Dita Parker

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Now, voyager

Warning: Verbal incontinence ahead. 

(Come on, I've been so thrifty with words these past six months surely I'm allowed some now. And I've tried to write a post, several times, these past few weeks but what came out was a heap of all important nothings, and as important a part of convivial civilized interaction as they are, if the world were as civilized as it makes itself out to be, you and me and that guy over there should be able to speak freely without feeling fear, trepidation or threatened. So I thought, why not?)

Where on earth have I been, doing what exactly, leaving all (seven and that drive-by Serbian) of you wondering WTF? What the hell am I thinking?

Let's see.

I'm thinking anything worth doing is worth doing well and that I'm not as masterful a multitasker as I thought I was (imagine my surprise) so now that there's something else I need to do and somewhere else I need to be, I thought that's what I need to do and that's where I need to be then.

I'm also thinking about moving, or Hubby and I are, contemplating relocating quite far from where we are perched on top of the world. Only a thought at this point. Small but with immense potential for growth. Not even close to making a decision but we're considering options, thinking ahead. We told the kids we're playing with the thought and none said no outright, they just started asking questions. Where would we live and what's it like out there? What about school? The language?

They've traveled. They know this isn't all there is to the world. I've lived the life from a younger age than they are now. I know the pros and cons, believe me, and my kids know my history, where I've been and what it meant to me, what it gave me and what it took away. Mind you, it gave more than it took, by a wide margin, but I'll admit there was a time I resented the hell out of my parents for leaving Brazil. (The choice wasn't entirely theirs but I was a navel-gazing preteen who knew, who just knew they were doing it to run and ruin my life.) I got over it. Most of it. I think. Any day now.

But we're talking an absence of 5 to 10 years here. And in five to say nothing of ten years from now the place you now call home will have changed. Sometimes there's no going back. It happens. I grant you it's much easier to keep up with what's going on in any given country than it was in my youth. But there'll be moments when you realize you speak the language and still have no idea what people are talking about.

It's often some trivial mundane thing that betrays you but those prosaic touches reveal you for what you sometimes feel you are: a stranger in a strange land. Am I just faking it? Can they tell the difference? Like a spy hoping not to be made. I've found it's best not to hide those feelings or insecurities. Admit you don't know, don't apologize for all that you do know, alternative ways of thinking and handling matters and viewing the world.

This whole thing...not my idea or initiative. Hubby's. Related to his line of work and oh God don't be one of those stand-by-your-man women hauling ass and playing house so he can have a career and a family. Way ahead of you and the game, sweetie darlings. What I do I can do pretty much anywhere. The tropic, the arctic, sand, snow, home or away, I've got it covered.

Speaking of which, work is going well. Feeling genuinely accomplished and useful and I've found I need that. I need to be of service. Moving would mean another culture to study, another language to learn. Always a plus in my line of work. What is it that I do, again? What I love best, work with words and languages. On most days it's...I wouldn't use the word fun but certainly challenging and rewarding. On some it's a fight against cynicism, I kid you not. What's-the-matter-with-you-For-the-love-of-all-that-is holy-open-your-eyes-Enough-with-the-pettiness-and-provincialism-Let's-get-things-done-already-All-I'm-hearing-is-me-me-me. Days when you think that maybe you'd be better off on some desert island surviving on fish, mangos, avocados and coconut water, away from it all with books and pen and paper because the world is bat-shit crazy and beyond redemption or repair.

But then you remember that your family has other plans and that you'd miss your friends, partnered sex, boozy leisure, audiovisual entertainment and a regular change of scenery and that you really tire yourself out sometimes with your navel-gazing me-me-me so...no...and while you sometimes fantasize about a world of enlightened despotism with yours truly madly deeply in charge so we'd get things done already, it's not in the cards, is it, so now what? Go back to the task at hand and soldier on.

Isn't that precious, you say. It is. Invaluable, I say. Don't lose your head and don't waste your talents. There are people out there willing to pay good money for what you can do. And the writing? I haven't seen the forest from the trees. I don't have to strive to write for a living, I already do. Wonderful stuff, interesting stuff, meaningful stuff, just these past few months. Hiding in plain sight, really. If you knew where to look you'd find me, a woman who looks a lot like the lady in that pic ("What do you mean by a lot? That's not what you look like?" God, no. I don't usually bother with a straightener.), maybe even recognize my voice. If that happens, sweetie darlings, if you think you do, it's our secret and I trust you to keep it.

Every storytelling technique, every trick of the trade has only helped. Nothing's going to waste. And every new thing I've had to study only makes me a better storyteller. Win-win. What about the Romantica I had in the works? I'm still working on them.  S l o w l y . I can't leave my characters hanging. I promised them a happy ending and right now they're really pissed. And I know what you're thinking. What's the point? With the pace I write and publish romance, what's the point?

That is the question. That is a very good question. A question every author, every professional, every human being should ask themselves every now and then. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? For me, counterpoint is the point. Counterbalance is the point. I need to write fiction more than this scene needs another book by the Parker girl. Not that I don't care about my readers, never think that, dearest denizens. What I'm trying to say is that writing fiction fulfills a need and grants a pleasure that supersedes other motives. I will always write fiction even if I never publish another book. But the fiction, just the fiction, ain't enough. I've tried so hard and for so long to strike a balance. And then I just...I didn't give up, I gave in. For country and for crowd or bust. That thought somehow takes off all the pressure. Anxiety and frustration lift. I will never be top banana. Doesn't make me a bad writer. Doesn't mean I don't have drive. Doesn't mean I don't have a voice or stories to tell. Will anyone be interested in that voice or those stories... That's another story, one I don't get to dictate on my own.

The rumors of Dita's social death, suicide really, have been right on the money. Sometimes there's no coming back. It happens. I've tried to keep up with what's going on but there'll be moments when I realize I thought I knew where it's at but have no idea what people are talking about. I'd be quite content just writing away, working behind the scenes. I'm painfully aware and constantly reminded of the fact I don't brand and market as aggressively as I should, but the brand and name recognition stuff...it's so messed up. Once upon a time you became a brand when you did something particularly well, when you were a cut above in your field or art or whatever. Nowadays, you have to have a brand, the whole package, laid and thought out before you've made a single move or created a thing and you gotta love the me-me-me.

Yeah, I know, nowadays be nowadays, not ye olden ways, and this is business and you don't sell a product without a USP so you better have one or make way for those who do, but what if you don't feel like a neat package, more like a multiple personality without the disorder? Is that a brand? "This is me then." Is that ever enough? The level of frustration and confusion, a general feeling of where shall we go, what shall we do, has reached new heights among...well, I guess Dita can't speak for anyone except a small segment of erotic romance authors. Established, popular authors seem to be doing okay. The rest... Maybe it's too early to call but some have put their numbers out there asking is it just me or have sales truly declined so drastically? Some are responding no it's not just you, others with thanks, not what I wanted to hear, I'll get my coat, what's the point.

That is the question. What's the point? No promises, no guarantees, a lot of work, sweat, even tears, for what exactly? But who promised or owes us, any author, any professional, anything, ever? Who guaranteed sales or success? Perpetual Pleasure hasn't sold well at all and of course it makes me sad and it makes me wonder and makes me quote Dickinson on occasion. I'm Nobody! Who are you? Are you – Nobody – too? (Not particularly proud of those moments but there you have it.) Is it the price? Sub-genre? An author people don't know? The fact I'm not an aggressive marketer? Did they hate Alex and won't risk another disappointment? No reviews, not enough buzz or word of mouth? So I'm biased but it's not a bad book.

And I know how you feel. You put endless hours into something, do your loving best...but I'm thinking so does everybody else. What are you gonna do? Where shall we go? What shall we do? "Frankly, Dita, the Internet doesn't give a damn." True, that. I honestly don't know. I guess all we can do is ask what's the point, take it from there, and see how far it takes us.

"What do you mean you don't know? You honestly don't know, make room for those who do." Be my guests, please. But half, more than half, like a good two-thirds don't know, even if they say they do. You can wish. You can hope. But you can never know for certain. Not until you get there. That's when you can say, "I always knew I'd [insert your goal]." That's the only time you can make that claim, really.

"No, seriously. You don't have a contingency plan?" You need an expected outcome to devise one, two, as many as you think you need. Since the business of writing comes with no guarantees: Of course we didn't! That would be like saying, yeah let's give it a try, let's commit but let's not get carried away, excited even, as if this means something, as if we're all serious and shit. Serious as fucking cancer! Anything worth doing and all that. It breaks my heart that my wonderful, talented, ambitious author-friends are hurting. It makes me wanna squeeze them and soothe them and tell them it's gonna be all right but I can't promise that, not to them, myself, anyone. But I will say this. In the undying dying words of Seamus Heaney: Noli timere. Don't be afraid.

Am I scared? No. Genocide is scary. And gendercide. Fascism. Homophobia. Hate in general. This? Since you are my sweet escape from all of the above, pour le fun, no. You know what else I'm thinking? You don't have to follow paths. Forge your own. Make like Gertrude Bell or Ranulph Fiennes. Tap into the explorer. There's one in everyone. And I know what you're thinking. Things are moving too fast for anyone to keep up with or analyze so how do you know where you should be headed and if you do know how do you get there? E-commerce, corporate cultures, the economy, it's all moving and evolving at the speed of sound, light even. New business models emerge and dated ones die and who knows where to head and how to get there. It's all one big expedition.

And I know you think fear is healthy, proof your self-preservation instinct still works, but too much is nothing but paralyzing. Who knows what's going to happen next year or next month or in the next two minutes. You can wish. You can hope. But you can never know for certain. Not until you get there. That's when you can say, "I always knew I'd end up [insert your destination]." That's the only time you can make that claim, really. So why worry. You may have no power over how the game is played but you can always improve your own performance. That's all you can do. That much you can always influence, whatever it is that you're trying to achieve.

That's what I think anyway. And you're thinking I'm not helping. This ain't helping. You want to write and you want to be published and you want to succeed and you know, you just know published authors know something you don't but they won't tell you what it is because it's a secret, The Secret. The Secret Ingredient. The Recipe. Now listen close. Like really listen. All ears? Here it comes. There is no recipe. And you're secret ingredient. And that's why this whole business can feel like one huge clusterfuck of frustrating counterproductive and counterintuitive forces at work, not the energizing life-affirming expedition you thought you'd embark on. No promises, no guarantees, a lot of work, sweat, even tears, for what exactly? You tell me. What's the point? Your point? Goal? Destination? Answer those questions and you'll know where you should go and what you should do, maybe even how to get there. Methinks.

As Takei would say, oh my. Shall we lighten up things some? What else have I been up to? Tackling my TBR and TBW pile and revisiting old favorites. Having a good time with Hubby. Raising my kids to be dissident decent compassionate human beings. Having fun with friends. Planning and saving up for future travels. Studying life, the universe and everything, trying to improve and advance one thing and day at a time. The Harvest Moon was magnificent and the fall equinox came and went and took the sun with it. The leaves are turning but the days were so warm for so long it was as if the summer had never ended. It was nice but it's coming to an end and as much as I'd like to think I'm ready, I'm all settled, I'm cool with this, I have my Dylan Thomas moments. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage on against the dying light. Then again, what's the point?

Told you I'd get logorrheic on you. Thanks for listening. TLDR? Hey, it's my blog. And it's your prerogative. Are you saying you haven't missed the soapbox and the sermons? Say it ain't so. And all I'm hearing once again is me-me-me. What have you been up to, sweetie darlings? I see you but I never hear from you. So now I'm listening. Like really listening. All ears. Still not hearing anything.

I'll get my coat.

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