Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure writer amidst chaos

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

It's been a chaotic month. I have a bit too much on my plate. I'm enjoying it, mostly, all except for the part about how my dog who I once considered perfectly behaved has been shitting on the carpet when I leave her for two hours ever since I went on a road trip to California that I just returned from.

I'm still planning to do Camp Nanowrimo, but have no idea what I'm going to work on and where on earth I'm going to find the time for it.

Weak-ass blog post, sorry. Isn't it weird how the more we have going on, the less we have to say, sometimes?


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

If you build it, they might come, but some of them will definitely go

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

One of the loveliest things about being a writer is I get to express a little piece of my soul every time I compose something, whether it be an article, a post, a story, a novel. How many people are so lucky as that--to be able to expose themselves in all their rawness, to be witnessed and validated? We all have a need to be seen--and writers make that need a little bit easier to meet.

The problem is when people see you and they don't like you.

I'm thinking about all the people who agreed to beta-read my novel, Dysmorphic Kingdom, which is finally going to be published this summer.

Some of them loved it. Enough of them, and I am so grateful for them.

Over half of them couldn't finish. Some of them told me so--that they just couldn't finish, or they couldn't find the time. Some of them simply never spoke to me again. It's not that I've completely lost those relationships, but with a huge elephant in the room that is my partially read manuscript, rejected for reasons unknown and never spoken of again, it's hard to move forward with a relationship in a productive direction.

An author I admired greatly, who I consider one of the most amazing SF/fantasy writers I've ever read, offered to exchange novels-in-progress with me. I loved his and told him so in great detail. As for mine...he said that he didn't have anything to say about it. And that was that.

Don't take it personally, I've learned. But what about the elephant? What about my relationships? What about the fact that they've seen a raw piece of your soul, and they don't like it? Have nothing to say about it? Cannot bear to speak to me again after seeing it?

I remember I cried when my ex-husband, back when we were married, told me he would try to read one of my stories that had been published in an anthology. He bookmarked it, but he never read it. The only thing he ever ended up trying to read of mine was an email (not addressed to him).

I started seeing someone who expressed interest in reading my writing. I'm a little ashamed of the desperate gratitude with which I began to bombard him with my stuff. See me, I begged. And a layer below that--please like me.

He said while reading it that it seemed like it wasn't sub-par. He finished...and he said nothing. I haven't asked.

We are not our writing. Our writing cannot be liked by everyone, and of course, what matters most is the expression, the art, the sublimation of reality into story. But people who are writers are usually doing it because they can't not do it. It is personal, and we would be falsely separating ourselves from the experience of that by claiming that it's not. I suppose all we can do is to feel the loss of relationships with people who cannot for whatever reason engage with our work, and to allow those emotions to fuel further story.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thoughts from dreaming time

You know how sometimes when you start talking, you don't actually know how you're going to finish your sentence, but something runs on ahead and organizes your ideas and your words right before they come out of your mouth, so it all makes sense...

Lately, that something has been taking a vacation, so when I start talking, oftentimes the sentences aren't finished for me and I end up stammering, idea half-expressed and with no idea how to complete it.

I've been going to cafes to try to work out scenes for this or that writing project, but I sit there mostly staring into space, and disparate bits of story emerge from here and there, but it's like trying to pull a really soft noodle out of a pile of spaghetti--no matter how gently you work, it just breaks off and you're left with an inch of noodle hanging from between thumb and forefinger. Not enough to make any sense of your noodles.

A man I loved thirteen years ago died last month...when I found out, I cried for two minutes and then just felt annoyed. I've told myself many times that any emotional experience can be sublimated into a story, allowing oneself to detach from the emotional charge and yet grow from the experience. My problem is that I don't really feel much at all about this. So I have no story to raw material to organize and make sense of...I don't even have a pile of spaghetti to try to pick soft noodles out of!

I have this what it means to be happy? That I'm unable to think clearly or produce anything? That I'm an uninspired lump? Do I truly need extremes of emotion in order to create the mental momentum to linearize reality into story--either nonfiction or fiction?

Of course, there is never just one answer--just another frequency, another point of view. I posit that we all need these hours or days or weeks of mental and emotional dormancy. It's dreaming time, and we need it for healing, for recharging, for backing off from old patterns so when we wake up we can operate according to something new...

Something I've been thinking about lately as well...I've been reading Foucault's History of Sexuality, which isn't actually about sex--it's more about how our culture has constructed sexuality into a means to realizing truth, a means to liberate ourselves, to find ourselves. We've built sexuality into a thing of polarities and mystery and taboo and obsession and identity, when actually it's just this normal, natural thing we do with no special properties toward facilitating self-actualization. What has actually created the truth-finding ego-defining aspects of sexuality is the discourse, the patterns, the set-up of polarities of repression vs. liberation.

With this in mind--I've been thinking about how there is no truth inherent in any subject at all. The truth lies in the discourse, the patterns created by the narrative. The truth isn't in the subject of a story, but in the telling of it...Truth lies in function, not form--in the creation of a history, of relationships, of aspects of one part to another. There is no truth to define save the history itself.

It's the same way that anything is a hologram of the entire universe. Any one separate part, any one aspect of the universe can be developed into a replica of the macrocosm--we can find truth in any separated piece of the whole. It's why we can find truth in astrology, palmistry, iridology--or any of the more established "sciences"--it's why we can find it in a leaf or a cell or an atom. The truth lies not in the subject, but in the discourse created about and around the subject.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beyond reasonability

In my last post, I talked about two beings that exist inside of me and switch dominance every so often--one being, Unreasonable Colleen, ruled by emotion--and the other, Reasonable Colleen, who is ruled by thought.

Unreasonable Colleen emerged in the past couple days and has been feeling kind of shitty. She's spent a lot of time yelling at her kids to clean up and stop fighting, all the while feeling intensely guilty for not being nicer. She also did a couples massage and became really invalidated because her massage partner got alarmed and lectured Colleen at what she considered a massive breach of massage etiquette on Colleen's part--because most massage schools teach you that you should always keep a continuity of physical contact with your client, and Colleen doesn't pay much attention to that sort of thing. Especially since she wasn't connecting with her client on any other level either. But Unreasonable Colleen is particularly sensitive to being judged, and she thought about how she tries to be such a good person but manages to piss off multitudes of people nevertheless, and she imagined for an abyss-like, breathless moment what it might be like to hear all the negative things people have ever said about her. Then at home she feverishly push-mowed the lawn, trying to drown out the voices with a couple hours of unpleasant physical labor.

Unreasonable Colleen is still a little bit in residence, but tempered somewhat by the presence of Reasonable Colleen alongside her, who keeps reassuring her that all the pain of being pure traumatized emotion will pass. And here's what we ran across together tonight, from this book we've started reading--Relationship & Identity, by David Spangler:
All bodies, all vehicles, have certain needs and certain motivations, and each of our different bodies are no exception to this rule. It is also true that all forms of energy are living intelligences, are actually entities of some kind or other, and each of our bodies is again not an exception to this rule.
The emotional body creates the energy of motion--attraction and repulsion, "I like it" and "I don't like it." The mental body creates the energy of direction, by creating thought-forms toward which we will ourselves. Both of these elemental bodies find identity outside themselves.
Probably ninety five percent of what we call the spiritual path is composed of learning how to identify oneself with the soul in such a way that the soul takes control over these elementals and in essence absorbs them or disperses them or destroys them, so that you are not four or five different beings, struggling to work together but part of the time moving off in different directions: the astral elemental wanting this, and the physical elemental wanting that, and the mental elemental wanting something else. But you are one being, purely. You move with that singleness of identity, and that is a source of incredible--in fact, total--creative power.
When we hunger for something, when we feel either lack or desire, it's ultimately a reflection of a basic hunger for the purity of being.
Purity...refers to the ability of a being to enter into a state of silence, a state of non-activity in the moment, that it can stop and consider what it is experiencing and what it is that is motivating it, and begin to sort out the different levels of motivation and being to integrate them, so that its actions proceed not from the levels of personality which tends to see things from a rather restricted point of view--whichever point of view is holding the reins in the moment, either the emotions or the mind--but begins to see things from a more total point of view, the embracing point of view of the soul, the rhythm of the inner divinity, and begins to move in such a way that the needs that are met are true needs and they satisfy all levels.
I think this is a nice answer to my agonized question about how to mediate between my states of being. We can take all our desire and channel it toward a desire for wholeness, and we can create a few thought-forms that say that we can trust ourselves--maybe just a little bit. Giving the two parts of myself something in common to work for, they can start to find the bridges to synthesis.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writer: A post devoted to Unreasonable Colleen

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I've noticed for a while that I have this distinct other personality that comes out every month, usually for two or three days when I'm pmsing. I call her "Unreasonable Colleen," and during the time she's in control, she wreaks havoc with relationships and often sends out hordes of angst-y texts and e-mails. Before I was married, I typically broke up with boyfriends once a month, then would apologize profusely and get back together a day or two later.

I realized that the main difference between Unreasonable Colleen and Reasonable Colleen (that's me) is that Unreasonable Colleen is intensely bothered by the difference between mental ideals and physical/emotional reality. Unreasonable Colleen is attuned to the emotional traumas that remain trapped in her physical body, and she gets very upset at what she puts up with that doesn't feed her soul.

Anyway, even though one way to think about Unreasonable Colleen is as a different being who I created in order to carry all my trauma and protect me by being super bitchy and angsty whenever I'm triggered to re-experience that trauma, another way to reframe this experience of two personalities is that Reasonable Colleen is my mental self in control, and Unreasonable Colleen is my emotional self in control.

What bothers me is that my mental self and my emotional self disagree so strongly about the ways they perceive my life. There are different esoteric takes on these two selves--Nietzsche talks about the mental self as being Apollonian, and the emotional self being Dionysian--and how society is dominated by paternalistic Apollonian structures, when liberation and ecstasy and art all arise from the Dionysian.

The channeled Right Use of Will books, which have had considerable influence on my way of thinking, talk about Spirit and Will and the imbalance between them--how Spirit is more the mental self, and Will has been the subjugated emotional self--the female part of us that has been so long unacknowledged as being equal to Spirit-mind.

What balances them in Heart--the "son" of Spirit and Will--and Reasonable and Unreasonable Colleen being so divergent in their views makes me think that something is going on with Heart in that mine is unable to bridge the gap between my selves.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reflections on the A-Z challenge

I'd like to reflect on my experience of the A-Z challenge this year, even though I did it on my other, shared blog, and only wrote half the entries, and was barely aware when it was going on.

Nice things:
  • It was my most uneventful, least stressful challenge in the four years I've done it. I pre-wrote all 13 entries in March and they were easy and enjoyable to produce.
  • I got to play a lot in writing these posts. I'm not very good at writing poetry, but I enjoy it a lot. So for a number of A-Z entries, I chose different poem forms and wrote stuff that was mostly pretty tasteless (see this one about love with a Reptilian alien or this one about someone trying to get off before a meteor crashes into Earth), but easily got me in my "writing zone"--that place in which I'm totally present and completely enjoying what I'm doing. For a few of them, like this one, I used the poetic format to sublimate emotional experiences, which is also extremely satisfying. I jammed out a few stories as well (like this one), mostly in the 2nd-person format that is usual for the Hot Pink Books series.
Less nice things:
  • The lack of stress correlated to the lack of engagement. Since it wasn't even on my personal blog, and since Karen posts everything, I didn't visit anyone else's blog during the challenge, which really is a big part of the experience. 
  • I've been studying Jacques Lacan lately. Or rather, I read a few articles he wrote, understood next to nothing, and have been poring over this article for a few days, which makes him slightly more comprehensible. From what I gather, one of Lacan's great contributions to the realm of psychotherapy is the idea that when we first enter the world, we experience it in as undifferentiated a state as is possible in a human body. We first get the idea that we have a "self"--and the ego starts to form--when we see the other and realize that it's a reflection of us. But because that reflection isn't reality, merely an image that separates us further from reality, it creates an aggressivity with ourselves and others, our relationships with the world. We can never truly know anything--we simply make meanings out of language and further separate ourselves from the real by entering into the symbolic, separative, violently forced world of words. Yet we continually strive to develop our false sense of self, and in that striving we fear the pain that others can inflict upon us as we look to find truth in our reflection and are confronted with the bastardization that is the only thing we can actually achieve in the process
    • Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that during this A-Z challenge, I was particularly aware of the games I play with myself with regard to ego, audience, the gaze of the other, a false sense of self and how that impacts me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

New novella release: Cock-sure

I was thinking that this has got to be one of the most anticlimactic, sidling, semi-embarrassed novella releases ever, but that seems to be the way most erotica actually enters the market. So here it is: my latest release from Hot Pink Books, the Regency-era-themed choose-your-own-erotic-adventure novella, Cock-sure.

The story: 
As a poor gentlewoman living in Regency England, you dream of a life of simplicity and long for the day your handsome neighbor Bartholomew might offer for your hand. However, your mother has informed you that unless you marry your landlord, Mr. Peabody, he'll send your father to debtor's prison. 

Torn between duty to your family, your infatuation with Bartholomew, and your own sexual curiosity, you embark on an erotic journey on which your choices can take you from the height of the fashionable world of the ton to the depths of ruin in the seedy underbelly of 19th century London.
This novella is a little darker than the previous two I wrote (Cinderella Bared and Intercorpse) and there are fewer places the choices lead, but I spent the extra space on character development and more detailed erotic scenes. My favorite of those scenes was inspired by a surreal encounter in the parking lot of Caribou Coffee a couple months ago, which transpired after a first date with someone who was bland and somewhat uninteresting to converse with, but who was very, very hot. It's not often that real life translates so directly into fiction, but this guy was straight out of the Harlequin formula--emotionally unavailable, somewhat cold, a control freak, with kind of a cruel, objectifying passion. A jerk, but a muse as well.

I've been unsure of what the theme of the next novella is going to be. I thought about writing one about Minnesota, but after brainstorming it I looked at my notes and realized that I had actually successfully creeped myself out. Too close to home! I've written an initial scene of a time-travel one, but it's not grabbing me. So we will see...