In the early 2000’s, I sold a story to ‘Playgirl’ magazine (got paid $25) though I didn’t get a byline and I didn’t tell anyone. I wish my mom had been alive to tell because I think she would have gotten a kick out of it, and I wish I had told my dad because he would have been supportive (though if I’d left him a copy of the magazine to read, I would have asked him not to read it until I was a few zip-codes away from him). But the biggest reason I kept silent about that back then wasn’t potential embarrassment. It was ‘offending’ someone’s fragile ego they would have masked as pearl-clutching bullshit.
All my life I’ve downplayed my accomplishments or achievements because someone would inevitably come at me downplaying what I’d done or worse, shitting all over me but they’d try to hide that by telling me I was being too proud of myself. For too damn many years, I believed their bullshit but now I’m rejecting with a resounding ‘fuck you’ to anyone who ever decides to come at me and try to shit all over anything I do.
As I look back on my life, this downplaying bullshit came at me in two ways, the first being the ‘well-meaning’ one. My father used to say the road to Hell was paved with good intentions and boy was he right. The ‘well-meaning’ and ‘good intentioned’ ways were that if I kept at what I was doing and got too proud I would be so devastated if and when I fell that I would never recover, and no one wanted to see me fall on my ass and fail.
I have fallen on my ass so damn many times I’d be a multi-millionaire if I had a dollar for every time that’s happened. Yet every single time, I got up and kept going. Of course, I’m sure some asshole would say that was pride that got me off my ass instead of sitting on the ground bawling my brains out. You really want to know why I never sat on the ground bawling my brains out: because I NEVER expected anyone to pick me up and dry my tears if I had cried in front of anyone (which I tried really hard not to do). And no one ever did. In fact, I got told more than once not to even think about losing my shit on the ground or the shit-storm would really come down on me.
One of the most hurtful things I have ever been told is that I have a shit-ton of pride stuck up my ass when that was, and still is the farthest thing from the truth. Now I realize that was just a weapon of a weak-willed asshole who had no real confidence in themselves despite acting like they did. In plain English, people loved to project their dumb-ass shit onto me and I thought I had to take it. Because of that, I kept so much to myself and worst of all, I held myself back from really pursuing anything.
I’m glad I have rejected that bullshit and that no one has had the tits or the balls to come at me now because if someone did, I don’t think the end result would be very pretty. In fact, I think if someone tried I’d fire a warning shot by going, “You really want to go there with that shit?” And if anyone reading this has deliberately shit all over someone’s achievement simply because you think you know better than they do, or you don’t like it, or whatever bullshit you’re selling yourself: shut up and ask yourself why you feel like you have to shoot your ignorant mouth off and keep asking until you find all the answers you can. And if you don’t like those answers, tough shit, they’re yours to deal with.
My questions and answers have been hard to deal with but I’m glad I’ve dealt with them. And if I do sell something, publish something, get a good review, or hit a best-seller some list someday, I’m not going to give a single shit if someone doesn’t like it or if I’m going to ‘offend’ someone’s fragile ego. My purpose in life is not to walk on eggshells around people who don’t like what I do or just because I’m pursuing something they think I don’t have the ability to succeed or fail at. Writing like I do, even if I write ‘dirty’ stories and publish them, is not wrong or immoral (or any bullshit like that) because we still live in a free country, and I think this country will stay free despite the hard attack coming from right-wing fascist sources.
To anyone reading this who wants to write or create, or just do something you want to do and not just to please someone’s bullshit-fragile ego, DO IT! Take pride in your work and achievements, and if you do fall on your ass get right back up and keep going. Someone won’t like you for who you are or what you do but you can’t live your life trying to appease those bastards. And in reality, they only have power over you if you give it to them so don’t give anyone power they have done nothing to deserve.
And speaking of that story of long ago, I wrote a new version of it and am working on editing and revising it but I should have it ready in the next day or so.