Encouraged Isolation

Photo by Singkham: https://www.pexels.com/photo/clear-light-bulb-planter-on-gray-rock-1108572/

I find it strange when people around me insist that I take time to myself. Read. Write. Nap. Crochet. My husband especially will corral anyone that could interrupt me so I won’t be disturbed. If I’m writing later in the evening, he’ll tell me good night and to stay up as late as I want.

Very curious reactions that I’m not used to.

Pretty much everyone that I shared my writing with joked about or made fun of it, or shared the details out of context, so I stopped showing it to people. A couple years later, in high school, my writing nearly got me expelled. “Violent content” was what got me in trouble, and since I’d written the script for the film group I founded, it was me, or the club.

I’ve been reading danmei this month. I went on a deliberate search for content similar to what I’m writing, and was surprised to find a wide array, and some less related, but no less intriguing. There’s a scene in Heaven Official’s Blessing where the main character, Xie Lian, offers to fix his friend, San Lang’s hair. I am indigenous, have grown up around men and women with long hair, where family members help tend to each other’s hair, and there were several discussions about the spiritual significance and sacredness of hair. I’d written an entry with some of this information previously. I get to this scene at the book, and I really enjoyed it, because I could relate to it culturally, and have seen similar interactions first hand.

Years ago, I had written a similar scene between an indigenous and caucasian character, also both male, and the friends I had shown it to laughed. Discouraged me from including it. Referred to it as unbelievable, said guys don’t sit around doing hair like cheerleaders. You know, really campaigning for their inevitable position of former friend.

That feedback pissed me off back then, and I was unable to articulate why. Partially because I was still at an age where I was concerned with what other people thought, but mostly because the only media I’d been exposed to at the time was Western. The opinion differed from what I encountered in my own household, but was inline with what I experienced elsewhere.

Reading that scene was cathartic and inspiring.

In May, when I started researching the market and books with similar subjects to what I wanted to write, I went down a yaoi / BL rabbit hole. I started with Sasaki and Miyano, and it was a rollercoaster of depravity after that.

I had no idea that this genre existed, or how huge it was.

I enjoy writing stories with queer and BIPOC characters. I am queer and African / Objiwe. I have queer and BIPOC friends. I did not have access to any books that represented me or how I was feeling when I was growing up.

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemisen - back of book cover with Captured by the Seneca in all caps above the blurb

I loved horses – horse girl books only had fair-skinned girls featured on the cover. The only black people I learned about in school were slaves, or had liberated themselves from slavery, or were liberated and then were subsequently murdered or went missing. Despite Louis Riel’s ties to the area I grew up in, his inclusion in history lessons was minor. One of the only books I read where aboriginal characters were a large part of the plot was Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemisen, which is historical fiction about a 12 year old girl who is taken in by Seneca people, taught to live among them, and treated kindly. The version I read featured a blond girl on the cover, and have “Captured by the Seneca” in all caps on the back cover above the blurb. I wasn’t very familiar with the historical account of what happened to Mary Jemisen and had to look it up. The fictional story, despite having the title Indian Captive is sweet and inspiring. They bond, she learns their language and how to live among them, ends of taking care of an indigenous baby, and continues living with them until her death. Are there dark moments? Yes, of course, but I still don’t think it was presented / marketed fairly.

Today, I started reading Captive Prince, which includes a man who has been forced into becoming a sexual slave. Out of everything I’ve marketed and researched, this touches the closest to the story that I’m working on right now. There is sexual slavery (and slavery in general) in my story, and I want to make sure I’m being realistic, and appropriate with what I’m including.

I’ve been sharing my discoveries with a few friends, and my husband as I go along. Letting them know when I feel like my idea is marketable, or how I think I should change details to include more romance, innuendo, comedy… And I’m not being laughed at.

I have a hard time sharing my interests with people. I want to shelter and protect what’s mine, and not be ridiculed.

Writing is a solo endeavour, but I find the more I write, research, and learn, the more talkative I’m becoming. The more I want to share with the people in my life who are offering support and encouragement through this trial.

And it’s a weird.

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