I’ve been pretty quiet lately, both here and on Twitter, so I thought I would pop in and give anyone who happened upon this blog the latest updates and share some thoughts that have been running through my head.
At the beginning of the year, I made some big declarations about what I would be working on through 2023 — I specifically said I didn’t intend to have anything “done” within the first three months but that by the end of June I would have several new works out.
I’m actually on track to make good on this. I have a few stories in the can ready to be posted whenever I feel like, but for strategic reasons I need a little more prep time before I share them with the world. As I alluded in my earlier post, I intend for this to be a series available on Kindle Unlimited that people can pick up and thumb through at their leisure without committing $3 USD to me. In terms of it being a series, what I would like is to have at least three stories posted at once to start with, with more to come on a regular basis, so my target is five complete before you see #1.
The stories themselves are shorter and simpler than most of my novellas, but that doesn’t mean I’m not putting work in for them. But I am letting myself do things that I usually don’t, figuring that I can get away with it because they’re “free.” As a result, I’m going to use a secondary author name when I put them out — think of how Nora Roberts writes mysteries as “J.D. Robb” while letting the world know whose pen it still is. I hope to have more info about that soon, but I’ve come to believe it’s bad luck to talk too much about projects before they’re released.
The production on this series has been interrupted, however, by work on my next novella, a 30,000 word mother that I hope to have for you in May. I first mentioned it last month in this post and I’m happy to say that I have, for the most part, remained enthusiastic and encouraged about the project. I don’t think it will be one of those where I get near, or to the end and realize I’ve done it all wrong… but anything is possible when you’re a self-critic.
The story is very much in line with my works like I Changed Sexes With My Wife and A Holiday Wish: heartfelt, relationshippy, character-driven and more or less “grounded.” I mean, that describes all of my works to some degree (so far) but I like to slot these three together as emblematic of what sets me apart from other writers.
I’m most of the way through it, closing in on the end and eager to polish it off. It’s due for some revising to bulk it up and clarify some of the points, but I think I’m doing a good job saying what I’m trying to say with it. I don’t exactly think it will be a huge hit — I’d be surprised if it approached the success of A Holiday Wish (which had the benefit of being a Christmas story released in December, and also appealing to the “pregnant man” market) but it’s going to be one I’m glad I wrote.
Now, originally, a new novella wasn’t part of the plan for spring: I had that penciled in for later in the summer while I worked on some new short stories for a possible collection. But as I always say, you have to be open to inspiration when it hits you, and go with whatever you feel like writing. I am still accumulating short stories — I have a few done and more in mind — but that project is on the back burner until summer.
It’s funny. I’m constantly wondering whether I want to continue writing as Liam (or the other name I’m going to use for this forthcoming series) but then I keep gathering up ideas and realize it would still take me years to complete everything I want to do — let alone all the things I think “Eh, maybe not that one.”
Will I ever write another novel?
Since the release of Kristi’s Mom in 2021 I have worked pretty exclusively on novella-length works of under 40,000 words. Writing Kristi’s Mom was, for me, an incredible feat that took 18 long months of dedication and off-and-on focus (there were several months where I made little or no progress because I was moving, or had other things on the go, or simply didn’t feel like it.)
When I hatched that story, I knew it was a big one, and I wanted to say everything I could. I had put a character into a complex situation with a lot going on and I owed it to them, myself and my readers, to explore it as thoroughly as possible while also providing a robust character arc and a decently strong plot resolution. There are actually things that had to be left out of the book: a subplot about being a woman in the workplace that, while it would have been valid to Kyle’s experience as Julie Kouriakis, felt like it belonged in a different story and merited exploration elsewhere.
Nevertheless. I spent a year and a half with that story and I felt very drained when it was done. I had wanted to do justice to it and I feel like I did and now I know what it’s like. I don’t plan on writing another full-length novel soon. It could be that all the ideas that I’m getting don’t seem like they need to be examined in quite such detail. It could be that I’m impatient and want to get to the “good parts” quicker and resolve it more briskly. There are also economic concerns (how long it takes to write a novella, how much I can charge for it, how many “units” it will sell… that’s private, but trust me, if I could write another novel quickly it would be financially advisable for me to do so!)
Right now I have a couple of ideas for novel-length works that might do the trick, but some of them qualify more as “short story collections” centering on characters and situations, rather than a person’s individual story like Kristi’s Mom was. I’ll continue to toy around with them and see what I feel like in coming years… you never know.
I’m scared of repeating myself
Most writers are insecure people. We have nasty critics inside of us that come out when we find we have been having too easy of a time writing lately. With every work I do, I seem to hold it up against what else I’ve done, or plan to do, and examine whether one is too close to the other.
As far as I know, people aren’t looking that closely. Readers aren’t really likely to say “You already did that ending” or “You already had a character behave in such and such a way.” These are tropes and it’s silly for me to think that I need to abandon each after one use. I like reading romantic comedy books — why would I complain if the author ended every book with the couple overcoming their misunderstanding and getting together? And why would I think my readers would be any different to that?
Mentally, I hold myself to a pretty high standard but every work I’ve put out has been me overcoming this and just admitting that it’s all valid. There’s probably no reason to worry that one or two readers might read my new work and see similarities to something I wrote a year or two ago and think I’m copping out by repeating myself. We all have tropes that we like, and I hope that readers who enjoy my work understand, acknowledge, and even enjoy that.
When I saw the above image, I made a joke on Twitter that that was going to be the title of my next book — at which point I realized, “Well, didn’t I literally already write that?” But it might be a fun challenge to try to approach that same material from a different perspective. You never know.
When I’m not writing, I’m often blowing off steam adding captions to my Deviant Art account. A lot of them are lude and some of them suggest the kind of premises that I would never allow myself in my longer works, but it’s fun and they attract a certain audience of their own. If you happen to be jonesing for new material from me between books, why not scroll through and give a like?
There are a few things I won’t do, yet nothing’s off limits.
I’ve been writing and reading TG fiction for a few years now. No, let me be precise: I’ve been writing and reading TG fiction for 18 1/2 years. My reading experience is old enough to start a writing career! It’s literally been half my life since I first posted to FictionMania.
In all that time, things have changed. Tastes and attitudes have progressed as we’ve gained more understanding about sex and gender identity. For instance, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that being “turned into a woman” is a “punishment.” At the same time, being forced to be anything that you’re not, in your core, is cruel, and my writing does address that at times.
It’s all about how you write it. I sometimes get ideas and I think “This isn’t something I would write in 2023.” I don’t want to explain exactly what they are, because everything’s open to interpretation, but I do think it’s important to look at those ideas and consider why they might not be appropriate anymore. They come from those foundational early days of writing — which actually lasted, for me, right up until I launched this site — when it wasn’t clear exactly what I was trying to say with my words.
That said, I do think writing something that you, yourself, object to can be an interesting challenge: to try to access a part of you that scares and concerns you. Context is important: if you write something into a story that you think is the wrong way to be, I think it’s key to signify in the text that the story itself does not approve of this behavior. Unfortunately I can’t get more into it than that but hopefully some of you will glean some fraction of what I’m getting at.
Above all, I strive for tolerance, understanding, and respect for other people. I stand for love and curiosity towards those whose lives have been different from mine. And though negative feelings occasionally have to come up in writing in order to be addressed and overcome, I never want to feel like I have written something that is, at its core, hurtful.
Anyway, that is my mindspill for today. when I first started this blog I had hoped to speak more frequently about writing as a craft and not just “Hey, I wrote something today.” But it is what you make of it, and at the end of the day I lead a decently full life and don’t have time to be Liam all the time anyway.
I hope you’re doing well and that you enjoy whatever comes next to me. Here’s to new adventures and be kind,