There’s a blog post I just read that left me blinking a bit. In it, to paraphrase, the advice given was basically: “don’t post controversial opinions or express views if you think it has the possibility of upsetting readers.”
How to put this succinctly?
Now, granted, I’m coming at this from a different point of view perhaps, in that I’m a queer guy, so by virtue of existing, I’m already a controversial opinion expressing oxygen on a daily basis.
Given that there are readers who don’t like queer people, queer representation, or “all that gay shit you talk about” (direct quote from a blocked comment on a past blog), I completely agree that there are readers who get up set if you put forth a persona that is controversial to them.
And, again, to be succinct: Good.
The notion that I shouldn’t use whatever little platform writing gives me to express my queerness, my queer-inclusive politics, my pro-diversity, pro-#ownvoices, pro-feminist, pro-BLM, pro-whatever-the-heck-else views is anathema. Will I lose readers? You betcha. Would they have enjoyed my books in the first place?
Well, given that Triad Blood is about a group of three queer misfits forming their own chosen family once the people who are the status quo shove them out—probably not? But hey, even if they did read it before they learned anything about me from my twitter or Facebook pages, it’s likely they caught the queer-positive vibe from what I was writing. What with the gay sex and all. In Memoriam? Even my bittersweet-but-far-more-lighthearted romance brings up the whole gay marriage thing. Light? Yep, even the science fiction superhero(ish) story touches on the whole isolation of the other at the hands of some religions stuff.
My brand is queer. I’m not going to hide who I am when who I am is part of the whole damn point. When I was a kid, I didn’t see anyone like me out there as a possible future. I want queer kids to see as many possible futures for themselves as possible, and one of those futures is as a queer writer using their voice to do what good they can, even if they fuck it up occasionally, swear, or admit they inhaled.
Also, there’s the opposite side to consider here. When I see a big discussion happening about #ownvoices, for example (which, again, for the record, BRING ON THE #OWNVOICES!), I also see who doesn’t speak. Silence is just as political as speaking out. I see authors who write gay romances who never once speak up when people are saying some pretty homophobic, transphobic, or biphobic shit.
That silence? That failure to correct, educate, or act in the interest of opposite hate and stereotypes? Sorry, authors, but that becomes part of your brand, too.
That’s a lesson I already learned from queer history.
(With a hat-tip to Brad Vance, who pointed out the blog discussion.)
Anyway. Ranting aside, back to the whole point of Writing Wednesday, which is to keep myself honest and on track on writing projects.
Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks
I’m on track with EPfTF, and things are going well. Sub-plots are beginning to approach me to be woven into the story, and I’ve had fun working on the secondary characters. The voice of my protagonist is starting to solidify, and I like where Cole is going so far. He’s not like me in many, many ways, which is something I do strive to do in most pieces I write, but there’s just something about getting in touch with your younger teen self that brings on the amusement and anxiety and high-emotion of it all.
In some ways, there’s a wish-fulfillment going on here. Cole is a member of a queer club at his high school, and he has half a dozen queer friends. I never had that, nor anything like it, though by the end of my time at the high schools I attended, I had learned I wasn’t alone, and had met a couple of other queer people, we were silent about it, not out, and terrified.
Being Cole, even through fiction, feels very much like living a kind of “If only…” scenario.
Then again, I don’t think I could handle his teleportation problem, either.
Of Echoes Born / Short Pieces
I’m actually ahead of schedule here, which is… unlikely to continue?
I’m also finding it’s very, very hard to look at previously written and published short fiction and not want to edit them. Seriously. My first ever published piece, “Heart,” is something I’m very proud of, and will be including it in the collection, but…
There may be tweaks. Is that done? Do people do that? I mean… is that allowed in collections of short fiction?
Uh, asking for a friend?
Also: I do have something coming up that’s rather exciting, and a wee bit terrifying. I signed up for the 11th Annual NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, which is so far out of my wheelhouse that I’m not even sure I know what to do to finish the metaphor about wheelhouses. But I’m excited about the new challenge, and it lines up with my “stop self-rejecting” goal of the year. I’m going to count it as a submission, too, even though I’ve already hit my quota for January submissions. I’m not going to let myself bank them ahead for future months, but it’s nice to be proactive and see the numbers grow.
Open Calls for Submission
Lastly, Writing Wednesday updates include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better. Also, to keep myself honest, I’m being public about trying to submit something once a month no matter what this year (it worked out well in 2016, so I’m keeping it alive). January thus far: 4 submissions (3 reprints, 1 new piece).
- Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
- Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
- Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
- Tales to Terrify – A volunteer-run fan podcast featuring short horror, dark fantasy, and other disturbing fiction, looking for works up to 10k; Deadline January 21st, 2017.
- 49th Parallels – Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures, Bundoran Press, deadline February 14th, 2017; 1,500-7k word count limit.
- MM Superpowers anthology – This isn’t the only thing open at Totally Bound (you can click through for the full list), but this is the one I’m eyeing; deadline February 28th, 2017; 10k-15k word count limit, with erotic content.