Category Archives: Education

Wrong Words = Wrong Thoughts = Wrong Actions

There are words that once uttered cannot be taken back. Because they’re such a crystal-clear reflection of who you are spiritually, that no explanation in the whole wide world can erase them, other than, perhaps, “I was held at gunpoint and coerced to say it.”

I am a lover of words. I feel words deeply. I think about the meaning of words constantly. I lose myself in nuances. I use words consciously. Words tell me what I need to know about the person in front of me. So when I hear claims that “wrong words” were used, and one’s deeply disturbing remarks were not a reflection of that person’s beliefs, but mere semantics, I call bullshit. And that’s a mild word.

I am a survivor of rape and domestic abuse. I wasn’t kidnapped and held at gunpoint, but I was repeatedly abused by a man I chose to be with, and lost several years of my early youth recovering from that abuse. So when I hear an old, self-righteous, privileged jackass, with primitive views of the world, classify rape as “legitimate” (which means there’s also “illegitimate” rape–attention survivors, you should get a stamp of approval on that rape and get your rapist to sign a certificate of authenticity, just to make sure it’s legitimate and you’re not just crying wolf) and spew nonsense about what a woman’s body does when she’s raped, I burst into flames of rage. My blood boils. I clench my jaw so hard I’m afraid I’ll break it. And I curse a storm in my head in the hope that the rage will stop.

And in that rage, I can tell you exactly how it feels to be raped. How your heart beats so hard you’re sure it will burst any second; and how after a while, you will it to break. How your skin crawls and every inch of your body is a massive, raw nerve ending that you just want to scratch off. How your soul struggles to stay alive as it drowns in a stormy ocean of shame, humiliation, self-hate and despair. How you suffocate as you try to not throw up your internal organs. How you ask yourself over and over what it is that you’ve done to deserve this. How you feel like garbage when he’s done with you, and you wish you were dead, because being alive hurts too much. How you know your life will never again be emotionally intact.

But I know the rage won’t stop. Not until men who believe they have the right to make choices for women die out, women who defend those men die out, politicians who think they own women’s bodies die out, religious fanatics who claim moral superiority die out, and debates about absurd claims that should be dismissed with a smirk and an eye-roll no longer exist and those who make the claims are rapidly shipped off to get treatment.

Which means the rage will never truly stop. It makes me sad that I will not live long enough to see a spiritually-illuminated world; that humanity will continue to roll in the refuse of small minds well beyond my passing.

Despite all the words I’ve just shared, despite the rage brought on by other people’s words, I’m not bitter. I can still love and be emotionally present. Philosophical sadness does not equal bitterness; it’s not synonymous with the inability to enjoy life. I’m lucky enough to have healed, grown, and learned from my past, and I can tell you that these old words are truer than true: what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. Just the way scar tissue protects an old wound: it’s not always pretty to look at, but when you poke at it again, it no longer gives in as easily as the first time.

P.S.: If you’re looking for rage explained in more vivid detail, read Eve Ensler’s words. 


Honesty

I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been spending every spare minute I had on my books. This writing journey is fascinating–that is, when I’m able to detach from myself and look at it with clinical eyes (the rest of the time is very emotional, as you might expect). Here are some things I’ve learned recently.

1. There’s definite value in traditional publishing. I’ve been going through some stuff lately at my “other job,” where everyone thinks they can do my job (instead of doing theirs). Because it must be so easy. Well, it’s not. What I do is a combination of art and science, and while you may think you can get the art down, it’s the science that will make the difference. I think it’s the same with publishing: anyone can write some words down, but do they have the science behind it to know if those are the best words they can be, and most importantly, if those words have a shot at standing out? Traditional publishing is not the purveyor of art in writing, but the gatekeeper of writing science, which is what will often make the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

2. Traditional publishing is an old, slow scientist enamored with her own legend. If they were able to fix the part that keeps a book stuck in their process for over a year, if not longer, and if they un-stiffed their frozen upper lip to expand their content pool to writers who are not whores to the process (query letter rules, manuscript rules, email rules, call rules, agent rules, networking rules, associations rules, etc. etc. etc.), but simply honest people dedicated to the act of writing, they’d probably come out on top at the end of this storm. Alas, they’re too stuck up to do that, so the spiraling will continue. And I tend to avoid torture, so I probably won’t try my chances at traditional publishing any time soon — life is short, and I can’t bear the thought of wasting another minute on bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a mistake, but I’m owning it. Or maybe I wouldn’t be good enough for them anyway.

3. I’m an impatient fool. My most important lesson from this past month: just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. I’m a down-to-earth, cerebral writer with lots of self-awareness. You won’t see me throw tantrums, and act like I’m God’s gift to the world (though sometimes I think that would serve me much better). But that doesn’t mean I don’t love writing from all my heart, or that I don’t believe in my ability to break through. But I got so caught-up in the “traditional publishing” “science” of it, that I forgot to listen to my heart. “I have a deadline,” I said to myself. “And I keep my deadlines, damn it!” So I published Healers a month earlier than I should have. And then I downloaded my own book, and started reading it for the fortieth time, and discovered that it wasn’t exactly what I had intended it to be. (Regardless of the fact that my beta readers had great feedback on the story.) So I made a hard decision: re-write it once more. What I didn’t expect was how fast that was going to be. Because this time I listened to my heart instead of the rules (You should never write a book in first person present tense!!! And especially if it’s a suspense science-fiction novel!!! Only great writers can pull that off!!! You know nothing!!! Be afraid, be very afraid!!!) and it took me ten days to do the re-write that ignored the rules and made me happy. Maybe I was wrong, and maybe it’s not as good as I think it is. But at least I LOVE IT. And that means I can promote it, and talk about it, and be proud of it without worrying that I didn’t give it my best shot.

4. Impatient fools learn the most. Should I have waited a little longer before hitting the publish button the first time around? Maybe. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t have learned any of this. And I’m that much better for it. I’d rather screw up and come out better, then play it safe and bury myself in worry and guilt.

5. And lastly, when it comes to writing, the only way is up. I’ve learned so much this time around, and I know that will happen again next time, and the time after, until I’m gone. And it’s a great feeling to know that every word you put down on paper will make you a better writer. That is a great reward.

So, hey, if you’re reading this, give Healers a chance. I stand behind it, and I’m ready to take on any criticism that comes my way, because I wrote it from the heart and I believe in it. You don’t have to buy it, you can download the free preview — you’re bound to know if it’s your cup of tea by the end of it.