#TransLove: Interview with Clair Farley
The San Francisco Business Times just named Clair Farley one of 2017’s OUTstanding Voices for her exceptional contributions and visibility as a leader in the Bay Area LGBTQ community. Director of Economic Development at the San Francisco LGBT Center, Farley’s everyday writing work includes editorials, blogging, and developing PR and social media content. “Writing lets me share my authentic self with the world to help transform that world to be a safer place for those of us that are queer, trans, or othered in some way,” she told me. In this interview, we discussed her writing rhythms, claiming the writer identity, and a forthcoming book by Janet Mock.
Kristy Lin Billuni: What’s on your desk right now?
Clair Joy Farley: I am currently working on a few personal projects that are in early development. One is a lifestyle blog around beauty, wellness, and sharing love.
KLB: Those are writing topics close to my heart too. As you know, I talk a lot about writing being sexy. It’s part of my brand.
CJF: Sexy is also a word I have come to embrace over time.
KLB: It’s a powerful idea that can be complex when you’re writing about trans lives. Can you talk about that?
CJF: Trans is the sexy buzzword on the lips of mainstream media, but we need to be telling our own stories, in the writer rooms, behind the camera, in front of the camera, and on top in creative. Otherwise these stories are not authentic to the reality of trans people.
KLB: Who do you think is helping to represent that authentic reality?
CJF: My amazing friend Janet Mock has a new book coming out, and I can’t wait to read it. She is a brilliant and incredible person and writer, always giving and sharing love with the community and allied communities.
KLB: Her first book was amazing.
CJF: Yes, her first book, Redefining Realness, is one of the best books I have read and inspired me to not give up on finishing my book one day.
KLB: You have a book coming too?
CJF: Yes, one long term project is a creative nonfiction book that would be loosely autobiographical. And I’m working on some fun scripts for TV and film.
KLB: You’ve got so many great projects. Can you talk a little about your process?
CJF: I don't have a science around writing. Something that’s working for me now is late-night purge writing, until 2 or 3am. This works great for speeches or editorials.
KLB: What works for your more personal projects?
CJF: For me, more creative writing comes when I am relaxed and not over-stressed with work or life. This can be a hard moment to find, but it is often a lazy Sunday or after a crazy month like Pride, when I finally get a day of rest and get inspired to write a scene or a poem or something outside of my day-to-day work.
KLB: And your day-to-day work is really personal too.
CJF: All of my writing is deeply personal in nature. I write for the emotional connection with the reader. Writing is a form of self expression for me that does not feel contained or controlled. It may sound blasé but writing for me is a release of the crazy workings of my mind and a way that I share love and authenticity.
KLB: I think that makes perfect sense to a lot of people who identify as writers.
CJF: I have not always considered myself as a writer. It has taken years to own it and trust my writing. It is still a daily process. Growing up with unconventional education and learning disabilities, I would focus too much on the typos and grammar, rather than value the expression of my authentic self. Or I would get caught up in my head and never get projects finished because of that self doubt. This fear was often immobilizing and led me to turn down opportunities and not let myself do what I love.
KLB: You mentioned Janet Mock as an inspiration. Do you look to other writers to uplift you from that self doubt?
CJF: Yes, I am so inspired by other writers and people in general. I think that it is a huge motivation for my advocacy and writing.
KLB: Will you talk about one of those advocacy projects?
CJF: I developed the #TransLove campaign because there is often a void of tangible expression of loving trans and GNC people in film, TV, books, and the world in general. So I find motivation to raise the voices of trans and trans loving cis voices talking about love and sexuality so that it can be a part of the tapestry of art that reflects our true lives.
KLB: You’re such a writing hero! How do you do it?
CJF: I would not be where I am without the coaches and mentors in my life who have given me feedback and hope to continue writing and making time for my creative side.
KLB: Can you talk about the value of feedback?
CJF: At first feedback was really difficult for me, but I learned through the love of the people around me that it is part of being a great writer, to always be growing and stretching your work. Now, if only there were a little more time.
I love to talk to writers like Clair Farley about the process of writing. Follow Clair on Twitter and read all about Janet Mock's new book, Surpassing Certainty on GoodReads. To meet more writers in social media, follow me, The Sexy Grammarian, on Twitter or share books with me on GoodReads. Yearning to jump into the writer’s life yourself? My free ebook, Arouse Your Writer Self, will get you going. Want more? Private sessions with me are more affordable than you think, and the first one’s free.