Tag Archives: Depression

Post-NaNo Failure Funk, Revisions Funkadelic?

It’s been 25 days since I last wrote a blog post, 41 days since I worked on revisions for Arcana Revived, and 16 days since I last did any writing for my #NaNoWriMo project. I ended NaNo with only about 35,000 words, my worst performance yet. To say I’m in a funk is, frankly, an understatement.

There’s plenty of reasons for it. Compared to this time last year I’m at a new job, in a new relationship, and no longer in college. Things have been rather topsy-turvy for awhile now, and it’s taken awhile to get settled into a new routine. One where I’m no longer fretting about whether the rent will be paid next month, and where I know for sure that there will be food on the table. That sort of thing makes a big difference.

I’ve missed a number of self-imposed deadlines. I do a lot better when someone else is imposing a deadline on me, like when I was in college. Part of the reason that I’ve written six first drafts of Arcana Revived books already is because I was writing a lot of them as class projects, such as my master’s thesis project. After I lost that structure and got out of the academic routine, it became a lot harder to keep focused.

Hopefully I can make some changes soon and get back into a groove again. I was doing a good job writing almost every day during NaNoWriMo. I earned a lot of stickers (one for every 1000 words). I haven’t earned any stickers all month so far, though this blog post counts as one (one blog post = 1 sticker). So hopefully I can fill my calendar with stickery goodness and get back into the groove. We’ll see how it goes.

If it goes well, expect more regular blog posts again. I enjoy blogging about my writing and revision progress, and the feedback I get on these posts tends to help keep me in the zone.


mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Labels and Corn

I don’t have a lot to say in this post, mostly because I’m physically unable to type most of it without being overwhelmed by anxiety. You see, I live in a constant state of being afraid to tell people who I really am. Being closeted like this isn’t fun. But since I constantly see people making horrible hurtful attacks against anyone who doesn’t conform to the binary heteronormative standard, I end up having to keep silent.

So here’s the short version.

I suffer from serious depression, and its roots are directly tied to the issues I won’t be getting into. My depression has led to suicidal thoughts in the past, and one actual suicide attempt. I am forced to suppress certain aspects of my identity in order to avoid conflict, and that is a daily struggle. It becomes a bigger struggle when certain individuals who claim to be defending marginalized groups do so by excluded other marginalized groups.

Don’t make assumptions about who someone is. You have no right to label another individual. Maybe they’re not who or what you think they are. And maybe if you actually understood who they are, you’d realize that all of the assumptions you’ve made about them are completely wrong. Making assumptions about anyone in any situation is bad, but it’s even worse when those assumptions don’t apply by default because the person in question isn’t even a part of the group you’ve lumped them in with.

Maybe the way you make those assumptions is part of why they wish they could stop pretending to conform. Maybe the exact way that you label them is part of what they hate about themselves, because they hate being seen by that false label, and want to show their true inner self. Maybe you make it harder for them to ever come to terms with their true self because of your irresponsible behavior. Maybe you’re silencing them and making them even more afraid of ever speaking up.

And maybe, once you learned the truth about this person, you’d realize how wrong everything you said to them was, because it was all based on your perceptions of the person; perceptions which aren’t true. And just maybe, that’s all the more reason not to make broad generalizations about any one group, because the person you’re talking to might not actually be a part of that group after all.

Maybe they’ve actually had to fear for their life just by being out in public. Maybe they’ve had panic attacks. Maybe they sometimes regret ever trying to be themselves, because being who they are means being a target. Maybe they’ve broken down crying in a parking lot because they were too afraid of the people inside the building. Maybe they’ve heard stories about people just like them being assaulted, murdered, or worse just because of who they are.

Labels are bad. Corn is good. I found my corn today, and it’s the only reason I’m able to write this right now. If you don’t know what I mean by “corn,” you should read this article on depression, which pretty much sums up my life.

Next time you think about accusing someone of not understanding your perspective, stop and think about theirs. It may not be what you assumed. They may have gone through things you could never understand.

And maybe they see brave people who share their true selves and fight for equality, they build up their courage, they’re almost ready to speak up, and then you destroy that by attacking and silencing them based on your flawed perspectives and false labels.

And that’s just sad.

New Year, Three Weeks Late

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed an extreme lack of blog posts lately. I blame a combination of depression, unemployment, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not necessarily in that order).

Today is the first day of the new semester at Rowan University. The last semester before I get my master’s degree. After a month off, I really need to be back in school. I find I don’t do well without some sort of schedule or routine to keep me in check. The result is lots of lazing around, playing video games, and not doing any work on my revisions. Feel free to berate me about that last one in order to get me back on track.

It also leads to quite a few days where I say “I should write a blog post today,” then I end up not writing one. Mostly because it’s hard to find inspiration in a bag of Doritos and a Final Fantasy marathon. Those things are, however, chock full of calories and ennui.

On an up note, I’ve been talking to several people this past week who told me they finished Manifestation. Tock seems to be a fan favorite. I suppose that’s what happens when I take a cross between Kaylee and Agatha Heterodyne and give her flashy magic powers and a bad attitude. She’s quite neat.

I suppose that about covers what I’ve been up to. Hopefully today will be the real start of the new year for me. Though I do still have a princess to track down in FFIX, so I may be otherwise occupied.

Shadow

Shadow”
By Gabriella Palladino

I saw my own shadow today
We sat under a tree
She didn’t have that much to say
Yet still she sat by me

I talked to her of how I’ve sinned
And fear my heart’s turned black
I couldn’t tell if she listened
For she said nothing back

But I kept talking anyway
Although I must confess
The more my shadow didn’t say
The more I was a mess

I cried, I pleaded, begged her to
Give me just one word back
I cried out “What is wrong with you?”
My hand swung with a smack

And then my shadow laughed at me
My hand passed right on through
Beyond my tears I then could see
She had more than I knew

She had such calm, truth, love, and peace
No nightmares plagued her sleep
But me, my tears, they never cease
For me, the pain runs deep

How can my shadow be so free?
With laughter, love, and life?
If she but lives as part of me
And all I know is strife?

All of these questions plagued my heart
I couldn’t help but ask
“Could it just be, you play a part?
Your laughter’s just a mask?”

“Do you still hide from your worst fears
Your worries and your doubt?
Does your laughter hide endless tears?
Your smile hide a pout?”

And then my shadow shook her head
She laughed at what I asked
She looked me in the eye and said
“You are the one who’s masked”

And then I realized it was true
The mask was on my face
My shadow saw it, and she knew
She’d put me in my place

My shadow was the mask I wore
Her darkness cloaked my soul
And it would still be long before
I ever became whole

To my shadow, I bowed my head
As a smile crossed her face
She knew my tears had to be shed
I felt her cool embrace

She held me closely while I cried
And whispered a sweet prayer
For all my loved ones who had died
And one who was still there

And then I slowly closed my eyes
And cried myself to sleep
My shadow held me like a prize
That she would always keep

But when I woke, the night had come
My shadow was no more
My body shivered, I was numb
Rain had begun to pour

And in that rain I stood alone
I let it wash me clean
Of all the sorrow that I’d known
And horrors that I’d seen

Now my shadow is still inside
I wear the mask no more
I will not run away or hide
From what has come before

And next time my shadow is near
I’ll lend to her my praise
Her judgment I’ll no longer fear
I won’t avoid her gaze

My shadow is a part of me
One piece out of the whole
Just as darkness will always be
In my eternal soul

Peace

“Peace”
By Gabriella Palladino

I think I might find peace today
If I don’t miss my chance
A time to wish, to hope, to think
That it was happenstance

Yes, I’ll search for peace, and say
That I won’t miss this chance
It’s time now for me to believe
There’s no fate, just circumstance

That the thing which led my way
Was just the Jester’s Dance
That never was my path preset
That I always stood a chance

So I’ll find peace, and hope, and pray
That darkness won’t advance
I’ll search and seek for a new path
But then, like shattered glass

My hope is gone, it floats away
Before I catch a glance
It’s lost and now there in its place
Is an empty vast expanse

For it is lost to me, always
And forever peace will pass
It runs far off and will not stay
For me, the pain must last

Forever, always there is no way
For fate has made its stance
It is my path, and my own curse
To suffer, til the last

And so I go on, day by day
A pawn of circumstance
Cursed, beholden to my fate
And haunted by my past

And so I wander, my feet I lay
Each step after the last
On this path I cannot leave
The path of Fate’s cruel dance

And so I’d take this chance to say
“I’m sorry”, but it’s passed
The time to say it long since gone
I must have missed my chance

And you I’ve wronged, I hope one day
You’ll get your own true chance
For peace, for love, for all the things
That I stole from our shared past

I can’t imagine any way
To ask your forgiveness
Should I kneel, and pray, and beg?
Like confession after mass

No, I think that I’ll just stay
Far off from your cold glance
And I’ll hold my secret pain
And always keep distance

I thought I might find peace today
But it seems I’ve lost my chance
I wonder if I ever will
Find peace, or hope that lasts?

No, I won’t find peace today
Not ever, not a chance
And even if that peace was offered
I think I’d let it pass

Editing and Depression

Editing is a lot like depression.

Explaining depression to people who haven’t experienced it isn’t easy. Mostly because half the time I don’t even understand it myself. The last therapist I spoke to told me my depression was episodic, that it would wax and wane like any other mood. Except this is a lot deeper. I could say it’s like imagining a bad day that goes on for so long that it’s no longer definable as “bad.” It’s just the way it is.

There’s a website with a good explanation that I found tells the story of depression better than I can express. Though it’s related to what I said awhile back about the Midnight Disease. There’s times when I’m so obsessed about and focused on a piece of writing that I barely sleep, that I ignore other responsibilities, and I put everything else on hold until I finish what I’m working on. Then, when it’s finished and the focal point of my life is over, I’m left lost and adrift. I sink back into the depression again and I have no energy or motivation to do . . . anything.

Tuesday I finished the first draft of the fifth book of Arcana Revived. I was in such a rush at the end that I wrote about 10,000 words each two days in a row, cramming the last 20k of the novel in a mad rush at the end. It’s been four days since then, and this blog post is one of the first things I’ve written during all that time. Four days straight without writing is rare for me, and I know it’s because I’ve burned through whatever energy I had.

My next goal is to continue the edits on Manifestation. I’ve been working on them for the last couple of months while continuing my writing at the same time, but now I’ve fallen behind. Trying to get the motivation to start editing is hard when I’m suffering through a bout of depression. Part of it is because dealing with editing can be a lot like the listlessness that comes with depression.

(I bet you were wondering when I was going to start linking the two things together.)

If writing a first draft is like the mad rush and excitement of a new beginning, editing can be a tedious, day-by-day continuation of the same thing for a long period of time. It’s the “hard work” part of writing, where you need to go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. There comes a point where you’ve re-read the same passage so many times that it starts to feel a little bland. It’s like the imagination and excitement are gone.

If you read the page on depression I linked to, you might see the connection here to what the article says about losing the joy in playing with your toys. There’s times where it feels like you’re just going through the motions.

I’m not sure what the solution or cure is, or if there even is one. My current plan is to just keep pushing onward, day after day. But it reminds me of something I wrote for a grad class last year. How sometimes “even hopelessness falls by the wayside when boredom takes over, and you realize that it’s time to get back up and brush yourself off. Not because you want to. Not because you’ve recovered. But because what else is there to do? Nothing, except to keep walking. Sometimes there’s no other choice but to push through and come out stronger on the other side.”

So I’m going to keep on walking, or editing, as the case may be. Because the alternative is to give up and let depression win, and if I did that, Manifestation would never be finished. And that’s not an option. So I’ll keep editing.

In the meantime, here’s the full piece that quote came from. It’s a meta-analytic story called “Gabby & I”:

Gabby & I

Gabby is the poet. I am the author.

Her life is the one I write about. She lives it; I put it on the page. Every tragedy, every tear, every first kiss in a fresh draft seems so new to her. Yet I have seen them each again and again with every revision. Part of me is in her, but it is her that is in the story.

Yet there are times in the story where she is the one who picks up the pen. She is a poet, a creator of her own words. She writes, and the words on the page change from she to I. Her voice comes out, and mine is suppressed. The narrator flees as the words become her diary, her escape from the tragedy of her life, and she pours her heart onto the page. I no longer recognize myself in those words. It’s as if I’m no longer there. She has been released into the page, set free to express her deepest secrets, desires, doubts, and fears:

I thought I might find peace today
But it seems I’ve lost my chance
I wonder if I ever will
Find peace, or hope that lasts?

No, I won’t find peace today
Not ever, not a chance
And even if that peace was offered
I think I’d let it pass

Her poems carry emotions that are not mine. Yet those emotions are so real. People tell me her poems make them cry, and they ask what inspired them. All I can answer is, “Her life.” She uses her writing to express the pain that my writing has brought into the story of her life. Her experiences give her inspiration I cannot claim as my own. When I read her poems, her words bring tears to my eyes. I feel the loss that I have written into her life. I see her loneliness and know that my pen is to blame. I see her cries for help, and know I cannot give her the release that she wishes for. I feel guilt reading her poems, knowing the pain that inspired these words:

Oh, dearest Lord, I beg you please
To you I pray, here on my knees
Forgive my sins, and my mistake
Forgive the life I had to take

Forgive my heart, forgive my soul
And know it never was my goal
To take a life with my own hand
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be damned

I feel shame, knowing that people will read her poems as mine. I know they will look on me with sympathy. They will think I am the one who lived through such loss. They have even thought that it was I, not her, who considered ending it all. That her cries for help were my own.

Maybe they were.

Looking back on those poems, I see a darkness. One that might bring concern, and make others question the writer’s safety. Just as they did when she wrote “I may just do it anyway.” I see poems that speak of blood soaking the ground. The devil’s grin. The emptiness of a soul torn away as hands grasped in the air, trying not to let it go. Someone lost, dropping to their knees, perhaps in surrender, perhaps in prayer. Masks of shadow worn for an entire whole lifetime, torn away until you must face what was hidden underneath. Unmasked, shoulders slumped in defeat, letting the chance for peace slip away. I see a writer left worn raw, exposed to the cruel elements after that mask was torn away. I see a writer lost, with nothing but her words to guide her. I wonder if these will guide me:

So many things are gone today
So much taken from me
So what is left, except to pray?
Whatever can it be?

My words, forever shall they stay
With them I’m always free
The one thing they can’t take away
Because they’re part of me

There can be no darkness without light, and there can be no fall without a rise. Sometimes it just depends which comes first. These poems show the fall. More than anything the fall. Down deep into the dark ravine in a shrouded forest, where Gabby ran and hid. Just as I once had, a child fleeing into the woods to hide from those who didn’t understand me. I came back home each night, hiding no longer than it took for the sun to fall and my stomach to grumble. She had no such luxury; her home was lost and her family slain by her own mistakes. Her path continued onward into the darkness. She fell to her knees in the mud at the bottom of that ravine. It was a place I knew well. A place where I fell to the ground and gave up. A place where she was left with nothing but tears, cold, and the empty stars above. A place with no strength to continue on. Some might say that climbing back out of that place takes courage, or determination. But sometimes all it takes is the fact that you have nothing else to do. Kneeling there, in a wet ditch, without hope, we realized that staying there was pointless and boring. Even hopelessness falls by the wayside when boredom takes over, and you realize that it’s time to get back up and brush yourself off. Not because you want to. Not because you’ve recovered. But because what else is there to do? Nothing, except to keep walking. Sometimes there’s no other choice but to push through and come out stronger on the other side.

I went home. She kept moving onward:

And then I slowly closed my eyes
And cried myself to sleep
My shadow held me like a prize
That she would always keep

But when I woke, the night had come
My shadow was no more
My body shivered, I was numb
Rain had begun to pour

The rain began to fall. She let it wash her clean. This was her turning point, when the words in her poems became stronger. “Bravery is just a word,” she writes through my pen. Just a lie you wear to tell yourself that you can do this, that you can continue on. A cloak you wear to dress up in a warrior’s clothes and pretend you’re something more than a lost writer, searching for purpose. The thing is, though, that cloak starts to feel pretty comfortable after awhile. That armor starts to feel right. It starts to feel real. And so her poem says, “Hold nothing back.” She strides forward. She finds that the bravery she wore, first as a lie, really settles in around her shoulders once she stops holding back. It grows comfortable there and decides to stay for awhile. Lie to yourself long enough, and you start to forget what the truth is. Sometimes I start to forget which one of us found the truth: me or her? Author or poet? Which one of us took off the mask? Which one of us put on the cloak? She wrote that poem, she declared “I’ll keep moving forward,” wielding her bravery like a sword. My pen just set her on her path. She’s the lie I make of myself, giving her bravery and hope and a path so that I can pretend. After awhile, it wasn’t pretending for her anymore. Maybe it won’t be for me either:

Now I can move forward
No burdens on my back
With this axe and this sword
I’ll slay fear in its tracks

This brave soul runs towards
The future, and I’ll act
My burdens are ignored
No, they won’t hold me back

She remains the writer until I write, “She puts down the pen.” Then I am the writer once more, writing about her life. Maybe she’s the cloak I wear, her poems the lie I tell until I start to believe them. The scared little girl who started fighting back, and taught me to hold nothing back.

I think I can live with that.

New Year’s, Writing, Deadlines, and Depression

So it’s New Year’s Eve Eve, and we’re about to enter 2014. In itself, that means little to me. I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, because I think that change can come at any time of year. I don’t expect 2014 to be all that different from 2013. I will still be in college, still be working, and still be writing. I plan to get Manifestation released during 2014, but I don’t consider that to be a New Year’s Resolution since I’ve been working towards that goal for quite some time now.

So the New Year itself won’t mean much of anything to me, other than writing a 4 instead of a 3 at the end of the date when I write my rent check. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some changes to discuss. I just don’t link those changes to the date.

First there’s the progress on my writing. I only have 6 1/2 chapters left to revise in Manifestation to finish Draft Three. With luck, I’ll actually have those done by the end of the week. As I mentioned before, I have until January 15th to get Manifestation out to critique partners in order to get through Draft Four by my March 6th deadline. It looks like I’m going to be ahead of schedule. Which is good, because it’ll give me more leeway in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m also struggling with the holiday season. I have episodic depression mixed with occasional episodes of manic rage. This tends to follow a pattern. Something will set me off, like, say, people posting anti-gay, anti-race, or anti-sex comments on Twitter, and I’ll fly off the handle, yell at people, go on a blocking spree, etc. Then I’ll sink into a depression where I dwell on everything I’ve done and said for the last seven years and how I think people will judge me for my behavior. Then I’ll come out of it and be high on life for awhile, rinse, repeat, etc etc.

The reason I bring this up is because it’s worth discussing how such emotional issues affect my writing. For example, I’m on a low-swing right now, and my work has suffered. I was doing GREAT Friday and Saturday. Here’s a picture of my writing calendar to demonstrate:

This is a mix of writing Book 4 and revising Book 1
This is a mix of writing 7000 words on Book 4 and revising 8 chapters on Book 1.

 

Then on Sunday I started to slump. So here’s what I did Sunday and Monday:

That's 1000 words written, yesterday's blog post (which was really Pam's story so it barely counts), and a critique I wrote for someone else.
That’s 1000 words written, yesterday’s blog post (which was really Pam’s story so it barely counts), and a critique I wrote for someone else.

I’ve done next to nothing for two days. Just thinking about doing anything was tough. Half the reason I’m writing this blog post is with the hope that getting into the “writing groove” will help launch me into revisions afterwards. I get another sticker for writing this blog post, which puts me at 4 stickers in two days (the one at the bottom doesn’t count; it’s the “inevitable sticker” (don’t ask)). BUT if I finish revising Manifestation today I get SEVEN more stickers. SEVEN.

This is why this calendar is so important. I can look over the month of December and see when I worked and when I didn’t. I see two completely blank days on December 8th and 9th, which were horrible days for me. I see a whole swarm of stickers from the 15th to the 21st when I was in the zone finishing up Collapse.

I’ll also soon be getting the cover art made for Manifestation. Assuming she’s available, I plan to hire Ravven, the wonderful artist who did the cover for Radiance to do the novel’s cover as well. I have the money set aside after my Kickstarter drive, so I’m good to go. I’ll post updates and previews of the cover once that happens.

I think that’s it for now. Which means I get a sticker.