In this email interview, the anonymous author of the blog novel, worlds undone talks about her concerns as a transgendered lesbian, a feminist and a writer:
When did you start writing?
Writing fiction is a new endeavor for me, something I impulsively dove into five months ago. Heretofore, my writing was mostly of life experiences, or interacting with others in the lesbian community. Coming out for me was a daunting and destructive experience, shattering about everything and everyone around me.
PTSD resulted; in therapy for years now, I sensed a need to do more. The first step was to embrace Reiki, something that empowered me in self-healing, and in giving me a way to reach out to others around me who might wish to receive healing energy. The next step was fiction, and both of these things -- Reiki and writing fiction, sprung forth after leaving a therapy session, which I attend once a month.
How would you describe your writing?
More than anything, it is a story of life, of people embracing their love and a need to change the world around them. As a feminist and lesbian, these elements are inherent to the story, safe space for women and for women who love women. The characters are strong, and the characters defy our stereotypes.
There is an element of science fiction, necessary to bridge to story segments, but I really do not find pleasure in writing these elements. My best writing comes from feeling, touching, and embracing the emotions I feel are called forth by the protagonists.
These elements flow from my soul, from deep within, from my community. And I write without assigning race to the characters, because I would like people to read the story and find themselves in the characters, and not feel as though the story is written in a way that excludes them. The lgbt community transcends skin colour, the lesbian community is among the most accepting one can find, and I like the idea of inclusion.
Who is your target audience?
Given the story carries a central feminist and lesbian theme, that is an obvious conclusion for a target audience. More than anything, I write to soothe my soul, write to give voice to those of us who self-identify as feminist and lesbian, but it would be nice to one day reach beyond and share some of this community with those beyond the community.
My motivation was decidedly selfish; to self-heal, to share how I see the world, to offer my voice from this not often heard from place. Learning to share what was within is relatively new in terms of the length of my life. Too often, what lie inside was hidden away, leaving me to live in fear of others learning or suspecting of the truth.
In the writing that you are doing, which authors influenced you most?
Hard to say, though I can think of one strong influence -- Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, specifically the novel, The Effects of Light. Aside from this specific citation, my favourites are Kate Mosse, Rita Mae Brown (earlier work), Anita Diamante, Sue Monk Kidd, Elizabeth George, and many others.
How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?
Absolutely. This is a story that formed in my head through a lifetime of closeted feelings. Coming out, learning to share what was within, my overall idealist and optimistic nature finds its way into the story. If I can touch a story, if I can feel the story, it will work well in the writing. If I am disconnected, so too would be any resulting work.
Part of my coping came through music -- a major part of coping. And music more than any other external source, influences my writing.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
Staying true to the story I wish to convey.
Writing on a blog, with each posting comprising a rough draft story element, it is easy to veer off on tangents. This can be good, and it can be bad. For instance, a recent report found domestic violence was increasing due to current economic conditions. That night I built a story element addressing the issue.
On the other hand, other tangents have gone nowhere in the story and in my ability to take them forward; on a second draft, I would remove them.
A second concern is my overall lack of formal training and grammatical skill. I compensate in other ways, through emotion, through feel.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
Falling into dysfunction, totally and completely for a thirty month period of time. As a transgendered lesbian, coming out shattered the world around me, and almost took me out right along with it.
Pulling myself back together, almost an hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month undertaking, taught me much, and I wish to learn much more, can stand to learn much more.
Do you write everyday?
I do. Most often, the story element forms during the day, and I set to writing at night. On weekends, I have a goal to write two elements each day. Each blog element is roughly 5-8 book pages.
There is a rough framework in my mind of where the story is at a given point in time, but then I look for inspiration to see me to the next element.
How many books have you written so far?
This is my first effort; it will not be my last. This work is worlds undone (intentionally uncapitalised) and is a story of two women who overcome extreme obstacles and end up changing two worlds.
In five months, I have written 191 blog posts or story elements, equating to roughly 575 book pages. This is a first draft, and at some point would move to a second stage. 109 story elements remain in this book.
Choosing a blog format was no choice at all. As a novice, with a story burning within, with three years of experience sharing my life on a blog, it was a natural outlet. Wordpress worked, as opposed to TypePad (where my regular blog is) because of an excellent category framework. This allowed me to use categories to reference story characters -- readers can look up every story element involving that character or where they are named.
Using pages, I structured a list of story element, the equivalent of chapter navigation with a click of a mouse.
Which were the most difficult aspects of the work that you put into the novel?
Keeping the story consistent through each story element. Using categories helped me reference prior elements that involved an aspect of a story that is again referenced, or the last actions of a character.
Another problem arose with generating names that would give a reader the sense of being of another world. Adding a pronunciation list hopefully offered assistance to readers.
What did you enjoy most?
Definitely writing on the human element, of someone facing a life issue or issues, contemplating the love of another, or interacting with another as they find their way through. I live to write these elements, and grudgingly write elements that bridge from one place to another. These elements flow easily from my mind.
What sets worlds undone apart from other things you've written?
This is my first attempt at fiction. Even a year ago I would scoff at the notion of my attempting to write and share a story fabricated in my mind. Now it is a part of me I will never relinquish.
All of my previous writing focused on my experiences, my condition, my observations in life.
Both carry a decidedly human element, and both reflect elements of my life, of me, of my community.
What will your next book be about?
The next will take the current story, and take it toward facing the prejudices of a world that seemingly abhors diversity. The characters will face judgment and misjudgment, some will grow frustrated, some will work for change. Questions might get asked that carry no easy solution, but I remain hesistant to write something quite that dark.
What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
Actually finding the courage to write and place it in front of others. Through much of my life, this simple act was unthinkable. In my college years, I ran like the wind from any classroom presentation. My life was largely trying to exist on the periphery of anyone's attention, to be unnoticed.
Second is getting this far into a story, and third is the love of writing fiction that now dwells inside of me.
Possibly related books:
[Interview] Dora McAlpin, author of 'Promises Divined', Conversations with Writers, April 24, 2009