It’s been a hairy month already, so I don’t have much to coherently update. Right about the time I put words together and makes sense of one thing, something else knocks me off balance. That said, I am okay. My home in the Elder Glade in Oregon is okay. The fires are a safe distance away, although the air is thick with smoke and it is sometimes a challenge to breathe or blink. (My eyes are raw from the air quality.) The power is back on, and air filters are running full time in the house.
I have been very lucky. So very lucky.
Dakota, Buttercup, and Furiosa are all okay. Unfortunately, my other cat, Pandora has gone missing, and I suspect the coyotes that have been coming into the yard. The wildlife has been confused, embolden and shifted in range by the fires.
This update is short and I’ll add more when I can. Please be safe out there, folks.
The morning chill means the autumn equinox is not far away. The change in light and the shift in bird song also means my creative season is here. It’s been a difficult year, and I’m not alone in the struggle. So, I’m hungry for the creative window, the time in studio and the healing that comes from building with my hands.
I suspect the challenges of this year will greatly influence my art and outputs, and I’m more than a little curious about what that will look like.
I’m also eager to get back to Aria and re-open Plague of Gargoyles and Tangle of Mermaids. I left my characters in such predicaments as to keep my brain hooked on processing their arcs even when I’m not writing. After months of hiatus and COVID19 worries, my brain is back onto the cliff hangers where I left some of my dearest in a state of impending doom—now I can’t wait to get back in there and in true storyteller fashion…make their situations even worse.
There is defiantly a case to be made that writers are really the villains of any story, since we must think of all the awful ways in which to torture our best characters for the entertainment of the masses (and ourselves).
Still, as Plague of Gargoyles and Tangle of Mermaids finally opens the throttle on The Pillars of Dawn series the volume and speed, the sheer force of the story is making it difficult to shape into narratives one book at a time. This has required me to open several works in progress simultaneously. It’s been a great, thrilling pleasure to open a new document titled: Chord of Leviathans. This will be the WIP (work in progress) I tackle this year for Nanowrimo 2020.
I once went horseback riding when the prancy energetic steed I was gingerly perched on (I am not a seasoned rider and the horse definitely knew it) decided to break away from the group and go for a blazing gallop toward the woods. I should have jumped—it would have been the wise thing to do. I panicked, dropped the reins and clung desperately to the pommel. Luckily, the lead rider of the group came to my rescue and raced to catch my horse.
After being whipped by branches, and saddle bruised and my heart thundering to the point of nausea—I was saved. By the time I slipped out of the saddle and sat heavily on the ground, legs shaking, I decided…that was a shit ton of fun! I didn’t walk right for days, and haven’t ridden since, but the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of flying makes me think fondly on that moment when I dropped the reins and just held on for dear life. That glorious moment when the future was out of my hands, but I was still along for the adventure.
That is how I feel when I’m writing The Pillars of Dawn. As these next two books pick up the arc and make a bolt for freedom, I sit at my desk, drop the reins and the story just---flies.
I’ll be saddle sore and breathless, maybe even shaky when it’s all over, but goddamn…what a fucking ride! I dearly hope readers will feel the same when they finish my books.
Anywhoo, I hope this update finds you all safe, well, and healthy.
Let the 2020 creative season begin.
Finally! The Patron-style memberships are open and live again HERE.
I tried to schedule a tier for every budget and need. Please feel free to leave feedback or suggestions. I'm excited to get back to collaborating with you all!
P.S. The Cauldron Giveaway for September is this adorable little driftwood and clay sculpture from my studio. If you sign up for a membership before September, I'll double your tickets in the cauldron for the giveaway.
42nd Note to Self
It would take a dozen pages to catch up the events of the year. Instead, I’ll just get to the good stuff. The priceless gem of learning for last year was this: you can’t plan for shit.
Don’t feel too bad, though. You were caught in the COVID19 roller-coaster loopy-loop along with seven billion other folks who all got motion sickness from the about-face, “pivot”, plot-twisting pretzel that has been the last six months. Good times. Pass the yammy bucket, will ya?
Add to that a much-needed, long overdue governmental uprising against injustices for POC and voila…powder keg meets long banked embers brought to life by months (generations, actually) of failed leadership and strained collapsing global paradigms.
The word for this year is “Woosh”. That is the sound of the old world dying in a blaze of innovative transformation and the necessary release of everything that’s no longer working.
Just like that—whoosh—the new stage is being set. Change is coming in whether you or the generations before you are ready for it or not. All you could say was, “It’s about goddamn time.”
Change--the only constant. The only truly reliable element of story, of life, and of this world.
Change is the only measure of how far we’ve come, and what we’ve made of ourselves.
You can plan for change, or change can be thrust upon you, but change will happen. A stagnant character is a dead character. A stagnant infrastructure is an outdated infrastructure. A stagnant government is a relic that only realizes its antiquated worn-out relevance at the pace of revolution. History is a jagged path of this very truth—evolve or perish. Change with the need and times or become a passing footnote.
Athena, you don’t really fear change. Change usually brings with it a flush of excitement, a burst of new inspiration, a glimpse of glimmering possibilities that will push a vision one step closer to reality. Sure, it took a while to get to this level of comfort with change, but now you can see it for what it is.
Change is the life breath of story, and love is the impetus of that change.
(Fear is the antithesis of change; fear of discomfort, fear of evolution, fear of losing privilege/power/wealth/or standing. Fear breeds stagnation. Fear emboldens the grip, energizes the hold and forces ego to dig deep and put up the dukes to fight for the status quo.)
Aside from status quo being woefully overrated, you already know that love is the key to long, healthy, vibrant social collaboration and meaningful evolution.
So while all this is going on in the outer world beyond your bubble—you’ve had to rethink, re-wonder, re-balance, re-work, and re-imagine what you can bring to this newly shifting world on the other side of your forested tree line.
What can you contribute? What can you bring to the new table? What can you offer to the cause of change? What do you have in you to give?
But it doesn’t stop there—what have you been reluctant to change in your internal world as well? What have you hung your heart/ego/identity on? What have you clung to out of fear?
You sat with these questions for a month before writing the 42nd Note to Self, and the answers surprised you; because all change begins from within.
To bring in the love, the change, the evolution—you must first allow it in. You must first cultivate it within you.
But the global COVID health crisis, a massive movement to support a change in leadership, support people of color and end police brutality, the supply chain food imbalances, education malfunctions, wealth imbalances in times of extreme hardship, attacks on the most vulnerable citizens of your extended community, and even the fucking toilet paper shortage were like…OVERLOAD.
You’re not alone. Overload has hit millions of people, and the election is just a few months away. People, including yourself, are buried by all the feels and distress of 2020 blowing up like a campground outhouse.
And what did you do during this time of empathic, emotional, mental overload—you decided to start dating. Woman, what the hell is wrong with you? People are dying. People are being hit with gas canisters for chanting peacefully against the Gestapo—and you decide it’s time for some romance?
Maybe you decided romance is the best way to balance out all the ick, the hate, the raw disgust bubbling up for the human race? Maybe it’s that you need a bright point in your life to outshine and guide through this sense of impending darkness and an overload that is threatening to pull you under. I don’t know, Athena, your love life timing has always been a tragic comedy, even in the best of times. So, I’ve stopped asking about your reasons when matters of the heart and romance pop up for evaluation. It’s always as if the Universe lobs a Valentine’s box of chocolates in your general, but not specific direction at the most inappropriate moments. The joke always seems to be on you, Lady.
Anywhoo, whether your romance clock is related to this farcical shit-show or you’re desperately trying to find some part of the human story to relate to, connect with, and hold on to—something worth saving—you’re suddenly finding yourself in a discombobulated dreamy adoration of the concept of love while the city you adore is under government siege just over the mountain.
I’ll say it again, your timing is a goddamn mystery.
You’ve started doing weird shit, like, buying yourself bouquets, clearing out a space in your closet for “his” clothes (whoever the hell he is AND whenever the hell he is), practicing your favorite recipes to share, and planning a set of exploratory adventures…sure, you’ll do all those adventures alone if you must, you’ve done it happily solo for more than a decade. But this feels different. You’re consciously making space. Actively preparing room. You can feel him coming toward you, like the advanced wake from a boat in the lake. It feels like you don’t have much time left, right?
From the outside it seems like you’re bound and determined to find something, someone worth adoring when you’re losing faith in humanity by the second. What is that about? Is this some Jungian transference? Also—it’s not fair to put that kind of pressure on another human being—the—show me people are worth saving pressure. Remind me that we can be amazing together when we choose to do things consciously, fairly, and in partnership.
Who’s fucking got time to be your reminder, your spark, Athena? Every person on this rock is carrying their own overload. If you haven’t noticed, the world is breaking.
This is your 42nd Note to Self, your annual birthday letter.
Athena, do it yourself. BE THE SPARK YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.
Stop waiting to be stirred into the memory of humanity’s greatest capacity to love—and BE the one who gives it. Share it. Put it out there. Be the light.
Don’t wait around for someone else to re-kindle your faith in people—go be the fucking ignition point for others.
You don’t actually need to be reminded. If you think about it, you already know that humanity is amazing, and has the capacity for the most incredible feats of valor. One of those super-human abilities is to LOVE IN A TIME OF CRISIS, to bond in a time of emergency, to build in a time of collapse, to unite in a time of disparity.
This mystery timing of your heart awakening, trying to build a space for romance is really just your humanity TRYING TO COME FORWARD. You’re acting out a space, making room and reaching because you deeply desire to be your best self, to be the best capacity of human you can be—and it’s manifesting in this romantic hunger to connect in order to bring you proof not of your faith in humanity being justified but FAITH IN YOURSELF, in your own magical frail vulnerability.
Facepalm. Woman, you always seem to go about it all backward….
You want someone to give all this to, someone you can pour the last best pieces of yourself into before you disappear, washed away by the change in tides.
Well, now I see the timing thing. It’s primal. The timing is terribly inconvenient. The urge to make tribe, summon your pack, build unity, encapsulate the elevated and beautiful parts of relationship before you feel like it can all be buried by the darker aspects of the human race’s egregious, active examples of their worst traits---those are not good enough reasons to suggest a romantic entanglement, are they?
To build a pocket of something charmed and wondrous? To tuck into another human with the same sense of justice, the same sense of responsibility to do better, be more, create with more compassion, awareness, and courage. Is it wrong to want to weave your strengths to someone else’s strengths to make something even more powerful?
No, it’s not wrong. It’s human. You’re realizing that you’ve been an island for years; many many years. This turmoil in the world is reminding you of your breakability—and you want to use your humanness to its designated best capacity…loving another human being.
You want to release your fear, and embrace change. This willingness to find true partnership is where you’ve held back, resisted, found excuses, skirted the possibilities or flat out run away from connections. Nearly every Note to Self for the last fifteen years has begged you to take this risk…and you’ve kept dodging it. You’ve kept finding reasons to delay.
Now, when the chips are down, you are realizing that your strongest human trait is the very thing you’ve avoided for years. Ah, shitballs, of course it had to be the one thing you’ve been stepping over to get to your goals for the last fifteen years.
So, forty-two, huh? I guess now is as good a time as any…world on fire and all that….
Athena, you fundamentally understand that love needs to be cultivated within in order for it to be expressed. So, do some of that. You understand that choosing a single human to shower your love upon is wonderful, yes, but love can also be showered upon a cause, a people, a community, a craft, and a tree.
Bring the romance, sure. But give it away…all of it. If he’s not stepping forward to match you in the dance, your true match—put all that energy into the space you have been preparing for him. Put all that energy into your community, your family, friends, readers, and so on and so forth. If he’s not showing up—radiate what you’re building within, because there are people out there who need it as badly as you do. Go ahead and summon your pack, build your tribe, unite your like minds and create together.
Who knows, he might just be caught in traffic. He could be held up in a line at the flower shop. Maybe he doesn’t know you’re talking TO him, FOR him, ABOUT him. Don’t sweat it. He’ll figure it out or he won’t. Your mission goes on whether he’s in step with you or not.
Keep to the mission.
And the mission is to be the light, give the light, share everything with the world as if your world is your lover, partner, best friend and dearest collaborator.
Only when we treat each other with the passionate acceptance and loving care we’d give our other half, ourselves, and our family are we going to see the shift in global community that is so long overdue. Only then will faith in humanity be restored.
People can be magical. Be magical. Humans can be courageous. Be courageous. Humanity can be noble, kind, loving. Be everything you want to see, feel, know about the species that you are.
You are a born lover, Athena. Stop running from it, and put your heart into it. I suspect even you, a highly imaginative writer, will be surprised by the outcome—even you won’t be able to make that kind of enchanting story up.
P.S. That feeling of the wake coming toward you, ripples in the ether of a boat on the lake…maybe that’s just your ship finally coming in. Maybe it’s not about another human being at all, but about you reaching another elevation in your self-expression, your work, and your connection to the world. Maybe that ship has been headed your way for decades and you’re just now sensing that you need to be able to take your learnings and prepare to board for a new journey. It’s easy to mistake that for feelings of love and romance—but who’s not to say they aren’t one and the same? You’re coming to harbor within yourself—which transforms you into an anchorage for others. It’s been a long time coming so, enjoy it.
P.P.S Hey, just an idea, but maybe next year we can work on having a shorter learning curve, and a more concise letter? Food for thought.
It seems weird to be doing a mid-month update of intensely personal evolution even as the world is burning with much larger and more important issues to tackle. That being said, I don’t have the energy today to dig into those larger issues, so I’m updating with the lighter more frivolous goings on.
I realize this will come as a shock to longtime followers, but I’ve decided to start dating again. I know. Long story short, I started to peel the Band-Aid back, then figured…to hell with it, the world is on fire. So, I just ripped the bandage and…whoa, the flood gates opened.
Go figure. The most action or interest I’ve had in five years happens to be during a worldwide pandemic and under self-quarantine orders. It just goes to show my love life has the most epic crap timing. Then again, if you’ve been with me since the BlissQuest days, you already knew this. Also, turns out, dating via zoom is not awful. It’s rather nice, actually. So much less strain or stress involved. I dig it.
I started saying yes. I started reaching out to those I'm interest in. I dipped my toe in the water and my leg wasn’t chewed off by piranhas, so I guess I’ll keep saying yes for a bit and see what happens; see where it goes.
With all that, there’s a lot to unpack in the shift from considering leaving the woods for human relationships again. I won’t be leaving the woods for anything less than fucking spectacular, obviously. Yet I do recognize that my self-imposed hermitage is coming to an end. It’s in the air, the stars. I feel it when I’m casting. There’s a shift in the tone of light. It’s time.
It’s been tough to explain to men why I opted for hermitage. Either they assume I’m a man hater and was driven to isolation and seclusion by some awful experience and I must be damaged in some way (don’t worry, if I pick up that vibe from them I just quietly move along), or they seem to lump me into a female Unabomber category and stupidly ask if I own a gun. (Yep, I move along from those as well.) No less than five dudes in the last 30 days have asked me if I own a gun. Seriously guys, fuck off about asking a single woman who lives alone in the woods if she’s armed. It's hella creepy.
So, explaining hermitage seems like it should be relatively simple—turns out, it’s been more of a hurdle than I imagined. While I’ve explained myself more than I should or need to, it boils down to this statement that I’ve finally just made my go-to phrase to stop the question from being a thing: “I live where I have absolute peace and creative freedom. The world doesn’t come to me, I go to the world when I want something.”
I can see the glazed, blank expressions, and can usually tell right away if that made sense…and if it doesn’t, we’re not a match on the level of expectations for quality of life. I say thank you, and move on.
It’s been illuminating, really. Less so about men in general, most men are what they are, but mostly about what MY actual intentions are. Up until recently, I had no intentions around dating and or relationships. I had my hands and brain full of creativity and craft, and surviving the forest, there wasn’t time/energy/interest in dancing around the relationship topic. It started around January; a slow creeping shift in the season of quietude. Huh.
Stranger still, it became more urgent just before the quarantine. Then, woosh…the sensation of readiness to engage became a space of intense forced reflection. Serious self-reflection and deep shadow work. The kind of #shadowwork I haven’t dug into in a decade or more, so I was long overdue. I’m grateful I had the time to reflect that deeply in a space that allowed the kind of safety to really go into the realms. When I finally came back up for air the truth was a bright, burning glare.
My continued expansion, growth, and evolution is now at the point where true partnership and reflection in a union is the next phase of personal evolution.
The truly shitty part of this is, I can stay happily fulfilled, full of joy and freedom and bliss out here in my bubble, but I recognize there will be a limit on my expansion. It will be a level of happiness, true. It will be joyous and I’ll love it, true. But I am unlikely to go beyond this point of blissful expansion in my heart or energetic realm by myself.
BUT I’M SO HAPPY! So, what’s the harm in just staying as I am? Staying happy? Staying Free? Staying creative?
There is no harm in maintaining this contented space. Happiness has been a hard-won prize, it came at great cost, but I know now that I will always have it. I can always obtain it on my own. What I don’t know if I can do yet, it obtain it while in a partnership…that’s a bit trickier. Furthermore, as I work to understand personal story, community story, tribe and relationships in general—how do I deepen those understandings if I am approaching them from the place of being an island?
Gah! I feel stretched between two worlds. I suppose that’s what coming out of the wood and into the light is, really. One foot in the ethereal realm of creative immersion, driven by the urge to finally connect, share, grow—but reluctant to give up the security that is self-reliance and personal connection to being a wholly empowered individual.
My brain says, nope! My heart says, yes please! Bring the adventures! There’s a lot of wobbling back and forth between yep-nope-yep-nope-yep-nope.
Essentially, I don’t expect to be good at this right away. I’m flinchy and a little feral. I’m struggling to make sense of the scope this toe-dip will make to my story as a whole. I can’t see the big picture completely, yet. I’m still defining what I want and what I’ll willingly engage with. So—to practice, I’m saying yes to invitations. I’m sending invitations out. I’m sifting through the experiences to decide what will make my heart and mind align in a solid forward momentum toward a true partnership.
I’m looking for that connection that will excite me enough to release that last bit of stubborn grip on this old phase and charge forward delightedly to the next adventure with them.
I already know that nothing less than a sense of true partnership will interest me. I’d rather just keep my stasis in the woods and maintain my happy space. Only a leap for something beyond that is going to lure me out, so I’m trying to understand what that will look like so I can articulate it well, and look for it specifically when asking people out.
Yes, I do the asking when I’m interested. I’m not a wilting violet waiting breathlessly to be chased. I’ve got shit to do, and worlds to build. I get on with the getting it on. That’s adulting at its finest, yo. (Also, true partnership recognizes initiative is taken by whomever gets there first, right? Or…whomever rolls the best on 10D….)
DM never said “roll for initiative” but really meant, only guys can take that initiative. So, if I’m stepping out-- I’m doing it with my hands on my dice pack, and my chin up.
Like I said, a weird mid-month update considering the world as it is. For folks who’ve been following for some time, I imagine this is something you knew I needed long before I did. Thanks for not rubbing that in. I’m getting to it in my own sweet time, apparently, and by my own unorthodox strategy. (I even signed up for a matchmaking service. I know. I know.)
As I mentioned on Instagram, I usually don’t post the deeply personal nature of shadow work or my sketchbook where I work these concepts out. But in the spirit of this world needing what feels like a bit more acknowledgement that shadow work needs to be done, and deep personal development is both vulnerable and difficult—these are the two sketches from my notepad that define this internal transition as I’ve come to the awareness of being open to possibilities of partnership and creative emotional collaboration.
The first: The Hanged Man/ Hermit tarot card prompts of retreating to the woods to do the work. Chrysalis.
The second: The Sun/Death/Judgment tarot card prompts for returning to the world to collaborate with community, lovers, and friends. Grow Forth and Collaborate with Magic
Essentially, by the time I finished the second sketch, my mental/emotional reality had shifted and I knew the hermitage phase was closing out even though I have no idea what the next phase will actually look like or how it will come about.
Shadow work leaves you raw and exhausted, that’s why it’s work. But the final product is relief, optimism, and a new sense of freedom. It just so happens in this case, that freedom is dancing with the idea of combining superpowers with another human being.
#shadowwork #tarot #elderglade #dating #gettingbackoutthere
I know it’s not your usual birthday Note to Self, but the world is a bit of a tipsy dervish, and you’ve managed to get yourself turned about. You’ve been shuffling around in your worst pajamas, the set you wouldn’t even let your sisters see you wearing. You’ve been going in circles. You hate circles.
Four weeks of trying to buck up, make the best of it, pull up your big girl panties has resulted in a puffy wine face and a salt hangover from snacking your way through the uncertainty. Woman, seriously, get ahold of yourself. You have work to do.
I’m going to get real with you, because I know you can take it. You smell funny. Like dankish fear and propped-up optimism, mixed with Pringles and a vodka chaser. You look like hell, and your house is a mess. Go brush your goddamn teeth. Then get back to your desk, you’ve got work to do.
If a planet hurtling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour could hit a pothole and knock our global heads against the dashboard, Earth did just that about a month ago. Sure, there were signs posted and a flagger waving, “Slow Down!” but we won’t get into that just now. A bad case of collective whiplash and a devastatingly harsh body count later--we’re all feeling it. The galactic pothole, COVID19 was scheduled for maintenance decades ago, but due to budget constraints had been declassified to a low probability nuisance.
But that’s the way it is with the things we choose to believe will not catch up to us, right? Centuries of crimes against the environment and mistreatment of the very planet that sustains us. Hundreds of years of financial inequality, disparity, mis-distribution of resources, wealth, and opportunity. THOUSANDS of years of inhumanity against our fellow man.
Mankind has been scheduled for a renovation for millennia—and we are being asked to start paying up, or be prepared to forfeit our long-term plans. That includes you, Athena.
Understandably the sudden loss of routines, of “normal”, of security and what we thought we knew about our world has been shocking. People, like yourself, wandered around in their underpants for weeks. Not hours. Not days. Weeks. The scope of the shift was just too much to process any faster. Be kind to them, and to yourself. They’re working it out as fast as they can.
Healthcare workers are throwing themselves on the grenade of our collective willful ignorance, our refusal to face the possibility that our history would repeat itself while we were busily setting up a house of cards, and placating a mad emperor. Nurses and doctors are taking the full force of the impact so that we can plan our return to the way things were…any day now.
But Athena, you already know you can’t go back. Maybe that’s why you bumbled around in your super hero underroos for a few extra days. You can never go back. You already know it. But you don’t know exactly how or where to go from here.
You’re not alone. Millions of people on this planet have been jogged; tooth-rattling, brain-jiggling, make your eyes water, and your heart rhythm skip kind of trauma.
Lives have been lost. Money, jobs, careers, relationships, families, residences, present and future plans, and even dreams are lost in the shakeup that is forcing yourself, along with every living and aware human on this globe to ask—what do I actually value? What is worth saving?
In the last four weeks you’ve seen hundreds of stories of human brilliance, kindness and ingenuity. You’ve witnessed creative problem solving, epic spiritual and emotional transformations, borderless unification of peoples, sharing of content, supplies, funds, efforts, and a scale of community support that has, to date, only been imagined in the cinematic performances and portrayals of the human potential to rally against adversity at its very best.
It’s no longer the fictional stuff of movies—proof that humans are capable of coming together in a dazzling presentation of real-life collaboration has been staggering, beautiful, and inspiring.
A good three days were spent on your couch weeping, and marveling at how fucking amazing people can be. Gratitude for the kindness friends and family showed to you. Gratitude for the love and care others were showing for each other. Gratitude for all the things. Seriously. You wept over all the things because the gratitude truck ran you over, then backed up just to make sure it got you a few more times.
But now the shock is wearing off, and the gratitude has soaked into your bones, and you know you can’t go back to the way things were.
Prior to COVID19 you were just a waitress, a storyteller, and a homesteader. You were a hermit in the woods with a dream of one day being self-sustainable not because you thought you’d need to be, but because you wanted the challenge to see if you could do it. You thought homesteading and serving beer part time would give you the room you needed to finish your books.
But suddenly the way forward seems murky. What seemed terribly important two months ago seems so foolishly irrelevant now.
You’re not the only one going through an identity disruption. Millions of people are asking themselves why they were in jobs they hated, relationships that drained them, health patterns that were slowly killing them, and why, why, why did they give all their joy away to someone/something/a way of being that didn’t actually make them happy.
Millions of people are suddenly asking themselves what they truly want.
You knew you were lucky before, and more so now. You also know with that kind of luck comes the responsibility to reach out, give back, do what you can.
Writing and storytelling will never stop being part of your life. You’ll still be working your books and land because you love it so damn much. But HOW you do it has to change.
Athena, you and everyone else on this spinning rock are going to have to elevate. You’re going to have to innovate. You’re going to have to find better ways to do things, safer, more ethical, more conscious, more humane, more aware ways of participating in this community that is now, inarguably, one people.
You can’t pretend it doesn’t matter anymore. You can’t pretend you don’t have time, or energy, or will. You can’t use the excuse that you don’t know better—because now you do.
Athena, this Emergency Note to Self is to tell you that you must evolve. (And for the love of God, go take a shower.)
Evolve and elevate. You can no longer push along, get around to it, wait for the opportune moment, plan for it after a vacation window, or do it when there’s a good alignment in the sky.
Your alignment is now. It is right this very NOW.
You might not have a clear plan yet, but one is forming. It’s okay to not know exactly what to do. It’s okay if you’re not precisely on the mark the first few tries. What’s important is that you start trying, start doing things a little different. Try a new method, sort out the values.
Throw those ratty old pajamas in the burn bin and don’t look back. Get up. Go to your laptop and write. You’re a storyteller, it’s what you do. It’s what you LOVE to do. Do it because it’s the thing in your life that’s worth saving—the only thing you’ve really got of value to give to whomever needs it.
There is always room around your campfire, always enough room for one more. Put another log on the embers, and pass out the drinks. Then do what you do best.
Just put your hands on the keyboard and love.
Too much time alone in my head is drumming up old, long-buried memories and daydreams. The world is struggling to breathe, literally. I’ve been looping in my mind, as I’m sure many folks have. Looping, puttering. going in circles, grieving, ranting, drifting helplessly, firing off ideas, trying to reach out, then crawling back under the covers to stare at the ceiling.
Old daydreams. The fantasies that sustained me when I was a girl are bubbling up. It could be the shift in planets, or the restless mental wanderings—but much of what I thought I’d forgotten keeps blindsiding me at the most random times.
My plan in the early years (at age 15) was to travel the world and write. At the time I was a teenager in love with my high school sweetheart, and I assumed that future would include him somehow. I told him wild yarns of how we’d buy an old castle in Scotland, and raise a bunch of orphans. He was in, too. Like, he totally went along with my ramblings and ideas of setting up an orphanage in the Highlands where I could write my books and he could work on his music. We’d travel and explore (probably finding kids all over the world to bring home), then return to the castle part of the year and tend to our creations.
Ah, the idle daydreams of youth. We didn’t know it at the time, but at roughly that same moment in history, J.K Rowling was being inspired on a train to tell a story about a young magical orphan named Harry, and a wondrous wizarding school in a Scottish Castle. Go figure.
The more I began to realize my high school sweetheart never planned on leaving Alaska, the more I began to realize the castle orphanage was a silly idea. I couldn’t do it alone. Time and heartbreak do funny things. Desperation and survival make tough decisions. Life at that time was unsteady and we lived in a kind of poverty that gives middle-class folk the hives. So as reality began to set in and my relationship with him ended, the plan morphed.
I would travel the world, write, and have affairs with interesting rich men so I could keep on moving. Keep moving, keep outrunning the losses. Of course, all that planning went to shit as well with a very young marriage to my older fencing instructor and a decade of lost time.
Is it lost though? I ask myself as I find these memories tumbling me over and over like a laundry puff cycle. Where did this reminiscing even come from?
When I only have a few minutes of internet access, and I find myself looking for castles for sale in Scotland…well, it seems like a strangely lopsided full circle.
I gave up the idea of kids. I gave up the idea of having a family. I’m more of a protector than a nurturer, after all. I gave up the idea of being able to look out for anyone, because I could barely take care of myself and didn’t want to put anyone else through the grief and misery of the struggle if I couldn’t provide adequately for their safety and needs. I couldn’t do that to another human being. Right? Who does that?
But this idle time, this puttering and wandering in circles punctuated by moments of active gratitude and thankfulness has made me realize—I’m okay. I’m actually okay. More importantly, I have a lot to give back, a lot to offer. And that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to re-evaluate what I can provide.
A slow, like uber slow, realization has been surfacing about my life choices and where I’m at currently.
Sure, I traveled, and had affairs with rich men. Some of it was even fun. Unfortunately, a lot of it was, well, tedious. Sure, I was able to keep moving for a while, and I outran the losses like the best of them… but eventually I needed an anchorage, a harbor, and so I bought a cottage in the woods and rooted.
Only just now have I realized: I’ve been playing out the fantasy of my childhood on a very economic and achievable scale. For my budget, I’ve been doing precisely what I dreamt of when I was fifteen.
Instead of a castle in Scotland, I opted for the second, more affordable choice of a cottage in the wilderness. Instead of a pack of orphans that I may or may not be able to provide for, I’ve collected instead, orphaned animals. All my animals are castaways, rescues, or giveaways. (Pandora was the only surviving kitten in a bag thrown onto the highway, and so on.)
I live in my makeshift castle and write my books and build my creations, and take care of my orphans. I did precisely, just smaller scale, what I said I would do 25 years ago.
Now, I realize from the outside it doesn’t look like the same thing AT ALL. And I will say, it’s true, it’s not the same exact thing. It’s the closest to it that I could muster on my own with the options that were available at the time. It has provided the feeling of being able to nurture, provide, and be creative.
For purposes of knowing how manifestation and energy resonance works, it’s important to recognize the FEELING of completions, and the realizations of manifestation coming into reality in a way that fulfills the intent of the daydream, or the intent of the feeling. There is so much powerful gratitude in knowing, feeling, and being in a place that I had wanted—or close to it. In fact, when I began to believe early on that a castle in Scotland was just not a reasonable request—I began to imagine instead a cottage in the woods. I altered the desire to something more obtainable, or at least, what I believed was obtainable. I visualized this property so clearly that when I stumbled upon it five years later, I made an offer the same day.
The point of all this is to affirm to myself as the world seems to be going wonky and I am thankfully well situated, that this was not an accident. I set this up years ago. I was more or less compelled to reach this point. Moreover, the awareness that my life and my heart still have room to give and offer, it’s time to evaluate what exactly I want to daydream next.
The feeling of being able to take care of and support my tiny little menagerie, and my little square of land as given me the courage to realize I may be able to provide for more. That as the world rebalances itself, I need to be thinking of what I can give and to whom I can give it when the time comes. There will be many in need. What will I be abundantly able to offer?
Dad, don’t get excited, but there may be an orphan or two involved. I dunno, maybe I’ll start out small and try a goat or a miniature pony first to make sure I don’t mess anything up.
I don’t think I’m the only one going through the spin cycle and ruminations. I think millions of people derailed from their daily routines, habits, and even their work scenarios are suddenly caught in these loopy old re-runs.
They are re-examining their choices. Are they happy with where they ended up?
Did they give up love for careers and vice versa? Family for money, or travel for stable homes? Did they give up passionate dreams for success, or freedom for security? Where did they deviate from the plan? Did it work out for better or worse?
When life returns to normal…do they/we want to go back to the way things were?
I’m just one of millions re-thinking, re-evaluating, weighing out the tallies. It’s fair to say when I’m evaluating my current situation, all worldly grief and loss aside, I’m happy with my life choices and where I tumbled out of the rollercoaster. I hope most people can say the same.
These last three years have been the happiest years of my life, and up until now I couldn’t figure out why. I’m fulfilled, and ready for more. While there’s guilt in feeling okay when there are so many who are not, there’s gratitude in knowing I will have extra to offer. I’m challenged and still learning. I’m creative and have a constant outlet. I have my freedom, my community, and my dreams have all been scaled to fit this nifty little plot of land and nurture this tiny bubble of bliss, with extra left to share.
I’ve come full circle…so what’s next?
Seems like a margarita, a hammock, and some new daydreams are in order.
“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.
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.
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.