Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part Three

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Ponder Sheafed can’t stop asking questions. Ze isn’t the girl others presume hir to be. Ze won’t become a wife or let a wedding’s absence stopper hir lust. Ze isn’t good, so maintaining hir kinsfolk’s high regard demands a complicated dance of stealth, secrecy and untruth. Ponder does, however, own some ability in deception … so when tragedy befalls hir family, how does ze explain that–despite all appearance to the contrary–ze can’t trade hir life’s service for a unicorn’s magic?

Only virtuous maidens may enter the forest to seek a creature as pure as a unicorn. Returning home empty-handed avoids provoking Father’s rage by confessing unacceptable truths, so what options has ze other than embarking upon a farcical quest for hir family’s salvation … and dreading the failure to come? No unicorn can ever grace an unrepentant liar!

Ponder isn’t good. But neither, ze discovers, is the unicorn.

You may learn, given time, that ‘good’ is but sunlight and seafoam … and all else is sapience.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part Three”

Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part Two

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Ponder Sheafed can’t stop asking questions. Ze isn’t the girl others presume hir to be. Ze won’t become a wife or let a wedding’s absence stopper hir lust. Ze isn’t good, so maintaining hir kinsfolk’s high regard demands a complicated dance of stealth, secrecy and untruth. Ponder does, however, own some ability in deception … so when tragedy befalls hir family, how does ze explain that–despite all appearance to the contrary–ze can’t trade hir life’s service for a unicorn’s magic?

Only virtuous maidens may enter the forest to seek a creature as pure as a unicorn. Returning home empty-handed avoids provoking Father’s rage by confessing unacceptable truths, so what options has ze other than embarking upon a farcical quest for hir family’s salvation … and dreading the failure to come? No unicorn can ever grace an unrepentant liar!

Ponder isn’t good. But neither, ze discovers, is the unicorn.

Why must ze learn hir lesson only after ze has been ordained to uselessness?

Continue reading “Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part Two”

Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part One

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Ponder Sheafed can’t stop asking questions. Ze isn’t the girl others presume hir to be. Ze won’t become a wife or let a wedding’s absence stopper hir lust. Ze isn’t good, so maintaining hir kinsfolk’s high regard demands a complicated dance of stealth, secrecy and untruth. Ponder does, however, own some ability in deception … so when tragedy befalls hir family, how does ze explain that–despite all appearance to the contrary–ze can’t trade hir life’s service for a unicorn’s magic?

Only virtuous maidens may enter the forest to seek a creature as pure as a unicorn. Returning home empty-handed avoids provoking Father’s rage by confessing unacceptable truths, so what options has ze other than embarking upon a farcical quest for hir family’s salvation … and dreading the failure to come? No unicorn can ever grace an unrepentant liar!

Ponder isn’t good. But neither, ze discovers, is the unicorn.

Ponder knows that consequences must someday claim hir. Ze just didn’t expect Mama to have to pay the price.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Girl and Her Unicorn, Part One”

Embroidery Kit Makeover: Allo-Aro Unicorn

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

For @aggressivelyarospec‘s Aggressively Arospectacular 2022 week-long event, I have again undertaken a quest of daily creative offerings.

Today’s piece awakens my slumbering make-over series with an allosexual aromantic version of a K-Mart unicorn embroidery kit:

A freehand embroidery piece on cream drill or canvas, set into a bamboo embroidery hoop. The piece consists of a unicorn outline stitched in white with strands of light and dark green hair and a yellow and gold horn. Beneath the unicorn sits a row of daisy-type flowers, leaves and coloured dots in the aforementioned colours. All stitching is done in backstitch; only the centres of the flowers and the unicorn's horn have been filled in with tight backstitched swirls. The hoop sits atop a blue microfibre blanket.

I bought this kit for $3 AUD from K-Mart’s toy (not craft) section. I stress that because this kit is of far better quality than K-Mart’s adult embroidery kits! If you want a design that celebrates sweetness or cuteness, or you just like unicorns, this kit is almost perfect for a pride makeover.

Continue reading “Embroidery Kit Makeover: Allo-Aro Unicorn”

How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part Two

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Yesterday, I began a two-part series on writing allo-aro characters as an ally. To conclude Aro Week, I’m going to examine fictional tropes in want of considerate handling, explain how to contextualise your work without contributing to allo-aro erasure, and discuss the vital role of ally in “writing allo-aro characters as an ally”.

Many tropes regarding romance, relationships, intimacy and love cause aromantics harm. Others erase our aromanticism when treated as universal to all. Some are obviously problematic, like settings in which all characters possess destined soulmates; others require analysing the ways fiction shapes amatonormativity and amatonormativity shapes fiction. Tropes like “friends to lovers” may be loathed by some aromantics but tolerated or even appreciated by other aros! To discuss the use and pitfalls of all these requires more words and time than I possess, so I’m (today) focusing on tropes that either specifically impact allo-aros or are overlooked in our conversations about representation.

Please, especially when writing aromantic-spectrum characters in intimate relationships, examine your story with an eye for the ways amatonormativity and antagonism may shape your character arcs and plot. Many of the tropes we take for granted in the fictional journey towards a happily-ever-after ignore aromantics’ existence at best–and aren’t covered in this already-long post.

As this is an exercise in continued verbosity, you may want to grab a drink before strapping in for another long read!

Continue reading “How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part Two”

How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I have a problem with most how-to-write-character-of-X-identity posts: representation loses complexity when we reduce it to a list of must-avoid tropes and stereotypes. While this simplification makes it easier to steer clear of accidental antagonism, rarely do such posts acknowledge how avoiding stereotype enables the erasure of those allo-aros–and people of other marginalised identities–whose lives happen to resemble them. Too often we end up praising and valuing representation that regards loveless, neurodiverse, low-empathy, aplatonic, non-partnering and non-monogamous aromantics as too “problematic” for depiction.

For some time, I’ve answered the question of “how to write allo-aro characters” in one sentence: write many allo-aro characters of differing experiences, intersectional identities and roles within their story.

Allies, however, keep asking me for resources. Pithy sentences may be honest, but they’re inherently flawed: they aren’t actionable. A list at least offers safety’s illusion by explaining what not to write! If you don’t know where to start, or so fear causing harm that you can’t, how can you write more than one allo-aro character?

For Aro Week, I’m expanding upon this with a two-part guide explaining the work allies should undertake in creating allo-aro characters and the stories containing them. I outline steps for educating yourself, discuss how to contextualise your work in the field that is “intentional allo-aro representation” and explain concerns I have as a potential allo-aro reader. Please keep in mind that I don’t provide concise answers! I’m only hammering guideposts along the path of your research and reflection when it comes to depicting allosexual aromanticism.

So let’s strap in for a discussion about language, sex negativity, and, most importantly of all, the role and duties of an ally to allo-aros.

Continue reading “How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One”

Fiction: The Cage and the Road

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Prudence Revered revels in her work as witch-hunter. (Well, census-taker.) What’s not to appreciate in travelling new roads, meeting new people and experiencing new freedoms–ones impossible as the demure once-wife to the Sorcerer Potentate? If she prefers to bed and befriend the witches she tracks down, well, she doubts the Citadel cares (much) about a minor official’s lack of interest in investigation and interrogation. The only clouds on her endless horizon are those ignorant souls who preach the rules that once caged her–the rules witches taught her to break.

She thought herself content wearing the Citadel’s uniform, but when a chance-met companion expects Prue to wage a moral war against unwed witches and provocatively-shaped trees, she fears that her new life isn’t different enough from what she thought to leave behind.

Mother told such stories. Their silken filaments clung to everything Prue knew herself to be, until she was less a person than an actor upon the stage, reciting the lines of a play so old that the audience mouthed the words along with her.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Cage and the Road”

Fiction: Before Crows’ Eyes

Banner for Nine Laws: Aromantic Asexual Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Even knows himself: son, baker, non-partnering. He doesn’t want to want sex, marriage or children; he wants the village’s acceptance of a life best lived crafting seed buns and fruit pies. He doesn’t want the local flock of crows as his only companions; he wants human friendships free of pressure and expectation. Most of all, he wants Ma to let go of the idea that a sorcerer’s magic can and must “fix” him.

Desperation leads Even into the forest to seek the only person who can advise him on resisting a sorcerer: the witch Miser Felled, “skilled purveyor of magic and pleasure”. A master of scandal-provoking arts never undertaken before open windows and watching birds. A mysterious figure who has more in common with Even than just an affinity for crows … and offers a more extraordinary solution than he ever thought possible.

Why weep for something no more rightly part of him than garlic in a recipe for apple pie?

Continue reading “Fiction: Before Crows’ Eyes”

Hallo, Aro: Hunter – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aro Flash Fiction. Image features dark black handwritten type on a mottled green background. Diagonal rows of arrows with bands, heads and fletching in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold allo-aro pride flag cross the image above and below the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: A cis, pansexual, quoiromantic, polyamorous protagonist who knows what she wants … and hunts the Ring’s witches to gain it.

Only then did Prue know herself as destined to wither inside stone and melt beneath glass, and few appreciate rebellion more than a witch.

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Hunter – K. A. Cook”

Hallo, Aro: Witch – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aro Flash Fiction. Image features dark black handwritten type on a mottled green background. Diagonal rows of arrows with bands, heads and fletching in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold allo-aro pride flag cross the image above and below the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: An allo-aro who discovers a magical shortcut on the road to freedom from their village’s traditions of sex negativity and amatonormativity.

To speak truth to a witch is to court danger, but honesty offers less grievous a hazard than falsehood.

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Witch – K. A. Cook”