NaBloPoMo: Writing and Identity

What a fortuitous time to start this blog! Might as well start it now and jump into this thing that will push me to post here consistently, yes? Yes.

This is a writing blog, certainly, but I know myself well enough to know that my attention wanders. This blog will likely play host to thoughts about politics, and education, and the mundanities of my life, and other stuff. That’s how blogs work. But still, some level of focus is good to strive for, and so I will make this inaugural post to do with my writing. So, without further ado:

There’s that old adage about how you should write what you know, which is really to say you should write who you are. I dismissed it for ages, thinking that the things I wrote actually had remarkably little to do with me. But they didn’t. It’s strange, but I have a tendency to work through myself with my writing.

Writing, for example, helped me really engage with and come to terms with my sexuality. I tend towards queer viewpoint characters, and for ages I downplayed or flat-out denied the role my own (unacknowledged) queerness played in this. Now that I am well and truly out, I am revisiting some of my older work. It’s amazing to me how much of my fiction has centered around sexuality, and queerness, and what these things mean to me before I was ever ready to have those conversations with myself.

I write fantasy, and I write it because I love love to world build. I like the flexibility of it and the way a carefully and fully realized fantasy world functions as a reflection of the world in which I live. It’s a way to play with what ifs: what would a society look like where homosexuality was the norm? What would a society look like where gender was constructed very differently than it is in our own? How would the characters live and grow in a world like that?

What I have understood only  recently is that the questions which have shaped the way I write are also questions which shape who I am. They are questions about myself as much as about the world around me. Over and over I’ve seen evidence in my writing of a shift in perspectives or identity before they bubble up to the surface. For me – and probably for most of us who write – the development of myself as a person and the development of my writing is an iterative process. One informs the other, and the then that cycles back around. For me, writing and identity has become quite a chicken-egg conundrum.