Take me back to THE SWEET TIMES, THE HOT NIGHTS, EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT, IN THE SUMMERTIME. BABY, IN THE SUMMERTIME.
Back when I was 13/14, I wrote my “first book“. It was a heinous thing with no paragraphs to speak of, no plot, and just KISSING EVERYWHERE. So it wasn’t really a book, per se, but just something that had a beginning and an end and was written by moi.
piece of shit “book”, I wasn’t able to finish another book until I was 21 (which was last year, by the way). I tried. I tried VERY hard. I had story ideas that I thought were fantastic, that I was completely in love with, that I was sure that this time I would be able to finally, finally write a book.
I was wrong. Every time. The closest I ever got was a 25,000 word abandoned YA fantasy.
You know the common theme with all these failed books? It was that they were all heteronormative. They all featured girl meets boy, girl and boy can’t be together for reason x, but girl and boy make it and live happily ever after.
My first finished book? It was JB, and it’s about a gay boy who falls in love for the first time, comes out to his family, and is in his last year of high school (with no concrete plans for the future). My second book is about a bisexual boy who falls in love with a boy. My current WIP (work in progress) is about a transguy who falls in love with a boy. Obviously these are condensed versions of what the books involve because they’re not JUST about these boys that fall in love – they’re about a lot more than that – but they’re certainly not in the same strain of books that I had failed to write before last year. They’re queer. And they’re about boys.
After I finished JB, and cried about finishing a book for the first time, and saying goodbye to my darlings, I realised that not only did I love this story more than the other not-finished-stories, and not only did I love these characters more than the other not-finished-stories – I realised that I’d been boxing myself in to bow down to the popular market of heteronormative books. I hadn’t even allowed myself to think that I could write these stories that had always been in my heart but never made their way to my head or to my computer screen. I had boxed myself in. I had boxed my heart in. And I had boxed my writing in.
Sure, being a queer writer isn’t easy. And I’ve already learned that in more ways than one. But it’s who I am. And who I will always be, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
(win a great queer YA book here)