“In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.”
Thanks to David Colin Carr for the invitation to take part in #MondayBlogs. I first met David in July 2011 in Bolinas, California at The Writer’s Retreat of Your Dreams, where he assists Laura Davis with this amazing six-day event. Since attending two more retreats with David present, we have shared writing, laughter and plotting mischief.
Here are my answers to the questions:
What am I working on?
Currently, I am writing a memoir called ‘That Terry’. This is my true-life story of surviving a violent, sadistic family who would have destroyed me if I did not run away with Police help at seventeen years old. I was smart and creative but depressed and suicidal. My all-or-nothing thinking took me from hospitals in Ontario to South Korea, from the fields of rural China, to the bustle of Tokyo streets and Parisian cafés. Finally, I landed in Sydney, Australia, where I lived and worked until the brutal murder of a young woman put me in danger of human trafficking and losing my life as well.
I am also in the midst of compiling ‘Traces of Silence’, a chapbook of poetry, and writing a novel tentatively called ‘Puffery Magazine Dishes On Wilbur’.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My writing is different because I am telling my unique tale. It is a story of survival, loss, and the effects of being poor and too afraid of more suffering and violence to ever speak or challenge authority. It is a journey toward self-discovery while living on the edge of a razor. It is my struggle to find my childhood, grow up and parent myself along the way. It is at once an exceptional rendering of an unlikely fight to defy suicide statistics for a child like me, and an awkward invite into my often confused and troubled process, and slightly warped humour.
Why do I write what I do?
I have been fascinated by words since I was a girl with only my imagination to keep me company while locked in the attic. I started writing poetry because I was passionate about life. I had so much empathy for other people people in pain; of course, I was far too isolated to know my life was not normal but I somehow sensed it was not. I was only eight or nine then but I knew that you do not continuously ridicule, humiliate, beat, berate and ostracize any child, let alone your pre-adolescent daughter.
I have an enormous debt of gratitude. The happiness and laughter I now enjoy is like a huge sack of presents dumped on my desk by a postie. I want to give back in a big way. Many good doctors, therapists, and friends gave me the tools not only to survive, but also to carve out my wee corner of the world. I want to reach out to other young women (and men) who are clawing for any groove into which to sink their bleeding fingertips. To those hardly hanging on and feeling suicidal.
Before I die, I want to look back on my long healing process and know I shared what I learned and helped in every way possible, within my means, to effect change.
How does your writing process work?
These days, my writing process involves waking up, stumbling to the coffeemaker, while trying to avoid my cat Paco’s tail, plunking down at my laptop, fumbling for a password, and buckling up for yet another adventure in #wordmongering. That is–joining a few friends who invited me to their timed writing practice on Twitter.
I am always inspired by reading fiction–with a penchant for Victorian novels thanks to Carleton U–memoirs and poetry. (There must always be poetry!) I love watching movies, attending live musical events and theater. Yes. I did see ‘Les Miserables’ three times and thoroughly enjoy Theatresports at the Arts Club.
People who impact the world affect me a lot. In fact, some of whom I want to hug so often, I tell them, “If you see me coming at you with my arms out, and it’s not a good day, just point me towards the nearest tree.” They need hugs too.
I have invited the following writers to blog on June 16th:
Marta Moran Bishop
Marta Moran Bishop is a versatile author and poet.
Her poetry books are for children as well as adults. ‘Wee Three: A Mother’s Love in Verse’ was a collaboration between the short verses her grandmother wrote in the late nineteen thirties and her own work.
Her adult poetry is an emotional journey through the human condition. Taking one to the heights and depths of the good, bad, and beautiful of being human.
Ms. Bishop layers her novels and short stories with the mythical, paranormal, fantasy, and from there into the mind and heart of her rescue horse (‘Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal’).
She grew up the middle child in a large family and credits her parents for giving her the ability of imagination, empathy, and reading.
After multiple, failed bids at world domination, Lorna Suzuki was forced to create a fantasy world where she reigned supreme, until her characters orchestrated a military coup! She is a martial arts instructor with over 30 years experience in this field and a novelist, best known for the epic adult fantasy series, the Imago Chronicles as well as the YA fantasy series, The Dream Merchant Saga that she co-writes with her teenaged daughter, Nia. The first three novels of the Imago Chronicles have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy for worldwide theatrical release in 2015. Film production is currently underway with an Oscar-winning producer at the creative helm! Visit the official Imago website here: http://www.newmobileme.com/imagochronicles9.
Susan Herman is an independent editor living in Northern California with her husband and two school-age kids. She loves to travel and observe those little quirks that make places and people special. She will imitate your accent without meaning to, but will stop if you buy her a beer.
I believe in the sanctity of late night ritual by candlelight.
I believe in the basic goodness of every person.
I believe in meditation and acting in such a way that I do not cause suffering to a sentient being.
I believe that when someone entrusts me with her or his heart, I become a better person every day.
I believe in giving and receiving, although the latter is excruciating for me!
I believe it is never too late to learn and explore old curiosities.
I believe in friendship, ensconced in the sharing of umbrellas and shorts, puppies, and yurts.
I believe in honesty or, at least, striving for that above all else, despite the need to protect the tender hearts of people.
I believe in the spirit of adventure but one must temper it with realism.
I believe at this point in my life, I have at least two handfuls of wisdom from which I can sift for complete sentences.
I believe in dancing because we are gorgeous when swaying to a searing guitar and pining saxophone.
I believe in process, taking time—whether that is to sleep, eat, cry, hold hands, be alone, read, make love, or taste the resounding quiet in a forest, just before spotting a blue jay.
I believe that peoples’ body language offers a more accurate assessment of their feelings than just words alone.
I believe I have a chance at a good job starting this July. It could make Chile a potential go!
I believe in #YesAllWomen, a Twitter hashtag in use the world over. Whether you are two or one hundred and five, all females should be safe in their person, homes, going for a walk, at schools, and in groups.
I believe in #YesAllWomen because in India recently, a group of men (including Police officers) raped and murdered two young teen girls and hung them from a tree. This must stop! The problem is not just India but everywhere on this globe.
I believe we need more good men to speak up and violent men to stop raping.
I believe in making things right.
I believe I always have trouble with closeness with women friends, given Mom’s six-decade long rejection and hatred of me, with she being my first relationship with another living soul and female.
I believe that, despite ideology (including positive psychology), not everyone can just change their thinking and nullify their eligibility to having bad things happen to them. It helps a lot but does not cure society’s ills.
I believe in assisting and empowering the people who need it. That is one reason I love free online courses from universities worldwide. I do not have the money to finish school yet but can expand my knowledge, expertise, flexibility, teaching capabilities, and confidence.
I believe that by broadening my knowledge, I can give back on a much bigger stage.
I believe in workouts that bring on a good sweat, followed by a swim, and half-hour in the steam room, where I can see nothing. It is then, while I rub my eyes, that I imagine myself perched on the precipice of branding a whole new life.
I believe I do not know how to deal with people at all and yet a part of me knows this is untrue.
I believe in continuing my life struggles with the same stubbornness that has held me thus far.
I believe in Words with Friends, Texas Hold’em poker (with play money), and word mongering, the last of which is online writing practice with a growing group of friends on Twitter.
I believe in meeting people’s eyes, standing solid in my truth.
I believe being self-disciplined is equally important to letting it all fall away at the proper time.
I believe in hugging a moment fiercely, squeezing the ‘be Dickens’ out of it.
I believe comparing ourselves to others—especially those society deems ‘better’ or more ‘respectable’– is soul damaging.
I believe in snowshoes, walking sticks, roughing it, and sharing dorms in youth hostels on windy autumn nights.
I believe society’s view that having resources or not is rooted solely in merit and hard work (never luck), laziness and a weak mind (never circumstances), does not reflect everybody’s truth. This may be valid for many but I think it is not a science, by any means. This matters to me because I am an exception, as are thousands of people I encounter in life.
I believe that as much as I need to discuss class, people will greet me with equal push or pull depending on where the pendulum swings at any given moment.
I believe and know that the topics I must write about are not to force my views on someone else. I work on myself only and can, and will, be wrong. All I want to do is learn and understand. That takes dialogue, not monologue.
I believe one side effect of needing therapy to live and being lonely is that I sometimes talk to people as if I am in an interview. I do not wait for questions and do not notice they never come. I tell some people a lot and only realize later, in tears, that I had not really made friends. I look at those people and can almost see them using their fingers to form an ‘L’ for loser over their heads. At these times, I feel I am just a pathetic example of what not to do and be in life.
I believe in struggling through this and all fear, ridicule, physical pain, defeat, negative thinking, disillusionment, and depression. Group think. Bureaucracy. Old tapes that are deafening. People who reiterate with exclamation marks all those old messages.
I believe and know it is great for me to encounter good men. I know they are there and value their presence in my life.
I believe in fair play, appreciating people at every turn, and meeting generosity and trust with heaps of the same.
I believe in second and third chances but also believe in stopping before it gets ridiculous and people get hurt.
I believe in optimism and hope; I will enter any skirmish to find it.
I believe in fun, yacking all night, and laughing myself silly.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
“If I have harmed anyone in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions
I ask their forgiveness.
If anyone has harmed me in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions
I forgive them.
And if there is a situation
I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways that I harm myself,
negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself
through my own confusions
I forgive myself.”
OhDoYa, a green bull shark, en route from Cairns to Forres, crossed my kayaking path to Scotland yesterday. We chatted once we got past all that sly dawg “How-’bout-it?” nonsense. He bragged of how he almost fished his way into yacht ownership last week. That is, until its ravenous Cap’n gulped OhDo’s sauteed-garlic-King-Crab-and-rib-eye bait, ripped free of the trap line, and sped away.
Ah! The stuff I learn and characters I meet while travelling in my wilderness! It’s worth every strained back and neck muscle, slivered butt cheek, paddling blister, tear-stained other cheeks, and cold, wet hand–the latter of which came from slapping my new friend across the snout for his audacity.
“Ta,” he said, as the water gulped his sorry ass.
Gawd, how I love those Aussies! And feeling free as a kite in the turf of my wilderness.
There are no dreams at all. Life is about survival in its most basic form. Every night before I fall asleep, I feel lonelier than I have ever felt. No. It must have been worse at some point but life blessed me with no awareness of it. I fought decades for a grasp on the madness I was born into, to understand how it shaped and misled me, and to survive the self-hatred that flows freely, burning up in my blood stream. These days only sleep relieves my troubled thoughts.
However, when I am lucky enough to wake up in good spirits, or have a joyous moment, I savour it. I greet this prompt grudgingly but challenge myself on it. I seek out a thought or dream to borrow and feed on for a time. A wish for all of my communities and myself. A hope. An aspiration and necessity for my complete freedom. Yes. All of that contemplation sends me off to read Adrienne Rich again, from whom I quote now. “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and (will) be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.