When I drank, I wanted to consume the whole world—bring all the light and sound and voice and touch into myself where I could hoard it all like a glutton and never feel empty again.
My art can be sexy and fun and difficult and deep and easy and escapist and real and anything we need it to be. We, as in me AND my readers, because it’s about all of us. I’m not just writing for me. And I’m not just writing for readers or the market either. It’s a balance.
The body is not a project. The body is a body—a vessel that works tirelessly to keep us alive and in an optimal and balanced health state, no matter how much poke and prod and scream at it to be different. The body will always do what’s best for us, even when we don’t want it to.
In the age of rampant and accessible Internet porn, which increasingly hijacks the brain into pursuing a stream of ever-increasing extreme content in short bursts, online dating apps that reduce people to four pictures and a couple sentences, and confusing and contradictory messaging about feminism, sex, and romance, it’s no wonder everyone is unhappy with the state of modern dating.
Our body is a microcosm of the world. We are a habitat for trillions of tiny, helpful lifeforms. When we kill off bad bacteria with antibiotics, we kill the good guys too. In the same way, when we decimate one species population in a forest, the entirety of that ecosystem is thrown out of balance.
Over and over, we shed our skin and assume role after role, we cling to ideologies and communities that help us make sense of the chaos and confusion, and sometimes we get it right, and other times we find ourselves even more lost than we were before. It’s hard to be a person. Sometimes it feels impossible, especially as the world continues to crawl further into dystopia, casting a collective shadow so tall it’s difficult to see the light.
Balance means creating a life you don’t need to escape from. Most of our spiritual, creative, and physical needs are far more important than being “productive.” Especially when it’s only by doing the things that keep us healthy and balanced that we’re able to produce anything at all.
It certainly feels like my characters have taken on a life—or, rather, a disembodied consciousness—of their own. When the channel is open, I’m hearing from my cast of very headstrong and opinionated witches all night long on how they want their story to be written and voices to be heard.
I used to fashion my life like I would a story. I used people as characters on my adventures, and I stepped into the role of someone who could travel anywhere, talk to anyone, try anything at all. But when the story ended and I returned to myself, I had to start from scratch. There are no more roles and plots to escape into in my life. I’m just me.
We must find a way to engage in constructive dialogue that both recognizes the power of books to impact the real world and also honors the humanity of writers and readers who see stories as far more fantasy than reality. There is always a middle ground—a compassionate, nuanced, and holistic ground—and I hope we can always dig through the anger, antagonism, and divisiveness to find it, together.