Saying Goodbye to Your Characters and Forgiving Your Writing

I did it.

I wrapped up the sequel to Catch Lili Too.

And I’ve spent so long on it, years even, because of a tough senior year with some academic teachers who, honestly, grated me down to nothing.

I went through a program in undergrad where some teachers were kind and uplifting, and there were others who told me, point-blank, that everything I made was MEDIOCRE.

In some ways, it was good because I learned how to let go of projects that weren’t working. How to start over. How to accept when something wasn’t good.

But then that mindset quickly shifted into:

Nothing I make is good enough.

Scrap it all.

Honestly, it took me a long time to heal from that. I still don’t think I’ve healed entirely from it.

And, as a content creator, that was tough. I’d see other people make amazing things. Webcomic artists whose comics I’d speed through, giddily waiting for an update. I’d read books and “ooh” and “awe” at the intricate plots and relationship webs. I’d watch a movie and be in tears from just how beautiful it was to me.

And then there was my own writing.

I’d been beaten down and was thinking:

What they said was right.

Nothing I make is good enough.

Even worse than that, I’d had some critical individuals who told me that I didn’t need to write about LGBT+ characters. That they weren’t necessary. They weren’t relatable. That “coming out” was so 90s.

They were so in their ways that they didn’t understand that, outside of stuffy libraries and dusty tomes, that being queer wasn’t a fad. That being queer wasn’t just a passing phase that was meant to be monetized. Those characters meant something to me. They were me.

So, it took me a very long time to finish the sequel to Catch Lili Too. Because I thought that writing about a Demi-ace, queer romantic siren was insignificant. All those critics had worn me down over time, convincing me that my little queer monster hunter band, a story that brought me happiness, wasn’t “worth it”.

It wasn’t “deep art”.

It was too personal.

But you know what?

I did it.

I’ve finished their story. I’ve added even more queer characters. I’ve added badass botanists who box and have ear cuffs and wear pink contacts. I have nonbinary martial artists fighting alongside transmasc necromancers. I have a queer ghost fawning over his cute tech-wizard boyfriend. I have a kuntilanak, an Indonesian vampiric seductress, who dates the cute witch.

The asexual siren gets her happy ending in the end. Antihero vibes and all.

And I’m not through yet, honey.

So, yeah. I finished my stories. I shut out those harmful voices in my head for long enough to give them credit where credit was due.

And they became real to me, like family when I finished their story.

But writing the end of that story wasn’t a goodbye, not really.

It was a remembrance of all those characters had been through.

And who they could become.

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