Posts Tagged ‘strowlers’
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
These brilliant words are courtesy Maryanne Williamson and were used in Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech in 1994.
And they are true.
Whatever you consider the purpose of life – whether it’s to illuminate the darkness, or to balance between light and shadow, or to simply exist – we have spirits that can shine. In living our own lives, on our terms, in our own ways, we stand as examples that it can be done. We are living proof that we can be ourselves and succeed, whatever “success” may mean to each of us.
Brilliance is not reserved for a chosen few; it lives in all of us, waiting to wake up and stretch into the world through you.
What I say may be in a language incomprehensible, but there is a time for that, and it is right now, because this is a monster’s creed. It is for the cobbled-together, the sewn-up, the grafted-on. It is for the golden, the under-the-earth, the foreign, the travels-by-night; the filthy ship-sinking cave-dwelling bone-cracking gorgeousness that says hell no, I am not tidy. I am not easy. I am not what you suppose me to be and until you listen to my voice and look me in my eyes, I will cling fast to this life no matter how far you drive me, how deep, with how many torches and pitchforks, biting back the whole way down. I will not give you my suicide. I will not give you my surrender.
Quoted directly from The Seam of Skin and Scales. This post stopped my heart and electrified my spirit. It aligns itself perfectly with Catherynne Valente’s Monstrous Manifesto, for all that it was written more than three years prior.
I think there’s an incredible power in accepting who you are, with your thorns and scars, with your vulnerable underbelly and soft eyes. As soon as you accept who and what you are, as you are now and not in some ideal nebulous future, you can exult in your strengths and learn compassion for your weaknesses. As you would with your most beloved person, you can begin to treasure the faults and quirks that make you unique, rather than shunning them as obstacles in your impossible path to perfection.
And there is power in not being perfect – in not only accepting that, but celebrating it. There is power in being a monster and shouting it to the world, unafraid, unashamed, exuberantly imperfect (to steal an apt NaNoWriMo phrase). Reclaiming your identity – all of it, not just the pretty parts – removes the guilt, removes the unrealistic expectations, removes the pressure to be what you’re not. Things aren’t suddenly effortless, but they sure as hell get easier when you’re not fighting yourself along with all the rest of the world.
As for me? I’m quite happy to be a monster, crooked fang and briar-hair and all.
Written by the indomitable Catherynne M. Valente for all the SJ Tucker-led Strowlers out there. Original post here, reposted because it’s beautiful and brilliant and right-on (and because she said we could share it).
If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine,
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams,
Come stand by me.
If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone,
If you have been starving, a creature of bone,
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne,
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.
If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.
If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon, come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns,
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.
Day 13 is this week.
For which I will cheat and talk about what’s happened since Thursday before last, the ninth. Mundane things like work and feeding the cats will be omitted in favor of a more interesting tale. I already mentioned that I was working on a couple of songs, but this requires backstory to fully convey the impact of such a statement.
You see, I don’t– or didn’t– write songs; I don’t easily find original melodies that I can remember, let alone that I can play on a given instrument; and it’s nigh-impossible for me to combine good words and good sounds into something that resembles a song instead of slam poetry.
But music is my lifeblood, and I have yearned to be able to create it. I love to sing, and my voice can do interesting things– nothing operatic like my incredibly talented and skilled sister, maybe nothing worth more than an open mic night at a coffeeshop, but the only instrument that I have mastered is my voice. And while I can play piano and various percussion, and I am oh-so-slowly learning guitar, and I can mess around with my harmonicas and travelsax and didge… I can’t do any of these things well enough to write music with them.
Until Thursday the ninth, when J and I were at the Irish pub we visit every week for their Celtic music session. Sitting outside, I scribbled some might-be lyrics and then played with them aloud until I found a tune to go with them, then continued singing until it was polished to a gleam. I was amazed and giddy that it worked and sounded good, especially with such personally significant lyrics. Since that night, four people have heard my recording-of-questionable-quality of that song, and all responses have been positive.
And since that night, I have finished five songs (lyrics and vocal melody only, but for one that has drumming) and come up with lyrics for six others (some of which will have rhythm guitar and/or drumming), plus one unfinished lyric-snippet and a little melody on piano. I picked up Mel Bay’s Mastering the Guitar off my shelf and got 30-some pages into it in two nights, and will be diving back into my book on music theory so that I can more easily craft accompaniment to these and future songs.
My world has exploded with such a muse-dump, rife and rich with potential and excitement for what I am doing and what I can learn to do. Inspired by the likes of SJ Tucker, Heather Alexander, and Alexander James Adams, I plan to experiment further, with the help and participation of my partner and my sister. Between us, we have half a home recording studio and an incredible variety of musical instruments, and the passion and talent to Make Things Happen.
I’m wildly excited, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.
Day 6 is my day.
Which is not over yet, so I will tell you about my yesterday instead.
The alarm went off at 7h30; I actually got out of bed somewhere around 8h30, after being pulled back to sleep by very persistent dreams. I got to work a few minutes before 9 and left at 5; during those eight hours I listened to a lot of SJ Tucker music on Youtube (especially City of Marrow) and did my job, which entails website maintenance and troubleshooting and content production. We just rolled out our new company website, so there are a lot of issues to be fixed and a lot of CSR complaints to mitigate. But it was a pretty mellow day compared to recent weeks, which was nice.
J and I got home at the same time and shared a snack before he left for the dojo early to get in some throwing practice. I stretched out, did a balance drill, and lifted weights, finally moving up to the next size on my dumbbells. I wrote a poem and some could-be song lyrics, and I worked on a few of these memeriffic blog posts in advance (yes, I am a dirty rotten cheat).
Then, impatient with inaccuracy, I cracked open one of my favorite books on the African orisas and brushed up on my knowledge. Over the next two hours, I completely re-wrote those could-be song lyrics into actually-are song lyrics, then started tweaking the wording and hammering out the (vocal) tune. I sang the entire thing through a couple dozen times until my voice started to break. J came home with food and we ate; I sang the song for him and he was impressed by the concept and how I dealt with it, which pleased me.
We also bought four of SJ Tucker‘s albums digitally, which was awesome. (Guess what I’m listening to right now?) We’d previously been huge fans but only had a handful of her songs.
By midnight, I was exhausted – the exercise, the singing, and the poor sleep I’d gotten the night prior all combined to do me in. I collapsed into our oh-so-comfortable bed with J and fell asleep nigh instantly.
Guys, I have brilliant and exciting news!
I am turning this entire would-have-been polished-and-professional space into a giant playground. Complete with a ball pit and tire swing.
There’s a story here, of course. (There’s always a story. Stories are What I Do.)
See, once upon a time, I decided to forsake my nebulous ideal of perfection in lieu of being the best me I possibly could. I decided to embrace my quirks, weaknesses, and strengths – instead of denying or overriding them, to work with them and to make them work for me. I was really tired of trying to be something I wasn’t.
And this is the homecoming of that decision. I realized that my idea of a “good author” – or at least the public face of a good author – did not mesh with who and what I was, what I liked, what I wanted to and could do. So I’m tossing my not-me ideals out the window and refocusing on just being me.
I’m a writer. I don’t have to be not-me to be an author. That doesn’t make any sense.
I’m getting rid of all the stiff limitations of professionalism. I’m getting rid of a “posting schedule” and letting myself shrug off the pressure of deadlines. I’m getting rid of the feeling that this place is far too special to sully with my randomness and my less-than-bestness.
And now this is my playground. I get to do whatever I want here. I get to geek out and get excited about worldbuilding. I get to discover Important Life Things and share them. I get to inundate you all with my favorite fiction snips. I get to tell silly stories about my life, like the time my mom asked me if I was going to have a “wicker wedding” and my sister suggested I burn baskets at the four corners.
Ultimately, I get to be me. And that’s a lot of fun.
If any publishing agents or otherwise official people read this post, I may be doomed. But landing a publishing deal is not my goal. Telling stories is my goal. Living stories is my goal.
And I can do that just fine.
Image Credit: Crestock Creative Photos.