Living under the umbrella

grumpy umbrellaIt’s no secret that I love Grumpy Cat – her picture is plastered all over my office, for one thing – but this drawing seems to capture the last month of my life. No, actually, this captures how I feel when I’m grieving: angry, annoyed, and loveless. It’s a lot of negativity to dump on such a cute image, but I think that is a good way to describe grief in general, anyway.

It’s amazing to me that 20 years and so many personal losses later, I’m no better at dealing with grief than I was the first time around. Which is to say, I don’t really handle it well at all. Experience does not make expertise, in this instance. I think it is because grief is one of those emotions we try so damn hard to pack away and devalue. We don’t want it, we don’t want to pay the price it extracts, and we don’t like what it does to us once we’ve have it ripping through our soul.

So yes, it was my cat who died, but this represents not just the loss of a beloved pet but the final, utter destruction of my prior life. In some ways, isn’t that a good thing? I woke up in early 2008 with the stunning realization that I had no reason to live — I hated the life I had fallen into, I hated who I was and what I did to get buy. I had been fooled by the fact that I was, actually, getting by. I’ve been at the bottom, and I was a good few flights of stairs up from that. But I wasn’t anywhere else, either. To carry the metaphor, I was just plodding up a stairwell I had not consciously chosen to climb, with no clear idea of where I was going or what I would do when the stairs ended.

That changed, obviously, thanks to copious amount of therapy, graduate school, and a divorce. All did not go as planned but hey, I ended up in a decent job doing positive work, I have a few successful novels published, and a graduate degree. I feel kind of aimless, though, which was the whole reason I came up with a “5 Year Plan” for my 45th birthday last month.

But the plan was derailed out of the starting gate by the death of Dobby, who had to be put down due to aggressive cancer. He was only about 11 years old (rescue cat, exact age unknown) so it was unexpected.

Cue really horrible coping skills…

Okay, not horrible. Horrible was the irresponsible sex and prescription drugs I got into after my mother died, so yeah, let’s not do that again okay? Still, my coping mechanism is to essentially disappear. During and after my protracted breakdown in the months bridging 2007-2008, I was working temp at a job where I was paid really good money (for a temp job) to show up and keep a desk warm. In lieu of going insane sitting there bored out of my mind, I dove into fanfic, hard. I quite literally read the entirety of Hot Fuzz and Life on Mars fanfic as they existed at the time (not a lot, the fandoms were new) and then descended into the eternal pit of due South fanfic, which is endless. My eyes burned with reading, and then eventually with writing. I would wake up early before work to write fanfic, read fanfic all day at work, and then come home and drink heavily while writing more. (Eventually, I made an appointment with a therapist, because even I knew that something about that was unhealthy.)

This time, having read most of the Clint/Coulson fic in the Avengers fandom already, I decided to try Teen Wolf fic. Mostly, honestly, because my dear friend Selenay936 loves it and recommended a few stories. I figured if she liked them, they would at least be entertaining. Keep in mind I hadn’t actually watched a single episode of the show! But then that’s not uncommon for me, I’ll read fanfic by authors I like or recommended by trusted sources even if I have no idea about the show/movie it’s based on. Anyway, that’s pretty much all I’ve done for the last month, aside from go to work and do the minimal housework: read Teen Wolf fanfic.

At the very least, it’s given me some ideas for a het fiction series. Yay plot bunnies?

The thing is, I can escape reality this way, and hide under my chosen umbrella (in this case, fanfic) and avoid all those squishy heart-full emotions. Probably not the best plan, but a practical one. If there is anything the personal catastrophes of the 1990s taught me, it’s that surviving is the most important part of the process. Everything else is a slave to that until you’re ready to put the umbrella down. This pattern has gotten me to my 45th birthday alive, so I’m not going to be too critical of it. But at some point the umbrella has to come down, and you have to feel again, and you have to deal with the devastation around you.

For me, that means putting the fanfic gluttony aside and returning to writing.

 

Pantsing the bridges

I’m back into a writing schedule in a way I have not actively done since about 2011. Writing every day is critical practice for any author, but I put my writing career on hold in order to finish graduate school. It was the right move (I graduated on track), but it meant that I stopped […]

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‘Damaged Goods’ is available!

Damaged Goods-cover-small

This one got delayed a bit in re-writes, but it’s a better story for it. It’s out now! It’s a labor of love, a contemporary romance about two very mismatched guys who somehow try to make things work despite their epic trust issues and, well, issues. They are both sweethearts though and I hope you […]

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tumblr recap!

Here’s what happened on my tumblr this week, sad and happy and sexy:

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tumblr recap!

This was a banner week for me on tumblr – I hit 300+ followers, which is a new thing for  me. Might seem paltry to some but I’m really honored that this many people feel like participating in my madness! To be fair, I got a lot of these followers due to what is my […]

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Newsletter upgrade!

My “newsletter” as such hasn’t existed, but I’m kicking it off this weekend as a weekly sendout. Which could be really boring if it were just rehashing things I did here and on tumblr, but NO! It will actually be a little “members only” style thang – it will talk about WIPs (original and fanfic), as […]

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Damaged Goods – coming soon!

cover - Damaged Goods

My next release is another M/M novel, Damaged Goods. I don’t have an exact date yet but I’ll let you know as soon as I get one. Meanwhile, have a blurb and a cover! Jesse finds himself living in the garage apartment above his mother’s garage, feeling like a professional failure after a minor academic […]

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Tumblr recap!

I post A LOT on tumblr, mostly reblogging tbh but a few of my own things, so I’m going to start a new weekly series here on the “official” blog recapping a few of the more interesting posts that I made or that came my way from others. Biggest news is that I actually started […]

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What Fandom Has Taught Me About: Having a Niche

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Everything I learned from Fandom

One of the more powerful tools in an author’s arsenal is the act of finding your niche. What fandom has taught me about this, though, is that it is not defined the way most people think it is. For instance, a particular fandom might be considered a niche, especially if it is small. Hot Fuzz, […]

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What fandom has taught me about popularity, Pt. 2

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Everything I learned from Fandom

Part one was about how a fan’s popularity in a fandom is usually tied to how much they invest themselves into the community, without expecting a return on that outside of their own enjoyment of being a fan. Here in part two, I’m going to talk about why that is so effective, and what authors […]

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