Pia Besmonte

is back

“I’ve put up with too much, too long, and now I’m just too intelligent, too powerful, too beautiful, too sure of who I am finally to deserve anything less.”

– Sandra Cisneros

Writing through a Migraine Attack

I woke up with a raging headache. Dexter received an unexpected email first thing this morning and woke up pissed. The headache blazed into a full-fledged migraine attack. But I have promised to write for two days now, and I will persist to write through squinted, pulsing eyes. Writing through a migraine attack. Here we go.

Violent language to explain creativity bothers me.

I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. While I appreciate some gems in the book, such as

“We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to.

Of course this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship.”

When I read this part, I whispered yissssss. This is what I went through with “Manic Pixie Depressive Gremlin”. The isolation but at the same time access to that boundless source of creation.

However, this book is 15 years old. It shows its age when it talks about ADHD, depression, and addictive personality as made-up symptoms of the Resistance. Those are recognized as real and crippling disabilities now.

His message is clear: anything that gets in the way of one doing the work is “the enemy”. His method, though, takes metaphors from being a “warrior”. Be disciplined, be miserable. And that kind of pep talk about creativity makes me slowly close up.

You can’t force creativity.

It’s honorable to stick to a routine. It’s great to have rituals that pump you up for the act of creating. It’s questionable when you need to antagonize something so you feel powerful enough to act on it.

I can never approach writing when I feel bad. It shows in my work when I am angry. I become unclear, preachy, detached from reality. I lash out. Lashing out is guttural. The antithesis of using language.

A lot of people will be inspired by Pressfield’s book. If I were less protective of what I consume, I would jump in completely. But with my personal journey thus far, I have learned to be wary of writing that strongly insists on one true way instead of finding what sticks with you.

Not to mention I hate ROTC culture. Never enlist in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in a postcolonial country. It’s ugly.

Essentially, it’s the culture of “breaking people” to make them “better”. It’s the “pay your dues” culture. The “I suffered to get where I am, now I get to torture you” culture.

It’s cultish. It damages individuality and self-esteem. Most importantly, it perpetuates a cycle of violence for generations.

Aaaand my head is throbbing again.

Writing through a Migraine attack

I discovered Leandra Medine’s Monocycle on our recent trip to Jogjakarta. This is my favorite episode:

“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so adamant about wearing my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes I wish I can just keep some stuff in. But I really don’t know how to.”

The way she answered this question marks a person who examines her life:

“If we’re writing out of love, we’re building in the direction that our dreams are willing to take us, but if we’re writing in fear, we’re constantly focused on what we don’t want instead of what we do.”

Man Repeller was born the year that I was studying in New York City. I didn’t hear of them when I was there, but following them now makes me feel a continued connection to NYC. To the person that emerged from me.

That connection keeps me going, when the going gets painful.

I just finished reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. I like the idea of Resistance, but had major red flags on martial metaphors. Why does art have to be so combative? More on these tomorrow.


Emotional Labor and Multi-Level Marketing

I wrote something about emotional labor.

Emotional Labor

My late mother was a wonderful human being. She gave all of herself to her husband and children. I wonder, though, if she would have lived longer given the knowledge that emotional labor is not hers alone to bear.

Emotional labor is real, and is a gendered task. The burden of managing the emotional needs of everyone around us has been instilled since birth. The imperative to be more sensitive to other people’s emotions is reinforced in girls. It is demanded from women in relationships, at home, and at work.

Now that I have the language for it, I have the power to wield it.


I also found a great expository podcast on multi-level marketing that targets women desperate for money and belongingness. Still thinking about it.

And a podcast about my secret pleasure, makeup.

Also this:

Podcasting relies on impulsive, free-form conversation. It’s never going to be perfect and that’s okay! Sometimes the best episodes are ones that include a little messiness. Podcasting has taught me to trust that I can still create something wonderful without agonizing over whether or not it is flawless and polished. (It has also taught me that flawless and polished can be pretty boring.) (Man Repeller)

A valid excuse

I re-connected today with Paola, a kindred spirit, so I don’t have time to flesh out a full post. Taking time to forge mature female friendships should count for something.

The post on The Pinayist was a heavy one, though. Will try again tomorrow.

Female Anger fuels my Monday

It’s Monday. It’s a new week yet I am stuck with residual anger from last week. In an effort to turn this negative energy into something meaningful, I think about female anger in literature and in real life.

pia Besmonte female anger Beyonce

Female Anger in Literature

This article argues that we need more angry female heroes. Unapologetically angry ones.

Classic heroines from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway aren’t angry enough, at least for our generation. We need heroines who are (self-)destructively angry:

“My depression does not feel passive. It feels firecracker angry, seething just below my skin, ready to be set off, activated against the world.”

-Elizabeth Skoski

Because literature is cathartic. When we read heroines acting, releasing their pent-up feelings, enacting some sense of justice in this crooked world, we feel liberated to release our own.

Female Anger in Life

When young women get angry, they call us names: bipolar, crazy, bitch. And sometimes we believe them: we internalize the anger.

Am I really mentally unstable? I have asked myself more than a couple of times.

In moments of clarity, like on this Monday morning, I heard a voice loud and clear inside my soul:

There is nothing wrong with you. You feel angry because there are circumstances done to you that you feel the need to correct.

And if you look at history, I am not the only one.

Female Anger in History

Jane Anger wrote against the rhetoric that women are dumb sluts.

Female thinkers and writers from Mary Wollstonecraft to Elena Ferrante create with female rage in mind. It’s in video. It’s a manifesto.

For these women, anger is purposeful.

Anger is what drives women to fight against erasure, the lack of opportunities and agency, and mis-representation. I hate being written (poorly) about, that’s why I wrote my first book.

Anger fuels our creativity, and our hunger to keep creating in a world that tells us to behave, to hide our feelings, to play coy.

I am angry, but I’m no victim. So back to work.