The Tortured Writer

The tortured writer is me. Today. Typing these words. I want to work, but work won’t come. Why? A million little reasons.

In the last 12 months, I wrote six books. Words poured from my fingertips. I could not stop writing. I had to let them all out, these characters flitting about my brain like a cloud of fireflies. And, then I made the mistake of stopping for a heartbeat to relish my good fortune, following it up with a, “I shouldn’t say anything, I’ll probably get writer’s block.”

Guess what? The crash came swiftly behind those words, sweeping down the plains of my written-word verbosity like some great and much-storied Oklahoma wind. I should have learned my lesson by now.

Now, I’m eeking out lines, and forcing myself to edit. I’m reminding myself a dozen times a day – it only matters that you do something. Anything.

If I can’t write, I think to myself, I’ll work on building my social media presence. That counts, right? I mean, you can’t sell your work if no on knows you’re working.

Social media is weird for me, not natural. I’m an introvert. I know I need to be out here – networking, meeting peers, building a base. But, isn’t that why I’m a writer?

Communication is excruciating, so says my anxiety. Let the words do the talking, I tell myself. But, then I sit here and wonder, “What even is my voice?” What if my voice has the same rhythm and form as all of the others? Who will hear me? No one will.

Carving out a niche in this wild, infinite sea of other writers all longing to be heard, to be seen, to be READ, is maddening. I’ve tried it before and washed out after a couple of weeks. How do you find your chosen few, your tribe among all these other voices, when they seem so much better able to contend with … all of it? And you, you’d rather be plucking out your fingernails with pliers.

Between the blogs and other social media postings, when do they ever find time to write actual novels? Magic? Voodoo? Soul sold? Helpful doses of crack? Help an introverted, anxiety-riddled writer out. I am in foreign territory, a traveler in a strange new land, one I don’t particularly feel welcome in.

This whole – you must blog, tweet, Insta, etc … Exhausting. Social media is talking, pushing yourself to be bigger, brighter, funnier, sharper, edgier, a never-ending pageant to stand out. I can be as witty, sharp, snarky, and hilarious as the next person, I just can’t seem to do it on cue.

All I want to do is sit in my comfy room and write books, so that other people like me can perhaps read them and get lost for a while inside characters who aren’t always riddled with the pains of perpetual anxiety and the relentless cacophony of, “Is it even worth it?”

Now, see. All that blue-tinged word vomit above is my anxiety talking, again. I know it is. I know that to be successful you have to sell not just your work, but yourself. I know, more than ever, writers are expected to be their own PR firm.

It’s not that I don’t believe in my talent as a writer. I’m happy with my work. I love the stories I’m telling. I can see the potential in every piece. But, vicious anxiety will never allow me to wallow in the comfort of believing my own work is good, for too long.

“Oh, you’re bragging about how many books you’ve written this last year? You really dig what you’re writing? You think it’s good? Aren’t you special. Well, let me assure you, you’ll never get anywhere with them. Look at how many people are out there, all longing for the same recognition as you. You’re a good writer. I loved your work. Right. Get it straight, pretender. You’re not good enough. You read three different blog pieces today from writers who are far superior to you. You’ll never make it out of this comfy room. You aren’t a people person. The only one who thinks you’re funny is you. You might as well give up now. You suck. Why don’t you go buy a cake and stuff your feelings down with buttercream icing?”

My monster isn’t beneath the bed or hiding in the closet. My monster is the voice in my head, the one always waiting to kick me off a high and remind me I’m just a woman in a room recording words that no one really cares about.

I’m not just a writer, tortured, or otherwise. I’m a warrior, always fighting the unseen enemy, the one who whispers until I can’t think, can’t work, can’t sit still, can’t get away from. But, I’m always fighting.

I’ll get it together, back the enemy up until its in a box. I’ll hide the box in a deep recess and build a wall around it. And, I’ll be okay again until it knocks the wall down, slithers out of the box and sneaks back in to try one more time to convince me I don’t have a voice, or a platform, or a worthy talent.

I’ll keep fighting the good fight of every tortured writer, artist, poet, every lonely teen, and pageant winning beauty queen, and Pinterest loving SAH mom. Every former high-school football star, and every could have, would have, and should have been.

And hey, I wrote today. I wrote this. It’s a start.

An Interview with Blue

An Interview with Blue

  1. Q. How old are you?
    A. 20. I’m old. (Snort – H)
  2. Q. What is your favorite subject in school?
    A. Right now, probably paleontology. 
  3. Q. Are you excited to be finishing high-school?
    A. Yes! (Definitely a silent Hallelujah! on both our parts. – H)
  4. Q. Do you intend to keep finishing online classes that are of interest to you?
    A. Yeah. 
  5. Q. Are you ready to study for the ACT?
    A. No, not really. (Me, either, kid. Me, either. – H)
  6. Q. What do you plan to major in at college?
    A. I still haven’t decided. (Art, animals, and geology/anthropology are the considerations. We’ve discussed how she might grow into a career that utilizes all of them.)
  7. Q. At this moment, today, what is your dream job?
    A. (noises) .. something to do with art. 
  8. Q. What’s your favorite color?
    A. Purple 
  9. Q. Has your favorite color changed?
    A. Yep, it’s been so many, but I guess this year it’s purple. 
  10. Q. What’s your favorite type of music?
    A. I like all types of music. I don’t have just one favorite.
    Q2. Do you have a favorite song?
    A. Nah, no, I’ve never understood the concept of having one favorite song. Or, band. I like all songs. 
  11. Q. Has your taste in music changed or grown to include more genres?
    A. Yeah. (She is so forth-coming. /s/ – H)
  12. Q. What’s the best book you’ve read so far and why?
    A. The book Alexis sent me, Eleanor and Park, because I think it kinda helped me through, understanding, I guess going through the breakup and going through stuff like that. It just helped a lot. 
  13. Q. What are you most afraid of?
    A. Heights, and I guess being alone. I think a lot of people feel that way, deep down.
    (They sure do, love. – H)
  14. Q. Where is your dream place to live, if you could live anywhere? Why?
    A. I don’t know. I can’t think of anywhere, at the moment. Uh, all I can think of is somewhere close to the ocean, so I could go to the beach and listen to the water.

    20170825_162357

    Blue’s first glimpse of the ocean.

  15. Q. What is your favorite art style?
    A. Uhh, I don’t have one favorite art style. I don’t even have my own single art style. My art changes depending on what I’m drawing.
    Q2. Are you interested in learning other mediums of art?
    A. I think so. Sometimes. Sometimes, I like where I’m at, right now.

     *Fun Fact – My Blue girl has been creating new art for a FB game for over a year now. They work around her schedule and pretty much accept whatever she wants to give them. It’s been great for helping to teach her that in the real world, work deadlines and quality expectations, along with constructive criticism are all things she’ll have to live with as an independent woman. – H
  16. Q. What do you think is the scariest thing in the news these days?
    A. I guess the fact that we could be going into war any minute. 
  17. Q. Do you think you’re conservative, liberal, centrist, or something else?
    A. I guess something else. We all know I’m not a conservative. 
  18. Q. Do you believe in star signs?
    A. I think they’re cool, but I don’t really believe in them. They’re cool to study, though. 
  19. Q. Chocolate or vanilla?
    A. I like both, but I think right now, vanilla. (Specifically, vanilla frosted sugar cookies from the store bakery. She would eat a package a day, if I’d buy them and let her. – H)
  20. Q. Coffee, tea, or coke?
    A. Sweet tea. (We are southern, after all. – H)
  21. Q. Breakfast for dinner?
    A. Yeah, I like breakfast for dinner. You make good breakfast for dinner. 
  22. Q. Best vacation you’ve ever had?
    A. Uh, there’s a lot of vacations I’ve liked, but I think the one we just had. I’d like to go back to the beach. The water was cold, but a good cold.
    Q2. Do you feel like the ocean played any part in soothing the symptoms of your autism or anxiety?
    A. Yeah, it just felt like I was on a rhythm. 
  23. Q. Saddest day of your life so far?
    A. The break-up. 
  24. Q. What are your goals for the next ten years?
    A. I guess being able to live on my own. And, not having to worry.
    (Don’t worry, kid. I’ll worry for us. – H)
  25. Q. Do you want to be famous? Why or why not?
    A. Uh, in-between. I want to, but at the same I don’t. I want to be noticed, but at the same time I don’t. It’s just too much pressure. (She’s been planning her Academy Award speech for Best Animated Film for years! It always includes, “And, you’ll be in the audience sobbing, right, Mom?” Yes. Yes, I would be, Blue. – H)
  26. Q. Do you believe in God?
    A. No, but I also can’t prove there isn’t one, either. I am agnostic/atheist. 
  27. Q. Do you feel like you were pressured not to believe in God because of who you grew up with?
    A. No. I just feel like it’s just like kids growing up with Christians. It’s just how it was. I wasn’t pressured. I’ve been to church, I’ve seen that. I’m not interested. 
  28. Q. How many kids do you want?
    A. Two. But, we all know I’m going to end up having four. 
  29. Q. What do you hope they look like?
    A. I don’t know. I don’t care what they’ll look like. I’ll love them any way they are. 

    *Fun Fact – She is bi-racial.  Caucasion (Mostly Irish/Welsh & Native American through myself) & Mexican. (We think. Her biological  father was adopted. We hope to do a DNA kit at some point. We always joke about what  her kids might look like. People have thought she’s Puerto Rican, Japanese, black/white, you name it. We get a kick out of it.)

     

  30. Q. What is your favorite T.V. show, right now?
    A. Santa Clarita Diet. That was funny. I liked it. I already know Lost in Space is going to be my favorite.

  31. Q. Top 5 shows?
    A. The Walking Dead, Supernatural, The Good Place, The Good Doctor, and iZombie, oh and ZNation. There’s a lot of zombie shows I like. (Hence the reason my next book includes zombies. – H)
  32. Q. What are your favorite 5 movies?
    A. All the Jurassic Park movies, Zootopia, Moana, Harry Potter series, The Paranormal Activity movies. I really like scary movies. (When she was little, we watched Forest Gump at least 900 times. No lie. – H)

    *Fun Fact – We saw Harry Potter in the theatre when Blue was four-years-old. She was so into it, I barely had to remind her not to narrate the entire movie. There was one particuarly intense moment when Harry seems in great peril. The theatre is silent. Then, suddenly, in that silence came the sweetest, most intensely worried little voice sighing out loudly, “Ohhhhhh, Harrrryyyy.” The entire theatre erupted into laughter. It was the sweetest, cutest moment.
  33. Q. What is your favorite animal?
    A. I like ALL animals. I can’t pick just one. I guess if I did. You know what I’ve always liked since I was little, is tigers. (Seriously, I did not realize it was tigers. I would have guessed snake or shark. She is an animal fact machine. Land or marine life, she’s your go-to. – H)
  34. Q. How do you feel about hunting?
    A. I don’t like hunting as a sport. But, if you’re maybe living off the land, using all the body, respecting the animals, you should go for it if that’s your thing. Cause, I know no one is going to stop hunting. It’s just in our blood, instinctual, to survive. 
  35. Q. If you saw a woman being abused, would you step in?
    A. I would try, too. It would take me talking myself into it. Because, I’m not strong at all. But, I would try, even if it meant putting myself in-between them. 
  36. Q. And, finally, do you understand what autism is?
    A. Just means I function differently from everybody. My brain is on another level, that no one else can understand. That’s neither good or bad. It’s in-between. 
  37. Q. What do you think is the most common misconception about autism?
    A. That all of us are the same, that we can’t talk, can’t take of ourselves. I guess that we can’t do things that “normal” people can do. Everybody seems to think that autism is like Down’s Syndrome. And, even they’re not what people think. People think we can’t do anything, because we don’t do it at the right time or the right way. We’re normal to us. We just have our own way of doing things. 
  38. Q. How does it make you feel when someone says, “You don’t look like you have autism.”?
    A. Makes me upset, because it makes me think what does autism look like to them? 
  39. Q. If you could magically wake up without autism, would you want to?
    A. On some days, I do. But, other days, I’m just like it doesn’t matter to me. 
  40. Q. Do you prefer autistic girl or girl with autism?
    A. Neither. I guess if it had to come up, I’d tell them. But, I just want to be known as Lyli. (I’m sorry it has to come up so often, Blue. – H)
  41. Q. How would you describe stimming to non-autistic people?
    A. You know how you like to tap you fingers on the table sometimes, or bounce your leg? It’s like that for me, but like times ten. It helps me calm my nerves down. Or, it helps distract my mind when I need to be distracted. 
  42. Q. Do you feel like your skin picking is a form of stimming or just related to your anxiety and OCD?
    A. Probably in-between, but also the self-harming kind of thing, the relief. 
  43. Q. What relief does skin-picking give you?
    A. I don’t know how to explain it. It just feels like a wave, just washes over, I guess. I guess it’s like, taking out my anxiety, or something.

  44. Q. What is your favorite food?
    A. We all know I love food. I don’t know why you’re asking. We all know chicken wings are going to be on top. I could eat some right now. 
  45. Q. Lastly, What is your ideal way to spend a day?
    A. You know that answer. Sleep in. And, get up and play video games in whatever awesome video game room that I have. Eating all the food. And, having people over to hang out.