Bleeding for Your Art

Some weeks, coming up with a topic for the blog is easier than others.  This is a week I struggled.  A lot of that is because I did the post on how reality influences writing a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit that idea so soon, but given what I’ve been doing the last week, I don’t feel like I have a choice.

On July 26th, 2021 I started work on a new novel titled Transistor.  It’s set in the same world as my novel Scatter which is currently out on submission.  A world I’m currently labeling as ‘The Hearts of Heroes’.  The idea is that each novel set in this universe will follow a different Superhero as they fall in love.  I’ve got a lot of ideas for novels set in this universe, and I plan to have all kinds of fun with it because it mixes two of my favorite things.  Romance and Superheroes.

But today is August 1st, 2021, and I am not six days into Transistor.  I love every page and every word of this book, which is currently a bit over 30K words.  The main character, Naomi, is just a joy and this is absolutely a passion project.  It’s also, in a lot of ways, something I have been both looking forward to and dreading.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, because I’ve said it a bunch of times, I’m a trans woman.  That informs a lot of things about me.  But so far, while I have written agendered characters and gender fluid characters and even the odd trans character here and there, I haven’t really written a story with a Transgender protagonist that does a deep dive into what it means to be trans.  I knew I wanted to do it.  I knew I had a lot to say about what it feels like to be a trans woman, to be in the closet and to come out.  I have feelings about gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia and the social stigma of being trans and how it impacts us and how it hurts us and how it becomes an obstacle to the things we want.

I knew I would get here eventually.  Write what you know.  Put yourself into your work.  Transistor was always where I was going to end up some day.  I knew that.  I could never not write this book.  But I put it off.  I dreaded it.  I held it at arm’s length because I knew what it would cost me.

In the last six days, I have written more than thirty thousand words, and I have bled all over every single one of them.  I’ve torn open wounds, some that had barely scabbed over, and some that were buried under years of scaring, and I’ve poured my blood out onto the page.

Transistor is a romance novel.  At its core, it’s about two girls falling in love and overcoming the obstacles in there way.  But those obstacles are both external bigotry, and internalized bigotry.  It’s a story about two characters who are told that they shouldn’t exist.  That their very existence is an abomination.  One of those characters has to deal with those demons crawling around inside of them, whispering that they’re not good enough, that they’re not a real woman, that they’ll never find love, while the other one is being hunted by someone determined to erase then from existence because they dared to live the truth of who they are, and refused to exist in a closet.

There is so much of me in this book, so many places where the dialog and where the internal narrative might as well be diary entries, that I worry if it’s too much.  But it is the single most honest thing I have ever written.

I don’t know if other people will like it.  I don’t know if it reflects the narrative that other trans women have experienced.  All I know is that when you read this book, you’re going to see pieces of what I’ve lived through, and pieces of the world I’ve lived in and the stories I’ve heard.  You’re going to be seeing my hopes and my dreams.

Putting all of that on the page isn’t easy.  It’s hard.  It hurts, and to belabor the metaphor, it leaves you raw and bleeding and more than anything, it leaves you exposed, naked to the world.  But if one person reads it and understands, if one person reads it and feels seen, then all the blood I put on the page will be worth it.