October 2017
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writing buddy! / ex-envy / readership / vulnerability respected & consensual


icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

So bunnika and I are gonna be writing buddies and take turns coming up with prompts that we both write on. I'm surprised that we haven't done this before in our dozen-ish years of LJing together (or if we did, that memory is lost) but I feel hopeful. We're gonna aim for twice a week, and try to comment thoughtfully on each other's posts also. Anika is someone whose posts give me the writing itch in general so if we can really stay on it, this could be so lovely, hopefully for us both. Anyone who wants to also write on these prompts is of course welcome to, and feel free to comment with a link if you do.

The first prompt is things/ qualities /situations /experiences you've had that your lovers have envied, or what you have envied from your lovers..  I came up with this one because I randomly remembered how envious Aurilion was, and then I was curious about Anika's experience with that, if relevant. I'm just using it as a jumping off point for some wild rambles.

Aurilion was so envious of my readership here on LJ. I have never had a huge following, but I have had a steady readership of about 150 unique visits per week for many years now. Most of these readers never interact with me, even though some have been reading for literally years. I'm terribly curious, and fascinated by the fact that some of my regular readers are based in countries where I know no one. Occasionally I find out that someone is a reader because they tell me, after two or three years of silent reading, so I never assume I can get an accurate idea of how many people or who reads my LJ.  In my experience there are usually at least 5 silent readers for every commenter, so I don't take it as 'no one is reading' if I only get one or two comments. (Zero comments/reactions still makes me think maybe nobody read it, though)

I never actually talked about that with Aurilion though -- they based their ideas of my readership off of comments I get. They would get envious and have an attitude of "I deserve more comments than you" though they never said that -- they just exclaimed "how do you have so much!? Why do I have so little??" as if we wrote identical things and people inexplicably liked mine better. I tried to figure out why this happened for me, so that I could explain and help them get what they wanted, but they didn't want to change anything about how they wrote -- they just wanted to magically transfer my readers to them. And honestly back then, always eager to please, I urged everyone who read me to add them.

They weren't the first one to feel miffed that they didn't have as many readers as me. My ex-partner Ben also identified as a writer, and wanted to have people invested in what he wrote. I think he also thought I deserved readers and wanted me to have them as well, though.

Thinking back, it's been many years since I actively tried to find readers.  Back in the day, my LJ was the only way I felt I could change the world for good, so it was important to me that as many people read it as possible. And I think I also needed the validation of people affirming that they did read it through comments. That made me feel noticed and valued.

Now, I mostly affect the world through facebook and resource-sharing, and I write in LJ because it is literally the only way I can really remember my life, and because it is my truest way of connecting with people and with myself. When I write, I learn who I am in that moment, on that day, and when I don't, I can easily go months of intense change and become a new version of myself without realizing it, and by then I have forgotten the old me. Until there are literally brain upgrades, I will need this or something like it to have any sense of who I am and what I want and need.

To bounce back though, I am just guessing what drew people to me because like I said, most of my readers never talk to me. I think the thing that I offer is simply a unique way of looking at things and I think everyone can offer that-- it just takes the effort to really reflect rather than reacting automatically, and the effort to share openly and risk hurt rather than sharing only what isn't scary to share. If it doesn't scare you a little bit, you're probably not sharing anything very close to your heart. People can feel when you're sharing something vulnerable, and it means a lot. At least, it means a lot to me when people share with me like that, and many people have told me the same about when I do it, so I imagine it as broadly true of good (non-abusive) people.

Side note: anyone who uses someone's true vulnerability against them on purpose is not a safe person and not a person I can respect. If someone came to me and shared in a humble and vulnerable way, I would not be willing to use it against them even if it was the person I hate most in the world. If it was that person, I would tell them "I'm glad you're trying to be open but I am not the person for you to talk to this about; find someone else." I would not hold it over them, or use it to manipulate them, or otherwise take advantage of that moment. To me it's just such a heinous violation to accept the gift of that most innocent part of a person and then lock that innocent part in chains, or crush it, etc.

Vulnerability should be honored. But it should also be consensual! No one has to accept that gift and people who are not willing and able to accept the responsibility of holding a kind and respectful space should say so. And when you are sharing something very vulnerable, it is also important to check in and be sure the other person CAN hold that space. I have learned the hard way that if something is super important to me, I can't just blurt it out whenever or I am gonna be hurt! I have to say something like "this is hard to express and important. are you in a space to take it in?" and that is within relationships that are based on an ideal of complete openness and honestly. Outside of those I have to be a lot MORE careful.

Which is part of why I share on LJ. People can easily take whatever time they need to process something I have shared, and if they are not interested, they can just not read. I don't have to worry that my vulnerability is too much, and I don't have to feel bad if the response is tepid, because I can re-read it and give my own self that validation of "wow, yes I expressed this exactly how I meant to and it feels true all over again reading it." There is a set of posts I wrote on two or three different times with no response, and it was SO very important to me but I think people couldn't relate -- I still feel really really glad to have written them because they were about such a major shift in my understanding of my self and the universe. In a lot of ways, LJ lets me be my own best friend in a way I simply couldn't without it.

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Comments
sandracaprice ══╣╠══
Replies
I read all your posts, but I only sometimes reply. I learn a lot about consent and social justice from you, and I can say with all honesty that I think I have grown as a person from reading your LJ.
daphnep ══╣╠══
This is really well said and I think I've grown to use lj in a similar way--as much to puzzle out my own thoughts as to document them.

Which is funny because when you started this post, I was like "hmm, I wouldn't have anything for that writing prompt." But where you took it, I can relate.
bunnika ══╣bel: typewriter╠══
I've felt envious of your LJ experience as well, but primarily of your freedom to write openly. Having been stalked by my rapist, my abusers, I just know I can't do the writing I want to do, publicly, safely. And I wish I could, because I think I could have an experience similar to yours. I did in the past, and it was glorious, but it bit me in the ass. And that was before so much came to light.

It's childish to expect the same sort of dynamic, though, if you aren't the same sort of writer. I wouldn't expect to have "your" experience, I just think I could have impact as you do. But that's what I've tried to cultivate partly with my WordPress, and it has been good for me.

I hope to rediscover LJ as a source of self-expression and a safe mirror for myself. Someplace to parse out my feelings. I've missed that.
jeune_fleur ══╣╠══
I find it really nice you got a writing buddy! :D it's nice because you'll keep each other active and inspired to write.

I love vulnerability. I feel like that's the ultimate way people can be so powerful. I look up to people who allow themselves to be vulnerable, and I always strive to be so myself as well. I feel like that's a way of truly connecting with people.
webgirluk ══╣╠══
I can understand why you would have many readers and the reasons you gave were my thoughts too as you unfolded them here. In fact, my boyfriend said he read one of your posts linked in one of the anti capitalist facebook groups he hangs out in once.

My journal used to be really interactive but I feel it was partly because I had a success rate at the time of bringing people I already knew here, rather than it being about people finding me here and liking what I wrote. Also, friends locked is limited but I've not been brave enough to "go public". I love your final line about LJ being like a best friend. So true.
ragnarok_08 ══╣Original ★ on the other side╠══
That's great that you have a writing buddy :)

Being vulnerable takes a lot of courage, and I look up people who allow themselves to be vulnerable, that it can be a way to connect with others.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.