Since beginning of this year, I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing the first draft of my second book. Life changes have kept me busy and, at the same time, have served to clear my head regarding how I want to go about writing this collection of tales.
I am now back on my couch with a view. Thankfully it’s cold and grey outside, so staying indoors in a cozy and warm apartment, surrounded by purring cats, music on shuffle, hammering away at my keyboard, seems like the best option anyhow!
“I myself had fallen prey to stereotype some years earlier by adopting a swagger and hiding my curves beneath voluminous sweaters. Now, talking with other transgender people, I learned more about who I had become since then.
I had no intention of becoming a stereotypical male. Rather, why not become my own species? I was not going to be a victim, but would be who I was born to be. I would not think of the years I had lost, for nothing is ever lost. I didn’t want to have regrets or doubts.
In essence, it was important to me to be perceived as a man. It felt like the true foundation of my personality, as well as part of my true soul. Continuing on as a female-bodied person would never be an option. However, I valued my years spent in a female body. Life had been hard, had even seemed close to unlivable at times, but it had been my life. The body I found myself in had shaped this life inevitably. It had influenced my perceptions, my actions, and my reactions to the world around me.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 10, “River Limmat”)
It’s easy to blame feeling lost, torn, and confused on one particular part of our lives. Over the years, I could have blamed it on being orphaned, adopted, having a neurotic mother, being bullied at school, being transgender, being rejected by my birth mother, betrayed by my girlfriend, etc. etc. The older I get, however, I realize, at least in my case, feeling on edge seems to be a permanent part of who I am. My mind is always working on scenarios and options. Always trying to make sense of everything inside of me as well as around me. Always trying to understand the deeper motives of everyone, including myself. Observing. Processing. Learning. More often than not, I just get the equivalent of a muscle ache up there in my strained brain and end up feeling totally uprooted, not sure of anything anymore. This photo was taken in 1996, one year before I had gender confirmation surgery to adjust my body to the male soul which had always inhabited it. I felt lost back then, too. And sure of myself at the same time. Crazily enough it seems to always be both. Now, 21 years later, after countless further life challenges I feel happy being me. But still, it doesn’t take much to make me worry, doubt, begin to feel insecure. Even though most days I realize I have found happiness already, many times over. I have found love, I have stretched the limits, and I still have enough fight and adventure left in me to sustain me for a few more rounds in this boxing ring of life. Yet, even with an abundance of profound life experiences, I often feel as if I am still a teenager trying to find his way. I don’t fully understand what it is I am actually looking for. I’m afraid to trust in what I have. I am eager to move on towards new beginnings and, at the same time, I am terrified of them.
Last night, as I was standing at the stove, preparing a yummy and massively rich cheese fondue for my dad, I suddenly felt an intense prickling in my neck. As an avid reader of thrillers I couldn’t help but recognize the feeling: I was being watched. Turning around slowly, I discovered these two. They were obviously trying to hypnotize me into giving them some fondue, too.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you got to spend the evening with some of your loved ones! And I wish you much strength and joy for 2018. May it be your best one yet xoxo
I’d love to hear your honest opinion:
While writing the first draft of my second book, it’s becoming clear that I need to make a decision whether it should include me as a character or not.
As you might know already, the book will be a collection of stories about the animal companions I’ve shared my life with and how they have inspired me and helped me grow as a human being.
It will focus on moments when these animals and I forged a special bond, when each of them taught me something… about them, about life and, in turn, about myself.
At the moment, I am not quite sure how to proceed with the overall concept. See, because the animal stories are connected to my life I am not sure if I should tie in my being transgender or not. In a way it has no real relevance to my friendship and experiences with these animals. But of course first a little girl is together with those animals and over the course of time she turns out to actually be a boy. As the years pass and other animals come into my life, we go from “she” to “he”.
Somehow it wouldn’t be quite truthful to refer to myself as “he” as a little kid when I didn’t yet consciously comprehend who I truly was.
I feel there are two ways of writing this book:
1) If I don’t want being transgender to become a theme in this book at all, I need to create a fictional character, just any kid who grows up with those animals and learns from them. Then it’ll be rather fiction than non-fiction.
2) I leave it as a book telling the story of my animals and me. The book will focus on the animal characters of course. But it will then be a semi-autobiographical piece as well. And it will be necessary to somehow gently add being transgender… (or will it?) … to be as authentic as possible.
I am totally torn, because I don’t want to be stereotyped in the future or even now as a “transgender author”. But I am also aware I have powerful things to say that can potentially make a difference. I have a unique view of the world which maybe I should simply own up to. Then again I’ve always seen myself as “not just transgender”, but as a human being who is the sum of his experiences. All my life I’ve fought stereotypes and felt that it is mostly our obsession with labelling other people and ourselves that creates the most trouble for humanity and prevents inclusion.
So what to do? Any thoughts dear friends and readers? I won’t hold you to it. I could just really do with some honest input and gut feelings from people who can still see the wood for the trees.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts with me either here in open discussion or in a PM! xoxo
In my latest article on TheatreArtLife, I share how and why I ended up self-publishing Paralian. What else can you do when your first publisher dies, the second gets arrested, and the big ones you dream about are not interested in a no-name like you. I imagined I’d show up at their doorstep and one of them would surely make me an offer, if only I pitched my book well enough… Of course it’s not that easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, I’ll have to keep on writing good books. Then maybe, if I really work my butt off, one day I’ll find a literary agent who believes in my work. And then, hopefully, this agent will find me a publisher who will say, “Yay! Thumbs up!” and will be interested in long-term cooperation… Read the full article here.
So much is happening, so many things to think about and organize, focussing on writing my second book has been hard. It’s tough enough as it is, finding time during regular day job days, but even on my days off I have been distracted lately. Every morning, I get up with the best intentions, but then stuff needs to be done, I think, overthink, and get angry at myself for not being able to do it all, not being stronger. I lie awake at night, dreaming and plotting. When I wake up my thoughts are already racing, months ahead of the present…
I miss my wife who is working on a cruise ship on the other side of the world. When she is with me, I am truly home. It seems writing and creating is something I do best when the words flow from a source of deep happiness and belonging.
I miss you so much my love.
I tell myself to get a grip, take things one fish at a time, be disciplined, concentrate, and keep on writing no matter what. Only to put so much pressure on myself that it again becomes almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. I need to find a balance between letting go and being dedicated to my dream. I need to relax and trust myself. Trust that I will finish this book, even if not within the time frame I have set for myself… because art is not an emergency… and life happens.
Better to write well and take all the time I need, instead of writing obsessively fast, ending up with something I know I could have done better. Still, today, after pouring my heart out to you all, I will take a shot at chapter nine of seventeen…