Our community blogs
So one of the major aspects of Mellicat's story, Dare, is family. We're all born into a family even if we don't know them, or we lose them, in one way or the other. The adults and children and relationships we see and know or wish we had are how we model our own future selves in our minds. And that shapes who we become and the choices we make in our entire life... for good or ill. In Dare, the choices the characters make are based on the men in their lives and the roles they all grew into. In some ways, those roles have been locked in since they were children and the choices they all make are based on the same choices and images of each other they've always held. But are those choices what's best for each of them and what they wants out of life or just in kneejerk reaction to what they think they have to do and be based on their childhood? And can they all come together as adults when something bad happens and learn that what they thought they knew about each other maybe isn't the whole picture?
In this feature, I stuck with one chapter, but I picked two sections that really highlighted the brothers and their roles and their connections to each other and their families as well.QuoteQuote
Want to read more, click here.
A friend of mine posted the various flags of the LGBTQWTF alphabet soup idiocy. There's the good old reliable Pride flag that everybody used to like colorful with its rainbow of colors. Then there were flags for lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, asexuals, pansexuals and WTF-else-sexuals. Why do we need or want this Balkanization?
The first symbol I ever saw of the gay movement was the pink triangle. It dates back to the Holocaust. It was the symbol the Nazis put on gay people in the death camps where they were sent to be raped and worked to death. Researchers think between four hundred thousand and half a million GLBT people died in those camps alongside Jews, gypsies and other undesirables of Hitler's Reich.
Not long after the Holocaust there was another, quiet holocaust against GLBT people. It was perpetrated by medical doctors looking to "cure" gay people. It took the form of lobotomies and electroshock therapy. It cured sexual deviance by destroying the person.
We have forgotten that the Gay Movement was not started because of a bar riot in Greenwich Village. It was started by people who merely wanted to survive.
That puts the circus that Pride has become in some perspective.
Hello loyal and wonderful readers.
i am pleased to announce that shortly I will be publishing a two chapter story, that I have just written today.
It is an add on to a previous story, with a bit of a twist to it.
I hope you enjoy it.
First chapter will be posted in about six hours time from now, second chapter twelve hours after that.
So I was down at the Stampede tonight to about 12:30 am and I met this nice couple from Australia. I asked if they knew @Graeme, but surprisingly they did not They decided to come over here for their winter and our summer When I asked them where they were from, they said Wagga Wagga, NSW . I thought to myself, self, why does Australia have such funny names? Then I thought it my be Aboriginal names, and who am it to judge? Here in the Great White North, we have Moosejaw, and here's a tongue twister, Saskatoon Saskatchewan so do you have any strange named towns/cities in your neck of the woods?
And onto the wrap up, after my strange musings...
Monday, Timothy M. did an excellent story review to hopefully get us to check out another great story here at GA:
Wednesday, Cia popped in to solicit feedback from you, the members. If you haven't seen what she is looking for, pop back into the blog:
Friday, our Favourite Prompt Guru, found us a few fabulous fun ideas to get us all writing:
- 2019 Fall Anthology: Fall From Grace - Due November 15th
- 2019 Fall Anthology: Raincheck - Due November 15th
Ask An Author: Send your questions for your favorite authors to @Carlos Hazday (no questions = no Ask An Author)
Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM your recommendation and why you recommend it to a Site Admin.
Guess the Author: Open to all GA authors. PM @Renee Stevens to participate.
3 Story Promo: Open to all GA Authors. PM @Renee Stevens to participate.
Author Interview: Open to all GA Authors. PM @Renee Stevens to participate.
Favorite Self-Written Story: Open to all GA authors. PM @Renee Stevens to participate.
Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM @Renee Stevens to participate.
Reader Recommended: Recommend a completed Poem/Story/Series for a short blurb at the end of the Weekly Wrap Up and PM @wildone to share your favourite stories.
Deal or No Deal by Valkyrie *Premium*
A Class By HImself by Comicality
Adrift by Mann Ramblings
Aria Graice by Nephylim
Cozy Contemplations by Headstall
Deal or No Deal by Valkyrie
Denied by Cia
Disasters, Delights and Other Detours by Parker Owens
Lyrical Laments by Headstall
Prickly Prompts by aditus
Spirit of Fire by Stellar
The Plateau by Comicality
tim's poetry workbook by Mikiesboy
Tragic Genius by Cynus
The Cockney Canuck by Dodger
Recommended by @Timothy M.
Don't forget.... Read, Write, and REVIEW!!!
Hello old friend.
It's just you and me now.
They are all gone, but their words repeat unending.
I hear their words, but they're long gone.
I don't care, I love him, I cant stay, you're uncaring, you're worthless, you're unlovable.
Hello old friend.
I have my plastic smile in.
Their shades haunt my days and torment my nights.
If you smile while you cut all ties they dont notice.
You're alone, you're unknown, you're unremarkable, they don't see, they don't hear, they don't care.
Goodbye old friend.
The clock stopped, and no more alarms.
Each day a new pain, a new scar, a little death.
I curl up on your tombstone now.
Who is the frail figure? What does he want? Where are his friends? Why is he alone? How did he become this?
Goodbye old friend.
I stand here one last time.
There are no tears or hugs for me. There is no warmth in this cold December. There is only hard acceptance in the end.
Hello. Sorry everyone, sort of an issue on my end but finally getting the prompts out. As the saying goes, better late than never. Hopefully, one will catch your fancy.
Prompt 764 - Creative
Tag - First Line
The tears were still falling as he grasped the doorframe watching the dark figure disappear into the rain.
Prompt 765 - Creative
Tag - List of words
Use the following words in a story - a boat, a statue, a flock of seagulls, a rain coat, and a blue blanket.
So did you find a prompt you enjoyed? Please share your tale below.
Remember to read, write, comment, and like. Until next time.
Adermoor Cove is a serial I'm working on about a town on an island just off the coast of Maine and a young man who goes to the town in search for answers. The young man, Lane Hardy has been on the run for a year, being stalked by a supernatural force he doesn't understand, as well as his own uncontrollable powers. Adermoor Cove is supposedly where the dark source comes from. As he tries to find out more about the dark forces and his own past, he discovers the town isn't what it seems.
Today I want to talk about the inspirations I had to write the story.
Silent Hill: I saw the movie when I was eleven on a rainy day. My mom and I didn't have anything better to do so we went to one of the cheapy movie theaters. my mother hated it - she didn't understand it, and anything she can't understand she hates. I loved everything about: the premise, the creepy atmosphere and music, the sense of dread. Ever since I saw the movie I've always wanted to write something similar.
Stephen King: I remember Mom read his books a lot in college. I was exposed to his work from a very young age. I started reading him when I was in middle school. Of course at that age I couldn't fully appreciate his work the way I do now. I tend to like his early work: The Shining, Cujo, Firestarter, Pet Semetary, and Misery being among my favorites. None of these books really scare me, except Misery because of the one scene with the axe (Stephen KIng as a way of writing where you can actually see what's happening as if you're there yourself). If anything i find these books to be tragic. They've stuck with me because of their bleakness. Even if the main character survives at the end it doesn't necessarily mean the story ends on a happy note (The Shining, Firestarter, Cujo, and Misery). I want to capture that feeling of tragedy, of true bleakness. And of course Stephen King inspired games like Silent Hill.
H.P. Lovecraft: I have never read any of his stories but I love the mythos he's come up with and the idea around dealing with forces the world doesn't understand. And like the creatures he's created his stories truly have an alien feel to them. I've seen several movies based or inspired by his work that i found rather terrifying (The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness, and The Void). While Stephen KIng will always be closest to my heart without Lovecraft I don't think writers like Stephen KIng or Clive Barker (another writer I love) would be who they are.
And finally last but not least: Myself. My experiences. Having experienced mental health issues and trauma Adermoor Cove is really just an analogy of how I feel: Running from my depression and anger, paranoia, feeling as if there's no one I can trust. In the story there's a saying:
I'm going to quote a character from my story: "People who leave Adermoor Cove always comes back one way or another." And people who go there who aren't from there get stuck. That's how i feel after fifteen years of living in Indiana, where I'm from so I put that in the story as well.
Oh and I also have a lighthouse fetish which is a central part of the story.
Anyone who reads this entry please consider at least try reading the first part of Adermoor Cove. At 11,000 words it is a quick read. i am currently in the middle of posting the second part and almost finished with the third. i would like to hear your thoughts on the story.
For several days now, i’ve been “off.”
Off my game; off my healthy eating; my mood is off; my enjoyment of my job is off. i’m just OFF. Frankly, i don’t like feeling like this. Even my relationships are off. i had to excuse myself from the living room last night when the kids’ joking around and the dogs barking made me feel like i was about to explode. i cried a little when i told a friend that i loved him.
i know that this happens; we’re all human and life ebbs and flows. i also know that it won’t last forever, but that doesn’t make it suck any less.
i also realized that i dislike the phrase “Well, just get back on that horse.” But sometimes it feels like i’m trying to climb on a wild mustang. i know that if i can just take a deep breath and start again, that i’ll find a way out sooner or later.
The sky isn’t as blue, the grass isn’t as green. Life is waiting, and i’m just sitting on a bench somewhere watching it. Today, i'll get through it, just like always. Maybe tomorrow i’ll be closer to ME again…
there was no editing on this, all errors are mine
If you receive GA's monthly newsletter, you know we’re looking for feedback from YOU! Now’s the time to share your thoughts on site features and potential future changes. *Let’s be constructive and give ideas on what will help encourage new membership and activity among current members, not just what you don’t like, please!!*
Forum Moves and Shake Ups
There have been changes to the forums. Some forums were moved or removed with their content moving to new places, some Clubs removed or consolidated, and Myr shared the Fluid View option in last week’s announcement.
So now that it’s been a week or so, how’s it working for you? Have you gotten used to the new locations? Never really noticed the change? Like it way better?
Share your thoughts below!
Stories Comment, Review, and Chapter Comment Guidelines
These guidelines are pretty intuitive to long-time members, but there’s now a pop up field at each section for comments and reviews on stories. They explain what each section is for and how to best support authors by readers. The idea is to have the information ‘on the spot’ for users to encourage them to use the features.
Do any of the guidelines not make sense to you? Thoughts about them? Comments in general? Share them below!
Example of Story Review Guidelines below in the Spoiler!Spoiler
Site Membership, Activity, and Clubs
Hello, members! Can you tell us what prompted you to join GA? Literally, why did you click that button and make an account? Were you browsing for stories and decide, why not join? Did you see an ad or a pop up? Did you want to comment on a story you were reading? Reach out to an author?
We need YOUR ideas about how to encourage readers and lurkers to join the site. Share them below!
Favorite Areas-Features of the site…
So when you joined, what areas or features of GA kept you coming back? Where do you spend your time? What can we do to keep those areas active or create more activity in other areas or features that you enjoy or think would encourage more lurkers to join the site to take part in?
Share your favorite site spots and ideas below!
What I've described to the Dr. in the past as being, "short, sharp, heartbeats" were being very and unusually persistent last night when I was trying to fall asleep. Ended up going to the ER -- not out of concern (they've already said they didn't see anything concerning about my heart function) but in the hopes that if they were going to persist that I could relax enough they would happen there where I would be monitored. It's very difficult to relax in an ER room, even when that's your goal. 😕 I did have a couple but they were small and didn't show as anything unusual in the chart. I'd chalk it up to an expensive failure except that the Dr. on duty mentioned something he thought they sounded like and fit the "only happening when I'm relaxing and trying to sleep" -- premature ventricular contractions. I just sent a note to my cardiologist; left off the part where the ER doctor expressed surprise that the cardiologist hadn't already considered or mentioned them as a possibility. In and of themselves they're too much of a concern but... I mentioned in my note that they were becoming more frequent [both in time and in numbers] and were making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. Does seem like those should show themselves on the EKG though. I wasn't having at all them when I wore the Halter monitor the first time.
I know I should trust the Dr. when he says there is no sign of anything wrong with the heart itself but it does seem incongruous to be having these if there is nothing wrong. They're like a single beat where it feels like the heart compresses too much with no pain before or after. My friend who is a nurse would tell me that I'm just worrying too much -- which I do have a tendency to do [part of the whole 'anxiety disorder' thing]. Haven't told her that I went in last night or what the doc suggested they might be.
On an entirely different topic, during my Uber ride on my way into the ER @ 3am we passed a large gas station / convenience store that sits at the corner of two of the main streets through town. Entrance was coned off, the entire area was taped off, and there were several cops there. Driver said she'd driven by about an hour earlier and saw a, "shirtless man talking to the cops who looked upset".
Getting home this morning early and turning on the news, the man she saw had a gunshot wound to the neck. He'd been shot somewhere else and dropped off there. He was taken to the hospital where he later died. Cops have one person held for questioning.
This isn't the sort of thing that normally happens in this town, though we've had more shooting recently than normal.
Finished chemo on May 23. Had my follow up and all the extra tests. No sign of cancer. My hair is growing back....it did change color - sort of. My hair was very fine before chemo, it’s even finer now. So fine it appears colorless. Hopefully this is short lived.
My supervisor at work thought I breezed through chemo, until the last two treatments. I guess I’m good at hiding fatigue, weakness and burning pain. For a while I thought I would have to quit teaching because I would forget the topic in mid-sentence. My students made a game of it, trying to be the first to jog my memory or come up with the word I’m describing.
I’m working with a physical/occupational oncology therapist. This is not fun. The therapist says my nerves are a bit mixed up and slow in sending signals. I believe it, the other day the cat clawed me, I couldn’t feel his tail under my foot. For the last month shoes and socks felt like someone was driving nails into my toes. It’s still uncomfortable to wear shoes, but not painful. I still tire easily but I’m getting more energy back. So recovery is slow, but I’m shuffling along and taking frequent breaks.
To celebrate the release of my book “They're Watching You," and the July 4th holiday, I'm holding a book giveaway. Send me an email (or you can send me a message through the Messages system here) before Monday July 8th, and I will randomly pick one winner of a copy of the book.
The book is a gay romance/thriller.
To enter, just send a message through the message system or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: Book Giveaway.
Have a great weekend everyone!
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Ask an Author 2.0 #21
Twenty-one! At last. Somebody wanna get me a cocktail?
@northie has a knack for delivering the unexpected. Ghosts in her most recent anthology offering, the travails of old age frequently, or I understand horror in other works. I don’t do scary flicks or stories so no comments from me on those. The point is she buckles trends and offers tales unlike what most GA authors do. You should give one or two of them a look.
What weighs you down the most in your writing?
I started off by wondering whether my mystery questioner had mistaken me for someone else: a writer who committed their creative struggles to the page, or one who mused on the essence of being an author.
Nope. Just me.
It is an interesting question though. Who can truthfully say, writing and posting a story causes not a single doubt or moment of hesitation?
When setting out to write something – be it a flash piece or story chapter – I don't often have concerns. The story comes out as I imagine it mostly; scrapping something is an option that's only been used 3 or 4 times. So far, I've felt content in my identity as an English author writing for the most part about English things. What I didn't appreciate starting out was how that would limit my stories' appeal. Factor in older characters and some less-than-feelgood subject matter, and sometimes I'm surprised anyone comes back for more.
A reader described one of my ongoing serials recently as 'quotidian'. That's a pretty fair description. If you're looking for sizzling sex scenes, inter-galactic battles, werewolves, or fairy tales, I'm not (yet, at least) the author for you. As my writing continues to improve (I'm still less than three years into this writing lark) maybe I will branch out. The on-going serials are 'kitchen sink' dramas. Sounds boring perhaps, but I find there's still plenty to write about, to examine, to explore. This is where things can weigh me down a little. I'm getting better at pacing, mixing things up, and plot development, but there's still a lurking suspicion that quotidian actually means pedestrian or mundane.
Despite accepting my stories are never going to be many people's cup of tea, I'm not one of those authors who posts a story or chapter and couldn't give a damn about who reads it. On the contrary. It's been the hardest thing to deal with. Self-confidence isn't my strongest suit, so whenever the latest product from my pencil is posted, I watch what happens. If it gains little interest, I have to tell myself it's a bad day / time of day. Or maybe someone with more clout has posted a lynchpin chapter. Or it's just not what the GA community expects. That doesn't make it a bad story, or me a poor writer. It happens.
Another way to look at it is this: if the reception of my stories is the worst issue to be faced, I should get a grip. I write freely, enjoy it wholeheartedly, and am willing and able to learn. There must be many authors out there who would love to swap places. People who struggle to get the words out; others who are prevented from seeing the fruit of their labours in the public's hands. I am lucky.
Another author who does not fit the mold is @Thorn Wilde. His stories often feature off-beat characters with my favorite one so far being Deadpool. If you’re a Marvel Comics’ fan—and even if you are not—you should check out Holding Back.
What connects and or distracts you to/from the emotion and characters in your stories?
This is kind of a hard one to answer. What connects me I guess is that they're mine. I write them, so I feel them, if that makes sense. That can be unpleasant sometimes, too, when I feel characters who do bad things, or when bad things happen to my characters. I can get pretty emotional. It can be hard to disconnect. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that they're not real (which is very hard to do because they're real to me). Don't know if any of this makes
One of GA’s signature authors, @Valkyrie seems to be everywhere. She writes, she edits, she helps coordinate the site’s anthology connection… You get the idea. Busy, busy, busy and she still finds time to read and comment on other stories. Don’t ask me about her infatuation with cats and penguins; still have’t figured that one out.
Was there any book/ author you read that changed the way you approached or thought about your writing?
I gave this a lot of thought, because I initially couldn't think of anyone. But the more I thought about it, I would have to say reading Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles opened new possibilities to me in my writing. Her stories were the first I read with an m/m component. I've always loved vampire stories, and even started writing one of my own, but after reading about Anne Rice's vampires, my story took a bit of an unexpected turn.
@Wayne Gray made a big splash in the GA pond when he published Guarded. Since then, he’s become an active participant in the community and has a couple of stories now posting.
I am really enjoying your stories. To date, what has been your hardest scene to write?
Thank you for the question. It's a great one.
The toughest scene I've ever written is included in a tale that is finished but has yet to be posted anyplace. That'd be a scene in Fleeting Eternity. The reason it was difficult is that it was a gut-punch, emotionally powerful moment - one I spent days writing because it was just so hard to get through it. Annoyingly, I can't divulge much more about it, for fear of ruining the story. I do plan on posting Fleeting Eternity to GA one day. So you'll get to tell me if you agree when you read that piece of work. 🙂
That’s it for this month. I’m serious, guys. I need questions. Unless you want me to start asking authors about their reality TV watching habits, you better send me some good ones.
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
From Chapter 3, an unedited scene:Quote
At 10:45 pm, the Acela Express pulled into Boston South Station. South Station was a two-part building, with the northern building dedicated to Amtrak and regional trains, and the southern building dedicated to both local public transportation buses and long-distance companies, like Greyhound. The building was an open-air two-story complex with several small shops and eateries, along with the ticket booths for the trains.
Adam and Duncan led the others towards the Taxi Staging area, outside the west entrance. Their luggage on a baggage cart that Giles offered to push.
“Do we need to call an Uber, or grab a taxi?” Duncan was marveling at the architecture of the building.
“No, when we were in New Haven, CT, I called ahead to the hotel, and they are sending a shuttle.” Adam gave his husband a quick kiss.
Travis was staying calm, as he took his anxiety pills before getting off the train, and he held his boyfriend’s hand. Jeremy would let go every now and then to snap pictures of the station.
Robert walked in silence, a remorseful cadence in his step, and a sullen look on his face. The others seemed to not take notice.
“Heya, big bro…” Jeremy walked up to Robert, with Travis in tow. With Travis holding his left hand, Jeremy wrapped his right arm around his brother in a side hug. His camera hung from its strap around his neck. “Are you all right? It’ll just stay between me, you, and Trav.” He spoke softly.
“Not really… I knew coming back would be tough, but…” Robert sighed. “But… it’s rocking me bad.”
“Are the memories creeping up on you?”
Robert just nodded. After a lull in the conversation. “The group home I was in, is right around the corner just inside Chinatown. I never told you what fully happened… happened there, Jer.” He glanced over at Jeremy and Travis.
“I told you I was assaulted but here’s how it happened… I got into a fight with one boy during the day. I don’t know how he found out, but he found out I was gay. They were getting ready to move me the next morning to a family home and they had me separated from the others. I was taking a shower, by myself because of the fight, and the kid from earlier and his friend snuck up on me, while I was washing my hair facing the wall. The first blow caught me by surprise, they hit me from behind between my legs and got me in the nuts.”
Robert paused and released a calming breath. “That dropped me, I vomited right there in the shower. That’s when they starting to lay into me. Covered in shampoo that got in my eyes, the water, and puke on me, I had enough sense to be able to protect my head. They were hitting me with wet towels wrapped around blocks of soap.” His head hung down, and he wiped his eyes.
Robert looked back up and saw that Giles, Adam, and Duncan had moved up to them. Jeremy and Travis both looked pissed off. Giles, let go of the cart, stepped in front of his boyfriend, enveloped him in a hug, and a chaste kiss on his cheek. “I’m sorry that happened to you. I wish you had told me.”
Adam watched his son, as he listened to them talk. His eyes betrayed the rage that was inside him. “Rob… I’m… I’m so sorry that happened. I tried to get to you sooner, and I wanted to be up here. Massachusetts denied me visitation, and Carol said I should stay in Florida. That way they couldn’t fuck us over more than they did.”
“I know Dad. I don’t blame you at all. I’m pissed at the people that caused all this. I hope they both die in jail.”
“How did you get out of the fight, Rob?” Travis was fidgeting. He nodded once, let go of Jeremy’s hand, and gave Robert a hug as well. “I know how getting jumped hurts, and the pain from the memories.” He stepped back over next to Jeremy’s side.
“Thank you, Trav. A male caseworker, who was walking down the hallway to go home, heard the me yelling for help and stepped in. The two teens dropped their weapons and ran out the side door.”
Giles took over holding Robert in a one-arm hug and walked towards the door with him. Travis grabbed the luggage cart as they all walked in silence.
Working on it around my class schedule, and as of right now it has surpassed the previous three stories in chapters.
Today tim shared a motivational poster which said: The older I get the more I understand that it's okay to live a life other's don't understand.
That made me think. While it is true many do not understand our D/s lifestyle, recently, I've found myself questioning it also.
I do not believe D/s will ever be totally gone from us. But I have found that by easing back a little bit, life is more fun and more fulfilling. I have discussed these changes with tim; these lessening of the Rules. he seems fine with what has been happening. The change wasn't a decision, it's been organic, an evolution of sorts and it suits us. I believe it comes from changes in tim. he is more confident, happier, stronger. These are things to encourage and reward, so I have had to change as well.
But he will always be my boy, and I his, Sir. he is still respectful and defers to me, but something is different, less rigid. It is there but I cannot pin down what it is exactly. However these changes manifest themselves may not stay within the D/s colouring book lines always.
But you know what? It's our life … your life … and it needs living the best we can.
Do what makes you happy. We most certainly are.
Well, that's it for the spring anthology! We had a lot of great stories and we hope that everyone enjoyed them. Make sure to thank the authors by leaving a comment and/or review! So, let's take a final look at all the stories.
Reminiscing About the Future
Bullying Starts in the Home
Where There is a Will
Blackmail in the Night
Black & Blue
A Hell of a Mess
2018 Fall Anthology Support Team
Anthology Banner Creation
Therapy. Counseling. Mental health. Talking doctor.
Whatever your choice word for it, that seems to be where I've landed. BEFORE THE PANIC SETS IN, I'M FINE. Well... that's a relative term, but there's no need to worry about me. I've been feeling depressed and uncertain about my future for a long time now, and it's getting in the way of my work.
It's not what I thought it would be. For one thing, I don't come close to fitting on the damned couch. My person seems to like cognitive behaviour therapy. They're challenging me. Making me articulate what I believe, where those beliefs came from and how they affect my life in subtle and not so subtle ways. I don't know what I'm supposed to feel after sessions, though I'm going to guess that having sore legs is not typical.
I don't like feeling so exposed. It's good for me to think about the things they're having me think about, but the way they stare at me... I feel like a science project run amok. They look at me the way I look at a particularly dismal essay response, just sitting there studying it, trying to figure out what to do with it. It's been very superficial so far, we're still establishing who we both are in the process and nobody seems interested in delving too deeply into my childhood, which is a kindness.
I do think I chose well. My person has a similar background to me, at least in some ways. I confess I don't know them overly well yet, but we both have sports and being LGBTQ in common, so I can talk about those sorts of things much more freely than I otherwise would. More to the point, I don't have to explain things about my athletics frustrations because they get it, they've been there and can talk to me about those same issues from my own perspective instead of just a counselor's perspective, which can feel patronizing at times.
It's only been a couple of sessions, but it seems to be helping? I have some more motivation to do things that I need to do for work and for school. I'm not lapsing into melancholy each night and questioning everything I do. I still have a LOT to work through though, and it's nice to have someone who can help me work through things.
Anyways, that's me. I guess this is my new project now, fixing myself. Yay me.
Almost a year ago, I met someone, older than me, with whom it turned out we shared some things in common. We both knew the same city where he had grown up, we both had a desire to write. He had already written a number of stories and books, but was no longer writing. I had practically not even started.
There was a unity and empathy between us. Unexpectedly, he gave me a tablet, which he said he no longer had any use for, and with that tablet a draft of a story. A story that he would never write, but which he said I could use. I should not mention his name, this was the only condition.
So I began writing his story, but, of course, I elaborated, invented, and imagined, although I also checked out a few facts on the net. The story in not finished, I’m not sure where or when it will finish?
This type of writing, I discovered, has a genre all of its own, a fictionalised biography. A person's life story based partly on fact and enhanced by the author's imagination. Materials are freely invented, scenes and conversations are imagined; the writing depends almost entirely upon secondary sources and cursory research.
Initially, the story was rejected and criticised by a number of people. Something which set me back. How was I to continue writing in the face of several negative comments? Was it my inexperience? My style? What would be the point of writing a book that no one would publish? Nevertheless, I was confident I could write and set out to prove my worth with two other stories. Thus, I ended up writing three totally different books.
I had no idea what or how to title the draft story I’d been given, and which I was turning into a fictionalised biography. Until I happened upon a definition in the Urban Dictionary: Camp echo - a place where people find their BFF’s, Best Friend’s Forever. When you go to camp echo your dreams and goals are high. Cabin secrets, fun, and more fill your summer for seven weeks. Camp echo is the best place in the world.
Camp echo is the most beautiful place on earth. With tall trees, an open lake, huge fields and one big family. At camp echo the campers come and stay, never wanting to leave. The tears will flow and you never want to let go of the best seven weeks of your life. With inside jokes and memories, there’s never a day wasted. There’s a true magic about camp echo. The bonds you make will last a lifetime. Eagles fly.
The title struck a chord with me, although it was not going to be a story about a summer camp, it embodied all those emotions and experiences. Meeting people, dreams, goals, and discovery. There was an element of life at play. It was not my life, and not the reader’s, but surely anyone would recognise it was real.
The summary I wrote and re-wrote, to introduce the story and tell readers what it was about, probably fails to do it justice. My writing probably fails to do it justice. But it’s a great story. It deserves to be told. Fictionalised or not, it is someone's life.
Finding the pub was easy. You wouldn’t even need to know the name, but he did. Jonathan had specified the time and place. The crowd of early evening drinkers spread outside onto the pavement. Under any other circumstances Max would have ignored them and walked on by. But he very much wanted to meet Jonathan, he was banking on getting invited back. Jonathan said the pub was near to where he lived. Max squeezed his way through the crowd as one or two heads turned his way, but he was mostly ignored. Still he was careful not to bump anyone or spill anyone’s drink. He thought about Reuben as he found the front door and went inside, it seemed distinctly full of leather men. Somewhat daunting, but he was a boy with a mission.
Once I found somewhere I could self-publish, I’d been rejected by every site I’d submitted the story to, I uploaded, with trepidation, the first chapter. The choice is limited for self-publishing gay writing, Nifty and Gay Authors, I started posting this story on the latter site. Slowly, as the chapters got posted, I picked up a handful of followers, some likes, and best of all one person who wrote chapter comments.
“I liked the way that, in spite of the fact that it was nearly all dialogue, we managed to get to know so many different characters.
“The drug bust brought back a personal memory of being searched for drugs as a student back in the late 60's.
“And have I remembered to say how much I am loving this story?”
Those comments were invaluable, and the support of this one person had a huge impact on my nascent writing career. I started to write my own book and this wonderful person agreed to read, comment and edit, what in effect was my first online story, now finished. Perseverance, combined with what is a completely different type of story, allowed me to find an online publisher. Now that first novel is about to be published online.
I have not forgotten Camp Echo, and with one shortly to be published novel under my belt, I have once again turned my attention to this story. My only dilemma is, what do I do when the draft story outline and notes I inherited reach an end? I have thought about paying my retired writer friend a visit, and if he were willing, to interview him about what happened next. However, I am neither certain that he would be willing or that that is a good course of action. Like the camp echo definition which describes seven weeks of summer as the timeframe during which everything happens, perhaps this should be the life cameo I was given, and end quite simply where it ends?
Some time ago I became seriously ill. With seriously, I mean getting close to meeting Azrael personally, at least three times. With a white blood cell count considered extremely high even for the type of illness I had, the resulting stroke, hemiplegia, pneumonia, and cerebral edema, to be able to walk and talk again almost like before, I have to count myself lucky.
What I learned: Life as you know it can be over in a blink of a moment. In theory, I knew this, but suddenly being confronted with the actual fact, brought it really home.
Today, I rather do what brings joy to me and mine. I prefer spending time with friends and leave when I’m not wanted. This doesn’t mean I don’t speak up when I feel it is needed.
I was personally invited to partake in something that was meant to be a reminder of the consequences of hate and marginalization.
Finding out my poem has been ignored has hurt, I give you that. So much so, my initial reaction was a hissy fit and the strong urge to leave in a huff, LOL. I’m over being stupid now. I was reminded I still have a series to finish, friends to talk to, stories and poems to read and such. Thank you for that.
Ok, so you all may remember an article that I did on exposition in your fiction a few months back...but I'd like to go a little bit more in depth when it comes to finding ways to create and finesse that exposition, how it works, and why it works.
Basically, it's the art of writing without writing. It's the craft of being able to paint a vivid picture in the minds of your readers to deliver a message without having to write it out for them. There are certain techniques that you can use to accomplish this, but in order to truly understand how and why they work, you have to realize how you're doing exactly the same thing on a daily basis. Once you're able to realize that...the rest will come naturally.
So, ladies and gentlemen...welcome to 'Exposition, Round Two!
Take a moment, and think about the people who might cross your path every day when you leave the house. When you go to work, go to school, go out shopping, whatever. Think about how much real life exposition is being fed to you without a single one of these strangers saying a word. Maybe you see a guy who you think might be a car mechanic. Why? Is it because he walked up to you and said, "Hi, I am a car mechanic"? I would certainly hope not. If he does, ummm...cross the street. Hehehe! But think about it. Maybe he's wearing a wife beater t-shirt with some oil stains on it. Maybe his hands look as though they've been digging around an engine all morning. Maybe he's got an oily rag hanging out of his back pocket. There are things about his look, and his actions, and the materials he's carrying with him, that would give you that impression. That doesn't mean it's the RIGHT impression, as looks can be deceiving (He might be a high priced lawyer who likes to work on his Mustang on his off days s a hobby)...but these are things that are familiar enough to you to paint a picture. Your mind is doing this all day. Maybe you see someone with a cardboard sign saying he'll work for food, maybe there's a lady wearing a 500 dollar pair of sunglasses and a bright red dress walking with a briefcase and talking on her cell phone, or maybe you see someone with a red nose whose sniffling and constantly reaching into her coat pocket for another balled up wad of tissue. Think about all of the times you looked to see if someone was wearing a wedding ring, or the times you saw a soldier in uniform, or noticed a kid with a black eye. All of these visual clues are telling you a story about who these people are and what's going on with their lives at that particular moment...without having them say a word. It's describing these visual cues and actions in your writing that can help you get around a lot of exposition when you're feeling stuck and can't see another way out. Take in those details, and think about how you would describe this person, this situation, this environment, to someone else...and get them to draw the same conclusions that you did. It helps when you realize what you're looking for.
Sometimes I have to babysit my younger cousins, and I'll walk into a room...and suddenly they sit straight up and look at me wide eyed without saying a word. Hehehe, it's immediately like, "Ok, you either saw something, broke something, or spilled something, so fess up!" The fact that they're being angelically quiet conveys a whole LOT of information in a very short amount of time. Now, does that mean that they actually did anything wrong? No. But I can safely assume that something is off about their behavior. It's behavior that's familiar enough that pretty much anybody walking into that room would come to the same conclusion.
When you're writing, I feel that it's important to visualize every moment of every scene. What's going on? What's the tone? How do they look? What are they doing? You can add those details to your scene to deliver the same information that you want to deliver, but without having it come off as boring or awkward. I had an art teacher once who told me that when you draw a triangle on a piece of paper...the triangle doesn't exist. You draw three connecting lines, sure...but the triangle itself is an illusion. It's simply the empty space being brought out by the lines surrounding it. Exposition can be delivered the same way. By describing the surrounding factors with visuals and dialogue, you can avoid a lot of "Hi, I am a mechanic" moments in your story.
As a writer, it's your duty to set the stage and sync it up with certain connections that your readers can recognize and follow. Let's say you have a character who's a drag queen, and performs at a nightclub on Saturday nights. Now you can start your story off with a long explanation of your character's backstory, and how they knew they liked drag, and when they started working in the club, and "Oh, by the way, my name is Harry." if you wanted to. There's nothing wrong with that. OR...you could start your story with your protagonist fitting a wig on his head and fixing his make up...there's a knock at the door. The boss walks in and says, "Let's go, Harry! The club is packed tonight, even for a Saturday! You're going on in two minutes!" Your readers now know that it's a man in drag, his name is Harry, he's a performer, and he works at a club on Saturdays. Takes, like...three sentences and a line of dialogue, tops. And it's a bit more engaging than having to read Harry's life story before getting to the actual focus of the scene. Instead of your audience reading a history lesson...you're bringing them into your world right away. Hopefully in a manner that will come off as interesting and intriguing.
Now I, personally, write most of my stories in the first person. So I can deliver a great deal of exposition through the inner thoughts of my main characters and bring my readers along with me. However, when it comes to all of the other characters in my story, their thoughts, feelings, and motivations have to be relayed through observation. My protagonist doesn't get to be a mind reader (Except for that one story where the protagonist is a mind reader! Hehehe!), so I have to describe anger, attraction, heartbreak, shyness, from outside the source. And it would be easy in some parts to simply write down what needs to be said and be done with it. I won't say that I've never done it, and won't do it again, but I try to avoid taking the easy way out more often than not.
Down below is the very first paragraph of a short story that I wrote called, "The Kissing Game". It was one of those little innocent/not-so-innocent Daydream Shorts that was just meant to capture one small moment in time. They're supposed to be quick and to the point, so there's not a whole lot of room for backstory and character development here. They have to feel real, and they have to be able to connect to readers right away. So exposition was given in a way that sets the stage, but a lot of the details are merely implied. Even if the readers don't realize how much and how little information was actually given.Quote
Every time I asked my friend, Jared, why we were doing this, his answer was always, "Because…it's 'practice', Tommy. You know, for the real thing. We're going to high school this fall. That's, like…real school, you know? We don't want to go out there and get ourselves a couple of cute girlfriends, just to end up looking like we don't know what we're doing. Girls talk! Their gossip will ruin us forever."
Now, what does this short paragraph actually tell you as a reader?
- The main character and the love interest are friends.
- The main character's name is Tommy, and the love interest's name is Jared.
- They are 'doing something' together for practice.
- They're going to high school for the first time in the Fall. That makes them about 13 to 14 years of age.
- Jared is obviously straight, and is looking to get a girlfriend and high school status. Also...he mentions getting 'ourselves' a couple of girlfriends...so chances are that he doesn't know his friend Tommy is gay.
That set the stage, the audience is locked in, ready to go. Boom. Done.
Now...what doesn't that first paragraph say? How long have they been friends? Did they grow up together? Did they meet two weeks ago? When did they start kissing each other? Does Jared live next door? Across the street? Across town? Is there a parent in the house at the moment? Did they lock the door? Is Jared really straight, or is it just an excuse to make out with his friend? Where are they? The city? The suburbs? Summer camp? The beach? The park? Is it Summer time? Spring break? A snow covered day in January? Who knows? None of that stuff is mentioned. Nor does it need to be. It's not important to the story in the least, so why even go into all of that?
A good strategy for writing exposition is figuring out what is, and what isn't important. Exposition is the art of answering a question that wasn't asked. So if your readers don't need to know certain details about a scene or a character, and it isn't going to have any further impact on the story later on...cut it out. Trim it down, and let your readers fill that part in for themselves. I'm willing to bet that a majority of my readers saw those first few sentences and pictured two boys, long time best friends, in a bedroom when their parents weren't home, possibly over Summer break, close to going back to school, in the early afternoon. The thing is, if you read it again, I didn't give out any of that information in the first paragraph. This could be current, or it could be placed in the 80's, or the 90's, or a post apocalyptic world being rebuilt by society to get back to normal. Hehehe, but unless those extra details are directly needed for me to tell the story I'm trying to tell, there's no reason for that extra detail to be there.
In the story, "A Class By Himself", the main character's mother works in a diner. She's a waitress. I displayed that by having her work long hours, standing on her feet, coming home exhausted, bringing food home in plastic cartons, falling asleep on the couch...and it's a part of her character. Not only that, but her character is an important part of the story as a whole. The fact that she's a waitress, barely makes enough money to make ends meet, and likes to cook, is also a big part of the story. So those details were given and occasionally reintroduced to the reader as needed.
Now, compare this to the mother in "The Secret Life Of Billy Chase". She works for a living too, right? She's doing something to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table. So, after reading 450 chapters of the story...tell me...what, exactly, does Billy's mom do?
Hehehe! Crazy, right? I don't even know what she does for a living! If I ever bothered to mention it, then I forgot. LOL! The point is, it's not important. It doesn't play into the rest of the story, so that bit of exposition isn't needed. Maybe she's a nurse, maybe she's a corporate defense lawyer, maybe she's a professional female WRESTLER! Hehehe, but it doesn't add anything to the other parts of the story, so it doesn't have to be said. Sometimes she's at home, sometimes she's not...and the reason is ‘work'. Done. The readers can fill in the rest on their own. And chances are, they don't care.
If your main character works in an office….what kind of office? Doesn't matter. An office. In your reader's minds, they will probably think of cubicles and paperwork and copy machines and water coolers...and that's all they need to know. Does he work on payroll? Accounting? Does he balance budgets? Does he work customer service? Doesn't matter. He works in an office. Done. Now...if he happens to be an accountant, and he finds out that a great deal of funds are being used to hire contract killers in foreign countries...and that's what your STORY is about? Well, then you might need to be a bit more specific. But if it's just a passing detail to round out your character, then mention it vaguely and let it pass. At least that's how I would handle it.
Now, one last thing before I wrap this up...
To make things a bit more visual, this is a short horror film that I found on Youtube. It's a fun little flick to give you the creeps, but I want you to pay attention to what information is being delivered to you from the very first shot, and through the first two minutes or so of dialogue. Look at the surroundings, listen to what's being said, and see what is actually being told to you...and what isn't...but you sort of fill in the blanks regardless.
Your readers are probably doing the same things when they read your work.
So...watching that, what do you think was told do you? And what do you think you made up on your own? Spend some time to meditate on it if you like.
The very first thing that you see on the screen is a cardboard box with the words 'Toby's Room' on it. Immediately, you can assume that this mother and son are moving into a brand new house. And he's probably not used to sleeping in a big room by himself, so he's a little scared by the idea. Also, he says that he misses his dad...to which his mom quietly says that she does too. Which would cause me to assume that there was a death or an accident of some sort. Either way, we've established that 'Dad' isn't around. A lot of information seems to be given to the audience right away, and you kind of go along with it. Because we know how movies work, and the exposition is being quickly given to us by showing us a situation that feels familiar.
However, and I'll go into more detail about this on my 'Plot Twists' article later on...a lot of my assumptions about this short film are more illusion than direct information. And if you play around with that illusion a bit, you can really shock your readers by subverting their expectations. Playing mind games with what they thought they knew, as opposed to what you were really telling them. Hehehe!
For example...is that little boy really 'Toby'? I saw a box with the name Toby on it, and I made an assumption...but if I wanted to throw a monkey wrench in the works, readers might find out that this boy isn't Toby at all, and 'Toby' is another little boy tied up in the basement somewhere, because this boy and his mother burst into their house and took over! LOL! He's never referred to as Toby once in the whole film. Not by name. But...in my head, that's what I was thinking. Imagine if it was all a nightmare, and the mother kisses the boy goodnight, saying, "Goodnight, Carl." And then goes down in the basement where you see a mother and her son, bound and gagged by the furnace. "Goodnight, 'Toby'." That would be cool!
Did his father die? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he was shipped off to war. Maybe he got caught banging a leather clad bear from the 'Manhole' club! Maybe he got relocated to another dimension to work with Billy Chase's mom! Who knows? But...did I NEED to know? Nope! Not important. Not for this particular story. I was given just enough information to make the appropriate assumptions, and that's all that needed to be said.
The director had eight minutes to make a movie. The dad's history? Not important. The reason they moved? Not important. Who is the Number Man? What's with the rhyme at the beginning? What's with the numbers on his chest? Is he supernatural? Is he a figment of the boy's imagination? Is he an escaped mental patient? Doesn't matter. It has nothing to do with the story this very short film had to tell. And anything that was left out? My mind filled it in anyway. So it's a win, in my opinion.
So when it comes to exposition in your stories, try to find clever ways to deliver the information needed for your reader to get a sense of what's going on...but ONLY the information needed. Trim the fat, and have faith that your audience is doing a lot of the work with you. Their imagination is carrying half the load. You can avoid a lot of exposition when you practice with this idea, and spend your energy enhancing the details that do need to be given. In a future article, I'll get more into how you can use your readers' own assumptions against them to turn the whole story upside down! Hehehe!
But, until then...as always, I hope this helps! And happy writing!
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A surprising thing I've come to realize, which shouldn't be surprising, is that a lot of my anxiety and depression is not actually anxiety and depression. I will not say I am not anxious or depressed. Going outside of my house, talking to people, trying to interact in a normal way is a source of constant anxiety. I've always had an uneasy feeling about other people when dealing with them face to face. I don't like it. It opens me to allowing another person to stare at me, judge me, form an opinion of me, and possibly reject me.
With that in mind, I've come to think that a lot of these emotions I feel that sometimes people pressure me to seek professional help for are not actually the emotions that are the real problem. I constantly analyze everything around me as well as within me. Following that train of thought leads me to believe that most of my problems in my emotional regulation of myself are not anxiety and depression. They are anger and frustration.
I don't voice these things because it sounds like a pity party. Why did this happen to me? What did I do to hurt someone else so badly that I deserve what has happened to me, as if there is some cosmic being doling out punishment based on my deeds? Why does he or she or they not listen to me, why don't they understand, why do I even have to try to make them understand? Because they SHOULD understand. Why is it that people tend to leave me or I tend to leave them?
As any person with half a brain would do, I think about this in terms of well, if you have a problem, learn from it. Figure out the pattern, figure out the mistakes, figure out how to move forward knowing what to do better. I get frustrated and angry a lot. It can be anything, but it's usually related to my interpersonal relationships, and the way other people see me.
It shows up in strange ways. The other day at work I was working overtime, which I was already annoyed about, because at the same time I had a million things on my mind. Primarily that my kidneys might be failing because my legs and ankles decided to swell like crazy, and I was already consigning myself to death. Turns out it was the medication I was taking, and it felt like someone dropped a bag of concrete onto my legs, ankles, and feet, and still feels that way (though most of the swelling is gone). But that fear caused me to be frustrated, angry, annoyed. I thought to myself that it is insane that I am sitting at a desk pretending this is a normal moment when I could be going through the last moments of my life due to organ failure and I will never go on dialysis again, ever, so it was the real death moment in my mind.
And I got PISSED. I was so angry that my life is held hostage by me working and keeping my insurance and keeping up with things that seem insignificant in comparison to "remember the last time you almost died, remember how that happened, remember how you remembered everything one moment and then the next moment you woke up a month later and they had to give you a new organ? Remember that shit? REMEMBER IT?! Why the fuck are you sitting here apologizing to crazy random stranger for something that was not your fault, when you might be dying?!"
Frustration hits. The voices in my head keep telling me "hospital, hospital, hospital, you're dying, right now, if you don't go now they'll tell you it was your own fault you're dying later, but the hospital is a horrible place so only go there if you really are dying. Are you dying? Fuck if I know." Which makes me want to call out of work and just go because while I am so ready to just call it quits I'm not REALLY quite ready. I haven't lost all hope of everything quite yet. It's a strange place to be. It's like a conversation with death saying kill me, but not yet. Kill me now, but not really right now. It hurts, but not enough I want to quit. I want to quit, but I don't.
All the while, I have a customer taking me forty-five minutes past my overtime shift. Why? Because of something that was not my fault or the customer's fault. It was an epic fuckup of doom I was dealing with that two managers didn't know how to fix and they brushed aside what was going on because they couldn't fix it, and being me I was like oh hell now, I'm pissed now, let's SOLVE THIS MOTHERFUCKER. Which it did get solved. Btw, for your comparison, usually I can get a customer on and off my phone in two to three minutes total. But I was not about to let that go once I got my teeth in it, I was like NO, this is bullshit, I am dying here and you give me this, you give me THIS?!
And I realized, that anger and frustration are bad, bad things that have no place in the world, just like shame and guilt. I was more incensed because of the synergestic effect there. I was pissed, my customer was pissed, and together we turned into one pissed off frustrated freight train that was going to solve this goddamn problem. I started being snappish at no one, because in my line of work you can't snap. You have to be calm, collected, cool, reasonable, reassuring. But he heard the cracks in my facade easy.
You ever started working on something for someone and got so pissed off about the roadblocks that they start losing their anger because yours overshadows theirs? That's what happened. I was ready to fight. I was completely prepared to snip someone down to half their height if they dared cut off my path to a fix for this person, because I'll be damned if I stayed 45 minutes after work to lose. Heads up, if your pissed off customer tells you to calm down, that should be an eye opener.
So I thought about why I reacted so strongly. What made me get to that point of unyielding rage that I was going to make something happen no matter who stood in my way? And as stupid as it fucking sounds, as inane and simple and absolutely unbelievable it came down to the AA saying HALT. I was hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. All at once. And I didn't tell myself to try to find a way to make the situation more bearable, more tolerable, more normal. I flew straight to crazy town.
Now, I have decided I will implement some things, and no matter what anyone else says or does, I will use these. And if work or anyone else has a problem with that, then they can take it up with me by submitting it in writing and giving me about three weeks to respond so I don't say something snappy and mean.
Which brings me to the first thing. Wait. Just wait. Don't say or do that. Just wait. And that wait can feel interminable, but it is worth it. Count to ten, recite a poem in your head, take a deep breath, do a mundane task like counting backwards by sevens, and if you can take your focus off for a moment that lash out moment will pass. It also gives you time to think about the second thing.
Jokes. Fucking jokes. Just don't look at it like a life or death, don't look at it as a personal attack, don't look at it as THIS NEEDS DOING NOW AND WE HAVE TO BE SERIOUS. No, we fucking don't. Things can wait. And things can definitely wait if there is even a small smile to be coaxed out of a situation. The world needs more people smiling and laughing instead of yelling and screaming. There is no point in going to war over a situation that can be laughed at. Furthermore, humor inspires camaraderie with those you are trying to engage, so why not use it? We can al act pissed off, but it takes effort to turn a situation on its head and laugh at it.
Third, abandon your high principles. Nobody fucking cares. Don't move contrary to your values, but don't stand on PRINCIPLE. That is a fool's errand, and a great way to get knocked off your high horse. Speak your truth calmly and quietly, and do not allow yourself to respond to attacks in kind. Don't get mired down into an argument over what is right or wrong, but focus on what is BEST. The path of least resistance is usually a good one, and if modified a tiny bit, can allow you to hold your values while passing through. And by no means am I saying keep your head down and ignore injustice when it rears its head, but I am saying that you can pick your fights while making your opinion known in a productive manner.
Fourth, and this is the most difficult for me; be kind to yourself. How can I expect everyone around me to respond to me with anything other than derision when that's all I hold for myself? The same judgment I hold for myself when turned outward suddenly becomes so much more hospitable, caring, genuine, concerned. It makes no sense that I rub my own nose in my mistakes when I'm so willing to forgive them in others.
Fifth, quit deleting what you want to say. Quit doing that. JUST STOP. That leads to frustration and anger, Jamie, so say what the fuck you mean to say in a way that isn't totally offensive and gives other people at least a chance to like or dislike you. Quit wanting to say something and stopping. Quit typing a text and erasing it. Quit doing things up until the moment you could be rejected. Believe people are also people just like you, that they feel the way you do, that they want the things you do. Okay that last one is more about the anxiety, but still, as I said, it leads to the frustration and anger.
Well, I've had enough of telling myself what to do by typing it out. Things have been grim. Finances are tight, I live alone now, I don't really know what my next move is. Which is a source of frustration because usually in the past I've had a plan. The plan usually involved a boy. Well, at the moment, I don't feel equipped to deal with any relationships. I want one. Not gonna lie, these past months, three relationships totally destroyed (albeit for good reason), so it feels like nothing will ever be worth fighting for again. Lemme clarify.
I don't ever fight for myself. I just don't. I have a weird variant of social anxiety disorder that allows me to find a person I like and fight for them. Ask me to go to the doctor by myself and I can find all sorts of reasons why I don't need to do that, why I can't do that, why I won't do that. Give me another person who needs a doctor and I would carry them, despite my crippled ass, and I would make sure they were taken care of. I need the motive, I need the all encompassing flaming passion that this person is important to me and I will do this thing I don't want to do because they need me to do it. I've done it a million times before. In fact, I think I might have an issue because I love doing that, I love seeing other people happy as a result of my actions. It is what makes life worth living to me.
And before you get all weird and say "Jamie, that's the wrong reason to live for!" Yeah I know, but, sometimes life makes us the way we are and all we can do is work with what we're given. I like to think of myself as someone who augments. Put me with the right person and I will raise them up into whatever heights they seek, and I will make sure they fly high, straight, and true. Just ask my ex, he's waaaaay better than when I met him, and I still worry about him even though we may not be talking lately and that might be my fault or it might be his fault (it's his fault, just in case you were wondering, and I hope that the bastard he's with dies in a horrible fiery car crash of doom because that fucker was mean to me but hahahahahahaha just joking cause humor is supposed to be an antidote to anger). That's enough purpose for me right now. I don't need to be great. I just need to find people who can benefit from me and I from them. Sometimes I feel as if that means I'm broken.
Yes, me feeling like I need other people makes me feel like I am broken. The great secret of my generation is that everyone needs other people, but we just pretend like we don't. I don't have to be at the forefront, I don't like the attention or acclaim of many. I think of all the interactions I've had and I come to this conclusion. I don't need to be great.
I just want to be kept.
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I've been censoring myself. We all do, here on GA, those are the rules. No political discussion outside The Pit. But what's political? When someone complains about a public figure bringing politics into what they're doing (like Wil Weaton's fans losing their shit when he posted a picture on Instagram of his hand giving Trump Tower the finger), what they're really complaining about is them bringing the wrong kind of politics into it. There's no such thing as apolitical. Everything's political. Whether you see it that way is just a question of what your own views are, because we all like to think of ourselves as unbiased.
Queer identities are inherently political. We fight daily for our rights, and if not for our own then for those of our siblings elsewhere. We've always been able to talk about homophobia on GA, we've been able to talk about Pride. There have been posts in The Lounge about marriage equality. And that's not because these things aren't political, but because they're politics we agree on. But I censor myself on things to do with my own identity. There are issues trans people face that I don't feel like I'm allowed to post about because it might violate the rules of no politics. We don't talk about transphobia the same way we talk about homophobia here.
We talk about Pride, because of course we do. But Stonewall was a riot, and Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender sex worker of colour, threw the first brick. Marsha's entire existence was political. Pride is at its core political activism, but it's okay to talk about because it's all pink washed and dressed up in glitter. Can I talk about Marsha in The Lounge?
This isn't a dig at GA. The rules are there for a reason, and I understand that. But some of these lines are pretty blurry. When do queer issues become too political to be talked about in a queer online community? Which prominent LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history have to be excluded because they were too political? A while back, a quote by Harvey Milk was shared in The Pit. I wanted to share it in the quote thread in the lounge but was cautioned against it. Because even though it was a message that literally all of us can agree on (can't remember exactly what at present, but it was lovely), Harvey Milk is in and of himself political and someone might take issue with that. Better safe than sorry.
I exist as a trans person in a world where people want to deny people like me the right to go to the bathroom that corresponds with our gender. Where trans people are being excluded from protections against discrimination. Where trans people (especially trans women, especially trans women of colour) are murdered just because they're trans. I exist as a trans person in a world where many modern, developed countries won't let trans people change their legal gender without being sterilised first. Where in many more countries they can't change legal gender at all. I exist as a trans person in a world where prominent figures defend their right to misgender me because 'I can't tell them which words to use'. Which of these things can I talk about? Which of these things are political?
The answer is, all of them. These things and everything else to do with every other queer identity. Everything about existing as a queer person is political because the world has made it so. Everything, everything is political. It's only a question of to whom.
I've been reading translated poems of Rilke lately, who is recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets. In the early 1900s, Rilke wrote letters to a young German military cadet who sought his guidance on his own poetry. These letters were poetry in their own right, dynamic and inspiring. The following is an excerpt from one such letter, which galvanizes the creative process, not exclusive to poetry or writing in my opinion, but for all forms of artistic self-expression:“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose...
...Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. - And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”― Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet
Wow, how the time flies. It's hard to believe that Baby J is just under 2 months shy of celebrating his first birthday! He is so active and is crawling, pulling himself up, and walking along the couch (or anywhere else as long as he has something or someone to hold onto!) We have baby gates all over the house, and so far they seem to be keeping the little guy mostly contained. And we now adapt whatever we're having for meals so that the little man can eat it too, with his 4 little teeth! Being a new mom is more than I ever expected, and so worth it. Especially when he gives me his big grin, or like the other night when I wasn't feeling good and Baby J just snuggled with me. Or he says mama or dada (the very occasional mommy and daddy). Of course, he has his grumpy boy moments, but they're usually only when he's tired or not feeling well. Luckily major meltdowns are few and far between.
He's even been on his first major roadtrip. 17 Hour drive (one way) to meet his uncle, aunt, and cousins (we broke it up into 3 shorter days rather than 2 long ones to make it easier on him). Of course, everyone loved him, but Baby J really took to my brother. If my brother was home, Baby J was on his lap, or otherwise in the very near vicinity.
As you can probably tell, life has been busy. We're lucky that Baby J hasnt really been sick much, primarily only having the flu at one point and a short lasting stomach bug another one. I've been sick a little more, but D has been great about helping out around the house, especially when I'm not at my best. We may have finally got a few answers to everything that has been going on with me. Vitamin D deficiency counts for a lot of my issues, and most of what isnt caused by that are most likely caused by a stomach/esophagus sphincter hernia. Which basically means that the above named sphincter, that connects the esophogus and stomach, is loose and allows for reocurring reflux. Not great news, but it's mostly controllable with diet and reflux meds (though I'm not on a daily med for it at this point). Surgery isnt suggested to fix the issue unless it gets much worse than it is, as it would require a major surgery.
So that's what's been going on here. Not much writing going on, as I simply cant seem to find the time and or ambition, but hopefully that will return in time. There have definitely been some ups and downs, but overall I cant complain too much. Hopefully I'll be able to return to GA on a more full time basis in the near future (is that a little optimistic considering Baby J is nearly a toddler?) But I have a great team to help with my GA duties, and I owe a huge thank you to all of them! Not going to name names, just in case I forget one, but Thank you, all of the help is greatly appreciated!
Until next time!