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 It’s been a long time since I came here, a long time since I bothered to write about my life in either prose or poetry. Part of that has been my health, of course, but it’s also true that my fiction has taken over the vast majority of my free time. But mostly, I didn’t feel like I had much to say. I certainly didn’t feel like I truly needed to say anything, the way I so often needed to express the turmoil in my heart during my first decade of disability and chronic illness.

But the last few years have been absolutely shattering in many ways–and not just because of the pandemic, political unrest, and other global problems that have affected everyone. There’s been a lot of personal upheaval as well, and even though a fair bit of it is many months in the past, I’m still reeling from it. It’s the kind of upheaval that leaves wounds that are slow to heal, and even once they have scarred over, they can split open again all too easily.

That’s where I am now: battered, scarred, my heart still too tender and ready to bleed at the slightest touch. But blogging has always been cathartic for me, a way of coming to terms with and healing from all the things that I would not otherwise be able to bear.

And there’s something else I’m hoping to overcome through blogging: I have a tendency to shut down parts of myself if they don’t seem to fit in with the people I’m around or the activities I’m currently involved in. In 2006-2015, when my blogging was most prolific, I hid the quirkier aspects of myself for a long time. I didn’t write fiction, never talked about the geeky fandoms I love, and concentrated instead on cultivating a particular image of myself as a soft-spoken, Nature-loving poet and photographer. And even though all those things were–and still are–true about me, they’re not the complete picture.

Over time, I started to feel more comfortable revealing other pieces of myself. I occasionally talked about my creative endeavors and eventually returned to writing fiction, which then supplanted blogging all together. I joined some writing groups online and plunged headfirst back into all the things I’d been suppressing for years: my love for fantasy books, all those fandoms, the whole nine yards.

At first, it felt wonderful. It felt like coming home, like being myself again. But without realizing it, I dropped the poetry and the blogging, and even though I still took photos, I rarely did anything with them. I became exclusively a fantasy writer, even though that is not the whole of who I am either.

Now, after so many years of paring myself down to neat, prepackaged versions designed to fit in with one set of people or another, I want to simply be. Be who I truly am, all of myself, despite how messy and often paradoxical that self is.

Yes, I’m a quiet person who loves to soak up the peace and beauty of Nature at every opportunity. I think deeply, love deeply, seek beauty in the everyday things that others tend to overlook. But the same woman who would happily spend all afternoon stretched out on a giant trampoline communing with the birds and clouds drifting overhead is the very same woman who adores seductive villains, plays bloodthirsty pirate RPGs, and writes dark fantasy–and, as if that isn’t contradictory enough, also writes silly adventure stories for kids.

Many times, I’ve thought about how to keep all these aspects of myself separate from one another, at least in public. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are a number of authors who publish under different pen names for each genre they write in. It prevents kids from accidentally buying a book intended for adults just because their favorite author wrote it, for example. So yes, when the time comes, I’ll probably have a pseudonym or two to keep the branding for all my creative endeavors distinct and separate.

But that’s worlds apart from actually shutting down or hiding pieces of myself, and sadly that’s been my tendency over the past 16 years. I didn’t mean to do that, but it happened anyway… and now I’m done with it.

I can blog about the slow and painful healing of my heart at the same time that I write my dark and twisted fairy tale series. I can share photos of mountain vistas and forgotten cemeteries, then sit down with my husband to play Skull Tales. I can send a friend a care package to let them know they’re loved and still cackle like a madwoman when my favorite onscreen villain does something deliciously evil.

Because I do do all these things, and more. They are all part of who I am, sweet and wicked, weird and wonderful, and I’m finally ready to claim that.

So hello, world, here I am again. I’m finally back, and this time I’m going to stick around for a while.

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