Hi readers! What have YOU been up to? ME, you ask? SO much work. But aside from work, untold excitement, including the following highlights:
What have you been up to, dear readers? I wonder if this means I'm back. I think it might.
The convergence of two things I was reading today led me to this post:
According to McGonigal, most people struggle with willpower. I know I do. She invites readers to pick a particular "willpower challenge" of one of the following types:
Then she suggests various ways to help meet these challenges. In Chapter One, for example, she advises being uber-vigilant about when you are making a choice--even to the point of carrying a notebook and writing it down. Why? Because we often aren't aware that we're making decisions at all. It turns out that if you ask people in the abstract, "How many decisions do you make about food/eating daily?" they guess about 14. But then if they actually count these decisions, it ends up being over 200! The idea is to get acquainted with how the decision-making moment feels, whether it's the urge to check your email or the urge to order those hot Converse from Zappos.
That brings me to my question for you: if you had one month and unlimited willpower, what would you do in that month? What "I will"/"I won't"/"I want" challenges would you take on? These aren't rhetorical questions--I really want to know! You show me yours and I'll show you mine...
This guest post is from J.N. Gallagher, a Butch Wonders reader who talks about his experiences and internal struggles writing butch erotica. I hope you find this as interesting and thought-provoking as I did. --BW
When the call went out for guest posts to Butch Wonders, I was pleased to see that submissions from all genders and orientations would be considered. Whether my work is welcome is something I’ve struggled with… While I write fiction in a lot of different genres on a lot of different subjects, when I write erotica, I typically write about A) lesbians who are B) butch and C) have sex. I am also a heterosexual cis man.
Every editor I’ve corresponded with about my gender has insisted that the only thing that matters is the quality of the work. If they inquired further about my life situation, they’d find out that I was born male, identify as straight, and am married to a fabulous feminine woman. The other detail I don’t explain is that butch women get me all hot and bothered, always have and always will, and that’s why I enjoy writing about them so much.
(I guess the cat’s out of the bag on those details now.)
All of this, sadly, is part of a web of inner conflict that has challenged me since puberty. I’m heterosexual in that I am only attracted to women, but female masculinity makes my knees weak. It doesn't feel like being attracted to masculine and feminine women would make me bisexual, though "queer" doesn't seem like quite the right word, either—it encompasses too much, while "straight" doesn't cover enough.
I've longed to be around lesbians, but I don’t want to force myself into a community that isn’t looking to have me. I want to write about this delicious type of woman that excites me, but I don’t know if I have the right to do so.
I don’t believe an author needs to be a working rancher to write a great western novel, or a Jedi Knight to write stories set in the Star Wars universe. Familiarity and direct knowledge are always beneficial, but these qualities don’t sit down and write a book by themselves.
Still, the bottom line is that I’m writing about experiences outside of my own, and I feel a connection to the material that is difficult for many people to understand. After decades of reflection, I still don’t understand it myself. And, no matter how universal the themes of my fiction might be, I’m dipping my toes into unfamiliar (and potentially unwelcome) waters. Some people might yell, "Come in! The water’s great!" Others might say, "Get lost, creep," and I couldn’t really blame them. Our identities are incredibly personal to who we are.
My question to the readers of Butch Wonders is: Do you care about who an author is when reading fiction about butches? Does quality trump all, or would you like a piece less if you found out it was written by a heterosexual-identified, non-trans male?
If you’re wondering what my work is like, I had a story, "Officer Birch," published in Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations. This anthology was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, a fact I’m very proud of. The story is not about two butches, but it’s not really a butch/femme story, either. I guess it’s just a story about a couple of characters who discover things about love, sex, and each other. These are the themes I enjoy writing about the most. Erotic fiction about butches might be the smallest part of my writing output in terms of quantity, but it's definitely the most personal to me.
You may know her as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee. Or as the sexy-but-sleazy divorce lawyer on The L-Word. Or even as Gayle Sweeney, recovering addict and head of the Sturdy Wings program in "Role Models."
But did you know that Jane Lynch once starred in a long-running stage version of Brady Bunch episode remakes? Or that when she was a kid, she used to sneak into her father's closet and try on his ties and suits? (I'm guessing that latter morsel resonates with some of you as much as it does with me!)
In her new(ish) book, Happy Accidents (2011), 51-year-old Lynch recounts all of this and much, much more--starting with her girlhood in Dolton, Illinois and finishing up with her present-day life in Los Angeles.
One of my favorite things about Happy Accidents is that Lynch doesn't pull punches. You get the shame she felt as a high school freshman when she dropped out of her first acting role; the depth and struggle of her addiction to alcohol; her blithe arrogance in approaching early acting roles. There's pain, sweat, hard work, awkwardness, and chance meetings. There's joy, hijinks, foibles, and clear-eyed reflections on people's capacity for change. Nor do you need to be a Gleek or a Christopher Guest enthusiast to enjoy the book. Happy Accidents is rife with references that will resonate with dykes and comedy fans of all stripes.
Though I'm not usually much for memoirs, Happy Accidents won me over. This may be in part because I "read" the audio version, which the author reads herself. Lynch's inflection and timing are as great as you'd expect, and really animate the prose. I highly recommend listening to it. You also get a hardback copy online for just $7.33, or a Kindle edition with audio/video for $9.50.
Happy Accidents will be released paperback on May 1. Outstanding.
Many of you awesome readers have started sending me questions. (Keep the emails coming. I love hearing from you guys!) I write each of you back individually (well, eventually--sometimes I get a backlog--but I'll get there; I promise!), but it occurred to me that I should occasionally post Q&As that might apply to other readers. So here's BW Q&A installment #1! K writes:
I know you didn't identify as a butch until a bit later in life, but do you have any advice on being a butch as a teenager? I just graduated high school, and I've always had difficulty relating with other people because I've never really known any other butches.
I've always been a bit of a butch (hanging with boys, falling in love with girls, and playing a more 'masculine' role in my short lifetime), and my parents have allowed it. They were accepting when I came out to them. Also, during my entire childhood, my peers never gave me guff about it. However, I can't help but feel out of the loop when none of them understand the difficulties of a butch female. I was hoping you'd have some tips on how to find other butches around you (other than the obvious, look for a girl that looks like a boi.)
Being butch as a teen can be tough, and I'm glad to hear that even if they don't always understand you, your friends and parents support you--that's awesome (and all too rare!).
It's strange being the only one you know who's like you, isn't it? Sometimes you probably feel like you're from a different planet (or that everyone else is). Fundamental assumptions about gender are built into virtually every facet of life in most modern cultures--from bathrooms to clothing departments to Little League. When I was growing up, these divisions never made any sense to me--and the REALLY weird part was that they seemed to make perfect sense to everyone else.
Funnily enough, I sort of always understood that I was "butch"--indeed, long before I realized I was gay. There was something visceral about masculinity for me. I never had crushes on girls as a kid or a teen (I was too busy trading baseball cards, reading sci-fi, and playing basketball), but all the other signs of butchness were there. I wasn't just another "tomboy"--it felt permanent. I knew there was something elemental that separated me from my female friends, though I didn't know what it was. You are already way ahead of where many of us were in our teens!
Later in life, when I came out and started to meet other butches, I finally understood what I "was." Indeed, this is one of the many reasons why I identify as butch.
You're right that butch buddies can be super important (see my post about the topic here). And they're not always easy to find when you're young. Here are a few ideas I have for how you might cope. Some involve ways to meet butches; others are just general advice for life as a youngish butch.
I hope other readers will weigh in with their ideas, too. But one more thing: Even after you find your community and your butch buddies and are comfortable in your own skin, don't forget what isolation felt like. Five or ten years from now, a young butch will come up to you at a farmer's market or a baseball game and ask you some inane question to start a conversation. I hope you'll greet her with a smile and a fist bump.