Pirouettes

I used to dance.

I was never very good. Not really. I mean, I can shake my hips and count to four, but dancing really wasn’t my strong suit. But I love it. I love falling into the music, moving this way and that, spinning and leaping, while being caught by invisible hands of rhythm and blues. I’d dance to everything, from Disney musical numbers to the hardest rocking metal songs. The world was my stage, my arena, my stripper pole. Despite my short legs and skill in tripping over the balls of my feet, I danced. I danced and danced and I didn’t care who saw or who laughed because I danced.

When I was five, I had a bunch of those skater skirts that twirled up around my waist when I spun around and my mother was always begging me to wear white underwear with my white tights because the world could see the cartoon drawings and polka dots when I started to spin. I didn’t care. In my scuffed Mary Janes and my second-hand dresses, I climbed trees and raced my bike and swirled in circles until I fell, dizzy, and the sky spun counterclockwise above me.

I was Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and Paula Abdul in Cold Hearted. I was Roxie Hart, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Janet Jackson, and every girl in every Warrant and Motley Crue video. In my basement, I won Gold Medals in dancing and practiced my kicks and ballet positions. I made freshman dance team and pep club in the 10th grade and it was then I noticed just how different I was from all the other girls. With my thick thighs, rounder hips, hour-glass figure with the boobs to match. When I tried on my first D-cup bra, I wept in the dressing room. I already knew I was different in ways beyond the shape that promised, more than my lack of talent, that I’d never be a professional dancer. Already I was being defined not by who I was or my talents but the boobs I carried around.

Worse, I knew I was different and I didn’t know how to voice it, I didn’t know what to say and somehow that fucking bra set it all off.

See. I knew gay. Gay was okay. I knew because my best friend from childhood had come out to me and my parents had spent most of my childhood making sure I understood that it was okay to be who I was, no matter what. It was okay if two boys loved each other or two girls loved each other as long as no one was hurt in the process. I knew gay.

But see.

That was the problem.

Just like my big thighs didn’t fit the cheerleader look and my big boobs didn’t make for a dancing career, I didn’t fit into the gay thing either.

I remember sitting in history my junior year of high school, listening to the gay students stage their walk out as they protested the shutdown of even the idea of the Gay/Straight alliances. And I sat still, ashamed to join them. I, a daughter born into the activism of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was ashamed to join them. Because I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t like them so I didn’t have a right to join in their fight. Who I was, it wasn’t included in their dance.

So I sat and supported in silence.

Two years later, walking across the campus in Austin, days before my first class would start, my eyes landed on a bright pink flier and a two-letter word that saved my life.

Bi.

Consciously, I know it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it but it was the first time I remember seeing it in a positive context. The first time it had ever settled in my mind as something real. Something … me.

My first support group meeting, I danced with the building, trying to find the open door. I found the bathroom, ducked inside, met the eyes of someone who looked as petrified as me. We didn’t speak. She was sitting at the table when I scurried inside. She smiled when I took a seat. These weren’t just college students. I was in a room with people my age and people older than me and people who became the ones I turned to as I came to realize that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.

There was the dance when I came out to my parents. When my mother – who thought I was lesbian – came out to me as bi and I remember wondering why she couldn’t have just said the word to me when I was growing up. Why she couldn’t have just said that whatever I was feeling, it was okay, and given me my word. There was my father dancing with traffic on I-15 on the way into town and how glad he was when I told him I was bi because he was so fucking worried I’d come home from college to ask for money.

In Austin, I found family. We went to coffee shops and listened to local bands and went to clubs and sat out in parked cars, talking until the sun came up again. Everyone was welcome. Swingers and doms and subs and transmen and transwomen and gender queer and cis and nonbinary and we held hands and fought against Governor Bush together and we held hands while waiting on results from Lawrence V Texas and no one was turned away.

No one.

All that mattered was that you didn’t have a problem with people who were bi. That you didn’t talk over us. That you let us have our safe space.

Arms open. Everyone danced together. And sometimes it was only the women and sometimes it was only the men but we were there. For each other. And I knew that outside of my circle, outside the world, there was judgment. I was warned by my elders to watch for catch phrases and words that would make me question myself.

Bi now! Gay later!

Fenceposts.

Confused.

You don’t belong here.

Faker.

Maybe we just shouldn’t be grouped together under this umbrella.

Is it nice to pass?

Whore.

You’re a disgrace to us. Why can’t you just look normal?

I was taught to listen for what they would say. I was warned because it had happened over and over again. Our history had been erased, folded over into something else, forgotten. And those with more experience voiced their worries because they knew that I would be more likely to commit suicide or to be harmed by my partners and to be ignored by police and counseling agencies because even those devoted to the Gay cause would shut the door to me. Because outside of my world, there was one that didn’t invite girls like me to the dance.

I believed them. Right up until I met her. They just didn’t understand. Times had totally changed.

Right?

She was so funny. And we could talk about everything. Up all night talking about writing and Star Trek and annoying exes. We talked about the burgeoning marriage conversation. And even though she hated to dance, she thought it was cute that I did. She sent me roses. Despite my bi family in Austin, I was lonely and the first girl I’d fallen for hadn’t fallen for me and I needed to escape and despite everything in the world telling me not to leave, I got on a plane.

This time, when I started spinning, it was in reverse.

Because it started as slowly as it did quickly. I didn’t believe what they’d warned me about could come true. That it was there in front of me.

I don’t like that you’re bi, she said.

Are you sure you aren’t a lesbian? You’ve never been with a man, she said.

I can’t trust you, she said. Because the ones before, they all left me for men.

I can’t trust you, she said.

Faker, she said.

Why can’t you just be normal, she said.

While more and more I became isolated, solitary. More and more, I defended her.

And I don’t know why I didn’t leave except you see I did know because despite my bi family in Austin I’d been single and here was someone who loved me, right? So even though I didn’t fit into her boxes, I stooped and squirmed and folded and bent myself in her shapes and if she sat on the lid, we could tape it shut. I learned not to dance, because it attracted attention to the fact that I was different. I stopped correcting people who assumed I was like her. I retreated inside myself. The men I found handsome were my secrets alone. She could point out women but when I did, I was reminded that because of who I was, I’d leave her.
I told myself that as we settled into what had once been her grandmother’s house, that we shared her tiny room and bed because she wasn’t ready to expand the landscape of her world to include mine. I discovered every excuse imaginable as I kept my clothes in a different space, that as we never went to Austin to get my things, that it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me to be in her life, it was just who she was. We liked the same things, after all. Her world and mine could be shared without any part of me, right?

Right?

The day I quit acting was a dance audition.

The audition before, she’d sat in the hallway outside and told me she didn’t like that I was going for things because it made her feel like she couldn’t do things even though I could. She didn’t like the people I met. The men I met.

Then came the dance. And I walked out halfway through, in tears, and she hugged me and told me I’d made the right decision. It wasn’t like I’d been practicing anyway. I sat in the car and remembered the call from the casting director in Austin and wondered what would have happened if I’d gone to that movie callback in Houston. The one that came for me while I was packing my bedroom to move.

The day we cleaned out what had been her grandmother’s bedroom, I expected us to move our lives into the space. It was full of light and white walls. A new space. We boxed things for her family and closed the door but she allowed me skirts that had been her grandmother’s and I donned them, twirling like I had when I was five. The fabric didn’t fly up to my waist, and with each wearing, each spin, I found holes to mend and the need to patch unpatchable fabric. Small stiches of the finest thread still created runs. Seams weakened by dust and age split and split and split again.

Still. When I left, I packed them. After the fights, the bruises, the lock over my heart and the seventy pounds that stopped what little dancing skill I carried, I packed them, hauling them back across country, taking space away from the stuff I finally picked up in Austin.

They hung in my closet.

Gathering dust.

Weakening at the seams.

One by one, they were turned into rags and cat blankets. Some were given away.

To friends, to family who didn’t mind the rips or the runs.

I trust less. I listen more. I warn those coming after me that while times are changing, there are still words to look for and I talk to them about the history of our movement that has been erased. I warn them, but tell them to love. And I cry when over and over and over again they tell me that they were so sure something was wrong with them because no one believed them. No one. I tell them to be proud and never let anyone tell them differently.

Because, you know what, I still have my dancing shoes.

On Sick Puppies and the Space Between

When we think of bands, we think of longtime friends gathering together in garages and empty warehouses and coffee shops, lugging gear and crowding into minivans with everything they own, setting off on a journey that will bring them not just fame and fortune and the adoration of fans but will also bring them a deeper, wiser understanding of the universe itself. They, after all, do what so many of us cannot. They bring those confusing instruments to life, the ones we all started at as kids, knowing (because our teachers told us so) that the vibrating strings made noise and that noise became music but in the hands of some of our peers, those instruments became oracles of the gods themselves.

When we think of bands, we don’t like to think of success. Success means selling out, right? It means fans who have been there since the beginning challenging every single move they don’t approve of, it means new fans fawning over every single solitary thing ever because they have so much time to make up for. Years have gone by and communities have been formed and fan bases are so hard to break in to and dammit, but dammit, the music has saved a life.

When we think of bands, we think of music. Radio. Record labels. Youtube and Myspace. How often do we stop to think of the individual fan, the individual band member? How often do we stop to think of the story?

This week in the rock world, there’s only been one story on many people’s minds – the split inside the band Sick Puppies. And it’s just the latest in a long line of fascinating stories for these three musicians. After all, how many bands, how many people actually manage to live the “American Dream”? How many of us would be willing to put everything, absolutely everything, on hold as teenagers and take jobs to save up money, all with the sole purpose of leaving our home country and flying all the way across the world to hopefully make it big in the American Rock World? How many? I know people who wouldn’t do that for love. Now imagine being eighteen and doing it for a dream.

And Sick Puppies did just that and came to the states with two numbers in their pocket and their instruments on their backs and somewhere along the way, people started to pay attention. Somewhere along the way, people noticed the heartbeat that Mark Goodwin’s drums provided and they noticed lead singer Shimon Moore’s wild and doofy frontman stylings, and they noticed that soft-spoken bassist Emma Anzai was anything but quiet on stage.

And the story become one of how Youtube videos can go viral and change everything for a band. It became one of how women in rock music are becoming more and more respected. It became one of number one hits, fan communities, and inspiration. And now the story is “What the fuck happened?”

See, when we think of bands, we also don’t like to think of them splitting up. We don’t like to think that these friends who used to keep the neighbors up until all hours of the night could reach a point where working together is torture. We don’t like to think about how if a band is like a marriage, how half of all marriages end in divorce.

But that’s what happened this week when Sick Puppies announced that lead singer Shimon Moore was no longer with the band.

For me, as a fan and as a writer, I find myself wondering what happened. Of course I want to know. I want to know why choices were made and why things couldn’t be worked out, but I find myself wondering these things as a writer. Because, as any writer will tell you, the truth is always found in the spaces between the words.

Why did public statements use words like “time apart” or “instead”? Why were announcements made the way they were? Why did some people become active on the fan boards out of nowhere? And those will be questions that at some point, a smart reporter will ask. I’d hope.

But more than those questions, it’s the story that calls to me. Sick Puppies, a group known as much for songs like You’re Going Down and War as they are for entreating challenges to the world in softer tunes like Maybe and Run, I wonder where the story will emerge.

As a music fan, I hope it won’t be through social media snipping. The trio has been reasonably professional throughout the split, but it’s clear there are deep seeded hurts that are starting to bubble to the surface (as now-former lead singer Shimon Moore’s facebook post about the situation made clear.) There’s a part of me that hopes it even won’t be through any blogging sites or interviews (although I’m always available to give them). But, instead through the songs that are inspired by the next chapter of this band.

Because when we think of bands, we have to think of their stories and what the music is telling us. Rock is a culture of blood, sweat, and tears. And even bands at the top of the charts, the ones who so often feel like they are cranking out the same riffs and the same lyrics over and over again, even they have their own messy story to tell. They’ve sat in rooms and pondered the end of the very life that feeds them. They’ve walked away from love, from stability. All to get on a bus and go from town to town.

Over the next few months, fans are going to start to be able to say the signs were there. And they were. See, that’s the thing with music: it’s part of the soul and our souls direct us. Or, if you prefer, that instinct tells us something is up. Because in the end, it won’t just be the story they write that stays with us. It’ll be the story that Emma tells on stage with her bass every night and the tales that Mark bangs out on his drums and the webs that are spun in whatever new project Shim finds himself doing.

Speaking as a fan: I hope it’s a good one because sometimes, new blood keeps a band alive but sometimes, the story just has to end.

Where I’ve Been …

I really wish I could blame novel writing for this last hiatus. I really do. I wish I could us all of my reasons for not stepping up and stepping out after Pride. I had all these goals for writing three times a week, for talking about what it’s like to be a bi writer in Salt Lake.

And then, I came face to face with what it means to be a bi writer in Salt Lake.

I was lucky enough to participate in a project with Art Access of Utah. Intersections sought to tell the stories of the Queer community in Salt Lake with the eventual goal of taking the stories that were worked on in the workshops to the stage level. I jumped at the chance, excited to work with other queer writers. I walked away feeling empty and confused about where and why I was bothering to participate.

For the record, none of it is the fault of Art Access. They gave us all a fantastic opportunity, they advertised it well, and the moderator for the workshop is a leader in the Gay Community in Salt Lake. It is not even the fault of the workshop leader who had his hands full with a group of people who perhaps, instead of needing a writing workshop, needed group therapy to reach a place where they were ready to share stories and work on actively improving their writing. Everyone was too raw, too defensive of the story, that they weren’t willing to listen to ways to improve.

I walked into the room full of my own piss and vinegar but also so full of excitement. I was going to share my story! I wasn’t sure the whole point of the workshop until the first night, but I was excited to be in a room full of queer people. I was looking forward to connecting to the rainbow that is our own rainbow here in Salt Lake. What I found though made me uncomfortable. The majority of people in the room were male, white, gay, and dominant. Yes, there were women, but they were few and far between. Some were allies. All of us were white. And there were no lesbians or trans-identified people around the table. It was actually strange to see more bisexuals in the room than lesbians as a queer themed event, but even still we were well matched by the straight allied women. There were no faces of color at the table. And only four of us were under the age of forty.

I think the entire workshop can be summed up in an exchange that happened one night – the concept of feminism, especially in the Mormon Church, came up in conversation. And around the table, man after man talked about the need for women’s voices to be heard. Not just in the church but in every aspect of life. In that conversation, not one of us who identified as female had the chance to speak.

Having grown up in the hyper religious culture of Salt Lake, I know how hard it is for me to drop my defenses when talking to people about my queerness. Until this workshop, I could only imagine how painful it was for the generation before me. And I watched these men around me tell their stories of secrets shared and family lives ripped apart and I watched them weep over long dead partners and lost time from their youth.

But under that pain, there was no overarching desire to listen, actively listen, to stories that were not their own. There was no desire to challenge, no desire to question, no desire to make the work better. Remember, this was a writing workshop. It was not a group therapy session. Sadly, that meant the group moderator had to manage both the pain of shared stories and the anger that came from those stories. It meant feelings were hurt on all sides. It meant I left every week unsure if I wanted to return, but I did because I refused to allow my own voice to be diminished even while participants in the group were looking into my eyes and erasing my existence with their comments. That being said, I still barely made the deadline to turn in my piece and I’ll be honest, I only did it because the group moderator wanted my piece to be included. I was ready to walk away completely.

But I want to say this – for all of the pain I felt in that workshop, I also learned so much. I was reminded of the story that is not told enough, the story of the generations before. If I worry about erasure, they worried about death. They came out in a world where marriage was nothing more than a pipe dream. Now, it’s legal. And that’s why their stories are so damned important. Problem is, so is mine.

This is a blog post I’ve started more than once over the past few months and, as the idleness of this blog has shown, I’ve not done anything with it. Because some else’s voice silenced me. And I’ve found it hard to write at all over the past few months. I’ve had fits and starts and revamped my novel of bisexual characters. I helped to plan what turned out to be one of the best Bi Awareness Months in history with the Utah Pride Center. And I’ve watched the very people who erased me in the workshop continue to erase my community.

Sometimes, it gets exhausting.

But I’m here. And I’m back and I’m going to keep writing no matter how hard it is some days. Because I started this blog not just because all writers need blogs but because I thought it was important to be one of the voices of life as a bi writer – not just in Salt Lake but everywhere. And as this past summer proved, it’s not always roses and kittens and fucking rainbows. A lot of the time, being a bi writer means erasure and self-doubt, and wondering if any of it matters in the end.

Pride!

Pride!

So Pride 2014 totally happened. :) I have a lot to say about it and the community here in SLC but for today, I’m letting it ride. Tomorrow is for deep political thoughts on erasure and more.

Pride is Approaching

I attended a Poetry Slam on Memorial Day and was approached by one of the poets in the area who also happens to be one of the primary volunteers for Utah Pride. She came up, all smiling and hugs, and asked about my girlfriend’s open mic, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution and if we wanted to have a place on the poetry stage.

Logic said to be gracious. I instead stumbled over my words, finding all of my reasons that I can’t stand the Pride Center, and I turned what could have been a fantastic moment into an awkward, anxious exchange where all I could think was …

You know what … it’s really hard to give a damn about Pride this year.

You would think with all of the positive steps being made in the gay community that I couldn’t wait to get out there and march with the family that is the Queer community. But I find the closer I get to Pride and the more expectations I have on being Prideful, the less I want to participate.

I’ll acknowledge it for what it is: burnout.

I’ve been an activist and an advocate on and off for 17 years and while I have never felt more love and acceptance regarding sexuality and gender identity, I’ve also never felt more isolated from my so-called community. I’m sure a lot of that feeling of there being a wall between me and my fellow Queers is completely in my head. But I’m also … I dunno.

And maybe the truth is that I’m still angry at Gay Inc for willfully steaming on ahead and ignoring the bi community. Maybe I’m just tired of having to stand up every single time people talk about “Gay Marriage” and remind people that there is a spectrum of sexuality. Maybe I’m tired of the media applauding the coming out of amazing people like Ellen Page while still flat out ignoring or mislabeling Out Bisexuals.

It’s funny, in a heartbreaking way. My first novel is full of gay and bisexual men but I toned down the bisexuality almost to the point of non-existence because I was sure no one would want it. In doing so, I’ve realized how much of the heart isn’t there. But sitting here, only a couple of weeks out from Pride I find myself wondering … if I put the story back together and make it what I initially intended …

Will it still be mislabeled?

So I’ll just go over here, waving my Pink, Purple, and Blue for me and my characters and hope that somewhere along the parade route, someone notices.

Yeah, maybe this is why I shouldn’t write blog posts when I’m depressed. ;)

And for the record, Tami … I would LOVE to stand there on that stage on Saturday.

On Writer Insecurities …

There comes a point for me, usually between the second and third draft (which is realistically where I am in this novel) where every insecurity I have as a writer emerges.

It always starts with a small nibble at the back of my mind. You suck, it says to me. And, like when my cat wants my dinner, I push it away. But see, just like when my cat wants my dinner, there are claws involved. The claws dig in, scratching, poking, and finally I have no choice but to acknowledge the sucking.

I dare to suck! I scream back at the nibble.

No one cares the nibble responds.

In that moment, the nibble outgrows the metaphor. It becomes a wave inside my head, inching ever closer toward high tide. I analyze eveything from the color of a character’s hair to the direction of the story to whether or not what I’m doing makes any sense. I pour endless time into character journals and scenarios that will never happen, all in the name of development. Side characters get tons of attention. Side characters to the side characters get developed. All because I am wallowing in the biggest worry of all:

What if no one reads this?

Every writer will say: I write for myself!

We do! We really do! But you know what, when no one reads what we’ve written, that eats away at us. So, there comes a point when my little insecurity bug bites and I scratch and scratch and scratch until I’m bleeding.

As a queer writer of queer characters, I find myself even more worried about that whole “what if no one reads it.” I live in a world where the bisexual community is still misunderstood and erased and while I hope to only be telling a story that is authentic … what if no one actually cares about being authentic in the story? What if the gaystream (and mainstream) media win the day?

What if the stories I am trying so hard to tell just don’t matter?

Truth be told, the only way out of this is to write. To just keep writing. To write and write and write and write and write and hope that  in the end, the insecurity road has given me a better draft than the one I started with. But until the writing really begins in earnest, all there is to really do is to keep itching and scratching out ideas and hope that in the end, they all make sense.

But sometimes, one also needs to just vent. Just a little bit.

Rest in Peace, Maya

Thank you for introducing me to poetry. Thank you for making me sit up a bit straighter when I heard your words. Thank you for reminding me of how important all of our stories are. Thank you.

Take Your Characters Out For Coffee

I am lucky enough to be the moderator of a couple of writing communities. One is the Salt Lake City Writer’s Group and the other Open Vein Writing at Livejournal (yes we had this conversation in the last entry, it still exists, don’t knock it).

Anyway.

One of the primary questions that I ask other people is “how do you get to know your characters?”

Sometimes, the answers are awesome. Sometimes, people look at me like I’ve grown a second head. “What do you mean get to know the character? Won’t they tell me about themselves as I write the story?”

Every character is different. I think every writer knows that. Sometimes you go in knowing everything from favorite color to when they lost their virginity to when they’re going to die. And sometimes, they are a blank slate that you color on. But either way, I think it is so important to get to know your characters.

But why, you ask, is favorite color so important? Because colors are symbols. Because colors give us meaning. Is red a favorite color because your character likes power or because as a child, their favorite fruit was red apples? Why does it matter if your character likes sports? Because it changes the people they hang with, the way they talk. And yes, it matters what sports they like. If you have a character who likes football … it matters what kind of football they like.

What about how your character feels about infedelity? Teen pregnancy? Dogs vs. Cats? Divorce? All of these things matter to how a character is presented, how your character thinks about certain things.

Yes. Characters will surprise us. Yes, we’ll write entire drafts of novels before realizing that a character is say, bisexual instead of a lesbian and going to end up with someone completely different than initially assumed (I’m looking at you, Gina Case.) But characters and stories come alive when we get to know who they are as people. When we get to know who we are as people interacting with them. Because yes, as writers, we are having a relationship with these characters.

Weird, I know. But it’s true. So let me say it again.

We are in a relationship with our characters.

We fall in love, in lust. We hate and scorn and cry. We lecture. We listen. And if that’s not a relationship, I don’t know what is.

So do yourself a favor if you’re stuck. Take your character out for coffee. And by that, I mean a number of things. Take a journal, go sit and write from their persepctive. Have a conversation with them in a coffee shop. Write a short story. Pick a prompt off the internet and give them 500 words on the topic.

Get to know them. Over coffee, tea, wine, whatever.

It helps.

On Character Journals

People write in a lot of different ways and I think that we as writers find different ways within ourselves to bring a character and a story to light. Some people swear by the computer, needing the tapping of the keys that can move almost as fast as their thoughts. Some people can’t look at a computer until the story is written by hand. For me, it’s a mix of the two ideals. For me, it’s actually easier to write on the computer because if I’m at work and want to scribble a few things down, I can do it in Evernote and it’s right there, saved in that strange glow cloud of doom that is the internet world, and I don’t have to worry about losing things. But I still like to collect journals for characters and stories. I mean, every character, down to the very minor ones, should have their own personality, their own style.

Image

This, for example, belonged to one of the characters in my first novel, Shadows in the Spotlight. Chrissie was just a minor character in terms of the space she took up, but her impact on the other characters was felt far beyond the end of the book. She was a blonde, kind of perky metal-head who loved pink and Hello Kitty. The insides of this journal are almost impossible to read as most of it is written, yes, in pink ink. 

Sadly, I never filled these pages for Chrissie and there isn’t a reason to go back. The book is done and Chrissie doesn’t have a reason to keep writing. But, there’s a new character who is lurking at the edges of my thoughts who would pick this journal up and run with it. It’s a practical solution. 

Wait, back the train up, you say. You actually sit down and write in their name? In their voice? Doesn’t that make you … you know … crazy? 

I get that one all the time. My answer? I’m a writer. You got a problem with my crazy, there’s the door. 

Character journals are crucial to me. It gives me a chance to fall into the character, to get to know them. To discover who they are at different points in their lives. Also, their journals are often full of sketches of where their story line is going in a novel, where they’ve been, and stuff that I may or may not need to divulge in the course of explaining backstory. 

I used to run with a bunch of writers who were into character pens. Every character had their own pen style and that was a way of expressing things. But I’m too darn minimalistic, especially when I am running around, and having 9000 pens with me just so Gina could have the right color when I was out at a coffee shop was never something I adapted well to. But interestingly enough, journals work. I know, I know. Pens didn’t but journals do? 

I have a shelf full of journals. 

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Some of those are mine. The red one right there, that was mine from when I was a teenager. Somewhere in there is my Ramona Quimby Diary. But most of these are there for the characters. And, like I mentioned with Chrissie’s above, many are shared. 

One of the best things about character journaling for me is that it allows me to get to know a character or a story without falling into the nerve-destroying process of writing their novel. I can world build, create, and destroy and it’s all there on paper. I can go back years later and wrap a character into something else, decide that a character needs to simply live in those pages, or finally get around to sitting down and taking the world I built and turning it into a story that I would hope someone wants to read. 

I don’t only character journal by hand though. I spend a good chunk of my time (too much perhaps) over at Open Vein Writing on LiveJournal (don’t knock it, it’s still the best social media/blogging platform for a whole lot of reasons). See, if I’ve learned anything from being involved with other writers, with talking to them and listening to their thought processes and their critiques on my work, sometimes one of the best ways to develop a story is to let characters who would never in a million years talk to each other start to interact. Sometimes, when that happens, whole new roads for characters are introduced. That happened to me with the most recent novel, actually. One minute, two characters from two different writers are talking back and forth in comments in a post and the next, the idea that their relationship would be a good subplot for the book was born. (Writer note, very important, only share storylines like that if you have trust in your writing partners. It can backfire too.)

The thing is, no matter how you write your characters – if it’s with different pens, or with journals, or just sitting down and writing them, get to know them. The ones bopping around in my head are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Writing their worlds, in their words, in a journal they chose (or designed), doesn’t just teach me about them. It teaches me about myself. 

But whatever you do and however you do it … 

Write. 

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Riptide’s Open Call

Hello writers! 

This is a short post, and I apologize, but it’s something right?

If you are currently writing queer fiction, I’d check out Riptide Publishing. They usually do not accept unsolicited submissions but they are currently having open calls in different areas – including seeking out more of the B in the GLBT alphabet soup. Get writing! :) 

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