Carla David: 
Queer-fiction author

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Reality meets Fiction

Posted by Carla David on February 29, 2020 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Recently real life has been mirroring fiction. To be more specific, my real relationship dynamics started to look a lot like my characters’. I got to the point where I was wondering if I needed to change key aspects of my characters in order to ensure they weren’t us!

I have been very clear from the start that in writing my novel I didn’t want to write about us, including deliberately not creating a main character that mirrored all my diverse characteristics (something I still question if I should do)….but somewhere along the line my personal and fictional lives have crossed over. Of course, the plot is different but there are some home truths in there. At least it’s a sign of realism in my writing, that it includes conflicts people we do struggle! Which makes me think I’m better off not changing it, in order to keep it relatable.

In contrast it has made me aware that in some ways my story is definitely not realistic. Both my main characters are already actively poly (I didn’t want to have this be about figuring out whether polyamory was right for them) so they’ve got experience of dealing with certain situations. Which means they’d already know that you can’t just dive into a new relationship in the same way a couple of single monogamous people would. I don’t want the romance to be dry, but it will need to involve some negotiation and discussion. Or consequences if they do dive right in.

I’d decided originally not to include any drama with their other partners and to have them acting in a generally supportive way with regards to this potential new relationship. I wanted to keep the focus on my main characters, and not over-complicate it for my readers (especially those who aren’t poly themselves). But I’ve realised if my main characters are going to carry on going about it the way I intend, that doesn’t fit. Their other partners are also going to struggle and going to have something to say about it.

In trying to make it accessible to all readers, to fit into but subvert the broad template for romance, I’d been ignoring a key aspect of what makes poly romances different: There are more people involved! Even if the romantic relationship is only between two people (as most are despite the triad stereotype) the other partners are still impacted by it and involved to some extent whatever their relationship dynamics, especially if they’re part of a close-knit poly family.

I’ve made sure not to paint my protagonists as ‘perfect poly people’ but have accidentally done so with my secondary characters. It’s a tricky balance between wanting to show poly can work and be healthy, and not wanting to paint the picture that you should be able to handle all emotions and situations perfectly to be properly poly. I know that from my own relationships, how sometimes we don’t do things by the book but we still get through it somehow and come out stronger. Recent turmoil has only made me more certain that I want to continue exploring poly, and reach out to others who are part of our alternative community. My writing is one way I can do that.

Though I will still be clear I’m not writing about my real poly network. I wouldn’t want anyone making assumptions about my partner/s and metamour/s based on my fiction!

 

Why write?

Posted by Carla David on December 9, 2019 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

November has come and gone. I got back into writing my novel and learned some lessons along the way. The main one being that I need to hold on to the reasons that I write, which I thought would be a good subject for my blog.

I found halfway through the month that having set myself a high target of how many words to write, I was viewing writing as another chore to fit into my day and therefore found myself not wanting to write, and even resenting ‘having’ to write. When discussing it with my writing buddy (btw I’d recommended finding a writing buddy or group, I find our regular meetups a great support and motivation) I realised I needed to remember why I write e.g. because I want to! After realising this I made sure to remind myself that this was something I’m doing for fun next time I sat down to write and I experienced an instant shift in my perspective. It allowed me to enjoy it again, still getting words down while loosening my focus on how many.

I’m fortunate to be in the position where I have a day job that pays my bills, so I’m not reliant on writing for income. Obviously if I was things would be different. I still don’t want to lose sight of my goals altogether, but I do want to give myself the space to have fun. In fact, I’ve found taking the pressure off allows my creativity to flow and I may just end up writing more interesting material.

Simple enjoyment isn’t the only reason I write. My love of literature is at the core, always, but my desire for social change and acceptance of diversity is very significant too. Part of why I’m writing this particular story is because of the lack of queer poly romance stories out there that people like me can identify with, and that allow others to see our relationships as real and valid.

I’ve also got a non-fiction book in the works, which I’ve actually been planning for years. That will be written under a different pen name so I won’t go into details here, other than to say that my drive for it is the need for exposure of the treatment of vulnerable people in our society. I want it to make a difference. Something I’ve learned through difficult experiences is that I have a voice that, at least some of the time, is heard and taken seriously. My level of education and learning ability mean I have abilities and opportunities to share my experiences that others don’t. I’m determined to use my advantages. I’m aware of course I’m unlikely to write a big seller, but even if I can get my story into the hands of a few relevant people that will be something.

Due to recent items in the news I’ve discovered an extra drive too, or an extra component as it actually links together what I’ve said so far. I was born in the eighties in Britain, which makes me part of the Section 28 generation. Pretty much my whole school life, and all my sex education, took place under the shadow of this legislation that demanded queer lives be hidden from children and in no way validated. For those of us who grew up under its influence, the current widespread transphobia centred around ‘protecting’ children and protests against including queer relationships in sex/relationship education are particularly disheartening. It feels like we’re trying to go backwards, to deliberately repeat the mistakes of the past (that a Tory prime minister actually had to apologise for not that long ago!) It makes me even more determined to speak out and share my stories, so the next generation doesn’t face the same barriers that we did under the ‘protection’ of Section 28.

 

Lesfic Eclectic

Posted by Carla David on October 29, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

When I was invited to submit a story for the Lesfic Eclectic anthology, we were in the midst of the final stage of preparation for a big community event, one that had pretty much taken over my life for months, including my writing time. Initially it seemed like bad timing and just not something I could do, no matter how good the opportunity. But I said I'd have a look to see if I had anything I could revamp. I remembered an old erotica story which I suspected would need some rewriting given how long it was I had written it. Plus as I'm now more focused on writing romances, albeit alternative ones, I wanted to ramp up the romance and ramp down the sex.

I was correct that it needed rewriting. In fact, reading back I realised it was more of a scene than a full story and lacked any real character/plot arcs. I wasn't sure I had time to do all the work it required in such a short, busy time, but I found myself with the strong urge to develop it. So I decided to give it a go and not worry about if I got it done it time, just treat it as an creative exercise. I wanted to chop most of the sex and make it the first scene of the new story, a story that had already started forming in my mind as I went about my other business.

As soon as I put pen to paper, I was glad I'd made the decision to try. I quickly became aware of how much I'd missed writing and giving my imagination space to roam. I reckon it was the fastest I’ve ever written a short story and it was a joy to let it flow. Maybe it was rougher and less planned than I would have liked, but I managed to let go of my perfectionism enough to go with it anyway. Somehow my erotica turned into a soppy poly romance.

When I passed it over to my partner (who should be a professional editor one day, though the downside would be I really would have to start paying her), she said what I had been thinking, though maybe in nicer terms: that you could see a huge difference between the original writing and my current style. It showed how much I’ve developed and learned over the last few years, and how it’s actually become more natural as I’ve realised I can leave out the unnecessary extra detail that I used to force myself to include. It surprised me as I didn’t think I’d changed that much, though I do cringe when I read back my earlier work. We both agreed I could get away with it in the context of the story, as the first part is from the character’s point of view as a teenager and in the later scenes they have matured too.

The final story is an emotional one, rather than just a sexy romp in the woods (though there’s still a little of that). I hope it still excites readers and they join the main character on their journey. It was a pleasure to write, and a first step in my quest to get more queer poly romances out in the world.

 

First time

Posted by Carla David on October 20, 2019 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

 

This is my first time writing a blog, though not my first time journaling about my writing. Partly that's because I'm not online much, in fact I don't even have broadband anymore and managed to almost completely come off social media years ago, which I’ve found leaves me a lot more time for other pursuits. I've crept back on slowly recently, as it does have its positive uses after all and for some things is even necessary. One of the main uses for me being connecting with queer and literary communities.

I started off journaling to support my mental/emotional health (and save those close to me from having to hear all my rambling thoughts as I worked through my problems out loud!) I soon discovered it had other benefits, including giving me time and space to explore creative ideas.

A year ago (randomly exactly a year ago, I just checked) I started writing Morning Pages. This is an exercise recommended to writers where first thing in the morning you pick up a pen and write non-stop for 3 A4 pages, stream-of-consciousness, no holding back. I was sceptical about whether this would work for me as I have never described myself as a 'morning person'; in fact I have a touch of the vampire to me and used to find night shifts suited my natural tendency towards darkness. But I wanted to get into the habit of journaling more regularly and in recent years I've learned my day starts better if I get up in time to enjoy a quiet cup of tea before I start getting ready for work, time which could also be spent writing, so it wasn't going to require a big change in my routine and seemed worth a go.

I took to this morning journaling surprisingly well and it quickly became a mostly pleasant addition to my routine, though there were times when I just didn't feel like it. After a while I started to get bored with the stream-of-consciousness aspect: there is only so much waffling even I can do, and it had started to become repetitive and shallow as doing it every day I had more than enough time to work through what I needed to. So I started to be more deliberate in what I focused on, using the opportunity to bounce around creative ideas and record my inspirations.

Having got used to writing first thing I wondered if I could use this time to do my creative writing. It seemed an ideal solution to the problem of fitting writing around work and other commitments. Even just a couple of pages every morning would be a massive improvement on my productivity and allow me to write much more regularly, instead of the big gaps between sessions which meant I often struggled to get back into my characters and story.

I was again surprised to find this cunning plan worked. Sometimes. There are still days when I'm too tired to be creative or I've got too much else on my mind, at which point I go back to morning pages. However, I've found that often the mornings are the time I'm most able to be creative, before I get caught up in life stuff. It’s the head and life-space I need to be a dedicated writer.

Recently I had to put this aside due to the amount of work needed to organise a big community event, but I'm now settling back into my writing routine. I'm getting ready to do a big push in November for National Novel Writing Month. I'm not planning on writing a whole novel, just more than I usually would and it'll give me an opportunity to get stuck back into my lesfic novel. I’ve typed up what I’ve written so far and gone back to my character profiles. I'm genuinely looking forward to it :)


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