We’re Not Here if We’re Queer

To be honest, I am always angry when people say they’re are publishing work by queer authors, but that the topics of the stories therein are not “limited” to LGBTQAI etc topics.

I know they mean well, but what they are saying is that somehow, our unique identities and experiences are limiting. That somehow being queer does not touch and infiltrate every aspect of our lives in meaningful, profound, and rewarding ways. That talking about aspects of our lives which are particular to our queerness is limiting. Because, yaknow, those topics could only be of interest to, and relevant for, other people like us. We want to go beyond our queerness somehow – as if cisgender, heterosexual people were beyond their particular experiences of gender or sexuality. We have to scrub ourselves clean of our queerness so we too, can be accessible to cisgender, heterosexual audiences, rather than challenging that, and the way heterosexual, cisgender experiences are privileged and seen as “normal”. So that we can align ourselves with that normality in order to be seen as worthy, and human in some ways. We are just the same as everyone else – as long as we deny our queer lives and experiences. 

So yes. I know people mean well when they say that. But what they actually mean is that we should not be queer. 

How to Be an Edgy Speculative Fiction Writer

  • Be a white male. 
  • Also be straight and cisgender.
  • Say you are liberal and sympathetic to feminists and minorities.
  • But continue to reap the benefits of white male privilege. 
  • Have a Twitter picture where you look Daring and Bold. 
  • Read H. P. Lovecraft. Worship at his altar. 
  • Attend a workshop which is only prestigious within genre circles. Brag about it to everyone, and all the time.
  • Scorn genre conventions.
  • Adhere to genre conventions. 
  • Say you love myths and Joseph Campbell.
  • Never read myths or folktales. 

I write serious literature guys

Hahaha, I am not even sure what this short story I’m working on will end up being, but I am keeping this line, or a close variation thereof. Not safe for work, virgin eyes are best averted, etc:

“Fuck Italy. Fuck Rome, fuck Orvieto, fuck Florence, fuck Botticelli right up the ass with an unlubed pogo stick.”

And I believe in reinvention

I was all set to write a post about the last few weeks of working on the rewrite of my novel. The post was going to be informative and about . . . something.

Instead I bought a new flash drive. In the process of transferring files to this new flash drive — which was going to be only for my writing, and not all the other things I have a flash drive for — I lost all the work I’ve done on my novel for the past two weeks. All but a few files.

I am not sure how it happened, really, except I was being careless when copying and deleting. I usually back up all my files in multiple locations, but guess who hadn’t bothered to do that since July?

Yeah.

Fortunately I had handwritten a lot of materials over the past two weeks, so it was really just a matter of going back and retyping a lot of information. I lost the chapter by chapter outline for my book and entire first chapter. It was a short first chapter though, and most things are better when they’ve been rewritten (again) anyways. I also lost chapters of another book I was writing, but it was a first draft so I’ll mourn for that later, or not at all. Whichever is most convenient really.

It’s not been much fun, trying to recover deleted files and finding 3/4 of them are too corrupted to be use-able. It’s a good reminder to never be lazy about backing up my files. This is also a reminder to all you other writers out there: BACK UP YOUR FILES. Triple back them up, in fact.

The irony is that yesterday, before the snafu of accidentally deleted files, I was thinking of how bewilderingly easy the rewriting had been going.

Oh universe, you have such a tricksy sense of humor.

Well, back to the grind.

I’ll be writing more in a week or two

At the start of each new semester, I have to help my students unlearn a lot of bad writing habits, the first of which is that good writing doesn’t just happen. It takes time, effort, and practice, which usually translates into multiple drafts. Nope, a writer can’t just magically sit down and write a single draft and be done.

Weird how I seem to have forgotten that over the past summer.

I finished the first draft of a novel last autumn, and have been struggling to rewrite it. I used it in my Lambda application in the spring, and even outlined the novel in my donorpage so people would know what project they were funding when they donated. But I haven’t actively worked on the novel since April, and at that point had only been rewriting for a month or two. By the time I turned in my Lambda application I was so sick of the book I set it aside.

Setting up my courses for the semester, and talking my students through the initial steps of the writing process, I remembered very clearly: this is not something people just know how to do. The writing process, that is. It is something which is learned through time and practice, and diligence.

And I have not learned how to rewrite, at least, not a novel. I have written 4-5 novels at this point, all first drafts. I have written and rewritten short stories, and even a novella or two. But my own rewriting process for those seems vastly different than the rewriting process for a novel. A novel is larger, and more complex, and thus, the rewriting process is probably equally longer and more complex.

In realizing that I didn’t know how to rewrite, I decided to recommit myself to this novel, and the second draft. But this time, instead of trying to race towards finishing what I would consider a “publishable” draft, and being frustrated that things were not perfect, I’ve decided this second draft is about me learning what my process of rewriting a novel is. This way, even if the second (or third, or fourth, or tenth, or whatever) draft comes out un-publishable, I will still have gained valuable insight and knowledge into my own process, which will certainly help with future novels and projects.

To that end, I’m going to be blogging periodically about my process of rewriting and revision, and what I learn along the way. I figure other writers might find it useful.

Continue reading “I’ll be writing more in a week or two”

Let me learn from where I have been

I’ve been trying to figure out what I would write about the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer’s Retreat. I think the solution is just to sit down and write, and by the process of writing, get to what I want to say.

First off: Malinda Lo, my awesome workshop instructor, wrote a great post on the Retreat here. SJ Sindu, one of this year’s Fellows, also wrote about it here. A lot of people have Tweeted and blogged about the Retreat, but these two really hit on a number of things that echoed with my own experience.

I think if I could boil down said experience, there are two things which I gained, or learned from this retreat:

Continue reading “Let me learn from where I have been”

This Is Not The Post You Are Looking For

I will be blogging about my experience at the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Retreat at some point. For now, I really just wanted to write a “thank you” post to all of the people who helped me get to the Retreat.

I would sincerely like to thank all of the people, past and present, who have helped me as a writer. My friends and family have been my strongest support base, and have encouraged me through all of these years as I have learned, and grown, as a writer. You all continue to support me, and your belief in my abilities is extremely humbling, and sometimes (I think) entirely unwarranted.

I also need to thank those of you who supported me financially. A little over twenty people donated to the fund which helped me to attend to the retreat. Without your generous donations, I wouldn’t have even been able to go to the retreat at all. Many of you have also supported me creatively or emotionally as well. For all of these things I am so very grateful. So in alphabetical order:

Maria Balfer
Laura Boylan
Paula Buist
Jodi Cox
Deejay Driscoll
Silvia Gasparini
Lucy Hounsham
Peggy Kuiken
Elisabet Nelson
Jamie Nelson
Fonda Prince
Megan Stuber
Grant Swenson
Kristen Tortorici

And all of those who donated anonymously — thank you all very much for your contributions.

Other benefactors, in no particular order, include: my mom (Peggy Kuiken), my brother, Neil, Roberta Crownover, Jeff Duntemann, C. J. Prince, Laurie Wasmund, Mitch Travis, Giles Foden, and Maja. All of you have been instrumental to my writing in some way, shape or form, and all of you have supported me time and time again.

I also have to thank Nate, Ereon, and Ashley for hosting me in Los Angeles, feeding me, and letting me sleep on their comfy big red couch (dubbed Francine).

Also: thank you Francine. You were a most wondrous couch to sleep upon.

The Only Time a Writer Will Tell You to Watch Some Damn TV

Until recently, every time someone proudly told me they “don’t watch TV” or “don’t watch much TV”, my knee-jerk reaction was to congratulate them. As if to endorse their choice.

It makes sense, of course. The notion that TV and film — visual media and narrative — are somehow “less worthy” than written literature, for instance, is something that my culture constantly reinforces. We are told TV makes us dumb and intellectually lazy. It’s called the “boob tube” after all, and countless scholars and cultural critics have weighted in informing us of the inherent dangers of too much TV and media.

But lately when someone tells me they don’t watch TV, I’ve been more of a mind to ask them: “Why not?” and to confront them with the fact that not watching TV doesn’t make them better, or their choices more informed, or superior. In fact, it makes them ignorant.

I will go on a brief tangent to help reinforce my point.

Continue reading “The Only Time a Writer Will Tell You to Watch Some Damn TV”