Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Alexis

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Alexis, who also goes by Wishie and is known on Tumblr as @lvbytes. They’re better known to the aro-spec community, though, as @aro-positivity!

Alexis is a POC and an agender, aroace writer of original fiction and fanfiction, the latter for the It fandom. You can find their fanworks on AO3 and invest a few dollars in worthy aro-spec talent via their Ko-Fi.

With us Alexis talks about the difficulty of writing romance as an aro, their passion for writing narratives centred on multiple forms of love, the importance of constructive positivity and the pressure aro-spec creatives feel to write representational aro-spec characters. Their passion for supporting the aro-spec community infuses every sentence, so please let’s give them all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

I hadn’t considered that I was aro for the longest time. I think a part of it was a lot of pressure in my life around finding a partner, or the stereotype that no aromantic person is capable of love. Either way, even after I discovered that being queer was a thing people could be (I grew up in a fairly conservative area) I still thought I was cishet. Then I identified as cis and pan, and shortly after that, agender and bi, and then a lesbian for quite a while longer. Side effect of this? I’ve been in a lot of relationships, and they’ve all ended the exact same way.

It wasn’t until a year-long relationship of mine had ended, and I was crying my heart out and wondering why I didn’t care more when the other person was clearly in pieces, when a friend of mine suggested that maybe I was aroace.

This sparked a meticulous google search on aromanticism, things I’d missed while learning about the LGBTQIA+ community the first time. I had a lot of internalized aphobia I had to get over before I could fully accept myself, and like much of the community, I still struggle with internalized aphobia and amatonormativity. I started @aro-positivity in part because I didn’t see a whole lot of actual, constructive positivity coming out of the community, or at least not gathered in one place, and I wanted a way I could constructively learn to accept my identity and who I was.

Can you share with us the story behind your creativity?

I’ve been writing for what seems like forever, but I didn’t start to really enjoy it until I was about twelve, when I joined a roleplaying forum and really grew into myself. I began to like the process of writing and creating characters, and especially the collaborative environment of roleplaying. After that, I branched out into fanfiction writing, and eventually into writing original works (although I roleplay and write fanfiction more than I write original work).

Are there any particular ways your aro-spec experience is expressed in your art?

Something that initially seems like a contradiction to people: I love writing about people falling in love. I think it’s a beautiful process, and not one that’s exclusively romantic, as someone who falls in love with people, regardless of romance! If anything, being aro-spec has enhanced the way I write love, and I think not feeling romantic attraction has enabled me to write clear-headedly about love as more of a solid concept than many alloromantics care to understand. I pride myself on writing different types of love (even if not all of those types are currently represented in my online portfolio).

That being said, I don’t write romantic relationships very well. A lot of my works are about falling in love, but not so much what comes after—I find my relationship-establishing scenes uncomfortable at best or clunky and alien at worst, and that doesn’t include what happens after my characters settle into a relationship. I think the times I’ve written convincing couples have been in a more platonic context, the way I understand love—all of my couples establish friendships and common ground first!

What challenges do you face as an aro-spec artist?

Sometimes writing about aromantic characters is very raw—it comes from a real place inside of me, and while it can be cathartic in its own way, it can also be immensely draining and aggravating, especially when the words don’t come out right. There have been times I’ve written an aro-spec character and then looked at it and scrapped the whole thing. It’s an animalistic need to get it right, to not misrepresent the aromantic community as a whole with a shoddily written character. As such, I haven’t shared much of the aromantic pieces I’ve written. It’s just too close to me.

How do you connect to the aro-spec and a-spec communities as an aro-spec person?

I started a positivity blog because I felt a real lack of meaning to much of the Tumblr positivity I saw—the bulk of it comes from alloromantic bloggers feeling a need to claim that we’re “valid”—which can be well-meaning, but often comes across as demeaning and tired. I also wanted to be a part of something, which is what I say now, because hindsight is 20/20.

I don’t participate in a lot of the community discussion, but I think it’s really important! Thanks to community posts I’ve seen, I’ve altered many behaviors in my life, even as an aro person, and I do encourage my alloromantic friends to do the same when possible. The aro-spec community, I think, is one of the most welcoming, comprehensive communities I’ve been in as a whole, made more impressive because of its small size and relative newness! I’m proud to be a part of it.

How do you connect to your creative community as an aro-spec person?

I don’t feel like anything I write that’s unrelated to romance will be read as widely or loved as well. As a creator, that’s a sad and isolating feeling.

That’s kind of all I have to say on the subject.

How can the aro-spec community best help you as a creative?

Read my fics! Read, leave kudos, leave some feedback. I read everything people send me. If you really like my stuff, reblog my original works on Tumblr, or buy me a coffee!

Can you share with us something about your current project?

Currently, I’m in the early-mid stages of writing a novel that used to be a fanfic based off a dream a friend of mine had (sounds like a premise, I know). It follows the story of John Villanueva as he makes a horror movie, navigates college, and falls in love (not in any particular order). I wouldn’t consider it quite coming of age, but there are coming of age elements, and it features, in the main cast, queer characters, characters of color and (the part I’m most nervous about) an aro-spec character discovering himself for the first time.

Have you any forthcoming works we should look forward to?

If enough people show interest, I may put little previews of my novel on my blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

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