Perseverance

Another week down with very little progress. This is my life, now: I am trapped in a perpetual cycle of completely failing to get on with Breathing Fire. I mean, seriously – I have 175 pages written; over 50,000 words. You’d think that I know what I was trying to achieve by now. You’d think that I was capable of writing more than 50 words at a time. You’d think I’d think and sort the damn thing out.

This is almost certainly (memories may go down as well as up) the longest I’ve ever spent on a first draft (or ‘sloppy copy’, as someone coined it on Twitter). I’m past the point of simply blaming interruptions. This is seriously so damn hard. Pulling teeth is nothing compared to pulling words.

At the moment I‘m trying to plan a break-in. This means I have to think. Then, after said break-in, I need to plan a climax. And I’m just not sure I’ve got the energy for that.

Sigh. I shall get it down. I will not be defeated. But overall victory (in, what must be remembered, is still only Draft One of – judging by prior performance – at least seven) has never seemed so far away.

Perseverance is the only card left in my hand. It’s having to do a whole lot of work right now.

And then there’s the big Plot Issue I need to solve.

Back in book one (Oneiromancer) I killed a lesbian, inadvertently sending me careering down a trope-fuelled nightmare that I still fret about; I worry that any potential agent/editor will hit that point and either reject me because of it or demand changes that I feel incapable of resolving.

I’ve hit that same note again here. I have a queer couple and I was intending – no, the plot is demanding – that one of them should die. There is an inexorable momentum towards unhappily-ever-after.

Seeing this coming, I desperately want to save their life. I just don’t know how. For reasons of plot and momentum and the iron laws of tragedy, I don’t know how to avoid having myself labelled as something I don’t think I am. I want to wrench things round to a happier ending.

I just don’t know how. The book screams for blood and I’m not sure how to best escape the gravity-well of my own creation.

I am mulling. I have rarely mulled so hard. And in the meantime I scratch word after word and drag myself inevitably closer towards the end.

Except I don’t, because another paying job has thunked down upon my desk and now I’m back to editing.

One day I’ll actually get to finish something I started. That day is not today.

Dead Lesbian

DL

As Katy Perry once didn’t sing, ‘I killed a girl and I liked it.’ I know how she doesn’t feel; I’ve killed a lesbian at the end of Oneiromancer, and now I’m afraid I’m part of the Dead Lesbian Syndrome narrative.

For those what haven’t come across DLS (AKA ‘bury your gays’), it’s well summed-up here:

“Often…gay characters just aren’t allowed happy endings. Even if they do end up having some kind of relationship, at least one half of the couple, often the one who was more aggressive in pursuing a relationship, thus “perverting” the other one, has to die at the end.”

I wrote the novel before I was aware of DLS and, at the time, thought it was justified artistically and dramatically. Now I worry. I also worry that my worries are driven by fear of being accused of unconscious homophobia as much as they are of being unconsciously homophobic, which is taking ‘I don’t like myself’-ness to a whole new level.

The problem is that I don’t know what to do about it. I feel trapped. To change my manuscript to remove the death seems like pandering. Emotionally, the novel needs that death at that point. For reasons of pathos, and because it’s well mortared into the plot. I still think the death is justified. And yet I read things like:

“Taking the route of killing off yet another gay character teaches us that gay people are expendable and not worth keeping around. It’s a plot device that needs to be examined by every creative person who writes for TV, film or any other medium. It matters how LGBT characters are handled in the media. Representation matters.”

View at Medium.com

and I don’t want to be someone who perpetuates damaging myths, memes or moralities. All writing is political. Oneiromancer is my most political novel so far, but killing lesbians is not part of my agenda. I care about the messages I communicate, consciously or not.

So I worry. I worry about what it says about me and I worry about what the reaction will be. I worry that I’m worrying too much. I’m not going to change my manuscript at this point; I’m going to wait for an agent/editor/publisher – or public opinion – to tell me what to do.

This is my alibi. At least if I can show that I was aware of what was going on and that I agonised over it I can hide behind the ‘but I meant well, Officer’ defence. But this cisgender white male is worried that won’t stand up in court.