Creativity and Mental Illness

I read an article recently that got me thinking about creativity and its role in mental illness (or vice versa): Creativity and mental illness share genetic markers on Genetic Literacy Project.

“Scientists in Iceland report that genetic factors that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are found more often in people in creative professions.”

Hmm, this statement wasn’t anything I did NOT know; however…

“Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, said the findings, described in the journal Nature Neuroscience, point to a common biology for some mental disorders and creativity. ‘To be creative, you have to think differently,’ he told the Guardian. ‘And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.’”

Wait, there’s more…

“Stefansson believes that scores of genes increase the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These may alter the ways in which many people think, but in most people do nothing very harmful. But for 1% of the population, genetic factors, life experiences and other influences can culminate in problems, and a diagnosis of mental illness.”

Not only do we, as creatives, think differently I believe we also feel differently.  And we just don’t look (or feel) at the surface, we dig deep.

Very deep.

We dare to.

We must.

It’s okay if we’re viewed as being different.

Odd.

We’re used to being alone, standing in a room full of strangers (even family members tend to be viewed as strangers at times).

But do all of these make us mentally ill?

We tend to delve so deeply into our minds that we start to see things (and people) that may or may not be there.

We talk to our characters that no one else can hear.

Our minds…our imagination are our greatest weapons.

And our downfall.

All because “normal” people do not understand us.

But does that make us mentally ill?

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Too Much Time On Hand=Lack of Focus

Photo Credit: wastedwriters.com

Photo Credit: wastedwriters.com

 

A few weeks ago I blogged about having too many creative ideas, but with no clear direction to take.

This past week, depression settled in as well two severe migraine attacks sapped the energy to do anything out of me.

It’s been a long winter thus far.  I’ve been pretty much house-bound since late November, and it is starting to wear me down.

For those of you who may not know, I “retired” from the workforce two years ago (I’m only 46) due to a progressive disability (Usher Syndrome).  Because of this disability, I’m unable to drive.    We moved to a rural area north of Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Rural in that I am at least 15 miles from the closest town, and closest neighbor over a mile away.  There is public transportation which I use on a weekly basis so that’s been good.  But with no friends or church (yet), I’ve been pretty isolated and alone most of the time (outside my family).

I hope to change this once Spring finally arrives.

Anyhoo, with all this “free” time on hand, believe it or not, I have NOT been very productive with ANYTHING.  In fact, I got more things (including writing) done back when I was working full-time.

Funny.  When I worked, I used to dream about being home and writing full-time.  Now that I’m in that situation, I’m finding it difficult to focus.

Anyone have this experience?

I’m wondering if I set up a schedule, would I stick to it?

Bottom line, I’ve noticed a trend since I left the workforce, and it’s disturbing as I really don’t want to admit it.

I lack self-discipline.

There, I said it.

Whew…

Now, just need to figure out the accountability part.

 

 

 

Writing: Looking Way Ahead

Click on the image to access this group's official page

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

The question for December: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Wow, my first month with the group and they just had to ask this question.  What is a writing career?  I have always considered a career as something you get paid for while you pursue a passion or an occupational path which leads to promotions and higher pay grades.

I have hung up that “hat” in January 2015.  You see, I have a progressive disability called Usher Syndrome (where I’m slowly losing my vision coupled with moderate hearing loss); and because of this, I “retired” and went on Social Security.  And because I receive the SS disability benefits, I’m not to earn an income.

I’m only 45.

And believe me, I still have lots to live for!

So, back to the question.

In order to clear my conscience and help me figure out my answer, I consulted a dictionary and here what it had to say about the word, career:

“An occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework.”

Hmm, still having trouble with applying this word to my situation.  Let’s see what else I can find.

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”-Maya Angelou

That’s it!  A writing career to me isn’t about “making a living” but “making a life.”

Now that I’m feeling better about things, let’s move on.

For the first part of the question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now?

Though I’ve been regularly writing and publishing (short stuff) since 2007, I still haven’t found that niche. I desire to have a book of some sort traditionally published in five years, but whether it’ll be the fiction or nonfiction sort, I haven’t a clue.  I have dabbled in all forms and nearly all genres, and I’m still in the dark.

Does this mean I should try to be one of those multi-genre/format kind of writer?

Or, should I continue to try and narrow down the area or areas of “expertise” for myself?

I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need to find a mentor to help guide me on this journey.

Sheesh, I’m all over the place.  See what you did, IWSG?  😉

On to the second part of the question: what’s your plan to get there?

At this juncture, I plan to continue what I’m currently doing: craft the kind of fictional stories that I’d want to read, and then find a home for them; plus write micropoems and essays about my various life experiences (have been dealt with a lot of losses that I’m still trying to work through).

Whew.

Survived this one.

What about you?  Where do you see yourself, as a writer, in five years?

 

 

The Magic of Writing (A Tale of Rediscovery)

book-magic

 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”-Stephen King

Why did you fall in love with books?  How about with writing?

For me, it was the ability of books to transport me to other worlds; to meet new and interesting characters, to explore exciting and wondrous places and creatures.  They took me away from reality and I discovered the magical realm of imagination.

In time, I learned to transform those fantastical worlds in to words.

Magic was real to me.  I believed in impossibilities.

Myths and legends.

In dreams.

I’ve been called naive for most of my life.  Probably because I choose not to see the world in its present state (dark, ugly and full of chaos and violence); but with possibilities and potentials.

Hope and beauty.

I choose to look at the world with a child-like view.

Hence, I still believe in Santa Claus and elves, and knights in shining armors.

Does this make me silly?

Maybe.

It’s how I survive in these ever darkening times.

However, for the past several years reality has been slowly poisoning my mind.

I wanted to write darker stuff.  The media is full of these kinds of images and messages.

My inner being grew more hollowed.

Depression and negative thoughts settled in.

These writings that I could never seem to finish made me feel so…so empty.

I began to doubt myself as a writer, and even considered giving it up completely.

Then yesterday I sat down to watch an old favorite movie; one I hadn’t seen in several years.  Actually, I watched the first two back-to-back:

harry-potter-chamber-of-secrets

I felt like a kid all over again.  My mind full of magical things.

Ideas.

The same ideas I had many years ago but have shelved them.

No more.

It’s time I honor the writer I truly am.

“I want to be magic. I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile. I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree. Or under a hill. I want to marry a moonbeam and hear the stars sing. I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore. I want to be magic.”-Charles de Lint

 

Spilled Raisins and Paper Shreddings by Amy Bovaird

amy-bovaird

 

*Today I love to introduce to you a very special lady-Amy Bovaird, best-selling author of Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith.   She’s here to talk to us about her struggles and challenges with a progressive disease, and how she uses her faith and humor to persevere.

 

I was delighted when Carrie asked me to write a guest post for her blog back in the spring of this year. But first I was traveling and then I was working frantically to finish my new book, Cane Confessions, The Lighter Side to Mobility. It wasn’t until now that I had time to write the post. I’m grateful for Carrie’s flexibility and to have the opportunity today to share my story.

As someone losing her vision and hearing, I face many obstacles each day. The only constant is that I will continue to lose more vision and hearing. The variables change at different intervals of this disease I suffer: what I now know to be Usher Syndrome, the leading cause of deaf blindness in the world.

There are three types of Usher Syndrome: A, B and C. The first begins with hearing loss early in life, the second type is adolescence and the third, the type I have is discovered later and is characterized by a late onset of progressing hearing loss.

Vision loss is a challenge; hearing loss is a completely different challenge. Neither is like being born deaf or blind. Thus, the progressiveness of Usher is the biggest hurdle of all. One never quite adjusts because the losses are ongoing.

Probably my biggest struggle came about eight years ago when I faced using a white cane. To me and many others losing their vision, using a cane shouted “I am blind,” louder than any word. For some reason, being blind is viewed typically as a weakness or deficit by both society and the person who faces the cane.

I overcame the obstacles attached to using a white cane through my faith. Strangely enough, God used a completely blind mobility instructor to help me overcome my fears and to bring “blindness” into perspective. It’s only as negative or restrictive as the person facing it, permits it to be. This wowed me!

Now, it’s not what others think about me that challenges me. As a child of God, I believe have great value and that God has a plan for my life. If I hold to this truth, that becomes my constant and the changing visual and hearing perspectives are manageable. Instead of being overwhelmed with the frustrations I face every day, I look for the humor in these situations.

Once I dropped a box of raisins and no matter how many times I bent over to pick them up, I would turn back to the floor and see yet another raisin or two I missed. By the fifth time, it seemed I had gotten them all (but I found another a week later that I missed). That same day, I knocked over my paper shredder. I groaned as I bent to sweep the shred into a dust pan. Again, no matter how many times I tried to sweep them all up, I still found stray pieces outside my line of vision. It’s teaching me patience. These spilled raisins and paper shreddings represent my everyday difficulties, whatever they may actually be. It could be not seeing the top of a trash can, or like today, not seeing the recycle bin at the local grocery store though it was nearby. Humor and patience help me face up to the everyday vision hurdles.

Losing my hearing takes even more patience. With moderate to severe hearing loss, I am easily frustrated and have cried a few times. I hate to keep admitting when I can’t hear a person, especially after three or four attempts. One of the ways I cope is to pretend I’ve heard. But sometimes that gets me into hot water! God is working on my heart to bring about more honest communication and to let my pride go.

We all experience aggravation but ultimately, we choose how to cope with them. What has helped me in recent years is looking at positive role models of those who live with Usher Syndrome or Retinitis Pigmentosa (ongoing vision loss). I also journal and talk to others. I try to live a life of gratitude and appreciation for the acts of kindness others show me. Humor and it. Laughter helps me keep to continue picking up the spilled raison and paper shreddings each day. Most importantly, I’m learning to trust God’s plan for me, even when I can’t see or hear what’s coming around the bend.

 

Bio

As an international traveler and teacher, Amy was diagnosed several years ago with a dual disability—progressive vision and hearing loss due to Usher Syndrome—but continues to enjoy running, hiking and traveling. Amy is an accomplished public speaker on a variety of topics based on her life experiences and also volunteers with local and national animal rescue organizations. She has written two books: Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith (© 2014) and Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility, to be released in November 2016. She blogs about the challenges she faces as she loses more vision and hearing, shares the lessons God reveals to her through her difficulties and manages to find humor around almost every corner.

Links:

Website Facebook Page Amazon Audible

Writing and the Five Senses

five senses

 

 

These are questions I have posed in today’s Thursday Talk Shop over at We PAW Bloggers on Facebook.

They’re serious ones.  Thought-provoking.

Dare to continue?

If you lost one (or more) of your five senses, would this affect you as a writer (or as a poet or blogger)?  How so?

The loss of which sense(s) would you consider to be the most detrimental to you?

Could losing this sense make you a better writer (or poet or blogger)?  Or, worse?

Lets try an experiment.

The sense you deemed as essential NOT to lose…vision-blindfold yourself; hearing-wear earmuffs or plugs; smell-place a tape over both nostrils; sensation-wear thick clothing on your body (or anything that would dull the sensation); taste-nothing goes in your mouthenvision yourself without this particular sense.  Would you be able to write or blog WITHOUT this ability?  Would something be missing from your stories, poems, or articles?  What ways would you be able to compensate for this loss?

Now, find an artist, or any person of interest who is missing this sense…how did he or she overcome this “disability” and succeeded in spite of it?

 

“There are two kinds of ‘disabled’ persons: Those who dwell on what they have lost and those who concentrate on what they have left.” -Thomas Szasz

Writers and Fears

write what disturbs you

 

This is probably one of the most difficult part about being a writer.  Revealing your vulnerabilities and fears to others.   This is also a reason why most of us never truly reach our potential because of these fears.

I am one of them.

How do we break through the barriers that our fears place around us?

How???

What about you?  Are your fears holding you back?

If so, what are you going to do about them?

Dreams

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

Is There An Untold Story In You?

m angelou untold story

*The following is an excerpt from the discussion topic that took place yesterday.  I felt compelled to share here as I feel that there may be some of you struggling with this very issue.

 

Hello everyone! Welcome to THURSDAY TALK SHOP! Today we’re going to have a very serious discussion. Everyone belongs to this group because we are bloggers. The subjects we blog about are broad though. Events, ideas, cultures, art; you name it and you just might find it here in this group. Most of us are blogging about what matter to us. About things that deeply move us; shake us to our cores. For some of us, there is an untold story buried beneath our passions and desires. A story so dark. Disturbing. Painful. Sad. So (you insert a word here) that we’ve been unable to share. While you are able to share all your other experiences and thoughts and feelings, you’ve yet been able to let out the one thing that you kept buried so deep within…

Focus on these words from Maya. Do you want to continue carrying this untold story within you? If not, share with us (however vague or specific you want to be) in one word or one sentence this untold story that is just trying to free itself from within you. If you can’t do it publicly then how about journaling privately? You’ll be amazed as to how freeing this feels once you’re able to liberate this untold story. If you decided to journal about it, just let us know by one word- Journaled.

Any thoughts? Anything you’d like to add to this discussion?

As a Writer: To Specialize or Not

frustrated

 

Why is my blog titled “a writer and her adolescent muse?”

The title represents where I am as a writer.  Even though I’ve been writing on and off since I was eleven years old (in serious mode for the last nine years), I still consider myself an apprentice to the craft as well as a novice.   I am a published short story writer, poet, and essayist.  I enjoy writing stuff about zombies and various end-of-the-world scenarios.  I also find that I need to write about mental illnesses, disabilities and losses.  I am a sucker for all things romance (the clean kind), but have yet to write any true romance stories.  I’ve dabbled in screenwriting which came easy for me, and I found it very enjoyable and stimulating.   In the past three years, I have taken particular citizen journalist assignments which I found very exciting and enlightening.  I love blogging about all kinds of creative topics.  And lately, I’ve developed an obsession with Fanfiction.

Quite a variety, huh?

Variety is the spice of my life; however, I’m starting to wonder if I will ever specialize in a given form or niche; or will I end up being a sort of a “Jack of all trades and master of none” kind of writer?  As  I’m approaching mid-life, these thoughts are coming more often than not.  It’s down-right distracting.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

What do you think?  Should all writers specialize?  Or is it okay to have various writing experience and skills?

 

 

 

The Dawning (Day One) Part One

12196255_10153141917005667_6710745592747987123_n

 

(*Note: In continuation to the Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind) post)

 

Day One

The first full day is done.  It was a good one, I think. Had three one-hour classes in the morning; and three one-hour classes in the afternoon.  My schedule will be the same for the rest of the week. One of the Vision Specialists made sure we were awake by 7:15am by knocking on each of our doors.  Breakfast was held in the kitchen/small dining area on the other side of the building from 8 till 8:30.  Since each one of the residents have varying degrees of visual loss and this was our first day,  Amy (one of the Visual Specialists) led us down a few different hallways to the kitchen/dining room area (also labeled as Daily Living Skills Center). Here we ate cereals and toasts.  It was a fairly quiet meal as we didn’t know each other.  I could sense that I wasn’t the only one feeling anxious about being here at the School.

My first class began at 8:30 with Ken (Daily Living Skills Specialist) so I stayed in the kitchen/dining area.  We just went over tidbits in regards to kitchen skills (which areas I like to work on throughout the week.  Guess I’ll be getting some cooking in too).  At 9:30 I met with Margo (Mobility Specialist).  She took me into an office and we discussed various aspects of mobility and the cane (I brought my own but have never used).  She took me out to a particular (long and wide) hallway and went over the basics of holding on the cane, and tips on how to use it.

parts of walking cane

 

For about 1/2 hour, I walked up and down this corridor, swinging the cane side to side (tip must always stay in contact to the surface), while Margo watched.  Every once in a while she’ll correct my form.

Today I didn’t have a 10:30 class (Specialist had a previous appointed event to attend) so I went to my room, and rested.

At 11:30 I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for lunch.  Again, we were quiet as we ate.

12:30 was a group meeting in a conference room.  From there I went to my 1pm class with the Technology Specialist, Tracey.  She showed me a little about various accessibility functions on a desktop computer (mainly Windows).  2pm I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for my second Daily Living Skills class with Amy.  I had the joy of preparing sliced potatoes and ham for supper.  Nah, it wasn’t that bad at all 🙂  At 3pm, I met with Candy at the Braille Center.  I learned what the alphabets A and B look like.  Oh man, this is like learning a totally new language!  The entire Braille language is based on these 6 dots.  See below:

braille letter z

 

“The braille alphabet is based upon a “cell” that is composed of 6 dots, arranged in two columns of 3 dots each. Each braille letter of the alphabet or other symbol, such as a comma, is formed by using one or more of the 6 dots that are contained in the braille cell. The chart below provides a good example of the design of the braille alphabet.”

braille dots

 

(Courtesy of Vision Aware)

 

Whew…am feeling exhausted after my first full day here; but, in a good way.  Margo told me that I am to be using the cane the entire time I’m here; meaning it has to stay “attached” to me no matter what.  I told her that I would.  Using the cane still makes me quite nervous (self-conscious is probably a better word); but, I think I’m getting a little more comfortable with it (better than earlier today anyway).

The others are a good group of people: Tara, Rosalinda (aka Linda), Marlene, David and Sarnoe.  Several of the Vision Specialists are vision impaired themselves.  I’m quite impressed.

There’s a level of comfort being here. I don’t have to constantly feel like I have to make an excuse for my “clumsiness;” or wonder what the others think of me as a “blind” person.  The other residents know. They understand and can completely relate.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

Yet…I still feel quite a bit of hesitancy and uncertainty.  Not 100% sure why.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to bake banana bread.  Oh, boy…

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Fighting the Darkness

bare land

 

For a long time, I viewed my disabilities as weaknesses; and considered myself to be inferior to other able-bodied individuals.  I felt that by “accepting” my disabilities meant I was giving in to them.

So, anger settled in.

Instead of feeling propelled to do great things, I opted to feel sorry for myself and gave up on my dreams.

Years passed.  Regrets mounted.  Misery and loneliness hung on me like thick furs on a hot, muggy summer day.

Suffocating me ever so slowly.

Anxiety and depression visited intermittently until they decided to move in on a more permanent basis.  It got so bad I couldn’t step outside of my own home without having an episode.

I realized that I couldn’t go on living like this.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t too long after we moved to North Dakota when I learned there was a School for the Blind in Grand Forks (a short 45-minute drive from home); and that they offered Adult Weeks just about every quarter.  Pam, my Vision Services Specialist, encouraged me to come in March.  I had every intention of attending, but “chickened” out at the last moment.   She then encouraged me to attend one during the first week of June.

I actually went.

Finally.

 

*Will talk about my week at the School for the Blind in my next post.

 

 

Darkness Abound

dark valley

 

 

 

 

One of the most difficult challenges for me was accepting the fact that I have a progressive disease (Usher Syndrome).  The next challenge was admitting that I needed new skills/retraining.

Coming to terms to both of these took twenty-four years.

Better late than never, eh?

Even then, it was difficult.  It’s been like going through the grief process that spanned over two decades.

I was not only losing my vision while dealing with moderate hearing loss, I was also gradually losing my independence.  And that was the most painful part of all.

I felt diminished as a person. Inferior.

Worthless.

A liability to others rather than an asset.

I loathed feeling that way.

But, what could I do about it?

So…depression and anxiety invaded, and for a time, won.

 

Darkness

 

Darkness is my constant companion
Everything before me veiled
Stumbling I cannot find my path
The way is shrouded
Uncertainty fills my future
Which path to choose?
Dreams seem just beyond my reach
What is the point of even trying
When darkness is all that awaits me?

 

*Stay tuned for the next post on what I finally did about my situation

 

Writing Through Your Fears

fear and resistance

 

 

 

 

Ever had a passion project in mind that kept nudging at you all hours of the day; but, when you sat down to actually begin working on it only to find that your mind had gone completely blank?

 

What did you do?

 

If you’re like many writers, you blamed it on “writer’s block.”

 

In Gabriela Pereira’s upcoming book, DIY MFA, she states that there is no such thing as “writer’s block;” rather it’s resistance.  The more meaningful the project is, the more one has to lose so the greater the resistance.  She went on to say that instead of looking at this resistance as an enemy, look at it as a compass.    Use it to guide as you work through this resistance.

 

So, instead of running from it…

 

Face it.

 

In doing so, you may surprise yourself at what you’d uncover.  Many writers have discovered valuable breakthroughs by working through their fears.

 

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
–Henry Ford

 

I have battled with the fear of inferiority.  That anything I do will not be good enough. So, instead of working through this and continue producing as a writer, I’d stop writing altogether.

 

Sounds familiar?

 

Over time, I have (somewhat) overcome this by writing and finishing short works of fiction, and poetry; however, I’ve yet to complete a long work of fiction (a novel; heck,  even a novella would be nice).   I’d get about a quarter of a way through, and then stop.

 

No one’s gonna want to read this.

 

It’s never going to be published so why bother?

 

On and on it goes.

 

I know where this resistance is coming from.  It’s stemming from various painful experiences in my past.  Instead of working through this, I’m allowing it to stop me from doing what I love.  And it’s making me miserable.

 

I’m going to take Gabriela’s advice and begin viewing this resistance as my compass, and allow it to guide me down the path I’m destined for.

 

Will you do the same?

 

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Let Your Fears Stop You?

As writers and on a personal level, we all have fears.  But, there are some that stop us right in our tracks.

Derailing everything.

How do you usually handle your fears?

 

 

I love to say that I tend to face my fears head-on; but, for the past decade, I’ve been running from them.

As the result, I’m now battling with anxiety issues and am becoming more and more reclusive.

What happened to me?  I’m puzzled, honestly.  I used to have no problem getting out and about.  Now, I’m growing petrified even thinking about stepping out of my house.

I feel like such a coward.

A Writer’s Vulnerable Heart (Part Two)

It’s difficult to open your heart when its been broken time and time again.

The first time I remember having it broken was losing my best friend and cousin, Darren.  We were born one month apart.  Playmates at a young age; but things began to change when we were about six.  He kept falling down, and needed help getting up.  Next thing I knew he was in a wheel chair.  A few years later, bed-ridden with all manner of machines hooked into him to help his body keep functioning.   Then, he was gone.  Dead just shy of our fourteenth birthdays.

He had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

It was at a young age when I learned that we don’t live forever; that our bodies were fragile.  Mortal.  And that death was a very real thing.

Parents are supposed to be our protectors.  Not just for our physical safety, but of our emotional well-being.  But, even parents are humans…flawed…scarred…and their own hurtful pasts can sometime hurt the ones they loved the most.   As a child, it was hard to see this though; especially when one of them continuously tore you down with damaging words, that you’re not good enough, that you were at fault for their current troubles, and that you don’t deserve anything except pain and hell.  That same parent would continue to pound and belittle until they get the desired outcome…tears.

Hence, I learned to associate tears with being weak.

When I was seventeen, our family’s true matriarch, my surrogate mother and emotional rock as a child, my Grandmother, passed away of Emphysema.

Once in college, I turned my focus to hopes and dreams of a better, brighter future; however, at the age of twenty-one, I learned I was going blind.  As a result, I gave up on my dreams.

Two years later, I met and married Aaron.  I thought that perhaps my life will start to turn for the better; I was wrong.  Less than two years later, he died as a result of a car accident.

Twenty years ago today.  And I can still remember the events of that fateful day as if they just happened.  The heart never forgets no matter how hard you try to push it away.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last of my losses.

I remarried three years later.  He was my best friend from college who knew of my emotional scars, my hopes and dreams, my anger…everything.  Over four years into our marriage, I was nearly eight months pregnant, he began to have growing issues with breathing.  He went to our family doctor who ran a series of tests on him.  Next thing we knew, he was being transported to the hospital.  His diagnosis: Pericarditis.    They admitted him, and immediately performed an emergency operation to drain the fluid that had its death grip around his heart.  But, that wasn’t the end of it.  Doctors were unsure if this was viral or bacterial.  Bacterial would require a heart transplant.  So, while they ran further tests, they pumped antibiotics into his body.  It would be days before we’d learned that it was viral, not bacterial.

Ever since this event, intimacy has been an issue with me.

Five years after our son was born, I became pregnant again; only to lose that baby.

My latest loss?  My Dad who passed away less than two years ago from an aggressive lung disease.  He was only sixty-seven.

Now, I realize that death is a normal part of living.  The same goes for pain.  But there comes a point though when one suffers so much of both that they shut down emotionally to try and protect what’s left of their heart and soul.   The problem is that I have placed such a tight lid on my emotions, I don’t know how to open it.

The real question though- Do I really want to open it?

 

 

 

 

A Writer’s Vulnerable Heart (Part One)

     “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  –Brene Brown
    “I can’t write to please everyone, but someone, somewhere will be touched if I put my heart into it.”-Sara Winters
    “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”-William Wordsworth
crying eye
My mind is full of rich and varied images.  Layers of story lines twist and turn with one another; sometimes overlapping, other times becoming as one.  Faces of characters float before my eyes with expressions of pain, joy, and anger.  They’re all there.  In my head.
    Yet, when I write them down on paper (or through the keyboard), the emotions are well, flat.  Stale.  Lifeless.
    I even had a few editors, two especially, who’d read different short stories and both came to the same conclusion:  my characters lacked emotions.
    Really? 
    Funny, when I “act” out various scenes in my head, the strong emotions would rush to the surface, and occasionally, I’d find myself crying, or laughing.   But, why can’t I make these same emotions flow through my characters?
    What’s wrong with my characters?
    What’s wrong with me?
    All my life I have suppressed my emotions.  Especially the tears.  For me, they were signs of weakness.   Heck, I even have difficulties with intimacy in my marriage because it requires me to be vulnerable.
    Vulnerability=weakness.
    I crave connection with people; yet I shy away from them.
    Fear.  Of. What???
    One of my biggest fears is ending up alone.  And that’s exactly where my current path is leading me.
    Sad, huh?
    No, its pathetic!
    Bottom line, I know if I don’t resolve these issues on a personal level, as a writer I will never truly reach people.  Touch them.   Because in order to do that, I need to expose my inner soul, my wounded heart; I need to show my vulnerabilities through the characters, reveal them all to the world; only then, will I be able to touch readers with words.
    If only…

The Power of Spoken Words

I have a confession that I need to make:

I haven’t read a book in well over a year.

Am I proud of this fact?

Heck no!

Do I have a valid excuse for this?

Perhaps.

How can a writer be a true “writer” without reading books?

Probably still a writer, but not a very good one.

What I have been doing is reading lots of online magazine/news articles, and blog posts.

Would these count as productive reading?

I believe so; especially if one of my goals is to be a citizen journalist.  Oh, and a blogger as well.

But

I still consider myself a short-story writer, and a poet.  I also desire to complete a novel. Here’s where I run into difficulties.  With my waning vision, it’s a growing challenge to read books.  For some reason, I don’t have as much problem reading online than I do on paper.  It’s the lack of the right lighting.  The words seem to waver in print and after a few pages, my eyes are too exhausted to continue.

Out of frustration, I stopped reading books altogether.

As a result, I felt like I was short-changing myself and my readers.

Then I read a post on a particular blog aptly titled- Like to write but don’t like to read? Help is here.  After reading this, I was filled with hope and excitement.  The author, Lisa, talks about two types of writers: reader-writer, and writer-writer.  One writer reads lots and lots of books; while the other one does not.  Lisa considers herself to be a writer-writer. Her reason?

“I love words but have trouble reading them.”

What did she do?  She began to listen to audiobooks.

    “I find that hearing the words read aloud and visualizing them in my mind actually helps me to     find new ways to put my own thoughts together.”

So, I’m going to experiment with audiobooks on my own.  I recently discovered (and have signed up for) a program called Talking Books where audio books are provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

Talking Books

In the near future, I will provide my own feedback on this.  Stay tuned!

What about you?  Do you think audiobooks can benefit writers?

 

Further readings:

Is Listening to Audio Books Really the Same as Reading?

Are Audiobooks the Key to Better Writing?

5 Reasons Why Writers Should Listen to Audiobooks

 

A Mad Writer

anger

I’m in the process of writing an edgy Christian supernatural story.

No, I should shift my focus to a more mainstream zombie one.

Yeah, but I love to put down on paper a particular romance-adventure story line that keeps going over and over in my mind.

But…I probably should go back and revise the two short stories I wrote last year so they will stop nagging at me.

Sheesh!  Being a writer can be so maddening.  How does one decide which project to focus on????

 

Journey As a Writer and a Blogger (Part Two)

As you may have noticed through my recent posts, I seem to be struggling with self-identity as well as wondering what role(s) I should take on as a writer/blogger since I left the work place permanently over a year ago.

Below are some of the posts I’m referring to:

Are you a blogger or a writer? (Poll)

Journey as a writer and a blogger

Quotes about writing and blogging

One of the by-products of being home full-time (and as a person who can not drive so am pretty much house-bound) is that I tend to over-analyze things.  More times than not, this is counter-productive.

Well, for me it is.

Many of my readers have told me that blogging/writing actually work well together.  Yes, you can be both a writer and a blogger.

I’m now starting to understand what they mean.

There are those who write horror or science fiction books/stories, and then turn around and blog about things that relate to their work (such as movie or book reviews, various topics within the particular genre, etc.).

Those in the nonfiction realm would publish a memoir or essays based on personal experiences would in turn blog about topics that relate to these (mental health issues, cancer or other life-threatening diseases, victims of sexual abuse, etc.).

On and on the list of examples could go; but, I hope you get the point.

I suppose the underlying theme of all this is find your “brand” as a writer, and then build your blog(s) around that “brand.”

This is starting to sound like a marketing or business scheme…but, I guess when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, yeah, I think that what it’s about.   It’s about sharing what you are as a writer, and your work, with your audience.  Hence, that’s where blogging comes in.

Well, that’s how I’m starting to perceive blogging to be.  Perhaps I could be wrong.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Are You On a Hero’s Journey?

The basis of the Hero’s Journey, the overarching theme is: Transformation.

This could be applied both in fiction and in real life.

I’ve read that there are multiple stages one needs to go through to  complete the process, and while I agree with most of them, I don’t think they could be applied to all stories; especially in real life.

Why do I say that?

Not everyone completes the hero’s journey.  There are some of us who remains stagnate; stuck in a rut, or in one place.

No growth is taking place.

This could also be called a Tragedy.

I believe that most writers would love to think themselves as “heroes.”  No one wants to be remembered as a coward, or some poor tragic soul who fell short of realizing dreams and aspirations.

As I’m approaching my mid-40s, I’m growing increasingly afraid of ending up like that tragic soul.  Perhaps I’m being narrow-minded, or tunnel-visioned, but I feel like I’m missing out on something crucial on my journey as a writer, and as a person.  This whole past year I felt like I’ve had no growth as a writer.  Granted, things have been a bit crazy with the move and all.

Now that we’re in yet another new year, I’m experiencing this growing sense that time is running short.  I really hate that feeling.  I get it every year; especially the past few years.

Or, maybe I’m just being too hyper-aware of everything.