Painting [and Drawing and Sculpting and Putting Broken Things Together to See What Happens] My Way Out of A Corner

This dark, confining, safe little corner. Oh, my. I’ve been hiding here since August, and am so ready to come back into the light.

So I’m clearing the deck. Or desk, to be more specific. There’s a bunch of old writing I want to get out there/get rid of, and I’ve been letting this one floppy beast leak out onto Wattpad, one chapter at a time. There’s a lot of old poems. I’ve been stuck. And I wanna get unstuck. That means digging myself out of all the piles of fiction and poetry that have no place in my life anymore, and either publishing it –ESPECIALLY because so much of it’s terrible, that’s a brave thing I’ve been scared to do: be terrible in public– or just organizing it into files. I know that if something doesn’t “spark joy” we should toss it, but in the past I’ve done that only to find out long after the fact that something either sparked joy which I hadn’t noticed, or while in the process of sending out boxes of things that SERIOUSLY didn’t cause joy, I accidentally mixed them up with boxes of beloved books and treasures. In case you haven’t guessed, for the past 8 years I’ve moved an awful lot. As far as long-abandoned WIPs, I either want to wake them back up and finish them, or decide that they no longer serve me as a writer, and likely not anyone else as a reader. And then it’s time to start something altogether new, and get back to present projects that I haven’t quite abandoned, but am neglecting. Poor things.

But this was supposed to be a post about visual artwork, not writing.

I’ve been posting artwork anywhere from several weeks to several years ago on this page for awhile. There’s more; lots more, too much more tucked away in boxes in various closets and basements…like the old writing. I had been thinking about throwing down something new here every day, but instead am going to revisit this book which helped me so much when I was in a similar emotional state several years ago.  Granted, I adjusted her method to make it work better for me, but the basic “sit for five minutes with some watercolors and don’t think about what youre painting” was a good start. I did it faithfully for thirty days.

What is not recommended by the BDB is going back and continuing to work on the “quickies” or –I think– share them with others. [If I’m wrong, I apologize because it’s been a long, long time since I read the book, and loaned out my copy to the Wrong Person so will never see it again. But I digress.] So I felt compelled to let those watercolors sit awhile, then return to them, and with a Sharpie marker and clipboard trace everything I found in that painting. There were lotsa magical creatures. Some spooky ones. Some beautiful ones. Plants. People. Food. Symbols. Body parts. New shapes. I was creating order out of chaos. That series would become the mad circus you’ve seen on this blog which looks a lot like stained glass windows.

So I’m going to try doing the 30 days of watercolor (and/or colored pastel on black paper; I’ve been enjoying that) and see where I go. Hoping it’s out of this corner. Wish me luck.

Also, here’s that finished Wattpad 1970s-1990s magical realism Gen-X friendly book I was talking about, earlier. PLEASE read the forward, so you don’t accidentally read the book if that laundry list of problematic subjects I list offends/triggers/outrages you. It’s not for everyone. But now it’s officially out of the desk, and I won’t have to think about the years of blood, sweat, tears, and heart I put into this thing:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/164719002-the-land-of-nod-a-novel

Hey, more Feb-March goals?

— Quit apologizing so darn much. Unless I’ve done something mean, even by accident.

— Try not to hedge, whether writing or speaking.

— Say no if/when I need to.

— Don’t take any guff from people who get angry for me not doing what they think I should when it goes against my own needs and values.

— Believe I deserve happiness and accept kindness.

— Trust in the universe that the sad story going on for so long will have a happy ending, or at least a peaceful transition into something more beautiful than my imagination can come up with.

— Ask for help when life is just too much. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

I’ll be back in a month unless/until something wicked cool happens between now and then. You are welcome to join me on this journey.

Sending love,

Rachel and vka

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THE LAND OF NOD: You Might Hate This Book

 

 

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“She’d been subterranean for little more than an hour, and already was forgetting life on the outside….”

The Land of Nod is a psychedelic Roman a clef, a journey of magical realism, a dark children’s tale for adults. Recovered methadone baby Kassandra Bullet is on a quest for family, faith, and Self. Along her journey she meets a lively set of players: 78-year-old potato farmer Adelaide Wentworth, Bufo Alvarius rancher Toad Licker, former Illitch Chief Deputy John Losa, her doomed lover Raven Black, and even a mime who just might be Jesus Christ. Will this strange girl in a strange land stumble upon salvation, or descend into destruction?

                                                       THE LAND OF NOD

                                                           Nothing Is Real.

Surprise! I’m putting out a new book this week.

Pirates, be ye warned.

As the title of my post indicates, this here is a Preemptive Strike. Hi, Twitter! Lots of content warning and some ’splainin’ is in order for Vivacia K. Ahwen and Rachel Robbins’ new release, The Land of Nod. I’ll try to hit all points I can think of. Though I’ll surely be reminded if I forget something 😉

Let’s start with authors and genre, shall we? Vivacia K. Ahwen writes erotica, but has grown quite weary of it. Rachel Robbins writes some hot stuff, but it’s not the primary focus of the story. More magical realism, less wank. Since I (Rachel) haven’t published anything under my own name, I decided a good way to cross over into my lit fiction and still have some brand recognition was co-authoring with Vivacia. Also, let me be clear: The Land of Nod is a New Adult book, not a Young Adult. Rather than list all the potential “triggers” in the book, let me just say there’s a bunch of them. If you are easily offended by exploring upsetting issues, please read something else. The MC is only eighteen by the end of the book, which would scream YA, but there’s some seriously creeptastic stuff in Nod. It might be considered appropriate for the teen set back before we started infantilizing readers, but nowadays it’s not. There is physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The underground toad ranch is not a safe space. Also….

I started writing LON in 1992, and it was an on/off labor of love that kept me semi-sane through some dark years. The Land of Nod was my playground. Unfortunately, by the time I’d finished (2004), the novel was already irrelevant and outdated. For example, people are going to think of actress Sandra Bullock when they read “Kassandra Bullet.” I’d never heard of her until long after Miss Congeniality had come out, and since Kaybee’s name is integral to character, plot, setting, theme, etc. I can’t change it.

Twilight’s Jacob Black wouldn’t ride his motorcycle onto the pop-culture horizon for at least another year. Once he did, I was crushed, having not found a publisher for Land of Nod. You see, “Raven Black” (also from a fictional Indian Nation) is Kassandra’s love interest, and –once again—his name is part of the story. Oh, and THEN the Raven Cycle series came out. I read the first of them this year, and it seems there’s a similar magical realism thing going on with that. Raven Black is all connected with birds, ya see.

Which leads me to my next woe/worry: I’m so going to get nailed for cultural appropriation and stereotypes. Even though I was attempting to address problematic stereotypes and do some lit deconstruction with the Illitch tribe, that likely will be an issue for some readers. I can see people taking excerpts out of context, kicking up some internet outrage, and start a campaign of 1-starring without reading the book. Because of what I’m going for, that’s a risk I’ll have to take. Tina Fey got a major smackdown for doing something similar in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and she did it far better than I. So, there it is.

Mexico and France chapters may be considered “problematic,” due to my renegade use of Spanglish and Franglish, which was intended. Also, the characters they meet will be called out as stereotypical. Fair enough, but they were based on the old-school locals I met while I was staying in the area. Old school is what I wanted, and that’s how I wrote them.

While we’re talking  race/nationality, Kassandra Bullet’s is never clearly stated, which was also deliberate. Also-also, there are people with disabilities in the book, and some LGBTQ community, too. Even though I may be pressured to reveal my ability or lack thereof, or speak to strangers about my sexuality, it ain’t going to happen. I’ll write whatever I damn well please, and have watched one too many authors bend under pressure, feeling the need to share personal information so that they can prove themselves “qualified” to write marginalized characters. I’m not doing it.

Oh, and there’s no table of contents.

Think I covered my bases. Since I’m not doing a lotta promo, am negging the book in a public forum, and the fact that it’s around 600 pages, I don’t expect many people to read The Land of Nod. This post is primarily just to save me some time deflecting down the road. If you’ve read this far and still want to check it out, here is the Kindle Link, but the paperback –which will be available next week– is way cooler. Not only because the cover art looks even trippier, but it’s meant to be read as a page-turner, turn, rather than a scroll and slide. It just is.

FREE with Kindle Unlimited! $9.99 *cough* without:

Maybe you’ll love it.

Though I haven’t read LON in well over a decade, I do remember having a blast working on it. For the most part. Okay, I cried a few times, too. I hope you have a blast reading it and cry a few times as well. Embrace the weirdness. Listen To The Warm.

Above all, I just needed to get The Land of Nod out of the drawer so that I can close that chapter of my life, and focus on writing something new. There’s a ton of stuff in the works, and I’m cool with saying a final goodbye to Toad Licker.

Hugs,

RR + vka