The Reinvention of Me: Killing My Prisoner of War

If you’re new to this blog you might wonder about reinvention, my theme for 2016. For me, reinvention is a journey of self discovery that I don’t think I really understood when I decided the theme. Reinvention is not a look at the things healthfully working in my life but at the broken pieces; after all, that which works needs refinement rather than reinvention (I sense a theme for 2017…).

Reinvention is also a reckoning of the estranged pieces of my life and consciousness so that I can regain unity within myself.

Wow. That sounds dramatic! Though if I’m honest, it has been dramatic. I won’t rehash here the reinventions, but you can go read some of them in the archives.

I’ve held a prisoner of war for many long and haggard years. The war is with the brothers Success and Failure. My POW plays both sides, or has played both sides. What I realized quite on accident: I am not at war with Success OR Failure. They aren’t nations or planes of existence but tools. And I need both.

Who is this prisoner? Her name is Perfection and she exudes a cocktail of frenzy mixed with hesitation and shaken with absolutes. I call her my prisoner, but in truth I have behaved as her prisoner. No more.

I could let her go. Strictly speaking, she lacks the form and personage of mercy. She must die.

But how? Not as quickly or surgically as I’d like. Unfortunately, Perfection carries immunity to fast, total, easy termination. [Note: I’ve never killed an actual body, just words with capitalized names and pretend people in my stories. Some of those seem to host antibodies to removal, too. If you are a person-killer, don’t tell me if it’s the same with persons because then I’d have to notify the authorities and, I mean, I’d do it, but…Alas! say what you must, person-killer-reader.]

Focus, Amanda. Okay. Perfection, she is a perfect little…Wait. That’s not back on track. What was I saying?

Oh, yes, the long, torturous killing of Perfection. [Spoiler: I can’t actually kill Perfection for you. Or you. Or you over there. It’s like a nine-lives thing, only infinite.]

Perfection has done me no favors. I’m not even sure Perfection has been minimally effective. She has kept me from moving forward and kept me holding back. She has undermined my intelligence, my education, and my experience. She has restricted my writing and my art. She tells me – constantly – that I’m a fraud and if I don’t do her bidding then everybody will know.

It sounds like I’m her prisoner, doesn’t it? But I’m not. I know I’m not because I am the one with the power. She is the one at my mercy. But guess what? There are no Geneva Conventions for this kind of prisoner.

Something I started last year is a serialized novel called The Right to Be Forgotten. It started as an experiment – what if I just wrote a portion and posted it and wrote from that base each time? I recently reread the whole thing, and I was shocked how much I enjoyed it. That’s when I figured out that I could make-and-release as a weapon against Perfection. When I write and retain, which I do often, Perfection whispers things to me that have me doubting and overthinking and hesitating.

I’m still working on a way to kill Perfection in my art and writing, but I think the practice of make-and-release increases my power.

The Right to Be Forgotten will be (has been) continued. And I started a new serialization on my Patreon account for patrons (of which there is one). That story is called Stab/Slab and it’s a dark comedy about a mob based out of a funeral home. You can read the first installation here.

You decide whether the make-and-release method is working for me to kill Perfection and revive authenticity with strong storytelling.

Bye-bye, Perfection, your last meal has been consumed.

Writer’s Retreat

Every once in a while, I take a writer’s retreat. It is expensed, almost entirely, to my husband.

Tomorrow is once, and it’s been a while.

Here’s what happens:

Before the retreat, I tidy my office. My office is the front room of the house. The previous owner, I believe, used the space as both a formal dining room and a sitting room. It is large, with a writing desk, credenza, filing cabinet, art desk, copier, shelving, and a recliner. There is also a round dining table, boxes of inventory, paper, and on and on. And on. This is a luxury, and I fully recognize it. You see, in Oklahoma, we have every incentive to build out, not up. An attendant problem with this office is that it can become disorderly at the drop of a hat. [Who dropped a hat in my office? Why do Nerf darts litter the floor? There is a tool box in my office. What on earth made you think I’d use tools? WHO manually sharpened pencils onto the carpet less than a foot from the electric sharpener? WHY ARE THERE SHOES UNDER MY DESK?!? I DO NOT WEAR SHOES!]

Where was I? Oh, yes, pre-retreat preparations. First, I shovel everyone else’s stuff out of the room. Then, I file or hide every single article of home/work life that is disjoined from the purpose of the retreat. I dust the surfaces. I put away all art supplies unnecessary to the process and bring my medications, acetaminophen, a soft blanket, a pillow, and sundry snacks to my newly cleaned sanctuary. Then I stare down my domestic hindrances helpers and dare them to defile the space.

Actually, I don’t. They’ll take even a bad dare. One that will get them in a ton of trouble. There is no staring.

Because, you see, this is a big, big staycation with drastic meaning for my career! Dial that back. It’s great and awesome and I LOVES it. And I may knock out many, many words. And did I mention I love it?

So, this go around, my husband slated TWO DAYS OF VACATION so that he can be my domestic autobot representative while I retreat.

For four days – Thursday through Sunday – I am not in my home. Oh, no. I am in the tranquility and comfort of a luxury retreat. The children magic into servants who are only allowed in my presence when I ring a bell. I know, right? Deep magic. I have no responsibilities to anyone, really. I might write all night, sleep an hour, and write some more. I might decide I NEVER NEED SLEEP, until I tragically die of sleep deprivation. I may ring the bell when I’m hungry and food just might appear.

And I will gaze fixedly at my screen. And I will stick ALL THE STICKY NOTES. And I will love my work, hate my work, give up, and get back to it more times than I will count.

And, supposing I don’t die of sleep deprivation, I will emerge from my chrysalis a grubbier, stinkier, twitchier butterfly! Most importantly, WITH WORDS.

With gratitude to my cohabitants, without whom I could not properly function