You know that old writer’s saying – something very few creative writing professors will actually recommend to their students – that whole write what you know business? I prefer to write what I want to know. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of writing at all? With The Poet of Boroughs, Texas – which may or may not remain the title of story I’m working on – I’m writing a subject I’ve never ventured before – gender identity.
While, yes, I’ve written about homosexual characters – mostly men – before, I’ve always implied they were rather cisgender, or gender normative. Just because they liked sleeping with men, didn’t mean they wanted to be women. And while I’ve been known to put on a skirt in the past, doesn’t mean I know what’s going on in the minds of people who were born into the wrong gender role.
Transgenders fascinate me in ways other than creepy fetishism. It was only a matter of time before I opted to write about transgenderism. It’s not an activist tale I’m transpiring; it’s more of a love story gone awry. It’s not just gender roles I’m focusing on, it’s the sexuality business that has tainted media culture for a while now. Because my narrators usually the play the role of the what-I-know in the story, the Poet doesn’t subscribe to sexuality – much like the god (me) who breathed life into him. This unlabeled sexual group was – inevitably – labeled pomosexual. His social group is made up of the openly homosexual, Michael Quinn (shorted to simply Mike in this version) and bisexual Fiona (who went through several names in the other versions). There’s straight guy and musician, Steven Michaels (whose younger brother, Peter, is a character bit I started up in high school). Possible lesbian ex-girlfriend, Jennifer de la Cruz also plays a role in this version of the story – the girl was named something else in other versions, but I combined her with the name of an only mentioned character of later drafts). [Note: I based the original Jenn on an Internet acquaintance who acted as the main character’s moral compass. She was only mentioned at the beginning of another version as a salutation – “Dear Jenn.” That version of the story was a letter to the unknown character, and I felt her importance was insignificant. This version, now named Jennifer, doesn’t serve the same purpose, and, obviously, not based off of anyone.] Dick Masters serves a role as the Female-to-Male transgender, while Kelly Winters (formerly Richards) serves as the Male-to-Female transgender.
Like with most large projects, I’ve opted to make a playlist to listen to – meditate to, really – when I get stuck. This one kept most of the same songs that original versions contained. Because I’m a sucker for sharing playlists, I’m gonna go ahead and list it:
- Post Blue – Placebo
- In The Shadow of the Valley of Death – Marilyn Manson
- Malchik gay (original Russian version) – t.A.T.u.
- Lollirot – Jack Off Jill
- Lenore’s Song – Yunyu
- Waste – Staind
- Dear Joan – Tabitha’s Secret
- Sleep Well, My Angel – We Are the Fallen
- I’m a Monster – Ours
- Wasted (Acoustic) – Stabbing Westward
- Anthems For a Seventeen Year Old Girl – Broken Social Scene
- Capital G (Switch Remix) – Nine Inch Nails
- Odno I To Zhe (Long Repeat Mix) – t.A.T.u. & Rammstein
- Ur a WMN Now – Otep
- Glimmer – The Album Leaf
- Epiphany – Staind
Because I’m a big fan of music, I normally don’t just play the playlist and write. These last few nights I’ve listened to just about anything. Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, VNV Nation’s Future Perfekt, Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV, as well as, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s The Social Network soundtrack, most things t.A.T.u. (both American and Russian albums), the Radiohead 01/10 playlist and whatever my phone just happens to hold.
This story’s heavily infused with gender issues and music – but music always plays a vital role in my writing. As does pop culture, though the references in this story are limited and whittled down to just literature references. I’ll see what direction it’ll take me, and what I take from it in the end. And as I’ve said in the last post, I might just share a piece with you.
- Cross-dresser: “I Don’t Want To Be A Woman,” [Gender Studies] (jezebel.com)
- Art that Empowers Girls (drdeborahserani.blogspot.com)
- Gender Differences in Emotional Health (everydayhealth.com)
- Neurosexism examined: Delusions of Gender (boingboing.net)