Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome. We all have it, don’t we? That feeling of “who the hell am I, to be calling myself a writer? Who the hell am I, to think I can write [whatever genre you write]?”

I have this in a bad way.

First, it was “who the hell am I to write gay romance? I’m not a gay man.”

Then I discovered that 90% of readers and writers of gay romance are women.

So it turned into “who the hell am I, a straight white chick writing about queer characters?”

Then I realized I’m queer AF.

So it turned into “who the hell am I to think I’m a writer? I don’t have anything published.”

Then I got something published.

So my brain says, “Yeah but that’s not good enough. Look at that guy. He’s got all kinds of books published. Look at her, she’s self-publishing like crazy. You’re over here with one little story, claiming you’ve been writing for years.”

You all know exactly how this feels. I guarantee it. There’s only one writer I know of who claims he never feels this way, and that’s Stephen King (and I still don’t really buy it). We all feel like we’re just stumbling along, clueless, faking it, hiding our inadequacies and hoping no one will ever find out that we have no idea what we’re doing.

How do we cope with imposter syndrome?

Just keep doing the thing you feel you can’t do. Keep writing. If you’re a straight white woman and you want to write about two guys fucking, do it. If you’re a 30-something man and you want to write a YA book with a 15-year-old girl MC, do it. If you’re a cis person and you want to write a trans character, do it. Be respectful and realistic, do your due diligence as an author, do research, and go for it.

Because here’s the thing, in my opinion: The fact that you are questioning your abilities and questioning your self-worth means that you are able and worthy. There’s this cool thing in psychology called the Dunning-Kruger effect and I think it comes into play here. Basically, people who are of “lower cognitive ability” suffer from an “illusory superiority”–in other words, people who can’t do things/aren’t good at things, think they can/are. They have no idea of their inadequacy.

If you are conscious of the fact that you need to improve, the fact that you may not “fit the bill,” then you are already on the right track. I want to write a transgender character. Though I am non-binary and therefore transgender, I am terrified of writing harmful rep or just writing something dumb because I don’t understand 100% what it’s like to feel wrong in your own body. Who am I to try to write that?

The trick is to kick imposter syndrome in the face and put in the work so that the imposter syndrome is invalid. Who am I to try to write a trans character? Well, I’m a writer, and I want to write a trans character. Boom. That’s all you need to get started. That, and the knowledge that you must do it well. I have trans friends, thanks to Twitter. I have the internet. I have other books. Imposter syndrome can nay-say me all it wants, but I can bury myself in research. I can make myself the type of person who is able to write what I want to write.

Try to look at imposter syndrome as a challenge to overcome. When you hear yourself asking “who am I, to do this thing?” remind yourself exactly who you are. You are a writer. You want to do this thing. The fact that you think you can’t or shouldn’t, is actually a sign that you’re already a step ahead of the pack. You can. You should. It will take work, but nothing worth doing is easy.

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My Asexual WIPs

It is Asexual (Ace) Awareness Week!

To celebrate, I’m going to talk a bit about my ace guys and why I’m writing them.

I currently have two novels in progress with asexual characters. The first one, tentatively named Trustfall, is a contemporary romance and features an asexual submissive gay man entering his first serious Dom/sub relationship. He is willing to have sex with his Dom to please him and to gain relief from sexual arousal (which, even without sexual attraction, CAN happen). This novel will portray a kinky relationship without sex. It is important to acknowledge that kink isn’t inherently sexual, and aceness doesn’t preclude kink.

The second, No Wrong Man (again, title may change), features an asexual man who does not have sex. Ever. This one is urban fantasy. Magic is real and commonplace, and the relationship between the ace guy and his boyfriend entails toys, masturbation, and (consensual) magical mind games, but never physical sex. This one ends up with polyamory, which will be fun and difficult to write.

To me, it is vital to have asexual characters appear in fiction. Since realizing my own asexuality, I’ve been incredibly motivated to write ace characters. It turns out I’ve been writing ace characters all along but never knew it. Those guys who just “don’t care about sex” or “haven’t had sex in years”… Turns out they’re ace. There are characters in other fiction who “don’t have sex” or whatever, but they’re rarely/never labeled asexual–whether because the writers don’t know the term exists/don’t understand it, or because the writers just don’t want to assign that term to a character, I don’t know. Maybe the author knows the character is ace but can’t figure out how to work that into the plot/dialogue. Maybe the author doesn’t know asexuality exists. Whatever the reason for the scarcity of ace characters, I don’t like it and I want it to change.

Romance–the genre I assign myself to–is often very sex-focused, as if a healthy sex life is the absolute most important part of every single relationship. That is not true. Everyone’s needs and desires vary, and I want to portray functional relationships that don’t hinge on sexual attraction. I want other people to portray them, too. I think realizing I’m asexual saved me from a potential huge mistake in my life, and I hope by writing ace characters I can help others reach the realization that being sexually attracted to a person isn’t the ultimate goal to aspire to in life.

Mental Health and Self-Awareness

I’ve been absent for a while here in blog-ville. It’s partly because yes, I burnt myself out on writing and, to be honest, life in general. All summer, I kind of just… meh. I “meh”ed through the past several months of my life. Financial strain, [physical] health issues, yadda yadda yadda. I won’t bore you with those details.

The other part of the reason I’ve been MIA from the blog is, well, mental health.

My anxiety has been unbearable. My depression has been there, too, but not nearly as bad. Usually depression is my prevailing illness. It makes me apathetic, unmotivated, just kind of a living blob, sluggishly meandering through the motions expected of a functioning member of American society. Work. Eat. Sleep. Work. Eat. Sleep. Meh. Life. Blah.

I know depression. Depression and I are bros. I wake up in the morning and go, “Oh. Guess it’s gonna be one of those days. Fuck. Gotta go to work anyway. Blah.”

ANXIETY, though. Man. Shit. I knew I had anxiety, but it’s usually kind of a lesser thing. It’ll flare up for a little while and make me avoid grocery shopping for two weeks because I’m afraid I’ll forget where I parked, or because I’m afraid I’ll see someone I know and have to talk to them, or because I’m afraid I’ll have to talk to someone I DON’T know. What if I get in a car accident? What if my credit card gets denied? What if what if what if what if…

Lately, though, it’s been… more general. I wake up in the morning and before I’ve even had a single thought, I’m afraid. No reason. No overthinking. Nothing. It’s just there. It’s there it’s there it’s not going away it’ll never go away what is wrong with me why am I like this?!

It was so bad I had to leave work because of it one day. I was sitting at my desk, pulling a blanket around my shoulders because I thought maybe that would help me calm down. I couldn’t talk to anyone. My staff had questions for me and I had to try to act normal to answer them. Finally I had to leave, I couldn’t function anymore. My heart was racing. I cried the whole way home. This was the first time I ever, ever in my life, thought about self-harming, just because I. NEEDED. IT. TO. STOP. and maybe pain would overwhelm it, or release it somehow. I didn’t, because once I cried a lot and got home and lay down with my pets, it abated some, but I finally understood the drive to self harm.

It was so bad I couldn’t go to my friend’s wedding because I didn’t know what to wear, I didn’t know who would be there, I didn’t know where it was, I didn’t know what would happen, I couldn’t drive that far, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop shaking, I had five sobbing emotional breakdowns before noon, I was eventually driven to drinking because I just wanted it to knock me out, calm me down, something, please, make it stop, please.

About two weeks ago, I saw a doctor and got on medication. I was told “you might not notice a change immediately. After about two weeks, other people will probably notice you’re acting different. After a month, you’ll probably realize you’re feeling better. After six weeks, you’ll feel great.”

Either there’s some placebo effect going on and I just feel better because I know I’m on meds, or my doctor seriously underestimated how aware I am of my own mental state, because I’ve noticed a change already. I feel more hopeful, less scared. I have motivation to do things. I cleaned my house this weekend for the first time in, hell, probably six months, and wasn’t annoyed or frustrated about it. I’m writing again, and feeling kind of excited about it. Even though things are fucking terrible in the world, it’s not getting to me as much as it has been lately.

It’s strange to notice these things. Logically, I know that anxiety and depression are just brain chemistry issues, but they’re me. They’re mine. It’s odd to feel better and know it’s not me. You can relate it to having a cold and taking Dayquil or something, and you know the cold is still there but the meds are suppressing it. It still feels different when it’s a mental health issue, though. A cold is physical symptoms–you take meds and notice you’re not as sniffly, your throat isn’t as sore, your muscles don’t ache. Anxiety and depression are mental symptoms. You take meds and realize your entire mindset changes. Your motivation changes. Your attitude towards situations and people change.

I will say this: I was on medication a few years ago (Zoloft) and I hated it. It did help, but it affected my creativity and eventually I ended up feeling like Not Myself. I felt better but it was artificial, like it forced my brain to change my behavior without changing my core feelings. I couldn’t write, so I was less clinically depressed but ended up being situationally depressed (or whatever the medical term is for that) because I knew I wasn’t doing the things that I normally like to do, and couldn’t make myself do them, and it was very frustrating.

I told my new doctor about this and she said she hates Zoloft and the one she prescribed me is much better, so we shall see.

The point of this post, I suppose, is to continue my attempts at being open about mental health issues, trying to crush the stigma surrounding them. I also want to say, don’t let anti-medication people get to you. I posted on Facebook when I got medication and a family member immediately tried to tell me that medication is bad. Why? Yes, I understand, it messes with your brain chemistry, and there are horror stories about “feeling like a zombie,” etc etc etc, but it’s the same as any other medication. Just like mental illness is the same as any other illness. You wouldn’t let your diabetes go untreated, would you? Why treat your mental health any different than you would your physical health? Yes, I know my sudden motivation and positivity is chemically induced. So what? If I need treatment in order to keep my sickness at bay, I will take the treatment. I want to feel better. There’s no shame in taking medication to achieve that.

Pay attention to your moods. I didn’t realize how far I’d slipped until I’d already gotten really, really bad. It sort of becomes the norm, the longer it goes on, but it shouldn’t be. If you realize things have been getting bad, seek help. You’re not weak for it.

Hopefully medication will also help me get back on track with blogging and writing. Fingers crossed you’ll see more of me here again soon!

Gender is Weird

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by even though I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve been on an unofficial writing hiatus trying to recover from burning myself out, but I have some thinky thoughts on gender identity right now and I want to put them into words.

Since joining Twitter and diving into the queer writer/writing community, I have learned Many Things–about queer things in general, and about myself specifically. My first big personal revelation was that I am asexual. That was cool. It was nice to realize that I’m not sick and I don’t need to keep working my way through lists of “how to improve libido.”

The second thing I have realized is that I am non-binary. Now, I had some inkling about this for a while, but I didn’t have the words or knowledge to understand it. Society conditions us to associate gender with reproductive organs. If you have a dick, you’re male, if you have a vagina, you’re female. End of story, and there are no other options. I’ve been spending months un-learning all that bullshit. It was surprisingly easy when it comes to other people. They say “I’m a man” and I say “Okay” and he is a man and I don’t give it another thought, regardless of their physical bits.

But it took me forever to realize and accept that I’m non-binary. I’ve always known I’m not “girly,” but I’m not “manly” either, and thanks to society, I figured those are the only two options and therefore I’m female because I have a female body. I assumed the “not liking girly stuff” is a matter of style and taste (let’s not even get into society’s definition of “girly stuff”). I don’t like certain female “titles” such as bridesmaid, maid of honor, Mrs., woman, or anything that has -ess on it to associate it with a female gender (hostess, mistress, etc). I don’t like those words assigned to me, but I assumed it had more to do with the social power implications (“bridesmaid” for example–“maid” implies sexual purity and/or servitude. Fuck all that).  I am fine with my anatomy. Boobs are annoying and I don’t want them, but mainly ’cause they’re big and floppy and bras are expensive, not because of any sort of dysphoria. I was raised very gender neutral, so for my whole life I’ve just thought my “not girly” behavior is just “me.” My dad wanted sons, and when he got daughters, he took them fishing and hiking and let them play in the mud anyway. My mother never tried to stuff me into dresses or force me to wear makeup.

So I assumed I’m female because anatomy and no dysphoria, and my quirks about feminine stuff are just a product of upbringing.

Then one day, suddenly, I realized there’s a third option. I was easily able to accept it with other people because they had it all figured out already and they’d tell me “Hey, I’m enby.” and I say, “Cool, what pronouns should I use?” Actually realizing that maybe I’m not girly because I’m not a girl was a mind-blowing moment. It’s not a style thing or a personal preference thing, it’s a gender identity thing. I’m not girly because I’m not a girl. HUH. WHAT?! NO WAY.

There are a zillion and a half gender identities out there, and I haven’t gone in depth with my research to determine which exact one I most fit. I’m content, for now, with leaving it at non-binary. I’m also content with using she/her pronouns, since those are the ones I’ve been using my whole life. I respect the fact that some people want to change pronouns, but for me, it’s not worth the effort of the conversation, explanation, request, and then reminders and feelings of disappointment when people forget (or worse, intentionally choose not to respect your request). So you can call me she, because that’s what I’ve known for nearly 30 years and that’s how I usually present. But if you call me he, I wont protest. You can call me “hey you.” I don’t care.

It’s an interesting thing, this “self discovery.”

Jigs and Reels – Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Who here loves free stuff?

Jigs and Reels has been out for a whole week already! Woohoo! To celebrate, I’m giving away two ebook copies of my story through Rafflecopter. Participate in any of the three entry options for a chance to win!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1c4c99ba1/?

Renewal Anthology – released today!

QSF Renewal-Print

QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies:

Re.new.al (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Renewal Banner

Excerpt

Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!

“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose

“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner

“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed

“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright

“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright

“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter

““Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich

“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne

“Intwir’s twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones

“‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel

“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton

“‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase

“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer


Included Authors

‘Nathan Burgoine
A.M. Leibowitz
A.M. Soto
Abby Bartle
Aidee Ladnier
Alexis Woods
Andi Deacon
Andrea Felber Seligman
Andrea Speed
Andrea Stanet
Anne McPherson
Bey Deckard
Brigitte Winter
Carey Ford Compton
Carol Holland March
Carrie Pack
Catherine Lundoff
CB Lee
Christine Wright
Colton Aalto
Daniel Mitton
Dustin Blottenberger
Dustin Karpovich
E R Zhang
E.J. Russell
E.W. Murks
Ell Schulman
Ellery Jude
Eloreen Moon
Elsa M León
Emily Horner
Eric Alan Westfall
F.T. Lukens
Fenrir Cerebellion
Foster Bridget Cassidy
Ginger Streusel
Hannah Henry
Irene Preston
J. Alan Veerkamp
J. P. Egry
J. Summerset
J.S. Fields
Jaap Boekestein
Jackie Keswick
Jana Denardo
Jeff Baker
Jenn Burke
Joe Baumann
John Moralee
Jon Keys
Jude Dunn
K.C. Faelan
Kelly Haworth
Kiterie Aine
Kristen Lee
L M Somerton
L. Brian Carroll
L.M. Brown
L.V. Lloyd
Laurie Treacy
Leigh M. Lorien
Lex Chase
Lia Harding
Lin Kelly
Lloyd A. Meeker
Lyda Morehouse
M.D. Grimm
Martha J. Allard
Mary E. Lowd
Matt Doyle
Matthew Bright
Mia Koutras
Michelle Browne
Milo Owen
Mindy Leana Shuman
Naomi Tajedler
Natsuya Uesugi
Nephy Hart
Nicole Dennis
Ofelia Gränd
Patricia Scott
Paul Stevens
PW Covington
R R Angell
R.L. Merrill
Rebecca Cohen
Redfern Jon Barrett
Reni Kieffer
Richard Amos
RL Mosswood
Robyn Walker
Rory Ni Coileain
Rose Blackthorn
Ross Common
S R Jones
Sacchi Green
Sarah Einstein
Shilo Quetchenbach
Siri Paulson
Soren Summers
Stephanie Shaffer
Steve Fuson
Tam Ames
Terry Poole
Tray Ellis
Vivien Dean
Wendy Rathbone
Xenia Melzer
Zen DiPietro
Zev de Valera

Jigs and Reels pre-order available!

Hi everyone!

I know I’ve been kind of quiet on the blog front lately. I’m working on getting back in the swing of things. I just wanted to pop in and give another publication update!!! Jigs and Reels is up for pre-order! The release date is September 16. I am absolutely in love with this cover. Check out the blurb below and click the link under the image to pre-order!!

 

Jigs and Reels final

BLURB:

Elijah works in a cubicle, lives with his parents, and never goes on dates. It isn’t an exciting life, but it’s safe and easy and that’s good enough.

Then he meets Peter, a whirlwind of a man who leads a traveling renaissance band. Peter represents everything Eli usually avoids, but his boisterous enthusiasm is infectious… and his band needs a fiddle player.

When Eli agrees to fill in for a weekend, he awakens a part of himself he thought long gone. With Peter’s help, he shakes off the dust that has settled on his soul and remembers how to have fun.

But when the band asks him to join them permanently, is Eli’s newborn sense of adventure — and insane crush on a man he barely knows — enough to make him leave the safety of a life he’s clung to for years?

Click here to pre-order!!

I’m going to be arranging some sort of release party on September 16, so stay tuned!