Monday, 11 January 2010

Q + A with Joy Davidson- part 2

All the disclaimers from last time apply, the article is found in its entirety here, and I don’t own any copyrights, etc, and am quoting from it for the purpose of analysis.

Also, a considerable amount has changed since last week. One of the main reasons I took this article and decided to look at it more closely was because I wanted something approaching a dialogue between the asexual community and Joy Davidson, and I thought a fair analysis of her words was the only way. Since then, she’s come forward and said that she is prepared to have that dialogue, which I completely wasn’t expecting. There are still a number of reasons to examine the article more closely, even though I think it’s best to measure Joy’s opinion by her current words, not what was reported 4 or 5 years ago.
Hopefully it’ll kickstart that discussion, and I think many of the views are those likely to be similar for many therapists. It’ll also produce some interesting ideas about or linked to asexuality that aren’t the ones asexuals necessarily think of. It may show how asexuality is represented in the media. If it fails to do any of those things, or have any current relevance whatsoever, it’ll at least be a history lesson, and those are always useful.

Having said that, I think this’ll be a disappointing part of the series. I’ve had a glance through the article, and decided to do letters 2 and 3 together, because they’re quite short and focused more around relationships with a low libido than around asexuality, and I don’t feel I can add much to Joy’s relationship guidance.

Part 2:

Cecelia in San Antonio, Texas, Writes:
We've been married for 13 years and haven't had sex in over 11 years. Looking back at the first year of our marriage, I realized I had been the one to initiate anything physical. It was my second marriage, and I have one child; it was his first marriage and we met, got engaged, married and went on a weeklong honeymoon all in less than three months. Before we married he claimed to have too much respect for me to resort to sex before marriage. We have wonderful vacations in remote and romantic settings; we love to cuddle. We sleep late on the weekends and take afternoon naps together, but on his part there is absolutely not a hint of desire or passion much less sex, I've seen the uninterested look on his face and his less than willingness to touch me anywhere! I sometimes wake up in a panic, knowing I will never in the boundaries ... of this marriage have the pleasure of sex again. I married at 39. I am now 52 and extremely frustrated!


Putting aside questions of whether these are genuine or created to address an issue, this letter rings so true to a lot of things said on the Sexual Partners and Allies forum on AVEN. The romance and the cuddling (which I think are often signs of overcompensation in an unknowing asexual), the complete lack of desire which the asexual partner thinks is perfectly normal, the buying into conservative ideas of sex to normalise your lack of desire for it, the plea for understanding from the partner, which, unfortunately, not knowing her husband, is very hard for a stranger to give.
(side note: If a guy says he respects you too much to have sex with you before marriage, being a closeted gay or asexual is actually one of the better scenarios. The other is that he has a load of weird ideas about the purity of women and sex being evil that you, as his future sexual partner, should definitely address before you get to the altar)

Anyway, none of this means he’s asexual. Asexuality could very well be causing all of it, but there are a number of alternatives. You could argue that, in a pragmatic sense, that doesn’t matter. The problem is that he won’t have sex with her, and she can’t foresee a relationship without sex. I suppose it depends whether your advice is “Ditch him,” or “Talk it through. Try to work something out. Then, if he doesn’t pull his weight, or you decide you’re too different, ditch him.” If the latter, you’re going to need to at least touch on what it is he doesn’t like about sex.

Davidson Responds:
Unfortunately, you can't "work out" a sexual problem with an unwilling partner. What you can do, however, is tell your husband that you love him dearly but don't want to live a sexless existence forever. You need make no apologies for desiring a new level of intimacy in your relationship. Let him know you understand and respect the fact that he has blocks and resistances to sex with you , but that you'd like to explore them with him in counseling. If he is willing to consider couples therapy, don't wait another day. If he is not, I urge you to get counseling for yourself. You deserve some help in considering all your options and making clear and responsible decisions about your future.
This is a good place to mention that I highly recommend that anyone who chooses to see a sex therapist select one who is certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. AASECT's standards for education, training, and supervision are rigorous, and knowing that someone is AASECT certified is the only way to be certain that they have the qualifications you need in a sex therapist. Many general therapists call themselves sex therapists because they talk to clients about sexual matters, but the only gold standard for training and certification among sexuality professionals is AASECT. A therapist in your area can be found on its Web site at www.aasect.org.


Joy’s definitely in her element here, and all that is good advice. What they need is structured communication, to see what common ground they have, to explore the partner’s issues around sex, and to negotiate, and the best place to get that is with a qualified therapist.
One of the key issues that comes up again and again in the story of sexual/asexual relationships, those that failed and those that succeeded, are ideas of blame and naturalness. Undoubtedly, at least one partner will feel that they or the other person is to blame, that they or the other person should be ashamed of their unnatural interest, or lack of it. It seems to be one of the hardest things to get past.
In that case, and with so many asexuals out there looking for relationships with sexuals, I think making sexual people feel comfortable in their sexuality is just as fundamental to the wellbeing of asexuals as making asexual people comfortable in theirs. So I think the asexual community should be completely behind Joy when she starts by saying that the writer should be proud and confident in her identity and needs. It’s only when both partners accept that of themselves and the other person that they can start to negotiate.*
However, for the sake of balance, it would be nice to also have a little bit that says “While you’re not to blame, and you need to be respected, he deserves the same treatment.” The ‘make no apologies’ line on its own reads a little too close to a disregard for his consent and lack of desire for my liking.

*This is where the asexual community comes in useful. For asexual individuals, it does so much good to be able to say “There are people like me. There’s a name for what I am,” and it helps build confidence and the ability to really think about and have the words for what you want (and don’t).

Frederick in Pennsylvania Writes:
I am 56 years old. I have been married for 11 years. My wife and I have not had sex or any affectionate relations for many years. We have a 17-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. We rationalize and claim that we do not want to divorce for the children's sake. Recently, we realized that we are not diplaying an accurate representation of the type of loving relationship we would want our children to experience in their lives. Any suggestions ?


This person lives in a completely different world from me, and I’m seriously rather stumped as to his problem. I know from my parents that, if you’re willing to do absolutely anything for the sake of the children, a clean, friendly divorce is possible, and that’s going to teach your kids loads more stuff, about maturity and not just accepting what life gives you than being stuck in a bad relationship would. Also, 17 and 11 year olds are nowhere near so fragile that some major, mature life decision by their parents is going to mess up their ability to love (their parents being constantly aggressive or passive aggressive might, though).

So I have absolutely no idea where this letter is coming from (it’s the result of a time, place and value system that are largely alien to me), and can’t really comment on the big asexual issues. Sorry to disappoint.

Instead, I’m going to briefly mention the problems caused by most of the external representations of asexuality being in the form of problem pages (it’s either that or life-affirming curiosity of the week, which is probably only slightly better).
Asexuals, and asexual/sexual couples, need positive role-models as well as negative ones, they need to see asexuals who are confident in their sexuality doing their own thing, and examples of the great things that can happen when an asexual and a sexual get it right. There’s something about these articles that suggests relationships between asexuals and sexuals are one big seething mass of pain and heartbreak on all sides, mostly due to the quite obvious sampling bias, only people with problems write in, but it all builds up after a while and the situation looks rather hopeless.
True, they’re difficult relationships to pull off, but I’d like to see more acknowledgement (among asexuals, too) of their good sides. These relationships rely on communication and non-sexual activities (which are like the transferable skills of the social world, in that you can use them to deepen any relationship, not just a romantic one), the sexual ones have a pick-and-mix approach to sex that can work better than doing it in the ‘right’ way, they bring together two people with different viewpoints and force them to co-operate, they force issues of non-sexual adultery a long time before the tricky issue will be figured out for most people, and I expect a stable asexual/sexual relationship may well adapt better into middle age, a time when a formerly well-matched pair often get differing sex drives, amid some confusion.
Yes, these are often minor things, but they’re there, and I’m sure there’s a lot more that haven’t occurred to me, and the point is that these relationships shouldn’t be seen as just a problem, something to overcome. In an ideal world, they should also be celebrated for what they are.

Davidson Responds:
I applaud you for realizing that staying together for the sake of the children may not be doing them a real service. The absence of touching, kissing, and general physical affection -- not to mention the void in romantic energy between you -- offers your children no reliable template for intimacy. If you do plan to stay together, you need to get serious about rekindling the romantic and affectionate side of your relationship. If doing it for yourselves seems awkward and embarrassing after all these years, think of it as a hurdle you need to leap for the children. This may be where "for the sake of the kids" actually means something!
There are many books that can help you find direction, including David Schnarch's "Passionate Marriage." You will probably need some counseling as well, since change of this nature can be difficult even with help, and head-spinning without it.
If you're unable to re-ignite intimacy within your marriage, counseling can help you separate in a way that supports your ongoing relationship as co-parents and generates the least amount of disruption or insecurity for your children.


It’s reasonable that Joy doesn’t mention asexuality here. The original letter doesn’t mention it, and it’d be wrong to presume. But the answer also seems to deny the possibility that this woman really doesn’t want sex, has no intimacy left to ignite.

Joy’s answer assumes that a marriage without ‘intimacy’ should be separated in a way that’s as harmless as possible. I don’t know if I agree with this. It depends on the definition of intimacy. It could mean ‘any form of human connection’, in which case I completely agree. It could mean ‘hugging, kissing, dating, the more corny aspects of romance and sex’, in which case the decision is far less clear. It is true that there are relationships which don’t have those elements and can still thrive for what they are. I personally believe that relationships without any of these elements can still be strong enough to base a marriage on, and I’d like to see that represented more. However, these relationships are difficult to manufacture, and starting from a basis of a relationship that never questioned all this before, with two partners who are having to question all their basic conceptions about how everything goes, and with the risk that, if you get it wrong, things could get nasty and not good for the children, I can completely see where a new asexual and their partner would decide to respectfully cut the ties and build up from scratch.

One final after-thought: An awful lot of asexual culture directly relates to the gay culture of decades before. Back when homosexuality first became a common word, there were lots of people who realised, in a marriage, that this new label applied to them, causing heartbreak all round. The spread of asexuality could result in a powerful new set of tools for people deciding and communicating just how much sexual interest/attraction they have, and, in a generation’s time, the asexual (or similar) who discovers themselves too late could also become greatly reduced.

9 comments:

  1. SM,
    Once again you did a great job of deconstructing these Q&As from the asexual point of view. I'd like to comment on a few of your thoughts about both letters. The first letter is probably most significant, so I’m going to start with the second letter first:

    In the second letter, when I said “intimacy” I really did not mean sex. I meant emotional intimacy and warmth, touching, hand-holding, snuggling--the kind of connection that even best friends who are physically affectionate often have. And by romantic energy I meant the “energy of love” that other people often feel when they are around couples who care deeply about one another and show it. Of course, the romantic side of a relationship may have an erotic component, too, depending on the couple. However, I didn’t mention eroticism in the answer because that clearly was not on the table. Even the letter writer was not actually complaining about lack of sex or affection –only about its affect on the children. So perhaps he was not especially inclined, either. The situation was actually very muddy, for reasons I couldn’t presume. I only knew that first and foremost they needed to at least try to bring back a sense of warmth and closeness–which would be a huge task for them—if it was possible at all. If not, chances are it would be because the relationship issues that eroded those feelings in the first place were too deeply entrenched or unfixable—and that is what would likely lead to separation if they parted.

    You might be wondering, if I wasn’t suggesting they get busy in the bedroom, why did I recommend they read a book called PASSIONATE Marriage? Well, the title is a bit of a trick, actually. Although the book does deal with sex, and has many case examples that involve sex therapy, far more importantly the book and all the cases focus on something more critical; something that this couple seemed to be lacking: differentiation.

    Differentiation is not the same as separation or distance. In fact, lots of distance in a relationship often denotes a lack of differentiation. Being close feels like being engulfed or enmeshed – so people distance. I find that an understanding of differentiation is an essential concept for self-awareness and for connecting in all types of relationships. However, there’s another, less sexually oriented approach to learning about differentiation: Roberta Gilbert’s book, Extraordinary Relationships. This is an easy read, and offers a fantastic understanding of how enmeshed parent-child relationships produce undifferentiated adults and how relationships of every stripe are affected. I regard both books highly and have recommended them often.

    Getting back to the letter: I could have recommended Gilbert’s book – but in my experience most men are more eager to read Passionate Marriage , either based on the title or the fact that the author is male.

    I think I have to stop here and address the 1st letter in a follow-up comment because I’m going to be over the word limits soon!

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  2. Here's the continuation of my comments.

    With regard to the first letter, you wrote:

    "However, for the sake of balance, it would be nice to also have a little bit that says “While you’re not to blame, and you need to be respected, he deserves the same treatment.” The ‘make no apologies’ line on its own reads a little too close to a disregard for his consent and lack of desire for my liking."

    I think I said something quite close to what you are suggesting when I wrote:

    "Tell your husband that you love him dearly ….. Let him know you understand and respect the fact that he has blocks and resistances to sex with you , but that you'd like to explore them with him in counseling."

    I really didn’t mean “change him” in counseling;) I really did mean explore—because I was as uncertain about why he was disinterested in sex as anyone else reading this would be. From the evidence, I felt that all we really could know was that he was resisting sex with her—we didn’t know what he thought or felt—which left me without much to say to or about him.

    The trouble with hearing only one side of a story is in knowing that it is always just that – one side. In this case, the writer didn't relay recent statements made by her husband to provide a glimmer beyond her perceptions of the way he looked at her or reacted. So one had to also wonder, when did they last talk about the problem? Adding to that, there was the question of why she waited so long to address the issues.

    In situations like this there are so many possibilities – and you touched on some – yet, with space limitations in a column of this nature, and so little concrete information about the husband, I felt unable to do much more than support her so that she might actually take the next step.

    In reading your comments, though, I am seeing something new. I am seeing this question from the point of view of being asexual and wanting people in the public eye to use opportunities like this to validate the concept of asexuality. I am gleaning from your comments that there may have been a way to be inclusive about asexuality without being definitive, and I see why that is important to you.

    What you’re conveying to me is that the lack of a direct statement about asexuality compounds the problem of invisibility. To truly support the asexual community, it’s important to acknowledge that asexuality exists as a possibility when a situation such as the one posed by this letter arises.

    The message I’m getting from you is that it isn’t so much a matter of whether this particular man was asexual or not, but that if I had said something along the lines of “ … and if it so happens that he is asexual, then he will need your respect and understanding, too,” then the comment would have gone a long way toward offering essential validation. Stating that outright–as opposed to the more general way I actually did suggest she show compassion for him–would help to counter the invisibility issue, yes?

    If that’s what you meant, I get it. Totally.

    If I am misunderstand what you said, though, please clarify.

    Ok…I’ve again rattled on way too long! Obviously, I enjoy “talking” with you and I find your ideas provocative and enlightening.
    Warmly,
    Joy

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  3. Joy,
    Thanks so much for your comment(s). I didn’t even know there was a maximum word count till now. I’m going to try to address the points you raised, mostly in order.

    Firstly, yes, I knew that you weren’t using intimacy as a code-word for sex. (Which, while we’re on the topic, is a euphemism that annoys me, because it ignores all the valuable forms of non-sexual intimacy that partners can share).
    I know I wasn’t very clear on this point, but what I was trying to get at is that you seem to lump together romantic attraction and emotional closeness with hugging, kissing, etc. That is how most people’s lives work, but I thought, since I was analysing it from an asexual perspective, I should mention that some asexuals experience romantic attraction and emotional closeness without any of these standard gestures towards it, and it is important that the lack of these things isn’t mistaken for a lack of, for want of a better word, ‘intimacy’. Whether you can have ‘warmth and closeness’ without these things is something I really don’t know, but I think it’s something that some asexuals are beginning to find out.
    Looking back on what I wrote, I understand why you didn’t get that, because that part was pretty scrambled.

    I understand why Schnarch chose to call his book ‘Passionate Marriage’. There’s more than one type of passion, and, anyway, sexual intimacy tends to be an indivisible part of general intimacy for a lot of people (ignoring the more cynical ‘sex sells’). Asexuals often don’t work that way, but even at my most optimistic, I can’t imagine published and printed books that cater specifically to asexuals.

    The subject of differentiation sounds interesting. I’m not entirely sure what it means in context, but I’m guessing it means being able to respect yourself and your part in a relationship, where two people become a system that doesn’t lose the uniqueness of the individual parts?
    *goes away and does a little research*
    Yes, I’m pretty sure I was close. If so, it’ll be handy to have a technical word for the idea that you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself to have a healthy relationship with other people, which I’ve always believed.
    *comment continues below*

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  4. On to the second letter: Yes, you’re right, I missed the part where you said that she should respect his lack of sexual activity as he respects her desire for sex. It was subtler than I personally would have liked, but, as I implied, my preferred starting point for working out differences in sexual appetite would be: “YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT WRONG OR SHAMEFUL. YOUR PARTNER’S FEELINGS ARE NOT WRONG OR SHAMEFUL” in big letters (or maybe a more positive way of saying that, but basically just something showing they’re both valid and worthy of respect).
    I know your dilemma when one partner contacts you, reels off a list of traits and says “Is my partner asexual? What should I do?”
    Asexuals get that a lot on AVEN, and, much as a lot of asexuals have some wonderful advice about how you can make a relationship with an asexual work, everyone is limited to saying only “We don’t know if your partner’s asexual. You’ve got to find that out from them.” The problem-page format has a similar disadvantage- most of the letters will come from confused sexual partners, and whatever fabulous advice you have for these relationships will get lost when the priority is just to communicate and see what’s up. If you’re (and I use the word ‘you’ indirectly, to mean you, Joy, back when you were writing this, or anyone who plans on writing an article similar to this who may hopefully happen to be looking in) not against fabricating letters, a good scenario to go for might be “My partner’s discovered this ‘asexuality’ on the internet, and says he’s an asexual. What does this mean?” That scenario has a lot of different ways it can go- talking about the rise of the asexual identity and what it means, about asexuals who’ve just discovered the term too late, about compromise in a relationship, about whether they’re genuinely asexual or just ill-informed- but whatever conversation you have from there is going to be specifically about asexuality.

    I think my main disappointment with this article is that, for one about asexuality, it raises a lot of issues that surround asexuality, but rarely actually discusses it. These letters, both from couples struggling with differing levels of desire, are the best example. It’s an important issue, but, as you say in the article, it’s the most common one for sex therapists to deal with. My (possibly over-cynical) idea of the profession is that couples who’ve lost touch with each other and no longer share intimacy are like the bread-and-butter cases that most of sex therapy has been based around for years. Therefore, it doesn’t feel like you’re challenging yourself at all when you write advice about it.
    That’s why I’m so thrilled to have this discussion with you- it’s a much more in-depth, intellectual discussion, and, without the problem-page format, it can actually focus more on asexuality.

    I suppose this pretty neatly answers your last question as well. Of course you were right in not mentioning asexuality much in the answer. It was the right advice to give. The format and the letter dictated your answers. However, in an article all about asexuality, the fact that asexuality is so overshadowed by the cultural behemoth that is relationships losing their intimacy doesn’t help with the original purpose of the article- discussing asexuality for what it is. You’ve made up for that a hundred times over in this conversation (in which you’ve probably typed three times as many words as in the article), but it was the fact that, in one of the few articles written specifically about asexuality, by a professional, in the mainstream media, there was actually very little focus on asexuality, which I found a little peculiar.

    *and another comment break, apologies*

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  5. Wow, I’ve written a lot more than I intended to. Sorry for rambling. One last point before I go, left over from the last conversation we had, you mentioned that you had some problems with the asexual movement at the time we got all that press attention. I forgot to ask what your problems with the movement back then were, and I suddenly realised that I’ve not heard your stance on this except on the TV programmes, which were heavily edited, and more simplistic than would be useful for this dialogue. Would you mind clarifying?

    Thank you for all your time and thought, it’s much appreciated,
    SM

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  6. (I''ll also have to do this in 2 comment chunks, too).

    I've had a little "aha!"

    When you looked at the Q&A letters and my responses, you thought of them as part of a continuation of the TV show *about* asexuality, and therefore you expected an article *about asexuality,* too. Then...when asexuality was mostly left in the dust, that seemed pretty peculiar (and dismissive) to you.

    On the other hand, when I set out to write the Q & A, I saw questions that were *provoked by* a TV show about asexuality, but which were not necessarily from asexual people or about asexuality at all. I had no mandate to stick to the subject of asexuality unless a question generated such a focus, as the first query did. I actually didn't intend to write what you described as: "one of the few articles written specifically about asexuality, by a professional, in the mainstream media... ." Nor did the producers intend for me to do that. Nevertheless, it had to be surprising to you and other asexual people when I didn't approach the article as " writing about asexuality."

    It made perfect sense to me that a TV show about asexuality would provoke questions about all kinds of libido/desire issues. My only job, as I saw it, was to answer the questions I received as best I could, whatever they were. As it turned out, the last 2 questions were fairly predictable and, as you stated, contained nothing very challenging or new. Still, for each person experiencing pain or confusion in those sadly typical situations, the hurt feels new and challenging *to them.* So, for their sake, I always try to approach their stories as special and important.

    Of course, I now see why those letters were so disappointing to you. My view of what I was supposed to be doing and your view of what I should have been doing with that article were very different.

    It also occurs to me now that if the producers had really wanted me to talk about asexuality, they could have given me quite a different set of questions, too. And if I had been connected to the asexual community in a positive way I would probably have made an effort to bring asexuality into the equation in a more direct and helpful manner -- as I realized the other day when I wrote my previous comments.

    (con't below)

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  7. con't from above...

    In retrospect-- and in the context of our ongoing conversation--now that I better understanding what your needs and hopes were, the whole progression of events seems rather peculiar to me, too. I have no trouble imagining why you and others might have thought: WTF?!?!

    If I were producing a show similar to the 20/20 piece today, and if I invited general viewer questions, I'd have someone like you answering the questions along with me -- sort of a "she said, she said" scenario. Or, better yet, we'd have a conversation between us so that all levels of knowledge, expertise, and instinct could be represented. Together we would be covering all bases, and that would be a VERY good thing. Besides, there are dimensions of asexual experience where you seem to have far more understanding than any professional currently. For instance, take the distinctions you've made between various nuances of intimacy, romance, sex, attraction, friendship, affection, etc., and how the presence or lack of any combination of those is felt by various asexuals. (Maybe you really should write your own Q & A advice column!!)

    But I digress. The point is that, yes... it's no wonder misunderstandings abounded. My sense of "my job" as a columnist and your (and probably the asexual community's) needs and expectations of that article were different--and seemingly at odds. I certainly hope that is no longer the case.

    As for your question about why I had issues with the asexual community (i.e. AVEN) back then:

    I hesitate to go into it now because it would mean naming names and recalling very negative impressions-- which could only be hurtful at this stage. I don't really want to do that, especially since I wouldn't be inclined to make the same statements or draw the same conclusions about more recent behavior. I'm not sure anyone would really be served by my going into specifics. So, for now I'd prefer to veer away from saying anything that isn't constructive or in the spirit of improved mutual understanding.
    Warmly,
    Joy

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  8. Joy,

    I'm glad you've explained that the article was a response to all of the issues of the show, not just the ones about asexuality. I think my expectations of an asexuality-based article were less from the programme, and more from the banner at the top, saying: "Joy Davidson, Ph.D., Answers Your Questions About Asexuality", but, now I know that it wasn't just about asexuality, I can evaluate it better.

    You're right, I shouldn't have dismissed the realities of people with libedo/desire issues simply because they're relatively easy and standard for you- they're always hard and new for the people experiencing them, who are probably the most likely to read through an article like this looking for advice specific to them.

    I think it's really good that we're exploring the misunderstandings and miscommunications that have existed between you and my community, and I only wish it had been done earlier.

    As for the rest of this article, I'm going to continue analysing it, taking into account what you've just told me about the context. I've already drafted out some of my other responses. I was originally going to post one a week, but, since we've spent a whole week discussing this one, I think approximately one a fortnight might be better.

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  9. That sounds good to me.

    I've avoided going back to that ABC, Q &A article and reading it for myself since I read your first post on it. When I read your posts I am also reading my own answers for the first time in years and re-remembering the mental processing that went along with writing them.

    In re-reading old material I always have funny reactions. Sometimes it's, "OMG I can't believe I wrote THAT." Sometimes it's, "Wow, how cool that I said THAT!" Always there's a little bit of surprise as if someone else wrote the words and I'm assessing them anew, too.
    Once I wrote a chapter in a pop culture book about Joss Whedon's Firefly series: I remember looking for the essay when the book came out and at first couldn't seem to find it. Then, as I was thumbing through the pages, I saw that another contributor had written about one of the same scenes that I'd also commented upon, but I thought the other writer had done a much better job of it. I remember thinking, "I wish I could write that well." Imagine my reaction on looking up the author to see that it actually was my own essay. It was a genuine shock--as if I'd channeled the whole piece somehow. The Firefly story also reminds me that, for me, creative writing often occurs in an altered state of consciousness and when I come out of it I have very little recollection of what I've written. Doing advice columns isn't quite as woo-woo--but still demands a focus that isn't "ordinary" which means that those articles, too, are written in a sort of meditative state. So, reading what you've written about what I wrote so long ago, as well as reading what I wrote for the first time in years, is quite an interesting experience!

    I'll stick to that plan...and we'll go from there.
    Best,
    Joy

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