It was never my plan to be a sex writer. Is it anyone’s plan? No. I wanted to be the next Bill Ervolino, writing slice-of-life humor columns for my local paper. Instead, I somehow ended up reviewing Carol Queen’s Exhibitionism for the Shy and test driving vibrators and state-of-the-art condoms. Suddenly, I was making a living writing listicles on the top ten ways to boost your libido. I was creating online clickbait for cash. And it was burning me out.
But then my writing shifted. On top of all the listicles, I began writing essays on painful sex, depression, sexual trauma, and the pathologization of female sexuality. I stumbled my way into a job writing academic articles for sexuality professionals, in which I learned a lot about the limitations of medical training and the controversy over comprehensive sexuality education and the proliferation of various public health initiatives. When that job ended, I didn’t want to stop reporting. I had discovered how my writing could be a form of advocacy in the areas about which I was most passionate.
Still, it wasn’t until this month that I began to connect the dots between writing and social justice.
We all want to do good in this world. But in searching for ways in which to do so, it can be easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed and stretched thin. In the past three weeks alone, I signed up for multiple e-newsletters containing social justice action steps and I donated money to nearly 20 charities and non-profit groups and I reserved my spot on a bus heading to the women’s march on D.C. But still I felt useless. It was only in my writing that I felt in any way helpful.
I may not know how to lead a social justice movement, I thought, but this. This I know how to do.
So when I went to a holiday gathering / meeting for the Writers Circle‘s instructors this past week and left with a plan to teach a Writing as Advocacy class this coming January, I felt especially fired up.
In Writing as Advocacy, we’ll explore how op-eds, reaction pieces, and calls to action can draw attention to subjects you feel most passionate about, and amplify the important work of others. In addition to critiquing each other’s work we’ll talk about developing a focus, experiment with different types of stories, conduct market research, and generate ideas. It’s my intention that, by the end of the session, students will walk out into the world with a collection of polished writing, plus an action plan for getting it published.
In the meantime, here are a series of gifs that best reflect my excitement about this class:
Okay. I’m done.