A couple of weeks ago, I sat on a bridge in Middle-of-nowhere, Georgia, with Quinn Foster. After chatting with them about their current project, a thesis in the form of a web graphic narrative, it was decided that they had to be included in our Instagram campaign. This past week, they showed us everything from their inspiration, to their cat (because of course), and left us all with some invaluable writing advice: “Put down the pen, push away the keyboard. Stretch those wrists. Have a cup of tea. Love yourself, first. The writing will follow.” Cheers to that.
Quinn is a graduate of Agnes Scott, and current MA student in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State. They’re a white, queer nonbinary trans person, and they use singular they pronouns. They’re also Southern as hell. Their forthcoming thesis takes the form of a regularly updating web comic that follows the lives of three trans/queer folks as they journey through the South, negotiating confederate flags in gas station windows, misogynist cops, and binary bathrooms at highway rest stops.
Hey y’all! I’m Quinn. Three things you should know:
1) I’m a southern, queer and nonbinary trans person, and I use singular they pronouns.
2) I’m a grad student in Gender Studies at Georgia State, where I’m working on a creative thesis–a graphic (road) narrative (a la Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying) that follows some Southern queer and trans folks as they journey to Atlanta.
3) I’m a cat person.
This shot is the beginning of a short zine I’m working on about chest binding in Southern summers. It’s all about #transvisibility, y’all.
After a hella long day of grad assistantship business, and two long classes, I’m usually stoked to get home and get out of my feminist theory headspace. My desk is super helpful in getting past that stuck-in-the-mud, theory-all-day ickniess. Sitting here, I feel invincible. The procrastinating I drag out because of fears of poor writing or even worse design work are crowded out by purpose (and general awesomeness) that reminds me of my goals of achieving a trans liberation in our lifetime, and that my role in that is writing my truths. “In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.” -Audre Lorde, “On the Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”
The best way to get inspired about #writing queer (web) #comics is to read outlandish amounts of queer comics! Got this collection of the first four installments of the #Lumberjanes series, and I’m already in love. Also, really, reading graphic narratives on public transit is the best way to make your hunched morning neighbors smile. #inspiration
Laying out a page for my webcomic–the curious thing about this project is that it really comes to me in a jumbled mess. Outside of the basic plot and characters of the piece, I’ve got next to no visual info. It’s all over the place. I think a lot of it has to do with the extremely visual nature of the work. It’s all still super new and weird, so I’m learning to just draw it as it comes. Here is a preliminary shot of Taj, the first the reader sees of her as she lies in a coma.
I took today off. I refused my work and school emails. I played a while in the parking lot flood outside of my apartment. I cleaned my space, and decorated a bit more. Time off is vital to my self care routine, and that always has to come before writing. I’m kinda tired of the poor, sad writers trope to be honest. Those points in people’s lives are absolutely critical and fundamental to explore–but (especially for queer/trans folks and other marginalized groups) there really isn’t enough time to keep writing that story. I need to see folks like me take care of themselves, and triumph. Even if it means just taking a shower, or making food. So today, I practiced so that I can write what I (am trying) to know.
This was the first full page I ever worked on for my graphic novel. The two characters are biological twins, one of whom is a cis man, and the other a trans woman. For this project, especially considering its academic purpose and origins, makes me question my direction sometimes. I worry that I am giving too much sacred knowledge of trans experiences to the Academy. I worry that the knowledge will be skewed, appropriated, or trivialized. Sometimes, I just have to take a moment back and remember all of the tiny queer and trans folks out there who so badly need to see themselves represented. Who need to see how to bind their chests or pad their bras in healthy ways. Who need to believe that trans folks and queer folks deserve love too. That their love is sacred and meaningful.
What is your purpose in writing? Your anxieties? How do you protect yourself in the process of becoming a page?
“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar.” (“Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.”) – Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/ La Frontera
Self love is not indulgent. Put down the pen, push away the keyboard. Stretch those wrists. Have a cup of tea. Love yourself, first. The writing will follow.
Natalia Castells-Esquivel is a writer from Mexico based in Atlanta. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published in places like Santo y Seña, Loose Change, and Thought Catalog. She is currently a copywriter, Editor of Community Engagement for RealPants, and cofounder of StoryDrop, a city-wide literature collaboration. Also, she makes really good scrambled eggs. Really.
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