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Here's something I wouldn't think was possible: I've improved as a writer over the past ten years, despite having hardly written a word. And I think it's nothing but a case of being ten years older. I understand people better now. My worldview isn't as black and white. I'm writing things now that I would never have been able to write ten years ago. I don't just mean sex, although that's certainly a big part of it. I used to hold back with some of my writing, fearing--somewhere deep down--that if I wrote a character as wanting something, or being a certain way, that someone would think that that was what I wanted, or how I was. And I was so determined to be a "good girl", even at 30.

Probably the first revolutionary act of my writing was when I started The Exile's Daughter (2003) with the main character saying, "Fuck". (The whole thing was a terrible first line, but at the time, it was exhilarating.) It's not like I never said the word, but I don't know that I'd ever included it in fiction before. The second revolutionary act was writing "Sic Transit Gloria" (also 2003, which is still one of my favorite stories, and I'm kind of sad it never got published): main character of indeterminate gender (at least until the end), grappling with seeing his/her former teen idol now aged and damaged, but still feeling that pull. That was probably the first time I wrote about any character actually feeling sexual desire. Hadn't done it before then, nope nope nope. All of my characters were waist-up beings only. And I think they suffered for that.

This isn't to say I never wrote about sex at all. I was an avid online roleplayer in the late 90s, and for all that pretty much everybody publicly denigrated the idea, there were a LOT of people roleplaying sex, me included. That was different though. That wasn't meant for public consumption--and in my case particularly, was tied up in a lot of messy feelings for my roleplaying partner(s). That was personal. And deeply embarrassing, a dirty little secret.

And now, nearly 40, I find myself in an online community that is smart, engaging, and celebrates the ever-living hell out of sex. Publicly. And very vocally. It took some getting used to. And it was embarrassing at first. The first time I tried to read slash, I kept mentally skimming past the characters' names because it seemed so WRONG. Fortunately (unfortunately?) the two writers I started with are stellar, and I somehow accidentally started with nuclear weaponry-level slash, instead of something milder.

(Yes, fellow Sherlock fans, while [archiveofourown.org profile] greywash may have written the first S/J sex scenes I ever read, the first actual slash-slash I read was... Two Two One Bravo Baker. Is it any wonder I've imprinted on [archiveofourown.org profile] abundantlyqueer like a demented baby duck?)

So it is about sex, but it isn't. The characters I used to write were sterile in the truest sense of the word. They were missing huge giant swaths of human experience. They weren't messy, they weren't terribly damaged, necessarily, they didn't want things that weren't completely okay to want. Because I wanted so desperately to be "normal" and "good", I tried to make them "normal" and "good". Which made a lot of them pretty boring.

Since I last wrote seriously, I've discovered just how messy and broken I am. I've started putting myself back together. I know who I am now. I know what got me here, what broke me, what's healing me. I am able (most of the time) to accept myself as a sexual being, even a sexual being who's made unconventional (and sometimes poorly thought-out) choices. I am no longer so utterly locked-down as a human being that I can't even contemplate fictional characters who aren't also locked-down.

And now I'm playing in this sandbox where the two main characters are so utterly, gloriously human and broken and tough, and I'm finally in a place where I can appreciate that, and play with it. And far from finding it threatening or scary, it's liberating as HELL. And for that, I owe fandom one hell of a debt.

This entry was originally posted at http://roane.dreamwidth.org/921897.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 16th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
I desperately need to get caught up on all the Indelible Universe stuff. It amuses me to no end that there's an AU to an AU. :) And that it's all the original characters. That strikes me as too awesome for words.
Mar. 17th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing this; it's powerful and has given me a lot of food for thought.
Mar. 17th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
I'm glad. I've really had to think about this, about why my whole attitude has changed, and what it's meant. It's been very odd, really.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )