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.

Just Throw Me To The Wolves, Why Don’t You!

I had a rather uncomfortable discussion with my boyfriend this morning. And I’m going to share it, because it isn’t about our personal relationship (sorry if that disappoints you, but really, go watch a soap opera) it was a conversation about my writing career, and what I want out of it. And more importantly, what I’m willing to do to get what I want.

He asked me “why are you afraid to promote yourself?”

And he’s right. I’m terrified. I called a library and asked for information on getting my book into the library system, and they never called back. So I never called them back either. And why? Cause I was terrified.

“What’s the worst they can do?” he asked me. “Say no?”

And really, it isn’t “no” that scares me. I could care less if people tell me no. People have told me no all of my life and I did it anyway. No, it wasn’t the “no” that scared me.

It was the asking.

How do you explain to other people that you are afraid to ask for anything from anyone. Even if I were starving and broke, unable to buy a loaf of bread, I would rather go pick up soda bottles and turn them in for a few measly coins so I could buy a banana, then ever ask another person for anything.

I have a very clear memory of going to my great-grandmothers house with my parents when I was about 6 years old, and asking my mom if I could ask great-gran for some pie. She made said it was rude. You never asked for anything in someone else’s home, except water. If they wanted to give you something that was fine, but you never, EVER, under any circumstances, asked for something.

The other day we were at our friends house, and one of them was heading out the door to get food. I’d mentioned that I was hungry to my boyfriend, but neither of us had cash on us. It was like pulling teeth to get me to just ask our friend, who was offering, to buy me a sandwich. It’s was just $3 for a sandwich, and he was offering, but I was so embarrassed. What the heck is wrong with me?

So today, when Gregg asked me what I was afraid of… He’s right, I need to figure this out.

I don’t have any problem posting on my blog, twitter, or Facebook about a new book. The fact is that I am an author, and anyone who chooses to follow me on social media knows that I’m an author, and should expect me to say something. But I’ve been thinking of handing my book over to the teller at the bank who asked about my book a couple months ago. I’ve gone to the bank several times, book in hand. And I leave it in the car every time, too shy to actually hand it over.

Why?

I have this intrinsic belief that I should be seen, and not heard. A belief stemming from years of reinforcement with my parents, and later with a husband who treated me the same way.

And it wasn’t even that they thought “a woman’s place was in the kitchen” or some ridiculous thing like that. It was me. They thought I should be quiet. And that thought was constantly reinforced with criticism and chiding. Sometimes angry yelling to shut up, go away, leave me alone…. Even while other women were encouraged to speak their mind around me. Just not me.

So here I am with this fear of speaking up. Of being heard. And I’m an author. An author who by definition must speak up and be heard. And if I ever want to get my books noticed, to get myself noticed, I have to speak up. I have to be heard.

To be fair… I have improved so much over the last few years. I never would have considered publishing a book of short stories just last year. I never would have considered doing a podcast, but today I am doing yet another one, and I am HAPPY to do it. I speak up. I talk over people to make myself heard sometimes. I tell the guys to shut up and let me talk… and I am happy for it. I enjoy it. It’s worth it.

So why is it still so hard to say “I wrote a book, here it is. Read it if you like.” ?