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Artistic Integrity

I've been sitting on an ever-growing stack of science fiction and fantasy novels since I published Raven Dance in 2000. Every year I participate in NaNoWriMo and usually the 3 Day Novel contest too, either officially or just by spending Labor Day Weekend writing a new short novel.

I just keep writing them and stacking them up in my hard drive. Editing is a daunting task especially when all of them have the same problems that I need to overcome in order to produce good professional quality work. I decided to go indie some time back after watching the way the publishing industry changed and keeps changing.

90% of the delays are due to physical or financial hardship. I'm a disabled 58 year old transman who only worked full time for about a decade and never did get ahead enough to get past basic survival, let alone pay for needed medical care. I never got insurance because I was trans and I wasn't going to take that money out of necessities like rent and bills and food for self and significant other if it didn't cover my gender reassignment treatment. Disability, trans and aging all combined to a perfect storm and I was homeless for a long time, sub-marginal long before I was homeless, sub-marginal all through the 90s even if some of that was actually one of my most prosperous times in terms of physical comforts.

The other 10% is something uglier. Self acceptance, choice of living stealth or being out of the closet and wimping out on my GBLT themes and social science fiction themes. I've sweated over that all along.

If the right thing to do is stand up for my rights and link arms with anyone else who's gotten oppressed for any reason (which does make for a pretty HUGE majority), then I should write my brooks true to my view of life and just find my readership. Trust that it's out there. Trust that some people will read a blog entry about transgender issues and find out I do SFF and check it out because they are sick of wimpy princesses who don't act like real ones, sick of main characters always being straight-white-cisgender-male, sick of science fiction that doesn't question society and make you think. I definitely fall closer to Ursula K. LeGuin and Ray Bradbury and all than I do to the current crop of rocket men.

I don't even have anything against the quest of the rocket men.

I don't think it's pointless to reach for the stars. I think that's a lot better thing to do as a human endeavor than 'try to kill off lots of other people for their customs/religion/want their stuff' and it can solve other problems on Earth because good science is not a waste of effort.

It's just that's not my story. No matter how much some of it looks like fantasy fiction, it's actually social SF about culture and adapting to technology and interacting with people who aren't like you. It's what it is and I'm who I am. So maybe this post is like those moments heroes decide to do the dang fated thing anyway. It beats not doing it by a lot, because not doing it is stupid and doesn't solve anything.

I never could run. I had to learn to fight.
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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 16th, 2013 09:04 am (UTC)
I'm now in San Francisco re-adapting to some fights changing. I kept my head down on so many things and lived stealth for so long. I was too worried about whether my stories would sell to be honest with my themes - and I wussed out on them in a lot of my fiction. That's what this entry is about, having got here at last and gotten past one big part of it that could change, I'm finding a place to stand where a lot of times in my life I got knocked over, kept my head down and rolled with it, where the only thing I could do toward a future was go on breathing and wait for something to change.

A lot of this post is about self acceptance, both of being disabled and of being trans. It doesn't make sense to me that I'm still struggling with accepting my physical limits when they've been there all my life. I still am sometimes though. I've got to get to where "Disabled" feels as ok and defenible as "transman." And where being out as transman is more comfortable than living stealth, because a lot of the wussing out came from living stealth and being so comfortable with just being a man without a past.

I didn't always fight, old friend. A lot of times I surrendered because that was the only way to breathe and coming back from that takes time and work. The "Chases" thing freaked me out when I realized it. I thought I was doing action novels and I am, but all the movies I like and many of the novels also involve a lot of chases.
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2013 12:20 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, I'm 100% accepting of myself as transman. I knew every time I read anything about it even from early childhood. I didn't believe it was wrong or evil or shameful. I was in childhood scared assorted doctors and medical professionals were right and I was just crazy, would get locked up for life for not being normal. But once I got diagnosed in 1979 it put that fear to bed for good.

The part I have trouble accepting is looking back to recognize I've never successfully lived on my own without my disabilities causing my living situation to collapse.

Some of it is living within my limits.

Some of it is the many, many times that the best I could do was not enough and the bottom fell through on my life.

Some of it is stark screaming terror at finding out just how intense my cognitive symptoms are and that having a High IQ is not just something static. That's if I'm on a good day. That is not what it'd measure on a bad day. Functionally there are days I might as well be way down on the scale because pain reduces my memory or breaks my ability to measure time or I get confused and might as well be drunk. Without the pleasure of being drunk, just being jacked up as much as if I was drunk, the pain and exhaustion do that.

Not living the truth of my gender was self destructive. It was at the time a bitter necessity choice. MN was not accepting. I remember telling peolpe and them still treating me the same, forgetting it, not accepting it, finding excuses to tell me it couldn't be true. Expecting me to think and feel and respond like someone I'm not when I'd draw a blank and not even know what a woman would do. And that old twist you're so familiar with, peolpe that you haven't said anything to making homophobic or transphobic jokes right in front of you expecting you to laugh along.

I'm just stuck in yet another bad logistic situation. I'm trying to fight it by working on these edits but I hit my limits again. Doing it daily is more than I can manage. Trying fro the equivalent of averaging 7 + hours a week might be doable.

I got chapter 2 edited , that is something. I know what needs to be done to it. I just wish I could get sorted out on the living stuff and get stable so I don't worry about survival again. It's the survival worries that make this heavy. The golden chance is yeah, if I am true to myself and write it true to what I meant, I'll have a natural audience that needs more good GBLT science fiction and fantasy.

Heh, i'm also hitting the dark side of my fictional cultures and that THEY have their own problems and prejudices and attitudes I don't agree with. It's so not Utopian. Just alien.
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
Heh, no kidding. Just like GURPS charted my disadvantages as "unplayable, too disadvantaged" I think my biography would be too multi-topic and scatter all over the place dealing with too many issues. Good line. If my life were a novel, it definitely could be better written.

Thank you. I'm trying to keep the pain down and tomorrow I'll deal with calling AT&T to see when they can get a repair expert out to my room to fix the phone jack. I have DSL but it won't work yet because the jack isn't working.
(Deleted comment)
May. 24th, 2013 09:39 pm (UTC)
More like they will be going well after I get past the current money crisis. I can't do anything about it and I fell short on necessities this week. I have exactly $1 left or I spend the $4 that I have set aside for the Paratransit trip to see my therapist on Wednesday the 29th. If I could reschedule her to Friday it'd work, because that'd be after my check comes.

I've been having a LOT of money trouble getting worse every month and this month is the worst. Ari's going to b eeating crummy cheap cat food for several days, I'm running out of smokes rolling out the crumbs from my butts to stave off the point I'm entirely out. A couple of people online said they'd help but it takes time if they send it by paypal to deposit it and if there's any delay well, it'd actually still hlep but not stop the gap. I'm looking around for loose change in my room and counting the pennies, found all the dimes and quarters and all but one nickel gone from the penny jar and not many pennies. Might manage a small pack of tobacco if I can get the pennies together and then that's it.

It's that level of money trouble and a crisis. It's daily crisis and that I got sick and bought a couple of day-old donuts on Wednesday, that I might have done this to myself with misjudgment on a day I hit pain level 9. That I caused it by losing my balance. It's when little mistakes turn into big problems and I'm making more of them every day. It's more right now that I have hope the situation will ease up to where I can get back in balance, I have already fallen down big time. At least no longer pending bill. The website's not gone, it's still there, not tempted to let that bill ride a week because the aautopay already took it and so I'm not eating a fee from them or from the bank for being overdrawn. Yet. I will be getting $3 overdrawn for not having the balance to cover the $3 fee for not having $100 minimum balance in my account.

That's the level of money trouble and it's slightly freaking me out that I'm on that bleeding edge.
May. 16th, 2013 09:14 am (UTC)
I'm the one that can't quite stomach the fact that about 90% of the problems were that unstoppable and that scay, who expects myself to have been able to work on novels when going through massive external crises and keep submitting manuscripts when I didn't know where I was going to live in a month or two during many of those years. My self -expectations trip me up and I got very depressed in the past few months about that. Mentioning it again here is ABOUT that self acceptance thing. Finding out that so little of my past decisions would have been improved by 20-20 hindsight, that's scary.
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2013 12:46 am (UTC)
Good luck on the move, John. I hope it's a good one. I'm happy for you that MN passed Marriage Equality. MN is just strange to me, it's like Germany, it's sometimes so liberal and sometimes so NOT. I got transition there but I also got tortured there and the climate tries to kill me. I don't fit in there. I do fiti in here in San Francisco.

Housing lady asked if my leaving the city would be acceptable. NO... I'll stay in market rate SRO rather than that. I'll get out and panhandle if I have to, this is my home.

Yeah, waiting for society to catch up to where we are at. That's about right, a wise observation by your friend. I used to be a tarot reader, don't have my cards any more but most readers I knew were wise. Dispensing paid advice for a living means you need to have a fair amount of good advice to give. Reminds me of a reader in New Orleans who looked at my hand and said "you're going to need to pay more attention to your health in the next decade." I was profoundly depressed at that observation. The last thing I wanted to do then or now is spend more time and energy paying attention to my health.

Maybe you and I start to think 'oh I should be used to it by now' about familiar stressors even when they don't go away or become situationally intense. Or ignore the entire stack of stressors if some can't be dealt with. It might come from letting go of things I can't control - that when I do that, I also forget that I'm going to get bit by it and that stress will cause flares and I'll lose time to putting up with it.

Good luck on your minor surgery too. I hope that goes well with no problems and that your move is one of the happy ones, turns out you like the new place better than the old.
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Good luck on it. Yeah, I know that "Not THAT again" feeling. Sometimes when it's the same thing again and nothing I ever did reduced it, that can hurt worse than it did when I had the energy to get angry about it. Definitely catch up on reading, that helps!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


2013 Nano Winner
Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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