Tag Archives: author

**Trigger Warning**

2 Feb

Over on his blog, the ever-fantastic Chuck Wendig is currently hosting a comments-based discussion (brave one, he is) on trigger warnings when it comes to written material. Not every book is exactly “safe to handle” for every reader. But is that the reader’s job to gauge? Or the writer’s job to present up front, like an STD in a potential lover? Should books come with sets of trigger warnings?

For those who don’t want to read the N paragraphs below, I’ll tell you my personal opinion up here: No.

If you’d like to know the credentials behind that opinion and the whole long rambling comment I left in Wendig’s discussion, then, dear reader, venture on.

I pretty much promise there are triggers.

* * * * *

Context on me as a commenter: As someone who grew up with abuse of many kinds, eating disorders, and depression and who spent most of college in and out of treatment, residential and outpatient, for the lasting impact of all those things, I talked and was taught a crap ton about triggers. My therapists and I and the other lucky people in treatment discussed triggers around food, triggers around weight, triggers around body image, triggers around physicality and sexuality and self-esteem. There are about a *makes up really funny-sounding humongously big number* triggers out there. Some of them might stir feelings in me of wanting to not eat for a week, or puke up anything I do. Some of them might make me want to tear my skin apart. Some of them might send me flying back into a near-hallucination of memory-based, stimulus-galvanized panic attack where what’s real and what’s not becomes really slippery and I have to tell myself over and over and over again that the floor is real, the wall is real, the door is real, the friend beside me is Person X or Y and they are there to care and not to hurt me like my brain is trying to say there are, conflating them with so many person Z’s in the past who have. Triggers can be loud, concussive noises that send my adrenaline bursting. Triggers can be soft, gentle, well-meant and goddamn *wanted* kisses. Triggers are songs and sentences and slantwise jabs from strangers. tl;dr – triggers are everything.

But they are not everything *always.* What could poke at my emotions or my sanity one day might be something cathartic and beneficial another day. If the entire world is a trigger, then, as I have been told in so many group sessions again and again, it is not my job to censor the world. That’s not feasible. And that’s not fair. While I am not responsible for what’s happened to me, I am responsible for how I deal with it. If I want to do any semblance of living, it is my job, now, to figure out warning signs and preventative measures and people to throw in my safety net and what to tell them about different scenarios and breathing techniques and focusing techniques and fighting techniques and no, it’s not fair that I have to do all these things, but that’s just how it is. Because that’s how I get better. That’s how I fight back the triggers and pick off their numbers, one by one. Neural plasticity is a wonderful thing. But if I continually hide, never ever deal with the thing that hurts me, never practice coming up against it because I’ve cloistered myself from any possible sharp thing, then I am never going to change. I am going to remain crippled and afraid and hiding. And that’s when everything that led up to these triggers wins.

Yes, flashbacks are damn painful but I’d rather navigate my way through them than never be kissed by another human being ever again.

Yes, reading about suicide might make me remember my own attempts, but it also reminds me that hey, there are people out there who have experienced these things too, or who at least understand them well enough to write about them this way. And that’s way more valuable, how much less alone that makes me feel, then reading about rainbows and sunshine all day long. Because really that’s only going to make me nauseated.

There’s a difference between seeking out specifically triggering material and reading material that might crop up some stuff. I know not to go reading pro-ana or pro-mia stuff. That’s just intentionally triggering. And dumb. And not well-written, really. And on a day when I’m teetering back and forth across the line of sanity, I know that maybe I should pick up a Harry Potter book instead of Forman’s ‘If I Stay.’ But on days when I am angry at the world and what it has done to me, IS doing to me, then it’s those days that I really, really need Miriam Black and Palahniuk’s cast of psychopaths and N.K. Jemisin’s gloriously unsafe Nahadoth. I need characters with dangerous thoughts and dangerous emotions because they make me feel unalone in mine. They make my existence feel justified. They make me feel like I’m not just some aberration amongst the rest of the human race.

It’s up to me to know when my brain can play nicely with them, or meet them, if I’ve never perused their pages before. That vigilance is not your job. The only amount of warning you’re required to give me is a synopsis on a book jacket. Anything more, and it’s really just cheating.

—–

The only kind of trigger warning I want:

trigger warning

The Writing Scent

4 Feb

frostbeard old book smell candle

So, I’ve known for a while that there are lovely, wonderful candles out there that smell like books. Old books, usually. And why I don’t currently possess even one of these candles, I have no idea.

But to smell like “books” is one thing – “books” have a faaaaairly defined scent, since it’s usually the lignin breaking down in the pages that people associate with the smell of old books and libraries and secondhand story-purveying stores.

old book smell lignin quote

To smell like “writing,” on the hand, is something completely different. That, I would argue, is something astounding.

And today, while wandering around Eagle Rock with my friend Kim (she’s super cool and pretty, by the way) in a quest to escape campus and become properly caffeinated (and in my case also further ignore oh-god-all-the-work I’ve got to do), we stopped into a store with the wonderful name MediaNoche. There, in addition to a ridiculously affectionate cat called Luxe that snuggled me for at least the first 30 minutes we were there, I happened to notice a set of candles – made locally in LA, of course :p – branding themselves Wicked.

And they smell like writing.

Specifically, the writing of particular authors. Each of the candles, apparently categorized as “negative space” candles by Wicked, pulled out the contrasting undertones of famous authors’ writing and turned them into scents.

For example, Jane Austen’s candle is entitled “Lovely + Decay” and emphasizes the scent of lavender, lily, and black tea. Oscar Wilde’s candle, “Lethargic + Warmth” combined bergamot, oak, and vanilla.

Both of them smelled like the writing perfectly.

I’m so impressed by Wicked candles. To pull out writers with particular styles of writing, manage to find two contrasting words that describes almost the whole of the authors’ work, and then find what combination of scents actually conveys the sense of those two words together – that’s ridiculously good. That’s art and science and reflection and creation.

And oh hey, did I mention that the candles also come in really cool glass containers with yet another fitting characteristic – this time in an image – in the glass?

Wicked Austen Candle

If I weren’t a poor-college-student-starving-artist-almost-graduate-needing-a-post-ug-job, I totally would have spent the $30ish dollars right then and there to bring one home. Probably after deliberating for another half an hour or so over which particular candle to buy.

Of course, I am currently accepting tribute, too… 😉

Aaaaanyhoo. Finding the candles also made me wonder – what would my writing smell like? What two words would create the representative negative space of my words?

There are so many of them. Words, that is. There are the words I post here, in my blog. There are the words in my memoir. The words in my poetry collections, both already and to-be published. There are the words I write for others, in my freelance jobs. There are the words, tucked into neat 140-ish character statements and stories and poems on Twitter. There are the words in the fiction manuscripts still hiding in folders on my computer or neuronal connections in my brain. There are the words in my journals and 750words.com entries. There are the words I write on post-it notes, some of which I keep and bring with me through move after move after move, while others I throw in the trash a month or a year or a college-education-span later. The words others know I’ve said. The words I’ll never let anyone ever know I’ve thought, that I’ll hide away in the dark recesses of pages or hard drive storage space.

What would my words smell like? What would my candle be?

The Voices, or “On Being An Author”

5 Jul

Image

Well. It’s been a while.

Life is life is life. That’s really all the explanation (or excuse) I have.

But anyhoo. On to what I really want to write about.

Authors. There’s a thing about authors. Actually, there’s many. Authors are pretty weird people, where “weird” is defined as some amalgam of wacky, whimsical, wonderfulness that produces the best of the odd types of this world.

But today, I realized that perhaps one of the primary “things” about authors is that we can talk with someone else’s voice. The butcher’s, the baker’s, the candlestick maker’s. The lion’s, the witch’s, even the wardrobe’s. Just about anybody, really. Even – rather especially – the anybodies that don’t even exist yet.

We can speak with the voice of another. An infinity of tongues come pouring through our minds, a handful or so making it out of our pen nibs or fingertips. We imagine our worlds and the chatter that fills them. And usually, out of the myriad voices that tell our tales, one of them is ours.

Sometimes it’s the heroine’s. Sometimes it’s the narrator’s. Sometimes it’s the villain’s or perhaps the voice of the minor character inconsequential enough to not even merit a name. Sometimes we authors know who’s got our brain on their mind. Sometimes we don’t.

Sometime’s it’s just too much fun to not let our brain tell us who it is and try to figure it out on our own.

But in the end, we are the bringers of voices, the dreamers of dreams, the movers and shakers of this world forever, it seems. Or something like that.

But really, we are the tale-tellers. And I think that’s why I like writing so much. I grew up telling myself stories. They were so much more comfortable than real life (even when I was the tragic lady lying on the daybed dying of tuberculosis or something). My small world’s usual host of voices didn’t hold much to attract or soothe me, so I made up ones that did. The whole I-don’t-like-your-reality-so-I’m-substituting-my-own bit. Except I didn’t like my reality, so I’d substitute fiction.

Even when I was the only character, life was still better with a narrator. Walking down the driveway became a thing of art, instead of just another mundane moment eked out on the black tar of a Midwest suburb. And what’s more, I was never alone. Having some “other” writing my life along with me meant there was always somebody else who understood my thoughts, my emotions. There was “someone else” who would understand the unexplainable, who would know perfectly what I was feeling through all of life’s deep hurts and trivial injustices.

And sometimes… sometimes it was just easier to be someone else. To be a nineteenth century Irish landlord’s daughter running with the crowd of fishing boat captains and twenty-something urchins. To be a precocious young female lawyer in a town of incredulous rural folk. To be the prodigy of Jane Goodall, growing closer than ever before known and infiltrating the mysterious of social circles of… the deer in my backyard… *cough cough*

Sometimes, it was just easier to be someone else. To take on the voice, the words, the life of someone else. And so I did.

And then… and then I became an author.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

15 Jan

DDG cover

It’s official! Drop Dead Gorgeous, Miceala’s memoir, is now published and available for purchase through LuLu.com. “DDG,” as Miceala fondly thinks of it, will be available in print and as an e-book through Amazon and LA-area bookstores soon!

Here’s the book jacket description:

“This is not a pretty book. It is a book that contains all the mess and grunge of a real life. My life – with an eating disorder.

This is a look from the inside. Written while I am still recovering, this book is an attempt to give all those who have never had to live within the war zone of an eating disorder a real look at the battleground.

So welcome, then. Welcome to the inside of my own head. Welcome to my land of thin thoughts and fat fears. Welcome to my attempt to become drop dead gorgeous.

Let’s hope we make it out alive.”

Buy it now on LuLu.com!