VOYA Biphobia Scandal, Part 2

Last week, I posted about how discouraging the VOYA scandal was to me as a queer writer.  Following the scandal, the “Keep YA Kind” people came out of the woodwork to criticize Tristina and others in the queer YA community about how we “handled” the VOYA situation.

As if we are a monolith.  As if there is only one queer YA viewpoint.  Any good writer knows that any group is composed of multiple subgroups, some of which may disagree with the views and methods of others in the group.  While the queer YA community often jumps to the defense of our own, we are not a monolith.

That aside, I want to write a little on tone policing.  Tone policing is when people dismiss those who present an argument in an “angry tone” without responding to the merits of the argument.  Because something is said in an angry tone, instead of in the calm and dispassionate tone, the statement is that no one needs pay any attention to the message itself.

Tone policing is a silencing tactic and a derailing tactic.  It tells marginalized people that our voices do not deserve to be heard unless we can divorce our emotions from our message.  It also derails the discussion from the actual issue–in this case, biphobia–onto the issue of tone.  If only “they” spoke and acted civilly, much more would be accomplished. But where is the evidence that this is true?

And more importantly, who could react dispassionately when they are being discriminated against?  Anger and frustration are central to the issues we are trying to discuss.  I have a right to be angry when I am being marginalized.  Some others in my same marginalized group might not react the same way (read above: we are not a monolith), but that doesn’t make an angry response any less valid.  Almost anyone would become angry and frustrated when a trade publication such as VOYA further stacks the deck in a system that is already stacked against them.  I know I am.

Progress Update

I’m approximately half way through with outlining Surviving the Road (the sequel to Surviving the Plague, which will be my NaNoWriMo project this year).  The good news is that I’m about half way through!  The bad news is that I really stink at middles.

I love the beginning.  I love where it’s going to end.  The middle part needs some spicing up.

VOYA Biphobia Scandal, Part 1

As a panromantic woman, I’ve been wanting to post about the VOYA scandal since I watched it unfolding on Twitter, but this is an emotionally heavy topic for me and there has been a lot going on in my life lately (not even counting the horrible cold that had me flat-out on the couch most of last week).  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the SorryWatch post on the VOYA saga or the Bisexual Books posts on the same topic.

Every time I start to feel a little comfortable as a queer in this country, the legs are knocked out from under my chair.  If it isn’t people literally murdering people like me or the overt hatred and bullying during this election cycle, it’s these more subtle reminders that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation isn’t over.  I could still be legally fired by a private employer in my state for my sexual orientation.

I write speculative fiction stories with queer characters because everyone should have access to heroes they can identify with.  But it has been and will continue to be an uphill battle.  As much as we are trying to push back with the We Need Diverse Books and Own Voices movements, discrimination in publishing is very real.  And even after I manage to get published, I will still face discrimination.  It may be as subtle as a flagging of one of my books as having “sexual” content when one of the characters is bisexual, even though heterosexual books with actual sexual content are not flagged as having “sexual” content.

It’s extremely discouraging.  But I wouldn’t have gotten into this if I wasn’t determined, if I wasn’t a fighter, and if this wasn’t important to me.

Writing While Sick

It’s very hard to concentrate on blogging or writing-related tasks when you’re sick.  I know this from my very personal experience right now, as I’m trying to prepare for NaNoWriMo next month, but also sick with a nasty cold that has been going around.  The problem with being unable to sleep and on cold medication is that I’m also unable to concentrate, and writing requires a lot of concentration.

So what can I do?  Things that don’t require an excessive amount of concentration.  I’m organizing my Scrivener files and moving things to the new file.  I’m updating character sheets.  I’m cleaning up my writing folder on my flash drive, making sure everything is up to date between that and my PC, and backing things up.

I’m getting stuff done.  Just much more slowly.

Scheduling Creative Writing

As I’m starting to gear up for NaNoWriMo season, I’m reminded of all the ways writing creatively is different from the revisions process.  Both take a lot of energy and fill me with excitement.  Between the two, I think that writing is harder but more rewarding.  It’s easy for me to get bogged down in the little details, write myself into a corner, and start feeling stuck.  Having to go back in the rough draft and delete progress is extremely discouraging for me.  I don’t know why it’s qualitatively different than deleting scenes from a finished manuscript (something I’ve done extensively without negative morale), but it just is.

This is why I’m an outliner and not a discovery writer.

But writing creatively is similar to the revisions process in one key way–scheduling is very important to me.  Organization is the base of my entire writing process.  When I’m organized, it’s easier for me to keep track of my progress and hold myself accountable.  My goal for the week is to make a schedule for the month of October.  I want to have target dates for when I’ll have my outline done, when I’ll have my research done, and when I’ll have setting and character descriptions entered into Scrivener.  I will also need to write four to six substantive updates and schedule them into my blog for my Monday post updates.  I love you guys and don’t want you to disappear while I’m bogged down in the process of actual writing, and I’ve been meaning to build my buffer back up again so that I’m not sitting here at 8 am on a Monday morning before work, trying to think up something substantive to write.

Off I go to think up themes for future Monday posts.

Deciding The Next Project

As most people who know me are aware. I’m a bit of an organization spaz. So of course, even though it’s only the middle of September, I’m already trying to plan what I’m going to prepare for NaNoWriMo next month.

This is harder than it sounds.

Option 1. I took a break on my work in progress, the Touchdown Novel, to revise and resubmit the Plague Novel. This means that I could go back to the Touchdown Novel and finish it, in which case almost all of my prep is done and I’ll just have to refresh myself on the outline and keep writing from the point of about 15k words in.

However, I remember writing myself into a hole. It may be challenging to pick it up where it is at. And the idea just has no sparkle to me right now. Do I really want to spend 2 months with it?

Option 2. I could start Plague Novel Two, The Sequel. This would require a lot more prep (because I have only the scantest of baby outlines), but the characters are fresh in my head and the ideas themselves have been percolating for over a year now. What I have not done is ANY of the setting research. It would mean a lot of work for October.

And if no one wants to represent the Plague Novel, it could also be a lot of work for “nothing.” But if someone does, then I’m already ahead of the curve and could maybe use the unfinished sequel as marketing to improve the chances that someone actually buys it.

Opotion 3. I could start a completely new project, maybe one of the novels in the Tattoo Magic setting that so far is only home to a couple of short stories. Again, it would be more prep work (even more than Plague Novel 2!), but I love the setting to death and am really excited to explore it more. While I have a setting and some story ideas, I have no characters, no research done, and not even a basic outline. It’s more risk, but possibly more reward.

I know I can write. I know I will write something this November. I know that I will probably write an entire novel by the end of December. The question is… which one? I have less than two weeks to decide.

Wish me luck.

Progress Update

As I mentioned in my Monday post, I’m presently doing some recharging of my creative batteries. This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely inactive as a writer, though!

I’m catching up on some YA and short-story reading, preparing my talk for the CCWA (more on that in Monday’s post), and meeting with my resurrected writing group on Sunday. I’m also still trying to decide what to prep for NaNoWriMo. Right now, I’m leaning Plague Novel Sequel, though continuing or finishing the Touchdown novel is also a possibility.

Some Recharging Required

I’ve recently posted about writing with depression. It’s no secret that I struggle with depression. That’s deliberate: the openness of some of my favorite authors about their own struggles is something that inspired me to get help when it was increasingly clear to me that I needed it.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that creativity and depression feed on each other. I’ve heard a variety of people, even my doctor, say that sometimes artists want the lows because it gives them something to draw on. I mean, look at all of these famous writers, musicians, and creative sorts who struggle with depression and other issues!

I think that’s bunkum. I write despite struggling with a mental illness, and it’s certainly not helpful to me.

The conventional wisdom is also that writers write every day. But is this true or another piece of bunkum? I’ve often questioned this idea, like I’m sure my dentist questions people who say they floss every day. Must someone write literally every day to be a writer? Or do writers, at least some of them, take occasional breaks to relax, recharge, and prepare for the next project?

I know I do.

This past week, I’ve been recharging. NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I fully intend to hit the ground running and write if not a full novel, at least 50,000 words. The goal is a full novel; 50,000 words is the minimum. I want to go into October (also known as NaNoWriMo prep season) recharged and ready to kick some ass.

So right now, I’m letting ideas percolate. I’m giving myself leeway to slack off a little. Because this writing career is a marathon, not a sprint, and my brain works best with the occasional break. And I’m trying not to beat myself up too thoroughly for “not writing.”