My 1st DNF and 1 Star Book of The Year

Well, it finally happened. I read a book I could not finish, as well as another that received a 1 star rating. A quick perusal of my Goodreads page will lead anyone towards the correct conclusion that I generally rate books between 4-5 stars, because I rarely subject myself to a book I think I might never enjoy. However, I went in blind, reading both of the aforementioned books without researching, and this was the result.

One of the books, The Art of Being Normal, has been on my TBR for ages, so it’s a miracle I never did seek out any non-spoiler reviews where I might have gleaned even a hint of whether I’d enjoy it or not. If I had though, I would have realized it wasn’t a book for me, because it was a non- OwnVoices hot mess, to put it frankly. However, I was fooled by the beautiful rainbow cover, and so here we are. As for the other, The Keeper of The Mist, I picked it up at random from the library, and the synopsis immediately grabbed my attention, so my hopes were high.

This is not to say, however, that I am not pleased with the outcome. Despite the terrible ratings I gave, I am thankful to have read these books, because one – they were both published roughly 3-4 years ago, and after knowing the majority of their contents, it is easy to see that publishing in YA is transitioning to something somewhat better, even if it’s at a snail’s pace in certain aspects, and two – I will now advocate even more strongly for OwnVoice novels of all sorts, including my own future ones. There are moments in life that shape us, and I believe reading these books was another one for me.

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In Inspiration I Trust

Last week, according to my spreadsheet, was in fact the worst writing week that I have had to date since starting it. There are multiple empty spaces that remind me I did not write a single word on my works in progress. Those blanks will haunt me for the rest of the month.

This is not to say, however, that I was not still working on anything, because I was. However, it was not the traditional work that one expects to do when planning for writing a book. Regardless, it gave me more inspiration, which has propelled me forward to finish out this last week strong.

Below I will leave the aesthetics, which I created for the characters from my current WIP. Let it not be said that I have nothing to show for my work. (All images are free stock photos. I lay no claim to any single one.)

Morgan, the main character – Pronouns: They/Them
Annabelle
Will
AdriΓ‘n
Julia
Aurelia

April Showers Me With To Do Lists and Goals

Hi guys!

It’s a bit of a personal post today, rather than a certain topic. I need a good written ramble though, so please bear with me.

This month is going to be a chaotic one in my life for a number of reasons:

  1. I’m back in school, working to become certified for a specific job in the medical field. Anything related to that area means studying, sleeping if possible, more studying, a bit of crying, and then studying again, as I have learned the last few weeks. I loved what I’ve learned so far though, and I am glad I chose a career change.
  2. I’m trying to complete a whole manuscript with Camp NaNoWriMo. It is only a first draft, but the pressure is on, because I chose this MS over one I’ve been working on for ten years and now I feel like this is a monumental decision, because I shelved my dream project(s) for one I hadn’t planned on writing for another ten years. However, I wanted to do an OwnVoices novel, so that is what led me to this one instead. More news on that later, as time progresses.
  3. I’ve assigned myself a massive TBR to complete, because my hope is that I can read enough books to populate posts for every single day of Pride Month in June. Will it happen? Who knows. However, I am still going to try. I’m an ambitious sort, what can I say?
  4. Outside of this, I am a parent, and a person who has to do other things related to being a human. I also have other goals I won’t list here, but ones that could potentially be difficult given that every single free moment from here on out must be scripted or scheduled.

Reading over this you might wonder, why on earth would you take on all of that at once? The answer is short – I’m tired of wasting time where I don’t want to be, career wise. Also, I have stories that need to be told, and ones I want to boost because representation matters, and those seeking it should find it. I’m working towards a better future for myself and my family, as well as my little corner of the world. Sometimes that means making sacrifices, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.

As for the blog, the schedule will retain its normal routine. I’ve got scheduled posts that will drop while I’m busy. In a month I’ll let you all know how this craziness goes, and whether I’ve gained a few gray hairs or not.

So, readers, what about you? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? What are you entering? Have you got a big TBR, or no? Let’s talk in the comments!

I hope each person who reads this has a swell day!

Until next time,

T.J.

Greener Pastures Still Have Crap In Them

I remember the anxiety of the day I had selected to out my gender identity to the majority of those I knew. The act of doing so was an event that I had anticipated for some time, once I realized my own truth. That was a silent war of its own, but I had conquered that vast terrain of self discovery, so I was ready for everyone else to know. It was supposed to be the last major step, right? Spoiler alert: it was not.

In July of 2018, I wrote a lengthy Facebook post for those that had not been made aware that I preferred to be called by a different name, and my reasons behind that choice. While some might scoff at that, I am a shy person by nature, and discussing it was a huge milestone in itself. That I chose the medium of Facebook did not diminish the anxiety or fear that I experienced over this time regarding the next phase of my life. On the post itself, I received only positive reactions and supportive comments. However, I knew that would not be the end of it.

Since then, I have come out to various people, such as those who I had not known in July of 2018, people who don’t pay attention to Facebook, or others who chose to ignore what I had written. Some of them were easy, while a handful of interactions left much to be desired. Overall, it has gone better than I expected so far, to say the least. However, that, was only the first hill to conquer in my newly found journey of transparency, even if I did not know it then.

From my time on certain sites, such as Tumblr or other LGBT+ spaces across various platforms, misgendering, utilizing the wrong pronouns for someone, or dead naming, are held up as prime examples of being a terrible ally, etc. In my experience, it is not always so, no matter how frustrating or soul crushing it can be when it happens. In truth, I had not anticipated encountering these sort of situations when I began coming out, because I assumed that given the amount of positivity around me, it would have been like a light switch to flip, right?

Wrong, again.

For people who have known an individual for any length of time in various capacities, especially in closer platonic or romantic relationships, it can be difficult to shift away from years of ingrained habits. I am aware that this opinion contradicts expectations that I have found in other LGBT+ people I’ve known, but it’s realistic in some circumstances. In the beginning, I fell prey to the assumption that if the switch was not automatic, then that meant they cared less about my feelings, and more for their own complacency. However, in some cases, it is not an indication of whether or not your friend or family member cares. The slower reaction to requested change is merely a product of having known someone else by one way for so long.

This is not to say that people should get passes for inaction, because anyone who elects to feign ignorance should be afforded no lee way. However, for those being proactive for the sake of respecting you and how you wish to be identified, but occasionally slip up? They’re the ones worth the time and effort. Despite popular belief amongst some, it is not quite as simple as each of us wish it could be, as past events in my own life have shown.

So, where does that leave me in all of this, and how do I feel now?

Well, I can say that who I am has not changed, but how I present myself has, especially around people who know me. I feel more confident in who I am, because I can be real with the people in my life that matter. For so long, I was unable to do that, and it made me into someone I could not stand seeing in the mirror every single day. Now, whether that be for my actions throughout the previous day due to residual anger, or the depression and anxiety that wreaked havoc on my existence throughout those times of suppression, it all played a part in the loathing of my physical and self images. Since I have been allowed to let everyone in on my secret, that has abated, for the most part. The times it hasn’t, well, that’s a topic for another day. Overall though, coming out to the vast majority of those I interact with on a social level has largely changed my life for the better

With that being said, as I mentioned before, and Jackson Bird did in a video he made a while back, “No matter how it went, I bet you’re relieved it’s finally out there and done with. A big weight lifted off of your shoulders. Well, get ready to do it all over again. And again. And again. And again. For the rest of your damn life.” This, as I have learned over time, could not be more accurate.

In stark contrast to that statement, I feel it is worth acknowledging that regardless of political climate or your confidence in yourself, there will be places or people that are not safe to out yourself around. As hard as that is to face, no matter how open you are in specific portions of your life, there may be others where you cannot be. This may depend upon, but is not limited to, where you live, who you live around, who you are employed to, or how such a revelation could affect you or those around you. It’s heart wrenching, and unfair, but necessary in some cases. However, each person and how they choose to reveal who they are in each setting is up to their discretion, because safety is priority.

In that same vein, I too feel the pressure to conceal who I am at times, for my sake or my family’s. I hail from the Southern portion of the United States where identifying yourself as someone outside of the expected is met with harsh criticism from a good portion of people. In some cases, it is mere hostile words or glances, but in others, hate fueled ignorant rage has led to torture and death for some LGBT+ individuals. I am also a military spouse. These two factors have contributed to my reluctance of who I out myself to, because it does not just affect me, but our entire family. The military in recent times has become more accepting overall, and I am just a spouse. However, given that there is still the possibility of travelling to states that are not as friendly to LGBT+ people as the one we live in now, as well as the fact we interact with people from everywhere across the U.S. and political spectrum, I choose to withhold my identity past my social circles, for the time being. In the future, should it be available, I will change my driver’s license and possibly even my birth certificate. Until then, this is what we have chosen, and I am more than happy to comply.

In conclusion, my experience with coming out is mine. Each person who discovers that it is inevitable for themselves may have similarities, but we are all as unique as each color of the rainbow, and our experiences will reflect that. My expectations leading up to the actual event, and the subsequent time after, were different in contrast to what occurred, but that does not make them wrong. I am grateful for the support network I do have in my life, and even if it’s not exactly how I imagined it, coming out was the right thing to do, because looking back from this side of the fence, I could not imagine going back.

Uncovering My Truth

I was 14 when it became quite apparent to myself that I was different. Different, in the sense that I lived in a small town, where heteronormativity was abound, and I knew from an early age that I did not fall into that category. It was social suicide to be seen as “other” though, and when I realized I might have been part of that gray area, it didn’t take long for me to become depressed and suicidal. Still, I suppressed my urges, as if they didn’t matter, because lying to myself was what Jesus wanted, right?

I was 16 when I partially admitted aloud to others that I found people with female reproductive parts attractive. It was a new school, and a safer time for the most part; Obama was in office and I was no longer surrounded by so many small town minds. Still, I was anything but sure footed, and I had only scratched the surface of who I had always been. But, hey, progress is progress, right?

I was 19 when I married my spouse, and subsequently became pregnant. I was scared, and ashamed, but for reasons that my brain still refused to consider. It was yet again a time of depression and denial.

I was 21 when I miscarried what would have been my second child. Although a majority of my time after was fraught with depression, I also felt guilt. There was guilt, because what I secretly experienced in the initial aftermath was relief.

I was 23 when I admitted to myself, and then later a few close people, that my gender identity does not match what my genitals have supposedly relayed to society that I am. The dysphoria I felt had reached an all time high, and I could no longer pretend that I am not who I have always been. It took over a year of research and education after this initial admission to become aware that I am non-binary.

I was 24 when I publicly came out to everyone I knew. Well, almost everyone. But, that’s another discussion, for another time. The point is that 99.9% of people I interact with now know that I am gender fluid.

I bet you’re reading this, and wondering why on earth is this important. Who cares? Well, even though you in particular may not, there might be others who will. Mainly those who are looking for themselves in the writings of others like them, because representation matters, and when someone is still searching and speculating, it can be helpful to know that they are not alone.

Now, more than ever, when bigots are determined to squelch our channels of exposure, pretending as if we do not exist, the importance of visibility has mounted even higher. To be able to post this blog and write a glossed over version of the years of struggle that I went through is monumental. I can only hope that for those questioning, and wondering if they’re normal, that it might help one person. Every beacon of light, in the murky storm that is uncertainty, helps. This much, I know from experience. So if I can shed some light for another, then I will gladly take up that torch.

With that being said, going forward, I will be writing not only about writing and the craft itself, but about LGBT+ issues as well. It is something close to my heart, and as previously stated, now more than ever, it is important that #OwnVoices authors have a voice. We must speak up, when we are able. Now, that I am in a place to do so, I shall.