The Stories We Tell About The People We’ve Left Behind

Content Warning for non-specific discussions of trauma and abuse.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned about writing over the years is that, if I’m writing about something that happened, about real people, I need to focus on writing about only my experience of the event. I’ve had a few disastrous attempts in the past, where I’ve written about how I’ve noticed someone acting and tried to put to words the feel of what they told me. I don’t think I’ve ever done it in a way that didn’t feel immediately embarrassing. It can be a fine line, the space between the two concepts, but it is easy to write about how I felt listening to someone talk or the part I played in a difficult time in someone else’s life. It is much more difficult to write about what they went through from a first-person perspective. As I’ve slowly worked at writing outside my direct experience, at learning to portray events and feelings I never encountered (frequently with much input from people willing to share their experiences with me, knowing I’m trying to write about something similar), I’ve paid special attention to all the high-profile instances of people basically stealing the life stories of others.

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This Is My 900th Post

While I’d love to claim that this is a complete coincidence, I’ll admit that I did thumb the scales a teensy bit to line up the first post of 2023 with my 900th over all blog post. A teensy bit. My time off was legitimate and I definitely didn’t have anything ready for last Saturday as far as Infrared Isolation goes, but I did decide to still do a post on the 31st and not take an entire week off when I realized I wasn’t going to have Chapter 13 ready just so I could line this up. It was a small amount of effort and is, ultimately, a fairly small thing. I’ve been running this blog since 2017, after all, and while most of those years show huge periods of inactivity from me, 2018 and 2022 saw almost daily posts, and that’s most of 900 posts right there. The rest mostly come from posting in the last third of 2021 and the last two months of 2017, when I got on the daily blogging train for the fist time.

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No NaNoWriMo This Year, But I Think I Wrote More This Year Than Any Other

I’ve been avoiding the topic for a while now because I don’t really want to think about it that much, but I decided not to do National Novel Writing Month this year. Which means it is the first time in ten years that I haven’t even attempted it. It will be the second time in that period that I didn’t succeed. The last time I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo was back in 2016 while the election and its results were happening on top of job hunting and dealing with an increasingly difficult roommate situation. I realized after only a couple days that I couldn’t handle writing on top of everything else that was going on, so I stopped. This year, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do it a few days before the month started and resigned myself to skipping it.

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The Hardest Part Is Hitting Post

Maintaining a blog like this is a difficult task sometimes. Not because of the amount of effort required to write five posts a week and, at present, do either one special post or one relatively long chapter of a story once a week. That’s definitely a lot of effort, but it’s effort I find fulfilling and rewarding. I wouldn’t really describe it as “difficult” since it feels better to do it than not do it. The difficult part is maintaining a healthy relationship with the blog itself, my expectations for the blog, and my expectations for people I know interacting with the blog. One of things that made blogging long-term unsustainable back in 2018 (even though I managed to keep it up daily for over a year), was that I got lost in the numbers. Another was that I got incredibly focused on how social media and my behavior (by which I mean posting habits and content posted) drew people to my blog. I also was going through a lot toward the end there, so maintaining a one week buffer was not something I really had the time, energy, or creative focus to do. Now it feels easy. Not effortless, of course, but I don’t have to put much effort into actually doing the work.

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I Am So Tired But Will Not Stop To Rest

After some initial bumpiness that involved scheduling sessions 3 weeks out, the Dungeons and Dragons campaign that used to be my Sunday game is now sorta back on track. It’s only been a coupla sessions of more regular playing, but it seems like it having the flexibility to schedule around busy weekend days should get us up from once every three and a half-ish weeks to every other week on average. Maybe a little less frequent than that, but not by much. I would enjoy that, even if it would be exhausting and stressful to be running that campaign on top of whatever winds up taking place weekly on Sundays, not to mention the Friday game I run or play in (it alternates irregularly these days), my coworker game on every second or third Tuesday, and the game I play in on Thursdays. And that doesn’t even mention my busy work schedule with my job, my non-tabletop roleplaying game obligations, and the endless labor that goes into being an adult with a household I must maintain. Honestly, as I look to the future (especially in light of the work news we all got today that makes it look like I might wind up doing more overtime than ever), I feel myself already growing tired and exhausted.

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I’ve Been Doing This For A Year Now

When this post goes up, it will be the last main post of July. There will be one more “Recorded and Reposted” poem going up tomorrow, but that’s been scheduled for well over a month now. More than a couple months, actually, come to think of it. My next post will be the first post of August, which will mean I’ve been doing this for a year. One whole year passed since I started updating this blog again and I did over three hundred new posts. With a few reposts of update poems with attached audio clips. Looking back at 2021, I feel like I’ve made progress in some areas but lost progress in others, but I am fairly certain that’s just my perception tainted by my anxiety.

I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel different. I feel incredibly different. Some of that is just due to my perception of the passage of time. Though it was only about a year ago that I started updating this blog again, it feels like several years have passed. I’m pretty sure I’ve aged five years in the one that passed, thanks to the stress of living in modern US society as our rights are slowly eroded, income equality worsens, and the entire planet continues to glide toward fascism and collapse. Most of the improvements have been in my personal life. I’ve finally started exploring an aspect of my identity that I’ve known about my entire life after finally being able to silence the voices in my head (my parents’ voices) that told me nothing mattered except being the person they’d taught me to be. Aside from one poem I wrote in high school, I’d never expressed any of this stuff to anyone else and barely even allowed myself to think it.

I’m still not sure I’m ready to write about all that any more specifically on my blog, all of the stuff behind why I am to be referred to using they/them pronouns and my explorations of my own identity, but I’m doing a lot of work on that. It’s been nice to take a break from processing trauma in every therapy session to focus on exploring who I am to myself and talk through how to reconcile the first thirty years of my life with my life after that. After all, my sort of blind acceptance of the person I was (as dictated by my parents) also meant that I was able to accept everything I went through in a way I’m struggling to now that I finally FEEL that what my brother and my parents did to me was unacceptable.

I think that working through all of that again is going to be ultimately helpful, since I’ll be properly processing it and accepting myself as having lived through that stuff rather than just accepting that it happened. The former is critical and doesn’t let anyone off the hook while the latter is unquestioning and lets everyone off the hook. Not that it matters much since there’s little that can be done in terms of accountability other than preventing any of them from being a part of my life going forward.

So a lot has happened. I’ve grown a bunch. I hate myself less frequently and while I’m not quite to the point of liking myself that much, I do accept myself most of the time, now. And I’m getting better at speaking up, though the events of the last few days prove that I still have work to do. I need to get better at correcting people. Though I’ve spoken up in a few incredibly difficult situations at work, I’m still having a hard time doing that around my friends. I know they don’t mean it, you know? And I don’t want to make it a thing when most of the time I’m just so damn tired. Still, it’s worth doing and only by correcting people will the need to correct people eventually disappear. After that, anyone using the wrong pronouns in reference to me will be doing it on purpose and I’ll know what kind of person they are as a result. Good stuff.

I still struggle to stick to my creative goals from one week to the next, but I’m defintely more creatively active than I used to. I still actually make monthly progress on my main projects rather than having to speak about yearly progress since I used to go multiple months in a row with no progress. I’m going to keep working on that and hopefully some continued focus on rest and careful spoon management will get me in a position to create more. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery, quit my job, and just create all the time non-stop. What a life that would be.

Anyway, I’ve reflected and muttered on long enough. Here’s to one year completed and the start of a new year after. After all, regardless of everything else that has happened in my life, one of my core character traits has been and will always be a refusal to actually give up. Stop, yes. Give up, no. A small distinction to some people, but an incredibly important one to me.

The Power of Influence and the Folly of Originality

As a person interested in creating my own stories, worlds, and whatnot, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to create something “original.” In terms of criticism, I think the word has been so bandied about and overused that it has lost most of its meaning, leavied as it has been against everything from creative works acknowledging their influences to entirely unrelated and unconnected works that coincidentally had similar themes. In this vast, wide world of ours, it is not unthinkable that two incredibly different people might have similar ideas. Not everything alike is a copy or partial copy, and there’s nothing wrong with copying something if you’re planning to build off it.

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I Struggle With Writing Short Fiction

I have a vacation coming up in a week and a half. I’ll have access to the internet and my laptop with me (I plan to work on some editing projects since I can’t just NOT do anything), but I still plan to double my usual blog buffer so I can just ignore my blog every day that I’m away. My current intention is to do five Flash Fiction posts in the place of my usual content, as a nice compromise between writing five normal posts and letting my blog sit empty for a full week, but I’m running into the same problem that I always do when I’m trying to produce new flash fiction. I just don’t know what stories to tell in so short a format!

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The Perils of Creative Expression

I’ve been working on a new poem (goes up tomorrow). I got a draft done pretty quickly, forty-five lines across three pairs of stanzas, lots of nice imagery, all of that in about twenty-five minutes. I had a super clear image, a theme to work with, and a form that rapdily emerged from the way the thing arranged itself in my head. Not my fastest work, but still pretty good for a first draft. I spent another five minutes over the rest of the day reading it and making small adjustments and then sent it off to a reader for a quick review. I was expecting a comment about the end, that it would feel very abrupt or like it shouldn’t have been the end, and that’s the comment I got back. See, I had more I wanted to say, but I couldn’t find a way to say it, so I tried to wrap it up there. After all, not everything needs to go into one poem. But clearly it was missing something, so I decided I’d spend some time today to work on it.

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Illusions of the Past and Flash Fiction

I kind of miss the old way I used to run this blog, with a different type of content for every day of the week. It was a very creatively enriching time in my life and I really feel like I grew as a writer during that period. I was also at my healthiest, mentally speaking, during that period. My inclination is to chalk all of this up to a wide variety of writing, heavy structure, active participation in numerous creative projects that included working with people for feedback, and the rewarding feeling of sharing it all someplace other people could see it and respond to it. Unfortunately, things aren’t actually so simple as that. Like most things, the truth of the matter is more complicated.

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