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Matt Dovey

8:00pm, 7th March 2018

Hurt and Harm: An Apology

I had a story come out on the 1st March in Galaxy's Edge: Things Said to Me in the Anxari 12 Station Bar When I Said I Wasn't a Xenosexual (and the Things I Wish I'd Had the Courage to Say in Reply). It's a small thing; only 444 words. Please don't read it if you're queer, especially genderqueer, at least not until you've read this post.

A week ago I'd have said this story was a silly thing, but it turns out that's not true. It turns out it's quite a harmful thing, fails to do the things I meant it to do, and then fails even more for other reasons I completely failed to anticipate. It's my biggest fuck up in writing, and something I need to apologise for unreservedly and explain at length.

I'm very fortunate that people have had the grace, patience and forbearance to send me private emails detailing the ways I got this so wrong and thus allow me the time to process this fully and react correctly. You know who you are, and sincerely: thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll be quoting anonymously from their emails, with permission, because they phrase it better (and more authoritatively) than I could.

And let me say this up front, because no-one should have to dig through more of my words to get to this important point: I am sorry, without deflection or excuse, for the hurt I've caused and the harm I've perpetuated. I have done both of those things, both upset people personally and contributed to stereotyped narratives that create and support real world problems for people. I'm mortified I didn't catch this one, and I can't apologise enough. I've donated my payment for this story (£25) to Mermaids UK, a UK charity supporting trans and gender nonconforming children in the UK.

This will take a few thousand words, and it'll be broadly split into two parts: the specific failures here, and the general lessons to take away. Please bear with me, because this apology is

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TAGS: apology, harm, lessons, new story, responsibilities, writing


10:30pm, 19th October 2017

On Offence, Harm, and Near Misses

KittenI have a story out today! The Lies I've Told to Keep You Safe went up on Daily Science Fiction today, and I'm rather proud of it, because I don't think I've ever been quite so concise in my heartbreak.

I was so very nearly ashamed of it instead. It wasn't until six hours before it went up that I had a reply from DSF saying some last-minute edits had been made; until then, I was chewing myself up over the realisation that despite all my best intentions, despite all my vocal and public efforts to the contrary, I was about to perpetuate harm and ableist stereotypes.

So I want to talk about that. About the responsibility that comes with being a writer. And I also want to include kitten pictures, because this is going to get long.

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TAGS: harm, lessons, new story, responsibilities, writing


12:47pm, 26th September 2017

Five Years On: Some Messages to Baby Writer Matt

An old man with a pocket watchIt's been five years since I received my first rejection (and more on that at the end), and by sheer coincidence I sent my 300th submission the day before the anniversary, so this seems an excellent moment for some introspection.

Here's some messages to the me of five years ago, in the hopes that some of them save you some time and grief.

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TAGS: lessons, retrospective, waffle


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About

Matt Dovey is a professional writer of short science fiction & fantasy. He is very tall, very British, and probably drinking a cup of tea right now. His surname rhymes with “Dopey”, but any other similarities to the dwarf are purely coincidental. More →

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Where hunger, discomfort and anger had all failed to rouse her before, cruelty, at last, animated her to motion. "Well then," she said, sitting forward from her armchair. "Perhaps the hunger will be an object lesson to you. Perhaps, as your belly rumbles, and your sister cries in pain, you will think on what it means to have duties, and what it means to fail in them. Perhaps then you will not disappoint me again."

A Spider Trapped in Wax

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When the intercom on his desk buzzed, Marc's head snapped up, instantly awake. He'd been dozing in his chair. His finger stabbed the button that told the boss he was on his way. He stood up and straightened his rumpled gray suit before glancing at his watch. One seventeen AM. It figures. The boss tried to cut him as much slack as he could, but humans just couldn't keep the same pace as the Vrith, who came from the sunny side of a tidally locked planet and didn't sleep at all.

Loyalty Test by Andrew Gudgel
Escape Pod #649

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This is the sound of the end of the world: a billion voices raised in song, a harmony twisting and ululating around the colossal vibrating bass of the core immolators, twelve shining lances of light from the Yattari ships that pierce the now-dying planet of Korthia at equidistant points and pin it in space like a dissected animal on a metal tray.
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