Big thanks to Mallory Smart for giving me another chance to be on her rad Textual Healing podcast!
In this new segment of her podcast called Off the Record, writers read a segment of their work w/ a suggested song pairing!
My choice: Algorithms Suck (Finding Dora Maar), a poem from my latest chapbook Ghosts, Trolls, and Other Things on the Internet from Bottlecap Press, paired w/ one of my favourite songs: Making Art by JD Samson and Men!
Yesterday, I tweeted:
It’s more a reminder to myself than anyone else.
We work harder when we love our work, and I adore creativity. Yet I need to learn to pause and celebrate how far I’ve come. I need to get as excited about where I am as where I’m going!
So, today, I’m taking the time to thank Defunct Magazine for selecting my chapbook NO ACTUAL SIN as the winning entry for their 2022 May Day Chapbook Contest.
The chapbook explores intimacy, sexuality, healing, and shame, the title taken from a D H Lawrence quote.
They said of the submission:
“Our judges were enamoured with the authentic voice… and the way consistent themes and ideas were weaved throughout the collection.”
It reminds me of another Tweet I’ve turned into my desktop wallpaper:
I crave validation, yet I’m reticent to accept when the validation is there!
I am so grateful that my work reached the judges and editors at Defunct, and hope it will reach you, too.
Also, congratulations to the runner-up Durell Carter and the honourable mentions Secret Hallelujah, Marcia LeBeau, and Alison Lubar. Let’s all celebrate each other!
Happy happy sunstroke
high on sunlight brain explodes
Happy happy drunk poet
I’ll be famous when you’re all dead!!!!!!
my sweet head.)
-Liquid Moments Pt. 1 from Blood, Booze and Other Things in Nature (Buy it now!)
So, I have mood swings.
Mood cycles, more accurately, which I experience as altered states. There are extreme highs and bitter lows, changes in energy level, cognitive function, lucidity and irritability, which, though often helpful to my creativity, are also detrimental to my enjoyment of and participation with life.
I crave consistency. Steady income, permanent address, a relationship I know will last. Perhaps I strive for such an even keel because I lack one internally. I am learning to ride my waves, but that doesn’t make them less exhausting.
I’ve had mental health struggles for most of my life. As early as six I was plagued with extreme anxiety and bouts of insomnia. At thirteen I was compulsively self-harming, struggling with an eating disorder, and tried to end my life, resulting in psychiatric hospitalization.
Currently, the closest I have to a diagnosis is an assessment of probable Bipolar-2 with C-PTSD and BPD tendencies. (Quite a mouthful of alphabet soup.) It would take years working with a psychiatrist to be properly diagnosed. For now, I have to cope.
Art is my antidote.
Jonathan Larson once said something like,
“It’s not that I don’t share my emotions. I just tell them through songs.”
My internal world often feels too intense to share with a family member, partner, or friend one-on-one.
Within Art, I feel safe to be myself.
Everywhere else, I turn my volume low.
Nobody wants a roller coaster in their living room.
I did my best to compress my moods in a 30-second reel. You could almost call it a book trailer for Blood, Booze, and Other Things in Nature, which explores highs, lows, sexual misadventures, drunken escapades, and above all, my determination to act better than what I feel.
Doctors used to tell me, “Make it to twenty-one, and you’ll be okay.”
I’m almost thirty.
It hasn’t gone away.
And I’m done hoping that it will.
I will not let it stop me from doing all I’m meant to do. I truly believe our curses can become superpowers, and if you’re struggling too, please know that I believe in you.
There’s a reason we’re still here.
Maybe I can’t get off this roller coaster. Maybe the peaks and valleys will never level out. Whether they do or not, I am already coping so much better than I ever thought I could. And, if you think about it, I bet you are too.
It’ll safe your life.
PS Buy Blood, Booze, and Other Things in Nature here.
We get obsessed with struggle- especially artists. Struggle feels like part of our identity. We struggle to create- our art, and a living.
When did we equate struggle with effort?
There’s an effort that is joyful, exuberant, easy. Like darling Lesley says in Ted Lasso,
“When you’re with the right person, even the hard times are easy.”
For me, that “person” is my purpose, my passion, my vision for my life, my art, and my world.
I believe I am worthy of a life beyond struggle. But that doesn’t mean all the struggle will disappear.
We get obsessed with success- especially on social media. Success is a peak, but according to algorithms, it’s the only thing worth writing about.
When did we lose reverence for the valleys?
The Danuta Gleed Literary Award exists thanks to a generous donation from the late Danuta’s husband. It was one of the few awards Sluts and Whores was eligible for, and the only one whose deadline I didn’t miss.
An award like this can launch a career.
I didn’t even make the shortlist.
What do we do when our dreams fail us? Or when we feel rejected by a world we so long to be a part of?
We have two choices: give up, or keep going.
Not too long ago, I fell in love with a man, and he helped me fall in love with country music.
This doesn’t embarrass me. (For an explanation, see my other music loves, including but not limited to emo and musicals. My Spotify is a cringe fest!)
I love country because it has a song for every moment: the goods, the bads, the highs, the lows, the maybes, the nos.
The country song for this moment: Doin’ This by Luke Combs.
For those who refuse to click the link (fair enough), I’ll elaborate:
In the song, an interviewer asks the singer,
“What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?”
“I’d still be doing this.”- with or without success.
He goes on to describe a life “feeling on fire on a stage”, no matter its size.
“It ain’t about the fame.
It ain’t about the fortune.”
It’s about following the call of your soul.
Full disclosure: I wrote most of this post well before knowing the results for the Danuta Gleed shortlist. Up til this morning, I was still hoping for that glorious email that said, “Yes.”
As much as this hurts, it doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t change what I’m here to do.
I’m doing what I love.
That’s the only worthwhile reason to do anything.
If you lead with love, you’ll make mistakes, but do no wrong. You’ll fail, but you’ll thrive. Material success will be revealed for what it is: a bonus.
I do not mean to diminish the financial struggle artists face. I have explored and sometimes suffered some of the “lowest” jobs you could think of. I have literally shovelled shit. I have disinfected menus and toilets. I’ve broken down from a glance at my bank account, panicked at credit card statements, and, as it seems, will continue to do so.
My closest experience to financial stability was via sex work, which both increased and crushed my confidence. Why was that service my sole financial validation? Why didn’t my art hold the same value?
Capitalism is far from a meritocracy. There are too many struggling who supply indescribable value to world- whether through their art, or their presence as human beings. People have to ride the luck of the market to subsist. Artists shouldn’t rely on grants and awards, as grateful as I am for their existence.
Art is not a product. People are not brands. Life cannot be reduced to Likes and trends.
I am proud supporter of UBI, and hope to see it arrive as soon as possible. I’d love to receive universal basic income now, but would be just as happy to see UBI enacted after I’ve achieved financial independence.
For some, $10 000 is a boost; for others, a shopping spree.
For me (and most artists), it would be life-changing.
True happiness is having the power to love life no matter what happens.
To give, no matter what you have.
I promise I will keep giving, because it is all I can do. The world gives us so much: inspiration, beauty, struggle, surrender.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude. For all I have, all I receive, and all I can give.
I only want to receive so that I can live well, and give more.
Keep an eye out for exciting changes soon.
PS Right now, 25% of Sluts and Whores ebook and paperback sales will go to Doctors Without Borders to provide humanitarian aid to the Ukraine. Buy it now!
What’s it like being the only guy in your pre-natal yoga class?
What do you do when your wedding toast becomes spoken word?
Which alcohol mixes best with C-PTSD?
Now, you can find out.
Buy from Amazon here.
(Available from Lulu soon!)
And, in case you missed it, check out the cover reveal:
Super excited about this!
For a limited time, 25% of Sluts and Whores sales profits (through any retailer, except used book stores) will go to Doctors Without Borders to support humanitarian aid in the Ukraine!
Show your support!
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Indigo.
Buy from Barnes & Noble.
Buy from my publisher’s website.
Long live Ukraine!
Been waiting to find out what the new cover looks like?
Wait no longer!
And remember to Subscribe!
Keep an eye out for Blood, Booze, and Other Things in Nature May 15!
Had a lovely time with the amazing Sarina Langer on her delightful podcast The Writing Sparrow.
We discuss #OwnVoices, Jungian theory, and enough abstractions to make my heart sing!
Listen below, on Spotify, or anywhere else you get your podcast fix!