Sunday, August 18, 2013


I'm not writing as much as I used to.

I have decided to write about this.

When I first started writing for my own pleasure, rather than a school assignment or something, I was in seventh. I had enjoyed writing sometimes before then, but I had not written much in my free time. I think I mostly wanted a solitary activity where I could be emotional and quiet. I had just gone through a break-up, and it was...weird, and I wanted to work out why on my own a bit without anyone else's thoughts interfering.* If I did something communal, people would ask why I was so emotional, and if I did something loud, people would come to check on me.

I was also writing a story where the heroine got together with a person who was basically a hodgepodge of a bunch of characteristics I found attractive. I realized this pretty immediately, shrugged, and kept writing. I wasn't writing to make a good story. I was writing because I wanted an outlet. I don't see the shame in writing wish fulfillment when that is literally all I had set out to do.

Granted, a few of the characteristics had less to do with me finding them attractive and more to do with being the opposite of the guy who had just broken up with me but hush.

My writing stayed in about that space for a while. I theoretically still have a bunch of documents which follow an even less organized format than that first story--there, I at least made everything about the same couple characters. Later documents are separated only into "this one has all random ideas that came to me" and "this is me explicitly creating a fantasy world to play in because I want to have interactions which happen only on my terms." The former tended to have characters with personality, while the latter...didn't. Or rather, a character's personality would vary from writing to writing, with only a few characteristics actually staying consistent, and the rest changing to fit whatever I wanted to happen.

I started writing more regularly when I started this blog. I could not tell you whether I wrote more, but I did start writing at a more consistently, and I started finishing more things, rather than just writing the introductions to essays or three scenes from a story that should be novel-length. I still do that, but I have a tendency to finish the things I want to spend times on, rather than only the ones that are assigned to me.

The consistency increased somewhere around 2010/2012, when I was in a class where we had to write something every week, called a portfolio piece. I learned that I liked doing that. I decided to go with that theme and try to write one thing every week for this blog. I kept that up for some time. I even built up a little buffer--two or three posts ahead of me. It got to the point where I would stress a little when there was only one post cued, though earlier in this blog's history I wrote almost every post the day of--I had based the format on a school assignment, after all.

I wrote weekly on this blog, and more outside it. I did end up using school projects occasionally, but most of the time I tried to avoid cross-posting in that way unless I adored what I had made. I did not keep up the same rules for college essays--probably a good thing. I did not have time to practice my songs, do my homework, write the applications, take the SATs, and write something decent for this blog.

November of 2012, I did NaNoWriMo. I built up a buffer that lasted through the month of November, and I remember relaxing when I succeeded in doing so, because it meant I could focus on my novel. I mean, I didn't, but I had the option.

The end of November isn't when I stopped updating this blog weekly, but it's when it started feeling significantly difficult. It was probably more difficult than it had been the first few weeks I tried it--those were no picnic, but at least I could see myself getting better, not worse. This blog started being stressful, when it was supposed to be fun and interesting, when it was supposed to be, at its best, informative and interesting, and at its worst, an outlet for exactly the sort of feelings it was now causing.

So I dropped it. And I miss it, a bit. Not the stress, nor exactly the writing, because I still write a little. But I miss having a schedule that I would keep to every week, because it was fun to be able to justify the prioritization which I would like to give to my writing.

I'm going to see if I can ease back into writing. Maybe I'll go back to musings, like these.

I do like writing.
* We had been good friends beforehand and he broke up with me in such a way that it was abundantly clear that he was not telling the truth about why he was breaking up with me. Because of that and some associated stuff, I thought he didn't want to hang out anymore. Spoilers: He wasn't telling the truth. But I don't exactly begrudge him not coming out in eighth grade. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Born This Way" and "Queer by Choice"

I've started interacting with these ideas, that one's sexuality and gender are innate, or that they are a choice, or some blend of the two. I've been familiar with the "born this way" narrative for some time now--though generally in the format of, "I didn't choose to be [whatever]," uttered in a fiery tone which belies the hurt underneath, "This is terrible; if I could be otherwise I could." The "queer by choice" narrative was a bit less familiar to me, and I ran into it mostly in this collection of quotations.*

What I've noticed, first and foremost, is that my sexuality is kind of a choice. Not as much as some people who are quoted on that page, but I do know how I would go about choosing to be straight or gay or whatever, if I wanted to. I am not capable of controlling my initial reactions to people, but I am usually good at making my feelings stop when I want them to. There have been exactly two exceptions to this rule--I will not go into detail on them beyond that, because on both occasions I made an absolute ass of myself.

I could, if I felt the need, selectively squash my feelings for anyone who was/wasn't a man, or who was/wasn't a woman, or who was/wasn't genderqueer, etc. After a time, I might even find this reflexive. I couldn't say. Outside of individual circumstances--e.g. they're gay/straight/taken and I'm pining--I have never tried to do this. However, I recognize this capacity in myself, and I am choosing not to exercise it. That's a choice. That's my choice.

My circumstance is not universal. Some people do not have any idea how they might go about changing their sexuality--I admit I have an advantage, since my default state is attraction regardless of gender, so I only have to subtract from that. I can imagine trying to nurture an attraction for someone, but I believe it would be more difficult.

My gender fits into this narrative spectrum...differently. I know exactly how I would go about trying to be a cis woman. I also know how I would go about trying to be a trans man. I also know how I would go about trying to have a manly male persona and a feminine female persona and nothing else. I also get the idea.

But I'm not sure I could call refusing to do that a choice. Because I did try. What I found was, I had the choice between being my gender and expressing my gender, or pushing my gender down, never knowing when it might spring back up, and having occasional bouts of detesting (parts of) my body and not knowing why--because I had pushed away the part of me that was in touch enough with my actual gender to figure out why: I only had the part that was trying to be the gender I thought would be easier.

I would...not call this successfully choosing to be another gender. It isn't me making myself another gender; it's me sticking my fingers in my ears and singing, "LALALALALA," when I should probably be saying, "Gender dysphoria."

That seems to tuck neatly into, "born this way," but it doesn't for two reasons. First, I don't think everyone is like me. People have said that they experience their genders in ways different from mine, and I tend to believe them. Unless we are close enough that I can listen to them and think, "You're doing that thing with your right foot that you always do when you don't believe a word you're saying," I don't know why I would do otherwise.

Second...I can't make myself fit one of the molds I tried to fit. But I can affect my gender in an immediate sense. When I was playing a woman in Cabaret, I presented as hypermasculine when out of costume, and this made it much more likely that I would be a woman when in costume. Obviously this doesn't work for everyone, but my gender identity feels like it likes to balance things out, so it worked for me.**

I suppose I'm saying that gender and sexuality are messy. They don't fit into neat boxes, though categorization can be useful. I could never have stopped singing, "LALALALALA," if I hadn't learned the tune to, "Gender dysphoria." We are human. Terms and stories are never useless, even if the only thing they teach is, "Neither of these actually fit quite right." I think bespoke clothing rocks, but I'll wear something off the rack that's in my size before I wear something that's entirely wrong. (Though I admit, I am the sort who will wear something that's entirely wrong before going naked.)
* I found that page because I posted a quotation--from Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg--on my facebook, and I like to google my quotations to see what people would find if they did so. 
** Talking about my gender identity as something separate from me feels artificial. I am my gender. The fact that it is changeable does not mitigate this fact. I felt the phrasing was necessary for this essay, but I did not want that to pass without comment.
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart