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Rising from the darkness

Today has been a day to recenter myself. I needed to.

And here is where I get a little personal today, and talk about some of the personal things that effect me.

I haven’t had issues with depression in years. Maybe a day here and there where I feel down, need to lay in bed and cry then get up and get back to the grind stone. Not like before. Not like the days when I use to sit in my bathtub praying to a god that wasn’t there that he would just let me die. That sort of desperation, that utter lost feeling that the world was closing in on me and I could not escape it, that I haven’t had in almost a decade. Thankfully.

But I do occasionally have those days where I wake up and it’s just so hard to get out of bed. So hard to turn a light on, or find my clothes. So hard to find that desire to just…move. It would be easy to never leave the house, just be a hermit and never speak to another person outside my home. But I know I’d eventually spiral down into that pit of despair, and drown again.

So when I do have those days now I force myself to get up. Force myself to tell Gregg that I’m having a problem. And like today, I take a mental health break and surround myself with people I love, who love me, and who support me in my dreams. I also missed my girls and spent some time just walking around the mall with them. By the time I got home I was exhausted, but so happy.

This wasn’t an option all those years ago in the bathtub. It wasn’t possible to draw my family to me and focus on their love. I am so, SO, grateful that it is possible to do so today. My daughters are grown, and they understand the darkness that lurks inside of me. My boyfriend has had to deal with it himself, and also understands. I have friends that also have had to deal with it on occasion, and friends who love me regardless.

So if you’re in a dark place, and life is starting to weigh a bit heavy on your shoulders…reach out to someone. Talk to them. Tell them what’s going on inside you. You might not know what to say, the words might be hard to come out, but please…try. It does get better. And depression is a lying bastard.

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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min – Writers Block

I was listening to an episode of The Creative Penn today and she mentioned that all the pro writers at a recent convention she went to all have the same idea about writers block….it doesn’t exist.

The idea I see is “a plumber can’t have plumbers block, they have to go out and do their job.”

And they are right. Each and every one of them. A pro writer has to be able to get past “blocks” and just write, weather or not they feel like it. I have to go to my day job and do my work, or I don’t get paid. Same with a writer.

But, the idea of writers block is a thing. Perhaps it shouldn’t be called writers block though. Rather it is something causing the writer to spend their energy elsewhere.

For me it’s often bills. I have to pay bills, so I go to a day job, and I spend a lot of time on that day job. It’s a tough, and stressful day job. I often come home with a need to just close the door, and stay away from words for sometimes hours. That’s because my day job is using words. Talking to people. Trying to explain to them how to fix things. Depending on the day that is easier sometimes than others.

Other people might be “blocked” because they have family problems, medical issues or stress going on in their life that they are spending so much time on those things that they just don’t have time (or don’t think they have time) to do something creative.

Then there are the people that actually do sit down and try to write, but end up staring at a blank page for hours instead of writing. Now that, I think, is true. That isn’t a block so much as a lack of confidence. Inability to progress. Or plain don’t know what they are supposed to do.

I think I’ll come back to this idea later. But for now, my 5 min are up, and I need to go finish writing.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5 Min – Day 8 – The way we think

Good morning.

I’m going to warn you before you read this; It isn’t going to be a cheerful post. When I started doing this I realized I might have days like this. Days in which the world sits squarely on my shoulders and I just have to get it out. So here is the first of those days. Hopefully there won’t be very many.

I have struggled with depression most of my life. My depression has roots in things I’m experiencing. I start to feel out of control, like I have no place in the world, or that everything I am working toward is so far out of reach that it would just be better to curl up in a ball and forget I ever tried to do it.

Yesterday was such a day. I started looking at the numbers, and the stats and realizing I’ve put all this money toward something that just isn’t working. What is that? My writing.

Oh, it’s good. I am sure that the stories, the characters, the situations are good. I’m really proud of some of those scenes, and how they came out. I am absolutely in love with the third book. But writing something good, and writing something that people will read is a different matter. And I haven’t figured out that part. How to get people to read it.

But I don’t want you to think the depression part is just about the writing. No, this is a constant battle I have had with myself over everything I have tried. Is it worth it? Do people like it? Do people like me? I have found simple things like making friends, and keeping friends, so difficult that….well, life is a struggle sometimes.

I grew up alone most of the time. I had my sisters, but we didn’t really get along much. I was the constant book worm. They were the ones that would sneak off to do whatever on their own time. They had lots of friends, I sat in the library. That’s just how I was. I didn’t understand basic interactions, but I watched and I listened, and I took psychology classes. So I have a much more logical viewpoint of the world than most people. Most people deal with the world in emotions, and likes and dislikes. Clichés. I come at it with “are you a good person, are you hurting anyone, other than that I don’t care, I’ll accept you.” And I accept that I will disagree with people and have discussions about those disagreements logically. But that isn’t how it works. Most people are not very logical in their take on things, and get emotional and very passionate about certain subjects.

And because I was sheltered growing up i don’t have the same ideas about a lot of things. I got ideas from books, and observation, not from listening to friends and family members and their opinions. So when I finally started getting friends and they started saying “this is how some things are” I disagreed. Because it didn’t make sense. When you see a thing in the world and it is a certain way and everyone wants to say it is a different way it is really hard to tell ourselves that  what your actually observations is wrong.

At least…for me it’s that way.

There was a study a while ago about herd mentality, and it showed that the majority of people will actually change their view point based on peer pressure. If one person says “the color on that banner is red” but the entire class tells him it’s green, he will often cave to the pressure and agree that it’s green. Something switches inside his head that lets him see it the way that the rest of the group sees it.

This herd mentality is there to keep us safe, and comfortable in our groups. If the herd works together they are more likely to survive. Those who disagree with the group, those who form their own opinions, or strike out on their own, are not as acceptable in the herd.

And yet those who strike out on their own often become the best among us. Galileo, Einstein, Carl Sagan, and every other scientist that stepped away from the group think, and struck out on their own. I wish we prized that kind of thinking, more people would do it.

So what does all of this have to do with my writing, and why I’m depressed?

Because I was listening to “Write to Market” from Chris Fox and realized that yet again I have struck out on my own, away from the herd, and made life difficult for myself. Here I am writing fantasy, but it’s my own brand of epic/dark/lovecraftian fantasy. I wrote it because I am interested in the interaction between people, and the dynamics of one group against another, and how that can cause rifts in a society. I wrote it because I believe with every bit of my body that just because a government, or most people, or even an individual says that something is wrong that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I believe that individuality is important, and that no group should be able to rule over another with absolute authority. And I put all of that, and more, into that book. And that’s not what people are looking for.

Yes, those who read it tend to like it. But it isn’t something like Dresden with mass market appeal. It’s a work for love.

Do I want to be a full time writer, to stop working for big companies and making someone else money? Yes. But can I take my books and make them more marketable? I’m not sure. I have many ideas, and a lot of them are really good. But I don’t know if any of them would have a mass appeal. I just know I have to keep writing, keep trying, because my thoughts and feelings about the world are just as valid as everyone else’s.

And this has been much, much, longer than 5 minutes, but I couldn’t really cut this one short today. I hope you’ll forgive me.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in On Writing

 

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This year…

Today is the 29th of December, just a few short days to go. While social media is a buzz with yet another celebrity death, and all the terrible things that have happened, I am going to look back on the good things. You don’t need me to remind you of anything bad that happened, I’m sure. Just read Facebook or Twitter for that.

On the good front…

My daughters moved out a few months ago. That has been a huge change in our lives. It’s quieter around the house, less arguing (though my son still likes to try and push back against us.) I can wake up most mornings to an empty house, and it’s marvelous!

Gregg has been doing such an awesome job with his leather work that he started getting commissions. He also started streaming on Twitch occasionally, which has made for a few changes around the house to accommodate that. But it’s worth it!

I got a new job six months ago, which was great for my piece of mind, and our house fund. Not great for my time schedule. I had been writing consistently for a while, and after the new job happened I had to figure that out again. Six months later I have (mostly) got it under control again. Now it’s just a matter of prioritizing things.

mirrorminiSpeaking of writing, I just published a new book. The Mirror. Judy inherited a house, and she found a mirror in the attic, but there’s something dark and sinister lurking inside the silvered glass.

I actually wrote this a while ago, and sent it out to my mailing list at the time. I have since rewritten it, adding parts, removing others, and generally making it better. At least I hope so.

All together I published a novel and three short stories this year. The Mirror, The Scarab Necklace, Witch’s Stand and Witch’s Sight. Also the boxed set for the Witch’s Trilogy. I also wrote nearly a quarter million words this year. No a bad year. I’d like to see what I can do with this coming year. I have a bunch of almost complete projects that I’d like to finish, and publish…now to put action to thought.

I also took my first flight. Looking down on the world from 39,000 feet. Everything seems so small and far away. It makes you feel a bit more insignificant. And then you’re landing, making your way through the airport, and realizing just how insignificant you really are to the other 7 billion people in the world.

In among all the good things, there were a few bad ones. And I mean the personal ones, not the ones listed on social media. Those are for better pundits to exam. For now I’m going to focus on the good, and remember that things have been worse. Things have been dark and bleak and at one point I really had no hope. But life changed, and I changed with it. And the same thing is happening with everyone else around me.

Here’s to 2017, the new hope. And the good, and bad, of 2016. May we learn from our experiences, and keep moving forward.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Thankful

It’s 2am the morning after Thanksgiving. I have left over turkey in the fridge, and my children are all safe and sound in their homes. It was a beautiful day with family, and I am forever grateful for it.

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday who’s origins aren’t exactly pleasant. I know a lot of people choose to not celebrate it, and I can understand why, but I think today, above all days, I was thankful for something approaching normal.

For the last few months things have been ugly in many places. Friends and family fighting and bickering over politics, a subject that use to be taboo. Even disowning, or refusing to speak to each other because they didn’t agree with each other. I know a few people have cut me out for similar reasons, which made me sad.

So having a family tradition were we sit together, enjoy good food, and talk about the pleasant things in life was an invaluable experience. We remembered that we had each other, no matter what happened outside the walls of our home. We could rely on one another, and be there for each other. We could be thankful for having that hope. Even in the darkest times you need that lamp post that guides you through the dark. Some visible sign that helps you keep on the path you choose for yourself.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I hold onto the light, and try to hope for a better tomorrow.

I am grateful for the people I hold dear, and hopeful for the future because I know there are so many of us out there who just want the best for our fellow humans. Even if we can’t always agree what “the best” is.

Maybe I’m a bit naive. Maybe I’m simplifying things. But the world has become very complicated in some ways, and a little simplification can help us understand our part in it all. I am one of 7 billion people in the world. My path is my own, and I can’t let anyone else choose it for me. Nor can my small thread make a huge impact on the billions around me. At least not yet.

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your life, I hope you find that light to help you down the path of your own life. A lifeline to keep you afloat even when the world is trying to pull you under. And I hope you find a way to see the good in those around you, even when you disagree.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2016 in Personal Notes

 

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Almost done, and scared

I’m close to finishing book three in my Witch’s Trilogy. This has taken me almost a year and a half to complete. What started as a simple 80,000 word stand alone novel has become a 230,000 word trilogy, something I never thought I could write. I mean the first novel I wrote (which was terrible) took five years. This took 18 months for all three! That’s crazy.

And yet as I get closer to the end I find myself getting scared. Scared to finish. Scared to succeed. But mostly terrified that it will fail. It makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I do it anyway. A few words here, a few sentences there, trying to get to the end even though a big part of me is afraid of doing so. And I know it’s stupid to be afraid.

For the last couple of years I’ve made some great friends, watched them write novels and make a small (or sometimes big) following for themselves. And they’ve done well. I’m happy for them, and I’ve tried to learn from their examples but it all seems to come back to “write more good books. Eventually something will get through.”

Oh, they do other things like ads on facebook and book bub, but mostly they just write good books and keep putting them out there. No wonder they have lots of readers.

So I’ve been telling myself that with the third book I can finally have a trilogy out, three complete novels, and I might be able to do a bit of advertising. But as the time gets closer I realize that… it doesn’t work like that. Oh sure, I could do some advertising (and I will) but really, in the end it might not even matter. Sometimes getting people to pay attention to what you made is just a matter of the right time at the right place.

So I’m afraid that I’ll put up the third book and I won’t sell a single copy. I shouldn’t be afraid of that, not if I really just want to write. But there it is. That gnawing fear.

Here’s the truth: whether I sell a thousand books, or one, or even zero…I’m going to keep writing. I love telling stories, and building worlds. I love seeing what happens to my characters. So I know I shouldn’t care if this book sells anything since I’m going to keep doing it anyway.

But I also know it’s nice to have some validation that what I say matters to someone. And I don’t know where to get that validation. I suppose I should figure that out soon, because it probably won’t come from sales any time soon.

After this last book in the trilogy I’m going to go back to making my own covers, and probably shorter works because editing can get expensive, but I will continue to write. And I won’t feel the pressure to finish them like I do with this one because I won’t have invested so much money into them… just time, and me. I think I’d rather invest myself in my books then money anyway.

Anyway, time to get back to the writing. Fear or not, I want to finish it. Even if no one ever reads it I need to say that I finished it.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Creativity and Depression

I was listening to the recent Author Strong Podcast where Nancy talks about her battle with getting the words out now that she quit her day job. She took a leap of faith, and now she has to deal with her depression trying to assert itself.

I listened as she stumbled, trying to explain to Matt (a very cheerful and go for it type of person) why it was easier to say “do this to work around it” then it was to actually do it. And I saw myself reflecting back at me.

I’ve dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. As a teen I had school, and sisters to help pull me from it. When I got married I had the children to help. In the last six years I’ve been happier then I’ve ever been with a new life, a great boyfriend, a supportive family, and an outlet for my creativity. And yet for the last month I’ve had that old beast, depression, rearing it’s ugly head.

I know what’s causing it. I know what I need to do to make it shut up and stop all the self doubt and whispers in my head that I’m not worthwhile. But that doesn’t make it easy.

For creativity, this is horrible. Every time I sit down to write I have to talk myself into it. Not just the act of writing, but the act of sitting at the computer for anything other than playing a game or checking email. Just opening the files so that I can read through them is a huge stress when depression starts whispering to me, and it’s not always easy. When I do start to clunk away at the keys sometimes I can write, other times I will put down a few words before the whispers in my head telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never get anywhere with this, I’ll never finish, get too loud for me to write anymore. I’ll get up, do something else, change perspective, but I simply can’t continue on with that work…yet.

I sent a tweet out yesterday that said “Depression is a lying bastard.” It’s a common refrain now, a reminder that all the whispers in my head are wrong. I am worth it, I will finish, I am stronger than I seem. All those things and more.

Someone replied “I don’t believe in depression.” I don’t know if he meant it as a joke, or he honestly doesn’t believe in it. It really didn’t matter why he said it. I looked at the tweet and all I could think was: “Man, I’d love to have the luxury of being able to dismiss depression as nonexistent.”

In some ways knowing what’s wrong, and why my creativity is floundering, helps me get through it. I can write a blog post, or tell Gregg about the things going through my head, and things tend to die down for a little bit. Sometimes. Other times I can’t seem to break free from the cycle. Even while writing this blog post I had a moment where I could not pull myself from the destructive thoughts.

If you think of the brain like millions of chemical reactions going off all over the curves of your cerebellum then it is easier to see how one miss fire could trigger a cascade effect that can run out of control sometimes. Thoughts that keep repeating themselves, destructive thoughts that keep cycling over and over, a lack of will because it is simply easier to avoid new things than deal with that destructiveness.

We do have some control over the chemical processes in our minds. There are techniques and medications we can use to lower certain hormones which cause the more harmful problems. But not all of us have access to medications, and the techniques aren’t effective 100% of the time.

How do you explain depression to someone who doesn’t have it, or someone who thinks it’s “all in your head”? I don’t know. I have trouble describing it to myself some days.

But I will continue to sit down at the keyboard and try to write, even when the chemicals in my brain don’t want me to, because this is important to me.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in On Writing

 

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