I had a book published recently.
I have had work published before. Articles, reviews, a co-edited anthology, and a book called ‘The Bloody Sacrifice’ in which I entwined my writing with the art and voices of others.
The subject matter I work with is not conventional but not particularly edgy either: it focuses on practical and personal applications of art and spirituality.
Okay I work with dead stuff in my art, have a particular interest in blood and an animist based spirituality that is Tantric and tribal, but in my mind these aren’t particularly offensive preoccupations.
Thirty years ago it was more of a problem, but not now.
However this recent, more personal publication wasn’t directly about art or ideas or spirituality, it was about my life. A life lived long ago, in the days where my lifestyle choices DID leave me open to condemnation and DID make a necessity of living on the fringes because that was the only place I could find a measure of safety and people that I could relate to.
Combinations of the era, a chaotic upbringing, a few (well a lot of) issues, and a predilection towards compulsive obsessive and addictive behaviour meant that I lived life hard for years, until I slammed into a dead end.
I had some fantastic adventures punctuated with incredible pain and sometimes tedium and monotony. I experienced addiction, violence and homelessness and was a working prostitute. I also met some wonderful people, travelled extensively and was part of a very strong expression of what those times were about.
I eventually gave up habitual drug use, scrubbed myself up and started learning to live in a mainstream community. However I became incredibly miserable with trying to function according to that rule book too, until I eventually learned to live in a way that made existence worthwhile i.e. coping with the standardised reality whilst being true to my own values and modes of perception and creativity.
I never felt any shame about my past, although I realised I needed to be circumspect about it as it doesn’t make you a prime job applicant if you have little or no education, health problems relating to a hard living past, and mention on your C.V that IV drug addiction and prostitution were part of your life for over 15 years.
I have neither partner nor children and my day job is low paid and menial so when I felt a pull to write about some experiences of my life, I wasn’t too worried about kickback although I did consider the matter carefully.
Thus I have written a small book that is essentially a primer. Through a series of incidents from my life, the book illustrates my journey, a common journey for many people of my generation (although perhaps I did push the boundaries more strenuously than most).
I called the book, ‘P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer’
Once the book was out ‘the fear’ hit, I simply wanted to hide. I always get a black hole, a come down, at the completion of a creative project; however this come down was compounded by fears of judgement, castigation and punishment which I tried to rationalise away.
I have been in various institutions over the years and learned to be necessarily wary about expressing who and what I am in various spheres, and as my recent fears were exaberated by these memories, I needed to remind that myself things were different and more accepting now.
Then I received a call from my publisher saying that the title of the book was proving problematic with mainstream publication, and was being blocked from many arenas that were necessary to promote it.
Now I’m not into fame, but selling my book means I can do what I want (write and make art) and pays back a publisher that has faith in my work.
So I am an aging, recovering alcoholic and addict who used to be on the game and has absolutely no shame about it, as I did what many people did and still do to survive.
I now live a quiet life, obeying the rules, but my life and my body are still not mine to share and talk about unless I use the right language.
‘Prostitution’ is not part of the right language, ‘prostitution’ is not the right word.
I realise this is all bullshit, having nothing to do with me personally, but is about the concerns of advertisers and major companies who feel certain terms and language bring negative connotations when even vaguely associated with their businesses.
However I do feel judged, I do feel as if my right to express myself is being suppressed, and I am stunned that progression in the last 30 years is so bloody superficial, and THAT unnerves and frightens me.