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Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Must read: John DeVore, "How to Deal With Bitterness"

Do feel free to just read John's column, my original point of this post, or skip to the end where I quoted him. My blatherings just popped out. It's 7:35 a.m. and I haven't had my coffee yet, so forgive me.

I always think John DeVore does a great job with his latest Mind of Man column, "How to Get Over Bitterness," and when people ask me, "Why aren't more men writing about sex?" He is someone to look at as an example and inspiration (I published one of his columns in Best Sex Writing 2010 and hope I get that chance again). This one was especially relevant to me, not so much because I'm bitter; I feel lighter and lighter every day, in my feelings toward others but, most especially, myself. I'm the kind of person who needs the very lowest of low moments to recognize what I have to be grateful for and, well, there have been a lot of extremely low moments in the last two years where I couldn't see a way out, a future, I thought I should just give up and I'm not sure what because despite my self-sabotaging efforts I love what I do, but I kept going and amazingly, there were kind people waiting on the other side who believed in me no matter what.

When it comes to relationships I know I'm nowhere near ready for one, and maybe I won't ever be, and I'm okay with that. I have so much growing up to do, remedial adulthood that I never learned, and whereas before I used to just yell at myself about it, in my head, and feel stupid and guilty that I was so "behind" in the game of life, now I'm finally ready to just accept myself where I am, supremely flawed but open, ready, not waiting for the next steps to be given to me or someone else to save me from myself (as if, right?) but ready to take them, with plenty of trail and error. But in the professional realm, I can't go it alone, I do need other people or I'd be, uh, blogging for free (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and not advancing or being able to afford all the things I need to afford. Speaking of which, and I know I've utterly gone off course, for those who want to read about money from a very different perspective, check out the work of Tara Gentile (is it any wonder I'm about to look into ADD medication? I can't seem to stay on one topic. Ha!).

It's a slow process and much of it for me is about recognizing where I've veered off course and trying to correct that, slowly but surely. And, soon, drugs, but that is another post (which is in the works, about mental health care and money and value). I do believe in trying everything that might work until you find something that does. The impatient side of me, which is pretty much 100% of me, hates that so many of the things that help me move forward are simply slow and daily practices. They are meeting, again, remedial adulthood goals, ones that I actually had to type into a list of "2011 goals" like "turn off the light before you go to sleep." And "don't bounce any checks." But again, I'm trying to be lighter on myself, to recognize that while I'm a remedial adult in so many regards, there are other things that come easier to me and I need to value and nurture those. That's why I fell for Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor, because she is not just giving writing "tips" but lifelong writing practices, like building your lexicon. I'm not just taken with the idea, I need it for a project I'm working on whose language I'm not immersed in yet. She is not saying, "You're a bad writer," but "you need to grow as a writer and here are some ways you can." I almost always hear the former when I get a rejection, and am trying to be the kind of person who hears the latter, and seizes those opportunities.

So two passages I especially liked from John's column:

The story of your life is not the story of what your heart got, but what your heart didn’t get and how it kept on beating.

and

Recently, I have been afraid and exhausted and wondered if I will ever be in love again. I have laughed at that ridiculous thought, because it doesn’t matter if I’ll ever find love again. Love has tackled me before, many times, and I am thankful for first kisses in the middle of snowy roads and promises that were whispered at midnight, even if they were never kept. What will happen next for me? I have no idea, but I’ll probably blog about it. Life is a minefield: you take a step and there’s an explosion full of fire and smoke. You take another step and there’s another explosion, but this time candy rains down.

I also like that he takes what I guess could be called criticism and answers back, not with bitterness, but with our greatest tool, honesty.

Read the whole thing

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