This post will not be about writing or mental illness but it will be 100% about being human.
I have two dogs. They are my children. They are the reason I have not given up on life in my darkest hours.
My Ducati “Duke” (a five year old Chihuahua mix we rescued as a puppy) presented with strange symptoms a couple of days ago and it was advised by my vet to take him to the emergency vet. They could do things faster; they had more high tech equipment. Now we are looking at an un-diagnosable neurological or autoimmune disorder. He is staying in the hospital for three more days on steroid treatment. He is happy and not in pain and mostly sleeping but…this is our last resort.
I am praying that this treatment works. Praying hard.
But I am also preparing myself to say goodbye.
I am trying not to disassociate. To check out of reality. But this means that I can barely think. Right now all I am doing is feeling. I feel the seconds on the clock thump through me, replacing my own heartbeat. I feel the constriction of my chest as my heart breaks, the hot tears on my face. I feel the absence of him. But I also feel him near. Because he is still alive. And the clock ticks on until the next time I visit him.
“With Teeth” by Jessica Sita
Will be the debut novel from me. It’s currently still a WIP (second draft), but far enough along that I figured I could introduce it to the blogosphere.
Genre: older young adult, paranormal fiction
current word count: 28,612 words (soft goal 40k, ultimate goal 47k)
Bryn is a full-blooded werewolf, only there is one problem. She has no second form. At puberty when all lycanthropes experience their first shift into a wolf, nothing happens for Bryn. Now 18 and considered a freak of nature by the Pack, she can’t wait to escape the small town of Gardiner, Montana.
When a rogue wolf named Calder comes to town, his goal is to challenge the Alpha for control of the Pack. He takes an interest in Bryn and her secrets. He thinks he can help solve her problem but it will take deception and a collision with the past to do it.
It’s a story about love; it’s a story about hate; it’s a story about finding oneself.
My goal is to have the second draft finished this year. Then have it beta read and edited and then professionally edited in 2015.
Keep checking back at my blog for updates on my progress!
I’ve lamented about my novel, With Teeth, being too short. And it’s true. I am nearing the end and it is simply too short.
They beat it into me in graduate school to be concise and it has been the death of me.
So here I am chewing my nails and pulling my hair out over word count on the second draft which will be the first official finished draft (and my first official finished novel draft). The stress is halting my fingers and stalling my creative process. It’s ridiculous.
I tell my dad this the other week and he says to me “who cares how long it is? Just FINISH THE DAMN THING!”
Which seems like simple advice right? But it really resonated with me. Finish what you start and all that. Finish it and sit with it. Finish it and edit it. Finish it and send it to beta readers and get feedback. Finish it and send it to an editor. I’m sure I will get ideas from outside sources; I’m sure I will get ideas from inside myself after just sitting on it for awhile. Reread, rewrite, edit.
But first, Jessica, you have to finish the damn thing.
I’m almost done, friends, and that is exhilarating.
Right now I am in the midst of anxiety. I am sick with panic. Nauseous. Dizzy. Faint. From what, I could not tell you because I do not know. Small things, this and that, nothing and then everything. And all I can think of to do is to drink this bottle of water, to write and to reach out.
The recent suicide of Robin Williams has really brought mental health to the forefront on social media. I can only take so much of it at a time. But I found that in my own feed on Facebook, a sudden outpouring of people opening up about mental illness (depression specifically). Offering support. Offering resources. Letting everyone know they are not alone.
While I am sad that it takes such a tragedy for people to open up about mental illness, it also heartened me to see it happening. A double-edged sword perhaps.
I have thought a lot about redundancy lately, especially in that of that blogging on mental health. But honestly, is there ever going to be enough posts revealing the humanity of these disorders? Are people ever going to stop needing to connect with other people going through the same thing? Are we ever going to stop needing to hear that we are not alone?
I know that in my darkest moments all I wanted to hear was that it was “going to be ok”. Over and over. From multiple sources. Said in different ways. In so many words, in a small gesture, in a touch. Said directly to my face, over the phone, in writing, in a song. From a stranger, from an acquaintance, from my best friend, from family.
You are not alone.
Be well, my friend.
I met you with my eyes swimming with vodka.
A high functioning alcoholic—and yet a head
full of stars. You smiled at me anyway, your
teeth a reflection of the moon. I had no idea you
would bring down the sky for me every night.
As many of you know because I also blog about mental health, I am bipolar with severe anxiety. To say that my mental state is unstable would be an understatement. If I am not caught in the cage of deep depression, I am at least morose (dysthymia). Or if I have conquered sadness that week it seems like the anxiety then takes over and I can barely sleep or I sleep too much, pacing the house and nearly fainting from waves of nerves.
For the past two weeks I have been feeling great. Wonderful. Dare I say happy? At the very least I am feeling extremely mentally stable. No high highs, no low lows. I am not riding that damn rollercoaster known as my brain.
What do I contribute this to?
Honestly? The sheer amount of writing I’ve been doing. Five to six days a week. Seven hundred to a thousand words a day (at least a chapter a day, then sent off to an adoring/demanding friend/cheerleader/fan). And I am, and this is important, writing what I want to write. I am writing a werewolf book. With Teeth is (simply stated) about werewolves. I’m going to shout it from the rooftops now. I AM A FANTASY WRITER! There I said it. I’ve accepted it. And I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Because it makes me happy.
I am even still working on These Scars–my poetry collection.
And I belong here. At my kitchen table, staring out my French doors at the empty soccer field, typing away. I made a huge announcement awhile back that I was now a Full Time Writer but I never fully embraced it…until now.
I am so happy to immerse myself in my characters’ world. I am so happy to watch that wordcount ticker climb. I am so happy to come over here and blog about my process. I am happy to work on articles for Tipsy Lit and would be happy to guest post for you!
Keeping it happy. Writing the hell out of my days.
I mentioned a few posts back how I had decided to start over on one of my darlings. That darling was my book “With Teeth.” I have been rocking and rolling on it ever since, averaging about 1k words five days a week (I generally take the weekends off and I had a minor health procedure that nevertheless resulted in severe anxiety and halted my writing for about a week). I was at about 12k when I stopped and started over on a book that had been in the works since 2011. Yes, 2011.
I will hit 10k in the next couple of days.
I think it’s high time I get this thing finished, don’t you?
Starting over is turning out to be one of the best decisions I could have made if one just looks at my forward momentum. I have ideas. New ideas. I am writing linear. I simply feel great. Accomplished. Happy.
In all my years as a writer (that would be when I could form sentences) I have never actually finished a novel. It is my greatest goal in life. Just to FINISH THE DAMN NOVEL.
I think I am well on my way.
Making cuts from my WIP poetry collection this early morning. Just things that don’t quite fit the theme, or that I don’t think are good enough. I rather like this one, though.
The Art Guard
The guard, his uniform is pressed
his shoes are shined, his white mustache waxed.
Always keeps a fresh pair of batteries
inside his heavy flashlight for he works nights,
pacing the corridors at the Dallas Museum of Art.
He likes to walk it by himself, likes the quiet,
knows the layout. Knows the DMA like the map of wrinkles
and liver spots on the backs of his own hands.
He has a favorite wing—the European exhibition,
admits he neglects duties just to stay and examine Degas.
Over and over, night after night, he crosses the warning lines
and shines his flashlight into the Impressionists’ canvases.
They come alive with color. He studies every brushstroke.
The translation of light. The visual angles. And then,
with shaking fingers, he reaches out and touches the paintings.
Tracing a Monet water lily, he can feel the texture of the oils.
I’ll be 29 in two months.
And I am sick of putting energy into trying to be someone I’m not. Usually it’s an unconscious thought/motive/action and I’ll catch myself later. It can be something like putting my self worth into being a skinny waif, or considering going back to school for a new career.
I’m done with it.
I’m ready to put my energy into being me. In all my complicated, weird glory. I’m going to stop letting people make me doubt myself and my choice to be a stay-at-home wife and author/poet. No, I’m not traditionally published. Yet. No, I have not finished that book I’ve been working on. So what if I’m a slow writer? It is my heart and doing anything else just hurts.
That is not to say I won’t work to improve myself. For example, I love (love) music and have recently begun the endeavor of teaching myself to play the keyboard with the hope of future private lessons. Or, so I want to lose weight for my health. I’ve been working on that too, but I am not going to put energy into placing my self worth into my jean size anymore.
We don’t live forever. Why waste time and precious energy (of which I sometimes have little) on trying to force myself into a square when I’m really a circle?