This is the week where some of my projects begin their journeys out into the world.
Now, to change tack entirely for a moment:
Threaded through most of my posts, I think, is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the depiction of minority identities in the media. In particular, I’m talking about the aspects of identity, and their intersectionality, that most affect me—disability, mental illness, queerness, gender and misogyny. (These are by no means the only aspects of identity in need of validation through positive, accurate and honest media portrayals, but these are the aspects I have the right to speak about in an authoritative way.) Throw in a touch of spirituality, personal development and what it means to be an adult, and that’s pretty much where I write from in terms of my current and future blog posts, but also my fiction. Yes, I’m a fiction writer, and while I tackle many other publication production/editorial/non fiction projects because I enjoy most things about the writing business, I’m primarily a fiction or creative non fiction writer: I believe that story is the medium that most moves audiences.
For one of my classes this year, we were asked why we write. I get asked this a lot; I ask it of myself on a regular basis. I started this course thinking that I write to change people’s minds, to make them think, to educate, and this is, in fact, why most other people think I write—to tell cishet people that I exist and am deserving of acknowledgement. That’s a pretty good reason, and if cishet people happen to pick up my work and think about the world in which they live and how they create an oppressive environment for someone like me, I’m glad my words have had that much impact. That’s not why I write, though. I don’t write for cishets (or the able-bodied, or cis men, or people without mental illness). I don’t write for the majority. I don’t even want to market my work at the mainstream; I have no interest in it.
I write for us.
I write for the queer, the transgender, the non-binary, the PWDs, the people with mental illness, the trauma and abuse survivors, the dysfunctional family survivors—the people who yearn to pick up a story about us, the people who are denied the right to be literary heroes. I write to validate the people who don’t have an accessible presence in fiction. I write to validate our lives, our experiences, our struggles, our triumphs, our pain. I write to make us real, because it is past time that we were made real. It’s past time that stories about us feature more than one-note characters—that stories feature queer PWDs who have survived abuse, or non-binary folk with mental illness, or transgender folk who come from dysfunctional families and deal with the day-to-day reality of living in this misogynistic world, or queer women who have lives and challenges beyond romance and sex scenes.
I’m tired of feeling like I don’t exist when I want to read a book; I’m tired of the limited selection of works that depict non-binary queerness and non-binary pronouns. I’m tired of queer fiction taking the cis/heterocentric approach of making queerness almost solely about romance and erotic interludes. I’m tired of queer fiction not depicting anything of what I know about what it means to be queer—hell, as a queer with mental illness, I’m tired of queer fiction not tackling the higher instances of depression, anxiety and attempted suicide among queer folk. Why is this not in our stories?
This week is where I go and do something about this problem. It won’t be a perfect answer and it won’t be enough, but it will be something.
So, soapboxing done, I introduce the first of my projects:
Vendor: free via Smashwords (all formats, but Smashwords PDF edition is not recommended; please download the PDF edition above), Kobo, Apple (epub)
Epub ISBN: 9781310844379
Blurb: A young transgender magician travels the world on a quest for a mystical talking sword. A witch wonders why her would-be lovers can’t date her the old-fashioned way. A cross-dressing man meets a suit-clad soul whose gender defies definition. A non-binary zombie wonders why ze is not the hero in science fiction stories. A genderqueer manservant tries to save her mentally-ill lover with a deck of tarot cards. A boy looks at himself in the mirror and ponders the fear of telling his family that his name isn’t Susan.
Crooked Words is an eclectic collection of short fiction in pursuit of the many different shades of what it means to live queer.
Notes: The front matter includes content warnings for each story, as I do tend to write about heavy topics that have the potential to be triggering. The last story, Playing the Death Card, ties into The Stillwater Files series; people who don’t wish spoilers may prefer to skip this.
Credits: Cover image kindly donated by Kathy Mexted. The ability to create this book at all owes immeasurably to Ann Langusch, Desktop Publishing teacher extraordinaire, and my amazing LiveJournal friends for their encouragement, prompts and enthusiasm. I can’t thank all of you enough.
Yes, it’s free. (Unless you purchase it from Amazon, which won’t let me place it as a free read.) I don’t want financial considerations stopping a non-binary queer person from reading the stories that actually acknowledge our existence.
If you’re as desperate for non-binary stories as I am, please go and read. I hope you enjoy.
Next up: Up Close and Personal, the Professional Writing and Editing Anthology of 2013! Which features more of my production skills and a creative non-fiction article about my lack of gender…