Friday, July 31, 2015

7-31-2015 Entry: When is Enough, enough?

Hello my darlings! I hope your Friday has gone well so far and that you have fun, exciting things planned for the weekend! You better believe I’m excited to lay on a (for lack of a better descriptor) massage table and have my electrolygist spend an hour zapping the bajesus out of my chin to destroy my facial hair! (if I had a sarcasm bell, I’d be ringing it right now).
 
No, my lovelies, Emma has no grand plans for excitement or fun this weekend. Just a painful insurance deemed “cosmetic” procedure and yard work! Maybe I’ll decide to be scandalous and go buy a bikini to wear while I mow the lawn! You know, get a good tan going while all my new neighbors are like O_O wtf?? Okay, sorry, perhaps that image is only funny to me but I had to share it. In Minnesota you have to embrace the sunlight and the chances to absorb some vitamin D when you can get them because in the winter we get like 8 hours of sunlight from 8am to 4pm and it’s way too friggin cold to be absorbing any of it then!
 
Anyways, yes, my weekend forecast is a bit of painful, mixed with some boredom and manual labor. Yuck! I hope you can say you are faring better than I am.

If I’m honest, despite my levity thus far, I’m actually feeling rather down today and this week in general. I don’t like being Debbie downer on here because I know there are trans people out there looking for positive role models to engage with and normally I try so hard to be one of those people. You know, Emma, transwoman extraordinaire, kicking ass and taking names! But lately there really hasn’t been much of that.
 
I think the greatest issue I’m facing right now is the continued disappointment with the results of my news story (/drags out the dead horse and begrudgingly grabs her bat to continue the beating). It’s now been 9 days since my story was on the nightly news and in that time almost nothing at all has changed, which has left me wondering if it was even all that important or good for me to do the interview. I think that’s the biggest problem with this disappointment is that I’m not sure if my disappointment is justified or if I’m just depressed for no reason.
 
Let me explain, if I had, say, gotten a handful of letters from people who had never read my blog but found it through the news story, and they had said something as simple as, “Thank you for allowing your story to be shared” or even a “Hey, saw you on the news, wanted to say good job,” then I might have felt like the message actually reached someone new. But nothing like that happened. Don’t get me wrong, those who already read trans-advent or already knew about me as Emma that did write in to me to tell me positive things were greatly appreciated and helped me feel better about how it had all gone down, but I guess I was hoping for something more.

I got a huge spike in blog readers for a few days and that was really awesome, but since then things have returned back to the way they were before the story ran, leaving me to wonder if my writing is boring or not good enough to merit their further attention. I know, that previously discussed neuroses about the little girl wanting attention she isn’t getting probably comes to mind but this just illustrates the nature of the beast called depression. Just because you wrestle the beast to the ground and feel like you’ve finally conquered the issue, it can often find a way to sneak out from under you and catch you by surprise.
 
I guess I just wanted someone to notice me in a more significant way that what I’ve seen thus far. I honestly wanted someone to notice my potential both as an advocate for the trans* community and as a relatively talented writer, and then possibly offer me some sort of opportunity to do more with my writing and advocacy than just sit at my computer typing words away and sending them off into the dark unknown of the private blogosphere. I want to have an impact on the world and I want to have an impact in a bigger way that I have historically. I know that I am capable of doing so much good, of being such a well-intentioned, articulate, poised and powerful voice for this community (god how I wish you could see the whole interview with Liz Collin, I kicked ass, I swear to god), but it’s like there is a glass ceiling permanently barring me from escaping the drudgery of my nine-to-five career as a mid-level paper pusher.
 
Sometimes it feels like I’m living in a nightmare, you know the kind that isn’t all that scary until you realize you are stuck in it FOREVER and then it’s really, really scary. That’s how I feel my life is sometimes, like I’m stuck in it; like there is this amazing person inside who has the potential to be truly extraordinary if only given the means to be and yet every chance I get at someone finally fucking noticing and enabling that extraordinary potential is either taken away from me or fizzles into nothing. It’s like I’m stuck in a hallway with ten thousand doors and I’m desperately trying to find my way to a better place that I know exists (I’ve seen it, and can almost remember it) and every time I try a door it either leads me directly back into that hallway or won’t open at all. Sometimes a door opens and light shines in and birds chirp and I know that this is finally the right door, but before I can run all the way to that door, it slams shut in my face and locks itself leaving me with nothing but my desperation, disappointment and anger. Or worse still, someone else joins me in that hallway for like 10 seconds and before I can figure out what’s going on they’ve already found the right door and left me alone, locking it behind them to keep me from following. (are you getting how this feels like a nightmare?)
 
I just…. I just don’t know what to do… I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Am I really just mediocre and don’t know it? Am I just completely awful at writing and can’t see it? Am I just so untalented, unimaginative, and uninteresting that I’m doomed to always live in disappointment because I’ll never measure up to what’s required to be someone worthy of social influence or large scale attention?
 
Everything inside of me tells me I came to earth to rock this life, to break down barriers and uplift thousands, tens of thousands, shit, even millions of others, and yet, the reality of the situation is that I’m a nobody paper pusher who was on the news for a New York minute and who will likely fade even further into obscurity. I say that there is so much more to this story than what’s been written so far but is that actually true? What if it isn’t true. What if I’ve peaked and my content on here will fizzle out to nothing. So many transgender bloggers and video bloggers end up fading out after a few years anyway, so what’s to stop me from doing the same thing? I’m running out of fears to face down and tell the world about, so perhaps this really is just the beginning of the end and there is nothing I can do about it.
 
I guess I just start to wonder what the point is. Why should I keep writing when every attempt I make at writing ends up in disappointment? I wrote Chariots of Heaven and was so proud of myself for doing that. It just made me feel so accomplished to have achieved a goal I set for myself after I had failed so many times before to achieve it. I can hardly count the number of books I started and never finished, but not this time; this time I had finally done it!
 
I was so excited to publish it myself through Kindle and iTunes because that’s what writers were doing. PSSSHH with the publishers, writers were able to give their words directly to the readers without losing the meat of their art, without having to sacrifice control so someone else could make a profit, and without sacrificing the potential for decent income. I was just so convinced that people would like my book and would buy it, but they didn’t. Everyone who read it gave it a stellar review and begged for the second one to be written, but they were so few in number.  I chalked the lack of response up to being a new author and having to prove I could write another one before anyone would take me seriously, and began working on the second book. I finished that book, which was about 50% longer, and published it again, this time feeling even more proud of my accomplishment.
 
No more could anyone say I wasn’t a writer, that I wasn’t an author, that I could never finish a book. I had done it not once, but twice! And the story was good, compelling, and original (so say those who read it). I had learned a thing or two about book marketing in my time as a writer and so I implemented new strategies, strategies that ultimately brought minor increases in sales. Tens of thousands were downloading my first book because it was free but so few of them seemed to actually read it. Those that did gave it great ratings and bought the second one, but in the end, I was barely making enough per month to fill up my gas tank.
 
I lost all hope then that I could ever be a full-time writer (this was a year ago). My dream of being a writer for a living just seemed too out of reach. All I needed was some luck, just a little bit of luck, but nothing ever came. I thought about killing myself, about just ending my life rather than living with the failure to achieve my ultimate goal. I’d achieved my goal to write a book, not once but twice, but what good were books if only a few hundred people read them? What good were stories about human potential, love, and ability if no one heard them? How could I be expected to keep pouring every waking hour outside of work into writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, editing, formatting, publishing, and promoting books when there was almost no return on the effort? I was defeated.
 
That’s when Emma came, breaking out of her prison in my mind and showing me that it wasn’t the end, that we weren’t defeated. She showed me that together we could write a story people would want to read, that we could be a writer who had a positive impact on the world. Together we decided to change, to become one, and to share our own story. It felt so good to share this story and so many people seemed to want to hear about it. Many more than those that wanted to read about Kira, the half-blood human and her adventures in the pre-historic space opera of Alien Gods responsible for the birth of humanity. No, this time it was our non-fiction that would captivate an audience.
 
We felt reassured that our dream to be a writer was not dead, was not broken, and that things were not hopeless for us just yet. Our readers grew and grew and grew again until finally a reporter contacted us for an interview. “Finally!” we thought. Our lucky break had finally shown up. Now our audience would jump into the tens of thousands, more than ever before, and our chances at making this writing gig work out in a significant way would go way up!
 
We did the interview, no, not did, we kicked that interview’s ass! We were so well-spoken and were able to share such compelling words with Liz Collin. The potential to bring a new perspective to things was amazing and we were certain things would work out so perfectly. It felt too much like providence for them not to, too much like our ship had finally entered the harbor and we would be whisked away to the extraordinary life as an influential writer that we were so ready for… but that ship didn’t stop at our dock. It wasn’t our ship. It wasn’t coming to take us away at all…
 
No, instead, it was merely a tour ship for others. There were people on the deck of the ship that waved in excitement at us as it passed, but all we could do was feebly wave back, wondering where they were going. “That’s it?” we were left to wonder. That’s what we get after all of this effort, some people waving at us from a passing tour ship?
 
“Just wait,” we told ourselves. Just wait and see how things go before losing hope again. Maybe the tour ship would circle around and pick us up after all. Maybe another ship would be following after them to pick us up. Just keep faith that this isn’t the end, that there is still an opportunity for this to turn into something great.
And so we waited, nine days, practically forgetting along the way about the interview. We lost ourselves in our work, in the drudgery of same-shit-different-day toil and even started writing on the third novel in the Chariots of Heaven series to fill our time. We pretended that we no longer felt a tinge of disappointment and decided to move on, hoping that someone out in the world was positively impacted by our interview and the visibility of a trans person in the news.
 
But this feeling will not abate. These doubts will not give us peace. Should we give up on writing? Should we stop trying to achieve a goal that seems ever in the offing? Should we succumb to the pressure to accept our role in life and society as set in stone? Are we fools for continuing to believe our dream is achievable; that one day it can be our primary focus and actually pay the bills? Are we fools for continuing to try to make something of ourselves beyond the predictably achievable?
We need encouragement. We need to know that we aren’t just yelling into the wind, that our efforts aren’t in vain. We do not want to give up, yet we feel like such a failure. How do we dust ourselves off again after we’ve fallen so many times? When is enough, enough?
-Emma

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