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.

 

 

 

 

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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. 

Published!

Click on image for the digital issue

 

I’m pleased to find out that two of my poems (Longing for Home, and Seekers) have been published in The Hungry Chimera Literary Magazine 🙂

To read this issue, just click on the image above.  The digital issue is free.  If you’d prefer a print copy, it’s $15.00.

They are accepting submissions for the next issue.

The Price of Not Writing

(Essay first appeared in the Why We Write section of 1888 Center web site on July 11, 2016.)

the price of not writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do writers write? Fundamentally it’s pretty much the same. We write because we must; because this is who we are. I could say the same for me, but I prefer to look at this from a slightly different perspective: what would happen if I didn’t write? 

I’ve done it before. This “hiatus” lasted for nearly ten years and I felt the consequences of my writing inaction.

Misery. Pure, pure misery.

There was also hate there. And anger. At what? At myself. At life. At various people.

During this period, I dealt with a lot of losses. My vision and hearing due to a progressive disease. The death of my first husband at the age of 25. A miscarriage. Nearly losing my second husband to Pericarditis. Job loss due to restructuring. My father to an aggressive lung disease.

You know, life.

It’s something we all experience. We get up each morning. We breathe. We eat (except for those who live solely by coffee). We go about our daily duties. And for those of us who can, we sleep.

Day in. Day out.

As humans, we’re survivors. I mean look at the history of mankind. It’s a miracle that we even exist!

So, that’s what I did. I strived to survive. Only it wasn’t enough. Anxiety and depression slipped into my life. I felt I was slowly losing myself. Heck, I wanted to lose myself! I mean why did I keep fighting to live? At some point in our existence, we all die.

Right?

Something was missing. A piece of me was missing. I just couldn’t figure it out.

My second husband, Jay, presented me with a gift for no special occasion. It was out of love he gave me this precious item, and because he knew me better than I did.

A journal.

A beautiful leather-bound book full of white pages.

Blank pages.

I instinctively knew what I had to do. I took a pen and painstakingly filled each page with words. As Hemingway so eloquently said years ago, I bled on those pages.

I’d found the missing piece of myself.

My writing soul.

So, whenever I’m asked, why do I write?

I write because the price is too high NOT to.

Exploring Nonfiction

darkwoods

 

 

I’ve been writing (somewhat) regularly since 2007; so that’s about nine years now.  Most of this time I focused on fiction (of supernatural or apocalyptic nature) while occasionally dabbling in poetry or essays.   While fiction is still my first love, I find that I am being pulled more and more towards writing nonfiction.

Wait a minute.  Hold the phone.

What exactly is nonfiction?

Here’s my favorite word: research.

Nonfiction (according to Dictionary.com): is “the branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality.”

Some examples are:

academic paper, autobiography, biography, book report, creative nonfiction, diary, dictionary, encyclopedia, essay, handbook, journal and memoir.

I looked at a few of these examples a bit further.

Essay (Dictionary.com) is “a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.”

This would include: “literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.” (Wikipedia)

Essay can take on other creative forms:  film essay or photographic essay.

Memoir Versus Autobiography: are very similar to one another in that they give intimate details of one’s life.  What are the differences?

Autobiography focuses more on chronological events, and deals mostly with facts and reality.  Memoir, on the other hand, is less obsessed with facts and more about emotional truth.  It generally has a subject of focus rather than detailing all the chronological events of one’s life.

What if I don’t want to deal completely in the nonfiction and yet don’t want it to be all imaginary either.  What other options would I have?

Semi-fiction is “fiction implementing a great deal of nonfiction such as a fictional description based on a true story.” (Wikipedia)

One example of semi-fiction would be an autobiographical novel which is a form of novel that merges elements of fiction with autobiography.

At the age of forty-five, I am finding it increasingly difficult NOT to write about my life experiences.  Some of them however are still painful to me today, or I am afraid of hurting loved ones, so I tend to stay away from anything truly autobiographical in nature.   Yet I don’t want my work to be based entirely on facts or reality either.  I want to explore the emotional truth of my life experiences so memoir and essay are attractive to me.

The only way to honestly find out is by writing them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind)

dusk in nd

 

“The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.”-Olivia Howard Dunbar, The Shell of Sense

(*The following is an excerpt from the journal I wrote during my week at the School for the Blind)

I decided I would journal about my week here at the School for the Blind.  Originally, I postponed the one I should have gone to back in March; but, because of anxiety issues, I opted out.  What finally enabled me to attend this particular week in June?  One, a passionate pep talk from my husband (if I don’t do this now, my anxiety would only get worse); and two, Pam’s-my Vision Specialist here at the School, gentle encouragements.

So, here I am.  Arrived at the School around 6pm.  Hubby and son left soon after I found my room.  Felt a little apprehensive so I busied myself by unpacking everything.  I was then summoned by one of the other Visual Specialists, Amy.  We sat at one of the round tables in the Common Area where she peppered me with various questions such as what are some of my goals for the coming week.  This session lasted for about 1/2 hour.   I was invited stay to have sandwiches with the others.

I couldn’t.

I’m back in my room now, in my jammies.  Have my tablet (no television in my room) so I think I’ll catch a few episodes of Bones.

I think there will be at least five other residents here with me for the week.  I’m sure I’ll be meeting them tomorrow.  I have no idea of what to expect here and that has me feeling quite nervous.  Hope I can get some sleep tonight.   I know I should have stayed to meet the others…this will keep nagging at me tonight.  Story of my life.

Should haves.  Regrets. Missed chances and opportunities.  Constantly self-sabotaging as punishment.  But, for what?

Okay, need to stop dwelling on the past.  Can’t change any of that now.

Time for Bones.

Life is one messed-up business

*This was a post I wrote for one of my other blogs, Whispering Shadows, and I feel compelled to share here as I’m still struggling with these same thoughts and feelings.

 

Do you ever get the feeling…no, it’s more than just a feeling, it’s almost a “knowing” or “gut instinct” about something?   You keep trying to pursue certain paths in your life that just doesn’t quite “click,” but you’re not ready to admit to this so you keep fighting against this “knowing,” keep pushing down these same paths and whenever you meet minimal success, you somehow don’t feel completely content or fulfilled.  That inner nagging is always there, telling you that these paths are not the right ones for you; but, you don’t want to listen.  You want to do what you “want” to do, not because of some inner voice from an unseen place is telling you to.  Over time, you begin to notice that the harder you fight against this “knowing” the more unsettled you begin to feel.  You start to doubt your place in this world, your unique purpose in this life (whatever that may be).  Misery and doubt begin to plague your every waking moment. You grow weary of the “whispers” that constantly follow you everywhere.

So, should I believe in destiny and fate then?  Should I give in to these inner voices and go where they tell me to go?  Would I then finally find lasting peace knowing that I’m doing what I was born to do?

Shouldn’t I be able to choose rather than have it chosen for me?

Am I really making any sense here?

Life is such a messed-up business.

3 Ways To Raise Self-Awareness (and end those destructive behaviors)

In an earlier post, Sabotaging Your Own Dream, one of the readers asked a valid question: are there specific ways of increasing one’s self-awareness?

Yes, there are.

I hunted through the world of web and found these three basic tips below to help increase self-awareness:

 

Pause:  

In a modern world that is full of distraction, noise, and chaos, we find it increasingly difficult to allocate time for ourselves in order to re-connect.   In turn, stress and negative habits build until they threaten to overwhelm us, causing us to lose sight of who we are as individuals, and of our dreams.

Studies have shown that it is essential for our mental health to be able to spend quality time with ourselves; but, how do you even begin?

The first step is take a break from your usual hectic lifestyle.  Pause. Be still.  This can mean taking a long, hot bath; or, taking your lunch to sit in your car while listening to soothing music; or even finding a closet and shutting yourself in it.  For others this could be found while going out on a leisurely walk, or gardening, or while washing the dishes.  The key is finding your “quiet” place where you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings.

Reflect:

Turn your focus to your thoughts and feelings and reflect on them.  What’s bothering you?  Are you where you want to be at this point in life?  If not, what is preventing you?  What’s holding you back?  Be honest with yourself.  Recognize and acknowledge each thought and/or feeling that surfaces. Don’t push it away. If it’s helpful, keep a notepad with you and write about these thoughts and feelings.  Don’t hold anything back.

Redirect:

Wait a day or two and then go back and review what you wrote.  Chances are you may see a pattern of behavior (overtly or not) emerging.  If it’s a negative one, it could be responsible for preventing you from realizing a particular dream.  If it is, what changes can you make to remove or convert it into a more positive behavior?  Make note of them, and then put them into action.

 

For further readings on increasing your own self-awareness, please refer to below sources:

An epic guide to developing self-awareness: how to improve your leadership skills by understanding yourself

Self-Awareness

Shaky Ground

Starting off the New Year on shaky ground with the flu (the entire family came down with this).  Work-wise, this is not a good thing.  What could I do?  Spread the love?

Yeah, right.

I’m venturing more into the nonfiction arena this year with a new blog called Whispering Shadows, which will be part memoir and part journal.  I’ve been toying with this idea for a number of years; and this year I decided, what the heck, let’s get it on!  Once completed, I will need beta readers to help me revise and edit, and then I’ll have to decide how to have it published.

In April, I plan to write pretty much nothing but poems.   One of these years, I will have a poetry chapbook published.

Then I have my web fiction work to focus on, especially Redemption. I’d love to complete this one by the end of the year.

There are also other stuff I hope to work on, plus my “resolutions” that I previously posted about.  If I manage to be successful on even a handful of these, this should be a productive year.

Stay tuned!