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phoenix
16 July 2017 @ 07:33 pm
I'm moving to Dreamwidth!

http://rainwaterspark.dreamwidth.org

Since April was a haze of rushing to finish my law school requirements and stuff, I totally missed out on the changes to LJ's ToS, and since I often review queer fiction/talk about asexual issues, I was worried about my LJ getting deleted or something because of that. (Also, I'd wanted a name change for my journal forever, but didn't want to shell out the $$ to change it.)

I'll keep this LJ as a backup/record. I've imported all of my entries, though on DW I'm deleting a few (seriously only a few) entries that I regret writing.

EDIT: Forgot to add that I'll still be cross-posting here, for the time being.
 
 
phoenix
20 July 2017 @ 02:57 pm
Instalove. It's something that apparently can't be escaped, no matter whether you're reading m/f, m/m, or other romances. I migrated away from YA because I got sick of the pervasive instalove in the wake of Twilight, but reading adult queer romance hasn't exactly helped in that regard.

Take Moro's Price by M. Crane Hana. (Warning: The novel contains lots of nonconsensual/dubiously consensual sex.) Sprawling space opera with queer characters should be a win, right? For sure, the detail in the worldbuilding is fantastically inventive.

And yet...instalove. I read the beginning part twice and still can't figure out why Val and Moro like each other aside from "Wow that guy's hot, and he treats me with basic decency => True Love, I will marry you now."

*insert massive eyeroll*

I dunno, I guess when I started reading queer romance, I found more romantic development than in YA, but now...now, it just feels like I must've exhausted all those books and am running into instalove / "Why tf do these characters even like each other??" / "Our sexual chemistry is amazing == YOU ARE MY SOULMATE" everywhere. Even in books that I expect would do better.

Sigh.
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phoenix
17 July 2017 @ 06:22 pm
Another female-led Elseworlds DC comic alongside DC Comics Bombshells United? :DDD

I mean, just looking at that image of Wonder Woman on a motorcycle, it seems fantastic. I'd love to see something cool done with Big Barda, and hopefully we can see characters such as Black Canary (I feel like she'd fit this aesthetic perfectly).

DC fan forever <3
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phoenix
Recently, I saw a post that went something along the lines of "PTSD does not exist solely to be a plot device," and that got me thinking.

There is, very much, the expectation that mental illness serve as a plot device if it's invoked in a story. That's why we have so many "love cures depression/PTSD" narratives—because there's the expectation that characters might get some depression in the wake of a traumatic event, for "character growth" purposes and/or for the sake of adding a (temporary) obstacle For Drama, but then they'll "resolve" and "get over" their issues and then the story can go on.

I can, to a certain extent, understand the impulse. Story is all about choosing what is important to the plot and cutting out the nonessential parts, which can make it difficult to truly capture a mental illness/neurodivergent condition—because mental illnesses/neurodivergence involve a lot of mundane details and things people deal with on a daily basis. And the idea of using PTSD flashbacks as a dramatic way to reveal what trauma a character suffered in the past is pretty ubiquitous (partly because, again, it's dramatic, but partly also because most characters/people aren't going to be willing to freely talk about what trauma they've experienced).

But. When mental illness is always expected to be a plot device, and nothing more, that's when we get ableism.

It's when readers complain about rehabilitative arcs in a story, as though seeing someone recover from a trauma is not interesting and not worthy of being a narrative. Or—even worse—they don't want a character to have to need time to recover at all. As though the expectation is that a character will take ten pages to grieve/readjust and then bounce back into life, and if a character doesn't do that, there's something wrong with them.

But in real life, depression is not a means to an end. It is not the "obligatory" two weeks of grieving for a lost loved one before your friends yell at you to stop feeling sorry for yourself and you return with renewed vigor and purpose to whatever you were doing before. Depression is a mental illness, full stop. It means you are sitting on the couch with piles of dirty laundry everywhere and greasy hair because you couldn't work up the energy to do the laundry and take a shower, let alone do anything else. There is no "higher purpose" to that because that's not how an illness works.

And people need to think about what message they're sending, with regards to mental illness/neurodivergence, if they only want to read about the "flashy," "dramatic" parts but not actually the mundane, all-encompassing reality of it.
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phoenix
13 July 2017 @ 06:05 pm
(1)

Someone on Twitter: "Stop saying there's so little asexual representation in fiction [apparently because it's minimizing the representation that does exist (?)]"

...There is very little asexual representation in fiction. This is a goddamned fact.

Saying there is very little asexual representation...does NOT mean "I don't care about the asexual rep that does exist"??? Why do I even have to say this?????

I specifically follow queer indie publishers because they're more likely to publish books with asexual characters/relationships, and I STILL found very little asexual rep. And because asexual experiences can be so diverse, that means that just because a book has an asexual character doesn't necessarily mean every asexual reader can identify with the character (*raises hand*). So, for example, the kind of asexual character that I, personally, can identify with? I've literally read only 2 books where I saw that kind of character. Compared to, like, hundreds of books about allosexual gay/bi characters and thousands of books about heterosexual characters. There is no contest.

...I don't even know anymore.


(2)

Seeing people on Twitter like "OMG this book explicitly has the word 'bisexual' in it! I'm in love!!"

...And all I can think is, "Do you...not read queer romance...at all?"

So many of them have characters who are bisexual, who explicitly identify as bisexual and use the word "bisexual" in the text. Like...this might be rare in trad pub (traditional publishing), but it is not at ALL rare in queer romance/queer fiction.

Sigh.
 
 
 
phoenix
08 July 2017 @ 05:53 pm
I realize that I tend to enter a period of creative drought when my anger at published books starts to ruin the joy I feel in reading (which is linked to the joy I feel in writing).

I had several years' worth of writer's block at the end of my college years. Granted, I was also dealing with depression at the time, but I remember that that was when I was starting to get extremely frustrated with YA. I couldn't understand the popularity of books such as Shadow and Bone, Throne of Glass, and The Young Elites—they just seemed so terribly written, impoverished in worldbuilding, and filled with uncomfortable to outright harmful messages that I felt irritated all the time with the genre.

And so I sort of left the genre. I mean, I still read YA, but for the most part I'm just disappointed by what I read, and so I feel an emotional distance from the genre that I didn't feel before.

I switched to reading queer romance (largely MM romance), and now I find myself getting annoyed at that genre, too. I made the mistake of trying to read the books of one wildly popular MM romance author and, once again, becoming incredibly baffled by why their books were popular. Genre romance never used to be my favorite genre (because most of it is contemporary, and I often dislike contemporary fiction), but while I was at least entertained by the earlier MM books I read, I hit a point—especially with that popular author—at which I started to get extremely irritated by the lack of any chemistry other than sexual in the books I was reading, the lack of interesting plots, the lack of interesting leading characters, period. And I began to wonder if this genre were just sustained by sex scenes + drama with homophobia and/or being in the closet.

I don't want to hit a point at which I'm frustrated by the genres I'm reading. (Right now, I'm tentatively hoping that this fall's releases will rekindle my love for fantasy.) But, well, there are certain tropes that I have zero tolerance for (e.g. poor representation of mental illness/autism and romantic relationships that have mildly abusive dynamics) that keep popping up in the books I read, and so many books don't even have interesting plots, and there's nothing that irritates me more than reading a book and feeling like I wasn't even entertained by it.
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phoenix
A few days ago, I was reading a contemporary New Adult romance, about homophobia in a small Texas town (because of course), and the book was fine...until, halfway through, one of the protagonists—who is a recovering drug addict and abuse survivor—gets beaten up by the school bullies and burned on his chest (branded) for being gay, which of course triggers a downward spiral as he eschews his new boyfriend's company and returns to his abusive ex and resumes taking drugs.

And I quit the book then and there.

Things like this strike me as "manufactured drama." It's a tragic event completely out of the blue—in the words of a publisher I know, "coincidence"—that occurs to make the characters sad and set back their personal progress.

It's not that I'm against obstacles or conflict, obviously. It's just that these events seem calculated to be emotionally manipulative—they don't necessarily feel like an organic outgrowth of what's been happening in the story so far; they function as a kind of "shock factor," or "tragedy porn."

I don't like it when I can tell I'm being emotionally manipulated by the author. It's the equivalent of being yanked out of the narrative because the author's waving a neon sign that says "FEEL SAD NOW!" Dropping a random tragic event in the middle of a story does not make me sad—it makes me either confused or angry. There are so many other ways to trigger a relapse in a story that I don't know why the author had to go for literal torture.

*

"Grit."

What the hell does "grit" mean when we talk about books?

Because I honestly have no idea. I know of one author whose works are often described (by others, and also by himself) as "gritty," but the only definition of "grittiness" I can draw from his books is: lots of sex + characters whining about their problems.

Which is not exactly what I would think of when I think of the word "gritty."

I don't like the word "gritty" when applied to books, not only because it's clearly vague, but also because it seems, at least to me, to carry implicit moral judgment. Like, "my book is more 'gutsy'/REALISTIC because it's GRITTY, unlike certain OTHER BOOKS out there!"

So it's gotten to the point at which I sort of roll my eyes when I see the word "gritty" in the context of an author/book. I'm like "Pfft, yeah, okay, whatever."

I write fairly "dark" fiction, and yet I wouldn't even want to apply the word "gritty" to what I write because it just feels...pretentious to me. Like, I don't write my subject matter because I'm purposefully trying to write something "dark" or "gritty." The tone is an outgrowth of the subject matter, and the subject matter is an outgrowth of what I view as important themes or questions. That's all.
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phoenix
I don't think some people realize how personal of a decision it is to publicly identify a manuscript as #ownvoices.

After a lifetime of being shown that straightness, whiteness, and abled-ness are the default, it is incredibly difficult to identify your manuscript as deviating from those "norms." Because there will always be a voice in the back of your head wondering how you can be sure that identifying your manuscript this way will really be an advantage, or whether you're shooting yourself in the foot.

For those of us who are able to "pass" as non-marginalized, it is painful to reverse that instinct and reveal that you are marginalized, when we are so used to "passing" for survival.

And finally, revealing that your manuscript is #ownvoices can make rejections that much more difficult, and the prospect of getting rejections more frightening. Because your book is no longer just a book; you are publicly telling people that this is a piece of your soul, meaning that if they reject your book, they reject it knowing that.
 
 
phoenix
05 July 2017 @ 04:54 pm

I've seen a lot of agents/authors say that publishing is a business for the patient; that it can take years to go from finished manuscript to agented manuscript to published manuscript (and that's not even counting how long it can take to finish writing a manuscript in the first place), and that's just how the business is. I've seen people chastise novice writers for getting impatient with the querying process.

No one seems to be able to fathom why someone might rush to publication; the thinking seems to be, "If you've finished writing a novel, it's not going to disappear or become obsolete in the future, so what's the rush?"

I wrote Project E, the novel that I needed to read at that point in my life. I wrote a novel that could reassure me that asexuals could have romantic relationships without being forced to "get over" sex repulsion. I wrote a novel could reassure me that depression sucks and the world is unfair, but there is still a glimmer of hope.

Is it egotistical of me to think that somewhere, there might be someone else in a similar situation I was in, who needs to hear these same things? Maybe.

But the thought is what makes me want my novel to be published sooner rather than later.

Anyway...

I queried another agent who I know takes months to get back to people, though I kind of regret doing so now—I'd kind of rather submit directly to another indie queer publisher instead, since I've hit a point of extreme pessimism and think I'll just end up with another rejection. I finally decided on which indie publisher to submit to (after waffling between 2 presses), but all of my internet searches have suggested that it's better to query agents/submit to small presses separately, not simultaneously. So I'd have to wait until I get a definite rejection from the agent first.

Which normally wouldn't be too big a deal (aside from my growing general impatience), except I'm starting to get paranoid that the publisher I want to submit to (Ninestar Press) will close general submissions in the future, in which case I'd have to wait even longer. (Dreamspinner Press and Less Than Three Press have both closed general submissions for the time being, that's why I'm paranoid.)

Sigh. If I could go back in time, I would've changed the way I approached querying/submitting Project E, but there's no point in brooding over that now.

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