Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Jendi Reiter for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Two Natures
Author: Jendi Reiter
Publisher: *Not Listed
Genre: Gay Fiction, Gay Romance
Release Date: 09/15/2016
Two Natures is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1990s. His faith in Jesus helped him survive his childhood in the Atlanta suburbs with an abusive alcoholic father, but the church’s condemnation of his sexual orientation has left him alienated and ashamed.
Yearning for new ideals to anchor him after his loss of faith, Julian seeks his identity through love affairs with three very different men: tough but childish Phil Shanahan, a personal trainer who takes a dangerous shortcut to success; enigmatic, cosmopolitan Richard Molineux, the fashion magazine editor who gives him his first big break; and Peter Edelman, an earnest left-wing activist with a secret life.
Amid the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and the racial tensions of New York politics, Julian learns to see beyond surface attractions and short-term desires, and to use his art to serve his community.
My Top Writing Distractions and How I Deal With Them
As I was about to start writing this post, I was browsing Twitter (there’s a big distraction, right there!) and saw this tweet from @AcademicsSay: inescapable existential dread as writing procrastination. My life in six words!
On that note…
Distraction #1: States of Emergency
It’s important to acknowledge that we’ve entered a scary time in American politics for LGBTQ people and allies. Many of us artists are feeling blocked by traumatized brain-fog or a sense of futility. We might be telling ourselves that writing love stories is self-indulgent right now—that it steals resources from marching, making phone calls, or donating to activist causes.
Let’s not censor ourselves with that kind of negative self-talk. Good books—stories that are entertaining and emotionally true—help us stay connected to our compassionate hearts and envision the world we want to create.
Distraction #2: Email
Oh man, email. It’s 100 times better than unexpected phone calls, but it sure piles up.
This year, for the first time, I decided to make a charity budget and then turn off most email newsletters. I picked my top charities, set up automatic monthly donations or Google calendar reminders, and left some room in the budget for unpredictable expenses like the Standing Rock water protesters. One month later, this is already saving lots of time that I used to spend reading mail, both paper and electronic.
My list includes Soulforce, the Ali Forney Center for queer homeless youth, Dakin Humane Society (a no-kill animal shelter), the Prison Birth Project, and the NAACP. I read recently that a good rule of thumb is to support at least one group that’s personally important to you, and one that protects a marginalized community you don’t belong to.
Distraction #3: Over-Plotting
I’m a control freak. I have this fantasy that if I game out every possibility before writing a scene, I’ll never reach that dreaded moment when I realize the story has gone in the wrong direction. This. Doesn’t. Work.
Did you grow up in a family or peer group where you were humiliated for making mistakes while learning? Those bullies are never going to see your tossed-out first drafts.
I learned from writing Two Natures that there’s no substitute for running the experiment in real time—let my characters try the action and see if it’s really plausible from their point of view. When the self-doubt gremlins won’t leave my head without a fight, I listen to The Eagles: “Maybe someday you will find/That it wasn’t really wasted time.”
Distraction #4: Fear of Change
Related to #3, writing fiction is a process of discovery, and that entails change. When I started Two Natures, I had a lot of strong opinions that I planned to illustrate through the events of the novel. But I was forced to reconsider my views when I couldn’t make my characters act out those scenarios in a way that rang true emotionally, or when my research in books and conversations with real-life gay men showed me where I’d been mistaken. Studying spiritual abuse of LGBTQ people also enlightened me about unhealthy dynamics in my personal life. I had to push the big Reset button on some core relationships, which was totally the right choice but not fun at the time.
I can beat down the distraction of fear by reminding myself that the novel did not make me morph from an orthodox Christian housewife to a genderqueer Episco-pagan. It didn’t make me lose the “love” of people who never truly accepted me. The novel was just the vehicle I used to work through that transformation. Reframing it this way, I learn to stay grateful for having an artistic practice that can turn personal upheaval into something useful and entertaining for my readers!
About the Author
Jendi Reiter’s books are guided by her belief that people take precedence over ideologies. In exploring themes of queer family life, spiritual integration, and healing from adverse childhood experiences, her goal is to create understanding that leads to social change. Two Natures is her first novel; a sequel is in the works. Her four published poetry books include Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree, 2015) and the award-winning chapbook Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). She is the co-founder and editor of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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