I used to be a blogger, but now I’m much more of a storyteller. I was thinking the other day, reflecting on all the things I’ve said (the things I’ve committed to the permanent stone tablet of the internet) and realizing that the only things I’ve really never regretted saying are the things I’ve said in story.
It turns out that’s not actually true. I unearthed drafts of my old blog posts and realized there was so much beauty there. I feel a lot of affection for her, that other me. She spoke with a kind of crackling power that I’d love to have back.
Things have been moving and shaking lately. It all feels tectonic, pieces shifting below the surface. I was talking to a friend the other day. We were discussing the ways the current moment feels pregnant with possibility, as though we’re on the edge of Becoming. Becoming what? I don’t know. I’m quick to say I have no idea what I’m talking about.
The closest I can come to saying what it is, is to say that it feels like staring into a swirling pile of the most dense, ugly shifting mud and beginning to discern patterns in the mire. It’s realizing there’s an egg down at the bottom, and something is growing inside; the mess is hatching, the mess is growth.
I still don’t know what I’m saying.
I’ve been reading a book of essays by Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway. I checked out the book very late last night and fell asleep reading them. I forgot about it in the morning, but at the time it felt like a slow infusion drip of hope and peace in the midst of all this horror. Hallelujah anyway.
I’ve been working on original novels, on short stories and vignettes of my own beloved characters. This too feels like movement and growth. I’ve been trying to stretch my mind to play with the possibilities, considering that there might be another way to share all the things I make with all of you, a way beyond and outside of book sales and the monopoly of Amazon.com. I don’t know if that’s true. The last pieces of the puzzle won’t connect; the thought fizzles out midstream. I am thinking on it, and I have hope that the answer will hit me at some point. Sooner rather than later, with any luck.
Tell me if you have any ideas for me, if there’s a particular way you’d like to read my stories, if you’d like to read my stories at all.
So I’m doing something goofy and writing blog posts to myself here, in Scrivener1, until I can get up the nerve to post any of them publicly. I had an anonymous blog once upon a time. It turns out it wasn’t so anonymous in the end, but I tell that story all the time anyway. It’s the first thing on my lips when I think about blogging, when I think about sharing.
I have been thinking about Amanda Palmer lately. I’ve been listening to her music. I can’t read the name The Daily Mail without thinking of Amanda Palmer singing, “Dear Daily Mail, you misogynist pile of twats.”
I’ve been… well, I haven’t been good. I’ve been making it through, same as anyone else. I think I’m trying to hate myself less. It’s kind of a shock to realize I still hate myself at all. I always think I’m good on that, you know. That I’m fine, that I’ve learned my lesson, learned to accept myself more than I did when I was a kid. I have and I haven’t. Sometimes it turns out that the worst things never die.
It’s all layers and layers, right? You dig some stuff up, and you realize how much is rotted underneath. You realize that you still have that tired old soundtrack playing low in the background, distorted and singing you hell tunes that keep you up at night and carve out the hollows between your eyes. You find yourself snapping and snarling at those closest to you, withdrawing into your den, and you realize that no, actually, you’re not all that okay after all.
2020, man. We’re making it through.
While I’m on this, I have a small request for you: I’m going to say things, okay? I’m going to peel back the layers that I usually keep glued down, because I feel like it. Because I’m getting to a point where being unknown by absolutely everyone in my life is starting to feel intolerable. It’s been a long decade.
I’m still the same person I’ve always been, underneath everything—strange and often sad, trying my goddamn best. But I don’t want sympathy, and I don’t want advice. If I say sad things, if I talk about the ways I tie myself in knots—trust that I’ve got it. I’ll ask for help if I need it. I’ve been dancing with these demons for a long, long time. They know me, and I know them. I’m fine. I promise.
1 As you can see, I’ve since found my courage and decided to post it to the public internet.
yesterday i read a beautiful email-list-type email from lorde, a musician i love a lot, who’s also in (and from) new zealand. a few years ago, she left social media completely and now just sends a mass email a few times a year. that’s it. in it, she talks about kicking her social media addiction.
i wonder, a lot, about the difference between being addicted to social media, and just needing people.
That’s an excerpt from Amanda Palmer’s recent newsletter/blog. I wouldn’t usually comment on somebody else’s blog, but well. As someone who has been intentionally pulling away from Twitter and trying to critically examine the ways in which I use social media, I guess I have something to say about that.
I think social media use can be healthy, but it isn’t always (and I might be tempted to say that it usually isn’t). I think even unhealthy social media use is probably a form of "just needing people," which is entirely normal and human.
I’d say the way in which we get human interaction matters. Some types of engagement are healthier than others. I’m going to talk about my own experience with social media because y’know, I’m stuck in my own head like everyone else. I only really have my own experience to draw from.
Twitter feels like a total crapshoot. Will I see some cool art? A thread about an important topic that makes me think? An update I want to know about a friend’s life? Maybe! And the times it works like that, I love Twitter! I love when I can have cool conversations, look at great art, learn something, or get book and fic recs.
Is that what’s necessarily what’s going to happen when I log on to Twitter? Ahahahaha. FUCK NO. I’m just as likely to get smacked in the face by something that’s going to make my day worse—by a bit of fannish wank or bigotry that I’d have avoided if people on "my side" weren’t arguing back, by the anger of people I barely know, by bad takes that I don’t like, by exposure to the attention economy that I don’t consent to participate in but which nevertheless finds us all one way or another.
I have a psychologist friend who shared a technique she uses in her practice. When trying to help patients clarify their values, especially when they find themselves in situations that don’t suit them, she asks "what were your good intentions?" What were your good intentions when marrying this person, choosing this job, making this decision?
My intentions are good, when I log onto Twitter, when I engage in any form of social media. I’m trying to find happiness. I’m trying to connect. I’m trying to talk with friends, share the beauty I see around me, make people laugh, and hopefully find some people who want to read the stories I write. Sometimes I get those things. But usually even when I do, they come with a side of everything I don’t want.
I’m happier after mostly disengaging from Twitter. Sometimes I’m lonelier? It’s only been around two weeks, but I feel more disconnected from the fandom I spent a year loving these days. But Twitter isn’t the place for my good intentions. It’s not a place where I think I’ll find the types of human connection that are going to make me truly happy.
So I don’t know. I can’t speak for other people, but I always get the feeling that social media doesn’t make a lot of people very happy. I think there’s a reason that "mental health breaks" from social media are so prevalent. And especially in these times of social distancing, maybe social media is the best we can do some days, but I’m kind of unwilling to give it a pass as a basically harmless outlet for people needing people. "Harmless" feels like giving it too much credit.