Kesha, multidimensional poetry, Hack, and other musings.
I believe the notion of writing a book first occurred to me sometime in the 4th or 5th grade. By this time, I was already reading at an adult level having graduated from Hardy Boy books and comics to Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe. This was not uncommon back then because reading was emphasized to a greater degree than it is today. In the sixth grade, I wrote my first novel which was awful. It was a story about a kid who was physically and sexually abused and overcame his abuse by taking Karate and becoming a ninja. (My first attempt at autobiographical fiction.) The book read like an immature Charles Bronson movie. In spite of this literary catastrophe, I pushed on with my writing and by high school I had accumulated a wealth of terrible poetry. Still, I persevered and by the age of 18 wrote my first novelette Memories of Emily. I also finished my first book of poetry Blackheart: Love is a Whore. That was in 1988 and it was the same year that I began trying to get published. The goal of being a published writer would turn into a lifetime journey that would oddly end in a self-realization inspired by a rock star.
I continued writing and developing my craft. In 1997, I began writing multidimensional poetry. I was in love with a girl, and I was trying to think of a way to write something for her that was so unique that it could not be found anywhere else or easily duplicated. This would become the book Enigma.
Enigma was written mostly during that year but was not fully completed until I was in my early 30s. Not that its completion mattered because sometime around the age of 25 I stopped trying to find a publisher. By the age of 27, I wrote two unpublished poetry books and two fiction novels. I have a variety of reasons for why I stopped trying to publish my writing but mainly it was in response to the reception that my fiction and poetry received from other people. I learned an extremely important lesson from this decision.
When I was younger, I was surrounded by people who were teachers, educators, and other intellectual types. When I shared my writing with these individuals, the response I received was mostly negative. I was disheartened with writing or at least publishing. As a result of this thinking, I stopped trying to publish. This was an extreme overreaction on my part that would take decades to explain.
I started writing professionally in 2007. Now, when I say I was writing professionally I mean I was getting paid to write whatever people desired to have written. I started my first term paper business which was extremely successful. I was 37 years old and sick of working for other people. The plan was to use the term paper business as a means to make a living until I could get published. This plan did not work, and I found myself writing papers and getting involved in building websites for businesses for the next 10 years.
Between 2007 and 2017, I wrote papers and built websites which allowed me to work from home and earn a living. In 2016, when I was doing well financially, I decided it was time to move to Hawaii and start enjoying life. This choice would prove to be a bizarre misstep that ironically pushed me to publishing and concentrating on writing books and poetry.
To make a long story short, I moved to Honolulu and from the time I arrived I started experiencing one problem after another. I lost a ton of business almost overnight and was sick for six months due to misdiagnosis. It was a miserable experience to say the least.
I was living in a crappy $1800 a month studio in Waikiki. The apartment was infested with roaches. One night while watching Netflix and killing roaches; I was pondering ways to fix my business when a realization struck me. It finally dawned on me that the only thing I really wanted to do was write. I didn’t want to build websites, and I didn’t want to write term papers. I just wanted to write fiction and poetry.
So much time had passed since I wrote serious fiction or poetry that I didn’t know whether to start with the books I already wrote or start something new. I decided to gather all my notes from the essay writing business and start there. This led to the writing of Hack which was written in about six months. It was during the writing of Hack that I would discover Kesha.
Hack was written quickly, but one of the chapters gave me a lot of trouble. I needed a music artist for the purpose of inspiring the protagonist. I considered Lady Gaga who I am a fan, but as fate should have it, Kesha become the artist of choice.
Pondering which artist to use was constantly in the back of my mind. I had a meeting one evening with a web development client which would provide the answer I needed. We met at a bar in Waikiki to discuss his development needs. I was sitting across from the client and behind him was a large screen TV that took up most of the wall. As he talked about his customer things, suddenly Kesha appeared on the screen behind him. It was her Crazy Kids video playing, and I was instantly captured by Kesha. I was then sent into a period of Kesha research. I listened to her music daily in order to write the chapter I was working on.What started as a desire to use a pop star for fiction became something much larger.
Ironically, Kesha would become an inspiration for me because of her sexual abuse and rape. I identified with her having endured physical and sexual abuse as a child. I related with her music differently and found myself incorporating her songs within my own verses. But Kesha’s story has another angle that was much more poignant and impactful.
I was reading about Kesha vs Dr. Luke and many of the points in this fight resonated with me. Not wanting to work with your rapist was one huge point but also the controlling nature of this relationship. Imagine not only enduring abuse from a person but also having them control every aspect of your career or art.
When a person as successful as Kesha is accusing her producer of sexual assault there is a tendency to question the validity of the claim because of money involved. Personally, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that Kesha would have invented a rape and abuse story just to get out of a contract. The reason that I believe her is because she must have known that by making these allegations, she faced almost insurmountable odds since the statute of limitations had already expired on some charges. Her lawyers knew this and must have warned her. Kesha walked into court with only her word and the knowledge that she was likely going to lose this battle. If this was solely an attempt to break from a contract, then it was stupid, futile, and risky. More likely she was attempting to free herself of Dr. Luke.
From Kesha’s case, I learned a large lesson. Abuse does not have to be an active situation. Abuse can reach across time and impact us. I thought that I had let go of most of the pain from abuse, but I was wrong. Some of the worst thoughts and feelings I carried into adulthood were not obvious or apparent. Instead, they were underlying feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy that caused me to over analyze criticism from other people. I can’t think of another reason that I limited my writing for decades the way I did. When I think back to my teens and twenties when I was writing, I believe I was doomed to not publish. Somewhere below my consciousness were those underlying fears of being hurt. The problem with abuse is that it lingers and stays with you. Long after pain stops, you are still uncovering the barbs of control that the abusers left stuck inside.
Kesha’s story provided me with a new understanding of my pain and how it impacted my creativity and life. Ironically, the stifling of my own creativity supplied me with the material I needed to write the book Hack and placed me in space in time to be inspired by Kesha. Had I not restrained my desire to publish, I would never have learned to write the way I do now. I may never have experienced the things that have been instrumental inspiration for the narratives I write now.
Perhaps it was fate. Perhaps it was just luck. Perhaps there are many roads to the same destination. I don’t know, but I am grateful to be here writing and publishing now.
Written November 5, 2018