Today we’re joined by Morgan. Morgan is an awesome writer who has done a bit of everything. They have had a few short stories published in online and literary journals. They have also done academic writing and presented at conferences and symposiums. When they’re not working on original work, they are quite a prolific fanfiction writer. They are obviously a very dedicated writer, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a writer. I currently have a few short stories published both online and in literary journals. I also write novels, of original content and novel-length fanfics. I’ve written three original novels so far, and I’m drafting my fourth. On average, just about everyone who’s considered to be a “master” in their field has worked about 10,000 hours, roughly equivalent to 10 years at it. So I view my first three novels as practice, learning how to write, what characters I have, how to use their voices. I already hit my one million words mark a couple of years ago, so I guess now I’m aiming to write ten million words. And after that, I probably still won’t consider myself a master and just up my goal to a hundred million. It’s kind of scary to think that I might consider my very best work now to be crap later on in life, but also kind of encouraging, that I’ll always keep improving and doing better.
What inspires you?
Myself. Which sounds like an egotistical answer, and it probably is. But all of my characters are just me trying to work out a new piece of myself. In my second novel, the main character is a bisexual woman and her partner is an asexual man. But I didn’t know why it was so important to me that she be bi and I didn’t even have the vocabulary to label the man as ace. I just knew that’s who they were, and then it turns out, writing that book helped me ID first as bi, and then as ace. In my third novel, I insisted on having an AFAB protagonist who rejected gender and only used they/them pronouns, despite protests from my professors and classmates—and a whole crap ton of misgendering. But then I discovered what I was describing was called “agender” and eventually accepted that’s what I wanted for myself too. In the fanfiction I’m currently working on, the main character is autistic, and in researching how I should write her, I discovered I identified with a lot of those symptoms myself. Now I’m trying to figure out where I might fall on an autistic or ADHD spectrum, which has been difficult due to how rarely they’re recognized and diagnosed in AFAB people!
So everything I’ve written has really just been my flailing attempts to create representation for myself. To figure myself out in a heteronormative, cisgender, sexual society. To see people I identify with be strong and save the world and punch aliens in the face. Less “I’m sad because it’s so hard to be gay” stories and more “I’m queer and I’m here to punch aliens in the FACE” stories, please.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I’m one of the few people I know who never changed their major, and now I have a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing (and a second in Humanities). I wanted to be a writer because I really can’t stop. I made up stories as a kid using characters from my favorite books, as sort of like a combination of imaginary friends and proto-fanfiction. Every time I have a free moment or my mind isn’t seriously occupied, I’m writing out scenes and conversations for my characters. That’s what I think about at night before I fall asleep. If I had a billion dollars and never had to work at all, I’d still be a writer.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Mentally Fucked Up Female Characters ™. That’s just about all my different works have in common. Also, the very important theme of “The Dog Never Dies. Ever.” I think more books and movies should adopt it.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Write for yourself, and write a shit ton. Same principles go for any other type of art. Do it for yourself. And yeah, if someone says “this is hurtful” or “this doesn’t make logical sense,” take another look at what you did and be willing to learn and grow. But otherwise, if your critiques are “this is too weird” or “this won’t sell” or “but WHY does that character have to be gay/trans/POC/etc,” then fuck them. Write what you need. Someone else out there probably needs it too.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I wasn’t out to anyone at my college while I was getting my Creative Writing degree, so not directly. But in the overall field of writing, there’s definitely a lot of mischaracterization of asexual and ace-spectrum people. It’s frustrating to think you have representation, and then to see that character you identify with reduced down to harmful tropes or “fixed” at the end. I don’t really have the energy to try to confront people who write like that, so I think the best thing I can do is to make sure there’s good and accurate representation of asexual and ace spectrum people in my own works.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
It’s a toss-up between we’re some variation of “broken” “confused” or “unnatural” (in a way that directly states or implies that we’re inhuman, to boot) or, conversely, that we’re totally normal straight people who just have low sex drives. It’s like whiplash, trying to counter straight people yelling that we aren’t real people, we’re incapable of experiencing love, we should be raped to be “cured” and then in the very next breath, trying to prove that we really do face stigma and negative consequences for being asexual.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s OK. I didn’t want to identify as asexual when I first heard about it because I felt that surely if I reeeally loved someone, then I’d “feel it” for them. I thought I just hadn’t found that person yet, or maybe that plus I was demisexual, or maybe I wasn’t eating right?? Or a thousand other excuses. So it’s OK if you’re struggling to accept it too!
And it does get better. It was so freeing when I finally accepted that I wasn’t interested in sex and that I didn’t want it. Sometimes I’m still kind of amazed that I have the agency to say, “I don’t ever have to do that if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.” I always, always assumed I would marry a man when I grew up and that I’d have to have sex with him after that — that’s what I was saving my virginity for, after all. And it’s been so great to reject all of that and embrace what I really want and who I really am as a person.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can follow me at http://thisiswhymomworries.tumblr.com/! I post a lot of my writing there, and I’m working on getting pages up that list the original content I’ve written too. And it’s all cross-posted on AO3 too, under the penname MorganOfTheFey. I currently have 19 works for Fallout 4 listed on there~
Thank you, Morgan, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.