There are multiple purposes for this blog. First, I'd like to share with you how mental illness can interfere with or enhance the writer's life. Second, I want to explore a more disciplined approach to the writing life. This blog will hold me accountable as I navigate story throughout my battle with mental illness.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Frank Bertrand writings about PKD on Scribd

Frank Bertrand has been a Philip Dick fan since probably before I was born. In the 70's and 80's he conducted several interviews with Phil, and has written extensively about him since Phil's death.

I read a few of his articles when I first had the "PKD connection" on 6-23-2002. I'll be rereading those articles and even more for the first time.

His writings can be found here at Scribd

I've got a lot of rereading to do so I can complete this memoir. I'm looking forward to it.

Thank you, Frank, for all the time and hard work you have put in for the PKD community.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Memoir Kickstarter Project Launched

I've officially launched my Kickstarter project today. Kickstarter is a fundraising site for creative projects. In this model, one launches a project and sets a deadline to meet their funding goal (1-60 days). If the funding is not met then the project will not be funded. It is an all-or-nothing situation.  Rewards (usually in the form of the finished product, e.g. books, CD's, DVD's, ect.  The more you donate, the better the rewards. Also rewarding, is knowing that you will help someone fulfill one of their dreams, that they may not have been able to do otherwise.

My memoir, called Alienus Tempus, concerns how I manage mental illness and common and not-so common philosophical inquiries while trying to explain mysterious and remarkable events that concern the late science fiction writer, Philip K Dick.

If you happen to read this post, please take a look at my project even if you decide not to donate. That's okay... just so you know that one day this memoir will be available to everyone at no cost.  I want to get this story out. It's my dharma.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Doing Philosophy - A Short Summary

Doing Philosophy by George MacDonald Ross et al. is a great introduction to the study of, or doing of philosophy, which includes reading, taking notes, discussing and writing essays. It is aimed toward university undergraduates beginning their study of philosophy, but it can be applicable to anyone wanting to study philosophy, of which I belong to the latter.

I really enjoyed the section on Reading Philosophy as I found it more applicable for my immediate needs, and is in fact, the cornerstone to doing philosophy. Different kinds of texts are discussed. If that journal article has you stumped, it's okay; the authors claim that even professional philosophers sometimes need to read an article several times to understand it. They say that when reading about a subject, it is essential to review arguments both for and against an idea. When reading philosophy, you must be careful to read thoroughly, and not skim. No speed reading! They offer a "structured reading" guide which will enhance your experience. Reading philosophy poses many challenges, such as technical language and translation issues, just to name a few. The authors cover this adequately.

Applicable to university students, they explain how plagiarism can take many forms, and how to avoid it.

Included in the "Writing Philosophy" section are four types of sample questions that one may need to write essays about. They discuss how you should think about the issue or question.

I believe my having read this book will benefit me in my self-study of philosophy and can do the same for you, whether a university student or on your own.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing Longhand

Writing inspiration hits when you least expect it. Much of the time it catches us when we are away from our computers. Even in my one-room efficiency apartment I find myself not writing because my laptop is either off or in standby. Sometimes, I simply don't want to open my journal software program. I feel awful and lazy about this.

But I know this: I do want to write. I have to do something about this, now. I've decided that it's not absolutely necessary to have a digital copy of my musings. Therefor, I have begun to use inexpensive composition notebooks. I get them at 40 cents a pop at Walmart.

I've got a comp notebook for just about everything: my official journal, writing exercises, notes on books I'm currently reading, book reviews, writing topics, dreams, my WIP, blog posts, and the one I carry around with me all the time - "Writing on Hand" notebook. I'm sure I've either got more or I'll make more in the future.  I figure, if the journal entry is really important, I can always back it up with my journal program.

As a result, I've written about five to ten times as much as I normally do. It may be overkill, but hey, it works for me. There are other benefits to writing by hand, as well. Plenty of pros and cons for each.

Disclaimer: This post was written initially in longhand and then transcribed to Blogger

What method works best for you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hiking Trip

I'll be gone for the next 4-6 weeks while I'm hiking the trails from Pittsburgh, PA to DC. I'll only have my cellphone, so availability and ease of use for blogging will be difficult at best. During rests I'll be reading Jean Paul Sartre's "On Being and Nothingness". That's sure to add some weight to my pack. It's a work on existentialism, ontology, and phenomenology. It will make quite the challenge. Even students majoring in philosophy require much preparation just to begin reading this book. I've done all that time will allow, and hopefully will have some insight to share at my return.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Change-Up

I've come to the conclusion that I need to set my current novel WIP aside and work on some other things. I'm finding that I need to do much more research than I want to do at this point. The reason is that I need to be writing. I do write in a journal, but I need to write fiction so I can improve upon it. And if I'm blocked in my novel because of the need to do too much research (I have OCD and ADD, so I feel I have to know everything about everything) I will never get to practice writing fiction.

Therefore, I've decided to switch to short stories for a couple of months or longer. I also joined a group of writers at Write 1 Sub 1, whose aim is to write AND submit a short story or flash fiction per week. This is indeed a challenge, however, one I think I would like to subject myself to. I'm off to read a little more about it, and to begin work on my first story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Medication Shuffle

It's time for a medication change. My doctor and I were going to do it on my next visit because I had just began another med change (dosage only). However, that's almost two months away, and that is two months I can't be like the way I am now. I've been taking Anafranil, of the older TCA class of antidepressants. It is also prescribed for OCD and is supposedly the "gold standard" for the treatment of OCD. My personal experience with this med is that when I try to increase the dosage to help control the depression, my obsessions become more difficult to manage. However, I need the increase to control the depression, which of the two, is more threatening for clear reasons.

Even though Effexor is a bear to get off of because of the incapacitating withdrawal symptoms, it had worked very well for me for over 7 years. It is an SNRI, a newer class of antidepressants (with significantly fewer side effects).  Since being off of it, my life seems to have kept going in a continual downward spiral. I just started about 4 days ago and will be titrating the dose up to a therapeutic level and titrating down the Anafranil. The effects of antidepressants can sometimes take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to be noticed.  I'm not certain whether or not is in my mind, but I am beginning to feel slightly more calm (Effexor is also prescribed for Anxiety disorders) and thus the OCD is less severe already. I hope this is a positive indication of things to come.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Finally Here

This is the final day for Blogathon 2011. I'm excited that I have been able to come this far. It can be so difficult for me to get my thoughts together. However, during the blogging, it was an inevitability that I had to stay the course.

At the beginning, I had talked about ways that I had prepared for the blogathon. And, other things I or anyone could do further to make life easier and more productive. Some of these tasks, I have achieved and some I haven't.

For instance, I had planned to pre-write several posts so I wouldn't have to write a last minute post. Which I failed miserably at. In the beginning I posted toward the beginning of the day, and toward the end most of my posts were in the evening. Procrastination kept rearing its ugly head.

I realized, however, that not every word I write has to be magic. At least I'm writing everyday, which was part of the purpose of this blogathon. I will attempt to keep this blog active with 1-2 posts per week at the beginning. I wish I could post everyday, but it just can't happen. I've met some really good people in this endeavor and hope you continue to visit. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Succeed with Short Term Goals

Trying to multitask, for one with OCD and ADD, is akin to pulling teeth. It's just damn near impossible. I've got a few writing projects I'm working on, as well as so much reading that I sometimes don't know where or when to begin. I want to read my dozen or so writing books that I've barely even looked at. I want to read my philosophy books. And I need to read science fiction that is similar to my WIP. Not only that, then there are the hi-tech/scifi books I've already read, but would really help to read again because of their similarities to my WIP.

So now, I'm trying to think in smaller loads. How about if it takes me 2 days to read a book from start to finish (at least fiction, I can do this), and at the very least spend 1 hour per day of at least thinking (preferably writing) about my novel. Even freewriting will work, as long as it has something to do with my WIP.

Just the thought of having completed one book in a day or two seems fascinating. What? A whole book read? Yes, if you can focus and not worry about all the other things (the trivial ones at least) that pop up in our lives. You'll have to be the judge of that. I think that would give me the spark to be even more goal oriented, because at that point, I know that I can do it; it is attainable. Not as futile as I once thought.

If you are anything like me and feel totally overwhelmed, then take a look at your project (whatever it may be) and imagine it as small chunks. Write them down, and mark them off when they are completed. I'm sure you will find it immensely rewarding.

Now, I'm off to create my short term goal sheets. However, do not forget about the long term goal either. You have to have a big picture, just don't focus on it all the time. Wish me Luck! And good luck to you, too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Journaling to Cope with Mental Illness

One of the many things I wish to discuss in great detail on this blog (in fact, it is one of the core missions) is how journaling and any writing for that matter can help one become mindful of whatever mental illness they may have or even for the average reader who needs to work on confronting emotions and thoughts of any kind.

I found a post about a how a young lady uses journaling to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This link is actually to a guest post by a blogger who is visiting the site that you will be directed to. It is a good, resourceful read. I hope you get something out of it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An Unfortunate Fact

Richard Dansky has a good post about writing about writing. In seven questions he covers quite a lot of territory.

If there's any one idea that I need to think about more, it's question #6

Per Dansky:

6-There’s so much good information on writing out there! How do I narrow it down?

Here’s a useful guideline: If you spend more time reading writing about writing than you do writing, you need to cut back. If you produce more tweets of links to articles about writing in a day than you do words, you need to cut back. If you have spent more time laying out plans for a blog you intend to write on writing but will never actually do anything on than actually writing, cut back and punch yourself in the back of the head a few times for good measure.

A good rule of thumb is to read until something sparks an idea and makes you want to write something of your own. If, over an extended period of time, nothing does that, you may want to ask yourself why you’re reading about writing, and instead turn to blogs and podcasts about golf, cooking, Bigfoot hunting, or making your own cheese from common household chemicals.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Being and Nothingness

One week left to go for the Blogathon! I don't know whether to be happy or sad. Seriously. When I'm feeling well, I can make a decent post every now and then. But when I'm feeling unwell, it's difficult to stay focused. Like, this last week I've been obsessing over the question "Why is there something as opposed to nothing?". This is a question that science can not answer at the moment, or possibly never will. It belongs in the realm of Theists and Philosophers. Can you imagine nothing?

And, I know this to be the case, yet the question pervades my every atom. It resonates within me, like I may be able to do something about it, or provide an answer. Everyone thinks this at some point in their lives. But, when you get seriously caught up in the moment, you seem to detach from yourself. A feeling of unreality settles in. You may feel like you are in a dream. This is a fleeting glimpse of Depersonalization. And it's been devastating this week, along with the OCD and Depression.

Depersonalization Disorder is this, but every day of your life. At least for me. Over the years, it has gotten better, but when I start thinking deep questions sometimes the Depersonalization gets worse.

The OCD portion of my brain won't let me quiet this thought, or be at peace with it. It ruminates over and over in my mind. I guess if I had a compulsion component to it, it would be researching the question on the internet and reading philosophy books, both of which I do. I will expand on these ideas in a future post, but I want to give it its due attention, so I will ease away for now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dude, What Happened to my Internet?

The Internet service is down for my area of town. I'm typing this on my iPhone now. So, with exception to the Haiku, this will be my shortest post. There's much I needed to say; I suppose it will have to wait till tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Places to Write

Today's post will coincide with another Blogathon theme day which is "What are your top 5 places to write?".

Given my current situation an location there are not many options of places to write. I live in an efficiency apartment so when I write at home (which is my favorite place) everything is cluttered around me, which is not very conductive.

So, if I could get out everyday, my top 5 places to write would be:

1. Home office (everything is here; physical storyboards, notes, pens, desk, etc.)

2. Any one of a number of public libraries (only one in my town)

3. Local coffee shop (we have one)

4. Bookstore/coffee shop such as Barnes & Noble (nearest one is about 23 miles away)

5. Any aesthetic local park 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Currently Reading

I've had this book for a while now. I just haven't read through it completely. I plan on starting this from beginning again, soon. If there is one thing I could use right now, it's the consistency of journaling.

 The existentialist angst is killing me, slowly. I have to let it out, and soon. Hopefully, this will help (as long as I write daily, huh?)

I have two book summaries I'd like to post soon, however, I won't be able to do it during the May Blogathon, because of time limitations. It's been a few weeks since I've finished reading the books. I still need to go through them again and take some notes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Empty Sunday

For lack of any
wise words to say for today
I leave you, Haiku

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reading Routine Reinvestigated

I've been trying to juggle too many reading projects at once. I was trying to juggle fiction, nonfiction, and a writing nonfiction books. I simply can't do it. Between the OCD and ADD, I'm too afraid to even begin; when I do I bounce amongst them so much that I can't retain anything. Therefore, I have implemented a new plan. I will try to read one book at a time, and try to read it within three days. I've been googling reading speeds and how quickly I should be able to finish a book. If I read 250 words (about 1 page) per minute, then I should be able to get through a 500 page book in about 8 hours. If 1.5 minutes per page, then 12 hours, which is doable. I will read parts of one writing nonfiction book when I need a break from the fiction.

Most of the fiction I will be reading will be science fiction or techno-thriller from which I may be able to get techniques and ideas for my current WIP.

As Thomas Edison said:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."


Friday, May 20, 2011

Third Day - PennWriter's Conference

The third and last day of the conference came too quickly. I attended a networking breakfast, then attended the final two workshops, followed by closing ceremonies.

08:00 - 09:00 Networking Breakfast
09:15 - 10:15 Avoiding Passivity with Catherine McLean
10:30 - 11:30 Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville
11:30 - 12:00 Closing Ceremonies

Arriving sort of early at the Networking Breakfast, I chose a table devoid of squatters (I'm kind of shy), and a few moments later a pleasant looking woman in business attire asks if she could sit beside me. I said, of course, and we talked for a little while. It wasn't until more people came to the table that I found out it was Victoria Skurnick, an agent with Levine Greenberg.  Thanks for the chat, Victoria.

Avoiding Passivity with Catherine McLean

Passivity in a story is a culprit behind the much versed "show, don't tell" rule of story writing. Catherine tells us (I suppose you could say shows us by using examples. lol!) that breaking free from the "telling" habit will require scrutinizing a first draft to look for the 3V's - View, Verbs, and Vividness.

The basic take home message about View (POV) was that if you can master it, then you can eliminate 90% of telling. You should also try to use "action" verbs and use helping verbs (verbs ending in LY or ING) sparingly. The last point was about Vividness. Try adding a little detail about the object you are describing. How about a few descriptive adjectives or a new, more descriptive noun altogether.

She closed with instructing us to look up the word "as" in a dictionary. I've done it, now it's your turn.

Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville

A great workshop to end the conference. She talked about having our "buckets" and which aspects of our lives go into each bucket and how we could and should balance those buckets. This was a very imformative session, in which Anne went over great detail about organizing our writing lives and making goals. She gave us some goal worksheets to fill out, along with a template to show us how it should be done. I got a lot from this workshop and have made several copies of the blank goal worksheet for my own use. She has pdf files of these worksheets on her website at elizabethkelleybooks.com 

Closing Ceremonies

This was the closing of 2011 PennWriter's Conference, which ended all too quickly. There were several gift baskets that were raffled and the tickets were drawn at this time. 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place winners in the "In Other Words" writing contests (One each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) were declared.

Since I didn't buy any raffle tickets for the baskets (I know... I know.... ) I left as they were calling off winners.

Overall, 2011 PennWriter's Conference seems to have been a great success with all the attendees and speakers, etc. It was a real eye opener and positive experience for me, too. I will not hesitate to attend this again next year.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Second Day - PennWriter's Conference

The second day of the conference (Saturday 5-14-2011) was very productive for me. There were four workshops I attended. Jonathon Maberry was the keynote speaker at luch, and delivered a very powerful message of "Yes We Can"!

08:00 - 09:00 Networking Breakfast
09:15 - 10:15 The Agent/Author Relationship with Nancy Martin
10:30 - 11:30 Your Life is Poetry with Timons Esaias
12:00 -   1:00 Lunch with Keynote Speaker Jonathan Maberry
  1:30 -   2:30 The Geography of a Novel with Kristin Blair O'Keeffe
  2:45 -   3:45 Writing from the Inside Out with Dennis Palumbo
  4:00 -   5:00 Book Signing
  5:00 -   7:00 Cocktail Party

The Networking Breakfast was a great opportunity to meet with more writerly minds, and enjoy decent food. I met a few more folks and saw some from my writing group, as well.

The Agent/Author Relationship with Nancy Martin 

She told us what what we should want from an agent and what we do not want in an agent. On the flipside, she also told us what agents were looking for in a client and what they did not want.

Your Life is Poetry by Timons Esaias

This was a very informative workshop in which I will blog about in more depth in a few days. So, all I'm going to say for now is that a poet takes a particular or practical event and transforms it into a Universal Experience.

The Geography of a Novel by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Something I learned (although, I already secretly knew it) is that people's habits grow out of relationship to place, that characters also react with place. One piece of advise Kristin gives is that you should at some points in your story, zoom in on the detail of your setting (such as a rock, nail, flower, bird's beak, etc.) and describe it as best as you can.

Writing From the Inside Out with Dennis Palumbo

I have to say that this was probably my favorite workshop. Dennis used to be a screenwriter and currently works as a psychotherapist who specializes with writer's issues. In this workshop, he spoke with us about writer's block and procrastination, and how "writing begets writing" which I actually blogged  about last week and referenced an interview that Dennis participated in. He say's we need to adhere to the 3 cosmic rules of writing.

3 Cosmic Rules of Writing:

1 You are enough right now to be the writer you want to be
2 Work with what you are given
3 Writing Begets Writing

He gave us a few informative handouts. I will probably post about this workshop in a future post, as well.
I bought two of Dennis's books while at the conference.

Writing From the Inside Out - Nonfiction
Mirror Image - a novel set in Pittsburgh whose protagonist is a psychotherapist

I got both of them autographed by Dennis. Cool!

The book signing was after the last workshop of the day, in the hospitality room.

After that, we  met in another room for the cocktail party. I had a glass of wine and about 3 beers. No, I didn't even waiver an inch. I was asked to go to dinner by a couple I had met the day before. There ended up being a group of 6 of us that went to Quaker Lube not far from the hotel. We enjoyed some good food and had great company. Thanks Larry, Hillary, Darrell, Jessica, and Sirena.

Knowing that it would be a late night and an early morning, I had decided to rent a room at the hotel for Saturday night. It was a good thing I did. I had a great night's sleep.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Day - PennWriter's Conference

Here's a brief rundown of the first day (5-13-2011) of the conference from my perspective:

Again traffic was a mean bugger due to roadwork being done on 79. I attended 4 workshops and also was a part of the networking lunch.

09:15 - 10:15 Four Truths of Character with Romona Long
10:30 - 11:30 Break free from the Slush Pile with CJ Lyons
12:00 -   1:00 Networking Lunch
  1:30  -  2:30 Shaping Story Arcs with Romona Long
  2:45 -   3:45 Balancing Dialogue and Narrative with Terry Friedman

Four Truths of Character with Romona

During this workshop we learned the difference between a Pourquoi story and an Origin story.
We learned that the first two truths: Place in Society and Place in Family are based on facts and may or may not change. The two remaining truths are Personality and Flaw. These two are dependent upon the first two, and can change more readily.
She gave us examples from various well known books and we even worked on one of our own characters.

Break Free from the Slush Pile with CJ Lyons

A   very informative workshop with the writer CJ Lyons. She told us what what we should want from an agent and what we do not want in an agent. On the flipside, she also told us what agents were looking for in a client and what they did n
ot want. She gave us many resources to get further information.
For this workshop, if we wanted a chance to win a critique of a query letter from her agent, then we were supposed to have sent in a query letter a few weeks before the conference. She went a step further and gave us constructive criticism on ALL the queries she received. Anonymously, of course. I was quite pleased with what she had to say about mine.

Networking Lunch - This was such a wonderful opportunity to meet other aspiring authors and writers. I met some very interesting people. It was very positive and radiated with passion and commonality.
Oh, I had a chicken sandwich.

Shaping Story Arcs with Romona Long

Romona spoke to us about story arcs, within a single novel and also within a series of novels. It was fairly straight forward. She also told us that all characters, major and minor, have their own story arcs within the larger framework of the whole story (except, of course, the very minor characters where we don't need to know anything about them)

Balancing Dialogue and Narrative with Terry S. Friedman 

Again, a very insightful workshop. We learned about how much narrative/dialogue ration usually occur in a given genre. We covered Point of View in a fair amount of detail. There were some points that she brought up about switching POV within a story, that seemed out there a bit. I intend to do some more research on the subject and in a later post, describe what it was as well as give more detail about this workshop. It did open my eyes, and I liked what I saw.

After that, I left for home, another 2 hours one way because of the busy roadwork and congested traffic.
Overall, it was a very positive experience for me.

Tomorrow's post will cover the conference on Saturday 5-14-2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PennWriter's Pre-Conference Seminar

PennWriter's Pre-conference seminars were held on Thursday, 5-12-2011. I attended one called "Many Genres, One Craft" which was a 9-4 session. The cost was a little over $100 and included a lunch and a complimentary copy of the not yet released "Many Genre's, One Craft" book on writing. The book was compiled of mostly new articles written for this release by a number of authors, and edited by Michael Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller, both of whom were also article contributors.

The morning section included instruction on the craft of writing fiction, and after lunch it focused on the business end of writing. I had just a few hours of sleep the night before, so I've forgotten quite a lot about the sessions.

We participated in a graded scheme that would inform us if we were either outliners, pantsers, or somewhere in between.  I lean a little more to outlining.

We were introduced to the "FreyReDuv" Plot Method, which unfortunately I don't think I can show due to  copyright. It's not as complex as it sounds. I still need to look into it further.

I wish there was more I could tell, but it was a long tiring day (for me, at least). Who needs sleep, right?

In the following days, I'll talk about each day at the conference in a little more detail, as I have most of my course notes (AND I was more alert!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

10,000 Words in One Day

There is a monthly challenge over at the Fear of Writing Blog. The challenge is (on the third Wednesday and Saturday of the month) to write 10,000 words in one day. You can sign up for this month on this page.  It's not expected that everyone will reach that goal, or anyone for that matter. That's why it's a challenge. However, you can check in throughout those days on the website and root each other on. There is a strong sense of community there. The few times I've participated, I've cranked out about 3000 words, which is more than I would have any other day. So if you are up for the challenge, please state your intention on this page. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back from Writer's Conference

Just got home from the final day at the PennWriter's Annual Writing Convention. Once I'm caught up with organizing my notes and reading through them again - and the other multitudinous things I need to do, I will begin posting about the inner workings (at least from my POV) of this conference.

I must say that I feel refreshed, recharged in motivation and inspiration. I definitely needed this. It was so pleasant to be around so many people who were like-minded.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Haiku

Big Fish in the Sea
A hook between you and me
Expensive Tackle

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Preparation for Writer's Conference

I'm attending a writer's conference this week beginning Thursday and ending on Sunday. I'll have to drive about 1.5 hours there and back each day, and because I didn't have any posts prepared for those days, so I'll probably post a Haiku poem a day, unless I have time to post something more about my day at the conference. We'll just have to wait and see.

I've been up all night and will try to stay up all day so I can get to sleep early tonight. I'm not a graceful early morning riser. I get to pick up my business cards later today. Woohoo!

I'm working on a flash fiction story for a contest they are having. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Haiku Theme Day

Today, for May Blogathon, includes participation in a Haiku Theme Day.

Without further delay:

Always scheming, watching...you
Long con is your game

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reading Routine Redux

Once upon a time, I had a certain plan in place to help me get through some of my books and to read widely.
I never implemented that plan and instead, my ADD and OCD get in the way, and I can't focus enough to start anything at times.

I am now reinstating that plan which is... to alternate reading 3 books at a time. One can be a nonfiction book about writing, one fiction novel (usually similar to my writing which is scifi), and one general nonfiction book. The non-writing nonfiction I have in mind is about Eastern religions or philosophy.

The only time I can stray from this is if I need to read books for research on my WIP.

Here are my 3 books I'm working on now:

Writing - How to be a Writer by Barbara Baig
Nonfiction - Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl
Fiction - Fools' Experiments by Edward M Lerner

Do you have some kind reading guideline similar to this? What do you think about this approach?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Writing Away Mental Illness

Battling OCD and ADD is a long war. You win some, you lose some. But it is a war worth fighting.  There are multiple lines of attack. You can try the medical management defense, which sometimes help. There are also time management strategies for ADD and cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD. But there is another weapon in the arsenal - the written word. After all, the pen IS mightier than the sword. Pun intended. 

The obsessions, although relentless and ravaging at times, can also help me as a writer. In a literal way. A group of obsessive thoughts may go like this: why can’t I see from another person’s perspective (both mentally and physically). Physically seeing something through some else's eyes is an impossibility (for now, at least) however, if I truly want to know something about someone, what better way than to describe them as a character.

I also obsess over occupations. My brain says “Why can’t I be in every occupation known to humankind?” This is an absurd thought, and I know it is not possible. Sure, when we are able to download information into our brains it will make it easier. But, until then, I’ll have to settle for normal research, and to carry that over into my fiction. While writing fiction, I can BE that other person. I can BE in that occupation. I can research to my heart’s content, although it may not satisfy that OCD beast. At least, it may quiet that SOB for a little while.

Sometimes, I think this is my subconscious telling me I need to get to work, already. How do I know this will work? Because it’s a game in my head and I’ve already seen the outcome. No, seriously. I need to get butt in chair and bang at the keyboard. Let it all loose. I think I will surprise myself. Like I said, I am a work in progress. I don’t have all the answers but I do know, writing is a catharsis, a release, if you will. These are not my only reasons for writing; I have many more. But it’s a pretty good motivational tool.

When I sit down to write, I have to force myself to think about one thing at a time, which is difficult to do with ADD. I consider it training time for my brain. It’s the only time when I have to slow my thoughts so that I can make at least SOME kind of sense.

How does writing help you? Do you feel a release of emotion when you write?

Friday, May 6, 2011

ADD and Me

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are considered developmental disorders, and remains a controversial topic. I just learned that ADD is now known as ADHD: Predominately Inattentive Type.

Symptoms that can occur with the Predominately Inattentive Type include:

·         Difficulty following conversations
·         Trouble finishing projects that have already been started
·         Avoidance of projects
·         Misplaces things at home and at work
·         Trouble starting single projects because of the many already started

I can attest to having all of these symptoms described above. I can have many things I want to do or read but find it so difficult to get started on any one thing. So, often I am sitting helplessly in my chair or pacing around in my efficiency apartment. Sometimes I become so frustrated that I’ll just lay on my bed, ball my fist up and pound away on the pillow.

My doctor started me on Ritalin last summer, and the first time I took it, I had such a great feeling of calmness surrounding me. I could actually read a paragraph. I’ve been on Ritalin since, but the effects wear down over time. I would try a timed-release version, but it’s too expensive, and even if I did have insurance, the companies wouldn’t pay because of my age.

One thing I have noted, however, is that since being on Ritalin, I’ve noticed my OCD quieting. Just a bit, but it does seem to help. When I told my doctor that, he admitted to me that that is a fairly common finding. Hey, I’ll take the benefits.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

OCD and me

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness which manifests itself in many ways. There are almost as many ways as there are people who have it. Okay, I may have exaggerated a little. But there are many types of “burdens” in which the OCD sufferer is stricken with.  Some sufferers have thoughts of a negative nature that seem to come out of nowhere and for some reason the thoughts recycle in the persons mind. To overcome the guilt of those thoughts, they may act out a compulsory behavior such as praying for forgiveness or trying to take back the thoughts by repeating certain rituals. 

Other sufferers may feel that they are contaminated to such a degree that they must constantly wash their hands or whole body, sometimes bleeding in the process. Still others may keep stopping their vehicle and check to make sure that they have not run anyone over. 

The constant theme amongst OCD sufferers is a sort of doubt; doubt about their faith, cleanliness, safety. You name it. If you can think it, an OCD’er will come up with a way to doubt it. OCD is often known as the “doubting disease”.

I began to exhibit symptoms of OCD at a very young age, in the form of religious blasphemy. I had inappropriate thoughts about God, etc. I thought I may have been the anti-christ. How could I know I wasn’t? So, I prayed, and prayed… and prayed. I never did this in public because I was so ashamed of the thoughts that would not go away. 

When I was a teenager, I had counting rituals. I would say phrases and the last syllable would have to end with a tap with my left foot, and it almost always had to be an odd number. In a classroom, I had the repetitive thought that I couldn’t learn because everybody else’s “brainwaves” were interfering with my own. I knew the thought was illogical and for the most part, I didn’t believe it. But it did cause me to feel like I wasn’t learning to the best of my capabilities.

In the last twenty years, I have been plagued with existential questioning (who am I, what’s my purpose, am I real, how do I know others can see me, etc.). I would ruminate on these questions which eventually at the age of 17 led to a mental crisis (onset of depersonalization, which I’ll describe in a later post). In the past year, I have been obsessing over traffic patterns, occupations, you name it. I also get thoughts like “Why don’t I know everything? Why aren’t I omniscient? Why can’t I be every occupation ever thought of? Inside, I know these questions are ludicrous, but that element of doubt, of not knowing, just burns in my brain. This form of OCD is called "Pure Obsessional OCD" because there are usually no rituals or compulsions involved, just the thoughts.

Tomorrow, I will say a bit about how Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects me, and then on Saturday I’ll explain how writing can help ease the suffering in both of those disorders. And hopefully, by blogging about it, I’ll have to hold myself accountable and actually practice what I preach. 

Do you know somebody with OCD? How does it affect their lives?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My 5 Favorite Books about Writing

^ This is the one I'm concentrating on at the moment. It's very exercise intensive. It has a lot of freewriting and focused freewriting involved.

^ I've had this one for a while, but am only halfway finished. I plan to read this next, but from the beginning and finish it before starting another.

^ All about critiquing. Once most of my WIP is complete, I'll read this one then attend a physical critique group.

^ I've read part of this, and another of Maass's books. This one tells you how you can put that extra "umph" in your writing to stand out from the rest.

Down Here!

 This one is about how to write the "bad boys and girls" of fiction. I've read part of this. It should come in handy as I have some government bullyish types in my WIP

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Writing Nook

Welcome to my little writing nook. It’s not my ideal space, but then I haven’t had a permanent place of my own for about a year and a half. I’ve been here at this efficiency apartment for about two months now. I still need to organize a bit more; I feel almost claustrophobic. I’m going to start writing at one of the local coffee shops, the library, and even the park, once this rain finally passes over.

Feel free to leave a pic of your writing space if you’d like, or better yet, perhaps use it as a post for the blogathon.