The Drive

writeFor as long as I can remember, I have possessed a drive unlike that of perhaps anyone in my family. I have known (for instance) that I wanted to be an author, with little hesitation since I was ten years old, and I have thrown myself into it 120% ever since. This driving force is my greatest strength. I love what I do, and I’ve made it a point to push myself to work harder, do more, do everything I can think of to put myself out there. To build my platform, and help me get my work out there so I can be what I have always wanted to be. My dream for my future has in many ways changed greatly over the years as I get older and I realize what I definitely do want, and definitely don’t.

 

Lately however while I know what I want, doing it is often a lot more difficult than I would have otherwise thought. I’m contemplating a dozen different ways to up the amount of fiction writing I do in any given week (since I think it’s safe to say in the non-fiction category I write daily), I’m not the sort of person who can just force myself to write something if I’m not feeling it, and yet, maybe it’s time I give that more of an effort. Because honestly, even writing I’m not particularly fond of at the moment is still something.

Is it All Worth it?

writeRecently I’ve noticed a frustrating trend. I’ve worked diligently to ensure that I am posting daily blogs, and 3x weekly vlogs as well as bi-weekly podcasts and essays. I’m making it a point to utilize Twitter more and working to use Facebook more, and ultimately continuing work to grow my brand to its greatest potential. But this has come at a cost, in terms of my literary output. I spend so much of my time working on avenues to get my name out there and get my brand out there that I’m not actually doing the one thing that I desperately need to do to make all of this even worth the effort.

Write.

Mostly I am writing every day in the form of blog posts, or essays or ideas for things, but the novel writing, the part that is why I’m doing any of this has slowed considerably, and it makes me wonder, is platform building worth it, if it comes at the cost of me actually writing?

I feel like I’ve had this existential crisis before, but I still haven’t figured out the answer. I want to believe that I can have both in tandem with one another, building a platform while also continuing to write novels, but the evidence thus far is showing that less and less. The more I do one, the less I seem to do the other. Finding that balance has become increasingly tricky and I can’t help but wonder if something will fall by the wayside in the process.

To-Do Lists

I love a to-do list. I love day planners, and figuring out what I need to do (preferably for the week when possible, and I’ve made it a point to ensure I have set days of when I know I need to get things done… that being said, sticking to these lists and not forgetting information, and for that matter following the schedule I’ve set for myself is not as easy as I would otherwise like and I’m not always that great at it.

The other day I read an article about the improved benefits of blocking time rather than simply using to do lists and so I tried it or rather tried to block things out except I didn’t end up following that either.

Most of the time I do well enough with a to-do list. I know what needs to be done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I get as much done as I know I ought to, which is how I forgot to put the essay up last night even though it was on my list. Or edit a video that I intended to edit the other day for Friday.

I know the more I do it, the better I’ll get but needless to say the struggle is real.

The Evolving Narcissa Deville

At the start of my blog almost a decade ago now, I wrote about anything and everything. Though political themes seemed to run through every post, writing seemed to be one of the major themes that stuck, and helped to grow my brand. But as I’ve grown as a blogger I’ve wanted to branch out to other types of topics, there’s more to me than just writing, and so I’ve worked to evolve my brand to include pop culture, LGBT issues (particularly trans issues) political, beauty, technology and of course writing.

All with questionable results.

I’ve noticed a theme for a while now. Posts specifically about writing will get likes, maybe even a comment or two. (Less so now than in the past) but posts about anything not writing related, seem to go unseen. I get the impression, and perhaps this is incorrect, that those who follow me want to see me stick to writing only, rather than branching out as a creative person. I’ve never been one to stick to just one idea of anything and I certainly won’t start now. I’m trying to balance the wants of those who would actually read/watch what I do, and what I actually want to do. Ultimately no I’m not blogging for likes, but knowing people read something you wrote is something every writer wants isn’t it?

Seriously?! Here’s the Thing- Outing People

popcultureOne of my goals for 2017 was initially to try not to let little things get to me, which needless to say has been largely unsuccessful thus far.

Not for nothing though, this particular story really stuck in my craw and pissed me off so much that I decided I wanted to talk about it here.

Back in the early-2000’s Perez Hilton made a name for himself outing celebrities, talking shit about celebrities, and just generally being really toxic. Somewhere in the last few years however, we’ve come to realize that actually outing people is super gross, and thankfully it’s something that a lot of people look at for what it is, really fucking gross and shady. Unless you’re like some website that shoots pictures of Caitlyn mid-transition then it’s totally fair game, because obviously while it’s totally gross to out gay people trans people are fair game. Which brings me to the crux of this story.

This past week on a (game-show?) called Survivor (I didn’t even know this shit was still running), a contestant decided to go for broke and out a fellow contestant as a trans man. Because… nothing says I’m desperate to stay in the competition than throwing someone under the bus for their gender identity.

Luckily (if you can call it that) the show’s host made it a point to basically tell the guy hey that’s not fucking cool, but now this person who spoiler alert didn’t want his business all over the universe now has to talk about this because… why would anyone ever let this go?

Some people, (shitty people) would likely suggest that if he didn’t want his business all over the world then he shouldn’t have gone on reality tv. To those people I say… shut up and have a seat.

And I wish I had a megaphone to say this:

TRANS PEOPLE DO NOT OWE YOU THEIR HISTORY!

This is really really important.

Just because you’re going on reality television, does not mean every cavity or pap-smear is suddenly up for public consumption. A person’s transition is a personal and private decision (occasionally a medical one) and spoiler alert no one is required to give you their complete medical history in order to be a contestant on a game show/ reality competition.

And really, WHO FUCKING CARES IF HE’S TRANS?!

How does that impede his ability to be on tv?

It wasn’t just that he outed this guy either, it’s that he did so, claiming that he was lying and hiding by not disclosing his trans-ness.

Nuh-uh!

Don’t play that asinine you’re lying if your trans trope.

STOP IT!

Newsflash, you don’t get to decide for people what their gender is. Just because you don’t agree with who a person is doesn’t give you the right to tell the world.

I don’t care if you are bffs with a trans person, that doesn’t inherently give you the right to out them to everyone you know. If they give you permission that’s one thing, but it’s nobodies damn business for you to just share with the world.

Stumbling Blocks

 

If you don’t follow me on Twitter you probably (blessedly) missed a little breakdown I had earlier in the week. I was frustrated for having not been able to write anything, and I decided that the most logical of all possible decisions was to tweet about my frustration. I had considered blogging about it, or even vlogging, but as I note, you can’t complain about something that’s your decision to do right?

No one’s forcing me to vlog, or blog, or even do a podcast, I’m sure several would even prefer I didn’t on all accounts, but I enjoy doing them. Love it even, so it’s something that I want to continue doing. Still, my novel took a bit of a hit for the team, and it’s become something of a frustration for me all the same.

I created a schedule for myself of when I should work on certain projects which got off to a rocky start when some sort of allergy/almost cold took over last week and made it impossible to get much done.

It’s not like I’m not writing anything. Obviously. But the novel, the one thing I thought more than anything I would never have to worry about falling by the wayside has. I’ve managed since that Twitter rant, and actually almost immediately after to do some small amount of writing and frankly I’m happy for any bit I can get done.*

I’m hoping my upcoming vacation will prove helpful to me in the creation department and maybe having the better part of a full week off will really help me get ahead of myself a bit more; in the meantime I just need to get into my creative schedule and hope that this could possibly help.

Anyone have any other suggestions? I love hearing from fellow writers and any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

*It’s worth noting and truthfully, I forget about it after the fact but I do have phases like this sporadically at least once a year, where I struggle to write and struggle to write, and then write like for six months straight… is that related? Maybe??

Write for yourself, edit for the reader

There’s a lot of writing advice out there, some of it’s great, some of it is worthless, all of it should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, there is something that I’ve thought about recently and so I wanted to make a point to write about it here.

J.K.Rowling famously admitted that “she didn’t have a reader in mind when she wrote Harry Potter.” She was writing for herself, and it’s a fairly common notion for most writers that they ought to write mostly for themselves or as Toni Morrison says: “If there’s a book you want to read that hasn’t been written, you must write it.” Writing for yourself, and writing the sort of book you want to read is crucial, but eventually a reader will have to be a part of your thought process.

Editing is the perfect time for this because you’re already making major changes to your work and it’s expected that a lot of changes will probably be happening already in the course of you editing/rewriting your work (particularly if publication is ever the gain). This is the time in which you would want to ensure you were taking the time to consider what type of reader your work ought to have? What do they like to read and what are some expectations for the genre you’re writing in? This isn’t to say that you can’t bend or even break the rules, but you should at least know what the rules are in order to know why they ought to be followed or not followed depending on the work. Knowing who your potential reader might be can only help you in the long run. Is it YA? Romance? Sci-Fi? Or a little of the three, muddying the waters of genre is never a bad thing, but it can complicate the question of who is your book written for.

The Queen- a documentary- Review

popculture

Living in this generation where marriage equality is a thing, where a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race is a mega hit show that people across the sexuality spectrum adore, it’s almost hard to imagine a time before Stonewall. A time in which drag was illegal, let alone being ‘gay’. Perhaps the scariest part of all is that while it seems like such a long time ago, really it was just under 50 years ago that all of this was still very much the norm. In this way it’s almost poignant to see this story all these years later when, the world seems so different and yet, so similar all the same. The prejudices of this time have hardly abated, but they seem sometimes quieter now.

Two decades before Paris is Burning, the New York drag scene was documented in the 1960’s (before Stonewall) in a documentary called the Queen. It’s an amazing and surprisingly positive look at the LGBT community from 1968, and considering the time frame in which the documentary takes place there’s a certain calm sensibility all things considered. When we think of that time in comparison to now there’s a very clear image we have of Pre-Stonewall America, and yet, in this little slice of Americana you would almost think it was from a totally different era.

Of the two films, Paris is Burning is the more well known, however one of the most iconic scenes in queer cinema did take place in the film the Queen (as seen below). 

Overall this was a fabulous film that I’m thrilled I was able to see, I love getting to experience things that I probably would not have otherwise, and getting to see classic queer cinema like this is so important to our history and our understanding of where we come from.

Shameless Self Promotion

I always thought I wasn’t the greatest at using hashtags to get anything accomplished, mostly because in spite of my near constant use of tags in just but everything I could manage, it never quite seemed to work out for me as it did for everyone else I could see using them. Perhaps it was that I was just slightly unnerved by ‘shameless self promotion’ that I viewed it as this thing I really didn’t want to be a part of. Except that I had to, and it works. The first time I learned how well it worked, was when I decided to self publish my first novel and came upon a website that was something like authors helping authors. You like as many as you can, you follow for follow, post a little note that that’s why you’re liking and following and you’d get someone following you back. Only it’s a frustrating way to grow your page to my mind and I ended up following pages that in the long run I didn’t actually want to see their content.

It was unlike Twitter where I felt my feed had grown so naturally (though I’ve been stuck between 199-201 followers for years now). I also learned that power when I first starting blogging daily and grew my blog a few years ago, up to 400+ followers from liking and commenting on other bloggers posts, in addition to creating my own daily.

Now that I’m vlogging, and doing a podcast, I’m starting to learn to use social media and tags to my advantage across platforms. I’ve been using Instagram to share a note about my latest vlogs with #vlog #YouTube #trans. These are all accurate to me one supposes, and it’s a way to spread myself further. One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn is to get off my high horse when it comes to self-promotion. It’s something everyone has to do and honestly it produces results. I’m not spamming people with FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW ME, but it’s my social media which is there to help my brand, so I have to share myself in order to get more people interested in me.

Audiobooks or Physical?

In 2007, I waited in line for the last time for the midnight release of a Harry Potter novel. The Deathly Hallows. It was the end of an era, and for me the end of one of the best parts of my childhood during those parties. My mother and I were to go to California immediately after picking up the book, and since it was the last one, my mother decided that she wanted to enjoy the book too. After the party we ran to Walmart and picked up a copy of the audiobook edition. The first audiobook I’d ever had. I remember Walmart had made a point to close down the store for an hour or so before midnight and brought out two huge palettes. One of the book in hardcover, and one of the audiobook. We grabbed the audiobook, and some drinks, and checked out. We had barely made it to the car before we popped in the CD and we were excitedly on our way. Listening to the story as I read along in the book.

For years the debate has raged on; ebooks or print? For many years, I would have said ebooks, I loved the convenience of them, and I hated the idea that somehow ebooks didn’t count as real books. Perhaps it’s some deep seeded desire to fight for the underdog but this idea that somehow the text in an ebook was less important than physical books became an exhausting fight. Recently however thanks in part to changing prices in hardcover books and the Book of the Month Club, I’ve found a new obsession in hardcover. I also realized something about the debate of digital versus physical books that I hadn’t considered before. With all of the handwringing over ebooks killing the paperbound book, why wasn’t there concern over audiobooks?

For as long as I can remember audiobooks have never been seen as a threat to the physical book. Audiobooks had existed for years before the ebook, and yet, when the debate came up about the danger to the end of the physical novel, the audiobook was never mentioned. I think in some ways it’s because audiobooks almost go hand in hand with physical books, and so it’s less a war of how something is devoured and more an addition to how it’s enjoyed and appreciated. It’s an extension of the book, not competition. But the question has always confused me, why is how you enjoy a book more important than that you are enjoying a book at all? If we’re really so concerned about how few people read, it might be advised not to tell them how to read, and simply to be glad that they are reading, period.