A couple of Saturdays ago, I attended a lecture about writing LGBT characters by Brij Bautista and Ronald Jeffrey S. Lim. It was great. I’m a cisgender heterosexual romance author, I’m grateful for any wisdom I can get from LGBTQI authors about writing LGBTQI characters, especially in romantic situations.
In case you’re wondering, no I’m not planning to write LGBTQI romance books. Partly because I would rather people read LGBTQI books written by LGBTQI authors, and mostly because I think I would be really terrible at it, not having been in relationship with someone of the same sex (L) or a transgender man (T). However, I do have LGBT characters in my stories. While they aren’t the main characters — I write straight romance, and all my couples have always been cis-het — they still play significant roles and I want to portray them fairly, authentically, and interestingly. Goodness knows how many terrible portrayals of LGBTQI characters there are in literature, and I don’t want to add to that trash heap.
I had to bail from an out-of-town trip to Tagaytay to attend this lecture. Because that’s what you do when you’re a professional — you may have to give up fun things for your craft. This is something you learn when you meet pro authors. Other things we give up: television shows, parties, dinners out with friends. (What are you giving up for your craft?)
This is all part of my attempt to adopt the growth mindset. This is believing you can get better in a skill, and understanding that effort makes you stronger. As opposed to my old mindset where I would just rely on the skills I was already good at.
I was a smart kid. I knew this because everyone told me so. And I think this is why my grades were mostly mediocre. Why try harder when everyone already knew how smart you were? But as I grew older I noticed that success is mostly determined by opportunity and hard work. I already had the opportunity to succeed in writing. My parents could afford to send me to good schools, I was surrounded by books growing up, I had computers and access to the internet. I only needed to work hard. And I didn’t. Not really.
Now that I’m living my dream of being an author, I decided I was going to have to make some changes. I would always try to be better at my craft. I would work harder. I would give up television shows (except for three or four because I’m not a saint), watching movies except for the one movie a month I really needed to see, hanging out with casual acquaintances I’m not really that close to so I could reserve my free time to be with my real friends. Most of all, I would try to try new things and learn new skills.
What about you? Do you think adopting a growth mindset will improve your writing career?