Bleak Feminine – Rebooting Blood Ballet

Oh, Blood Ballet. You… I really don’t like you, Blood Ballet. But we’re going to remedy this. The anodyne for this chapbook being, well, kind of terrible, is completely redoing it in the way I should’ve done it initially.
The Blood Ballet that is available as part of Absolute Heaven is more what I wanted it to be, but still not exactly. I wanted it to portray a “feminine gruesomeness” with a horror-movie aesthetic. This go around with the full book, I want it to be somewhat more feminist. Not in an overbearing way, just through dealing with more women’s issues. That’s what it was supposed to be but ended up being like, gross-out junk and surrealist nonsense.

Without going into a tangent, and believe me it would be the god emperor of tangents, I think that just the female experience in general lends itself to a lot of horror – biological, psychological, you name it. Yet rather than mollify unpleasant experiences by discussing them openly, many would rather put up a very thin façade that all women are happy all the time, no matter the circumstance.
I actually received that message, more or less, with a rejection letter for a poem once that works revolving around the problems of women should only be more “empowering” or “inspirational”, that what I wanted to say was too dark for mainstream consumption. They could’ve just said “your writing straight-up sucks” and it would’ve been less offensive than that.

I don’t even care about the poem but I will never let that comment go, because that is not reality. You cannot keep only the good and snuff out the negative if you want someone’s real experiences in a book. Schizophrenic self-image isn’t empowering. All the disturbing, socially accepted violence toward women isn’t empowering. The violence our own bodies have towards us isn’t empowering! And depression, which I think is what that poem was about, certainly isn’t empowering – that’s true for men and women alike.
I’m not going to tell everyone that they’re perfect rosebuds all the time who will never face adversity. That’s much better suited for something like romantic poetry, and I was under the impression that the purpose of inspiring someone is to get them to overcome adversities, is it not? Not totally ignore that they happen.

Just to note, I have nothing against inspirational poetry. I do write it at times and I like it. It’s more of an issue with the industry. When inspirational poetry with no talk of adversity or diversity is the only thing you can submit if you have any remote hope of getting published when talking about women’s issues, if anything other gets rejected despite the actual merit of the poem or story, then something needs to change badly. This idealism is part of the reason women and feminine themes have a hard time breaking into horror outside of novels.
I’ll cut this off here because it really is threatening to go into a ramble, but going against all these issues is why I really want to redo BB in a completely different fashion. I want BB to be empowering through a darker edge that rarely gets to be seen. It might turn out to be the best of the rebooted books instead of the worst.

I failed at this with the first incarnation of BB by making it schlocky, and it was also rushed out. The gross-out language has been toned down a lot. Like the others, the e-book will probably be free or really cheap. I did think about charging for it if only to ward away those who don’t like disturbing content, because they’ll have to read the blurb before buying it, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
Anyway, the old versions are all still on Goodreads if you want to keep up with them.

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