Thursday, 4 April 2013

When did I get this way?

What way, you ask? Crazy? No. Not that way. I've always been that way. It really does help. It makes it much easier to ignore the subtle changes over time that tell me I'm not the same person I was when I started this gig nearly four and a half years ago.

I'd love to be able to say I could blame Marci and Faith for that. After all, Faith was my first editor and Marci was my first publisher. They got me into this mess!!!!

(They also help keep me from the long fall off the deep end, so I have to give them credit for that, too!)

The point is, though, I remember, vividly  an inner dialogue I had with myself once about what I would say if anyone ever interviewed me about my books and why I write what I do. ... What?  Don't look at me like that. You know you've done it, too. Back in the day, you had the fantasy about this insane venture into your own psyche we call writing a book hitting the New York Times bestseller lists and making you rich, about Oprah reading your books.


Right? We've all had that moment. Um....ANYWAY

Back to me. I remember the question. Why do you write about gay characters? And I always answered the same. ... AGAIN with the look? Yes, always. It's called positive visualization. Don't tell me you've never heard of it. Athletes do it all the time. Imagine yourself succeeding, and you will succeed. Well. With some hard work and an ocean of caffeine and a butt-load of luck.

But we were talking about my answer to why. The answer was always: "No reason. The characters are who they are. I'm not trying to change the world or make a statement. I'm just writing what I write What other people take away from my stories is about them, not me."

I was never an activist. I'm not about making a stand or linking arms or chaining myself to trees. Or ideals. It was never my style. Or so I thought.

Then one day, I'm sitting in the break room at the day job and someone makes a comment, rather offhand and typical, as in a few words of WTF with no real malice behind it, about Andre Pejic.  I thought I was going to pop an artery. How dare this person say word one, jokingly, inconsequential or otherwise, about Andre's sexuality or gender. None of their business. And cruel, whether the person set out to be cruel or not, to comment about a person being a freak because they didn't fit into a mold some stranger tries to stuff them into.

(If you don't know, Andre is a male model making most of his money modeling women's clothing. He puts himself under the transgender umbrella, but says when he looks in the mirror, he just sees himself and gender doesn't really matter)

And yes, I spoke up. I made my own off hand comment about workplace equality and respect and not judging what we don't understand. It shut the entire room up for the remainder of our break. AWKWARD!

When did I become that person? An accidental activist. Oops. Maybe it was about the time I became a mom and realized what I said, or didn't say, mattered.

I'm attaching the link to an interview with Andre where he talks about his career and self image, and down near the bottom of the page is an interview with a mom about her son, her princess boy, as she calls him. It made me want to hug her.


Valerie Mann said...

The same slander is applied to romance fiction authors all the time, and quite liberally. "You aren't a real writer because your stories have no value" or "How can you write porn?"

Everyone does something that can be judged by others in a not-so-flattering way. In the end, whether you agree or disagree with what others are doing (I'm talking about "morality" here!), discretion is always the better part of valor.

Jaime Samms said...

In this context, Val, the question wasn't about what I write being demeaning. It was more about why as supposedly straight middle aged woman would be writing about gay men? Am I trying to make a statement? Trying to increase the visibility of the gay community? Is there a message behind it all? My answer was and has always been, no. I'm not. I'm just writing stories that come to me. There is no ulterior motive. it's just what I do.

As for discretion, yes, I suppose there may be truth in that. But on the other hand, maybe we should speak up against prejudice so ingrained that people assume a man in a skirt is a freak without ever knowing the man. If we don't how does that ever change? And you see? There I go again.

Valerie Mann said...

I mean discretion on all our parts to keep our opinions to ourselves unless protecting others (like you did). For every person who believes as we do, there is another who disagrees. In my country, freedom of speech is a right, however that doesn't mean we should use it as an excuse to show our prejudices. My feeling is that if you say what you think, prepare for the consequences, good or bad. I think in this case, your co-worker wasn't prepared for the consequences when you spoke up. Too bad for her. Perhaps you alienated some of your coworkers at that moment, but it doesn't sound like that matters to you. I'm glad. On the other hand, how many people were agreeing with you but didn't have your guts?

For those who ask you if you're trying to make a statement, I think your answer is simple and clear. If they press you, then they're looking for an opportunity to argue and why should you have to defend something that doesn't exist?

Faith said...

Never heard of that model, but I find this really interesting! And what a gorgeous face!