Baby steps, maybe

I’ve been having a hard time of things lately.

And that feels sort of wrong to say when, in terms of my actual personal day to day life, things are fine. My partner is loving and supportive, my friends and family are healthy or getting help, my day job is boring but steady, my cat is cuddly. Even the hellish weather we’ve had in Seattle for the past couple of weeks has cleared up to cooler smoke-free air (for now).

But if I’m honest, I’ve been having a very hard time engaging on a wider scale since November 2016, and I’m sure people can get why in two guesses or less.

Of course I’m not naive enough to think that it’s a shock that racists still exist in the US. I grew up as one of maybe six Asian students in a “rich white bubble” community in Texas. I was the only Korean. The kids got better about it as we got older — or maybe they just learned to hide it better — but that’s not really the sort of thing you just forget, even as time goes on.

Except I guess it is, on a national level.

Again, it does feel stupid and overdramatic to put it in blunt terms: that ever since the 2016 US presidential elections, my creative drive and drive to socialize have dropped to a trickle, if even that. In my heart I really want to do this thing! I have achieved my dream of being an Actual Published Author and past-me would be in awe and jealous. But there’s also the social aspect of it, where one has to network and do what one can, both to help out others in the community and promote oneself and in that… I have completely flubbed. Both my girlfriend and one of my oldest friends have told me it’s not too late to start doing it, but it feels incredibly daunting, especially in the light of the world right now. How can I talk about “hey, buy my novel, buy my novella,” when the country seems to be on the verge of imploding and taking the rest of the world with it?

(I realize this might be dramatic, again. But to try and keep abreast of politics in the world today is to be exposed to constant doomsayers, and it’s difficult to pick what is the “truth,” such as it exists. Maybe things aren’t so bad. But especially in light of what happened in Charlottesville yesterday, that’s especially hard to believe.)

I’ve finally started taking steps to start writing more seriously again — I have been doing the bare minimum since November, with occasional better days and (much more frequent) cheat days, where I just used things I was editing instead of actual fresh words. And that does feel pretty good! But the writing has always been the easiest part for me. It’s the part where I have to overcome my own inclination towards shyness and wallflowering that has always been difficult, and remains harder than ever.

And that also feels selfish to say. I’m not the only writer who’s shy and anxious. I’m so far from remarkable in that that it’s laughable. The problem is that I have been letting it get the better of me — pretty much since Ravenhearth was published. I keep expecting that magical moment to come where it’s like yes, this is what I should do, this is how I engage! and that’s silly. I know it’s silly. Plenty of others have managed it, and I admire them immensely. Just maintaining a twitter feed with other writers is amazing to me. Those people are so cool! I want to be among their number someday!

But it’s hard to reconcile selling my stuff (softer things, fairytale stories, worlds where the issue isn’t if a boy kisses another boy or a girl kisses another girl but always something else, societal or personal) when we’re in a world where politicians are blustering us to the brink of nuclear war, and the government hems and haws about condemning actual literal white supremacists murdering people in broad daylight.

This isn’t really an excuse. I know that in the end it’s on me to either step up and deal with it, or else resign myself to being unknown and glossed over. I’ve known that for a while, and I’ve been trying my best, at least, to pull myself up out of that even in spite of the disaster of the world outside. I’m doing it slowly, and who knows what will become of me, but I thought at least I should lay that all out, as an introduction and an apology and maybe a greeting.

Hi.

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