Writing with Depression and Anxiety

I don't know if I've ever told the blog this, but I have anxiety and depression. 




Fact: I've never been diagnosed by a doctor. Fact: I know myself well enough to describe how I feel. 

Medically, Anxiety is described as a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior. (Trust me, I've had my fair share of compulsive regrets.)

And Depression is described as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness as well as a lost in interest. 

Together, the two of these can create an explosion of chaos within each other. It's like mixing two great colors together but constantly getting brown. It's somewhat frustrating. 

The thing about the two of these mental illnesses within myself is that sometimes I feel more anxiety than I feel depression, and sometimes I can't pinpoint why I feel the way I do--like why I'm happy now, but how I can be stuck in a mood two days from now.

Though I've sought help for these problems, I've found that writing is a saving grace. I wish I could thoroughly explain how writing makes me feel--the endorphins that are released--but I can't. I wish I could sit inside of your chest, so I could simply show you because I know it'd be easier that way.

But writing literally opens me up in a way that's terrifyingly beautiful--like crazy beautiful. I mean, have you ever written while in a mood? You get some psychotic scenarios, but you also get really extravagant ones, and you wonder how the hell that happened, but then you end up with an entire chapter based off one sentence.

It's completely magical.

This post isn't particularly special, but I felt the need to share my experience on writing with depression and anxiety, and how having a mental illness doesn't have to hinder you or your dreams.

Honestly, I bet you could reach the stars if you wanted to.

Here's a clip of writing from my latest manuscript, Rubatosis. Every aspect of this book is covered with my inner problems, and I'm okay with that. Everyone should be.

"She watched the sun in the distance, fading west, and she took note of how it touched every surface. Nothing was left behind, not even her eyes. It was all these small things, and she wanted to cry. Was it that bad, she thought. Was it so, so very bad that she couldn’t see? Maybe this place really did hold the key that drove people mad, and all it took was a turn and one small thing. The past moments mimicked a kaleidoscope in her head, and what she realized was that she wanted to spend this time with Noah, and she set off to find him.
Ila walked to his shack, still pressing her arms against her abdomen, and she didn’t knock when she entered the dimly lit room. Noah acknowledged her presence. He was seated on a rocking chair in the corner with his guitar in hand. He played a gentle melody, and the tune echoed against the walls and vibrated in her ears. The chord progression he chose mimicked the wings of a bird in flight, and he picked the strings intricately before he began to sing. Then he closed his eyes as the words of the song took him away to a place of serenity and heartache.
Ila sat on the ground before him, legs crossed, and she studied the shadows in his face. His eyelashes laced together; his uneven lips opening and parting to the lyrics, and his facial expressions slightly changing with the chords. She could tell that his passion for music was fueled by the brokenness inside of him, and it was one of the best things she’d ever witnessed. In this moment, he was more of the moon than he’d ever been, shining so brightly in this darkness they’d created. She had a hard time fathoming how he existed in her world. Up to this point, she had heard him sing multiple songs, but she still hadn’t grown tired of it. She was obsessed with his voice and the power behind it.
Noah rocked in his chair, moving to the tempo, and the song went on for minutes. They didn’t speak. He didn’t open his eyes, and he was relieved that he didn’t have to answer her question to where he had been the last few days. After all, there was no such a thing as a good lie."

Till next time.

WANTED: Beta and Critique Readers


Friends, I've done it. I'VE COMPLETED THE MANUSCRIPT. 
(Refer to previous blog post where I sign my name in blood and make promises, here.)




What this simply means is that I need you. I need everyone's help. 

I am in search for a few beta readers and critique readers to help perfect my manuscript so that I can begin the agenting/query process. 

If you've ever been in search of an agent, then you know exactly where I'm coming from. 

Here are the basics: 

Beta Readers: I need beta readers for content of the manuscript and feedback. Does the manuscript hold a solid theme that prevails to the end? Do the characters develop in a correct manner? Could you relate to the characters in a way that would make you want to purchase the book?

Critique Readers: I need two critique readers who love dealing with grammar. I'll admit, I haven't been too particular with comma placements in this first draft, and you'll probably find a homophone or two. But that's why I need you. Along with grammar, feel free to judge the content too. Every little bit helps. 

The novel is about 54,000 words--give or take. Though I haven't started the query process, here is a rough overview of the story, Rubatosis

At ten-years-old, Noah Dean Turner learns that he has a disorder with his heart. The sound is more of a tripled thud-thud-fail than a resounding steady drum. Paralyzed by this new truth, Noah becomes determined to find the missing piece of logic in the world. He wants to know if his life, and everything in it, amounts up to anything at all.
 By Eighteen, Noah has collected over one hundred books. The words and characters stain his brain, morphing him into a boy with a knack for music, an interest for birds, and a deep addiction to literature.
 Quickly, Noah discovers that many of the books he’s read relates to the people he knows, so he labels them, giving them stories that play out in their actual life. But after an unfortunate series of events followed by the death of his granddad and living with his promiscuous aunt, Noah sets out to discover his own story. By chance, he comes upon Camp Neodesha, a retreat center where many people go for solace, but where Noah is slowly going mad.
 Then Noah meets a writer. From her one green eye to her one brown, Noah doesn’t understand how she makes sense in the world he’s created for himself. Worse than that, however, is that Noah can’t seem to figure her out; he can’t place a story on her that he’s already read. His desire to unveil her only brings him closer to her, but Noah knows that he is fatal. He is a ticking time bomb, and at any moment, he feels his heart could literally beat right out of his chest.
It is best to contact me here: http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/33765-chapter-by-chapter-swaps-rubatosis/ 

But if you don't have an Agent Query account, feel free to leave a comment below or fill out a "Contact Me Form" in the right column.

I'm really excited about this, friends.

Wish me luck as I push onward.

Warmest Regards,

Britney

Rubatosis: The Unveiling


If you follow my blog at all, you are well aware by now that I am knee-deep into a new manuscript.
This, ladies and gents, is the unveiling of it.  




But really, this is nothing new. I've had the characters in mind for a year now. I've actually written them into two other stories, before this one, and then deleted it. 

I was struggling, bad, but I was so in love with my characters--Noah specifically--that I wanted to make it work. I knew I had a story for him. So March of this year, I was finally able to figure that story out, and in about a week, I finished the synopsis. 

Then, something weird happened. 
And when I say weird, I mean weirder than that girl showing off her dance moves to the Frankenstein-looking guy in the GIF above. 

I met the main character of my book. 

Yeah, go ahead and re-read that sentence above, people! I freaking MET the MAIN CHARACTER of MY book! How bizarre is that?!?!

Let me explain as thoroughly as I can. 

A year ago I produced the idea of my character, Noah. (I had previously named him Theo--meaning God's gift--but it was super corny so I changed it.) The first image I'd ever had of Noah was that of him sitting on the porch of a small farmhouse, watching a swarm of birds fly by, they were migrating south. I was so intrigued by this character that I immediately wrote down everything I knew about him. For example, I knew that Noah was interested in birds. He was curious about them, and he wanted to know why they did what they did. I knew that Noah was an adventurer because of it--he's an explorer of many things--he likes to learn. I knew that Noah could sing and play the guitar, and along with that, I knew that he had a deep love for books. He collects them, and he spends most of his time reading them. He actually connects with them so much that he is able to relate the stories he's read to the people he's encountered in real life. Deeper than that, though, I knew that Noah was broken. At a young age, he had already experienced so much life, more than anyone he knew, and it made him rough around the edges--a depressive by nature. I also knew that Noah was a lover, and a genuine guy just trying to figure out what life entails. But there was one thing I knew about Noah that would carry the theme of the entire book: he has a condition with his heart that causes it to beat two times too fast. It's how I got the title. When rubatosis is defined, it means, the unsettling awareness of one's own heartbeat. 
Perfect, right?

And then I met . . . we'll call him Jo.*

Before I met him, I was already warned that this Jo character had a mild obsession with birds. In fact, that's all I knew about him for a couple of weeks, and, to be quite honest, I didn't think anything of it. When I met him at the church camp I interned with this summer (yes, this is the one from last summer as well,) I knew that Jo and Noah were very similar . . . and this was after he explained to me how birds reproduce. I didn't realize it all at once--though there was a turning point when I was like, "what the hell? Is this actually happening right now?

Here's a timeline of things: 
*note: I've already had Noah written out for about nine months up until this point. 

Three weeks into the summer: Jo and I become friends. He's reading this book to me about science (He's an Environmental Bio major,) and about half an hour into it, and after he's already asked, "are you sure you want me to keep reading out loud? I could do this all day, but I don't want to annoy you," about a thousand times, I find myself wondering if, in fact, he could do it all day. So I ask him, and for some reason that I can't remember, he takes me to the trunk of his car. When he opens it, inside lies a little more than fifty books spilling from this old duffel bag. There was probably more. He told me that he had plans of reading all of them this summer. That he just really liked reading. That day I remember quoting, "You remind me of my book character." To this he said, "Are you writing about me?" My response: "Yeah. I guess I am." 

A few days later: He walks into the dining hall and starts playing his guitar. He was good from what I could tell. Then he began to sing, and I about lost it. The kid is freaking amazing. Like, go record an album immediately, amazing. 

Sometime in the middle of the summer: At this point, I've known Jo for awhile, and I gather that he's a very passionate, very thorough, person. I also learn that, like Noah, he's endured a lot of heartaches in his life. Because of it, it's changed his perception on how he views people and the outside world. 

Toward the end of summer: Now, this is the part that baffled me the most. I'm in the kitchen, yappin' about something unimportant, and out of nowhere, Jo says, "Yeah, I have a heart condition." He tells me that as a child, he went to get it checked out multiple times, but at some point he got tired of it. He learned that he had an abnormal heartbeat, and I'm pretty sure he was so nonchalant about the whole thing he said something along the lines of: "If I die, I die."

I was so freaked out about everything that I about died. Literally, right there. And I tried to tell him that he was Noah, but he didn't understand. 
Then I tried to tell anyone who would listen to me. I felt like I was going crazy, and I needed to process what was happening. 
People understood, but they didn't. Not really: I met a character that I made up in my head. These things don't happen often--if, ever. As I'm writing this, I'm still completely baffled. Noah is so real, I can touch him. I can touch him and know that every good and bad thing about him resides in my friend, Jo. How is this possible?

And besides some of the obvious facts, there were many other similarities that made them alike, even down to the exact, same, complicated eye color. I told myself that if I didn't finish this book, then I was a literal idiot. God had somehow allowed me to spend the entire summer with my book character, and if I didn't use those experiences, I'd just be wasting myself. (God's gift, huh?)

So here I am, about two months later and about three hours into writing this, swearing to whoever is reading this, and to the world, that I will finish this book, this year, by December. I will do whatever it takes--even if that means writing one thousand words each week. EVEN if that means that I have to sacrifice sleep, chocolate, and boys. 

It will be done. This is a promise. 

To conclude this very long, drastic and dramatic blog post, I will sign my name in blood (not really, that's completely impossible.) 

Here goes:

I solemnly swear to abide by all promises listed above--yes, even the one about giving up boys,

Britney S. Lewis





Music and Writing


After receiving some encouraging words, and a little heartache, I'm back at it again--I'm writing!

There is hope for this book to see the end.


The advice my writing friends gave me summed up to this: Just write something, even if you don't like it. 

So I did, for awhile, and they were right--the juices came back. 

But anyway, today's blog post is about music and writing. 

I noticed that I am substantially inspired by music when it comes to my writing. Anything with an acoustic guitar, minors, and a voice with soul, seems to pull all the great words and scenes out of me. 

I don't know what it does to me, but it makes me feel . . . . it makes me feel a lot. So much so that I have to listen to that song over and over again so that I can create those feelings. 

This new book I'm writing, I think I'll call it Rubatosis, retains most of it's scenes from songs that have inspired me. I had a friend ask me the other day, "How do you translate a song into a scene?"

Here's my response: You have to take the essence of it--the throbbing, the tempo, the chords--force it into your heart, and translate those words into scenes.

So this is what I've been doing. 

Most of the music I've been listening to has been written or covered by a friend of mine who is an amazing guitar player, writer, and vocalist. He creates very, very sad songs, so if you're into that like myself, check out some of his tunes: 

Running -- Most Recent!

And of course, other musicians:


And anything by Ray LaMontagne:

Well, that's it for this post! I hope some of this music makes you inspired as well! 
What do you listen to to promote inspiration? 

In my next blog post, I'll be talking more about Rubatosis, and hopefully, I can finish up some series: How Writers Made It Big, and Writing in the Twenty-First Century. 

Till Next Time!






Truth

So here's the thing: I haven't been able to write in months.





I mean, yeah, I'll choke out a paragraph or two, but I've legitimately missed the tail on this one.
It's not even that I don't like my book or my characters--I like all those things. I'm obsessed with my words, and I find myself reading them over and over again.

And I'm stuck.

Stuck because I can't get past those words. I want the story to end, I know how it ends, heck I've even written a rough draft of the ending, but I can't get to that point.

Does any of this happen to any of you?

Do you feel your words trapped within your thoughts, so far hidden that even if you tried to rescue them you couldn't get them out?

That's how I'm feeling, guys.

I need my words. I need some inspiration.
Give me something.

Sincerely,
lost with no words.

Friday Blues and A Mix of Tea


Not exactly sure why I titled this "Friday Blues".



Today is anything but sad. ( . . . For the most part. We won't get into my irrational highs and lows. I'll save that for the other blog.)

It's been one hell of a month, though, and I can't express how enthused I am to be sitting on my couch, computer on my lap, watching black and white television, and WRITING!

Gee, it's been so long, and no one had the nerve to say, "Hey, if you don't write for a month, you'll lose your soul!" So imagine the tugging on my heart from the lack of words, and the separation of all-things-light inside of me.

Don't say I didn't tell you so!

Okay, but beside all that, the distance from my laptop has actually been a great thing--believe it or not.

I've actually come up with a new series for ya'll! (No worries, I'll still be continuing the series on How Writers Made it Big.)

I think you all will take liking to this one: It's a series on how to get published in the twenty-first century--something I wish I could find on the web.

How are you going to write this, considering you're not published, you might ask?

Simple: I read!

Okay, so there's this awesome book, written by a literary agent, who gives all these tips on how to get published. Along with that, I'll give you my personal experience on each tip and what I think about it. (Trust me, I've read this book twice.) It's quite interesting, and it held my attention, so I trust it will hold yours also.

That's it for today's post. I will now enjoy my Green/Orange tea and work on my manuscript for this new book.

Till next time Blog World,


Here's An Idea: Write The Synopsis First!

Say What?





So it's spring break for me, and I've already written three chapters of a new book--that's a lot considering the week isn't even over yet . . .

How? You might ask.

I wrote the synopsis first.

Obviously, this isn't a new thing. Writers have been doing this for centuries (possibly). And though I've known of this advice, I never considered it because, seriously, who wants to write a synopsis at all?

But in this case, it's done me good. My schedule this semester is quite hectic (Er, you've might've notice from the lack of posts) and I haven't been able to write as much as I hoped. But creating a synopsis helped a lot.

Here's why: 


-It's Fast:

Once I got the hang of it, it was easy for me to plan out what I wanted every chapter to look like. So I started with one sentence per chapter and eventually expanded to a paragraph. When I finished, it looked kind of like a Sparknotes layout.

-It helps with the essential theme of the story:

It's always solid to have a good theme that circles throughout the process of the story. It's easy to do that when you can see the main concepts of each chapter on one to two pages.

-Character progression comes easier:

In this book, my main character grows quite a bit. It's nice to plan out his breaking points and the areas that are most essential to him. That way, its easier for me to have the MC reflect on those events later in the story.



Those are the pros I've acquired thus far. The con would be actually writing the synopsis . . . that's the hardest part.

Has anyone else had any luck with writing their synopsis first? I'd love to hear about it. Post your comments below!


Till Next Time,

How Writers Made It BIG: Stephen King

"I was made to write stories . . . that's why I do it. I really can't imagine doing anything else," said New York Time's best-seller, Stephen King.



Photo from: http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/stephen-king/

Like many writers, King knew that writing was his talent. And indeed, it surely was.

While living in a trailer, King went to work on his fourth novel. It was to be a short story for Cavalier Magazine.

King had the idea to write about a teenage girl named Carrie with the gift of telekinesis. He got this idea from a book he had previously read about mental abilities. However, his idea for the main character's personality had derived from paying close attention to a girl he knew in middle school and high school.
"She was a very peculiar girl who came from a very peculiar family. Her mother wasn't a religious nut like the mother in Carrie; she was a game nut, a sweepstakes nut who subscribed to magazines for people who entered contests … the girl had one change of clothes for the entire school year, and all the other kids made fun of her. I have a very clear memory of the day she came to school with a new outfit she'd bought herself. She was a plain-looking country girl, but she'd changed the black skirt and white blouse – which was all anybody had ever seen her in – for a bright-colored checkered blouse with puffed sleeves and a skirt that was fashionable at the time. And everybody made worse fun of her because nobody wanted to see her change the mold, " said King. 
Once King finished the first three pages, he threw them in the trash--something I would do.

King had said:
"Some woman said, 'You write all those macho things, but you can't write about women.' I said, 'I'm not scared of women. I could write about them if I wanted to.' So I got an idea for a story about this incident in a girls' shower room, and the girl would be telekinetic. The other girls would pelt her with sanitary napkins when she got her period. The period would release the right hormones and she would rain down destruction on them… I did the shower scene, but I hated it and threw it away." 
But like any other good spouse, King's wife dug his papers out of the trash, encouraging him to finish it. And once he finished it two weeks later, he sent it out.

Soon enough, he received a telegraph that said: Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2,500 Advance Against Royalties. Congrats, Kid - The Future Lies Ahead, Bill.




Before he knew it, New American Library had purchased 400,000 rights for his paperback book, and a year after the release, it sold one million copies.

Now, over forty years later, King is still known for Carrie and many other books he's written that makes readers afraid to sleep at night.


What to learn from Stephen King:

-Even if you have a wacky idea, don't give up on it. The odd ideas tend to be the best ideas.

Shock Factor:

-Can we just take a moment to reflect on the fact that King wrote a stellar book in TWO WEEKS. That's a record.

-Though Carrie was his fourth novel, it was his first published book.

References:

http://stephenking.com/faq.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_%28novel%29
http://www.biography.com/people/stephen-king-9365136#early-life

Writing In Times of Sorrow


It seems as if I've fallen off the face of the planet. 








It's probably true.

On January first, a friend of mine died in a tragic car crash.

When I found out, it felt like the universe had been sucked from it's oxygen, and I couldn't breathe.

Because even doing that hurt.

At some point, I decided to write. I decided I would take my pain and put it into words. But it wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. It took me a week to even write this post.

All my hipster friends were writing about it the day after they found out, and I absolutely could not. I wanted it to feel right, but it felt weird. How could I do something I loved, when someone I loved was gone?

My friend was a writer, too. We weren't super close, and this year, our paths had kind of split into two, but when it came to writing, it was almost like we were the closest of friends. Writing does that to people. It compels you to start an estranged friendship. And she wasn't into the big wigs, nor did she want to get a book published. But she was the in-the-closet, really-good, sultry, hard-core-love-song, kind of writer. And that made her ten times the woman than she already was.

She was actually reading one of my books (though the book she was reading was crap, and I don't blame her for never getting around to finishing it,) but I realized that, even in times of triumphs and chaos, I could write. I was given that. She wanted to read my book because she wanted to help me make it better. She believed in me, and the fact that I was even pursuing my dream meant a lot to her.

She inspired me to continue writing that third/fourth book I always give up on. (And trust me, I always give up on it.)

This whole death thing is weird, but somehow . . . somehow, there's goodness in all of it. While our clocks still tick, it's easy to forget the things that we're passionate about. It's so easy to forget the moments and words that make our hearts stop beating for a millisecond.

And when her clock ran out, she reminded me of how precious my time here really was. She reminded me why I was passionate about writing. She reminded me that many good things can actually form from dust.

So though her body is gone, her soul is still alive, and because of her I have a damn-good, sultry, hard-core, love story.

Thank you, Q.




The Time Boat

"Writing takes time," said I after beating myself up for the millionth time.






Because for some reason I feel like I should write a book in three months. Get it published within a year, and see my name in lights within two.

No doubt about it, these are unrealistic expectations.

But I've seen writers do it! I've seen so many talented people jump out of the time boat and into reality.

I've seen their names in lights, on billboards, and in screens.

They've done it. I've even written about it here on my blog. But what about me? What's my problem, and why am I stuck on this boat where the water never ends, I'm sea sick, and the only way out is under?

I get inspired and I write, and write, and write, until nothing. I'm drained.

My good words, the voices in my head, it mutes at once. Something must be wrong with me, I think.

And then I edit, erase, and rewrite. And I edit, erase, and rewrite. And I'm stuck. I'm STUCK.

I can't get off the freaking boat. My words are my worst enemy. They keep me where they want me. They sink me.

But . . . not really. I'm still afloat. In this time boat.

And in my moment of frustration, at the sweat of my brow, I realize something grand: real writing takes time. 

I mean, hello, I'm at sea. Each time the sun rises and sets it inspires me. That fireball in the sky gives life. It breaths words into my insides, and I'm able to write.

And when I write, it's euphoric.

It's tingly, and warm, and filling.

I savor those words in my mouth, for every little bit counts. And I want more. I want SO MUCH more! And I binge on every single word.

I feel. My words let me feel.

It is, indeed, my best high.

Yes. I'm addicted. "I'm addicted," I say.

Perhaps, that's why I can't leave this time boat anyway . . .


The time it took to write this: I lost track after an hour.

I think I'll go get some tea now.

Happy New Year!

Representation . . . What?!

Ahhhh, Writing friends! It has happened. One month later, and here were are. A literary agent wants to represent me. How craz...