Welcome to Grahnd Haven, a lakeside town that’s picture perfect…on the surface. Below the surface, secrets and desires tremble, and sometimes chafe.
The title of this blog is really a joke. I just can’t take myself too seriously, and this blog will be mostly serious, so a little levity to start with is nice.
I’ve been doing a lot of ‘life work’ lately. Maybe that’s why I’m so sad today. It’s hard to change. To work on yourself and change your behavior. It can also be exhausting and lonely. It’s good work though, and I hope ultimately, I’ll make it through and be better for it.
I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my life and trying to figure out why the same things keep happening to me.
Why am I stuck in a pattern of heartbreak? Of always feeling like no matter what I do, I’m never enough.
Why do I have troubles in relationships? Why is it hard for me to connect?
Why, in a relationship, do I lose myself, put my partner’s needs and wants above mine, do everything and give everything I can until I’m empty and then angry about having given so much?
Why do I plan and organize big projects, but then ultimately feel unsatisfied at not having done a good enough job?
Why do I organize events and invite groups of people to participate, have a terrific time, but then wait and wait for someone to invite me to an event for once, spiraling into feeling rejected when those invitations don’t come?
Why am I so tired and angry and empty all the time?
This isn’t other people doing this to me. That’s the thing I’ve just figured out. These are my choices. And the things that need to change—it’s not other people. The thing that needs to change…is me.
I’ve recently read two books that have been kind of mind-blowing: “The Curse of The Good Girl”by Rachel Simmons…and “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself”by Melodie Beattie.
A few years ago, I would’ve rolled my eyes at these books, snorted, and turned away. That’s okay. I wasn’t ready then. I’m ready now.
In the first book, Simmons talks about how women are conditioned to be “Good Girls”. A Good Girl is compliant, kind, sweet, soft spoken. A Good Girl thinks about others first. A Good Girl sacrifices and tends to and supports those around her. A Bad Girl, on the other hand, is independent, fierce, sometimes mean, says what she wants. A Bad Girl puts herself first.
My entire life, I’ve been in a position to be a Good Girl. I’ve been conditioned for it. And I’ve done it a long time. But when I look at the list of what a Good Girl is and what a Bad Girl is…it’s so clear to me. I don’t want to be ‘good’. I want to be downright evil.
I’ve been having relationship struggles. Major ones. Soul-crushing, painful issues. I’m trying not to blame. I’m trying, instead, something new, and that’s to look at myself. A friend (also a Life Coach) brought up the idea of Codependency, of a toxic way of giving of yourself that harms you and ultimately harms the one you’re taking care of. By being a constant caretaker, you’re emptying your soul’s well, but also allowing your partner to not learn and do things for themself. When I understood the definition of co-dependency, I read the second book “Codependent No More”.
Today I feel like crying. Because it’s so…ME.
Being a caretaker on the surface is being a Good Girl. It’s what all women are conditioned to do. But if you go overboard, it’s also toxic and controlling, exhausting, and unfair. I’m left angry and resentful at all I have given.
I’m taking a long hard look at why, and how, I got here.
There’s so much to unpack here.
There are clear reasons how I got here. (I have a memoir written that details it, all stored on my computer.) I had to make it through a childhood that was rife with neglect, and then abuse, and then abandonment. Of a young adulthood where I struggled alone financially and never felt connected to a support system. Of an adulthood where I’ve tried very hard to be perfect. Of being a parent to a child with severe anxiety issues that led to a stay in a hospital. And I’ve been trying to be everything to everyone while also trying to grow my business, have a creative life, and have real connections with others.
All the reasons are there. I think, maybe, I’ve used them as excuses long enough, and it’s time to just let that shit go.
I’m writing about this for two reasons: 1) Maybe you can relate to having been so ‘good’ that you’re not honoring yourself. And 2) I’m writing this to be selfish. To acknowledge that I have made so many mistakes in life, but I’m trying, so deeply trying to put things right.
Just as soon as I figure out what that right thing is.
I feel tender right now. Like I have new skin. Emotional. Kind of trembly, as if I’m learning to walk and am about to tumble at any moment. I am learning though.
I’m trying to think of things as I move forward from a new perspective: What would my life look like if I stopped worrying and controlling everyone else and everything around me? Who would I be if I made choices that were right for me? Who would I look like if I were a Bad Girl?
I sorta like the image of me as a Bad Girl. She doesn’t care so much about what people think. If she wants something, she finds a way to get it. She’s not waiting for invitations or love or anything to fill her up. She’s got plenty going on in her life that is satisfying. She tells her kids to make their own breakfast, do their laundry, and she tells loved ones to do the work they need to do on their own. She travels and she makes a mean martini.
My Bad Girl has some attitude…and maybe she wears some leather. Maybe she looks good in it. Maybe it suits her.
It’s a start.
This blog was written by Audie-award winning (and nominated) narrator, Tanya Eby. Tanya is the performer of nearly 700 audiobooks, a USA Today Bestselling author, and you can check her out on Episode 2 “Winter Blunderland” on Netflix’s NAILED IT! HOLIDAY! She is working on healthy avenues for her anger like writing, working out on the treadmill, being authentic, and at times, having great food and drinks with friends.
The other day when I was picking my daughter up from school, I noticed she had the sweetest little smile while she was walking to the car. So I asked her about it. “What are you thinking about? You have the sweetest smile,” I said.
“Oh,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything really. I just smile so people don’t say anything to me and tell me to cheer up or whatever.” My daughter? She’s twelve.
I felt something in me stir. I call it The Anger Nugget.
It’s not a poetic term “The Anger Nugget”. In fact, it’s a bit comical, isn’t it? But it is an apt description for the tightness in my belly, the size of a walnut, that I try to keep the size of a walnut. Every now and then is jostles. Stirs. As if it’s about to grow. And then hatch. “Shush, now,” I whisper. “It’s all right. It’s nothing. Shhh. Quiet down.”
But that nugget was trembling.
My daughter wore a fake smile so that others wouldn’t bother her. Where did she learn this? At school? From her friends?
Or did she learn it from me?
It makes me nauseous to think that I have taught her this. How long have I been doing it? How long have I worn a pleasant face when on the inside I was seething?
I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Women have been/are, conditioned to be caretakers. We’re taught to anticipate the needs and moods of others. To take care of. To be quiet. To be meek. To put others’ needs before our own. We can show sadness. We can be sexy. But god forbid we show anger. Anger is something for men. Anger is a show of power.
I feel that rustling again. In my belly. Only this time, instead of saying “Shush, quiet down”, I’ve started to say, “Why are you trembling? What is fueling your growth?”
This anger nugget inside me…it’s growing. Maybe it will hatch into something. A bird maybe. Or a dragon.
I hope when it does hatch, it finally has the voice to speak strongly and be heard. To say that “You know what, I’m not happy today. And I’m not okay.” Or to say, “Take care of yourself. Figure it out. I’ve got things I want to accomplish.”
The secret thing about anger that I never really understood is that anger is empowering. In its pure form—not the form anger can take when it twists into violence—anger energizes. It connects you with your most basic needs.
Anger is a star wanting to be born, packed densely with all the things you’ve ever wanted or needed, of all the times you were ignored, of the moments when you spoke clearly but still no one heard you, of the times you put others before yourself because that is what you’re supposed to do because your needs aren’t important.
Anger can be a life force.
Anger is your spirit waiting to unfurl.
I told my daughter to not smile anymore. Not unless she wants to. She shrugged because that isn’t how the world works.
But it IS how the world works, my darling.
Watch me. I’ll show you.
Starting right now.
This blog was written by Audie-award winning (and nominated) narrator, Tanya Eby. Tanya is the performer of nearly 700 audiobooks, a USA Today Bestselling author, and you can check her out on Episode 2 “Winter Blunderland” on Netflix’s NAILED IT! HOLIDAY! She is working on healthy avenues for her anger like writing, working out on the treadmill, being authentic, and at times, having great food and drinks with friends.
Damn you, Facebook, and your algorithms! I’ve bought the Life Planner, already. I bought it. I’m planning my life. NOW SHUT UP.
I think I have a few issues I need to examine.
Self Examination But Not In The Shower
So here we go…2018 was, professionally, the best year of my life. I’m not kidding. It was the year of Holy Shit and I Can’t Believe This Is Happening and Someone Pinch Me But Not Too Hard Because I Am A Tender Flower.
Having NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED nominated for an Audie Award, traveling to New York to celebrate with the 30+ participants in the book, presenting at the awards and then getting elected onto the Audio Publishers Association board as Secretary.
Then to top it off, I was cast in NAILED IT! HOLIDAY! and flew to LA to record an episode. I met and became insta-friends with Lily and Brian, my co-contestants, and a truly wonderful producer named Laura. The show aired this December, and there have been so many amazing comments and support and general awesomeness. And people are laughing and watching it with their families. I won’t tell you how it ends, but it involves APPLAUSE. And a few tears.
And there was a bunch of other stuff that happened that was really cool and amazing and I feel really grateful.
But 2018 was also one of the worst years for me personally.
I’m not kidding. On the surface, everything is great and all these things I achieved are amazing. On the inside, though, things are a little rough. I’ve isolated too much, I’m at my heaviest I’ve ever been, have serious relationship issues I’m working through with loved ones, and have felt pressure to not talk about things I’ve achieved because it might hurt other people’s feelings, or make them feel less than.
So while everything professionally is great, personally, it’s kinda a shitstorm. WTF 2018?
So now as we’re moving into the New Year and I BOUGHT THE FUCKING LIFE PLANNER, FACEBOOK, I am analyzing everything.
Here’s what I know. I need to change my life.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
I need to change my (internal) life.
I need to feel better. Feel healthier. Feel calmer and connected. I need to be soothed. I need to be rubbed down with a body scrub and then lotion and then just sit outside in the sun for a while until I’m a little glisteny and sweaty, and then I need to drink some wine and eat some pasta.
So maybe what I really need is a trip to Italy.
My point here is…there’s really no point. Just to say that I’ve accomplished so many wonderful things, but I’m still a bit of a basket case. Maybe that’s a comforting thing to know. I hope so, because then there’s a bit of purpose to it.
So this year, it’s not that I want to change who I am, I just would like to relax my sphincter a bit without it being an “embarrassing episode”. I just want to relax more, connect more, and celebrate all the things that I was too afraid to make a big deal out of. And also celebrate the things that aren’t a big deal, because dammit, sometimes taking a shower and getting through the day is a big achievement.
Maybe what I’m saying, is that I want to change my life by living a little fuller. A little more. A little brighter.
I started last month with a wonderful trip to LA to connect with friends, to eat and drink, to tell ghost stories. And maybe that’s what I need more of in 2019.
So bring it on, 2019. I’ve written down IN MY PLANNER that there’s going to be a little more balance in my life from here on out.
But no weight training, because I’m also working on being realistic.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately that say “Hey! Can I buy you a coffee and pick your brain about how to be a narrator?” While I appreciate the offer of a coffee, How To Be A Narrator is a HUGE question, and while it may seem that anyone can do it, it’s a hard gig. Intense. Exhausting. Challenging. And at times ego crushing. It’s also the best gig on the planet (in my opinion).
So keep in mind, that when you ask “How to become a narrator?” it’s actually a really big question, with a really big answer. It’s not really something a narrator can quickly chat with you about or get a coffee over. It’s sort of like asking how you become an attorney, or a wine maker, or a dog breeder. There are lots of steps, and you have to be dedicated. It also helps to have a knack for it, which is something you can’t teach. And if you know a narrator who is narrating full-time for a living…trust me…it’s not just luck. It’s skill, training, tenacity, thick skin, and a passionate love for storytelling. It also helps if you don’t like people. You won’t see many locked away in your booth.
Narrating is truly wonderful, and I’m so lucky I get to do it full time. It’s also extremely challenging. You need to be able to sit still for about eight hours a day, have an ability in acting, read well, be able to research, be a self-motivator, and be extremely organized. It also helps if you know another language besides English.
I was a double major of writing and acting in college. I did voice-overs for TV and radio, taught creative writing at the college level, worked a million other jobs, and auditioned for audiobooks. It took me ten years before I could narrate full time as a paying gig. The industry is strongly pro-union, and I have been fortunate to belong to SAG-AFTRA for over five years now.
Here are some resources for you to research to see if this is the thing for you. I would also encourage you to practice reading out loud for many hours. Every time you mess up, stop and start the sentence from the beginning. Practice in a closet and see if you can handle the small-booth feel.
The best way to learn is to listen to audiobooks. It’s fun and you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Once you’ve listened a ton, practiced a ton, then you’ll need a demo. But I don’t suggest sending out demos until you’re ready.
I’m not a coach. I’m a narrator and writer, but there are plenty of wonderful, talented coaches out there who can help you. See below for some links.
Best of luck to you and sending you well-wishes!
LINKS TO WEBSITE ARTICLES:
LINKS TO BOOKS:
Free online lessons:
VO Coaches who offer solid training:
Nancy Wolfson - http://Braintracksaudio.com
Terry Daniel - http://www.universalvoicetalent.com/votraining.html
Pat Fraley - http://patfraley.com/pf/
Scott Burns - http://bookscottburns.com/
Marc Cashman - http://www.cashmancommercials.com/
Johnny Heller - https://www.edgestudio.com/johnny-heller
Carol Monda - http://carolmondavo.com/
Paul Alan Ruben - http://www.paul-alan-ruben.com/
Sean Pratt - www.seanprattpresents.com
Jeffrey Kafer: https://www.audiobookmentor.com/
This blog was written by Audie-award winning (and nominated) narrator, Tanya Eby. Tanya is the performer of nearly 700 audiobooks, a USA Today Bestselling author, and you can check her out on Episode 2 “Winter Blunderland” on Netflix’s NAILED IT! HOLIDAY! If you want to send her a Starbucks gift card for all of this information, she will gladly accept.
I need more joy in my life. I need more laughter. I need more space to breathe, and feel the sun on my face. I need more nights with friends and drinking wine slowly and eating together while music plays. I need to watch more sunsets. I need more connection, real connection, with friends and family. I need more time to let things…grow.
I may be exaggerating a little.
I’m super proud of these books which I co-wrote with the amazingly talented Sarina Bowen.
I’ve seen a few comments float up from the ether and the one that’s the loudest is:
“How on earth am I supposed to get hot and bothered by a character named Braht?”
Hmm. This is valid question. I’ve been waiting for someone to interview me about this, but no one has asked. (I’m thinking maybe because they don’t know Who The Fuck Tanya Eby Is. See here.)
So in an effort to address this issue, I’ve decided to interview myself. Actually, I’m letting Evil Tanya take over and ask the hard questions of Sweet & Gentle Tanya (SGT).
Here is the transcript of that interview.
EVIL TANYA: What da fuck were you and Sarina thinking naming a character BRAHT in a romance novel?
SGT: Well, it wasn’t really a thought, it was more of just how he appeared. He rose up from the primordial slush all fit and buffed and with super good hygiene and his name was Braht. You can’t blame me. Blame Sarina.
EVIL TANYA: Sarina had nothing to do with that. Sarina gives her characters great names like Dave and Jamie and Wes. BRAHT is a messed up name. Who wants to shout “Oh, Braht, do me! Do me harder, Braht!” while having sex?
SGT: Is that something you’d shout, really?
EVIL TANYA: No. I try to avoid names. I don’t want to embarrass anyone by saying the wrong one.
SGT: That’s what I thought. Look, Evil Tanya, you’ve got to trust me on this. There is a reason he’s called Braht. And he’s a great hero. He really is. He’s an alpha AND a beta. He’s the Alphabeta. The whole enchilada. He’s the bratwurst on a bun.
EVIL TANYA: Methinks someone has a sausage obsession.
SGT: Look, Sarina wouldn’t let it fly if it didn’t work. She’s a master. She really is. And, honestly, Braht threw an absolute tantrum when we wanted to name him Bert. It was ugly and I don’t want to go through that again, so we let him keep his name.
EVIL TANYA: I still don’t believe you.
SGT: THEN READ THE BOOK.
EVIL TANYA: Ohhhh. Testy much?
SGT: Only with you.
And then the interview ended. EVIL T just sort of disappeared and all I was left with was a glass of Australian Sauvignon Blanc and a plate of Midwest sushi.
So maybe you’ve read MAN HANDS because you love Sarina Bowen…and when you look at the cover, you’re like “Who the fuck is Tanya Eby?” It’s a valid question. I haven’t exactly developed a presence in the romance world for writing; it’s all been narrating.
MAN HANDS isn’t my first book, actually. I’ve written 7 or so? I’m too lazy to go check. The first book was EASY DOES IT, a romcom that has one of my favorite scenes that involves a shrimp balancing on the heroine’s chest. I frequently lose things down my shirt when I eat. This happens when you’re chesty, you wear v-necks, and you have terrible fine motor skills. So sometimes I find stuff down there. Popcorn. Raisinets. A hairbrush. It’s fodder for inspiration…also late night snacks.
Then I wrote BLUNDER WOMAN. BW is my spirit animal. For the longest time, I kept falling for guys that wanted nothing to do with me. Blunder Woman is about a woman finding out what’s important, and it ends differently than you might expect.
Next was PEPPER WELLINGTON AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING SAUSAGE and FOODIES RUSH IN. One’s a murder mystery/comedy (I have a penchant for naming characters after sausage) and the other’s a romcom with very little angst.
Then I got tired because I was writing funny stuff but I had an audience of five. Maybe six. And I couldn't get published traditionally, or get an agent, or find anyone who believed in me. So I stopped writing.
I just stopped. This was my big Dark Moment and it lasted for a long time. Like three years.
Then I got all emo like I was 17 again. I started listening to 80s new wave music, dressed all in black, and decided to delve into my darker side. I wrote some gothic stuff. Psychological. Creepy. Historical. Literary. I loved it. But it turns out, most people don’t like to read stuff that makes them depressed. Huh. I couldn’t even pay my family to read it. Guess they didn’t need that dollar.
So I stopped writing. Again. Completely. And I got angry and morose and I was kind of annoying to be around.
I threw myself into narrating. It’s my full-time gig, I work from home, and I get to read awesome stories out loud. I love every minute of it. Truly.
But I felt like I was missing something. I was missing being in love. I still got to read love stories, perform them even, but I didn’t get to write them.
Once my antidepressants kicked in, I wrote a funny scene with three girlfriends in a bar. I wanted something that was bawdy and pure fun. Something to balance the dirge of 2017. And I had a new mantra for myself. The Fug It mantra. SEE THIS BLOG. I got to a point where I was stuck, and lacked any confidence whatsoever so I sent it to Sarina Bowen for advice. We’d been working together on audiobooks and trading emails. Then on a whim I just thought, damn. I should ask her to write the book with me.
She said yes.
So we wrote MAN HANDS and MAN CARD and it was delightful. We’re gearing up to write the 3rd book in March…and I’m working on a comedic novel that’s women’s fiction. Really, it’s just a comedic novel. There isn’t enough good laughs in the world right now, and I’d like to help make people snort. Or chuckle. Actually, I want to make people snurkle. I’m also toying with a post-apocalyptic detective story because…I don’t know exactly. Because it sounds fun.
Here, then, is the summary of who I am: A writer who’s chesty, uncoordinated, gives up, gets back at it, and keeps on trying.
I also have super long second toes. It’s true. I’ve posted about it on Instagram.
And hey…MAN CARD is coming out soon. You should read it. And by you, I mean not just ladies, but dudes too. (You might learn something about women and dating and also get turned on a little). MAN CARD is funny, sweet, and holy shit there are some sexy scenes in there that you could get pregnant from. Seriously. MAN CARD will impregnate you. Dudes, I’m speaking to you too.
Anything else you’d like to know, just ask. I’ll either answer and/or obsess over it.
I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, life happens. Also, I’ve been bloated.
That last thing isn’t really important.
Life has been crazywonderfulpainfulbeautiful. Every day. I’m narrating great books (GOOD BOY by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy is coming up, books by Susan Mallery, and maybe/hopefully/pleasegodyes the new Rizzoli & Isles book by Tess Gerritsen). I’m writing a book, and gearing up to take Blunder Woman Productions all the way to 11.
And on Tuesday, I head out with my dear friend and colleague Amy McFadden for some Romantic Times. I mean, we’re GOING to the Romantic Times convention and meeting a bunch of narrators. I’m panicking, because, bloated.
I’d had mad plans not to be bloated. I started a diet again in January. I tried shakes and smoothies. They made me gag. Like that embarrassing kind of dry heaving. I’m really a sensitive flower, see.
Then I went gluten free. I lasted two weeks before I wanted to crush everyone’s dreams in between my palms and laugh.
If a diet is making you evil, it’s probably a sign it’s not a good fit.
Then I tried to count calories but I got so obsessed by it I ended up crying over an arugula salad that was sprinkled with pepitas. There were too many pepitas. I didn't have enough calories left to eat all the pepitas! Imagine me, sobbing, saying “Pepitas!” with a sense of loss over and over.
It wasn’t pretty.
Then I said “Fuck it” and ate enough pasta and bread that I started talking with an Italian accent. Not a pretty Italian accent. Oh noooooo. A MOB Italian accent.
Here’s the thing. I’ve got to get over this. I don’t look like I’m twenty anymore. When I was twenty I was super poor and unhappy and I also had bangs.
It wasn’t a good look for me.
Now, I look like who I am: a mom, a wife, a sometimes anxiety ridden goofball. I’ve got to just breathe through it and hope that when others look at me, they’ll see the parts that matter.
Not the person crying over pepitas.
The other person.
The narrator. The writer. The sometimes-enlightened-being who blushes when she drinks a glass of wine. The deep thinker and feeler. The sometimes whisperer because things sound creepy when you whisper.
I think, maybe, I’m not alone in this. If you see me at RT, give me a wink. I’ll know we’re kindred spirits in this march toward trying-to-be-okay-with-who-you-are-now, and not worry so much about who-you-thought-you’d-be.
I don’t actually know who-I-thought-I’d-be at this point. My Dream Tanya just wanted to eat fancy cheese and write poetry, so, I guess, I’m actually not too far from living the dream.
I thought I'd try something a little different with my blog. I want to highlight some of the wonderful authors I've had the opportunity to work with and narrate for. Today, I'm chatting with R. K. Thorne. She's created a wonderful fantasy series with strong female and male characters, a dimensional world, and a plot that sucks you in. I had the honor of narrating the first book in the series THE MAGE SLAVE, and will start work on MAGE STRIKE later next month.
R. K. Thorne
1) How did you get the idea for MAGE SLAVE and The Enslaved Chronicles?
I struggled for a long time to finish a novel, literally almost two decades across different projects. I had a lot of obstacles, but eventually I was sick of myself not finishing something. I went to a writing workshop Orson Scott Card ran for two days one summer. As part of the workshop, he made some key suggestions. The first was to just forget every writing rule you’d ever learned and just focus on a character and their struggle. That’s it. And the second suggestion was to get an index card and write a single sentence that would summarize the story you were going to tell. Which, as it turns out, was really hard for me. I wrote a lot of really bad ones. I’d say the only good one that came out of that exercise was the beginnings of what would become MAGE SLAVE. I started tackling the book in earnest that fall during Nanowrimo.
Between summer and fall, I worked on the characters and the world building. I read this random news article about a royal family, I think it was British but I’m not sure. The story talked about how isolating monarchy could be and described one historical prince actually listening through walls and floorboards, so that he could hear the normal conversations of normal people. That isolation was both bizarre and logical to me, and it also was an interesting and realistic side of royalty that isn’t a super common trope. (Except for maybe when princesses get locked in towers to safeguard their virginity, but I digress.) So I thought this idea of isolation could be an interesting thing to build a character around. What would it be like to be so isolated? How might you escape? Could you? Was the isolation even real or just in your head?
Those themes play a huge part in MAGE SLAVE, where my isolated and somewhat naïve prince gets kidnapped and actually finds that himself more free while an actual captive than he was in his own life. Some reader reviews have commented on this, and it makes me so happy to see people get it.
Themes of freedom in various forms play a central role in the story. Another idea I wanted to play with was how sometimes people use guilt to manipulate us, and how bizarre the results of that can be. In the world of the Enslaved Chronicles, significantly more powerful people have been enslaved by those less powerful but more corrupt than them, in part due to fear and in part due to their own guilt. (I’m working on a prequel of how it all went down.) And this is funny because sometimes people start to think or say, hey, that’s kind of implausible, why would they submit to that? But then we can look at the world around us and see examples of it every day.
2) In building this world, what challenges did you encounter? What about it was exciting?
I struggled with a lot of things from a craft and mindset perspective: perfectionism, a sloggy middle, endless revisions, a much too slow start. (About the first 2-3 chapters were cut from the first draft.) Ironically, while I was so focused on the ending, it was the only part of the rough draft that didn’t need serious work.
Because this is a secondary world fantasy (as in, a world that is not historically-based or supposed to be Earth) world-building is frankly a lot easier! I also think creating secondary worlds inspired by our world but different is more exciting. There’s more room to be creative. I study a lot of history to inform my worlds, but I don’t have to limit it to the history of one or two nations or just the Europe of the Middle Ages. In fact, ultimately, Akaria and the world of the Enslaved Chronicles are inspired by Viking and ancient Greek culture, with some dashes of 1400s - 1500s Hungary and Italy thrown in there. For example, it is not a feudalistic society, which I can’t get excited about writing about. Akaria more of a federation, technically. That is commonly thought of as a more modern governmental structure, but it did actually predate feudalism in a few places around the globe.
And now I’ve totally gone off an a history geek tangent. ^_^ But suffice to say – digging into all that nerdiness is at least 50% of what makes building this world exciting for me!
The other 50% is dropping the characters into the maelstrom and seeing the sparks fly. ;)
3) MAGE SLAVE is now available in audio, narrated by Tanya Eby. How was that process for you? Anything you’ve learned about your own writing by listening to the audio?
I analyzed to death what approach to take to get MAGE SLAVE to audio, and I am really satisfied with the route I chose. Working with Tanya has been amazing! I had heard from some people that independently publishing an audio book could take a lot of time, but I was pleasantly surprised that it took nowhere near as long as I thought it would. The mostly time-consuming thing was reviewing auditions and listening to the proof. Ultimately, as I am not an audio book reader, I enlisted the help of my awesome editor Elizabeth and one of my great writer friends Sherrie to listen to my top audition favorites. Luckily for me, they both picked my favorite (you – Tanya!). I was lucky to have their help because I was going crazy. ;)
I did learn some things about my writing, both good and bad. I actually found it very difficult to listen to my own work and was constantly blushing or yelling at myself aloud. =) But then I would get caught up in the story and think, oh, hey, this actually isn’t half bad. I am entertained. ;)
By the time, I was listening to MAGE SLAVE, I had already written and mostly edited its sequel MAGE STRIKE, and I could see how much I had grown as a writer in that short time, both fortunately and unfortunately. I found a few parts that killed me because I wanted to do them better, or I could see ways to improve them now. But ultimately it’s a good lesson in “the perfect is the enemy of the good” because I will never stop seeing places to improve. If we are growing, our taste always outpaces our ability, and that’s a good thing. A lot of people are really enjoying it, and that’s good enough for me. A friend likes to throw out the quote, “Art is never finished, only abandoned,” and I think that’s really true.
More specifically, I discovered that I spent more time on romantic internal dialog than I had realized, especially in Aven’s point of view. I had worried if my bad guys were bad enough, but I actually got chills from your epically evil narration of their lines, so I guess they were bad enough in the end.
And it was also interesting to see when a line could be read with a different tone than I imagined it. That helps me understand the multiple experiences readers could be having as they read. For example, I think you brought out a wonderful vulnerability to both of the main characters at times that I hadn’t imagined. It was better than I imagined.
Also for some of the different voices, like that of Evana, the Mistress, the wolf, the dream voices…. Those transformed it from a rambling in my head in my own author voice to verging on 80s fantasy movie territory. Somehow it makes it all seem more real. That aspect has been awesome.
4) Your second book is out now (and will be available in audio this spring). What can you tell us about it?
My second book MAGE STRIKE is the sequel to MAGE SLAVE and continues the journey pretty much where Book 1 leaves us. It’s hard to describe it without including spoilers on the first book, so I’ll just say it continues the struggles of Book 1 while also introducing us to some pretty awesome new magic (if I must say so myself) and a whole new romance.
Personally, I love reading science fiction and fantasy, but I rarely read anything without a heavy side helping of romance. (Or sometimes it’s the main course with a side of magic and/or laser weapons.) And I personally always hate when the romance starts strong and then peters out as the series goes on. So I put a new couple in this book, and there’s another in Book 3. (Assuming everything goes as planned.)
5) How can people hear more about you and your work?
You can get to all my social media from my website at www.rkthorne.com. For new release news, the mailing list is the best bet: http://www.rkthorne.com/get-updates/ I’m pretty much a Pinterest addict, so that’s worth a look if you like pictures of swords and dragons and stuff like that. And Facebook is a common procrastination destination. Thanks!
Just enter in a comment and we will choose a winner (maybe more) to receive a free download of THE MAGE SLAVE from Audible! Drawing will take place January 31st.
And if you're a writer that Tanya has worked with, and you'd like to talk about it more, let Tanya know!
We finally got around to watching the opening episode of this season’s The Walking Dead. Not because we were putting it off intentionally, but because this was the first chance we had without the kids around. And we’d heard that it was particularly brutal.
It was. I was really emotional when I watched it, but not in the way I expected. I thought they’d kill off a character, and that I’d be sad, but, hey, it’s The Walking Dead. You don’t expect unicorns and rainbows during this. And the only flowers are ones you don’t want to look at.
My reaction though was different. I was angry.
I was angry not at the storyline, but the show.
The writers. How could they do this? How could they kill off Abraham and Glenn? And not just kill them off, but in such a brutal, needlessly violent way? And other questions: What’s the point of the show? Why would these characters even want to continue on in a world as bleak as this? Why should I, as a viewer, continue to watch?
After Glenn died, I went into the kitchen to clean up. I sorta watched, but mostly I just grumbled.
I thought about my reaction for two days.
Why was I so upset? It’s a TV show!
And then I figured it out.
Most horror shows and movies (of which I’m a BIG fan) serve as a catharsis for the viewer. It’s a way of safely confronting your fears, living through the worst that could happen, and walking away unscathed. The characters might not walk away unscathed, but you, as the viewer do. So maybe there’s stuff in your life that’s really hard. Really challenging, but in some ways, you’ve faced the worst already and lived. You’re stronger somehow. At least emotionally.
Here was what angered me about The Walking Dead: the timing of the episode.
Think about this:
This group you’ve been with for seven years, this family, lives in a time of constant threat and uncertainty. But they work together and they survive. There’s a structure and a strong leader and an order to it, even at the darkest times.
But no longer.
In this episode, Rick is usurped by a new leader. This leader has the following qualities:
· He’s a bully.
· You can’t reason with him.
· He operates under his own rules.
· Those rules are constantly changing.
· He targets the weak.
· He targets the strong, not just to get them to submit, but to break them utterly.
· He thinks he’s a god.
· His humor is twisted and cruel.
· He governs with fear and intimidation.
· He wants you to serve him, to work for him to bring him profit.
· He has a band of threatening bad boys watching him, silently cheering him on, and there may be many, many more out there. Waiting.
Do you see? This episode played at a time when our nation is facing the threat of a Negan type leader: a dictator who has no empathy. In fact, the only feelings he seems to have is disdain for anyone who doesn’t worship him or follow his complicated, ever-changing rules.
Rick’s family in this is helpless. There is no escape. There is no catharsis for them or the viewer. All that’s left is loss, and very little will to go on.
This was why I was angry.
I was angry that the show mirrors what’s happening in our country, but instead of leaving me with a catharsis and hope, it left me with a sense of inevitability and doom.
I’m telling you, Maggie better rise up soon and be the tough mofo I know she is…because the world needs more fierce women who are ready and willing to fight back.
The older I get, the more important female friendships in my life have become. I have a handful of good friends, and some stellar acquaintances that pop in and out of my life, seemingly when I need them the most.
What I love about the women that I’ve become friends with, the ones who have somehow managed to plow past my awkwardness and not give a damn, is the sheer honesty. It’s beyond that though. It’s a frank Take No Bullshit approach that is truly both terrifying and enlightening.
I had two conversations lately with different friends. One is a narrator friend of mine and we talked about how hard it is in the industry when you’re faced with constant rejection. When you’re low on work, you send out emails, and if you don’t hear back, it feels like a rejection. Or when you don’t have work, surely it’s because you’re terrible and no one wants to hire you. Ever. Again. Or you audition and you’re ‘not the right fit’. Rejection rejection rejection. And then we talked about some of the males in our industry and how confident they can be. Almost cocky. We talked about this kind of attitude with a sense of awe, like, I would love to be that confident but if I do, I’ll be called a bitch and even more people will dislike me.
Then I was having breakfast with a good friend, and I was lamenting my writing career. How I’ve enjoyed self-publishing but what I really want is a contract. An agent. A publishing house to believe in me. “But why?” She asked. I gave her a ‘why do you think’ look. “No. I’m fucking serious,” she said. “Why do you want that affirmation? You’ve published seven or eight books now. When is that affirmation enough?” I told her I didn’t know. Then she gave me that “Of course you fucking know, you’re just being a wuss” look. (That is, actually, a look.)
“Fine,” I said. “Everything stems from my relationship with my dad. How he never really wanted me. Never saw me. And ultimately chose another woman’s children to be a father to because somehow my brother and I weren’t good enough for him. And everything I try to do is to show him that I am worthy of being loved. So everything stems from the fear that I’m not good enough and people have finally figured out the truth.”
I actually did say that and she nodded and said “Good. I thought you knew. I just wanted to hear you say it.”
So even knowing that I have a HUGE inferiority complex and I struggle with believing in myself…how do women do it? How, when faced with rejection, do you manage to keep going, keep fighting, keep trying again?
I really mean this.
I’d love some input, so I’m asking you, directly…you who are reading this…When you feel like you are not enough (not pretty enough, young enough, smart enough, talented enough, strong enough, enough enough) how do you square your shoulders, lift your chin and keep going? What are the things you tell yourself?
I just keep plugging along, hammering through, but I’m constantly afraid of people finding out I’m a fraud. And maybe it really does stems back to my father. Or maybe it’s something in society. Maybe there is something systemic that a confident woman, regardless of her age, weight, talent, success, etc, is unlikable somehow.
How do we learn to let it go, to be proud of who we are, to march forward knowing there is something unique in each of us that we offer every day?
Please let me know. I believe in the power of listening to others’ stories, and I’d love to hear yours.
Christa Lewis, the actor giving voice to Tanya's new book IN THE GARDEN ROOM, was kind enough to step out of the studio and answer some questions. You can also visit her website: www.cglewis.com.
How long have you been narrating? How did you get your start?
I began narrating Audiobooks in 2012. I had just decided to stay in LA after a 17-year stint as a newsreader for an international television news broadcaster. I was phoning around town looking for a studio to record in and happened to call Deb Deyan by accident. She insisted I contact her then husband Bob and he auditioned me and put me on their roster of audiobook narrators. I did my demo shortly after.
What did you find enjoyable about voicing IN THE GARDEN ROOM?
The shifitng pov's. I love moving around in a story looking at it from different angles.
What did you find challenging?
Lilly's journey was excruciating to fulfill as an actress - each step further along was harder and harder to make with her. It was horrific and uncompromising. I had to gather up all my love and all my courage to keep going.
The book is set in 1909 and 1910. Are there any themes in the book that seem relevant today?
The throughline (for me) that dominates In The Garden Room is surviving impossible odds. It was shocking to realize that this story was really in many ways a true story - that this is our history as Americans, as women - that we all came up through these yards, through the stench, the desperation, and have evolved only incrementally - the greed, the sexual slavery and the grit - they are all still very much a part of life today. People are making hard and desperate choices in this country every day because there is no safety net of social services to catch them if they begin to slip for any reason, as Cora does. This system deals harshly with those who cannot or will not get up after a fall.
Which character did you particularly connect with? Why?
I think I connected most with Cora even though, of course I was horrified by her choices and I was rooting for Lilly. Still, I got under Cora's skin the most. My own mom was quite brutal to us growing up but later I came to understand she was crazed by her own childhood and faced lots of tough choices - it's easy to judge them now and say she chose poorly - but, at the time, she may have felt just as trapped and unhappy as Cora. She was unhinged in many ways and Cora's descent into darkness was painfully real to me.
What is one of your favorite things about narrating?
The end result is always a surprise. When I listen to the book after its finished I am always amazed at how the story emerged. It always takes me by surprise.
Any other new and interesting projects that are recently published or in the works?
I'm delighted that I've been asked by Hachette to narrate Blood For Bllood! It's the sequel to Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin that I was fortunate enough to narrate last year. Huffington Post called it one of the top 10 YA's of 2015 and the narration won an Earphones.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My thanks - it is an enormous honor to be cast and narrate for a well-loved and brilliant narrator like Tanya Eby. It was a bit daunting!!! and a gift. It felt like Christmas all over again when I found out I had been cast. Thank you so much for your faith in me.
Christa's interpretation of the novel is beautiful: nuanced, pained, and even at times funny. You can listen to a sample or download the book HERE
This is another blog I've struggled with posting. I've held onto it for months, but ultimately I decided I needed to. I think the more we talk about struggles with mental health, the more we can strip away the shame and embarrassment that have gone with it for so long. So, so many of us struggle with depression and anxiety, and a host of other issues. It's not something that just happens to adults either. It can happen to children. I decided to post this because I know there are other parents going through this. We should talk about it. We are stronger together.
LOOKING FOR A WAY OUT
I have handed in my phone, purse, driver’s license, and car keys to the front desk and assured them that I’m not wearing a belt. I do not have on a hoodie or anything else with ties or long strings. My husband has done the same. We sit in the waiting room until a heavy metal door opens and the nurse tells us we can follow her.
We walk down long hallways, four of them, each ending with another locked door that the nurse opens. The final hallway is decorated with bright construction paper. They are drawings done by children like what you’d see at school, only when I read them I notice how different they are from the school’s artwork. The pictures say things like “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24” and “Parents, talk to your kids. Every day.”
I am holding it together. I am. I have to because we are walking into the adolescent ward for visiting hours so that we can see our son, and I need to be strong. For him. His behavior has been escalating, or rather descending, over this last year until we had a crisis on Friday. Our son hurt himself. Superficial, they say. It’s just superficial. I guess that’s supposed to be a relief. But our son says he wants to die. And so he’s here, getting help.
He is eleven years old.
I like to think of myself as a writer. It’s how I view the world, how I process it and understand it. There are not words for this, though. There aren’t words for how I feel about visiting my little boy here.
He is the youngest on the ward. All their beds are occupied. My heart breaks for every child here and every family. These children are just starting on their lives, just forming their independence and their spirits and it will be a long road ahead of them. I know, statistically, that not all of the children will make it to adulthood because of the effects of anorexia, drugs, abuse from others, or taking their own lives. And I wish I believed in God. I wish I could pray because then I could pray that my son will beat the odds and be comforted by the idea that someone, some mighty benevolent power, will hear my prayer and answer it. But I’m not a believer.
My son shuffles into the room and he hugs us and we talk. There is a girl in the corner with her family and we can hear her crying and we just talk over it. We’re a wave washing over her. I feel guilty about that, but I can’t focus on her. I’m here with my son. He is my focus. We say: How are you? How are things? How are the meals? Are you sleeping? Can we bring you anything? These are the questions we ask. But there are other questions I want to ask but I don’t. Why did this happen? What have I done wrong? How do I protect you? How do I make sure you are safe? What are we going to do when you’re thirteen or sixteen? What happens when your hormones kick in and we’re dealing with your depression but also your changing brain? How do I make sure you survive?
There are no guarantees in parenting, and there are even less for the road we are on now.
I am angry because I have been trying for over a year to get my son help. I’ve noticed his decline and his struggle and we’ve tried therapy and counselors. We have a plan at the school. He has support and love. But what he needed was medication…only everywhere I called there was no one to help. We don’t take children, they’d say. We don’t take children under sixteen. We take children but the calendar is full. We can’t add you to the waiting list because we’re not allowed to. Our appointments are booked for the next three months and we can’t add anyone new.
I am angry because there was no one to help us and we needed help. I don’t know if it’s because doctors don’t want the liability for dealing with children or if there’s still some kind of antiquated belief that children don’t suffer from mental illness. Who created the idea that mental illness only happens when people reach their twenties? It’s ludicrous. So I have been searching for help, and because I couldn’t find it, my son looked for answers on his own. Namely, a way out.
The last woman I talked to at a psychiatrist's office, I’d vowed to call her every week, and then I was going to call her every day until I bullied her into putting us a waiting list. I don't like being a bully but I was prepared to just so she would know how serious this was. That I wasn't just a hysterical woman, or an emotional mother, but this was real. I was ready and prepared, but then my son scratched up his wrists and his chest and wanted to die, so the hospital finally let him in.
It took that. It took my son doing that for someone to finally see him.
So this is where we are. My husband makes jokes and we all sort of laugh and the girl in the corner is moaning because of her pain and my son says he’s got to go because he wants to work on a project and I tell him that’s good, that’s progress, work on that and we will work on ways to support you when you come home.
And all the time I think I love you. I love you, my boy. Your tender spirit. Your bright mind. Your potential. You are a strong soul. A brave boy. You are beautiful. I think, IloveyouIloveyouIlovelovelovelovelove.
I don’t know. Maybe that is a kind of prayer. Maybe I repeat this over and over in my mind because, secretly, I think someone will hear me, and I hope that it is my son who hears me calling to him in the dark.
Be strong. You can fight this. We are with you. We love you. You. Are. Worth. Everything.
He goes to his room and we follow the nurse back down the corridors and through the locked doors and she says, “Wow. Your son is a deep thinker. Eleven years old and the things he says and how he views the world? It’s really amazing!”
We nod. We say thank you, because really, what else is there to say? Thank you.
We collect our things. We go to the car. We drive home. The house is empty and so, so quiet.
Are you okay, my husband asks. It is the first time all day where I say what is truly on my mind. Am I okay? No, I say. No, I am not.
We’ll get through this, he says. He’ll get through this.
I tell him okay. I believe him.
Maybe it’s true or maybe it’s just a hope or maybe it’s a prayer. I don’t know the difference anymore.
UPDATE: It has been months since this happened, and I have to say we've seen a remarkable change in our son. His anxiety and depression are controlled and he is showing a buoyancy in spirit I'd feared was lost forever. He has a team helping him and every day, he's a little bit stronger. A little bit brighter. We were able to find help for him. It shouldn't have been as hard as it was, but once you find help, healing is, indeed, possible.
I recently published my latest novel IN THE GARDEN ROOM and I think I did a disservice.
To myself? How is that possible?
Instead of being proud and proclaiming “Hey, everyone! I wrote a book and here it is!” I said, over and over, “I wrote this book and please check it out if you can but it’s really dark and I’m sorry about that.” Maybe that’s not a direct quote but it’s the sentiment behind it.
Why did I apologize about my own book? Then again, in general, why do I say sorry all the time?
I apologized, I think, out of fear. I worried that people would think poorly of me, or whatever colorful impression I made on them (tried to make on them) would twist. So it’s fear that makes me apologize. If I apologize, then I won’t be hurt. Then I don’t really own the piece, the idea, the feeling.
Here’s the thing. This novel was one of the scariest things I’ve ever written. I started with an idea of “What if I wrote something that was emotionally honest about mental illness? What if the heroine couldn’t be plucky and ahead of her time? What if she was truly trapped by her time and circumstance? What if I tried to show how brutal life can be when women don’t have the ability to be independent, when they’re valued for their bodies and not their spirits, when they have no real power at all?”
Those were big questions. Interesting ones. So I wrote as an act of discovery. When we published the piece, I didn’t say anything about my intentions. I apologized.
I’m not trying to sound all Self Help Aisle here. I’m trying to be very real. I wrote a book where I gave myself the freedom to confront head on the dark times I’ve lived through…if not in exact details, in the essence.
I’ve dealt with unchecked mental illness in my family my entire life. It’s been a constant dark companion and something I’ve been told over and over again not to talk about. That I needed to be more understanding and forgiving of my loved ones. That their actions weren’t their fault, and I needed to control my own emotions better because I was healthier than they were. But the thing that’s gotten to me over the years is the effect of mental illness not only on the one suffering, but on their caretakers and loved ones. And if there is no support, no therapy, no medication, there are very dark things that can, and sometimes do, happen.
Why would I want to write about that? Isn’t it better to write another comedy? That’s something people will want to buy. But something dark? Something scary in a real-world kind of way? Why do that?
Because that was the story I needed to tell.
I don’t make my living from writing. I make my living from narrating, so I have the unique freedom to tell the stories I need to tell.
My hope was to be emotionally honest. To go to those places I’ve been told to stay away from. And to create something that is a dark mirror to current problems. We’ve forgotten our own history. We’ve forgotten how far women have come and how, not too long ago, your only real power came if you had money or if you were beautiful. And actually, that’s not too different from today.
I’m still dealing with mental illness. With close family members, friends, extended family, and now with my own son who has debilitating anxiety and depression. I deal with anxiety and depression too. It’s something I’ve learned to live with and navigate with. All of this 'living with' and 'dealing with' makes me sad at times.
And here’s the thing…it is okay for me to be sad and angry and frustrated about this. I have family members in pain who have caused me pain because of whatever is misfiring in their brains. Sometimes I wonder ‘what if’ with them. What if they’d had therapy sooner? If we had day programs and even free stays at hospitals and medication and an openness to talk to one another about struggles with the psyche? What if we had a society that said: “We may not be able to fix this, but we can help you all manage and heal.”
So that’s why I wrote IN THE GARDEN ROOM. I’m not sorry about it or embarrassed or ashamed that I wrote it. It’s complicated and scary and beautiful all at once. That’s something I should be proud of.
And I am.
Oh, I have struggled with whether or not I should write this. The truth is, I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t get my brain and my emotions to stop churning it over and over. And in thinking about it, I realized this has probably happened to a lot of women, and it makes me sad. Deeply, deeply sad that still women are judged according to our appearance and not our character, and our appearance seems to be everyone else’s business.
This weekend I was mushroom hunting with my extended family and just happy to be with everyone. My mom brought a friend and in the woods they had a conversation about me, and the huge amount of weight I’ve gained. I guess my mom tried to defend me by saying I worked out and I wasn’t just lazy, but her friend wasn’t convinced. They said a lot of hurtful things about how I look. I guess that would’ve been fine, this conversation of theirs, everyone has their own thoughts…but they had the conversation in front of my eleven year old son. They’d seen him sitting in the car in front of them, windows down, but they just forgot he was there. My son listened, shocked, and came crying to me and asking me if I was fat and was I going to get diabetes. He wanted to know why his Nana was saying such terrible things about how I looked. “How can she do that?” he asked and I didn’t answer him because I didn’t know.
A few weeks ago, my ex sent me a vitriolic email saying that I needed to talk to our primary care physician because I obviously don’t understand healthy eating or nutrition and that I am actively trying to give our kids diabetes with the way that we must eat.
At conferences I attended, I had people approaching me with brainstorming ideas on healthy eating and how I could lose weight.
I didn’t ask for anyone’s help or opinion on my appearance. They offered it to me, complete with a heavy side of judgment. It’s as if my weight gain is some ticket for everyone to express disappointment in me as a person.
I weigh 173 pounds. I’m a size 12/14. This is average for a woman my age. I’m in my mid-forties and have two children. I have a sedentary job. And here’s the thing. I work out. I walk about 30 miles a week (12,000 steps a day). I eat lots of vegetables, lower carbs, healthy protein. I’m learning that as I enter pre-menopause, things are changing. I sometimes talk about lifestyle changes with people, but it’s as I learn that things I used to enjoy make me feel yucky. I don’t talk about diets. I’m not interested in dieting. I’m interested in learning to grow older with my body and to be okay with who I am as a person.
Funny thing is, I tried to lose weight this year…not because I felt bad about myself or was unhappy…but because of how other people have started to treat me. For three months and a few thousand dollars, I met with a personal trainer three times a week. I lost two pounds. But this wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t take off the time in the middle of the workday to work out for an hour and drive the twenty minutes there and back, not when I also needed to take time off to take my son to the therapist’s office, or to meet with my sister who is struggling, or to have yet another meandering conversation with my mother about her health. To lose the weight, I had to give up a glass of wine with dinner, an occasional dessert, and began focusing on everything I ate…and I felt guilty about everything I consumed. Every time I ate I felt like a failure. This is not the way to live.
In fact, the times in my life I’ve been the thinnest…are the times I’ve been the most unhappy. When I lived in New York and felt the kind of loneliness where I thought I could disappear and no one would notice. In my first marriage, where every day I disappeared a little more and was criticized for eating too much, not running enough, or wasting time writing when I should be focused solely on the kids. These were the times I was skinny. And you know what people said to me then? During those times I thought I could leave the planet and no one would care? “Tanya! You look so great! You’re so pretty!”
Looking at me now, you wouldn’t know the amount of stress that I’ve been shouldering this year. You also wouldn’t know that, somehow, I am happy in this body and in my life. I have a wonderful husband and two kids I love with every atom of my being. They help me carry the other things going on.
People don’t see that. They see someone who used to be skinny and has now ‘let herself go’. I haven’t let myself go. My body is changing. And you don’t have the right to comment on my appearance. No one comments on a man’s appearance with the kind of vitriol they use about women.
Here’s the thing: my body is not here for your pleasure. I am not an ornament. And while you may think these comments about my weight are offered from a good place in your heart, they’re not. They’re offered from a place of judgment and cruelty.
When did people lose the ability to filter or be kind to others? When did it become okay to say whatever you want to another human being? Has the Internet and trolling become so accepted that we can now look at someone else and let them know how much prettier they’d be if they could only Photoshop away all their flaws?
When did my body become a flaw?
Last week at school, my son was having a hard day. My son is an old soul, a deep thinker, possibly on the spectrum somewhere and there are days he is very sad. He doesn’t cover it up. He just IS. And a kid pointed at him in the lunch cafeteria and said: “Why don’t you just go kill yourself?”
I couldn’t believe this had happened, and then a part of me thought “Of course. It’s okay now to say whatever cruelty you want to another person.”
That night my son and I walked hand in hand around our beautiful neighborhood, the trees lush and green. He said, “Momma, people just don’t seem to know that words hurt. He hurt me. I feel bruised on the inside.”
“I know, baby,” I said. “Words can be sharp, can’t they?”
Words can cut.
Be aware of your power. Try to use it for good. When you have ugly thoughts about someone, instead of saying them, try to focus on something good. Take control back. Don’t assume that because someone weighs more than you think they should, that they should change. Maybe they don’t want to. Maybe they’re trying hard to but they can’t. Let them come to you if they want to. Otherwise, keep your judgment to yourself.
By writing this, I’m trying to take back control over my life. People can think what they want about me. I have no control over that. But I do have control of how I walk through this life…and I’m trying to do so with tenderness…and sometimes…an occasional sundae.