Professional Versus Personal Success

glassware

Up at 5:30 this morning. I opened my office window and deliciously cold air hit my skin. I am wearing a sweater for the first time in months. I don’t necessarily need it but I relish the sensation of wearing one. Fools me into thinking there’s no way it’s going to be in the high eighties yet again when, in fact, it’s supposed to hit 90.

Tuesday was a marvelous day. Then yesterday I tanked into depression. It appears to be a law of my personal universe that every good day I have must be immediately followed by a bad one. I wasn’t actually depressed in a malaise-y kind of way. I was specifically depressed about my lack of professional success throughout my life. I’m 44 years old and the best career job I ever had was as a design assistant/swatcher getting paid $10 an hour 18 years ago.

I shared these feelings out loud and for once it actually made it worse.

I say I’m depressed because I’ve never succeeded professionally.

And everyone says at least I’m good at gardening.

I realized too late that you can’t put something like that out there and expect not to be patted on the head. There is literally nothing anyone can say to the real cause of my depression so the only thing anyone can do is observe what I actually have going for me which is all the stuff I know how to do well that I can’t make a living doing.

It’s nice to be depressed for an actual REASON for once. So there’s that. Us people with chronic depression spend a lot of time being low for no apparent reason or for ALL THE REASONS OF ALL TIME ALL AT ONCE.

I have only ever had two professional ambitions in life and have succeeded at neither. I wanted to be a fashion designer and a writer. It’s not that I just wanted to spend all my time doing these things, because I’ve spent a lot of my life doing these two things intensively, but I wanted to making a living doing them.

I have long since given up on fashion design. I still love designing clothes but the desire to do it professionally is gone. The last of that ambition died with the failure of Dustpan Alley to pay any bills.

Over the years every time I bring up my ambition to write for a living or cry over writing gigs I didn’t land (all of them) and book proposals denied (just the one) and manuscripts rejected by agents and blogs that never took off enough to create revenue with ads – people always say things like “But you would write anyway, wouldn’t you, even if you couldn’t make a living at it?” and I find this annoying and also curious. Try it with some other professional ambitions.

Someone wants to own their own coffee shop some day.

“But you’d still make coffee even if you couldn’t get your own shop, wouldn’t you?”

Someone wants to be a teacher.

“But even if you can’t land a teaching job, you’d be fulfilled teaching your own kids, right?”

Someone wants to be a banker- oh, never mind.

People imply that I shouldn’t judge my success on my professional ambitions. Like it’s weird for me to consider myself unsuccessful because I haven’t ever been able to make a real living doing what I really want to do. They want to define success in non-monetary terms. It’s gentler. It’s kinder. But it also feels patronizing. The only way to gauge professional success is: ARE YOU ABLE TO PAY YOUR BILLS AND KEEP A ROOF OVER YOUR FAMILY’S HEAD DOING THE WORK YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE DOING?

The answer for me is NO.

Pointing out that a lot of writers can’t make a living writing is not helpful. It’s true that a lot of writers never quit their day job.

But it’s also true that there are millions of writers who DO making a living writing. Most of those are making a modest living. There are very few that go on to be successful on a large and lush scale.

But my ambition isn’t to become one of those rare top level rich and famous writers. That would obviously be fantastic. Would love it. Would cherish it. Would probably become a coke addict and haunt Vegas and stop writing and become a Hollywood bungalow burnout.

All I want is to make a modest living but one that could support my family if Philip lost his job or couldn’t work any more. I want to make it writing books. That is a professional ambition and not a personal one.

Even when I was writing short stories as a kid I was writing for imagined readers. Writing has never been a hobby for me. It has never been about self gratification. I don’t want to publish books just so I can say I’ve published a book. I want to publish books that people will read and enjoy.

Yes, I will always continue to write whether I make a living at it or not. It’s what I DO. It’s also what I AM. But I don’t write for ME. I write for readers. I am always writing for readers. Writing really dramatic EMOTIONALLY GRIPPING bad poems at 11 years old was for readers. I imagined that people would read them and be moved. I probably hoped I’d make some people weep over the really truly DEEP poems. I don’t understand writing just for my own sake. And that is what has made it a professional ambition from the start.

It may be less gentle and kind to measure my professional success by how much money I have or haven’t made pursuing my profession – but that’s how professional ambitions work.

Personal ambitions are different and I’m really great at achieving personal ambitions such as making my own wound salve, growing food, and making the best fucking tart you’ve ever tasted. I’m really good at doing many things. Except laundry. Fuck laundry!

But I have never wanted anything more than I’ve wanted to be a writer making a living writing books. I didn’t even want to be a fashion designer as much as I wanted to make a living writing books.

I’ll never stop reaching for it. I’ll never stop working at it.

But there are always going to be those occasional low days where I feel like shit because I’m middle aged and have worked so hard and am still not even close.

And that’s okay.

Depressed and Happy at the Same Time

upstairs at la rosa

Dream scraps: long journey, walking side of road, collecting wild herbs and flowers, broken people, stopping in a city and really weird creepy shit happens that I can’t quite remember. Probably for the best.

Yesterday was an amazing day. Truly a great day. I wrote both my blog post and spent two hours finishing chapter 3 of Jane Doe. Then headed out to the garden in the early evening when there was a nice breeze and trimmed plants and yanked some out and generally started cleaning up for new plantings. It felt fantastic. That’s my world being in balance.

The kid is pretty surly lately though. I’m definitely not winning any parenting awards. I’ve let him go completely feral up there hanging out with is online friends all day. Sometimes he comes out at night to walk with his dad. Whatever. Soon enough he’ll be starting high school and working his ass off learning for 8 hours a day. I think he can have these last few weeks to do whatever the fuck he wants.

Oh, and his shadow mustache has appeared.

2 days and we begin the next sober period. For real this time. Seriously. Because I need to lose weight for my November vacation. I won’t feel as good if I go like I am now. Also – having put weight back on – SO DEPRESSING. But I’m the one who did it so I don’t get to be pissed off.

Depressed a little bit about lack of actual writing career. The good thing about life  before Twitter is that I didn’t know any agented published authors. Now I know tons of writers with agents and book deals. Le Sigh. The good thing is that all these authors I know are such amazing people and I feel like I get to spend my time with a writing tribe as I work on my book and it’s something my life was missing and that I really needed.

I’ve decided that self publishing is not for me. I got impatient and so we published Cricket and Grey and it looks fantastic and the editing is great so I’m proud of what we produced but I can’t sell stuff for shit. Self promotion is my Achilles heel. This is something I have to keep working on whether self publishing or not but at least when you have an agent and a publisher behind your book it’s easier to promote.

So Jane Doe is going the traditional route. Might take years to sell once I’m done writing it but that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m keeping it short today because I’m going to put in some time on the novel and I still have a Stitch post to write.

Cheers-ish.

a

Everyone Believes in Weird Shit

P1010685

Dream scraps: I don’t remember dreaming at all which might explain why I feel slightly more rested today. So weird. It’s rare that I don’t at least wake up remembering that I did dream even if it’s too hazy to pick out a single detail.

I cleaned house yesterday and it felt great. I feel more clear headed today as a result. The guys cleaned the upstairs too so things are pretty shiny around here. Except for the cobwebs on the ceiling, some of which have become large enough to house a morbidly obese family of arachnids.

Oh shit. I just remembered a scrap of my dream and it was awful. Speaking of arachnids reminded me. Max and Philip and I were in a basement or a car garage (public kind) or something and suddenly I saw a huge light yellow (semi-translucent) scorpion headed for Max and I yelled for him to watch out and he and Philip just stood there while the scorpion headed for him and I started screaming for them to move and get out of its way and they wouldn’t.

The humming birds are back in the garden!

I need more graph paper.

My inspiration boards are pretty great.

This is the kind of inane shit that must be released into the atmosphere in order for greater thoughts to be heard and transcribed. The way I said that reminds me of when my mom was really into “channeling”. Not just my mom, but talk of channeling spirituality, messages from divine beings, your inner child, and maybe your dead asshole uncle was everywhere.

I do not channel my writing. I write. I do not channel things through me. Channeling is bullshit.

I used to say I was a spiritual person. I think I said that because I believe people have spirits and I believe that there is “something bigger than me” out there. But I’m not spiritual. Not in the way people understand spirituality. I’m not spiritual. I do not believe that there is any greater purpose in life than to survive as long as you can and then die. I don’t need purpose. The purpose of living is that we’re born and therefore alive and make the most of it you can and stop bitching about how little time you have.

I don’t believe in a “higher” power. I don’t believe there’s some BIG PLAN for us all or for any of us. We make our own plans and then most of the time shit goes down we don’t expect so we make a new plan and then we learn shit and realize that the old plan no longer works and we just keep planning as we go because that’s how you get from point A to point B.

I DO believe in karma and karma is pretty much the same as “reaping what you sow” (isn’t that in the bible or something?). How you treat people, how you treat animals, and how you treat the environments you come in contact with will usually determine the kind of life you have, how you’re treated in return, your health. In one way or another you will get back what you put out there. I don’t think humans always see karma in action. Karma isn’t arranged by a deity or other human beings. It’s just the concept of balance.

I believe in balance. I suppose. I believe there can’t be good without bad, dark without light, true joy without sorrow. Nature is constantly trying to balance itself. Ecosystems get thrown out of balance and life dies and toxins rise and eventually it comes into balance again. On a cellular level we’re always fighting for balance. Our white blood cells multiply to fight sickness and prolonged heightened white blood cell count can kill you. Too many red blood cells can kill you.

Balance is what nature is always striving for.

It’s what humans are constantly fucking with and fucking up.

I’m sick of religious intolerance all across the world. I’m sick of people saying their God is so righteous and GOOD and then torturing people who don’t agree, killing people who don’t agree, segregating people who don’t agree. There will NEVER be one single religion in the entire world. Ever. So everyone needs to learn to live together with respect. The only evil religious people are intolerant zealots and they come in every religion.

EVERY RELIGION GROWS BLOOD THIRSTY TERRORISTS.

If you don’t realize this then you need to go back and take more world history classes. No major religion is without blood and evil on its hands.

I don’t hate any religion. If I hated one religion I would hate them ALL equally. But religion serves a purpose for many human beings and I wouldn’t dream of taking it away from anyone. And as long as religious people don’t try to convert me or force me to live by the laws of their religion, I will live in peace and harmony with them.

I happen to love quite a few religious people. People who I think are fine and smart and cool. Religious friends who are open minded non-hateful religious people. Can we have MORE of these wonderful people in the world, please?

I will make fun of religion, though. Because religion is WEIRD SHIT.

When I make fun of religion or talk about it with irreverence, it is never from a place of hate or true derision. Just total wonderment at the weirdness of religious belief.

Come on! Walking on water? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

1,000 virgins when you die? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Putting your face in a magic hat? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Atheists grow terrorists too. And I am not okay with that. I am not okay with atheists who think all religious people are ignorant and inferior because they believe in something different. Nature is full of weird shit.

Platypus. WEIRD SHIT.

We can look at that animal from a scientific and evolutionary stand point and it’s still weird as hell. Atheists generally believe in science and provable things. I think this is reasonable. But that doesn’t make it less weird.

Let us also remember that many religious people have not only their religious beliefs but also believe in science.

Religion and science are not mutually exclusive.

People who don’t believe you can be religious but also value and believe what science tells us are, in my opinion, just showing off their limitation of imagination and limitation in their faith. How great can your faith in God really be if you can’t see how evolution and God do not disprove each other?

Can we all please agree that there’s weird shit in science AND religion and that it’s okay to notice it and okay to laugh, but not okay to hate or look down on people who see things differently or who believe in weird shit?

Because as far as I can tell, all humans believe in some weird shit.

Let’s learn to enjoy each other’s weird shit and also respect it for what it is – personal outlook, philosophy, what makes you get up in the morning, what makes you feel better at the end of a bad day, what soothes your soul when you lose loved ones, what inspires you to be a better human being.

Then let’s kick the shit out of all the people who are shedding blood in our names. Let’s say NO to this evil.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, (and all the other ones I can’t name but are there) – all capable of greatness and all responsible for evil events in this world.

But please, people, Muslims have taken the greatest hit lately. Muslims have lost the most people to other people’s hatred. Because of a few extremists. It needs to stop.

Malala Yousafzai is Muslim and was shot by the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai is an incredible human being. She’s brave, she’s smart, she believes in education and religious acceptance and peace. And she’s Muslim. So many Muslim people are like HER. So stop equating all Muslim people with the Taliban.

You want all people to equate Christianity with Fred Phelps?

Oooh – or how about if all anyone thinks of when they think of Christianity are the priests who rape little boys? You want everyone to believe that ALL Christian men rape little boys?

It would be the worst kind of bigotry and untruth.

So stop equating all Muslims with 9/11. The Taliban was responsible for it. Rail against the actual people who committed that evil.

I know that not a word I’ve written here will make the least bit of difference. I say them anyway in hopes that if enough of us say no to shedding blood and oppressing others in the name of belief (God, science, political, racial) – maybe eventually no one will allow it to keep happening.

I didn’t plan on writing about religious intolerance today. I think it’s just been on my mind because of the the horrors going on in Gaza and the horrors going on in my own country where so many people are fighting to hang onto bigotry in the name of their religion and here in the States it’s the extreme Christians. Eroding women’s rights. Chipping away at their hard-won autonomy of body and spirit.

It all gets me down. I suppose I needed to write all this out because I have to remember and keep close in mind my religious friends who do not represent this hateful crap and whom I love very much. Every time I get angry at extreme Christians closing their fists around the neck of our politics and civil liberties for women and people of color and the LGBT community – I need to remember that there are many Christians in this country who are smart and open minded and cool and loving and accepting of most people. I need to remember that I know tons of Jewish people and 95% of them are against the oppression of Palestinians. I need to remember the few Muslims I’ve met and hung out with who I’ve admired and liked and respected because they were kind and smart and educated and inclusive.

I need reminding all the time not to confuse all the extremist religious people with the reasonable peace loving ones.

That’s why I wrote about this today. Because I needed this reminder in face of all the news stories about the evil side of religious belief.

I’m glad I could have this little talk with myself today.

 

First Thoughts: Monday as Usual

withered blossom

Dream scraps: at one point there were four men who I was (apparently) in charge of who all squeezed themselves into large metal lunch boxes and drove a car that way – it seems they programed the car to run itself automatically. When they arrived where I was and all came out of their boxes I scolded them for doing such a dangerous thing and said that if they liked being inside small metal boxes, that was fine, but the driver must never drive like that again.

Later there were a lot of people and a weird organization and we were divided up in some mysterious way and given some weird tasks that I didn’t understand (Top Chef influence from two days ago?) but we ended up designing paper people. Later on everything was in chaos and I became convinced the whole thing was a bogus set up and started rebelling. Then at some point near the end of the dream I was trying to tape a paper map back together.

I wish I could remember the big important stuff. There was such a lot of other stuff.

So I cut my hand the night before last and couldn’t keep a band aid on it (right near my thumb – I fought an avocado and lost) so I let it go bare and then started putting my wound salve on it. I reapplied throughout the evening and by bed time the cut was closed and not stinging any more. I was also applying it to my very uncomfortable raw skin on my foot where my eczema is very bad and won’t heal. NO, my wound salve is not a cure for eczema. BUT it did get that raw area to harden up and stop hurting so damn much – seems to be half healed this morning. I know that same spot will start itching again soon and the skin will flake and I’ll end up scratching it raw again – but this salve made that area start healing over night.

I also finally came up with some simple labels for the salve tins that I’m happy with. I need Philip to make them for me in Photoshop so I can print them out. Then I can list them on Etsy.

Booked my hotel in Colorado for my writer’s retreat with a few new writing friends I’ve made on Twitter in the last few months. I’M SO EXCITED TO HAVE A LITTLE VACATION AFTER YEARS OF NO VACATION!

I still can’t find my pocket knife and I’m bummed. I really love it. It’s actually useful. I don’t want just any replacement knife, I want that one! At least I found my Opinel. I love that too. But the blade is super stained. I wipe it down after use but it seems to take stains like mad. But it’s great for harvesting squash and greens from the garden.

Finishing the wound salve (and starting a new batch!) and testing it and finding it exceeds my expectations makes me want to get back to writing Book 2 of Cricket and Grey. I have made these to tie in with Cricket. The labels say “Winters Apothecary” on them. They are, essentially, Cricket’s products.

So I guess I continue to be lost with my writing. I got 1200 words into chapter three on Jane Doe on Thursday which was great – felt really good. But I still am not quite – I don’t know. Writer’s block is a complicated bitch. I think the main thing is to simply go where the energy is. Maybe I will become one of those authors able to work on more than one project at a time. The important thing is to sit down every single day and write a few hours. That is the discipline that ends up trumping inspiration. I’m a writer and I need to be writing every single day. It is less important which project I work on. Blog writing is writing. Novel writing is writing. Field notes is writing. The important thing is to keep the language muscles flexible and stretched.

The heat has been killing my energy this past week. It’s going to continue to be in the low nineties and high eighties pretty much forever now.

I have also been staying up late and sleeping in late. I don’t like this habit.

Canning season will be starting soon. I wish I had already gotten my O’Keeffe and Merritt stove completely cleaned and set up. That would be such a boon.

What I want is to get into a new habit of going to bed earlier and getting up early. I’d like to get up early enough to put in some time gardening which I can’t do most of the time because of the heat. Then write. Then hang out with Max or do house stuff, cook.

Oh yeah, and exercise has to happen either really early or really late.

My foot isn’t as bad but I still haven’t made an appointment with the Podiatrist which I need to do.

Time to write a post on Stitch and then get on with the already well advanced day.

 

Sunday Thoughts: Nightmare, Sponsorship, Writing

P1010674

Nightmare scraps: was in a boat, boat sank, had to swim to shore, leg bitten by a shark. This wound followed me through the rest of the nightmare and a second one after waking and going  back to sleep. First didn’t get it sutured up. Finally begged someone to do it for me. They started, it was painful. Later, turned out there was some thin rope stuck in my gashes in a botched attempt at suturing and I needed to get it OUT but no one would do it.

There was a party. I was waiting for someone who never showed up. But a guy friend and I stuck together, he was kind of hyper and I had to keep bringing him back to earth. I remembered being friends with him since grade school. We’d always been friends and it was comfortable to be with him. We go looking for people and end up walking through the bathroom and find a young girl in a half full tub who looks dead. She’s not quite dead. Two men are there with her, naked. I ask if they had sex with the young girl and they admit that they had. I inform them I’m calling the police. The one that wasn’t passed out drunk makes weak objection but I call the police.

There was a mail box with something besides mail in it. Scenic Drive house again but the mailbox is on the porch instead of on the street.

Here it is, Sunday afternoon. I slept in so late that I’ve pretty much just started my day. I’m still drinking coffee.

For the last few days I’ve been watching Top Chef because I don’t have the food channel and I really want to watch food shows. Let me tell you, this one is awful. I have to finish this one season to see it through and see who wins (I looked up the spoiler so I know but I need to SEE it happen) but after that I won’t ever watch it again. For several reasons but one the biggest is that this show has the most obnoxious product placement bullshit that influence most, if not ALL, of the challenges facing the chefs. It’s more like a cooking game show with mean spirited people who win stuff all along the way and then have to mention the products they’re using/driving/experiencing frequently. Whenever the contestants go somewhere by car they get into the car in question and say what kind it is, what model, and something nice about it. So cheesy and stupid and pimpy.

It is NOT about great cooking. This show is more about selling cars than it is about cooking. It’s more about selling tin foil than it is about cooking. Corporate brands are mentioned at a rate of two to three times in each segment of a single episode. It’s total bullshit.

This weekend is also BlogHer14. Many people I know are there having a blast. Part of me wishes I was there to see friends but as I look at all their pictures of the event I am reminded of the pimpy aspect of it that I hated the two times I went. Parties are sponsored by McDonald’s and other dubious products and corporate companies. People love getting the swag which is mostly just cheap stuff printed with company names. Most people who are posting pictures are actually pimping the sponsors by including product hashtags and handles in all their posts.

I hated that. That gross product whoring. It felt inauthentic and all these people I know love it – eat it up – grabbing all the free stuff they can regardless of it’s actual worth and they become walking advertizements for companies that have paid them nothing, done nothing worthy, but give you 2 cent thumb drives with their company logo printed on it.

But that’s business! Says everyone. You have to have sponsors. It’s the only way to make it in this world! Plus – who doesn’t want to eat questionable meat foods from companies that have trashed the earth and stuffed human beings with the most unhealthy garbage imaginable?! WHO DOESN’T THINK IT’S FUN TO PARTY WITH CORPORATE AMERICA? Corporations are people, after all, and apparently they are party animals.

So I’m thinking about authenticity and how little of it there is left in my country, in the world. I want to sell my books but what will it take to make a living writing novels? Can I ever make it without getting in bed with PRODUCT?

It all depresses the shit out of me.

I like to think that there’s still room to create things without corporate or product sponsorship. I want to believe that it’s still the WRITING and the quality of the writing that matters most in the book world and the blog world and the art and entertainment world. All I can do is reject inauthenticity where ever I find it. Like not watch Top Chef. Not read blogs with sponsored posts. Not give time and energy or my money to companies and products that are toxic to the earth and to the humans who consume their stuff.

Those are my Sunday thoughts so far.

I think I need to get back to using my blog as a daily journal. It’s how I started it.

I cut my thumb last night trying to access an avocado.

It’s hot again today.

I think my novel writing is suffering because I’m not keeping a journal every day. You have to get the inane stuff out. It’s not like I have a real following here any more. Not even sure anyone is still reading it at all. It’s mine. I can do whatever the fuck I want with it. This is my pocket universe. I make the rules here.

There is a tiny breeze.

Often times when you get the inane stuff out you find other more interesting stuff that comes out with it. I think that’s the magic of keeping a daily journal.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of note taking out in the world to amuse myself. It’s calming and amusing to me and what I’ve been doing since I was a teen. Making observations about the people and places around me. I sit in the middle of it (we are always in the middle of our own experience) and write what comes to mind. Stream of consciousness stuff. Some of it comes directly from the outside stimuli but some is just catching the wild thoughts in your head with a net and writing them down. It’s like meditation for me. I’ve been posting them to Instagram and Twitter and Facebook if you ever want to catch them.

Getting back to the habits and discipline that helps me get the good writing going.

In case anyone is wondering I did NOT end up going sober again but we’ve decided we’ll do it starting August first for three months – just up until my vacation to Colorado to see some writing friends who’ve been making my every day more amusing and the writing adventure less lonely. So, things are shifting as they need to. We need to save money and lose weight – I don’t know why July has felt like such an impossible time to not drink but it has.

I hate this summer weather but in spite of wishing we would have more cool days and maybe even some rain – I am still loving where we live. Every day I seem to look up and out at some point and realize how happy it makes me to live not only in California, but specifically here in Santa Rosa. It’s such a good feeling to love where we live.

I feel like posting some pictures over on Stitch so I’m done here for now. Hope whoever is reading has an awesome Sunday!

 

The Last Possible Egress

golden grasses

It isn’t lip service, this scorch in my bones, this fire in the head. It isn’t lip service, the heat that makes the ground crumble and the sand sink. I pick out faces in the dark and I can see into souls like they’re lit up with Christmas lights in the middle of the vast desert. I will follow the light into the darkest caves, the worst streets, into the human dumps where children scramble for the crusts of cardboard sandwiches. I will follow the light where it sucks itself up in a tossup between nirvana and complete annihilation. I will follow the light through the scrapheap where it is crushed and compressed, cracked and shaped, melted and fused without the chemicals of care or proper grieving. I will follow.

If the drums shake my skin off my spirit, will they shake the truth loose too?

I will follow the words until they lead me home. I will follow them until they gut the past, skin the present, and bone the future. When you hang in flanks on the laundry line dripping with vague sorrow like sorry rain that stops every two seconds wondering about its purpose, its worth, its place in all the grasses and plants of the universe and you stretch out towards the parched ground and feel it sucking your will to live away, that’s the moment you seize everything.The moment you realize that you have the power of the rain, the power of thirst, the power to satiate passions and put out fires. The moment before the moment it’s too late. The last possible egress.

Don’t walk outside where the blistering of your skin is the aria everyone has come to watch from the standing room gallery only. Don’t take down the lights or put the dishes away. Don’t look at the moon or tell the hour under your curdling breath. Strike the watch from your wrist. Cut the neck of the snake. Cut the umbilical cord and you cut the source of all light.

Egress is differentiation. Egress is the great tunnel to freedom pocked in the dark with collapse and the will to drill through the bedrock. Egress is everywhere you’re not looking for it. It’s where the best love holds you high but sees your darkest thoughts, loves you anyway. Egress is mining expectation with dynamite.

You have tried to find your way, your path, and you’ve been dreaming over the graves of the lost, the dead, the unvanquished. Tap shoes from the Good Will that don’t fit right, a pinch that introduces awkward rhythms to your dance attempts, they pronounced you ridiculous before you discovered the last possible egress.

The last possible egress will rise while you’re dreaming of doors, entrances,  beginnings.

You always choose, even when you don’t think you’re choosing.

The last possible egress is narrowing every minute you tell yourself you don’t matter, kick your dirty heart into the gutter, trash yourself beyond recognition.

It waits.

Tonight, it waits.

 

 

 

Making Other People Feel Stupid Makes You Look Stupider

In a Tweet yesterday Stephen King said this:

“Simply put, America is a democracy, not a theocracy.”

I responded to this tweet:

“There are a few Americans who have not gotten this memo. Is there some way you can send this tweet registered?”

I wanted to add that most of the Americans who haven’t gotten this memo are carrying pocket constitutions with them at all times so they can be assholes and spout their vast knowledge upon the sad uninformed lesser Americans.

I wish I had. Because Constitutionalist quibblers have been tweeting stupidity in response ever since.

AmericanWOMAN@TriggerChik:

“That would be a shame, since it would then be a Registered untruth. @Angelinawrites @StephenKing

I totally ignored her.

Alissa Gibson@gibsongirl2000:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing we are a Republic not a democracy. Sorry to disappoint”

I ignored this too.

Wild Pitch@thewildpitch:

“@Angelinawrites @StephenKing Um… is not a memo it’s the Constitution and it explains that we live in a Republic.”

It was only a matter of time until someone mentioned the constitution.

Catherine Alexander@calexander007:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing The US is not a democracy. It’s a constitutional republic. Significant difference.”

Yeah, you tell me! I feel so schooled and stupid now.

Catherine Alexander@calexander007:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing I’m guessing you don’t really know what a theocracy is, either.”

Ouch! I don’t know, isn’t a theocracy where one asshole spends all their time insulting other people on Twitter?

Tessa@treesaree

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing US is a Republic not a democracy, both of you are wrong.”

There is nothing more delicious to the human being than to point out how wrong other human beings are. No words sweeter in the mouth than “YOU ARE WRONG”

But then this tweet comes along:

dan craelin@DCraelin:

“we live in a universe not a cosmos,….huge HUGE difference @calexander007 @Angelinawrites @StephenKing

I love Dan. But now I must agonize over whether he is WRONG or not. How can he possibly know if this assertion is true when it is not covered in the constitution of the United States of America? All truths are only verifiable if they can be confirmed in this one document.

Oh hell. I’m wrong about that too. There is one other source of absolute truth against which all purported knowledge can be irrefutably fact checked.

THE HOLY FUCKING BIBLE, BITCHES.

I’m so tired of everyone’s tweets about this (except for Dan’s) that I’m going to respond by reminding all of you that there are general terms for government as well as specific ones.

Most Americans refer to our country as being a democracy. We never say we’re going to bring a “constitutional republic” to the rest of the world. NO ONE FUCKING SAYS THAT SHIT. Not the president, not the conservative politicians with worn out copies of the constitution shoved in their righteous pockets. In popular language we refer to our form of government as being a democracy.

But you all know that. You knew that when you took delicious joy in being specific when you knew Stephen King was using the popular and general term for the kind of government we are supposed to have here.

In the English language (and in many others as well) there are very specific terms for things and then there are popularly used and accepted general terms for things that everyone understands that simplifies discourse with other human beings.

And then there are those people who purposely ignore the commonly accepted terms, (even when accepted and used by scholars, scientists, and the last 10 Presidents of the United States), so that they can dedicate themselves to their true calling in life which is to make everyone wrong.

A democracy in general terms is: Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.

This is what we have in the United States.

Lastly, to Catherine. Were you saying I don’t know what Theocracy is specifically compared to, say, an Ecclesiocracy?

When someone says “theocracy” you know very well what they mean.

The danger of nitpicking language is that it can easily betray your own shortcomings in comprehension OR just make you look like an asshole.

Well done!

Always The Heavy

P1010477

I’m a little bit of a mess at the moment. Tired of the barefoot nightmares. Tired of hip/neck/foot/back pain. Tired of writer’s block. Tired of summer.

(Though the tomatoes are just coming in and that’s definitely a bright happy thing. Pickling and canning start soon. That also makes me happy.)

Maybe my writer’s block is because I’m not in direct communication with Jesus or the cosmic universe or MY FEELINGS.

I was telling my friend Sharon about my difficulty settling on a project because nothing I write is working or is worth a shit right now. Or for the last 6 months. She asked some good questions. I didn’t have good answers.

One thing that I did realize for the thousandth time is that I don’t like being everyone’s heavy*. I don’t like being your emotionally heavy and dark friend. I don’t like being a heavy and emotionally dark writer. I don’t like to read really dark stories myself. I want to live my life in a Mary Stewart novel. My fantasy life is always a suspense novel with a little romance thrown in. I don’t want to be the the heavy in every room, the heavy in every crowd, the heavy in every family. I’m always the heavy. Always.

The only man I ever loved besides Philip called me “heavy”. It was such a stinging blow because it was the truth I hated most about myself. The next person he went out with was a world adventurer and full of light.

At work meetings I’m always the one being practical and boring and can be counted on to bring everyone in the room thumping back into the center of reality and deadlines and what isn’t working. No one likes that person.

So perhaps I’m having a core crisis here. What I AM is not what I want to be.

I wrote a dystopian novel because it was such a lighter topic than the one about the raped girl who grows up and heals and then is attacked again and broken into more pieces. I wrote about a grim future for my country because it was light compared to what I really (apparently) need to be writing. But every time I tell people about the rape story I feel like I’m drawing curtains across their sunshine and plunging them into a hateful awful place.

The first time I tried to write that rape story I ruined it trying to protect my main character from the darkness and cloaked her in a cheesy romantic comedy that wasn’t even really funny, just cheesy. Because I felt so bad and also because I didn’t want to be writing this dark shit.

I DON’T WANT TO BE THE HEAVIEST DARKEST PERSON EVERYONE KNOWS.

I DON’T WANT TO WRITE THE HEAVIEST DARKEST BOOKS.

I want to be a light bearer.

Sharon assures me that I also bring humor into the dark with my victims friends. That I always offer a little salve of hope and my individuality and weird way I see the world is interesting and cool. That while I’m busy crushing your heart I am also making you laugh.

I don’t want to give my family anything new to put under a microscope.

I also struggle because I don’t know HOW to tell this story right.

All these writers I know are writing science fiction, Young Adult fiction, romance, and steampunk – stories with adventure and fun and cool landscapes – real entertainment.

Nothing about the rape story I’m writing is entertaining – in the same way that watching the movie “Ordinary People” wasn’t entertaining.

So Sharon says maybe I’m not writing well because I’m not writing what I know I need to be writing. That I’m just afraid to be the writer I AM and am busy trying to be the writer I WISH I WAS.

She might be right.

When I wrote the first draft I was cracking open like a dry nut inside and all this awful suppressed fear and pain came out like slow hot lava. I wasn’t just trying to protect Jane from her story, I was trying to protect myself from her story too.

I ‘m always going to be the heavy in the room.

I should get over it and get on with the writing.

*Not physically heavy, I don’t mean FAT.

Connectedness is the Total Shit

hook and flower 2

I’ve got a sister on my mind. Scratch that, I’ve got a few precious sisters on my mind. Fuck that, I’ve got a world full of incredible sisters on my mind. I’ve got some brothers too. (I have more brothers than most, what with my biological father’s fecundity.) But I have other brothers too.

It’s so fucked up when I try to get familial with the world and sound like I’m on the verge of a metaphysical breakthrough wherein I channel Richard Simmons as a baby and find a glittery rainbow of loud striped thighs sweating into microphones shouting hallelujah between rivulets of intentional sweat. Fucking INTENTIONAL sweat.

Connectedness is the total shit. With my fellow human beings. Ditch the differences, the details that separate us, because the things we have in common are huge. I hear you all in your nightmares, I feel your heads exploding with confusion, anxiety, terror, poetry, love, desire, sorrow, and wild happiness. I hear it even if I can’t see the colors you see. I can’t shut you out, all of you with your weird permutations of human ambitions both realized and crushed. All of you bleeding blue without oxygen. All of you with your skin bursting into flames, your minds wrenched open with revelations, your eyes seeing new things after you stopped believing there was anything left to discover.

Connectedness is the total shit. We make families as we need them. We make tribes of our quirks and our vocations and our illnesses. We make communities of shared interests, shared hate, shared pain.

Hold tight to the ship rails. Hold tight to your core beliefs. Hold tight to everything you love and believe in because this life doesn’t take unwilling prisoners and it doesn’t stop for the faint of heart.

And for God’s sake, plug your ears and run inside because I’m about to scream so loud Margaret Thatcher will rise from her grave and rip the pearls from her throat so that they shower hell with iridescent hail.

I’m thinking of a sister right now but I’m sorry it turned out to be Margaret Thatcher.

Writer’s Block is Like a Broken Elevator

P1010577

I’m six months into writer’s block and I am just about ready to give up writing and become a Walmart Greeter.*

Other careers I’m considering: big game keeper, personal assistant for fake celebrities, personal chef to vegetarian professional wrestlers, cross walk guard, lettuce taster, fat alcoholic bar maid, JC Penny family photographer, professional gum scraper, make-up artist to porn stars, feline style consultant, interpretive dance choreographer.

In the last six months I’ve worked on book 2 of Cricket and Grey (such a slog with only a few moments of light where I remembered how excited I am about the story), a new project called “Suicide for Beginners”, and then, finally have returned to the long ignored “Jane Doe” for which I have just finished fixing the plot and developing the characters more. Yesterday I started the massive rewrite and it took one page to give me that same feeling that all the other projects are giving me – THE DESIRE TO SCREAM ON THE TOP OF MY LUNGS THAT I AM SO OVER NOT BEING ABLE TO WRITE EVEN ONE GOOD FUCKING SENTENCE.

What the hell happened? The desire to write is always with me. I want to dive in and I want to get sucked into the story I’m writing. I love my projects and writing them should at the very least keep my interest because if I can’t even get into writing them there’s no way anyone will ever want to read them. With Cricket and Grey the rough draft was tough and torrid and stupid but I was so excited about the story and I had my grip on the proper voice and then on the second draft I was still super excited and got even more into it as I took out all the melodrama and began to make a finer work of it. The whole process was engrossing and felt like exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I felt like I was living my purpose and loving it. I felt right in my own skin.

I’m not saying it was all smooth going. There were the agonizing weeks of trying to decide on POV and rewriting the first chapter 12 times in different perspectives and tones. But I felt excited about it even as I agonized over the details. It’s all I wanted to do every day. I also had to work almost full time and parent and deal with my small town nemesis and growing crowd of pitchfork waving townies. But I’d sit down every day to write and what got me through the tougher parts were the good parts. Rereading through the previous days writing and seeing potential in it and good bits.

I have no good bits any more. I can’t even tell which project would be best to work on. I went back to the Jane story because it’s continued to nag at me for all the years I’ve set it aside. But I’m so depressed looking at what I thought was the good parts only to realize they aren’t good at all. Then I try completely rewriting and it doesn’t get any better.

It’s not the stories that suck, it’s my writing.

I didn’t realize this was writer’s block. I mean, I wrote 12 chapters into book 2 of Cricket and Grey before reworking the plot and starting over. I thought writer’s block was when you sit down and can’t even put words on the page. I realize now how stupid that is. Of course it’s when nothing you write is good. For months and months, wearing you down until you find yourself fantasizing about living out the rest of your life as an unpaid cheese promoter.

I need to get back into the middle of a project and be so engrossed I forget to feed my kid.** I’ve written so much and been so unsatisfied I feel like I haven’t written for months.

Then there’s the whole “Why I gotta wanna write such depressing dark stuff?”

Writer’s block is like a broken elevator that takes you up and down a building in an endless exercise of vertical pointlessness.

*In a chillingly astute observation a fellow writer suggested that my conversational skills might make this job a fulfilling and exciting one for me.
**More than usual, I mean.