More Than Words

Stitch Bedtime
I could have easily crawled in bed at six o’clock today – after getting up at half past eight and waking up from a nap at half past two – but it turns out I’m actually sick! I rather thought that I was just adjusting to being solely on Lexapro, or simply being lazy but it turns out severe fatigue with related headaches and stomach issues is actually a thing that’s going around. I’m not just lazy!

That was a huge relief, because on Monday I didn’t wanna leave the house (hence all the rescheduling) and by Wednesday I could’ve easily slept straight through for a couple of days. Thankfully as of … Friday? I started taking proper cold medicine and I’m feeling greatly improved. It’s amazing what happens when I stop beating myself up and start giving my body what it needs.

I hope to be back in fighting form by the end of this week. If not there may be some goats sacrificed to Eir … or cats, whatever’s handy. I’ve missed having my usual energy and I’m starting to freak out, because February is almost gone. All that will be left soon is March, and I intended to be so, so much further along in my writing before the end of round one.

Part of me knows shit happens, that there’s been a lot of upheaval both medically, personally and generally health-wise in the new year. But as much as I try to be gentle on myself, there’s still that voice screaming in my head that I should have done more, pushed harder, made more sacrifices and gotten ahead, ahead, ahead.

There are times, like right now when I didn’t even accomplish a third of my stated weekly goal, that The Voice is screaming like a banshee in my brain, at the highest possible volume. Part of me wants to coward in a corner and listen to that internal tape that says I’m an unaccomplished loser, and the other part wants to shove a gag in her mouth, stuff her in a closet and play video games until I feel like crawling in bed.

But my nephew said something that really hit me square in the solar plexus this when; we were enjoying some time together playing Disney Infinity and I mentioned something about playing again the next morning before guitar practice, and then he broke my heart.

If You’re Awake …

You see, my anxiety and depression have two major symptoms: constant sleeping and anger. I’m typically not the person in the antidepressant commercial gazing out the rainy window longingly or crying at the drop of the hat. I get angry, tired, withdrawn and did I mention tired? I’ve always been a night-owl but I usually manage two or three in the morning and can be up by eleven fairly easily, but when I’m depressed? I’m too tired to do anything.

And the fact that he could see that, even if he doesn’t understand it? Shatters me. He’s my baby. He along with my younger sister and his three siblings are the stars of my world, and the only thing I want them to think of when they think of “Aunt Jessie” is that I love them all without possible measure. If they also think I have cool techie shit and that I’m their favorite aunt, I will not complain. 😀

It’ll only be a few more years and he’ll be a man, he might not want to hang out with his auntie or play video games or share his Minecraft worlds with me. I hope he does, but there are no promises. I don’t want to wait these precious years asleep.

I have no idea if he understands depression – or even knows what it is – but when I see him again I plan to pull him into my lap and have a little chat. Just to explain that Aunt Jessie is fighting a battle with an invisible villain, and some days are better than others. I want him to know that regardless of where I am in that fight he is always always loved. More than anything. More than a goal, more than words on a paper, more than a critical voice in my head.

When that voice in my head gets louder and louder about how I’m not good enough, how I’m not a writer, how I’ll never finish a book … I just look at that list. That one under the link that reminds me how Bamm and I high-fived, laughed and screeched with delight as we rescued classic Disney characters in Infinity. How we sat at the kitchen table playing cards for hours with his brand-new guitar deck that he earned at lessons.

How he said that the King cards “liked” his little sister so much because “she’s so beautiful they want her to be their Queen”. I think of how I spent time laying in bed, watching them game and cuddling with my little bean pole, or how my wee little bird sat on my lap on the hallway floor with me this morning, cuddling me because he wanted to stay.

And that voice in my head can go fuck herself. Because those moments, those hugs and smiles and cuddles and laughter are worth all the words in the world.

The Week in Achievements …




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Categories: Anxiety, Depression, Gaming, Illness, Life, Life is Strange, Open Season, ROW80, Transistor, Writing
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9 Responses so far.

  1. Owen O'Neill says:

    We didn’t come to grips with it, so much as let it alone. Marketing is one of my pet peeves when it comes to being an independent author. We don’t do any. We aren’t on FB or Twitter or any social media but GR, and we don’t market on GR. We don’t ask for, or trade, reviews. We don’t submit to review sites. (Reviews are not the market driver some people think they are.) We have gotten a mention in blogs on occasion (maybe 3 occasions), and that was good for us, but it’s not something we regularly do. We did once ask a couple of established authors who write books similar to ours if they considered blurbing books for new authors, and we got no response (other than a cordial initial reply that led to nothing).

    But I do have a theory of marketing. It amounts to: the very best marketing for your book is your next book. (I got that from someone else — can’t exactly recall who ATM.) The job of a writer is to write and put out the best product s/he can (considering cover, editing, etc). A blog (and social media) are good for reaching out to readers you have, but I doubt their use in reaching *new* readers. (I mean how many people who spend 8 hrs/day on twitter actually read books? Do people who are obsessed with YouTube buy a bunch of books? And if they aren’t obsessed, how are they going to find new writers like us there?)

    What did I mean by being unprepared? We had no follow-up. We never thought our book would sell, so we never thought anyone would care when the next book came out, or if there would ever be a next book. And out of no where, people want the next book! Yikes! So it took over a year to get the next book ready, and that cost us. If we’d had it out in 6 mo’s, I quite sure we would have done much better. And that’s something we can control (unlike just about everything else). If we’d planned our releases, instead of assuming no one would give a damn, we’d be better off.

    So it comes down to writing. Even if only a handful of people love your work, think about how you’re going to “feed the love”. That does not mean pushing to get the next book out (like we did). It means holding off publishing the first book until you have some shots in your locker, so you have a backlog to put out while you are writing something new at your own pace. Don’t get behind the 8-ball like we did. Don’t be in a rush. Build your backlog, get comfortable (“get zen with it”, is what my dad called it), pick your moment, pull the trigger. (Get hasty and antsy, and you’re gonna miss.)

    Anyway, I don’t want to presume to dump core here in a comment. If you would like me to, I’m more that will it explain exactly what our experience has been here, or you can email me. I have “learned” (quotes because I’m not confident in the conclusions yet) some interesting things which I am more than happy to share. But they get kinda long…

    So let me know if you’re interested, and we’ll take it from there. 🙂

    I love that quote. I think that describes it exactly. You don’t ever “master” writing. The day you stop learning is the day you started phoning it in.

  2. I think you did a fine job of sharing your experience. It’s an incredibly broad question that has a lot of different possible answers, so I appreciate you sharing what you have. I have a follow up question that will hopefully be easier to answer.

    You mentioned not being prepared for the selling aspect, which is something I’ve heard from other self publishers. How did you come to grips with it? One of the things that intimidates me about independent or small press publishing is the marketing. I don’t feel like I currently have the skills to market myself in a successful manner. I’m hoping the website will (eventually) fill some of that gap, allowing me to share stories and build up a readership.

    This isn’t a question, so much as a follow up comment. I’ve discovered this is Neil Gaiman paraphrasing Gene Wolfe, but the quote goes: “You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” It sounds like you’re in that space with your series at the moment. You haven’t conquered writing wholesale, but you are learning to become a stronger author as you go along.

  3. Owen O'Neill says:

    I know what you mean. When I get too shuttered, I’ll write something like: “He grinned happily.” Then later, we look at it and say, “Well, that expresses a whole shit-ton of nada.” And I know it’s time to get out the house.

    As for how my experience and/or perspective has changed, I wish I had a better answer. In a sense, I just feel kind of confused — more so than when we started. When we started, it was simple. We had a story. We wanted to tell it. So write it, make it the best we could as far as cover and editing and such, and click the button. Simple!

    What we weren’t prepared for is it actually selling. That caught us flatfooted and sent us scrambling, All of a sudden things were simple because when people your book and start asking for dates and such that (in my case at least) make me think of un-simple things.

    Thank God we nailed down the arc before we published the first book. It’s not just an outline, but hundreds of thousands of words. So we can’t cold feet and go off chasing “rainbows” or readers’ praise or whatever. The arc is the arc and that makes me very happy, because if it wasn’t I might be tempted to second guess the whole thing and that is almost always bad.

    I do think we’ve gotten better at writing and I think we see what we are trying to do more clearly. I think we are having better ideas. A lot of specific things we sketched out to begin were pretty cliched, but we couldn’t see that been. Now it seems obvious, and we’ve had new ideas that I think are much better (even though initially there’s that “We can’t get away with that, can we?” response. And usually, yes we can, once we really started to think about it.) I’ve come to see that as a series matures, things start to open up and you get more “toys” to play with. So plots get more interesting and characters get more fun. Which (I think) creates more satisfying books.

    So I think my perspective has broadened, with makes me more creative, and more confused. I don’t I really have my feet solidly under me, and maybe that’s a good thing. So far, every book has been different, and dealt with things, or forced us write things, we had no idea how to write, and the next book is no different. So, in a way, each book is starting over, trying to do stuff we’ve never done. (Which leads to anguished cries of “Why the HELL did we decide to do this!)

    In that vein, I stop at times and get into a real funk and say: “I just wanna write something simple! Something I know how write!” But when I try think of what that might be — some simple thing I know how to write — I find I don’t know what that is. And then I go back the working on novels.

    One (more or less) solid thing is the business end. I think we did the right thing, and we see no reason to change at this point. Things are much better there than when we started (in terms of the opportunities and the tools out there to benefit from them. So I don’t worry about that much. I check in to satisfy myself that we’re still doing the right thing, and then we return to writing. (But then I’ve been involved with on-line business since 1996, so I something of a feel for it.)

    OK, that was a long ramble. I don’t if I answered your question at all or not. (Maybe I’ll do better next time.)

  4. I agree. I don’t understand how writers of a certain ilk can be tied to their desks 24/7 and still write in a way that feels true to the human experience. Spending time with my family, friends, reading, studying, gaming, watching films I love are all things that refresh me and make me a stronger writer.

    I usually know when I haven’t connected with things that recharge me enough: whether it’s books, people or art when my writing just becomes dull and lifeless. I’m a much better writer because of my life experiences, both positive and negative.

    Having now published three books, how do you think your experience or perspective with publishing and writing has changed since the first one?

  5. Owen O'Neill says:

    Some people might think that was an “unwriterly” thing to say, but I have to wonder: if a person stops living (shutting themselves up and some seem to think one should) so they can be “writerly”, what exactly would they have to write about? And if they thought of something, how could they express it in a meaningful fashion?

    I don’t know about other people, but if I’m not out there experiencing reality in a vigorous fashion (for me), my palette gets damn boring pretty quickly.

    Thanks! We did engage a little celebration. (Not too wild — I’m not as young as I once was.) The third book does feel different than the first two. Somehow doing something three times makes it feel like less of a “fluke” than one, or even two books did. 🙂

  6. Thanks for that, Owen. I feel this is an “unwriterly” thing to say, but I don’t (currently) see that value in ostracizing my family for the sake of writing. Especially with some many kiddos running around the house. They’ll only be small for so long, and while I’m happy to work in writing where I can, I’m not willing to risk missing the big stuff.

    The rest will follow in due time, and the impatient little nagging voice can go hang.

    Oh here, here! I also like “they aren’t bigger than you, just noisy”. There’s a lot of truth in that and thank you for saying that. Congratulations on getting Asylum out on Amazon! I hope you and Jordan are wildly celebrating your accomplishment. 🙂

  7. Owen O'Neill says:

    Reading that, I think you have a good handle on the really important stuff. The rest will follow in due time, and the impatient little nagging voice can go hang. Not that those voices ever leave without and fight and a tantrum, but eventually they’ll shut up. They aren’t bigger than you, just noisy.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better. 🙂

  8. Bev, thank you so much for taking the time to leave me your encouragement. I really appreciate it. I feel like I’m on the mend finally and, even though I still took a massive mid-morning / afternoon nap, I feel like my brain is starting to shift back into normal gear.

    Do you have a blog for ROW80? I love to return the “comment favor” as it were. All the best for your writing this week!

  9. Bev says:

    Here’s hoping you are feeling better. Good that you took care of yourself and allowed your body to heal. So hard to give in and rest – but that’s always the best. Take care. You’ll be back in the full swing or writing soon.