Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Pronouns and #IWSG Define Success as a Writer


There has been a rise of "normalize sharing pronouns" on social media lately. It might not seem important to a cisgender person (a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth). "Only transgenders need to tell you their pronouns.

But that is exactly why it's important to normalize sharing pronouns. If the only people who present their identity by including pronouns are trans, then it becomes a label, a spotlight. Not everyone wants or is ready for that. But if allies also present their pronouns, and it becomes just a "normal thing people do," then it isn't a way to seek out trans people (perhaps to target them for cruel reasons, which happens); instead, it just becomes normal. The way saying "hello" became normal instead of "ahoy." 

It's also helpful for people like me, who keep getting misgendered online. (Never in real life. 😄 No, definitely not offline. Except by coaches, who think all humans are ladies. I still don't understand why that is, do you?) Trying to cross cultural barriers with how names work is actually incredibly difficult. There are, apparently, a great many unwritten rules that people seem to "know," but not well enough to explain.

(For example, Lenni-Lenape is translated to mean "Original People." The vowel at the end of "Lenni" is not a gender or sex indication, it's just how some European decided to translate our Algonquian language using their language and alphabet, and then some other Europeans probably changed it some more to their languages. 🤷 My tribe also recognized/s more than two genders/ sexes.)

- J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them)

Useful articles for further reading:
a beginner's guide to being an ally to trans people
A Guide To Pronouns for Allies

Pronouns J Lenni Dorner social media Pinterest Twitter


Shout-out to Alex and the awesome co-hosts for today: Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question -

How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

For me, success as a writer means not giving up. Every time that a writer writes (or edits, brainstorms, reads, promotes, etc), that's the path to success. 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill

That's a good quote. Here's one I like even more:

If I wanted to become a failure, I would seek advice from people who have never succeeded. If I wanted to succeed in all things, I would look around me for those who are succeeding, and do as they have done. -Norman Vincent Peale

Of course, none of this is an answer to the question, it's just vague accuracy. 

In my opinion, to be a success, one needs to set goals and achieve them (or alter them to achieve the most desirable and possible outcome given changing situations). Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound -- SMART goals.

It's also important to know what you can and cannot influence. For example, it's unwise to set the goal of "publishing a novel that everyone will love." Even the best-selling novels of all time are disliked by some people. A goal could be set to get a certain amount of reviews, but you can't control who will or won't review your book. (Okay, there are ways, but they tend to violate rules.) An author can, and certainly should, promote their book everywhere that their target audience of readers might be found. On average, a person needs to see a book title mentioned on three different viewings before they'll look into it. (Three seems to be the magic number for the brain to think, "Oh, everyone is talking about this! I should learn more.") While you can't control sales, you can set yourself up to be noticed multiple times. 

I don't feel that someone is very successful if they have nothing to give back to their community. Stephen King, for example, is successful not only because of his long list of publication credits and bestseller status, but also because he does give back to the community of writers and filmmakers. 

I consider myself a success because I've published a novel, a short story, two reference books for writers, have books in the editing stage, and am active in the writing community via Operation Awesome, IWSG, and the A to Z Challenge. 


I won a handmade bookmark from the "Rise and join the Giveaway (The Cure Release Week Celebration)" at Patricia Josephine's


  1. Because coaches are weird? I had a male grade school phys-ed teacher who called all the boys by their surnames, but all the girls were "peaches" or "sweetheart"... until I informed him I HAD a name, at which point, he called me nothing, ever again.
    I love the idea of staying connected as a measure of success.
    Happy IWSG Day!

  2. I like how you define success as setting goals and meeting them. I recommended at the Operation Awesome blog. I switched to it a few months ago, and it seems to be working great.

  3. There are things you can't control which is why those shouldn't be part of one's goals.

  4. Thank you for your post. It is something I try to do but find difficult to put into words as you do: '...if allies also present their pronouns... it becomes just a "normal thing people do." I also appreciate that you pointed out your own pronouns, as I have been guilty of assuming in the past as well. I'm she/her. It's nice to meet you. :)
    It's interesting that you say people need to see something mentioned three times - something to keep in mind! And I like your idea of being successful as also giving back to the community. That's a noble and wholesome thing to aim for.
    Happy IWSG Day :)

  5. Having the courage to continue is definitely success in my mind. The idea of success for me is always changing, but persistence is key.

  6. I'm fascinated when I hear some cultures have more than two genders. What are they? I hope I'm not prying into anything sacred; I'm just curious.

    1. I honestly don't know how to spell some of our words in English.
      (I've seen a tribal name, Minsi, spelled as Munsee and Monsey and several other versions. My keyboard doesn't have Lenni Lenape characters either. Europeans didn't bring us the alphabet, they just brought different symbols and argued about which ones were to replace ours.)
      That being said, there are people born with genitals that do not reflect one particular sex or gender. Sometimes you get both (or neither, though they rarely survive beyond newborn). And sometimes you get people who know their body doesn't reflect their spirit or soul. That, for a lack of translation, means a Great Spirit joined you in the womb, and thus you are more connected the gods. No, our tribe didn't have SRS, that's barely existed for 40 years. But we had trans people and held them in high regard. Their spirit was too busy conversing with the Great Spirits while in womb to give direction to the developing body, thus the outside and inside do not match. Or bodies come out with both sexual organs. European doctors and midwives considered this a flaw and would correct it at birth. (I cannot imagine they did this very well, especially since the default was to create males and they didn't have today's technology-- just a knife and a needle with thread. Poor babies.) We did not think our gods made mistakes like that. People were born as they were and we had a name for that gender and that's that. People just went about as though it was normal and didn't get all uppity about what was under the clothing. But also, contrary to *some* books and "historians" 🙄, we also had equality, a concept that was impossible to explain to the Europeans. Some women were hunters and fishers. Some men were child care givers. Genitals didn't define what job a person was best suited to do. Thus, having more than one gender or sex didn't define your role in society. Though trans people often took roles in the spiritual field, but it wasn't required. And the Name Giver is almost always a female elder, but there are exceptions.


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