Authors on the Porch: Episode Two, where we are in in the Garden, actually

Investigating a Case of the DO NOT WANNAS


NOTE: As subscribers, you get these FIRST. Older content will eventually go up on my YouTube. Please spread the love; I do want to grow this newsletter ahead of my (cough cough) pre-orders for said book…



BRANDY: [bluesy guitar opens the video] Hello. Good morning. Welcome to another episode of Authors on the Porch. I’m not on my porch. I’m in my garden. Variations on a theme. [music fades, revealing the chirps, calls, and twitters of nearby birdlife and the hum of ever-present passing cars in the distance] So, [sigh] here we are for, it’s the end of another week. And I’ve begun producing these videos because I’m too tired after a week of writing to write anything down! And I thought today I would focus on a couple of things. One, I really like this format, and I just wanna say this is fun for me because it does feel like I’m giving you an update about myself, and that’s what author newsletters are for, right? Get to know the author better.

But secondly, today I wanna talk about something that I think is really important, and that is writing is really difficult, yes. But also, we’re really privileged to get to do it, those of us who can do it for a living. And I think sometimes when, especially when I’m in the depths of the writing Batcave and I’m frustrated, it’s easy for me to forget about that. [exuberant squeals and squeaks of a flurry of bats] Just like you, I get bad cases of the “I don’t wannas.” You know, where you’re, you just.... I’m progressing really well on the book that I’m writing right now. And as many of you know, and I’ve talked about it, it’s a difficult one. Ah, I’m writing about the history, it’s, I would say interwar between World War I and World War II. That’s not quite accurate. I’m starting in the 19th century, and I’m talking about transgender history. And that always surprises people because people, you know, it gets talked about as though this is a new thing. In fact, people talk about it as though it’s a fad, right? Like, “Oh, it’s brand new! Why is everybody trans now?!” It’s like, “Honey! Read some Greek texts,” you know. This goes way back. This goes back to, like, when humans became a thing.

My story ends in 1933 when Nazis burned down Hirschfeld’s library. And of course, Hirschfeld died in exile, and a lot of terrible things happened like the Holocaust! [deathly silence] It feels like we’re seeing a lot of the same kind of things happen. You see people attack-, Marjorie Taylor Greene trying to say all transgender people, all gay people are pedophiles. So, that’s— Or all Democrats are pedophiles or whatever it is that she, I don’t know, she throws out new things all the time. But part of that, that is the rhetoric that came from this time period, too. And it was a way of villainizing your enemies. [gentle chicken cluck-cluck] That’s Martha behind me, by the way. And so, for me, I feel like I’m watching the rhetoric that led up to Nazis taking control in 1933 repeating itself.

All that is to say, writing a book like this is a very important thing to do and also a very difficult thing to do, psychologically, especially for someone like me who identifies as genderfluid and non-binary and bis-, pansexual. I’m [big sigh] queer. It’s just it’s hard because you feel like, you know, I know I’m gonna get hatred for this book. I get hatred for it now, and it’s not even done! Like, I wrote, I was interviewed for The Washington Post where I called out Marjorie Taylor Greene. And you do that a couple of times, and, you know, Twitter trolls are they hates me. They hates me, precious. So, [chuckles] it’s been difficult, and I have complained a lot. So! I guess what I mean to say is sometimes, you know, you get in that place where you’re just like, “Well, I don’t want to then! I just don’t wanna finish it. I’m sad and I’m irritated and I don’t like it.” And I’m so focused on the fact that it’s difficult and hard. And I do take breaks from writing, but they’re “wah-wah” breaks. Like, I don’t do anything fun! I just sit around going, “WAH!” It’s not a great way to spend your time. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

It’s also to remember the good stuff. You guys, I get to write books, like, on purpose for a living. People pay me to write things. That’s a privilege. That’s an incredible privilege. And I get to write a story that needs to be told, that should be told, that hasn’t been told, that celebrates queer people and trans people and resurrects a history that’s been forgotten. And that is a privilege. And then I get to do it at a time period when it’s really important and vital. That’s a privilege! Then I get to do it so well supported by Mark, because honestly, he keeps me fed. [laughs] I just, when I’m writing, I descend into the book well, and it is like a book well, you guys. [coffee cup bangs on table] So, I have my desk, and then I stack books, and I have multiples. I’ve got that, and then I have books behind me and secondary sources. And it’s just, I’m just surrounded by text, and I just descend, and I write! And Mark has to come rescue me, you know, with like food and snacks. And he makes my breakfast and my coffee, which he made this morning. And, you know, he takes me on walks. He walks me. [delighted laugh] He’s so good. And I have that support, and not everybody has that support in their regular lives, much less as an author! And so, there’s that. That’s wonderful. I’ve got my publisher and my agent, my editors, and I have all of you. So, basically, you know, I really need to not bitch.

I had Ed Yong on our Peculiar Book Club show a couple weeks ago, and he was talking about how he’s dedicated himself to not complaining. And I was like, yeah, I don’t think I can do that. [laughs] I don’t think I can dedicate myself to not complaining! I’ll try to render it as an art form instead. But he is right. Like, we are blessed. We’re blessed to do this as a job. And I feel better and am happier and, you know, more complete, I think, when I remember the good things. And gosh, there are a lot of good things. We focus so much on the bad, don’t we? ‘Cause there’s plenty of bad things to focus on, to be fair. And there are. And I’m not gonna name them. [chuckles] And don’t you go scrolling through them in your head! I know you’ve got a little Rolodex probably. There are. But you know what? There’s good things, too.

And I think we, maybe we need to start a practice, you know, where we just all sit around and think about the good things intentionally, you know. At the end of the day maybe, you sit down, and you go, “Okay, I’m gonna make a list. Here are all the good things that I’m thankful for.” You know, it could be little stuff. It can be little silly things like the fact that I have a haircut that I didn’t comb it yet! You might notice I’m not wearing makeup or anything. I was watering the grass. [Martha murmurs contentedly nearby] But it can also be big things like the people who support and love you and care about you. Digital technology so that I can say hi to all you guys from my garden. And also, the fact that there’s usually more beautiful things surrounding us if we take the time to look, like my garden and my peas and my chickens. And yeah. So, here’s to you from the author on the porch. Thank you for joining us. I’ll end by taking the camera off here so you can see who’s joining me here in the garden. [chuckles] They’re just hanging out. Cheers! [blues music returns]