O Me! O Life! – A Moment of Reflection

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I keep thinking about this poem, today. Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, read it in one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society.

I also keep thinking about all of the great artists we’ve lost recently. Writers and actors. Some to depression, some not. All huge losses that have left a profound silence behind.

I’ve explored the relationship between the artist and depression a few times in my blog postings (The Creative Soul and Depression, What Music is Supposed to Do, and With a Little Help from my Friends), trying to better understand this disease that seems more prevalent among our creative communities. I’ve struggled with depression and I know many other writers who’ve voiced the same struggle.

This year, depression left its mark on some loved ones very close and very dear to me. The only thing I know to do for them is to listen.

And listen some more.

Maybe throw in a few dozen hugs just for the hell of it. Anything to tell them that I know this sucks, that I love them, appreciate them, and that I’m in this with them for the long haul. I hope if you’re struggling with depression that you find someone to listen to you. Please don’t stop until you do.

I leave you with the words of Walt Whitman, which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll hear in your head read in the voice of  John Keating.

O Captain, my Captain! We will all miss you, dearly.

O Me! O Life!

O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I,

            and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle

             ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and the sordid crowds I see

            around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me inter-

           twined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring – What good amid these, O me,

             O life?

                                                  Answer

That you were here – that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

- Walt Whitman

Book Review – Wintergirls

bc-wintergirlsI love Laurie Halse Anderson. She is a fearless author who writes emotion so beautifully. I first read her novel SPEAK years ago and I still can’t get that book out of my head. I heard Anderson speak for the first time last summer at the SCBWI LA conference and got to tell her how awesome she was in person. Her keynote speech was one of the best of the conference and I was so inspired by her, I can’t even tell you. On top of that, she writes this story like she herself suffered through anorexia and had the words of a poet to make the reader know exactly what it feels like to be at war with your own body and to not be able to see yourself as you truly are. She has woven eating disorder pathology and effortless character voice masterfully into a story you just can’t put down.

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secrets,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

In her books like SPEAK and WINTERGIRLS, Anderson writes about scary topics and has her characters say out loud things that teens are thinking way down deep inside. She gives voice to the nightmares and the rages we may all have experienced and then helps her characters (and readers) see a way through to the other side. I could keep fangirling like mad or just let her words speak for themselves. Here’s a passage from the very beginning of WINTERGIRLS, on the morning Lia learns her former best friend is dead  - body found in a motel room, alone:

...When I was a real girl, with two parents and one house and no blades flashing, breakfast was granola topped with fresh strawberries, always eaten while reading a book propped up on the fruit bowl. At Cassie’s house we’d eat waffles with thin syrup that came from maple trees, not the fake corn syrup stuff, and we’d read the funny pages…

No. I can’t go there. I won’t think. I won’t look.

I won’t pollute my insides with Bluberridazzlepops or muffins or scritchscratchy shards of toast, either. Yesterday’s dirt and mistakes have moved through me. I am shiny and pink inside, clean. Empty is good. Empty is strong.

But I have to drive.

…I drove last year, windows down, music cranked, first Saturday in October, flying to the SATs. I drove so Cassie could put the top coat on her nails. We were secret sisters with a plan for world domination, potential bubbling around us like champagne. Cassie laughed.I laughed. We were perfection.

Did I eat breakfast? Of course not. Did I eat dinner the night before, or lunch, or anything?

The car in front of us braked as the traffic light turned yellow, then red. My flip-flop hovered above the pedal. My edges blurred. Black squiggle tingles curled up my spine and wrapped around my eyes like a silk scarf. The car in front of us disappeared. The steering wheel, the dashboard, vanished. There was no Cassie, no traffic light. How was I supposed to stop this thing?

Cassie screamed in slow motion.

::Marshmallow/air/explosion/bag::

When I woke up, the emt-person and a cop were frowning. The driver whose car I smashed into was screaming into his cell phone.

My blood pressure was that of a cold snake. My heart was tired. My lungs wanted a nap. They stuck me with a needle, inflated me like a state-fair balloon, and shipped me off to a hospital with steel-eyed nurses who wrote down every bad number, In pen. Busted me.

Mom and Dad rushed in, side by side for a change, happy that I was not dead. A nurse handed my chart to my mother. She read through it and explained the disaster to my father and then they fought, a mudslide of an argument that spewed across the antiseptic sheets and out into the hall. I was stressed/overscheduled/manic/no-depressed/no-in need of attention/no-in need of discipline/in need of rest/in need/your fault/your fault/fault/fault. They branded their war on this tiny skin-bag of a girl.

Phone calls were made. My parents force-marched me into hell on the hill New Seasons…

Cassie escaped, as usual. Not a scratch. Insurance more than covered the damage, so she wound up with a fixed car and new speakers. Our mothers had a little talk, but really all girls go through these things and what are you going to do? Cassie rescheduled for the next test and got her nails done at a salon, Enchanted Blue, while they locked me up and dripped sugar water into my empty veins…

Lesson learned. Driving requires fuel.

This is such a phenomenal and important book. It will move you; it will change you.

Learn more about Laurie Halse Anderson here.

Follow Laurie on Twitter here.

Follow Laurie on Tumblr here.

Why You Should Support Laurie Halse Anderson and her #Speak4RAINN Campaign

April is a popular month for causes. Maybe it’s because spring time brings a sense of hope with it, a renewed sense of purpose for those of us who spend the dark days of winter hibernating in our pajamas, feeling empty of all inspiration and will to live, like a used tube of toothpaste squeezed dry. The warmer, sunny days of spring fuel our ambitious natures once again and we remember that life is good.

Or maybe it’s just me and I’m part bear.

bc-speakHere we are with another cause that is close to my heart. So close to me in fact that I wrote a book about the subject – my current YA manuscript that’s out with agents now, Institutionalized; I’m not Crazy – but I digress.

This month is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a fantastic book about it, too. Since hers has already been published and since she has put her voice and extraordinary talents behind a campaign to help survivors of abuse, we should talk about her. I first read her book, Speak, about five years ago. What an emotionally gut-wrenching little tome that was.

Here’s an introduction to the plot:

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country. (Plot summary from author’s website.)

What the summary doesn’t tell you is that Melinda is unable to tell her friends why she called the cops. She cannot verbalize what happened to her. She then decides it’s safer to stop talking altogether to keep her world from completely falling apart. She instead begins to express herself through her art projects and diary entries. We as the readers can only watch her suffering from afar and wish that someone else knew her pain and was able to help her.

It’s a poignant and beautifully told story that every young woman (and dare I say it, even every young man) should read. And every parent should encourage a dialogue with their child about this subject so that they know that they don’t have to accept any unwanted violation of their own bodies and that they can report it and their parents will support them.

To learn more about RAINN (the Rape Abuse Incest National Network), visit their website here.

Laurie Halse Anderson is running a fund-raising campaign for this organization right now through April 29th, and her publisher Macmillan will match any donation up to a total of $10,000. You can’t beat that. I made a donation and you can, too. Even $10 will help someone through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-HOPE. To support Laurie’s #Speak 4RAINN campaign, follow this link here. You can follow the discussion about the campaign on Twitter at the hashtag, #Speak4RAINN.

I hope you’ll join us and speak up for those who can’t find their voice.

Learn more about Laurie Halse Anderson here.

Follow Laurie on Twitter here.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Stops By

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Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to other authors you can explore!

My gratitude to fellow author, Michelle Pierce, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following links to learn more about her at The Barenaked Critic.

In this blog hop, my fellow authors and I, in our respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our current book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek). We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write–the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Institutionalized: I’m not Crazy

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

While in college, I worked as a mental health tech with adolescents at a psychiatric treatment center. Once there was this young girl who came in, very calm and poised, from a local small town where her father was an important business man. She claimed from day one that she didn’t need to be there – that there was nothing wrong with her. Well, she seemed so sincere and she wasn’t violent or defiant with her peers or any of the staff; nothing on the surface pointed to her needing to be there. It really made some of us wonder if maybe she was telling the truth…at least for the first few days. Then the honeymoon was over. It still got me thinking about what it would be like for someone to be locked up inside who didn’t need to be there. Apparently that thought stuck with me.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Contemporary Young Adult

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ugh! This is always such a difficult thing for me to even wrap my head around. I ‘d have to lean toward Jennifer Lawrence playing the main Winters Bonecharacter, Sara, but not so much for her role in the Hunger Game – although she looks more the part in that one, physically. I thought she was great in that, don’t get me wrong, but she was just stunning and raw in Winter’s Bone.

I don’t even want to talk about what a mortifying thing it was trying to do a search for images of a male lead to play Matt, the love interest – yes, there can be love in the psych ward. Every option I even considered, when I’d look closer at them, I’d say, “Geez, he’s so much older than I thought” – don’t know what that says about me or our culture, not in the mood to tackle it. I decided to settle on a more busted version of Zac Effron, one who’s lived a little more, had life beat him up a bit. He’s just too damn…I don’t know, Disney?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sara Peterson, a 16 year-old girl admitted to Whispering Sands under false pretenses, has to navigate the unfamiliar and often violent world of true deviants and sociopaths by pretending to be one so she can get back home in time to save her sister from the real psycho in the family.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I hope to have my book represented by an agency. It is currently with an agent who requested the full manuscript at the SCBWI LA Summer Conference last August.

*fingers crossed*

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about a year and a half to get a complete draft, although the book was mostly finished long before that. I just couldn’t stop editing as I went along. From the very beginning idea – to writing those first ten pages to this last revision – it’s been about three years.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There are some great books set within an institutional setting that I would recommend, although mine obviously has that different slant with the sane person trapped inside. (I won’t mention the ones that got things so wrong they were laughable.) 

Funny StoryI enjoyed It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. His book is about Craig, a high-school junior in the gifted program whose infatuated with his best friend’s girl. When he realizes he’s suicidal, he checks himself into the psychiatric ward of a hospital, thinking they’ll do an observation, help him, and send him home in time for school the next day. Once in, however, he must stay for a week; the juvenile ward is being renovated, so he’s in with adults as well as a few youths. (Plot summary from IMDb.) Vizzini gives Craig a much calmer, less violent experience when he lets him stay on the adult unit, but his inner struggles and pain experienced in the book are no less complicated.impulseCvr

Another great book is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. Impulse is about is the story of three young people whose lives intersect in a psych hospital, after separate attempted suicides. It is about the things that brought them there, but more about the bond that forms between them. (summary from author’s website.) Hopkins always has such a great connection with characters and emotion. I love her. I also think that you must read her books in hardcopy. The way her poems are laid out add to her work and it just doesn’t translate well in electronic form.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have some very personal reasons for writing this story. It really had to be told. Seriously. The main character actually started shouting in my head – interrupting a perfectly good story I was already working on – demanding that I start telling her story instead.

So I did.

There were so many girls who came through the doors of the treatment center that broke my heart and toughened my skin to what this world sometimes holds for us, even for the young. I’ve thought about many of them over the years and hoped they made it through okay, although the odds were not in their favor.

And though this story is NOT about any of them directly, it was definitely inspired by many of them and by others closer to me.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Maybe a sample of the first few pages? These are new and no one except my family – not even my critique group – has seen them. 

CAUTION: There is some strong language – this is a young adult excerpt, after all.

Before

“I am so going to that dance! Could Dad be any more controlling?” I stormed into my sister’s room. She had better lighting and a bigger closet to raid. I headed into its depths to hunt down the most rebellious dress I could find.

“C’mon, Sara, do you have to do this?” Sam’s voice came muffled and weak from behind. “You know he’s going to be pissed.”

I popped my head out and smiled. “Only if he finds out and you’re going to cover for me.”

“Uhhh…”

“It’ll be easy.” I flipped through the hangers; all of the colors smashed together, everything smelling like Sam’s vanilla body spray. “You just tell him I’ve gone to bed early, pouting and not talking to him because he’s such an asshole –.”

“Sara!”

“Okay, you don’t have to tell him those exact words. You always know what to say to him. He listens to you. Me, not so much.” I held up a red, low cut dress. Sam shook her head.

“That would fall right off you and it’s the wrong color,” she said.

“Ouch.” I tossed the dress at her and dove back into the closet. “Wrong color”. I muttered under my breath wiped sweat off my upper lip. Like Sam ever had to worry about anything being the wrong color or falling off her perfect form. Sometimes it was hard being the lanky, athletic one. I dug deeper, passing the long-sleeved conservative numbers. Sam had to have something that would fit me and make me look just a bit dangerous. This was my one night of breaking the rules; I wanted to go all the way.

“Maybe…maybe you shouldn’t go,” Sam said. She was standing right behind me in the closet, rubbing her arms like it was cold. “Do you even know this Dylan kid?”

 “Ha! You sound just like Dad. Wait …you didn’t say anything –.”

“I-I didn’t. It’s just…”

“Jesus, Sam. You’re always telling me to be strong, independent, to stand up for myself – to everyone but Dad.”

“You know how he is – very stubborn, like someone else I know.” Sam handed me a delicate lavender dress with fluffy toile, not dangerous, but pretty. “Try this one.”

“Umm, thanks.”

 “Hey, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something.” Sam was sitting on the edge of her bed.

“Yeah?” I stood in front of her full-length mirror, holding up the dress. I hated to say it, but it looked really nice. I twisted and piled my wavy black hair on my head with my free hand, imagining it an up-do sculpture of fabulousness and not it’s usual tangled mess. “Hand me some bobby pins.” I reached my hand out.

She tossed me some bobby pins and then sat back down. “I, uh…shit.” Her hands twisted in her lap.

“Jesus, it’s not about using condoms again, is it? I told you if you kept bringing that crap up – slipping them in my purse, demoing proper use on the bananas, can’t eat them for breakfast without laughing, thanks! – I was going to become a lesbian.”

 “Shut up!” Sam threw several pillows at me, laughing.

I tossed the dress aside and retaliated. Then dismissed the fluffy pillows in favor of my favorite Sam torture and grabbed her just above the knee – the most ticklish spot.

“Damn it, Sara, quit!” Man, could she buck and fight when she wanted to. Elbow to the jaw, pow! I shook my head.

“Who’s the strongest?” I grabbed for her knee again.

“Oh, my God, you are Miss Psychopath, now get off!” Sam went limp.

Victory.

“Ugh, it’s freakin hot.” I turned on her ceiling fan and flopped down on the bed next to Sam. Sweat ran down through my hairline and into my eyebrows. I’d have to take another shower before the dance. “Here, let me share.” I ran my hand across my forehead and then wiped the sweat on Sam’s leg.

“Gah! You’re so nasty.” She threw her arm over me and squished me into a Sam hug. I missed this closeness. No one ever hugged me when she was gone, forget snuggling. Sam nudged my shoulder.

“Just…take care of yourself when I’m at school, okay?”

So there you have it! Half of the first chapter of Institutionalized: I’m not Crazy.

Let me know what you think! And be sure to visit my fellow blog hoppers next week.

And now to pass on the gauntlet.

Below you will find authors who will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books!

Happy Writing and Reading!

Stephanie Theban is one of my fantastic critique partners and she has a lovely blog at stories. read em. write em.

William Sells is a brand new writer friend who has a blog on his Goodreads author page.

And a late addition to the blog hop, but no less important, the ever fantastic Ms Cricket Muse! Please make sure you check out her site as well.

I can’t wait to see what these fantastic folks have to share with us next week.

Are There Really Perks to Being a Wallflower? A Contemplative Book Review

Perks of a WallflowerMy most recent WIP deals with some pretty heavy topics – sexual abuse, drug use, sociopaths up to no good, pre-marital what? – and it all takes place in a treatment center for teens. Needless to say, I’ve received some unusual must-read book recommendations from other writers when they’ve learned about the subject matter. I do love reading books that are similar to what I’m writing – it’s actually important to do this for many reasons, but I won’t go into that now; I’ve already talked about why as a writer you should read here and here.

Some of the suggested reads were fantastic, some were okay, and some were totally awful and unrealistic – having worked in a psychiatric facility with teens, it really makes me crazy (no pun intended) when someone who hasn’t done their homework spouts off a bunch of bullshit that a reader might actually take seriously. Sorry, major pet peeve.

I’ve also read so many depressing books over the past few years, that I think I need to write a romantic comedy for my next book. I’m in need of a little lightness of being, if you know what I’m saying. (Hint, hint: Give me some funny book suggestions – please!)

One recent book recommendation that came from several sources was a delightful surprise: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

standing on the fringes of life . . .

offers a unique perspective. but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

the perks of being a wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. the world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show.

of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

The voice of this story was so spot on.

We fumble right along with Charlie (whose name isn’t really Charlie, but it’s the only name we’re ever given) as he navigates his first year of high school, hoping to find a friend after his only friend committed suicide. We feel the awkwardness of his first relationship and the heartache of love unrequited. Charlie is such an unusual and memorable character. We can tell from early on that his brain doesn’t work quite like everyone else’s just by the way he describes the scenes of his life events; we as the readers get some of the social cues that he totally misses. We also are left to piece some things together that are too painful for Charlie to talk about. Once we do, his eccentricities and aggressive outbursts make a lot more sense. The music references added such a nice layer of detail and brought back so many memories. I love that the story is set in the 90s – well, it was written in the late 90s, so of course it felt authentic to the time – but whatever, the story still feels relevant for today.

What made this story so intriguing, so intimate, was the letter-writing format. Charlie can’t confide in anyone he knows, but he needs to get some things off his chest, so he writes about his life through a series of letters to an anonymous stranger that he heard others talk of fondly in passing. Somehow he thinks this means the person he’s writing to will understand him. This person is never named, only called, “Dear Friend”. Although some stories written in letter or diary format can lose a sense of closeness when we only “see” events after they’ve happened or learn about them through hearsay, this one does not let us down. I really enjoyed watching how Charlie’s letter-writing evolved throughout the story, once his English teacher tutors him, takes him under his wing, to expand on the innate ability he recognizes in Charlie.

An overall bittersweet, lovely story. Three thumbs up.

I know this was made into a film, recently, and now I can’t wait to see it. If for no other reason, to see how in the hell they translated this into a movie. That couldn’t have been easy.

Learn more about Stephen Chbosky here.

Shortly after starting this book, I came across this blog post at The Indextrious Reader’s blog.

She started a fairly painless, yet creative challenge for the new year postalreadingchallenge buttoncalled The Postal Reading Challenge which involves agreeing to read and review books about letters and letter writing; anything with a postal theme will do. You can find links from her blog with beaucoups de postal reading suggestions. You can also find the links list of all the other people participating in this challenge so you can check out their reviews.

There are many levels of participation. I signed up and aimed low so as not to overly stress myself. I hope to read and review at least four books with a postal theme before the end of December.  Why don’t you join us? Sounds like fun.

Nano, nano! novel retreat and #writemotivation

Nano! Nano! Greetings from planet Ork!

What? Too obscure a pop culture reference for a Monday? Too young to remember Robin Williams’s first major role?

Shazbot!

I got off topic again.

I should be talking about NaNoWriMo and how I’m doing with my writing project for the month. I’m excited to see I’ve made some new buddies (you can be my buddy, too – just search for my user name: litbeing.) and that they’ve been hard at work. I’ve made a small dent with 2,400 unedited words on the page. I have some catch up to do. I took a break over the weekend to attend a novel revision retreat put on by our hard-working SCBWI Oklahoma crew.

What can I say? They are outstanding. Did they let a little thing like a hurricane trapping one editor at her home and wrecking the flight plans of another editor stop them? Oh, no! They kept their heads. Flight plans were changed, Skype sessions were set up, and the show was back on. Bravo to Andrew Harwell with HarperCollins Children’s Books and Alexandra Penfold with Paula Wiseman Books for sticking with us through such difficult times and still being so gracious and amazing throughout the entire weekend. You’ve won over some die hard fans for life.

I had an excellent face-to-face critique for my middle grade mystery story that I recently pulled out of a drawer. I came away with several great suggestions and an offer to submit it when I’m done making those changes. Nice! I also received wonderful ideas from my critique partners, who were the most delightful people and made the weekend so much fun.

I love writing retreats. They are more laid back than conferences, and they are just so good for my mental health. I need time away from my hectic, demanding life to wallow in the literary and talk about the world of books. It recharges my artist’s soul.

The Pictorial Tour

The view outside my room – love me some pines trees. Forget stealing towels; if these had been smaller – and I’d remembered my shovel…BAM! Souvenirs!

Here’s Mr. Harwell schooling us in Marketing.

Some of the lucky writers who attended this intimate retreat. I had such a fabulous time with you all!

My friend, Gwen, who came away from the retreat smiling.

Our fearless leader, Anna, stopping to talk with a young writer.

Hearing what others have to say about your work isn’t always easy. After two days of critiques, it was time for a pint at a local brewery.

My lovely critique partners. Cheers!

The guys in our group – the crazy looking one is The Jerry Bennett, the illustrator. He’s currently working on his first graphic novel and I’m going to be interviewing him on this blog soon, so stay tuned!

I don’t want to forget my #writemotivation family; you guys are going to get me through my rough draft this month, right? I know I’ll be there for you. I’m gonna need your help cause my family ravaged my emergency candy bowl while I was gone and it’s half empty.

Defilers!

My goals this month will mostly tie into keeping up with NaNoWriMo. I don’t think I need more than that – after all, I’m not completely insane.

Here they are:

1. Write at least 12,000 words on nanowrimo project each week.
2. Write blog post at least once a week.
3. Read and comment on other blogs.
4. Exercise four times a week.

Simple, yes? I hope so. Let’s go be creative.

Nano! Nano!

With a Little Help from my Friends (It’s Getting Better)

I was really surprised by the response to my last post. I really appreciated all of the responses and felt less alone in my momentary darkened slump, however, I did feel that I must have hit a nerve about the lives of writers and how we all seem prone to fits of depression. Then I read several more posts from other writers about the same topic and I thought, “what is this, some sort of dark epidemic?”

No, not really.

My fantabulous father, ever the magnanimous therapist, even in retirement, put his mind to the problem and sent me some words of wisdom that not only made a world of sense, but calmed me right down. I thought I would share them. They came from a post from Elizabeth Moon, a science fiction/fantasy writer, see full post here.

One enduring myth is that creative genius and depression go together, and thus a writer who tampers with endogenous depression is going to damage her creativity. “I don’t want to be drugged into a numb state where I can’t feel anything,” says the suffering writer.

The facts are otherwise. Yes, writers do suffer from depression at a higher rate than the rest of the population. No, it doesn’t do their writing any good. Writers suffer from depression for all the usual reasons (innate biochemical susceptibility, early life experiences, etc.) but they also live lives full of contributing factors. Isolation, introspection, lack of physical exercise, irregular hours, less than perfect diet, and lack of exposure to sunlight–all may cause a depression, or worsen one. So also do financial and professional uncertainty–the lack of control of events which writers experience in every aspect of their work. To these, some writers add alcohol or drug addiction (yup, these do contribute to depression); others are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs which enhance any tendency to depression.

In fact, if you wanted to make a cheery person with no predisposition to depression depressed, you could stick him in front of a typewriter or computer for hours a day–feed him a typical writer’s diet–forbid him to exercise, isolate him from friends, and convince him that his personal worth depended on his “numbers.” Make him live the writer’s life, in other words, and watch him sag.

Sound familiar?

She goes on the recommend a book on cognitive therapy by David Burn called Feeling Good, which my dad said he used all the time and he highly endorses as well – can’t beat that. Since so many of you shared your feelings with me, I thought i should share this with you. Let’s all make an effort to get away from the isolation this week, maybe get out into the sunlight a bit.

For my part, I’ll  be out in the sun plenty today, slathered in SPF 1000, with a whole team of people walking for my son to raise money and

Our Team Last Year Ready to Race

awareness for autism in the 6th annual Ready, Set, Run Event – GO COMPANIONS OF TREVOR! Let me know how you plan on combating your writer’s depression.