Sometimes I feel like I just started this blog.
Then I look back and am like OMG HOW HAS 5 YEARS PASSED ALREADY
Same thing happens with my friends’ kids. Like OMG COLLEGE WHAT and YOU WERE JUST A BABY WHY ARE YOU TAKING THE BUS ON YOUR OWN and other reactions of that nature.
It really starts getting to me, though, when I realize how long it has been since I came up with a story idea that still has not been written. It’s not just shock but that weird creepy shame feeling, like I’ve let myself down, like what the fuck have I been DOING all this time? I can’t justify that there is a really interesting story that has been waiting since 2003 for me to complete it.
But what do I do about it? Mostly nothing.
I will say that I’m really glad I have the commute I do, now. Amtrak quiet car is the BOMB. I’ve actually done real writing. My commute now gives me 2-plus hours per day to write, and hopefully this means I can get some stories into the world. Because it’s been waaaaaaay too long that I’ve been getting in my own way. Hopefully that era is ending.
All fingers and paws crossed!
This seems like the obvious of obvious. Particularly for a writer and avid reader. But I have about 12 books that I literally don’t want to finish – some I’m only halfway through. It’s not because I don’t like them, either – quite the opposite! I don’t want to finish them because then the story is OVER or PAUSED FOR YEARS and I don’t get any more progress of these characters I’ve so quickly grown to love.
That sounds weird. But it is true.
When it comes to my entertainment, I am character-focused. I’ll forgive a lot of plot fuckery if the characters’ arcs feel true. I will forgive odd/contrived/trope-filled/what have you choices up until the moment where I feel that the characters would NOT make these choices and would NOT move the plot in that particular way. (The Battlestar Galactica reboot is an example of a show for which I let a lot of stuff slide up until a fave character did something WAY unusual.) I’ll even enjoy stuff that is objectively horrible as long as I buy the characters.
The flip side of this is that if I really adore the characters, I don’t want to leave their stories. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it happens often enough that I have a little collection of books I haven’t finished. Sabaa Tahir’s “A Reaper At The Gates” is a terrific example. Laia and Helene, holy CRAP. I have been loving this rich, gorgeous series and I don’t want this 3rd book to end. (Even though I know there’s a 4th book, I STILL don’t want the 3rd book to end.)
But I also really want to know what happened. And the avid reader part of me deserves that sigh of satisfaction at the end of a story well-told.
So I am working on being okay with things finishing. I have promised myself I’ll complete “Reaper at the Gates” and N.K. Jemisin’s “The Broken Earth…”
…and hopefully I’ll get enough into it to be okay with reading Chuck Wendig’s “Vultures.” Which is supposed to arrive in a few days. *bites nails*
Silver fountain pen nib on a journal page
One of the disadvantages of the digital world is that the content normally consigned to diaries and journals is now something that can be put out into the world for consumption by anyone. As someone who wrote diaries and journals avidly before my age hit double digits, I started putting my thoughts out in public back in 1995, when personal websites started becoming a thing. I also hopped into LiveJournal fairly early, as the benefit of being able to tailor one’s viewing audience was incredibly appealing. That said, since I was talking about my real feelings and issues, I also had the bad habit of taking my journals and blogs down on a fairly regular basis, feeling like I’d said too much.
But the REAL reason I shut everything down and stopped journaling for a while was because journaling for public consumption turned out to really compound any anxiety, depression and PTSD I was experiencing.* I tried writing non-authentically for a while, talking about events but not any emotions associated. Then I tried blogging only about writing stuff, but in the end I shuttered all my regular daily journaling efforts over 10 years ago.
But I missed it. I absolutely missed it. I tried a few times to restart only to come up against some big internal walls.
Almost two years ago I attended a webinar with the incandescent Andrea Schroeder and the truly marvelous Dionne Ruff-Sloan on journaling and trusting my voice again, and I worked more closely with Dionne after that. She provided me with some prompts to use to get me back into journaling in a gentle fashion, focusing on my emotional state and what . The only problem was that it felt selfish. Unauthentic. Wrong, in some strange way. I kept starting and stopping the process because of how it felt.
So one of my gifts to myself is to work on that. To see what part of journaling feels what way, and experiment with what might feel better. Reclaim the old way of writing only for myself and my future Selves who might want to read and relearn.**
* I also don’t do well in group therapy situations. I go downhill FAST.
** This was an important note because I’ve often read and reread what I wrote in past journals. It has been pretty useful to see how far I’ve come and what I need/ed to remember and reinforce.
Many people have said all the things about this guy, better than I could. But there’s one aspect to Stan I haven’t seen mentioned explicitly yet, and want to get my take out there.
What always amazed me about Stan was how many amazing, sympathetic characters he created in collaboration with other creatives. I often think about how many more of his creations I identify with than other worldbuilders. (Even more than Le Guin, and that is really saying something.) I mean, sure, when I was very young and watching superhero media, I loved Wonder Woman more than any other icon. But she was aspirational. I actually identified more with the Hulk, because the Hulk was always messing things up for Bruce Banner, even though Banner tried really hard to keep things together.
Yeah. As a kid, that really hit home.
Jean Grey/Phoenix and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch were similar. I identified with them because even though they had a lot more power than nearly anyone else, they also didn’t have the best control of it. Shit could blow up, sometimes despite their best efforts. As a kid with poor hand-eye coordination and not great fine motor control, in a family who had both in spades, that was kind of a balm. Knowing that sometimes, even people who are super can fuck things up.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought these characters (and more) to me, and gave me a context to understand myself in a different way. Kirby was gone before I really had gotten my arms around my fandom, but Lee? I got to see him as separate from the comics, and for that I’m grateful.
Thanks for everything, Stan.
I’m shaken. Tearing up. I thought she had more time.
Thank you, wonderful soul, for Arha/Tenar:
“A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free.”
Thank you, wonderful soul, for Therru/Tehanu:
“I think,” Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, “that I when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn’t do. All that I might have been and couldn’t be. All the choices I didn’t make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven’t been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I lived, the breath I breathed.”
I will miss the books you never wrote.
…but for some reason I can’t do it here.
So this is a note to say that I’ve been developing a “writing every day” habit, which even at my most intense during college I never achieved. Keeping all fingers and paws crossed I can keep it going!
For these breaths, a gift:
This moment in time, see
Your enraged heartbeat for what it is –
A steady flowing forward.
The flutter of struggling wings must have stirred the dust
Or flocked your windows with pollen.
How else did you not see
Things were changing all along.
We were all suffering.
We didn’t forget you.
We only wanted the liberty to grow alongside —
You are the ones who rejected us.
For hundreds of years we have been shoved
Into dustbins and cesspools and landfills and
Stuffed in the cracks in the concrete you laid over the living land.
And when life and joy were drawn up
From the depths of the soil still rich and loving
Waiting for us beneath your waste piles;
When leaves sprouted and buds reached up
You criticized the way in which we bloomed.
You want your change to scour.
You want your lawns clipped just this tall.
You want your concrete pale and smooth.
But we will sign our names in the borders.
Our fallen leaves will be fossil-marks in your surface.
We want our change to flourish.
We want concrete next to asphalt next to leaf-strewn
dirt paths next to lanes of wild, untrammeled exuberance.
We will not stay seeds.
If you stomp the bloom, the roots will spread.
We will crumble your foundation.
We will find our way into the sun.
Hand in hand, root
and leaf, bud and bloom together —
We take our space.
(@2016 risawolf. Feel free to share but please credit.)