This has been building up for a while and after a flurry of messages this morning I need to say it: First, I understand that my writing over the course of the summer has upset some people in the SCA. Yes, I understand that many of those people are in my own Kingdom. And yes, I even understand that a few of our local folks are extremely upset. It has been brought to my attention by a number of people that things are being said about me behind my back.
Look: If someone is saying something about me (or anybody) that causes you concern about harassment or safety, take it to your Seneschal or the Kingdom Lawspeaker (if you’re in Ealdormere) with proof if possible. If it’s not at the level where you feel you can do that, then it’s just talk and it says a great deal more about the person doing the talking than the person they’re talking about.
Either way, I wish people would stop passing this stuff along to me. If people are being nasty about me I honestly can’t do anything about it and frankly I’d rather not know. While I appreciate that folks want to give me the heads-up, when stuff comes back to me second- or third-hand there’s very little I can do but get stressed-out about it. I’ve known for a while that my writing might have consequences for me within the Society; I keep writing anyway. You may draw your own conclusions regarding the number of fucks that I’ve chosen to give.
Second, one of the things that keeps being passed along to me is that, due to the enmity I have apparently amassed, certain people are planning to block me from being elevated to a peerage or a polling order from here on. My response to that notion is simple: Yeah, right.
Not that I disbelieve the intent… I just don’t believe that it can be carried out. Nobody has enough power to override an entire polling order or peerage except the Crown… and since a reign only lasts half a year they are by definition transitory. The opposition of a single – or even a handful – of members of an Order isn’t sufficient to indefinitely prevent the elevation of a worthy individual. It can delay it, certainly, but not forever; You’d need a very large number of people determined to keep someone out. And frankly, if I’d managed to aggravate the majority of an Order, then I doubt I’d be comfortable taking a place in their ranks anyway.
And even more frankly – if the majority of an Order thinks you’re not worthy… then maybe it’s time to take a hard look at yourself and ask whether it’s the Order that’s the problem.
Third, this is all sort of theoretical anyway. I’m not on anybody’s radar for acceptance into a polling order, much less a Peerage, for a very simple reason: I haven’t earned it. I’m not going to be getting any award anytime soon and that’s simply not due to anyone’s hostility, it’s because I took a 30-month hiatus from the SCA and I’m just getting back into it this summer. Sure, I’ve written some stuff that’s gotten traction, but nobody’s ever been Pelicanned for blog posting. My crafting skills are journeyman-competent but definitely insufficient for an A&S award and I haven’t picked up a sword for anything other than practice in four years. I’ve already got an AoA and a Maiden’s Heart (Ealdormere’s award-level service recognition) and that’s fair, but I haven’t contributed enough recently to deserve anything new.
So the notion that I’d somehow be prevented from receiving future awards… doesn’t really matter to me. I honestly haven’t earned anything lately, and by the time I do earn something, I’m sure the fuss will have died down. If it hasn’t, or if people are holding grudges of sufficient weight that they’d act dishonourably… once again, that’s on them, not me.
There’s a whole mentality in the SCA regarding awards that I’ve thought a lot about. I call it “Cookies.” Do a thing, get a cookie. Awards and ranks and titles and so on… they’re fun, sure, and it’s nice to be appreciated but if you’re only doing something to get the cookie, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to care deeply about the cookies. I was in the SCA for almost a decade before I got my Award of Arms, and it used to upset me like you wouldn’t believe when newer people would be called up in court and get their AoA before me.
My being upset, I have to clarify, wasn’t so much that I wasn’t receiving awards, it was because I felt my contributions weren’t being recognized, especially when other people who hadn’t necessarily contributed at the same level were receiving recognition that I hadn’t. I felt like I wasn’t being seen. That’s frustrating, not just for me, but for anyone.
But of course I eventually received my AoA and a number of people commented that they couldn’t believe I hadn’t gotten it before that. The issue wasn’t that people didn’t think I deserved it, it’s that they’d assumed I already had it. Of course, a friend of mine had the exact opposite problem – over the course of about fifteen years he received an Award of Arms three or four separate times. I suspect that says more about the early SCA’s lack of record-keeping as much as anything else. (For the record, my friend is a Laurel now, and rightly so.)
As a quick aside – the solution to people not getting the awards they deserve is simply to be active in recommending people for awards, regardless of who you are or what rank you’ve achieved in the Society. All Kingdoms have an online form for submitting award recommendations. Find yours, bookmark it, and use it often. There’s never any end to the deserving people in our ranks, so do your bit to address the backlog.
I’ve been in the SCA for fifteen years now. I’ve been active, I’ve served in several officer positions, I’ve helped organize events, I’ve learned to fight and helped teach others, helped newcomers get oriented, and run armouring workshops in my own home. I’ve done demos and promotions, I’ve organized and helped run deeds of arms, I’ve written and published a number of articles, and obviously I write this blog.
In fifteen years of since I joined the SCA, I’ve gotten two Kingdom level awards and a Baronial recognition. If I were doing things for the cookies, then it could be argued that I’m not doing it right.
I’m not doing it for the cookies.
Or rather, I’m not doing it for those cookies. The cookies I value don’t come with a scroll suitable for framing and a title I can use at Court. They don’t have a coronet or a medallion. They don’t appear the Order of Precedence. They’re far, far more precious than that.
In fifteen years, I’ve made more friendships than I can count. I’ve made memories. I’ve done amazing things. I’ve eaten amazing food. I’ve brewed terrible mead. I’ve dug holes and erected tents and fired pottery and loosed siege weapons. I’ve fought alongside and against and on one notable occasion up-and-over some of the great legends of the SCA’s list field. I’ve had astonishing experiences and read countless books and oh, by the way, I met and married an absolutely amazing person and I’ve carried her favour proudly on the list field for almost a decade.
And since I started this summer’s crazy ride by publishing Confronting Racism In The SCA (lo those many weeks ago in mid-August) I’ve made dozens of new friends. I’ve received numerous invitations to camp with various groups at Pennsic next year. I’ve had complete strangers send me messages telling me how much my writing has touched them. I’ve had people all over the world tell me that if I’m ever in their neck of the woods they’d love to host me at an event, give me crash space, and hang out. I’ve had a Laurel offer to take me on as their apprentice (which we still need to sit down and talk about.) I’ve had Kingdom officers from around the world solicit my opinions on changes to laws and policies. I’ve literally lost track of the number of free drinks people have offered to buy me… and anyone who knows me knows that’s got to be a lot of drinks; my alcohol-tracking ability is keenly developed. I’ve had people whom I profoundly respect go out of their way to let me know how much they respect and care about me. I have helped make change.
People know who I am. They read my writing. Complete strangers recognize my arms. I have word-fame in my chosen Society and the respect of fine people. Against all that, what weight shall we place on a scroll and a title?
So don’t bother to tell me that so-and-so said this, or what that-guy thinks, or even what those-people threatened. Report the threats for everyone’s safety, sure, but where I’m at and where I want to be… I’m getting the cookies that matter to me. And not to brag, but I’m getting a lot of them these days. And nobody can ever take those cookies away from me or threaten to blacklist me from receiving more of them in the future.
The rewards of the Society for Creative Anachronism that I’ve decided to value… well, I’ve already got them.