I was just commiserating with two friends/coworkers/colleagues who are also college-trained writers about when people we know send us stuff to read and give feedback on. We’ve all had similar experiences with this – and, in fairness, we’ve also been the person asking. As such, we’ve learned a lot about what to and not to do when seeking feedback on your writing. Here then are our basic suggestions: Continue reading “Some advice about asking people to read your writing”
“You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.” Brian, in a letter to Mr. Vernon, The Breakfast Club
Did you know the term “Basket Case” didn’t originally start out meaning someone who seemed incapable of dealing with life’s issues? (And, if we’re being honest, there’s also a meaning under that meaning involving the assumption the person is either completely manufacturing complaints without any basis in reality, or is, at a minimum, being histrionic about simple stuff that we’re sure they could handle better if they didn’t prefer attention over self-care. And the assumption under that assumption – the most nefarious, segregating part of it – is that we ourselves certainly wouldn’t have such a hard time if we were in the Basket Case’s shoes. Everyone’s a hero in his dreams.)
According to this really cool article I found, it seems that “one of the earliest known documented instances of the phrase was actually in denial that ‘basket cases’ actually existed, as found in a bulletin issued in March of 1919 on behalf of the United States Surgeon General.” In summary, a Basket Case was supposedly a soldier who had lost all his limbs and required being transported in a basket. Though, according to the Surgeon General, that wasn’t actually a thing.
When Aunt Sunny came to Barstow to help mom when I was five, light and lightness filled our house. From the moment she walked through the front door, it was clear Sunny was the alpha. She wasn’t arrogant, but mysteriously self-composed and confident. Enchanting. Two years younger than my mom – 22 – Sunny was tall, thin, blonde, tanned, tattooed – wearing a tight black Harley shirt and tight fitting, high-waisted jeans. She was the most physically beautiful person I’d ever seen. She exuded something I couldn’t identify then, but which I understand now – a kind of pressure bomb sexuality. Something that could go off any second. But it was contained. There was no hair trigger. She was fully in control and I fell in love with her.
And my god, the way she made my mom laugh and come alive in a brand new way. Mom’s anxiety of being alone with two little girls and a dog after Reggie left was replaced by a new confidence, catching some of Sunny’s infectious self, but also waking up to a part of herself that involved a deeply felt history.
Sunny arrived in Barstow with her boyfriend, Dennis. He didn’t stay long, only a few days because he had to get back to personal business in New Mexico, but I was delighted he was around. He was the most non-threatening man I’d ever met until then. He, too, glowed with a similar shine. Also, he was hilarious and would entertain my sister Kim and me by sitting in a chair, wrapping his arms underneath his knees, and lighting his farts. Continue reading “Excerpt from Hell is for Children: Aunt Sunny”
Inspired by NaNoWriMo, I’ve committed to finishing my memoir. Finally. After almost a decade of cogitation, percolation, and procrastination. Voice building. Muscle building. Gut building. I’ve decided to call it Hell is for Children. Because, this. I’ll have a first draft done by the end of the month and a draft ready for an agent by the end of the year.
But, my god.
The monsters are visiting me in my sleep. I’m 3 months alcohol-free, but after a long day of writing, I’ve been dreaming that I ingest opiods and red wine. I hate it, in my dreams, but I can’t get enough. I wake up in the morning with the residue of guilt and defeat on me. I get it though. I get why I drank. I get why my brain seeks it, even in my sobriety. Lidia Yuknavitch said at the Ojai retreat that “your wound is your superpower.” And if my wound is PTSD (and it is), then my superpower is this outpouring of guts and honesty in the form of structured words on a page. My voice. My muscles. Continue reading “The Monsters that Come for Me in My Sleep”
Over Labor Day weekend, I’ll be attending a four day yoga and writing workshop in Ojai, California. Lidia Yuknavitch will lead the workshop on corporeal writing. I’m a strident fan of Lidia’s writing because it’s beautiful, but also because it involves itself with the grotesque, gorgeous, painful, and sublime experience of being an embodied and sentient being like no one – man or woman – I’ve ever read. But as a woman and trauma survivor (god, I hate the word “survivor”), I have an especially visceral connection with her writing as well. There is no one better suited to lead a discussion on corporeal writing than Lidia Yuknavitch, and I’m honored and privileged to be able to attend this retreat.
But then there’s the yoga.
I fucking hate yoga.