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Write What's Here

I remember in seventh grade our English teacher assigned me to read Anne's role in the Diary of Anne Frank in class one day. I got to an emotional passage and didn't realize that the entire class including my teacher had stopped following along and were all staring at me. The teacher said, "Are you okay, Denise?"

It's hard for me to separate the liminal and imaginary space from the real world. It has its benefits for sure- talking to trees, photosynthesizing my vagina, imaging humpback whales swimming around me when I'm scared- but it also has its downfalls. One of the first psychics I ever saw asked me, "Denise, do you daydream?" And I had to legit think about it. I don't know. Do I? It was like asking a fish if it swims. It was kind of him to ask, but I think he was really asking, "do you know how much you daydream?" And I didn't. I lived there for so long that I didn't know yet it was something I chose to do; it always felt like it just happened. The fancy word for this is disassociation, but I'm not super into pathologies these days.

This psychic was also the same person who gave me great writing advice. I had a backlog of stories I'd been editing like a fucking bonsai tree, but I was waiting for the right moment to do something "big" with them. But nothing happened. Every attempt I had at a book or a series of essays failed because it wasn't interesting to me. I thought about an MFA program, but that wasn't interesting to me either. I felt stuck. So one day when we were talking about my daydreams, I told him about my elaborate masturbation fantasies that often include a timeline, multiple dynamic characters with complicated family backgrounds, misunderstood motivations, intertwining histories and unexpected plot twists. He said as if he was watching them alongside me, "oh wow, yeah, the details here- real clear. You should just start writing these. See what happens."

Tip one: Write what's here. Even when that includes your masturbation fantasies, at least it'll get you off and in this world, that's no small thing. A lot of times people don't want to write what's here. They want to write "the good stuff." I promise you though, whether it's in voice or in word, the best stuff is what's right here. One of my favorite performances I saw in person was at an open mic in Burlington, VT. A small middle-aged man walked up to the mic, opened his mouth and was terrible. Really. The worst. But he sang with everything and it made me cry. As a Voice Movement Therapy practitioner, it's often the shaky, quiet, most vulnerable sentences the client doesn't even want to say out loud let alone sing, from some long abandoned part, that gives me the chills.

I'm starting this blog because I'm taking what some people have prescribed as a "right turn" in my career. I've never really seen myself as having much of a career, a collection of odd jobs, generally focused on meditation, healing or the arts. I have an unusual background. I went to a Buddhist monastery instead of rehab, I lived and worked in Nepal for 2.5 years instead of getting a Master's degree, I worked at Planned Parenthood during the 2016 election, mentored younger writers, barista, health food store, nanny, massage therapist, teaching artist, got very sick from having unknown parasites for ten years and lastly, I have a Ph.D in Eating Disorders (experientially). I don't consciously try to go against the grain, but if it doesn't beat I'm not interested which often comes at the cost of social collateral- money, partners, housing, insurance. But all the while I wrote.

And now I have something to say. Many things. I'm starting this blog with masturbation fantasies because one of these detailed ditties made it into the opening scene of my first TV pilot- a story I never could have written had I gone down the road that looked like everyone else's. I'm not everyone else. And neither are you.

Stay tuned for more writing adventures.

And remember, what makes you a writer is that you write.

keep going. love,




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