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I had a very good time with the editor Barbara Rogan's author's colloquium, which ended last Thursday. Unlike some of these courses, which often focus on teaching a technique and then leave you to the task of applying what you learned to your actual work on your own time afterwards, this was one that encouraged us to use our work-in-progress as the source of material that we would submit to be examined and critiqued by the editor teaching the class and by the other participating students.

So I very much took it as an opportunity to put my book in the shop for some body work and a facelift. Several of the scenes I submitted were scenes I'd been thinking of punching up, and did so before submitting them and then modified them after getting feedback. Then I continued with other scenes from my book that were never submitted to the class, drawing on ideas and the energy percolating from all the sharing.

Here's an overview of the modifications to the manuscript:

• Early in the book there is a short overview of childhood in which it is established that as a child I identified with the girls and my friends were girls up until around 4th grade when it fell apart; the main body of the book begins with me in 8th grade, starting in a new school. Clarified brief internal-monologue in 8th grade in which I'm musing that 3rd grade, when I had girl friends, was a long time ago, if I'm going to have friends at all "I needed to learn how to be around boys… and stop thinking of boys as them."

because it needed emphasis; story line parses better when it is understood that I've put that "one of the girls" understanding of myself behind me as kid's stuff.

• Inserted new gym class locker room scene in which the other boys throw my underwear in the toilet while I'm showering, + replaced a bland narrative with a full-dialog scene in the guidance counselor's office in which I demand that those boys be expelled, counselor says "not gonna happen, you didn't see them do it", says "you need to pick your battles", and warns me he can bring them in but they're more likely to retaliate & what are my goals here?

first, because I needed a more fully fleshed-out "being bullied" scene and second, because many readers of my book kept saying "I want to see your character react more, all this bad stuff happens and he doesn't get all freaked out and angry and scared". So I realized I needed to establish more clearly that when he (i.e., me) HAD reacted he had been taught in various ways that no one was going to help & that not letting this stuff get to him is necessary and important. (And, as I said in class, "I think if the MC reacted with disbelief and outrage, anger and fear at each of these occurrences, it would be exhausting and tiresome and would take away from the gut-punch moments where the things that happen really shred him pretty awful.")

Those were in the first long chunk of the book. The balance of the changes were towards the end, in the last major chunk, where things come to a climax and resolution. I had been feeling for some time now that I needed this section to be a more vivid burst of triumph and joy—after my readers have borne with me through all the difficult and unpleasant trials leading up to it, too damn much of my "success story" portion was abstract and intellectual, and the parts that contained actual action were too often told as summary narrative and I needed stuff to pop a lot more here.

• There's a party scene where my character (i.e., me) is frustrated that going to these parties over the years hasn't resulted in connecting with any girls and having either sex or sexual relationship as an outcome. Original scene had him musing sourly to himself that maybe he ought to try acting like other boys and coming on blatantly to girls and not caring if THEY want sex etc, -- classic "Nice Boys™" sour angry stuff -- and he tries it cynically and bloody hell it works! Or he enough of it working to startle him. Redid it as a full dialog scene with named characters and body language and the smell of smoke and the music being played, etc

• Turning point scene is where character is listening to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" for the first time while tripping and feels outed by the music. Also redone as full dialog scene with named characters and more interaction, less summary. Also stripped out all but the most central line from the music itself (copyright issues).

• Figuring-stuff-out scene shortly afterwards, Christmas vacation with friend from college, parent's home front porch, redone with the friend used as a foil to have an out-loud conversation, replacing inside-the-head internal monologue summary stuff. Let the other guy be devil's advocate and argue against some of what I'm putting forth, to let me elaborate and clarify in my responses.

• Inserted new scene, coming out to my parents. Actually happened more awkwardly and earlier when I knew less, but helps to flesh out relationship with parents and clarifies how they reacted & felt about me being different "in this way".

Because reviewers have periodically said they wanted to see more about family interactions. Mostly missing in action because there wasn't much to write about: like the dog who didn't bark, my parents were parent who didn't say and do homophobic / sissyphobic things; it's hard to incorporate the absence of a behavior into a story; this is one of the rare opportunities to show their attitude including both their lack of judgmental disapproval and the limits of their interest in discussing or listening to me talk about it.

• Two post coming-out scene in the Siren Coffeehouse (feminist coffeehouse) were punched up with more dialog and more evocative descriptions of the people I interacted with, because I was flirting as well as seeking political-social allies, and my character (me) flirting and feeling sexually confident is a triumphant thing and needed more pop and color

• The last "trauma" of the book is one of those late-in-plot teases, a reappearance of Bad Shit after things have finally started going the character's way etc — in this case, university folks find his behavior disturbing and ask him to be checked out by the psychiatrist "just to alleviate concerns" and his agreeement is treated as a self-commitment to locked ward. Rewrote the arrival scene where he's first brought in, first discovers that he didn't merely consent to a conversation with the school shrink but is being held there, first interaction with the others on the locked ward: redid with full dialog, more solidly fleshed-out characters (the attendant, etc) again to make it pop

• Inserted new scene with dialog with two male gay activist types after a Human Sexuality class in which my character and those two folks presented to the class.

• Inserted new scene of conversation with a transsexual woman in which they discuss transsexuality and my character's own peculiar sense of gender identity, after he is introduced to her by one of the gay guys in the previous scene.

Those two events did not happen in real life at that time, or at all precisely as described, but similar conversations took place about 4 years later. Greatly add to continuity, action, excitement, fleshing out of issues, use of contrast and compare to more fully explain my character's gender / sexuality identity.

• scrapped overly long postlogue in favor of highly condensed flash-forward to give more of a sense of a successful gender-activist life. Previous version tried to do a fast-forward summary of life from approximately the end of the previous chapter to current era; blah and boring and overly long and tedious. New version starts in present era, crisply identified with the closing of a web browser window in sentence 1, main character off to do a presentation on gender issues and genderqueer as a specific category of gender identity. That along with short conversation with girlfriend (and a later "oh and her, well this is how me met" snippet) and a passing reference to a published article do a much better job of "and he lived happily ever after" as well as being much more concise and streamlined.

I am INDEED doing a presentation about being genderqueer, two of them in fact, one later on in April down at Baltimore Playhouse on the 29th and then again at the EPIC Conference in Pennsylvania May 12-16. I need to review my notes and subject anais_pf to listening to me rehearse! But I'm very much looking forward to it.

I'm querying again. Modified my query letter slightly, modified my synopsis a bit (some agents want a synopsis), and of course sample chapters all reflect the above changes. I've got a damn good book here and I will see it into print.


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ahunter3: (Default)
Back in January, I posted to several groups and forums and posting areas that I participate in, telling folks I'd written a book that was a coming-out and coming-of-age story about growing up genderqueer, and asking for advance readers.

I just recently got a series of emails from one of those people who, having found time to read my book, sent me thoughtful comments and feedback.

The following are comments from five consecutive emails (and hence the rest of this post is not me speaking). The only editing I've done is to omit a sentence or two that were on another related topic.


I'm reading your book now. I must say it's a very interesting unorthodox Bildungsroman, and there should be more of these around, so that those who feel queer could suffer less, knowing that not all people are squareminded!


I'm half way through it now and I felt very very identified with your accounts of your childhood. I was regarded as a weirdo myself due to my adherence to the adult world and to the dogmatism inherent to it, which I had absorbed and I applied in my behaviour and relationships. That wasn't very wise, but I was young and I couldn't have known better... As a result I was abused for years by my peers, even when my peers changed through the years! But I managed, just as you did, and after acute suffering and suicidal tendencies, I overcame their criticisms and kept on being faithful to who I am.

Other weirdos around me tried to mingle and be a mimicry of "normality"; my sister, for instance. But she grew up to became suicidal in her adult life. Thus, we can consider ourselves lucky!

As your narration sounded so familiar to my ears, I was thinking to myself "why does this guy consider himself queer? his life is like mine" - that is, it's normal from my point of view -. Now I am reading the part in which the protagonist is having some sex both with a boy and a girl - non penetrative yet - and I remember when I had a girl friend I loved so much that I would have gone to bed with her - although it didn't happen -. ;-:-D

My step daughter/son aged nearly 14 is transgender, and s/he has gone through some shit already, although I think s/he is clear in her/his mind about stuff. Book like yours are very necessary, you know...

... Now I'll keep on reading, I'm wondering what is happening next with this guy...


Hey, the colonel in page 150 is a tough one, I love him! :-D Resembles some gay friend of mine...


Your book was great, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the last part of it, when Derek investigates and tries to be himself despite everything. When he wears the wraparound skirt it reminds me of myself on the day I got rid of bullies. I was wearing a wig and acting crazy because I no longer cared, and when they learnt that they left me alone forever. And your allusions are very interesting. Conundrum has been in my list for years until I finally found that it is available in pdf in the net. It is in my to-read list.

When Derek was made to sign all those consent papers to put him in that institution I was like "DON'T!! DON'T DO IT!! THEY ARE CHEATING AND WANT TO PUT YOU AWAY!!!" I mean, really? Are we in Iran or something? God!


Why on earth people are so influence by external stuff such as aesthetics? In Derek's case, he is just being himself in his choice of clothes which happen to have some esoteric symbolic meaning in our society and which are so crucial in how we see ourselves or in how others do that.

In my case, after years of repression I just showed a bit of myself when I was acting crazy with that wig. It's not that the wig had some special meaning or was any recognizable symbol for others. I think they was thought I was hopeless :-D :-D



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ahunter3: (Default)
Just sent out the very first queries positioning the book as "young adult" fiction. This batch also included a higher % of queries for the book as a nonfiction memoir, as I decided it was time to do a search on notes I'd made on various agents' pages, "See also So-and-so, same agency", and many of those date back to when I was mostly focused on hawking the book as a memoir. Which is, btw, something I haven't given up on.

I've made some minor modifications to the book based in part on the first little handful of reviews and in part on late personal insights from the process of revamping. Mostly cutting some unnecessarily wordy blabby abstract paragraphs and in some places replacing them with more dialog.

I posted notices on the availability of the book on the GenderQueer Facebook group I'm in, and also on a Facebook group dedidated to folks who grew up in Los Alamos. Interestingly, two of the first three reviews came from the Los Alamos crowd. (I wanted a sense of whether the book would be boring to anyone who wasn't immersed in LGBTQ stuff). So far I've been told that my character development is good and consistent and that the story arc is good entertainment. One person said my own confusion about how I was different from others mirrored her own as reader, and it wasn't until the end that she got a sense of who I am. I don't know if that's a weakness of the writing or an artifact of the fact that I'm writing from a sexual/sexual-orientation identity vantage point for which there isn't any conventional name yet. I'm hoping that reviewer writes back with more comments.

Stats at the moment:

Total Queries = 498
Rejections: 407
Outstanding: 90

As NonFiction, total Queries: 340
Rejections: 329
Outstanding: 10

As Fiction, total Queries: 158
Rejections: 78
Outstanding: 80


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ahunter3: (Default)
Revision project is successfully completed!

This thing was written, originally, as a nonfiction memoir, but since I'm currently hawking it mainly as a work of fiction, and because I've gotten enough feedback over the last couple years that the writing is a little "disappointing", it made sense to me to go back in and translate generic descriptions of how things were into individual representative scenes, complete with dialog and action and so forth.

That tends to create much longer, wordier blocks of text. One doesn't need to lay down a lot of words in order to say something like "I had tapered off and then quit spending time with the flagpole folks who sang the religious songs. I'd attended some evening sessions in various folks' houses and one day was riding back to White Rock with one of the guys when his VW bus ran out of gas coming down the hill. He cheerfully 'put it in the hands of the Lord' and managed to coast to the traffic light then creep through a left turn and then pick up speed down the next hill and into the service station, and he praised Jesus for making sure we got where we were going without any fuel. I became aware that I simply did not believe what they believed and even though they were not at all confrontational about it I felt less and less comfortable, as if I were faking it just to be singing the songs, so I dropped out of that scene."

But if you were going to do that like a screenplay, well, let's see, let's have me arrive and greet some people, come up with some names, specify 3-4 characters standing around the piano, try to recapture the feel of their friendly but treacly way of interacting, put some private thoughts in my head, a line or two of a song, some more dialog, get into the VW bus, some dialog taking place in the van before it runs out of gas, hmm better describe how we're going down this steep hill, NOW run out of gas, now have the driver comment on putting it in the hands of the lord... OK now describe coasting through the traffic light and slowly making the corner then picking up speed down the hill, and the guys in the van doing the Praise Jesus thing, and more internal dialog, then me getting out of the van, some more contemplation, elaborating on me not feeling comfy with those folks any more, then a wrapup sentence or two indicating that this event among others led to me tapering off and dropping out of the folk-religious singers group.

Guess what, we've sprawled out into several pages to cover a scene that used to be described in a paragraph!

So alongside of that, I streamlined and trimmed and hacked off subplots, condensed some characters into one character, and ended up with a narrative that sticks a lot tighter to the central story line, and that seems like a good thing too.

Overall, the manuscript has gained weight, but not too badly.

Old: 302 pages, 95,900 words
New: 318 pages, 96,800 words

With the revision finished, I've gone back to querying. Another 17 went out via email or are queued up for delivery to the post office for snailmailing.


Total Queries: 470
Rejections: 380
Outstanding: 90

As NonFiction: total queries = 332
Rejections: 320
Outstanding: 12

As Fiction: total queries = 138
Rejections: 60
Outstanding: 78

Since it's a new edition, I'm again interested in beta readers. If you'd like to stick your nose into this tome, email me backchannel: ahunter3@earthlink.net


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ahunter3: (Default)
In my previous entry, I mostly just quoted the review in its entirety and then sat there basking in the praise. You can't blame me! ** sits here rereading the review again while drinking my coffee **

I will however note that there were two comments that pointed to possible changes or worrisome considerations, which I'll address here.

* The indistinct time frame: it struck me as a valid point that despite an occasional mention of the year in later chapters, all through the childhood section the reader is left to guess when all this is taking place. Combined with the comment from Alicean Brick, the previous reviewer, in which it was pointed out that I need to punch up more awareness of when this was taking place and remind (or educate) the reader about what-all was taking place w/regards to gender politics and etc and hence the cutting-edge nature of what I was trying to write about and say to people (i.e., the writings and other behaviors that got me locked up), this is an additional opinion that I need to do a better job of grounding my story in time. I've done some of that now, entering some additional mentions throughout the book of what year it is and in some cases snippets of what else was going on in the world. I want to do more of this, especially snippets of information about what might have been taking place with regards to gender politics alongside of what was going on with me in these various chapters and sections.

* Taking a long time growing up: although the reviewer said it wasn't necessarily a problem -- "Everything you included seems interesting and relevant, so I couldn't tell you what (if anything) to cut" -- it was at least surprising enough to generate comment that so much of my book was focused on the years before I had grown up. I've actually given myself several days to contemplate that and mull it over. I wanted to write about the years in which these gender issues became intrusive and problematic for me. At each stage I wanted the reader to be able to see how the situation had developed, based on a combination of understanding from the previous bits how I was as a person going into the situation and then reading what happened and how I'd felt, how I'd reacted, and how people around me had reacted in turn. Of a 300 page book,
the first 18 pages are childhood, the next 112 are junior high and high school (hence adolescence), for total of 130 so far, and the rest of 300 pg book are early adulthood, culminating in my attempted coming-out at 21 as a university student. I suppose the bottom line is that if the book loses entertainment value (or impact) in some fashion for dwelling too much on my early life, it's a problem, but for the moment I'm inclined to think (and hope) along with my reviewer that "everything seems interesting and relevant" and not worry about it unless other folks identify it as a worrisome concern.

In other news: on a gender-related forum it was mentioned that the GenderBread diagram (mentioned also by alicean brick, my first reviewer) has been pointed to and its author accused of plagiarism.

That's an item of some controversy (a counter-argument has been made that the original diagram had been made available for adaptive public use by anyone who thought it would be helpful) and for the moment at least I'm going to skip making any further comment on the plagiarism angle. I'll say this much about the diagram itself: I think it makes a useful introduction of the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the topic, especially if one were addressing a group of students or other people where a decently large percentage of the audience would have most likely thought in more simplistic terms: either "you are male or you are female, what else is there?" or perhaps "you are male or female and you are straight or you're gay, what else is there?". I do NOT regard the diagram as comprehensive (not that comprehensive is even necessarily a possibility). For example, on the "Attracted To" pole, the GenderBread 2.0 diagram offers two arrows, both of them starting with "Nobody" and stretching towards, respectively, "Men/Males/Masculinity" and "Women/Females/Femininity". Then below that, "5 (of infinite) possible plot and label combos" reading "straight", "gay", "pansexual", "asexual", and "bisexual". The author is obviously aware of that the graph isn't comprehensive there, but I'll take this opportunity to point out that there's a problem with a single arrow that treats attraction to "Men" as conterminous with an attraction to "Males" or even "Masculinity", and likewise concatenating an attraction to "Women" with attraction to "Females" and to "Femininity". Just as one's own gender expression may diverge from one's biological sex and gender identity, one's attaction to another may have multiple dimensions which don't overlap in the most conventional / expected ways. Joanna Russ, author of The Female Man, had her main character, a self-identified Lesbian, pondering these issues:

Once I felt the pressure of her hip-bone along my belly, and being
very muddled and high, thought: She's got an erection.
Dreadful. Dreadful embarrassment. One of us had to be male and it
certainly wasn't me...Does it count if it's your best friend? Does it
count if it's her mind you love through her body? Does it count if
you love men's bodies but hate men's minds? ...Later we got better

If one can BE (for example) a female-bodied person who thinks of himself as a man, one can be attracted to female-bodied men. Or one's attraction could mostly have to do with the biological sex (female people) and could include such people regardless of gender identity and expression. Or, as is the case for many younger folks I've spoken with, attraction is mostly around one or more genders that the person has a sexual affinity for, regardless of the biological sex of that person's body.


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ahunter3: (Default)
Another Advance Reader's Critique! A Really NICE one!

First, for the sake of juxtaposition, this comment from someone on a message board that I frequent, where I've mentioned my book:

> Can anyone make heads or tails of AHunter3's um, "memoirs"? So he's
> basically transgendered, except he's not, he's not gay, straight, bi,
> asexual, or anything. But he's like, a girl in gender, a man in sex,
> and attracted to women. But he's not trans, or straight. But he's not
> gay or bi, or cis. But uh, he's genderqueer. Because when he was
> growing up, he liked hanging out with girls. Ummm...
> Anyone else confused? I mean, whatever floats your boat dude, but uh,
> okay.

And now, without further ado, this message from a fellow writer who identifies as genderqueer and who responded to my request for beta readers:


Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I'm chronically late, but I've finished your memoir at last, and I'm ready to share my thoughts. I didn't get pulled into the story immediately, but I was hooked after the first few pages. After that, I only stopped reading when I absolutely had to, and mostly finished it in two sittings. If I'd had a paperback or Kindle copy, I probably would have carried it around with me and finished much earlier.

I'm going to start at the beginning of the book and share my overall impressions later. While I didn't relate very well to most of your childhood (maybe because I grew up in a different time, maybe because I wasn't raised as a boy), I still found your experiences readable and more compelling than most novels or memoirs that cover the main character's childhood. I don't think you specifically mentioned the year until later on, but it was easy to figure out a general time period from the context and evocative descriptions. What I did relate to from the beginning was your relationship with your family. I think you pinned down how it feels to have family members who want to support you, but don't really know how.

I noticed that you included and named lots and lots of characters early on, and I expected to have trouble remembering who was who, but I never actually ended up confused. Your writing is particularly clear and easy to read in the first half of the book. To be honest, I especially enjoyed the way your writing style changes a bit while describing romantic or sexual experiences. Something about it managed to bring back the exact feeling of being a confused, curious adolescent. The one potential flaw I can identify is that you spent a very long time talking about growing up. Everything you included seems interesting and relevant, so I couldn't tell you what (if anything) to cut, but the early sections go on for quite a while compared to what comes later.

Whenever you included detailed descriptions of the scenery, I found myself really enjoying them, and I think you might benefit from adding a few more lines describing the setting to help ground readers during sections that are mostly focused on your thoughts and ideas. That brings me to the one real flaw in the second half of the story -- while the parts of your life that came after you first enrolled in college had me nodding, agreeing, and remembering having the same thought processes, the writing sometimes seems abstract and unfocused. If you can pin down a few more tangible details and add them in, I think it would help the whole story flow together more smoothly.

I truly did relate to so much of what you experienced after you first started trying to figure out what exactly was different about you. I loved one particular quote: "I had some colored construction paper and I'd made little homemade signs and taped them to the walls of my bedroom. One of them — taped to my ceiling instead of to one of the walls — captured a kind of court jester feeling, declaring that my role in life was to "freak you out" to never be what you defined me as, because the moment you think you know, you cease to look and see."

Those few lines made me feel understood in a way no work of literature ever has before. They summarized many of my favorite parts of your story, from the horrible, paranoid acid trip to the way others never really stopped trying to neatly identify you with labels they could understand, to the way people who did understand you suddenly started appearing in your life almost as soon as you began to get comfortable with yourself. My experience has not been the same as yours, but I think you did manage to capture the aspects of it that we all have in common. I'd be very surprised if anyone else who identifies as genderqueer were to disagree. There aren't enough genderqueer voices out there in memoir or fiction, and I think yours is well worth hearing. If I were a little younger, or had a little less time to devote to figuring myself out, I think I'd have learned a lot.

A few final notes -- I was impressed at how fair and unbiased your writing is in respect to all lifestyles and genders, and how accessible it is to people who don't necessarily share your experiences or opinions. I also liked your dry sense of humor, and I suspect you used it just enough to give the reader a sense of what it might be like to have a face-to-face conversation with you. While I can picture you being asked to play up the more dramatic aspects of your story, or clarify and define your gender identity earlier on (especially if you're aiming more to educate people rather than to support those who've had experiences like yours), I personally think that your memoir is ready to be sent off to an agent right now.

Let me know if you have any questions or requests, or if anything I've written is unclear, and thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be a beta reader. I can't wait to see The Story of Q in print someday, which you and your story wholeheartedly deserve.


I think that review is the kind of thing I'd dearly love to see printed about my book some day. It came in several days ago (although I just got permission to share it in public), and I still can't stop smiling about it!


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ahunter3: (Default)
I have several readers holding a copy of my book, having promised me feedback, and I have material back from some of them now.

Alicean Brick, an editorial assistant who describes herself as genderfluid, volunteered to be an advance reader, and gave me these comments , and gave me permission to share them:

(Alicean Brick comments in italics, with my own comments interspersed)

(She writes): Are you familiar with the genderbread person diagram?

I would suggest that YOUR diagrams and theories be illustrated in the printed version.

The genderbread diagram (in my opinion) is a much better diagram for introducing a wider gender theory than those I've seen used elsewhere.

Most of the expanatory diagrams I'd seen as of 1979-80 were far simpler, far more reductionistic things: the one-dimensional Kinsey 1-6 scale (gay to straight), for example.

As far as my own diagrams...in the "Humans and Sexuality" class I was enrolled in Spring of 1980, there was a diagram that looked sort of like this:

Although it wasn't overtly stated that way in the book, what I got from the diagram that the same personality or behavioral characteristics (left hand side characteristics) that would make a male person straight would make a female person gay and the characteristics (right hand side characteristics) that would make a female person straight would make a male person gay. So in my own paper later, I drew two diagrams of my own: first this one, which ALSO made some non-explicit assertions (that opposites would attract, all across the spectrum);
then THIS one which illustrated a social force that I felt was in effect, that defined heterosexuality in terms of one narrow band and tried to extinguish those who did not fall on it:

Anyway, yeah, I've been thinking I do want to incorporate more of what it was that I was trying to say back in 1980. Ideally, I'd like the reader to finish the BACK TO UNIVERSITY chapter (the climactic chapter) thinking that A, yes, I had upset people at the time because they did not understand what I was trying to say, but B, not because what I was trying to say was nonsense-babble; that it was actually cutting-edge gender theory considering the timeframe, even if it wasn't expressed very clearly; and that part of why people reacted as they did was that the content was disturbing to them, which ALSO played a role in their failure to understand: many of them were backing away from it, squirming.

Continuing with Alicean Brick's comments.

Some readers may have a difficult time grasping what a contrarian or anarchist you would have been considered at the time by our prevalent views and cultural norms in that era. It was good that you mentioned examples of other people who had been locked up for seemingly no good reason. your references to what politics and current events were going on at that time help put things into perspective. I would give further examples throughout the book of cultural clashes between gender variant folk and government or society as a backdrop that would illustrate what a deviant you would have been considered at the time and to illustrate what a precarious tight rope you walked on.

your older readers will get this if they remember that time period but it will be missed by your younger readers who will have no recollection of those times. you should amplify the fact that by choosing to be true to yourself and by being who you wanted to be , you were risking your life as well as the image and reputation of family and friends.

you were no doubt a person of great conviction and very brave or daring to be open at that time about who you were. I would like your readers to fully understand this as I think that your story hinges on it.

I'm sure that you could easily pull up some news stories from that period of gender variant people being beaten, abused, slandered and mishandled by the authorities. sprinkled throughout the book this would illustrate the cultural minefield that you bravely crossed.

That struck me as being a very good suggestion. First off, yeah, it helps position the book's timeframe in general, and lest there be some readers who around this point wonder why I didn't just hie myself off the local Albuquerque LGBTQ center and explain my situation, it could be really useful to bring to mind what the awareness-level of the culture was in 1980, both the general population and that of the gay-lesbian-etc subculture that would have been available to me at the time.

Some notes I made, insufficient for me to begin a revamp of that chapter, but with that intent in mind:

* Dan White had shot and killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1978; in 1979, Dan White was found guilty not of murder but merely of manslaughter. His trial gave rise the phrase "twinkie defense"; his defense attorney said he wasn't in his right mind at the time.

* Renee Richards, the M2F transgender tennis player, had recently won the right to compete in tennis tournaments. Her book SECOND SERVE was not out yet, though, and would not make its debut until 1983. Some opponents warned us that if she were allowed to compete in women's events there would be a mad rush by male tennis players to get sex change operations so they could compete against women for women's tournament prize money.

* The term "trangender" itself made ITS debut in 1979. For me and most other people, the term in use was "transsexual" and it was definitely hard-wired to the expectation that you wanted to change your body.

* The 1979 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights was one of the first major event-occasions where the "umbrella" was explicitly extended to include trans people. In the years leading up to it, the issue was very much up in the air, with some gay and lesbian activists opposing the inclusion. Some felt it made the movement too much of a circus and would delay general-public acceptance, and some lesbian feminist activists in particular did not want to extend the umbrella of FEMINISM's definition of "woman" to include male-to-female transfolk. Jan Raymond's book THE TRANSSEXUAL EMPIRE was publishes in 1979, in fact.

If you readers happen to think of some highly relevant events that happened in 1979 or very early 1980, add some to the list!

And then finally some feedback about the emotional content of the early section:

I'm rereading the childhood section and it really seems very lifeless and flat. Im not seeing much on your reactions to being teased Or how you were treated. Did you cry or if not I think you need more on how those situations made you feel. How each one was another piece of your confidence or self esteem getting chipped away. What were you thinking in the morning before going to school? Did you dread the thought of walking into class? What did those feelings feel like? Did it make you nervous? Did other kids or adults see fear in your face? Did your pulse race or your speech stammer? What was the reaction of the other kids when they teased you? How could they tell they were getting through to you. Did you cower or run. I seem to be missing the whole fabric of emotions from the adults to you and the other kids.

While you were being teased what were your thoughts and feelings? While being teased did you reflect on or have flashbacks to previous times that you have been singled out? While being teased what did you fear happening in the moment, that you would be kicked out of school? Would your parents be ashamed of you? That kids would beat you on the playground or attack you after school on the way home?

I know we have all been in that situation before but as the reader I need to be shown how it made you feel.

Three things, quickly:

a) In my childhool, a good portion of the time my reaction was basically a nonplussed WTF?? sort of thing. I've tried to conjure up a solid sense of me and my head at the time, and the out-of-nowhere nature of some of the behaviors that I encountered.

b) I actually do have sections in the CHILDHOOD chapter that aren't exactly lacking in both emotional and cognitive content, once these events had sort of built up to a critical mass and gotten me worried as well as scraped raw.

c) If my manuscript comes across as lifeless and flat (or the first chapter of it does, which is 98% as bad), that's a problem, but I want to see further feedback to see if that turns out to be a general assessment. I think it may be a matter of style. I hope to post more review material from other readers.


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