Tag Archives: passing

On writing non-asexual romantic narratives

18 Mar

I’m in a fandom that shall remain nameless, but I’ve really been enjoying it. As fandom tends to go, though, romantic narratives are at the forefront of most of the stories. And romantic narratives are usually non-asexual narratives. Writing is one of the few spaces where I tend to think about passing as non-asexual. Sort of.

I wrote a longer story about Character X trying to ask out Character Y. One of the comments really stuck. I’ll paraphrase, but it was basically: “X never shows any sexual awareness towards Y or their situation. Is X repressed? Or just completely unaware of what happens when you date?”

My response was to start laughing because in the thousands of words that made up that story, I never once considered having X think about anything more than kissing Y. It’s really only in a story with a sex scene that I remember to try to incorporate sexual attraction. And I run every line by a beta reader to see if it “works.” Which usually, it doesn’t without editing, because I can’t make that leap to understand what sexual attraction feels like. In this story, I knew I didn’t want to write a sex scene, so incorporating sexual attraction just didn’t occur to me.

Usually I don’t really care about passing, mostly because I’ve had the luxury of usually being in a group of people who don’t sit around talking about sex often. But in writing non-asexual characters in a romantic relationship, I do care about passing. Passing when I write means that my writing’s more realistic, that more people can relate to it, that I’m telling my non-asexual characters’ romantic narratives well. And I know that I can’t actually pass.

I think I can nearly pass, enough that people can read into things as sexual attraction that I didn’t intend to be that way, unless it’s a situation where they expect to see more — an intuitive leap I can’t always make myself. And that comment reminded me that incorporating attraction doesn’t cross my mind unless it’s a glaringly obvious situation like non-asexual characters having happy, romantic consensual sex.

I thought about the effort it would take to incorporate sexual attraction into all my romantic-focused writing. I would have to figure out when noting sexual attraction was appropriate, how long it should be between “attraction” thoughts, vary what was noted, and wonder how to hold back enough so that readers wouldn’t expect a sex scene where I didn’t intend on writing one. I would be constantly catching myself and going back over what I’d written to make sure I was keeping up. And I would still fail to convey it well, because in trying so hard I’d probably end up overcompensating and any editor would make me take most of it out, or edit and edit it.

I think it would be exhausting on a level as to make me stop writing. So, I’m going to try not to put so much pressure on myself to try to do it in the future. When I write sexual people, I’ll incorporate the things I know how to incorporate — noticing small details about the other person, describing small touches, etc. Things that people in the past have told me work well, and that aren’t difficult for me to remember to incorporate.

These are things I think of as “showing, not telling.” A friend would notice things and possibly touch the other person, too, but the things they would notice and the ways I would describe the touch (as well as what kind of touch it would be) would be different. So they’re essentially the same tools I would use writing a non-romantic relationship, just applied at a different angle. Which makes writing not only manageable, but also more natural.

I suppose some time I will talk about how it is to write a sex scene from a non-asexual character’s POV. And other creative writing things.

An ace childhood: yearbooks

5 Mar

I was thinking about what in my history I can see as manifestations of my gender, and I thought I might do the same with my sexuality, where I’m on surer footing. There are things from my childhood that — in retrospect — I see as “oh, yeah, that’s me. Asexual.” The biggest memory involves yearbooks in elementary school.

For some reason I had it in my head that if anyone ever went through my yearbooks, they would think I was weird because I didn’t have a lot of signatures from boys. I thought that it wasn’t normal that I wasn’t interested in boys. In the event that someone, who would know me and may already be thinking that it was weird that I didn’t talk about boys, started leafing through my yearbooks, I thought it was important to convince them that I did think about boys.

So I went to my grade level in the yearbook, glanced around for what I thought were conventionally attractive boys, and drew hearts next to their pictures. Most of the time I had never even met them, but I thought other people would think they were cute.

This seems really bizarre to me now. I wonder if I had a friend that I’ve forgotten about who was particularly boy-attached, or if someone made some comment to me about not talking about boys I “liked.” Social stuff like that does get to you pretty early. But I didn’t do things like that in middle and high school. I didn’t try to make comments about hot boys.

That’s not something I would ascribe to confidence, though. I know it’s mostly because my friends were not the kind to sit around talking about sex, at least not with me, which is a privilege of mine. I was never forced into an environment where I was expected to date, to act particularly sexual, or to dress in a sexually appealing manner. So I didn’t have to try.

I wish I could remember more about why I felt that way in elementary school. Since I can’t remember anything specific, it was probably all the media I was consuming: princesses getting together with princes, who is the pink Power Ranger dating, etc. Maybe people playing games in the playground, although I mostly remember playing Power Rangers and walking around the track. (Oh, we were fun children. Sometimes we even stopped on the track to use the old wooden work-out stations placed there for our exercising convenience.)

It probably is strange that I felt more pressure in elementary school than other age brackets, but I did identify as asexual shortly into middle school. So maybe that took a lot of the pressure off of me, even though my identification was, for a few years, an inside joke with myself.