Discover more from From the Mind of Karis
We're getting real in this one, folks
Thoughts on looooove, a high school poem, and then I pull it all together with some craft talk!
I’m in the bad place (mentally) 🧠
Hello again, friends new and old! I’m gonna be honest with y’all: I am on day 14 of a deeply depressive episode. I do not know how I am sitting upright at the moment, because my head feels like it weighs 12 tons and I have this forehead-ache that is just abominable. But I’m here, and I hope this newsletter edition will give you…something.
I was actually going to write this week’s from the heart on depression, but since I’m still deep in it, I’m going to pivot to another, much more terrifying, topic.
^ It me.
In this issue, you’ll find:
From the heart: ugh, romance thoughts
From the valut: this poem is called Dirty in the Hamper
From the page: thoughts on writing workshops as “building together”
As ever, feel free to share, drop a comment, shoot me an email, smoke signal me, tell your friends to subscribe…simply vibe. Whatever brings you joy!
From the heart 💗
I really wish I could simply not write this from the heart. But these thoughts have been consuming my mind lately, and I need to get them out. On top of that, I saw a tweet where someone said they were freaking out about being in their early 20s without a relationship history, and I thought, well, maybe someone would feel better after I share. Surely not me, but someone! 🤣
Seven and a half years ago, I published an essay on Seventeen.com about how I was 22 and I’d never been kissed. This was a big deal, because I was raised on Christian romances, and kissing — and all that came with it, from dating to marrying to kids— was something I had longed for from a young age. This is partly because I knew it was expected of me, and partly because, even as a young teen, I struggled desperately with self-loathing and longed for someone else’s love to prove to me that I was worthy.
At the time I published the essay, I had no idea that seven and a half years later, the second half of the title would still be true: I’ve never kissed anyone. I’m 30, and I’ve been on five dates, held hands (briefly & unfortunately, ugh) with one person, and that’s…it. On top of that, I was in elementary school the last time someone told me they liked me. I do not know what it is to exist in the world in a mind and body and know that I am desirable to another human being.
Which…stings. It stings because, again, I’m looking for someone else to validate that I matter, even at 30. It stings because I want it. It stings because it makes me feel like something is wrong with me that I haven’t had it. And when I say “it stings,” I mean that it keeps me up at night sometimes, it haunts me every waking hour, it is the voice in the back of my mind whispering that I don’t matter, that it wouldn’t matter if I weren’t here anymore, because there’s clearly something wrong with me, that no one loves me like this.
Ah, man. How to convince myself that this isn’t true? I keep going on dating apps and swiping and swiping endlessly, having short conversations, going on dates, finding there’s no spark. I so desperately wanted a spark. And there was no spark. This is stressful for another reason, which is that I write romances. How am I supposed to write a romance when I’ve never experienced one? What if my love stories aren’t believable? What if I get laughed out of romancelandia for being a fraud? What if, what if, what if…
Stop it, Karis.
Here’s a truth: I am 30, and I’ve never been in a relationship. Here’s another truth: I am 30, and I’ve never kissed another person. Here’s a third truth: Those first two truths do not define my worth, nor do they determine my future.
Let’s just…say that again, louder for the folks in the back: THOSE TWO TRUTHS DO NOT DEFINE MY WORTH, NOR DO THEY DETERMINE MY FUTURE.
I think I just had an epiphany.
My worth doesn’t come from whether people are attracted to me, from whether they want to date me. My future is not defined by my past. Wow. Let me just…sit with that for a hot second.
I am so many things, and so what if “girlfriend/fiancee/wife” is not one of them — so what if it is never one of them? If I’ve learned one thing in 2023 so far, it’s that I have a community that truly cares for me. I matter to so many people. Isn’t that worth celebrating? So what if romance isn’t part of it.
I have so much; let me celebrate what I do have, rather than mourn what I do not.
From the vault 🔏
Dirty in the hamper
The silky words fall from your velvet lips
telling me you love me and nothing will change that.
And while I’m with you everything makes sense,
the world is right again and spinning around the sun.
Then she stops being mad at you;
you two make up, and I?
I am out of the picture again,
shoved off like a dirty shirt
in the hamper,
waiting for you favorite shirt to leave you
so you will decide to don me again.
Well, not this time.
This time is the last time.
This dirty shirt is now done with you.
With both of you.
November 10th, 2010
From the page ✍️
This is kinda cheating on the craft sharing front, because it’s something I learned from someone else, but it sparked a lot of thinking, so I’m gonna share it anyway! On like the first day of our workshop during residency, faculty member Jenny Ziegler who was facilitating the workshop said something about how workshop means “to build together.”
And that just set my brain off in thinking ways. Thinking like: so often we view writing as a solitary act, but in its best form, it’s communal. Think about it: to write a good book, you have to sit down and write it yourself; then you send it to early readers; eventually to an agent, and an editor, and a copyeditor, and all of these people come together to improve the book and make it something that’s gonna shine.
It’s possible to write well on your own, but to truly shine, you absolutely need others’ eyes. If for no other purpose than to catch typos and inconsistencies that you cannot see with your own two eyes!
In a grander and maybe more metaphorical sense, writing is communal because we as humans are communal creatures. Individualism doesn’t really work for us, does it?You can survive for a bit on your own, but eventually you will need to rely on someone else. I know that I, personally, rely so much on my community to keep me sane, to help me when money is tight, to offer joy and laughter when I need it.
Even before you sit down to put a single word on the page, chances are you’re being communal about it. I have brainstorming calls with my closest writing friends, where we hash out plot problems and outline issues and characterization bumps.
Writing, the actual act of typing on a computer or putting a pen to page — that’s solitary, I guess. But writing as a metaphysical concept, writing as a way of life, writing as a path to publication — that has to be communal. We build together the stories we tell, the ways we tell them.
And the consumption of stories is so communal as well! How many YouTubers are there with 300k+ subscribers whose entire ouvre is talking about books? So many! We take pictures, we gush on the internet, we scream at our friends to read the damn book already, Rachel!!!and we share our love with the authors. Yesterday, I was delighted to be able to share with an author I love that their book was a comp in my query for Nat & Cami. That was so special!
Workshopping is building together. Writing is workshopping. Writing is a community act. We can’t do this alone. Why would we want to?
That’s all for this week, folks! I hope this missive brought you some joy, enlightenment, a laugh or two…or made you feel less alone. Love you!
I’m trying out something new! I may alternate this section with a “from the shelf” one, but for today, I’m sharing a high school poem and reflecting on it in the footnotes!
Fun fact, I still long for dating and potentially marrying, but I think I’d be a terrible mother LMAO so. That’s off the table.
Note to readers and to self: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANYONE WHO ISN’T INVOLVED IN A ROMANCE, DOESN’T WANT A ROMANCE, OR HASN’T BEEN ROMANCED.
Note to my friends: the next time I come crying to you about I’m never gonna find love, DO NOT throw these words in my face lmao.
It’s me, I’m the folks in the back
I was a very dramatic 17-year-old. No, this was not about a boy/romantic relationship, I think I was mad at a friend? I don’t perfectly recall. Big cardigan vibes though imo!
Neither does capitalism. Idk why these two go together, they just felt like they did!
You know who you are you know what book.