury Retrograde publishes struggle with the discomfort of our collective “one foot in *literary*, one foot in SFF” stance. In the company of the New Yorker set, we feel inadequately literary. At SFF cons we feel *too* literary, not sufficiently geared towards Entertainment. Who the hell are we, really? Where do we get off, trying to pass ourselves off as either serious writers or SFF geeks? Is the world ready for or even interested in what we feel compelled to share?
Actually, the world is hungry for it. Because there are an awful lot of us interstitial folk out there, and we are dying for stories and memoirs and art of all flavors that connects us to one another, that allows us to share and extrapolate upon the experience of being neither this nor truly that. So many of us are interstitial in far more than one way, and works like the memoir of a southerner who wants to love his southern roots and still connect with a larger community remind us that even in our interstitiality, our not-quite-belongingness, we are part of a community. I stand between art and science, between fantasy and literature, between past and future, between female and male, between maturity and eternal adolescence, between Real Publishing and the fringe. Sometimes–perilously often–I feel suspended between humanity and something Other. It has been astonishing and validating for me to discover so many others who live with each of these flavors of interstitiality, and to connect with them via our shared understanding of its mystery.
I can’t wait to see Russ’s memoir. The chapter with dragons in it, especially, of course, but–even more than that–the part in which Russ reminds all of us who stand between worlds that it is our common alienness that makes us human together, and that it is in the unique and bizarre parts of our histories, our lives, and ourselves, that we have the most in common.