R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Self-Portrait (page 1 of 2)

Hillside Monday: 8/13/18

“Brocade, Velvet, Patent Leather”
Pure Life Studios
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Love and thanks, with all my heart

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Dana McGlon

Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Carole Thorn

Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary
Marlena Frank
Danny Alexander
Dann Brown
Molly Kay Wright
Charlie Bruin
Eric Woods
Connie Frank

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Image: “Self-Portrait, Two Weeks Before Disaster” (June 2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 7/20/18

“Self-Portrait with Porous Concrete”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Thanks, y’all!

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Dana McGlon

Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Carole Thorn

Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary
Marlena Frank
Danny Alexander
Dann Brown
Molly Kay Wright
Charlie Bruin
Eric Woods

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Photo: “Self-Portrait with Red and Black” (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/8/18

“Traveling Shoes, Part 4”
Nashville, Tennessee – May 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Thank you SO MUCH, patrons!

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Carole Thorn

Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary
Marlena Frank
Danny Alexander

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Photo: “Self-Portrait in Kitchen Floor No. 2” (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/1/18

“Shadow with Methodist Clubhouse Wall”
Glenn, Georgia – 3 April 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

A Menthol Prayer

I asked the lady at the tobacco counter for Virginia Slims, like my grandmother used to smoke—”the ones with green on the box.” Turns out Maw-Maw’s favorite cigs were also menthol. Not sure how I missed that and thought my grandfather was the only menthol fan in the family.

I don’t smoke. My grandparents made me promise that I’d never start. But the smell of cigarette smoke comforts me. I can’t help it. It’s a major note in the perfume of my first 23 years on this planet.

Whenever I find myself unable to write my way out of a sticky place, I light a Virginia Slims. I wave the lit end around the room a bit, then set it in the thrift-store ashtray on my desk to invoke my grandmother. I watch the strange secondhand smoke incense curl around my chair, then up, up, up and around the room along with my prayer.

And somehow, before long, I’m writing again. Palms together, I bow in gratitude: “Thank you, Maw-Maw.”

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 5/14/18

“Places to Go, Things to Do”
LaGrange, Georgia – 17 April 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

A thousand thanks to my supporters

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Crystal Woods
Carole Thorn

Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

Thanks again, y’all!

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the material they enjoy. You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Find out more at my Patreon page.

Photo: “Self-Portrait in Blue Dress” (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 4/13/18

“Behind Cascading Locks”
Heard County, Georgia – 7 December 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Thanks to my patrons!

The following people ROCK!

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown

Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

Thanks again, y’all!

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the work they enjoy. You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Click here for details.

Photo: “Summer Self-Portrait in Back Yard No. 1” (July 2015)

 

Thank you for your support

Oh, crap. I sound like a 1980s wine cooler ad.

But I do appreciate my patrons’ support!

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown

Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Dana McGlon
Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
James Floyd
El Queso
Luann Abrahams
Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

Thanks, y’all!

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the work they enjoy.  And you can help support my work, too—even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Click here for details.

 

Thanks, y’all!

A thousand thanks to my patrons:

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown

Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Dana McGlon
Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
James Floyd
El Queso
Luann Abrahams
Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

Your support helps me keep producing fresh, original, interesting content—plus y’all gain access to stories and photos that nobody else gets to see. Stay tuned for more good stuff.

For others who’d like to sign up: here’s my story, and here’s a direct link to my Patreon page.

Thank you again, patrons. I am humbled and grateful for your support.

“I Remember Country Music” t-shirt courtesy of Standard Deluxe

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

New work in Eyedrum Periodically!

I’m delighted to announce that Eyedrum Periodically has published two of my photos in their latest, Issue 17: The Future.  And, holy moly, y’all: They liked one of those photos so much that they put it on the cover.  (Click the link above to see “As I Fall Where I Stand in the Street” and “Looking into a Future I Cannot Name” along with the great writing and art in Issue 17.)  Thank you again to editors Bryant O’Hara and Alice Gordon for this wonderful opportunity!

Photo: Self-Portrait by Kitchen Door (LaGrange, Georgia – 22 April 2015)
“Writing well is the best revenge” t-shirt © Eden M. Kennedy

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

My patrons ROCK!

Thanks, y’all! Your support makes my work possible:

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown

Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
James Floyd
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Dana McGlon
Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann Abrahams
Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

Your support helps me keep producing fresh, original, interesting content—plus y’all gain access to stories and photos that nobody else gets to see. Stay tuned for more good stuff.

For others who’d like to sign up: here’s my story, and here’s a direct link to my Patreon page.

Thank you again, patrons. I am humbled and grateful for your support.

Photo: “Self-Portrait in Chocolate and Red” (Nashville, Tennessee – 19 September 2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wishing You a Happy 2018

“Turquoise Leap”
Denver, Colorado – 10 August 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

New Year, Same Me

So the end of the year is almost upon us. Everyone’s out having fun tonight, spending time with friends and family. They’re most likely not sitting around reading stuff on the internet. But I’m a writer, and hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!!! Tonight finds me sitting in front of a screen because 1) it’s what I do, 2) I enjoy what I do, and 3) something’s been bothering me and it needs putting into words on a page.

Everywhere I go this time of year, I hear the same old saying: “New Year, new me!” It’s a popular sentiment. For the most part, people who say it really do mean it. I can’t blame them, either. The beginning of a new calendar year feels fresh, full of possibilities. It’s a good time to try something new.

But here I am—that one weirdo at the party, the one who’s not buying into all this merriment and isn’t even pretending she’s having “fun.” Yep, that’s me, sitting over here by myself in the corner, not even drunk because up yours, acid reflux, the one muttering under my breath juuuust loud enough for the host’s pets to hear:

“’New year, new me?’ Bullshit. Everybody knows that on January 1, I’m gonna be the same asshole I was on December 31. And everybody knows the only thing that will help 2018 is my trying NOT to be as much of an asshole as I was in 2017.”

Really, y’all: The best thing I can do for 2018 is not to be as much of an asshole as I was in 2017.

Part of me knows all I can do is keep making good work. Well, okay—so that “part of me” is more like 95%. The other 5% sidles up all innocent-looking and asks, “But can’t you do something different?  Maybe push yourself harder? Be more business-like? Be more professional? Be more goals-hardcore-grind-objective-brand-network-leverage-bullshit?” (This is when the weird-but-also-kinda-wise 95% of me gives the sad, secretly-self-hating 5% a cautious side-eye and a pat on the head.)

Some readers may be thinking that by all this, I mean to be some kind of doormat, to let others run right over me however they please. Nope, not at all. Being less assholish means that while I’m actively working to be more kind, I’ve also still got to stand up for others, and for myself. In 2017, I drew some boundaries that some people did not like at all. Protecting myself in this way made these people think I was being mean to them. Too bad, so sad. Predators are not welcome here, no matter what form they take.

What’s more: I know I’m not powerful enough to change everything. I cannot know what’s in store for me next year. All I can really do is good work on my end: my own creative work, and my work for justice and transformation in my community. And then hope for the best from that work. That’s all I can control.

However, one thing I do know is that none of my accomplishments in 2017 happened just because of me. Sure, I was the one who wrote the article or made the photo that got published—but the reason I created these things in the first place? Other people.

People who asked what I was working on. People who read my words, gazed at my pictures, asked to see more. People who urged me to keep going, even when I wanted to give up. People who asked for my help with their own projects. People who reassured me that what I’m doing is worthwhile. People who hugged me. People who prayed for me. People who cared.

Whether it was financial help, encouragement, care packages, letters/emails/texts short and long, spreading the word about my work, or [fill in the blank], whatever I accomplished this year is because other people cared. Because you cared. Yes, YOU.

I’m old enough to know that New Year’s resolutions tend not to last very long. Most often, I do better when I’ve had enough of my own bullshit and decide to do something different. So 2018 will find me the same person, in a lot of ways. But I care enough about you to spend the coming year doing two things: making the best work I can, and being less of an asshole than I was last year.

Thank you, as always, for reading. I love you all.

RSW

Photo: “Self-Portrait with Western Shirt and Dark Roots” (LaGrange, Georgia – 10 August 2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

New poem up at Anti-Heroin Chic

Here’s some good news to close out 2017! The online journal Anti-Heroin Chic has published my poem For Brian, Somewhere in Upstate South Carolina.

If you’re new to AHC, I think you’ll like what you find there. I sure do. From their “About” page:

Anti-Heroin Chic is a collective journal of poetry, photography, art work, stories, essays, interviews and more. We currently publish on a somewhat rolling basis, featuring anywhere between a dozen to twenty new writers, photographers & artists every month, whose work can be found on our contributor blog page.

‘Anti-Heroin Chic’ meaning that what is beautiful is what is broken, that our imperfections, our exiles, our exclusions, are what define our humanity most, not the polished surface or the Instagram culture which encourages us to dissociate from who and how we truly are. There is a seat for everyone here at this table. The idea of the commune very much animates this project. This journal strives for inclusion and a diversity of voices, not to disparage others but to lift them up.

Many thanks to AHC editor-in-chief James Diaz for publishing my poem. Thanks also to fellow writers Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Jon Bennett, and Kim Bailey Spradlin, whose wonderful work I’ve gotten to know via Anti-Heroin Chic.

Photo: “Self-Portrait in Black and Blue” (LaGrange, Georgia – 4 August 2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Be Kind to Yourself This Holiday Season

It’s the night before Thanksgiving, and my social media newsfeeds are filled with holiday stories. I read along as scores of people tell of the frantic cooking, cleaning, packing, traveling, and visiting they’ve done (or are still doing). Most seem to enjoy the beginning of the winter holiday marathon.

I admire these people. They’re better at entertaining and conversation than I’ll ever be. But I also know far more people who secretly dread those crushing five or six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. People dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other chronic conditions often struggle to make it through the winter holiday season without falling apart.

Yep, I see y’all out there. I’m one of you. And I write to you today to say: It’s okay. You’re not alone.

Twenty-plus years ago, long before any of my diagnoses, I forced myself to attend every family holiday party. I thought I had no choice. I knew my relatives would say bad things about me if I weren’t there. Even though my mental health suffered from the lack of quiet and processing time between events, I still went. And, long after the holidays were over, I hated myself for being this way.

It took me many years to understand what was really going on. Decades later, I came to see that those relatives would talk about me—and anybody else who was different from them—no matter what. I could go to the party, or stay home, but they’d still somehow find fault with me. Hell, I could’ve walked in with my very own Nobel Prize for literature, and they still would’ve found something to frown and sneer and whisper about.

Today, well into middle age, I understand now what I didn’t back then. I feel empathy for that lost, confused, sad person who loathed herself for not being like everyone else. I try to make it up to “younger me” by treating myself with kindness during the holiday season.

What helps me most? Quiet time by myself and as much sleep as I can manage. If I do any shopping, I do it during the least-crowded times of day. If I’m feeling particularly frazzled, I ask loved ones if I can drop by and see them when they don’t have a house full of people.

Spending time outdoors helps, too, even if it’s cold and I’m all bundled up. So does marking off the days on a calendar: “Ah, just two more weeks until the holidays are over. I think I can make it.” When the forced jolliness and extroversion feel as if they’re about to flatten me, I try to think about just today. Or just this hour. Or even just the next ten minutes.

Most importantly: if someone’s being particularly awful, I give myself permission to leave. In the moment, I may or may not tell them to go to hell—but I will remove myself from the scene of their bullshittery. The holidays are tough enough without a PTSD relapse. Those are particularly unpleasant, and if I can avoid one, I will.

Yes, I’m a Southerner, but I draw a big, thick “hospitality line” around my sanity with an extra-large permanent marker. Jerks do not deserve my company. My mental health is one thing I will not sacrifice for someone else’s comfort. Besides, as the saying goes: Life is short, and I am not the Asshole Whisperer.

Now and then, in the thick of the holidays, I forget to follow my own advice. That’s when I stumble. It takes me a while to get back to my version of “normal.” I try not to beat myself up about this. (The key word here is “try.”)

Wherever Thanksgiving and the weeks to come may find you, I wish you peace and calm. I hope you can show yourself the kindness you deserve as you navigate this potentially difficult time of the year. You’re in good company.

You are worth showing yourself a little kindness. When you catch yourself feeling horrible, know that I’m right there with you and many, many others. We’re all in this together, surviving the holidays a little at a time.

Photo: Self-Portrait in Black, Rabun Gap (Rabun County, Georgia – 3 October 2017)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

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