Excuse the fact that I'm just going to ramble about anything that needs to be ejected from my thoughts. I'm not into force. Much. So it's your choice to read my words. I'm known for offending everyone equally.
I've had a lot of stress on my shoulders, weighing me down and muting the muse. Let's write about the muse for a moment. All artists have one. But for a writer, the muse is usually from within. So, when I call my muse a workaholic, manic lunatic, I'm essentially calling myself crazy.
I like to say I'm introverted to get people to back off. I am, but it's the Muse who is issuing the edict. I do like conversation, when I feel like having it, with whom I feel like engaging. But the truth of it is that I have a few dozen voices in my mind at any given time, so the thought of making inane small-talk is suffocating. I mean, I can't pay attention to anything a random stranger in the middle of the supermarket is saying to me, and I look like a bitch with my resting bitch face snapped into place. Trust me when I say you don't want to know what I'm truly thinking. The nicest words that come to mind are "shut the hell up so I can hear the voices in my damn head!"
Now, when I'm informed we'll be having a visitor, I can prepare myself for a one-on-one conversation with someone who is family or friend of the family- someone with a history I know, and I have somewhere to lead in a conversation. Contrary to popular belief, I do have a lot to say, and it all has meaning. So I won't apologize for not giving a shit where you got your hair cut or the shade of your nail polish (unless I compliment it and specifically ask you where you got it). & this doesn't make me a horrible, self-absorbed human being. It's because I don't have room in my mind to accommodate worthless information when I retain everything I hear, see, and experience.
I'm a good listener. I'm an excellent advice giver. I'm always in your corner, so don't expect me to forgive the person who hurt you, even if you have. I didn't forget what you told me while crying on my shoulder, so when I see or hear TSTL behavior, I mentally punch you in the face for being an idiot. (Ya know, when you tell me bad things someone says about you, and then I'm supposed to forget it and be happy you're deluding yourself into believing you're happy with this person) Yeah, that might make me a bitch, or that might just make you stupid. Your call.
So I spend most of my time inside my head, hanging out with the Muse. So it's very jarring when I have to hold a conversation. This is the mind of madness. And, frankly, I'm happy just the way I am. Those voices in my head are of my creation, and they make up the worlds I put to paper.
Resting bitch face: Nope. I'm thinking. Let me think unless it's important, as you might be murdering one of the greatest story threads of my career simply because you had to tell me about something your cat did ten years ago (and I've never met you before and will never see you again after you've recharged yourself by draining my energy, stranger dear. You'll forget me, but I won't forget how angry your rudeness made me). & yes, I know I sound like a c***. But go ahead and talk about something that actually means something to you- connecting with me is not wasting my time. & yes, there is a helluva difference.
The Muse is in control of me at all times. Sometimes I rebel, which leads to disastrous decisions and a long time inside a quiet mind, which means I cannot work. The quiet is disconcerting, like being suffocated in silence because a part of you ceases to exist.
For anyone who knows an introspective person who loves the quiet (someone who begs for you to turn off the TV or turn down the volume on any noise) you need to realize that chaos inside their mind is no different than hearing 50 outdoor concerts at once, all contradicting and driving them into madness, while being bombarded with opposing emotional stimulation (& for someone like me who feels what you're feeling, I just want you to take your chaotic self away from my bubble, because I don't know if I'm feeling nucking futs, or if you are) So it's not selfish to NEED peace, and your non-important questions and demands can wait until it is important, especially if you're feeling antsy or needy. (seriously, an empath has to determine which of us is actually feeling what. The more energetic you are, the more you drain me)
I'm getting older. I just turned 37 in July, and my personality is finally maturing. Perhaps not in a way that makes people happy though. I guess you could say my balls dropped, and I'm finally putting myself first. I'm not mean. I don't yell. & I don't pull asshole shit. That does not make an adult. That simply makes an asshole. I'm blunt, but not in a way that hurts. If you're impressing your will on me, expect to be shut down immediately. But I will not emotionally harm you in any way other than you actually having to hear the word NO for once in your life. Deal with it.
So, I'm 37. Single. Married yet haven't spoken to my husband in nearly 5 years (haven't seen him either, and he lives 2 miles from me). I said to my mother today, "I'm not like most people. Lord knows how you would have reacted to the same situation." Bloodshed. That's how she would have reacted.
At my age, with no prospects of coupling, I've come to the conclusion I'll never be a mother. But that's probably for the best, as I'm about as cuddly as a rattlesnake. There are some personality types that drive me nucking futs. Needy. Stage 5 clingers. In constant need of validation. I have this thing where I scent out weakness in people, and it's a good thing I never use this for evil. I think my higher than usual empathy helps balance this out. You hurt; I hurt. But with a kid, I could be very nurturing if they needed it to survive and to flourish. But if a person is just sucking me dry to feel good about themselves, I run for the hills.
Validation comes from within. No one else can validate you. Ladies? Did you hear me? No one can validate you. So take your daddy issues and your low self-esteem, and pitch that shit in the trash. You be you, and fuck what someone else thinks about you. The only opinion about you that should matter.... is your own.
If you can't sleep at night, fix your shit.
Do I think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread? No. Do I think I'm beautiful and everyone should love me? Absolutely not. I own a mirror. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I know I'm the only one who can make myself stronger- who can change me. To me, I don't need the validation of material things, a handsome mate (trust me. Handsome doesn't equate good or balanced). I don't need an ego stroker. I've learned to self everything. Self-soothe.
I don't need to be the most beautiful, or the thinnest, or the youngest. My value is between my ears, not between my thighs, and I feel pity for any person who truly believes sex and beauty are the quantifier of life. There isn't a giant bedpost being notched somewhere with a winner being announced as the most beautiful because some Joe Blow said so.
"OMG! He thinks I'm pretty!" <groans> (Yes, I realize that sounds like a teenage girl, but I've heard so many women older than me saying shit like that that I want to punch them in the face) He, who is probably an idiot, and we women are treating him as if he is godly just because his dick gets hard when he looks at us- and he lies about it not getting hard for our friends.
"How do I know I love you, baby? 'Cuz my dick gets hard!" (actually heard that one a lot) <rolls eyes> He's a guy. He'll get hard when he eats yummy cake. And none of us can compete with cake, so why are we competing with each other. If you have to fight to get him, to keep him, maybe he's the one who isn't worth it.
Women have this thing about hating other women as if it makes them better somehow, to the point they don't realize they are hurting themselves.
"He picked me over you, bitch!" Too bad he'll probably pick someone else over you later on, because you obviously don't think you're enough or you wouldn't use another person betraying someone else to validate you as being enough!
"I'm better than you because my <insert someone other than you> bought me this name brand <insert something you didn't really want, but wanted a materialistic validator> is more expensive than yours."
Sorry, I love the purse I bought at the Salvation Army today with my own money, and I only bought it because I really, really loved it, not because I thought someone else would tell me how great I am when I use it in public.
Drop those chains, girls. Drop 'em. Experience the freedom and joy of owning what you love, whether someone else thinks it's awesome or not. Do you want to wear something outrageous because you truly love it but fear being made fun of? How does it feel to be oppressed? It doesn't matter if the shirt was free or a thousand bucks, the only joy you'll get out of it should be that freeing feeling you experience when wearing it, not the green-eyed monster you hope to inflict upon others. (It's about Self, remember? What does it matter if someone is jealous of you or not? How does that help YOU?)
There also isn't a prize given away for the most virtuous. "Slut!" Unless you're a virgin or a lesbian who's avoided penetration, we've all have a D in our V. It doesn't matter if it was one or a billion, there is no odometer on our vagina. So take your shaming bullshit and pitch it in the trash with your low self-esteem.
You be you.
You're awesome just the way you are. The individual. Not the societal clone.
You being you makes you happy, so be you. Be happy & stop comparing yourself to others. Stop needing to be validated on whether or not you have 'one up' on someone else. What others have or don't have, what others achieve or don't achieve, has absolutely nothing to do with you. There is no total being tallied in the ultimate winner in life. Learn that. Let it sink in. Be happy.
I know my family looks at me as if I'm odd (I'm sure you are too). Whispering whether or not I'll ever date, like I'm somehow hung up on my ex or I'm wounded from the events of the past. I'm positive some are questioning my sexual orientation at this point. You want to know my orientation? Hmm? It's called, "I don't want to put up with anyone's bullshit." That's what it's called. It's called, "I'd rather hug myself than settle just because you think normal means to be coupled."
I like me. Me, myself, and I get along famously. & someday my prince will come. <blech> I really don't care. Prince? Pauper? How about someone I share a mental connection with, someone who gets me and knows when to back off, or understands that me not engaging them doesn't mean I forgot they existed (we run on Muse time, not anyone else's). Someone who is cerebral- another artist who understands the muse is in control, and their muse has to play nicely with mine. Basically, they have to understand the manic phase of working on a project with maddening absorption, and that it doesn't make either one of us selfish to need to go through life on this roller coaster of insanity. Will this person be a man? A woman? I bet you're curious. I don't care. It's the connection that I care about, so I'm looking at the human being, not a descriptor.
Sure, I'd love some accolades once in a while. I'd love something to show for all of my hard work. Yes, seeing good things said about my books fills my happy meter, and the bad tugs me down. But it doesn't lessen the work I perform. Whether anyone reads my books or not, they still exist. The dollar earned does not dictate the quality of the art. Art is subjective. So love it, hate it, your opinion doesn't change the art.
I've had a lot going on, stressing me out, making me stress-eat. I've gained a few pounds I want to beat myself up about, but I'm not a masochist. My clothes are tight... so I decide to knock my shit off and put myself first. That cookie ain't giving me a hug. Those M&M books out of publication aren't giving me a hug. The Muse, she's the one who gives the best hugs.
The Muse said 'fuck it all!' Fuck it. Do what makes you happy, what inspires. Are my fans getting upset about Hero? Fuck yeah, they are. Are my Blended fans getting antsy for Warped? Um, yeah. You bet your ass they are. Do I have many fans for my Rusty Knob series? Nope! Do I care? Nope! Not really.
It took the Muse 9 months to rewrite Restraint & Unleashed, and she couldn't find Dexter in our mind. Dexter was speaking to me quietly but not truly telling me a direction to go. But he assured me Dalton and Regina were eager for me to hurdle Dexter's book and tackle theirs. But the Muse had other ideas.
Nine months for two books... or 8 weeks for Rusty Knob & Tarnished. Which do you think was inspired? I thought I'd lost that manic high of writing until my eyes can't stay open, and I realize it's been 72 hours since I slept last, can't remember when I took a bath or even ate, and taking a piss is just a necessary interruption.
It's a high unlike no other.
What's this mean for M&M & Blended. It means either the Muse will get to work on Dexter or have her fun in Rusty Knob until the series has met its conclusion (which is half written already. With only 4 short novels and two small novellas. Taking 3 manic writing sessions each. I mean, I've written two books since mid-May)
I do know when I hit M&M, I'm going balls to the wall until I'm done. Not a true rewrite like with Restraint. I never planned on changing much of Queen anyway. So, if the Muse doesn't go straight into Stainless (which I feel she probably will) I do plan on going nuts with M&M of Restraint until I hit Hero.
It's the Muse's call. She's the creator, and you have to be patient.
Will I lose fans? Probably. But it's a risk I'm willing to take, because my creative genius only cares about her own opinion of her work, being as she's the one with the ONLY say-so.
Will the tiny fanbase of Rusty Knob care that Tarnished will be a straight book? Probably. I was reading a review of a book last night (I didn't like the book, and I won't apologize for it) and readers had skipped the one prior simply because it was a straight book.
Now, that is f'n madness. But then again, I had readers skip Dalton simply because he was gay. Which was even greater madness considering there wasn't a book in M&M that didn't have LGBTQ elements. C'mon!
What confuses me the most about this phenomenon of refusing to read a book with a female in it when it's an M/M series, is the fact that the very people refusing to read it have a vagina.
For almost nine months straight, I read nothing but M/M and actually lost touch with reality. I lost touch with the fact that I'm a woman, and it's perfectly healthy for me to think that I wasn't gross, and that a man would indeed get off on touching me. Just like every man isn't straight, every man on the planet isn't a closeted gay man. They aren't gay-for-you. They are straight, and they love lady parts too. Hell, as a woman, I love lady parts too, just not as much as I love manly bits. I've seen this happen to other women, where they get blinded by nonstop M/M books, and reading books where the female author is calling a labia 'gross folds' really makes me angry. <grits teeth>
It's the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish within the genre. Everything is normal for someone. Being gay is normal for the gay person. Being straight is normal for the straight person. To think that there are entire universes out there in literary land comprised of only gay men, and all the women in the books are simply a means to an end to create children (or not in MPreg) or to inject conflict into the lives of the men is insanity. Every female is the villainess, the wacky TSTL bestie or sister, and the nagging mother or ex-wife.
How dare another woman sink their claws into the male characters who belong solely to the female readers and the hot male partner with which they find their HEA? <= that's what I think is ultimately the issue, folks.
Sorry if I'm insulting you, but it confuses the hell out of me. I love diversity because the world we live in is diverse. So I won't stunt myself nor my writing by not including lady parts on the pages. Sorry, I love my labia, whether you think the 'folds' are gross or not. Somewhere out there, someone else would really love it too. So just deal.
I believe contemporary romance featuring only straight people with token gay friends is bullshit. To take a stand against one genre doing this yet doing it within your genre, within your own mind, is just as negative.
& yeah, Tarnished will be filled with lady and male parts because Rusty Knob's patriarch is straight, and he celebrates that fact as much as he celebrates his sons being gay. So if you skip Tarnished and move from Rusty Knob straight to Stainless... first, you're going to be so lost. Second, you're going to miss out on one of my most manic books ever.
Seriously, I wrote half the book in one session, the next quarter in another, and this last quarter will be written the same way. It was inspired and completely at the Muse's will. So skip it like others skipped Dalton (who happens to be one of my most intriguing characters) simply because you're bigoted against a specific sexual orientation (oddly enough, in the case of straight women denouncing anything but M/M- your own orientation). When my stories are about the characters and their lives, not about their sex parts.
Yeah, I had to get that out there, knowing it will rankle some.
I understand if you truly don't like reading a straight book or a gay book, but I'm hoping to challenge your thinking on why that is the case. What switched off your sexuality, to the point you forgot what part is between your legs? What made you decide that it was 'gross' to read about love, no matter who is in love with whom?
I understand not liking a specific genre. Like I've been reading Urban Fantasy lately (revisiting an old friend), but I know that not everyone will like it. But when we are talking about human sexuality, when we are all sexual beings, that is a totally different thing. It's not about genre. It's about some bias that is rooted deep down inside of you, and I think you need to explore the why of it.
So all I've written above is a manic mess. I get that. I went out into the world at large today, and was inundated by humanity. & it worried me a bit. I fear for intelligence in general. I am terrified about the lack of common courtesy...
The assholes who were clogging up grocery store aisles like they owned the f'n world. & the idiot woman who thought I, the one without a cart, and the 5 ppl with carts behind me, should wait and move backwards so she could 'turn around' in a packed aisle (no one was in front of her blocking the end), while the woman in the other 'lane' blocked traffic with her three kids standing in front of shelves while they all spoke on their cell phones and pretended they were the only people on the planet. Then the cashier who didn't speak to the customers until AFTER they checked out, and refused to check out the customers behind them until she had had her conversation with complete strangers who would never see her again. (Farmer boy, God Bless you for taking note of my real bitch face and telling her that you didn't have time to discuss your cattle with the cashier)
Don't get me started on Lowe's. Don't.
A woman couldn't spell my email address today: wickedwriter.ericachilson... I said, word for word. "Wicked. Writer. Dot. Erica. E. R. I. C. A. Chilson. C. H. I. L. S. O. N." When I looked to check whether or not to accept it, she had written Rider. (Which gave me a chuckle. I'm a deviant, all right. But a wicked RIDER or what? D? ahahaha) I said, "Nope. Writer. As in a person who writes. W. R. I. T. E. R." Well, it ended up being wirter.ericachilson... no wicked, and not spelled properly.
Lowe's. She didn't work at Lowe's but she could have been hired there. (I issue an apology for anyone who works at Lowe's on behalf of the 6 idiots who couldn't sell a dishwasher last week. Who wanted us to exchange the imaginary/digital order that they got wrong the first time. I'm sorry you have to work with such people. Truly)
I invented a new sport today. Grocery Shopping Football. The end zone is the end of the aisle. Leave your cart with your shopping companion. The ball is the items you need from the shelves. You're the offensive line, and the defense is the assholes who are clogging the aisle. Weave around them, grabbing for the ball (the product) and make a run for your cart at the end zone to score a touchdown.
Seriously, it's so much easier than trying to push your cart through the chaos of assholes. Just put your real bitch face on, snarl a bit, and charge between those fuck-faces having meaningless conversations or playing with their phones, and their kids are nearly getting run over by carts... just weave and get your shit and get the hell out of there...
and then get home to the little bit of peace and happiness you carve out of it.