How vulnerable are you, when you need a shoulder to cry on? Do you cry when the rage is so palpable that you could scream? I have a problem, or at least I had a problem. I used to think that I had to be this tough woman and never show weakness. Crying? For-fucking-get it. You were more than likely to find a unicorn in your closet.
But, life, oh life can be a motherfucker. I had a shitty end to my teaching semester because of unfair admin policies or reinforcement of made-up policies. I got dumped by someone, I thought was a writer friend. Did they say why we were no longer friends? Nope. The list goes on.
All of this drama led to a lot of crying for days. I mean days. (Thank you friends who helped me grieve.) I am not a crier.
I was once, as a child. To make us strong and not be oppressed and exploited, my father made us tough. We were not allowed to cry, and if we did, it was followed by a slap or a smack.
Nowadays, I don't like watching people cry. Often I think those people are acting or manipulating, only to quickly banish that dehumanizing thought. The ideology runs deep: crying = weakness.
What I have found through this healing process of letting go in some instances and fighting back in others is that crying is healing. It is rejuvenating. It makes you young. This entrenched script of crying=weakness is difficult to flip, but I am learning to embrace a new understanding: strong people cry. The other day I had a good, merited cry, but I stopped. It wasn't the uncontrollable crying of the past. I was able to vent and not feel ashamed.
It was one of those moments, that later in life, I will see as a turning point, and I am grateful for it. Because now, I don't feel like a fucking clenched fist.
What about you? Do you let yourself cry? Or are you trying to front with a tough exterior that needs to be broken down? Think about it. We all deserve to be human, even if our parents or others taught us otherwise.
Safe and Return: two words that are "heavily" debated by the news, pundits, parents, activists, students, and many others. I was thinking about safe returns lately. Some of the definitions were on point and others loosely related. So, let's start with the least related, but most important one.
Return to Normal, Whatever That Means
For the last four months, I have been sleeping and working and living through the thickness of depression. During these times, I struggled to get out of bed and got into many bloody-knife battles with myself—or the self that gave a shit about smelling good and fitting in—about showering. Depression won most of those battles.
Today, I am returning to a level of normalcy that I have missed, but just couldn't get back to it, no matter how much I prayed or tried. That was then.
Now, since classes ended, I have been waking up early, taking a shower daily, walking every day, and being present to my family. This is a lovely safe return, from a long semester of shit and foggy ghost-existence brought on by my mental illness. Yes, I know many of you have suffered from this too. I wish you all a return to life.
Return to School
The concern for the safety of my children and other children is palpable. Not a day goes by where I don't dread their return to school. My children, fortunately, go to an outstanding, community-based school, a public school we struggled to find for both kids.
After talking to a colleague, I realized the educators, staff, and administration would go above and beyond to keep my miracles left. You see, I wasn't supposed to have children, but I have been blessed with two wonderful human beings. And it's my job to keep them safe. However, I am sure they will be fine; now, I may be crying in a couple of months, but I believe they will be well-cared for. Besides, my kids need to be with other kids. My daughter who is six was so excited, when I told her the news, she listed all the rules of conduct about COVID.
Return to Blogging and Writing
I'm back bitches! I am writing a lot and editing a great deal because my energy is back. I am more disciplined now, although I am "nap-flexible." I am on vacation after all, so why not take some time off? Some real time for myself? (Though, I am not sure what that latter answer is, not yet.)
But, this blog, it and I have been strangers for many a month. Well, I am tired of discussing writing advice. I don't want it to be a blog about stupid happenings. Or to sound cool. Honestly.
I decided this time, my blog would focus on shit that matters, and not write it for an audience. That may sound contradictory, but in the past, I was writing my blog posts, trying to be cool, because I knew you were reading them. Well, you know what? That's bullshit. Patent, so I return to this blog with a fully human heart.
If there are kernels of truth for others, fine. Maybe we can learn together.
I'm so excited! I got the cover proof for Nightmare with a Twist (May 2021)! and Unity, Volume 2! (2021) They are drafts, but so gorgeous!
Yo! That moment when the first author you signed up with Barrio Blues Press crafts a beautiful gift for you. Thank you, mi sobrino, Misael Juarez!
Join the Livestream with the co-hosts of The Pen Clique Poetry Podcast
Where? On YouTube, Radical Books and Politics or Facebooks' Penned in the City: A Creative Writing Group for All.
The co-hosts of the Pen Clique will be talking about their revolutionary work in uplifting poetry in the U.S. and their successful poetry podcast. Come ask questions during the Livestream on Radical Books and Politics.
Barrio Blues Press is a small, one woman independent press, aimed at uplifting the voices and talent of new writers and artists, striving to make their mark in the world of creativity and literature.
However, continuing with the Unity anthology series can only remain a possibility with external assistance. Your assistance. Your generosity will help Barrio Blues Press gather the funding needed to forge ahead with its mission of uplifting emerging writers and artists and turning our hope of transforming the world for the better into reality, by producing an anthology every year where the proceeds will go to Doctors without Borders - a worthy charity representative of the diversity the Unity series stands for.
The anthologies will forever focus on the concept of Unity. What better way to radicalize the world than by offering a vision of what is possible; a ray of hope emanating from ideals that the editorial board stands for?
Your financial support would help Barrio Blues Press with:
1. Producing at least one Unity anthology a year;
2. Printing contributor copies; and
3. Supplementing domestic and international shipping costs (seeing as the cost of shipping internationally has risen as a result of the pandemic).
No donation is too small! Every dollar makes a difference.
Thank you for your generous gifts and for supporting our small press via our short PayPal campaign. More importantly, thank you for backing independent and emerging writers and artists. Barrio Blues Press would not be here without you, Readers and Friends. ¡Muchas Gracias, de todo corazón!
So the best thing about having depression, exacerbated by this pandemic, is these new manic highs and lows. (Yeah, there's a subject-verb agreement error. Get over it!) Man, do I love them! These ups and downs of inconsolable crying. Woo!
Just kidding. I fucking hate them, but I am taking advantage of my current energy surge. I revised a poem and am submitting it to Spillwords. Enjoy!
A Labor of Love
Early this week, my husband made the mistake of calling what I do a "hobby." I almost punched him in the nuts. This isn't a hobby. This is a passion or, as Author Shawn M. Klimek called it, a mission.
Putting Unity, Volume 1: A Magical Realism Anthology has been a triumph and true love gift. I am so proud of the collaborative efforts by the editorial team, and of the contributors. PritiJ of PritiJ Designs did a masterful job of supporting with advertising and Andjela Vujić (cover designer) and Norbert Somosi, Featured Artist, made the cover sublime. This anthology really is like no other, and it is such a gorgeous book!
This week, I sent out author copies to all eligible countries; the rest will go out through U.S. postal service (so long left kidney). Yesterday, the first copy reached Canada. That was a supreme joy for me. As a writer who loves to get author copies, that right there brought the efforts home for me.
So, if you want a great read of magical realism stories, poetry and art, and yes art, where all the proceeds go to a worthy cause, buy this anthology for only $9.99! You will not only support Doctors without Borders but amazing emerging and established authors!
#barriobluespress #doctorswithoutborders #COVID #charity #community #support #magicalrealism #love #booklaunch
SHAWN, THANK YOU FOR DOING AN INTERVIEW FOR MY READERS.
I KNOW YOU NOT ONLY WRITE, YOU EDIT AND DRAW.
BUT, WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY OR CREATIVE WRITING WORK ABOUT?
My first, juvenile attempt at prose was a one-page, science-fiction story. It described an astronomer gazing up into the stars while wondering about life on other planets. The story concluded with the astronomer “crossing a couple of legs”, revealing that he, himself, was not an earthling.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE AN ARTIST?
My artistic talents emerged quite young, so that it was even a matter of jealous pride in kindergarten. I gained confidence from consistent praise by parents and siblings first, then teachers and classmates. That’s why shifting focus from art to writing was a major decision for me.
I HAVE READ HUNGRY THING, WHICH IS JUST GORGEOUS. DID YOU DRAW ANY OF THOSE? IF NOT, DID YOU CHOOSE THE IMAGES TO ACCOMPANY THE WORKS?
Because I sidelined my practice of art decades ago, my skills have atrophied accordingly. Illustrating Hungry Thing myself to a professional level of quality would therefore have taken me a long time and imposed a lot of frustration.
Since I could not bear to pair my poems with shoddy artwork, I scouted for an independent artist whose work I admired. All of the illustrations are by Romanian surrealist, Norbert Somosi. But Norbert proved to be more than an illustrator. He visualized further poems, and it was he who proposed the book.
I THINK MOST WRITERS ARE CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT GOES THROUGH A WRITER’S HEAD WHEN HE/SHE/THEY ILLUSTRATES THEIR WORK. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE ILLUSTRATORS YOU WORK WITH?
I joined a handful of FB groups for illustrators and browsed the artwork they shared until I found one that inspired me. The task was not just to find someone good, but someone whose style was compatible with mine. And finally, someone both inspired by my poetry and willing to work with me.
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO BETTER, AS A WRITER AND/OR ARTIST?
Yes, both as an artist and a writer. I need to revive my art skills, mainly with disciplined practice, so that they can be relied on for future projects. And I need to improve as a writer, becoming competent at stories of greater length and emotional impact.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS.
I’m continuing to write and submit for anthologies, as inspiration strikes, but becoming increasingly choosy. I am prioritizing science-fiction calls most often because I plan to compile these into my own collection for independent publication.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
Writing already transforms the world continually, most often for the better. Writing is communication itself—something central to civilization and essential to humanity. We are nothing without sharing. But art, in particular—including fiction writing, can inspire people to new ideas and renew hope, or by providing entertainment and escape, rejuvenate their brains and therefore, their bodies.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE AND/OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/shawnmklimekauthor
My creative writing blog. http://blog.jotinthedark.com/
My amazon page: www.amazon.com/author/shawnmklimekauthor.
My Twitter account: https://twitter.com/shawnmklimek
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE. SHAWN, I DON’T SAY THIS ENOUGH, BUT I LOVE YOUR WRITING AND REALLY VALUE YOU AS A HUMAN BEING. I WISH YOU THE UTMOST SUCCESS.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,