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Big Book Update: Writing is Mostly Finished; Focusing on Illustrations! Changelog History

Hi, everyone! I wanted to give an update about the book, as it's been awhile since I've posted on here and a lot has happened since my last blogpost. This post contains my ongoing changelog for the project, which I have been updating from time to time as completion nears. The entire changelog is include at the bottom of the post; every time I update the changelog, the update in italics (below) will be replaced and the old update will be moved to the top of the changelog.

Update, 9/20/2023: I also updated my website to include a one-page promo for the book, and it contains all relevant information/download links: the companion glossary and full table of contents, but also my thesis volume when it releases on the 25th. That's correct; the thesis statement has become its own thesis volume, which debuts on my website (through the hyperlink above), September 25th. It will contain my expanded author's foreword, and provide my book's thesis statement on Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism, as well as the "camp map" and symposium, which together summarize and articulating its broadest and most common arguments and key points (e.g., the Gothic, monstrous-feminine, Amazonomachia). 

Writing the thesis volume has been... something. Not including the symposium, which was mostly written before 8/31—or the disclaimer "Defining Sexualized Media/Sex Work, and Regarding Hard Kinks: What I Will and Won't Exhibit," which is new but not restricted to the thesis volumeI decided to expand my author's foreword and smaller thesis statement/"camp map" into full versions of themselves. This has been an extremely rapid process. To put things into perspective, as of 9/13/2023 (six years to the day I arrived in England to study at MMU), the thesis volume's renovations clocked in at 74,445 words. That is, from 8/31 to 9/6 to 9/13, my thesis statement went from 5,000 words to ~25,000 to ~75,000, or nearly an additional 70,000 (and 102 images, ~40 of which are full-fledged exhibits) in two weeks. As of 9/20/2023, the thesis volume wordcount (not including the symposium) is ~106k words, and 155 images. The entire thesis volume word counter (as of writing this) is 123,643 and 180 images/~50 collages. I also designed new cover art to go with the volume, featuring my partner Bay:

Lastly, I updated my book sample on here so it only has the manifesto on it; the thesis statement was outdated and will be uploaded in its final form when it debuts my website. 

Original Post (4/8/2023)

As many of you know by now, I've been working since July 2022 on a book called Sex Positivity vs Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism. A large, semi-censored sample—including my manifesto—is currently available on the original blogpost. That post initially started as a smaller article, but has gradually turned into a full-blown book—containing multiple volumes and dozens of personal illustrations made in collaboration with various sex workers. I haven't made a new blogpost since August for several reasons: 

  • I've been working on the book non-stop. 
  • I had been using my blog for months to proofread and alter the manuscript—partly because I wanted to share the process with people and partly because I was hesitant to carry the project over to my personal computer (Blogger isn't the friendliest when it comes to transferring documents). 
  • I wanted to keep attention on the project as I was creating it (as I wasn't promoting it as much through my artwork at the time).

Around December of last year, the manuscript was around 50,000 words. After January it was over 100,000, requiring me to move the document over to my personal computer. As I write this, the book currently stands at 271,000 words

To be honest, I never planned on Sex Positivity becoming so big. It's less of a single book now and more a series of smaller books/modules and illustrations. Regardless, I am quite pleased with the project despite having to extend the deadline multiple times. I'm currently shooting for June (my birthday month) but am trying not to rush things. I didn't finish the book for New Year's, Valentine's, the Ides of March or Easter, so if I don't finish it on June 1st, that's ok; I am absolutely loving the journey of writing and illustrating it.

Initially I was just writing the book on my blogpost, not illustrating it. That is, I wasn't really including my own art or promoting the book itself with my art. Now that the book is much further along, I've retailored my drawing approach

  • using it to renovate dozens of old pieces to be included in the book. 
  • collaborating with more and more sex workers to model for new illustrations and collages. At first, it was just a handful of old friends/collaborators like Krispy Tofuuu and Meowing from Hell, but I've since invited lots of new talent to participate. This includes Blood Bunny on Twitter, Quinnvincible, Lustful Angel and others!
The combined artwork has been used to promote Sex Positivity on my various galleries and social media accounts, while also inviting more people to join in the creative process. The need for large amounts of artwork, short-notice, has led me to get creative when working with photos and old gallery pieces. While I've focused on touch-ups, photobashes and other shortcuts that don't sacrifice the creative vision I have it mind, it's also had the unintended side effect of allowing me to blaze a trail through my own galleries (something I've wanted to do for years)! 

To summarize, most of the writing for the book is completed, but there's still a lot of artwork to do. I've finished the last "big step" in writing the manuscript (see the update log, below) and really want to spend the next couple of months doing new illustrations. I have quite a few drawings that I'm currently working on, but am also planning many more. I can't quote the exact number I'll be adding. Volume One—the first half of the book—has tons of exhibits, already; Volume Two—which I wrote first, before I started illustrating the book heavily—features plenty of artwork by other artists, but not as many drawings or exhibits by me. To compensate, Volume Two's writing is more polished at this stage, but I want to include more exhibits and collaborative pieces to round things out. The more, the merrier, as they say! 

I won't be updating this blogpost after I publish it, save for big weekly/monthly updates that I'll attach to the update log. If you're interested in more regular updates moving forward, follow me on Twitter, where I post new art updates/writing samples for the book on a regular basis!

Update Log

[This update log has been kept in order to maintain a historical record. It will not be included in the final book, however.] 

Update, 9/6/2023: I updated my thesis again, writing a ~11,000 word "camp map" that talks about camping canon to subvert heteronormativity's harmful effects (including Capitalism Realism) and a thesis conclusion that raps everything. All in all, I wrote about ~20,000 words in six days (from 8/31 to 9/6) expanding on my initial thesis statement (not including the symposium, which is another ~17,000 words, though I'm not sure how much of it was new or old material before/after 8/31). The base argumentation didn't change; it was more like building a pearl around sand—to include as many key points and arguments that I could. I also wrote a " cheat sheet," whose heads-up (comprehension pointers) and assemblage of maxims, equations and cherry-picked block quotes from the thesis/"camp map" covers some of my book's most productive and widely-used ideas. Lastly, I decided today that sending links that break whenever I update uploaded new versions of the uploaded file is a bad idea: Click here to access my website's 1-page promo, which contains all relevant download links/information regarding my book.

Update, 9/4/2023: I overhauled my thesis statement, not changing its argumentation but making it and the symposium longer and more detailed. Because of this, I have decided to remove the sample essay and glossary from my book sample blogpost. The solo glossary has been reposted on my website as a companion text PDF and will be updated one more time when my book goes live on Halloween; the sample essay will be included in Volume One when it releases. I also made a PDF for the volume/chapter summaries and full table of contents. —Perse, 9/4/2023

Update, 8/31/2023: I decided to write a thesis statement/turn my author's foreword from Volume One into a symposium (basically a fancy lecture) that unpacks my book's core argumentation and discusses/unpacks things in between the thesis statement, preface (which explains why I picked anarcho-Communism over Marxist-Leninism) and manifesto. The thesis statement is included inside the book sample on my blog, but you can also download it separately from my website. The solo thesis statement on my website includes and additional paragraph at the top, which reads:

"Dear readers,

Small spelling goofs and syntax/grammatical errors aside, this is my finished thesis statement to my upcoming book, Sex Positivity vs Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Liberating Sex Work under Capitalism through Iconoclastic Art (eta October 31st, 2023; you can read a blog post containing most of the first volume on my old blog, including the abstract, disclaimer, table of contents, full foreword, preface, manifesto, and sample essay). Like all good thesis writing, my thesis statement is merely the rewording/summation of my book after I wrote, titled and organized it, in turn organizing my thesis sentence, paragraph, and statement to be the best distillation of my chief aims and arguments as they presently exist; i.e., getting to the bottom and returning to the coda in endless repetition until things were nicely refined. As I have been updating my sample blogpost online and final manuscript offline repeatedly to have the best thesis statement/essay that I can, I wanted to provide the (for all intents and purposes) finished thesis statement on my website ( as a matter of historical record. As of completing it and writing this paragraph, the current time is 1:42 AM (central mountain time) and the date is 8/31/2023, roughly two months before Halloween (the timestamp on my website upload will be slightly later, of course).


—Persephone van der Waard"

Update, 8/26/2023: I decided to finally design a logo for my book's ideology, Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism. The details are included in this blogpost (the full PNGs for the Gothic [gay-anarcho] Communism logo by itself—with three different versions [full version w/flame and w/o flame, and the "skeleton key" simplified version] are available on my DA Stash). As such, I've updated my volume cover illustrations and inner-sleeve book cover.

Update, 8/20/2023: Since my last update, I've sign-posted the book a ton, providing cross-volume threads for various terms and dichotomies (subversive vs regressive Amazonomachia; impostor syndrome, monstrous-feminine, sodomy, and war personified, etc). As a result, the book has grown nearly 100,000 words and increased by over 130 new illustrations (510,000 words and 756 as of writing this update); it is also currently too large to upload as a single pdf, so I will be uploading it in separate three volumes (similar to Lord of the Rings). Each volume will have a unique bookend, courtesy of my good friend, Blxxd Bunny, who modeled extensively for the book. I have six weeks until the end of September and will be doing the last of my book's illustrations. After these are completed, I will be spending the entirety of October doing a final proofread. The book goes live on Halloween! 

(model and cover designer: Blxxd Bunny and Persephone van der Waard)

Update, 7/25/2023: Lots of changes since my last update! 

  • First, I met someone while accepting submissions for illustration collabs. They're a queer sex worker named Bay and the inspiration I received from their contribution of ideas, feedback, ref material (and all-around sweetness) led to an explosion of additional exhibits: over 50 collages, amounting to more than 25% of my total collages; as well as countless written changes, anecdotes, critical insights, pop culture nods and more! 
  • Second, I've updated the Acknowledgments section a fair bit; I've also included more definitions to my glossary, focusing on game theory beyond just Metroidvania and adding excepts from my own extensive research/corpus (while crediting everyone that I can). 
  • Third, I've spent a lot of time collabing with different sex workers and models; the window for submitting ref material lasted from late April to mid-July and I ended up arranging ten-or-so collabs for the book. The drawings for these are still in-progress, but I have all the ref material (and relative agreements written down) and am slowly working through them. To be safe, I'm giving myself the next couple of months to do the rest of the outstanding drawings, with an extended deadline of Halloween at the very latest to get as much polishing in as I possibly can! 
  • Fourth, I updated the cover art, featuring the always-amazing Blxxd Bunny on Sex Positivity's front and back (and a few more exhibits of them inside the book for good measure) with the original (and busier) cover design put on the inner sleeve. 
  • Fifth, I annotated all of the citations in my book yesterday—from YouTube videos, essays, PDF files, tweets, articles not English, and more—and added a ton of block quotes. It was one of the final writing steps and generally one I don't do until near the end because it requires so much small-detail writing to include the quotes and respond to them. 
Still need to go through the whole manuscript and check for small, super-tiny mistakes, but other than that and finishing the outstanding illustrations, the manuscript is about done for now... probably. I know, I know—I've said that more than once, now! But it would be very difficult for me to add more material on top of what I already have (the manuscript is 441k words and has currently has 618 images); I'd rather release the book without any more substantial writing revisions, then do a smaller follow-up/extension section later that covers areas I missed/want to go into more detail about (e.g., space aliens/flying saucers, cowgirls, steampunk hauntologies, etc). That's the plan, anyways!

5/13/2023: In my book, I'm touching upon my Metroidvania research. So I finally wanted to share my master's thesis. It was accepted by MMU in at the end of 2018 and I've since expanded on my research, but I wanted to have the original document available online as a matter of public interest and historical record. Give it a look if you're curious!

Update, 4/8/2023: I've reached a milestone of sorts editing my full manuscript! Originally my Humanities primer was structured around generalized language: dreams, sight, reflection, blindness, transformation and revival. I've since retailored its focus onto monsters. Each section is about the poetic history of a different monster type (the undead: zombies, vampires, ghosts, and composite bodies; the demonic: summoned demons and demons tied to nature) with an emphasis on humanizing said monster through sex work during oppositional praxis. The idea of the primer is to learn from the past when fighting present-day worker exploitation through our own labor, self-expression and creative output. It was a really big section to get through (~61,000 words) and I hadn't looked at it in awhile. Now that I've restructured it top to bottom, I want to start the final edit for the primer, including illustrations. After that, I'll be going through the second half of the book (which I actually wrote first) and adding more drawings and collabs with sex workers.

Update, 3/2/2023: I've decided to extend my deadline again. Honestly the editing is going fine, but I keep getting sick and frankly there's a ton of work I still want to do, proofreading everything until I feel happy with it. It's getting there, but it's hard to quantify exactly how much work is needed. All I can say for sure is that if I keep working on it everyday (for 4-8 hours, if I can help it) then it should be finished-finished in the next couple of months. I can't say anything more than that with any degree of certainty and frankly making sure I'm happy with the entire book feels far more important than finishing it on a particular date (e.g., Valentine's, the ides of March, Easter, etc). 

Update, 2/26/2023: Editing the blogpost and everything inside it is basically dunzo! I could probably go over it one more time, but I need basically all of the next three weeks to finish proofreading the remaining ~175k(!) words of the final manuscript (~232k in total). Granted, a lot of that—especially everything in Volume Two—has already been proofread more than the manifesto was, but it's still going to be a bear to get through!

Update, 2/14/2023:  I've removed the rest of the manuscript —most of Volumes One and Two—from this blog. 

Update, 2/19/2023: To make the book sample more pared down and accessible, I've removed the Table of Contents abstract and placed the Handy-Dandy Glossary to the back of the blogpost. The glossary's secondary terms are all germane to my book's thesis, but are largely explored beyond just my manifesto. Meanwhile, the manifesto is entirely self-contained and expanded upon by the rest of the book. So I wanted to keep my manifesto front and center in this blogpost, but also include the glossary for you to refer to at your leisure (the glossary will be placed in front of the manifesto in the final, published version of my book, however).

Update, 2/13/2023: No longer sick and the book is shaping up alright. The deadline has been extended as I can't finish the proofread on time (will do a post about it later. Need sleep). However, the bulk of the writing is done but the book is nearly impossible to edit. I've transferred over everything to Word to spend the next couple weeks just formatting and proof and focusing on packaging it. :)

Update, 2/10/2023: I am sick, but it's just a stomach bug (I hope and pray). I am at the point where I cannot add anything new and still finish by the deadline. Even if I edit until the last minute, it's gonna be close. See you all after Valentine's!

Update, 2/05/2023: My friend is here and I'm sticking to my Valentine's Day deadline. The book is mostly finished, but I'm just adding extra stuff for fun. Nothing major-major, but more signposts for the uninitiated can't hurt. From the title page to the start of Chapter One is ~82k words; Chapters One through Five of Volume Two and the Conclusion of the entire book is ~114k words. The total word count is ~196k words. There's currently 369 drawings (nice) and 100+ exhibits. So quite girthy but the nature of this work is inclusive. The more monsters the merrier! Gotta correct the exhibit numbers again, though!

Update, 1/30/2023: Today is the 19th draft of my manuscript and was the last day I'll be making any serious additions. From today forward, I will only be proofreading, making formatting changes, and doing artwork for the book! The versions on my blog are censored, but the published version on my website will include the uncensored variants. <3

Update, 1/25/2023: This is the Rubycon (the Tangerine Dream version, not that silly river Caesar crossed). The total word count has reached 158k words. 53k of that are the Abstract, Disclaimer, Table of Contents, Foreword, and all of Volume One. I'm making the decision to call it there, as I need time to edit the manuscript and correct its (many) spelling/syntax errors. A friend is coming to visit on the 4th; they'll be staying for a week. I'd like to have the manuscript fully proofread by then, and any additional drawings finished. The manuscript will stay up on my blog. However, on Valentine's Day I will also be sharing the finished manuscript with all of the completed artwork on my website, where you can download a free PDF of the book itself.

Update, 1/18/2023: Still writing! I converted the preface into a clearly defined volume, preceded by a manifesto, a smaller preface, then the body of work that makes up the volume itself as a kind of "Humanities" primer that pertains to the proletarian praxis of Volume Two. I'm also making changes to the second volume, editing the later chapters in particular, adding more exhibits. The word count is now over 141k words, but this is also a two-volume work—effectively two books written to be read, understood, and practiced together.

Update, 1/15/2023: I've honed/expanded on the Preface, Introduction and Conclusion, and included more Gothic stuff and poetry and other things that make up this project as being a part of me, from me; I've clarified the book title as "Gothic Communism" (so I'll need to redesign the cover); I've added fancier chapter titles more in spirit with an academic "fun" flavor. I still need to go through the chapters again, but everything up to Chapter 1 largely feels dunzo; Chapters 2 and 3 feel like they need small touch-ups; and Chapters 4 and 5 feel like they need the most work. We'll see how things go but the new-new planned deadline is Valentine's Day (a celebration of love, but also the day my abusive ex physically kicked me out for calling them out on their mental abuse) and I feel like I'm going to be able to finish the manuscript and illustrations in time. We'll see!

Update, 1/8/2023: The writing of the book's preface is finished, and I've been sign-posting my arguments and expanding on various chapter subsections to make sure everything connects nicely and flows smoothly. I don't foresee anymore major writing additions to be included, but still have to edit the last two chapters to match up with all the recent additions. At this rate, I expect the manuscript to be fully completed, "Fonz approved" in the next week. However, I still need to finish the illustrations, of which I have three more planned. So the new planned deadline is slated for the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

Update, 12/24/2022: I'm currently designing some cover art, bumper art, and additional artwork to go with the big release. I'm going to try and finish it before New Years, but more than likely it will be done a week into January. Once completed, I will be putting the final product onto my website. Excited to show you all the final product! :)

About the Author

"What is a [woman]? A miserable, little pile of secrets!" —Matt Walsh/Dracula, What is a Woman? (2021) / Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

(model: Persephone van der Waard; photographer: Zeuhl)

Persephone van der Waard is an anarcho-Communist, sex worker, genderqueer activist and Gothic ludologist. She sometimes writes reviews, Gothic analyses, and interviews for fun; or does independent research for her PhD on Metroidvania and speedrunning every now and again. She's also an erotic artist and a writer. If you're interested in her work or curious about illustrated or written commissions, please refer to her website for more information