©2022 Michael Raven
I’m making changes around here.
Or, I hope to, anyway
We’ll see if my best intentions bear fruit. [warning: long, rambling post]
I’ve been going on and on about some of the things I’ve attempting to grapple with these past few months and I think the only way to really grab the tiger’s tail to ride him is to stop thinking and making vague references, but to actually start putting some flesh on these ideas and concepts moving forward. I will not hide, nor will I ever hide, that I have a mental illness best described as dysthymia. In lay terms, that means I struggle to reach baseline and often plummet into much deeper depressions, often with little or no warning. Occasionally, I get a little manic, but not often enough, or cyclic enough, to call what I have manic-depression.
And that’s only part of what I’m trying to get at. Not only am I seeking a way to mitigate some of that tendency to hover some degree below baseline or, at least, manage it better than I have in the past — but I am trying to be a more “authentic” me. I have been working on “rewilding” my spirit, although I am leaning more into “wildcrafting” my spirit as time goes on. I’ve been masking myself for some many years to appear as someone I am not: first with copious quantities of booze and beer while attempting to assimilate into “normal” society, but then with prescribed drugs and a heavy dose of eastern thinking (not that either is necessarily bad in of themselves but, when used to mask yourself, probably not very healthy).
Some of that has also bled through to my writing over the years, as I chased one unicorn or another and, in such situations, often writing in an attempt to write for an audience or audience type rather than for myself.
One of the changes that is in the process of becoming is that I am planning on limiting the amount of angsty, anguished writing that I pursue here and elsewhere. That doesn’t mean I will be shying away from writing about some of the subject matter that might be disturbing or upsetting to some, but that I am going to recognize when I have gotten obsessive about a given thought process and then force myself to find another subject to write about. Part of my vss365 exploration has been to get new prompts each day that force me to write in different styles and themes to break out of some of the obsessive downward spiral I find myself in more often than not. One can easily take these prompts and persist in that direction, but I am consciously planning on avoiding such cyclic repetition of certain themes. The prompts help me pull away from that.
I’m also going to return to the attitude I once had that I will limit profanity in my writing. While there is always a place for such things, I believe it shows more skill when you generate that feeling the expletive creates without actually using it. As some wise man once said (his mother said): “Swearing makes you sound like a fucking idiot”. There is a time and a place for it, but I plan to avoid lazy usage and be more careful about how I employ it in my writing.
I also plan to reassess when it is appropriate to use violently vivid imagery in my writing. This goes back to the whole “horror” discussion Stephen King made arguments for in his book, “On Writing”. While he was not above using aversion and disgust to create “low horror”, he suggested that there were “higher” levels of horror that achieve much more stellar and effective results in the long-term. I think I’ve been relying too much on the “cheap” disgust mode to evoke an emotional response over the past few years, and so I plan to try and limit that.
These kinds of things, believe it or not, do have an impact on the writer’s psyche. And, because I am trying to change my thinking, I feel it is imperative to be more cautious about utilizing these kinds of writing tools and tricks. Not to become a better writer (although I wouldn’t mind if it made me look slightly less unskilled), but to try and change the way I approach things in such a way as to stop short-circuiting my attempts to mitigate my emotional disorders.
In replacement, and probably already noticeable if you’ve dropped by here for any length of time, is that I am refocusing my attentions away from depressing topics for my writing on a more frequent basis, and work on trying to use words to wildcraft some of my thinking and spiritwork. In trying to become more rooted in the spirit world, I am hoping to find that grounding I’ve been lacking all of my life. No — not all of it is flowers and sunshine, some topics are intentionally disturbing as I try to get comfortable with things as they are instead of things as I wish they were. And “things as they are” is not all glitter and smiles. Sometimes we need to dig into the rot and filth and pull out the core of an issue and daylight it so we can heal — which is different than the wallowing in the filth, as I have been doing most of my life.
It also means that I am actively working on no longer being such a misanthrope. I know that it is uncommon in this day and age, or it appears to be anyway, but I am doing my best to be supportive of everyone else I meet who are trying to express themselves in writing, music, or visual art. It must be uncommon, because I already have received my fair share of “what’s your motive/angle” kinds of responses to what I hope is positive reinforcement. Most people eventually realize I am just trying to be nice and supportive after a period of time, but not everyone. I’m earnestly trying to move beyond the transactional kinds of online exchanges that seem to be commonplace online. I want nothing in return from anyone, I’m just trying to lift people up a little more than seems popular these days. What I get out of it is fuel for wildcrafting of my spirit. Positive energy, qi, whatever. I give out more positives and support, the spirits are “charged” and it comes back to me.
So there. If things seem in flux in my approach towards you, the site, my writing, and my actions, it is because I am trying to get my shit together and leave a positive footprint where I walk. I am not perfect, and my lack of skill will show. But it is the goal behind some of these changes.