Underneath my yellow skin

The Frustration of Art

I remember fondly my twenties for one reason: I wrote as if the world wasn’t watching, and I was damn good. I reread some of the things I wrote back then with amazement. My writing was fresh and alive, and the words just popped on the page. I’m talking specifically about my fiction because I didn’t start blogging until later, but it remains true for the first few years I blogged. I was good, damn it, and it actually saddens me to read my old works because I feel as if I’ve lost a step or seven in the passing years. Why? I have a few reasons. Let’s tackle fiction first.

One reason I started writing fiction was because of my frustration at not seeing stories that resonated with me as a Taiwanese American bisexual woman. Even now with literature being more diverse than it was twenty years ago, finding those specific parameters aren’t easy. Taiwanese is a subset of Asian, and we’re not talked about very much. Hell, most people only know that we’re great at producing electronic goods. We used to be known for manufacturing cheap goods as well, but that’s slowly gone away.

Most Americans don’t know or care about the fraught history of Taiwan concerning its relationship with China, which is frustrating, but understandable. It has no affect on Americans, so why should they care? It’s not something I write about much, but it definitely influences my writing. In fact, I think I may inject more of it into my writing, come to think of it. Anyway, I don’t have a problem with making my protagonists Asian, specifically Taiwanese. Or women. Or bisexual. The problem is that I’ve been writing the same variance of a story for many years, and it’s becoming stale to me. I’ve reread some of the more recent fiction works I’ve written, and while they’re still good, they’re not singing to me.

To clarify, I can read something I’ve written and recognize that it’s a solid piece of work that might interest a reader who’s never read anything of mine. To me, however, it’s old hat. In addition, I like to put in black cats because I’m a huge black cat lover, and I want to mention my passion for taiji as well. Again, these aren’t problems in and of themselves, but I feel as if I’m in a rut. In addition, my fiction writing has gotten more prosaic, and I’m not entirely pleased with it. I recently wrote a sequel to a mystery I wrote sixteen years ago, trying to recapture the feeling of the original, and I just didn’t feel I did it justice. The protagonist is one of my favorites in a large part because she has no fucks to give, and she’s mostly amoral. That’s not fair to her, really. She has a moral code; it’s just different than most people’s. God, I love her so much. I really wanted to bring her back, but I’m a different person than I was when I first wrote her, and she’s different now, too.

I feel as if I’m restricting myself too much in my fiction by making my protagonists like me every time. I’m trying to mix it up, but I really want to see someone like me in fiction. I think the problem is that I need to get that novel published before I can move on. I’m not good at the business end of art, which is something I’m realizing in my blogging as well. I have this vague idea that I can self-publish, but if I want to go that route, I’ll have to do more of the business shit myself. That’s not something I’m interested in at all, but I could learn if I choose to.

As to my blogging, I’m frustrated because while I’ve been blogging every day for almost a year, and while I think it’s sharpened my writing, I’m still not back to where I used to be. Part of the problem is that I feel constrained by all the admonishments I see on social media. Liberal social media, that is. I’ve written about this before, but I think the scolding tone that has taken over much of liberal social media has put a dampening effect on my ability to write about politics. I don’t want to go into all the permutations of political correctness, word policing, and thought inhibition in this post, but suffice to say that I’m a big proponent of being able to discuss thorny issues rather than simply shouting them down.

It’s one of my biggest gripes about liberals today on social media–how quickly the one correct thought on an issue gels and how hard you get smacked if you stray from it. I think it’s partly because the generation after mine has been told that they are special and unique to an extreme degree, and it doesn’t help that you can live in a bubble online. It’s easy to block anyone with a view that differs from yours, and slowly, you’re in a vacuum of ‘you go, girls!’ and ‘what you said!’.

I also don’t like when minorities feel as if anything they say is beyond criticism simply because they’re minorities, but again, another post for another day.

Anyway, another of my big problems with blogging is that my strength is in parody and satire, but there’s not much funny going on these days. When I look at the state of our politics, all I feel is fear, anger, and hopelessness. Needless to say, it’s not very easy to mine humor out of those emotions. In addition, I’ve been struggling with depression for several months, ever since my Raven died (and, yes, I’m pretty sure there’s a connection), so again, humor is hard for me to find in my writing.

The one exception is my POOG posts, and I enjoy them tremendously. I think they’re some of my best writing currently, but they’re not easy to write. Satire is hard work, yo, and they take me twice as long to write as my other posts. Currently, I write them at most once a week, but that may change soon. I don’t want to say more about it, but I have a plan brewing in the works for a shakeup in my blogging.

My issue again is with the business end of it all. I’m not good at promoting my work because it makes me feel squeamish. I will tweet my newest POOG post on Twitter once it’s out and post it on FB, but that’s all I feel comfortable doing. It’s not enough, I know, and I don’t get much response to it, but I don’t haven’t figured out a way to push my posts without seeming, well, pushy about it.

I will admit it’s hard to be motivated to write when I get so little response, even though I know I shouldn’t be doing it simply for the clicks. In addition, people respond by commenting on the FB post or responding by tweet. They don’t actually comment on the blog, which kind of defeats the purpose.

I have to admit, I’m feeling very down about my writing at the moment. Not only do I feel as if my writing is not as strong as before, I feel as if I’m shouting in the wind. What’s the point? Why am I writing? I don’t know. As I said earlier, I’m considering a shakeup here at the blog, and I’ll let you know about it when I’m ready to share.


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