Tag Archives: writing

what I’ve been into

TV that I’m into: “Playing House” on USA with Jessica St. Claire and Lennon Parham. I’ve been binge-watching this show, and I LOVE it. It’s exactly my sense of humor. It also has the added bonus of having Keegan-Michael Key in it.

TV that I’m looking forward to: “I’m Sorry” with Andrea Savage on TruTV

Books I’ve been reading: I’ve been reading A LOT lately, which is good. Just finished a historical novel called The Ghost of the Mary Celeste. It’s based on a real incident, and pulls a lot from history including the Spiritualism craze, Arthur Conan Doyle, and more. I just started my second Erik Larson book, In The Garden of Beasts. It’s about the American consulate in Germany during WWII and his family.

Work stuff: Just finished a book on Ethereum, which is Bitcoin’s competition. It’s unique in that you can create applications on its blockchain, it’s not just for currency. If that makes no sense to you, look it up, I’m not going to summarize the book again. I usually just get blank stares. Still working on the book for my Gildshire articles, too, just finished up editing and writing the intros.

What I’ve cooked/baked lately: Made no-bake brownies with black beans and dates. It’s more like fudge than brownies, but it’s delicious. Getting out a slice is kind of like digging for fossils, because they have to be frozen, but it’s worth it. I also made homemade tomato sauce the other day. It was a bit runny, but I can thicken it up by just reducing it some more. I didn’t make this, but we tried Ben and Jerry’s “One Love” ice cream flavor, which is banana ice cream, graham cracker, caramel, and chocolate peace signs. Chris says it might be his new favorite.

Fitness stuff: Still using the good ol’ mini trampoline and rowing machine most nights. I take just one day off a week. Also got myself a resistance band, which is very convenient. Looking forward to having the toned arms of my dreams. It’s been gross and hot lately, so haven’t been exercising outdoors as much as I (or Yoshi) would like, but what can ya do. I know weight isn’t the goal here, but I am happy that I’ve successfully went down to about 155 after plateauing at 160 for so long. Paying attention to macros and sugar has made the difference. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating just 1200 calories if way too many of them are coming from sugar.

Novel stuff: Still steadily working on my Harley Gray novel. I filled out one notebook, so I’m on to a new one. That feels like an accomplishment. Been focusing a lot on trying to actually picture my characters moving around in the world I’ve created, so I can convey that to the reader. That means writing a lot of stuff that won’t actually end up in the book. I’m still figuring out how to get that in the story without actually putting it in the story (like a character’s whole marriage, basically), but I enjoy the challenge.

So that’s pretty much it, that’s what I’ve been doing. Small group meets again soon. Chris’ parents will be visiting, which means beach day!




stress thoughts, folk music, and sweat

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I’ve been getting a lot of stress thoughts at night. These are the unpredictable, persistent thoughts that pepper my brain when I can’t fall asleep quickly enough, which is every night. Yoshi is coming home soon, so that’s been preoccupying me. I’ll start thinking things like, “What if he hates it here and the neighbors complain?” and then, “What if he dies? What if he gets so excited that he has a heart attack?” Then I’ll worry about Baxter, and go lie in his room so I can hear him rustling around, which proves he’s alive. My pills have been acting up and being weird, so if I don’t take the last one with enough food, it makes me sick. That’s a new development, and it’s not fun. They just can’t cooperate, can they?

Penny & Sparrow is my favorite band right now. Chris thinks they’re too “chill,” and that they make him want to fall asleep. He says that like it’s a bad thing. My music tastes have changed so much. I tried listening to Skillet recently, one of my favorites from high school, and I was not impressed. Too loud. I’m old.

It’s been in the 90’s weather-wise. I don’t I’ve ever sweat so much in my life. When I work out, I point the fan directly at myself, and it makes a big difference. Otherwise, I think I would literally die. It would not be safe.

I wish I could work on my novel more. I have a notebook where I scribble a few lines or pages as often as I can, and I need to type that up. One of my characters changed a lot from my first draft. She went from being really sweet and sensitive to kind of a tough cookie. It was not at all on purpose. I guess that’s just what she’s meant to be.


Songs For Sad People

To me, music is the antidepressant I know best, and one that is devoid of side effects. While necessary for many, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors frighten me because some artists and authors say they stunt their ability to create. As a writer, that’s unsettling, having my voice muffled or extinguished.

I know I may well have to use them at some point. I may need to find some stability from the ups and downs that characterize my depression, instead of white-knuckling as I have. But for now, I find, tiny instances of relief can be found in the furthest reaches of depression, small reminders that life is worth it.

Sometimes you just have to find the strength to push play.

Full article: http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-music-that-has-helped-me-battle-depression-5014322

I love how this writer described her relationship with music. Music has always been a huge part of my life, from when I first began listening to music on my own, late at night, discovering the rock music of the 1980’s on my Walkman to now, when I create playlists based on specific characters I’m writing about. My main playlist is just called “Writing,” even though I don’t listen to music when I’m actually writing. It’s the music that inspires my writing, and it brings me calm. Kristian Libman listed a few of the albums, bands, and songs that have helped her depression, so I will do the same here.

  • Blue October – I’ve written about them before, and their impact is still true. Lead singer Justin has been through hell and back, and listening through the band’s albums is like hearing his life story.
  • Audrey Assad – One of the few Christian artists I consistently listen to. Her songs are like hymns in their lyrical sophistication, but so intimate and personal at the same time. Every song is a prayer.
  • Ingrid Michaelson – there’s something about the simple strength of her voice that calms me.

Additional artists:

  • Joy Williams
  • Jetta
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Jason Isbell
  • Bee Bakare
  • Greg Laswell
  • Matthew Mayfield

Here’s Where I Admit I Don’t Know What The Hell I’m Talking About

I wrote a book about how to deal with mental illness. It says things like, “Don’t isolate yourself,” “Find a community,” and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, I’m coming off of probably the worst few weeks in a long time, where I had to force myself to brush my teeth, showered maybe every four days, and sometimes slept all day. I also feel like a fraud. I wait to blog until I have something positive to say at the end of the post. Well, I don’t this time. Even writing this is hard work, but it’s important, because it’s important for you all to see the really bad parts, too.

These are the times when it’s nearly impossible to be coherent, when people ask how you are, and you open your mouth, and no words come out. It’s partly because I don’t want to be a downer, and partly because I don’t know how to explain what walking death really feels like. Usually, the best I can do is, “Merrg.”

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be around people. I really want to be around people, because it forces me to pretend to be a human instead of a husk. I’m performing, and if I do it long enough, maybe it’ll rub off. On the other hand, I’m left feeling empty when they leave, because I want to talk to somebody about the mess I really am, and I’m disappointed and angry and guilty. As hours pass, I start looking out the window, waiting for Chris, like a dog. When he comes and asks how I am, I want to just shake that part off, and move on. Can I press fast-forward on this part? Or will I just be skipping ahead forever?

To The Brokenhearted: Being a Christian with Depression

My first Kindle ebook is now available for purchase on Amazon. It costs $4.99 and is enabled for lending on the Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get it on your computer or smartphone using the Amazon Kindle app. Here are some instructions:


I hope some of you check it out!


What Ghostwriting Taught Me

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1. I don’t have time for perfection

I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist, except when it comes to fiction. When I first started writing stories, I would frequently write eight different beginnings. I never finished my fantasy trilogy I planned. When we switched computers and I copied all my files over, I would find at least five documents with completely different stories with the same title. Committing to detail outlines has alerted my tendency to write and rewrite, but I still have trouble feeling satisfied with my fiction. Ghostwriting changed all that. On my second fiction job, I had to write a 35,000 novel in a week. For you math folks, that is 5,000 words a day. In theory, that didn’t sound too bad. I had been writing non-fiction at that rate for a while. Fiction is completely different. Your sentences can’t all have the same structure. Characters have to make sense and be somewhat consistent. There has to be action and resolution. To meet my deadline, I had to shrug off perfection and settle for “decent.” I was able to finish that assignment in 8 days, which brings me to my next lesson…

2. Don’t push too hard

A week to write 35,000 words is an absurd deadline. With ghostwriting, I typically set my own schedule. My boss says, “As soon as possible, but as long as it takes,” which is not especially clear, but it usually means I write between 10-20k a week. When I wrote the second half of that particular novel, I gave myself two weeks to write the 35,000. It was a much wiser choice and ultimately made for a better book. I was able to finish a little early and go back to do edits. By not pushing myself, a better product was produced.

3. Letting go is hard

So I technically already knew this. But I didn’t know it applied to writing. I could write one book in a series and someone else writes the others. For my most recent book, I was fortunate enough to write both parts. When I finished the first and wasn’t sure if I would be asked to do the second, I felt weird and abandoned by my characters. What would happen to them? I had ended the book on a slight cliffhanger and had written it so fast, there was no time to process. My characters feel like my friends: I know their likes and dislike, feel their fears and joys, and worry about their families and future. Letting go of them and leaving their fates up to a stranger is not easy. It basically proves that letting go is never easy, regardless of what it is.

4. I’m a good writer

For two of my assignments, I finished what other people started. In reading what they wrote, I realized that I’m a good writer. I pay attention to sentence structure and word choice. I know when something needs to be elaborated on. I don’t really think about myself in comparison to others when it comes to writing, but it is nice to realize I’m better than most people. That’s not an arrogant statement, it just is. I’ve spent years really caring only about writing and written a ton for high school and college, so I should hope I’ve gotten good over the years.

5. I want to own what I write

As a ghostwriter, I don’t have rights over anything I write. My name will not appear on any final products. For most of what I write, I don’t care. I wrote an erotic novel a couple months ago which I’m kind of glad I’m not associated with, not because it’s bad, it’s just not great. But then there’s the good stuff I write. I’ve written TONS of prepping books (“prepping,” as in, preparing for a large scale disaster like economic collapse, weather event, etc) and I’m basically an expert now. It would be nice if my name was on those, so I could be recognized. It’s also a pain to want to maybe post some of what I wrote, but having to remember I can’t claim credit for it anywhere online. I even had to edit this post, because I gave the plot details for the novel and realized, probably shouldn’t do that because it could be traced back to me. I also have to remember if I get a really good idea for something, I need to think about if I want to keep it for myself, or send it out there to be claimed by someone else. Ghostwriting is definitely a temporary thing for me. I want to own what I write, mistakes and all.

photography and the mentally ill

Photography has played an important part in my life. I first got interested in photography when I about 13 and used disposable black-and-white cameras. Capturing moments that were not staged and people as they really were was my thing. My first picture I felt really proud of was of a friend who I had just stand and purposely not smile. His mother loved the photo and said it was “So him.” 

When I fell into more obvious depression and social anxiety, having a camera became my shield. If I couldn’t enjoy moments with friends, at least I could take pictures of them. 

Young photographer John William Keedy (29) has been taking advantage of his skills to document his anxiety. It took him nearly a decade to start taking pictures focused on his anxiety, and the results are striking. Here is an excerpt from his interview with NPR: 

When did you start shooting the photographs?

It took seven or eight years after I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder before I started making these images. And to be completely honest, this started as a way for me to indulge my own anxieties and my own compulsions, but still stay productive in a way.

A lot of the images portray these repeated actions, and I actually performed the actions. So there’s the image with the floss in the sink. I flossed with 300 of these flossers. Thinking about it still makes my gums hurt.

But to be honest, for the most part it wasn’t completely unpleasant. There’s some comfort in the repetition for me. So the project sort of allowed me to indulge in this sort of thinking for a set period of time, and when I was done with a photo, it was fine to get it back under control.

The floss one hurt a lot, though.

At what point did you decide to show them to the public?

It wasn’t originally something that I planned on showing to a lot of people. I was worried about what people were going to think about me and about my mental state.

But after showing them to a few people with mental disorders, and hearing them say that they identified with them, I thought it was important to make an effort to show them more.

There’s a stigma that goes with having a mental illness. It comes with this idea of weakness of will. Which is weird, because if somebody had a broken arm you’d never tell them to will their way out of it. And because it’s not something that a lot of people talk about, it’s easy to feel that you’re alone, that you’re the only one who’s having these thoughts and feeling these feelings

NPR, 2014
The founder of the Broken Light Collective also has a very personal with the pain of mental illness. In the group’s profile in the New York Times, she describes her lifelong struggle and how photography played a role in helping. 


“I thought about killing myself for the first time in seventh grade,” said Ms. Hark, now 33. “I went from therapist to therapist and medication to medication, not comfortable with anyone or any drugs.”

Two years ago, on one of her worst days, something different happened. “I was literally on the bathroom floor, bawling,” she said. “But I picked up my phone and started taking pictures — paint peeling on the door, reflections in the mirror. It just took a couple of minutes for me to become more present, breathing more normally. It was a really important moment.”

NYT, 2014

The Broken Light Collective is an online gallery for photographers with mental illness. Not all of the photos are specifically about mental health, but because all the photographers share similar struggles, the images form an extremely well-rounded perspective on a variety of disorders like bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD, borderline personality, eating disorders, and others. The group just had their first live show in New York City this summer. 

Photography and mental illness have a close relationship because describing disorders like chronic anxiety and depression is really difficult. Even as a writer, I understand the limitations of words. When I was in the worst part of my depression, my journals were either empty or filled with disconnected ramblings. I started painting. Images can convey something that words just cannot. Again, it is hard to explain. Take a look at these images instead.

John Keedy

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The Broken Light Collective

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E.S. Huberty

Learning How To Do Things

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Soooooo, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I won’t be blogging as much because I actually got a reliable freelance job.


So far, I have rewritten 12,000 words of StrengthsFinders descriptions and three blog posts that my boss has described as “flawless.” I know, I know, I’m bragging, I”m sorry.

I’m just really relieved and I’m learning how to do things now, like getting up at 7am to Skype with my Germany-located boss and clean the bathroom and kitchen from top to bottom. Having things that I HAVE TO DO and having someone who is giving me money to do them has motivated me to do a lot of different things, like cleaning, and going to the store and taking showers and eating at the right times and going to sleep before 1am. Like actually falling asleep before 1am. That was weird. I’ve actually gotten up to work before Chris has.

So that’s what’s going to be going on for a while. I’m still thinking through all of life’s big issues and coming up with blog post ideas, but I have not had time to write them out. Which is good news. Thank you to everyone who has been thinking and/or praying for me to find work and be more productive and just less stressed about where I am.


8 Famous Authors with Depression

ImageFrom everydayhealth.com

Mark Twain

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

This eccentric author (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn) also suffered from a form of narcolepsy later in life, and would often fall asleep while in the middle of speaking.

Stephen King

“Monsters are real. Ghosts, too. They live inside us and sometimes, they win.”

Prolific horror writer King has written about his lifelong struggles with depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“In a real dark night of the soul, it always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”

Fitzgerald led a party-hard lifestyle for most of his life, which ended at the young age of 44. He was also an alcoholic and had a complex relationship with his wife Zelda, who he ultimately separated from.

Sylvia Plath

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”

This poet is just as famous for her depression as she is for her writing. At 19, she made her first suicide attempt, and at age 30, she succeeded in taking her own life. Her only novel The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical story of a young woman who goes through electric shock therapy for her depression.

Tennessee Williams

“I’ve had a wonderful and terrible life and I wouldn’t cry for myself.”

Williams is famous as the writer of the plays “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Night of the Iguana,” but was also dangerously addicted to various drugs and alcohol as a way to deal with his anxiety. He got hooked on prescription pills and was once committed to a mental hospital for three months.

Anne Rice

“The world changes. We do not. Therein lies the irony that kills us.”

Mostly known for her vampire novels and now writing religiously-themed books, Anne Rice began her career after the death of her 5-year old daughter and a difficult bout with depression.

Emily Dickinson

“This is my letter to the world
That never wrote to me.”

Since not much is known about this poet’s personal life, it is possible that she may have had depression, bipolar disorder, and/or anxiety. Though her poetry was never famous during her lifetime, the discovery of hundreds of poems after her death have ensured her legacy.

J.K. Rowling

“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope.” 

J.K. Rowling was struggling with depression when she began to write the famous Harry Potter series and has continued to deal with the complications that arise from the mental illness. The Dementors from her books serve as a metaphor for depression, as they suck the life force from their victims.