Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Wanna Be A Renaissance Woman, Darnit!

Was today ever fun! For the first time, I attended a monthly meeting of the Phoenix Writers' Club. It was a great first meeting to choose, because they were celebrating their 80th anniversary.

The Phoenix Writers' Club first formed in 1926, to accomodate the many fine women writers in the Valley of the Sun. The Arizona Press Club, at that time, did not yet allow women. The need for an alternative was keen, and the PWC filled it admirably. The club finally opened its membership to men in 1994, so now they let in just about anybody.

Our guest speaker was Marshall Trimble, Arizona's official historian. I have read his articles in many magazines over the years, and heard him narrate stories for local programs such as "Arizona Stories" on our local PBS affiliate. He was very warm and personable, and like most people who spend a lot of time surrounded by admirers, he has the patience of Job.

When I had the chance to speak wit him, I told him I thought I might try my hand at writing local history. Having just moved back into the neighborhood where I grew up, after an absence of over twenty years, I find that neighbors who've moved here since are always asking me about what it was like "way back then." Turns out I know a lot of stuff that people actually find interesting. Phoenix is such a transitory area that most people know next to nothing about the place they now call home. Mr. Trimble seemed to think this was a very good idea.

The notion just sort of came to me, like a tap on the shoulder by an angel, while I was having lunch during the meeting. Of course, as I made friends with some of the other writers, they wanted to know what sort of writing I did. Please forgive me, dear readers, for what may come across suspiciously like self-loathing and homophobia, but I phrased it as delicately as I could. At least for now, I left the "gay" part out of it. But by cracky, it's hard to describe anything I write without including the "G" word in there somewhere!

Why do I have to be known strictly as a "gay" writer, and nothing else? I'm certainly not at all ashamed of it; if I were, Heaven knows I'd never have started writing for the GLBT community in the first place. But for crying out loud, no heterosexual writer writes strictly about being straight. (Okay, maybe a very few do, but everybody pretty much agrees that they are weirdos with hangups that cry out for professional help.) Being gay certainly is a major part of who I am, but it's a heck of a long way from being all there is to me.

I will use no aliases. I will never flinch, or even blink, when somebody asks me if I'm gay -- and my answer will always be proudly in the affirmative. I am not afraid to see my "gay" work listed right smack-dab alongside my "general" work. I will simply be one of many gay writers whose interests are broad and varied enough that I can, at least occasionally, write about something else.

If people begin to appreciate my work -- people, that is, who would never read anything specifically "gay" (and this includes a good many people who ARE gay) -- then they just might decide to take a chance on one of my "gayer" titles. This is the sort of thing that leads to a greater understanding of GLBT folks as people. It helps even those who are struggling with uncertainty (or maybe even shame) about their sexuality to realize that being gay can be interesting and fulfilling. That, as a matter of fact, we "queers" are not so queer, after all.

Some research will need to be done before I figure out what sort of local-historical work I will write for my debut as an historian. My minor in college was history, so it's something that has long interested me. And, very frankly, when it comes to my historical writing, my primary motive will be to SELL my articles and books. People don't read history to be told who to vote for, what church to go to or what to think -- they want to read some ripping good stories. Tales that show, because they are true, that real life can be even better than fiction.

So here comes the butterfly, out of her coccoon. Franklin, Jefferson, Catherine the Great and all you Medicis, just move on over. A brand-new Renaissance Woman has just burst onto the scene!


At 6:20 AM, Blogger Abiding said...

How exciting! I think it is wonderful and right on target. I did not know you were a writer, and for the record I am now interested in taking a chance on not only your "gayer titles" but some good local history. :)

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Lori Heine said...

The publishing biz has become much more focused on small markets. This makes it an especially good time to write local history. It also means there may be more of it out there to read.

Abiding, in case you'd like to check out some of my "gay stuff," I have three essays in a GLBT webzine called Whosoever, which you can reach at I write pretty often for them, and I'm also on Whosoever's board. I'm also now blogging regularly at Gay Orbit (the .net one -- .com is a travel service of some kind).

Actually, I'm popping up all over the place now. But those are a couple of good places to start. And thanks very much for your interest. It is surely appreciated.


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