Friday, September 23, 2016

Morningstar's Musings: What Fiction Stories Taught Me #Bivisibilityday #bisexualawarenessweek #Giveaway

What Fiction Stories Taught Me

I got to thinking yesterday about what I get out of reading. The genres or tropes I’ve read over the years may have changed but does that mean what I get out reading has? I don’t think so. I think no matter what each of us read we learn something from that story, those characters. Whether that is something about ourselves or about the world or society as a whole. 

I know reading Three Wishes by Barbara Delinsky showed me I can love a book and not its ending, And that I absolutely believe in fate and how each one of our choices can affect our path going forward. Like if I hadn’t fallen in love with my best friend 22 years ago, would I have the life I have now? My kids? How can that one choice change the path I went down?

I know reading a book like Everyday History by Alice Archer that we don’t see the life in all the small things that we live with every day. We don’t, but should, remember who and why that picture or Knick knacks are important because just like we say songs can take us back to a memory, all of our everyday items hold history; our history, our memories, our emotions. I pay attention to those things now. 

I know reading a book like the Thomas Elkin series by N.R. Walker that age is just a number and what matters most in any relationship is the fit that two people have with each other. Our age is something we can’t change but it doesn’t have to define us. I am almost 40 years old (I’m young at heart) but I am going to dye my hair purple because my age doesn’t define my personality. 

I know reading a book like Sunset Park by Santino Hassell shows that our sexuality can be something we don’t know at a young age. We can go through life wondering, thinking that maybe what we have always known about ourselves wasn’t the truth. Or at the very least the truth as we knew it at the time. The life that we lead everyday has a lot to do with what we know about ourselves. What we can accept about ourselves. Going through life curious but thinking you can’t or shouldn’t accept those feelings is one of the hardest things to do. 

(The fact I even wrote this next part is due to a post Keira Andrews wrote yesterday on her Facebook page. Thank you Keira, because it gave me courage and knowledge I was not alone in my feelings)

I am one of those people. I had always thought one way about myself never knowing that the thoughts I was having, the feelings I was experiencing were not what everyone else was thinking or feeling. Not until reading and learning through the stories that authors created about characters going through their own journeys did I know who I am. Did the thought of anything but what I already knew about myself was even possible. It hadn’t ever crossed my mind. I am bisexual. My husband knows and very few friends. I don’t hide it but I don’t shout it out either. I haven’t told my mom or my brothers. And it is not something I talk about. I am getting better day by day stilling the fear within myself of what people’s reaction would be. In some ways this, saying this here for a group rather than one on one is easier. 

We all talk about what should be in our books. Diversity, everyone says. We need more people of color, we need more characters that envelope the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and we need to tackle real life issues such as Biphobia. And until yesterday I was halfhearted about that idea. I know those things should be addressed but to me I kept thinking “how is a fictional book going to change anything?”
But it does. I am proof of that. 

I have learned more about myself reading fictional books that I have history books.

I have learned more about myself reading fictional books than I have talking to friends.  

I have learned more about myself reading fictional books than I have living my life.

Authors have shown me a life and a world I didn’t live in because of where and how I was brought up. They let me see things that I didn’t experience or even think about. These stories opened my heart and my mind to the possibilities and the people out there. Do we need more diversity to teach people there is more than what they experience in their everyday lives? Yes, absolutely! 

Right now I know we have those authors writing the stories that need to be told. Not every writer should have to do this, of course, they can and will write what they want as is their right but as long as we have others willing to tell the stories that might help or change the mind of one person we are on the right path. 

What we need most are you to be willing to open your ears and your mind to listening when someone speaks their truth, their pain, and their experience. You do not have to agree, of course, but as mature adults we should do what we teach our kids.
Listen with an open heart.


See how much books mean? See what they do?
In honor of this brave post and to maybe help people
maybe discover something about themselves, or get lost in a
possibly lost reality, or just make you brave, enter
the giveaway to win a $15.00 Dreamspinner Press Gift card!

Contest will end on  October 1st.
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  1. Like you, books have taught me more about myself than I can convey. It took until I was 38 to realize that I was asexual and bi/panromantic. Even once I started exploring, it took time for me to come to terms with it and how it has influenced my mental and physical health.

    Finding stories with characters like me in them has been IMPORTANT! Being able to reach out to other readers and authors and talk openly about asexuality, mental illness, and other things has helped me feel better and more comfortable in my skin.

  2. I used to say reading was my way to relax and to escape, but I also learn from reading. Like Morningstar mentioned in her post, I read a book earlier this year that opened my eyes. I always thought that there was something wrong with me, then I read Ace by Jack Byrne. While the reviews on that book were very mixed, it spoke to me and helped me realize that I am probably Ace as well. The character in that book had so many of the same issues I have had without knowing why. I'm still working through this, but I'm thankful I read that book and had things suddenly click and make more sense in my own life.

  3. Wonderful post Star, and so very true. Thank you for sharing your truth. I have most definitely learned more from fiction about myself and what matters to me than any class or history book has ever accomplished. Because of LGBTQ+ fiction and romance and the wonderful authors that write it, I found out last year that I'm not weird, and I'm not alone in how I feel and how I'm wired. At 36 it was such a relief to know that others are the same as me. Like Eliwrites and Jen CW above, I'm Ace. And because of this genre I can say that with pride.

  4. Books have always been a big influence on my life. It's taught me to be more open minded, they're expanded my vocabulary, they're kept me sharp, they're a great escape and helps to relax me. They're still one of the few things in my life that bring me joy.

  5. >> Not until reading and learning through the stories that authors created about characters going through their own journeys did I know who I am <<

    I have the similar experience. Only through reading that I finally able to put a name on my sexuality. Being an Indonesian, from Eastern Culture, sex or sexuality is not something you talk about. We are not from sex culture, I guess. There has never been pressure if you're still a virgin and stuff, but at the same time you don't really talk about all the spectrum of the sexuality. I have only discovered that I am an asexual based on the books I read. I am so grateful for that. Of course not all of the people know about it, I haven't talked to my parents as well. Not sure if I can actually explain it to them too, but hey, what is important that I know who I am. And that has given me peace. All of because I read.

  6. Thank you for your post! Books have always been part of my life, in fact I cannot imagine my life without them. At childhood, they provided with a world of fantasy full of adventures; in my teens, I read to widen my knowledge of the world, and to enhance my mind. I turned to foreign authors from foreign cultures. Nowadays, books help me keep balanced, they provide a safe haven when reality gets too much. I'm never alone when there is a book around!

  7. I think I have learnt and grown over the last few years, I wouldn't necessarily say reading but following certain people on Twitter & Facebook has been enlightening.

  8. Books helped me especially when I was growing up they helped to realise that not every person is the same and flawed people weren't necessarily bad people. Then I began reading M/M books and they really made me change my attitude to fairness and equality and also open my eyes to the fact that you can love anyone you want to. Love is Love.

  9. Reading books has been my rock in the past few months. Life's not colorful atm and immersing myself in different worlds & situations that I encounter in the book helps a lot. It makes every moment of my life worth living. Knowing that I have books to go to whenever I'm not feeling well is also a great thing. We learn so much with the characters we meet. They influence us in a way that we see life in different angles.

    This is such an awesome post, Star. Thanks for inspiring us. ^_^

  10. it lets me relax and escape for awhile