I finished the first draft of my novel. So why am I so angry?

Now that LGBTQ+ Pride month is over, we’re in July, which I like to call LGBTQ+ Rage month. And we have a lot to be furious about.

I won’t go into chapter and verse about all of the ways society has tried to marginalize us, dismiss us, and make it generally more dangerous for us to exist in this country/world/elaborate simulation being run on some alien’s desktop. Because if you’ve paid attention you already know what those things are. And if you’re not paying attention, I really can’t help you.

Here’s the other thing: holding all that fury is exhausting.

Some of you are well acquainted with this, but for those who aren’t, let me ask you to imagine: You go through the day surrounded by all these things—some little, some huge—that just get to you. They needle at you, from being treated like you and your partner are not together or being asked, every single goddamn time you go out to eat, “Separate checks?” Luckily, it hasn’t come down to being denied admission to an emergency room or something life threatening (yet). But each of those needly things keeps you constantly on guard, in a state of low-level vigilance for the next jab. And they make you question yourself. All the time. And they make you angry. So angry, like it’s bad enough being needled all the time from the outside, but then that anger sits in the back of your mind poking at you from the other side, and it kind of makes you want to go full M’Lynn Eatenton at Shelby’s funeral.

(Me too, M’Lynn.)

So what’s a person to do with all that stuff, especially when Clairee Belcher isn’t around to urge you to hit Ouiser Boudreaux? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please watch Steel Magnolias, because it’s a wonderful movie. Also, hitting people is bad and M’Lynn does not hit Ouiser, although half of Chiquapin Parish would give their eyeteeth to take a whack at Ouiser.)

If you’re me, what you do is you channel it onto the page.

All of which is to say, I finally finished the first draft of my latest novel.

How long did it take me? I was going to say I wish I knew, but it turns out the program I’m using keeps track of your writing history, and apparently I began typing this on June 15, 2020. I wrote 2,247 words that day, mostly in the novel’s outline. I may have mentioned this before, but for this book I made an insanely detailed outline, essentially a fifty-page-plus synopsis of everything I wanted to happen (along with quite a lot of “I don’t know what’s going to happen here, so let’s skip ahead to the part that I do know” sprinkled throughout).

The novel itself began with an idea I had in 2017, when Michael and I were driving to the gym for a yoga class and we passed one of those self-storage places called LifeStorage, and it got me wondering, what if you could store not just your stuff, but yourself? Who would do that and why? Which is how I wound up writing about a distraught 18-year-old high school grad who cashes in all his college tuition savings and puts himself on ice. Things don’t turn out exactly as he expected.

This isn’t what I expected to write about this month, but it kind of feels like what I needed to write about. Anger can be all-consuming and can lead you to do destructive things, but it can also be an energy motivating you to take actions to stop the things that are making you angry. Does writing a story change things? Maybe not right away, and maybe this story won’t change anything, but it’s the best I can do.

What I’m working on and reading now:

I’m transcribing some handwritten portions of the aforementioned novel, and once those are done, it’ll be revision time. That starts with printing out the whole thing and reading it. There will be a lot of cringing, probably.

I’m reading A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine. It’s a sequel to A Memory Called Empire, which I read a few years ago, so I couldn’t exactly remember what the story was thus far when I picked it up. But familiar names appeared and it all started coming back to me, about the interstellar Teixcalaan Empire and an ambassador from a distant space station on the edge of explored space. In this book, the rumors of something alien and dangerous from beyond that edge are becoming manifest in a truly terrifying enemy. I’m only a couple chapters in and it’s already really good.

And that’s all for this month. Rage on, everyone!