I’m living in my head in no small degree of late. I’m not stuck, I’m in fascination overload. I love it here. I’m learning so much so quickly. I feel almost like The Lawnmower Man, (before the madness.) I understand humans more profoundly than before. I’m giving my mind some breathing room to process my third reading of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, (ASOIAF.) I’m on season 2 of the HBO series. (I need to pick up the pace.) 😉
In the meantime, I’m reading the Xenogenesis trilogy by Octavia E. Butler. I haven’t read the final book, yet. When I do, it will mean I’ve read all she published. It occurred to me the stories I’m reading now are clarifying and expanding the wisdom I’ve acquired from the other epic series I’m studying, (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss, The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and ASOIAF.)
Octavia E. Butler’s voice reaches me easily, much to my delight. (She’s who I’ve chosen as my ((imaginary)) writing mentor.) I love reading books by authors whose voices require no internal translation. John Scalzi, Stephen King, John Irving, Ernest Cline, Peter F. Hamilton, and J. K. Rowling are some favorites with this skill. I also appreciate imagined dialects that can enhance the otherness of a world. George R. R. Martin used neglected words to help shape his world. Brilliant, eh?
I’m sad Octavia E. Butler died young, (58.) I would have done whatever reasonable to meet her, otherwise. I’m serious about her being my mentor. When I first discovered her novels, I was initially a bit upset. I didn’t want to read about enduring slavery. (I avoid horror because it horrifies me.) But the novel claimed to be science fiction, so I stuck with it. I survived but was understandably sure Octavia E. Butler’s books weren’t for me.
Then the thinking about it began. What I read wouldn’t leave me alone. I realized I wasn’t ready to dismiss an author that managed to climb inside my mind and rearrange the furniture. Despite the fact it hurt me to read about humans embracing their darkest, most vile impulses. It scares the shit out of me to acknowledge the human capacity for evil. I’m a human.
I can’t be a tree. It’s outside my control. I can only be a human pretending to be a tree. My mind forgets and returns to human thoughts. My perception remains that of a black woman from South Dakota. My roots are invisible, and I barely believe in them. It feels as silly as pretending to be a tree. So I faced my fears and processed what the book taught me. What I discovered astonished me and prompted my journey of reading her entire catalog.
I don’t have the words to define what I’m gaining from reading Octavia E. Butler’s books. Healing comes pretty close. I’m still grokking. And growing, and forgiving, and understanding. I’m a unicorn magnet. 😁 I added two more podcasts: The Read and The Friendzone. I love, love, love them. Aside from catching up on ‘Thrones, and my We Bare Bears obsession, I’m over TV. I prefer podcasts. (Plus, I have a massive girl crush on Chrissle.)
I wrote a letter to Octavia E. Butler, yesterday. I told her all about the story I’m creating and asked for advice on how to begin. (I know she’s dead, I’m not sending it! 😂) It was a long letter. In fact, it was a short story in need of a rewrite or ten. (!!!) See? She’s a fabulous mentor. (Please imagine an emoji taking a bow. Thank you.) 🙃
In my mind, all these epic tales are a single story with varied voices and perspectives. They’re crucial pieces of the map I use to navigate life. They’re teaching me how to heal from PTSD, how to cope with chronic depression and anxiety, and why humans are worthy of my love and attention. They’re convincing me I can survive and reminding me I have reserves no matter how spent I feel. They’re helping me forget I can’t be a tree. I’m off to beat my drums with sticks. ✌🏽