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I may not be a hopeful person, not in general, but this afternoon I do feel relief. Great relief. A Mitt Romney presidency was simply too bizarre and horrific to even imagine. And if I must hope, here is a hope I believe is worth hoping for, that the Republican party has learned that, if they want the White House back, it's time to stop building campaign platforms based on hate and fear. I most emphatically do not believe the GOP has been taught any such lesson. But, near as I can tell, hope is a lot like faith. All wishful thinking and fluffy pink unicorns and stuff. Yeah, I suck at faith, too. Though, oddly, I'm pretty good with trust. Go figure. Wait. Where was I? Oh, yeah....







The evening was spent at my desk, the iMac on my left – parked on CNN – and the Asus on my right, running The Secret World. I found that slicing my way through hordes of drooling zombie Mittens, tea partiers, homophobes, and Christian zealots helped me survive the evening. That and, well...other things. The wonders of biochemistry. I think I finally got to sleep about 4:45 ayem. Oh, and is Florida ever going to call this thing, one way or the other?

---

For me, all that I am about to say is important. To me.

No, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me (Volume 1) didn't win the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. However, two thoughts. Firstly, it was nominated, out of all the many collections that were published in 2011. If there is honor here, in awards, it is to be had in the nomination. However, secondly and to be honest, the older I get the more I feel it's not books that win awards, it's authors. And I don't exactly have one of those congenial award-winning personalities. If I did, I couldn't write these books that get those nominations....

---

Okay, so, here we are in November. And someone who is not so fond of profanity as am I might say that I'm in a "bit of a pickle." I absolutely fucking believed, based on the time required to write Blood Oranges (45 days), that I'd be able to hand in Fay Grimmer by the first week of September. But here we are at the beginning of November. The book isn't finished. It is, in fact, a wreck. Chapter Two...well, let's not talk about the second chapter, except to say it has to be rewritten a third time if the novel has any chance at all of being completed.

Chapters three, four, and five are more or less useable as is, though they'll have to be tweaked quite a bit once I have a functional Chapter Two (which, as time flows backwards and we abandon linearity) has been shaped by those latter chapters. And I have chapters six, seven, and, presumably, eight yet to write. In two or three weeks. All of that. No, see. It won't happen. I'm going to try my damnedest, but it won't be finished in two or three weeks. I have proven, with these books, that I am most emphatically not an assembly line. Except for the unfortunate need to meet deadlines and make money, this actually makes me quite happy. I can't turn the mass-production trick after all. My agent told me I couldn't. Spooky warned me I couldn't. They were right.

But Fay Grimmer has to be written, and it has to not suck (too hard). Puppy Love has to be written. And then I think Kathleen Tierney may suffer a horrible and fatal accident involving a freight train and a herd of stampeding musk oxen. I'm cool with that.

I just have to shut the fuck up, stop dithering, and write the damn book. THE END is its own reward.

---

But, here's the thing: I have spent this year at war with my own lack of self esteem. Never mind that I've written and published eight novels (not counting The Five of Cups or the Beowulf novelization) and over 200 short stories that have been collected in eleven collections (tenth coming in 2013). Sure, maybe none of this has made me rich or netted me a grand display of awards, but my fiction has brought me accolades and admiration from a considerable number of the fantasy and science fiction authors whom I've admired all my life, and the reviews have almost always glowed, and I have an intelligent readership, and I am respected by my peers. I've published papers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Journal of Paleontology, and the Bulletin of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. I spent nine years at two universities, where I studied under some of the greatest paleontologists of the 20th Century. According to the Stanford-Binet, I have an IQ of 148. I'm a member of both Mensa and the Triple Nine Society. I've been a voting member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology since I was nominated to the organization as an undergrad in 1983. I was once a gopher for Stephen Jay Gould. I've seen more of the world than anyone else in my family before me. And so on, and on, and on.

I have a wonderful, talented, supportive partner, and we've been together for ten years (despite all my crazy shit).

And yet, and still, I have just about enough self-esteem to fill a thimble. And maybe I know why, and maybe I don't. Maybe I only know some of the "why," and maybe the "why" doesn't matter. Maybe it's environmental, and maybe it's a neurological chemical imbalance. What does matter is that this absence in me has always held me back, and this year it has been more a hinderance than ever. Well, maybe not ever. But it has been BAD.

I'm not asking for fucking pity or pats on the back. Fuck that shit. I'm just saying. It fucks me up, and I'm fighting through it, day by day. Swimming against the tide of my own self-loathing and idiotic insecurities. I have come to accept it is a war I will never win. I have to settle for winning battles. This year, it's been a hell of a battle, and I have not yet won.

Vulcans for Obama,
Aunt Beast

Comments

( 22 comments — Have your say! )
witchchild
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Oh the self esteem, I understand 100%. For what it's worth, I have a friend whose birthday is this weekend and one thing she asked for is recommendations for good fiction. I just suggested The Drowning Girl to her.

Stay warm, we have snow here.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 7th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)

I just suggested The Drowning Girl to her.

Thank you.
martianmooncrab
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
, I have just about enough self-esteem to fill a thimble

some days its all you need, because its really a Magic Thimble, and its a lot larger than it looks, and its really kick ass when you examine it. Too much self esteem, and it takes up our humanity, too little, and it doesnt float your pirate fleet there on the Thimble Sea.

Dont *know* you, never met you in person, but You are a Jewel, and Spooky is Beautiful.
gargirl
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
I know it doesn't matter that some of us think you are wonderful. I have people in my life that tell me that and it doesn't make my self-esteem needle bounce higher so I can guess you might feel the same. Despite the fact that it might have no effect, I have to tell you that I admire you greatly. I found Silk in a Barnes and Noble and loved it for many reasons. Your writing grabbed me, drew me in and hold me hostage still.

I've read your LJ for some time and I admire the way you keep on working at your craft and at your life. You have your struggles and you face them with a combination of wit, grit and grace, or so it seems from here. I hope someday that you, and I and others who struggle with self-esteem will find our way out from that particular cloud and come to consider ourselves as worthy as those around us.
slothman
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
The RomneyDeathRally hashtag feed kept me highly amused through the last couple of days.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Nov. 7th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)

“I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.” ~ Coco Chanel

Nice. Thank you.
pisceanblue
Nov. 7th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
I do not believe your readers here would ever imagine you were asking for pity, we know you loathe that sort of thing, Aunt Beast. But I admire you for expressing - in an entirely unvarnished fashion - your struggles with self-esteem because those of us who do wrestle with the problem may believe at times that it is wholly ridiculous, and yet it exists. It is the bete noire in the room, so to speak. To produce work which gives such pleasure and astonishment and awe and dread to others in the face of such adversity is a grand achievement in that ongoing war. Thus you can exult to the enemy, "You may dog me, but you will never stop me."
greygirlbeast
Nov. 7th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)

I do not believe your readers here would ever imagine you were asking for pity, we know you loathe that sort of thing, Aunt Beast.

Honestly, I never know how people are going to take things.

Thus you can exult to the enemy, "You may dog me, but you will never stop me."

Kill your fear...
stsisyphus
Nov. 7th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Okay I'm going to be in CoX tonight, but TSW soon. I think I owe you.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 7th, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)

Well, you don't owe me, but thank you.
Jada Walker
Nov. 7th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
upon reflection
Upon occasional reflection, I always realize how far we've come despite our human frailties. Life is struggle, its just different for each of us. I am continually impressed by you in many ways. I tell people that you are a fantastic writer and also the bravest person I know.
Events like yesterdays elections prompt reflection - where have we been and where are we going? - and a moment of hope/faith, as you say.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: upon reflection

where have we been and where are we going?

From there, to there.
terebi_me
Nov. 7th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
Aw, Cait... I am so right there with you on the self-esteem thing, but I haven't accomplished nearly as many cool things as you - but I've also survived some seriously horrific shit, and have an autoimmune disease that nobody can even see that makes everything so much harder to do and deal with... but it's all OK again when I can spend time with my dear friends, and with my kitty familiar, and just gaze into those big eyes of hers and know that she loves and treasures me as much as I do her.

Sometimes I live for my cat. And that's enough.

Sometimes I just live for TV... in my darkest moments I just remind myself, "Sherlock season three... Sherlock season three..." :)

You awe me. It's an honor to know you and work with you. You're a goddess and you're made from the heart of stars.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)

Sometimes I just live for TV... in my darkest moments I just remind myself, "Sherlock season three... Sherlock season three..."

I've often done that with movie trailers.
sovay
Nov. 7th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
And if I must hope, here is a hope I believe is worth hoping for, that the Republican party has learned that, if they want the White House back, it's time to stop building campaign platforms based on hate and fear.

Yes. I don't know that they'll take the lesson. But I like that it's there to be learned from, if they can see it.

Chapters three, four, and five are more or less useable as is, though they'll have to be tweaked quite a bit once I have a functional Chapter Two (which, as time flows backwards and we abandon linearity) has been shaped by those latter chapters.

I will be very happy to read however many versions of Fay Grimmer are useful, in whatever order they come in.

And then I think Kathleen Tierney may suffer a horrible and fatal accident involving a freight train and a herd of stampeding musk oxen.

Don't get me wrong, it was brilliant of that one bull to think of charging his whole herd all in one go and establishing his dominance once and for all, but I wish someone had explained to him just how hard it is to work the brakes with a cloven hoof. And when an author has her ear to the tracks . . .

It fucks me up, and I'm fighting through it, day by day. Swimming against the tide of my own self-loathing and idiotic insecurities.

It's the reason I've found Tiny Wittgenstein such a useful formulation. I don't know what he's doing there on my shoulder. Neither does derspatchel, who puts in his own time shooing the tiny fucker off. It doesn't matter what you do: all you can see is what you haven't, can't, never feel like you will. The part that annoys me is how much it doesn't matter that you tell yourself it's just brain chemistry. The thoughts keep spiraling. You can still feel yourself beginning to drown (and not the kind of drowning I prefer).

I can't trust that you'll win this year, but I will consider it a very good thing if you do. And if I can help, I will.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)

I will be very happy to read however many versions of Fay Grimmer are useful, in whatever order they come in.

Thanks. But you've done a lot already, and I'm now at that stage, I think, where I just have to do it.

I can't trust that you'll win this year, but I will consider it a very good thing if you do. And if I can help, I will.

And for that I am grateful.
sovay
Nov. 9th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
And for that I am grateful.

I am here, and I will be.
aarongp
Nov. 7th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
And I don't exactly have one of those congenial award-winning personalities. If I did, I couldn't write these books that get those nominations....

This is the worst kind of irony. Painful and true.
thimbleofrain
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
I don't have low self esteem (as I think of it), but I do flirt with self-loathing. And if I let my mind dwell on that for too long, it can cause me to spiral. I dislike many things about myself, but I always feel...formidable - and that's usually enough to allow me to make the decisions that need to be made.

Success doesn't cure anything if you can't internalize it. I work with a Russian war veteran with PTSD who has had many successes if life, but, seemingly, no amount of success will help him to see his life the way a healthier person might see it - not for long at any rate. Given some of the bits from your past that you've blogged about, I'd speculate that your situation may be similar to his in some ways. The ghosts of yourself continue to haunt your present.

That, and I think writing for a living just fucks with people. I know it fucked with me.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 8th, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)

Given some of the bits from your past that you've blogged about, I'd speculate that your situation may be similar to his in some ways.

Pretty much.
Jim Rieber
Nov. 25th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
Self esteem & all...
I don't normally reply, and definitely not to oldish posts, but this one really struck me. I've been a big asshole to myself my whole life. Always did well in school, but never felt I deserved it. Always done well at work, but still feel like a failure. I never live up to my own expectations, which I know are ridiculously high and damn near impossible for anybody to meet, even people who are good at stuff. When I'm praised by someone, I automatically question that person's intelligence. I have to remind myself pretty often that I've never really failed at anything I've set my mind to doing, because I've never been perfect at any of it and that defaults to failure in my effed mind.

I know it's nuts, and I know it holds me back, but I feel I'll always be this way, at least a little bit. I've learned to cut myself slack from time to time without going into a self-destructive shame spiral. Progress! Anyway, I hope you're not as mean to yourself as I am to me, because that would be silly. Last thing you want is to be THIS crazy. Don't misunderstand, there's nothing wrong with perfection as a goal, and may be a necessary motivator if you're an all-or-nothing type, just try and let yourself celebrate good-to-very good once in awhile!
Jim Rieber
Nov. 25th, 2012 06:53 am (UTC)
Eek!
Just reading back over my comment, I see that it might sound like I'm trying for a backhanded compliment. When I say celebrate good-to-very good, I don't mean any criticism of your work. I just feel that your benchmarks are set pretty high for yourself, and that something decent to everyone else might register as craptastic to you. Ya gotta drink to not-craptastic once in awhile!

Edited at 2012-11-25 06:57 am (UTC)
( 22 comments — Have your say! )