Grad school starts again for me on Tuesday. This time last year, my work life started to fall apart. I worked for someone very unethical, in a terrible environment, but I was good at my job and proud of the work I did in spite of this. I managed for a year. A year in which I was increasingly depressed, but still, I hung in there.
I started thinking about other things I wanted to do during that year, including my long-time dream of writing. I realized in working in that awful place that I wanted most of all to be a writer, to make that my livelihood. So I started working on that, started tackling smaller projects, sketched out a novel that had been in my mind for awhile, and made myself a writing schedule that would allow me to finish my book in one year while I also worked a demanding, draining full-time job (that I hated) and worked on my Master's degree. I even started my novel.
Then in August 2014, my work situation spun out of control. I was depressed but I was also angry that people expected me to accept abuse at my job. I planned to quit and talked to a higher up about it, and was, not surprisingly, offered a transfer. I took it and I still work at the site I transferred to. I love where I work now. There are some deep frustrations and challenges, but I respect my boss, love my coworkers, and think the work I do is interesting and worthwhile.
But changing jobs, plus the emotional toll that the situation took on me, ate up my energy for a long time. I concentrated on getting better and getting a handle on my new job (which is quite different from my old) for months. Plus, I was still in grad school. I stopped writing. I pulled it together, but it was hard.
Eventually I started writing again. I got on my feet at work. I got help and I got better. I got a break from school and finished my novel. Now, coming up on the anniversary of everything falling apart, I feel a little raw. I feel scared. Not because I think my boss will suddenly become my previous boss, but just because things are about to change, and I'm about to start my last year of grad school, and it might all be too much. I finally got into the groove of writing again, of waking up at 6 to write 1000 words before my wife wakes up and we need to start our days. What if I have to stop writing again?
Also, being told all those horrible things I was told, I carried that for a long time. I want to let that go finally. I'm grateful that having a terrible job reminded me that I want to write. I'd like to keep just that--the commitment to writing--without the other baggage being so heavy.
Okay, I'm done shouting. It's mid-August and here's what I've done, writing-wise, over the last two months:
1. Finished my novel and submitted it!
2. Went to a writing workshop
3. Started writing another novel (two chapters are done)
4. Read about 10 books and wrote reviews for most of them
5. Wrote 2 short stories for erotica anthologies and submitted them
6. Outlined the new novel I'm working on and the one I want to tackle after that
7. Blogged on here more than I had for like the last year
8. Had a business meeting with my sister that got me thinking about what I need to do in the next year to build toward a writing career
Not too shabby, actually. It's so easy to think about what I should be doing. I should be doing more in my mind, always, with everything. But that was a lot, really, especially considering that I did take a research methods class and my wife and I continued our exhausting attempts to buying a home.
I'M SENDING MY NOVEL OFF TO A PUBLISHER, WHO WILL REVIEW IT AND MAYBE WANT IT. OR NOT. BUT IN ANY CASE I WON'T KNOW UNTIL PROBABLY NOVEMBER. NOVEMBER, MY FRIENDS. QUITE POSSIBLY LONGER THAN THAT.
I'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS BOOK FOR A YEAR. I'VE BEEN PLUGGING AWAY AT IT AND NOW I'M SENDING IT OFF TO SOME VERY BUSY HUMAN WHO PROBABLY WON'T HAVE TIME TO LOOK AT IT FOR MONTHS, AND WHO MIGHT HATE THE SYNOPSIS AND NOT EVEN READ PAST THAT. IT'S VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.
I wrote this in all caps, which is obnoxious but I was so stressed out I didn't notice caps lock was on until just now. Such is my current brain.
The lesson I think I learned is that you should write your synopsis first, then pour your heart into a book, because writing the synopsis afterward--while you're also trying to put together everything else to convince someone that your book is worth reading--is awful. So bad that you'll write two paragraphs in all caps.
I love lesbian fiction. I mean, that's obvious; I review lesbian books! It's important to me that lesbian fiction, especially romance, exists. I need to see happy stories about women who love women, along with less happy stories, and stories about other people entirely. I just finished writing a novel about two queer women who fall in love, and I'm about to submit to publishers.
But I'm worried it's not lesbian enough.
Why? Because one of the main characters identifies as a lesbian, but the other identifies as queer though she's dated women exclusively. But mostly because there's a threesome in this book that includes a person who's nonbinary. It's a scene I really like and I'm really proud of. I wouldn't be willing to take it out or to change the character's gender. So I wonder if I should submit to a lesbian publisher--one that's produced books I like and that I respect--or go a different route. Is this story lesbian enough for a lesbian publisher?
I'm a queer femme, and while I feel that "lesbian" sometimes fits me, it also sometimes does not (though that's a topic for another day). I think a love story between two queer women belongs with lesbian books, even if not every experience those characters have fits so neatly into to the "f4f" category. I guess there's no harm in submitting it, but I think I better research queer publishers as well as lesbian ones. And maybe I should look into self-publishing too, though that seems daunting for the first novel I put into the world. I'm trying to be prepared for rejection even as I hope for the best.
A queer femme, writing romance and smut.