These girls aren’t wounded so much as post-wounded, and I see their sisters everywhere. They’re over it. I am not a melodramatic person. God help the woman who is. What I’ll call “post-wounded” isn’t a shift in deep feeling (we understand these women still hurt) but a shift away from wounded affect: These women are aware that “woundedness” is overdone and overrated. They are wary of melodrama, so they stay numb or clever instead. Post-wounded women make jokes about being wounded or get impatient with women who hurt too much. The post-wounded woman conducts herself as if preempting certain accusations: Don’t cry too loud; don’t play victim. Don’t ask for pain meds you don’t need; don’t give those doctors another reason to doubt. Post-wounded women fuck men who don’t love them and then they feel mildly sad about it, or just blasé about it; they refuse to hurt about it or to admit they hurt about it—or else they are endlessly self-aware about it, if they do allow themselves this hurting.
The post-wounded posture is claustrophobic: jadedness, aching gone implicit, sarcasm quick on the heels of anything that might look like self-pity. I see it in female writers and their female narrators, troves of stories about vaguely dissatisfied women who no longer fully own their feelings. Pain is everywhere and nowhere. Post-wounded women know that postures of pain play into limited and outmoded conceptions of womanhood. Their hurt has a new native language spoken in several dialects: sarcastic, jaded, opaque; cool and clever. They guard against those moments when melodrama or self-pity might split their careful seams of intellect, expose the shame of self-absorption without self-awareness."
I just finished reading The Empathy Exams the other day and I’m still thinking it over
the prizes for blood donors seem so weird and desperate. the last time i went the sign our front said
stuffed puppies and hot dogs for all donors 9-3
something about the combination of stuffed puppies and hotdogs broke my heart, especially in exchange for a pint of blood
some feelings i started having this morning (on writing and work)
i haven’t written a poem in months or maybe years and i’m skipping an art show i was invited to be in to go to a vigil at a methodist church for a kid i don’t know killed in a city i’ve never been to.
"my interests as a writer right now are very focused on what it means to be human in the present day, how we cope with constant tragedy and fear while also finding moments of joy and ridiculous wonder."
gina, on writing, on the blog tour today
Kristen Stone tagged me last week…
1. What are you working on?
I am collaborating with Kristen Stone on a project! Hush-hush. Also working on a new short story that is a departure for me in sincerely working with scifi conventions. Currently have two warring novel projects and will soon decide which one to focus my energies on after I finish up my main summer project, which is editing the next volume of The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing. Proofs going out to contributors this week! (fingers crossed)
2. How does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?
Tough question, not entirely applicable to my work, as I’m more of a genre floater than a resident of any genre community. Uhhhh. I guess in the genre of “innovative fiction” I use form to tackle queer and feminist issues, that is, using form to interrogate power and agency from a queer/feminist perspective. And in the genre of “LGBT lit” my fiction is less about LGBTQ representation and more about enacting queerness through form, language, intensity.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I typically use fiction as a way to work through competing and seemingly contradictory ideas, things I’m personally or intellectually struggling with. To be real, I also write to express ugly feelings in ways that make me feel like interesting and likable. Third and most righteously, I write to put new narratives into the world, flipping scripts and exploring experiences and relationships and identities that don’t get much play in literary fiction.
4. How does your writing process work?
I make lists and am a diligent reviser. Well, let me back up. I start a story by putting words on a page, and if a voice comes, then I’m off. Sometimes I can incorporate whatever ideas I’ve been thinking about into the voice, sometimes I let the voice (via syntax) take me away — “Swamp Cycle” was like that. Sometimes I start with concept, not voice, and then it’s harder to break into the story, but - WORTH THE WAIT! The Sweet Valley CYOA was like that — I was excited by the idea of mashing together these two oppositionally gendered YA genres but for numerous drafts couldn’t settle on a voice or tone — tried satire for a while, but really, SVT doesn’t need to be satired! It was much more fun to play it straight, and let the comedy come from the CYOA.
Throughout this process I maintain an ongoing, subject-to-change action plan that helps me feel less overwhelmed and incapacitated if the writing isn’t necessarily easy. This often includes a reading list — mostly made up of relevant theory and criticism to bolster my thinking about the piece, sometimes other fiction that might provide structural models. I also create a document for journaling about the story and my aims with it. So for each in-process piece I will have a few different different files going as I’m writing and revising. If/when I get to this point I create a new file folder for the piece, a very exciting stage! that solidifies the story’s status as in-progress/coming-together (as opposed to germ/brainstorm). And then with each substantial revision, usually involving printing out and revising, reconceiving by hand, I rename the file so I have a record of the work I’ve done and can revert to older versions if I find myself going way off track. Those are the mundane details. I find it’s best for me to spend an hour or two on a story per day and work over time, until I can devote some full days to it — poke, poke, binge.
I’ve been working on this*, alone and quiet, all day, and I am seeking some validation (someone see my lonely work!) working-student-who-is-also-a-writer life has been getting me down a little. Just— the compression of time. I wrote about this, in rosier terms, for the blog tour. It is hard. It is hard to think, sometimes, I should have been/should be just a writer. But that’s not my path, I have always felt the overlap and tension of different pieces more so than a single identity, so here I am taking personal days* to do homework and then spending my saturday editing a manuscript 3 years in the works.
*full disclosure I have also been working on a presentation entitled ‘Creative Housing Solutions for Domestic Violence Survivors’
*full disclosure on my personal day I also got a massage and took a nap.