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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

Month

October 2018

So, I’m a wordslinger…..

…..and words are my business.  I’m highly attuned to how word choice can paint a picture entirely different than the one you might intend.  If you use the word ‘argue’ rather than ‘talk’ to describe how you’ll make a decision between Choice A and Choice B, it suggests that conflict is the driving force behind most of your conversations.  I’ve been told more than once that I often read too much into things that are said, and perhaps the speaker might not have been intending to say what they do, but it is revealing of their mindset or perspective of the world.

Words have power.  Make no mistake about it.  They can be used to uplift and unify or incite and split.  The words you choose can either have a positive impact on those around you, or they can have a negative impact.  I often bemoan the fact that I don’t have better words than ‘should’ or ‘let’ or ‘give’, because it implies that (A.) I have control; (B.) it’s my right; and (C.) I am entitled to the other person’s life or a specific outcome.

Nothing could be further than the truth and I feel very conflicted using those words to express my thoughts or feelings.  There are a few others, but those suffice to make my example work and get the point across.  This is why it’s always a good idea to reflect and take care in the words you use.  Often, however, we use words that seem to have a positive aspect to it, without stopping to really look and examine what it actually means.

This leads me to a word that is commonly associated with romance, whether it’s novels, films or even real life – desire.  On the surface, it seems like a positive word to describe the hero or the heroine or even the situation.  The sexual tension, the passion, the heightened senses – this could easily be under the label of ‘desire’.  But what does ‘desire’ really mean?  Take a look at the image above – that is the dictionary’s definition of desire (I included desirable, because it has a similar meaning).

“To wish or long for; crave; want.”

That sounds like the definition of need – needing something or someone outside of oneself to fill in the insatiable emptiness and hunger gnawing at one’s soul.  It does not sound in the least bit romantic or even a remotely healthy emotion to have in a relationship.  I do not wish to be ‘owned’ or even regard as a ‘possession’ in any relationship, let alone a romantic love relationship.

So, for me, the word ‘desire’ has a dark and negative connotation – it implies ownership of the desired object (or person).  In the context of love, it expresses the exact opposite of what the user may intend (who believes they’re being romantic) or it is what they subconsciously and genuinely feel about the person they’re in a relationship with.

Under the context of ‘desire’, there is no potential for growth, both as an individual and within the context of the relationship.  ‘Desire’ is stagnant and stale – it wants what is to remain as is for as long as possible, to put the object on a shelf and take it down as needed.  I can already feel myself edge towards panic as I recall a similar relationship – where I was desired, but only when it was convenient.

“So, exactly what is a description of positive, healthy love?” is a question I’m hearing pop up right….about….now.

In my experience, the best examples of what love – genuine, healthy, authentic love – is, are found in the absolute truths in the cliches.  Love will lift you up; it will inspire you; it will not make you compromise your inner truths or force you into a box; it will not ask you to be less than you are, it will encourage you to be the best version of yourself.  If it’s genuine and authentic love, then with the right person, you will feel free to be just as genuine and authentic.  You will be present in the moment, in yourself and within the context of the relationship.  This is conducive to growth – both for the individual self and for the relationship itself.

Definition of Love, Part One

In the interest of fair play, I’m adding in the definition of love from my trusty (if old) dictionary that has served me so well in the last few years.

 

Definition of Love, Part 2

Please take a moment to view both pictures for ‘love’ (which started at the bottom of the page and continued on the next column) and the one for ‘desire’.  Please take a moment and really read both definitions in this post.  Please note the differences in both emotions.

Notice, if you will, the words used to define both ‘Desire’ and ‘Love’.  In my mind, the words used to define ‘desire’ are hard, sharp, unyielding.  The words used to define ‘love’ are soft, warm and soothing.

Each one describes the intense, passionate and romantic emotions of Person A for Person B, but only one objectifies Person B.  Only one views Person B through the prism of ownership and possession.  Only one can actually be hurtful, either intentionally or with purpose.

Desire is not love.  Desire is dark, it possesses, it claims ownership, it does not allow for breath or growth or freedom.

Love is its exact opposite.  Love is freedom within and without to be your truest, most beautiful and strong self.  It encourages you to fly, to be wild, to explore and grow and then, when your wings are tired, Love provides a safe harbor for you to rest.

Desire is ego.  Love is selfless.

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So, In Solitude, You Can Hear Yourself Think…….

…….and that’s not as easy or as fun as it sounds.  Trust me on this – I am the over-thinker extraordinaire and getting out of my head is a task unto itself.  Embracing solitude and being alone with your thoughts can be intimidating or even frightening – my observation has been that those who fear or are uncomfortable with their own thoughts tend towards unhealthy or toxic situations and habits.  For me, solitude, being solitary and alone with my thoughts is as natural as breathing.

Also, thinking is how I get my brilliant story ideas, so at least there’s a trade-off.

I’m a solitary introvert with the occasional social tendencies. This means that, while I tend to prefer the company of Me, Myself and I, there are times when I also want to be in the company of others and share in conversation or experiences.  I’m also an Asperger’s, which may be why I’m comfortable with being solitary, but it’s also high-functioning and I’ve got the tools to navigate the social world.  Somewhere, there is a post about the times I enjoy socializing and the pros and cons of such an effort, but this is not that post.  This post is about solitude, why I enjoy it and the frustrations of trying to communicate this bit of joy to those who thrive on social interaction.

So, here goes.

Being solitary is my nature.  It’s something I don’t put a lot of thought into and it certainly never had a negative impact on me.  I’m free to entertain my own schedule and alter course as I please.  I can be as excited and energized over something I enjoy as I want – likewise, I can also be as introspective and contemplative as I want.  In neither case do I have to worry about a person being uncomfortable in my presence. [1]  When I go on my mini-road trips, I have no responsibility to anyone but myself and I am therefore able to see the details around me that would otherwise go unnoticed.

In solitude, everything can be seen and felt.

Details like dragonflies and hummingbirds flitting by; a sea otter playing in the bay; the sounds of gulls and seals arguing over property rights; waves crashing over a jetty; silence wrapping itself around you while walking along a dirt path; the smell of wet earth and the canopy of trees shielding you from the sun.

In my world, being solitary is heavenly, energizing in a way that I can only compare to working on a  play – which involves people.  There’s a kind of synergistic high as an actor when you connect with the audience and your fellow actors. The fact that I have a literal script to follow is an absolute bonus – as someone with Asperger’s, this allowed me to see structure in social interaction. [2]  This is probably the reason I thrived in theater for so many years – I had a literal blueprint for something that confused the hell out of me off-stage.  As an Asperger’s, having a script that told me what to do, what to say and when was a HUGE relief and it was probably the most social thing I ever did.  I not only willingly chose to participate with other people, but I also felt comfortable enough to keep separate at times without drawing criticism. [3]

Mask created by Robert Lamarche.

Being social in other environments requires me to wear a mask, so that I can at least pass for ‘normal’ – whatever that means. [4]  The pressure I feel to be just the right amount of social and Self in order to go out and mingle with people is so stressful that I’m already exhausted before I set foot outside my bedroom, let alone my house.  It’s sensory overload, or the anticipation of it, anyway.

How can I describe this, so that you, the person reading this, understands?  Because language is very important when communicating, I make an effort to find the right words.  I have many friends who are extroverts and thrive on social events.  I have an equal number of friends who are introverts and thrive on their own company.

People who are extroverts, and are used to being stimulated by external influences, may find solitude depressing or even frightening.  An extrovert friend mentioned something along those lines to me and I suggested that perhaps it’s because when you’re alone, you’re faced with yourself – no distractions, no filters, no smoke and mirrors.  Just you, your Self and your thoughts.

And that can be frightening – what kind of person are we when we’re alone?  Are we really the person we think we are, hope we are?  Or are we less than we hope to be?

It’s something I’ve reflected on, consciously and unconsciously, my entire life.  I’ve never been uncomfortable being on my own or alone, because that’s my constant state.  It has always been that way.  Do I want to share my world with someone?  Of course, I do.  But I’d like it if people would stop automatically assuming it’s because I’m lonely (“You need to learn how to be alone”) or that I don’t have a life (news flash – just because my life doesn’t live up to what you think it should be, doesn’t mean I don’t have one) or some other lame-ass opinion.

If I’m inviting you into my world, it’s because I think you’d not only enjoy it, but that you’d add to it, just as my presence might add to yours. [5]

Being alone is my preferred state.  I am not forced to be in a box to make others comfortable, I am free to be as elemental as I want and, while occasionally frustrating, my thoughts are perfectly suited as company.  I lack for nothing in my life as a solitary person – I have my own beat, I have my art and stories to research, I have horses and cats and the occasional foray into social interactions.  I also have my adventures to plan.

And the best adventurers are usually loners……with the occasional side-kick.

[1] I’m aware that what other people think of me is A. none of my business and B. who gives a fuck.

[2] Real life needs to be scripted. It also needs to be accompanied with a music score, so that one could more easily recognize certain situations for what they are.  A bad situation in alley is easy to recognize – a bad situation surrounded by people whom you know, not so much.

[3] I was once cornered at a table by two people whom I’d known for at least three years in the same social setting.  They knew of my Asperger’s and the techniques I utilized to take care of myself when feeling overwhelmed in social settings, and yet chose to be critical of me and those techniques.  My crime?  Sitting by myself, writing in my journal about the day I’d had, the enjoyment I’d felt and the people I’d chosen to share it with.

[4] I’m aware of the fact that others may feel overwhelmed and stressed in social gatherings, but they can either tell their own stories or be quiet. Dismissing and/or talking over someone who is opening up and trying to articulate their discomfort, their feelings and experience as best they can is disrespectful, to say the least.

[5] Before you make assumptions about someone, it’s best to look at why you’re making those assumptions.

So, the amount of research I have to do…..

…….while in the throes of going over edits is why the process of writing a book takes so fricking long.

Working on edits.

In answer to so many questions that I’ve been getting when I mention that Novel Now Finished is in Round 7 of edits:

1. Each manuscript is different and requires a different amount of time and effort to get it to where it should be.

2. Each author/writer has a different method to their writing madness.

3. Each editor has their own questions and methods of communicating notes.

4. This is literally the second editor I’ve ever worked with – the first charged over a thousand ($1000-plus) for two hours (TWO!!!) worth of work. Had I known my current editor eight years ago, things would be different.

5. This is the first editor I’ve worked with on a consistent basis. She’s amazing and helpful and supportive and everything you’d want in an editor. In my own editing business, I hope to be just as amazing as she is.

6. If you think writing is so easy-peasy to get done and published, then please, by all means, get some paper and a pen and start writing.

7. Writing a book is a full-time commitment. It’s not for the faint of heart or for those who lack discipline.

8. The amount of research I have to do before, during and after writing the first draft would qualify me for at least three MAs/MFAs and/or a PhD.

9. There are days when I just want to quit and torch the lot of it. This is normal.

10. ^^^Then I give myself a shake and get over it. I’d rather be writing and working in my fictional worlds than anything else, so the frustrations are a small cross to bear.

11. Writing is not a hobby for me – a hobby is something you take joy in to escape the realities of life. While I love and enjoy writing, it’s often frustrating and annoying and I don’t escape the realities of life – it finds its way into my stories.

12. Art is political, it is angry, it is savage and ugly and hard to look at – but it also inspires, gives us joy and shows us the beauty in the human spirit.

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