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reading tiger

Here's Where The Story Ends. And Here's What Happened Next.

(mostly woolgathering.)

In my very early 20s, I was deep into fairy-tale revisionism. Especially feminist fairy tale revisionism. Back then it wasn't as popular as it soon became, and most of the examples of what I was interested in were poetry. Lisel Mueller. Sandra Gilbert. Olga Broumas. Anne Sexton, of course. Of course.

I've talked about this a little bit before, about how fairy tales offer both an alternative logic to organize stories around than the usual narrative thrust, and how fairy tales teem with ordinary girls being active. I was constructing my alternative canon, even though I didn't know it at the time.

Many of these texts -- and the spec-fic stories that were soon to follow, which I also read a lot of, hello Tanith Lee I still heart you like blazes -- liked to posit what happened after "happily ever after." What happened after the end? What really happened?

Also in my early 20s, I ran across a magazine called On Our Backs. I was smitten. (I blame photographer Phyllis Christopher, mostly). I was struck with a dream. It was a silly dream and I didn't take it seriously -- not to the letter, anyway. It was meant more symbolically. Someday, I would move to San Francisco. I would move to San Francisco and I would work for On Our Backs.

(I also thought I would go to grad school. I won't tell you here how many times and types of programs I've applied to. Just to put a pinprick in the way this is about to sound.)

I moved to San Francisco in 1996.

In 1998, I went to work for the newly revived incarnation of On Our Backs.

In 1999, I quit after they failed to promote me.

Here's where the story ends.

What next?

Well, at the time, I got picked up by Black Books and spent five or so happy years doing lots of different tasks for them, from proofing manuscripts to editing anthologies to tons of publicity work. I also ran sex parties, which were our main fundraiser.

I ran sex parties for a while even after Black Books went bankrupt. And then I got pregnant and stopped. And the world changed, and the world moved on, and the owner of Black Books jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge last year, and I am still here, once again trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. With my time. With my talents.

Now, sometimes, I am stuck with the sense that I have lived past the end of my story. Which sounds much more dark and ominous than I mean it to, because see above -- what happens after the end of the story is one of the places where the interesting stuff happens.

But I miss the sense of direction, too, there's no doubt about that.

Here's where the story ends. What's next?

I'm still trying to figure that out.

(I think what I'm really trying to express here is simply the weirdness of having a story where I had a clear, though pie-in-the-sky, goal, achieved it, and then what? That story is still there, it's still dragging along behind me,complete and closed and a thing in and of itself. It doesn't dissolve or dissipate once you move on. And the sense of having it hanging out there is...weird.)


yep - I'm in that place too. from 'move to SF and find a girlfriend' which was a huge one to 'work for MTV someday.' it's one of the reasons that then viacom bought atomfilms i wasn't heartbroken. it meant that i worked for mtv networks. the what next is big. it's also where i think we find the best adventures. because the next pie in the sky goal is one that you're making as an adult - knowing way more of the possibilities and options than we knew as kids.

I don't suppose you ever read Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, have you? As I recall from my single reading of it some forty years ago, Vonnegut explicitly set his character, Kilgore Trout free, as his story was over.

You are free. Wheee...!

(Well, except for those two adorable obligations you have encumbered yourself with.)