Reach out. Stay Positive. We've Got This.
As most of you know, I’ve been a recluse in the forest for several years now. Isolation is not new to me. However, I’m aware of how challenging isolation can be if you’re not prepared for it. If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, or isolation during the social distancing please reach out to me, your community, or your tribe. With the technology we have today to stay connected, there’s no reason for anyone to feel alone during quarantine.
Due to Covid19 many people will not be able to be in public for many reasons. Many people will not be able to leave their homes, or be around other humans. Many will not be able to keep habits and patterns that support nurturing connective relationships in their immediate communities. This can have a terrible impact on quality of life, spirit, and believe it or not, it can negatively impact immune-responsiveness. Those most at risk will be the elderly, the very young, and the disabled. If you know of any elderly living alone, please reach out to them and keep in touch.
It is scientifically proven that uplifting social connectivity increases immune responsiveness and boosts mental and emotional fortitude. (Assuming those interactions are positive)
So, I encourage you, and myself, to reach out to people more in the next few weeks. Call them for phone chats, face times, emails, and texts. Touch bases more often. If it’s safe for you to get out and meet them for coffee or drinks, make a date. If not, make a coffee date on the phone. Connect with your tribe, and with people in your community who might not have tribe.
I encourage you to post more uplifting and positive memes, content, and thoughts. I will be sorting through archives for uplifting and funny clips, humanizing content and connective stories. I’ll also be making a lot of phone calls and setting up chats over the next few weeks.
Yes, keep the spread and danger down. Yes, stay safe and healthy. But try not to lock yourself away to shiver in alone in fear. Try to reach out to those who don’t know how, or can’t reach by themselves. Isolating to detriment is dangerous on a lot of levels, so just touching bases once a day with someone makes a huge difference. You might have to be isolated—but you do not have to be alone.
If you want to have a coffee date via phone, hit me up. If you need a couple of emails sent to your inbox, or a letter in the mail to keep you connected to another human being—please don’t be shy. Just reach out, and I’ll reach back. I’d be happy to write you a note, or tell you a story. Or play a game of Go Fish via Facetime.
You can contact me privately via the webform here for a connection: CONNECT WITH ATHENA
Loneliness is often, not always, but often a choice. There are options available to help you stay connected to a live link if you desire it. These safety measures and precautions for public health are temporary, so in the meantime we’ll just have to be creative, adaptive, and try a little harder to help each other stay connected.
We are a world tribe and we can beat this Corona bitch together, right?
P.S. I’m adding a page to the website for my recipes. For those of you who need a little creative boost in the kitchen and some ideas for meal prep since restaurants are closed #socialdistancingfood. Follow the food… The ELDER GLADE RECIPES
Most of the big deadlines are wrapping up. Thankfully, many of those deadlines were self-imposed. Legal paperwork has been filed. Taxes are almost done. Chapter re-blocks for three characters are looking much better, and TLE Week Three is mapped. High Tide Tempest is in a bit of a business lull and limbo, but I expect that to shift in the near future. And so it goes, it’s never really done, but this surge of finishing points is feeling like progress.
Still, while I’m wrapping up these deadlines and preparing Plague of Gargoyles for a summer nap I have found myself idly gazing out at the forest more and more. This is a sign that I need to take a break soon-- my brain is overheating.
The unprecedented shift in daily affairs and public safety due to the Corona Virus has changed many plans. For starters, my part time gig down at the pub is on notice as restaurants are being shut down for safety measures. Isolation and self-imposed quarantine are nothing new to me, as I’ve been a hermit for the better part of three years. Still, some basic planning and preparing for social distancing is in the works. This means it’s time to get caught up on some mundane things.
The house needs a thorough deep-clean for spring. I should already be pruning the roses and raspberries, but I’m still behind on all the things. Next week will be my in-house catchup. I’ll be cooking and prepping meals, and starting on the spring clean list. The week after, I’ll have to catch up on yard and garden. The fruit trees are about to leaf, and the grapes will be waking up by the end of the month and will need to be trained this year (year three is the fruit bearing year, and they need to be trellised).
As far as garden goes, the work will be significant this year. The grapes are not the only trained items, the kiwis need replanting and training as well. The new fig I got from Joe and the dozen or so hazelnut trees will need to be positioned and settled soon, too. Not all of them will take, but I’m hoping for at least a handful to root. The garden itself is in need of a remodel now that the chickens are gone and the old coop burned down. What a mess. Ugh. Just thinking about the racoon massacres has put me off of chicken farming for a while. I won’t be doing bees this year but the hives need to be stripped, cleaned and stored for next year (the wax needs to be cleaned and rendered). In short, there’s a lot to do. I haven’t even begun my vegetable starts yet, that’s how far behind I am. I’m likely going to have to go with purchased plants this year.
The coming out of the forest transformation is put on temporary hiatus as the world locks down. The irony is not lost on me that the moment I decide it’s time to come out of hermitage—the world is put on social distancing notice. Well played, Universe. Well Played. I did not see that coming.
On the bright side, Mabelyn called to let me know that for once in my life, I’m trending. YAY! Homesteaders living in the woods are finally trending. My work here is done.
As for the body re-model: I dropped out of ketosis for a few weeks to load up, and re-plan my diet for the plateau break. I dropped out of the leaning between 20lb from where I started. My body is already starting to level off on my diet and exercise so it needs a shift. Likely a cheat week, then a protein remodel, and a new calorie ratio of fat to carb, then a new cardio plan. I may even take a week to do a quick cleanse, I didn’t expect so much detoxing this round of leaning. Like, whoa, so much more detoxing than expected—which made me realize how unkind I’ve been to myself for the last three years. Let up on the stress and boozing, lady. My skin went absolutely nuts, and my fatigue was off the charts for what it should have been. Not good. Hopefully, a cleanse will make the next round of leaning less icky.
If I’m back in ketosis with an adapted regimen by the first week of April, I’ll still be on schedule for the goal in October. Yay!
Books and Publishing
With the banner change and bringing my work under one label, it’s time to start pushing for a management team. Originally, I was considering bringing on an assistant or an intern, but upon really looking at the volume of work over twenty years and the marketing plan it’s become painfully obvious that I need more than an assistant—likely a whole management support system.
As far as IPs (intellectual properties) go, The Pillars of Dawn, and The Life Erotic are both large properties with extensive material and backgrounds to work with—however, they are unknown, and therefore present a risk. Risk in the sense that they don’t come with a fanbase and a large following to support them. On the other hand—that also works in their favor as there is not a huge base ready to chop apart any adaptation or option deals. So, it’s a mixed bag.
I personally think the unknown aspect works highly in favor, as literally nothing like either one of my series is currently on the market or being presented in film/television format. So it will be an “out of left field”. A surprise, as it were. There’s very little in the film/television world that’s surprising and rich nowadays. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the boom in live stream and the slog of content being released means there’s a lot of “filler content”. Which has led me to cancel some of my streaming services, for lack of original and refreshing storytelling. Yes, there’s some, but not enough, at least in my opinion. And I hate having to sort through a bunch of dreck to find something surprisingly excellent.
For comparison, this boom in content has happened twice before. Look at the music industry and when it went digital, and again in literature when e-publishing democratized the field. When a boom of content hits the airwaves and becomes accessible to the general public, a flood of options, tastes, styles, and ideas come with that surge. It also means anyone can put it out there, and they do. This is awesome! It breaks down the gatekeeper functions of market conditioning.
Breakdown in market conditioning allows the consumer market to “re-condition” to a state that’s closer to actual audience preferences versus gatekeeper and profiteer preferences. Wooohooo!
And we are there finally, in the visual entertainment industry. In film/television/streaming there’s a land race for grabbing space and viewer attention. Air waves are the new gold rush and content producing companies are facing a “wild west” mentality.
Perfect. It’s about fucking time they have to prove their value as sifters and content producers. It’s about time they have to stand in front of their decisions to the public, and not to share holders. In a perfect world—it would be both public and shareholder, but we’ll get there.
With all that said, I’ve made up my mind that since it’s time to come out of the woods, AND I happen to be sitting on two active series with large IP potential that no one has seen yet, and is written specifically for an audience that has as of yet been denied (the female audience)—it’s time to go live.
I intend to be at the optioning table this year on both of my active IPs. The plan is to bed them down somewhere they can be marinating, and get back to work, back to work with a fire under my butt.
I was able to produce a lot while in hibernation, the flip side of that is that I left no real footprint while I was in building mode out here in the wilderness, and management companies like to see a footprint before investing headcount. So, I’ll be on the hunt for risk takers, and a team that wants to be a co-collaborative experience.
I’ll keep you posted. This should be an interesting adventure. My teeth are in the idea, so it will happen one way or the other, even if that means I have to build a management team from scratch and out of pocket. You know me, once an idea gets in my jaws…it’s just a matter of time.
Queries go out this week. Stay tuned.
That’s it for the Mid-month Update for March. I sincerely hope you are all staying safe, healthy, and connected. I will be trying to post regularly to keep content fresh and up-to-date. Please chime in on what you’d like to see or hear, and I will do my best to work it in.
Thank you for all your support!
“How do I connect with a Muse?” It seems like a strange question, but since I write about the nine Muses in The Pillars of Dawn, I actually get asked this question fairly often. Usually, the question pops up when I’m sitting with artists, and the conversation rolls around to blockages.
I don’t believe in blockages, writers’ or otherwise, so I usually end up saying so and acknowledging my creative outputs are heavy, deep, and if uninterrupted can go on for hours/days without pause.
The short of it is, when I connect to the pipeline—it’s pours out, and it’s all I can do to try to keep up. (Funny note: my laptop is getting old, so when I’m on a really good streak and blazing out content, there are times when my keystrokes outpace my word processor and I have to stop for a minute and wait for my computer to catch up. Yes, I need a new laptop. It’s on the list.)
Artists in these conversations refer to this energy as the Muse. Inspiration. Graced with productivity, ideas, and source. I don’t disagree. I think of it much the same way, and I thoroughly enjoy writing about the Muses in my series with this power.
People mistakenly think I have some sort of “in” with Calliope, or something and ask me how they can get an introduction, or how to “snag” a Muse for their project.
That’s not really how it works. The best explanation I can think of to entice a Muse to an artist really boils down to the concept of true partnership. Enchant her with your energy, and prove you’re a good match for her.
Muses (energy) will partner with like energy (vessel). Like attracts like in this case, right?
While I can imagine myself, and the characters I write in The Pillars of Dawn as vessels—they (and myself) must be a match for the energy of the Muse in question. As seen in the books, pairing the wrong energy with the wrong vessel is catastrophic. It just doesn’t work.
As a storyteller, my match to a Muse energy is storyteller energy, right? So, what is storyteller energy? It starts with willingness. It begins with curiosity. Being open to answers that bring more questions, that breed more mysteries, which leave breadcrumbs of truth that lead to discovery. Quintessentially, story is a journey. If you’re not open to a sojourn down the scenic route—you’re not open to storyteller energy and that Muse will pass you by. If you have all the answers already, she’s going to go dance with someone else, because she wants to discovery the mysteries, too.
The same rule of inspiration applies to all forms of elevated and cosmic consciousness whether that’s music, law, language, mathematics, the sciences, astronomy, leadership, and so on and so forth. Like energy attracts like energy. Being open to the mystery, brings connections with higher consciousness in the field in which you would like to have a pipeline to inspiration and discovery.
The principle is pretty basic, also known as “The Law of Attraction”.
So, now you’ve got the Muse. You’ve managed to connect with a sense of curiosity, openness, willingness to create in this amniotic womb of the unknowable mystery in your chosen field. Now what?
Now that you’ve connected, you treat the relationship like a partnership—a true partnership. The connection is “at will”, remember? She’ll just move along if you’re puttering around trying to decide what to do. In short, put a damn ring on it. Commit.
What does that mean?
There’s a level of commitment required in this relationship to keep your Muse, and your inspirations flowing. Commitment to the work. Commitment to the process. Commitment to the continued relationship of Muse and Vessel. The second you decide you’re too tired to keep going, she’ll pack up and move onto the next Vessel. (You can win her back, if you work at it, but she’s going to make it hard on you.)
As a storyteller, my commitments look like this: When an idea comes, I make note of it. Always. Whether I’ll follow that breadcrumb later or not is another story—but I always make a note. This is why I have boxes of notes, scribbles on my hands, menus with dialog in the margins, sticky pads, audio recordings, and photos with captions for my files. The inspirations are popping in, constantly.
How do I keep them popping in? By living. This seems weird, but it’s true. The movie, Short Circuit, where the robot is struck by lightning, and he wanders around saying “Johnny Five is Alive”, “Need input”.
That’s my life as a storyteller. Short Circuit is a perfect metaphor for the human condition, and the life of a storyteller. I basically wander around saying, “Need input”.
Story cannot happen in a vacuum. It needs air. It needs experience. It needs contrast and depth. All of which I need in order to produce believable content, characters, and scenarios. My imagination is rich—but it has limits. I need actual tastes, textures, and elements to flesh out my worlds and scenes.
To that end, I try a lot of new foods, drinks, recipes and markets. I put a lot of strange stuff in my mouth. Some of it is delicious—some of it is retch-worthy. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
I wander through textile stores on weekends and touch all the things. I rub in on my inner forearm, my check, and my neck. Furs, faux furs, leathers, cottons, blends, satins, weaves, and so on. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
I walk into apothecary shops to taste and smell. I invite strangers into conversations. I get on the bus and people watch for hours in the city, with no destination in mind. I take photos of people at the beach. I loiter in the library for hours and make notes on the books people are checking out, and how they observe me in the corner, spying. I wander through Goodwill, and assemble outfits for my characters. I jump out of airplanes. I stop at the rock shop at that little beach town on the coast and pick up all the pretty stones and give them jobs in my scenes. I book short trips to places I’ve never seen. AND I WRITE ABOUT ALL OF IT.
Input. Input. Input. I am alive. I need input. All these details and inputs I’m gathering, cataloging, storing—becomes story-ing.
Hence the phrase on my business card:
Inhale Life, Exhale Story.
My commitment to my Muse is that I live big, and boldly, and often messily. I gather data. I ask a lot of questions. I make notes of hypotheticals, ponderances, curiosities.
In turn, she (my Muse) gets to adventure this world with me. She’s with me when I’m at the textile store, or skydiving. She’s with me when I’m drinking a new wine or flirting with the bartender. She’s right there when I’m wandering the jagged coastline searching for mermaids, and gathering shells. She’s even with me on all my worst dates. She is living vicariously through all my discoveries and experiences.
So when we sit down together, as partners, and I place my hands on the keyboard, tuck my legs up under my body and disconnect from this world—Aria blooms under my fingertips.
Vast spaces open up between this world and the next, and in those gaps characters emerge, conflicts abound, and adventure beckons. And all those scenes are fleshed out with everything I have tasted, touched, smoked, or swallowed, everything I have ached from, yearned for, bled on, laughed at, been broken by, lifted from, reached for, and have been inspired to express because it feels so very real.
Sometimes reality and my imagination cross over. They can get tangled and woven because so much of my life is put in my work. It takes time to come out of a writing binge and unpick reality so I can function as a normal human being again. This can be hard for people to be around; especially if I go straight from a heavy writing session to lunch with friends, I can be really disoriented for an hour or more.
But hot damn, was it fun while I was in there! Being plugged in is like flying! Even the hard stuff can be a total blast.
So you see, the commitment doesn’t end with just being open to the mystery and the discovery. The commitment doesn’t end with putting your butt in the chair to pour it out all out. The commitment is a life choice. It’s a way of living, for me anyway.
This life choice means I have a flourishing, co-creative relationship with my pipeline to creativity and I live accordingly. By nurturing this energy, I can rely upon it to support me whenever I sit down to work. By keeping this relationship fed and secure, I have total faith and trust in the power of the connection. It goes both ways.
A Muse is not there only at your whim, and to treat her as such means she’ll just move along.
She does not just make appearances when it’s convenient for you, say on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm. You either make her a part of your life, a part of your tribe—or she will run off with the cute painter down the road.
Respect her time. Listen to what she says, her voice is an equal element in your work and life, whichever field you are working in. Support her needs, and she will support yours. Make time to be alone with her. Make time to show her your world. Make time to play, adventure, and enjoy one another. Then when the inspirations start pouring in…get a notebook and pay attention.
Many of the writers in the groups that believe in blockages have habitualized those blockages. They have fortified those blockages so well, and cling to them so tightly that nothing is getting in. They must be dismantled from the inside out—and by dismantle, what I really mean is recognizing they are fictitious, and they will simply crumble.
FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real.
Those blockages are fear.
This is the part that confuses me about blockages in creativity. What the actual fuck is there to fear about unlimited creativity?
Unlimited potential. Wow. Seems unreal, right? Except it isn’t. It’s totally achievable, and a mega ton of fun to boot.
So, moral of the story. Have fun. Play. Be sensual. Be creative. Be a good partner. Be curious. Be hungry. Be open. Be adventurous. Be loose.
All you have to do to “snag” a Muse is be living your life, and be open to the ideas that come. And once you’ve piqued her curiosity with your laughing, smiling, joy…she’ll scoot in closer, snuggle up against you at the keyboard and as you to tell her s story.
Then you just take a deep breath and prepare for an amazing ride.
This post is for all my fellow ladies who have ever feared their own voice, desires, and ambition. If you have ever kept silent, or endured for fear of scorching the Earth with the power of your hunger—this post is for you.
When I came to the woods, tucked in and wrapped myself in the work it was an instinctual, desperate, almost animalistic move. Very few people understood it at the time, but it felt primal to me. It was sequester and build—or be devoured by the machinery of conformity.
My books, my writing style, my personality, my very dreams were contrary to the way the industry, the corporate world, and mainstream programming work. It was bend to the expectations of fitting into the matrix, quiet my voice, and be less--or leave.
So I left.
But I wasn’t idle for three years, I was creating. I closed down all unnecessary energy expenditures, let go of all corporate support, ditched relationships that were feeding toxins and contributing to the lag. I grew more fierce, protective, and feral as time went by.
And I wrote. I wrote like my fingers were burning, because my spirit was on fire.
The Pillars of Dawn, The Life Erotic, and The Creative Revolution, all grew exponentially in purpose while I was in hermitage. The meanings behind them, the purpose of why I was creating them, the lightning to be drawn down and channeled into the fuel of words all began to take shape and develop into a heartbeat with an even stronger sense of mission. Message was birthing into story, and it was a painful, sweaty, exhaustive process.
It’s funny when I go back through twenty-five years of work and re-discover old stories and books, manuscripts, film scripts and so on that were learning modules for my development as a storyteller. I unboxed three books I wrote ages ago. Two of the books were the beginning of a fantasy series I wrote when I was 16-21. Then, there was one other book I wrote at about age 23-26ish, The Alchemy of Blood.
I had completely forgotten about it. When I opened the box it was still labeled by the work-in-progress name and it took me a moment to remember what it was about. In the first days when I really began to own that I would be a writer, and that my life would take the course dictated by the pathway upon which that dream would be mapped—I was struggling with what voice meant. My mentor at the time, Jessica Morrell, was teaching me about voice—but I still didn’t know what it meant to me on a personal level. There’s writing voice, personal voice, and then there’s me, right?
Or was that right? I wasn’t sure at the time. I was also in a marriage at that point that made me feel trapped, cornered. There was no way out. My voice as a woman was insignificant, my needs and dreams secondary or treated as nonsensical (humored, at best). I was pretty sure that marriage would be my death. I was angry, tired, lonely, and aching to be allowed to be strong, but terrified that I would destroy everything and everyone if I reached for my power. The power of voice.
So, I wrote a book: The Alchemy of Blood, as a practice run to try and connect with my voice. My author voice, and my personal feminine voice. I needed a safe place to explore the consequences of self hood as designed by me, rather than imposed by my world. It was a fictional obstacle course to work through my fear, my dis-empowerment, and my terror of owning my own rage and channeling it into discipline and purpose. I had a secret fear that if I spoke my true words—I’d accidentally burn the world down. That’s how afraid of my own voice I really was. So, I borrowed my namesake and leaned into her mythology as a support to produce a book exploring the individual sovereignty and powerful journey of being a woman in a world built for men. A world built from the blood of women…for men.
The most interesting part of The Alchemy of Blood was that I forgot about it. Then some twenty years later, I no longer fear my own voice. I no longer fear accidentally causing harm. I no longer fear the conflicts that arise when my true nature rubs up against the system. Writing it took the clamps off my brakes.
The book did exactly what it was meant to do. It gave me a place to practice, explore, rethink, reconfigure. It lanced my rage, gave direction to my meanings, and offered an outlet for creativity and craft. It’s probably safe to say that manuscript was the basis for the tone and purpose I carried onto my storyteller path. It might also be the manuscript that kept me alive when my whole world tipped ass over teakettle shortly after I started writing it. There was even a brief moment when I wondered if my world had imploded because I’d started writing it. But when I realized those comforts, patterns, and relationships were contributing to keeping me stuck and in fear. I let go of them, and embraced the voice even tighter and held on for the ride.
I also discovered during the last two decades of writing, that I was not the only woman who feared her own voice. Who lived in terror of what they might feel or say. Who lost sleep trying to keep silent. Or slept alone for having spoken and scorched the Earth with her desires. It was during those years, discovering all these other women with the same fear that I had resolved to own mine, control it, then express it for others who may need path to safety.
As far as names go, my parents could have done much worse. My dad still calls me the wise-ass goddess, but that’s another story, I suppose.
All this is to explain, as I’m going through all the archives and sifting material for the coming rebrand and launch—it seems fitting to post the prologue to The Alchemy of Blood since it pretty much underscores the nature of my work in female empowerment and literature for the last twenty years. The trick to finding a voice and brand that will present well, and be able to be inspire and empower without repulsing or causing fear, well, I’ll need some help and direction with that. But, you know, all in due time and with the right collaboration.
In the meantime: Prologue: The Alchemy of Blood
I’m blazing down the to-do list on the brand remodel and life overhaul. It’s been surprisingly easy to chop and hack at those habits and ideas that are no longer serving the overall goal. I’ve been mercilessly breaking apart anything that feels stale, or stagnant. Including old fixed points, and areas in my brain that were vehemently anchored at “never”. Now I’m trying to say things like, “Well, maybe. I’ll think about it.”
This shift from NO to MAYBE has punctured a keyhole space in the old fixed energy, and I can almost feel the rush of fresh air on my face. It’s time for new opportunities to flow. It’s still a little surprising I let things get so overgrown and disheveled. Then I have to remind myself, I came out here to focus—which meant letting everything else go until I made it to the mid-point on The Pillars of Dawn so I could reformulate and re-direct the process. I locked everything out so I could get my build on. That protective “NO” bubble kept my creative world sheltered so I could bring forth these books. Mission accomplished, time to reconfigure and leave the creative bubble.
I feel like I’m crawling out of a very deep hole in the ground, covered in muck, fists clenched around a hard-won prize.
And so here we are, almost one month down, and eight months to go. I took a break from sending out queries. I’ve stacked up a list of potential firms and agencies I’ll hit up after said break. The plan is starting to coalesce into more solid desires and reachable metrics. So, all in all, change is a comin’. It’s that moment when you lurch forward just a little bit, and momentum has a chance to catch. Yeah, I feel it. Here we go.
Venus must be transiting a weird spot in my chart. Ordinarily I don’t let these conversations get under my skin or get me talking. But a couple of drinks and I'm suddenly blathering it all. We’ll call it a cosmic realignment and not revisit again, I hope.
I recently had a long talk with a couple of regulars at the restaurant about the challenges of living in isolation, and maintaining human connections to fuel my work as a storyteller. They always seem to have new questions about what it’s like to be a recluse, live in a woodland cottage, write books, and generally “do whatever the hell you want”. They are mystified by what they call my “obsessive independence”. They’re always asking what’s new up in my little glade, as if anything interesting ever actually happens.
I’ll call the nice elderly lady Gladys. She could pass for a Gladys. Which would make him a Duke, though I’m not sure why those monikers seem to fit for the purposes of internet anonymity. Gladys and Duke have been married for fifty something years, and by their own admission, have fallen in and out of love several times. “Marriage is hard work” they say, since they don’t know I’ve been married before, and would rather resign myself to a coal mine shift than do it again. I mean, never say never I guess. But the possibility is so staggeringly low it’s hard to imagine that scenario entering my life again.
Still, Gladys and Duke are far too interested in my love life, or as Gladys has rightly guessed--my absolute aversion to it. Further still, Gladys has been interested in my books, and recently discovered I write erotica under a pen name.
When Duke made a trip to the gentleman’s privy, Gladys took her opportunity to ask some personal questions.
I was surprised. Embarrassed, even. Yes, I get asked about my books and adult content by readers at inopportune and often inappropriate times (often when my mouth is full or I’m sitting with friends at a cafe), but she seemed genuinely interested and non-judgmental.
So I said, “You know, I’d really love to answer those questions in full, and as you know, I have no shame or embarrassment around the topic…let me write a post and you can read it on my blog when I’ve had a chance to think it over?”
So, here we are.
Yes, Gladys, B. Unbidden (Blush) is based on my life as a sybarite; some real, some imagined, some dreamt. It’s amalgamated. Yes, I do believe in deep abiding, passionate love and intimacy. Some believe that the oceans are Earth’s last uncharted frontier—I believe our human capacity to swim in the totality of Universal acceptance and love with another human being is the last truly unexplored horizon. Or, well, maybe it’s just my last frontier. I’ll ponder that.
Yes, I do a lot of research. Yes, some of it is sexy and fun, and some of it not so much. I could write a whole book on the various and prolific uses of lubricants. Seriously. Some information is too much information.
No, I do not believe in hell as an afterlife punishment system for exploring love and intimacy. I have no personal judgments about anyone else’s way of discovering/expressing love, or of their choice of partner(s), or of their journey/method/practices to reach their own forms of bliss.
How then do I reconcile the need to have a balanced life of love, romance and connection, with my reclusive lifestyle and isolation when it comes to needing those energies to create believable stories and write “vulnerable and sexy” erotica that made her “enjoy that feeling of anchorage within another person?”
“Where is the middle ground on obsessive independence and deep human intimacy? How do you feed them both?”
Damn. Fine. Questions. Gladys.
I wanted to really think about the answer. It’s not very sybaritic to keep avoiding the truth of a situation or of the feelings it evokes. Sybarite ways are to feel it all; the depths, the discomfort, the bitter, the sour, the rank, and yes, especially the empty places.
Damnit, Gladys. Thank you for the opportunity to dig a little deeper into myself and my responses. Here it goes:
Living alone allows me to focus, to imagine without interruption or pressure, or expectation from others. It’s a weightlessness of being, as if floating in a creative amniotic womb. I consider my alone time sacred creative space.
Relationships, as wonderful as they can be, are fraught with unsaid or even said needs, desires, distributions of power, negotiations of time, effort, responsibility—all of which can be totally and completely valid, beautiful and fun. Negotiations are necessary in the healthiest and most fulfilling connections. We are humans. We all have needs. Whether that’s the need to be heard, and seen. Or the need to leave your dishes in the sink and not be nagged about it—the same as the other person’s need is to have an empty sink, see?
Engaging in those negotiations, schedules, expectations, desires is NOT a creative amniotic womb. It’s effort that can feel either positive or negative, and is often exhausting and draining. At least my experience with it has been so. I often stagger out of an exchange feeling smothered or having been a smotherer. No fun either way.
Human intimacy and contact is a real need. Since we have already established my sybaritic patterning, I will admit sex, vulnerability, and contact are all part of that complex matrix of human desires and grounding needs for me. These negotiations are also exhaustive and effort laden. Another human being’s needs, wants, and desires must all be satisfied as well in order for the exchange to be equal and balanced. It must be fair or it’s not going to be fulfilling. That’s relationship work, and it’s often very gratifying, but it’s not a weightless creative space. It’s an active building and development space. (A different kind of creativity)
True intimacy is the matrix wherein trust, vulnerability and willingness come together and partners actively and lovingly hold space for one another to bridge the unknown. How incredibly sexy does it feel when you believe you are held, your uncertainty cradled, your needs recognized? Super fucking sexy, right? Holy moly, what a turn on. Wanna know true partnership? Work on giving and receiving that feeling. Not that I need to tell you, Gladys, you’ve been married half a century—you don’t make it that long without figuring that out already.
I’ll admit I write about relationships, sex, and intimacy in storyteller idealized forms. This can be dangerous as it can set a false expectation or unachievable bar. I further admit, I have adopted that style because there is something so cosmically beautiful in that elevated expression of love, especially when anchored into the human fallibilities and frailties. The contrast is breathtaking, heart breaking, and often just downright inspiring.
And goddammit, Gladys, I need some fucking inspiration in love and romance. Yes, even me. It’s way overdue. So I write it in a way that I hope to inspire myself to keep a very small flame lit, and to help others keep that flame lit as well. (A pilot light for love, if you will) When that flame goes out, we’re all in serious trouble. I write love big and bold and dirty and musical in order to keep the spark within me, so I can go about the day to day knowing that tiny spark can be ignited into a conflagration when the time is right—not before.
Now, all that being said, I appreciate you thinking of me where your grandson is concerned. I’m sorry he’s had trouble finding a “nice young woman to settle down with”. That sucks. I feel for him, I really do. But I am not nice, young, nor settlement material, at least not right now. Nice try, Gladys. And yes, he’s pretty, I agree. Still a “Thank you, but no”. Also, I’m also not sure he’d appreciate you showing off his facebook page (and shirtless ab pictures) to random weirdos like me at the bar. Lots of nutbags living out in the woods, just sayin’.
In conclusion: How do I find that balance? And what am I looking for?
The truth is, I’m not actively looking. I’m waiting.
The truth is--I am waiting for someone very specific. Which is why it’s been such a long dry spell. I want someone so specific that I’m willing to hold out indefinitely, and I’m also quite happy being alone if he never actually shows up. I generally don’t tell people the truth, because one of two things happens: 1) they immediately begin trying to set me up (with their grandson/brother/neighbor/best friend/or uncle who just got out of jail) OR 2) they launch into an unsolicited lecture on how I need to have less specialized requests in a partner if I ever want to have a mate.
“Thank you, but no” to the first one. And as to the second—I’m simply not worried about it. I’m not losing sleep about being on my own…quite like it, in fact.
It’s a true partner for me or nothing—and I’m contented as I am, so why settle? I'm not lonely or unhappy. I'm not lost or wandering. I don't understand other people's obsession with the fact that I'm delighted to fly solo, or that I have a set of standards on which I'm not willing to compromise.
The thing is, I’m a bleeding hopeless romantic at heart. It’s why I write the way I do. I’ve spent fifteen years trying combinations of characteristics in potential mates and deciding none of them work for me, except a very few quality traits that I cannot do without in someone I would consider a partner-worthy adventure. Turns out, those traits are a little rarer and more difficult to find. Not impossible, just uncommon. But they are absolutely worth holding out for, right?
I can live quite happily without a mate—but if I must have one, certain attributes are essential. My faith in him as a man, and my respect and confidence in him as a human are completely dependent on his possessing specific ethical and noble qualities. In turn, I would hope that I possess the same qualities to match, so that any challenges we face will not be in conflict between the two of us over integrity/core principles. I would need to be able to rely on the quality of his humanity in order to put my vulnerabilities in his care—and vice versa. He would need to be able to see me, and I him, and adore that internal cosmos…or we would be short-lived.
And why bother with short-lived romance? Le sigh. I’m over it. Got things to build and a world to rock…aint got no time for flash bangs. (they’re fun, sure, but distracting)
Beyond core principles and nobility of character—literally everything else is negotiable. I have no preference on age, education, appearance, profession, etc. and so forth. I don’t care about his packaging, breeding, or origin. I care about what he is. What does he stand for, even when it’s difficult or inconvenient to do so?
The question of balance is answered in what I’m looking for in a man. How do I find the balance between intimacy and independence? By choosing the right partner for me. My true partner. Someone who will recognize and be able to negotiate my sacred creative time and space. If we cannot work that primary need into the matrix, we just wont work.
Kids? You ask? Oh, Gladys, how I long for the day people stop asking me, “But don’t you want to have children before it’s too late?” as if my only purpose or value is measured by my ability to contribute to overpopulation. The answer is this—I am not unfulfilled by my lack of spawn. I do not feel less a woman for it. I do not hunger for motherhood, BUT I will not hesitate to step into the role if the occasion calls for it. There is no “too late”. The opportunity to mother can appear at any time and may happen completely from outside my womb. Children are a negotiation I will have with a true partner I have utter faith in, OR I will be prepared to fulfill the calling on my own in an emergency if needed. Thankfully, I will only have to endure this question and its expectations and implications of my value to society for a few more years. (I know you didn’t mean anything by bringing it up…you were probably thinking of your grandson’s future which is perfectly natural. No offense taken.)
When I’m dating, I never ask myself, “Do I love him? Oh, crap. Could I actually say yes if he asked?” When I want to know how I really feel about having someone in my life on a permanent, hard work, abundantly beautifully romantic level I ask this question.
“Athena, you can have a life of freedom, creativity, exploration, personal growth, family, community, and blissful adventuring if you leave right now. OR, you can have him. What do you choose?”
If what I know of him or have seen of his behaviors, if what I feel about him leads me to believe in any way that he is the consolation prize for my creative independence and freedom—it’s time for me to go. Preferably while he’s sleeping.
Only when I can honestly answer that I believe I can have a fulfilling life WITH him in it, and that he will make for a better adventure than I could have imagined for myself, I’ll stick around and make coffee while I wait for him to wake up.
I honestly don’t know what I would do if I ever found myself in a situation where I believed I could have it all. It would freak me out. I’d probably panic to be honest. I’m not sure I’d even know what to do with that kind of treasure.
The point is, when you get to be a hermit for long enough, and you love the way your life is playing out, and your road is open, loaded with opportunity and curiosities—it takes a very strong, special man to make you feel like there’s a whole other scenic route worth taking with him. And if he is capable of inspiring that risk, well then…why the hell not?
Until then, I satisfy the hunger for intimacy by writing about it and living in my imagination. It’s a pale shadow by comparison, I know, but it holds me in check so I don’t do something stupid like run off with the cowboy at the end of the bar then break his achy heart. I keep it locked down in everyone’s best interest, right? No need to be hurting other people in an attempt to fulfill desires I know can’t be met. Better to just tuck into the forest and only occasionally come out for a drink at the bar—but never when I’m ovulating, right? Better safe than sorry.
Anyway, damnit all to hell, Gladys. A couple of vodkas and I’m blathering away all the details I never wanted to talk about again. Well played, Master Jedi. Well played.
Long story short, too late…I’m in no rush. This transformation will take some time yet, and I’m in no hurry to be available to anyone. I’m happy. I’m fulfilled. And there’s a spark to be lit when the time is right. I need to clean up some personal messes I’ve made of my body and habits, and get my shit together. I need to put my tools away and tidy up my mind as I’m not currently in a condition to bring my best to a partnership table. I’ve got some work to do, and books to write…timing and fate will do what it does in the meantime.
Thank you, Gladys. Apparently, I needed this. I started out a little irritated, but once I got going it all sort of spilled and I do feel lighter for it. So, next time I see you at the pub, your Tsunami Stouts are on me.
P.S. Tell your adorable grandson to take a breath, it will happen for him. Probably when he’s working on his own personal mastery and not even looking for love. That’s how magic works after all, it manifests when you’re not looking right at the void. It’s likely when he stops aching for her to appear and just goes about his happy life, she’ll land right in his lap. Kismet. And it will make an awesome story.
Part of the update and merge of the brand names under one site means pulling work from multiple sites and archives to re-publish here on the main author page. If you’ve been a longtime reader of TheBlissQuest or Wisegoddess or older works and want to see something pulled out of the archives, please let me know.
For now, I’m adding new categories to the blogroll with archival posts and essays. The RSS feed may flood somewhat over the next few merger months. Some I’ll only be able to do on trips to town, and other’s I can try to use the post scheduler for so it comes out a bit more evenly.
Some categories will include:
Life of a Literary Grunt
Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met
BlissQuest Archive (Comedy & Tragedy)
Wisegoddess Archives (Mostly old poetry and articles)
The Sanguine Files
Notes to Self (I think I saved 27 through current, but a couple are MIA for the moment) Please let me know if you have any special requests.
If you see anything missing from the list, please let me know. There are like three external eight gigabyte drives with twenty years of writing, a storage cloud, and three archived websites to go through still.
From TheBlissQuest Archive: Spill Into Me...Ode to Coffee
Ode to Coffee: Spill Into Me
Your scent rouses me from sleep, like pheromone dreams of heady sex.
Even as my eyes open, my body remembers you and pulses with wanting.
I stagger from the comfort of bed into the chill of pre-dawn intent on your taste.
Cold floor under foot, crescent moon shrugging off starry quilts outside the window.
I need you.
Burn for you.
I won’t be satisfied until your heavy black body fits snuggly into mine.
Until, your flavor makes love to my tongue, your heat flashes through my veins.
This morning of decadence is my smile for the day.
My early morning lover, you waken me like Siegfried’s Dragon blood.
The world opens to me at your touch.
I am, because you coax me to be. I borrow your strength. Your power humming.
Our embrace is more languorous loving than animal fierceness.
You slip inside me, while I swallow your bitter-sweetness again and again.
Finally, you are spent, and vanish into me like a ghost, or a dream with potent afterlife.
My day begins and I will think of you fondly, flashing back to our time before the sun.
I will go to sleep thinking of you, dream of your heavy body twined with mine and hope to wake soon so I might be with you again.
Another day in the life of a non-glamorous literary grunt.
I’m adding a new category to the blogroll to capture these. It’s my hope to dispel any weird ideas people have about what a glamorous writer’s life looks like. My god, would I have chosen the writer life if I’d known about these before? Well, likely, yes. I’m not sure I really had a complete choice in the matter as the life seems to choose you, really. Still, it would have been nice to know ahead of time what these days might look like.
I’ll try to back link as many as I can, and use this category going forward to house #literarygrunt #amwriting #inhalelifeexhalestory
Then there are some days when you have to tackle the scene you’ve been dreading. You’ve put it off as long as you can. You know it’s going to wreck you to break a character that has become too real, too human. You know they’ll feel it, because you know what it feels like.
You know you can break them because you built their weakness into the arc. You know it will hurt because you’ve experienced that pain before. Pain you would never wish on anyone, not even someone you hate…certainly not on someone you love, even if they are fictitious.
Then you spend the evening afterward sitting in the bathtub sobbing. The water just wont stay hot enough to scald and numb. When the water goes cold you’ll sit on the floor of the hot shower and wonder why the fuck you ever wanted to be a writer, and why is your tea so salty? Oh, way to go, you cried in your tea.
Aftercare is important after these scenes. It’s psychologically taxing to put yourself in the headspace of both creating the break/inflicting the trauma, and writing the character who is simultaneously FEELING the break/trauma.
On days like today, I’m grateful to be single. It’s better that I can just do what I need to do and spare anyone the emotional waves. Scalding hot bath, lots of tissues, warm teas, lots of blankets, and a heating pad nest in bed to recover. (Good Scotch when I’m not on stupid diet).
Although I’m glad to not have to put anyone else through it, there are the animals to consider who camped at the bathroom door while I wept in the bubble bath. Dakota and Buttercup held space for me at a distance, and for that I was grateful.
The characters can’t evolve without the challenge. The arc cannot progress without the conflict. The more you try to avoid the hard stuff, the waterier your story will become. I don’t want a watery story…so some characters are going to have to bleed from the soul and then some.
Which unfortunately means, I bleed too.
Just another day schlepping words into books.
RE-POST from TBQ July 2017 > Re-posting this because it seems relevant as I prepare to step back into the fray of the human world...I'm fighting the suction to tuck back in. this discomfort and fear will pass. It's not real--but I do want to keep this old post handy as a reminder.
There are things I forgot while living in the city; things I’m only just now remembering after a year and a half in the woods.
The sound the stars make when the moon is dark.
The music of running water along the rocks.
The burnished gold light of noon through the canopy, and the subtle stretch of foxglove toward the sky.
Cotton puffs from seeding fireweed.
The slow lumbering wisdom of the herd passing through territory.
Blossoms on a newly fruiting tree, delighted to check out the wonder of this world.
Stillness when a predator has entered the clearing.
I forgot these things, though I knew them in my childhood in Alaska. It seemed back then that it would be impossible to forget the sound of wolf song, or lichen creep. It seemed impossible I’d be out of synch with the tides, the snoring mountains, or glacial tones. But somehow, I lost touch.
Somewhere in the crush of bodies on the sidewalk, angry car horns, the stink of asphalt and harried, stressed out people on their phones to either side of me at a crowded market…somewhere in that window of decade I forgot to notice the sound of a predator entering the clearing.
I forgot to look up at the full moon and sing back.
I forgot to smell new blossoms.
I forgot to acknowledge wisdom as it lumbered by.
I forgot to wish upon puffs of fireweed cotton.
Somewhere in that decade I learned only the breathless rush of survival. The elbowing jostle to get by, stay above the water. The ceaseless spinning to go nowhere.
Somewhere in that decade I forgot the sound of my own voice, the syllables of my own name. Over time it all became a constant, droning tone-deaf buzz.
But tonight, the stars are singing. Ancient lights from across time space glow in my wooded Skybowl. The river dances, and the scent of damp earthen forest soaks my skin. There is no city glow, no electric noise.
Only the soft crooning of the Elder Glade’s lullabies and promises of sweet dreams.
It’s good to be home.