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home : commentary : leadervoice May 25, 2016

My inner voice speaks Klingon
"When was the last time you asked a woman friend, 'What do you really WANT?' When was the last time you asked YOURSELF what you really wanted?" -Eileen Peterson

by Eileen Peterson

"Welcome to the ghetto," my teacher said, reacting to my announcement that my novel was becoming a science fiction/fantasy story and not a literary one. Rosanne Bane, a creativity coach and a writing teacher at The Loft, has written science fiction/fantasy herself and knows how little respect the genre is given in many circles. Respect schme-spect! It's my story and I want to tell it using that genre.

What do you want?
"Klingons" are aliens in the "Star Trek" series, and in their language, you don't greet one another with "Hello, how are you?" You greet one another with, "What do you want?"

It sounds rude, but think about it. When was the last time you asked a woman friend, "What do you really WANT?" Not "what do you need from me or your partner" or "what would make your life easier?" When was the last time you asked YOURSELF what you really wanted?

Women are often taught that it is rude or selfish to start a sentence with "I want ..." It's OK to say, "I need, I feel, I am _____," but never "I want _____." Society has always allowed men to say, "I want to make more money," "I want to switch careers," and even "I want a nap now," and they're not required to ask anybody's permission to say it. Are you allowed to say those things freely in your community? In your heart?

My 40th birthday was in 2007, and I WANTED to "come out" in a big way. I dressed up as a "Klingon Warrior Princess" for a big science-fiction/fantasy convention in downtown Minneapolis. I met some of the stars of the Star Trek series, and even entertained the crowds a little bit. For the first time, I realized that I loved dressing up, performing and making people laugh. Later I took an improvisation class at Dudley Riggs, and learned that I loved teaching and playing improvisation games, especially with kids.

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Since then, I've initiated more personal risk-taking and professional career growth. Staying connected with my desires, or what I want, has been a vital part of this process. Desire isn't the only thing-I don't get to do whatever I want, indulge in destructive desires, or abandon my children to join a traveling improvisation troupe. But desires can be a guide. Denying my desires won't work-acknowledging them and understanding what's behind them can help me become the person I am meant to be.
Eileen Peterson is writing a science fiction/fantasy novel. She lives with her family in St. Paul. Be warned-if enough people gather about her, she will start up an improvisation game! www.eileenmpeterson.com

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