Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Countdown to RainbowCon Guest Post: Stephen del Mar
So where to begin? Where do things begin? Where do you start a story? Where do you start the story of yourself? I know, a lot of questions. But writers ask questions and I’ve had the question of beginnings on my mind a lot this month, because it’s been a period of “firsts” for me. I just published my first novel, I’m preparing for my first writers Con, and now I’m doing my first guest blog post. It seems this old bear is having to learn a few new tricks.*
The beginning for the part of my story that’s relevant to this post happened back in May, 2013. After forty-some years, and a good amount of prodding from a friend or two, I finished my first short story and published it for the world to read. And an amazing thing happened; most people didn’t think it sucked. This amazed me, because I always had trouble in English classes. I have a bit of a learning disability that made writing a real, well, I think, “bitch” in the technical term. When word processing came along, and when it came to writing, I was pretty much literate, or it appeared so.
But I still wanted to tell stories. However, the storyteller’s soul can be a fragile thing, at least mine was—back in the fifth grade. I wrote my first story, The Venus Five, about a boy who finds a space ship and a boyfriend. The feedback was that my spelling sucked and boys can’t have boyfriends. Well, it was 1972, but I knew sure as hell I wanted a boyfriend; and a spaceship would have been cool, too. I still wanted to write, but it was hard. I never got the message that rough drafts could be bad, that there were people called editors who could help, and you really didn’t have to have an outline. The message I got was ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘boy doesn’t meet boy and get boy.’
I pushed the idea of writing away. Yet every now and then it became this little, irritating itch in the back of my mind that I’d bring out to scratch, but I’d get overwhelmed with frustration and put it away again. Then I met up with an old, high-school friend. She asked, “Why aren’t you writing?” I told her. Then she asked, “Why aren’t you writing?” We had a long talk about how each writer has to find their own style and method. I found out that unlike what all the “How to Write” books say, you don’t need an outline. In fact, there was a whole group of writers that go by the seat of their pants. And she offered to help. “Get the first draft done and we’ll go from there.”
That offer of help transformed me. I found my voice. Yeah, it’s a rather wacky, authorial voice, but it’s all mine and I’m not shutting up anymore. It is the idea of writers’ voices that has me excited about RainbowCon. I see it as a great chorus singing the stories that have, for so long, been hidden. Voices singing the stories of girls finding girls, of boys finding love in the arms of other boys, the stories of girls becoming boys, and so many other stories of the wonderful rainbow that is humanity. Yeah, I’m humbled and scared shitless to raise my voice in that chorus.
And what does one do at a Con anyway? I know I have about ten minutes to read something. I have no idea what that should be. I’m also on three of the panels, yeah that’s intimidating. They are Writing Diversity, Appropriation and Fetishization, and Rape: Not a Laughing Matter. If anyone has any suggestions for something profound that can be said in about six minutes on any of these, please pass it along! I’m leaning toward: 1) It’s a good thing. We need more. 2) Don’t do it. 3) Be respectful. This is a real, traumatic thing that screws people up, not just a plot device. On the lighter side, I heard there will be a pizza party. Bears like pizza.
I should probably close this by actually saying something about my writing. Well, I’m a gay man that writes stories that have gay men in them. They also have other kinds of people too, but gotta have me some gay boys in my stories. So far, I’ve published a handful of short stories, a novella, and my new novel. Most of the stories are set in the fictional town of Bennett Bay, Florida, and the surrounding area. They’re a neo-southern-gothic-gay thing and a few of them have paranormal elements. There’s a bit of vodou and witchcraft sprinkled in the stories about life in the swamp and a tourist town. My new novel, Dark Love, started out as a fun poke at the paranormal romance genre, but developed some serious parts along with the humor. I tend to throw in a bit of pop-culture references and fun to lighten the mood, when my boys get too serious. I’m having a Rafflecopter giveaway for a free copy of the book.
I want to think Megan for offering me this space to ramble on about myself and share my excitement about the upcoming RainbowCon. I’m still amazed that something like this is happening. I’m sure it will be a transforming experience to be part of the chorus singing the rainbow stories!
* “Bear” is gay slang for a chubby and furry man, which I am. We all can’t be pretty, young twinks. :)
Stephen del Mar can be found on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can find his book, Dark Love, on Amazon. Stephen has been kind enough to offer up a Kindle Copy of his book through Amazon. Enter to win below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway