I can’t say that I have a lot of confidence in this year so far. Already 2022 has shown its ass a few times and I’m not seeing much of an improvement from 2021 or 2020.
We began the year with Omicron kicking the door down. Thankfully, most people I know and care to associate with are vaccinated and boosted, but as someone who lives with an immunocompromised person and, as someone with medical problems myself, I want to stay away from hospitals. That means, I want to stay away from mass amounts of people who might be sick so I don’t wind up in the hospital fighting for a bed with a person who isn’t vaccinated and boosted. Getting people to understand that seems to be a challenge. So, no, I don’t want to be the most social right now — and that sucks because I like friends and (select) family members. But I have had trouble getting empathy and understanding on this issue who, by all accounts, are on my side. “Well, we’re all going to get it,” I’ve heard. “Don’t waste your life being afraid!” My response to that is, If you can do something to prevent it, then do it. But I can’t seem to get that point across. At least, not until someone I know gets sick and has to, you know, go to the hospital.
Then, there’s that whole issue of Roe v. Wade being overturned in June. Which — folks, this seems like an inevitability. And while I’ve written about how this doesn’t affect my life personally, losing body autonomy affects us all on a grander scale. But unlike the Covid issue, there is no eventual “empathy by way of hospital.” By the time someone needs access to a safe abortion and it’s not available, it’s too late. I mean, unless you can afford it and/or have the right connections.
So yeah. I’ve had some shit on my mind lately. Let’s segue…
You know, I’ve done over a year of these progress reports, and it never occurred to me that I haven’t really talked about what my current book is about.
Without giving a synopsis, I’ll give an overarching theme: this third book is about recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse.
Stay with me, folks. Shit’s about to get heavy.
In Ep 41 of Pop Medieval (The Last Duel, or the Wrongs about Medieval Property Rights), Doc let me rant briefly about how I really took offense to the movie pandering to the audience through Marguerite de Carrouges’ storyline. I found it smugly self-righteous in light of real-life sexual assault victims both us mortals and the numerous actors who came forward during the height of the #MeToo era against Harvey Weinstein. I wanted to elaborate on that and say that while Hollywood certainly should tell powerful, resonating stories about women taking back their agency — especially if those stories are about women of color, queer women, trans women, or other women forced on the sidelines. However, it hasn’t earned the right to pat itself on the back for a job well done just because it decided to #BelieveAllWomen one time for one movie.
(Again…both Doc and I liked this movie. We have our complaints, but we liked it!)
One thing I want to praise this movie for was its depiction of the after effects of sexual abuse. I mentioned in the podcast episode my disgust for media that use sexual assault as a means of advancing the narrative. It’s normally reserved for antagonists or villains, a lazy shorthand for making them evil. When in doubt, make your bad guy a rapist to quickly get the audience to hate him. The problem is, there is little care or attention for how it sexual assault affects the victims of said rapist. Think of Spike attempting to assault Buffy in season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Think of Dr. Melfi’s rape in season 3 of The Sopranos. These narratives served very little purpose then to either turn the audience against one of the characters (Spike) or get sympathy from the audience for a character (Dr. Melfi). Afterward, nothing happens. Buffy moves on, Dr. Melfi moves on — both incidents in the shows get hardly a mention in subsequent seasons.
In real life, this is bullshit. Getting over the trauma of sexual violence takes years of working on yourself. Therapy. Personality disorders. Medication. Acceptance. Backsliding. Back to square one. Triggers that seemingly have nothing to do with the trauma. Triggers that you don’t even know are triggers until you’re decades past the violence. What happens is not wrapped up in a 60-minute episode of television, and it’s certainly not for the development of any character.
It’s not the time to go into anything personal, but…yes. I’m very familiar with how this shit plays out.
Using my inspiration from movies, books, and tv shows where I would see sexual assault as a narrative device and never know the repercussions for the victims, I decided to write a book about a victim and what comes with their trauma. I wanted to show that it’s irresponsible to write sexual violence and not write the fall out from it. That means that this book is going to some dark, unpleasant places that won’t be palatable for everyone.
But two things: first, this books is not directly autobiographical. Yes, like most authors I borrow a lot from real life, but it’s not a memoir. Second, I don’t write any actual depictions of sexual assault in the book. While there are some flashbacks leading up to the events and I’ve written some other intense scenes dealing with overcoming trauma (no spoiling), describing the sexual assault — other than to say, it happened — isn’t in the book.
Obviously, I did this because this is about the aftermath of trauma; not about the traumatic events itself. But there’s another reason that I’ll talk about another time — a reason more closely tied to another theme of the book.
I’m one chapter away from finishing part 4 of 5.
Instead of monthly progress reports, I’ll be updating as I accomplish milestones from now on. I think that works better than “This month I got side-tracked and did not accomplish my lofty goals of writing the length of War & Peace all while holding down a full-time job.”
On to the next!