Events and things

You know those days when you speed through the day, flop onto the couch in the evening, and think…what the hell did I do today?

I’ve been having a few of those weeks. I know I’m doing…things…but I don’t seem to be getting anything actually done.

That said, I’ve been editing my tail off, and for once I’m just slightly ahead of the game. I’ve also been running workshops with some amazing folks, and that is soon coming to fruition.

And there’s this: The 6th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival, coming up on June 6th-7th, in Nottingham. It’s at Waterstones, on the fourth floor, and it’s going to be awesome. It always is. Lots of fun, silliness, great books, interesting authors, food, drinks, and did I mention great books?

I also hear pitches from aspiring authors there. If you want to pitch, give me a shout and I’ll give you a time slot.

That’s it from me for now, because I’m still in my pjs and I should’ve been at work about fifteen minutes ago.

See you soon.Program_2015_inside

6th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival, UK: Are You Ready?!

LGBTQ Book Festival at Waterstones, Nottingham

June 5th-7th, Sillitoe Room, 4th Floor

 
Join 13 authors for a weekend of LGBTQ fiction and fun. 
Hear readings from current and upcoming works, chat with the authors, join us at two after-parties,
and enjoy a lambda literary weekend! 
 
We’ll also be hearing pitches for novels on Sunday, so get in touch for a slot if you want to pitch your novel to BSB!
 
Contact: bsbediting@gmail.com Website: Bold Strokes Book Festival, UK
To book for the workshops, contact: 0115 9470069,  nottingham@waterstones.com

Calls for Submissions

Victoria Villasenor:

An excellent list of new Calls for Submissions

Originally posted on Women and Words:

Good morning (or afternoon, really)! A few more calls for submissions came in over the past few days. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it!


Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica
Editors: R.G. Emanuelle and Andi Marquette
Publisher: Ylva
Word count: 3,500-5,000 words.
Payment: USD $50, plus two contributor’s copies
Deadline: August 1
Publication date: November 2015
Rights: None-exclusive First English Anthology Rights for a period of five years, plus First World Anthology Rights
Format: Times New Roman or Arial, 12 pt, single-spaced, saved as a Word or RTF file. Number your pages.

In the body of your e-mail AND on first page of your story, include story title, author name, pseudonym, address, phone, e-mail address, and word count.

E-mail submissions and questions to: ayce2@ylva-publishing.com

Chef R.G. and sous chef Andi have fired up the burners again and are looking for more cooks for the kitchen!…

View original 2,556 more words

Towers

Guilt-vs.-Shame1

This morning I was listening to a program about the nature of shame overall, and shame versus guilt. The experts were all people who had written books about these subjects, but with different contexts. One was about using shame to shape corporate responsibility, one discussed Judas and the nature of shame and guilt in relation to Jesus’s betrayal, and one referenced an author I wasn’t familiar with.

This got me thinking about the role shame and guilt play in my own life, and the way I see them working on me even today. The nature of regret and betrayal were also elements of discussion.

Last year, my life changed dramatically. I did things that today, thinking about it, make me feel ashamed. Guilt is gone, because there’s no longer anything to be guilty about (I see guilt as a present tense thing, a current emotional state related to a behavior, rather than a long term one. I see shame as the long term effect, because that’s when other people’s perceptions come into play and influence my feelings about myself. The differences are subtle, but there.)

How does one move beyond shame and develop a sense of forgiveness? How does one let go of the past, of the shame, and determine to allow the experience to make them a better person? Learn from the mistakes of the past, if you’ll excuse the cliche.

As I take the time to try and understand my behaviors and where they come from, I’m desperately trying to be a better person. While I can’t undo the shame of the past, or undo the damage caused by my life-long demons (which have built shame-towers that reach higher than the clouds and deeper than the earth’s core), I can use the experience to grow, to not make the same mistakes again, and to be a better person. One I’m not ashamed of, one who doesn’t live with fear, with regrets, with crippling self-doubt.

It’s going to be a long road. My therapist ‘broke-up’ with me because I need far more intensive, and longer-term, help than she can give me. This kind of dismantling and rebuilding is going to be soul crushing, at times. But I’m tired of beating myself up. I want to move forward without the weight of my past pushing down on my shoulders like an angry leopard waiting to pounce. Living in the present is helping–when these things start to weigh me down I try and concentrate on the here and now rather than the days I can’t change. I try and focus, and find myself laughing and smiling beyond the self-doubt and self-recriminations.

So, along those lines: I have decided to move to a different blog site. This will still be here in some form, but I will no longer be adding words to it. If you’d like to keep following me, and I really hope you do, I’ll be posting the link to the new blog in the next few days (once I figure out how to do it.)

I hope you are all well and being gentle with yourselves.

~v

 

Old Ground, New Pavement

RoadLessTraveled-StevanNoronha

 

A seemingly innocuous day.

Friday, January 16th, 2015.

But for me, it was looming large well before it arrived.

That was the day I’d chosen, in the autumn of 2014, as the day I was going to leave this existence.

It was far enough from birthdays, anniversary’s and holidays so as not to impact the future celebration of such events.

As it came closer, I started to sweat. My life had changed, irrevocably, unquestionably. So what was I going to do? Was I still going to make my exit? A quiet, graceful thing, with as little fuss as I could manage? Would those letters I’d written get sent after all? Would it disappoint those in my life who knew I’d reached that point, if I didn’t do it? Would it mean they’d suffered through my illness for nothing, if I stuck around?

Or, would I choose instead to move forward? Would I allow the day to come and go? Would I choose possibility, a future, love, instead of the darkness that has threatened to take me to its abscessed bosom for so long?

The weekend before, I admitted that it was weighing heavy on me. That I was struggling. And I was held, and cried with. I was understood, and I wasn’t alone. I was shown love and gentleness. When the day came, I was taken away, out of town, to a hotel. A place I hadn’t been, to shop, and relax, and think of other things. At one point in the day, I was asked if, at that moment, had things been different, I would already have been gone.

Yes. I would have.

It was strange to consider. Had I made a different choice, had I kept my plans and thoughts to myself, I wouldn’t have been there, about to have coffee and play arcade games. Someone would be home, wondering, waiting, for a phone call. In a parallel universe, was I already gone?

The following morning, with the critical choice day behind me, it felt…new. Like I’d passed some kind of test, some kind of marker that said, “right. Now that you’re here, now, you get to start again.”

It’s not that easy, obviously. And, of course, there’s no reason I can’t still decide another time. And yet, it’s like that one moment you have to declare your undying love in a romantic movie–miss it, and it’s gone. Like that, I had the option, and I didn’t take it. Now I get to head down roads less traveled, and decide on the future I want.. Not the one dictated by my past, or by guilt, or by survival, but because it’s something I want.

It’s difficult to swallow, that I was so very, very close. One different decision, and I’d no longer be here. I doubt it’s an anniversary I’ll forget for a long time.

So, now I have some decisions to make. Who do I want to be now? What do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I want to take my business? How do I learn to think I’m worthy? What is the meaning of life (my life)?

Thank you for reading. Thanks for sticking around, and thanks for all the support. At some point, these blogs will once again become blogs about writing, about philosophical questions, about the nature of gender and existence. Bear with me, and always…

be gentle with yourselves.

V

Rebuilding

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I don’t even know where to start.

Where do you begin when the life you had planned, the one you were living in like a comfortable, favorite worn slipper, is suddenly blown to bits, and you find yourself somewhere you never expected? Somewhere you couldn’t possibly have anticipated?

I started 2014 unsure how I was going to manage the mountainous work load ahead of me. I’d booked business and travel for the ten months to come. I was buried in PhD work, frazzled at the mere thought of the balancing act in play.

And there was my depression, which I’d been battling like a drunken, blindfolded clown with a dull plastic sword made of cheese puffs.

By May, I was running on empty. Commitments were falling by the wayside, and I cried myself into a snotty, swollen heap on the bathroom floor/kitchen floor/bed/couch/bus/tram repeatedly. And then things blew up with my PhD work, and I ended up dropping it, something I found deeply stressful, though I knew it was the right thing to do.

And that should have eased the stress, but it didn’t. I was still overwhelmed, still a dark mass of sludge, slowly sinking into the mire. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped eating. I stopped talking. No one could reach me, no one could help me.

I stopped fully investing in anything. Trips were taken and enjoyed, but the darkness was still swallowing me, though I desperately tried to hide it. I missed deadlines, started laying on the couch all the time, head barely peeking over the covers.

The darkness won.

I gave up. I planned my suicide. I wrote my letters and chose the date and location, hoping it was far enough from any events that would be ruined for people in years to come. I was done. I was at peace with it. I was ready and biding my time. (I wrote this blog on depression after Robin William’s suicide, but I was already in emotional quicksand).

And then…

Things changed. I won’t go into detail, because there are still things I keep private, things we, together, decided not to share with other people. It is enough to say that after twelve years together, my partner and I split up. It was horrendous, it was hard, it was painful. But we remain friends, and I am grateful for every moment of our time together. Though there are still raw moments, as there will be for awhile, we are both moving forward with our lives.

In the Jan 1st blog for 2014, I couldn’t have anticipated that the butt-end of 2014 would include an entirely new life, one as unrecognizable from the previous life as chicken nuggets are from a living chicken. I suppose you can’t really prepare for the total dismantling and rebuilding of your life (at nearly 40). (Side-note: It was intense, the way people quickly took sides, and I found out I was the part of the couple people didn’t like–‘friends’ reached out to her, some whom I’ve known almost my entire life, and many of them I have yet to hear from. Hurtful, unexpected, but so be it. Though I can now count my friends on one hand, at least I know they’re true.)

I am still beset with self-doubt, as is no doubt normal right now. I’m not good enough. I’m broken beyond repair. I’m not worthy. I’m a moron, a fake, a fraud, an impostor. I’m nothing, and never will be. I’m far less intelligent than I pretend, and far less capable than I portray. I am weak. This is only a delay to the inevitable.

I am doing battle with these internalized gremlins who run riot through my brain, infecting my body with their poison. I am trying to reign them in, if not kill them altogether. But damn, they’re stubborn little beasties. No matter what those close to me tell me, no matter how much love and acceptance come my way, the sludge-gremlins scuttle through my psyche, peeling apart any positive construction and feeding it to the tar that is my self-esteem.

But: I’m in a new relationship, one in which I laugh often and wake smiling, where I am feeling once more that life is worth living. I am making plans again, beyond the previously planned exit from this lifetime. Now, though that black tar still bubbles quietly in my soul, I am afraid of it rather than accepting of it. There are things I want to do, experiences and love I want to grab hold of, if only the tar, the sludge, can be kept at bay. Perhaps with love, patience, understanding and the ability to embrace every aspect of who, and what, I am, I will learn to see myself as more, as worthy of the love being offered so beautifully and freely to me. I am ready to be different–to be better, to be more, to be capable of loving without a fortress of walls and caveats. It will take time, and work. But my new relationship understands that, even as she pulls me, gently and constantly, into the light, while still embracing and caring for my dark.

2015. A new beginning. A new life, with possibilities and options. Full of love, and laughter, and adventure. Full of quiet conversations, of travel, of plans. Of building my business, of working with marginalized groups on writing projects. Of doing less, but enjoying what I am doing, more. Of growth, and communication.

This year, I will try to learn to be me–authentically, genuinely me. I will either vanquish my demons, or learn to coexist with them without them dragging me under. I will no longer let them define me or ruin my chances of happiness. I will not let them hurt others. I will let go of regrets and the toxicity that is guilt.

I will move forward. I will thrive. I will love and be loved. I will be Me.

Happy 2015, everyone. May it be the start of something special in so many ways.