Always try the project you don’t want to do. What you’re afraid of. That’s what makes you a great artist.
I was two weeks into being sober, of praising the clarity of my mind and embracing my new identity as social saint. I was beyond suspicion, in particular when it came to matters of good character, disciplined living, and other traits hailed in yoga teachers and other balanced professionals alike. Not drinking was a status that oozed an almighty power because I had given up on drinking to gain full control of my mental powers. When I made that decision, my old personality fell of me, like lizard’s skin. And my white winter coat, which I was still wearing on the legendary cold days this May, became a white cloak of innocence. I had become a Saint. Not drinking had provided me with a VIP Saint card that would let me off the hook till eternity or until my first wine. Whichever one came first.
The signs of withdrawal from this addiction I didn’t know I had, were physical. I developed lower back pain. I had suffered it a decade ago and always assumed it had been healed by yogic therapy and patience. I had drunk little to no alcohol then so in retrospect I considered it may have cleared up because I upped on liquor. Also, I wasn’t stable anymore in my yoga poses. I apologized in multiple classes for my apparent lack of skill. Apologizing as a teacher is a beginners mistake so now I had two things I could feel embarrassed about. Although these signs were disturbing, they only made me more determined. Apparently alcohol had played a key role in having a balanced, relaxed body. I didn’t need that kind of dependence.
My social life had been unharmed by non-drinking. I had dates that could, and until recently did, include alcohol two to four times a week. It was one of the things that made me so happy about not-drinking: I was allowed to keep the precious time with friends and family, and yet at the same time I would need less recovery time and be more alert on when I wanted to leave. I would become more productive publishing my eight books. For the yoga studio everything was up and running: I had launched a new program, set up my own YouTube channel, and had a year-long running theme for my weekly yoga blog. All elements were working together harmoniously, driving my business. It bought me time to focus on my other ambition: writing. Or more precisely: publishing. I knew I wanted to publish the books myself, for reasons of autonomy, but editing was taking me ages. And most of that time was spent avoiding it. I hated every minute I spent on it, and then I hated myself for not doing it, and before I knew it I was ten years into my writing “career”. This was my work cycle, which took anywhere between one day and one year: starting editing, hating it, dropping it, leaving it dropped and dreading to pick it up. Not-drinking had not provided me with any substantial progress in the area I needed it most. Except for one thing: my self-hatred had now become unbearable.
It was a Friday night. I had caught myself opting-out after the first 45 minutes of editing in a week. So imagine this: for a whole week I m beating myself up, plotting, bribing until finally I start editing, only to then drop out after 45 minutes and get all worked up about something that was really none of my business. I was so terribly disappointed with myself I didn’t mind leaving my desk and going out for some fresh air to the yoga studio, to do some light cleaning. At least I could make myself useful and the night wouldn’t be a total waste. And in that mood of self-destructive blaming, I suddenly saw what I had been doing…. That thing, what I got worked up about, was not because I was unhappy editing. It wasn’t aggression towards what I was doing. It was an attempt of another side of myself, to make her voice heard… it was the one who wrote all those lovely books I was editing; whose voice had written the very thing I still enjoyed rereading.
It was the writer in me.
From the looks of it, I m still writing. I have the yoga blog. I have the White Tigress blog. I have an offline project The Way of The Trickster, which was supposed to develop based on my White Tigress adventure. But suddenly, on my bicycle and close to tears, I realized those are not the real deal. They re not gratifying, they’re not me. As much as I hate editing my eight books, the reason I keep returning there is because I absolutely adore their content! But the idea of ever having to edit Trickster is horrific. Compared to my English erotica about me and Big, which is book 8, everything I have written this year online and offline, is bleak..
I cycled to the city and realized I hated myself and for all the wrong reasons. And had silenced the part of me I loved, the one who could write all those stories. I had banned her from the writing table because she could not be trusted with time, not with perseverance, and because she claimed days and nights until a story was finished. That was not the type of woman who was going to help getting books published. She was expelled.
And she was the one who had started drinking.
It hit me I never had reason to worry about my drinking until this year! I never needed to put much energy to moderate my alcohol consumption, and social life. I had been perfectly happy at home writing the night away. But now home was a yoga empire and creative writing had been marginalized to editing. It was no longer my home. I fled to town and wanted to forget, to be entertained. I didn’t see it, until the haze and escape of alcohol were removed..
It’s way past midnight. For the first time in six months I feel like I ve written something that matters, I’ve refound myself. I can’t see the whole picture yet, but here are my three preliminary conclusions:
- Abort my self-help book The Way of The Trickster, and never return to the genre again.
- Start writing autobiographical erotica again. Online. It’s the most authentic part of my writing, it’s the highest developed part, and it’s what sets me aside as an artist, as Marina would say it. Since I took the erotica down I feel safer, less exposed to judging eyes, but it’s blocking not just my development as a writer (to not have written any new stuff in months), but I also need the erotica to process my experiences with Mister Big. The role of writing erotica, in my sex life, is something I already talked about in the previous post.
- I need to do something about my publishing to make it more manageable. The plan was to publish the books individually. I even spent over €500 on their cover designs. And to publish them all in one hardcover afterwards. I m going to turn that around. First I m going to publish the hardcover, a collection of all eight with the Dutch title Het Boek Benjamin. I only have to oversee one Word document, one pdf, and order one test copy to check the lay-out. I could make it a limited edition. After four months, I take it down, and republish it as eight separate paperbacks, ready for the Holiday season.
My teary eyed bike ride taught me how important my erotica is to me. To process my sexual encounters and to develop myself as a writer. They’re the most difficult to write, and the most satisfying. I thought it was the wine I had been dependent on, but that was a coping mechanism. I had been dependent on my erotica. And when a more efficient part of me said to stop writing erotica for now, I let it happen. No wonder because it was the part I feared most, it made me vulnerable. “Yes! Let’s drop that!” I may have yelled back, relieved I could quit something so intimate.
And then I started drinking.
It’s such a classic. Alcohol and food and sex are all interrelated. If one is unavailable you resort to the other. I just never saw I was substituting, until now.
So expect new erotica of my latest adventure soon. I will call this erotica story “The Saint” and it will open with the same paragraph as this blog post.