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Edward Ficklin

The monsters are scared of you!

published20 days ago
2 min read

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou

“You have the power to shape worlds, and the monsters are scared of you.” —Charlie Jane Anders

Darling, how are you? The world's a mess right now, isn't it? Hope you're keeping your head above water. To that end, I'm sharing with you a book I read recently that really spoke to me about self-care and survival.

During the difficult times of both life and history at large, the default western mindset is one of gleefully cruel austerity (with an extra helping of hypocrisy). “Don’t you know there’s a plague/war/recession on, what are you doing writing sci-fi and drawing sexy butts?” Many of us have absorbed a really fucked-up Protestant self-torture ethos and when the shit hits the fan it goes into overdrive. Thankfully, there come along reminders pointing out better ways. One such reminder, desperately needed right now, is Charlie Jane Ander’s Never Say You Can’t Survive. Instead of denying us what we need, she encourages us to engage in imaginative escapism all the more as things darken around us.

Visualizing a happier, more just world is a direct assault on the forces that are trying to break your heart. As Le Guin says[…]the most powerful thing you can do is imagine how things could be different…What if?

She opens the book with several chapters on the healing powers of storytelling. Even stories that are never shared still have power to heal; it’s the act of creation itself that’s restorative. The Puritan spirit of ‘Merica will tell you it’s sinful self-indulgence and you should get to work. This here Buddhist offers you the thought, darling, that unless and until we heal ourselves we are useless to others. Getting—and keeping—your own shit together is a very necessary precursor to making a difference in the world. So by all means, if hard-core werewolf erotica in outer space is your jam, get to howling, baby! While her book focuses on writing, as the writer is a writer (go figure!), I hope you see how the larger themes of the book apply to any and all creative endeavors. Creating is healing is creating.

Happier, kinder worlds in fiction naturally lead people to band together, to try and create pockets of that experience in our world. And there’s plenty of evidence that these fan communities feed directly into political organizing.

And when you do share your vision of a better world, or path to healing, or the true depths of your emotional being, or a deliciously horny diversion, you are making an offering of value. Any point of connection between two people is a step in the right direction. The horrors of the world, large and small, begin with disconnection, dehumanizing, othering. Creating and engaging with these multi-faceted points of connection starts to untie the restraints the haters of the world place on our souls. And who can tell what kind of amazing chain reactions you might start.

Imagination is always a form of resistance to domination and oppression, and we’ve all been saved by other people’s stories one time or another.

If you're headed into the fall, darling, I hope you'll grab a copy, curl up with a nice beverage, and find inspiration to keep you warm in the cold days ahead. And if spring is breaking upon you as you read this, then enjoy it outdoors--also toting a nice beverage while doing so, of course.

Regardless of where you are on this little blue dot of ours, we are staring down some gruesome cultural cold fronts. Self-care is the best way to prepare and thrive.

Until next time, flame on! 🔥


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