Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wounded In Action

Wounded In Action
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2013

More than anything, I wish I were a great writer. It would be wonderful to be a great anything, but I really want to be a great and successful writer.

I am feeling incessantly mediocre as I work and work and never win a single writing contest. I have had two publishing successes with the same local magazine. I am grateful for their willingness to publish my work. Writing is what I want to do above all else and I will continue to do it, but I must work a day job everyday in order to keep a door between me and the streets.

All day, every Sunday, I work on these blog posts for the week: writing, editing, publishing and promoting. I haven't monetized it yet but I may do some very specific advertising on it that relates to the literature that inspires some of the posts. I could give it up and focus solely on submissions to literary magazines to see if my skill and luck improve with respect to writing contests and publication. Some people have told me that the blog is of value to them and that, in my estimation, makes it a worthy enough undertaking; however, if the writing is crap to mediocre and remains so despite my best efforts, then perhaps it is of no use and I should stop.

I still have no regular job following my layoff in the spring and that wears me down though I try not to worry. I'm 54 and, financially, just getting by with massive credit card debt. I try to stay positive but sometimes that is the hardest thing in the world and it takes all of my energy.

I never want to be homeless again. I couldn't go to my home when I lived with a violent alcoholic in my twenties. I spent my time wandering the streets before anyone caught on to what was happening. I have written about it. Did anyone read it? Did it make a difference or was it self-serving tripe?  I don't have a writing degree though I study daily. I will never get a university degree now. I hated post-secondary school because I was closeted and desperately lonely in my difference. I was assaulted and made to feel "less than" because of my difference. That has continued throughout my life courtesy of misogyny and hetero-normative dismissal (at best) and hate and physical/sexual attacks (at worst).

I read more books than you could imagine. I think I am getting better at writing though I will likely never make any money at it. Perhaps my work is too harsh, too honest or not cheerful enough. Perhaps it is not in the style that a publisher desires. I have no idea. I am working on the second draft of my first novel though I have no idea how to get it in front of anyone. I doubt any of you know, save the few who are writers or published authors. To you, I admire your skill, your tenacity and your good fortune. Seeing your success allows me to believe that some writers get published once in a while. Like Van Gogh, will my eventual demise guarantee me appreciation of my work in the afterlife? Seems so cruel to gain fame after a lifetime of work and not even know it because you are dead. What a torture - like screaming, unheard, into a storm. I am nothing like Van Gogh in my skill, though perhaps so in temperament. I know I am absurd in my hope and penitent in my sulking.

To those of you who have purchased visual art from me recently, thank you deeply for your patronage and appreciation of the work.

To those of you who have taken the time to read my writing and let me know that my work was of value and meant something to you, thank you - I hope I have expressed my gratitude to you, for it is massive.

To those of you who have no desire to be artists above all else, count your blessings. It is an unfortunate thing to know your love and not be able to pursue it in every waking hour, until it is the best it can be, because you must do something else in order to survive. Those of you who get paid to do what you love are fortunate to be paid for following your heart.  I like the paid work I do right now very much. I am of service and I am grateful for the kindness with which I am treated in my temporary job. I complete my duties with a good heart and do my best to go above and beyond expectations. I am cautiously grateful for the door remaining between me and what has proved itself to be a cold and brutal world at times. The loss of my permanent position has reminded me of how tenuous that state of protection is, how close I am to the street again, but this time as a middle-aged woman faced with extraordinary and seemingly impossible circumstances. The entire process to find this mangy old dog another permanent position is cruel and unusual for one whose position was made redundant having served diligently and with a good heart for twenty years. What a surprise: middle-aged, barren, spinster is deemed worthless by white, hetero-normative society. Hey, look, it's still 1950!

I am a good old soul with not so much hope left and I want to be honest about how this feels. I know it is not pretty and not empowering, but if any woman reads this who feels she is the only woman left holding the shitty end of the stick as she enters her senior years, if she thinks it is she who has failed, if she believes she is not good enough - well, if enough of us women actually speak our truth, maybe people will see that something is systemically wrong, that patriarchy and misogyny are still tearing women down and that we are still being treated as valueless - particularly if we are not attached to a man as his chattels - and we do not appear or identify as female in a way that pleases men. Gender attachment to physical sex organs is a misogynist trap to make women meet the desires of men. It is a set up and it is BS. Many of us women still feel compelled to do this to survive and it makes me sad. Every time I see myself trying to prove myself worthy to a man for ANYTHING, my level of self hate escalates; It is cumulative and as heavy as a plague upon me. It is branded into my skin:


I doubt every woman feels this way; hell, maybe no one does, but there you have it. Another week and, if nothing else, another honest post that I should or should not have kept to myself. Marching on through another week with wishes for light, love and laughter and a sense of peaceful well-being to each of you. Many things are good. I have a home. I have food to eat. I have work to do that serves well. I have the capacity to keep going. I have technology to reach out and share. Perhaps, after all, this will be enough and, for these things, and the love I have from those in my life, I am grateful. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. August 27, 2016

Once upon a time, Cape Cod, Mass. USA
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2014
Photographed from home movies shot by Brian F Cornwall, c. 1966


Anonymous said...

Sincere, heartfelt, insightful 💖

Gillian said...

Thank you very much for your comment. I am grateful to you, whoever you are, for reading my post and for taking the time to comment.