The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for our family. We've swung from one extreme to the other without any time in between for comfort or rest. We're starting to find our new normal now, though. Balance is slowly returning.
The baby is settling in and thriving. I think his parents are still a bit shocky, considering how drastically their lives have changed, but they'll figure it out. They're both showing signs of being excellent parents.
The aftermath of losing one of our own is a different kind of imbalance, but it too will gradually morph into something we'll then consider normal.
And in amongst all that, the rest of everything continues and we do our hamster on a wheel impersonations, trying to keep all the balls up in the air. Sorry about the mixed metaphors but the jumble of them gives a pretty good indication of how smoothly life has run lately. Small things, like pies ordered through a fund raiser a few weeks ago have arrived and need to be collected. The real estate completed the initial paperwork to begin the process of selling a house. Plumbers have needed to be called for mysterious leaks. I've had to learn how to use a vacuum cleaner again after more than ten years of getting cleaners in. I signed a contract for a new book.
Wait! Yes! Another book sold. This is a good thing. This is one of the things I get happy about and need to celebrate. In amongst everything else, I've had to remind myself of that.
I signed the contract with Dreamspinner Press on Monday. By Wednesday, the story had already entered pre-production with production due to begin in early August for a December/January release.
The Planet Whisperer is about the process and ethics of terraforming planets so the human race can expand. It's a love story too (of course) and one of the more challenging books I've written. It's a story I've wanted to see published since I began it.
The early stages of The Planet Whisperer were shaky. I had a couple of characters, a situation and a hell of a lot of blowjobs to write. Then I floundered. This story was my major project during November's NaNoWriMo for two years and I made myself plot it out properly because I kept getting lost in the sub-plots. I think it's been worth it. I love Jonah to bits and think Marcus is adorable. His mother, evil though she is, is a favourite character. I even managed a surprise character who changed dramatically at the end and will probably have a cameo role in another story somewhere down the line.
So that's this week. Next week I'll be visiting Cup o' Porn (on Thursday) talking about life, the universe and the Just Life series. On Friday I'm hosting C.C. Dado's 'Imposter in Zebra Striped Briefs'. In amongst that I need to write. I've written about 100 words in the last two weeks and I can feel the tension building. Today, I start getting my writing routine back.
I was at a funeral today. The man we were bidding farewell to was a gentle man, a kind man. He was someone whose low-key existence seemed, on the surface, superficial, but the essence of him permeated, and impacted deep and wide.
Depending on how you measure accomplishments, you would say he had nothing--or everything. I think he believed he had it all. You see, his measure of success was his family. He adored his family, each and every one of them, regardless of what they had or hadn't done, or said, or believed. None of those things mattered to him. What mattered was that they were family and therefore worthy of love and acceptance.
His definition of family was wide too. Blood was the beginning, but love and caring was by far the most of it. There were a large number of people in attendance today, including myself, not related by blood or marriage, but related because we loved him. We're all family because he brought us together and showed us what family really is.
With such a significant linchpin gone, you'd think if would be a solemn occasion, and there were tears and loss and pain. There was also a lot of laughter and thankfulness that we had been privileged to know him and be drawn into his family.
The newest member of the family, just eleven days old, was also in attendance. He slept through it all, but everyone who saw him, who came within his circle, thanked his parents for bringing him and reminding them that life continues, and brings joy with it.
This week I've watched the beginning of a new life, and the end of another. I've swung between elation and despair, yet felt completely at one with the universe. Sort of. At least I know that will come, once the emotions have settled down.
New babies are amazing things. They're completely instinctive, seeking warmth and comfort and food. Every day they change, gradually morphing into a little person with a distinct personality. He's coming home today. I'm going to be there to see his first reaction to his home and the dogs, cat and bird who will be his companions growing up.
I'm also going to be there to watch him grow and learn about his world and the people who love him. I'll watch as he meets new people and forges friendships and relationships. I'll see his sphere of connection and influence grow as he does.
The other end of the pendulum:
Being around the elderly is a poignant thing. There's a life time of memories and, as people come to the hospital to visit, to say goodbye, you get a very clear indication of how many lives this one person has touched through the years. The impact and influence of their personality is visible in the pain and sorrow etched into every face, and also at the jokes that still abound, the laughter at the memories. In amongst the pain and sorrow, there's joy and celebration of life. Of that particular life that's been so precious to so many people.
This morning I'm going back to the hospitals. One to say goodbye, the other to help a new life take his first steps into the world. And I'm going to try to remember the good and happy things, and at the same time continue to look forward to a bright and wonderful future.
We're going with a non-fiction flavour today. Don't miss out on this great title.
Denial, Deceit, Discovery is the heart-rending story based on true events in the life of Jack Ellis; a young Catholic man deep in denial of his own homosexuality. It tells the story of how his own denial and the denial of his loved ones forced him to conform to the straight world, resulting in his marriage to his high school sweetheart. After years of cruising gay porn sites, chatting online with endless guys and intimate encounters with close friends, Jack was pulled into a life of deceit with a string of sexual partners.
The story explains the pain and suffering of those around him as his secrets unfold and honesty rises up. The torture endured as Jack struggles to piece together the complex story of his own sexuality is truly moving. Escaping the shame, Jack flees to Bangkok with his gay lover where a much greater world of deceit and discovery awaits them both.
Denial, deceit, discovery will make you laugh, cry, cringe and blush as Jack's story unfolds from a life of shame to one of hope and acceptance for homosexual men.
I had an opportunity to ask J. James a question about himself:
Jack Ellis lives different lives at different times and in different places as he reconciles who he is with who he shows the world. Describe some of the different lives and places you've lived and what you've learned about yourself along the way.
As Denial Deceit Discovery is autobiographical I learnt a lot about myself as Jack's story unfolded. As a young teen growing up in Wales in a Catholic school I realised I was different from the friends around me. I quickly realised I could not talk in the same way, I lacked the passion for the same interests and found it difficult to form proper relationships. Most of my friendships were born out of crushes and looking back I realised that I lacked strong male friendships and relationships. At University these feelings intensified and I learnt that I was indeed gay but was petrified and desperately found to hide this. It was a challenging time for me because of the torment I suffered - trying to be what others wanted/demanded of me and ignoring what my true desires were tempting me with. But it was not all negative. I realised my strength of character and my ability to package things into nice boxes that I could file away and refuse to deal with. My realisation of just how strong a person I am was heightened when I came out as gay and when I went through a divorce. Prior to this I had always believed that I was very dependent on others and incapable of standing on my own. Through this incredibly challenging time I came to see just how resilient I am and this has helped to shape the person I have become today - very motivated and far more confident.
'Did you ever think of men when you masturbated?'
Sometimes I cannot believe I have arrived at this point. This is one of many direct and personal questions from the Catholic priest dealing with my annulment. I cannot help but sense his judgement of me. From his failure to hide his disgust to the way his sunken, weathered eyes glare at me as he waits for my sordid responses. I am sitting in a room that reminds me of a nursing home. It is bitterly cold; though I'm not sure if I am shivering from the cold or the depth of questioning. Excessively floral wallpaper with clashing printed soft furnishings was never a good look. The mahogany 70's style furniture pieces marked the perimeter of the room and the over-sized portrait of God's beloved son hanging above the chimneybreast was particularly distracting. I did not feel comfortable discussing my love of cock with a priest, let alone with Jesus in the room!
Two years after our thirteen year relationship ended, I have been instructed by my now ex-wife to visit the priest to support her annulment application - a Catholic loophole that allows two Catholics to declare that their marriage never truly existed. We have to prove that I was incapable of willingly entering into the marriage due to my underlying, yet undiscovered, homosexuality. Personally I do not have the patience for this, but it is a small gift for my ex-wife that will enable her to one day remarry in the eyes of God.
In 2001 we married after seven happy years and we stayed married for another six, although maybe these were not as happy as the first seven. And why did I do it? Why did I marry a girl when the answer to the opening question was YES! Quite simply, because I loved her. When I stood there on the day of our wedding it never entered my mind that I was lying, or trying to cover up or trick anyone. I simply loved her and wanted to spend my entire life with her. On reflection, I guess I knew I was gay but I certainly did not want to live my life as a gay man. At that point I had never admitted to myself that I was indeed gay; something I have come to regret. It was not out of malice or false intentions, rather just total confusion and denial; born out of an upbringing in a straight, Catholic world. The signs were all there, but no one ever asked me the question and, therefore, I had no reason to even question it myself.
I have spent many a sleepless night trying to piece together the complex story of my sexuality and can now define three distinct periods in my life: one of denial, one of deceit and a final time of discovery. To some extent they are chronological but there are many overlaps whilst in each phase of my life. When I finally declared my sexuality at the age of thirty-one, I ended the thirty-one years of denial - a pretty hefty sentence for anyone! To some extent I am still there now. But there have been many exciting and somewhat dangerous discoveries along the way; from early childhood fumbles with girls, mutual masturbation sessions with male friends as teenagers first discovering porn, to naive visits to male prostitutes as a young man and random hook ups with strangers off the internet as a married man. With some of these discoveries came webs of deceit shrouded in guilt, lies and more confusion. But it was these very experiences that have shaped the gay man I am today - one who has found true monogamous love.
Since accepting my homosexuality, many people have used the line, ‘You had a choice...’ but to me it was anything but a choice. In fact, I would say I did everything possible to choose not to be gay and despite my greatest efforts to suppress who I really was; eventually it came and bit me on the arse anyway.
About the author:
Denial, Deceit, Discovery is a new work of fiction by J. James. Written in the style of a personal memoir, James tells the complex, engaging and moving coming out story of the book’s main character, Jack Ellis. Jack is a young Catholic man living in the UK who struggles mightily on the road to self-awareness. Jack’s life is inspired by many events experienced by the author, but the universal themes of honesty, personal growth and acceptance transcend one person’s story. Denial, Deceit, Discovery will make you laugh, cry, cringe and blush as Jack's life evolves from shame and embarrassment, to hope and acceptance. It’s a wholly relatable tale that will speak to anyone who has struggled to understand an aspect of his or her identity.
After over a decade of teaching, educational management and administration, James needed to find an outlet to share his personal story. As a lifelong lover of literature and writing, James has dedicated his career to educating students, helping them develop the tools they’ll need to share their stories in the future.
His first manuscript was inspired by the response James received from the Catholic priest who officiated his marriage annulment. As part of the process, James was asked to submit a small document outlining his feelings about the events that culminated in the failure of his marriage. The priest commented that the piece was the most moving and impactful account he had ever read. He called it an “inspiration” to other men and women struggling with similar situations. After exploring many options, James realized that his story could help people to understand the complex issues facing gay men in denial – hopefully, helping to spare others from the heartache he and his loved ones experienced.
James currently lives and works in Southeast Asia. He enjoys the tropical climate, and the relaxed pace, which has provided him with the opportunity to continue developing ideas for his second novel.
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/jack.ellis.5220
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7159734.J_James
Publisher: Inkslingers Publishing
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