Words and Errata Ep 004 – The Vocal Edition
Words and Errata –
The Vocal Edition (Episode 004)
So here’s the thing – I am writing quite a bit in my stories (and yeah, that’s plural because I am hitting up four of them simultaneously). So those are moving along. I am hopefully on target for an August release of Angels of Mercy Volume 2 – Marco. The weres of Sparrows Hollow should be out shortly thereafter and I am jumping for joy on The Cove Chronicles getting some much needed love and attention. So that one has been updated a bit too.
Now, I just have to sort out the time so I can POST the damned updates to the site.
Which brings me to the whole – it’s tough to be an author in this day and age. I mean, it’s great and all that we can control our own destiny (if you’re so inclined to take it on as I have). But at the same time there’s so much you have to pour into it to make it worth your while monetarily speaking. And there’s the rub for me because I am gonna write what I want to write. I am not looking for what’s selling – I frankly don’t care what’s HOT right now. I am more about the craft of writing and perfecting my art in writing. I will write the stories that interest me and that I would want to read. That’s not to say that others might find them interesting and think what I am doing is cool… and that would be fab.
But it’s not the focus. Not by a bloody long shot.
So I just posted another audio blog of Words and Errata on Soundcloud. They’re sort of our way (the hosts of the 3 M/Musketeers podcast show) to put down our after thoughts and takeaways from the shows we’ve done with these guest authors. I did go off bit when I bring up a current issue that I saw happened to another author in the genre. Seems she was taken to task over a books she wrote about a couple in an open relationship. They had a threesome – (BIG GASP! The HORROR!).
Fucking get over yourselves, readers. Jesus, this shit happens. How do I know this? Because I was in an open relationship for a number of years. It is a part of gay men’s lives. While we may be striving for marriage equality, the opponents do have one element right – procreation is NOT the focus of our relationships. Sex for us is strictly PLEASURE. We write our own rules – which I guess is why so many on the opposition are cranky – ’cause we say that from the get-go. No mincing words there. We’re outliers that want a place at the table – get used to our shit.
So, yeah, kids aren’t the focus. But they could be.
Which, in a very real way can only be a good thing, BECAUSE, then it means that when we do have kids, it is with some very serious thought behind it all. We make a very conscious and concerted effort to have them in our lives. BUT they are not the focus for many of us.
Let’s get one thing straight (our straight women allies) if you want to read/write about us – get to know us first. And I mean that in the real sense of it – not the “oh, my gay friends are so funny and cool.” I mean really get to know our shit and what makes us tick. I can tell ya, it ain’t nothing like them books out there. And as a reader, I’d much rather hear about those other guys than the hyped up romance stuff that’s out there. I feel really strongly about this. Romance reads by and large are fantasy – I get that. And they are largely forgettable. Yet I contend that quite a bit of realism injected into them would only enhance these stories and make them far more powerful than they currently are.
I read reviews where they go on and on about how powerful the storytelling was – I read the damned thing with great hope that I’ll be wowed by this only to be completely disappointed time and again. It’s pathetic, is what it is.
SO, howzabout this? Rather than pushing your myopic view on what kind of relationships GAY MEN have, let the author tell you the story THEY want to write and tell? Threesomes, moresomes and FUCKING ORGIES and still be in a REAL romantic relationship that isn’t beholden to some fucked up Judeo-Christian ethic that isn’t applicable to our gang (unless we want it to be – choice, it’s a beautiful thing). Who knows? You just might learn a fucking thing or two (if the author has done their homework) about who we are as GAY MEN (not some rose colored straight women glammed up bullshit that is nowhere NEAR what we are).
From the romance reads out there, those readers can’t be truly interested in actual gay men. Hell, for the most part from what thin plots are out there, they don’t seem to be interested in who MEN are at all… just some idolized 2 dimensional caricature of what might be passed off as a man only because he’s got a cock n’ balls and wants to put his cock n’ balls next to some other guys cock n’ balls. Propped up beefcake, much? Sistah, that’s only the beginning. We’re a helluva lot more than that.
And no, lap dances by male strippers at a convention/conference isn’t gonna get ya there neither (yeah, I saw that posted somewhere at a “Gay Writers Conference” and went – how the FUCK is this gay? Women with male strippers – what the bloody fuck? Shouldn’t it at least have been MALE authors up there with the MALE strippers thus underscoring the whole – oh I dunno, GAY thing?).
Men in these works are often written superficially and paper thin. Not even close to how we move through life.
As I tell my girls often enough (daughter and GRAND-daughter in my house), I may be gay, but I KNOW my sex.
So yeah, it’s a bit of a rant on that audio blog posting. I would apologize for it – nah, who am I kidding, I won’t.
As Gore Vidal said – style means saying what you want and not giving a damn.
That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.
Topics on hand this episode:
1) The Podcast so far…
2) Queer Youth
3) Tchaikovsky 2015 Competition (Started in 1958)
Van Clyburn, Daniil Trifanov, 13yo Violinist (youth competition) – Gregory Ibatulin
4) St. Petersburg, Russia and Tchaikovsky – Russia and gay culture
5) Gay Men’s Lives and Literature – The missing connection – Downer Books of the 80’s and 90’s (not the whole story)
Threesomes and Moresomes – censoring our lives – WTF?
6) Queer Stories in Media (TV/Film and Stage)
7) Growing up with threads of Pride – John Rechy and Gordon Merrick and the Pride Parade
8) Writing “Clamath Boy” and the risks involved in an autobiography
9) What’s ahead on the Podcast … Angel Martinez! Woot!
In the blog posting on Soundcloud, I do mention the Tchaikovsky competition that is going on now in Russia. I said I’d post some links to the competition (which only happens every four years). If you love classical music this is a competition that is NOT to be missed.
Tchaikovsky XV Competition – St. Petersburg and Moscow Russia.
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Daniil Trifonov Interview
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Daniil Trifonov in Concert – Daniil Trifonov, Zubin Mehta – Rachmaninov, Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini
Until Next Time …
Aha, yeah… that. I’ve been having the same thoughts. Just haven’t had the balls to say it. I’ve also wondered if that’s just the Romance thing. I’ve tried to wade through a few of my Mom’s romance novels and frankly the hetero folk in them didn’t seem very realistic either. I think a lot of the conventions of het Romance writing has been carried over to M/M and for me it ends up with something that feels strange. On one hand I want to say, “Hey it’s just fiction. People can write what they want, how they want.” But then we’re real people. Our lives are hardly ever portrayed accurately in the media and queer kids are killing themselves so this has to matter on some level.
I’m still wrestling with all of this. I think I’m coming to the conclusion that M/M Romance isn’t written for me, which is odd seeing as I’m a gay man. Most of it, not all, is written by women for women. Which is cool. But as a gay man I just find it kind of odd. A queer thing. 😉
Thanks for that Stephen and I truly think this is a conversation that needs to continue. They say it’s GAY but aside from the man on man action it has very little to do with who we are. Gay in name only.
I know I appear a bit cranky about this BUT it comes from a very real place. When I was a teen boy John Rechy was a literary god to me. He and Gordon Merrick were my go-to’s and they didn’t write downer gay stuff that so many gay men like to bemoan during the HIV ridden days of the 80s and 90s. These gay men were writing about us as we are. Same with Amstead Maupin. I love these men and their writings. Why? Because it is truly as we are. Secondly they had their own forms of love and relationships that were far more reflective of us. And herein is the critical difference, to my way of thinking, WE CAN HAVE ROMANCE in the way WE AS GAY MEN have it and see it. We need to carve a swath of it that IS for us. Our voices, our way. That’s what I am trying to champion amongst my fellow gay brother writers. Hell, I go so far as to encourage gay men who have never written anything to write it down. To record us as we are, from our perspective from the inside.
I am not saying that the other stuff can’t exist too, but I think it needs to take its place along side our own voices. They say that it won’t sell… I think it will – we are just going to have to sort out how we engage our own. They’re, by and large, NOT buying them because they don’t have anything to do with us as gay men. THAT is what I want the dialog about. Not to knock those straight women allies out of the park BUT to ensure that our own voices are presented FRONT AND CENTER to the literary record.
Lastly, I would also say that I read somewhere that some publisher said that it was romance if SHE said it was and I thought – who the bloody fuck are you to tell me what I feel and LIVE (for fuck sake) is not a bona fide romance! Can’t WAIT until you’re on the show. Kindred spirit that is… jussayin’.
Peace to ya brother!
You may be surprised to hear, or perhaps you’re not by now, that this is not a new conversation. It’s one that broils up again and again every few months, sometimes with more ire and horrid name-calling on both sides of the issue than others.
There are two things going on here, and it’s a tricky push-pull kind of thing that will probably never fully resolve itself. The first is that romance is actually a genre with expectations. It’s a very old genre. Take the orientation out of the equation for a moment – there are things that define a story as a romance, just as there are things that define a story as science fiction. When you wander too far outside of those parameters, it’s no longer a romance. And that’s OK. It just means it’s something else. Does it mean it can’t be a love story if it’s not a romance. Hell, no. But you know that.
So when someone says “it’s not a romance,” it’s because of these expectations that are there for the genre and have been since people started writing romances, oh so long ago.
Now – does that mean that the definition can’t be expanded? Of course it can. But don’t expect people to accept it right off the bat. There is resistance to every new thing in art. Stravinsky’s music caused a riot, after all. So, the second thing that’s happening is the defining of gay romance and what that means and who gets to tell it. And there, it may do to try to be as inclusive as possible, rather than divisive. Are there women writing het romances and simply using two men? Sure. Of course there are. Does this need to be addressed? Yes. It does. But only when we understand that there is as much diversity in women writing gay romance as there is diversity in the world at large.
Are mostly women writing it? Of course they are. Romance is traditionally “women’s fiction.” Male writers and critics never took it seriously. Is there some resentment then for men saying “you’re doing it wrong?” Of course there is. Even when it’s true.
It’s a big table and there’s room for everyone. The conversation needs to continue, but it needs to be civil and informative so that both sides will actually hear each other. More gay men writing gay romance? More women writing gay men as people instead of cliches? Yes. I applaud and encourage those things. More men recognizing the women who don’t write the same tired cliches? Yes. We need that too.
I had a very winded (and cathartic) conversation with Carole Cummings on this. So it’s timely that you wrote this.
I think the most interesting part of your comment is “this is not a new conversation” and I suppose that is telling in and of itself. If not a new conversation then why doesn’t it warrant evolving? Somehow something isn’t being addressed. In relation to that, if women are slightly frustrated (my words and I embrace them – but recognize they may not be wholly accurate) with men not taking romance as a serious genre – then perhaps they should examine the genre and wonder why?
I’ve come to realize that women (and this is a blanket generality and as such should be taken with a grain of salt the size of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic) by and large, are in love with the act of being in love. Whereas men, love is a means to an end (in many respects). It does not mean they don’t value it. It just means like anything else it is a tool or aspect that flavors life but the immersion is a very different experience for them than for women (again, generally speaking).
What I’ve come to ask (of myself) is why women write about men (het or otherwise) but don’t seem to want to understand men on their own terms. To my way of thinking that is a bit odd. I hear it time and again from my hetero male friends on how their wives/girlfriends (who I call “Gifes” – girlfriends who think they’re wives) are out on a campaign to “change” them. Admittedly some men NEED change. HA!
The discussion I had with Carole on Facebook was rather emotive and cathartic. I think I’ve come to a conclusion that I am going to try what she suggested. If anything just to put Gay Literature Fiction back in the spotlight (from my POV as a gay man who lived through many years of it and had numerous deep dive conversations about our lives). It couldn’t hurt.
That conversation can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/authorsacollins/posts/979942038725270
So Baz’s Queer Lit from the past may make it’s appearance soon. As a reminder that gay men write about ourselves with the passions and desires of love and at times, cataclysmic demise. We’ll see if there’s anyone out there who wants to find out about us as we are. It’ll probably go nowhere. But if anything, I’ll pay homage to the men who wrote about us for posterity’s sake.
Thanks for the post!
“…if women are slightly frustrated […] with men not taking romance as a serious genre – then perhaps they should examine the genre and wonder why?”
Well, but why? Like Angel said, let’s take orientation out of it for a moment. Romance, since Eleanor of Aquitaine brought it with her from France and Germany, has been a genre women claimed as theirs, mostly because it was all the men in their lives allowed them to read for centuries. Now it’s mainly seen as a women’s genre, and since women have been consistently shut out of other genres–the comics/manga/graphic novels come to mind, since women are now the majority of the audience and yet still the men who control it refuse to market to or even acknowledge them as anything but coincidental and superfluous additions to their male targets–why should women care what men think of a genre men in general disdain?
In the context of your main point–gay men being seen as a fringe audience in the current m/m climate–I wholeheartedly agree it needs addressing. And yes, it needs to evolve. A genre that prides itself on inclusion should be inclusive. But when we’re talking Romance as a whole, I don’t see the logic in handing men a say-so in something they don’t even respect.
I think genre labels are the crux of this particular issue. And they’re not going away. And they’re not actually the fault of the people now reading/writing m/m romance. Romance has always been formulaic and tropey. If a story follows the Romance formulas and tropes, it’s a Romance; if it doesn’t, it’s not. That’s industry labeling. Romance is Romance is Romance, and that genre label has nothing to do with gender or orientation or even if the story is true to life for anybody. And while there is a difference between Gay Romance and M/M Romance, it’s only if either one of those distinctions follows the formulas and tropes that it actually IS a Romance. If it doesn’t, it’s Gay Lit with a romantic subplot, or Fantasy with a love story, or Pick-your-genre with some erotica thrown in.
I think the distinction between M/M Romance and Gay Romance is a notable one and worthy of discussion and evolution. But the Romance label is what it is. Just because a story contains a romance doesn’t mean it is one. That’s not a distinction women made–it’s what the industry decided ages ago.
What you write, Baz, is Gay Lit with romantic elements. (And other genres with romantic elements, of course.) Unless you write a story that follows the Romance formula–which I suspect you won’t–you will never be filed under “Romance”, and Romance will not be changing its expectations to suit these distinctions. Which, I think, is good, actually, because you don’t write Romance–you write love stories inside of bigger stories. And while it seems illogical that there’s a difference, it doesn’t change the fact that there is.
(Also, I just have to say that I think it’s pretty freaking hilarious that my stupid auto correct keeps trying to change Gay into Gary. It apparently has no concept of social cues and cultural growth.)