storyrainthejournal: (eek)

When I was a kid and a teenager, and periodically on into adulthood, I had debilitating anxiety. I described it as feeling like I was walking on an unreliable dock over deep, dark, oily liquid nothingness, catastrophic black waters, with the sense that things really weren’t all right or okay, under the surface—and the surface was not solid.

Learning to meditate at 11, and eventually, as an adult, taking anti-anxiety & depression medication, gave me a sense of solid footing, in myself, in my breath, in love and connection.

Now I find myself thinking that the description of the anxiety I experienced as a kid sounds a lot like a premonition of the future we humans were making, and that of the animals who are cursed with our presence on this planet.

The good stuff is still real, but we really do have dangerous abyss at our feet, and the surface we tread day by day is not as solid as we think; and that abyss is formed, in part, of oil and greed and the darkness of a refusal to see.

storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
It's probably not obvious, but when I don't post much of my own content in the ethersphere on the social media, it's often because I'm in a bout of anxiety/depression. (Though sometimes it's more happily because I'm traveling, visiting, or just really engaged in the breathing world.)

There are plenty of situational reasons for anxiety/depression these days, and, indeed, I do feel overwhelmed right now, and tired. But I've also struggled with severe anxiety/depression from childhood. Add the daily drags and challenges of a chronic illness to that, and yeah, I have hard periods. Things that help, meditating, writing every day (challenging with a full-time dayjob and a chronic illness), feeling like my writing is being read and engaged and doing some small good in the world, cats, loved ones, books & movies. But the first two most of all, in terms of even keel. And medication. What a good, good thing it's been for me and my quality of life.

When I can't get on social media without a dozen important, desperate issues hitting me and the anxiety square in the injustice-rage and feels buttons, I'm already off-kilter and then the posts about all the best novels and stories lists I'm not on tweak the 'oh, cod, I'm such a failure,' pedal, and the whole ridiculous vehicle careens into anxiety/depression gulch. I know better than to compare my career to any other writer's. I know better than to rely at all on external validation (though it's always super incredibly appreciated when it comes). But knowing better doesn't always keep you from fucking up.

(I've done lots and lots of therapy, at various points, for many years, so please don't offer advice or counsel here--I'm not looking for it. Just processing a bit, and putting it out there, because maybe other people are having some of the same issues.)

So, reminders for self: You always come through it. It's okay to stick your nose in a book or a tv show for a while and give reality a break--you don't have to feel guilty about it. Hang on, keep doing what you know helps (even if you have to keep retrying for that bloody one regular hour of writing fiction on dayjob days over and over). Love on the animals in your life, don't just mourn and desperately miss the one who's gone. Be kind to yourself. Come back to the fight when you're ready. It doesn't appear to be going anywhere.
storyrainthejournal: (Default)

Reality crumbling in our hands

Like some Dickian nightmare

Evidence of infection in the veins of every day

Monsters who are monsters because they

Care only about themselves and

Will only support those who either

Resemble them, fawn to them,

Or provide gratification to them,

Passively, like surfaces mapped with

Scars, the impress of

The monsters' warped psyches

Naming the monsters—white, cis, male, heterosexual—is not

Helpful, because like any monsters, they are distinct from others

Who wear the same labels and are not


Naming doesn’t help, as it does in fairy tales

They go on raining destruction

Undermining bridges

Burning all that nurtures, protects, is beautiful or


I, who as a child daydreamed of being one of

Arthur’s knights, I want to slay them

I guess I’ve always been a little blood thirsty

But only for the blood of the evil

Like a cursed sword, lost

In a very deep lake


storyrainthejournal: (Default)
So, as I watch my lovely book sink into obscurity, here are some reader reviews of Substrate Phantoms to make myself feel better, since apparently it doesn't merit reviews in the critical key venues, or enough notice or attention to get on any best of lists or summer reads lists in major publications, which, frankly, breaks my heart. *Shakes fist at people ignoring my beautiful book.*

But I am very thankful to those individuals who have read it and said very best-of kinds of things. A sampling:
Oh, yes. Jessica Reisman definitely writes my kind of science fiction. The kind which includes wonder. 

I also particularly enjoy novels about life in a particular place, whether a space station or a starliner. What it is like to live in such a culture....
I also enjoy good worldbuilding. This book is full of not only a richly detailed world but complex well-developed characters who I was sorry to let go. (Sequel, please?) I particularly enjoyed her use of language. This culture has its own slang but there was enough context and enough that reasonably could be extrapolated from today's world that I was able to keep up smoothly.
Substrate Phantoms has it all. A well-told tale and a very satisfying read indeed. I highly recommend Substrate Phantoms to all who enjoy speculative fiction and have not lost their sense of wonder!
- Margaret A. Davis on Amazon

I started out liking this book. By the two-thirds mark, I loved it. At the end, I was sorry it was over.

In this far-future space opera, Reisman spins a tale both intimate and cosmic. Its two settings are vividly realized. One is Termagenti Station, a manufactured world with a deep structure and culture, appropriately exotic yet accessible to the reader--a combination not always easy to pull off in far-future fiction. The other is Ash, the planet below, a world slowly being adapted for human use. Jhinsei is a young man of unknown parentage who, after losing the only family he has known, becomes aware that the station--or is it Jhinsei himself?--is haunted, and by no conventional ghost. Meanwhile, another young man, Mheth, discovers uncomfortable truths about his own powerful, privileged, damaged family. Their fates are intertwined with that of another being--one that is sought after for its power to transform, or to destroy. What might first contact with another intelligent species really be like? What might we do to it--or it to us?

Reisman shines in her use of language. She captures the perceptions and emotions of her characters, and limns the worlds around them, in words both evocative and precise. In this way she sometimes reminded me of my favorite speculative-fiction writer, Jack Vance, especially in her rich but deft descriptions of Ash's beauty and strangeness. (I smiled to see the particularly Vancian word "nugatory" at one apt point.) The events and ideas of this novel are large, but there is power in the author's evoking of their interior repercussions. Highly recommended as an example of character-driven space opera.
- Rebecca Stetoff Amazon & Goodreads
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
I have been pretty spotty on the social media webnet of inters recently. The constant stream of outrage model of Facebook or Twitter engagement was burning me out like an old-tech bulb. With smoke wisping out of my ears. Meanwhile, it's hard enough getting fiction written with a dayjob--even harder when I wake up at 3am with visions of going all Ripley with a flamethrower on some lying, abusive, fascist jerkwad bullies who are taking over our government intent on dismantling everything it does that is good or protective or forward thinking, in the service of more money for the already too fucking wealthy.

So, recalibrating.

What I've decided is that it's everyone's personal responsibility to stay informed and be aware of the outrages being perpetrated daily (which has been the case since well before this egregous uptick in awfulness, btw), to be aware that things perpetrated by these lying fucks are already impacting the lives of people and other animals in serious, injurious, and life-threatening ways. Further to that, here are a couple of links to resources for staying informed, if you don't already:
Going forward, while I will be making calls, writing postcards, and going to marches, and will surely still sometimes post things political, my focus when doing so will be on positive things--calls to action, amazing things women, queer folk, PoC, and others are doing. Otherwise, there will be joy on my FB, Twitter, etc., (Tumblr, my happy place), stuff about what I love: books, movies, art, whimsy, rain, beauty, cats, animals, music, the funny.

I can't let those horrible people take up so much real estate in my brain and imagination, I need it for better, much more attractive, things. Given the state of my lungs and other health issies...I just don't want to waste my beautiful mind on them. And, as it says in this nice little op-ed piece from Arianna Huffington, "The goal of any true resistance is to affect outcomes, not just to vent. And the only way to affect outcomes and thrive in our lives, is to find the eye in the hurricane, and act from that place of inner strength."
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
It has, in myriad ways, been a pretty difficult year. Certainly I am, and have been, beside myself with our country's seemingly unstoppable slide toward most decidedly not-a-democracy, but a fascist kleptocracy.

Lost a lot of bright lights from the humanscape, too.

On the personal front, I've had some pretty demoralizing health patches--but, 2016 has also brought a few very goods in my life. SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS found a home with awesome Resurrection House Books and I couldn't be happier about that; I got to go to Sycamore Hill and--painful fingers wrapped like sausages despite--really loved being there and spending time with a bunch of wonderful fellow writers; and the luminous Ellen Datlow bought my Sycamore Hill story, "Bourbon, Sugar, Grace" for

I also got to spend lovely time with my beloved sister for the occassion of her daughter's wedding and have felt the support and love of friends and family.

Good things happened in the world, too, and will continue to do so, evil dystopic abusive bullies in power despite--unless of course that giant meteor takes us all out. Until then, however, it behooves us each to be the best and kindest--to ourselves, other humans, other animals, and the environment that sustains us--that we can be, in whatever ways that we can encompass.
storyrainthejournal: (fable)
As I sit here half in denial but beginning to grapple with a choice I don’t like, wondering if my lungs will ever again be up to a real hike in a beautiful natural place, to breathing in the marvels of this planet, and if the medicine I may take to try and halt the damage encroaching on my lungs will only further undermine the quality of my life, tie me to very regular blood testing, fear of infection, make it very hard to go, and do, and be, with freedom and vigor…

I see all that other people go and do and accomplish while they are being, and I look for some profound, meaningful, useful, or at least comforting perspective and insight, to help myself help myself. I feel like I have work that’s worth doing, writing-wise, and living that’s important to me to do, and joy I want to give, receive, experience, share. But of course it’s not super important to anyone but me.

I want to swallow a small bio-printer and have it print me new lungs. Or have the scleroderma relax its hold and my lungs stop getting worse, just stop here so I can still do things, even if I get out of breath and have to stop and rest while doing them.

I want to curl up and cry and have some great, beneficial love hold and hug me inside and out. I want to not feel so alone with this, and every decision and task that faces me. But I have felt alone since I was six and realized parents weren’t always there, were in fact quite absent, that nobody was or would always be there and no one was protecting me, and I am so used to feeling alone that it’s become hard for me to let anyone that far in, that close.

I am thankful for the cats, who cuddle up to my heart, purring, soft and warm, every day. I am thankful for my friends and loved ones, who are there for me, I know, to whatever extent they are or can be. But it would be nice to have a person who was here for me in a more physical, pragmatic way.

I am afraid, and I don’t want to be alone.

I’ll be strong again, at some point, resilience is a thing—until it’s not, I guess.

storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
In a recent conversation with my sister, an artist who likes to read about artists' lives, I learned that Paul Klee, one of the few modernists whose art I really love, had (and died of complications associated with) scleroderma, the same autoimmune disease I have.

On Paul Klee and his illness - During 1940, the year Klee died of heart failure from severe scleroderma at the age of 60, he created 366 works of art. Seventy-three years later, his art continues to inspire admirers, influencing not only visual artists, but also contemporary musicians all over the world, with its vibrant sense of rhythm, movement, imagination, and emotion.

I do love his art:

Reading about this is...comforting? Interesting? Something. Part of trying to come to terms with some stuff, I guess.

Things are physically challenging right now; my eyes, fingers, lungs, digestive system, and musculo-skeleture system are all adversely, and variously painfully, affected by the scleroderma. I'm tired most of the time and it's hard keeping up with dayjob, writing, the devoir of life, and self care enough to keep functional--and I still want and need to have something left over for doing fun things, spending time with friends.

I wonder about the next twenty years, and there is a lot of fear and denial and 'I just want to curl up in a ball and cry,' along with frustration--I still have a lot of writing I need and want to do, places I want to experience, people I want to spend time with. I still love and want to live my life and create art and beauty in the world.

A friend who also has serious autoimmune disease challenges talked about how people often say, "You look great, much improved," or words to that effect--and they're so hopeful that this is really the case. A lot of the time it's not; autoimmune diseases don't always show, and one makes efforts to be presentable, to appear well. And you don't want to say, um, nope, sorry--it's so disappointing and awkward.

I find myself thinking, gee, this writing career thing that I've been at for several decades better take off soon, I don't know how much more time I really have. Which is always the case, actually, for all of us, but hammered home on a daily basis by my tiring and unhappy body.

Here's Paul Klee with his wife and a cat.

storyrainthejournal: (ahwoeisme)
When I am having a hard time, I tend not to engage social media much; I have been having a very hard time lately. The physical depredations and ills associated with scleroderma are very much kicking my ass. While none of them taken separately are life-threatening--though my lungs are kind of fucked, and, you know, breathing is nice--all of them together: seriously diminishing my quality of life. I am so angry at my body, angry, exhausted trying to deal with it all while working full time and living alone, defeated because there's very little energy, time, or focus left over for writing and I start to feel very pointless when I don't write. Tired of pain, just, tired.

I've had some planned blog posts, on writing-related topics, but right now, this is all there is. I cannot huddle up with a partner or physically-present family member to deal with this stuff, so I guess I'd better write about it, because huddling up alone with it is making me want to die. Last night's thought: move to Oregon, live until all three of my current cats have finished happy, well-cared for lives, and then check myself out of this increasingly icky and unhappy mortal coil. (I wouldn't check out without honoring my responsibilities, and I wouldn't leave my beloved kitties to suffer--really, I wrote a story about this stuff, "Brilliance.")

What I pictured at nine, ten, eleven, my first years of writing fiction: a life writing novels and seeing them published and out in the world, being read and disappeared into the way I loved to disappear into books, giving back some of what books and their authors gave me. Despite having some talent with words, voice, and yes, novel-writing, it hasn't played out that way. Only one of my books has so far seen the light of publication, I can't seem to get traction or hit it right in the publishing world, I am so far from being a publicist or public persona that I am just not able to compete in the current reality. So, perhaps the life I envisioned, though I've worked diligently for it and at it for a major portion of my 51 years, just isn't going to happen. I don't have the support, the chops, the luck, and now, the energy. I'm not saying I give up, I will keep writing and sending shit out, but I have seriously lost faith in it ever coming to anything even remotely resembling a satisfying career--like say, more than one novel published, a readership, some reward and recognition to buoy me up now and then...

I keep thinking of that Beckett quote, "I can't go on, I'll go on." But, lord, I'm ready to be uploaded to my robot body. This one SUCKS.
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
I will wear my moon hat
And dance in the shower
And hope someone sends me a forest
Lonely ever after

I will wear my moon hat
And dance with a blue bear
Singing warm and moody songs to one another
We’ll pretend to be without a care

My moon hat shines so softly
White flowers grow on vines twining up my arms and legs
Drinking salt water and turning it sweet
And all the animals dreaming, like to crack my heart


Mar. 12th, 2013 11:58 am
storyrainthejournal: (catscream)
A few words of advice based on recent things of my life.

If you agree to be the executor of a friend's literary estate, make sure said friend has made sure the will in which you are so named is legal by the standards of the state in which said friend resides. Otherwise, in addition to missing your friend, you'll have to deal with contracts & requests piling up while a lawyer in Tennessee does god knows what.
If you have animals and no children, try to remember, when you have to start spending a lot of money on the furry one's health, that at least you don't have to send them to college.
Don't have problems with styes if you have weird skin because you have scleroderma. You will be fucked.
If you're feeling some despair over the novelist career you've been paying dues on for almost forty years...just keep writing. Keep writing because it keeps you sane, because you know you're good at it, because it gives you good energy, because you'd rather keep writing than not.
Be nice to yourself sometimes. Breathe.
storyrainthejournal: (luminousrain)
It's been an odd and a difficult time, this first month of the new year. I have been feeling bruised (emotionally, though I do have a very swollen stye eye and an eye doctor who has not been very reassuring, using phrases like "dig it out" and "it's going to hurt no matter what") and tired. I cry with slight provocation, and anything involving animals is like to reduce me to uselessness. The world feels full of harsh and unkind, the strong perpetually hurting and trampling the weak. There are pockets of kind and good, but they seem to me, right now, very overwhelmed.

This quote, cadged from Terri Windling's very soothing Myth & Moor blog, speaks loudly to me right now, and indeed, I am finding most solace in writing, reading, movies. (And friends, kitties, and hugs, of course.) Italic emphasis mine. 

“There are certain children who are told they are too sensitive, and there are certain adults who believe sensitivity is a problem that can be fixed in the way that crooked teeth can be fixed and made straight. And when these two come together you get a fairytale, a kind of story with hopelessness in it. I believe there is something in these old stories that does what singing does to words. They have transformational capabilities, in the way melody can transform mood. They can't transform your actual situation, but they can transform your experience of it. We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay. I believe we have always done this, used images to stand and understand what otherwise would be intolerable.” - Lynda Barry (via Gail Arlene de Vos)
storyrainthejournal: (Default)
In other news, for those not FB or Twitter compliant, story sale! Rick Klaw has kindly accepted "The Chambered Eye" for inclusion in Rayguns over Texas, the official Worldcon 2013 anthology. I will be added to an already impressive ToC.

In other otherness, reminding myself: I don't congratulate people so they'll thank me; if they ignore me while thanking other folks, that's no reason for me to take any bad feeling to heart or to feel any less generous or friendly toward them or anyone else. Be generous of spirit because you're the one living in this skin.  

(this smidget brought to you by an ongoing attack of the rabid insecurities, which are as ridiculous as they are mean)


Nov. 27th, 2012 02:46 pm
storyrainthejournal: (luminousrain)

Sometimes you don’t trust the words

You are all inchoate longing

And a rifted crackle of insecurities

Sometimes you can only cry

Curl up and hug yourself to yourself

For who else will embrace you when

You are this mess

Of unlovely hurt and insecurities

Ludicrous things these insecurities

Misshapen and comical if they were not so


Sometimes only music or silence or breath

Speaks your soul your mind your blood

Sometimes you only wish want need to go

Home to be loved wanted accepted nurtured not

Left behind abandoned rejected ignored alone

Sometimes you need to be quiet

Because all that will come out is a wail

Bloody cutting gems

Crying orphaned birds

Other things best kept

Private silent relic

Things to use when later words come back

Logic and pattern return and

Beauty finds its way behind your eyes into your

Voice again

storyrainthejournal: (onward)
Things like this make me want to gear up (with holy water and a disintegrator ray, since these are clearly evil monsters from hell) and go take some monsters out of my world...though rescuing as many of the abandoned dogs as possible is clearly a more realistically useful activity. So I sent the good people doing that some money to help them do it more. (warning: that link is to a story that's upsetting; there's no horrible photos, but it's upsetting stuff nonetheless)

You know, I subscribe to the idea of focusing on the good, on what you love, on giving your energy and support to what deserves it and what makes your world a better place to be...but I can't ignore the bad and horrible or the suffering it causes.

(Which means I spent a chunk of yesterday in a haze of dark depression and grief, after breaking the cardinal rule and reading the comments on an Austin Chronicle piece on the T-n-R feral cat program, specifically the long and ranting multiple comments of a clearly deranged individual who murders feral cats--and cats with collars whose owners let them go outside--wholesale, by shooting, drowning--however he can. I's really fucking upsetting to me, okay? Yes, I should know better than to read the comments anywhere but on the curated blogs of decent people of good will.)  
storyrainthejournal: (ahwoeisme)
I'm working on a couple of essay-type posts, one on neologisms (in qualified support of, actually, so there) and one on something a little knottier.

But today I have already cried thrice and am just...tired. So I wrote a poem to process my feeeeeeeeelings.

Luckily I asked for tomorrow off, and will have a long weekend of writing, going to see Beasts of the Southern Wild, hanging with cats and friends, and being someplace lovely, my loft. This will help, as dayjob has been oppressively busy and it's been hard to cadge good writing time.

By all means, skip the poem under the cut. For some reason I feel compelled to post it, perhaps to undermine (totally flout), the rule that says we should only show our happiest most successful selves, emotionally speaking, on the internets.

sad poem is sad, mostly )

storyrainthejournal: (Default)
Some people's paths to lauded bookhood appear, from the vantage of the internet and sometimes even from a real world vantage, to be relatively short, blessed, and easy in comparison to your own many many years long journey through unwelcoming and rocky territory. That is still ongoing.

Those same people often seem to have a great deal of family support and love bouying them up. Some people, indeed, just seem unfairly blessed.

But that's life and fair, as a woman I used to know was wont to say to her children, is a sunny day.

Of course, you don't know what those people have actually been through, you never know. And if they're people you think are swell, you're just happy for them, for the success of worthwhile things, for the love of art, of the book, of story, of people you're glad are in the world making awesome things.

But maybe, sometimes, you wonder, when the fuck is it my turn? Because for some of us, it seems every small success is beset by the orcs of difficulty. The path is thick with thorns and you never seem to reach those clearings where people, even ones you don't know, celebrate the thing you made, are gladdened and inspired by it, and say so, with confetti and chamagne.

You get tired. You feel discouraged.

You still love the writing itself, but sometimes you wonder, where did I go wrong? Is there any hope? Did I offend some great god of the book in a former life? Is someone hexing me? WTF world?

Of course, this is a useless place to be, and you don't want to be there. You want to be one of the happy, hard working, lucky ones. The in-crowd, the supported and wanted and loved. (What you have always longed to be, since the family of origin evaporated around you and you were, terminally, it seems, alone and unsupported, feeling unwanted.)

For long stretches of time you do well, you're positive, you know you, too, are blessed in many ways. You are thankful and sunny and productive.

Probably you will keep writing, even into your dotage. Because language and story are magic, and you love magic, love making magic, even if your magic remains forever small and quiet, receives no awards, and bubbles to itself in obscurity. Because it's yours, and there is joy in its making.

But sometimes, you wonder, and you are sad.


storyrainthejournal: (fable)
Loneliness is a thing that happens to most people. For the unpaired, once-abandoned children among us, e.g., me, it's a companion in its own right.

Last night's dreaming contained an element frequent to my dreams, a strong sadness, near desperation, in the search for a place to live in the world where there will be support and comraderie. This has been amped up lately as I've been thinking about how I'd like to move to Portland, Or. Except there's no dayjobs there and I have to have a dayjob, and moving is scary when you're alone.

Austin's been a good place for me. I love my loft. I know a lot of folks. But they're all paired off and many have kids and they're just busy with their own lives, not really very there, in that supportive, community-feeling way. I reach out, invite people to go to dinner, movies, etc., but they just have too much already going on.  

A lot of the time, that's okay; but also quite regularly, it is not so okay.

Enter this Mary Oliver poem, excerpted on Terri Windling's blogpost today (*you know about the amazing auction raising money for the amazing Terri, currently in need, right? Glittering scads of remarkable items and services on offer there.)

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver

This is, btw, one of the elements that contributed to my becoming a writer at an early age, the desire to participate in this offering of the world, the vast and inspiring natural world, to my imagination.


Oct. 19th, 2011 12:23 pm
storyrainthejournal: (bookship)
Terri Windling's (I love her blog for the pictures of her awesome pup, Tilly, the beautiful countryside where she lives, and the rich well of quotations she draws from) post on creative burn-out (third in a series) is worth a read.

This in particular resonates for me:
As younger writers or artists, with energy to spare, we often pushed ourselves to produce and produce and produce, living on caffeine and nerves and adrenaline...and that's fine, even fun, at a certain age, but not sustainable over a lifetime of work. Now, as a woman deep into her middle years, I know I must find a different rhythm -- one that is cyclical, seasonal, sustainable.

This resonates both in itself, as being very true for me, and also in the connected issue it raises, which has been much on my mind of late--and, well, bothering me, which is why I write posts like this, to process, in the hope that said processing might also be of use to other folks.

That issue is the getting older part of it, and where I am--and where I'm not. The getting up there in years without having achieved a lot of writing career success. I know so many writers younger than I, or who have been writing for much shorter period of their lives, who have significantly more career success--more productivity, more books published, more kudos. I've been writing since I was nine, which was when I decided that writing fiction, specifically fantastic (or speculative, or F/SF, whatever you want to call it) was what I wanted to do with my life. Also specifically, novels.

Clearly, I'm not the most successful puppy on the block when it comes to realizing your dreams.

On the other hand, I'm still writing, despite a quite miserable childhood which left me pretty damaged, no family support, and no one egging me on for the first two thirds or so of my life. I was gonna do it anyway, goddamnit. That was the energy and adrenaline of my youth, and it kept me going and writing a long time.

I got a masters in creative writing and several years of fellowship support as a fiction writer, despite having dropped out of highschool in tenth grade (to smoke dope and travel back and forth across the country, work at Ren Faires in California, and, all the while, write).

Now, my dayjob continually tries to eat my life, I have no mate to give me a hand here and there, and I still am here, writing. Getting stories published (though sometimes I wish I'd just been writing novels all along and never drunk the koolaid about making a short story career happen before you could have one as a novelist). The occasional shiny review happens. A couple members of my family came back into my life in supportive ways; I have wonderful writer friends, all supportive.

There was that first novel, from a small but well respected press...with its dreadful, lets not give this book a chance in hell cover. Still, a lot of the people who read it had awfully nice things to say about it.

Now, seven years since that novel was published...well, I finally have an agent. Huzzah! I have my first Edit Letter from said agent and am revising the novel the agent took on, one of a couple other novels I have under my belt.

Maybe all of this self-doubt and disappointment in where I am--and where I'm not--is natural at a couple years shy of...mumble mumble, how old I will soon be. But it's hard sometimes not to feel like what I've actually become is an office drone of an editor instead of the novelist I meant to be. And I just don't seem to have quite the stubbornness, cussed determination, and belief in myself that I had with regard to writing when I was younger--for a long time, it was the thing that spurred me to the bravest acts, decisions, and leaps in my life. 

Also, as much as I love the photos Terri Windling posts of where she lives, they fan a sometimes unbearable longing to live somewhere that beautiful, and have the freedom to roam it daily, to have a life built around creativity and joy and engagement, a life that daily feels worth living.

Nothing to do but keep on, find the joy where it is, simmer plans and possibilities for change on the back burner until something clearly becomes the thing to do, and write.

I'd kind of like some of my cussedness back, though.

storyrainthejournal: (flying)
So, over at Making Light, Abi Sutherland is hosting the annual Dysfunctional Families Day conversation.

I went...and I find I can't post there, so I'm posting here. All appreciation to those posting over there, but I can't. I feel like I'm an abandonment survivor, more than an abuse survivor. I guess abandonment is a kind of abuse, but insofar as abuse implies connection (of a horrible sort) it's not the same.

And I guess I sometimes self-exclude from conversations rather than try to engage and risk feeling unwanted and unappreciated. So here is my contribution to the conversation, over here in my little part of the forest.

Here's the thing. No one beat me as a kid. No one in my blood family was psychologically abusive (the two step mothers and first set of step siblings were, but that's another story). My family's dysfunction was that they just weren't there--physically, emotionally, any-ally. My mom left my dad, and us, when I was six and a half. She tried for custody, but she was a hippy freak who left a corporate lawyer to go live on a beach in Jamaica (in 1970, so basically, no way sister). My brother and sister were 12 and 13 at the time and made shift to be away summers, and generally present as little as possible from then on.

I'm thankful that I have a good relationship with my mom now, as an adult, and I love her, and I know why she left--she was very very unhappy with my father, he wasn't there emotionally and his particular pathologies were already in evidence. I also know she still feels horribly guilty about leaving me even now, at 79. I'm also incredibly thankful for my sister, who did try to be there for me, a little, as much as she, as a confused teenager, could be.

But knowing all that doesn't really impact a certain emotional "truth" of my life, which runs: no one cares about me enough to stay, no one loves and appreciates me, really; how could they, when my own mother couldn't? It didn't help that my dad wasn't emotionally present at all, and set about trying to find an alternate family immediately--or that both of the alternate families had little space or time for such as me, the ratty haired distaff child. (The first step mother said she was ashamed to be seen with me.)

When I start feeling just kind of sad, unloved, unimportant and pointless, when nothing else has happened to make me feel that way, it always comes back to that, the deep seated feeling that I'm just not important to anyone. It can make seeing couples tout each other's awesomeness, and parents doting on their kids, echo bitterly for me. (I hate feeling bitter!) Makes me think, I'm not the most important person in the world to anyone, and of course, I feel like it's because I don't deserve to be, if my own mother...etc.

The feeling of being left out, not appreciated or wanted, all comes back to these family of origin issues, along with not feeling safe or rooted in the world, because all sense of safety and belonging, of being part of anything, disintegrated early on.

I get so so tired of feeling that way.

I have a lot of happy in my life and have worked hard to have good friends and a healthy self, emotionally and psychologically. Friends, writing, animals, meditation, these  saved me, and continue to save me, and make life full of love and good bits--as it should be. How thankful am I for my friends? Baby, it's huge.

However, the sad sense of being unwanted, unappreciated, unsupported, unloved always, always comes back; that's just the way of it, I guess. 


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April 2019

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