In a move which I’m sure is completely original and has never been done before, I’ve decided to dedicate 2013 to writing A Novel. I’m very excited! I haven’t blogged here about personal or work projects in some time, mostly because I haven’t done or read or learned anything interesting enough to share. Life is still good, don’t get me wrong, but I have become very comfortable and would like to shake things up. I haven’t tried writing anything of substance since my 2009 NaNoWriMo which resulted in nothing actually usable, and this time I’d like to give it a good, solid try.
I have no idea what the plot, characters, or anything else in this novel will be. I DO know I want it to be about *drumroll or other dramatic percussion*:
Drag queens who solve crimes!
The way I see it, we are in dire need of a new mystery genre involving drag queens. Maybe the friends and family members I’ve mentioned this idea to are just being polite in their enthusiasm but the response has been vocal: more glitter in the whodunit aisle, please.
Although I haven’t conceived a plot or anything yet, I do know I want this project to include:
1. a large ensemble cast of queens and the people in their lives
2. queens of every size and shape, color, and shoe size
3. queens with husbands, wives, children, and singles
4. lots of puns about murders being a real drag
I know this may shock some of you, but I am not a drag queen. I wish I could be, maybe someday. But at the moment I can only conduct as much research as possible. I hope to start collecting experiences and ideas for at least the first two or three months of 2013 before I even think about writing an outline or building some characters. I plan on attending as many drag shows and balls as possible, so if you know of an event that is a must-see, PLEASE let me know. I want to see it all, from the chintzy tourist dinner shows to the underground gender outlaw bars. ARE there gender outlaw bars? Gosh I hope so.
I’m painfully aware as I start this process that, as a silly white gal who just learned to put on eyeliner four months ago (I’m SORRY but no one ever told me how!) I am not at all qualified to write anything about anybody in a meaningful and representative way. Hopefully, with the help of friends and generous performers and hard work, I will approach something close to quasi-qualified before the end of the year, when I’d like to have at least a rough draft ready.
I launched into this project last week, shortly after New Year’s, by doing what my nerdy self has always done when she wants to learn something new: I bought a book. Originally I planned to purchase RuPaul’s autobiography, which I’d heard has some very insightful stories about the lives of queens (though I’m sure RuPaul, god bless her and everything she does with her hair, is not your typical drag queen, but then again, who is?) but I found it was out of print and available only from specialty stores at outrageous prices. The NYPL must have cottoned on to how rare this book has become, because they will only allow you to read it in their reading room if you make an appointment beforehand. Well! No one’s got time for that. I also didn’t have time for RuPaul’s latest book, which appears to be another in a long line of “lifestyle” guides for women that aren’t very intimate or interesting.
So I ended up buying Miss Vera’s Cross-Dress for Success: A Resource Guide for Boys who Want to be Girls. I am nearly done with it and I’m not sure I could recommend it. It is awfully helpful in terms of the breadth of life stories that students of this cross-dressing school bring to the table, and there are many websites and organizations listed in it that I will be checking out for more information. But I was thrown right off the bat by the introduction, in which Miss Vera states the preferred umbrella term for her students (transsexuals, straight and gay cross-dressers, transvestites, gender neutral or gender queer folks) is “trannies,” which I had thought–from conversations with queer and transfolk friends of mine–was a right-out terrible thing to say to anyone. Well, the book is over ten years old (I am furious; 2002, as far as I’m concerned, JUST HAPPENED) and perhaps our language has changed in that time.
I was chatting with a friend at a party about this when the most charming man overheard and dropped in his two cents. I am usually very worried about offending new people, but he assured me it was okay to ask these sorts of questions, even if they were stupid questions. He offered to show us the scars on his chest from his surgery. I was a little afraid that perhaps he was only doing this because we were all tipsy from the lovely drinks our hostess had offered (a combination of bubbly Barefoot chardonay and black cherry Mike’s Hard Lemonade; really, the bogan side of me was in heaven), but he was as sober as a judge and had really picked the best time to come out as trans* to his coworkers and new friends who were attending the party. Everyone was in just the right frame of mind, I guess. The pizza had just arrived.
We complimented him on the tininess of his scars and the hostess, his coworker, asked about his body hair, especially his arm hair, which was lush and lovely. He explained his hormone regimen, which was very exciting for me to hear about, though I felt guilty for being excited, to which he told me to stop feeling guilty and have another drink. It was solid advice. Then the hostess declared SHE had something to show off as well and lifted her pant leg to reveal that she had NO body hair whatsoever, none, not a stitch, and hadn’t for several years. We all petted her leg then, demanding to know the secret, but she swore it was natural, just some strange fluke.
Isn’t life grand? We were all comparing the bits we were most proud of. If I had had one more Mike’s Bubbly Hard Black Cherry Chardonay Etc. Lemonade I might have pulled off my boots and displayed my toes, which I am very fond of chiefly because I’m able to spread them in such a way that the pinkie is at nearly a right angle with the next toe up. It looks absolutely crazy and wonderful when you see it in action. Maybe at the next party.
I’m sharing this story because something about it seems important to me. Maybe I learned a valuable lesson. Or maybe after a few weeks or months I will stop over-thinking things and just write some goddamn words. Maybe this book will be good, and maybe it will be terrible. I hope it will be good, but if it’s terrible, I’ll just work on it until it becomes less terrible.
I want to get things right, even though I don’t know what’s right, exactly. Isn’t that just perfect?