Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “depression”

When Compromise is Fear by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Mint now and forever

By Julie

So last time we talked, I was feeling pretty grim. Looking at a reality where I might not be able to write for a living, looking at an end date when I would finally have to admit I couldn’t live off of what I love. It looked like facing reality but what it was really something else.

Fear.

Fear that once I had MORE time to write, with both kids in school full-time, that even then I wouldn’t be able to call it a job and be able to pay a bill with it.

Fear of going back to a job where I can’t be me all of the time. Every single second of the time.

Fear of not being able to give my kids THINGS, giant things because explaining to them that are better gifts than things feels like failure.

Fear of not being able to write another book.

Fear of changing my jump in with both feet approach to writing into a next-stage serious commitment to make it work no matter what.

Fear of being selfish.

I’ve always prided myself on being flexible, on being able to not look at one choice as the only choice. Being able to compromise and not let it feel like defeat, it’s part of what makes me a leader and a person that people look to when they feel despair.

It doesn’t mean that I’m not prone to despair, too. But no matter how grim things can get in my mind, I face them. Expressing my fear, my desperation and hopelessness, but still staying the course is my strength. Looking at that in times of difficulty as beating a dead horse rather than seeing it as unwavering dedication is okay–I’m human. And being human, vulnerable, is what makes me a good mom, a good leader, a good writer.

So it’s in this knowledge that I say there is a time when being flexible isn’t an option. As a leader, it is my job to see the forest for the trees, and to look up from the rocks at my feet and climb over the boulder in front of me. As a mom it’s my job to show my kids that having a bottom line that is absolutely solid and unquestionable is courageous. It’s okay for me to say, “No. This is what I need for me. My self-care is crucial for me to keep being the me that you need, and the absolute pinnacle of my self-care is knowing that there iare some things that I not only can’t give up, I won’t give up.”

Writing and being the person to challenge ideas and rules and make my own is at the core of my being. It is who I am, not just part of who I am. Everything else stems from those things.

The idea of sacrificing those things was me internally saying I would die for my family’s betterment. Because stopping this passion to go back to an environment that stripped me of myself is a death sentence–it physically nearly killed me before, more than once, and mentally I still survived. Emotionally I bottomed out, long-term, and yet I still managed to write. I couldn’t stop.

I actually thought in my head and gave in for a few days there, that I would just work myself to death because I gave it a go, and writing didn’t work. But I was wrong to think that a dream has an expiration date. I refuse to allow it to. I’m Wolverine when he faces the torrent of wounds that Dark Phoenix throws at him, and still he trudges forward, knowing there is no other way. No compromise. I’m some historical general that drove his soldiers to near extinction and utter hatred of him, and still stayed the course. Fanatical, maybe. Driven. Determined.

Unafraid.

Absolutely.

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Julie Becomes a Self Help Guru or Something

TODAY’S BREW: Mistobox Colombia Banexport. Coffee that makes me feel as important as the person who gave it to me does.

By Julie 

One month into this year and I’ve already had a boatload on the agenda. Surgery, a million doc appointments, recovery from said surgery which is more mentally draining than physically, a hundred and fifty snow days from school, Ben’s birthday, a lot of emotional (and A LOT of hormonal) trouble.

And yet, though it’s already been an incredibly taxing year, one that I’ve emotionally hit bottom in a little, I feel better still than I did in all of 2014 probably.

But in 2014 I TRIED so hard, I set so many expectations of myself, tried to stay ahead of the curve of all the things that were assaulting me and my family, and I failed. I. Failed.

I’ve refused to let that follow me into 2015. I have intended to make this year as good as last year was difficult.

I’ve grown to realize a lot this week alone. One thing I knew going into 2015 was that perfection is not going to occur. But how I deal with my difficulties and traumas can change. My reactions and my expectations can change. So I’m changing them:

  • I recognized an emotional descent into Hades and I called a hotline. Trying to work it out myself has not done me any good. It may have saved me until the next 5 minutes, but it didn’t HELP me. So I called a hotline that could help me just by acknowledging that I KNOW I’m in trouble. And that alone felt brave and proactive. (I’ll talk a helluva lot more about that in another post.)
  • I listened to doctor’s orders. Had surgery. I feel (physically) GREAT and did literally the day after. But I’m not to exercise, lift anything heavier than 30 pounds (including Sam, which I do by the minute usually), and I’m to get plenty of rest. Though I heal with Wolverine speed, I’m shutting up and listening. I’m not a doctor, and pushing myself is only going to have me working at half-Julie in some capacity again sometime soon.
  • I’m listening to my own self-diminishing thoughts. And purging them.  Having had such a hard time recently, and being one who likes to help people as much as I can, I’ve felt like an absolute life-suck for some time. I’ve tried to convince myself that asking for help and not being the one to help everyone is okay, it’s smart, it’s courageous. But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like my life is one big emotional handout. I can’t get past it. So I have to start doing what I can do which is LISTEN when people say that I’m important in their lives and try to give back the way I am accustomed to.
  • Purging self-diminishing thoughts, continued: Every time I think something like “I don’t deserve to be sitting here, reading,” “All I do is crybaby and people still talk to me,” “I can’t do anything right (spurned by something as simple as not getting a stain out of a shirt)”, I’ve started writing it down in a pretty pink notebook. I’ve already started looking at those words and seeing how INSANE some of them are. But they’re mine and they’re mine to get rid of.
  • Realizing that because the world sees me as strong that I assume responsibility for every. little. thing.   Just now, Bennett was bored. That’s my fault. Sam has to nap after his meds, my fault. I say the wrong thing, I’ve ruined everything and nobody will want to talk to me again. The wallpaper is peeling, I’m a terrible mother. I spent time alone in my room and felt awful that I was wasting family time. Seriously. I’m crying right now because my kid is seeing me cry and I think it will do some irreparable damage to him. I have to try to realize that every single thing I do does not mean life or death for everyone, and that just because I’m important doesn’t mean the world will end without me.
  • I asked people to read an unpublished work.  It’s being resubmitted now and I don’t need critique on it, but I wanted someone to know the book like I did and be able to say sometimes, “this is good. This is important. You’re not just Ellie Morgan and Nicholas French and that’s it.”
  • Eating what IS better for me, not just what will FEEL better for me.  I’ll push myself until I feel “well fuck this, I deserve to eat an entire cake.” Tastes good, doesn’t feel good. So I’m working hard to make smart food choices which has helped a lot. Lettuce instead of bread. Water and ginger ale (a comfort food I’ve really clung to recently) instead of all coffee all the time. Instead of a cookie every time I walk in the kitchen, a couple of tiny cookies with a cup of coffee. And letting myself have what I want when the time is right because I don’t want to feel like I’m punishing myself for not being as thin as I was 10 years ago.
  • Sitting up straight, taking deep breaths, having mini meditations all day, and wearing lipstick even when I’m home. 
  • Realizing that my own writing deadlines may be doing me more harm than good. 
  • Drinking.  Yes, drinking. I had champagne last night and just picked up my laptop and started writing. I haven’t had a casual drink for a long time. All it’s done is add to my irritation when asked by a doctor if I drink, smoke, do drugs, have any history of x diseases and I say “no” only to find out I have some uber weird physical shit wrong with me anyway. That champagne felt GOOD. And yes, I said some risky stuff on Twitter, and felt guilty about it later, but then I realized IT’S OKAY. When have I EVER been afraid to say what I feel like saying as long as I’m not hurting anyone? So yeah, a drink here and there is on the agenda. Hell, Kristen and I used to drink ourselves silly every Monday night and we got so much writing done it was crazy. I need to loosen up the brain muscles, let myself create instead of letting myself “work.”
  • Helping people.  I feel like a better person when I’m helping people. So as soon as I called that hotline the other day, I contacted someone I knew was having similar issues and told her I was thinking of her, and that I think we should blog together about our experiences. I want to run a short story series again like we did in the good old days on the blog (surprise, Kristen) and help some new writers get their feet wet. I want to give back so I don’t always feel like I’m taking.
  • Surrounding myself with people when I’m at my worst.  I spent 7 hours at a playdate the other day because I knew that being alone would only open me up for more overthinking. And I was right. I played Twister, had pizza with friends, talked to adults, connected outside of my home. And I said out loud, “there is nothing else I can be doing right now. Only this.” And it felt damn good.
  • Finally, recognizing that my harmful thoughts are very much a product of my physical state post surgery and not “just my head.”  And vice versa. Just because it’s triggered by my hormones doesn’t mean it isn’t real. The depression is there no matter what right now, despite its causes, and that’s important. Letting myself accept that I’m a work in progress is a big change.

I’ve always been of the mind that any change is good. Trying anything is a good idea. Not staying stagnant is smart. And so far, I’ve been goddamn right. This isn’t me telling a depressed person to “cheer up” or sending them funny memes of a cat eating celery or something. It’s me saying that you can be part of your own change to get better. Growth should never stop, you owe that to yourself. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers, but you can try to come up with them. You can make up your own. And for just that one simple thing, you are important.

Julie Gets Sorta Medical Up In Your Face

TODAY’S BREW: Candy Cane, because I don’t like candy canes but I like candy cane flavored stuff.

By Julie

When I whine-texted Kristen asking her what I should blog about she said I should blog about what’s on my mind.

Know what’s on my mind? Fibroid tumors.

I’ll do my bestest to not make this too graphic or give you all my nitty-gritties, but as I learn more about this “large fibroid” and “some other vascular growth,” I’ve realized how many irritating issues are a result/symptom of the goddamn things. I thought some of you out there would be happy to hear from someone just now dealing with them some of the things that I’ve been experiencing. Things I had NO IDEA could have to do with the tumor. (BY THE WAY, THESE TUMORS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BENIGN.)

First of all, you should know that up to three quarters of women between 30 and 40 are estimated to have fibroids. Here is some crap that I’ve dealt with and some that I haven’t that are all indicators of fibroids:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome or leg pains
  • extremely heavy menstrual periods (sorry, gentlemen) attributed to my age
  • abdominal pain
  • urinary or bowel problems
  • pain during sex
  • lower back pain
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches

Not much information is out there saying that fibroids link to depression, anxiety and severe mood swings, but it IS out there. And it makes perfect sense, especially if the fibroids grow large enough to interfere with other organs. (It seems there are not usually many symptoms until they’ve grown enough to contact other organs.) It also makes sense that fibroids are often caused by a hormone imbalance.

I’ve been struggling a LOT with anxiety, and yeah I have a lot to be anxious about, but my panic attacks have been debilitating, astronomical in number, and far worse during my cycle. My moods change drastically from minute to minute and I can FEEL that it’s irrational, that they’re without trigger. I’ve known for a long time that something was off in my body and that it was doing something to my mental state. I am on medications for anxiety which I’m a big fan of and don’t expect the treatment of the fibroids to change that. But I do expect to feel RIGHT again. And just knowing that there’s a physical cause for the extremely tell-tale hormonal surges makes me have more hope than I’ve had in a long time. Hope I didn’t realize I’d lost.

So, I say all this stuff as just a person who’s had this/these tumors for what appears to be a very long time. Everyone tells everyone else to get checked for this, that, and the other thing, all important. What I’m saying is that I’ve had some seriously difficult issues that are due in large part to this at one time minor issue. I just want you to pay attention to your body, don’t brush off its messages to you, and don’t always assume that the seemingly unlinked things are just that. Treat yourself well. You’re needed.

The Ability to Stop, But The Choice To Continue

Today’s Brew: Pounding Wild Blueberry. Working two crazy shifts back to back today and tomorrow.

by Kristen

dog meme

My body loves being fat. I’m not saying that to be all Piss On Kristen, it’s true. The sales people in Lane Bryant and Torrid know me by name. Just because my body’s all about the fluff doesn’t mean my mind is. I realize I have to work harder to get to my goals, and what’s going to be good and healthy for me is going to be different than what another person considers to be the same.

The other night I found this cool tattoo while surfing Pinterest. Since we’re all writer and reader types around these parts, I thought it fit in to every facet of my life beautifully.

semi colon

 

The caption read: The ability to stop, but the choice to continue.

I never thought a semi-colon could be so fucking deep.

I’m going to try to explain how much I fell completely in love with this saying. Julie’d used a version of it in her review of Because the Night, and the line always stuck out to me. She referred to Tristan as “having the ability to be good, but making the choice to be dirty.” It’s kind of knowing right from wrong, and knowing that you’re going to have to make an effort to get the results you want, no matter what those might be.

I’ve talked about pole dancing class before, and how I when I started, I could barely get my feet up off the ground. Now I can get them up over my head, while hanging on to the pole. I can’t totally invert yet, but with persistence and the right attitude, I’ll get there. And yes, my size 14 ass wears booty shorts. Sometimes you need to put yourself out of your comfort zone to get to where you want to go. However, there are things I do better than the rest of the class, like splits. My brain got this stupid idea that it wanted my body to start running, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll try it. I can’t go very far, but it gets easier every time I try. Today I rollerskated for the first time in two years. I exhausted quickly, because I’m not use to using those muscles any more. But each time I lace up my skates, I’ll be able to do a little more.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with writing? Everything. The more you write, the better you get. I didn’t start from nothing doing these activities. I’d been doing Zumba for a year. I thought I was in amazing shape, and I found out otherwise. Sometimes I think I write something that’s awesome, and it doesn’t get that reaction. I need to make it better. And not everything’s going to be the same. Sometimes a draft of a book takes six weeks, sometimes it takes six months. Depends on which muscles I’m using.

A lot of us, and this totally includes me, have been struggling a lot this year with writing. I don’t know if it’s burnout, or rejection, or just not getting the results we desire, but I’ve noticed so many people reaching out and talking about this. This is brave. We’re all taught to put on a mask and pretend nothing’s wrong, and that we’re perfect at everything. But we’re not. And others can be quick to point that out. And it fucking hurts, even though we know that we can’t possibly be the world’s best writers, or athletes, or anything else. We just do the best we can.

The ability to stop, but the choice to continue.

There have been many days that I’ve thought long and hard about finishing the projects I have in progress, and then moving on to something else outside of writing. Those days aren’t pretty.

I have the ability to stop. But is that really what I want? To quit? Or do I want to rise to the challenge and make myself better? I have more stories in me, and some of you seem to like the ones I’ve told already. I’ve learned so much about myself through writing, that I’m not sure I can let that go now. So I have to acknowledge that every day won’t be perfect. Some days I’ll run the proverbial extra mile and others I’ll eat too much cake. Like with fitness, I have to put the bad day behind me and treat each day as a chance to kick some ass.

But I have to make a choice to continue. It’s not always an easy one, especially when I’m feeling really bad. It’s way easier to crawl deeper into my hole and congratulate myself for failing. That’s a place I don’t let anyone else into, because I’m pretty sure none of you want to see it. But it’s there, welcome me into its dark, airless pit of despair. I know we all have these places, and I know I haven’t made my last visit to mine.

If you love writing, or anything, you’ll make time for it. You’ll want to grow, and do what it takes to get to where you want to be. It’s truly all about you. With writing, we have to accept we’re all on different paths. Some people might write faster than me, get published before me, sell better than me, but that doesn’t mean what I’m doing is wrong. It’s just different. Some people don’t like my work, but other people do. I have to make the choice to listen to the positive or the negative, and move forward from there. The good so outweighs the bad.

I pay a little bit of attention to astrology. I don’t plan my day around my horoscope, but everything I hear makes a fuckton of sense. Today is the Full Blood Moon. It’s also a total lunar eclipse, and the start of something called a Triad, which I haven’t had a chance to explore, but it only happens every couple of decades. It’s also Passover, which the guy on the Today show thought made this lunar event even more significant. When Mercury is in retrograde, it loves to fuck up our lives. All of this unusual activity with the moon has got to be messing with our gravitational pull, our magnets, and our alignment. So what I’m hoping is once we pass this cycle, we can all come out of it feeling a little bit better.

You’re all fucking amazing, we don’t tell each other than enough. No one gets tired of hearing it, ever. I’m glad to have you in my life, and I hope you make the choice to keep going even if it’s hard.

Creativity In The Face Of Depression

TODAY’S BREW: Autumn Roast. Don’t tell me it’s not Autumn, you think I don’t know that?

By Julie

A couple of days ago a friend sent out a public tweet asking what writers do to stay creative in the face of depression, full time jobs and being full time parents. A lot of people answered her, and fast, because it seems as though there has to be an element of downtrodden to every writer, and yet we don’t know quite how to battle it.

Except you do. Every day, and with great vigor.

I tweeted this: I KNOW A LOT OF WRITERS ARE DEPRESSED, ISOLATED, EXHAUSTED AND SOMETIMES JUST AFRAID. WE NEED EACH OTHER.

The fact that writers reach out to each other, and still pick up the pen when they can barely get off the couch for a cup of coffee is a monumental achievement of creativity, especially when they’ve already endured a seemingly endless work day, or unemployment, and trying to maintain a normal family life with the worries of day to day life on the side. Trying to stick to a writing schedule when you’re at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule first is depressing in itself. The sheer desire to write after all that is an amazing achievement.

When I worked a full time job, and let me tell you, it was extra super full time, and had children that I felt guilty not spending every waking second with, writing was the thing that I waited for in the deep heart of the night. It wasn’t hard for me to write then because I was already going on so many cylinders that adding another one wasn’t a problem. I did it. And I loved doing it. I didn’t recognize the depression I was in because I didn’t give myself time to. (This isn’t a “how to overcome” method, just what happened to me.)

*PREPARE FOR GROSS PERSONAL STORY*

In the meantime, I was sleeping for a few hours a night, crying on my way to work and throwing up when I got there from the exhaustion and missing my children. even grosser, I suffereddebilitating chronic ulcerative colitis that had me bleeding all day long. Medication wasn’t helping, and in fact at one point actually nearly killed me, hospitalizing me with a side effect of pancreatitis. (I realize I talk about drinking pretty often and that this is a primary cause of pancreatitis. The fact is that I drink not that much. Socially, maybe twice a month back then.) The point is, you don’t always see depression for what it is, and when you look back on it, you don’t really understand it anyway.

When I couldn’t take it anymore, when I was so sick that I couldn’t focus, and my boss and management staff had an intervention with me because they knew I couldn’t do it any longer, I left my job to my financial horror. It was a matter of survival at that point, and I really felt I couldn’t survive much longer away from my kids all day. That was when I decided to make a go of it doing a bit of an odd job on the side and really throwing myself into my writing, the thing I wanted to do since I was a child. The thing I went to school for. The thing that kept my mind alive when no other part of me really was.

Yes, this was a freeing feeling, but it sent me into a depression that was really hard to come out of. I still fall into it frequently. I still have consecutive days where I go through the motions, and the guilt wracks me that I just don’t want to go to the park with the kids, and I just don’t feel like getting off the couch, and I can’t seem to do much of anything but nap. The worst of it, I think, is the sudden feeling over and over in a day that you can’t not cry. Standing in Target with the kids running circles and the music and the normal people, I sometimes struggle not to cry. Doing the dishes, thinking of all the small things that seem like mountains, I cry. I cry spontaneously, and wonder how anyone sees me as a role model for anything at all. I’ll be having a great day, laughing, enjoying every minute, and I will cry. I can’t explain it, but can only think it’s because I missed having that feeling for so long when I wouldn’t let myself live these feelings, when I pushed and pushed and refused to think that I could possibly be depressed. Why, I was an optimist! Still am! I’m eternally thankful, and say so all the time! I love and am loved, and hug strangers for chrissakes!

But I’ve realized that suffering depression is a depth of emotion. That whole you can’t have light without darkness thing.  It doesn’t make depression easier, but it does help me understand that I can be a happy person in the midst of depression, without being a manic depressive.

And I take great pleasure these days in feeling all of my emotions. They fuel me. Depression and anxiety, (and on my best of days I have crippling anxiety) are some of the most primal emotions I think you can have. So I own them. I don’t push them away the way I once did. Sure, I don’t love or even like them, but I don’t ignore them. The best way for me to do this, is to write.

One of my most painful depressions was last year in December. It consumed me. After weeks of not writing anything, and not wanting to get out of bed, I finally said, “Fuck this, I’m just going to sit down and write something. Just type whatever comes to mind, just do it.” And I did. I blanked my mind out, which wasn’t hard to do because nothing I was thinking was of any value anyway, and I wrote this line:

Everything reeked of sex to me. 

Then I wrote another line, and another, and I had no idea where it was going, but I kept writing until I’d written a book. THE ANIMAL, which has yet to see the light of day, is one of the closest things to my heart.

So, if this is an advice blog on how to stay creative in the face of depression? I guess this is where I’m going with it.

  1. DON’T PLAN, JUST WRITE. You’re at your most feeling-est right now. If you plan, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot and think your plan is a failure anyway. Depression is a time for spitting out words, a word association sort of thing, even if they don’t make sense together. You might stumble upon one image or phrase that sparks an idea that snaps you out of your depression because you’re so amped about it.
  2. ADMIT YOU’RE DEPRESSED. Say it out loud, to whoever you want to, but especially to those you love and if you’re me, to the people on Twitter. So, one in the same often. Denying it, like you’ve done something wrong, is cancerous. And you’ll be shocked when dozens of people say “oh my God, I thought I was alone.” Suddenly, you feel a lot better.
  3. BE PART OF A WRITING COMMUNITY. I hear they have these things on Facebook, but Twitter is the only place for me. To be able to drop a line any time I want and just say, “hey, anybody upset for no reason and want to write?” and get several responses? This is invaluable to me. (Try @FriNightWrites, or search these hashtags: #amwriting, #writeclub, #amediting). WE NEED EACH OTHER, WRITERS. You are not a lonely little tadpole in a big pond. You are one of many. Get out of your own head, it’s toxic in there right now.
  4. TAKE A WRITING BREAK. Yes, this is contradictory to what I said before, but this isn’t a play by play list! It’s ideas for fuck’s sake! You can’t get up the gumption to write? Fine. Don’t. Maybe you’re burnt out. Or maybe you’re just waiting for someone to say it’s okay not to be awesome right now. Or maybe you’re waiting for the chance to say, “What the hell do you mean, take a break? I have to write!” AND OH, LOOK. NOW YOU WANT TO WRITE. Or maybe you need a couple of days or weeks off to remind yourself that not writing sucks for you. BECAUSE YOU’RE A WRITER.
  5. OWN THIS FEELING AND APPLY IT WHERE NEEDED. This is what I mean. I was having a baaaad couple of days, and I felt abandoned. Totally abandoned. I pulled out the sequel to RUNNING HOME and wrote “This is the feeling of abandonment Eliza has.” She was with Nicholas, but felt alone. She felt reckless, isolated, alone. So if I felt that way, then score! It counts as research.
  6. STOP LOOKING WHERE THERE IS NOTHING. Stop looking for this fucking muse. I hate the muse. Your inspiration has left the building. Go to another building. You usually gain inspiration from a long walk but right now all you want to do is drive pointlessly? Drive somewhere you’ve never been. Look for inspiration in new places, because you cannot be endlessly inspired by the same goddamn thing over and over.
  7. TOO DEPRESSED TO DO ANY OF THESE THINGS? Then right where you’re sitting, I want you to pick up a pen and one of the candy bar wrappers you’re sitting in and describe the scene around you. “The orange blanket was so gnatty it looked like a beaten muppet. The dog curled up in it and made it smell worse. The notebook lied open, asking for attention it wasn’t going to get. The crumpled up tissues were everywhere and it humiliated me.” It doesn’t have to be gold, but it gets the ball rolling. I promise you, if all else fails you, this works EVERY SINGLE TIME. Writing is excercise for your brain, no matter what kind of writing it is.
  8. STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND GET SOME EXCERCISE. Walking the mall may sound like climbing Mount Everest right now, so instead, do 2 jumping jacks. Do a couple of lunges as you walk to the kitchen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as you do this stuff. Trust me. Make a triangle with your hands, place them around your belly button and breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, as you stand up on your tiptoes. This calms you and moves your body at once. Little things like this help, I swear to Christ.
  9. READ. You know reading is inspirational. So do it. Read the book that gives you comfort when you need it. Then remember how it made you feel and write one of your own.
  10. REMEMBER THAT WHEN WE’RE EXHAUSTED, WE ARE MOST OURSELVES. Don’t let “I’m too tired” be your excuse. This is the time when you’ll say anything, kick and claw at anyone who looks at you sideways. So write, even if it’s only a line or two that don’t make sense. Embrace the exhaustion.

I do hope this helped someone, anyone. Know this, too. And Kristen, sorry if I doth say too much. But Kristen and I talk probably 5 times a week about how depressed/tired/unmotivated/crappy we feel. Every time we get together we spend like an hour doing this. Then we get productive. Laugh about it. If you need us to do this with, reach out. You know where we are. Tweet to us, drop us a line on Facebook, or leave a comment on the blog which we check way too often. We’re here for you.

Now go write a book.

Julie Freaks Out About Freaking Out

TODAY’S BREW: I’ve filled a Santa hat with black coffee and I’m going to put it on and let it wash over me, Carrie-blood-style

By Julie

I’ve heard plenty of writers freaking the fuck out that because of the holidays, manic and near tears and dying inside, losing their shit like that girl in The Yellow Wallpaper.

They’re either have already lost traction on their manuscripts or are deathly afraid of doing so. I get it, you guys. I worry, too.

BUT CALM THE HELL DOWN.

I’m a sonofabitch with a self-imposed deadline. I ALWAYS meet them. Every time. And they’re pretty challenging. I never take a total break from either editing or writing fresh material, and always have a plan in the works. I know already what I’m working on for the first half of 2014.

This being said, I know I probably won’t do my duties with the RUNNING HOME sequel daily, and will probably barely touch it for a few days, and it will seem cool right now, but then I’ll come back to it on December 26th like this.

And I’ll scream like a burned-alive banshee, “FIRST I WROTE TOO MANY WORDS AND THEN NO WORDS AND THE WORDS I DID WRITE WERE STUPID AND WHAT IS THIS WHO IS THIS CHARACTER WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT PLOTLINE WHERE THE FUCK AM I OH MY GOD” *hack hack hack* until there’s nothing left but a pile of words that go together like my relatives at a cocktail party and like that party it will feel good for a few drunken moments until around 10 pm when this happens.

Then around New Year’s, I’m figuring, I’ll beat myself up about the stupid sequel I’ve finished on time, despite all the hoopla, and say it isn’t worth jack shit. I will cry at Kristen’s house over a beer or forty, kick her out of her bedroom so I can pass out there, wake up and puke around 4am, then go home and realize the sequel is actually really good. Plans continue as usual, but I will have forgotten that I did this same thing last year and everything worked out fine.

It is this way because as a writer, I don’t like fucking around with RULES all that much. I make my own, break them, get pissed at the results, cry over it, then remember that they were my rules to fuck up to begin with. I remember that there is no WRONG in art. That I can only create to destroy and do it all over again. I remember that a creative mind needs space and room to breathe, and that the two sides of the brain don’t play by each other’s rules.

Then I remember that the holidays are meant for enjoying, refueling, being a kid again, letting your self-imposed regulations go, embracing the world and letting it fill you with fresh new invigorating feelings and ideas. The time of renewal for me is not spring, never has been. Winter and fall, the death of things, the end of the year, this is my time to fall to ashes and rise again.

And those of you out there who suffer from seasonal depression, I feel you. I don’t have seasonal depression in the winter, mine comes in the summer. I loathe hot, bright and loud things, get really panicky with that much sensory overload, and basically spring and summer is my desert of the real. I have to deal with it for months. I understand that winter is the typical time for depression, and know what it feels like. I’m here to tell you that there is another side to the depression. It ends. And when it does, you’ll burst from it like a phoenix, ready to eat those emotions and spit blood all over the page with them. You’ll feel like this dude.

And a lot like this.

This time of year can be hard for many, but for a writer there can be a blackness of the soul that hides in winter, and when it comes out in the written word, it will be a glorious thing.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, WRITERS!

Shutting The Hell Up

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Because everyone deserves something nice.

By Julie

I’ve had a fucker of a few days. This happens to me a lot, and when I see it, I laugh because I know that it’s just fate having its dirty way with me, and it always goes away quickly. I’ll have a 3 to 5 day stint of small, unrelated catastrophes that are just big enough to screw with me. Some highlights:

1.  A goat at the prison farm ran at me and headbutted me in the thumb, and wow, did it hurt.

2.  My showerhead broke. And it was a good one.

3.  The 3 year old ripped the wiper off the back windshield of the car in a rage. THESE are the kind of rages he has, and it lasted for days.

4.  Walmart processed my order wrong, taking $65 I didn’t really have from the wrong place.

5.  There were doctor things. Leave it at that.

6.  The cherry on top: I dropped my brand new iPhone in a cup of coffee.

The phone thing really threw me over the edge. The only reason I had such a nice phone was out of necessity because my husband left his crappy phone in the rain. So we got upgraded because it had been so long since we got new phones.

It was like, THE nice, new thing I have, and no, I’m not getting a new one because we can’t afford it.

I don’t really care about stuff. I don’t like expensive purses, or super pricey shoes. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, or buy new clothes, like ever. My car has stickers stuck all over the windows from the kids. My bedroom has been taken over by the kids. My 12 year old purse broke a month ago, and I don’t get a new one. The hose in my sink doesn’t work, the bathtub is falling apart, my laptop works when it wants to. Everything we own is half broken, or is some hobo castoff thing. And you know what? Every once in a while, it pisses me the fuck off.

I left my job 3 years ago, and it was still the best choice I ever made. When we have these week to week paycheck moments, which is every week, I feel bad about it for a while, but then I remember…. when I worked full time, I still didn’t have nice things! The hose in the sink was broken then, too! We still had a crappy car! My bedroom was still a romper room! I didn’t even have a laptop until a year and a half ago, and having a cell phone was a necessity because I was pregnant and driving 40 miles a day back and forth to work.

We aren’t Nice Things People. But we love each other, and even if we want to kill each other at times, we have each other all the time.

Today is 9/11. And there are people that will never see their husbands, wives, kids and friends again because of what happened on this day. Some of those people we lost probably woke up and were pissed that they didn’t have enough money, or that they had a shitty phone, or something like that, but at the end of that day it didn’t matter, did it? And that may be a nasty thing to say, but Jesus Christ, it’s true, right?

While I’m a big proponent of feel how you feel and fuck ’em if they don’t like it, sometimes you need to slap yourself in the face and say shut the crap up. Right now there are people who can’t afford to feed their kids. That’s a thing happening right now. And yes, all problems are relative, but nothing trumps that one for me.

Moral of the story: I am a better person than this. I am better than moaning about my technical devices. I’m living the dream, writing and staying home with my babies for a living. Seeing my husband every single night, and off and on all day. It’s all I ever wanted.

Even if I can’t call a person and tell them how happy it makes me, I still have those people, and that’s what makes the day worthwhile.

Digging Deeper: What It Means To Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut. I made it up.

For those who know me, I have been very quiet recently, haven’t I?  For those who really know me, you know I have been tirelessly editing Running Home.   You have seen my short stories, probably know my mouth on Twitter, but I assure you, Running Home  shows a different side of me.  One I have protected for a long, long time without really knowing it.

Kristen nips at me often to stop making changes to the novel.  It is unbelievable to have someone that you trust that way to tell you that your novel is good just the way it is, and not to listen to everybody.  I am not one to take criticism personally.  Kristen actually thinks I greet it with too much enthusiasm…every suggestion I take with an “I can do that!” go forwardness.  But when it came to this particular critique, I shied away, mentally ran screaming, and denied the need for it:

Dig deeper. .  

I have known my MC, Ellie Morgan for 5 years.  She doesn’t “speak” to me, the way other writers claim happens, I am her boss.  She is part of me, and I am the controlling part.  She came to me when I needed her most as an outlet for my fear of change, my fear of death, my fear of failure.  After I had a baby.  To think that I hadn’t poured myself into her enough to make her someone readers connect with was not only painful, it was absolutely terrifying.

You hear the phrase “dig deeper” all the time when it comes to critiques, and it never bothered me, until it was applied to Ellie.  I have edited Running Home to perfection, in my opinion.  I have made it exactly what I want it to be.  I felt finished, done, laid out.  Exposed to a degree.

Because without ever saying as much, Ellie has my own overwhelming fear of death.  It’s the only thing that I truly feel I cannot conquer, the one thing that has stripped me of so much.  It’s something that has become so much a part of me, to put it out in novel form, risking rejection of my very imagination, was a welcome difficulty.  You see, I am not one to give in to much of anything.

Ellie’s also representative of my feeling that I am meant for something I will never find.  The idea that I cannot even express my disjointedness from the world is a difficult failure to admit to.  And failure is right up there in things that scare me a bit.  I know in my heart that I hesitate at success for fear it won’t happen.  For fear that I will see my limits, and they won’t be good enough.

So when I was told to “dig deeper,” I was spent.  It sent me into a depression that is still painful to think on. Insomnia, pointless crying, lack of energy, weird eating patterns, clingyness, it was all there.  I finally had to face something that I never wanted to belive.  It was no longer scary to think of my fear of failure, my fear of never finding my true purpose, even my bone-deep fear of inevitably being abandoned by the people I love.

My real fear in making Ellie deeper was that maybe, just maybe, there was nothing else. She was me, and I had finally been, ultimately, just not good enough.

What if this was all the depth I had?  What if I was that surface that there was no more of me to give?  Had I finally really reached my limit, and had nothing else to offer?  Was there something in me that I would never be able to find?  Is this all there is?  No amount of soul searching to uncover my hidden depths was as painful as thinking I just didn’t have any.

So, following a month long, in-depth, heart-rending re-reading of Running Home, I think I have finally nailed it.  And maybe the most important lesson in all of this for me, is that if you don’t find Ellie compelling enough, then you don’t find me compelling either.

And I know myself better than that.  I hope you all want to know, too.

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