Keeping It Happy

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.

But.

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 Am Rockin and Rollin

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.

The Art Guard – a poem

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.

Putting Energy In the Right Place

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?

I Am Standing In My Own Way

I am beginning to realize that I am standing in my own way of finishing my novel(s). I’d like to blame it on my depression, my lack of time (ha! That’s laughable!), my writer’s block…When really it’s my fear. My fear of failure, of my own self critique, of outside critics.

But the story, it strains inside of me. Stretching my skin to breaking point, begging to be heard. And I want this. I want to finish a novel so badly.

Ksenia Anske recently wrote a blog post that resonated with me, especially this quote:

Let go of your fear. Write like you don’t give a fuck, and keep writing like that, and your writing will get better, and better, and better. And people will want to read it. I guarantee it.

YES! YES! This is what my heart needed to hear. What my ass needed to be kicked with. Let go, Jessica. Let go of the fear and just write.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

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Starting Over

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

William Faulkner

Later expanded upon by Stephen King in a book that should be in every author’s library, On Writing.

I killed my darling yesterday.  Well, one of them. I started over on my novel “With Teeth.”  I even changed the protagonist’s first name for reasons.

It was stale and I was stuck and I was going to have to write a second draft anyway.  I feel refreshed. Inspired. It’s almost 4am here and I have written 1465 words. 1200 of those since midnight.

This time I am not labeling it before it is finished. I am not putting stickers on it that say Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, etc. All I know are my characters, that it features werewolves prominently, and that I am writing my heart out.

A note on “downer” poems and a collaboration

I sort of got my feelings hurt at the last poetry meet-up. Someone said something a long the lines of “well we know you can write downer poems have you ever thought of changing it up and writing an upper poem?” Laughter ensued. “She’s young” was tossed around as an excuse. Thank you to the person who mumbled “Ignore them” under his breath.

I’m 28. I’ve been through a lot in my short life. I don’t mean them to be “downers”. Just honest. And by nature, the poetry collection I am writing calls for serious stuff, exploring pain. I mean, damn, it’s called These Scars. I am going to have to explain this next time about what I am reading from, although I hate to have to explain myself. Also. I think I find the beauty in pain by exploring it through verse. Simply by putting it in poetic form, you have brought beauty to darkness.

Anyway. Good also came out of the poetry group. Sometime back one of the members was really interested in my train imagery in my poem Runaways. He said he had a friend who made videos who would be interested in using it for his a video that had been waylaid. I said, well sure. Then the person in my poetry group comes back this month and has written music and lyrics based on my poem. He gives me the lyrics that he wrote and tells me he wants me to rewrite them, using his as a guide for syllables and structure and the like! I got to hear the music he has written to go along with my lyrics and the video and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s gorgeous!

So now I am collaborating and writing a song. I feel like the rockstar I always wanted to be. :P

Although I am such a free verse poet that I am having quite a time maintaining strict syllable counts and rhyming. BUT I think it’s good for me.

Nominated for Blog Awards

I was beyond moved to find that Sarah Findlay had nominated me for a long list of awards. I have never been nominated for a blogging award and I was excited but humbled.

 

The Inner Peace Award

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This simply requires you to write a short paragraph or two about why you are accepting this award.

I strive for inner peace every day. Being bipolar with severe anxiety makes it hard. Being human with all of our insecurities makes it hard.  Writing poetry and working on my novels brings me an inner peace I never expected and I sometimes forget, especially if I go for a couple weeks without writing.  I must always remember the feeling of blinking my eyes and “waking up” from a good writing session.  Inner peace.

If accepting this award, you should nominate 14 other people.

 

The Angel Award

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This one is lovely because all you do is accept the award and thank the person who nominated you.

Thank you Sarah!

 

The WordPress Family Award

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This award was created by Shaun Gibson  and it recognises that bloggers are all part of a family. We’re there to advise, listen and support each other.

I would be nowhere without my blog and Tipsy Lit (hosted by WP).  I am so grateful for the friends I have made. For my fellow writers. For my readers, new and old.

 

The Premier Dardos Award

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Premier Dardos (Prized Darts) is an award for bloggers who express core human values (ethical, cultural, literary and personal) through their posts and work, be it photos, videos or otherwise.

This one….this one I have almost no words to share with you. I am speechless.  I never strived for core human values, I have always just strived to be utterly human. This makes me smile. A lot.

 

The Wonderful Team Membership Award

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As bloggers, we are readers as well as writers and this award celebrates that fact.  Nominate 14 bloggers that you appreciate, list them in your post and finish this sentence, “A great reader is…”

Someone who does not skim but slows down to take it all in.  Who is affected emotionally by a piece whether that emotion is negative, positive or just blah.  Someone who offers up encouragement and constructive critique in the same comment.  Or simply celebrates the beauty of a piece where it is due.  Someone who will laugh with the author, who will cry. Basically a good reader is one who shows signs of empathy.  A great reader is so much more.

Laura A. Lord

Deanna Hermann

Roxanne Piskel

Ericka Clay

Ashley Sapp

Alycia Lucio

Tilley Creary

Wendy Strain

Meg Lago

Dede Nesbitt

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Emily Austin

Duncan Swallow

Kameko Murakami

 

 

When I’m gone…

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Sometimes when I am gone from the blogosphere it is because I have nothing to say. More often than not it is because I am suffering in silence. Silence is something that I hate. Silence is something that I fought so hard against in my first poetry chapbook, Outcry.  So here I am, telling you that my mental illnesses get to me. I have to self-care and my blog suffers for it. Sometimes my creative writing suffers for it, for instead of it being fuel for the fire, it puts up a block in my head.  I was having harmful obsessive thoughts that had me curled into fetal positions with pillows clutched in my arms, crying myself to sleep a lot of days.  When I finally felt a little better, I began to make a plan to distract from these thoughts.  I started to exercise, running specifically (ha! agoraphobia 0, me 1). I picked up a couple of painting canvases and DIY projects.  I journaled. I picked up a tuner for my dusty acoustic guitar. I am combating those obsessive thoughts (with the extra help of meds and doctors).

 

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Tomorrow starts a project I am hosting at TipsyLit.com: Writing and Mental Illness Week. I invited several writers from all different backgrounds to explore this theme in individual blog posts. It is good stuff. Heartbreaking. Triumphant. Revealing. I haven’t decided whether or not I am going to reblog the posts here.  So I thought I would alert you to this event now.