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I am in the House of Mercy

I’ve been writing shorter fiction this summer, while I’m on a break from my main manuscript. This excerpt is from one of those pieces of shorter fiction, titled Queer as Love. The story follows a married couple as one of them transitions from female to male. This part comes after the narrator, who is the cisgender spouse, has begun to seriously contemplate divorce. This is a rough draft, so it’s  not finished, but the idea is there.


But these fantasies dispersed, like ash. And then I thought of you. As you were, as you had been. I saw you in all your beauty. I saw your strength, and my pride in that. I remembered our first time, in that little hotel room, when you abandoned your towel and clambered right in my lap, straddling me, sinking down onto me while our breathing roared like an avalanche. I thought of our wedding at the courthouse, and how you said “fuck” and made the clerk blush. I remembered our first fight, bitter and spiteful and wounding because we didn’t know how to fight, and how you came running for me and threw your arms around me, and through tears, kissed me and said you loved me over and over. I remembered when Ash was born and there were three of us in the room. There was a new life between us and we were so in awe we were silent. I saw how mean you could be, how cutting and cruel with your words. You were good at that. I saw your childishness, the adult tantrums of pouting and sulking when you didn’t get what you wanted. They way you could and would emotionally manipulate me. How you hated to compromise. The way you didn’t put your shoes away but just let them lay all around where I could trip on them.

You told me once, when you were trying to explain a painting to me, that sometimes what was beautiful was also ugly, sometimes gross or scary.

I saw you in all your beauty.

Short Story Publication: The Blind Tattooist

Today my short story, “The Blind Tattooist”, came out in issue three of |tap|. This story is important to me for a few reasons. It is that it is the first publication I’ve had in the two years since I began submitting short stories professionally, since I decided I would only submit to paying markets. And it is that this is the first time I’ve been paid for my writing.

Incidentally, this story came out of Chuck Wendig’s Flashfiction Challenge about a year ago. Wendig gives a list of titles, provided by commentors to his blog. The idea is to choose one of the titles and then write a story of about 1,000 words to go with it. I wasn’t expecting the story to go where it went, but here we are.

The story follows a young trans woman, Lucky, and her journey of recovery after surviving a horrific attack.

You can read “The Blind Tattooist” here. 

A Heart that Burns

I finished the second draft of my novella, Bloom. It’s just under 57k. I may have to do some tinkering with the third draft and consider designating it as a novel.

I do feel accomplished, but I also feel relieved. I’ve been chasing this ending for what feels like forever, and I am ready to be done with this draft.

On the other hand . . . I have never completed a second draft of any long piece of fiction. So this is a big victory for me.

holmes yeah

I’m going to put it away for at least a month and go work on short stories. But when the time comes — look out third draft.

The Sense of a (Queer) Ending

I was digging through some of my old graduate school manuscripts. One of my instructors had commented that the story I’d submitted should have a more ambiguous ending. I have no doubt she was right, but this got me thinking about endings. I couldn’t help but reflect on my current work. Did the ending need more ambiguity? Could I make the ending of my novella more ambiguous?

I suppose I could. I suppose there could be more of the unknown or unknowable there. I suppose I could have some mystery hovering over the relationship of the protagonist and his lover.

But I think it would be more subversive to have an unambiguously hopeful ending. This is because the novel is a queer story; the protagonist is queer, and so is his relationship with his lover.

Queer stories, for anyone who knows, are impossibilities when it comes to endings. You have two paths and two paths only: the one which leads to a happy ending, and the other which leads to an obscene tragedy of some kind,

Guess which ending is most common, even today.

So I prefer the unambiguously happy ending. It’s more powerful, more subversive. And it gives queer people much needed hope. 

Ambiguity can have its place in fiction, certainly. But, when it comes to endings, I think queer people deserve more than tragedy or ambiguity.

#writelifemay Day 2 – WIP

So day two of #writelifemay is “WIP”, aka, work in progress.

I wasn’t sure what to post and so settled on posting an excerpt from my work in progress.

The official blurb for my current work in progress is:

“Men ought to love men, and do.” Ben, a straight man, falls in love with his best friend, a gay man. Ben must navigate the precarious waters of friendship and love while exploring his sexuality.

In this excerpt, Ben has just kissed his friend, David, for the first time. Ben is, as per usual for him, having a “freak out”. Seeking guidance, he calls his sister Jess. This scene, which takes place at a small bistro, is between Ben and Jess. There might be typos and the like, since this is an unrevised draft.

Continue reading “#writelifemay Day 2 – WIP”

#writelifemay Day 1 – May Goals

I have to not give myself too many goals, because then I inevitably have more than I can handle, which means I won’t finish and then I’ll spend a few days hating myself over the not finishing of things.

So. Goals for May:

  • Submit all my short stories to one market or another. Send some of them out multiple times to different markets, depending. Just submit short stories.
  • Read one book. I know that is not a lot, but I haven’t had much time to read over the past few months. Reading a whole book will be a triumph.
  • Finish the last four chapters of my current WIP, thereby completing the second draft. I know I can do it. It’s within striking distance.
  • Keep reading about and writing poetry. Even if it’s just a little haiku during lunch.

I think I am going to call it good. This is plenty for me.