'They're doing a premium short story collection at GA,' I said, 'for Pride. Coming out stories. Thought I might submit something, got a couple of ideas. I'd get paid, even.'
'That's nice,' she said vaguely. 'I think you should try to write some more . . . accessible stories, though. You know, stories you could sell.'
Did you not hear that I may in fact get paid? I sighed. 'I can only write the stories that come to me.'
She pursed her lips. 'Of course. But you could write something that more people will want to read.'
Have you ever even read one of my stories? I wanted to ask, but I didn't. 'The stories I write are important, though. Queer representation is important. Queer voices are important. Queer writers writing queer stories is important.'
'Well, yes . . . I'm just saying . . . If you'd like to get published, then—'
'I can self-publish. Thought I might put out my short stories.'
'Do people make money off that?'
'Some do. It's hard to find bigger publishing houses who'll publish the stuff I write. And this stuff is important, Mum. How many mainstream novels with queer protagonists written by queer writers can you name off the top of your head? Ones that have reached any real amount of critical acclaim?' I knew I was getting worked up. 'Queer representation in the media is really, really important. Did you know that the only queer actor to ever win an Oscar playing a queer role is Ian McKellan?'
'Really?' She fell silent, and I sighed.
'I have to write my stories,' I said softly, 'or there's no point.'
She let it drop. 'Oh, we're here. If you don't want Vietnamese we could go for something else.'
'No, Vietnamese is good,' I said. 'I feel like Pho.'
EDIT: Fun fact about self-publishing: The Martian, the book that got turned into a big movie with Matt Damon, that The Martian, started out being sold for Kindle for $0.20 or something like that. Guy who wrote it just wanted to give it away for free to his friends and they kept insisting on wanting to pay for it. So, yeah. Self-publishing can work.