Weekend Worrier

Saturday dawned overcast and wet, and with plans to paint all day, I sighed and got down to writing.

Word count in, I headed off at 9am to the communal riding arena, where my 4-H club had already power-washed the jumps earlier in the week and left them to dry. For today, we painted.

And in case you don’t know how much work there was….

And some of it you can’t see, tucked in the corner. Five adults, five kids (and a few stragglers), and five hours’ work and one break for pizza, but we accomplished our goal. Eventually the sun came out, not that we really got to see it.

I got home by five, utterly exhausted. I woke up on Sunday similarly exhausted, with my body pointing out it wasn’t used to certain things (kneeling on cement and lugging heavy coops). My body laughed at the idea of writing, so I spent the day slipping into depression and watching TV.

But unlike my umpteenth watch of GBBO, I watched new stuff! Two new episodes of Fruits Basket (2019) and six episodes of My Roommate is a Cat.

For the unfamiliar, Fruits Basket was originally released in 2001….before the manga had finished. The new anime is following the manga more faithfully, although the beginning is pretty much the same as previously. If you’re new the to show, it’s worth a watch, although it’s not without problems (I abhor Kagura’s opening episode at least) and parts feel a bit dated because of the source material.

If you’re familiar with the original but haven’t picked up the new stuff, then I’d recommend holding off until you can watch chunks at a time. Much of the beginning feels repetitious since it’s the same material with only a few new bits sprinkled in (or at least more obvious).

My Roommate is a Cat is an excellent anime if you want to watch something cute and sweet and low-key. Say if you’ve slipped into a depressive funk and can’t bear the idea of emotions. (CW: story opens with parental death, later episodes have flashback cat deaths.)

The story focuses on an extreme introvert author who is being forced to interact with the real world. While his aversion to people is being “fixed” to an extent, it’s also done in such a way that I found positive – as in, being an introvert is fine and part of who he is, but he took it too far and needs to find balance in his life.

It also touches upon found/chosen family, facing things that are difficult, and learning to do things for those you love. The episodes spend half the time in the human’s POV and half the time in the cat’s POV.

I still have two episodes left, but I’d recommend it as a nice slice-of-life story with an overall positive feel to it.

As the Snow Falls: holidays and depression

As the Snow Falls comes out today!

Be sure to check out Boy Meets Boy Reviews for an exclusive excerpt from As the Snow Falls and for the chance to win a digital copy of A Christmas for Oscar.

You can find As the Snow Falls at NineStar Press, Amazon, B&N, and Kobo!

Christmas is fast approaching and Kade’s parents have abandoned him for the holiday. Thankfully his best friend, Byron, invites him to spend the holidtays with him and his family. That night, in the dim glow of the Christmas tree’s lights, Byron and Kade share a kiss, but Byron backs off before it can go further.
Can Kade stand up for what he wants and convince Byron he’s not so easily broken, or will he need a Christmas miracle to bring them together?

I love holiday stories, because they fill me with joy and put me in the spirit of giving and joy, which is perfect for the season. However, as people with depression know, the holidays can also be a difficult time.* If your depression is triggered by loss of sunlight, it’s literally the darkest time of the year. If you struggle to be social, then your time and energy are demanded. For those who have a hard time doing their daily stuff now have a whole bunch of other things dumped on their plate.

But in some ways the holidays are great for depression. They force you to get out and about, they surround you with good cheer (…angry shoppers aside:), and there’s a sense of magic, wonder, and love as you gather with friends and family. It makes you feel the love, feel how many people care about you. None of that fixes depression, but in some cases it can help balance out the hardships that the season heaps on.

This story isn’t about Kade’s depression, but because Kade has depression, it influences his character and how Byron interacts with him (for better and worse). This isn’t a story about how finding the right man can cure you of depression–because that doesn’t happen. Rather, it’s a story about how having friends and loved ones around can help. How having someone there can maybe stop you from slipping into a depressive mood. And also how they have the most power in hurting you.

I’ll warn that this isn’t a perfect representation of depression. Because there is none. Everyone’s experience is different, and this is just the story of these two young men and their journey from friendship to lovers on a snowy Christmas Day.

I hope you enjoy it.

* Everyone’s experience with depression is different and I’m talking in general terms and with my own experiences here, not as hard and fast law.

A Rough Week

I vowed to myself not to mope and whine on the internet as much, but this week has made it tough. Mostly I’ve avoided the internet, because sometimes you just get hit.

Thursday night I got a bunch of feedback returned from my beta readers. Awesome, a few days early!

And then I opened it. The one wasn’t bad. She enjoyed the story, had suggestions for cultural things (which is why I wanted her to read it) and a few pointers. Not bad.

The two other readers “ran out of time” to finish the story. I realize that people have lives (I recently bailed on a beta, though I hadn’t even started). But when the two people tear into your story the most ‘ran out of time’, it feels very much like the dreaded DNF mark. But OK, that’s part of being a writer. After reading their notes, though, one of which pretty much said it needed a complete re-write, I felt…blasted. The deadline for the call I’m trying to hit is at the end of March. I’ve done edits after edits to this piece (growing it from 8.5K to 12K). And I just…wasn’t sure I had the energy to do everything they wanted.

Like, maybe this is a story that’s never meant to see the light of day. I tried something new, and it didn’t work. That happens. Maybe it’s time to let it die and move on. Or set it aside for long enough to really do a complete re-write.

I’m not sure I’ve come to a decision yet.

Heavy edits never make you feel great, and of course this tossed me into the “I am a shit writer who will amount to nothing” mood. But I watched the last five episodes of Tokyo Ghoul season 1 and coped.

Friday morning I got a text from one of my old coworkers, telling me to call her when I had a minute. I thought it was weird, but didn’t think much of it. And then I called. She wanted me to know that my old boss, who was in his fifties with a kid in college, had passed away the day before.

This man was nice, and funny, and just generally a great mentor. He and I were in the same writing group (which I joined when I left the company). He’d just had a birthday. It’s so unexpected and strange that I’m still just shocked. Our editorial team was tiny and a tight group, even as we went our different ways.

And then this morning, life has to go on. Which I know is cliche. And it’s not like my boss was a relative, but I did spend five days a week, eight hours a day, for eight years with him. So it’s weird and my joints feel out of place. And I keep thinking of his kids and his siblings and my heart goes out to them.

And yet life goes on. I have edits to do, and writing to do, and a birthday party I really don’t want to do.

And life goes on.

Warning: Emo ahead

November usually means Nanowrimo for me, but not this year.

This year I figured I’d be working on editing the one submission that needs redone and working a job and a half and I wouldn’t have time. And I suppose the beginning of the month was busy, but this last week has been quiet (too quiet) and I wished I was using that time to write.

Except I got a massive case of writer’s block. Or maybe I should say seasonal writer’s block. Too dark to motivate me to write. So I started just write a little bit each day. Completely unrelated things just to keep me writing. Things that will probably not form into anything. And if some of them do seem to be taking shape, well that’s just a perk.

I’ll be sure to share all the ones that have no future. Because I’m fun like that 🙂

Right now I’m very much struggling with depression, which kills motivation for me and makes me exhausted constantly, so even though I’m sleeping 8 to 9 hours, I wake up sleepy and am ready for bed by 7 most nights. Oh, and I read about author pairs writing over 50,000 words in three days and I crumble into a fit of self-pity and -loathing.

But I’m trying to remember the positives too! I have two submissions coming out in December, I have one with an editor, and I have multiple stories that need a refining touch before I can send them off, so I figure even if I’m not writing all winter (if the despondency continues), I can still edit. It takes more work, but less creative efforts.

And hopefully my next update won’t be such a downer.

Keep warm.

I won’t be a downer, but…

This week has been difficult for me. I’m not sure if it’s the lessening sunlight hours, the cold, or what, but I’ve been very blue. When I’m focused on something (reading, exercising, putting up my Solstice tree), I’m okay, cheerful even. But if I sit and think, or sit to write, I become rather maudlin. I’m trying to ignore it (the whole logic of “If you smile, it makes you happy”), but sometimes it’s more difficult than others.

So, to say the least, my writing has been stilted. I get a few words out at work, but nothing much. Frustrating. In addition, I keep thinking over the novel I finished and I am terrified of going back to it in January. The more I think on it, the more I think it’s no good at all, and I question if I want it associated with my pen name. I’m hoping when I go back to read it, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. But I suppose my confidence in my writing is a little lacking.

On the other hand, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Possibly too much. I have a document full of reviews to post, many of which are shorter than I normally would deem acceptable. But in a week and a half I read almost two complete series (I’m working on finishing the one, and the other I’m holding off, because I enjoy it and want to reward myself at some later date). Maybe if I post some of the reviews I’ll feel less overwhelmed.

My netbook is still broken and my monitor may or may not be glitching. It could just be my brain being tired. I’m not sure which, but if my monitor breaks, I may just throw a tantrum. I think it’d be good to relieve some of the pressure in my skull.

To keep from being too depressing, I’ll end on some of the more positive things in life.

I’ve been riding on weekends still, all bundled up. I really hate the cold, but its a little bearable on the back of a horse. There is Christmas Caroling on Horseback this Sunday, which is always fun and spirited.

I’m mostly done my holiday shopping. Technically I have some small things I should buy to even out the expenses, but I’m done all my major purchases. Which is good because my credit card is worn out. (Look a joke!) I really had fun doing my shopping this year, and I’m a little sad it’s done, because it was keeping me in the spirit of things.

I think that’s it. Unless something interesting happens, I probably won’t post again until after Christmas.

Oh! One last thing: I’m considering taking up the habits of a fellow blogger and doing a list of improvements to work on over the year. We’ll see how I feel about it in four weeks.

Hopefully without cursing myself…

I slept wonderfully this weekend. It was very refreshing and I feel much better. Especially with all the cleaning I got done. Productivity always feels good.

Speaking of feeling good, I feel confident in saying: I survived winter.

Normally winter makes me have short emotional fuses, slightly irrational thought patterns and an overall negative view of life (but mostly myself). But this winter, I was able to stave that off, for the most part. I still had my moments, of course, but I felt pretty good all winter. I keep waiting for the depression to hit, but I keep feeling rather happy. It’s nice.

Why was this winter different? I can’t say for certain, but I think there are two main reasons:
1. More riding. Normally my winter riding is once a week, in the ring, if that. This year, I rode once or twice a week out on trails. It was cold, but it was OUT and it was reviving. Each morning you’d ask “why am I doing this” and find out the answer was “because this is living.”
2. More writing. While I always “try” to set a writing schedule up, this year I actually did. And I kept to it. Since November I’ve been writing at least once a week, often more. It’s been nice. And I found when I wrote, even on days I really didn’t want to, I felt good afterwards. Like I was totally awesome or something. Can writing be a drug?

Also, in relation to this post about the action-feeling connection, I also tried harder to not let myself get trapped in negative feelings. Sometimes I caved and just curled up with books or movies or television and wasted my day. Only once did I avoid hanging out with people–and that was just as equally just exhaustion on my part. Most the time (since my moods happen at night) I was able to go to bed and wake up feeling fine the next morning. However, I was also able to stave off many of these moods by forcing myself to be productive and positive. Cleaning (and doing dishes) helps because it doesn’t take talent or skill but has a positive reward at the end with obvious results.

Closing thoughts: Doing your dishes has multiple positive benefits, including having clean dishes.

That Darkness

I love the autumn, especially October, and I love Halloween.
This year the season seemed to slip from summer into a brisk autumn that will only lead into winter. The leaves turned too abruptly, just like the weather, and then heavy rains dropped them to the ground before they had a chance to brighten the darkening sky.

I rise before the sun and set long after its last rays have faded from the faces of the buildings. The darkness just reminds me that for the next few months I’ll question everything, my joy, my life, my heart. And I’ll build a cocoon around myself, building the walls thicker and thicker through March, when I’ll start tearing the layers down, shedding winter clothes, until I emerge with the flowers and the butterflies.

I’ll stand in the sun’s warmth and smile, feeling the light fill me.

But there is a long darkness before then. November will be cold, but not lonely. December will be bitter. January will be dark. February will sap anything left. March will start to thaw with its stinging rain.

I can feel the darkness upon me.