The photo below is proof that I should try harder to accept the reality that I can no longer go without wearing an over the shoulder boulder holder when I go out in public. It’s a good thing my chubby tummy made a nice shelf for my boobies, because it was raining and I wasn’t wearing a bra and I could be suffering from a serious pain from the abrasions and potential infections that would have been an inevitable result of my nipples spending the morning dragging on the ground, right?
Anyway, whenever I spend time with my friend Tracy (hot, tall, blonde babe in the photo) I find myself unable to not to think or talk about something I try very hard to avoid. Because we share a love of the written word,(you can find Tracy here at (It Builds Character) and here, (Chi Mom Writer) she is also one of the only people I feel comfortable talking to about the weirdness that is currently causing me to feel overwhelmed and terrible in my professional life. Most of the time, I like me very much because overall, I’m a decent human being (with terrible hygiene, the fashion sense of a schizophrenic squirrel, and extreme hyperactivity - sexy too if you are into stinky, dumpy, jumpy chicks).
But when it comes to my relatively new thang a lang I have going as a writer, I struggle. I turn into a bundle of self-deprecating goo every time somebody pays me a compliment about my writing, especially someone who can write circles around me, like mi Amiga, Tracy.
There are so many writers who have more talent in the itty-bitty constipated pebble turds they crap out than I do in my entire body, yet I’m sitting on a book deal based on this hot mess of a blog you are reading. How is that fair? Sometimes it makes me feel guilty.
~Because I stumbled into this, and often struggle because I don’t feel skilled and worthy~ where do I really fit in this weird, wide world of writers?
I ask myself this all- the- time.
Recently I learned that fellow Napervillian, a guy that I have known since junior high, published a work of fiction that he loosely based on his own life as a junkie called “Spoonful.” Click, click – I purchased it online and a few days later I was holding it in my grubby little troll hands, curled up on the sofa under a blanket reading. I took me all of thirty seconds to fall into this compelling story about a couple of heroin addicts chasing after their next fix in order to escape from their physical and emotional pain. Michael and Sal, the main characters, share a genuine friendship, the kind I think we all either have and cherish, or lack and ache for. A chapter into the story, I knew I’d be ordering pizza for dinner, not wanting to stop reading to cook for the family. I was addicted to “Spoonful.” (Sorry, but I could not resist)
I do this on occasion, get sucked into a story and check out of my real life. A good writer makes it easy to do that and Chris Mendius is a good goddamn writer! No, he’s a fantastic goddamn writer! He created characters that were so likable and authentic, that I was rooting for them to get away with all the petty crimes they committed in order to fund their addiction. When they fixed, I felt a real sense of my own relief, relief that the characters I had come to care for would have a temporary reprieve from their pain.
Stories like “Spoonful” are my drugs. I’m addicted to good writing. Books, blogs, newspapers – hell, I’d read customer testimonials in the waiting room at the proctologist’s office just to have words entertaining my brain. It’s not easy to write a good letter or recommendation, you know, to find the words to convey confidence and gratitude about your butt. But people do and it’s important that they do! As human beings, words are just our way. We’d be lost without them. I would be lost without them.
The book made me happy.
And that made me feel terrible.
My guilt light was on dim before I picked up the book, but reading it turned the lights up to bright. I felt like a criminal with her hands up, caught in the act, captured in a beam of light from the flashlight of writer’s police. “How did YOU get a book deal and a writer like Mendius ended up self publishing? You are under arrest for the crime of being a phony-baloney piece of shit passing herself off as a writer.”
And then there’s Allie Brosh. Sigh. Dear, sweet, weird, hilarious Allie, the brilliant mind and artist behind the choke on it AWESOME and original blog, “Hyperbole and a Half.” Allie is a triple threat in the writing world, (much like Selena Gomez in among the Disney kids): She can write, draw and market herself – Triple threat. Allie has been taking time off from her blogging (a full year in fact) and book writing (don’t know if she’s working on that) in order to treat her depression anxiety. Good for her, but bad for her fans who miss her. Fans like me! I have felt her absence in a more profound way than I could have anticipated. Oh please, Nikki, you might be thinking, don’t be so goddamn dramatic about a stupid blog. To that I say to you –
SHUT THE HELL UP AND DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO OR HOW TO FEEL!
Writers read and read and read (and read some more). It’s what we do and it’s how we can keep writing too! I’m inspired, entertained and enthralled by what I choose to read, whether it’s an online news source, blog, book, magazine, television show or a film (television and film are based on written stories so just shut it about how I’m not technically reading them). Getting tangled up in a story – that’s my addiction and guilty pleasure. Which leads me back to that whore of a fiery bitch – GUILT!
Up until a few days ago, my guilt light was starting to blind me. It was being turned up by circumstances too boring to detail, just know they were piling up. A luck would have it, my friend Tracy suggested that we meet for breakfast. My only regret about the morning I spent with her was that I didn’t wear a bra, because there is really no way to photo shop my boobs higher on my chest.
But really, I like my boobs. They are healthy even if they are a big saggy. They fed both my children, entertain my husband and make my shirts look good when I’m wearing a decent bra. I realized pretty quickly after seeing the picture the other day that my immediate use of self-deprecation about my boobs was my way of distracting myself from feeling the guilt I feel about having success.
FUCK YOU, GUILT!
And shame and fear and sadness and all the other things that make people hurt. People like Michael and Sal (and many other fascinating characters) in “Spoonful,” and Allie from “Hyperbole and a Half,” whose real and intense pain and suffering are dimming the bright light of her incredible talent!
I’m not going to tell you what happens with Michael and Sal. You’ll have to read it, this dark and brilliant book, in order to find out what happened to those junkies. According to Google sources such as Patheos.com and Allie herself, she is trying to shake that feeling of, “Oh no, I’m probably going to mess everything up and everyone who likes me and everyone who likes me is going to not like me,” and many, many more negative type feelings she is trying to work through.
I can't tell you what will happen with Allie. Depression is a soul sucking, greedy whore who doesn't know when to say when. I'm hoping for the best and it sounds like she has a great support system. Hang in there, Allie, and don’t give up! I’m rooting for you both because as a fellow human being who has love for others, I want this hurt to leave you AND also for one, big, fat, selfish reason - because I miss the way your writing inspired me to embrace my weirdness and threw me into fits of giggles and guffaws on the regular. You asked what the point of it all might be and spoke of feeling worthless. Oh sister, I hear that. I’m there right now. Allie’s sadness + Tracy’s honesty + Chris’s writing = Thought provoking, mind fuck of a swirl-o-soul searching tornado for Nikki.
I am going to tell you what happened to me. Yesterday, I spent the day feeling lost, caught up in a dark storm that took me completely off guard, even though the metaphorical thunder and lightening in my life was warning me. I suppose turning in my finished manuscript has something to do with this too. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that didn’t I? I handed over 300 pages of my feelings, memories, opinions, and experiences, wondering why the hell anyone would give a flying fuck about it? How is this even possible?
Well, why do I care about Allie and Chris and the characters he created? Why do I count the days until the next episode of "The Walking Dead," or John Kass's next rant in the Tribune about whatever it is that's got him hot under the collar? Why do I whisper sweet nothings to books in the library and re-read my favorites until the pages are worn and marked up?
Because I love the words and ideas and how they are shared and I need to feel connected to others. That's fucking why. And that's why you all connected to me I suppose. You like what I have to say and feel as connected to me as I do to you.
And that’s when I realized that even if I don’t deserve my success, I’ve earned it and that is something I can live with. Easily! I have worked hard at life, love and laughter. I have hurt – God have I hurt. Through it all I wrote my story and a few years ago I started sharing it with you all on Facebook and my bloggy thing here.
And I have earned your trust because I have been consistent and loyal and entertaining and raw and honest and weird. Aaaaaand…it is perfectly okay for me to feel both horrible and happy about it because life’s a completely insane and unpredictable thing that I can’t imagine experiencing without the words that make the stories of others. People like Chris and Allie (and countless other writers) who move me with their facts and fictions and funnies.
I hope you buy my book. I hope you keep reading my blog. I hope I can figure out how to wrap my brain around this crazy fabulous opportunity I have and embrace it without feeling as though I haven’t earned it, because I fucking have.
And that’s where I fit in, really.
Filed under: WTH Wednesday
Tags: Allie Brosh, anxiety, Chi Mom Writer, Chris Mendius, Depression, how to overcome guilt, Hyperbole and a Half, It Build's Character, mental illness, Mom bloggers, Moms who drink and swear, Moms who drink and swear on Facebook, Moms who drink and swear the book, Nicole Knepper, Plight of the Suburbanite, Spoonful, Tracy Mae, Tracy May Jensen