Tag: musings

In Stillness: The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Posted February 1, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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It’s here! I’ve finally polished up the draft version of my In Stillness essay and am officially sharing it with the world. :O Prepare yourself because this is 4,970 words long minus quotations, end notes and works cited list. With, it’s about 5,837.

In Stillness:

The Perception of Asexuality in Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway”

Before August 2016, I had never read a story with a character who explicitly identified as asexual. It is tempting to say that, before that time, I had never read any character like me before. This is not true. I’d read several stories with asexually-coded (ace-coded) characters before then[1], but August 2016 marked the month when I first read a story featuring a character who explicitly used the label to describe herself.

That character was Nancy from Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and until I read that novella I did not truly understand why I too needed labels in fiction, why I too needed to see such blunt visibility and recognition. Every Heart a Doorway was published on May 10th, 2016 and has gone on to be nominated for (and sometimes winning) several major awards. To date, it has won the 2016 Nebulas, the 2017 Locus Awards, and the 2016 Hugo Awards, and it was one of the books named on the Tiptree Honors list in part for its portrayal of Nancy’s asexuality.

Being published by a respected traditional publisher, written by a well-known and popular queer SFF author and explicitly including a discussion of the definition of asexuality has seen Every Heart a Doorway rise to prominence as one of the major books included on recommendations lists featuring asexual characters. Arguably, it has gone on to become the poster recommendation for asexual representation within fiction.

As a reader on the asexual spectrum, I was initially delighted by the narrative that McGuire wrote. I was dazzled by the fact that here, for the first time that I could recall, there was a character written specifically and deliberately to mirror my experiences. It wasn’t a complete match, but it was close enough to hit home. It also, deliberately, called out some of the most harmful stereotypes regarding asexuality that I have seen and experienced. That, more than anything, is what I fell in love with the first time I read it.

When I reread it for the Hugo Award nominations in the spring of 2017, however, my experience was markedly different and I found the amisia[2] in the central premise almost unbearable. Nancy’s personal storyline revolves around her desire to return to the Halls of the Dead, the portal world that she visited, loved and wants to return to with all her heart. While the narrative is aware of its amisia on a surface level, this essay will show that once one looks below that surface the story actually perpetuates the very ideas that it so strongly attempts to deny.

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Retrospective: A Year Reading Asexual Fiction

Posted January 28, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies, My Work / 0 Comments

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Retrospective: A Year Reading Asexual Fiction

In 2017, I read over 40 books featuring characters on the asexual (ace) spectrum in an effort to read predominantly ace rep this year. Though I failed at that, 40 books containing asexual representation is nothing to sniff at, especially considering how prevalent the claims are that the representation just doesn’t exist. Clearly it does because I read almost one book with ace rep per week.

This was a personal challenge I set myself, just as the year before, I set myself the challenge of reading predominantly internationally[1]. This time, however, it was part of a concentrated effort to actually read the books with asexual characters that I’d been accumulating and to discuss the representation they contain.

After I discovered asexuality around 2013, I let that knowledge sit quietly and soak in this idea that I wasn’t just odd and that I wasn’t alone. Slowly, I explored the spectrum and discovered more about myself. Slowly I started to accumulate books that I was terrified of reading either because the author is allosexual and I was scared they’d get it wrong or because the author is, like me, ace spec and I was scared of invalidating their experience by discussing it because it wasn’t mine.

But the more books I bought, watching them be buried under other shinier and newer acquisitions, and the more I realised how hard it is to find good representation even though the internet should be a great boon in this[2], the more I wanted to sit myself down and read the books I had despite my fears.

After a year of reading asexual fiction, I’ve noticed a few things about the way asexuality is treated in fiction and represented in books that feature explicit and deliberate asexual representation.

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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into – What’s the difference?

Posted July 14, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into - What's the difference?

So… Fun fact: I’m used to talking through grammar lessons rather than writing them all down entirely. It’ll probably take me a bit to get used to the shift in medium. You wouldn’t think it makes a big difference, but it actually really does.

And, because this is the blog version, some more background because I don’t think I actually announced this properly. One of my Patreon goals was to geek out about (English) grammar once a month. I like grammar and I teach English as a Second Language, so it’s a combination of stuff that I’m pretty good at. Also did I mention I like grammar? This is a fun way for me to ramble about my interests and touch on topics that people find interesting or troublesome.

So every month, I’ll be soliciting questions about grammar and we’ll pick one that I’ll be covering that month. This is the first month and I’m happy to report that we had a great question. (I have no idea if people want me to list their names if their question is picked. I figured I’d keep it anonymous in case people feel self-conscious otherwise.)

And… Yeah. That’s what this is. A new monthly feature! These are public posts and anyone can participate in asking questions! Though the posts go live for Patrons a week before anyone else gets to see them (as opposed to the month-long wait of non-goal public posts like reviews). I hope you’ll enjoy it! I’ll put up a call for new prompts later this month.

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How to Make a List of Asexual Books Post

Posted May 24, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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How to Make a List of Asexual Books Post

So… There’s something I’ve noticed about a lot of people making lists about asexual representation. Actually, there’s a few things I’ve noticed and they all fall into slightly similar patterns.

Before I start talking about how to make lists about asexual representation, I want to discuss something else briefly. I want to talk about how these lists make me feel. This is especially true of lists or listers that include multiple queer orientations in their lists. These lists often make me feel like the asexual representation is tacked on as an afterthought with barely any research into what asexual representation exists in the field. The books are out there!

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8 Things To Keep In Mind When Boosting And Supporting People

Posted May 11, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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One thing that, in my experience, comes up a fair bit when people see aces and aros ask allies to speak up about the issues we face too is the idea that people can’t boost our voices or issues because something else is happening that affects that person directly. This post, however, won’t look at aces and aros specifically. It looks at general ways I’ve found that are important when speaking up about the hurt done to other marginalisations when your own marginalisation is being hurt too.

It is written from an ace perspective on account of the fact that I am ace spec, after all, but I have done my best to keep the tone of this piece neutral-to-positive and general. It’s also, because I spend most of my time on Twitter, going to use Twitter terminology more than anything else, but I think it applies across various platforms. I hope you’ll find it useful, so let’s dive straight in with the first and, in my opinion, most important point!

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Lynn’s 3-Step Guide to Getting Started with Indie Publishing

Posted May 5, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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I’ve been asked recently how to get started with indie publishing. That’s… a slightly tricky question since, like so many questions, the answer is roughly “It depends”. That’s not me being coy! It really does depend on who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your budget it and what you want to accomplish. There’s more but that’s a good start!

Nevertheless there are a few basic things that you’ll need to take into account if you want to pursue self-publishing. First and most importantly: you need to research your options. You need to know what you want to do and what will work for you.

For example: Do you want to publish to Amazon exclusively? Do you want to publish via Draft2Digital, Pronoun or Smashwords? Do you want to offer only ebooks or only print? Or do you want to offer both? What about audiobooks? If you want to publish print books, do you go with CreateSpace, IngramSpark or some other publisher entirely? Do you hire someone to do the work for you or do you want to invest the time yourself? Do you want to set up a small imprint for your own books? If so, can you design the logo yourself or do you want to hire someone to do it for you? What are the benefits and drawbacks of any and all of these choices? Etc, etc.

That’s… a lot of question to throw at you, sorry. They’re important, but you don’t have to tackle them all in one go! For me, personally, the biggest issue was anxiety, so for me the main thing that I needed to do was a quick way to get my work out there and then sort the rest later. It’s not a strategy I recommend unless you need it, but it’s a strategy. Anyway, let’s break it down a bit by looking at what you need before you get to that “hit publish” button.

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Thoughts on the ‘Thief’ gaming franchise

Posted April 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Yesterday, I saw a YouTube video discussing the differences between the original two Thief games and modern AAA games in general. You can see that video here, but for the sake of convenience and because I want to tangentially continue what the video talks about here are the main points of what AAA games nowadays do:

  • Quest markers make for lazy gaming
  • Level design draws your attention to the fact that you’re playing a game rather than immersing you in the world.
  • They add so much content that the game loses focus
  • They don’t use the environment and game design to further the narrative and instead rely on cutscenes and cinematics
  • The games often offer high rewards for low player effort and token rewards for going off the beaten path

I highly recommend watching the whole video as it makes some great points about modern day game design as shown in AAA gaming. I don’t always agree with everything, but it’s a relevant and salient discussion topic. For me, what I like about the video is how much it put into words exactly why I love the original games so much and why the reboot disappointed me so badly. But there’s a few things that the video doesn’t cover that I wish it had.

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Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Posted March 29, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies / 0 Comments

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CW & TW: Discussions of arophobic and acephobic content.

Note #1: Comments are turned off by default on this post for mental health reasons. I’m really sorry to aromantic readers who wanted to comment. If you want to reach out to me via other means, please do!

Note #2: Im not aromantic asexual, but alloromantic demisexual. While I’ve done my best to ensure I’m not accidentally perpetuating arophobia, I cannot be 100% sure I’ve succeeded. Anything in this post/article that perpetuates arophobia is my fault. I apologise for it in advance. In the interest of full disclosure: an aroace friend read this over for me as a sensitivity reader, but any and all issues in this article exist because I messed up.

Note #3: OMG! I am the worst! So so so so many thanks to my friend for reading it over for me. <3 Again, any and all issues in this article are 100% on me, not them. If you think I messed up, blame me and only me. ‘s My doing. Also, please tell me so I can try to address it asap?

Jughead is Aromantic and Asexual. The End.

Firstly, let me start with this: I am not here to discuss whether it’s okay for Riverdale to write Jughead as an alloromantic allosexual (or an alloromantic asexual). It isn’t and this is not up for debate. Let me explain why as briefly as I can.

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Anxiety, Using Labels and Yuri!!! On Ice

Posted December 17, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Yesterday, I attended a job interview. I have anxiety, so a daylong trip that involves going to another country for a short interview is, well, let’s just say I spent most of today balancing needing to keep my sleep rhythm proper and needing to recuperate. I’m really glad that everyone I met was super nice to me because human kindness really helps me out. But even with human kindness the parts where I was travelling on my own were… not great.

I won’t go into all the details, but since it followed so closely on Yuri!!! On Ice episode 11 and because Yuuri’s anxiety has been on my mind a lot, it is something I’ve been thinking about and have been since I watched Yuuri’s flashback to last year’s Grand Prix Final where he failed. It also features VERY MILD spoilers for YOI episode 11.

Content Note: Descriptions of how anxiety manifests for me and related food issues as well as descriptions of how I talk about anxiety.

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Demisexual Writing Tips

Posted October 28, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Ace & Aro Studies / 0 Comments

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Last night, I did a short(?) series of tweets discussing tips on how to write demisexual characters in your fiction. Those tweets have been storyfied here. WHOOHOO! The tweets focus on how to write demisexual protagonists, though it’s probably general enough to give you an idea on how to write any kind of demisexual. (That said, less screen space and no pov time makes it really hard to show a character as explicitly demisexual, so my recommendation would be that, if you want to include demi representation in your stories, make it a prominent character, so you have the space needed to explore how demisexuality works.)

And because I tend to write out longer tweet threads/storms like this before I start tweeting, here’s the original too. It’s slightly different at points because I do rephrase a little as I tweet, usually to allow for the character limit, but it’s effectively the same thing.

tl;dr best tip version: Let characters become firm friends first and then slowly layer in your demisexual character’s sexual attraction. Layer it. Also read the linked tumblr posts on how to avoid invalidating other ace spec sexualities and, when you’re looking for sensitivity readers don’t forget about the rest of the spectrum. Everyone will have something valuable to say about how you handle it!

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