Countdown to a New Year, December 28: Jude Sierra
From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!
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When I reflect on 2017, it’s hard not to think of all of the things that have been weighing on us. As a country. As a community. In my life, as an educator and as a mother. Of the number of times I have cried and thought, how am I going to raise children in this world?
Do I want to walk into 2018 with these fears and worries? In a perfect world, I could blithely say I’d let them go. But I doubt the world will do the same just because an arbitrary date passes on a calendar. I many ways, I think we’re walking into harder days. And yet, in this struggle, there is tremendous potential.
The truth is that the only thing in my life I can control is me. My actions. My responses, my capacity to give love, understanding, understanding, and faith. Not my faith in a god or religion, but in people. In goodness, in strength and resilience, in the will to overcome.
Many of these things are moments that come from wellness practice in my own life. Every moment of my life – particularly a year such as this, with the additional strain of finishing my Masters and going right into a PhD – is geared toward making sure I am doing my best to manage my mental illness. To be successful, a good mother, a writer and student, a teacher and a human all at once.
I don’t know how much of a true or lasting impact I can have within our LGBT romance community – I write slow like a turtle, so I’m off and on people’s radars. But I am there from time to time, and I have a voice. I’ve spent this year crafting a story from my heart. I wrote A Tiny Piece of Something Greater while writing my thesis. I wrote a character, Reid, who lives with the same mental illness I do (cyclothemia). I wrote a story about a boy overcoming, managing, falling in love, and surviving. Learning through mistakes and missteps to thrive. I wrote things in that book that were so honest they cracked me open – I cried through the whole process of writing this book. I had anxiety attacks. I couldn’t sleep. I slept like a baby because of the catharsis. I wrote a beautiful story about resilience and spent a year practicing (or trying) to practice Reid’s fight and success. Not just because I was writing it, but because the world today calls for it.
2017 has been a really good year for *finally* seeing good MI representation in books. There’s been some fantastic #ownvoices stuff, but also, authors without mental illness doing their research. Getting sensitivity readers. Asking questions. And so importantly, not using MI as a plot device to move something else forward without understanding what our lives and struggles are. I am not a plot device. And while A Tiny Piece of Something Greater won’t be out until May of 2018, I think that there are takeaways from writing that book and getting ready to share it that dovetail with so much else happening this year that I’m going to pack up in little boxes and take with me. That I hope we can all take together.
We are resilient.
We are fighters.
We have experienced success.
We’re fighting through missteps.
We are waking up.
We are awake.
Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.
Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.
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