Writing on Artichoke Days

Sometimes the world intrudes on my writing. I have problems with intrusive thoughts as it is, but current events often affect what happens in my stories. In this case, I’m not talking about the themes or the outline for the plot. It’s nothing as on the nose as that. (Although I certainly draw from the world’s problems when I create.)

I mean when I’m angry, characters tend to die or get beaten up. I’m writing the sequel to my dark m/m paranormal romance, Carillon’s Curse, right now and my irascible lawman main character, Hadrian, is pretty much punching all of the side characters. I realized today that I have three scenes where he’s punching people.

I’ll have to cut some of this when I do the initial edit. It’s repetitious. I know why I’m doing it, though. He’s a tough guy, and I’m using him as my righteous instrument to release my anger and frustration.

Meanwhile, Thomas isn’t doing well. He’s my sensitive main character in this book. I think of him as the soul of it. He, I guess, is representing my pain. Hadrian is defending him. It’s how I’m feeling right now. Guarded. An artichoke. The thorny outer layer protecting the soft core.

Writing is a strange thing. A blessing and a curse. It eases my anxiety and vexes me at the same time. It’s a balm, yet it creates its own wounds. On the artichoke days, however, it’s the thing that keeps me going and saves me from punching people. I have Hadrian for that.

You can find Carillon’s Curse on Amazon here

Genderqueer or Trans Man?

Something I haven’t talked about on this blog is my ongoing transition. I wrote a post a few years ago about being genderqueer. While being genderqueer or non-binary are perfectly wonderful identities, I realized during the height of the pandemic in 2020 that I had merely used genderqueer as a means to hide my cowardice. It wasn’t entirely me.

In dreams, I tend to be either a man or an animal. Although I felt more masculine when I came out as genderqueer, I didn’t think transitioning to a man was possible. I was insecure about how I would look, how others would perceive me, and, most importantly, what my family would think.

And then 2020 roared in. I spent the first few weeks of the year in a mental hospital recovering from an intense depressive episode where I no longer felt like life was worth living. Then, just as I was getting back on my feet, the pandemic hit. Amid all of the chaos and all of the fear, I realized two things: one, that I absolutely wanted to live, and two, that I wanted to do it as a man—whatever that meant, whatever that looked like, whatever the fallout might be.

I’m at high-risk for hospitalization with Covid, so I waited until I’d had my first round of vaccinations to seek out a gender-affirming clinic in Austin. I started taking testosterone this time last year. I started on a gel form, initially, because I have essential tremor and my hands tremble. I’m not good with needles! There were some problems with the absorption, so I basically missed a few months. Since then, I’ve started on injections, and my husband is administering them!

He has been an absolute jewel during this whole process. He said he’s always known I was really a man. When I asked him if he would still be attracted to me if I transitioned, he told me he was attracted to me—not some shape, not a physical being. Just me.

I’m middle-aged and a couch potato. I’m never going to look like one of the beautiful young men I see in the waiting room at my gender-affirming clinic. I’m going to come out the other side of this as me—an older, heavy man. But I’ll be me. The real me. And my husband loves me. I don’t need the approval of anyone else.