Open Journal: Who Am I?

My spirit’s been having a rough time, lately. Even though it’s been several months since The Trauma at the end of Germany, I still haven’t been able to write like I used to. Short stories, sure. Flash fiction and scraps of poetry. But nothing like a novel.

And it’s awful because so much of my identity – so much of my self-worth – is Danielle = writer. That was my thing. My gift. My magic. So my brain says to me, If you’re not churning out books, then who even are you? And what is the point of you?

Because my brain is not my friend.

Fortunately, Will and Tirzah are.

I was speaking my sadness to them; sighing my wish that I were a cooler character in my life’s story. And thus spake they of me:

Tirzah: Hold on. Someone, write up all the things about her that she would find cool if she heard them about someone else.

Will Scarlet: Well, we’ve covered the hell-ton of written/published works and Europe. Also: Ren Faire.

She can hear dialogue and music cues from childhood movies and radio in her head. Surely that’s a low-grade superpower.

She has a lute. She owns a cool hat bought in Manchester, and epic boots reminiscent of Merry Men.

She makes friends of fountains. She’s in love with the moon.

She’s never too old to sing the songs she likes from kiddie stuff, and geeks out at krakens and balrogs.

She apologizes to books for dropping them, and takes care not to smother her stuffed animals.

She drove the back end of Maui – where even the locals dare not wend!

Me: Okay. You make me sound credible.

Will: Then I’m failing, cuz you’re INcredible.

Tirzah: She’s created great art. She’s adventured far and wide. She’s written, lived, and loved stories.

She’s had an eye for the beauty in every place she’s been, and faced many fears for the sake of beauty and adventure.

She’s come up against Giants and been wounded, but not defeated. She rises up again after every blow.

She’s kind in spite of all, and true of heart in spite of much. She’s always pushing onward, herself and others – sometimes in vain, sometimes too hard, but sometimes to glory. And sometimes to simple survival.

She’s noisily brave. She’s faced trials in and out. She has kingdoms hidden under her hats, of which she has many – figurative and otherwise. She’s always pressing forward and branching out and learning new things.

She’ll do what she must. And what she must is, in her mind, a far higher standard than most would dare raise their eyes to.

Me [through literal tears]: Thanks for liking me, guys.

Will: Pssht. Why wouldn’t I?

And I share all this not so readers can see me, but so that those among them who need to can maybe see what they’ve been overlooking in themselves.

Being cool, being somebody, being Enough – it’s not all about Big Things you can do or have done. It’s not all about achievements or talents.

It’s also about the little ordinary things, and the everyday weird things, and the quirks and the quiet strengths that all add up to the person you are.

I needed to hear that – and probably will need it again, before I’ve healed enough to return to my old word wizardry. Hearing likely won’t always mean believing, but as the West Wind once said, “what is true does not require your belief to be.” So believe it or not, Danielle, here is the truth:

Danielle = writer is inaccurate math.

Danielle > that.

Kingdoms Hidden Under Her Hats 06


In Which I Risk Uniting a Divided World in Disdain for Me

So, let me try to keep this brief.

Diversity in fiction. Race representation. White male privilege. Etc.

People might assume that since I’m a brown-skinned female, I’d be all up in arms about this kind of thing.

People would be wrong. Call me a privileged white man, but I kind of actually want the whole conversation to die.

My problem with it is that it is WAY too focused on appearances, seeming to imply that, if I don’t see a character who in some way looks like me, I’m too shallow to be able to identify with said character. Like the only way I can see myself in fictional characters is if they share my gender and skin tone and culture. (Like skin tone has anything to do with culture. But I’m not going into all that, right now.) Like the only way I can know I have value as a person is if my media tells me so.

Personally, I wouldn’t much care if I never read a book or watched a movie with a single “person of color” in it again – not because I am at all opposed to their inclusion, not because I don’t enjoy a wide variety of humanity to look upon, but because, to me, it does not matter.

I’m not going to automatically root for a character because she’s a she or dark or ethnically-featured. You’ll never hear me complain about the utter dominance of light men in my favorite film trilogy, “Lord of the Rings ”. Color alone isn’t a person, let alone a whole group of people, and it isn’t their story. It is, at most, only one part of it. And believe it or not, it may not be what they consider to be the most important part.

Coloring outside the lines as Will Scarlet (white), Elphaba (green), and one of the Inkborn (blue-tinged black/brown) from “A Morrow More”.
Coloring outside the lines as Will Scarlet (white), Elphaba (green), and one of the Inkborn (blue-tinged black/brown) from “A Morrow More (One More Day Anthology)”.

People like to claim we’re all the same in the ways that matter, all one big happy world of sisters and brothers, one all-inclusive human race. But then they turn around and rage about how this or that sub-race isn’t getting enough face time.

Am I the only one who sees the massive contradiction here?

If we’re all one, why do we care? If we’re all on the same team, what difference does it make? If race isn’t important, why do we howl about how watching a movie gives us snow blindness with the apparently oh-so-glaring lack of darkly pigmented skin? Why do girls get cranky if they don’t feel a story gives them a “strong” heroine to latch onto?

Reality check, People of Earth: This conversation does not appear to be bringing different types of people closer together so much as drawing the lines more sharply between them. (…And even vilifying whiteness and devaluing maleness in the process. Whee-ha, more racism and sexism. That’ll solve the world’s problems.) You need to learn to stop harping on your differences in order to appreciate your similarities in the ways that actually count. Not trying to call everyone together around the campfire for a few stanzas of “Kumbaya ”, or anything, I’m just saying: If this black female has never had any difficulty identifying with white male characters, what is everyone else’s problem?

PerGoSeeMo Psalm 6

Psalm 6. Exodus 3:13-15; American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th Ed.

            To exist in actuality;

To have life, and have reality;

You are, therefore you are.

            To occupy all places at all times,

No need to specify;

Both far and near, both there and here,

Out- and inside of me:

You are maker of all, and are in all you have made.

            To eternally remain

In your indisruptable state:

You, who will be what you’ll always be.

            To take place: You, the great event

Upon which history is hinged.

            You came to go, and you alone

Know when you’ll come again.

            None equal your identity,

Or balance your significance;

            No class can hold your quality,

Aspects beyond equality.

            To seem to consist or be made of:

You are all power, holiness, love.

            Your spirit fallen down to me,

Ours is a mutual belonging.

I am yours.

You are who you are:

Bearer of the greatest name to ever be.