From Phyllida's Desk


February 15, 2009

It’s been so long since I posted anything that the title of this one could just as well be “Zombie Librarian Returns to the Daylight World, part 2”—but I hate to repeat myself, even when the reason is almost exactly the same as it was the first time around:

I was working on editing, or revising, or whatever you want to call it, my manuscript for my second novel. It’s actually the old-fashioned process of turning a first draft into a second. I’m still afraid to jinx things by talking about it too soon, so let’s just say that if my luck holds, another “bisexual” comedy set in 1812 or thereabouts will be hitting the bookstores early next year.

I’ve been told that rather than beating up on myself for not being able to focus on two things at once, much less multitasking, I should just accept the way I work. So I have. I work on one thing at a time. I’m a unitasker. For the last couple of months I was working on my novel. Now I’m ready to blog, to say hello to the world and find out what’s going on with you Earthlings. But I have so many ideas roiling my brain I can’t even settle on one thing to make a reasonable length blog post. See, I’m already close to the limit of what people want to read and I haven’t even said anything yet.

I’ll never be a Twitterer, that’s for sure!

What I’m doing now is taking the easy way out. I’ll start with “politics,” and let two other people do the talking for me. Then, over the next few days or weeks, I’ll slowly release all the pent-up thoughts that were pushed aside while I concentrated on my writing. One warning: I’ve never developed the knack that other writers have of adopting the “Aw, shucks, it’s no big deal, just some little thing I tossed off in between a full-time job, motherhood, blogging and teaching” attitude about their books.

Fu- I mean, forget that. I’m thrilled with my new novel and I think it rocks! It’s going to make some people really, really angry and it’s going to, I hope, make a lot of other people laugh and talk about it and…well, you get the idea. What I’m leading up to is, my other posts are going to be, in some way, about my writing. Yes, that’s solipsistic. I can’t help it. It’s what I’ve been putting all my energy, mental and physical, into over these past months.

Obviously, if what I have to say bores you, don’t read my blogs. Or go ahead and tell me what I can do with myself, or what you’d like to do to me. It’ll be good preparation for what I’ll face next year, when, as Catherine Morland tells Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor in Northanger Abbey, “something very shocking indeed will soon come out... it is to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet.”

OK, on to politics. Not “current events.” I’m a novelist. Who cares what I think about the news? No, what I’m talking about is gay or queer politics. Even though I write fiction, some reactions to my work surprise me with the vehemence of their political interpretations. My work is very personal. It’s about what I like, what interests me, and it isn’t meant to make a statement, or an argument. But more than ever, we’re living in the age of “the personal is political.” Just writing positively about a husband (or two or three) who gets to “have it both ways” seems like a very loud “political” statement, maybe more like a slap in the face to some people.

So…if you want to know my opinions on certain topics, the best I can do is point to two gay men whose outlook I (usually) agree with. As a woman, I sometimes get the sense that I’m “not supposed to” have opinions on these subjects, or at least not these particular opinions. But here are two men who identify as gay and they can say it for me, loud and proud.

The first is Mark Simpson:

Mark had me back in 2006 with, “Maybe it’s because some of my best shags are bisexual men, but I’m beginning to get a bit teed off with this drive to make male bisexuality disappear, either into statistics smaller than a micro-penis or obscured behind a flurry of girl-on-girl action.”

“I hate to break it to you guys,” he continues, “but most of the evidence, historical, anthropological and sexological, suggests that if anything, male ‘bisexuality’ … is much more common than the female variety. After all, entire civilizations such as Ancient (and according to many accounts, Modern) Greece have been based on it. Not to mention public schools, the Royal Navy and Hollywood.”

Stop me before I repost the entire thing. I've posted the link in the box above.

The best way for me to express my feelings for Mark is to say that if I were married, I’d want Mark to be my husband’s boyfriend.

My other political “voice” is Peter Tatchell. He’s a self-described “human rights activist” with a wide range of concerns, which means that in this context I’m only talking about his modern, sophisticated and evolved views on subjects like the genetics of sexual orientation and gay men who love women.

Tatchell doesn’t have individual links to his articles, which is a pity, as he’s so…multifaceted. All I can do is mention some titles.

From the home page, choose the Queer Theory heading from the list on the left. In the first article, “Sexing the Future,” Tatchell argues that in the future, more people will be having same-sex sex, but fewer will identify as gay.

“…human sexuality is much more complex, diverse and blurred than the traditional simplistic binary image of hetero and homo, so loved by straight moralists and - more significantly – by many lesbians and gay men … the present forms of homosexuality and heterosexuality are unlikely to remain the same in perpetuity … Gay identity is largely the product of anti-gay repression. It is a self-defence mechanism against homophobia … But if one sexuality is not privileged over another, defining oneself as gay (or straight) will cease to be necessary and have no social relevance or significance … Homosexuality as a separate, exclusive orientation and identity will begin to fade (as will its mirror opposite, heterosexuality), as we evolve into a sexually enlightened and accepting society. The vast majority of people will be open to the possibility of both opposite-sex and same-sex desires. They won't feel the need to label themselves (or others) as gay or straight because, in a non-homophobic culture, no one will care who loves who.”

In “Not Glad to be Gay?” Tatchell chides the intolerant gays who claim that gay men who love women are “betraying” the cause.

Back to the Index: under the “Gay Gene” heading, Tatchell has several articles whose titles are self-explanatory.

Finally, I’ll just say again: these are opinions. They’re not things I can prove and they’re not intended to change people’s behavior (as if!) But if people want to know where I stand, it’s here.

Selected Works

Fantasy, Women's Fiction (e-books)
Book Six in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Book Five in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Book Four in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Book Three in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Book Two in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Book One in the ECLIPSIS series of Lady Amalie's memoirs.
Short Story
A queered version of the Cinderella story in the 4th Gay City anthology, "At Second Glance."
Newsletter article
Describes the typical upbringing of middle- and upper-class children in Austen's time.
Romantic Comedy, M/M/F Menage
A breezy tale of love, lust and secrets set against the backdrop of Regency England.