Queer Readings – Mag Merrilees

By Christmas all my books were in boxes, where they will stay for the next six months while we get some work done on the house. The boxes are neatly stashed in the ex-table-tennis-room of some friends. ‘Ex’ because no table tennis will be played for quite some time: these generous friends already had someone else’s belongings stored there as well.

I’m telling you about this because when the new year dawned and I began to think about running a workshop, ‘Writing Queer Lives’. I realised that I had promised a look at what other writers have written, how they have tackled the issue of non-straight subjects. And normally I would start by scanning my own bookshelves for my personal favourites.

Whoops. Book shelves not there anymore.

Anyone who has ever moved house (is there anyone who hasn’t?) will know that boxes of books are heavy. So of course they are at the bottom of the stacks of tables, chairs, washing machines etc in the ex-table-tennis-room. The idea of excavating to find the exact boxes that happen to have LGBTQI+Questioning+Diverse books in them is more than a little daunting.

But never mind. After a swim and a good night’s sleep I realised that instead I could embark on one of my favourite exercises, a treasure hunt.

The public library system has already found me a copy of Christopher Isherwood’s ‘Christopher and His Kind’. A friend has produced Dorothy Porter’s ‘The Monkey’s Mask’, and another friend has promised Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’, Annie Proulx’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and that old lesbian classic ‘The Wanderground’ by Sally Gearhart. And I know my book group will come through with some of the trans novels we’ve been reading, and maybe ‘The Testosterone Files’, and and and …

I’m away! I look forward to time in various libraries and more foraging on every bookshelf I come across between now and 5th February.

A few sentences from other writers, and some shared ideas and experiences of our own, should be enough to stir our thoughts and get us writing for ourselves. Do join me! It will be fun. Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to own any of the LGBTQ etc initials. See you there.

Mag Merrilees


You can register for Writing Queer Lives here.

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