Chickens with Pitchforks

chickens-with-pitchforks

So many thinky thoughts, so many emotions and me, a writer, not being able to come up with a coherent way of saying them all. Some of this emotion is likely from how shitty my day to day life is right now. I have untreated fibromyalgia (long story, not getting into it) and I’m moving house, downsizing in an unwanted move to a much smaller place and my two kids are coming down with another round of ‘public school plague’, so some of this emotion is from that. Most of it has been boiling for a while and I’ve been too afraid to say anything because I feared judgment. If another author can say publicly, that they won’t let down their bad ass female ancestors by being afraid. I can woman up and not be afraid to speak my truth either. I WANT THE PAIN TO STOP.

I’m not talking about my fibro pain. I’m a farm girl, raised around animals and there’s this trait I saw a lot of growing up. Ugly duckling, odd chick behavior. It’s basically where birds will, for some reason, decide to pick on a member of the flock until it dies.

The publishing community on twitter the past couple of months are acting like a bunch of chickens. Pick, pick picking at one another until the weaker bird dies. Now, I’ve written theses, I can hazard a guess about the psychology behind it, tension, stress about the election, brexit, et cetera.

You know… it’s something humans do too. It’s called bullying, maybe a bit of gaslighting.

I call it witch hunting. (I’m pagan, have been most of my life, I use the term with knowledge and respect for the fallen, ’cause y’all know what? Many of you are acting like the inquisition here.)

One thing I cannot, and will not, ever lie down for is bullying. If this post burns me bridges, or brings me grief because I’m brave enough to point at an unpleasant truth in a group of people who ought to freaking know better? Bring it. (Seriously, I’m not spoiling for a fight like a lot of people seem to be doing these days, but I will defend myself and other people.)

To be clear, this is not brought on by any one situation, there have been nine incidences (that I’m personally aware of, pretty sure there’re more) with different people involved, with different topics addressed over the past several months. I’m plugged into a lot of communities, just because of who I am. There’ve been issues about pansexuality, religious faith, PoC, cultural (mis)representation, and tone policing to just mention a few. So I am not pointing at any ONE person or topic or incident. Though yes, why I’m saying something now is because of the reaction to the book THE CONTINENT.

Firstly: *I* have not read the book. Neither have most of you. Which kinda calls into question the omfg issues revolving around it. One well respected and well thought out person has read it and commented upon it. In a critique which, given who it was, I have to assume is accurate. I respect the person who critiqued it. I may not always agree with the methodology or opinions of this person, but the knowledge, viewpoint and critique? That I respect, a lot. I rather hope #TheContinent isn’t that bad, but as soon as I can finish this move and regain some sense of equilibrium-I have an ARC-I’ll read it and review it. Honestly and from my perspective as an educated, marginalized, author of mixed ethnicity.

I also know the person who wrote the book is a debut author. Aren’t we supposed to be doing our utmost as writers/authors/publishing professionals to support debut authors? Even the ones who make mistakes?

I have so many thoughts and emotions about this. (I’ve been writing this most of the day when I needed to be working on my book or packing.) I’ll try for cohesion, so that when/if I’m attacked, I’ll have my receipts. You’ll note that despite me working damned hard on wording this correctly, without censure of any one person or incident that I’m Expecting To Be Attacked. That is the feeling of the writer community on twitter right now, (it wasn’t when I joined up) and that goes out in ripples to the whole of the authorial community.

Diversity: I am passionate about all forms of diversity. Always have been. I’m a staunch supporter of being who you are, all of who you are. I will always be an advocate. We are each of us human, each of us learning, growing, beautiful individuals. Do we make mistakes? We’re human, of course we do. I’m damned worried posting this is a mistake, so much so I’ve had people vet it before I click publish. (I’ve never, ever done that before w/a blog post.) Thing is, I can’t respect myself if I DON’T say something. So. To the meat of it.

  1. Passing. I pass damned well, it gives me privilege others descended from the same bloodlines and cultures as me don’t have. But. I’m. Still. Passing. I’m aware that I’m passing, and it absolutely kills something in me when we run into racist/neurodiverse issues in publishing, in all forms of entertainment. It’s like I’m torn in half. The part of me that is *me* from the part of me everyone else *sees*. Go ahead, look at the profile pic. Look white, don’t I? I’m not. Unless skin tone is all that matters. (Whoa now, if that isn’t a shock, I dunno what could be. Skin tone as a social control? Nah. Couldn’t happen among thinking humanoid type critters.) But, if the way I look is all that matters,  well… that’s prejudicial. It kills something in me to hear another gifted writer saying they KNOW they have very little chance of traditional publication. It’s something I know very well because I feel it myself, even if the reasons are different. They’re Native, but they keep writing anyway… Then the same writer has their heart broken because of the (possibly, *I* haven’t read it. I *don’t* prejudge) racist YA book that will soon be published. To hear her pain. Lord and Lady, it’s like an emotional wound inside of me. Because she speaks about her pain, about those dark and nasty thoughts I’ve had myself… (the ones that are grateful that my kids pass too ’cause they have First Nations ancestry from both their dad and me?? Because they have African ancestors through me? Yeah, those thoughts. I don’t obey those thoughts, I won’t be a coward. I teach my kids as much as I know about all of their ancestors, but I still have the thoughts. A symptom of the world we live in.)
  2. I have not read the book, I intend to, because I cannot make an informed opinion about anything without, ya know… informing myself. It’s a thing, yeah?
  3. I pass as being neurotypical too. I’m not what most people think of when they think ‘autistic’. SPOILER, most of us aren’t. If you know 50 people, you know someone who is passing autistic. You know someone who struggles, every second of every day to understand how other ‘normal’ people work.
  4. On the other side of this fence, a good friend of mine is incredibly saddened because they know the author in question… my friend tells me they are a good person…
  5. If someone is saying, ‘This hurts.’ You don’t say, ‘that’s not the way it is, you’re viewing it wrong.’ There’s a definition for that and it’s called gaslighting.
  6. Being a good person, with good intentions does not relieve you of responsibility. If, for instance, you write YA books, you have to be concerned, always, with the kids who will be reading your work. You. Need. To. Be. Aware. Words can hurt, they can kill. We need to use ours wisely. This ALSO goes for those with influence, those who speak out and are respected for doing so. Who may feed people to their following, knowing damned well what will happen. I see you. It does not give you (no matter the color of your skin, or your ancestors or, or, or…) the right to harm or gaslight anyone. If someone says… ‘this hurts, please stop’ the ONLY answer is ‘I’m so sorry. I will listen, I will do better.’ Even if you don’t understand what you did wrong. Even if your cultural understanding isn’t aware or awake enough yet to know how badly you effed up. Someone says ‘OUCH’, you say ‘I’m sorry’. I mean, didn’t we all learn this in kindergarten?
  7. In case it needs to be said. I. AM. SAYING. OUCH. PLEASE. STOP.
  8. I’m talking to the writers, the publishing professionals, and you. Yeah. I’m looking at you, my reader. Maybe you personally haven’t done anything that I need to say ouch about. Maybe you’ve never done a blessed thing to hurt another human, but… maybe you have. Only you know.
  9. This one… I honestly can’t believe I even have to say it. I’ve worked for fortune 500s, I’ve brokered million dollar deals when I sold stuff (software if it matters) to the US gov’t. I’ve been in NOAA’s headquarters and I’ve visited Fort Knox, I’ve dined w/ the US Secretary of Energy. I’m not sharing that info to brag. I was miserable in that job; I’m sharing it for perspective. So when you read the next bit, you’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. ANY. Other. Industry. Would be bloody, fucking, appalled by this behavior. I am NOT calling out one particular person, many people do it…  I am talking about something that borders on breach of privacy. It’s not ‘quite’ there, but it’s like when you smell a campfire and then feel the flame. The issue? Sharing of private DMs/videos/emails. Don’t do it. Private correspondence is private, it’s not meant for public consumption and no, sharing it isn’t right no matter how justified you feel you are in doing so. I don’t care who you are or what your motivation is to do such a thing. Same goes with taking tweets and emails and things said out of context and using them as fuel in your own personal crusade. I’ve seen quite a bit of that lately too and I’m tired of it. There aren’t many ‘issue’ crusades that don’t apply to me too. Do you see *me* doing that? I find it extremely distasteful and unprofessional. (Most everyone else does too. Just to let you know.)
  10. Mental Health: (#ownvoices on that topic, among others) Did you know it falls into the category of being a bully to call someone out for using mental health issues as a tool? When. You. Don’t. Know. The. Person. Or. What. They. Deal. With? The person I’m thinking of didn’t say a damned word about that book. They were accused of sub-tweeting, and racism and omg… WHAT THEY SAID was, ahem (I should stop shouting, but I feel it may be warranted)  don’t discount mental health issues. That person talks about their own struggles FREQUENTLY.  Jaysus. I’m sick to my stomach that so much that should be bringing us together, forming bridges, is being used as tools in dividing us.
  11. You know what? You don’t get to tell someone else they aren’t struggling, no matter what the color of their skin is, the state of their brain or their lifestyle. No matter what color YOUR skin is, or the state of YOUR brain, or what lifestyle you (hopefully) enjoy. You just don’t have that right. Even if you’re marginalized, you still don’t get to say it. See Gaslighting. I’d love to call out the names and say… hey there bully! Whas’up! We meet again… it’d be sooo nice if you’d stop. I choose to not do that. I’ve been a victim of bullying my whole damned life. I know what it looks, feels and smells like. THAT was bullying. (Not the first time I’ve seen it with the particular person, and to be utterly clear, it isn’t the person who critiqued the book.) Think it might be you? Do you bully people on the internet/twitter/fb? Then lace it up and wear it, b.  Bullying, even in the name of a good cause, is still bullying.
  12. Witch hunts. I made such a face just now, I really did. But damn people, what is WITH the witch hunt mentality in publishing? I’m pagan, and extremely well educated (many useless degrees on the walls, promise). I’m aspie, which means *my* brain acts a lot like a computer in the amount of information I have at hand at any one p0int. So when I use the term ‘witch hunt’ that is exactly the right term to use. One person points the finger at another person, shouting “WITCH” then without proof, without reason, without any sort of trial the ‘witch’ is run out of town, or twitter dragged, or suffers a pile on in the worst way. (There’ve been a lot of these hunts around issues relating to PoC, pansexuality, asexuality, representation, tone policing and fetishism lately, just to name a few) There are those of us on ‘both’ sides of any single one of these witch hunts who would like to speak up and say something along the lines of ‘wait a minute, that isn’t Actually What They Said or Did’ or ‘Whoa, Wait a minute, that was taken completely out of context and used in a way it wasn’t ever intended as’. You know what? WE can’t. The moment one of us (again, on either side here of any particular dispute, I’m thinking of at least 9 different instances on different topics in recent months) says a thing that disagrees with the ‘witch hunt’ mentality, we’re tarred with the same damned brush. There is no logic, there is no reason, there is no kindness. (FWIW, I’m not a kindness before ‘A Person’ believer. You see something wrong, you hurt? Call, it, out. I will support you, always.) There certainly isn’t an atmosphere of listening and learning in the writing community on twitter. Which–I can tell you as a marginalized person myself–I’d be so much happier seeing. I’d be ecstatic  if people learned about me and tried to understand the things I face and have to deal with rather than them ‘getting their comeuppance’ and being feather-plucked/driven out of the community at large.
  13. You know what these recent witch hunts have done? It’s made me (passing PoC, neurodiverse, polyamorous, pagan, kinky, pansexual, chronically ill, queer, mentally ill,  fat… ) the person trying to get it right in my work, (because I know what it feels like to be marginalized in so many ways) not want to share my writing. It makes me doubt every word I’ve ever written regarding a person with a darker skin than mine. Everything I’ve ever alluded to from one of the ancestral cultures I have the honor to claim. (Edit… this is a massively common feeling, since I first posted this, I can’t believe the number of people ID’ing as any form of diversity who’ve reached out to me in a positive manner about this post. It’s not just me who’s feeling this.)
  14.  I have PoC characters in a lot of my writing, because I feel so strongly that everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction. I rarely, if ever, see accurate rep of me in fiction, I think everyone should have that. To see themselves reflected.  I remember hearing my mom, when I was a kid, say something along the lines of ‘she wished there were a few brown girls’ in the romances she liked to read. I remember her using lemon juice to lighten her skin and hair, and praising my (then) blond hair and blue eyes. Genetic fact, you don’t tend to tan well unless you’re pretty mixed up, ethnically. Many of us know a person who is really pale, all year round who turns into a lobster if they get a hint of sunlight? Not so mixed. Someone like me, who turns red-brown in the sun… very mixed, I have Spanish, Portuguese, African, Middle Eastern, First Nations, and European ancestors. You know… I remember my mom yanking on my hair with a brush to keep it from forming locks, (which it does even more now than it did then) because it wasn’t the ‘right way’ for hair to look. I remember her yanking out *Yes, she pulled them out of my scalp, and taught me to do the same thing* the dark, spiral curled hairs that grew in among the blond. I remember how I felt when I found the proof that, um, whups the reason we don’t talk all that much about some of your grandparents is cause they were so dark. Um… WTF? I know what it feels like *to me* to read about another mixed person in fiction. (I’ve blogged about it before, I literally cried the first time I saw it. Because I finally saw me. That feeling, of seeing ME/YOU is what I want for every person on the planet who enjoys fiction. This atmosphere… it’s driving away those of us who’re trying to get it right. These recent witch hunts, man. It’s made me say… well fuck, because I pass so well, I guess I don’t have the right to write people with angular eyes and dishy teeth (I have dishy teeth… you know? For the uninformed it’s a Native/First Nations/Asian biocline trait). I’m so light skinned (when I’ve been being writer chick and staying out of the sun) how dare I even think about writing a guy with dark skin and blue eyes, or, to refer (not rep, I won’t do that) but simply refer to one of my characters as rez raised Native. (My granddad was, left the rez to marry my grandmother… but my skin is awfully damned light to be writing someone with darker skin, isn’t it?) These witch hunts… damn people. What are you trying to do with them? To bastardize The Princess Bride, I don’t think you’re doing what you think you’re doing.
    1. Are you trying to drive authors who work very freaking hard at getting it right away from writing PoC? (I excoriate myself to get it right, to not use ‘food’ terminology when describing a skin tone or eye shape, just for instance. If I mention a culture or trait, I try my damnedest to not use stereotypes and, and, and, and.)
    2. Are we as a community trying to drive other authors away from just talking about their own ancestries? From learning and asking questions? It feels like that to me today. It really does. (I’m not speaking of that book now, I have not read it, I don’t know, if you haven’t read it, neither do you.) I AM speaking of how *I* feel trying to describe my characters. Is the fact that I see and write one of my characters as a girl with angular green eyes, gold skin and black hair going to get me tarred and feathered as being an Asian/First Nations Fetishist? I’m describing someone in my family when I use those terms, I had them vet the description before I used it. They thanked me for not comparing the shape of their eyes to a nut. (dude… white people’s eyes look more like almonds than Asian/First Nations… have you actually looked?) Is the fact that I see one of my characters as a dark brown man with blue eyes going to get me accused of another form of fetishism? (It’s a gene I studied in University, how the African diaspora encountered blue eyed people around the Baltic Sea around 10k years ago. There are blue eyed black people, shocker, I know, right? Did you know there’re red haired black people too? Red haired Native/First Nations? Is it wrong to depict them?) I have freaky silver-blue, color-changing eyes (Danish biocline trait) but my skin isn’t dark… how about if I only write light skinned Danish immigrants? I’ll ignore the other half of my ancestry, as I’ve been taught to do my whole damned life… is that what’s needed and wanted here? If I refer to my rez raised Native character as red-brown (my mom’s skin color btw, and mine in the summer after even a hint of sun) is it going to get me skinned alive by someone respected in publishing? Because my profile pic is taken in winter and I’m kinda pale in it? Oh! I know! I’m cream colored in my profile pic… doughy even, maybe even porcelain… means I’m white, right? What the hell are y’all trying to do?
    3. Is the end goal here a more diverse publishing atmosphere? It’s what *I* thought we were all doing and trying for. How does picking the feathers off of a debut author contribute to that? If the book is as reviewed, wow, yeah, some learning and fixing up needs to happen, and it shouldn’t have been published that way. Twitter dragging the author/the editor/the publishing house… that’s not going to help them learn. No, it’s not *OUR* responsibility to teach or educate anyone else about our marginalization’s. It is our responsibility to act like human beings. Like higher reasoning primates and not a bunch of featherheads toting pitchforks.
    4. I highly doubt many people are reading this… my experience of my mixed up ethnicity, of all of my experienced marginalizations and the pain I feel at seeing these… witch hunts… because I’m never on just one side of them. Each one of them splits me in half, or thirds… it’s crazy. It hurts, it hurts badly. If you are reading, if you’re on either side of these conflicts… could ya’ maybe step back a bit and say… I’m listening. I will read/research/think about the issue at hand and maybe talk privately to people I trust about it… rather than grabbing a torch and pitchfork?
    5. By grabbing a torch and pitchfork, I mean piling on in support of one side or the other in ANY conflict. Public call outs… this is probably the aspie me in (I really loathe being accused of something in public. Which might clue you in to how strongly I feel about this topic, to step up and say something I’ve been feeling for a while, KNOWING I’m likely to get taken to task for it.) but, does it actually HELP anything? It sure as hell isn’t changing publishing. Only thing going to change publishing is using your money to talk with. Buy the authentically diverse books with good rep. SUPPORT authors who are diverse, in whatever fashion their diversity shows itself in. I’d give a body part for some accurate kink rep in mainstream fiction other than the few that are out there… how about an adult aspie? Asexual? Grace? Mixed ethnicity? Adult polyamory other than love triangles? How about a fat girl in a romance? A disabled romantic MC who doesn’t get a miracle cure by the end of the book? I’d love one of those. There’s some kink and poly but not a lot, can’t think of many Grace or Aspie characters in adult fiction. I swear on all I hold holy I will give whoever brings up the movie The Accountant the lecture of their life on bad representation.
    6. This entirely human/chicken habit of tearing down, witch hunting, et cetera. It’s not helping. To be clear, I’m not talking about sharing an educated opinion of a book, nor am I talking against speaking your own pain. I’m talking about personal attacks against an author/entertainer, you know… name calling, career shaming, calling into question their integrity or their intelligence, rudely rolling ones eyes (virtually) about how damned dumb this particular person HAS to be to be making that mistake… that kind of thing. Damn. Here’s a question for those of you who may feel I just insulted you. Did you see the movie THE ACCOUNTANT? RAINMAN?? Were you entertained? Chilled? Excited? Thrilled? Or were you appalled at the rep? If you didn’t answer the latter, you got some work to do.
    7. Oh… and just cause I’ve seen it and I’m annoyed by it… piling on in support of PoC, LGBTQA+ (insert marginalized individual) doesn’t absolve you of your own guilt. If you’re light skinned (I am too, it’s part of the culture we live in) you’re racist. If you’re not Asperger’s/Autistic, you’re prejudiced against us. If you’re not mixed race, you have no idea what it feels like. If you’re not polyamorous, you have no idea how much it hurts to only be able to find monogamous romance to read, even when you LOVE romance. If you’re straight, you have no idea how badly we queer people want to see ourselves in fiction. If you’re not kinky… boy… I could write a whole damned thesis, probably a couple of them, on bad representation and the damage a certain series of books has done there because of piss poor research. If you aren’t part of a/the marginalized community, the only thing you can do is LISTEN. LEARN. Attempt to make bridges instead of tearing things apart. And for fucks sake. Do. Better. Maybe a good start would be to try leaving the plucking of feathers to the ducks and chickens.
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Sexuality and me

There were a few great threads on twitter tonight about representation of asexuality in fiction. (I retweeted, so they should be relatively easy to find.) Since it struck a chord and I kinda almost write sexy smexy books, I figured since I’m in a wordy mood, I’d attempt to express this part of me.

I identify as grace. AKA Gray Asexual (Wikipedia definition), so how the hades can I write kinky sex?

well…

A bit of history. For most of my life I’ve felt broken. Like the thing that made the world go ’round (love/relationships) was a puzzle piece that just didn’t fit in my life. It’s not that I didn’t have sexual/loving relationships. If anything I started early, but it wasn’t out of actual ‘desire’ to do so. I started having sex around the age of 16, (in the early 90’s) and it was with my boyfriend. I wasn’t with the person because I liked him, I was with him because he treated me decently and because it was an escape from a really terrible home environment. (that sounds so very cold and horrible, but… kids, damn, they make hard, life wrenching choices like that every damned day in so many demographics, and those types of stories need to be told. Childhood isn’t pretty for everyone, ya know?)

I had sex with him because A) I loved to read, and most of what my mom had to read was romance, and hey, all my fictional heroines were doing it (whether they wanted to or not… in case you ever wonder if fiction matters, it kinda, really does) and I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. B) Peer pressure from the boyfriend, horny young guy about  year older than me and definitely NOT grace/ace.

Did the fact that I was raised uber-Christian matter? Yeah, it did, just not enough. I had plenty of guilt. Did the fact that my parents refused to see me as anything other than a pre-teenage girl with a frilly canopy bed and a doll house matter? Yeah, in the wrong way…

Did I enjoy it? No.

We were both virgins, so, no, I don’t know that we ‘could’ have really had fun, except that I’ve talked to a lot of people who were virgins together who had a great time.

If I asked him, I’d hazard to guess he enjoyed the process. It always left me cold, distant and just, disinterested.

Frigid.

Cold.

A bitch.

You hate me.

You can’t love me.

____

I heard all of these things.

‘What’s wrong with me!’ Rang through my soul so many times. Here I have this great guy (and for the time and environment, he really was. I bear guilt to this day that I wasn’t ‘enough’ for him).

_____

I should treat him better.

You should marry him (thank gods I didn’t when he asked, I’d have made him miserable)

Fake the orgasm, he won’t be able to tell. (Heard that one from a friend, made my relationship better for a while, I guess, on the surface.)

____

I broke it off when he asked me to marry him. I’d been away to university for a year at that point, and I… realized I didn’t miss him. I realized that it was a burden to be around him, to ‘perform’ sexually for him.

I had a rebound relationship (including sex, cause I did. not. know. that. asexuality of any type existed) with one of my best friends. It ruined the friendship, of course.

I tried sex with girls, because hey, if I couldn’t enjoy it like everyone around me was enjoying it with a guy, that made me a lesbian right? (For years I thought I was a lesbian, really. Cause I had better relationships with girls.)

Nope.

Bisexual? Maybe? (I’m pansexual, by the way… now that I have a label that actually fits me)

In my early 20’s I was ‘dating’ exclusively girls, by dating, I mean fucking, because I had friendly fuck buddies but no defined relationship.

I went to a really big event and met my husband. Man, I fought so hard against falling for him! I didn’t want a relationship with a guy, hadn’t worked the three times or so I’d tried it before, and he lived well over 8 hours by train away from me… in a different freaking country!!

I thought about it, and figured one more try with a guy… cause I really, REALLY liked this one. We got each other. (I’ll be honest, head over fucking heels in love within three days, it still strikes me as ridiculous that I fell so hard and fast for a stranger, but here we are, still married 18 years later, so maybe we did something right.)

Sex with him was afuckingamazing. For the first time in my life I GOT it.

I understood what the big deal was! (We’re talking lightning strike momentous proportions here people.)

That’s what gray asexuality (specifically demi-sexuality) is like for me.

It would have helped so much if I had known what it even was when I was a kid. (So, all of you wonderful people who can write/rep YA with Ace/Grace characters? Please, please write these stories, publishing, please buy and put them on the damned shelves!!)

For a demi-sexual (talking about me and those I’ve read about, and the friends I’ve talked with who ID as such) it’s the emotion and close relationship that makes all the difference in the world to the enjoyment of sex.

Now, I didn’t actually learn that the term ‘demi-sexual’ or ‘grace’ or ‘ace’ even existed until last year. (Here’s another iota of info, I’ve been a sexuality educator, it was not covered in ANY of my classes preparing me for teaching kids about sex… how’s that for horrifying?) That’s right, I was 39 when I learned the definition. (Another lightning strike) and realized that… holy shit… I’m NOT broken, or frigid, or bitchy or cold.

I’m grace. I’m demi-sexual.

Being polyamorous, I’ve had relationships with others in the 18 years my husband and I have been together (so has he, and we together). Only one other time have I enjoyed sex, and it was with my girlfriend, who… yes, I loved.

You’d think I’d have clued in, right? I was in my late 20’s when I fell for her (we were part of a quad together) love=good sex?

I didn’t. Which is why knowledge and stories and fiction are so very important.

So back to the first question. If I’m grace, how can I write kinky sex?

Simple answer. ‘Cause when it’s good and I’m with someone I love? It’s off the charts amazing and I’ve a way with words. 😉 I also have a great deal of experience with kink and with great sex (now). Add to that a rather vivid imagination and I get sex scenes that sizzle (not my words, those are beta-readers words)

So. This long ramble is my way of saying, please, write the stories (if I could write YA I so would, there are girls and boys and gender-fluid and non-binary and non-gendered people out there right now, just like I was, doing things they won’t be proud of later, because they don’t get why they are different). Publish the stories. Above all, educate yourselves and your kids if you have them about all the wonderful variations of sexual expression humanity can enjoy.

-Kaelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Diversity

So, here’s the thing.

I write romance, of a particular stripe, and though I’ve always been a writer, it’s pretty much always been the same type of work from me. Diverse, Kinky, Polyamorous.

Diversity isn’t just about one topic. There’re a lot of words being bandied about these days, in publishing, people saying they want diversity from writers. There’s a push for #ownvoices manuscripts. I’m grateful that there is some change, small though it is.

Thing I’m seeing, though? It’s not enough. It’s not diversity if you only start accepting monogamous same-sex romances. That leaves the rest of us out in the cold, crying for books to read. Those of us who are polyamorous, kinky, pansexual, our brothers and sisters and friends who use different words and pronouns to self-identify. How about a genderqueer or genderfluid MC in mainstream adult fiction? (I think I’m just getting old, but I’m so sick of reading about romantic monogamy… it’s not my thing, I’d like to read about my thing… ) What about an aroace MC? Grace? I can keep going…

Neurodiverse, haven’t seen it yet from traditional publishing, (it’s more prevalent in YA. Unfortunately, I don’t read YA, so… I’m left wanting books that rep me in that regard as well).

How about mixed ethnicity? This one is a little easier to find, I say that because I HAVE seen it. Once. Nalini Singh has mixed ethnicities in her books, and there was a person very like me in her books. It was the first time I’d ever seen that part of myself in fiction. I cried, literally, I had to wipe tears away to see that part of me in a traditionally published book.

It’s not only about accepting books with POC characters. The writers have to be POC too.

I’m such a mutt of ethnicities, which, yes, technically makes me passing POC, but I won’t write about the experience of living life in a darker skin, because I haven’t done it. (Yes, before you ask, I do write many characters who are POC in my futuristic or fantasy worlds. My characters show up fully formed for me, it’s the way it works in my head. But the experience of living life as POC in this world, that I won’t write because I respect those who have to live it in our messed up society and I want their stories, their words).

I’m not saying that writers shouldn’t listen to their muses, (world would be an awfully boring place if we didn’t have interesting stories to tell), but could we get a few stories by POC writers as well as those that aren’t? Could we get a few authors who are neurodiverse telling their own stories so that we can be repped in fiction too? I can name two mainstream polyamorous characters/series in traditionally published fiction. (I have a few more potentials on my TBR list, but I’ve personally read two series with poly characters). Pansexual? Haven’t seen it. (A note, my TBR list is taller than I am, and I’ve been able to add a few more books that purportedly rep diversity, I’ll review them when I get there.)

There is still so much pain and frustration, diverse people crying out for books that rep them (me included in many areas). Yet… where are our books? Is it just talk?

I hear the cries of others, I feel the pain myself. What is it going to take before we’re heard?

 

 

Disability

Narrated version here

I’ve been out about everything else, may as well be out about this.

I’m physically challenged, disabled, differently abled. Specifically, I have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and have since I turned 27 (a long time ago). I’d had the condition for close to 10 years before finally achieving a diagnosis in the time when we were told it was all in our heads.

Now, it’s getting more recognition, (thank all that is holy). Docs and scientists are doing more research on how to help us live better lives.

I read a thread on twitter today after yesterday’s disabled murders in Japan, and my gods. I literally gagged at the truth in it.

The writers experience of disability and ableist thoughts from others rang so true for me.

You see, I’ve been through the gamut of treatments and stop gaps and therapies. From heavy medication to exercise to eating regimes to new age therapies.

The people closest to me respect and love me, they see what I deal with and how I fight, every second of every day to have some semblance of a ‘normal’ life. (I’m not going there on how very ableist the phrase normal is, I know it, just pointing it out to those who may not. There is no normal, there really isn’t).

Yet… there is this pervasive concept EVERYWHERE, including from most of my extended family, that I don’t WANT to be healed, that I don’t take advantage of every option for ‘healing myself’. I’m supposed to do that you know? Heal myself?

Because… if I just put the right puzzle pieces into the right slots of my mind/body machine the fibromyalgia will magically disappear and I will finally ‘pull my own weight’. For anyone reading who doesn’t know, fibromyalgia is considered a life-long chronic pain condition. There is no cure, there is no magic wand and the only magic bullet that cures it has the number of the gauge on the case.

What is fibromyalgia? American College of Rheumatology    Wikipedia

The ableist privilege behind the kind of thought pattern that can believe I can heal myself, that I’m not trying or fighting… and worse if you actually SAY it to someone already suffering is phenomenal. Mind boggling.

I would never in a billion years choose to suffer this. I doubt I’d wish it on my worst enemy for more than a moment, and only then so they’d understand. If there were a magic pill or a therapy that would work or a drug that left my mind intact (some days, all I have left is my mind, I’m not willing to give that up) that would treat this, I’d do it.

I can’t begin to express how very horrible it makes me feel when I’m told (I’ve been told this so many times) that I’m not trying hard enough, that I need to bootstrap myself, I need to do x, y or z…

I’d love to have my life back. I sincerely would. I’d love to be the kind of mom and wife I used to be able to be. Drawing attention to what I can’t do with ableist thought processes vs actually helping, just don’t… please. If you don’t know how to help? Ask. Listen to the answer.

I’m a living, feeling, giving person. I am a gifted writer, I am creative and wonderful. I am not that behind my diagnosis, I am not that in spite of my diagnosis, I am a person. I should be treated as such, not as a burden. Not as a problem to be ‘fixed’.

I shouldn’t feel like I should die just to make other people’s lives easier. I shouldn’t feel like I’m not doing enough when I’m already fighting an exhausting gods damned battle every second of every day.

Enough ableist privilege. Please.

Hell… can we just get rid of all privilege while we’re at it and maybe try listening to one another? Of trying on sympathy and empathy instead of hatred and isolation of those who are ‘different’? I guarantee you, we’re all some variety of human. We’re all thinking, feeling, beautifully unique creatures who need community and acceptance.

Could we try that instead of wallowing in our privilege?

On Rejection: From an Aspie Writer

I’m pretty open about having Aspergers. I’m so grateful that agents are asking more and more for #ownvoices writers to submit their work.

Yet, because they’re asking for our writing, it might help if they knew how someone neurodiverse might think about rejections. *Not an expert, and not everyone is out, so if there are aspie/autie agents hi! I’m only speaking for ‘me’.

Now… no one likes rejection. We human beings are social creatures and having someone tell you they don’t want your work hurts all of us. It’s part of the business, though, and anyone who wants to write for publication, especially traditional pub needs to accept that. I do, it’s part of the life of a writer. Hell… some of the most famous writers ever have received the most rejections. (Go here, you’ll see) so the concept of rejection doesn’t bother me, 98% of the rejections I receive don’t phase me. It’s the 2% I’m addressing. Those where someone has specifically requested more of my work after reading a query or a couple of pages.

Rejection. If you want to write for pub vs fanfic (which I love and have written myself) or to write for yourself, get used to it. You’ll feel rejected over self-pub by lack of sales too, so it’s not just for Trad.pub you’re going to run into it. This isn’t even touching on the concept of poor reviews or trolls bitching about what you write. (I get trolled a lot because I’m out about who I am, all of who I am).

Yet, I want to say something on rejection, especially for an aspie. Now, this may not apply to everyone with Aspergers, I only speak from my *own* experience. Victimized in school by bullies, I’m well versed in rejection. I’ve worked professionally in sales, I have a thick skin. I can take it, and I’ll continue to do so. I know the business of publishing as much as any ‘outsider’ ever can.

It can still throw me for a freaking loop, and here’s why.

I write so much into my stories and hell, not many people seem to like me in person, so I don’t expect a whole lot of people to like my writing… except, of course, I hope they do!

I’m aspie, and one way this makes a difference in my life is that I have a driving obsession to know WHY. About everything… why that bird looks the way it does at my feeder, why X, Y, or Z. (and the other 23 letters!)

So, rejections from agents and publishers bother me, like… a lot. The ones on query letters only are the least bothersome for me. Next step, queries with pages… those make me wonder what exactly the person didn’t like about my work. But for both of those I can brush them aside and not worry about it. The ones that are the hardest are those where an agent/publisher has specifically requested more of my work. If they tell me why they eventually said no, it makes such a huge difference to me.

‘Cause if they do…

I can slot it into a pigeonhole of ‘this is why’ it didn’t work there. That information would be invaluable to me (even if I didn’t agree with it, or if I didn’t like it,(and I’ve gotten both) I’d still have that information to use in future endeavors).

Without that little bit of information, it hurts more and niggles more than it probably does to a neurotypical person. (I’m not NT, I don’t know what it feels like to someone who is, I may be completely off base). I do know that in general, autistic individuals have fathomless wells of emotion. Even if it doesn’t look like we’re bothered or feeling something, trust me, we are. Yes, I know how busy agents must be, I know how hard it would be to write a sentence to each rejection. It would be so nice if they could, though, no, I don’t expect it. No, it isn’t going to stop me, but it may throw me for a day or two. I received one recently that almost made me stop writing, that’s how hard it was to receive. That’s my honesty.

I can’t NOT research something, it’s not in me. I can dive down the rabbit-hole so fast and hard in the blink of an eye, then spend hours there (wherever there is). It’s a trait of how Aspergers makes a difference in my life.

So, of course, I researched the industry of publishing before dipping a toe in. I know it’s the rarity to even get a rejection letter much less a reason for the rejection. Still, for me, personally, it’s like a burning itch I can’t scratch. An itch to know (and from history, that itch will never, ever, ever go away). To understand. ‘Cause trust me, I rarely understand other people, (waves from aspie-land) this obsession with how people work and why they do what they do is in part a self-defense mechanism for me.

Rejection sucks, it’s part of this business and I do collect rejections (I’m shooting for wallpaper, because at least then I know I’m trying) yet… if any agents or publishers read this… if at all possible on partials, if it’s something you’ve requested more pages on, please tell the writer WHY it doesn’t work for you, especially if you know they’re neurodiverse “It’s not for me.” Really isn’t enough. I don’t need a repetition of something you’ve already told me, for things important to me my recall is epic. (You should totally play me in geek trivial pursuit!) I do, rather desperately, need a reason why.

In a publishing industry where #ownvoices are being asked to submit their work, agents need to know how it works for us, and I know enough aspies/auties to hazard a guess that rejection probably bothers many of us as much as it does me. I can’t believe it would take more than a minute to give that bit of info to someone who you’ve already spent an hour or more on reading their work. A reason, even if it’s only a list can make such a difference in the emotions of ND people like me. Something like this would help so much. Now… on to the next rejection. 😀

  1. Didn’t resonate
  2. No market
  3. Too long
  4. Whatever reasons