I never found a story like that. I tried, or at least I tried not to write the sort of stuff I’d been writing for the last several years. That approach felt pretty terrible. Of course, “I wanted to” is not the only reason to make a decision — but at the end of the day, I had to conclude that I wanted to write in this universe more than I wanted to do the right thing. Not a great thing to realize about oneself. But here we are.
I continue to grapple with my own Stuff, but that’s what therapy is for. We’re here to talk about stories. And this story isn’t dead yet. I’m kind of scared of it. I don’t know the right way to write it. It’s been very slow going. But I work on it. Should work on it more! November is coming; maybe I’ll harness that habit to get back into the groove.
Anyway, if I may get into the weeds further, the scary conundrums in Book 3 include:
(books 1 and 2 spoilers follow, if anyone cares?)
– The eternal shipper question. It is, paradoxically, kind of nice that the beta reader who was the most outspoken anti-shipper is no longer reading. Mwahahaha! Of the two remaining, one is a fervent A/K shipper (and Marco’s biggest hater <3) and the other is in the “sure, I can see it now” camp.
– Corollary to the above: the specter of bisexual erasure and the Scylla-and-Charybdis of terrible stereotypes. To mix metaphors even further, Kei’s orientation is not a waveform that can collapse. If he ends up with a woman, that doesn’t make him “cured,” and the setting is built so that that attitude would never even come up, in-universe.
However, I worry what that looks like, out-of-character. The “whew, ended up in a nice tidy traditional relationship after all!” “happy” ending is a trope with an ugly history. I’d hate to travel all this way just to fall into an old, awful homophobic pattern accidentally.
On the other hand, as written so far, he’s a character with a fairly strong (though not universal) tendency toward monogamy; if he ends up with someone at all, we have this problem, and if he doesn’t, we have the “queer people don’t get happy endings” problem, where “happy” is “the goal the character has been pursuing.” (And if he didn’t have a monogamous tendency, we land in another stereotype. Ughhhh, stereotypes!)
Write queer characters, people — this isn’t a reason not to — but I worry about these kinds of things. Clearly, the answer is to write more queer characters, so we have more than one data point to understand the patterns or the lack thereof. And to that I can only say, I’m sorry I write so slowly.
While I’m angsting about bad queer stereotypes, I’d just like to say for the record that I regret missing the opportunity to write Agna as demisexual back in book 1. I think it fits her really well — with the exception of the Laris subplot. We’d had to have accomplished that break in the tone of the story in some other way, but I think it would have made a stronger throughline in her character’s personal history. I didn’t even think of it at the time. Ah well.
– Corollary II: as I’ve written about before, I think that stories about friendship are worthwhile. I’m just not entirely sure this is the story where I want to go that route.
So all of that worry about shipping (or not) stacks up against my very pronounced penchant for writing cute/awkward romance plots.
– I have some concerns about the larger chronology — I’m aiming to write a book about Agna’s sister next, which will have to fit into the chronology of Agna’s story. Continuity makes me nervous, especially since I’m still too poor to hire an editor or pay beta readers. Still, can’t be helped. Gotta forge on ahead.
Those are some reasons why I keep moving slowly. I also had to pause and do a little research on medical history and diseases — fun! But mostly it’s this mental block, worrying that I’m not going to do it right. Of course, as they say, you can’t fix it if it doesn’t exist.
I’m working on making it exist.
[Edit to add: And as for the reader side — which I kind of miss blogging about — we finally rejoined our local library! Overdrive / Libby is my new BFF! That was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in the last 6 months, I’m not even kidding. FREE BOOKS, people. I’m also focusing on reading down my TBR pile, as always. It’s in the 60s now, not counting my library holds/wishlist.]