That aggressive, direct response was the first coherent word to leave my soft, little baby lips. Not “Momma” or “Dad-da” or the cutesie wootsie “poo-poo.” I knew early on the importance of clarifying crucial subjects: no, I do not want to eat spinach; it’s more fun to throw. No, I will not wear both socks today, only one. And no, Mom, I most certainly do not want to dip my precious body into that lukewarm water; duh, dimwit, Barney’s on!
Why then, 22-some years later, is that simple, one-syllable, caveman-like grunt so hard to mouth firmly, or even at all? And why, more specifically, was it so easy to decline social invitations when I had a “real” job (as a coffeeshop manager…big whoop), instead of bowing out gracefully, with a “I’m sorry. I can’t karaoke tonight; I’m busy world-building?”
Did this feisty tyke really grow up to be a people-pleasing pushover?
Or should I just stick to the default defense and blame society? (Sure, why not.)
We learned early to say no to easy things like drugs and sex but also to unemployment. The philosophy: it’s okay to take pity on a bum but never to be one. Lucky for me, I followed a boy to college and didn’t have to worry about becoming a no-brains drop-out like some of my classmates. No, I had goals! Sex, drugs, and poetry! Oh, and birth control, as to avoid the whole teenage pregnancy thing. (I arrived to college at 16.) Pick a major (Journalism) from the clouds and just go with it, right? It sounded more promising than my initial choice, anyway—creative writing–my one trusty love! But, unlike Journalism, nobody succeeds in that dying ‘biz (ha ha ha). Thus, world-building is one giant waste of time.
This past weekend, however, finally provided some light. I attended a Science Fiction/Fantasy convention, ConDFW, to help promote and sell Robert Stikmanz’s book series, Hidden Lands of Nod, as well as introduce my own presence as editor and co-author of his invented language, Dvarsh. It was the first time I witnessed writers, who were once just starting out like myself, share their creation with complete strangers and see those strangers actually engaged! And excited! And then, like clockwork, whip out their pocketbooks and buy all three in a series they’ve never heard of, just because the subject sounded cool, and plus the author was there to (ohmigod) sign it!
Outsiders might look around what is called the “dealer room” and see a group of social outcasts, dressed up in Steampunk costumes and strange capes and hats. They’d say, “of course they had time to write novels; they have no friends!” which is as ignorant as just telling children to say no to drugs and sex. I was introduced to well-known authors, such as Tim Powers and local Austin authors, Olivia Grey, Stina Leicht and Patrice Sarath, who have inspired the thought that, hey, maybe this dream isn’t so far-fetched. Maybe it is of this world and not just the fantasy one in my head, where I’m touring the country, reading sections of my poetry like Kim Addonizio (who I ALSO got to see read last week. Omg. Omg. Omg. *faints*), and all the while selling books!
These people probably spend most of their spare time staying in to work on their novels. Because, yes, it IS work. Hard work! Much more time-consuming and exhausting and damn well more exhilarating than managing a coffeeshop.
So, no, I do not want to shop for toesocks. No, I will not come over to watch all ten seasons of Friends. No, I will not dance on a pole on a Thursday night at Kiss & Fly. Can’t you see, dimwit, I’m writing?