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?

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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‚ÄĒI 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 ūüėŹ

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(‚ÄĹ) 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!

Floating

I have sort of let things get derailed, and these weekly updates will not be added to the list!

I had gotten a pretty steady routine together: exercising in my living room, doing yoga before bed, jogging in the park nearby. I had been whining for months that I need to do something with my body, because each time I levered myself up off the sofa, I creaked and cracked and felt far older than my years.

I first tried a yoga routine that I found on YouTube a few months ago, discovered that the floor was entirely too firm, and bought a yoga mat.

Reconnecting with my body felt amazing. Hearing the pops and cracks in my legs as I followed the instructions of a soothing voice every night before bed is a great way to disconnect and wind down. I added my exercise routine, mostly lunges and squats and push-ups, and relished the soreness I would feel the next day. I jogged and loved the air filling my lungs and the feeling of my thighs and calves and feet all working together.

Then my routines crumbled. Getting started became a monumental task I couldn’t accomplish. I would try to rationalize the benefits, reminding myself that it usually felt good, and I’d thank myself later. It’s so much easier to get stuck in my phone and let the hours slip away, though.

I am working to let go of the ensuing guilt at “failing” to get myself started. I have read articles on procrastination and laziness and I know there are reasons behind these things, there are explanations as to why we can’t just do the things we want to do. There are ways to overcome these roadblocks, the task can be broken into smaller steps, I can set a goal that’s easier to reach: get dressed for exercise!

I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about this in therapy. Putting this out here is helping remind me of what I’ve already learned, and that’s useful. I think I’ll whip out the yoga mat, change into something that’s easier to move in, and put on an upbeat playlist.

Another thing that I’ve discussed in therapy is a sort of counterintuitive cascade effect. It’s part of the smaller goals idea: if my goal is to get dressed for exercise, then it’s easy to follow that up with some actual exercise. Even if I quit before I finish, like the time I tried to jog when it was ridiculously hot, I still achieved my goal and that’s enough to silence the awful Voice of Guilt.

If I write this blog post, it’s easy to then do something else, and something else, until I don’t have the energy. Even if I do stop at this blog post, I’ll have met my goal, and I can be okay with that.

I’m totally getting changed, though. For lunges!

Breaking 50k

Getting out last week’s post felt really good, but there was no real update there, so here we go!

The QWF has a wonderful resource called the Hire-A-Writer directory for people interested in coaching, editing, feedback, etc. Many of the faces there are familiar to me from social gatherings, and a friend of mine recommended Elise Moser from her own experience.

Many of the chapters of my novel have been workshopped on an individual basis, often submitted in pairs of consecutive chapters, but I needed someone to look at a larger piece and tell me whether I’m on the right track. I communicated with Elise, who put me at my ease immediately. After a brief exchange to clarify what I was looking for, I submitted the first six chapters of the novel and tried to put it from my mind and work on other things.

I got feedback a lot quicker than I expected! The short of it is, I am heading in the right direction, even if I have a lot of ground to cover. Elise provided excellent points for me to work on, and as a result I’ve drafted a new opening chapter. This makes my third attempt at beginning this novel, which is fine; the beginning is the most important part. It determines whether a reader continues along this journey with me or moves on to something else.

I’m submitting to my primary writing group, and I can’t wait to hear how they receive the new chapter. I have Elise’s notes for the remainder of the opening chapters, but I’ve been focusing my efforts on completing the rough draft. I have pushed past 50,000 words and nearly completed part two of three; I have seven more chapters outlined and that’s it. The rough draft as currently outlined will be complete.

Facebook was kind enough to remind me that it’s been a year since I sat down and outlined this book. I had recently returned to Louisiana to visit family and those experiences were fresh in my mind. I had been cultivating ideas of home and belonging ever since I moved here to Quebec, some eleven years ago. It feels like I built a framework then, and I have been steadily adding to it for a year so that now I have something that is beginning to take shape.

As slow as progress feels sometimes, I can look back on this and feel proud.

In other news, I’ve been invited to perform a story that appears in Claire at a special pride edition of Confabulation! Tomorrow night, I will be telling the story of how I met Mathieu, which began a chain of events that led to me moving from Lafayette, Louisiana to Blainville, Quebec. Come hear the tale at¬†le Minist√®re¬†tomorrow at 9:30pm!

Pride

I have been struggling since June to put words to my feelings about Pride. It’s taken me a while to get where I am with my sexuality, contrary to the idea I had when I was younger where I would come out, maybe get gay married, and that would be it. Turns out there’s a lot more to the story!

My most significant coming out was a few weeks shy of my sixteenth birthday. I spent the day with my girlfriend of nine months, Whitney.¬†This was a rare treat for us; we lived 45 minutes apart by car, and neither of us had one.¬†I have very fond memories of that day, but when I came to my realization, I felt I had to tell her. I’d been a shitty boyfriend and kept things from her before, I wanted to be honest.

It was a relief to say the words out loud, but I felt so guilty for disappointing her.

One thing I would like straight people to know is that you never stop coming out. New acquaintances, managers and colleagues in the workplace, complete strangers even. You get better at it, but there’s always that moment of hesitation before you say it because you wonder how that person will react. Will it change the relationship that you have? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter; you need to be true to yourself. But we always fear that change, or the idea of losing someone who cannot accept who we are.

I moved to Quebec, where coming out was part of my backstory: “I moved here to be with my husband,” I would say. I almost came out during a job interview when the recruiter was talking about diversity and acceptance being company values, but a small voice stopped me. A voice of shame that has been with me since before I knew I was gay.

I was raised in rural Louisiana, I grew up attending mass on Sundays, I have even had to listen to teachers denounce the effects of homosexuality on the sanctity of the nuclear family (nevermind that I am a child of divorce, like many of my friends growing up). There was nothing to be proud of, only a label that meant I could never fit in. How could these people really love the sinner when they hated the sin so much?

I went into university leaning into my gayness. I started my first semester with purple hair; I am so upset there is no photographic evidence of this. I spoke in a very animated fashion with lots of hand movements. Before long, I was being introduced the same way to new people: “Have you met my gay friend Lukas?”

Oh. Two months into a new and exciting phase of my life and I’m the Gay Guy. Still clinging to my shame, I didn’t want my sexuality to be the thing I was known for. I wanted to be that nerdy guy, or the fantasy buff, or, “Hey, he’s got great taste in music!” I got hung up on my identifier like I was in a cheesy high school movie. Picture a scene of me listening to Dashboard Confessional while crying over a boy and cutting my hair into a garbage bin. My stylist at the time¬†loved that.

I was already trying to “tone it down” by the time I met Mathieu online. You may have seen the story at Confabulation: boy meets boy, boys get married, boy moves to Canada. Now I was a Responsible Young Adult, with a Husband, so I needed to work on a House with a Picket Fence and two-point-whatever kids. I decided to put away childish things, while my husband decorated our home with Hello Kitty clocks and posters and waffle irons.

Without understanding at all what I was doing, I began to emulate the image of married men I had known. Men who do not show emotions other than anger. They certainly don’t get teary-eyed during emotional scenes of animated films, or even watch cartoons in the first place. They don’t have stuffed animals decorating bookshelves. They don’t express affection, and even when their homosexuality is tolerated, they shouldn’t push it by ever kissing a man in front of someone else. Not even a peck on the lips is allowed.

The marriage ended for many reasons, but the biggest culprit in my mind is this false image I was trying to realize. I was trying to act out what I thought our marriage should be instead of understanding that it could have been whatever we wanted it to be. There was a lot going on that I didn’t have the vocabulary for: toxic masculinity, intimacy issues, and the growing notion of polyamory.

Freshly divorced, I moved from Blainville to Sainte-Rose. Now most interactions seemed to take place on the apps: Grindr, Growlr, Scruff. Ostensibly for meeting people, but everyone calls them the hookup apps. I learned how boredom can turn into an hours-long quest for sex, how validation can become addictive, and how awful it feels to be ghosted after making what feels like a genuine connection. I would delete the apps out of frustration, or because I’d agreed to be exclusive with a new boyfriend, only to come back weeks or months later, single and hungry to connect again.

After a few cycles of this, I started therapy. I learned how to talk about what I really want, how to manage my expectations, how to use the apps as the tools they are instead of getting pulled into long nights and disappointing encounters. I started embracing this idea of being who I am without a care for what people think, and being rewarded for this in encounters with new people. Now when some guy ghosts me, I only spend a moment wondering if I did something wrong before moving on. Why should I spare a thought for someone who decided I wasn’t someone they want around?

This process of learning to celebrate who I am has helped me understand that I want to emphasize what makes me different. I will be that gay guy, the guy who watches cartoons, the guy who uses stuffed animals as home decor. I have seen children looking at the bright and colourful buttons on the shoulder strap of my bag and I have thought, Yes! You can decorate your life like this, too! Be weird, now and in your thirties!

In short, I have found pride. It has been a struggle, and it continues to be a fight in a world that seems to prefer that we sit down and shut up. I’ve started to say I’m done being polite, because I feel like I’ve held my tongue for too long while people say and do hateful things. By being silent, I stifle my own self-expression, and that only leads to more doubt and anxiety.

Do not apologize for who you are, do not let anyone tell you who you are, and do not let anyone try to change who you are ‚̧