Monthly Archives: October 2015

filling holes in the world

by Elizabeth Leggett

by Elizabeth Leggett

Today “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” – my story for Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Horror! issue – went live, so you can read it here. If you want. If you do, fair warning: it’s about suicide, so if that’s a trigger for you, proceed with caution. Mental illness is also in there.

I’ve been writing less in the way of short fiction recently – disappointing, a little, because I love the form – and I think there are a variety of reasons for that, but I think one of them is that the kind of short fiction I write has taken a darker turn, and it’s more difficult to stay in that place for any length of time. It’s more difficult to go there at all. A lot of my fiction has always been dark, but at some point, a little over a year ago and maybe more, I made the decision to finally turn inward and write things with material pulled from some of the rawest and most painful parts of my psyche. The first true result of that was “Singing With All My Skin and Bone”, also published in Nightmare. It was terrifying to write. It was incredibly cathartic. It came very quickly; I finished it in about an hour and it needed very little work afterward.

It was terrifying in part because it’s about dermatillomania, which is a disorder that isn’t much talked about and isn’t well understood – by people who don’t have it; the people who do understand it all too well. It’s an incredibly difficult kind of mental illness to talk about, because it involves compulsive behavior – which we also don’t understand very well – and because it involves self harm in a context we don’t usually see it. I hate and am not playing the Mental Illness Olympics game, but as a culture I think we have an easier time talking about self harm as a result of depression than self harm as a result of literally not being able to stop.

Enjoying it, even. As a kid I found it soothing. Painful but soothing. Still do.

Continue reading

My Capclave schedule!

It is thus:

Friday | 5 PM-5:50 PM | Where Are The Happy Futures?
Friday | 6 PM-6:50 PM | Writing in Multiple Genres
Saturday | 10 AM-10:50 AM | Survival of the Short Form
Sunday | 12 PM-12:50 PM | What To Do After The Rejection Letter
Sunday | 1:30 PM-1:55 PM | Reading

For my reading I’ll probably be doing my story in Queers Destroy Horror! plus something else if time permits. I also plan to have cookies or cupcakes, I have not decided which. 😀

Very late blog post roundup

My blog tour in support of my latest book release – Fall and Rising – has concluded (a while ago, d’oh) and I thought I’d real quick do a thing on the posts I wrote for it, because I’m pleased with them and you may be interested.FallAndRising_500x750

Fall and Rising didn’t have the easiest path to publication (and I’m very, very grateful to Riptide for giving it a chance). Its precursor, Line and Orbit, was purposefully left open for a sequel, though I and my then-coauthor weren’t completely certain there would be one. But we eventually decided to try to write one. We ran into trouble when she needed to spend more time with her dissertation (she’s since graduated with her PhD, which is so awesome), so I ended up taking the project on alone. The initial draft of the book took a few months to write and I was reasonably happy with it, but once it was finished it struggled to find a home. It wasn’t quite right for the publisher of Line and Orbit, so I had to take it back and stare at it and poke it for a while, and consider what my next move should be.

And the decision I came to – and it was not in any way an easy one – was that it didn’t work.

Here’s a thing about Writer Brain that’s kind of fun and interesting (and in fact this is true of almost all brains): it’s plastic. You can train it; you can subtly alter the way it functions. Habits form themselves, but they can also be formed. Sit down to write every day, and after a while writing every day gets easier. Your brain gets used to the idea that this task is going to be regularly expected of it, and it adapts. Start with minimum target word counts, and you may find that over time those word counts increase as you’re able to write more words, faster. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has worked for me and it may work for you as well.

I knew these places, these people, this history and this lore, but I didn’t walk back in with any particular ease. It took me some time to settle and feel comfortable again. I had to get reacquainted with the layout. I had to have conferences with some characters. So what’s up with you right now? What’re you doing? What’s your goal here, what are you hoping to get out of this?

I came out of fandom, as a writer. Fanfiction was what taught me to write (I still write it), and fandom was my first literary community. It’s literally why I’m writing this now. Among other things, a lot of my first fic was slash – fic focused on the development of queer relationships. I discovered that it was possible to write these kinds of stories through my first encounters with slash, and it was a revelation. I quickly picked up the fact that for people outside fandom, fanfiction was often disparaged and made the butt of jokes – along with the people who wrote it – and this was especially true of slash fic. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, but I think some of it – maybe most of it – is because we aren’t supposed to be telling these stories, and these stories don’t matter. They’re silly. They’re worthless. They’re also inherently poorly done.

I knew that wasn’t true. It irked me. So very early on, before I had the language to articulate what was happening, I came to see this kind of writing as resistance. Not only as resistance, but as a way of taking existing stories and making them queer. Almost a way of remaking the world.

Because stories matter.

[W]hat helped me wasn’t taking a step back so much as thinking back, to the book that preceded it and to the process of getting to know the world and its inhabitants, and trying to remember why I fell in love with it all in the first place. Why I wanted to spend time with these people, and why it felt like a story worth telling.

Because generally you don’t get through writing an entire book that you then feel is good enough to publish without loving the world in which you’re working.