Novembers Old & New

November is a pretty big time of year for me, and for Alexis.

Like her, I always went to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving to celebrate with my mother’s side of the family. Any turkey less than 18 pounds was “just a big chicken” by my Papu’s ruling, and my sisters and I would peel potatoes with our Nana and set all the tables while my four male cousins cleaned up after. Everyone was involved in Thanksgiving, and it was great. We spent the whole week lounging around, enjoying each other’s company. It was a warm and happy space.

Then, when I got to college, I stopped wanting to go. It was great to see them, but now people were doing things like asking me what I was going to do with a fine arts degree and guilt tripping me into coming because, what with my Nana and Papu’s advancing ages and their brushes with cancer, “we didn’t know how many Thanksgivings we had left.”

The Thanksgiving after Papu and Uncle George had died was the hardest. We were still at the same house, but we were missing two people who were supposed to be there. Then my cousin Jack died just after. He disappeared from the Arizona State University fraternity outing he’d been on and showed up two weeks later dead in Tempe Town Lake. It was December 16th that they found him. My cousin Alex, Jack’s twin, still hates this time of year because of that day. But this year, I cooked all of my family’s Thanksgiving recipes for the first time, and my cousin Nickolas (Alex’s older brother) is having his wedding ceremony. We can’t change that we don’t have big family Thanksgivings in southern California anymore, and we can’t change that we’ve lost a lot of the people that we would have wanted there with them. But we can cook the food that makes us feel close to those people, and bring new people into the family. We’ll have something new and warm to gather the family up for and celebrate this holiday season.

Alexis brings her version of all this trauma up as the reason she doesn’t want to go see her family for Thanksgiving. This whole chapter is about reclamation—turning things with bad associations into something good again. She doesn’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving, because it means she’ll have to see her mother—so we take her mother out of the equation and let her spend it with Terry instead. She doesn’t want to wear her father’s old shirt, even though it has warm memories attached, because it still makes her think of her dad—so we take him out of the equation and make it Terry’s shirt instead.

Half of trauma is finding ways to outsmart it. Alexis has a line in Chapter 12 about how unhelpful brains can be when they link things like seeing your mother for Thanksgiving to life threatening situations. This is what triggers are—small things that don’t necessarily connotate danger but make someone feel like they’re in danger anyway. Here’s some more information about triggers, how they form, and how to identify them.

We don’t see Alexis’s anxiety actively triggered in this particular chapter—although we have seen it happen in previous chapters. Instead, she knows that certain things will trigger her. For example, wearing her father’s shirt and going to Thanksgiving with her mother. Being aware of those triggers and being good about her own boundaries, Alexis is able to redefine and reclaim both her father’s shirt and her Thanksgiving.

We also talk a lot about endings in this chapter, both the finale of Serenity Peaks, death as an inevitable ending, and the happy endings of weddings. Endings are a big thematic part of Author X Audience as the entire story so far happened because Alexis herself missed the ending of Terry’s movie. But endings also make room for beginnings: Terry’s characters moving on to have other new adventures, different from the ones of the show; Alexis celebrating Thanksgiving with Terry and getting to spend it working on her script; going on a date to a wedding.

It can be really hard to let go of painful things. And really, we can’t go back to being the way we were before those things happened to us. But we can choose how we continue forward. We can’t control everything, but we can dictate our boundaries and choose how we carry the things that were out of our control. And, so long as we can hang on and take care of ourselves as best we can, things are bound to get good again.

I hope you’ll all look forward to the next chapter of Author X Audience to see how those themes continue to play out! And happy holidays, all.

Trauma Informed

This chapter of Author X Audience is about trauma.

Trauma is difficult to nail down. It’s difficult to know what it looks like, what will trigger it, and even who is suffering from it. The thing about abuse is that one often doesn’t know that they’re being abused when it’s happening. Women don’t stay with abusive husbands because they want to, they stay with difficult partners because they believe they’re the only ones who can help them. Similarly, I knew I didn’t like being hit by my father as a child, and I certainly felt it was wrong, but no one did anything to stop it, so I assumed it must be normal.

That abuse of my person left me traumatized, and it’s only within the last five years that I’ve really understood how much.

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Giving Back

A Really Hot October was one of my favorite chapters to write and edit because of a few reasons. First, it’s really sweet. Second, it shows that Terry brings something to the relationship. And third, we really get to watch Alexis work.

We’ve just come out of Bisexual Visibility Month, and one of the things that doesn’t get talked about often enough when it comes to bisexual people is how invisible we become when we’re next to someone who is assumed to be our partner. For example, I, a fairly female presenting person with a short haircut and a loud voice, may be assumed to be a dyke lesbian if standing next to a fem person who is assumed to be my partner. Alternatively, I may be assumed to be a heterosexual babe with alternative tastes if standing next to a male presenting person.

Without explicitly stating my orientation I have never been identified as bisexual at first glance.

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Working in A Dream

There are a lot of ideas that can turn daily existence into a mental hellscape. Especially when you have anxiety. Alexis deals with one in particular in Chapter 8—but before I get to her experience, I need to walk you through mine.

When I was a child, my parents put me in therapy at a relatively young age. I was placed in therapy because I was hitting other children. One might wonder why I was doing that, but one wouldn’t have far to look. My father had been beaten by his father, and though he considered himself far less of a tyrant than his father (because he used his open hand instead of his belt), my father still seemed to think that hitting my sisters and I was the best way to get through to us when we did something he didn’t like.

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Love as a Concept

This blogpost is about different types of love. We all dream about falling in love from a relatively young age—probably something to do with the mass of stories romance is included in. It’s like air because it’s everywhere. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve fallen in love with a lot of things. I fell in love with books and video games, because they told me stories that made my soul burn. I fell in love with writing, because I got to give voice to my own stories. I fell in love with my partner, who is aromantic and asexual and my platonic life partner. And I fell in love with my work, making books from the production team.

Alexis talks a lot about her work in this chapter, and how much it means to her. That’s how I feel. And I wanted her to have a story where it’s not just about having a romance—it’s about getting to have lots of different loves. Her and her work. Her and her family. Her and her partner. If nothing else, I want people to take away that one love is all well and good, but that there are many types of love worth having out there, and anyone who’s going to make you pick and choose isn’t a good person to have in your life.

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Letting Go

Something I struggle a lot with as a writer is when to call something “done.”

My process is first draft, second draft, third draft if necessary, then beta readers round one, beta readers round 2, and then submitting/releasing.

Author X Audience went through all of that, and there are still things about it that I want to change sometimes. Makes sense, though. I wrote it three years ago. In that time, I’ve grown a lot as a writer and changed some of my process to be more efficient.

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Double Whammy

Last month’s blogpost got bogged down in a lot of real world issues that didn’t have much to do with the actual manuscript aside from why I actually needed to write and release it.

So this month I’m going to back track and talk about Chapter 4 as well as Chapter 5!

Chapter 4 has us opening with some pretty interesting concepts. Alexis argues with some voices in her head that have different formatting, gets really uncomfortable that someone she admires seems to suddenly know more about her than she’s told him due to some minimal online detective work—even though she knows tons about him via the same method—and eats some really good soup.

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I Love You

April was a busy month!

Very recently I had the opportunity to share Author X Audience with someone in the animation industry. This person was very kind, and I was excited to get to have a conversation with them about art since they are also a bisexual woman. One thing that became quickly apparent in my conversation with her was that Author X Audience isn’t quite up to snuff on its realism when it comes to the industry. In particular, when Terry reads through the Serenity Peaks episode script that Alexis spoiled herself on. I believe my correspondent’s exact words were “I would be so fired if I leaked a script to a fan…”

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Anxiety Spirals

There are a couple of things in Chapter Three that are very real.

First, I did indeed spend time in Japan studying abroad because I wanted to become a manga editor. Alexis’s experience there was probably better than mine, because mine ended halfway through the year I intended to stay when my anxiety and depression got to be too much for me.

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