What does love look like? Most people would readily admit there many different ways to be happy in a romantic relationship, but when it comes to adding more people into that relationship, opinions diverge dramatically. The concept of polyamory isn't new, but the movement for acceptance of polyamorous relationships, and rise of polyamorous relationships focussed on communication and consent, is a rapidly growing development.
Jenny Yuen's Polyamorous: Living and Loving More (Dundurn Press) takes a look that that development and how people are exploring different ways to love and to create relationships. And with the increase in open relationships comes the complex push to recognize those relationships legally.
Yuen, an experienced reporter and a polyamorous partner herself, explores the social, political, cultural, emotional, and legal ramifications of polyamory in a compulsively readable style.
We're excited to welcome Jenny to Open Book today to talk about her journey publishing Polyamorous as part of our Going Pros and Cons series. She tells us about her best moment during the publishing process, the challenge of working with multiple sources on deeply personal subjects, and the advice she would give writers starting out on a big project.
Going Pro(s and Cons), with Jenny Yuen:
My first big writing/publishing victory and how I celebrated:
The launch of Polyamorous: Living and Loving More at Type Books in Toronto. We held a launch party with the help of Toronto Lit Up on November 16 and while it was a dreary night, we had some 40 people attend. It was the perfect setting – an eclectic, hip bookstore on Queen West, great catering, and a lot of buzz on social media. It was also the first time I was speaking in public and while I was nervous, I felt we put on an informative Q&A. Reading a condensed excerpt from the book, it made me feel empowered that this was the moment which culminated two years working on such a huge project. Plus, friends and family came down to support me, which was awesome.
My best public reading or event experience:
Tie between Montreal’s Argo bookshop while on tour and Vancouver Public Library. I loved the interviewers – Emer O’Toole and Niko Bell – for asking engaging questions and keeping the crowds interested. It really created a positive energy for the readings.
The advice I would give someone publishing a book for the first time:
Coming from a journalism background, I’d suggest having a skeleton outline of what you’d like to focus on in your book, but to be open about new ideas for chapters as they pop up. A lot of the content came from sources who would say, “Did you know about this or that?” and it would lead me down another rabbit hole – which was great.
My favourite part of the publishing process:
I quite liked all of it. The research, the writing, the submission, and two rounds of edits. It was all new to me and while very time-consuming, it was a great experience to see it all come together. I also enjoyed contributing ideas to the eye-catching cover art, which people have responded positively to.
My least favourite part of the publishing process:
Sources who didn’t meet deadlines! It was also a delicate process because in journalism, you don’t show sources your stories before publication. But in this case, because I was dealing with people’s personal stories about a sensitive topic, I allowed them to see what I had written for accuracy. There were a lot of changes made. Sometimes, they would rewrite parts (or the whole thing), which was annoying, but in the end, we ended up making sure they were happy with the accuracy and I still was able to keep my voice in the work. Google Docs for editing was a big help through all of that.
The thing(s) I need at/during/before an event or reading:
Water/herbal tea, preparation of sequence of events at the reading, an open mind of letting the event unfold as it will, knowing the content of my book inside and out.
The thing(s) I need at/in my writing space:
Solitude, loud music to get me in the zone, my dog, coffee, laptop, stretchy pants, and knee-high socks.
Jenny Yuen is an award-winning news reporter, who covers a wide variety of local, provincial and national stories, and has written for the Toronto Sun, Now Magazine, and CBC Radio. She is a proud poly partner and has a dog named Wampa. She lives in Toronto.