How I Became a Writer

 

***Would you like to join in this virtual Book Club?  Click here.

 

Becoming a writer (for me) didn’t happen overnight; but, the seeds were planted at an early age.  As a young kid, I felt different, acted different, and was treated different.  Why? Because of my inability to communicate with the world around me.  In fact, my Kindergarten teacher approached my parents to have me pulled from school as I was deemed as “unteachable.”

This all occurred during the mid-1970s in rural upstate New York.  My parents had just spent two years taking me to various specialists all across the state as well as Vermont; but, no one could definitively find what was wrong with me.  In the end, they told my parents that I had behavioral issues which should be directed at a psychiatrist.

Faced with one school unable to teach me, they decided to have an audiologist, Aubrey, to check me out as a second opinion.  She discovered that I had moderate hearing loss in both ears (over 65% loss) due to nerve damage.

After being fitted with hearing aids, I spent the next two years attending speech therapy in an effort to get me “caught up” as I was quite behind in speech development.   School was still a challenge not just in learning; but with having friends.  As a loner with maybe one or two good friends, I spent much of my free time with imaginary friends and creating various scenarios and settings for myself.   The only thing these tend to get me in trouble; one time it actually landed me in the ER!

In 5th grade, a classmate challenged a bunch of us to a contest to see who could write the scariest story.  I concocted one about a girl going into an old house and discovering a decapitated head in a fridge.   Everyone seemed truly unnerved by that one.  🙂

Just watching everyone’s reaction to my story made me feel good about myself for once; like I was actually good at something.  I also found that writing enabled me to bring the stuff I had in my head to life on a piece of paper.  Not to mention that it was much safer!

This one experience planted the seed within me to become the writer I am today.

 

What about you?  How did you become a writer?

 

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Another Year Is Ending

 

In review…

Now that’s Christmas is over it’s time to focus on the New Year.   2017 was a fairly good year overall both personally and as a writer.

I saw a few of my writings published:

The Hungry Chimera Literary Journal (two poems)

Doll Hospital Journal  (essay)

Motionpoems, Inc (film credit/interviewed both poet & film-maker)

Piker Press (poem)

 

I took on a role as a moderator (in a team of four) for Tuesday Serial; as well as a moderator for the weekly THURSDAY TALK SHOP over at Facebook with We PAW Bloggers (of which I plan to step down to a lesser role for the coming year).  I’ve created and am trying to grow (hopefully to add a few volunteers to help) Serial Fiction Digest (Twitter, Facebook, blog).

Looking ahead…

2018 is looking to be a year of crossroads for me as a writer.  I plan to work on a romance (clean) novel as well as continue to plan out another.  In the past, I’ve focused mainly on flash fiction, poetry and serial fiction.  I will continue with these forms, but gradually shifting some of my attention/time to writing a book-length story.  My goal is to be not just a writer, but an author.

I will be taking on a role as a citizen journalist for The Crossover Alliance (a Christian publishing company) of which I am very excited about.

 

What about you?  How was 2017 for you as a writer?  Have any specific goals for the new year?

(for each comment, I will stop by and read your most recent blog post! 🙂 )

 

Writing: Would You Do Things Differently If You Could Go Back In Time?

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

 

This month IWSG question is: if you could backtrack and do things differently as a writer, would you? 

 

Wow, this is a loaded question.  One I have pondered on and wondered about from time to time.  Who hasn’t?  Especially now that I’m in my mid (ish) 40s, this question keeps popping up in my mind.

My first inclination is to say “Yes!”

I’d have attended SUNY Potsdam (only) majoring in Journalism instead of bouncing around at least six different colleges and ending up with a degree in Physical Education (which I barely used).

As a journalist, I would have traveled the world.  In this reality, I’ve only visited one other country…Canada.

Perhaps I’d even started my own magazine or newspaper company.  Or, maybe even branched off into the publishing industry and became an editor or something.

And just perhaps I’d ended up living in Boston (one of my fave cities) where I’d pen my first and break-through novel that landed me on the New York Times’ Bestselling List.

If I’d done all the above, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

As a writer.  As a poet.

A mother.

A wife.

Living on a small farmstead in eastern North Dakota of all places 🙂  Writing full-time at home.

I’m richly blessed.  I don’t think I would give this life up to relive it as a different person.  It’s nice to dream about it, but that’s it, just a dream.

I like this reality better.

What about you?  If you had the opportunity to go back and do anything differently as a writer, would you do it?

 

 

 

Thankful Tuesday

 

Hard to believe that it’s nearly Thanksgiving (US).  Where has the year gone?  Since I may go “quiet” here for the next few days, I’d like to list some of the things I’m thankful for.

First, the usual:

*Family

*Faith

*Friends/Community

Without any of these, I would not be where I am today.

 

Next, the more contemplative ones 🙂

  1. I am so grateful to be living in the rural country now instead of the city.  Here, my anxiety level has dropped dramatically, and I feel that my life has been more enriched and healthier.  I love seeing my son reveling in the freedom to play outside and not worry about various dangers.
  2. Here I can immerse myself in nature and the seasons which all fertilize my imagination, and allow me to create more abundantly.  No booming rap music next door.  No noisy traffic outside our front door.  No fighting neighbors over POA regulations.  Just peace and quiet.

Also…

 

My struggles fuel my writing.   They enable me to be a more compassionate and empathetic person.  To be more thoughtful of others.  They also help in creating more realistic characters.

In other words,

 


 

The next chapter of the interactive story will post on Friday!

December 1st!

Here are the two previous chapters:

A Snowy Reunion  (chapter one)
A Catch-Up Affair  (chapter two)

 

Thursday Thoughts: On Writing Life

 

Back when I worked full-time in the Banking industry, I used to complain how I never had enough time to write.  I’d get up each weekday morning by 4am to get myself ready first, and then get hubby and son up before hitting the road by 5:45am for over an hour’s drive (in 35 miles) into downtown Raleigh.  I’d work 7am till 6pm (most days).  By the time dinner and homework are done, it’s easily 9pm and by that point, I’m ready to crawl in bed.   Weekends were usually reserved for catch-ups, house chores, and errands.  I’d managed maybe an hour of writing time each week.

Now?

With being “retired’ from the work force (am only 46) due to disabilities, I have loads of free time on my hands.   I’ve discovered, though, I waste a lot of time doing pretty much “nothing.”

Nothing being spending way too much time on social media, and watching internet-stream tv shows and movies.  Well, these were what I was doing for the past year and a half before depression hit me hard.

Or, perhaps mid-life crisis?

I found myself looking back, and wondering what did I have to show for being here on this world?  I really didn’t find a career I enjoyed (long story) so ended up in the Banking industry for the last 15 years of my working life basically as a glorified paper-shuffler.

Family put aside, I had nothing tangible.

I wanted more.  I desired to leave a legacy.

At this point, I’ve published several short stories, essays, and poems; but 99.9% are online magazines.

I now want more.

Something solid, concrete.  Something I can hold in my hands.  And smell.

This means I need to get serious, and smart with my time management.  I figure a way to start doing that is by tracking every word I write.

Daily.

This means less time with social media and other forms of entertainment.

I value my writing gift, and feel I have at least one book within me, enough so that I need to start valuing my time more than I’ve done in the past.

So, this is where I’m at in my writing life.  At a cross-road, and I’ve decided on the path to take.  Now, let’s see where it takes me.

Got to love adventures, eh?  🙂

What about you?  Where are you at in your writing life?  Are you happy with it?  If not, what changes could you make?

 

Story Sunday: Shadow of Death

 

I once lived in an old house

haunted by a formless shadow

 

Mom died as she gave birth to Tye

my two-year old babbling brother

 

I don’t blame anyone for her death

but I do of that depth-less darkness

that devoured Daddy

Writer’s Life: Back Home!

Just returned from a 12-day trip to the East Coast.  It was a whirlwind.

We drove from North Dakota to North Carolina in less than 30 hours (we did spend one night at a hotel near the border of West Virginia).  We went on to spend three days with my mother (NC), and then three days with hubby’s aunt and uncle in MD (just outside of Annapolis), and then two days with hubby’s side of family in western New York before driving back home.

Home sweet home.

Will take today to recuperate before diving back into writing/blogging tomorrow.  For now, here’s one of my favorite quotes by Hans Zimmer:

You Tube Tuesday: Glacier National Park

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

Last week, our family went on an adventurous vacation.  When I say “adventurous” I meant that practically everything was done on the fly.   Such is our life with my former-Navy-officer hubby 🙂

Originally we were going to spend the entire time down in the Black Hills region (South Dakota); however, the place was too mad with tourists.  We stopped very briefly at Mt. Rushmore, and then left.  We drove most of the night through the remaining sixty-plus miles of South Dakota, and most of the width of Wyoming, arriving at a truck stop just south of Billings (Montana) around 3:45am.  There, we slept for a few hours in the vehicle.

After a quick breakfast, we were back on the road heading north for Helena.  We ended up settling in at a KOA twenty miles south of the city in a nice cabin nestled close to Canyon Lake.  There we stayed  for three days before heading out for Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is so huge, and incredibly beautiful!  You could easily spend three or four days exploring and still not see everything.  We were only there for a few hours; long enough to drive up a very scenic highway to Logan Pass which was where I took this amateurish video clip (using my Trio tablet).

I added music to it before uploading to YouTube.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

 

Favorite Friday: Ray Bradbury (on leaving behind a legacy)

 

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

One-Liner Story Saturday: This Thing Called Life

 

 

A young woman who lost her parents, one to infidelity and the other to a war in some foreign land, must choose between a childhood dream and her familial responsibility…real life sucks.

What Happens When A Writer Stops Writing?

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

This month’s question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

 

I wrote an essay on this last year, and today I took and created a video from it.

 

 

 

 

You Tube Tuesday: Brotherhood

It’s another Tuesday and that means it’s YouTube Tuesday 🙂  This is an idea originating from the Martians Attack  blog which I absolutely love.

This week I decided to include a short video I created called “Brotherhood.”

Throughout my life, I’ve always known soldiers whether they’re currently serving or are veterans.  This would include both of my grandfathers who fought in World War II, my father who spent nearly two years in Vietnam, and my husband who’s still haunted by his time in the first Gulf War and beyond.  I grew up not far from the Plattsburgh Air Force Base, and now live a short distance from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

I admire anyone who serve.  Believe me, it’s NOT an easy thing to live a life as a soldier.  But what intrigue me the most is the bond between soldiers.  It is unlike anything in the world.  I have heard countless stories from the men in my life about their comrades whom they entrusted with their own lives through various experiences (and some were quite harrowing).  I used these as an inspiration as I wrote an one-line story, and then turned it into a video.

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, post a Tweet about your post using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

Author Interview With Jeanne Blasberg

Today we have a very special guest, Jeanne Blasberg, as she tells us a bit about herself and her DEBUT novel! 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve kept a journal all my life and have always loved to read. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. Being an only child who spent a lot of time alone, I got scarily close to emulating Harriet’s spying ways.

My passion is fiction, but my early professional life had me writing business case studies and articles on the retailing industry. My first serious pursuit of creative writing involved memoir and essays based on personal experience, but I always knew I had a book in me.

Once my three children moved out of the house, things got quiet and my mind could slow down. I used that time to write and study the craft. My husband and I also love to travel, and I blog about it on my website. In the last nine months I have been to South Africa, Uganda, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies, and Iceland.

 

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of stories you write?

I have always been fascinated by family dynamics. What is spoken and often unspoken between siblings (which I can only imagine, having always wanted to be a sister) and how bonds strengthen or deteriorate between generations are things I think about.

I have also witnessed (as well as read and thought about) the way behaviours get passed down from generation to generation, especially painful ones such as addictions and secret keeping.

 

 

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

EDEN is the story of a family matriarch in her late seventies who, after the death of her husband, decides to introduce her family to the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier. The setting is their grand summer home, built by her industrial tycoon father, in a fancy summer community on the coast of southern Rhode Island. The chapters describing the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as relatives arrive, and our matriarch prepares to make her announcement, are alternated with chapters revealing the 80-year history of the family. Four generations of women are introduced, each with secrets of their own.

 

What inspired you to write it?

The idea was born after my husband discovered he had a brother who had been given up for adoption. In getting to know this newly discovered brother and having conversations with him and his wife, I understood something about how the mystery around his birth had been bound to his self-identity. I related to this immediately. The product of a hasty marriage, I was ten years old when I did the math on my fingers to figure out I was a mistake, something a could never quite shake. I never stopped thinking about the different choices our mothers had (or didn’t have) and also the residual effect on the children.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I spend time meditating or quieting my mind and then I think about the scene I am writing until I just know how a character would react. Sometimes, I get it wrong and in the editing process I think “no, no, no, that’s not quite right.” My characters are evolving and so getting it right sometimes requires writing an entire first draft and then going back to refine them. I understand my characters so much better when I know the ending.

I often think about my characters when I’m out in the world. I might notice a woman’s clothes and think that is something Becca would wear. Or overhear a conversation and think that is something Camilla would say.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing female writers today?

Maybe the same obstacles face men as well as women, I’m not sure. I am a debut author and don’t feel I have a very knowledgeable opinion on this topic. But the one thing I have noticed in the process of launching EDEN is that there are a lot of books being released each season and there are a lot in the genre I am writing…. By Women For Women.  Is the obstacle one of continually feeling relevant and original?  I have found the communities of women authors that I have become a part of to be extremely helpful and supportive. So whatever issues we have as a gender, there is a big movement around taking them on!

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

Here are 5 good writing tips for a satisfying writing life:

1) Consistent routine, for 8 out of 10 people morning energy is best – take advantage of that time and don’t give it away

2) Meditate – unclutter the mind

3) Find a community of writers and hold each other accountable

4) Be generous – with yourself and others

5) good writing has a lot to do with intuition – trust it

 

Click on the image to order the book

Synopsis of the book: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.” 

 

Jeanne can be found at the following sites:

Author’s Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

Guest Post by Simone Lisa: Heart Open Please Enter

*As we continue our Mental Health discussion, here’s a post by a very special guest, Simone Lisa.  Thank you, Simone, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us! 

 

There’s a little glimmer of warmth, burrowing into my chest. And a chink of light, peeking into my spirit. If I listen carefully I can almost hear a heart-warming song. It has taken me awhile to recognise it – the song of hope. Unfamiliar. Really scary. Really positive. Hope.

Hope has a few different acronyms:

  • Hold On Pain Ends
  • Have Only Positive Expectations
  • tHink pOsitive oPportunity comEs
  • Help Open People’s Eyes
  • Hanging Onto Positive Expectations

But I think my favourite is…

  • Heart Open Please Enter

I have had years of being knocked over and having to pick myself up again.

  • Grief after eight different family members died.
  • Worry as my teenage boys dabbled in the risky behaviours so many indulge in as they grow into adulthood.
  • Sorrow as my marriage started to crumble.
  • Stress as my elderly grandmother became more and more dependent on me.
  • Fear as my body aged and my youth disappeared.
  • Pain as my back deteriorated.

Coupled with a lifetime of burying emotions and not dealing with personal issues as they arose, it became too much for me to cope with and I crumbled. Every time I thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, I was wrong. Every time I tried to stand up and move on, another phone call came in. Someone needed me again. Someone wanted my help. Someone else had died. Another problem arose. Too much. Endlessly and relentlessly battering me to the ground, and in 51 years I had never learned positive mechanisms to deal with stress. The past two years have been eye opening and debilitating, and while I went a long way backwards, perhaps that is the direction I first needed to travel before I could embark upon a different path.

The past few days I have felt hopeful. Every time I become aware of that sense of positivity, that I may have a future and  things will improve, I worry I’m going to be battered to the ground any minute. The phone will ring and I’ll be given bad news. Again. I’ll be needed. Again. The phone will ring and I’ll be forced to choose between doing the right thing by family or the right thing by work. I’ll be put in lose-lose situations. Again.

But you know what 2017 has shown me so far? Nothing but positivity. Sure there are major stresses I’m still dealing with – but they are last years’ stresses and we’re working toward positive outcomes.

  • My teenage boys have grown into beautiful young men.
  • My marriage is receiving some tender care with tentative hope for the future.
  • Nobody else died.
  • My grandmother is being cared for in the nursing home.
  • I love my job. I love my friends and family.
  • My physical health is good and my mental health has improved.

You know what else? I found myself singing in the car. Singing!! I love singing and I’d stopped years ago. It is so good for the soul. Like alcohol however, I can’t indulge when I’m sad and stressed. I don’t drink to cheer myself up – I drink because I’m cheery. I don’t sing to cheer myself up – I sing because I’m cheery. When I realised I was singing, I realised I must be cheery.

So it turns out I have hope.

  • I am hopeful my beautiful boys will be okay – they will grow into the wonderful young men they are destined to be. They will experience love and happiness and success. They will contribute. They make me proud.
  • I am hopeful our marriage will continue. Hovering on the brink of separation has taught us both we’re not ready to throw in the towel. We value what we have enough to put in the hard yards.
  • I am hopeful my mental health will improve. My depression and anxiety are alleviating. I recognise them for what they are and have strategies in place to deal with signs and symptoms as they arise.
  • I am hopeful my life will go on. My story isn’t over yet. I have the opportunity and means to contribute financially to our family and meaningfully to society. I have abandoned plans to end my life and instead accept I have a lot of time ahead of me.
  • I am hopeful my elderly grandmother and ageing father are in safe hands. Their health is good and they are well cared for. I also accept that yes, I will have to farewell them both in the future, but they have had wonderful, happy, long, productive lives and I have support to deal with the grief when it inevitably strikes.
  • I am hopeful my back pain will go. I am thrilled about this in fact. I finally have a diagnosis and treatment plans and it is not major or degenerative and I will once again be able to exercise pain free.

More significant than all of these put together however, I am starting to feel a small sense of hope my eating disorder will improve. I won’t say disappear. Or aim for full recovery. I would be glad of those things – but so early in the phase of recovery (I may have been doing this a long time, but I went backwards before I moved forward. It’s a long and winding road…) I don’t want to jinx myself with unrealistic expectations.

You know what else? Without hope, I can’t recover. Without hope it is an intellectual exercise. Without hope I won’t make the right choice when faced with a difficult situation – I will make the most familiar and immediately comforting choice. Even if that decision leads to a poorer outcome. Because without hope, recovery is pointless. It feels temporary. Why would I make a good choice today if tomorrow it’s all going to fall apart anyway? I may as well eat a box of chocolate and be happy for five minutes.

Recovery is reliant on hope. Recovery needs my heart to be receptive – not just my head to be willing. So for today I want to say, my Heart’s Open Please Enter.

 

(Post originally appeared on Simone Lisa’s Blog )

Story Sunday: Journal of Life

 

January 15th

Where to begin? Because of so and so, and of something that happened, I’m to start keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings and whatever else I care to share. WTH.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning. My name is Carla Jones. I’m twenty-five, and I live with my parents. Eh, that sounds like an opener for one of those Alcoholics Anonymous sessions. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am a screw-up.

Damn. That sounds pretty harsh now that it’s out there. But this is what my shrink wants to read, so there you go.

I lived a fairly normal life, I guess. Grew up in a small town in the mountains. Mom was a telephone operator for many years before switching to being an administrative assistance at a local community college. Dad’s a salesperson at a hardware store.  I have two sisters. Trish, the eldest, moved out of the house when she was eighteen. She joined the Navy. I hardly ever see her. Mandy, the baby, is off to college, studying power engineering. She’s the brains, like Dad.

Me? I’m the oddball. The one with all the problems.

Heck, I’m not even related to these people. Not by blood anyway. You see, my parents tried to have another baby after Trish was born, but nothing happened after four years.  So, they adopted me. Mandy came along as a complete surprise three years later. That left me, a brunette with blue eyes, sandwiched between these blonde-haired, brown-eyed individuals. Yep, like an oddball.

We lived next to Mom’s parents (Dad’s parents died when he was a boy).  Nana and Papa to Trish and Mandy, but not to me. They made that well known as soon as I was old enough to understand. I was to call them Pat and Dave.

Ugh.

Trish and Mandy were always into sports. I tried, but I was deemed too klutzy to play on any team. So, I turned to running. I never competed, though. All that hardcore training and competing in meets or races never interested me.

I never excelled in anything in school. It’s not for the lack of trying…it’s just that I really didn’t care. I studied just enough to pass the exams. That’s it. Mom and Dad never really pushed me. They pretty much let me do my own thing. They rode the other two daily, though. They accepted nothing less than As or Bs from them.

When it came time to head off to college, I had no clue what to major in. I wasn’t interested in science or math or business. I ended up picking a major in Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. I had always doodled with poetry and wrote in my journal, so why not take them one step further, right? Boy, my Dad was not happy with that. I asked, what’s wrong with being a writer or a journalist?   He said that those weren’t respectable fields. So, in order to appease him, I switched to a major in Kinesiology with a minor in Athletic Training.

I got as far as sophomore year before dropping out. I sucked in science classes and ended up failing them.

I refused to move back home—didn’t want to endure the daily scorn from Pat and Dave or the disappointed looks from my parents. Instead, I moved to a small city an hour from home and got a job working as a writer for the city’s newspaper. I rented a tiny, run-down apartment downtown that robbed me of over half of my monthly salary. I had no furniture, slept on an air mattress, and ate meals on the grungy carpet.

I guess I got too carried away with my sudden independence, or perhaps I was just overly desperate to be accepted for who I was. The people I ended up hanging out with liked to smoke pot. Personally, I hated pot, but these people made me feel like I was a somebody, like I actually mattered, so I just went with it.

Anyway, I ended up getting caught with some weed and was sent to jail. Lost my job and my apartment. Dad bailed me out and took me back home. Not sure what he did, but he somehow got the charges against me reduced so that there was no court or jail time for me. However, the judge ordered me to see this shrink, and since I liked to write, this same shrink gave me this ridiculous journal assignment.

 

 

January 29th

I’m writing this from my hospital bed. Actually, I’m in a psych ward within the hospital. The day after I wrote the first entry to this journaling assignment, Dad and I got into a big fight. Apparently, I’m a hardship to him and Mom, and it’s starting to affect their health and job stability. I guess I just lost it. I yelled at him saying something like, well, if I’m such a hardship, perhaps I should just remove myself from their lives.

I ran into the only bathroom in the house and locked myself in. I grabbed a shaving razor and proceeded to slash the top of my hands. Freaking out, Mom called 911. From there on, everything’s just a blur. I remember waking up in a hospital room, strapped to the bed. My whole body felt bruised. Mom was sitting beside me, crying.  Dad, well, I haven’t seen him since that night. She said that it took three people tackling me to stop me from continuing to slice my wrists. I don’t remember that part, but she was right, both of my wrists are bandaged up. The top of my hands are also bandaged, so I can barely write this stupid entry.

This stupid assignment. Stupid shrink. I hate him. I hate them all.

 

 

February 3rd

I’m still here, in the psych ward. It seems that I’m not ready to be released yet. Or rather, my parents aren’t ready to take me back home. Either way, I don’t give a rip.

 

February 7th

Mandy visited me yesterday. She said she was worried about me. She then turned around and told me how angry she was with me. How could I be so selfish to have hurt Mom and Dad. I told her to get out of my face. I don’t need this from her or from anyone for that matter!

 

 

February 12th

Why is everyone against me? What have I done so wrong to be treated so? Pat stopped by for a few minutes. Long enough to tell me that my own parents were seriously considering having me permanently committed. She went on to tell me that she did some research on my biological parents. My mother gave birth to me at the age of 13. She had been raped by her 16-year-old cousin who then committed suicide shortly afterward. Pat said that I should never have been adopted and that I’ve been nothing but a heartache to Mom and Dad.

After she left, I just lied down on the bed and cried.

 

 

February 15th

The shrink told me that I was actually starting to make progress and that I should continue to journal. Whatever.

Today, I wrote my first poem in months. It’s called “Alone.”

Heart is the bridge to

one’s soul, break it in

pieces and it will

strand you, immerse you

with unspeakable loneliness

You know what? After writing this, I felt better. Purged. Does that make any sense? I’m looking back over it, and am wondering…where did this come from? Am I really that pathetic? Do I really feel that way?

The answer is yes.

 

 

March 2nd

It’s been a while since the last entry. I have a good reason. Well, make that twenty-five reasons, as that’s how many poems I’ve written. I’m somewhat amazed at how dark and desperate some sounded. I thought about rewriting a few so they don’t make me out to be some kind of psychotic bitch, but I didn’t.

I worked up the courage and gave some to the shrink to read. I felt certain that he would definitely have me permanently committed after reading those particular ones (that would just please the family wouldn’t it?). I was stunned when he said that they were really good. Then he had to ask if I had thought about submitting them to places to have them published.

Seriously?

Hmm…

 

 

March 27th

I’ve been released from the hospital/psych ward. Since I’m no longer welcome home, I’m now living in a halfway house of sorts. I’m working part-time as a dishwasher at a college. It’s nothing glamorous, just a no-brainer, tedious job. I did something last week that scared the crap out of me, though. I submitted a few of my poems to four literary journals. Shrink seems confident that one of these places will publish my work. I have serious doubts. I mean, who would want to read my stuff? They’re just stupid poems. Nothing special about them at all.

 

 

April 30th

I’m in disbelief. I received word yesterday that my poems have been accepted by Julienne Literary Journal to be published. Oh. My. God.

I think I may have even hyperventilated because I found myself on the floor breathing hysterically with a bag over my face. All those poor people at the post office. God bless them for not freaking out on me.

 

 

May 16th

Good news keeps rolling in. Apparently, Dad has been working with a judge to try and get my criminal/drug/psych ward incarceration expunged from my record since it was my first offense, and guess what? As of this morning, I’m a free woman with a clean record! I’ve a feeling that my shrink may have had a hand in this even though he vehemently denied it. I know better.

This will be my last entry for the journaling assignment—the psych sessions are ending. As I read through the earlier entries, I hadn’t realized just how full of anger I was, and rightfully so, but I’ve learned that I no longer need to be. There is so much more to life than holding on to the feeling of anger because people refused to accept me as I am. No more. I want to live my own life the way I feel is best for me. I no longer need to rely on others to help me feel worthy. I can do that for myself. Writing poems and journaling have shown me that. They became the keys to unlocking my true soul.

*First published with GFT Press March 2016

Writing: 3 Reasons Why I’m in Camp For April

 

April is generally a busy month for writers with NaJoWriMo, NaPoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo.  In the past, I participated mainly in NaPoWriMo; but this year I decided to do CampNaNoWriMo.

Why?

I have mainly three reasons:

  1.  Being a stay-at-home Mom, I have lots of difficulty with set writing schedules; however,   I found that setting an overall monthly goal works better for me, and CampNaNoWriMo fits that agenda perfectly.
  2.  I discovered writing serial fiction was much more enjoyable than writing novels (I can explain my reasons in another post if you’re interested-just let me know! 🙂 ).  A current serial I began back in December stalled due to busyness that goes with family-life.  I’m looking to Camp to help jump-start it.  I’ve set a word-count goal for the month at 10,000 which should give me the spark I need.
  3.  Community.  I crave connection with other writers, and Camp gives it to me.  Each participant is assigned to a cabin with other fellow Campers where we announce our goals; from there, our cabin mates encourage and support one another as we each  try to achieve those goals.

What about you?  Are you participating in any of these mentioned above?

My Own Battle With Mental Illness

Doll Hospital is an art and literature print journal on mental health

Just a little blurb this week about an essay I have published with the current issue of Doll Hospital Journal.

In the essay,  In Search of Hope, I recount my struggles through various losses and disabilities that brought me close to suicide as well as my battle with anxiety and depression.   Mental illness also runs in my family.

What helped me through all these?

Writing, and the love for my family.

For those of you struggling with mental illness, just know that you’re not alone, and to never give up!

*To read this digital issue, click on the Doll Hospital’s image on top and this will take you to the site to download the item.  It will ask for $5.00 but this is only a suggested donation amount. 

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?

Author Interview: Judy Walters

We have a very special guest today!  Please welcome Women’s Fiction author, Judy Walters! 

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I’ve always written, since I was a little girl. I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It’s just something I’ve always done, and I don’t know why, but I don’t feel complete without my writing.

What do you write?

 Women’s Fiction, stories about common people struggling with uncommon situations, many of my novels have some kind of medical twist.  

You were an editor in your previous life. How much has the publishing industry changed since you left?

I was an editor a long time ago — I stopped working in publishing about 19 years ago, right before my younger daughter was born. At that time, and people will laugh now, my office was just setting up email and I was afraid I would never learn how to use it!  

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

I like to write about families struggling with unusual but not unheard of problems. In A Million Ordinary Days, a woman is struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, and that struggle extends to her family. Other books I’ve written focus on families struggling with Autism, adoption, and infertility.

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

My latest book is called A Million Ordinary Days, and it’s due out March 14. It’s the story of one woman’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis to try to live a normal life both with her career — working with pregnant teenagers — and raising her teenage daughter.

Which do you prefer: traditional, self publishing, or both?

I’m not one of those people who strongly prefers one way or another. Both are valid ways to publish. All of my books have been self published so far, but if I ever had the chance to have the traditional publishing experience, I think that would be great, too.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

One of the biggest obstacles is the ability to get published. People with wonderful novels can’t find publishers and feel uncomfortable or unsure of self publishing.  People who had great publishers lose their contracts for a variety of reasons and then don’t know how to publish their next books.

Allison Wheeler is fighting a war inside her body, a war with Multiple Sclerosis that she doesn’t want to acknowledge and certainly doesn’t want other people to see.

As Allison’s health deteriorates, she tries desperately to hold on to all that is important to her – her family, her career as a social worker for pregnant teens, and most of all, her independence. As her ex-husband and two daughters rally around her, they’re fighting their own demons – Glenn, in a new relationship, is afraid of shifting the comfortable companionship that he and Allison have built since their divorce fifteen years back. Melanie, whose sad past haunts her, is an adult realizing that adult life is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Hailey, a junior in high school, is debating how she can go off  to college knowing that even though she desperately wants to spread her wings and fly, her mother may be too ill for her to go. Just when they all think they’ve made peace with their lives, they must readjust to a “new” normal – or risk losing everything they’ve struggled to hold onto.

Release Date: March 14th, 2017

Want more info on this book?  Go to Judy’s website