Turning Jealousy Into Inspiration

I’ve considered myself A Writer in some form or another for a long time. I really started writing fanfiction in the late 90s, and I’ve gone through highs and lows of productivity ever since. On occasion, I’ve considered Becoming a Professional Writer, but it hasn’t worked out. I have a lot of friends who write, and they are all talented and ambitious and are working hard at the thing. And I used to get jealous of my friends’ progression in their creative/professional lives.

Okay, I still do, but I used to let it shame me.

(Okay, I still do that, too.)

But now I’m trying to let it inspire me instead.

I have 2 excellent friends starting Patreons this month—Alli Martin & Lara Eckener, please go check them out!—and when I first heard about their plans I felt stunted and stagnant creatively. These are friends I’ve known and been creative with for 10+ years, and to see them having progressed to yet another* place that doesn’t feel like I can reach hurts.

Usually, I pull in on myself and use these feelings to prove I’m not a writer, not creative, not able to succeed, etc. I am unpleasant to be around, and I’m not able to support and encourage my friends in their excellent accomplishments.

I’ve been really trying to work on that.

So this time, instead of just feeling like they’re leaving me behind and I’m not worthy of them, I’m stepping up to confront myself. I’m looking at the bad feelings and questioning why I feel bad. Why do I feel “left behind”?

Do I feel like it’s a realization that I am genuinely not as talented or driven as them and that, perhaps, I don’t want to be? That can hurt because it could mean that there’s a gap between us that will ultimately weaken the friendships if not handled correctly.

Or do I feel like it’s that I’m jealous because I want this success, too, and I feel like I could achieve it if I put the time and energy into it, made it a priority. That can hurt because it means that I’m stopping myself, that I’m the one in control…and that if I do try, I might fail where others don’t.

Maybe I feel like they’re out to see me fail, so they don’t give me the right kind of time and support to succeed. That hurts, but it’s also entirely Brain Weasels fed by depression and honestly, fuck those jerks.

Considering the options, I think it’s mostly the second one. They got to these places through hard work. We’re all around the same age and I think we have similar levels of talent. They have reached higher success because they’ve tried harder. And that means they’re not leaving me behind as much as I’ve been vaguely content to trudge along behind them (maybe hoping they’d ask me to jump on their backs), rather than try to keep up. But the fact is, there are no shortcuts, so if I want to get on pace with my friends, I’ve got to make up the distance through, ugh, effort.

Of course, the Brain Weasels are still lurking. Having been easily defeated on level one, they’re back now with heavier weapons: selective truth.

“Katie,” they sneer at me, “you don’t have anything to offer! You’ve never finished a short story or novel to publish! You don’t create content people would want to pay monthly for! Why even bother wasting your time?”

Say it with me again: fuck those jerks.

I’ve never finished a longer project, but only because I haven’t put in the time or effort. I think that people don’t want to pay for content, but if I don’t put any content out there, how can I possibly know? The fact is, my friends were once exactly in this spot, but they decided they wanted to finish projects, try to become published, and get paid for content. They decided which path they wanted, and they worked at it. And they have succeeded! They may not have reached all their goals yet, but they ticked some boxes. They got a start.

So I have to decide, instead of wallowing in feeling bad, which path I want. If I don’t want these same accomplishments, then I need to stop comparing myself to my friends. Period. And if I want to follow at least some part of the path they’re on, I need to pick up my pace and start working on it. Also, I need to be okay with them being ahead of me, because I chose to get the late start. Also this isn’t a race, and we aren’t competing against each other, sheesh.

I think I want to start aiming towards the Patreon-aimed goal. The Brain Weasels have a small point in that I don’t have enough confidence that anyone would want to pay me right now, and I also know I have a bad tendency not to stick to projects or self-defined deadlines for creative endeavors. So, start small. I’m going to try to post more things to give people a taste of what I can do, and do it on a consistent schedule to make sure I’d be able to deliver to those who do want to pay money to me.

I don’t want to go and state my full plan here (and not just because I don’t entirely know what it is yet), but I’m hoping you’ll see my successes, and that we can all celebrate each other’s without feeling like anyone is leaving anyone else behind.


*They have both been published (Alli here, Lara here!), and I am extremely proud of them!

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Harry Potter Made Me Gay, But Does JKR Value That?

Okay, disclaimer: the Harry Potter series did not, in fact, take an otherwise perfectly straight person who enjoyed dating only people of another gender and make them gay:



But what I do mean by this dramatic subject line is that I can draw an ironically straight line straight-identifying Katie to gay-identifying Katie that goes right through Harry Potter, mostly thanks to the fandom around it. And because of how integral the HP books and surrounding fandom have been for me over the last 15 years, it makes it so honestly devastating to see everyone involved with the newest Harry Potter universe film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them completely ignoring the golden opportunity for some absolutely wonderful gay and otherwise LBTQIA+ representation.

I wasn’t new to fandom when I first got into Harry Potter, but I’d always been into heterosexual ships in any kind of serious sense. I started with HP the same way, to the extent I shipped anyone through the first five books. Then, as I started to get more into the fandom, I found the Remus/Sirius ‘ship. I absolutely fell in love with this pairing, right on the level of my previous Mulder/Scully love. It was completely wonderful. I experienced a wave of inspiration, pulling from the new experience of writing about two men together, navigating that line of revisiting all the old tropes I used to write for a man and a woman while not falling for the concept of assigning a “woman’s role” to a man. It was great fun

Along with reading and writing all the fic, I started participating in role playing games with other fans, in which I would play a character while they played others, and together we created a story. There’s a bit of improv skill to it, and it helped to build friendships for myself as well. Enter M (who shall remain anonymous). She was in an RPG group with me, and while she wasn’t the Sirius to my Remus, we grew very close. And between her open and proud bisexual identity and my telling a story of young Remus Lupin coming to terms with his sexuality, I was encouraged to examine some feelings I’d been avoiding examining for years. I finally knew I wasn’t straight.

After M left my life, I met my absolute best friend, and when we role-played, I was able to use my character to continue working through some difficult identity issues, and at long last, I became comfortable with calling myself gay, a lesbian.

Of course, Remus isn’t gay in the books–he marries a woman and has a child, and never displays any overt same-sex attractions, despite how it read to me and plenty of others. Sirius isn’t written as gay, either. No one, in the canon of the 7 Harry Potter novels, is explicitly described or shown to be anything other than straight. But not too long after the final book was released, author JK Rowling had an event where she answered questions, and in the process of answering, she revealed that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay.

An actual image from a news article about her revelation.

This caused a bit of a stir in the greater HP-reading world. Many were thrilled to have The Author finally confirm that a character, particularly such an important character, was gay. Some were glad for it, but felt it lacked the true impact that it would have had being in the books directly. Of course, there were those who had far more negative opinions as well, from justified anger at it being a fairly manipulative character who had been in love with the Wizarding World’s version of Hitler but otherwise single and sexless, to the real lovely folks who clutched pearls and feared that this would now turn all the children who’d read Harry Potter gay. WELL, IT DID, ETHEL. IT DID.

(lol jk no he didn’t, not like that; ps why do I have this?!)

I hadn’t yet fully come to a complete comfort level with my sexual identity when this information came out, but it meant a lot to me to know that even if she hadn’t included it specifically in the books, it was something she’d considered, that a character might be gay. It made me wonder what other thoughts she had about other characters that might never come out (ha!), particularly since I and others had actually seen subtext indicating Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald before Rowling made her revelation. At that time, we assumed the world of Harry Potter was closed and we wouldn’t be getting new information or characters. We certainly didn’t suspect we’d get a new movie series involving Dumbledore and Grindewald.

And yet, here we are. Just over 10 years later, we find ourselves preparing for a very such movie, the second in a 5-movie series. But even with the large expected focus on the one character we know Rowling has said to have written as gay along with the man he loved, we’re told today to not expect to see any sign of this love or attraction between them at all. And honestly, let’s all admit it: If Albus Dumbledore was Abigail Dumbledore, there’s a far greater chance that her love for Grindewald would have been mentioned in the books, and I personally feel there’s every chance that the movies would have focused entirely on this intense, passionate, and ultimately doomed romance. Even if, as Rowling teased, the romance might be addressed in a later movie, the earlier movies would hint very clearly at the forthcoming romance.

It’s unavoidable, if people are honest with themselves, that the only reason these aren’t romantic adventure fantasy movies is because the romance would be between two men.* That the filmmaker argues that “everyone knows” that Dumbledore is gay as a reason to delay showing proof of that is, really, just all the more reason to not need to tiptoe around it. If we all know, then who will be shocked? Even if you’re not ready to start showing Dumbledore in love with Grindewald for the sake of the story, you can easily indicate that he is, at least, gay. There are ways if you want to do it, if you value the representation enough. It’s clear, though, that it’s not valued. It’s not a priority. And that’s… upsetting.

*Full disclosure, I never saw the first Fantastic Beasts movie and I don’t know how the Newt Scamander character plays into the future movies or what his possible romance story looks like, though I do believe he’s at least given a female love interest? Regardless, his story isn’t my point.

This whole world Rowling created has meant so much to me. It has given me so much, and I have given so much back to it, in hours of my time and lots of my dollars of money. Just recently I purchased the entire series in ebook format so I could re-read all the books again with my best friend. (We’re struggling through Chamber of Secrets right now; it is the most annoying book to read again!) Even if I consider the canon closed and I don’t go to Pottermore to learn new things that would ruin any of my personal choices for characters, I keep playing with the original canon to expand the world in a way that I own. I’m not going to stop playing in this sandbox, and I’m certainly not out to argue that anyone should avoid the new content being created. But as defensive as Rowling wants to get towards people who are upset with the unwillingness to show a gay man she’s already told us is gay in her newest movie series, the fact is that those of us who are angry have every right to be.

We’re told so often how everyone has a place in the Wizarding World, that we can all be Sorted into a Hogwarts House just like Harry was. But how can we all feel welcome, truly welcome, if you shy away from showing people like us actively in this world? We can’t. Simple as that.

Juan Di Nella Sharon McCutcheon

In Which I Stand Over the Bloody Corpse of 2017, Victorious

A part of me wants to resist the urge to make a ~new year new me~ post, but given how truly awful my 2017 was, I want to put as many positive vibes into 2018 as I possibly can.

I’m not looking to dwell, but my 2017 included the following:

  • 2 separate trips to the ER, including minor surgery
  • being forced to move back in with my parents
  • concerns about my work performance
  • having to start taking insulin injections
  • ever-increasing anxiety about the state of my country

So not… great. I started 2018 with this tweet:

That’s the attitude I’m taking into the new year. I survived last year, I beat it. It died at the stroke of midnight, and I still breathe, my heart still beats, and as much as it and the people in power in 2017 tried to kill me, they failed. So with survival of 2017 comes the goal of surviving 2018, too. Does it ever end? No, the years start coming and the sure as fuck do not stop coming.

So, guess I should hit the ground running.

I have three main goals for 2018:

  • as a participant in Get Your Words Out, write 120 total days
  • pay off $1400 of my current credit card debt
  • get my monthly glucose levels to average to under 150 mg/dL

These aren’t easy goals, but they’re also attainable. I like that these goals really force me to make a lot of different choices and changes in my life, but I don’t have to focus on those titchy goals that feel less concrete. For example, getting my glucose levels down is going to come from a combination of medication, diet, and exercise. I could make a goal to work out at a certain frequency or to avoid certain foods, but I know I don’t find those compelling reasons on their own. But my blood sugar–as a measurable indication of my better management of diabetes–is a result I can see easily, and I can also easily see how small efforts can affect my results. Same for the writing, because I don’t have to work on a word count or a specific project, but it gets me to make a habit out of writing, and I’m hoping that building the habit will lead to bigger word counts than I expect, or maybe even the start of a project I can realistically complete.

And ultimately, these goals aren’t my ideals. Ideally, I want to pay off my credit card debt entirely so that when I use my credit going forward, I can pay it off each month. Ideally, I want to be writing most days of the year on short stories or novels. Ideally, I want my blood sugar levels to fall within the expected healthy ranges without taking insulin. But these ideals aren’t anything I can accomplish in a year. Long-term, I’d like to have them done by the time I’m 40 (which isn’t as far off as I’d like!). So these are all really good first steps for me to take this year, and if I’m successful, they can lead to further improvement to those ideals in the next few years.

I don’t want to add “write more posts here on this blog” to my goals, but I’m hoping that will happen as a result of all of these things (obviously, particularly with the writing goal!). It would be nice to use this more regularly, to give myself a place to express more than 140 280 characters at a time. I admit, I tend to consider writing a post and then talk myself out if it, telling myself no one cares, no one will come here to read it, or if they do, they won’t interact. But maybe that’s on me to be more active here and encouraging of readers to stick around.

Anyway. I’m cold and I’ve got a fic to pick at, a walk to force myself to take outside, and then it’s back to work tomorrow. I’m already planning how I’m going to beat 2018, even as I hope it is a far kinder fight this time.

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash