Been having some thoughts about things lately
First up, I can't help but notice a trend with regards to my writing. Anything that demonstrates gender transformation tends to be male to female or something similar. More rarely do I show someone identifying as female gaining male genitals (though it does happen) and even then they do not stop identifying as at least mostly feminine. I don't think I have anything I've written demonstrating someone who identifies as female becoming a new form where they identify as at last mostly masculine.
I want to make it clear that I have no problem with this idea. When it comes to the trans community, it doesn't matter to me if you're ftm or mtf or nb or however else this rather multi-faceted community can express itself. In fact, as I've come to better understand the transgender community, I've felt an obligation to go back and either edit old stories to better reflect my better understanding or just outright remove work that I can't somehow rewrite to remove problematic elements. It's not out of guilt that I was so ignorant back then and I'm trying to hide it. It's because I don't want someone to find me by way of my more recent work, like it, then go read my older stuff and end up going "that's a big damn yikes" and leave. I don't want to make someone feel alienated because of my past ignorance.
That said, I feel like maybe I need to do better at making sure I cover a broader spectrum of gender expressions in my work. To write the things I do and only focus on the things I focus on suggests that I might sexualize certain things, aspects, ideas, body parts, etc. And that's a fair assessment. I wouldn't be offended if someone walked away with an inaccurate idea of how I view things, but I would be disappointed and want to try to take action to fix that.
I should try to figure out how to write female-to-male gender transformation, as well as including something about non-binary expression. I just don't know much about these things and I fear I would do a terrible job to the point where I end up offending those who identify that way, or worse, I push such wrong-headed notions that end up getting picked up by some of my readers and they internalize them. God I desperately don't want that. It's why I'm not as comfortable with non-con as I used to be. There was a time long ago where I was mildly okay with it. I even wrote a story where the main character was put through a non-con scenario... and... being the uneducated, ignorant little donk that I was, I wrote the scene and framed it as... kind of sexy? That story never saw the light of day. I deleted it not long after I realized "Yeah this is kinda fucked up." Now, I actively go out of my way to ensure that the characters involved are not just consenting, but they're *enthusiastically* consenting.
So yeah, I'd love to learn more about the other sides of gender transformation. I need to talk to people who are fond of female-to-male GTF, and those who consume or create content about non-binary characters. I want to better understand these concepts so that if I do conjure ideas that include them, I am representing them better than... if I just... bungle through.
Another thing that has occurred to me is that I'm slowly developing an idea of the sort of people I am drawn to. Not necessarily *attracted* to, though that group goes fall in as a subset of this larger circle in the vin diagram of this discussion.
I've been approached by many people over the years. It's just how it is on the internet, especially if you make things. I'm a writer, so I don't get quite the audience that a visual artist would. Even the most popular authors in the fandom don't quite have the fan base that moderately popular artists have. It would be really easy to feel jealous about that--and in the past, I've shown my ass about that exact mindset. But I would like to think I've gotten over it? Maybe? I dunno. I guess the feelings are pretty deeply rooted and they're down there somewhere. I just don't interact with them nearly as much.
Anyway--tangent aside--the people I end up interacting with, be it they approached or I did, tend to fall mostly into two basic groups. Group one are those who are exceedingly enthusiastic to have any contact with me. These people are really sweet and kind to be so excited about someone of as little consequence as myself--because they do see me as someone of consequence even if I don't. Self-esteem issues, imposter syndrome, etc. I'm not trying to minimize their feelings, just impress upon you the notion that no matter how much someone might try to puff me up, I still feel tiny and insignificant. It's how I'm wired. I appreciate these people, but that hyper enthusiasm can be a little... overwhelming?
The phrase 'coming on too strong' comes to mind. You know how Peppermint Patty is always kinda walkin' all over Charlie Brown because she thinks he's got a crush on her? (and she's probably overcompensating because she doesn't understand why Marcy makes her feel so funny, honey just admit it, you two are good for one another and make it official, you're cute together) Anyway, that is how one can come on too strong. Another way is how Sally pursues Linus, all the 'sweet baboo' stuff. She genuinely has an attraction to him and puts it out there on full display. Linus is *visibly* uncomfortable with it because he doesn't necessarily reciprocate those feelings. He only shows interest in her when she seems to show interest in something he is deeply passionate about, re: The Great Pumpkin. And even then, it's only a passing interest because it allows her to get closer to him. Then when it doesn't pan out, she rips him a new one. And of course, later she returns to loving him--thus adding to the great cycle.
These kinda feel like that super enthusiasm I get from some people who I interact with. I'm grateful for their kindness and elation, but it isn't sustainable. They will run out of that enthusiasm when they see I am but a mere mortal. Frequently, this results in a dropping off of contact. I don't begrudge them this. There's only so many people one can keep track of and stay in contact with. But it does signal to me that it is likely to be a short-lived contact. Sort of like that 'burning the candle at both ends' (which leads to the life of a hair dresser!)
The other group of people that I tend to end up interact with are those that are much more subdued about the contact. They might know me, they might like my work, they might not be aware at all. Regardless, they don't display the same hyper enthusiasm. They're pretty laid back and kind of chill. It's a bit like how Charlie Brown and Snoopy are with one another.
...wow I'm just kinda goin' ham with the Peanuts references, huh? Whatever, it kinda works for me...
Charlie Brown is supposed be Snoopy's owner, and yet that is very much not the dynamic of their relationship. A few times Charlie Brown has tried to assert his authority, only to have Snoopy subvert it--like in one instance, CB actually points out the trouble he went through to go pick out Snoopy's collar as a reason for why Snoopy should be grateful to him, and Snoopy just... takes it off and hands it back to him. Charlie Brown is silenced. He walks away, then says "I hate it when he does that". Meaning Snoopy's done it more than once. It demonstrates a more egalitarian relationship. Because Snoopy doesn't just take and take from his owner. He does a great deal for Charlie Brown, far more than any ordinary dog (because it's a cartoon, sure, but just go with me on this). Snoopy helps Charlie Brown muster the nerve to go talk to the little red haired girl. Snoopy helps Charlie Brown learn to dance. Snoopy helps Charlie Brown put together an emergency, last minute Thanksgiving lunch for the neighborhood kids.
Snoopy is always willing to help Charlie Brown. And Charlie Brown--from what we see of him--would put himself through hell for his dog. They are equals, and they treat each other as such (aside from the brief times where the writing demands for comedy's sake that one be subservient to the other). I will confess, more often than not, I feel like Charlie Brown than Snoopy in the dynamic. I'm the dorky, awkward guy just trying to get on through the world and my pal Snoopy is much more confident in how to navigate the world and pulls me along--for better or worse. These connections tend to last a good deal longer. Sure I may fall out of contact with them for a while, but we always seem to reconnect and still be on good terms.
It's this second group that I find myself gravitating towards more and more. And it's because they are kind in the ways I've tried to describe--and in other ways I've failed to include. I gravitate towards kindness. Not just someone being *nice* to me, but someone being *kind*. And yes, there is in fact a difference.
If you try to butter me up with a lot of pretty words, telling me how great you think I am and that my stories are so cool and that you've always wanted to meet me... I'm probably going to want to keep you at arm's length for a while until I get to know you a bit better, if only for my personal safety. Enthusiasm is great, but it's no substitute for actually knowing one another, and that can only come through the natural progression of time.
If you're chill, like to nerd out about at least some of the same stuff as me, understand when I break down and spiral that it's not just 'drama' but a genuine problem with my square brain that I can't fully control, and you stick around in spite of the problems, then I'm probably gonna wanna spend more time around you, because you make me feel less like a freak, failure, and a fraud. (heh, alliteration is fun)
The trouble with gravitating to this second group is... sometimes I tend to glom on a little too hard. I had virtually no friends growing up. I didn't even start dating until I was out of college. Hell, no one even called me attractive until I was past 30--point of clarification, no one I wasn't related to. Family doesn't count because... it's family. You know how it goes. I could very easily have become a 40 year old virgin. Not that there's actually anything wrong with that, if you don't wanna have sex that's fine. If you wanna wait to have sex, that's fine too. I just... didn't ever find much opportunity to connect with someone.
A while back, I was at a con and I was having a real bad time. I was strongly considering just packing up my stuff and going home. Then someone I didn't have much in the way of actual contact (or friend circle overlap for that matter) reached out and asked if I wanted to hang out. I waffled on it for a while, but ultimately agreed. Not long into the hangout, they introduced me to some of the people in their circle and the way I was introduced was "This is Smokey, he's cool."
That stuck with me. Is it sad that something so simple and ordinary has had so profound an impact on me? I think it might be. Because I honestly cannot remember anyone else in my life introducing me with "he's cool" or anything to that effect. Of course, almost immediately, I bungled it, trying really hard not to fall into that first category I mentioned and failing at least a little. I feel like maybe I pulled myself back to a small degree, but whatever.
I found myself wanting to gravitate towards this person because... they said I was cool.
I have since needed to pair back how hard I try to reach out to them because... I'm not part of their immediate circle, they don't actually know me that well, and have all sorts of concerns, responsibilities, and obligations to content with and I'm just... well I'm not a real high priority. I don't know how else to put it that doesn't make it sound like I'm an unimportant nobody, but we all prioritize things in our lives--including how much of an effort we put into the people we interact with. If someone isn't part of our immediate friend circle, we don't really prioritize contact with them. It's not that we don't like them, it's just there are people who are of greater immediate importance to us... like say... a spouse... or people who help you run a small business... or someone you have known literally all your life versus someone you have met only a handful of times.
I do not hold any ill will towards this person for any of this. I do wish it were possible to chat with them more often, but it just isn't possible. I would like to develop a proper friend circle that I can go and hang out with in person on the reg, don't need to message and ask, just go over or have them come over, because it's expected. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm the sort of person others provide an open door policy towards. Who knows?
Regardless, it's a little tiny revelation about myself that I came to understand while pondering things tonight. What it is that draws me to certain people... of course, I'm leaving out celebrities or internet personalities I have had no direct one-on-one interaction with... like Adam Savage, fuckin' love that dude. He's a good guy, he's smart, he's funny, he seems to have a far healthier mindset about a great many things than me. I feel like I could learn a lot from him, but I don't consider him to be part of any of this discussion because... it's entirely unidirectional. The communication flows only one way. I listen to him, but he doesn't listen to me--because he doesn't know I exist--as is the nature of celebrities.
I'm also leaving out anyone who could be described as a troll, a troublemaker, a jerk, etc. I immediately am repelled by these people and work hard to minimize contact with them. If you've known me for a little while, you can probably put together a pretty comprehensive list of the sorts of people I will immediately boot out of my life.
But yeah... I'm drawn... attracted even... to kindness. Not just being nice... kindness.
I'd like to think that's a pretty good sign. It means that I don't have as bad a broken brain as I thought, because I'm not inexplicably drawn to assholes.
Anyway, just a couple of random thoughts that have occurred to me tonight. I'll close out with the following:
Eat the rich
This is of course, not a complete list.