From both sides, I keep hearing, “So, Tori, when is the book coming out?”
Often, I find myself replying, “Which one?”
Not terribly long ago, I was asked about Song of An American Shaman, which is a book I’ve promised would happen. For, oh, about 20 years. When I wrote about my childhood near death experience, those emails started again. The thing is, I feel very nervous about it all. Believe it or not, dying when you’re 9 kind of dims your view of how society views you. From that time on, I can remember relaying my perceptions and the things I would see: and getting in trouble for it. Or worse. Throw in my androgyny when I was young, growing up very poor, the confusing hell that was puberty and for me, each time I talk about this is a weird victory. A scary one. One that had me in and out of psych wards.
I hate that word. Seriously, the title of one of many books I could write about those experiences I still have fills me with the urge to throw up. Shaman.
Have you seen what passes for a shaman these days?
I won’t go into why. It’s nasty, it’s mean, and I’ll just leave my friend’s label for it: professional cultural appropriator. The words are many. The stories, even more so. Some have taken to a twisted way of telling those stories to justify a world of evil, of hate. Others, well, it isn’t openly hateful. It’s a softer, sweeter but more sinister sort.
Point being: you’ve got your own story. Tell it. Do not disrespect another by telling theirs. Those struggles behind the story they tell don’t belong to you. They aren’t the thing that reddens your blood. Your perception of it isn’t going to be correct. Your story, however, does not mean that others’ stories are less than. That other people are less than. Even those who are confused and wandering have their stories. We all do.
It took me a long time to get to the point where I would even say this stuff. Once I did, I ran into another problem: others who say this stuff are embarrassing. I am not excluded: I went through my own phase of ego-addled horse shit. The harder your story, more often than not: the more you try to validate it. Thing is, it is already valid. You don’t have to be married to a God or put a label on it or whatever. You honor that story in what you do: not by trotting it out like a gussied up 5 dollar trick pony. In heathenry, we have quite a lot of that. There are quite a few of us who wish there was another word for being a heathen because, well, “Mumble mumble, but not racist, mumble, mumble, I don’t…it’s not..”
Many someones have told me not to talk about that. Many someone’s have told me not to talk about my rape. Many say talking about my gender itself is an invitation for horrible things. (No, mostly talking about any of this is really just seen as an invitation for stupid questions, but, I digress. So often.) Many someones come together to make up this odd sort of perception of who I am. What I am worth.
But none of that is me. It is all perception: as is the way people read your story.
It isn’t their story, it is yours. Read it however they do, it’s still not theirs. It never was.
Oh, did you think this was another freelancing blog about what to charge for your writing?
It kind of is.
All writing tells a story. Very few people realize that even if you’re not writing about you: your writing is still telling your story. Still weaving the words, patterns, and perceptions in your own mind.
How you convey your value when you are putting out your shingle does, too.
When I’ve said to others: of course you are free to speak your mind, but you are not free from the consequences!
I am usually referring to someone who wrongfully feels they are being oppressed because they were being an ignorant asshole: and they got called out on being an ignorant asshole.
To regurgitate another dead horse beaten: writing is easy. You sit down at your typewriter and bleed. That’s Hemingway, darlin’.
This holds true for many artists, many practitioners of whatever, but look at how you value yourself.
What is your blood really worth?
What is the story, your story, you are telling in the way that you value what you do?
Take a minute. Go back and read that last blog post you wrote. I don’t care who or what it was for. Read it.
What does it say about you? The way you wove those words, how you used them: what does it say about you? Who were you actually describing?
If you were paid for it, what does that say about you?
Oh, wait. This is that blog post about Pluto retrograde, after all, isn’t it?
Long, rambling blog post short: how you view yourself is not how others will view you. That’s fucking bullshit.
How you view yourself– is how you view yourself. How you view others, also, how you view yourself. How they view you?
It ain’t you, baby.
The absolutely wonderful art here is by Deviant Art user AspectusFuturus. So much more to see there and I really encourage you to have a look.