Winter Updates: Writing, Activism, Queerness!

I want to get back to more frequent blogging. It’s been interesting for me to see the ways the frequency of my blogging here comes in waves, how when I am at my busiest writing times my blogging tends to slow down. This most recent quietness here fits that trend I’ve been so busy writing on the book that all other writing has been on the back burner a little bit. 12 years ago this week I became homeless. It was fast and sudden and unexpected. One day I was living with my dog trainer who had helped me escape my mom, the next day she read my journal, realized I was a dyke and called my school to tell me she wouldn’t be picking me up that day, that I shouldn’t come “home” again. The days that followed were the inspiration for what became Kicked Out- and it’s incredible for me to look back at that time. I never could have imagined that 12 years later this would be my life, that I would have this incredible queer family, and an incredible community that includes all of you!

I mark the things that matter the most to me in blood and ink, being selected as the recipient of the emerging author award from the Lambda Literary Foundation and walking across the stage at the Lammys to receive the ward this year is one of the biggest honors, and most important things that has ever happened to me. I knew instantly when I got the award that I needed to make that moment physically part of me. I couldn’t get the tattoo right after the Lammys because it was summer and I had beach vacations planned, so this winter was the ideal time to make this experience permanently part of me.

Lost Boi, my new novel which is a queer/leather retelling of the Peter Pan story has captured me completely and has been a primary focus for me.  In December I sent out the first draft to a group of beta readers. It’s so important for me as a writer not to exist in a vacuum and to get feedback on my work, sending out early drafts is also a super vulnerable process especially since most of the content of Lost Boi was very raw and although I had talked through some of the plot points with people close to me, the story had never been read. I got some amazing and truly valuable feedback from readers and spent the month of January and the first part of February incorporating all of it into a reworking of the novel. This week I finished the rewrite and couldn’t be more pleased with how it has come together. I think that this new book is the best thing that I’ve ever written, its plot challenged me in new ways and I’m thrilled to see what the community thinks of it when it goes out into the world! I’m currently working on query materials and really look forward to seeing what the future holds for this novel.

Although my primary focus of my creative work has definitely been on Lost Boi, I’ve also been trying to do lots of other writing, I’ve had some work accepted into upcoming anthologies that I’m very excited about, and I also was invited to write a chapter on how to write about trans characters for an upcoming YA writers guide (more details on all of this very soon!). It was fun to work in short form again and reminded me how much anthologies have been an important part of my literary life both as a reader and as a writer. My little pink planner (I went back to a physical planner for 2014) is filled with deadlines for other anthologies whose calls for submission have captured my interest and sparked the idea of a story.   I’m hoping to find (and prioritize) the time/focus/inspiration to write and submit stories for at least some of these projects.

Outside of writing I’ve been keeping busy. The big project (other than writing Lost Boi) I’m working on right now is the Queer Book Diorama exhibit I’m co-curating Hugh Ryan! The book dioramas will be on display at the New York Public Library Jefferson Market branch in August/September. The exhibit is being supported by the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, and the Lambda Literary Foundation and is going to be an incredible time for the community to come together and explore together what queer books mean to us. So far Hugh and I have gotten proposals from all over the United States, Canada and even from several countries in Europe! Have you been impacted by a queer book?  Have you as a queer person had a powerful connection to a book?  Have you submitted your proposal yet???? More info here

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which writing, activism and identity go together. Last week I was included in Marcie Bianco’s article  “Queer Writing and the Strictures of Identity Politics” on Lambda Literary exploring Queer literature as a genre and what it means to be a queer writer, or a writer who is queer (the former is more accurate for me, the later for some of my peers. It was a interesting conversation, and one that I was really honored to be included in. I know that this is just the beginning part of a larger conversation that Marcie (and others) are interested in having, and I’m really excited about continuing to participate from the perspective of someone whose goals are to write niche stories by/for queer audiences. Check out the full conversation here

Several months ago I recorded an interview with the Prairie Schooner’s radio show Air Schooner about writing and activism. The show which also included my buddy Kit Yan as well as essayist Katie Hogan is focused around queer activism within the written word, and the way that writing can be a form of activism. The interview came together super well and I’m so pleased when I see literary publications tackling the intersections of queer politics and creativity! Check out the episode here.