Category Archives: Depression

Three Things Thursday on Friday

From my dear Cheryl:

Sometimes I think we put a little too much of our real life into our stories. I know my first draft characters always  come out too much like me. It’s good, in a way, to model characters after real people, because it makes them relatable. On the other hand, real people are boring. 

So switch it up a little. Maybe she has an aunt that works as a psychic. Or a dog that’s famous in town for having saved the life of a Boy Scout. Or maybe her dad keeps a pet alligator in the bathtub. Don’t ever limit yourself to reality. The whole point of fiction is to escape reality. We might as well have a little fun doing it.
And my dear Brenda:
Last Saturday I helped at the “Spring Into Books” Event held at the Viridian Event Center.  This was started by the Oquirrh Chapter of the League of Utah Writers.  The year before they had held a “book signing” event, mostly populated by chapter members. This year they began, in the first meeting of the planning “committee” (of which I was a member, and dragged my husband into it as well), to expand their idea.  It just kept getting bigger and Bigger and BIGGER.  One of the committee is on the board for the Viridian — and said he could get the venue for free.  Eventually, we were co-sponsored by SL County Library System, West Jordan Arts Council, Jordan School District, Salt Lake County and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Best guesses to date are that 58 authors were there to sign books for the approximately 1,000 people who showed up (I’ve seen guesses of 200+ more than that).  Authors rented tables or half-tables to show their wares  And admittance was FREE.

Kids were entertained with games, prizes, a clown making fantastic balloon animals, flowers, and tiaras, free popcorn and so much else. One genius came up with a “scavenger hunt” list of items to find: soccer ball, mermaid or merman, a dragonfly, a candle, etc. All of them items pictured on various authors’ covers. If a child could get initials from each of the authors that he’d seen their cover, he could show it at the front desk to receive a free, colorful pencil.  Simple, but tremendously popular.

Just under 20 authors took a 20 minute slot to read to interested parties from their books.  That ran, like the entire event, from 3pm to 7pm.  Another room had hourly round-tables: 5 separate tables, where audience members could listen to authors on a variety of subjects, or come watch an illustrator and hear what his/her job entailed.

The Copper Hills H.S. poetry-slam group performed from 5 to 6 pm.  They are an award-winning group (and there’s already been SOME talk of including a poetry-slam contest next year).
There were also hourly drawings for various prizes, a choice between a free book or a T-shirt with writerly notes printed on them.
Every “sponsoring” entity sent people to  check on the event, to see if they would still  be interested in sponsoring next year.  ALL of them have put in a “We want to help next year” — and there are talks of making it even bigger — which we’ll need, if this kind of response repeats itself.
It will probably be held about the same time of year — You Will Want To Be There — late March of 2016, or so.  Watch for it in the newspapers, on TV, through online announcements, etc., and come join us as we Spring Into Books!
Brenda
And from me:
Today, I’m going to plant flowers with my youngest.
I need to. I’ve been writing a book that has brought some icky parts of my past to the surface, and I’ve been sad. This compounds my already depressed mood.
It’s okay, though, to lift my face to the sun. Dig in the dirt. Paint a room a bright color.
This part of my life is over. And yes, it still touches me, wrapping memory around my heart and lungs. But. But now I can write it down. Loose it a little. Maybe free myself from some of the anguish.
How does writing help you?

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Three Things Thursday

Carol

 

I’ve been complaining of how hard of a life I’m having lately. I keep waking up sobbing and that sets my days off for deep sadness. Keep having the nightmares.  I think those are tied closely to my anxiety because of the way I feel when I’m waking. I’ve tried turning things over to God, have let many things go, have chewed my nails off. Nothing seems to help.

This happens in life. We know this. And when you’re a writer (or anyone for that matter) you need support. People who sorta know what you’re going through, pull their part of the weight, listen to you, request to read your work, say, “I’ll pray for you.”

I may have already said this, but as forgetful as I am, I can’t remember (I feel I may have).

Anyway–

Thank you Cheryl and Brenda.

Every week–early–these two beautiful, busy, kind, good and caring women send a hint for Thursday.

I’m not so sure I’ve told you what a relief it is not having to worry about posting a couple days a week. You all have helped me so much.

You always send your posts. Many times you check in on me.

Your comments are always excellent and I learn from them each week.

Everyone should have the Brendas and the Cheryls in their lives. And we each need to be aware when we should be a Brenda or a Cheryl, too.

 

Brenda

Our trip to “see family” in Alabama will close this coming week. My husband’s family has always had what they call “Sloppy Luck.” To explain: Herb’s brother was coming to their sister’s house to celebrate Mother’s Day with their 88-year-old mother who lives with sister and her husband. His vehicle broke down on one of the major BUSY thoroughfares in Birmingham. A nephew happened to be going in the opposite direction — 8 lanes away — yet managed to turn around and go help him push the car off to the side. Another relative happened to have a tow truck available, and went and picked up the car later. We were already at “Mom’s,” so Herb went to pick his brother up — easy to find because he was only about 2 stop lights away from the motel we’re staying in. “Arnold Sloppy Luck” at work.
While we’ve been here Herb’s sister, a yoga instructor, has had her rotator cuff (which was operated on just before we arrived) checked out: it’s doing well. The power went out at sister’s place a couple of night’s later, and the power company couldn’t find where the fix was needed. Sister knew, directed them, and the power was restored in the middle of the night. Before morning, Mom got out of bed, fell and broke her leg: AFTER the power was restored, so they were able to find and get medical help out there and transport her to a hospital — without the power restored, it would have been SO much more difficult. Plus, we’ve been here to visit Mom, give rides & support to brother, support family, instead of being thousands of miles away. “Arnold Sloppy Luck” again.
You probably can’t use their “Arnold Sloppy Luck,” (maybe they’ve already got the name as a franchise of some kind), but why not “Johnson Sloppy Luck,” “Weinstein Sloppy Luck,” or “Bronsen Sloppy Luck” in your story? What “Happy Coincidences” might spark up a scene, a character, an event? And HOW do you keep it from seeming all TOO coincidental?
This is the way life IS in the Arnold family !
Cheryl
Earlier this week, a friend and I had a “spirited debate” about whether a story was plot-driven or character-driven. 

My opinion (or, you might say, the correct opinion, hee hee) was that it was plot-driven when it should have been character-driven. Events happened to the character that forced him to react in the only way anyone would. Yes, many acts required intelligence, bravery, and an ability to deceive. But the character never grew or changed. Even the romance developed as a natural consequence to the plot, and the main character never showed any real emotion or desire to be in the relationship.
It isn’t enough to focus your entire story on the actions of one character. The story needs to follow the inner growth of the character, the character should not simply change because of external influences. Do not allow your character to be a Mr. Potato Head, with the outside emotions changing but nothing happening at the core.

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Filed under Depression, Plot, three thing thursday, writing process

Today is the Beginning of Summer

For me, I mean. School’s out. I just have to submit grades.

And, as with any beginning, I have my goals.

The biggest goal of all is to enjoy.

Enjoy.

I’ve never allowed myself to just live.

 

And I haven’t had the best of times the last few months. I’ve let this influence me. The sadness. The heartbreak.

Before me now is five months–with WIFYR (www.wifyr.com) stuffed in the middle–of enjoying being with Carolina. Taking a trip with a few of my girls. Polishing and organizing. Visiting Rick. Catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while. And writing.

How I love writing. And hate it, too.

And how I love rewriting.

How I love sexy new projects.

I’ve got all that before me.

Plus, guess what? I even jogged today. Not very far. And real slow. R-E-A-L slow. So slowly that Carolina walked beside me and said “Mom. ” And I was like, “Run. A. Head. Pl. Ease.”

I have second hand smoker’s lungs (thanks southern family o’ mine) and so I can’t breathe easily. Is this why I’ve had the cough now for years? (This better not be serious–but the allergy pills didn’t help. The asthma stuff didn’t help. The cough medicine didn’t help.)

 

What’s before you?

Is it dark?

Can you find light in that darkness?

Is it joy?

Does it include children? Lovers? Books? Friends? Food? Serving? Being served?

 

Perhaps is should include all of that.

And a good dog.

 

 

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Writing Through the Hard Times

As many of you know, my dear friend–our dear friend–Rick Walton, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called gliosarcoma. I’m heartbroken. Every conversation is about Rick and my worry and concern and sorrow. Anytime anyone asks me how I am, I want to say, “Not so great. My friend is really sick.” (Sometimes I do speak of this, sometimes I don’t. But I want to, every time.) As I sit here now, I’m having difficulty breathing. My eyes fill with tears. I’m worried and misspelling things–typing more badly than I usually do.

Part of me wants to sob–has been sobbing. Every day since the diagnosis. All day on Thursday. Any time I allow myself. Now.

I want to cry out to God. And I have. Tell Him how unfair this is. How, for the last nine + years, Rick has been so ill with Parkinson’s. AWFUL things happening with him. Why this, now? Why this, too? He wants to get married again. He wants chocolate ice cream. He wants to be able to talk, not just whisper in my ear over and over and over until I understand him.

Yes! I know this is the way of things. This is life. “Every true story ends in death,” Ernest Hemingway said. But I don’t want it to. In the last few months good friends have lost lovers, fathers, spouses and children. I know this is life!

 

A few months back, I was shaken up by something in the family that knocked my footing loose. I was sobbing all the time then, too. I became so sad I couldn’t write. In fact, I didn’t write fiction for almost three months. When more bad news came, I was brought to my knees. At the beginning of this family thing, I was too anxious to write. Then the desire to write left. I realized I had to repair my heart. Or at least try to.

I’m not a scientist, nor do I claim to be one. Going through grief is different for all of us. But looking back, this was my process during those three-ish months when I couldn’t write like I wanted. It may be different during this newer sorrow. I don’t know. Each grief is personal.

Be patient. You will write again.

If the urge comes, be ready. Don’t worry about how well you’re writing. Just write.

Push yourself a little if it feels okay to you. Five minutes might be all you do. Or you may sit at the computer and do nothing. That’s what I did. Sat there. It was how I pushed myself. It was all I could do.

Do only what’s necessary. I graded student papers and fell exhausted onto the sofa. I made short work of the extra work my teaching job brings.

Count all writing as writing. I wrote for the blog even when I couldn’t write fiction. I wrote a few words–or no words at all–with Ann Dee on our book. I took days off. I didn’t write on Sundays. I counted tweets. (Not so many of those as I still don’t know what I’m doing on Twitter!)

Think about your work. How was going I to end that middle grade I started a couple of years before? What about the book for Zondervan? That needed a huge rewrite. How would I get through that?

Let your brain help you through. I’ve solved more writing problems not thinking and worrying over them, but letting the troubles stew in the back of my head. When I get to the part of the book that’s troubled me, many times it’s worked out because my brain did the work when I wasn’t fretting over it.  I see the way.

Do that thing, whatever it is, that lets your mind veg. For me, that’s TV. For some, it’s cleaning. For some, it’s reading. (I had a hard time reading fiction, too, so this wasn’t a help for me.)

Complain. I bet my friends are good and sick of me. I whine a lot. About everything. And while I usually keep my mouth shut about serious family issues, this time I talked. A lot. Too much.

Shut up. I don’t even need to give an explanation for this.

I relied on God. No, the problems didn’t go away. I didn’t expect them to. But believing, having faith, hoping, it’s important to me. I needed that foundation to stand on.

 

So

These are just off the top of my head–some things I see when I look back over my life these last few hard, heartbreaking months.

By the way, when I finally eased back into my writing at the end of the three months, I finished two novels and began editing two more. I’m not sure if I could have pushed myself and written straight through my grief. Maybe I could have. But I didn’t have the creative energy I needed to even try. (Maybe just pushing along, no matter how hard, will work for you.)

Here’s another truth for me, for now: I know Rick wants me to keep on writing. “We’re going to make a million dollars,” he used to tell me. “We’ll build a writing commune. We can live there and writers can come and stay and create.” In fact, we spoke of this not so long ago.

Oh, Rick.

How I want that. With you. How I do.

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Family, Life