I is for Identity (on fan fiction, being a lesbian, and lesfics)

Yesterday I went horse-back riding for the first time in 12 years. And it was amazing. Once upon a time, I was quite the horse-girl, been riding since I was seven, filled my walls with posters featuring horses, etc etc… I’m sure most people recognize the stereotype. And then I moved from home, grew up and just forgot about all of it. I want to find my way back, I really do. It’s a huge part of who I am.

It was the same with writing. The first time I announced I was going to become a writer was when I was five years old. I wasn’t able to write yet, couldn’t even spell my own name properly (Before you judge, my legal name has nine letters. Count all my middle names plus last name, my name has 9+8+4+4=25 letters, that’s a lot when you’re little.) I don’t know why I said I was going to be a writer, I just did. More on that here.

So I started writing. First, through pictures – my dad helped me with the words – then by hand, then on a computer. My childhood and teenage years were dominated by five main stories that I planned and stuck to.

However, between 19 and 23 I didn’t write anything, I even stopped writing poetry. I went to university and then started moving around a lot. I didn’t pick it up until I, by mistake, discovered fan fiction.

Fan fiction is the reason I’m an author today. Not just because it got me back to writing. It did that, but it did so much more than that too. Fan fiction made me interact with people. These people became my friends, some of which I’m still in touch with today. One of these people, whom I’ve sadly lost in touch with, gave me a couple of presents.

The presents were: Backwards to Oregon by Jae, Second Nature by Jae and Lady Knight by L J Baker. I started with Backwards to Oregon and my life was forever changed. This might sound strange to some. But I was a lonely little lesbian. Except for my wife – then girlfriend ya da ya da – we didn’t meet people “like us”. At University of Aberdeen all my friends were gay boys (don’t ask me how that happened XD ). Other lesbians? They didn’t exist and if they did, it was far away from us. Not that I have that many lesbian friends now, but I know that we’re out there. I know some online and I know that we exist. We’re real, you know? The online community of lesfic writers and readers has done wonders for my sense of self and identity. Maybe that makes me incredibly silly, but it’s still the truth. It makes me feel less alone. Less abnormal.

I feel sorry for the readers of my old fan fiction account, because it’s abandoned now even though I get the occasional likes and follows. It still exists and I’m proud of most of the stuff I wrote there. Mass Effect, Dragon age, Game of Thrones, Rizzoli and Isles, Portal etc… it’s fun to play with other people’s characters, it just is. It was great practice for me too, until I felt ready to play around with my own. In the beginning I wrote both but more and more, my own fiction took over. I don’t have time and energy for both.

(If anybody is curious about my fan fiction you can find that here, however please remember that my writing ability has gotten so much better since then.)

I realize more and more that I’m the same person I’ve always been. I have always loved horses, I still do today. I have always loved writing and telling stories, I still do today. Some things change, of course, but all in all, I’m still me. That will never change.

 

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H is for Home

It’s like coming home from a long trip, that’s what love is like. It’s like coming home.

– Piper Chapman, Orange is the New Black

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I’m not a big fan of the character Piper Chapman from the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. This is just my opinion of course, if you like her please don’t take offense, but she’s either the worst written character ever or the most well-written. Either way she comes off lacking in substance, she’s whimsical and has no sense of loyalty. But the quote above is the best quote I know for love. The type of love that isn’t new, that isn’t the passionate craze of the newly infatuated. The type of love that you have for someone you have known for a long time.

“Old” love. Companion love. True love. That type of love is definitely a feeling of coming home.

The wife came home yesterday. She’s been gone on a working trip as I’ve mentioned before. Without saying too much, she had been staying somewhere were she wasn’t allowed to use a phone. I hadn’t heard her voice for over 20 days. I was fine when she called me at the airport in Cape Town and still the moment I heard her voice, I burst into tears and all the feelings I had kept myself from feeling, came to the surface.

Meeting her after her 24 hours of flying was even better, and no tears then.

Home is truly where the heart is.

I’ve grown a lot this summer. I have overcome my fear of thunder. I have developed a new respect for heat and forest fires. I have, for hopefully the last time, woken up to the smell of smoke. I took up riding again. It hasn’t been a relaxing summer but I think I can go back to work in less than two weeks feeling accomplished.

Another H I can mention is horses. I’ve started planning my next novel (novel number five, can you believe it?), it’s a bit different than my other ones. It’s set in England, during the 1940s. On a horse farm. I’m trying to write an anti-hero, but we’ll see how that goes.

I’m going to post this and then start dinner. I hope everyone who reads this has had a nice summer too, hopefully without too much forest-fire/heatstroke drama. I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously looking forward for autumn and colder weather now.

 

 

E is for Exhausted

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I’m not really exhausted. Honestly. But part of me wants a vacation. I know this from last year – there comes a time in April where my brain stops functioning and I just can’t anymore. Can’t write. Can’t be active on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook (I’m trying honestly). Can’t read books. I guess it’s normal for teachers. Summer is coming, it’s been a long year of texts about body parts, countries and flowers. Lessons about punctuation (ever tried to teach someone where a sentence ends? It’s harder than it looks.) Lessons about 15+15 and 8-3-5, not to mention countless fights, drama among my girls, booboos and actual wounds and that time one my student got a “butterflycomb” (who sends a butterflycomb with their kid to school?) thrown into his eye. Don’t worry, he was fine even though we didn’t think so first. It’s been a year of angry (and not-so-angry) e-mails from parents. Of hugs. And pieces of art from my students that I want to spread all around me. Of meetings. Of tears from me when it’s just too much pressure to do this stupid, wonderful, lovely job.

My brain has shut down a little bit. It’s on hiatus. It’s just trying to survive until June when I finally can breathe again. Be myself again. Be a writer again.

Right now I just want to be alone. Do my job. Work on miniatures that don’t require brain-power the same way (current dollhouse pictured above). Maybe write a short story. Cook. Walk with my dogs. Cuddle with my wife.

That’s all there is left of me.

I’m sorry I can’t do better.

C is for Courage

Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made off

– Bethany Hamilton.

I slept in a bit today, prioritised rest over a proper breakfast and so I had to eat my breakfast walking to the bus station. It was a peanutbutter and jam sandwich and as I chewed away I had three thoughts.

1. Raspberry jam isn’t as good as strawberry jam.

2. I’m bad at evenly spreading peanutbutter.

3. Tram and train tunnels really remind me of The Walking Dead.

As I threw away the crust in the trash like a child and could finally stick my cold fingers in gloves, I started thinking about courage and freedom.

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B is for Books

I took an embarrassing amount of time to think of a word for the letter B. I thought of babies, but I don’t have much to say about that right now. I thought of bananas, but even though I don’t eat them I’m not a banana hating extremist and I don’t have much to say about that either. It could be B for blog but I’ve already talked about my lack of blogging enough times. For some reason the word “books” didn’t cross my mind until last week.

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My Main Protagonists as Songs

It’s no secret that I’m slightly obsessed with Marina and the Diamond songs. I don’t know if it’s her lyrics or her voice or the fact that she’s half-Greek and half-Welsh and as a half-Swedish, half-Turkish girl I feel a sense of kinship. Whatever it is that has caused it, the end result is the same – I am obsessed with Marina and the Diamond songs.

Now that I have two novels out I have found the four perfect songs to represent my protagonists from “Out of Hand” and “State of Emergency”. Please ignore that it’s just a silly excuse to put more music on my blog.

Out of Hand:

Leo:

 

Mimi:

 

State of Emergency: 

Mercedes:

 

Idun:

Summer…

What can I do now? What can I do to keep every single moment in my mind forever?

How is it possible that Daniella (my student assistant) and I no longer work together every day? How is it possible that I will never again enter 3B’s classroom and greet the sixteen little souls that I had been entrusted to look after and teach every day?

How can I keep the memories? What can keep me from forgetting? Deirdres smile every time she saw me and how we struggled to make sense of math problems. Luke’s tantrums. Even Jake’s stupid comments or how he insisted on bringing a fidget spinner into the classroom even though we had had no choice but to ban them.. Or how the majority of my kids seemed incapable of learning to stay quiet. Or stay seated.
Please help me remember. Playing games. Reading the fourth Harry Potter book for them.  Marvin’s childish charm which made it impossible to stay mad at him no matter how difficult he had been. Katie and Maisie, my darling girls who have helped me so much. How Phoebe’s anger could be turned into creativity. How I’ve gotten at least one hug from Tina.

Or how when we were going to go and sing for the parents on the last day, I didn’t need to tell them – they just lined up behind me like a row of ducklings.

Or how Louise, one of my younger coworkers, would light up my day with a hug or even just a smile.

My classroom is so empty now. I cleaned all the text from the whiteboard. Took their drawings down. Cleaned. Wiped away our memories of tears and yelling and laughing and smiling. And learning of course.

How can it be over? Why isn’t it still January?

I seriously, seriously, seriously love my job.

(All kid’s names are changed)

P is for Pride, S is for Shy

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Pride has come to town. Sadly, I’m quite reserved. That includes my sexuality.

I’m comfortable. It’s not a big deal anymore. I’m still occasionally worried that a parent is going to freak out and complain (I’m a school teacher after all and to some homosexuality is contagious -.-) I’m not in the closet. Not even to my students. I don’t make announcements of course, but if it comes up in conversation I don’t deny it. If they ask if I’m married (and children do, especially if you’re a young woman it seems) I tell them “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife” and like I’ve mentioned before, kids usually don’t care.

I think the best gift we can give our kids, in terms of different sexualities, is to not make discourse of everything. As an adult I’m tired of lectures at university or high school telling me “when we meet gay people we must be nice to them”. I’ve never met another message than an ‘us and them’ message. It doesn’t matter how well meant it is. It shows that the lecturer or teacher or professor is straight and they assume that everyone in the room is straight too. And message recieved. I will always be “them”, “the other”. The message is not for me. I don’t want to be taught to be nice to gay people.

That’s not what I want for my students. I want it to be a non-issue. If my kids come running, telling me that someone is gay, my answer is always a mindless, adult, “oh that’s nice dear”. Call me crazy, but I think that if I start telling my kids “don’t say that, don’t call them gay, they’re probably not gay and even if they are, that’s okay, gay people are people too…,” all they will learn is that gay people are the other. It becomes an issue. If we want it to be normality, we need to treat it like normality. If we make it a discourse, it will be a discourse and you’ll wind up with kids like me – quite sad and uncomfortable when they learn that they are lesbian.

Speak about gender. Yes! Talk abut the right to be who you are. Who you want to be. You’re allowed to wear what you want, have nail polish if you want. Talk about the fact that gender doesn’t matter. But don’t turn sexuality into a subject that needs to be taught. We don’t do that with heterosexuality and as long as we treat homosexuality like something different, it will remain something different. We need it normalised. Not special.

Lesbian is not all I am. It doesn’t define who I am. The gender of my wife has nothing to do with my personality. It defines how I think to some degree, it has influenced my experiences. But it is not all I am and I don’t want it painted as such.

I am very proud of and grateful for the great people who came before me. Thank you for my right to marry. My security. My ability and right to raise kids. Compared to older lesbians my life has been, is, so easy (my wife’s life hasn’t, but that’s a different story). So thank you for your struggle. It is called Pride, not as in the biblical sin but as in “we are not ashamed”. And we shouldn’t be ashamed because we have nothing to be ashamed of.

But gosh, my reserved nature does not like pride. Or maybe that’s shyness. I’ve known I’m a lesbian for ten years now and I’ve never been (and I’ve lived in three different towns that hosts Pride festivals). I’m equally terrified and curious. (and enjoying the rainbows which are EVERYWHERE this week) So this is my thank you instead.

Thank you for your struggle, to all who struggle for LGBTQA rights. And I’m sorry for my cowardice and occasional recluse nature. I will most likely hide this year as well.

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