Notes from Underground


So I have to share. And crow. And toot my own horn. Just a bit. I just learned that an interview I gave for a podcast is now available. The podcast is called "Journal Talk," and it's hosted by a cool guy named Nathan Ohren. My interview can be found here, and I also encourage you to take a listen to some of his other interviews.  It's a great show, and Nathan's mission to help people explore the benefits and joys of journaling is engaging and worthwhile. In the interview, I talk about this blog as a form of public journaling, which it is. In this space, I ruminate on various topics that tickle my fancy, and I also work through my fears and anxieties, not to mention sharing my triumphs and joy. You guys get it all. And while I might pull my punches a very little bit out of respect to my family, really I just try to tone down my language (remember how much I love my potty mouth?) and perhaps leave out excessive references to my misspent youth. But beyond that, I'm digging for gold in the recesses of my mind, and dredging up these notes from the underground of my unconscious (see how useful that liberal arts education was… those literary allusions don’t come from nothin’).

And, in addition to journaling to excavate my unconscious, I also use this space to expand my horizons and perform thought experiments that challenge my everyday thinking. I believe this is an excellent use of journal writing—to explore the “what ifs” and “what might have beens” or that which could still be in a benevolent version of my future. I can take things apart and put them back together in different and perhaps more interesting ways. I can reframe a past experience and transform a painful memory into a critical lesson for later success. I can dig myself out of a deep chasm of denial through my writing, and realize what others may already know about something from my past or present about which was fooling myself. Like perming the front section of my hair to look like Joan Jett or Pat Benetar, but actually… well… not so much… in truth, I looked more like a poodle with a high top.

The other thing I get to explore in this blog is its topic—the truth I find revealed in fantasy novels of the paranormal and urban varieties. Through this public journal I can inquire into the realities of being human through characters who are not. I've examined aging and mortality through the lens of fictional folks who neither get older nor die. I've been able to contemplate long-term romantic and platonic relationships in the context of those that have lasted or will last hundreds if not thousands of years. There is nothing like hyperbole to spotlight its right-sized cousin, reality.

For me, fantasy fiction is a textbook for life, a handbook of suggestions and guidelines for how to live my best life—which I long to share with all of you. I prefer these stories as the raw material for the ultimate self-help guide that I'm writing so that I can learn who's who and what's what. Where else is it so much fun to work through my commitment issues, and my mommy issues and my daddy dilemmas?  I use this space to contemplate my navel based on the interesting themes I find in my fantasy fiction. I doubt JR Ward knows that I rely on her for insight into addiction, or that Kevin Hearne knows that he is my favorite therapist. Robyn Peterman makes me feel a lot less isolated when I think of my mother as being literally from Hell, ‘cause all of her heroines' mommies are of the dearest variety, which helps me know I'm not alone.

And then there is the endless joy I get from living in worlds where men do what we want them to do! When I read and write about these fantasy books written by women (mostly—apologies to Mr. Hearne and Mr. Hartness), for women and about women, I'm inspired and reassured that my personal fantasies are happily shared by many others. Women want alpha males who make love like thousand-year-old, drop dead gorgeous vampires who know a thing or two about pleasing women, but who aren't too overbearing outside of the bedroom. We can dream, can't we?

Through the discipline of writing and posting this blog twice a week, week in and week out, I've been able to grow and expand -- examine and probe and question. I've also been able to engage with you, beloved reader, and know with certainty, through your voices, that I'm in good company with my neuroses.

So, let me encourage you to journal and reap the many benefits that I've received through my private pages and my very public postings. As Nathan Ohren says, we should all write for life, and journal for passion, clarity and purpose. It really works for me – I hope that you’ll give it a go and see if it works for you… or at least sample Ohren’s podcast here.