Crossing The Sea: Finding Your Way In Dark Times

 

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So, I’ve recently started submitting my writing to literary journals and publications.

So far, I have received nothing but a lot of rejections.

I even applied for an internship at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was rejected. However, their email said, “Although we’re impressed by your credentials…”

Maybe they say that to everyone? Or maybe not? Who knows? 

Point is this: The more I write about my life, the more confident I’m becoming, despite the rejections. I’m realizing that I’ve actually been through stuff. Stuff that’s worth of being written about.

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I intern at two literary journals right now, and for one of them, I’m helping with editing. AND I TOTALLY DON’T SAY THIS TO BE MEAN, BUT…. Some of the stuff we publish is mind-blowingly uninteresting. Especially in this 2018 environment. The amount of stories I get that are like, “I’m a woman and one time in 1972 A man grabbed my breast (shirt still on) and It’s destroyed me ever since and it’s ruined my entire life, and I don’t know how I’ll ever recover…

Literally, we’re about to publish a story right now about a woman who claims that, back in the day when she was a young beatnik, she hung around the dirty art-scene bars in NYC. And at one point she saw a semi-famous artist there. She approached him and flirted. Then he smacked her ass, and she claims, art was forever ruined for her. Like… a guy touching her somehow destroyed the entire concept of art. She claims she couldn’t even look at paintings for over forty years. And not just paintings by this artist who touched her, but any and all paintings by any man.

She claims that when she looks at a painting by a man, all she can see now is the destructive angry beast behind it, looking to abuse women.

NOW LOOK: I am a full supporter of the #metoo movement. And I also believe women when they discuss their experiences. Like, Dr. Ford for example, that is fucking bravery. The women who came forward about Cosby, and others like him, also bravery. I fully embrace them.  And I even embrace this woman for having gone through that moment in the bar.

But I also believe in stakes. In writing, we have stakes. Stakes are the what happened and why is it important enough to be telling a story things within a story.

For example, what’s at stake in The Day After Tomorrow? The entire human race’s survival. Get it?

And when stakes don’t match the circumstances, the story tends to fall flat, and die. For example, using The Day After Tomorrow: If the scientist at the beginning of the movie was like, “Global warming has melted a section of the polar ice cap, and within the next year, global sea levels will rise by 1/9th of an inch. ALERT THE PRESIDENT! TELL EVERYONE TO GO TO THEIR UNDERGROUND SHELTERS NOW!!!!!!

That seems like crap right? It’s like, something in your brain goes, YES THAT IS BAD! WE SHOULD WORK ON THAT….BUT THE END OF THE WORLD IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? BECAUSE OF 1/9th OF AN INCH?

And that’s how I feel with a lot of memoir-type stories I’m seeing these days. I’m like, yes. It’s crappy that the artist slapped your ass… but, then the entire concept of art was ruined for you for 40 years after that? Really? You promise you’re not embellishing a little in the hopes of riding the wave of #metoo and get yourself published? Or perhaps, if this is true…is it possible that you’ve really just let this slap on the ass effect you a little too much? Is this really a #metoo moment story, or is this a mental illness story? Or a story of self obsession, about a women who, if this is the worst moment of her life, is actually extremely privileged? Because the stakes don’t add up. I’m sorry. They don’t.

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ANYWAYS, I’VE GONE WAY OFF TOPIC.  POINT IS THIS:

Reading stories like these is really annoying to me. (And it actually makes me a little bit angry too, considering that I think these women are demeaning the #metoo movement by embellishing their stories for attention) BUT, It also gives a breath of inspiration. It makes me want to write and share my stories. And most importantly, I WANT TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

When I write about the time I spent in LA on the streets, or the my agoraphobia in Melbourne, or being beaten up in high school – I want to write about this with humor and hope. I hate the self-pity and misery that accompanies the modern-day personal narrative genre. (Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a NYT article stating it too…just so you can’t call me crazy: THE PROBLEM WITH MEMOIRS )

I just scrolled ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF MY BLOG, TO MY VERY FIRST POST. (Oh god…THE SCROLLING!!!! THE SCCCCRRRRROOOOLLLLLLIIINNNGGG!!!!!)

My first post was on December 13th, 2013. I was trapped in my apartment in Melbourne with agoraphobia. Completely alone. I had just gotten on the phone with the Lifeline. The woman on the phone told me I should blog. I should have an avenue to vent through. I started this blog that very day. At the end of that post I said this:

oh oh ! Before I forget.  the BIGreason for this blog is because I have HOPE.  I have hope that I can be happy and feel good about myself one day.  And I want you to have hope as well

 

I’ve felt like a lost boat at sea for so long. Like I didn’t know what direction to take or where to go. All I knew is that I didn’t want to die. I didn’t to give up. But where to go? There was no land in sight, and I was lost.

But now, I feel more motivated. More structured. I want to share my stories. I want to inspire people. I don’t want to dwell in self doubt. I want things to be better. I want others to be better. Fuck the self-pity memoir. Let’s all be more like Jenny Lawson, Carrie Fisher, or David Sedaris. Let’s look back at our lives and laugh,

cuz bitches, WE SURVIVED IT!

We triumphed. Let’s remember that.

sail

I think I’ve finally found land.

 

~ The Dark Horse

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One thought on “Crossing The Sea: Finding Your Way In Dark Times

  1. If memoirs were blogs the authors would soon realise noone gives a shit unless your story affects them personally.

    We all want to be replied to. To be read or seen. To be acknowledged.

    But venturing into the world of blogs I’ve noticed the stories I return to time and time again (like yours) attract attention because they want all of us to read to learn something. Challenge ourselves. Improve our situation or lives.

    As you said in the article (with my Aussie interpretation haha)… Why should we give a toss if the only purpose to your story is to be given our care/attention?

    Give support to recieve support is the recommendation where I volunteer. So much fkn sense in those small words huh.

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