Tag Archives: fear

Never a Dull Day

Warning: this post is LONG!  If you don’t want to read it all, link directly to certain sections here: Ready Set Write, ROW80 overall (triggers!) and ROW80 goals concise.

Second warning: this post may include triggers for people who’ve dealt with suicide and mental illness.


There’s this old saying…

May you live in interesting times….

I must say “No, but thank you” to whomever offered me this equivocal blessing.  My characters’ lives are interesting enough for me.  I don’t feel any need to change things up now.

Well, I do…  just in what Douglas Adams called “rigorously defined areas of doubt and uncertainty”.  I’m adding another writing challenge to my summer  excitement, the Ready. Set. Write!, a summer writing intensive that melds the goal setting and cheering of the ROW80 with a bit more of a “get a project done” push of writing challenges such as the many Fast Draft options out there.

So this is another two-fer post:

  •  a Ready. Set. Write! initial goal setting post
  • a ROW-80 check-in

Ready. Set Write!


RSW4The Ready. Set. Write is about goal setting and writing that story in your head that needs to find its way to the page.  It feels a lot like the ROW80 in that sense, just geared more toward weekly goal setting, and much briefer, once-weekly check-ins.  The basic rules are (mostly copied from RSW co-founder, Allison Miller’s blog):

At the start of each week, we’ll update our progress and set new goals using these headings in a check-in post:

  • How I did on last week’s goal(s)
  • My goal(s) for this week
  • A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised
  • The biggest challenge I faced this week (ie finding time to write, -getting sick, having writer’s block, etc)
  • Something I love about my WIP

We will keep our check-ins short (no more than a sentence or two per heading), and add our post to the group linky.

In that spirit, here is an overview of my RSW Work In Progress and a checklist of my goals for next week:

Getting my present WIP, Courting the Swan’s Song finished, and to beta readers would just make my summer.  A coming-of-age fantasy, CTSS is part of a larger series of books that I’ve been working on, where three people save their world through destroying it, by contacting an ancient enemy and by finding new homes in the stars.  Book 1, CTSS, deals with one of these three people: Alanii Vestimiir.

So my goals for this week are:

  • fully draft two main transition scenes in Courting the Swan Song
  • do read for consistency in in Book 1 and 3 regarding city description and Alanii’s exposure to Wanderer people
  • add to overall world map drawing; begin map of Darshaila

Simple enough in theory.  The first one has stumped me for weeks.  I don’t like writing transitions, scenes where even the characters seem to be trying to find ways to keep from being bored.  I know intellectually that these are great moments for character development and world-building, but knowing something and believing it are two different things.  So a challenge to be sure.

I have more goals than these as I also participate in the Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) challenge.  For the rest of my goals without a lot of reading, go to my concise ROW80 goals checklist…

ROW80 Check-in


The ROW80 touts itself as the Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life, and…  it was so nice to have Life happen and not feel like I was failing on all fronts.  It’s amazing what a little nice word in my pending comments was able to do when things fell apart around me on Friday.

I tossed around the idea of talking about what happened here (or anywhere beyond family and a few trusted friends).  It’s one of those things people wouldn’t have talked about when I was a kid.  Thing is…  I believe a lot of things these days are getting better because we talk about them more despite their disturbing nature: things like depression, domestic violence, child abuse, etc….

What happened was my son, the Boodle, helped himself to half a new bottle of acetaminophen (the cherry-flavored kids’ version that looks and tastes like candy), and while we were in the Emergency Room Friday morning, told the ER doctor that he wanted to die and was going to kill himself.

*blink blink*

1610935_10207369926113181_2911818854783318960_n

I’ll die if I don’t get it

Now, this isn’t the first time the Boodle has used this dramatic catch-phrase.  He’s written letters to Valve Software saying he would die if they didn’t create a Portal 3 game.  He’s made similar claims about  various books and movies he wants to see.  When he made a major faux-pas in one of his homeschooling groups and almost lost his friends, he claimed he wanted to die and not talk about what had happened (he was happy to find out that talking fixed the problem though).

So we’ve heard this phrase more than I care to admit lately.  The tone, the gestures, the situation..  none suggested actual danger given his past use of “I’ll die if” instead of something similar such as “I want to crawl under a rock”.

But I’m not a doctor in an Emergency Room dealing with a child that has overdosed on pain relievers.  The doctor, and then afterwards the social worker and the nurse,  and then the experts we had to see at the crisis ward of the local psychiatric center…  everyone acted as they had to, and we spent a very, very long day wondering if our son had done damage to his liver, having our daily life analyzed, and just wondering if we’d be able to go home as a family for the next week as inpatient care was discussed and insurance forms were filled out and bed counts were made…

I am worn out emotionally, still.  Both my husband and I are trying to figure out what we need to do next first.  Counseling is required (there’s a three-month waiting list at every place I called this morning unless there is a crisis, in which case… why did they send us home); changes all around…

…because we have to take such claims seriously (I first attempted suicide when I was eight… I survived, but some kids don’t), because there is a history of depression and suicide in my family, because the Boodle doesn’t always have a clear grasp of his actions and their consequences and will do things that can harm him without a second thought.

To the Boodle, that tween lament was no big deal, merely an expression of embarrassment and dismay when he had to explain why he didn’t go downstairs for supper (he told me later it was because he didn’t want to stop playing K’Nex and “Littlest Pet Shop in Minecraft in Real Life” to eat or do homework) and instead decided to get into a brand-new, (so-called) safety-sealed bottle of candy-flavored pills.

It was “no big deal”.

But big deals are made of small deals….

ROW80LogocopyAnd with that, I think I should get to my ROW80 check-in.  And about my goals?  I did what I could:

  • Writing — Managed a pile of writing on Thursday and some on the weekend
  • Time with characters/storyworld — So very, very little…  my head and heart just weren’t there
  • Pushups/general fitness — I’ve been a lump
  • Camera time daily — missed Friday (because of above) and Saturday for brain-drain; went out again last night (this morning) with the Boodle) for another photo session; posted photos from the first session for the First Friday Photo.
  • French and German daily 10 minutes — missed this Sunday
  • MOOCs — none; I may drop this goal for the summer

It’s been one helluva couple of days…  but we’re here.  All of us are safe, ….and we’re moving on.

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Sunday, Rainy Sunday

We so dearly needed the rain here…  not the way California needs rain, but on a pretty drastic level for this time of the year.  The change already is beautiful.  Since last night the grass has greened up; the air feels more natural…

Now…  it’s California’s turn.


Bo Staff (Wikimedia)

It’s been a rocky couple of days, mostly emotional rocks, for me.  I know I should be “beyond stupid kid crap” by now…  I mean, I’m 45 years old!  What should I care about teenagers howling out of a car?  Thing is…  it hurt, and it knocked me for more of a loop than I thought it would…  as much because I was angry that it did still affect me.

Oh, yeah, context…  Well, Friday, I took my bo staff with me when we went to my son’s school (I teach on Fridays, and since weapons class is Saturday mornings, I like to get at least one practice in during my freetime before classes).  Normally I practice on the lawn, but I elected to use the parking lot as I was wearing sandals (love my Dr. Scholls) and a dress this week and didn’t want to stumble in the uneven grass.

Anyway…  As I was doing my kata, some kids drove by and started laughing out the windows at me, then drove back to tell me how funny-looking I was…

It still sucks to even remember it.  And…  I don’t really know why, not anymore.  I know my teacher was impressed by my staff-work yesterday in class.  I know I am surrounded by supportive family members and classmates.  And….  I doubt they could have done as well.

But it still hurts….

ROW80 Check-in

ROW80LogocopyBut enough about me and my problems…  let me tell you about me and my goals!  😀

  • Writing — a little slack…  I did my OMW, and a lot of scene-planning for tomorrow’s start of JuNoWriMo
  • Time with characters/storyworld — A bit every day…  though some of involved daydreaming and not actual writing
  • Pushups/general fitness — three full hour classes of karate and weapons work, plus yard work, some push-up training…  my back kind of hurts now.
  • Camera time daily — missed yesterday…  and the Boodle is frustrated with me because I took an extra 20 minutes to get home after karate class on Friday to grab a sunset shot…  But I need to get ready for this month’s First Friday Photo
  • French and German daily 10 minutes — daily lessons/practice sessions…  missed yesterday 😦
  • MOOCs — nada  😦

I kind of flumped yesterday.  After class I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with the world….  that’s why crap like what happened on Friday really bothers me.  Because I know it’s not just me that gets torn down by such things.  Yesterday, I flumped, and I snacked and…  basically self-comforted, trying to lift my mood, when I shouldn’t have had to.  And…  I probably undid all the good of all that exercise by plowing through a whole bag of Utz Sour Cream & Onion potato chips, undid by a serious magnitude.

Anyway, pressing on…  How about you go visit some other ROWers.  I bet they need your cheering and support too.  We’re all in this together in this Writing Life.

Late Post Observations

Sunday Is Gloomy

Sunday Is Gloomy (Photo credit: Hamed Saber)[photo added because this excellent work suited my mood too well]

 For the last two weeks I’ve forgotten to…  well, not forgotten, but rather chosen to not write a Some Thing 4 Sunday post.  The chaos and crazy at our house is settling however, and it’s time to make a post, even if I must post it late.  Time to make a post before the habit kicks in and starting myself up again gets harder.

So, while I am nowhere near to processing the wealth of information and emotional reactions I’ve accumulated on child abuse and cults these past few weeks, let me share a some of what drew me to the project in the first place.

∴ ∴ ∴

Her name is Atyr.  She’s a character in my story universe, and back in high school when we first “met”, her hurt and fire resonated deeply.  Before long her story became a catharsis, where I hid my own feelings and denied my experience  as worthy of notice or comment.    Until the triggers made it impossible to even write her story because I’d buried so much…

bright red hair_mirror

bright red hair_mirror (Photo credit: M Aze)

I didn’t worry at the time.  I had a lot of characters and a lot of stories to write after all.  And conventional wisdom in the publishing world said I shouldn’t trap myself to a single genre (or worse a single story or character).  I knew I needed to “grow” as a writer, and figured I must have grown beyond writing Atyr.

Knowing I wouldn’t have to face the feelings of shame, loss and soul-deep hurt that came when I touched Atyr’s character deeply made me almost sigh with relief.  And I quickly looked away to other possibilities.

But Atyr wouldn’t let me go.  And my other characters wouldn’t let me let her go either.  They kept revealing connections to her, stories, memories, affections and anger, confusion…  but I couldn’t connect those pieces without touching my psyche more directly.

Happy Family

Happy Family (Photo credit: iLikePhotos!)

So I tried a different tactic.  I tried flash fiction pieces, I tried not-quite-personal posts that dealt with an instance of my life, but didn’t deal with me too closely …  I wrote poetry, took pictures…  escaped into the world of performing the character I’d cast for myself.  I wasn’t a girl who’d never grown up, I wasn’t lost in the world scared to look in the mirror or draw attention to myself…  not me.  I was traveled, experienced, creative, friendly,  helpful, out-going…  I was h….a…p..P.Y.

Thing is, masks come off, and I was taking mine off with the few people I was comfortable with (my husband, my best friend…) which added stress to those relationships.  Stressed, unhappy and… afraid, I was no state to be a fair partner or friend (I still wonder how I deserve such wonderful people in my life, especially for putting up with me for so long).

Things came to a head when I let myself go for a NaNoWriMo.  I let myself go, and Atyr took over.  I plowed through 60,000 words in two weeks sitting in Panera, gesticulating, writing, spilling out feelings of abandonment, of emotional and physical pain, of confusion with outside expectations, image issues, of tears and blank stares, of self-mutilation… of invisibility and the being object of scorn and disgust.  Of never being good enough….

Ever have one of those cries that leaves you feeling so drained you doubt you could shed another tear?   A cry so exhausting that you can’t move afterward?  Tears that surround you in flood-waters washing away the world beneath your feet?

60,000 words of a character’s story opened a floodgate within myself, and I’m still trying to find some stable, dry land.

It took me almost three years to look back at that notebook, because I put so much of myself in it.  Not in words related to my experience….  and sometimes not in Atyr’s as my truth escaped onto the page.

The happy family ... "food4horse"!

The happy family … “food4horse”! (Photo credit: occhiovivo)

Since opening those pages, I’ve slowly explored the story within.  I’ve read stories by others who’ve suffered abuse, emotional and physical, to learn how they face each day after accepting what they’d lived through.  I’ve tried to understand how these things can happen in loving families with caring parents or in schools or communities or…

…how we can become the monsters we fear so easily.

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