The Additive Effect of Butchness
I enjoy creative writing, and I'm part of a writing group that meets 2-3 times a month. It's quite small, and comprises people for whom creative writing is not their main professional focus.
Today I workshopped the first chapter of a novel I started a long time ago, wrote a draft of, then stashed away for a few years. Honestly, I was excited about it; I thought it was reasonably good, certainly entertaining, and I was looking forward to using the group's encouragement to bolster my resolve to revise the damn thing and send it to an agent.
My writing group hated it.
For those of you who have never participated in a writing workshop, it goes something like this:
Earlier this evening, when the members of my writing group were talking about how much they loathe my protagonist and how bad the writing is (I'm exaggerating, but not by much), I sat there in my plain black T-shirt and grey jeans and felt very, very small. I even started to write small. The words on my notepad grew tinier and tinier, until I was reduced to making thin horizontal lines in place of words.
Why am I bringing up my creative writing foibles in a blog about butchness? Here's the connection: Somehow, sitting silently in the group, I felt extra pathetic for my butchiness. I felt smaller, like more of an outcast. (I'm not the only queer person in the group, either; it's really not the group's fault.)
This made me realize that when things are going well and I'm happy and proud, my butchness has an additive effect; I feel more complete, more "me," somehow. But when things are going poorly and I'm sad or embarrassed or ashamed or dejected, my butchness has the opposite effect--it makes me feel extra lousy about who I am. It erodes my confidence and underscores any feelings of difference and alienation. I don't know quite why that is, and I wonder whether other butches have ever experienced something similar.
5/26/2011 05:13:55 pm
I just stumbled upon your blog. Really quite randomly (except for the butch thing, that's what I was looking at. So it wasn't that random)
5/27/2011 12:19:48 am
Thankyou for writing about this.
I too am not a "writer". Therefore, I won't even attempt to eloquently put into written word how I felt reading your blog or how it relates to me. I can't. What I will say is that I feel intensely the same way and I am both overjoyed and saddened that you do as well.
6/3/2011 12:03:58 pm
Comment spamming you today! Sorry....
9/17/2022 03:42:42 pm
You have expressed this So well. Very insightful! Thank you for sharing!
6/7/2011 01:24:49 am
Hiya, bout the writer group part, I understand...had the same.
Echoing Amber: this made my heart hurt. Both for seeing a fellow writer getting raked over the coals, but also because that last paragraph made me sit up and go 'hey, I've felt that'. And it <i>sucks</i>.
10/10/2011 08:47:18 am
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your strength in expressing this vulnerability has given me strength. You'll be with me vicariously next time I feel this awful weird emotion (which you've described to a T, might I add). So I'm not the only one... :)
10/13/2011 03:21:41 pm
i just stumbled across your blog, and I'm really glad I did. I totally identify with that last paragraph-- on good days, being masculine of center is what makes me awesome, and resilient, and brave. But when I'm feeling insecure or down, I can't shake the feeling that it adds to my problem, bringing up all these feelings of being gross and weird and unwanted again.
11/22/2016 03:28:42 pm
I realize this is a very old blog post, yet it's very relevant today as well. This feeling isn't exclusively butch in nature. As a femme woman I can attest to having this same type of feeling many times. It can be very tough to hold your head high when you're experiencing this.
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