Camp NaNo

I’ve always wanted to write a novel. It’s been a goal-slash-dream of mine for as long as I can remember. But since it’s just a goal-slash-dream, it’s difficult to hold myself to any sort of deadline. I get busy, get distracted, come up with random other projects, get writer’s block and skive off… the list of excuses is endless.

That’s where NaNo comes in 🙂

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to participate in NaNoWriMo in November, but it always ends up screwing with either my schoolwork or my mental health – usually both. It’s just not a great time of year to be devoting a ton of time and energy to writing – exams are right around the corner, homework is at is heaviest, and there are lots (and lots and lots…) of academic deadlines. It doesn’t work for me.

So this year I’m doing something a little different: Camp NaNo! It’s run by the same people, and works on the same premise, but with two key differences: first, the goals are self-set, which means I can aim for something slightly smaller and have a better chance at success; and second, it’s in the summer, which is already setting me up for success – no schoolwork to take a hit, more free time, and lots of sunshine to keep my mood cheery.

You can find my profile here if you’re interested in tracking my progress throughout the month! I’m aiming for 25,000 words in July, which is approximately 807 words a day. I’m slightly ahead already, because I started writing a tiny bit (about 200 words) yesterday, which is fine by me because tomorrow is Canada Day and I probably won’t have a ton of time to write.

My Project This Year

The project I’m working on this year has been percolating since January or so. I’m going to write the Next Great Sherlock Holmes Novel! I’m excited about it. My goal is ultimately to get it published, but I’m slightly nervous that it would be dismissed as fanfiction* by publishers. Pastiche is, after all, the realm of Old White Guys, Not For Women (or silly fangirls), and especially Not For Lesbians (because all women who write m/m or f/f fic are hetero fetishizers™, obviously). Well, I’d like to change alla that. And I think that now there’s starting to be a bit of a market for it, even if it ends up with me just self-publishing an ebook.

*if you follow me on tumblr (and you should be) you know I write fanfic and love it. The difference here is that the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are public domain now, which means I’m legally allowed to publish and profit from this project. Fanfic (in my definition) is transformative work from a source material that isn’t public domain.*

Anyway, my Lesbian Sherlock Holmes Novel will be, you guessed it, a love story between Holmes and Watson. I haven’t decided if I want to re-imagine the original stories in a more modern context, or if I want to just use them as a jumping-off point and write an original plot. We’ll see how it goes. The description I currently have is:

Starting with A Study in Scarlet and incorporating some other classic cases, a retelling of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s love story – as young, modern queer women.

I’ll probably do at least one case from the short stories, but I haven’t decided which yet. I’m leaning towards skipping STUD and moving right into A Scandal in Bohemia. Mostly because Irene Adler needs to be adapted and modernized properly goddamnit!! I’ll probably pick one where Holmes gets injured, just because it would fit into the plot I vaguely have worked out.

However my plot works out, I’m certain of three elements:

  1. Holmes and Watson are in love. Always have been, always will be. It’s about time we start recognising it. (Do I have delusions of grandeur in which I’m know as “the author who brought Holmes and Watson out of the closet in mainstream literature?” Hell yes I do)
  2. The novel will be written in journal/notebook/diary format. I think it suits the voice and vibe I’m shooting for. Plus, the original stories are meant to be Watson’s writings about Holmes, so I think this would be a pretty good way to translate that to a more modern story. and
  3. Holmes is a problem-solver for queer people. She genuinely loves helping people and wants to do good.

I’m really excited about this project!!! (wish me luck!)

Xo,
Jami

Support me on Patreon!

Just a quick note to announce my new Patreon page!

You can find it here – there’s currently two public posts up, which talk a little bit about my writing, my goals, and my reward tiers. Please consider supporting me if you can!

 

The world needs more LGBTQ fiction that isn’t about being LGBTQ – romances, adventures, any genre you can imagine featuring queer characters! My goal is to contribute some of those stories. 

a change of plans

The plan suddenly made sense.

It’s essentially the same Plan that every other twenty-something girl seems to have – or at least the Plan their parents want for them: get a degree, start a career, meet someone, get married, start a family. The same safe, typical, heterosexual Plan that society has been dictating to girls her age since girls her age were first allowed to get degrees.

Except now, The Plan doesn’t have to be heterosexual at all. And for the first time, Gracelyn feels like it might not be the worst thing in the world to just – go along with it. To dream about falling in love and look forward to building a life with someone. Because for this first time, she’s allowing herself to consider having those things – romance, marriage, babies – with a woman.

It’s taken months – years, really, if you count the time she spent repressing and explaining away her attraction to women while forcing herself to date men – of questioning herself and generally having an existential crisis, but she’s finally accepted the fact that yes, she is gay, and no, the idea of romance and relationships isn’t as utterly repellant as she’d convinced herself it was for most of her life. It’s just the idea of romance and relationships with men that’s put her off so strongly. Knowing that she’s gay, acknowledging that it’s okay for her to want those things with women, makes all the difference. The Plan (with a captial “P”, as she’s apparently taken to calling it) that society seems to be so obsessed with suddenly makes sense.

And now, after what was probably the best first date she’s ever been on – and she’s been quite a few, although she’s never gone on a second date. No man had ever seemed worth the trouble (and of course, now she knows why) – Gracelyn stands grinning at herself in the mirror above her bathroom sink. I’m gay, she thinks to herself, I’m a lesbian. This is who I am. She’s said it out loud a few times to her closest friends and family members. But in the six months since she’s finally let herself consider being anything besides capital-S Straight, she hasn’t felt the truth of the word as strongly and deeply as she has been since earlier that afternoon.

*

She hadn’t expected to meet Catherine.

Gracelyn had run into her, not quite literally, at a tiny independent bookshop near the university. They both reached for the only copy of Tipping the Velvet, so that their hands bumped together in front of the shelf. Gracelyn jumped back, startled. “Sorry, you can take it,” she said automatically as she withdrew her hand.

The other girl’s eyes visibly tracked from her face to her shoes and back again, and Gracelyn blushed. “Tell you what,” the girl said, holding the book out to Gracelyn and grinning at her. “I’ll let you buy the book, if you let me buy you a coffee. I’m Catherine,” she added, and stuck out her hand.

Gracelyn’s blush deepened, staining her cheeks dark pink, and she nearly dropped the book in her hurry to shake the girl’s – Catherine’s – hand. “I – um – yeah, coffee would – um. Sorry, do you mean – ? Are you – ?”

Catherine laughed and her smiled widened, but it didn’t sound like she was mocking Gracelyn. “Yes, I’m asking you out. And yes, I’m gay. So – will you? Let me buy you a coffee, or at least tell me your name?”

“I don’t drink coffee,” Gracelyn blurted, and immediately wanted to clap her hands over her mouth. “Sorry. I mean – Gracelyn. My name’s Gracelyn.” She giggled nervously, and Catherine grinned back. “But I do love hot chocolate, and, um. Yes. I think I’d like to go out with you.”

Catherine’s grin turned slightly mischievous “You think, hm?” she teased, “You’re not sure?”

“No.  I mean, yes, I’m sure. Yes. I’d like to go out with you.”

“Great! D’you want to go now, or did you still want to look around here for a bit longer?”

“This is all I came in for, actually. We can go now if you want.”

They spent nearly three hours tucked into a quiet corner of the coffee shop on campus, It was a cozy little place, full of mismatched furniture, knick knacks, and paintings and photography by local artists.

Gracelyn and Catherine had started out sitting in opposite corners of the couch, but the longer they sat and talked, the closer together they ended up. By the time they’d finished their second oversized hot chocolates, they were curled close together and it was… comfortable. They didn’t talk about anything overly deep or personal, but the conversation flowed easily between them anyway; they liked a lot of the same music and had had a few of the same professors, and that was all it took to get them started on enough tangents to last most of the afternoon. Maybe that first date would lead to something serious, or maybe it wouldn’t. But it was fun, and comfortable, and the easiest first date Gracelyn had been on – well, ever.

For the first time Gracelyn wasn’t forcing herself to consider which qualities about the person sitting across from her she might find attractive, under the right circumstances, because she genuinely did think Catherine was attractive. And it was nice to not feel uncontrollably anxious or like she’d rather be anywhere else. It felt right, being on an impromptu coffee date with this girl she’d just met.

“I had a lot of fun today,” Gracelyn said as they left the coffee shop later that afternoon. Catherine had offered to walk back to Gracelyn’s residence hall with her, and had somehow managed to lead them in a long circular route that took three times longer than the walk normally would have. Surprisingly, Gracelyn didn’t mind – she was enjoying their easy, flirty conversation, and being walked home at the end of the date was surprisingly nice.

“So did I.” Catherine replied. She bit her lip, looking nervous for the first time since they’d met.  “Would you wanna maybe do it again sometime?”

“Yeah, I think I would.”

Catherine grinned and dug in her pocket for her phone. “Great! Here,” she fiddled with it for a minute, then handed it to Gracelyn, “put your number in? I’ll text you later.”

“Sure, yeah.” She entered her name and number, then impulsively turned the phone around to take a selfie for her contact picture. “Voilà.”

Catherine pocketed her phone. “See you around, Gracelyn,” she said, kissed Gracelyn on the cheek, and turned to leave. Gracelyn hadn’t expected to be kissed – she wasn’t expecting any of it, really, but especially not that – and she stood frozen for a few seconds. Her cheeks had turned bright pink with cold and excitement and shyness by the time she went inside.

*

Gracelyn’s phone chimes, startling her out of her thoughts and back into the present.

Text from: unknown number
Hey! I know I literally just dropped you off, but I realised I didn’t give you my number (oops). It’s Catherine btw!

Grinning, she adds Catherine’s number to her contacts and hits reply. Her stomach is full of butterflies, and she decides she likes the feeling when it’s caused by excitement rather than anxiety.

Text to: Catherine 🙂
Hey! No worries, I’m glad you remembered!  Thanks for walking me home 🙂

Text to: Rachel G
I love being gay 🙂

Text from: Rachel G
???? That’s great but what prompted this???

Text to: Rachel G
Meet me at dining hall in 15 and I’ll tell you! 🙂 🙂

“A” is for… Discourse?

Disclaimer: I have nothing against asexuality. It’s a real and valid thing. And I’m not trying to start or continue a fight, just doing some research and sorting it out on paper for myself. See my asexuality tag for more ace info, at least partially reblogged from ace people!

So the reason I’m writing this is that I reblogged a post I agreed with on tumblr, and I got a very rude, condescending response. Yikes. So I responded with what I thought, and it got me thinking. The post went like this:

what asexuality is:

  • valid

what asexuality isn’t:

  • sga
  • trans

therefore, it also isn’t:

  • lgbt

The rude response can be found here (and Grey, if you end up reading this, it wasn’t you!), as well as my response. But I’m not really writing about a little tiff I had on tumblr. What I’m writing about is the curious question of “ace politics”, aphobia and the issues behind the discourse.

The way I see it is like this: LGBT (or queer, if you prefer) people and hetero cisgender (cishet) asexual people do not have common histories. Queer people who are also asexual (or ace) share that LGBT history, but not because they’re asexual.

The majority of my argument can be summed up in a post made by leftbians on tumblr:

It’s always stood for Ally. Not that our predecessors necessarily wanted “allies” (cishets) in those spaces, but for things like college campuses they couldn’t be allowed unless they indicated that anyone could attend. Hence why it needed to be added here and there and may have spread elsewhere. It’s not like there was an official rule of “hey if you’re a cis person and straight then don’t show up” but I think it was implied to some degree.

Because it wasn’t ever talked about, it became a good way for closeted people to attend meetings, to attend events and meet people. If anyone asked why they went they could just say they were an ally and supported LGBT people. Sure, it might’ve gotten shit from people who found out like bigoted friends, family, but no one would mind as much if they were just an “ally” because at that point it would seem like the person was just supporting them out of politics and not because they actually were LGBT. Like, being a supporter of trans rights obviously is a lot safer than actually being a trans woman, it was true then and it’s true now.

It stood for ally before an additional A was added for asexual by David Jay, or before the A was revamped to say it stood for Ace, Aro, Agender (the latter of which makes no sense since it would fit under the T anyway). The thing is ace people literally could have attended previously since there is no legal way to bar people from LGBT spaces. Saying the A always stood for asexual is ahistoric. Trying to shove the A for asexual in is silly since LGBT resources/discussions etc. have little to nothing to offer to straight&cis people. It’s just an attempt to make it some all-inclusive thing for any person who somehow deviates from like the expectations of a 1940s nuclear family which is not at all what the point of the coalition was initially. And whatever resources the whole LGBT thing gives us (e.g. scholarships, shelters) should not be going to cishets (which is what straight aces are).

Most of the arguments against this seem to be that it’s “exclusive” or “gatekeeping”, or a form of lateral oppression. This point of view is pretty well explained in these posts on asexualityarchive.com. Basically, it comes down to a bit of Oppression Olympics: “I’m oppressed” “I am too” “No you’re not” “Yes I am!” “Well I’m MORE oppressed”. This is pretty unproductive, as it undermines the sense of community queer people share and doesn’t actually accomplish anything. The Huffington Post takes a much more neutral stance, although they’re still pretty much on board with including asexuality under the queer umbrella. 

Now, I’m not saying that asexual people don’t face prejudice. As the site says,

  • Pathologizing of asexuality as a disorder.
  • A lack of societal awareness of asexuality, which frequently leads to ignorance and insults.
  • Relationship issues, particularly family relationships and romantic relationships.
  • Difficulty navigating a sex-driven world, in particular, the social expectations regarding sex. [and]
  • Threats, coercion, sexual assault, rape (in particular “corrective” rape), and potentially even murder.

are all things things that ace people can and certainly do face, especially in instances of domestic abuse. The thing is, (and this is where the Oppression Olympics comes into things a bit) queer people face all of that and more. I’m talking things like

  • medical discrimination (AIDS, anyone? Trans folks especially have big issues with healthcare as well.)
  • religious discrimination (Westboro Baptist Church is the most extreme example, but many religions have extremists who preach that queer people are evil or going to hell.)
  • being kicked out of their family’s houses, or denied housing by landlords
  • being fired or denied employment
  • marriage discrimination
  • discrimination from shopkeepers

the list goes on. In fact, in lots of countries it’s outright illegal to be gay, bi, or trans. People are killed or arrested because of these laws. In many countries, that only changed within the last decade or so.

This isn’t to say that the struggles ace people face aren’t valid – feeling broken and isolated in a sex-crazed society, coming out, and miseducation aren’t easy things to deal with by any means – but to emphasize that being an ace cishet person is much easier legally (and yes, socially) than it is to be gay, bi, or trans.

That’s my position on the whole thing, anyway. And since so many tumblr arguments centre around one single word – “source?” – I figured I’d back myself up a bit. (That said, most of this is coming from a blogger I trust to fact check and who’s extremely well-read in queer history)

As I’ve already said, queer people and cishet ace people don’t share the type of history that forms a community. Although ace people are fighting similar battles now, the way to their success was paved and supported by queer people. “Gay people have really had it the hardest of all. From verbal abuse to being killed, they’ve been put under so much fire for expressing their sexuality. They’ve suffered a lot, they’ve paved the way,” said Mark McClemont in the HuffPost article. Bronte is so well-spoken that I could quote her endlessly, but the basic truth of unifying history comes from the AIDS crisis, so that’s the quote I’ll use.

When we talk about the AIDS crisis in relation to oppression which is unique to the LGBT community, we’re not saying that we faced unique oppression because, 20 – 35 years ago, we and people like us were in a high risk group for the contraction of HIV – that would be ludicrous. What we’re saying is that the AIDS crisis revealed people’s homophobic attitudes in ways which distinctly set our experiences apart from the experiences of cis het ace/het aro/aro ace people. To put it bluntly, they wanted us to die.

The first cases of AIDS were identified in 1981, and AIDS was initially called GRID, which stood for gay-related immunodeficiency disease. Gay and bisexual men and trans women accounted for disproportionate numbers of the people who contracted HIV and died of AIDS and other HIV-related illnesses due to the fact that, since the sexual liberation movements of the sixties and seventies and particularly after the Stonewall Riot in 1969, LGBT people had been far more sexually liberated, and, for obvious reasons, condom use was lower in these groups than in sexual interactions between (cis) men and women. There were also lots of LGBT communities growing at this time, so there were groups in which lots of people were having sex with one another. Additionally, the anal membrane is not as thick as the vaginal membrane, making the risk of the membrane tearing and bodily fluids entering the bloodstream more probable.

The links she adds (to her own writing and to outside sources) are also extremely informative, so click around her tumblr blog for more!

A third time for emphasis: the lgbtq community (although you could argue that coalition is more accurate, as it started by bringing gay, lesbian, and trans communities together during the AIDS crisis to be political and fight for rights, as well as fight AIDS) was entirely formed based on that shared history. Cishets simply aren’t a part of it, except as the oppressors. And since we’re on the topic of the ace community and AIDS, check out this list of links discussing it (the blog theme is a bit hard to read, so here’s those links). This is where the acronym comes from. It became popular around the end of the crisis, in 1988, because the separate communities had come together to battle a terrible, deadly crisis.

A second argument against expanding the LGBT acronym to include asexual (and aromantic) people is that the person most active in expanding it was David Jay, a “notorious homophobe and misogynist,” as Bronte says. He originally, whether seriously or in jest, arranged the acronym so that the word “fag” – a slur that a cishet man should definitely not be using – and the acronym BDSM (yes, as in kink, which is not what LGBT means!) both appeared in it. Not. Cool. I think this alone is enough to convince me to limit it to LGBTQ.

Basically the difference between being ace and being queer is that,

‘Asexual’ refers to how you experience attraction, while terms like ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ refer to who you experience attraction to (and so do terms like ‘bisexual’ – terms ending with the suffice ‘-sexual’ weren’t coined to refer specifically and exclusively to sexual attraction, one of many issues with the split attraction model).

That last link to the issues with the split attraction model is also worth reading – using it helps to perpetuate the idea that being queer is specifically about sex, that it’s a sexual deviancy.

This post also explains why cishet aces don’t get a choice about being called straight, which is an argument I’ve seen a few times. Although it doesn’t link to any articles or other sources, the point is clear: if  you’re heterosexual-aromantic or asexual-heteroromantic, you’re straight. That’s just what the word means. And no, the spinster movement was not queer. Also, here’s a fantastic post about why being called queer doesn’t make you queer. TL;DR: getting called a homophobic slur by a bully doesn’t give you the right to reclaim it if you’re not actually queer.

Now, I’ve already said that I don’t think queer people should totally withdraw support from cishet aces, especially since we’re all fighting (when we do fight) for better education and a more inclusive society. Noble goals, right? But is it really the job of queer folks to support and stand up for cishets? They’ve spent decades oppressing, murdering, and excluding us. Why are they our responsibility? They barely take care of us, we don’t have an obligation to take care of them. They’re already catered to in society, what with the thousands of romcoms and love stories out there featuring a moderately attractive white man and woman.

I could probably make this point myself, but Bronte is so damn articulate that I’ll just quote her instead:

I agree that aro and ace people need support, but the LGBT community is not a catch-call club for anyone whose sexuality falls outside of the hegemonic group. When groups of people share specific needs, like LGBT people do and like ace and aro do, the most productive thing to do, as LGBT history illustrates, is to form a community specifically to provide for those needs.

The argument that (cishet) aces belong under the queer umbrella is often based on the fact that they, too, deviate from the norm. This argument doesn’t really hold water, because it’s exactly the opposite of what lgbtq activists are trying to prove. We’re not abnormal, we’re not weird or wrong or broken. We’re as normal and natural as cishet people. (Ace people are too, but that’s rather beside the point.) As this blog post says,

There is NOTHING fundamentally abnormal about gay love. What makes it a unique experience, and what causes gay people to require communities and safe spaces and resources and support, is that gay people are targeted by homophobia. Gay people only ‘deviate from the norm’ in that they are oppressed by the forces of homophobia.

Homophobia is perpetuated by cishet people. When ace and aro people suggest that cishet people should be allowed into the LGBT community – a community of people whose shared experience is one of being hurt by cishet people, who are bound together by the fact that cishet people decided that not only were they disgusting and wrong but they should literally be killed – they show a fundamental misunderstanding of what the community provides.

Just for fun, let’s talk about the entitlement of all of this: why do cishets want into our spaces so bad? Are they lonely in the society that loves, cherishes, and caters to them? Do they think we’re just a fun club and a cool parade? Are they jealous of our badass rainbow aesthetic? Who knows. But honestly, this post (quoted here for clarity’s sake) about sums up the problem with it:

“All you het aces still belong in pride remember that and ignore those who tell you differently”

“Well, I carry a gun, so it’s not like they can make me leave…”

“straight people threatening to shoot lgbt people? groundbreaking.”

This is now almost 2500 words long, so I’ll end it here. But there’s more discussion out there about why this whole ~discourse~ is actually pretty harmful to queer people, if you’re interested in looking that up.

In conclusion: Asexuality is valid and real. Society needs better education, representation, and inclusiveness. But ace people aren’t queer because they’re ace. If they’re queer, it’s because they’re gay, bi, or trans. Not because they don’t feel sexual attraction.

I’m ending with another Bronte quote because, obviously, I have a bit of a tumblr crush on her. Oops.

it’s just so bizarre to me when people who aren’t lgbt demand entry to lgbt spaces and claim that we’re excluding them like do you think those places just popped into existence??? no, lgbt people built them, often put themselves through experiences ranging from estrangement to assault to build them, with lgbt people and their needs in mind. if you feel that your community has needs which deserve spaces to cater to them, do what our elders did and get to work (and believe me, it’ll be far easier for you than it was for them)

If you got this far, thanks for reading!
xo,
Jami

Ps: I didn’t look too closely at the source for the post that sparked my interest (very first link), but I’ve been reliably informed that they’re Not a good blog, and in fact quite hateful. That’s unfortunate, but they made a pretty decent point in that post. At the very least, it’s concise.

Pps: this got long and I got tired, but if you’re interested check out @queersherlockian and @vauxhallandi’s posts about why the term “allosexual” is harmful (lumps lgbtq people in with cishets), invasive (in that it makes very personal assumptions about how non-asexual people experience attraction), leaves out demi- or grey-asexuals, and basically shouldn’t be used!

Tragedy

I wish I could say something profound and eloquent about the tragedy in Orlando yesterday. I wish I could say that it’s not absolutely breaking my heart, that I’m not shocked and nearly speechless.

I had a fun book review planned and halfway written to post, but this is definitely more important. What happened in Orlando yesterday was not because the shooter was Muslim, it was because he was homophobic. The shooter’s father stated that he had seen two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago in front of his wife and kids and became enraged.

Saturday night at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, was Latinx night, and was hosted by a trans woman of colour. Authorities said that the shooting was organized and well-planned. What this means is that it was extremely likely that this act of terrorism was not only homophobic, but also racialised. It was not a coincidence that the shooter chose this Saturday night — Miami is so diverse that it is extremely likely that the couple the shooter saw kissing was not a white couple.

I’m not sure what else to say about it. It’s sad and scary that things like this still happen. People say, “you’ve got marriage equality, what more do you want??”. What I want is to be safe. I want to stop seeing LGBTQ women dying on tv, because it “furthers the plot” or has “shock value”. I want straight news reporters to sit down and shut up with their islamophobic, subtly homophobic speculation about the shooter’s motives. It was a hate crime. It was a homophobic hate crime that took place during pride month. I’m hurt and scared and upset.

There’s a vigil happening in Wolfville Wednesday, and one in Kentville tomorrow. I’m hoping to get to both of them. I’m going to the pride events in Halifax next month if I can get to the city, and any the crop up in Wolfville. As scary as this attack is, I refuse to let it shove me back in the closet. I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud of being able to go to pride events. A homophobe with a gun cannot, will not, take that away from me.

This isn’t the most informative or coherent post I’ve ever written, so I’m gonna add some links to actual sources and things:

This is a partial list of names of victims that has been released. It’s so important to remember the names of the victims. Remember them, remember who they were. Remember their names. They  were real people, not just statistics in the worst mass shooting in American history.

This is the page the Guardian is keeping updated about the shooting. Some of it is a little vague and islamophobic, but many of the important details are there.

All around the world people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning. On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. All we can say is you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy.

Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.

The above is a quote from James Corden, who opened the Tony awards last night. Lin Manuel Miranda also wrote and performed a sonnet to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting. It made me cry, honestly.

You can also find some of my own tumblr posts and things I’ve reblogged in my Orlando tag or my Pulse tag on tumblr. There are some more sources, resources, tweets, and other things there.

The shooting is a truly awful tragedy. I hope all LGBT+ people stay safe and strong and stick together in the coming weeks. It’s devastating, but I hope that out of it will come a stronger sense of community and, if we’re very, very lucky, further discussion about gun control in America.

xo,
Jami

Not Dead

It’s been such a long time since I’ve updated this blog! I’m pretty sure no one is or was reading it, but that’s beside the point (I guess?) since I rather enjoyed writing here semi-regularly.

So, quick(ish) update of what’s been going on since November:

  • My second year at Acadia went way better than my first year. My GPA is now respectable, my academic adviser wants me to consider doing an Honours thesis (yikes), and I have a job at the university library for next year.
    • I finally declared a minor – I’m taking psych! I’m looking forward to it.
    • I’m also considering (and by that I mean, it occurred to me the other day and it was my plan a couple of years ago) taking journalism after I finish my undergrad. Other options include elementary education, public health/sex education, and a vague “I could move to a big city and work for a publishing house” idea.
  • I moved into an apartment a little over a month ago, and I really love it! It’s close to campus, my landlords are amazing, and it’s a cute little place. I have a few friends in town for at least part of the summer, so it’s not overly lonely, and my roommate is moving in in late August.
    • My parents were just here for the weekend, which was nice but I’m really glad to have my space back. I’m not sure how I’m gonna cope with having a permanent roommate, but I’m sure I’ll adjust to her again.
    • My parents bought me a bunch of groceries and help fix the place up a bit (which they also did when they helped me move in) and it just keeps getting homier. Plus, they saved me 75$ on food, so that was awesome.
  • The Big News (that I probably should have got to first, oops) is that I broke up with my boyfriend and came out as gay.  !!!!
    • I’m a lesbian. (That feels damn good to say!!)
    • I felt really really bad, but he took it as well as could be expected, and we’re tentatively being friends now. Honestly, he deserves better than dating a gay girl.
      • He might come to my brother’s grad party, which would be fun and awkward. I do miss him.
    • My family took it so well I’m so grateful WOW. They were really nice about it, although there was a bit of controversy about how I chose to come out. Either way, my family loves me and seems to be okay with me being gay. We’ll see how bringing home a girlfriend (eventually) goes.
      • My aunt laughed at my gay pun tshirt and asked if I’d been dating at all, which was super nice. It made me happy 🙂

That’s pretty much my life in a nutshell right now. I don’t normally write in point form here, but there was a Lot of updating to cover and I didn’t want to end up with a thousand word novel about the last seven months of my life.

The biggest problem I’m having is that I’m not sleeping through the night. Not sure what’s causing it – hormone imbalance? depression? too much screen time? Who knows – but it’s freaking annoying. Actually, I’m writing this now because I was flipping through the apps on my phone at like, quarter to six this morning and ended up clicking on the link to my blog on instagram. I’ve been awake since four this morning, and only went to sleep around one-thirty. Yay.

Enough about me. Tell me about your summer plans!
xo,
Jami

ps: if anyone can point out the BBC Sherlock reference in this post, I’ll send you cookies (;

“The End”

The month of November has been quite a journey for me. I posted a bit about it on my tumblr, but most of the “journey” hasn’t been terribly obvious to most people. Occasionally I just stop and think to myself, “Look at how different this year is from last year. Look at what I’m doing.” This time last year, I was barely getting by in school, not going to most of my classes, and generally in a bad place. My attempt at NaNoWriMo had gone absolutely horribly, I was still wrestling a bit with things like identity and sexuality, and dealing with a real mental health crisis for the first time in my life.

This year, I’ve written not quite fourteen thousand words for my novel, which I plan on finishing and revising in upcoming months (and years), started a new fandom blog, written and edited some fanfiction, and kept my head almost totally above water academically. I’m (understandably, I think) disappointed that I didn’t reach my NaNoWriMo goal of 25,000 words, but all in all I think I’m doing relatively well.

I’m so glad that I decided to write with a regional group this year. I think it was a really great way to keep myself motivated and prevent the extreme discouragement that knocked me flat last year. The people I’ve gotten to know this month at Write-Ins and other NaNo events are people that I’m glad to have in my life, despite the fact that we’re not especially close. They are kind, creative, welcoming people who have cheered me on and encouraged me to push myself creatively this month, and I’m hoping that next November (and possibly the time in between, if I manage to drag myself to the writing group meetings) I’ll get to write with all or most of them again.

So all in all, November was a pretty successful month. Maybe not exactly the type of success I was hoping for, but successful all the same.

I’m already looking forward to next NaNo!

xo,
Jami

The End of NaNo Prep

October is almost over, and despite having a substantial amount of outlining done, I don’t quite feel ready to take on NaNoWriMo come Sunday. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something Big and Important that I’ve forgotten to do during the prep period, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. (Develop time-management skills, perhaps?)

I think it’s probably because of the sheer amount of school work I have looming, but it just seems like October didn’t last long enough and November – and the end of the semester, exams, Christmas, etc – is coming on far too quickly. It’s mind-blowing to me that I’m almost finished my third semester at Acadia – it’s been quite an amazing experience. But with Halloween, NaNo, my 20th birthday, and Christmas all on the horizon, I don’t really have time for nostalgia – there’s too much to do!

At the second-last NaNo prep meeting (Monday the 19th) we talked about upcoming events (the NaNo kickoff party sounded fun, but I went to a haunted corn maze instead, which was a ton of fun) and got to know one another a little bit. I had a few people say they liked the idea of my novel, which was encouraging,

We also talked about one of the most important parts of writing a novel: conflict. Conflict is absolutely necessary to having an interesting story, because without it you’re left with several chapters of day-to-day life that don’t really go anywhere. The exercise we did to work on developing conflict in our novels was writing a twenty-five word (or so) synopsis of our plot and then letting the rest of the group suggest conflicts and/or plot points. It was surprisingly helpful!

The synopsis I gave was: “Undergrad student meets a mermaid at the beach. Mermaid also meets another undergrad student; three girls navigate relationship(s)”

I left it pretty vague because I’d already done most of my plotting and outlining, and wanted to see what other’s would come up with given a vague idea of my pre-plot characters.

I got some really great suggestions (which I’ve left unedited here), including:

  • mermaid has dark secret/secret mission sent from the sea with (fall in love, etc)
  • girl who finds her first gets jealous of other’s relationship (maybe?)
  • mermaids can leave water but there is a time limit or girls can stay under with herbs but magic is running out
  • mermaid finds secret to becoming human
  • one student becomes mermaid
  • just being able to see the mermaid changes the reality around them. As the mermaid speaks (or as her story unfolds) different parts of reality change to match her tale

I’m not sure if all of them will fit in to my novel as it stands now, but I really enjoyed reading them and some of them did spark ideas for conflicts in the plot as I have it planned, which I suppose was the point of the exercise.

This Monday (26th October) we had a character workshop, which mostly focused on things like character’s motivations and secrets that could affect the plot. One of the exercises we did was similar to last week’s: we gave a short bio of our characters, swapped papers with someone else, and they suggested secrets.

The mini-bio I wrote was: “Melody, 21-22, female, lesbian, redhead, lifeguard, confident, loves period dramas/historical fiction, studying to (eventually) be a lawyer (undergrad), tidy, sarcastic.”

And some of the secrets I got back included:

  • I kissed a boy and I liked it
  • she dyes her hair
  • dark lifeguard event last summer @ a camp or pool, a child died
  • she dreams of time travel
  • she has a crush on Jane Austen

A few of the secrets suggested actually apply better to other characters (in my opinion, anyway), but it was still a lot of fun! I have the beginnings of a huge folder full of NaNo stuff, which makes me a little less nervous that I’m going in blind (which I know I’m not, anyway, but still).

NaNo prep was a great experience, and I’m kind of sad it’s over. Some of us went to a restaurant in town (Joe’s) afterwards, which was a lot of fun. They make really great sweet potato fries – yum. I’m really looking forward to Monday’s write-in, I’ve never done NaNo with a region before so I’m excited to see how that goes.

I’m also really excited about the Haunted House that my residence is putting on this weekend — If you’re in the area, come get spooked Saturday night! It’s for a good cause!

Happy Halloween!
xo,
Jami

Success!

I will freely admit that normally, when it comes to writing, I am a terrible planner. I never know where my story is going, what my characters want or what their goals are, what roadblocks will come up… none of it! By NaNoWriMo’s definition, I am very much a “pantser”, meaning that I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when writing.

BUT.

This year, since the idea that inspired this endeavour seemed to come fully-formed with a beginning, a middle (with conflicts!) and two possible endings, I am pleased to announce that I have an outline for an entire twenty-four chapter novel!

Outline
Microsoft PowerPoint has revealed itself to be an excellent outlining tool. I never would have guessed, but the flexibility it offers with text boxes, layouts, and slide types is helpful and effective.

I still don’t have a proper synopsis, because writing a synopsis is surprisingly difficult, but I’m sure that will come.

I’m really excited about the next NaNo Prep meeting, which will be a workshop on characters. I have some of my characters sketched out pretty well, but some of them definitely need some work. Having an outline should help with that, because the characters will have to respond to specific situations, which I think will help me “get to know” them a little better.

Anyway, the only real reason for this post is for me to be self-congratulatory, so there it is.

xo,
Jami

NaNo Prep: First Meeting

Earlier this evening I went to my first-ever NaNoWriMo meet up at T.A.N (a coffee shop near my university). It was surprisingly relaxed, and I was a lot more comfortable than I expected to be despite getting there nearly half an hour late and being the youngest person there by a not-insignificant margin. Everyone was really nice, and it was exciting to be around people who are also planning to spend their Novembers being absolutely ridiculous and creative. I still haven’t decided if I want to go to all of the future events, because that’s a big time commitment, but I’d like to go to at least the rest of the prep meetings, because I think they’ll be really helpful.

Our prep topic for tonight was Contrast, which isn’t something I’d thought about in the context of writing before. Liz (one of our Municipal Liaisons, or MLs) explained it in terms of the Lord of the Rings novels: there tends to be a comfortable, relaxing scene — usually involving a feast or other type of entertainment with friends — before a big confrontation or battle scene. Contrast can also be the differences between your protagonist and your antagonist, but that’s not what we were working on tonight. Liz gave us a writing prompt to help us practice contrasting scenes (and also to get some creative juices flowing, although I didn’t write anything related to my novel for the month). We had to write a scene to contrast a funeral; here’s what I wrote: (child’s birthday party –> balloons, streamers, children playing tag)

“You’re It!”

“Guys, don’t run in the house, please. Please go play outside.”

“Katie hit me!”

“I need to pee!”

“You’re It!” “No I’m not! Mama! Blaire’s cheating!”

“Sweetheart, I’m trying to get the cake ready. Don’t you want to eat your cake before everyone needs to go home?”

“Cake!” “Cake!” “I want a piece!” “I want ice cream on mine!”

“Hey you guys, guess who I just saw outside?” Sarah, the babysitter, pokes her head in from outside. All of the children stop running and crowd around her, trying to see out.

“Who is it?” “I wanna see!”

“Elsa is here! Want to come say hi?” Sarah steps aside and the kids swarm past her to where a teenager dressed in a sparkly blue dress and a white-blonde wig stands. Immediately, all of the little girls run up to her, asking questions and demanding hugs, while most of the boys hang back, pretending not to be interested in meeting the princess.

It’s not much, but I thought it contrasted really well with the sombre mood of a funeral.

After the meet up, I was feeling really inspired and excited about Nano, so when I got home I officially announced my novel on the newly-relaunched NaNo website. I also fiddled around a bit more on my profile, and introduced myself on the Wolfville region forum.

Everyone at the meet up seemed really enthusiastic about my idea, which I described as a YA romance with one of the main characters being a mermaid. It was gratifying to know that they didn’t think it was a stupid premise, but like I said they’re all older than me and at least one of them is quite religious, so I’m a little concerned about their reactions to realizing that it’s about lesbian mermaids, specifically.

Other than that, though, I’m really looking forward to planning and (hopefully) writing and participating in NaNo as much as possible. I’ll do my best to post regular-ish updates here, with possible sneak peeks at my novel.

xo,
Jami