Diversity Rules Magazine

November 2011

Diversity Rules Magazine - _lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning_

Issue link: http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/46328

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November 2011 The Amazon Trail: Sacred Little Dyke Writer By Lee Lynch and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2010 she received the James Duggins Mid-Career Award in Writing, and, for Beggar of Love, the Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. Lee Lynch wrote the clas- sic novels The Swashbuck- ler and Toothpick House. The most recent of her 14 books, Sweet Creek and Beg- gar of Love, were published by Bold Strokes Books. She is a recipient of the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award, the Alice B. Reader Award for Lesbi- an Fiction and was honored with induction into the Saints I thought, humiliated and relieved, that was the end. No one would ever want me to read my work again. But the audience loved it. Crying made me real to them, a dyke who wrote their stories. They enveloped me in their warmth. This experience should have made my next reading less daunting. My publishers had laughed and told me I'd better get used to it. Again, I was in a living room, this time back east. I was so scared I was practically comatose. The fact that I knew these women made the experience more, not less, frightening. I started to read, stumbled, got more anxious and then the cat who lived there jumped on my lap. In front, as cats are wont to do, of my reading ma- terial. Now that I've been around for a while, new writers sometimes tell me how terrified they are of reading in public. All I have to offer them is enormous, sincere sympathy and the story of how I started my public life as a writer. No one warns us that we can't hermit in our garrets and only leave to buy more Amy's fro- zen dinners. No one tells us that writers don't merely write, we also must market. No one tells us in college speech classes that it's not over with the semester - we'll have to keep speaking to rooms and auditoriums filled with people for the rest of our shy lives. t's another trick, like the one where they lead us on to think we can earn enough in royalties to be able to write full time when in reality we'll be working at jobs full time and squeezing in a paragraph here and there when the boss isn't looking. The first time I read to a group I was so scared I cried. The story was about a couple of school- teachers in the closet and the glimpse they had of freedom. I hadn't realized the depth of my sadness about their situation, but, in my fear at reading aloud, especially in Tee Corinne's liv- ing room, especially to a large group of mostly back-to-the land pilgrims to the rural north- west, especially as I'm an urban Yankee - I got all emotional about the story and cried in front of them. There could have been no better ice breaker. The audience laughed. I felt visited by my to- tem animal. It was as if a caring hand had come and lifted enough of my fear that I could give something to the audience rather than steel myself against them. My fear made me inaccessible. I wanted them to disappear, I wanted a spaceship to land in the middle of the living room and take the fo- cus off me. I also wanted to share something with these people I was writing for. Reading aloud was for them, not for me, and I needed to change my focus away from my fear and to- ward these readers with their expectant faces. Did I learn my lesson? Of course not. The third time I was on a conference panel. I was teamed up with some very accomplished wom- en, including Jewelle Gomez and two filmmak- ers. My publishers were in the audience. Was this a moment I had dreamed of all my life? A pinnacle? The opportunity of a lifetime? I spent most of the 24 hours before the panel on the toilet, or with my head in the toilet. I missed a meeting to prepare – my mind was frozen. This was not something I had the cour- age to do and it wasn't something I could get out of doing. The room was gargantuan. The faces dissolved in the tears I tried not to shed. I was weak and dizzy from hunger. My hands shook, but not as badly as one of the other panelist's hands. I remember reassuring her, this veteran of two appearances. That's all I re- member. I was a block of wood, or ice. Or a Twleve

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