Geometries of Belonging

My novelette “Geometries of Belonging” is out today in the BCS anniversary double issue.

Content notes: the story features queer, trans, and autistic people, often in combinations. It does have D/s themes. It is decidedly NOT a queer, trans, or autism tragedy. TWs for depression, familial abuse, ableism, and misgenderings.

When I started writing, those seven years ago, I had no master plan and no grand hopes. No book deal, no top publications, not even a coveted Clarion acceptance (I had a toddler, and going was – still remains – not feasible). I knew I wanted to be writing something that was not my dissertation. That summer, someone said something important to me, something that upheld me. I wondered if I could write, if I could have a voice – because I couldn’t before, and I didn’t.

So I wrote, and Parét came out.

He was seventeen and already a survivor of quite a lot of trauma. A lot more trauma still awaited him – and great many good things, too; still, it took me some time to accept that he would never not be mentally ill.

There are characters who are just, I don’t know, characters. Others are people.

I wanted all good things for him. I tried to write him into unambiguously happy endings. I think, in the end, for a person who says he does not want to influence the world, Parét told me “no” more times than any other character of mine. He struggled and he did not want that prettied up.

I’m glad I never published those first things I wrote. I put them aside and worked on other things and grew as a writer and a person. But the extended Ranravan-Kekeri family is always on my mind. That’s why I keep writing in Birdverse. If I ever stop, I think I’ll leave the field.

Sometime last year Parét said, “I am ready now – if you’d like,” and I wrote “Geometries of Belonging.” He’s well over forty in this one. There are large swaths of story that come before and after. I’m not the kind of writer who can knock out seven thousand words a day and still keep swinging. I am tired and in pain and sometimes barely hanging on. I have no huge triumph to sell you; I’m still trying to figure things out. I don’t know if there’ll ever be a story before and a story after to show you. But now, right now, you can read this. It is complete in itself.

To say I am proud of this story is to say nothing. It comes from the marrow. It is a marrow thing.

Dedéi’s storyline also continues beyond “Geometries…”- in “Two and Five Syllables.” I’m still working on it. You can find some of it on my Birdverse Patreon.

Thank you, as always, to Scott Andrews at BCS for publishing this story. Thanks to beta readers Bogi Takács, Mea Fiadhiglas, Ada Hoffmann, and Shweta Narayan for reading and commenting.

One Comment

  1. […] new Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” has been well-received so far. As I wrote before, this is a painful and hopeful story for me; I guess it’s just generally emotionally fraught […]

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R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

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