Adorable, et al. (A Fat Femme’s Guide to Managing Pesky Adjectives)

So, I’m home from yet another amazing Women’s Week. Each time I go, I’m in awe of the community of writers and editors and readers who come together to mingle, have fun, learn, and celebrate lesbian fiction. It fills my cup in more ways than I can count.

This year brought more of the same, but a new layer. Newly out of a relationship, I tried to embrace a flirtier, sassier side of myself. It went well, I’d say. Mostly. A couple of misfires, but that’s to be expected. Especially when wine is part of the equation. But there were surprises, too.

Here’s the thing. I’m a reasonably confident person. I feel pretty comfortable owning that I possess above-average intelligence. I’m funny. I’m a decent writer and a damn good cook. I rock my day job like a boss. When people say nice things about those aspects of my personality, I might get a little bashful, but I can soak it up, be gracious, and say thank you.

But. There’s always a but, isn’t there?

I don’t know if it was my attempt to channel my inner sassy, or maybe the fact that I’ve been feeling better in my body (thanks, barre), or what, but this year I got another slate of adjectives. Ones I’m not used to. Ones I’m not sure what to do with.

Over the course of the week, I got adorable, pretty, and even a gorgeous. Now, adorable is tricky, but that’s another post. The point is that more than one person conveyed to me that I was attractive. Like, physically.

On one hand, declaring this in a blog post feels massively vain, but I hope you’ll bear with me. Because writing blog posts helps me process feelings. More importantly, I’ve come to realize that if I’m wrestling with shit, I’m never the only one. If flinging this out into the ether resonates with one other person, well then, it’s worth it.

So, back to those pesky adjectives. That P one, or the G one. Or, look out, the B one. For me, they’re really, really, like seriously fucking really, hard to believe. My general go-to is the they’re-just-being-nice interpretation. That’s actually an improvement over the they-feel-sorry-for-me interpretation. And maybe comparable to the oh-that’s-nice-they-don’t-hate-fat-girls interpretation.

I know. I’m obnoxious. I can recite the fat-positive playbook. If one of my friends uttered such nonsense, I’d give her a very stern talking to. But what happens in the overactive recesses of my mind generally stays there, to be fretted over a million times, in the comfort of my self-doubt.

Not today. I am putting it out there now, but please don’t feel like you have to give me the talk. I know. (Really.) I’m mostly marveling at the whole thing and trying to sort out how one might go about the believing it and the soaking it in. I’d happily take pointers on that front if you have them.

My current strategy is fake it ’til I make it. Oh, and resist the urge to say something dismissive even if I’m hella uncomfortable because that’s just rude.

I’m also happy, as I said, to fling my discomfort into world in the hopes it helps someone else know they’re not alone. If that’s you–today, this week, your whole life–I feel you. And you’re gorgeous.

xo
Aurora

 

Lessons and Leaving

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I just finished the final round of edits for Crescent City Confidential. Because the book is set in New Orleans, I decided to dedicate the story to the Southern women who taught me a great deal and helped me become the woman I am today. Grandmothers and aunts and cousins, teachers and nuns and neighbors. These women taught me about resilience and grace, perseverance, and not being afraid to be smart, or strong.

And then the election happened and everything about that felt cheap. I felt betrayed. Betrayed by some of those same aunts and cousins and neighbors and friends. But even in that darkness, I knew that the lessons I learned were still there. Things like believing in myself, social justice, and not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.

Perhaps more than anything else, they taught me it was okay to leave. That I needed to leave. It was a lesson I didn’t fully understand until much later—that staying was tantamount to a death sentence. Every single day of my life, I’m profoundly grateful for having left.

What started out as going away to college turned into a full and satisfying life in a place I didn’t know existed and with people I couldn’t even imagine as a kid.  I can’t fathom what my life would look like had I stayed. I may have never come out; I may have never taken myself seriously as a writer. I might have gotten married and had kids and aspired to a (little pink) house in the suburbs and vacations (down at the Gulf of Mexico).

Without these women, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to imagine something else.

But they saw something more. And even though they probably never fathomed that I’d live in New York and be a dean at a college and write lesbian romance, they sensed that I was different, needed something different. They laid the groundwork and offered the encouragement that set me on my way to becoming me.

I think the process of becoming is at the core of all my books. As much as my characters find love, they find themselves. This is definitely the case with Crescent City Confidential. Both Tess and Sam have strong feelings on who they are and what they want. Their identities have been shaped by family and geography and life circumstances; they are happy, but not complete. They fall in love, sure, but they also become themselves—more authentic, more whole.

It feels ironic now that I set this story in Louisiana, the place I needed to escape from. As I write this, I’m here visiting my mother and godmother. I feel a bit like a stranger in a strange land, counting the hours until I go back to my life a thousand miles away.

But I like to think I’ve come full circle. I know I’ll never again call Louisiana home, but it will always be part of me–messy, contradictory, infuriating, enchanting. I’m not ashamed or afraid of it. It’s mine.

I like to think maybe there’s a little girl somewhere with a big bow and a feeling she can’t quite put a finger on, a feeling that tells her she doesn’t belong. She might not be the next lesbian romance writer, but maybe this lost little girl turned romance writer can show her there’s more to life than the world she knows.

In the meantime, you can pre-order Crescent City Confidential from Bold Strokes Books. Catherine, Claire, Dr. Rosser, Dr. Landry, Mrs. Kurtz, Sr. McFayden, Cindee, Laura Lee, Leslie, Sara and all the rest of you fabulous women, this one’s for you.

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