Looking back and looking forward:
– What the fuck is up with me –
Writing has been the last thing on my mind for nearly half a year now.
Past me would look at the lack of output and probably get pissed off about that. The lack of stories sent out to publishers, the reviews and blogs done only when heavily encouraged, the now-rare dumps of 3am ramblings into my “Ideas” document, these were something that I as an aspiring author rely on to keep the creative process going.
That’s not been happening. And for once I’m not fighting myself over coming up with excuses. I can grasp a truth and pull myself up from there.
Where better to nail that truth, skewered to the wall like some kind of deranged warning to myself, than this medium we all hold so dear.
Hold on tight, timid reader, this is going to get bumpy and you only get to ride once.
First off I’m addressing the matter of the black dog in the room.
Five years ago – nearly to the day – I stopped taking medication that I had relied on to keep me safe. Anxiety and depression had almost ended me a half dozen times over the course of three months and the crutch of medication kept me from falling into the abyss. By the end of two years the pills weren’t helping because instead of keeping my brain chemicals in check I was relying on them to fix a bad situation. In June 2012 that bad situation came to a halt and so did the need for medication. The black dog had skulked off and I could live my life with only a glimpse of the beast every six months.
Tear five years of pages from the calendar and here we are again. The anxiety started up again and along with it came the depression, this time they wanted to stay. So back to the doctors, after convincing myself I wasn’t moving backwards, and back to the same little pills that kept me safe all those years ago. Within a few days the chemicals balanced out again and there was a bubble was keeping the bad out.
Will I stay on these little pills? These friendly little neurochemical engineers so easy to rely on? Probably not. I spent a long time learning how to deal with the bad times, and I hope to return to the days when I could stand against the black dog on my own, but the pills give me that time to breathe without having to monitor my every move for the wrong ones.
Okay. Easy – relatively – part over. Major psychological disorders tackled in the space of a couple of paragraphs. Time for the interesting stuff.
Writers have to have their own voice. It’s that thing that stops every novel from reading exactly the same as each other. Finding my own has been a struggle. As I reach my thirtieth year I come to the realisation that the reason I don’t write characters that fit is that I don’t fit.
Digging through everything I’ve written over the last decade has brought me to a realisation that was difficult to handle at first. Some tasks you never get the right tools to overcome.
Reading back over my own stuff I’ve realised that I don’t write male characters well because I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea of myself as a neurotypical male. Nor do I find place with my own female characters. My writing mirrors my own reality. I’m not male configured. I’m not female configured.
There, I’ve put it to paper now. No taking it back.
I probably would have figured it out a lot sooner if I hadn’t put myself through the navy and the toxic binary attitude of it. Five years of “Be a man. Harden up and act like a man. Man up, sailor” can take its tole on the whole self-awareness thing. In the end that was my decision and I live with it.
But eventually I got there, thanks to a few people who live proud Non-Binary lives. If I had known people like that years ago this probably wouldn’t have come as such a shock. Or maybe it would have.
Finding my own Non-Binary voice is going to be a journey I’m looking forward to taking. Not having to try and shape myself to an ideal is like getting to shed my shackles and move on with my life. All I ask from you, dear confused reader, is that you don’t try to label me. I’m me. The definite article. Whatever that happens to mean.
You can learn more about Non-Binary at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer
The last thing I need to address is a bit of a weird one. It relates to sexuality but I’ll keep this short and SFW.
This is something I’ve been trying to understand even longer than the whole gender narrative. But like with everything else I got there.
I’m what I’ve come to learn is known as Demisexual. A strange middle ground between sexual and asexual. You can read more about what that means over at http://wiki.asexuality.org/Demisexual, but in essence it means that my sexuality and romantic interests are based on strong emotional attachments. If I were to assign some kind of narrative device to explain it then consider me the sexual equivalent of a werewolf; unseeming and unaware most times, but come that special full moon and interesting things might happen.
I wouldn’t have been able to get through all this without my loving partner who has been by my side for years now. She is my full moon and the woman who doesn’t expect me to be anyone but me.
So yeah. That’s me. A drugged up, reasonably stable, demisexual non-binary type who is just trying to find their voice.
Will this change what I write? Probably not. It’ll probably just mean I don’t gender my main characters as often. But I am hoping that knowing who I am is a step in the right direction to becoming a better writer. Isn’t there an old adage “Write what you know”? Knowing yourself has be a start.
Thank you all for coming. You can get souvenir photos and key-chains from the gift shop.