I’ve become a writing samurai.
The samurai part is what happens to me when I’m told I’m not good enough. I fight to reclaim the honor that I feel was stripped from me. I do it fast, and I try to be as efficient as possible. No motion will be wasted. No time will be spared for excuses from myself or from others.
You can all guess what the writing part refers to.
But the reason for my change of attitude is more complicated than I thought it was.
I thought I was making this shift because I’d submitted my writing to one publisher and had been summarily rejected.
“Thanks, but no thanks. We’d be happy to have you try again.”
If I hadn’t been so shocked at the rejection, I, like some of you, would have noticed the last words of the previous sentence.
I decided to try again anyway, to show these bastards what they missed the first time. (cue maniacal laughter!)
I wrote with a vengeance. I edited. I wrote some more. I had friends read and edit my work. I read it aloud to myself. I read it again to two of my friends when I thought I was ready.
And then when that was done, I edited some more. I read it aloud one more time. I even had a friend read it back at me in her voice so that I would not miss a beat.
All told this weekend, I put something like 14 hours into this project, and that was after I’d finished writing it on Friday. The story that I worked on and submitted tonight by the way (yay me!) had become more than just a quest to reclaim my lost honor. It had become an obsession.
That’s not to say that I didn’t have my supporters. J. Marie Ravenshaw and Edward Lorn will always have my gratitude for their assistance in bringing madness to my method … I mean method to my madness. Muahahaha! They have both read and reread this piece. Both have offered words of encouragement, constructive criticism.
Both have actually spoken to me without asking me to be their therapist.
Neither has asked me to put up with their problems on a daily basis.
Neither has proffered lame excuses for not dealing with any of the problems they may face with their lives.
Both will continue to be with me when others have long since abandoned me as mad. They will share my journeys as I dive into my fantasy worlds and resurface with stories to share. Perhaps some of these stories will make it to the general public. I hope so.
I’m sure as I move along in this world, I will discover others for whom this is true. And there are some other people in my life already with whom I share the deepest parts of myself.
But I am going to be honest. Most of my closest allies on this planet right now may not be blood related.
None of the people with whom I currently live know that writing is my passion. They hear about it as we talk of other things, but I have shown them nothing of my work. I have not shown them the sword with which I slay Ninja Dragons and impress the winged ladies of my life. What they know about me is constantly drowned out by the vicissitudes of regular life tinged with a madness that I cannot bare to put into words.
True madness can be brought about by several things, in my opinion. I have learned about severe mental illness thanks to my forays into the mental health professions. There is nothing quite so shocking to me as watching a person lose their ability to function in the world thanks to something that is beyond their control and affects their brains. When your mind becomes your own worst enemy, nobody has to wish you harm or physically intimidate or abuse you. You do it all to yourself without even realizing it’s being done. I would not wish something like this on my worst enemy.
Sometimes just waking up and facing life itself can leave me feeling about as useless as an asshole on my elbow..
But there are other forms of madness that can arise, over time, from other things that are self inflicted. I have had the unfortunate necessity to learn of this too in the last few years. I won’t go into details now, but there is something to be said about watching someone else on a certain narcotic or other substance. There is a journey to be undertaken by the observer as they watch someone they love destroy themselves and the family and friends with whom they are surrounded. It is a fascinating and alarming trek to undertake when the person you once knew as the light of your life has immersed themselves in a darkness from which they refuse to be pulled. I will only extend my hand so many times when it is repeatedly slapped, burned, or bitten.
And I am not a Pavlovian dog. I will not lay down and allow myself to be electrocuted because of some Skinnerian principle of learned helplessness. If I can’t find a way past the electricity on the floor, I’ll piss on the damned floor and watch it sparkle before I start hopping around, looking for the fuckers who turned on the juice. And you better believe I’d bite their nuts off before I ran off into the sunset with a pretty bitch at my side.
I have to say goodbye to someone this year.
They are not dead in the physical sense. But they have died to all sense of reality. They have taken themselves out the world in which we live, and they have remained enshrouded in the fug of their own ignorance and impotent rage.
That is something that I would not wish on anyone, friend or otherwise. Yet it is also something that I can damned well live without.
The samurai in me has been at war with my inner healer. My inner healer wants to talk some sense into this person and remind them that it is not too late to get some semblance of a normal life back. I want to tell them it is not too late to reclaim one’s soul if one will only remember that they have one in the first place.
My inner samurai has emerged though, and all I want to do is cut through this person like a weed, brushing them aside so I can move on with my own life. I feel no pity for this wretched excuse of humanity. I feel no remorse as I draw my sword and cut them down with my words. I feel no mercy as I slice off their choking hands at the wrists and toss them aside like garbage. There is ice in my veins when she tells me that I am broken and I simply stare, willing them to look in a mirror. I want to quote Clint Eastwood at them and ask what happens at night when the demons come.
But I need not waste my breath. I hear them crying melodramatically in the darkness. I scoff and shrug my shoulders.
But we are fast closing in on the real reason that I spent so much time on this latest writing project.
Every effort that I make to further my dream to write fiction for a living has taken me closer to my inner bliss. But it has had another affect. I am removing myself further from the suffocating miasma of this person’s existence. I am shielding myself from their sadness, their self pity, and their ultimate rage. I can no longer be this person’s whipping boy, their Pavlovian dog, their indentured servant, their prisoner, or their anything. I am not and I have never been anything more to them than a target upon which they could foist their self loathing and inadequacies. I have never been more than a scratching post when they seek to dig their claws.
But I simply refuse to do it anymore.
If I’ve learned anything from my writing other than how to hone my technique and how to concentrate when World War Three erupts around me in such dramatic, “I am the night fashion,” is that practice makes perfect. The only thing that people need to understand about following a dream is that it takes hard work. The dream, in this case, is the journey, and not the destination. The dream is what you begin to become, the spirit that seeps into you as you invite true happiness in. And there is nothing on this planet that can take that away from me.
Perhaps personal growth and change is one of the harder parts of learning to write. I share my story because I want to inspire other writers who may be struggling with accepting that it is their dream to write, whether it be for fun, for a living, or just to escape the insanity of their otherwise chaotic lives. As I’ve said countless times, we write about what we know. I have reminded myself this weekend that I know just as much about seeking happiness and meeting a goal as I do about having the love and happiness sucked from my life by things that may or may not be out of my control. I realize that the best way to meet life is head on. Take that Succubus or Incubis by the horns and get the happiness you’ve fought off all those other demons for. Claim that love that you’ve denied yourself because other self-pitying naysayers and hatemongers told you that you couldn’t do it. Become merciless your purging of such negativity from your world. You’re the only one that can do this. You’re the only one that can heal yourself.
I must once again take up the sword that I laid by the river’s edge all those years ago. And I do it gladly.
I will take back the happiness I lost.
And by the way, I’m not asking permission.