Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tonight is why I write what I do

So our cat, Bird, is seriously ill. But the vet can't figure out with what. He keeps getting dangerously high fevers, and right now he's cuddled up with Sasha and a whole lot of ice. Come morning we're taking him straight to the vet.

But I probably won't sleep because I worry and obsess and can't let things go. I try not to worry, the way I'm advised. I try to stay calm and not let shit get to me, but it does. It eats at me and eats at me until I deal with it, for better or worse.

And it really really eats at me that people think my books (and the books of many authors I love and respect and admire) are less because they don't focus on the queerness of my characters, that I write queer as incidental instead. That my books are less because fluffy is basically a five-letter word in the sacred Land of Writing.

But I write for me, above and beyond all else. I write the stories that I would want to read when I am exactly as I am now: crying, afraid, unable to sleep, half-resigned that in the near future we will no longer have a Bird.

The morning I got mugged, I wrote. The night Pumpernickel died, I wrote. When I'm scared or distressed, I write. On the rare occasion I can't write, I read. Words have always been my greatest comfort, the place where I felt safest.

So I won't tolerate anyone telling me that what I write is wrong because it doesn't meet the standards of people more interested in drawing lines in the sand, setting hard definitions of what's "right" in queer romance, and telling me I'm wrong.

I write the stories I want to read. Fantasy. Worlds where people like me are just people, not Queer People. Just the normal fucking people that we are. Stories where I can trust the end will be happy, and I won't have to be absolutely miserable the whole time. Some of my stories are serious, some are pure fluff and nonsense, and most fall right smack between those two extremes.

But all of them, to my knowledge, have helped somebody get through a day or a night just like this one. And that is all I've ever wanted my stories to do. Not every piece of queer romance has to also serve as queer literature. Nobody asks every other piece of romance (or fiction) to also double as literature. That's what romance can do; it's not what romance has to do.

I write what I do to help change minds. The more something is treated as normal, the more people see it as normal. But mostly I write to help myself. It's an outlet. My cat may survive whatever is making him sick, and god do I hope so.

He may also not survive, and when that happens, I'll likely come home and write something hopelessly light and fluffy and sweet. Because it will help me, and somewhere down the road, maybe it will help someone else.

(and if you wanted to know what's getting me through tonight, I'll give you a hint. The working title is: The Lonely Dragon's Secret Treasure).


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. I've seen you tweet about him and he's a real cutie! I hope he'll be okay. I guess since I follow you twitter, I'm kind of aware of all of this, and I wanted to say I get really frustrated with the romance genre when stuff like this comes up, too. From the first time I read something where the character was queer without the story being about their sexuality, I felt like... well, the only other place I had experienced such stories were the ones my best friend and I wrote, but she has long stopped writing. So it was like I had finally found a place that could fill the hole that had left.

    It's so frustrating that people think it's wrong? somehow? Fuck that! All I hear from my friends are how they want more stories, books and movies and games, where characters are queer without that being the whole point of the story. Queer people are just... people! We are just people and why do stories about us suddenly become less when the focus isn't on our queerness? I hate it and that sort of thing is what kept me from reading so many books for so long because those weren't the stories I wanted. You know, I want Harry Potter where instead of getting with Ginny he gets with Gerald, or Twilight where Bella is torn between Jackie and Edith (or Jackie and Edward, or Jacob and Edith!).

    All that aside, I'm so glad you do what you do. Your stories have gotten me through a lot and make up a good portion of my "comfort reads" collection. You keep doing you and, once again, my best wishes for Bird.

  2. You know, I really needed this tonight.

    Lately I've been having a tough time remembering why I write. I've been feeling so stomped on, like squished and tired and beaten, and I've wanted dearly to give up.

    But writing and reading and words are the only haven I have and, I don't know, your post helped remind me that I write for myself. Why I write for myself - because I need it.

    *hugs* I hope your cat feels better. You're a wonderful person.

  3. I think this sort of writing should come from the heart, so I say (very firmly, lol)keep writing what you love. I found one of your free stories and immediately went shopping for more of your books - I have almost all the audio now and am slowly collecting the ebooks that aren't in audio. I'm primarily a listener, so this means I *really* like your books, if I'm getting ebooks. They make me feel good, and with my life the way it is, that is exactly what I want some days. Also - I will say a prayer for your poor cat, I'm so sorry he's sick!

  4. Ah man, I'm sorry to hear your Bird is ill. I hope he gets better soon and that the vet can help. Do what you need to do to get yourself through this, and nevermind any negativity from people who think they know best. They don't.

    And you know what? Your stories are my go-to when I'm upset or stressed or need an escape. Your heart goes into these stories and it shows, because they hit me in the heart in the very best way, and provides an escape into a fantasy world where people are able to be the awesome (or horrible! or grumpy! and just plain real) people they are without their sexuality defining them. I love that about your stories - it's romance without the definitions, if that makes sense.

    Anyways, all of that blather (and I've been working since 8:30 am and it's...uh nearly midnight now so I'm tired and less coherent - sorry) is just to say that not everyone thinks like the "critics" you mentioned above.

    Also, snuggles and the best of happiness to you and your Bird from the Yukon. I hope you all feel better in the morning. <3

  5. So very beautifully said. My heart goes out to your household and poor Bird. It breaks my heart when they're ill, especially when you don't know what's behind it.

    And of it all, these words resonate with me most: "Words have always been my greatest comfort, the place where I felt safest." I understand how you feel -- it's been like that for me since I was a kid. When life goes to shit in some way or another, the words are always there.

    True story: When my mom died in 2012, I discovered just how much writing is a part of me. Turns out that when all of life's clutter is ripped away and I'm left raw with my heart bleeding, storytelling is at my core. In my grief, I couldn't do my school work or work at the organizations I was with. I couldn't even read a simple freaking email or article. It was so bad that I'd read one sentence in an email 20 times and still not understand what it said. I just wanted to toss my computer out the window and bawl.

    But when I sat down to work on a novel I'd put aside while focusing on school, everything changed. Turns out it was the *only* thing I could do. When words didn't make sense anywhere else, the story did. So I spent my days putting everything I could into that epic fantasy. It made me get out of bed and stop crying. Then, it made me rethink my decisions in life, including that I *needed* to write.

    Funny enough, that whole incident led me to your books, which then led me to Less Than Three Press. The submission call for Won't Back Down was a year after my mom passed, when I decided I was going to take the leap. That antho was one of the first submissions I'd made in more than 10 years; one of the first steps to getting back to creative writing. Now I'm here, feeling like I'm where I belong.

    So thank you for putting out those stories and for being you. You help others in so many ways, not just in bringing peace to a bad day but helping some of us get back in touch with ourselves. You do good in the world, even when the world gives you shit to overcome. So yep, fuck the haters and write whatever's in you to write because the world definitely needs it.

  6. :( I am so, so sorry to hear that your cat is ill. I truly hope he gets to feeling better SUPER soon. I think your reasons for writing are beautiful. For many of us who struggle with our emotional and mental health, writing can be such a fantastic outlet and practice of self-care. As a new reader of your books, I can say that I truly LOVED that sense that I knew everything was going to work out lovely and happily in the end. The Tournament of Losers just touched my heart with how heartfelt and beautiful it was. Though I am not queer myself, I feel like what you said was perfectly accurate: I was reading a story about wonderful people. Normal, every day people. No agenda-strings attached. Thank you for writing. I can't wait to read more of your books!

  7. I really hope that your cat will get better - it's really hard watch your cat suffering and wasn't being able to help him - he cannot tell you what hurt him.
    About others' opinion about your books - unfortunately everyone has one and you can do nothing about this
    You should focus on the positive ones - your books has many admirers . I like come back to them because they make me smile especially when real life give me a kick or somebody from my family disappoints me again - I want to believe that despite the hardships there is a happy ending for somebody even if it's not for me.

  8. I really hope Bird gets better. I read your books. I read them because I love the worlds and the characters, your imagination blows me away. I cannot wait for The Pirate of Fathoms Deep. I love that the stories (all of them) draw me in and the fact that they are MM is incidental to the story. I hope you keep writing your books for years to come.

  9. I am sorry about your cat. I wish the best for him. I never had a pet but I understand how you must feel by your evident love of yours.
    Also never ever change your style . That is what attracted me to your books and that is what I am looking for when trying to find other books. Why should you focus on their "queerness" like its something different? I don't know who said that or why but try not to get upset by them. I understand they can have their opinion but as another commented focus on those of us that love your books and their depth and fluffiness. Those of us that read and re-read so often that we know can say lines out of it but still feel the same excitement as the first time.
    So thank you for your writing and don't ever stop.

  10. I hope your cat did get better. As to your writing, people don't all like or want the same thing, whether it's food, clothes or reading material. Ever. So I don't understand why your critics would think that they can/should prescribe what kind of stories you should write. It's your own damn story and you get to tell it the way you like. And if they want a different version, set in a universe where sexuality is an issue and/central theme, they can either read authors who do tackle those issues successfully ( and there are plenty of them) or they can write their own stories. That's what diversity is about.
    So. Don't take their words to heart. You have plenty of fans who love your stories just as they are. You could write more stories of course, but that would involve you not sleeping or eating or spending any time with your partner and family. Maybe not even taking showers. And I think that qualifies as torture of an author and illegal in several countries. But ja, that's the only thing I would change about your stories.


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