Why I’ve been quiet

I’ll be honest: I’m exhausted. There have been many years of different situations wearing me down in an ebb and flow but I’d mostly figured out how to manage that stress. The last several months have been far more exhausting for various reasons, though. In addition to personal circumstances that are stressing or tiring me, I’m also continually disappointed by humanity and the state of the world.

I don’t mean that as a dramatic statement, it’s just… as I’ve always said, I believe in humanity’s capability of change. I believe people all have the chance to choose positivity or empathy or at least not jump to hate or hurt, all of this of course very dependent on their specific circumstances at any given time. But that possibility regardless of its plausibility, I feel, is always there.

Being positive or kind or caring is not something that is always inherent. It’s a choice to try to see the best in people, it’s a choice to try to understand or try to reach out, just as it’s a choice to dismiss or distance other people, to belittle other’s opinions or belief systems or how they were born. It can be tiring sometimes to choose something more empathetic or positive, but I think it’s more important to try that than to take the easy route of hatred, which itself is a slippery slope downward.

I’ve always been used to feeling like an outsider to society, and I’ve been used to not always fully agreeing with other people on almost anything. That’s normal, really, to not see eye to eye on everything. It would be a boring world if we all did. But as the last few years have developed, I’ve grown increasingly disappointed by all sides of so many issues. I feel like so many people have become convinced they are in the right, morally superior to the Other they have designated in their mind, without recognizing that they are an Other to that person. And if they don’t like the way they are treated as an Other, why would they treat anyone else as an Other as well? If you believe in equality, for example, why is your loudest and most lasting message that of inequality?

The best way I can describe it is I feel like what I’m seeing in reality is becoming more and more Janus-like and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I don’t think this idea of reckless “RESIST” is good. Nor do I think it’s good to stay silent and complacent.

There’s a balance and frankly I don’t fully know what it is yet, which is why I haven’t been saying much because I think words have power. I do think it’s really important to fact check, fact check, fact check, because our “news” organizations for years have become entertainment bent on making money with little regard for actual journalism or truth, and yet at the same time that doesn’t mean they should all be disregarded with a broad stroke or even that a disreputable organization tells only lies or manipulated information. There could be phenomenal and fair, unbiased journalists in even the most biased of publications, and biased information put in allegedly neutral sources.

The trouble, I feel, is that more and more people are trying to turn everything into extremes. It’s black or it’s white. It’s good or it’s evil. It’s right or it’s wrong. Simultaneously, people seem to be blowing things up to be so much larger than they sometimes need to be, and other times ignoring things which should be looked at more closely. The fickleness of the public eye has become its own beast, where I fully believe you could have the exact same incident with the exact same things happening, but just flip one or two details of it and that will swing public outroar from one extreme to another. The hatred laid on this commercial or that brand or that person or that situation would easily have the exact opposite reaction if this or that part of it hadn’t already been deemed “good” or “evil” by the public eye–based, in part, on money, and based, in part, on convenience. What is a cute and funny meme can become an object of extreme disgust if only one or two pieces are different, and vice versa. The same words could be seen as sassy and endearing, or outrageously inappropriate, dependent on the bias the person reading it has toward the company or person saying it.

This idea of unified hatred speaking louder than anything else is incredibly distressing and disturbing to me. And yes, I do think the way people are constantly getting offended by things in massive waves is an outlier of hatred, because it seems more and more disconnected from a normal reaction to the instigating force. Therefore, my personal belief is that it’s a result of other anger or negativity being suppressed on individual levels, and then exploding out elsewhere disproportionate to the catalyst, feeding into a greater whole. Creating a mob mentality of swinging this way and that on the pendulum of public disgust.

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2017: voice, self-silencing, and circumstances

I just posted this also on tumblr – 2017: Voice – thoughts about self-silencing and circumstances

So, my friend Ashley (aka @smokesinatra) did some vlogs this month and she mentioned in one that she has a really interesting way of doing New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the usual “I’ll do or not do this thing!”, she chooses a word that is something that represents that year or what she needs to work on for that year and then every day she tries, in big or small ways, to do something related to that word. The word she’s chosen for 2017 is brave/bravery.

I freaking love this idea and have been telling other people about it, and so far everyone has really liked it too. I thought about what I wanted to do for 2017 and my word, and I’ve decided on what it is:

My word for 2017 will be: Voice

Something you may or may not know about me is that I silence myself a lot. It’s the byproduct of simultaneously being so used to not being mainstream on just about anything that I know I almost never will agree with the majority of people on something, and literally having a personality which is called The Mediator. I don’t like confrontations, I don’t like hurting people or alienating people. I would rather silence myself to let other voices grow in my presence if that’s what it takes to make a harmonious interaction. I would rather let other people feel heard in my presence than have to always be heard, myself. (I mean, sometimes I’m sassy and don’t let them feel heard, especially if I’m worked up on something, but generally speaking I try to make sure people know their voices didn’t just fall into the chasms of silence)

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing all the time, honestly. I get along with a lot of people who don’t really know each other because I try not to alienate people, and if I realize I did I try to make up for it if possible. I’ve been able to have really great conversations with people who believe the exact opposite than me, even convinced people to change their minds on controversial topics, because I respected their differences instead of alienating them from the start.

But at the same time, I’ve always been someone extremely unwilling to change myself to fit mainstream society because fuck that shit, I’d literally have to euthanize my entire personality and become a 100% different person for that to happen. Because there is so little about me that’s “normal” or fits together “normally.” Which means I struggle daily with not hurting others while still being true to myself. I’m outspoken on a lot of things but so many other things I silence myself on because I think it’s safer to hurt myself than others.

That’s not a good mindset to have and it feeds into a lot of the issues I have that I don’t know that I talk about often?

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I value you whether or not you value me, and other thoughts post-US election

I’ve tried to write this post so many times before and after the US presidential election, and every time it becomes way too long, or I get way too exhausted writing it, or I’m interrupted and don’t get back to it. But it’s really important to me to say this, so I’ve tried writing one or two versions of this post at least once a day since the election.

In the process, I’ve realized there’s no succinct way for me to properly explain all of my thoughts on this. Not with proper context. So I’m going to just try to say what I feel, knowing that it will be long, knowing it may be a bit confusing, knowing that people may misinterpret it in their emotional state. Please let me know if you want me to expand on anything. And if you don’t read further than this, then please be safe and happy in your own life. If you continue, know this:

For every single one of you, I welcome you, and you matter to me. And I mean every single one of you. I welcome and care about everyone regardless of their religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disabilities, and more. It should be obvious from my blog and personality that I absolutely am including in that statement anyone who is a minority or whose voice isn’t usually heard–every demographic I have listed in the past and all of those I haven’t listed but still think about often. I love and support you all.

But I think it’s important to clarify that when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  If you are super conservative, if you voted for Trump or support him, if you are white, if you are male, if you are cis, if you are Christian, if you are anything that you sometimes see people on the far left ignore or dismiss, if you’re anything that’s more moderate, or anything else I’m not mentioning–I welcome you too. I love you too, because you are a fellow human being, and you may also be a fellow American.  I value you, whether or not you value me, because I don’t believe I can truly say I stand for tolerance and equality and kindness if I don’t do my best to always try to understand all viewpoints, even if I severely disagree with them. 

There is much, much more I have to say about this but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s dash so I’ve put it behind a cut. Please do click to read more, though, regardless of your political beliefs or lack thereof. I know this is long. I know. But I hope you find it in your heart to continue reading.

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What’s been happening

I posted a number of things this weekend because I was weirdly productive, but you may have missed some of it since most of it was released on tumblr late at night. I recently updated my site with a number of links if you lose this page.

New mailing list/newsletter

I now have my own mailing list/newsletter to send information about things going on in my creative world. I just released the first edition yesterday, and I only just let people knwo about how to subscribe the day before. So it’s brand new.

SUBSCRIBE:  http://eepurl.com/cjdren
FIRST ARCHIVED ISSUE: http://eepurl.com/cjio09

YouTube video on Scrivener

I made a video and posted it on YouTube about how I use Scrivener, in case it’s of use. Find it here: https://youtu.be/EFl0xkyUUA0

+  +  +

I feel like there was something else but right now I’m blanking on it so I’ll leave it at that.

My One Piece (excessive) love, A Visual

Okay friends, this is a massive shitpost of my One Piece love via photos of all of the One Piece merch I own or made that I can think of offhand. I feel like I’m missing things. I know I’m missing things. But I can’t think of what they are right now.

This all started because of this and this and this.

I was thinking it might be fun to explain more in detail or give closer views of different things if anyone wants, but that’d be a pain in the ass through the blog or tumblr. So if you’re interested in that and have snapchat, let me know and I’ll figure out if I should just tell everyone my snapchat username, or ask you for yours and add you so you can see.

Because I might do more of a snapchat story about all the OP love, I’m doing minimal explanation below to make it so this isn’t even more excessively long than it will be with pics alone lol

Here they are, ordered by room. As you can see, when I say I have OP merch in literally every room in my home, I mean literally every room in my home.

LIVING ROOM

bookshelf-topbookshelf-minisbookshelf-lowerclock-calendar

law-sub

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The beginning of the end (but not in an ominous way)

I am currently 227,500 words into Incarnations, the first book in a series I am working on (the second book of which I had already partially written before I realized it would be part of this series). For a while, what really slowed me down with writing Incarnations was that I knew how the book would end, I knew everything that happened thousands and hundreds and singular years before the book started, but what happened in the book itself and specifically how it should lead to the ending of the book was something I was determining as I wrote. Because the plot is pretty complicated or at least layered.

Then, finally, I had a breakthrough and figured out how to plot out the steps from the chapter I was on, right through to the end of the book.

“This is amazing!” I thought at that time. “This is what stalled me before! Surely it will be much faster writing the rest of the book now!”

And yet, I find myself stalling again.

First, I stalled in figuring out how to write the chapter I had to write before it started the plotted parts. But I got through that chapter on Friday. So this past weekend I should, theoretically, have been gung ho about running forward into what I had plotted next.

Except I wasn’t.

Except, every night I am faced with the possibility of writing and I pause for lack of inspiration, even knowing what I should write. I had thought that lack of inspiration was a lack of plotting, but it wasn’t.

I realized that it’s actually because this next chapter will start the last arc of the book, and that’s… intimidating. A little scary. A bit worrisome.

I’ve always been the sort of person who gets a bit intimidated when I realized I can finish something. This will be explained better if I ever share some of the stories I have with my struggles with anorexia over the years. But it also comes up in a lot of parts of my life.

Thing is, I’d written stories, even really long stories, before–but a lot of times I didn’t finish them, or I did finish them but then I started a sequel I never wrote or finished. ICoS was the first time I wrote a really long story with a potentially solid ending, and even then I co-wrote it. I had someone else with me the whole way.

Incarnations is pretty meaningful to me for my life. Why? Because this and other reasons.

What’s interesting is I’m not worried about if other people will like it, because I know everyone has different opinions and that’s cool. I’m not worried that I will do a terrible job and it won’t live up to my standards, because I was able to release a lot of that hold for perfection over my writing over the years and now I can look at it as having fun and this just being one of many steps on a learning curve going forward. I’m not worried about a lot of things, and yet I stall.

I think it’s for two reasons:

  1. Once I start this last arc, there will be no going back. I’ll be ending this story, like an end of an era for me, even though it will also open up an entire series. It will be a weird sense of closure and intrigue for the future. But it also is a change.
  2. I really want to go strong into this last arc; make sure I write it well. I can tell the difference between when I’m into writing something and when I don’t feel like writing and I’m forcing myself. I get a lot more poetic when I’m inspired; I get really redundant when I’m not. And the thing is, I’ve been looking forward to writing a number of those chapters for months or years, so I do have expectations but mostly the expectations are I hope I can enjoy it and write it well.

But you know, I’m still going to write it. I may hit pause for a few days, let myself kind of refocus and rewind, but I’m going to finish it because I’m looking forward to it, even though I stalled before doing so.

I’m encouraging myself with, I suppose appropriately enough, a quote from narration I wrote for Boyd in Fade; a quote I put up on my wall to remind myself to keep going.

But that was the way it went any time a person was on the precipice of change. The fear of the future mixed with the loss of the past. At those times, all a person could do was step forward.

I don’t think I did a good job explaining my thought process in this, but at the same time, right now I don’t know how else to explain it. Or rather, to explain it in more detail would mean going on a number of tangents that would lead to even more tangents, and it could turn into the neverending story.

I guess what was most interesting to me is that I don’t stall because I’m afraid of failure–instead, I tend to sabotage myself because I’m afraid of success.

A true story (maybe a series of them?)

When I was 14, I became Wiccan. I think that’s also the year I became vegetarian. There are a lot of stories that stem from those two turning points in my life, but this is the one I want to tell you now:

Maybe it was my willingness to believe in magick and foresight, or maybe it was something else. But I remember knowing with certainty after I became Wiccan for sure, but maybe even since before then, that I wasn’t going to live past 18.

I knew it deeper than I’ve ever known anything in my life. And I knew how I was going to die, too. A car accident. I didn’t know if I would cause it or if it would be out of my control, I only knew that was what would happen. I felt the vibrations of the violence of it in my dreams at night; not as nightmares but as a dread conviction.

I knew it so completely that I came to simply accept it. I woke up in the morning, I breathed, I knew my time was limited. It became something that was comforting, in a way.

And because I knew I would die by the time I was 18, I knew I had to write at least one of the stories that wouldn’t leave my mind. So I started what is now Incarnations, but back then was called Calling of the Onyx. I started it when I was around 12/13, around there, and wrote about 150 pages before I had to stop and start over because it wasn’t right. It wasn’t right. And this was my only chance, really, to write the right story before I would die.

Time passed, high school continued, my attempts to write my story marched on.

I don’t remember how old I was on that day. I was in high school still, definitely younger than 18. Was I 16? 17? I hadn’t yet had my 18th birthday, I’m sure.

Back then, my older brother drove us to and from school, and he also picked up or dropped off friends of mine along the way when it was convenient. This day would have been like any other day, except it wasn’t.

When school was out, my brother said he’d drop my friend Tara off at her house. The plan was to drop her off and then I’d go home with my brother. But for some reason that day, Tara asked me last minute as she was stepping out of the car if I wanted to come inside and hang out–study for a math test that was coming up the next day.

Was it a surprise test we’d only just learned of that day? I don’t remember.

What I remember is there was a moment where I hesitated, sitting in the passenger seat. I kind of didn’t want to go to her house, because I wanted to go home and watch TV and roleplay online and just chill. And in that hesitation she urged me to come inside, it’d be fun, and I said I wasn’t sure, and she said come on just come in, so I asked my brother if that’d be okay and he said he didn’t care.

I went inside and my brother drove off.

Tara and I spent the next hour half studying, half goofing off. Until her phone rang and she picked it up, and said it was for me. I answered the phone, heard my mom’s voice and figured she was about to ask when I wanted to be picked up, but that wasn’t at all what she was calling to say.

My brother had been in a really bad car accident, she told me. His car was totaled, she said.

Within blocks of Tara’s house, he had gone through an intersection properly but an SUV hadn’t paid attention to the stop sign and had sped through the intersection. It slammed into the passenger side of the car, T-boned it. Destroyed the car.

My brother was okay.

But if I had been in that passenger seat like I was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have been.

I felt that that was the car accident I had felt all these years. That was what had been weighing on me for years, knowing it was coming, thinking I had no choice. But at the same time I thought, surely that can’t be the accident I expected? Because I somehow missed it, by pure luck and Tara’s insistence.

I think that happened around the time I was 16, because I think I remember there being years after that where I still anticipated that vehicular death even as I no longer felt the certainty as I had before that day at Tara’s.

I wondered for a long time after that why I hadn’t died like I’d expected. When I turned 18, and then 19, and then beyond, I didn’t know what to do with this life I’d never expected to have. I didn’t understand why I had been spared something that had been written in stone for so long.

When I got into fanfic writing and saw the community that came from fandoms, when I had to come up with a reason for why I was alive, I thought that a dream for this unexpected time I had on Earth was for there to someday be something I could write that could be meaningful in whatever way possible to even just one other person. I thought that if I could have anything, if I could find meaning in a dream, then my dream was for something I was involved in writing to have a fandom, no matter how small it may be.

Just one fanfic, one fanart, one anything, would be incredible. Anything beyond that would be astounding, and would fulfill that dream I didn’t dare breathe aloud.

ICoS ended up accidentally fulfilling that dream of mine, which left me feeling free to go back to that story I started all those years ago. Back when I thought I’d have only a few years before I was gone. Now I named it Incarnations, and now I’m trying to finish writing it this year.

Because of ICoS, because of the amazing readers for that story, because at least one person found it meaningful, because at least one person made fanfic or fanart or anything else, because of that community, I’ve been able to dare to have another dream.

This one may never happen, and if it doesn’t I’m honestly completely okay with it. The fact that my first dream was met is more than enough for me. I hardly dare hope for more. But if I could have it, it would be this:

I would love, someday, to be able to quit my job and write a book that gets published. I would like to make just enough money to be able to scrape by as a writer (I don’t expect to ever be rich or well-known). But mostly, even if I can’t do those things, what I would really love is to even just change jobs so I could do what I’ve really wanted to do for years:

I would love to be able to meet people in person. I would love to be able to go to a convention. I would feel incredibly lucky if I could ever be on a panel in a convention, or be a main speaker or the only speaker in one of those panels. I would love to be able to do a book signing sometime in my life. I would love to be able to sit in an Artist’s Alley with books and draw little Ais’ Terrible Art cartoons for anyone who is interested and who was kind enough to stop by. And I would love, someday, to be able to somehow incorporate charities into what I do, like somehow make just a bit more than enough money to scrape by so that extra bit could go to one of my favorite charities, so the people who want to donate know it’s going to a good cause.

I would love any and all of these things, but I also know it’s entirely likely none of this will happen. And I know that even if I were lucky enough to be able to go to a convention as Ais, no one would probably know who I am or care. If I were ever on a panel, particularly if I were the only speaker, or if I ever did some book signing, I would worry that no one would care and no one would show up.

I would have to convince some friends to come so I wouldn’t be sitting there alone in silence. But at least with friends we could hang out and talk, so it’d still be great.

But as much as I would love for any or all of that to happen, I also know it doesn’t have to happen because I was lucky enough for one dream to already have been met, and that alone is more than enough. That alone is more than I’d ever hoped to have.

For every person who ever wrote to us about ICoS, who ever cared about the series or a character, who ever drew anything or made an edit or wrote anything or made music or anything else–to each and every one of you, I can never thank you enough because I don’t have the words to explain to you how incredible and important that is to me.

I wondered why it was that day after school Tara was so insistent, and why I went against my nature to unexpectedly stay at her house. I wondered why I lived when I was set to die.

A few years ago I realized, was it so ICoS could happen? That life-changing event that also wasn’t planned, that also happened accidentally, but that also had positive repercussions in my life going forward? Was ICoS important to someone who needed it at that moment in their life, for whatever reason? Was that why I was spared, so that accidental event could happen for them?

I don’t know, really. Maybe I was also spared so I could rescue my dog. Maybe there’s something I don’t know of yet. I don’t believe in fate, exactly, nor do I think everything has to happen for a reason. I think a lot of things just sort of happen and we roll with them and it’s our reactions to them that affects our options in the future.

That’s how I generally feel, but I can’t feel that way about that accident, because that accident was something I felt the repercussions of years before it happened. That accident was something I knew would happen. That accident is something that so very nearly did happen to me. So the fact that it didn’t is what makes me curious the reason why.

And most days, lately, I feel like the existence of ICoS maybe is that reason.

A series?

There are some true stories I’ve considered sharing, or things I struggle with sometimes, in the event they are helpful for anyone else or even just interesting to read.

In particular that’s been on my mind the most has been my struggles over the years with anorexia and ways I’ve dealt with it or tried to get over it, as much as can be done. For example, lately I’ve been struggling with how a person loses weight when they don’t know if they should be losing that weight and are afraid of triggering right back to where they started on anorexia.

Would that be useful and/or of interest for anyone? Let me know if so.