Today I am proud to host Marie Landry talking about how she keeps going, keeps writing despite difficult times, and how she personally makes it work when life sucks. Her LGBTQ+ book, Take Them by Storm, is a lesbian YA novel, third in a series that doesn’t need to be read in order.
Almost everyone I know can agree on one thing if nothing else: 2016 sucked. For me personally it was one of the most difficult years of my life, and then throw in what was happening around the world and my brain felt like a chaotic mess.
All of this affected my writing. I had so much going on in my life that was preventing me from writing, and then throw in depression and anxiety that was exacerbated by everything happening in the world, and I lost most of my motivation. I was easily distracted. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to write. It wasn’t the refuge it had always been, a way to escape the real world. Instead I buried myself in other people’s writing, and I channeled my creativity into bookstagram.
Jump to 2017 and things aren’t much better. I’ll admit to avoiding the news as much as possible. I suppose that being Canadian affords me the luxury – the privilege – of being able to bury my head in the sand at times. Canada has a Prime Minister who works hard for equal rights for all people and marches in the Pride Parade, while our southern neighbour has a political environment that’s so toxic and full of hate, including a leader who spews that hate on a daily basis (and hasn’t yet even acknowledged that June is Pride Month). Every day I see people in my Twitter feed talking about their fears, about calling reps, about resisting and doing everything they can to fight the injustices happening in their country. People are worried about having their rights revoked, going back into the closet or never feeling safe enough to come out, having vital health care services ripped away from them. So while I’m not dealing with that directly, I see it and my heart hurts.
So what can you do if you feel like there’s nothing you can do? That nothing you do can possibly make a difference? Well, if you’re an artist, you create art. You give people an escape. Now more than ever it’s important to tell the stories that matter. Or even to tell stories that simply entertain. I’ve been reading a lot of lighter books lately, fluffy and funny stories that make me forget about bad things, even for a little while. But it’s also so important to read books by and about marginalized people. To support them by buying books, talking about them, requesting them in libraries and schools, boosting their voices on social media.
If you have a story to tell, write it. If you know of a story you think might help someone, recommend it. Buy it as a gift. Several years ago when I wrote my f/f novel Take Them by Storm, I was scared. It was out of my comfort zone, and yet I knew it was necessary to write that book. People deserve to see someone like Sadie – an out lesbian, a quirky, funny girl who’s just trying to figure out life like the rest of us – living a happy, full life. They need to know it’s possible, even if it seems impossible. Stories like Sadie’s and countless others are needed now more than ever. I try to keep that in mind as I power ahead, push away the distractions, ignore the little voice in my head that says how scary and horrible the world is. Because as an artist, I can create my own worlds. I can give people a refuge, even if it’s just a few hours between the pages of a book. Am I going to change the world? Probably not, but I might be able to give someone hope. Make them laugh. Make them think. And by doing that, I’d like to think I’m doing my part in not letting fear and hatred win.
Sadie Fitzgerald has always been different, and not just because she makes her own clothes and would rather stay home watching Doctor Who than party with kids her age. When it’s time to leave Angel Island for college, Sadie is eager to put her old life behind her. Small-minded people and rumors have plagued her for years, but with the love of her adoptive family, the O’Dells, Sadie has learned to embrace who she is. Now she’s not afraid to admit the rumors about her are true: she’s gay.
For the first time in her life, Sadie feels free to be herself. She dives into college life and begins volunteering at the local LGBT center, where she discovers her small-town upbringing left holes in her education about life outside Angel Island.
The world is a bigger and more accepting place than Sadie ever imagined. She’s finally found where she belongs, but with the reappearance of someone from her past, an unexpected new friendship, and a chance at love, Sadie soon realizes she still has a lot to learn about life, friendship, and love.
Marie Landry has the best job in the world—one where she gets to make stuff up for a living and shamelessly eavesdrop on everyone around her. She writes happily ever afters while dreaming about the day she’ll have her own epic love story to tell. Most days you can find her writing, reading, fantasizing about traveling the world, listening to U2, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or posting on Instagram.