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Asexual Awareness Week

  • Posted on October 30, 2014 at 7:07 pm

For those of you who may not know, I am asexual. What this means, in short, is that I do not, and have not, ever enjoyed sex. I can feel pleasure, physically, I can even participate in such a way that it is pleasant. However, Sex is always uncomfortable. It’s roughly, to me, what doing the dishes might be to you, or perhaps cleaning out a toilet. It has to be done, but only when necessary.

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN for short), an Asexual individual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. For the laymen in the audience, this is where you have to separate Sexuality from Romantic-orientation. They are two different things. It is entirely possible to feel Romantic attraction to someone, while simultaneously feeling no sexual attraction whatsoever. When the reverse happens, that’s usually when you find someone hot, but completely un-dateable.

There is an entire spectrum of Asexuality, ranging from Sex-repulsed, to gray-asexual, to Sex-positive individuals. The common ground here is this: A lack of sexual attraction. This does not mean that an asexy individual doesn’t have a libido. It is entirely possible that an ace individual will choose to masturbate frequently, or only once a month, or never! There is the possibility that an asexy person will choose to have sex as many times as their partner wants to, without hesitation, because they enjoy the closeness. For others, they might not be able to tolerate sexual contact at all, from the gentle brush of fingers down one’s arm to the touch of lips to lips. And then, there are some who even enjoy sexual contact!

For me, my asexual journey has been one of much discovery. When I was young, my mother was a very sexual individual. She had complete control of her sexuality, and was never ashamed of it, that I knew of. Not only that, but she made sure I knew the birds and the bees pretty early. I actually can’t remember when I got the ‘Talk’ so to speak, I just… always felt like I knew it. I feel my mother was amazing in that regard.

During my teen-hood, however, I had several fitful stops and starts with normal teen romances. My very first boyfriend I had for a week, and any time he touched me, I felt nauseous. Not nervous, nauseous, as if I was going to throw up if his hands were on me for more than a mere moment. He left me for my best friend, who would hold hands with him when he wanted. That was fine with me. It was more a relief.

In high school, I dated a very nice young man, who took me to homecoming and to the corn maze before Halloween. He was always very respectful, and when I held his hand, I felt nervous, not sick. So I thought maybe it was all a fluke. But even when he hugged me, I couldn’t let it last for too long. I felt like if I did, something bad would happen. I didn’t want to go beyond holding hands, and spending time together happily. A week after he asked me for our first kiss, and I gave it to him, I broke up with him. I claimed that it was because  my family was moving, and while we were, it didn’t change the fact that, once again, I was relieved not to have to satisfy those needs for more kisses and things that I didn’t like.

Now that isn’t to say I wasn’t normal in other regards. I discovered masturbation, and engaged in it almost nightly. I enjoyed role-playing online with those anonymous people who would, and it was through that that I discovered that I enjoy erotic literature. So I felt that perhaps, there was something wrong with me, because I didn’t want to actually engage in those acts with PEOPLE. I told myself that I was simply trying not to follow in my mother’s footsteps as a teen mom. That it was fear, and not something else.

When I was nineteen, I had my longest lasting relationship. Almost a full year, and it was an unhealthy thing. He was always frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do. I sought help from relationship sites, my friends, everyone. They all said the same thing. In a relationship, Love equals Sex. He thought I didn’t love him because I wouldn’t have sex with him. So, I did. To prove I loved him, I had sex with him, and while it wasn’t horrible, it was uncomfortable, and I was, again, glad that it was over. It didn’t happen again, luckily, because he dumped me a week or so afterwards.

I went back to thinking that perhaps something was wrong with me, and decided that I was better off without boys. Without relationships in general. But I always came back to loneliness, and needing that romantic relationship. I’ve always wanted a partner, to help me through the rough, to keep me steady and stable. I’ve always wanted the kind of marriages that last through decades. But I couldn’t seem to hold a relationship for more than a few months. One particular man, I even slept with every week, because I thought he would stay if I did, and it was no worse than any other chore, really. At least holding his hand didn’t make me feel sick again.

Here, I feel, I should clarify a few things. This sort of contact, holding hands, hugging, leaning against someone, falling asleep near someone, are triggers for this feeling of wrongness only when in a relationship context. I have never had an issue laying on, hugging on, cuddling with, or in general being touchy with my friends, and those that I am close to. It is only when there is this added romantic portion that I find myself sickened. It is that expectation of sex that taints the actions for me.

But then, after years of complaining and trying to explain to my best friends, a married couple who took me in in the later part of my teenager-hood, it finally came to a head. The husband, he’d watched a documentary on Asexuality, and while watching it, had noticed that a lot of what the main person in the documentary had spoken about experiencing, I had mentioned experiencing as well. So, he asked me to watch it too.

It was like, a revelation. I felt such an immense relief that I wasn’t the only one. That there were others like me, and WE WERE NOT BROKEN. There wasn’t something wrong with me that couldn’t be explained. I was just Asexual. That’s all there was to it! But of course, being who I am, I had to do research first, to find out if that was true, or not. So I found AVEN, and read through forum after forum. I gathered the courage and went on the chat-room, and talked to those around me, and it was like coming home.

Now, that isn’t saying that my troubles were over, upon discovering this. Because I’d also discovered the section of asexuals who ‘compromise’. What compromising means, in this instance, is dating an allosexual individual, or someone capable of sexual attraction, and having sex with, or performing sexual actions with them in order to keep the relationship healthy for both parties. I thought that I could handle this.

I fell into a relationship quickly, with a boy who said he thought he was asexual as well. However, as our relationship grew, it turned out he was demisexual, or rather, a person who only experiences sexual attraction and urges after an emotional connection is established. He asked me to compromise, and I agreed to try. But I just… After a while, it grew too stressful, too much, and I found myself in that situation where I felt sick when he touched me again. So, I broke up with him.

This last relationship has helped me realize that I am sexually-repulsed. Which means sex, and anything related to sex, is something that I cannot do. I am not broken, it’s simply the way I am. A homosexual won’t experience sexual feelings for a heterogendered individual. I can’t have sexual contact. It’s simple. And while I am still an avid masturbator and enjoyer of sex comics and pornographic fanfiction, this means I will never enjoy sex with another person. And that’s alright.

As a promise to myself, and a reminder to never compromise again, I wear the black ring on my left middle finger. This tradition started in 2005, when AVEN user Mega Mitosis posted this on the boards:

You know, a friend of mine wears a ring on her left middle finger. Her explanation being that: your right middle means “currently single”, the right ring means “currently taken” and since the left ring means “taken/married” in a permanent sense, then the next logical conclusion would be that left middle means “permanently single”.

And while I might not be permanently single, I do fully intend never to allow myself to fall into a situation where I feel sickened just by the touch of someone again. I am in control of my sexuality, just as my mother was, and while I am a different sexuality than she, I am no less important. So please, if you know someone you think might be asexual, don’t tell them there is something wrong with them. Don’t ask if they’ve gone to see a therapist. Instead, show them this article, and let them find out for themselves what they are or may be. And if you think that you are, in fact, asexual as well? Welcome to the club, we have cake.

Especially chocolate lava cake. Yum.

By the by, the colors there are the Asexual Flag. Pretty cool, huh?

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Welcome to Part Five of Breaking Down Nemesis! In Part Four, we discovered that Miss Marple’s original idea, of meeting Mrs. Anderson and asking her about the deceased Mister Rafiel, turns out to be a bunk. In fact, we are no closer at all to finding out the mystery that Mister Rafiel wanted us to find, nor are we actually anywhere closer to the actual plot! It turns out that from what we’ve found out, Mrs. Anderson doesn’t have anything to do with it at all!

Luckily enough, this chapter is entitled Instructions From Beyond, so I don’t doubt we’ll finally get some directions! It starts out with a letter that arrives three or four days after the confrontation with Mrs. Anderson. I’ve copied it here, for your perusal as well!

Dear Miss Marple,

By the time you read this I shall be dead and also buried. Not cremated, I am glad to think. It has always seemed to me unlikely that one would manage to rise up from one’s handsome bronze vase full of ashes and haunt anyone if one wanted so to do! Whereas the idea of rising from one’s grave and haunting anyone is quite possible. Shall I want to do that? Who knows. I might even want to communicate with you.

By now my solicitors will have communicated with you and will have put a certain proposition before you. I hope you will have accepted it. If you have not accepted it, don’t feel in the least remorseful. It will be your choice.

This should reach you, if my solicitors have done what they were told to do, and if the posts have done the duty they are expected to perform, on the 11th of the month. In communication from a travel bureau in London. I hope what it proposes will not be distasteful to you. I needn’t say more. I want you to have an open mind. Take care of yourself. I think you will manage to do that. You are a very shrewd person. The best of luck and may your gaurdian angel be at your side looking after you. You may need on.

Your affectionate friend,

J. B. Rafielmr.rafielgrave

My fangirl instincts are beginning to really enjoy the idea of these two in a romance.  However, putting that aside, Miss Marple is quickly contacted, again in two days time, by the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Brittain. I won’t type up their whole letter, it basically states that she’s been given a free tour around London, and after checking with a few of her friends to make sure the company wasn’t a scam, she made arrangements.

Once again, we are treated to a scene with Cherry. She’s worried that Miss Marple might not be up to the long amounts of walking involved with the group tour. In the end, Cherry decides that so long as Miss Marple doesn’t “Fall down with a heart attack, even if you are looking at a particularly sumptuous fountain or something”, that she’s fine with it.

Another two days later, and Miss Marple carries her small overnight bag as well as her new suitcase onto a very nice new bus. Another bit of her genius shows through, as she studies the Passenger list, along with the daily itenerary. Apperantly, the itenerary was quite well arranged, with two seperate tours, one for those fleet of foot, and one for the elderly who can’t really move that well. Miss Marple then began guessing who each name on the passenger lists belonged to.

Now, during this particular strain of thought, Miss Marple uses that term again, that I took exception to in the second chapter. “Old Pussies” is a bit… Well, problematic nowadays. So, we’ll not be going over that too much. I’m attempting to take this book as the time period it was written in.

To be quite honest, this chapter really didn’t interest me all that much during my first read through. It was mostly descriptions of what people looked like, and how they struck Miss Marple, which while normally quite interesting, was, in this case, quite boring. Of the fifteen passengers, she determined quite a few things. Unfortunately, with the way it is written, and how tangled it all is, I honestly can’t begin to untangle it.

However, this does bring credit to our Agatha Christie Code theory. Miss Christie just added sixteen new characters to the story, and gave them all very in depth descriptions, and as noted, my brain basically just GAVE UP. Luckily, in the next chapter, we get slowly introduced to them a little easier, so I’m not really going to lay them out now. However, I am going to note a few bits of good writing.

Once again, we’re treated to a very organic thought process from Miss Marple. She goes from thinking about the four other old women, which is realistic mostly due to the fact that people generally note those similar to themselves. I know that I tend to look at young women on the bus before I look at old men, or older women. We see again, how she compares others to those that she knows. Specifically, she compares an old woman to someone called “Dame Emily Waldron”, a notable scientist, and a Principal of an Oxford College.

Perhaps we should learn from this. The next chance you get, take a moment and categorize your own thinking. Take notes on what you notice first, and follow along to your next thought. When you read books, note the thought processes of the characters that you’re reading.

The first day of the trip passes, without Miss Marple determining if anyone was involved in a murder, and she goes to bed, hoping that she might find something out the next day. Before bed, she spends a few moments, noting things down in her notebook. Which, honestly, is a wonderful way to bring us into re-thinking the things she’d discovered today as well. A wonderful narrative device, in fact.

So what have we learned today? Having an organic thought process for your character, as well as showing creative narrative devices to re-iterate information that may have been hard to understand in the first place, are keys to salvaging a rather horrid chapter.

For those of you following along, what did you think of this chapter? For those of you who aren’t, Share your experiences in the comments, with books that start slow and boring, and then pick up?

 

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Two

  • Posted on August 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

For those of you just joining us, here’s a link to part one. For those of you who aren’t, we’re working on chapter two this time, of Miss Marple’s mysterious adventure in Nemesis. In chapter one, Miss Marple read in the newspaper about the death of an old friend. Now, we get to continue!

Chapter two: Code Word Nemesis

We pick up a week later, when Miss Marple receives a letter. Correspondence, we’ll find out later, turns out to be a really important thing to the lovely Miss Marple. And in fact, pretty important too.

She again, notes the details of the envelope. Good quality envelope, London postage, that sort of thing. Broadribb and Schuster, Solicitors and Notaries of the Public. We’ll meet these gentlemen later, I get the feeling. Yay, more characters! So far, we have five characters, one post-humous. So far, the Code is starting to look pretty reasonable. I know I’ve been drawn in. How about you?

The “Courteous and Legal phraseology” asks her to meet them at her earliest convenience, which turns out not to be Thursday the 24th like they suggested. You’ve got to love the thought that Agatha puts into these thought processes. What character have you ever known to DELAY THE DAMN CALL by attending a meeting at a women’s college about adding some new classrooms.

After a quick discussion with Cherry, who seems to enjoy caring for Miss Marple the same way some people teach children to read, Miss Marple decides she’s going to visit them. If only because Mr. Rafiel might have left her something. A very organic thought process, here, something I might think myself. She hopes not for money but for a rare book on flowers, or a nice cameo broach.

Instead of waiting, we are treated to a quick flash forward to a discussion between Mr. Schuster and Mr. Broadribb. As with Cherry and Miss Marple, we learn about these two through their conversation rather than through a flat out description, or even an introduction. The very first bit we hear is this:

“Wonder what she’ll be like,” said Mr. Broadribb to Mr. Schuster, glancing at the clock as he did so.

“She’s due in a quarter of an hour,” Said Mr. Schuster. “Wonder if she’ll be punctual?”

“Oh, I should think so. She’s elderly, I gather, and much more punctilious than the young scatterbrains of today.”

“Fat or thin, I wonder?” Said Mr. Schuster.

Mr. Broadribb shook his head.

Already I like this Mr. Broadribb MUCH more than Mr. Schuster. But maybe that’s just because I really like Miss Marple, and Mr. Broadribb is being nicer. Then, after their impromptu discussion on what they thought she would be like, they fall into a discussion of their employer. Or rather who and what their employer WAS. As of course, Mr. Rafiel is dead. He seems to be considered a very shrewd man. They say he had “Flair” for what he did, as well as a “Great financial brain.”

This makes me want to meet him even more. Too bad he’s already dead. I wonder what finally killed him?

Miss Marple arrives, and Mr. Schuster excuses himself, thank god. We finally get a description of Mr. Broadribb, and it turns out he’s rather melancholy and long of face. Which just makes me like him more, honestly. Good lawyers should be rather down-trodden, otherwise they aren’t doing their job. Anyway, they begin again, by opening the discussion with Mr. Rafiel. I find myself in a state of constant tension. I just want to find out what he left her already, despite knowing that it was a job, thanks to the description of the book.

Miss Marple is then given a letter. She reads it through, and then rereads it. Then, she has this to say to Mr. Broadribb:

“This is hardly very definite. Is there no more definite elucidation of any kind?”

Apperantly, all Mr. Broadribb was supposed to do was give her the letter, and then tells her that the ‘sum of the legacy’ is 25000 pounds. Now, for my american viewers, who may not understand this amount, that’s a little over 41,000 dollars. Which is quite a lot of money for an old lady. In fact, they go on to discuss what she might do with this money, while Miss Marple is in a bit of a shock over it. Or maybe she’s just trying to figure out the letter already.

Then, Mr. Broadribb asked her if the word ‘Nemesis’ meant anything to her. And she explained that she said it once to Mr. Rafiel, and he was amused at her calling herself that. Again, I really want to read that damned book. Both Mr. Broadribb and Miss Marple are left thoroughly confused by the events, and so am I, until a page or so later, when we FINALLY get to know the contents of the letter.

“To miss Jane Marple, resident in the village of st. Mary Mead.

This will be delivered to you after my death by the good offices of my solicitor, James Broadribb. He is the man I employ for dealing with such legal matters as fall in the dealing with such legal matters as fall in the field of my private affairs, not my business activities. He is a sound and trustworthy lawyer. Like the Majority of the human race he is susceptible to the sin of curiosity. I have not satisfied his curiosity. In some respects this matter will remain between you and myself. Our code word, my dear lady, is Nemesis. I don’t think you will have forgotten in what place and in what circumstances you first spoke that word to me. In the course of my business activities over what is now quite a long life, I have learnt one thing about a man whom I wish to employ. He has to have a flair. A flair for the particular job I want him to do. It is not knowledge, it is not experience. The only word that describes it is flair. A natural gift for doing a certain thing.

You, my dear, if I may call you that, have a natural flair for justice, and that has led to your having a natural flair for crime. I want you to investigate a certain crime. I have ordered a certain sum to be placed so that if you accept this request and as a result of your investigation this crime is properly elucidated, the money will become yours absolutely. I have set aside a year for you to engage on this mission. You are not young, but you are, if I may say so, touch. I think I can trust a reasonable fate to keep you alive for a year at least.

I think the work involved will not be distasteful to you. You have a natural genius, I should say, for investigation. The necessary funds for what I may describe as working capital for making this investigation will be remitted to you during that period, whenever necessary. I offer this to you as an alternative to what may be your life at present.

I envisage you sitting in a chair, a chair that is agreeable and comfortable for whatever kind or form of rheumatism from which you may suffer. All persons of your age, I consider, are likely to suffer from some form of rheumatism. If this ailment affects your knees or your back, it will not be easy for you to get about much and you will spend your time mainly in knitting. I see you, as I saw you once one night as I rose from sleeping disturbed by your urgency, in a cloud of pink wool.

I envisage you knitting more jackets, head scarves and a good many other things of which I do not know the name. If you prefer to continue knitting, that is your decision. If you prefer to serve the cause of justice, I hope that you may at least find it interesting.

Let justice roll down like waters.

And righteousness like an everlasting stream.

Amos.” 

And with that, we are at an end for chapter two. Now, I am a fangirl at heart, and usually, in fandoms, when this sort of accord is reached between two people, we start shipping them. Which means that I thoroughly believe that, had circumstances been different, Miss Marple and Mr. Rafiel might have been paramours. Lovers. Sweethearts. Soul-mates. But then again, it might just be me. Either way, these two characters have a great respect and care for each other. They know each other inside and out.

It’s a rare thing to see two characters connect like this. It’s something to emulate, for certain. Also, the characters themselves are really relatable. I seriously want to meet this Mr. Rafiel. I’m also kind of hoping he’s faking his death. I doubt it, because this doesn’t seem that kind of book, but I hope.

Another thing, I find the use of “Cloud of Pink Wool” to be the beginning of our recurring themes. Check number two on the Agatha Christie Code list. I’m close, guys. I’m close. But this is important. Recurring themes have been shown to be very addictive. Memes. Episodic plot-threads. Recurring characters. Simply enough put, Miss Christie is onto something here. Because everyone seems to put these recurring things into their work. Or at least, the smart ones do.

So, your turn! Tell me about the recurring themes in your own work. Memes, inside jokes, the kinds of things that you think your future fandoms will latch onto and turn into an indoctrination method.

Finding Your Niche in 3 Easy Steps

  • Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

For some of us, the word Niche ends up being a scary sort of thing. Something to fear and worry over. It becomes something akin to the word ‘cage’ or ‘trap’. We feel as though it is meant to hem in what we want to accomplish with the world. It isn’t something that comes easy or is to be taken lightly, and that, in and of itself, brings about a form of terror. Niche writing tends to end up very personal, and some don’t wish to be subjected to the backlash that writing a blog on ‘personal care after BDSM‘ or ‘how to trim your pubic hairs‘, but that is what they know, and love.
When it came to my attention that perhaps finding that one little niche market that meant something to me would be a good idea, I legitimately had a panic attack for several days. I didn’t want to be hemmed into something that didn’t fit. But how could I find something that did? What if it was too much for my readers to ever want to read? What if what I liked was something too obscure, and no one would want to read it?
So, I sat down, in front of my Zenwriter, and thought to myself, what are some steps I can take to make this less terrifying. What are some things I can ask myself about writing in a niche, to find out what exactly my niche was. Now, I already had a niggling thought in the back of my head of what that might be, but I didn’t necessarily want to force myself into it.
The first question in my list was: What do I want to share with the world?
This was easy. I want to share fantasy with everyone. I want to share it in a way that makes everyone feel included. Women, men, transgender, genderqueer, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, aromantic, everyone, everywhere should be able to read a fantasy book and think, “oh wow, I wish that I could experience that.”
The second question was: Okay, but what do you want to share with the world ON YOUR BLOG?
This wasn’t so easy. In fact, it’s what caused the several day panic attack. I want to share myself with the world. I want to let everyone know who I am and where I come from and why I’m the way I am. But I also want to share with the world the things that are wrong, and the things that are right and the things that are beautiful. I want to teach the world to accept not only itself but everyone else, and to see that we are all the same in that we dream beautiful dreams.
That lead to the question: But how can I share this with the world?
A friend of mine, Chris Votey, brought up the idea of interviews with other LGBTQA writers, Reviews of other writer’s work, and offering myself as a representative of Asexual culture. Which, honestly, I wouldn’t find too bad. It would take a lot of time, and energy however. But, I find the more I think about it, the less I mind. Because really, isn’t it about what I give, not what it takes from me? Then, I thought about what else I could do to share my dream of representation with the world.
Resources. I could provide resources for things that most people don’t think of. I could try to provide a unique look into certain subcultures. I could write about the things that interest me, and hopefully, provide enough information that others would like it. But that won’t get me any closer to being like those I admire. That won’t bring me the same sort of love that Misha Collins, Andrew Hussie, or Neil Gaiman have. That won’t help others to see my words.
Then, I thought that perhaps I could start with lists. With things that I find out, over the course of my journey to become a full-fledged author. Such as this list that you’re reading right now. That definitely helped to ease my panic a little. Because lists, lists are small, and easy, and quickly done, so I can definitely work with them. Another thing I could have tried is perhaps snippets of information found throughout the internet. Or perhaps little anecdotes from my life that help me to focus on what it is I am working on.
But that’s all very abstract and not very well thought out. So, I rewrote it.

 

1) What is it that I want to share with the world?
– Representation for all, and fantasy that everyone can enjoy.

2) What is it that I want to share with those reading my blog?
-Ways to spread Representation, My thoughts on LGBTQA representation, and my progress in my quest for more.

3) How am I to share this?
– Lists
– Personal anecdotes
– Resources found throughout my internet trawling
– Interviews with other LGBTQA writers
– Reviews of websites, blogs and books written for/by other LGBTQA writers
– Snippets of my writing and writing styles

And there you have it. My path to finding my niche, and settling into it. I hope this helps you, because it certainly helped me. If you need any more information, please, leave a comment, or email me, and I’ll be happy to help you find your niche too. And please, don’t hesitate to speak up.

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