Writing #OwnVoices – You Are Enough

I’m asexual. I wrote about this just a couple months ago when I realized it for the first time in my 10+ years of adulthood. Since then, I have joined the #ownvoices movement by starting to write a novel with an asexual gay man as a main character.

Let me tell you: It is hard. It is really, really difficult for me, despite being asexual myself. The temptation to put these guys into a regular old sexual relationship is strong. It’d be a lot easier to write. Despite not being sexually motivated or driven myself, writing sex is natural because it is everywhere, and I know it is expected, and a lot of readers live for the sex scenes.

Writing anything is hard. Writing gay men as a straight[ish] female[ish…person] is hard. Writing romance with a character who is not driven by sexual desire is a hard. Put all this together and add a heaping dose of crippling self-doubt on top, and it’s a miracle I’ve put a single word on the page.

“Self doubt?” you say. “Why are you drowning in self doubt? This should be easy. You’re asexual. You’re writing an asexual character. That’s like being a writer and writing about a writer. Right?”

Except I only realized I’m asexual like two months ago, and only decided to apply/embrace the label several weeks later. All in all, I’ve considered myself a part of the asexual community for like, maybe 5 weeks now. So who the fuck am I to write an asexual character? I have no idea what I’m talking about. Right? What if I accidentally write bad rep? Even though I am ace, and I have been ace forever, I could easily write something that offends someone else. I could write it wrong. The internet is a terrifying place. There are a lot of outspoken, aggressive people on every side of every issue (especially on Twitter, where I spend most of my time). What if I write this asexual character based on my own personal feelings and experiences, and someone comes along and says “He’s not asexual.”

But he’s based on me! And I am! Does that mean I’m not?!

What if I write this #ownvoices book and someone comes along and shits on me for it because I’m not repping enough? I’m not outspoken enough? I’m not… I don’t know what, but what if I’m doing it wrong?

TAKING RISKS IS TERRIFYING.

Somebody save me.

Do you see my issue?

And then, while I was musing over this hang-up I’m struggling with, here came Ana Mardoll with a miraculously well-time tweet thread:

If you could just pardon me for a moment, I’ll be in the corner, sobbing.

misha crying

Okay. Better now.

So this is what it boils down to, kids: You are enough, and the world needs your voice. No one is more enough-y than you. No one can write a marginalized character better than a marginalized person, and no one can tell you that your feelings and experiences disqualify you for the group you feel you belong to. There has been a lot of hate flying around lately–transphobia and biphobia, erasure of all sorts. There is no better time than now for writing #ownvoices, and there is no better person than you.

So I’m going to go on writing my asexual gay man, and if he wants to have sex, he will. And if he doesn’t, he won’t. He’ll find his boyfriend attractive, he will be infatuated and in love and make flirty comments and sexual jokes, and if anyone reads about him someday and says that his relationship is unrealistic, I’ll give them a great big middle finger, because I am an asexual person, and I have sex, get crushes, flirt, and make a hell of a lot of sexual jokes. Those things do not disqualify me from the a-spec. I am asexual enough to write an asexual character, even if I just realized it a few weeks ago. It’s my identity and no one will take it away from me.

(If you want snippets and lines from Alex and his asexual D/s adventures, you can follow me on Twitter. I post quite frequently.)

Rainbow Snippets 2/25/17 – Jigs and Reels

Hi everyone, and happy Rainbow Snippet day!

Just to recap so far, Elijah has been dragged out by his friend Katie to audition as a fiddle player for an Irish band. He played a few tunes with Peter, the band’s flutist, and they played together like they’d been doing it for years. Peter was so excited he kissed Eli’s cheek and hugged him, and asked his band mates “Can we keep him?” This snip immediately follows that.




“He’s a little stiff,” Hitomi noted, but she was smiling, and I thought if Peter didn’t step back, I would be a little stiff. It had been a long time since I played music for an audience, and it had been a long time since I’d had another man’s arms around me. Approximately the exact same amount of time, actually.

“We can work on that,” Peter said, stepping back. He looked me up and down. “We’ll have to get you a costume, too. Unless you have something?”




Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Rainbow Snippets 2/18/17 – Jigs and Reels

Hi everyone, and happy Rainbow Snippet day!

I’ve always been a big music-lover, but for some reason over the past year, I’ve developed an obsession with Irish music. It’s been popping up in my writing more and more. This entire short story is based around Irish musicians. By an odd happy coincidence, one of my co-workers plays fiddle in a local Irish band, and this past week she invited me to go to one of their practice sessions. I went, drank whiskey, and listened to them play. It was really fun. I used to play flute in concert band in grade school and that’s a very, VERY different environment from a casual group of talented people who enjoy making music.

Irish music is a very organic species, big on embellishments and improvisation. As with anything done in a group, the more you practice together, the better you sync up as a band/team and the more fun you can have. You sort of just know what the other people are going to do. One of the members at the practice session I went to was a less frequent attendee, so I watched her struggle to follow along with the members who have practiced together for years. My two characters in this story, Elijah and Peter, sync up almost immediately the first time they play together, and to them it’s like magic. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think! 🙂




I watched Peter as he played, long fingers dancing over the open holes on his instrument, and we began to speed up together, galloping towards the end of the tune full-tilt, my bow flying over the strings, fingers moving without thought until we both ended with a flourish, perfectly in sync. Our small audience cheered and applauded. Peter jumped up and crossed the room. I had just enough time to hold my fiddle out of the way before he crashed into me with a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek.

“You’re great.” He turned back to his bandmates, brimming over with enthusiasm. “He’s great. I like him. Can we keep him?”




Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Music and Writing – The Chicken or the Egg?

Every week, I do my best to participate in as many writing-related Twitter chats as I can. They’re fun, interactive, and they get my brain moving in different directions. A recent #writerspatch chat focused on playlists for writing. Questions included things like “How does music affect your writing process?” and “What is your favorite genre of music to listen to while writing, and why?” My favorite question was probably “Will your playlist affect your story, or will your story affect your playlist?”

For me, the answer is the latter. I listen to music almost constantly–probably around 12 hours a day. What I listen to depends on what I’m writing. When I wrote the first draft of Stray, over four years ago, I had just discovered Maroon 5, and I listened to their Hands All Over and Overexposed albums on a loop for months. Nothing else. No other bands. Nothing. When I first drafted the sequel to Stray, I listened to Bastille’s Bad Blood album on loop so many times I have flashbacks anytime I hear Dan Smith’s voice.

Since then, I’ve moved on to individualized playlists for characters. When I’m creating new characters, one of the first things I do for them is build a themed playlist. Andrew’s playlist is Fitz & the Tantrums, OK Go, Kongos, and Foster the People. Trystin gets classic rock and solo piano instrumentals. It helps me get into their heads. When I was pre-writing for NaNoWriMo, I spent an entire day at work switching between Pandora stations trying to figure out what my MC would listen to. After much station-hopping, I stumbled upon Milky Chance, Radical Face, The Head and the Heart, and The Decemberists, and knew I had found his home.

I’ve noticed recently that when I am working on a certain set of characters, my brain automatically craves the music I associate with them. Even if I’m not physically writing at the moment, if I’m at work or driving or just doing chores around the house, my brain (always writing in the background, let’s be real) just feels like listening to Ok Go. Or Mozart. Or Bastille. When I shift gears to work on a different WIP, whether I am consciously deciding or not, I suddenly crave a different kind of music.

What do you guys listen to when you write? Do you find that your playlists differ depending on the characters, or do you listen to music more for the overall ambience of a scene? Or does it even matter?

Rainbow Snippet 4 – 1/7/16- Trystin

Happy Saturday everyone! Here’s my Rainbow Snippet for the week!

POV SWITCH! This is Trystin’s POV. Something happened between him and Andrew since last week’s snip…



Leaving now wouldn’t answer my questions. Leaving now meant I’d never apologize to him properly. I’d never see him again, never make amends, and the guilt and confusion would stick with me forever. With a sigh, I leaned against the wall and shoved my hands into my coat pockets, inhaling deeply and then exhaling for a ten-count. Making amends for something like this would be much different than making amends for forgetting a birthday or insulting someone. The hospital gift shop probably didn’t sell ‘sorry I almost sent you to your death’ cards.



 

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Rainbow Snippet 2 – Andrew

Happy Saturday everyone, and happy holidays! Here’s my Rainbow Snippet for the week!

POV SWITCH! This is first-person POV from Andrew, the man Trystin was thinking about in last week’s snippet. Andrew has a tough life. Poor guy.



I looked at the man’s reflection as he looked at me. His slouchy presence looked wrong there, next to the clean tile walls and sleek black countertops. On the outside, I looked right—I cleaned up well—but my insides were a turbulent sea. Alcohol made it easy for me to kiss strangers, go home with strangers. Alcohol naturally made me more physical. But nothing ever quelled the fear and guilt that came from stealing.



 

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out the group at the link above to find snips from other authors! Check back next week for more.

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).

Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Rainbow Snippet Dec 17-18

Hi everyone! I’m going to start posting a weekly snippet as part of the Rainbow Snippets Facebook Group. According to their description: “Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).”

Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Starting next week I’ll be posting a snippet on Saturday and my regular blog post will get bumped to Sunday. This snippet will be from the WIP I just sent out for publication, the one I’ve been talking about for the past few weeks on here. Since I have multiple WIPs going on, I’ll refer to this one as Stray anytime I post from it.

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s my first Rainbow Snippet, from chapter 2 of Stray (from Trystin’s POV):

 


A heavy sigh gusted from my lips and I threw my arms out to my sides, sprawling across the California king. Maybe it was for the best that he’d left. I might have done something stupid if he’d stayed, like asked him for his number. He’d been young, wanton, eager… If he had any idea who I was, he would have only been more so. It’d be easy to get hooked on a guy like that, to let it get out of control.


 

Check back next week for another snippet, and don’t forget to visit the Rainbow Snippets FB group and read all the other authors’ snips!