Rough draft complete!

That was a truckload of emotions.

I finished the rough draft of my novel Wednesday. I am proud, I am relieved, I am sad, I am trying not to think how much more work there is to do because I have FINISHED this first and most difficult part! The novel exists! All 65,000 words, 35 chapters, they are real and I can begin the process of editing them!

In three to six months, that is.

I have been workshopping chapters with a couple of writing groups, collecting comments and questions and scribbling notes on my hard copy. However, except for the occasional submission, I haven’t gone back and reworked the text. I feel that if I don’t have this rule for myself, I will fall into a loop of endlessly editing the same parts and never progressing with the rest of the novel.

I am even going to put the manuscript into the file cabinet. It’s an important symbol, and perhaps I can trick my subconscious (unconscious?) mind into forgetting the novel and focusing on other things. I want to create emotional distance and come back to my book with fresh eyes, ready to start being ruthless with my comments. If it’s anything like seven years ago, I’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much of it I like.

Of course, toward the end of the entire process, I started asking myself if the story might not work better if told from the first person. My brain screamed, and I told myself to think about anything else, because most of the book was already done in third person and I wanted to have a consistent finish. It’s the sort of thought that could set me down a path of endless revision, so it was better set aside for later. Something to consider when I read the draft a few months from now.

The sadness comes in saying goodbye, of course, though it’s only for a little while. The goal is to work toward a greater goodbye at a later date, when I let go of revision and put the novel out into the world.

Better not to think on that for now, though.

The aftergloom

There’s a curious thing I’ve noticed that happens to me after a performance, and the better the high, the harder I crash. I had the opportunity to speak about it with my therapist the first time it happened, and her reaction surprised me. To her, it was obvious that I might feel like absolute garbage the day after a huge rush of positive emotion.

Now, I can’t fully blame this phenomenon for my silence. Unemployment has stretched on a bit longer than usual, and I’ve been slow to find a job. I just received my first pay from Starbucks and it was like a breath of oxygen into a cold and dusty chamber. I also really enjoy making coffee and chatting with people? Who’da thunk!

All this to say that taking my boyfriend’s tips for bus fare and not wanting to socialize because there aren’t enough coins for that is FUCKING EXHAUSTING. It’s hard to squeeze out any creativity when I have no idea if I’m about to get another NSF fee (can you believe I used to DEFEND those when I worked for the bank? Ridiculous!). I’m not out of the woods yet, but now that steady income is restored, I miraculously find myself with energy to write!

So, THIS show. I’d been playing with this story idea since the summer, when I decided to tell it at the last minute at an open mic. I got some applause, I felt some validation, but the story felt largely incomplete and I set it aside without knowing how I wanted to improve upon it. Plus I rushed so fast that five minutes somehow became three.

Then I found out that one of the upcoming themes for Confabulation was hair. Perrrfect! I agonized over what to pitch now that I don’t write out my stories fully before performing them, but the submission form says a summary is fine, so I provided that and moved on with my life. Then I got the confirmation e-mail, wrote out a bullet sheet, and recorded a draft to send to the producer.hair bullet sheet

A large part of writing anything is turning ideas over in my head as I go about normal life, seeing how they fit together and if they’re good enough to stick around. I will write down moments of inspiration in case I can’t remember them later, but I’ve found the best elements of my stories accumulate slowly and persist over time.

The shirt coming off was a later addition, and I almost dismissed it because I didn’t think I would be able to do it. I have worn my shirt at pools, it took me years to get comfortable going out in a TANK TOP, how in the hell could I ever whip off my shirt in front of an audience of STRANGERS?

As I built the story in my head, the idea persisted and I grew more attached to it. Why shouldn’t I be able to match the emotion of my story’s end and show that I am actually fine with all this fur?

Of course, I got to the Phi Centre and was informed that the evening’s show was going to be video recorded. I felt a stab of doubt before I shook it off and resolved to end my story as rehearsed. (I wanted it to come off it one swift, smooth motion. No catching on my ears, thank you.)

There is something particularly wonderful about the stress of walking to the stage, approaching the mic, and feeling each step as a spike of anxiety. Then I breathe, and ease into my story, and I dive so far into it that stress is a quiet voice in the back of my mind.

As I told the story, beginning as an awkward adolescent and moving into my so-called adulthood, I could feel my confidence building. There was no worry as I reached my conclusion, pulled my shirt over my head, and ended my story. I was grinning like a fool afterward, proud that I had done it, satisfied with the ending.

Storytelling is magical, and I needed to come here and write that.

Honey, you got a big storm comin’

I have an immense desire to come here and write all the things that have happened since I last posted; there are several items worth mentioning. However, I feel a wave of motivation building up and I am going to ride it to the end of my rough draft. If I have any momentum left, I will return here and tell you all about it. If not, I am committing to updating at my regular time this Thursday.

Wish me luck.

Fur for days

I’ve made the joke often enough on hook-up apps: I’ve got fur for days. Look at this chest and shoulders, what else am I supposed to say?

IMG_20191023_150912_532

Fortunately, Confabulation has given me the chance to get up on stage and talk about my journey with my body hair. It has been a long and winding road to acceptance and I’m proud to share my experiences tonight at the Phi Centre!

To get ready, I’ve been walking around my empty apartment telling the story to myself while my cats judge me. Absurd! They’re far furrier than I am.

I have printed a second run of “pumpkin smut latte” and opened an Etsy shop since people exist in places other than Montreal. The virtual storefront looks a little lonely with only one zine available for the moment, but I am working to get “hairy slutsmas” ready as early as possible. Slowing the process somewhat is my waffling on whether a second story is necessary—I think I need to play with layout before I can make that decision.

It’s very interesting to have complete control over the product from start to finish, to be the one who gets to decide whether one more sheet (four more pages) will make a better zine, or will it be too crowded? I have an idea for a cute and intimate story centred on a feeling, which I would totally share here but I prefer to keep a few secrets on platforms like these.

Best option? I’ll do a freewrite and see how I feel afterward.

There are only three chapters remaining in the outline for my novel! I can sense feelings rising to the surface; I have only completed one rough draft of a novel before, and I definitely had to take some time to recover from the overwhelming rush of emotion. I already get emotional thinking about the nearly 60,000 words I’ve written so far! the corners of memory I’ve explored! and the fact that I may have to write several versions of the ending to strike the right balance!

Nothing to do but get in there and write it. I won’t know which way to end the novel is best until I try.

 

Seasons of lust

“pumpkin smut latte” is out, it’s printed, and it’s already time to order more?! I’m down to four copies and two of those are spoken for, so I definitely need to replenish my stock!

Special thanks to Christina la Catastrophe and Marie Cornellier! Christina got me into this whole medium (she is my zine mommy/daddy) and helped me with my numerous questions, while Marie convinced me to get up at an open mic and read this issue’s erotic story!

I had honestly forgotten how smutty the language got, and there I was in front of the microphone, saying “cock” and “dick-hungry” and “semen” with rising embarrassment! I did manage to lean into my performance, getting more and more breathless as I worked up to the climax, and leaving the room a bit hot and bothered as I returned to my seat.

In a last-minute decision, I announced that the series is titled “seasons of lust” and the next issue will be called “hairy slutsmas”. I’m currently working on the cover, questioning whether I need to get a tree or borrow someone’s as a prop.

If you are interested in a copy of “pumpkin smut latte” or any upcoming zines, you can find me floating around Montreal, especially next week! I will be telling a new story at Confabulation (October 24 at the Phi Centre, click to buy tickets) and the theme is HAIR! My tale is full of teenage awkwardness, discovering identity, and removal treatments I will never attempt again!

You can also join my Patreon! Patrons in the $5 tier and above receive mailed copies of zines as they are produced, in addition to one zine per month of sponsorship until they are caught up. I am preparing “hairy slutsmas” to be ready for the beginning of December, but I will print it earlier if I can get it to where I want it to be. The second issue, like the first, is set to contain an erotic story, a poem, and an essay on gay hook-up apps.

I’m planning a subversive take on Valentine’s Day with “exes” though 😏

Work on the novel has resumed with gusto! I have completed two chapters in the last week and change, bringing me a step closer to finishing the rough draft. I have lots of ideas to keep me busy once I set this novel down for a rest, but I need a few final sprints to get me there. Fortunately, I am still able to work on this without feeling a sense of fatigue. In general, I am ready to be done with this draft, but I have enough energy remaining to keep me from half-assing it.

Autumn

I sort of drifted there for a bit, but worry not! The obsession with the zine has endured and I am now confident(‽) that it is ready for print! I am going to get out there and make it happen and hold this thing in my hand, in colour.

I don’t think the zine was distracting me from the novel, though I suppose an outsider might disagree. I wasn’t ready to get back into it, the fact of it being so close to finished freaked me out! Then I became aware that I was stalling, and the zine provided a satisfying avenue to channel my creative energies while I procrastinated.

I have since had three chapters reviewed by two writing groups, one of which contained some very personal emotions and I was worried it wouldn’t work. I was very grateful to learn that the writing resonates, and of course I received valuable feedback on how to improve the text. Direction that I will note on my hard copy before putting it away.

I’d like to finish the novel by the end of the month (I’m sure I’ve said that before) and focus my efforts on my holiday-themed zine. I also have a good idea of the photographs I’ll need for it. I’ll be posting more details on my Patreon soon.

I am really embracing using my notebook more often. I’ve started experimenting with to-do lists, which are very satisfying but difficult to maintain. This is true of many useful habits, so I’ll give it another try.

I’ve been playing with pictures

I have been playing around with images for my zine. I take a lot of pictures when the mood strikes me, and some of them are interesting to look at! I’ve been looking through my library for photos I’ve taken that can be linked to what I’ve written, and I think I have some very thematic imagery so far.

I haven’t played around with this sort of thing since I was a teenager, and it’s been a lot of fun making layer upon layer and trying different effects to find one that fits the mood of the image. I must resist the temptation to render everything in blue, pink, and purple!

alley parc ex scaled

Image of an alleyway in Parc Ex, manipulated to be in shades of dark blue and fuchsia.

The full-size version of this image is up on my Patreon, which will be getting smuttier as of October 1! This means there will be naughty poetry, saucy prose, and some sexy photo manipulation. If this is something that excites you too, consider joining the $5 tier: anyone who does so will get a mailed copy of any zines produced during their patronage!

Patrons will get to see my work as I go, having access to unfinished projects and early access to finished materials. I also plan on updating more than once a week, so as soon as I’m excited about something, up it goes!

I’m also interested to hear what people would like to see in these zines! The first contains some erotic fiction, a poem with a content warning for sexual assault, and an essay on communicating in the modern era of hook-up apps. I’m surprising myself by not having much fiction happen here; I mean, I don’t exactly remember how my first sexual encounter in my first apartment went, but I think I captured the essence of the experience.

The content is currently in a Draft 1.5 space. I’m looking to continue polishing the text while I start to experiment with layout, and I expect I’ll have something concrete to show within the next couple of weeks.

For local followers, I will be carrying these around with me. For Patreon supporters, current and potential, no worries if you join after the zine is produced, I’ll have something in place to catch you up. I have so much to say about my little corner of queer life: racism, misogyny, serostigma, the awkward and varied conversations I’ve had about my polyamory… there’s enough material for many many zines!

Let’s talk about sex

Scrambling to catch up after a very busy week! The upside is I have more things to talk about!

I met with a couple of friends over the course of last week to talk about art, video games, writing, etc. First was Mx. Dietrich Squinkifer, who came over for tea and conversation. We chatted a lot about indie games, which I would like to explore in further detail. Many of these games contain a great deal of text, and I’ve been curious about either creating a text-based game, or writing the text for a different sort of experience.

They showed me Inky, and after following a brief tutorial, I’ve started writing an erotic dating game. I’ve already got the appearance of two of the potential partners, and I’m making it less of a Choose Your Own Stud and more of an interactive experience that begins in a bar, and as you go along you meet people that fate has set along your path.

(I’ve also tinkered with music in BoscaCeoil, and it sure feels fun to play with sounds again! Thanks, Squinky!)

Then I had coffee with Christina la Catastrophe, who I first met at February’s Confabulation. Her story of love included a face dildo, which earned a surprised bark of laughter from me. I’d followed her on instagram (@unbeknownst.to.u) and saw posts about her zines, so I messaged her after months of waiting and asked about them.

She brought several examples and told me a bit about her creative process, and how it has differed from zine to zine. I admired the photography and construction; one of them is made entirely of sexy images taken with a Game Boy Camera. Play, indeed.

This conversation linked with the interactive erotic encounters, and my desire to put together a bedroom book, and spat out a titillating idea…

Erotic zines. A couple pieces of hot fiction, a poem or two, maybe an essay… I can flex my creative muscles on something other than a main project (which honestly becomes a bit of a slog at various points throughout; I could use the distraction!) while expressing some of my thoughts about sex and masculinity and the queer world I live in. I’ll carry them around with me to events, sell them for whatever someone is willing to give, and make the world a sexier place. I’ve already put together a rough draft of a few things, this idea is so much fun to run with!

Examining readiness again

It is always so irritating when a change of temperature brings a little cold. We’ve been having cooler weather here and I had the sore throat to prove it. Being sick increases my frequency of demotivation naps, where I can’t do anything but curl up and try to sleep the ugh away.

Despite this, I’ve gotten some things done! I pitched a summary of a story for Confabulation‘s Hair theme and it has adolescence, awkwardness, and acceptance! I’m eager to develop it into something more polished.

In the meantime, the pitch has been posted to my Patreon, in the Works-in-Progress tier. It’s a little less frightening to put that out there when I still have no patrons at this level, but there’s also the voice in my head saying, “Yeah, but it’s only a click away. Someone can read this in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping.”

Half the fun of being a writer is that ambivalence: please read what I wrote. No, wait, don’t! I mean, do, but only if you have nice things to say! Wait, I changed my mind!

I could let this go on for half an hour while I sit motionless in front of my keyboard, but fuck it. Slightly before I’m ready, as always.

Apart from storytelling, I am eyeing the last six chapters of my novel and getting ready to make my move. Like a cat wiggling its butt before pouncing! I’m excited to write my first ending to this novel! If it’s like everything else I work on, it won’t be the final ending, but I can’t revise a blank page. I have to try things.

I’m also starting to think about Fringe. I have more time to consider it, for sure, but I have a vague notion that I could write a 60-minute show… we’ll see. Maybe I’ll just have to pitch before I’m ready, as usual.

Two thirds

I have been more physically active this past week, so that’s one goal met!

I also reached a new milestone with my manuscript: I completed the rough draft for part two of the novel!

This one is particularly exciting as part two takes up the bulk of the book. We begin with Simon in Montreal in part one, he travels to Louisiana for part two, and (spoiler alert) he will return to Montreal in part three. With that chunk of work behind me, I am down to six outlined chapters remaining to be written. As outlines go, this could change before the end, but that means I am nearly done with the rough draft as a whole!

I very much look forward to setting this manuscript aside and working on something else for a bit.

In other news, a new season of Confabulation starts next Friday with Ritual! There are some interesting themes in the following month that I’d like to pitch for, but this time I’ll be a spectator. I did participate in a special outdoor Confabulation as part of NDG Arts Week! I got to tell a story in a park with some of my favourite storytellers, including Claire Sherwood and Nisha Coleman.

I think it’s time I worked on my pitch. Less talking, more doing!