Writing, Depression, and That Damn Blinking Cursor.

The longer I sit looking at the blinking cursor, the more it starts looking like an enemy. So if it’s going to taunt me with it’s blinking nothingness, I’m going to fill it with a whole bunch of uncomfortable realness.

When I decided to get serious about this whole writing thing, it was a lot easier for me to pump out content. I had a good stretch where I was writing what I felt was some really good stuff. Not just for the blog here, but for the few other sites that would occasionally pick up my pieces too. I was finally giving breath to the part of me that had always longed to breathe. And I was writing a lot. It felt like my fingers were trying out ideas as fast as my head could thinking them up. I was balancing all my life stressors pretty well, spinning the domestic plates with one hand and assaulting the keyboard with the other.

And it felt right. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was being a mom, a wife, a friend, and I was writing. I was checking off all the boxes of the things I had to be and the thing I wanted to be. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like more than just a homemaker. I was who I was called to be. I even got a poem published in a book. It really seemed that 2018 was going to be my year.

The hounds of depression nipped at my heels constantly though, even louder and closer than before.

I spent more time dragging my feet just to get through the day. Illness cost my husband his job and granted me the role of caregiver. His days became filled with doctor’s visits and physical therapy. And forms. So many forms to fill out. School became a challenge for my youngest son as he adapted to kindergarten. I had not foreseen it a struggle for him. I was wrong.  I addressed a personal health issue of my own and even began medication for depression. The nation took a huge leap into The Twilight Zone and each day brought a new headline of insanity. And slowly and almost silently, my ability to write as much as I wanted when I wanted, started drying up.

Sometimes things change without you noticing. Just little things here and there, that you are too busy to see. By the time you catch it and rush to fix it, it’s usually too late. That’s how this feels. It feels like maybe I’m pulling on the last fraying string of a sweater that’s already come mostly undone. (Weezer may have inspired this last sentence.) I know I talked about this in It’s Been A While, but I honestly thought by now things would be different. I thought I would have shaken whatever this was and I’d be back to my old self. That just doesn’t seem to be the case.

I have been writing. I was gifted this wonderful Complete the Story journal from Piccadilly by my sis in law and her SO for my birthday. Each page has a story prompt and the rest of the page is blank. I’ve been hand scribbling my stories in there when I get the moments. I even took one of those stories from the page to the computer and submitted it to an online magazine after sharing it with my best friend. I was so stoked about what I had created! I had thought that it had such potential. It was the first real bit of fiction I had pulled out in a good while that felt honest and real and more importantly, good. It felt like a real story with some real potential.

It was promptly rejected.

Honestly, It’s just frustrating. Being a writer is something I’ve always wanted to be. When I dreamed of it as a kid, being a blogger wasn’t included in the dream because blogs weren’t a thing then. (Someone fact check that for me. Were blogs a thing in the 90s?) But writing in a blog is as legitimate as being any other type of writer. I know I will probably never be an official, proper, make money out of it writer. I’m not the next Stephen King. My blog is enough. And now I feel like I’m not even doing that.

I’m not sinking, guys, I’m just momentarily stuck. I’m not out of hope. I have buckets of it, it’s just a little bit out of reach. I do want things to be better. I want to do better. It’s not like I’m just rolling over and letting life get the pin on me. I do intend to kick out.  Don’t try to count me out just yet, I totally mean to continue this writing, living, existing journey. I have no plans for an existential break. I have ideas and plans for the future. I’m just feeling a little low and a little unsure of myself.

Depression is real folks. And it doesn’t always look like what you think it does. It’s not all dark clouds full of doom and gloom. Sometimes it’s drying cement around your feet.  Sometimes it’s a new coat of paint covering what you once considered your reachable dreams. Sometimes it’s just the quiet whisper of “I told you so” from yesteryears’ ghost. Sometimes it’s trying to pour from an empty cup so long, all you have left at the end of the day is dust.

So, as the cursor continues to blink at me and I try to think of further ways to combat it, I ask this of you Dear Reader.

  • Keep reading. Not just my blog, but the blogs and works of yet to be bestseller writers everywhere. I don’t think there has ever been a time when it has been so easy to access the writings of so many people the world over.
  • Listen to your friends when they are excited to share with you their latest creations. Support the passions your friends have. Support what pours from their souls. Because one day they are going to feel like they are horrible at the thing they love to do. And it’s going to hurt them. It might make them want to pack all their creativity up and hide it away. For the love of all that is good, don’t let them.
  • While you’re at it, check in on those friends who have gone quiet. Check in on those who are always checking in on you. Check in on those who have their hands full and sometimes maybe press when they say they are “ok, just tired.” Because believe me, it is so much easier to say that you’re tired than to have to find a name for the way you’re actually feeling.

As for me, I’m here and I’m dedicated to making sure that 2019 is more than this treading water feeling. I’m not going to spend the year watching the paint dry over what I wanted to achieve. I want to get back to my status quo of creation again. Or at least, to a level that I feel comfortable with. I just want to be proud of myself again. And not taunted by that damn blinking cursor.


~Exciting News~

I’m so excited to share something with you Dear Readers!

But first, a bit of backstory.

Since before I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Like I talked in a previous post called I Remember, I grew up thinking that I was going to be a songwriter. I spent most days jotting lyrics down in spiral notebooks. I was so sure I was going to move to Nashville once I graduated high school and get a job writing for a living.

Then the fact that I couldn’t sing or play guitar kicked that dream in the teeth.

Soon my brain put together that lyrics and poems weren’t that much different. Around the same time, I entered the dark swampland of being a teenager and had a lot more to write about. I spilled every drop of my soul I couldn’t express out loud on paper. I invested myself in stories and poem. It sounds cliche but they were my escape. So I wrote a lot.

My writing got me into Advanced Placement courses in high school and won me a few awards. Then my home life took a nose dive and I had to get a job. It was a rough time with very little room for writing. Finally, I graduated, went to college and did okay. I’d sit in the cemetery near campus and write. (Yes, I know, I’m a walking cliche) It seemed I was finally in a place to expand and explore writing.

Then I dropped out of college and into a domestic life.

It’s been a struggle getting back to what I love doing. Almost like a Lifetime movie, I had to strip away the layers of being a mom and find the woman inside. (See, I was totally not joking about being a cliche.)

That’s why what I’m about to tell you is SUCH a big deal.

I am now officially a published poet.

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Haunted Are These Houses Vol.1 is an anthology from Unnerving Magazine full of dark tales and poems all dwelling within the storytelling realm of haunted houses.

It features 22 poems and 12 short stories of creepy, disturbing goodness. And one of those poems, entitled Four Locks and Sunday Hair Pins was written by me!

My words are in there! My idea! The little universe I created is printed on those pages (and available in digital form)!!

I was also on Unnerving’s Interview Series podcast. You can find the episode I was on here.  My part starts around 40 minutes in, but you should really listen to the whole thing. Amy Lukavics is an outstanding author and last year was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. Her new novel is called Nightingale.  It sounds incredible and I’ve added it to my To Read list.

I don’t think I can fully explain how excited I am over this.

Since I was young, I’ve wanted to be able to call myself an author.  I wanted my words to be out there. And this blog does that. The various websites I’ve had pieces published on do that (check my About Me). But this, this is a book.

I’m in a book.

I’m in a fucking book!!

This satisfies an itch I’ve had since I was just a weird little girl. It’s validation that all my daydreaming and world building has paid off.

It’s something I’ve wanted for such a long time.

And now, I want more.

I want to write and create. I want to develop and publish. I want a full book of my work.

In sports, they call it staying hungry. Now that I’ve had a taste, like a vampire locked in a crypt, I’m starving.

 

 

Declined: A (Self)Love Story

 

I was getting a jump on cooking dinner when I got a notification that I had a new email. Normally, I would glance at my lock screen to see who it was from and make a mental note to check it later. But this ended up being different. It wasn’t just one of those crap spam emails that flood my inbox (No, Directv, I’m not coming back! Leave me alone!). It was from a literary magazine I had recently submitted to. I had found their call for submissions via the Discovery tab on Submittable. It was a call for a piece of poetry that contained certain words. It seemed like a fun little challenge, so I crafted up a piece and sent it their way.

When I was able to pull the pan off the burner, I opened my Gmail app. This was what I was greeted with (the name of the publication has been removed):

Dear Angela,

Thank you for your submission to XXXXXX Magazine. After careful consideration, we have decided not to select “Before?” for publication. There are many possible reasons for why a particular piece isn’t selected, and I regret that I am unable, given time constraints, to offer further explanation as to which of those reasons applied to your work. I will say that you’re in good company; as always, there were many authors and many pieces that I would have liked to include.

Now if you know me, you’re probably thinking I’m crushed. And there was a time, not even that long ago when you’d be right. Were I the Angela of a handful of years ago, I’d be sitting here in a pit of despair. My self-confidence, shakey like a young deer on ice, would have been completely annihilated. I would probably be ugly crying and thinking that the voice in my head, which sounds like a really weird combination of two women, was correct. I really couldn’t get anything right. I was a sham who would never know what I was doing.

But that’s not happening. What is happening is surprising.

 

I’m okay.

Actually, I’m more than okay.

I’m good.

I feel proud of the piece and, more importantly,

I’m proud of myself.

So what changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t feel the cut that this declination would have once made.  Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a misplaced apathy type of feeling. It’s not the depression I’ve grown like a bonsai tree my entire life filling my head with nihilistic whispers. I just legitimately don’t feel this is a failure.

This year, I’ve come into my own when it comes to my writing. I’ve tried new things, forced myself on shaky limbs, and learned to work within my own voice. I’ve also forced myself to become dedicated. I’ve developed a discipline to keep the hot or cold switch in my head in the right position. For years, I’ve wanted to do this. I’ve wanted to create words and ideas that I could share with people. And now I finally am.

This rejection is a good thing. And I’m not trying to blow smoke up my own ass here. I really, truly think it is. I’m showing myself I’m able to face the chance that I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and accept it. I’m flexing the muscle of my psyche that’s matured into an IDGAF self-content woman. So what if the piece wasn’t what the magazine was looking for? It was what I wrote. It was what I created. And even if it fucking sucks, in the moment of its creation, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

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Not all wins are trophies, championships, or acceptance letters. Some victories, and often the best ones, are the ones that ignite inside of you. There the ones that people can only see when they catch the glint of determination and self-appreciation in your eyes. They are the ones you will never have a newspaper clip out of, but will always remember.

 

 

And those are the ones current me strives for.

 

 

 

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PS: In case you’re wondering about the piece itself, I’ve included it below. The designated words to use are still in bold so you can see what I was working with.

 

Before?

Not lamp, but light
The kind of brightness that prys eyes apart
The nightstand is long since emptied
Pictures gone, now filled with medicine bottles and phone chargers
Was this what life was like
Before?

Her electrical current is no longer current
The coil has thus been shuffled
But damned if she doesn’t still make
The hair on the back of my neck stand at attention
That’s the only attention being served these days

The TV never stops, but I don’t know what’s on
It’s just lights without sound
I thought I had turned it off
But it’s talking heads keep the remote hidden
So I can’t check for sure

I know that pain is a real thing
But feelings elude me
How much longer must I endure?
Eight weeks dead might just as well be eighty
Is this what life was like
Before?