The first subject is relatively easy, in my opinion. Live your life, laugh and love as much as possible during it.
See? Problem solved.
Of course, I know some would disagree, but I’m willing to bet a lot of people are with me on this despite this being a subjective concept. Really, it comes down to what makes you happy or what makes you feel fulfilled. Hell, some would say making money, and I would disagree. That’s a recipe for emptiness. Others would say children.
Demons in cute skin suits remember?
Stop! I’m joking even though in some cases it’s true. See my blog, Laughter and Other Medicine if you don’t believe me.
What about you, dear readers? In your opinion, what’s the meaning of life?
Go on, I’ll wait while you think.
Okay, that’s long enough because I wanna move on to an even more precarious discussion. What the hell is lesbian fiction?
Whoa! Don’t everybody answer at once.
Let’s put things on rewind for a minute. I want to start with lesbian pulp fiction. Good ole’ Wikipedia defines lesbian pulp fiction as “a genre of lesbian literature that refers to any mid-20th century paperback novel or pulp magazine with overtly lesbian themes and content. Lesbian pulp fiction was published in the 1950s and 60s by many of the same paperback publishing houses that other genres of fiction including westerns, romances, and detective fiction.”
Yeah? Sounds good right? And the books were published by major publishing houses! Here’s the kicker though. A majority of these books were written by men. They used female pseudonyms but they were written by men for the male gaze. But a handful of them were written by women, I’m sure we’ve all heard of authors such as Ann Bannon. Valerie Taylor, etc. Most of them were extremely sexual in nature and depicted the women either going back to men, living in misery or straight up dying because it benefited everyone else in the story.
Let’s fast forward a bit to nowadays. A Wikipedia article defines lesbian fiction as works of fiction portraying sexual relationships between women whether they are lesbian, bi or straight women who have sex with women.
Yeah, that’s Wikipedia for you. Honestly though, that doesn’t read any different from what was in the pulp novels. To me it just sounds like porn. Nothing wrong with porn mind you.
In her blog, “Lesbian Fiction Doesn’t Mean What You Might Think,” Ellen Simpson wrote that the lesbian in lesbian fiction mean unicorns, rainbows which included romance, happy endings for lesbians in stories exclusively about lesbians excluding others in the LGBTQIA community.
Now, smash all of that together and you get what seems to be what most readers think lesbian fiction should be. A romance is essential no matter what which includes sex and it has to be only lesbians involved. Anything else can earn lesfic authors lower ratings and snarky reviews. I know this by experience.
Seems to me that the definition is a little short sighted and out dated. Why can’t it be a novel written by a lesbian, bi sexual or trans woman that features the same solving a mystery? Going on an adventure like Indiana Jones? Where a romance could detract from the overall story.
The short answer is romance sells. Readers want the happily ever after like in Harlequin Romance. But a reader expects such things because it’s labeled a romance. However, in lesbian fiction a mystery is labeled a mystery. A comedy is labeled a comedy and so on but that author will still get reviews that ask where was the romance? Or even that it wasn’t enough of a romance present.
Writers work hard. Stories just don’t fall out our asses all perfect and shiny. It can be an exhaustive process to put one’s vision on the page. Being a lesbian doesn’t just mean sex. Being a lesbian doesn’t just mean romance. We solve mysteries, we discover tombs, we are funny, and we are dramatic in every day life too independent of romance.
We marginalize ourselves often with the division that’s in our community and now we have the tendency to police and pigeonhole what we write as well. Writers, readers and publishers let’s spread our wings a little bit and be more welcoming to those kick ass writers who don’t do romance, who don’t write sex but write the most mesmerizing mysteries, drama, scifi or adventures that leave our hearts pounding and get us completely submerged in the narrative. Let’s not complain that there’s no sex, no romance and celebrate the fact that the writer built a whole new world.
Let’s have all this in addition to our romance novels.
Don’t be afraid to sound off in the comments. I realize this is a hotbed subject. I’m not shy.
KD’s work is available on Amazon or at Ylva. This includes her lesfic drama, Pink. Her next book in the Cops and Docs Series, Drawing the Line will be released November 21st. For more information on KD visit her website