Tag Archives: depression

Post Smoky Blues and Highs

So, back again! Been a while, hasn’t it?

Soooooo, I went to Smoky again. J If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out [this post] or [this one] from a review of a previous Smoky. If you don’t want to go to that lovely piece of my blog, I’ll paraphrase: 20-some writers of all shapes and kinds, cranking out words, eating delicious, homecooked food (courtesy of our two live-in chefs), and having a blast.

I miss everyone already, but that last day slammed me once I go home. See, in the prior two years of attending the Smoky Mountain Writers retreat, I would get home off of a high of cranking out thousands upon thousands of words, and think, “I’m going to continue working on this until it’s done and perfect and-

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

My brain would shut down entirely. I would want to write, but have nothing pulling me to write. My mind was filled with ideas, but without motivation, I’d go nowhere. {See  [this post] on L.O.I. and my struggles with it.)

And nowhere was where I remained for months after each Smoky. First Smoky (2015) I cranked out about 28,000 words in the six days of the retreat. Second Smoky (2016 – Last Year): 36,000 words.  All new projects.

This year, my new project topped out at 31,000 by Saturday night. I was pleased with my work, even getting positive feedback from an awesome friend who has been supportive for the last month or so. (For those of you who don’t know what I mean by that, watch [this video] for the bombshell that broke me at the end of January.)

I won’t say much about this project, as I’m keeping it as hush-hush as I can. All I can promise is that it is amazing so far. In working on this project, I learned how to look back on the past and smile, without it dragging me down.

Most of this week post-Smoky, I’ve been singing and dancing everywhere, smile on my face (most of the time, anyway). I’ve gotten tons of weird looks at the grocery store and gas stations and while walking laps at work, but, for once in my life, I didn’t care.

I.

DIDN’T.

CARE.

A HUGE step in the right direction, I think. While the beginning of the year had been rough, I’m not going to let it squash my passion for writing and my confidence in this project.

Also, we do nightly readings at Smoky, where we can ask questions, but no criticisms, which creates a nice, positive atmosphere in which to share our crafted stories. Many of you will have heard of me talk about my mentors Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine (Authors of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series; highly recommend). They were the ones that got me to my first Smoky, and they go every year too. It’s always fun to see them and laugh and have a good time, and my depression thanks all the Smokies for emotionally supporting me. It really helped, guys. It really did.

Anyway, Tee was in my last three reading groups of the retreat. That first reading, it was me, him, and KT. I did my reading second, and was terrified. Once I’d finished my 15 minutes (different from the standard 10, because our group was smaller than the others), Tee asked a question or two, and then told me that, compared to the readings I did last year, my writing was LOADS better, and he could see how much I’ve improved, to which, KT agreed. Once readings were over, I was headed to my room to call Boyfriend, when Tee got my attention and said, “Seriously, Christine, that was good. Keep it up.” As he thumbsed-up me and walked away, my heart pounded. I couldn’t believe that my mentor, idol, and role model had complimented me that strongly.

Fast forward to the final night’s reading. I finished reading a single chapter, and had 3 minutes left to read. Before I could continue, Tee interrupts and asks a question. I glanced at where I would be reading and told him, “I don’t think I’ll be able to get there in three minutes.” He laughed and urged me to finish. Once my turn was done, he said to me, “Your story… it kinda feels along the lines of Labrynth.”

Cue heart pounding out of my chest. For those of you that don’t know Tee and Pip, let me mention a little factoid: they LOVE David Bowie. Like, beyond comprehension. Tee comparing my story to a David Bowie movie just topped anything else on the retreat. I was on Cloud Nine all the way home… Until I remembered what my brain does after Smoky…

Grumpy-Cat-NO-1

… And started to silently panic.

Soon, I realized there was a simple way to combat the L.O.I. and lack of motivation: Forcing words out. I am now challenging myself to write 300+ words a day, and I’m keeping a record in an Excel Document (Curse my love of Excel). I’ve been doing okay, considering; I’ve written over 3k in the last four days. I’m also posting a daily #PostSWRLog update on my Twitter account to hold myself accountable. I’m still going to attempt words this weekend, but travelling for a short vacation might hinder that ability. I still will post #PostSWRLogs, but probably not a huge word count. That will change after that fun’s over.

Oh, and that project that Tee complimented me on?

*gestures for you to come in closer*

*whispers* It’s a secret.

Keep Faith, everyone. Stay tuned. This year is going to be a wild ride. 😀

New Years – A Reflection on Life

New Year, new start, right? At the start of every year, all of us look forward to another year where nothing is impossible. Lose that twenty pounds, get that promotion, write that book you’ve been putting off for years, or go on that cross-country trip you’ve always dreamed of. There are a bunch of people I know (me included) that had a big change in their life in 2015. Babies entered some friends’ lives. Some people married their soulmates. Others started new jobs (example, me), big moves, new houses, new cars (example, me [again]), etc, etc.

No matter what did or didn’t happen in 2015, the biggest thing you can say is: I survived 2015. Lots of people can’t say that. Death got personal for me last year, with one of my grandfathers passing away from cancer (as I’ve heard my mentor say a bunch of times, “F–k Cancer”).  He was an amazing guy, and he went out the way he would have wanted, and that’s all that matters to me.

I guarantee lots of you lost loved ones this past year. My heart goes out to all of you, as I have felt that pang a few times in my life, and each time brought me to tears for months to years. It’s hard, looking to the new year without those wonderful people in our lives. Every passing moment stabs our hearts, and it literally hurts.

Here’s a little secret though. Come closer.

Closer…

*whispers* It gets better.

Yep, it does. Does that mean it will get to a point where you will feel nothing? No, unfortunately, the human race has not developed the technology to put your memory into an unfeeling, superhuman automaton with wifi in the head and a feeling suppressor where your heart should be. Sorry, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Or, ever, if we’re lucky.

Feeling sadness or depression can be seen as a bad thing, and, to be honest, it is. As someone who’s suffered depression in the past, it’s hard. You shrink away from people, trying to hide the sadness and anxiety in your heart. Wanting someone to listen but not willing to talk about it. Biting back tears when looking at your bank account, your sick sibling/parent, or even just a simple picture.

But, the fact of the matter is, YOU’RE FEELING. Being able to feel is an amazing gift. It allows you to express what you like/don’t like about a situation, and to let others know what you think about something. Feeling is just feeling; there’s no other way to describe it, really. But, it’s amazing when you think about it. It’s something we take for granted.

For instance, I’m worried about an upcoming project of mine (more news in the distant future). That alerts me to plan things out, and have a backup plan should things not turn out right. It also tells me to keep going, so I can prove to myself that I was worried about nothing.

I’m scared of change. This informs me that when change happens, I need to fight back against the fear and take every hit, because, usually, it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’m happy I have a loving family, and a caring, awesome group of close friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my work career, my writing career, or life in general. Feeling that happiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy and lets me know that not everything sucks.

And I’m upset about death. However, it’s a fact of life. We all will die in the end. If you need advice on how to handle death and your impending demise, consult the Adam Ruins Everything finale. Just a warning, the end is depressing (if you couldn’t guess that already by the topic).

But that doesn’t mean that everything about death is horrible. You have to look at it a different way. Sure, the physical body of the person you love is buried in the ground, but now you have a guardian angel looking out for you. Sure, they can’t affect anything on this plane of being anymore, but the things they did do in our existence left a mark on the lives of so many other people on this Earth. They can’t verbally speak to you anymore, but they live on inside you, in your memories, in your words, in your actions. We choose to focus on their death, because it’s seems easiest to do. But, that hurts you in the end. Don’t focus on their death; focus on their LIFE. The bonds they created that even death cannot break. The changes they made in their own life that affected others in a positive way. The lives they altered, simply by existing and interacting with the world. Their childhood, their schooling, their careers, their family, their friends. At some point in our lives, we made a mark on someone else’s existence, and that’s what we should focus on.

To tell the truth, I would not be on this blog, writing this post right now, if someone in my life hadn’t died. In fact, I wouldn’t be a writer at all. My uncle, while only an active part of my childhood for a year of my elementary school journey, passed away. I was eleven. He was forty.

He was supposed to die at eighteen.197952_1002567381076_3062_n

He was blind, but a genius. He worked as an engineer as an adult, even without being able to see. He had a loving family, who he chose to spend the last year of his life with. He didn’t let his illness or incapacities stop him from achieving his dreams. When he died, I took on that mantra. The night of his death, I wrote my first poem that wasn’t a school assignment. My mother read it – all three pages – and told me I should be a writer.

Almost twelve years later, I have published a novel – dedicated to him, as you’ll see if you picked it up on Amazon -, finished almost ten manuscripts, graduated college a semester early, got an amazing job three months after graduating, and have big plans for the next several years in the career that his death inspired me to take on. I learned to look at the life he had on this earth, not the fact he was gone. Because, I guess, he’s living on inside of me, pushing me to keep going when things get tough.

So, to 2016, I am going to keep pushing forward. No matter what you might throw at me, I will look at my book, my manuscripts, or that poem I wrote twelve years ago – which my mother has made hundreds of copies of throughout the years – and remember why I’m doing this.

Twenty-sixteen:

Bring.

It.

On.