Of What Am I Afraid?

Lately (and by lately, I actually mean a few years), I have found myself not only terrified of writing, but too scattered to even attempt it. This is not to say the feeling has gone away. It's just as bad, but a friend of mine asked me a question yesterday, gave me a piece of advice, and made me a promise.

Question: These ideas you have, do you write them down? Make notes?

Answer: Well, yeah, I do, but they aren't linear. I'm not sure how much good they do. It's not like they make sense as puzzle pieces that fit together. They're just cool snapshots of things that happen in the story. I do love the little darlings, though.

Advice: Then just keep doing that for now. Write down everything you think of until it all makes sense.

The Promise: If you die in some tragic accident before you get published, I will take all your notes and hire a ghostwriter for you, and get you published posthumously.

That, my peeps, is a friend.

Pantser . . . . Maybe Not Proud of It, But It Works for Me

As you can probably tell by the title, when it comes to plotting, I am what's known as a 'pantser'. Taken from the phrase, "flying by the seat of my pants," pantsers generally don't plan their stories in a linear manner. We struggle to summarize properly, and you're likely to see from us more of a bubbled web chart (like an investigation wall), than a nice, organized outline. Outlines hurt our brains, and likely our dry-erase boards.

This isn't to say we don't organize in our own way, but it's a bit more like trying to find a place to sign your name in someone's yearbook. Is there a blank space? Yes. okay, sign there. Does your comment having any reference to another signature, but there's no space next to that one? Sign your name elsewhere, and then draw a long, winding arrow between the two, for direction. It's a causality kind of thing. You link together like items as best you can, when you see the link in your head, but you have to record it on paper.

But everybody else is doing it . . . . .

As you may or may not know, I have bouts of extreme depression and anxiety. Many authors do, I think. I'm not implying that you have to have a mental illness to be a writer (though there are The Jokes), but I do personally believe there might be a correlation between creatively-brained people and mental illness.

At any rate, I've got it, a mental illness issue.Those come with medication issues. You know how people are always talking about, "getting the right meds cocktail,? That's a real thing, a concerning thing, and it's a toughie. Mine has been, and it's not even fully fixed, yet.

As an author, this means I usually feel one of four things, depending on the effects/side effects of my current meds regime.

  1. Apathy. Everything is boring, and nothing really matters. I am the trail-off of a really good Queen song. I feel pretty much nothing. No creative spark, no joy, but no other emotions, either. It's like I know what I should feel in situations, but I have a very fluffy blanket wrapped tightly around those emotions, and that results in nada.
  2. Rage. Oh the rage. I break and throw things. I scream my throat raw. I hate my husband, or at least I think I do. (This one, thankfully, is pretty well under control right now). I might be able to right, but I'm too busy being furious and petty.
  3. Sadness. Not a little--a lot. I'm beyond my dog dying, and I hate myself, because I am so damned broken, and my poor, amazing family has to deal with the screw-up me. What choice do they have? I once convinced myself I was such an awful person that a hurricane was my fault. I cry a lot, and I feel like I should be punished.
  4. Fear. This has been the hardest one, maybe. Maybe it's tied with Sadness. Anyway, fear paralyzes you, because what if any of the bad things happen? What if ALL the bad things happen? What if you aren't good enough, and you're just delusional? You can make SO MANY excuses for yourself that really all come down to being afraid.
I fight with myself. There's this incredible part of me that knows incredible stories, and if I could just TELL THEM, everything would be okay. Only, a lot of the time--most of the time--I can't. Each page is a struggle. Good pages, great pages, not because I don't know what to write, but because of the Four Horsemen of my personal apocalypse, riding me down.

I have a page and a half of something new. My meds are close to right (for now). I'm still frightfully in love with too many commas. I'm still frightened, period.