Why I write. When I first read the question, my mind drew a blank. Why do I write? And how does it tie to my identities?
It’s not so much to see myself reflected in fiction. As an abled-bodied cis white girl, I’ve been fairly blessed on that account. Characters might never be quite like me, but I never had the feeling of a gaping hole. Hard to crave something you don’t even know exists, after all. I feel like in my case, the total absence of representation led to feeling broken and alone. After all, everyone around me seemed to crave love, or sex, or both—most of the time, there wasn’t a distinction between the two.
The idea my lack of attractions had names, that others identified as asexual and/or aromantic, was so far from my mind, it never entered my mind I could be writing those characters or looking for them. So when I started writing, I wasn’t so much looking for myself as I was looking for narratives that always seemed to take a backseat to romance—for the stories that made my blood rush, yet that everyone dismissed as secondary.
Families sticking together. Friends sacrificing everything for one another. Huge networks of non-romantic relationships giving struggling characters a home they love and can depend on.
I write because I am tired of hearing romance is universal, that monogamous couples are the One True Path to happiness. We have created false hierarchies of love, with romance at the top, friendship at the bottom, and family hovering somewhere in-between. I write because the reality is so much more complex, so unique to each relationship, and I am driven to the infinite facets and depths any relationship can have. I want to explore them all!
And while it started as a search for narratives centering anything else than romance, I write to see characters like me at the heart of these stories, too. To have three-dimensional aromantic characters that aren’t painted as villains, cold and unloving and heartless. To have asexual characters who solve problems and live fully without seeing their identity presented as a barrier to their happiness. I write to see the full spectrum of aromanticism and asexuality in action, through characters that have nuanced thoughts and experiences about their identities, or that are just as confused as many of us are.
I might not really have experienced a deep absence with regards to representation until I was give words for my identities, but when I did find asexual characters for the first time–when I read through a scene describing experiences I had shared, with words that resonated with my very core–I almost cried. I stopped reading, too stunned, because that was it. Someone else had lived it. Being told you’re not alone is not the same as running into the goddamn proof. It crystallized my identity in a way nothing had before, and I would love to pass that gift onward.
The reasons I write expand and change with time, but they only seem to grow more numerous and personal with the years. What started as a fun hobby became a passion, then a learned craft. I studied writing with more intent and energy than anything else and I know I’m talented. Writing is hard and stressful and the source of a lot of self-doubt, but on most days it is deeply satisfying. I am extremely conscious of which skills I apply as I write—which rules I break and which I adhere to; which tools I choose to drive a point home and which I leave aside for better, later use; which aspects of writing I still struggle with and which I will naturally nail. So I also write for this feeling of learning and competence—this feeling of belonging.
And that belonging? In the end, that is why I write. Whether it is through stories that resonate with my aromanticism and asexuality or through the undeniable conviction that I know what I’m doing—that I am a boss at this thing—writing makes me feel like I belong. I have found my place, and I’m not leaving it behind anytime soon.
About the Author:
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailingfrom the very-French Québec City.
Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders.
The most recent, City of Strife, came out on February 22, 2017!
Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids.
Find out more on her website!