Does Writing Make You Anxious?

I’m writing a novel that requires me to dig deep into the hearts and souls of the people I love. Yes, it’s fictional – but it’s based on true events and emotions that aren’t always pleasant. Getting that close to something uncomfortable makes my chest burn with anxiety.  I mean it freaking hurts. Call me weak, but I had to take 1/2 Ativan.  I need to write this book.  I have committed to writing this book and I will finish it.

It made me wonder whether other writers are plagued by anxiety caused by writing. It’s one thing to write about depression and anxiety as its own subject.  But what about feeling perfectly okay UNTIL you start writing.  Once I’ve finished this post I’m going to go back to it.  Bravely.  In order to create a book that has substance, grit, and truly developed characters, I’m going to have to dig deep and really face this head on. In order to write about someone else’s emotions (fictional or not), I have to feel those things too.

Think about it this way, if you had to write about the taste and feel of the salty ocean, you would first need to have that experience. Gotta tell ya….it really sucks. It’s going to be worth it when the book is done. Maybe I’ll learn to get used to this feeling, or at least learn how to handle this so that I don’t spend the next couple of years in a constant state of pain. That would be stupid.

I need to learn how to disassociate to some degree.  I’ve felt pain in my life so I know it’s in my toolbox to write about.  If I could just turn off the receptors that bring me back there….

I don’t have the answers today. I just know that I have the day off from work to write and I should probably get back to it.

If you’re a writer or someone who deals with anxiety on the reg, let me know about your experiences!  I’m open to hearing how other people manage it without medication, and without avoiding writing.

Thanks!img_0301

 

3 Ways to Boost the Creative Process


  1. RUN WITH DOGS

    As you can see from the photos, they LOVED IT.  Now, they’re totally flaked out on the couch wrapped in blankets.  Snoring away.  Without them constantly at me for food, treats, playtime, etc., I can finally sit down and get some serious writing done.

2. WRITE STANDING UP

It works! Since I’m sitting all day at work (bad girl I know!), it doesn’t make sense to come home and sit some more.  Hunching over the keyboard is awful for my back and shoulders.  You can’t be creative when you’re in pain.  Standing lets the creativity out, as opposed to getting all jammed up in your heart chakra.  Nobody wants a jammed up heart chakra.  Am I right?

3.  READ IT OUT LOUD

I prefer to do this when I’m alone, but reading what I’ve just written helps to give me an idea how the sentences are flowing. If I’m getting tongue-tied, or the tone just isn’t write, it’s easier to hone in on those trouble spots and fix them.

And now that I’ve ran in the rain, written a blog, and had a cup of tea and a cookie….I’m going to work on my novel.  But first, where is my sweater.  It’s chilly in here….

How I Broke Through A Writing Wall

I finally found my way through a fee weeks of “writer’s block”.  Want to know how?
Whether you’re writing a note to your friend, a poem, or a novel, you just know when something isn’t right.  I knew if I just kept typing words (reasonable words and phrases that made some kind of sense), I’d find my way.   I worried about it.  I’d write eight pages and then delete them all because it was garbage.  Trust the process I reminded myself.  Trust the process.  Finally, I decided to try something else.

FREESTYLE:  That’s just a formal way of giving yourself permission to fire your internal editor for a while.  I realized I was trying to write about characters I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting.  With an open mind I let the thoughts flow. Who is this person? Where is she from? What are her hopes? Dreams? Fears?  It was one long rambling unedited mess.  But it helped get my head around the characters holding me back.

RUN:  Long, slow runs give me a chance to visual the book unfolding like a movie in my mind. It takes me away from the computer screen and gets the blood pumping.  The result? Fresh, creative ideas to try and sore calves.  It’s amazing what a little exercise does to keep those neurons firing.

PERSISTENCE: Even when I don’t feel I have anything to write, I write. Every day.  I go to the computer and pluck away at words and phrases until – at last – something clicks.  It might take days.  It might take months.  You might not notice when it happens because your mind takes something good and runs with it.  For a while, it’s practically effortless.  At least I knew when I was on the right track. Something changed in the way I felt about the characters and what they were experiencing.

That’s it!  Nothing earth-shattering.  It really helps to remind yourself to trust the process.  You know what you’re doing, you might just have to wait for the characters to introduce themselves.  And for that you need an open mind.  These are just some things that work for me.

Happy Writing!

Thank you to Unsplash.com for the copyright free image.

Homemade Irish Stew Recipe

Irish StewI totally played this by ear and I’m happy to say it was delicious. Mike had two huge bowls and he rarely has seconds!

Ingredients:

Two large potatoes

Two large carrots

Stewing beef – 1 pound (ish)

Two stalks of celery

1 onion

two large cloves of garlic

Beef broth

2 tbsps tomato paste

I can of beer

two cups of water

2 tbsps of vegetable oil

1/4 cup of red wine

Pinch of tyme

Salt and pepper

Dumplings ingredients:

Ummmmm I don’t remember. BUT it’s easy to find recipes for dumplings online.

I added a pinch of rosemary and some cheddar cheese to the batter for extra flavour.

To Prepare:

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add the beef and brown.

Remove the beef and put in the crockpot (did I mention this is a crockpot recipe?)

Saute the chopped onion, celery, and chopped garlic cloves. Add to crockpot.

Add everything else to the crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 4 hrs.

I transfered the cooked stew to a large pot and let it simmer over the stove.  I added the dumplings to cook about 20 minutes before serving.


Theresa Bennet was forced to give up her baby by the Catholic Church. Sample from the Novel, “Me Dear Love”

Badger, Newfoundland. March 10, 1959

The night Theresa told her parents she was pregnant she barely touched her food. Hot baked beans with pork rinds and molasses; her favourite. She pushed it around her plate, sick with nervousness. Six o’clock came. Then seven. Her boyfriend, Albert, had promised to be there by four o’clock but it was obvious he wasn’t going to show.

She thought about putting it off but she was already 12 weeks along and just starting to show.

“Not gonna finish your meal?” her mother frowned.

“Eat up,” her father commanded.

Lillian, Theresa’s 14-year-old sister had cleaned her plate and was already halfway through a warm piece of mincemeat pie.

“D’ya have homework Lillian?”

Lillian shook her head and glanced at Theresa. She wished she could quit school too, but her mother wouldn’t hear of it.

“You’re the smart one. Keep studying and you could be a secretary or something.”

“Theresa’s not in school. What will she be?”

“She’ll be someone’s wife,” her mother had said.

Theresa stood and brought her plate to the counter where she wrapped it with Saran Wrap and put it in the fridge. Her mother ran warm water and piled the dirty dishes into the sink. Theresa’s hands shook so badly she had to take special care not to drop one. Finally, she took a deep breath and turned to face her mother.

“I got to tell ya something.”

“G’wan then,” her mother said. Theresa’s tongue froze.

“Well, what is it?” her mother said sharply. She rinsed off the last dish with hot water and passed it to Theresa to dry.

Theresa’s younger sister, Lillian, flounced through the kitchen holding her pajamas and housecoat.

“I’m gettin’ in the tub!” she sang but stopped sensing tension.

“Are you okay?” she asked, Lillian was 14 years old, two years younger than Theresa.

“I’m pregnant,” Theresa said. The colour drained from her mother’s face. Lillian stayed rooted in place, her mouth hung wide open.

“Edgar, get in here this minute! Your daughter has something she wants to say to you.”

Theresa wanted to die right there on the spot.

“What? What’s so important?” he asked. Theresa’s legs shook. Her hands shook. Her heart pounded in her chest. She looked at her father, strong and tall, waiting patiently.

“WELL?” her mother shouted. “TELL HIM!”

Theresa looked away.

“I’m pregnant,” she said quietly.

Her father was momentarily speechless.

“You’ve committed a mortal sin,” her mother cried.

Her father shook his head and shouted , ”NO! This can’t be. How’d you know for sure?”

Both parents stood wide-eyed, shocked.

“I went to the doctor,” Theresa said quietly, her face crimson. She’d asked her friend, Virginia, to get an appointment with their doctor because she couldn’t bear facing her own. She thought he’d examine her belly and order a blood test. She didn’t know she’d have to undress from the waist down and lie flat on a papered table. She kept her ankles and knees pressed firmly together until the doctor forced her feet into the cold, metal stirrups. Theresa had closed her eyes, trying to conjure pleasant images. Instead, she recalled stories overheard from friend’s of her mother’s.

I was in labour for three straight days.

I needed ten stitches ‘cause I ripped so much.

I pushed so hard I burst every blood vessel in my face.

“GET THE HELL OUTTA MY HOUSE!” her father shouted. Theresa knew her strict Catholic parents would disown her and thought she was ready for their wrath.

Lillian dropped her pajamas onto the kitchen floor and grabbed Theresa by the elbow. “What do you mean get out? Where’s she gonna go?”

Theresa covered her eyes and cried. Her father narrowed his eyes and pointed at Lilian.

“Let this be a warning to you! Good girls keep their legs shut until the wedding night.”

Lillian ran upstairs with Theresa, shocked that this was happening. Theresa, however, had prepared for this and had a bag packed. What she hadn’t prepared for was Albert not showing. The plan was to move in with him. He was ten years older than Theresa; a navy man.

“It’s cold and dark out there! You can’t just leave!” Lillian cried. Theresa wiped her tears and pulled herself together for her sister’s sake.

“I’ll be fine. I’ll get settled and then I’ll let you know where I am. Okay?”

Lillian nodded.

“Now, can you do a favour for me?” Theresa asked.

“What?”

“Go get my winter jacket and stuff. Gonna need my mittens and hat. Just be quiet about it. I don’t want to face those two again.”

Lillian sniffled and hiccoughed.

“Ok.”

Once she was dressed for the weather, she had Lillian follow her to the back staircase that lead to a closed off corridor, sealed during the winter to conserve heat. Theresa hoped to avoid her parents.

Lillian shivered.

“Okay,” Theresa said stoically. It took a minute to pry open the door where it had frozen around the frame. Finally, it gave way and a cold blast of wintery air and puffs of snow blew into the porch.

“I’ll call you as soon as I can.”

Theresa had never felt lonelier or more afraid. The cold air stung her throat and made her cough. She forced herself to stop crying because the salty tears made her cheeks raw. Her feet burned from the frigid cold.

Theresa’s family lived on a residential street, not far from the town centre. Although there was very little street light she knew that in five or ten minutes she’d be in a brighter, more populated part of town. Less scary.

In order to get to Virginia’s house, Theresa would have to walk straight down Main Street, past the Irish Tavern and the one place she dreaded – Tabitha Place, a home for unwed mothers. She had talked to Al about it, knowing she’d be kicked out of her home, but Al had promised to look after her.

Theresa hunched into the wind and picked up her pace. A truck sped past and laid on the horn. Theresa looked up and noticed how much busier the streets were than normal. She was relieved to finally spot Virginia’s house.

A light glowed from their living room. Theresa knew if she knocked, she’d have to explain her sudden appearance to Virginia’s parents. Instead, she pried a few small rocks from the frozen driveway and threw one at Virginia’s bedroom window. Theresa saw the curtains move and a minute later, Virginia opened the back door .

”Theresa?” she said. “Oh my lord you told them!” No further explanation was needed. Virginia put her finger to her lips and without removing jacket or boots, Theresa followed her upstairs.

“You’re freezing!” Virginia whispered. She pulled a quilt from the bed and wrapped it around her friend. “I thought Albert was going to take you to his place?”

“He. Didn’t. Show. Up,” Theresa cried. Now that she was safe, the reality of Albert not showing, of her parents kicking her out, of her pregnancy, amplified.

“That prick!” Virginia whispered vehemently.

Theresa wiped her tears and stretched her tired legs the full length of the bed. Suddenly, a loud CRACK filled the air. Theresa held her breath, worried Virginia’s parents would come in.

“What was that?” asked Virginia.

It happened again.

“Virginia?” her mother called from downstairs. “Is everything okay?”

A third CRACK had everyone’s attention. Theresa pulled the curtain back and watched the streets fill with a mob of angry men.

“Look over there!” Theresa said. Virginia peered into the night where the sky went from black to deep orange.

“Fire!”

A group of men had marched to the front door, banging and hollering. The girls could hear Virginia’s father talking to them.

“They’re rioting at the camp!” her father shouted. He grabbed his coat and boots.

“Where you going?” Virginia’s mother demanded. Theresa pulled her knees to her chin and listened from the bed.

“I gotta go! Stay here and lock the door behind me.”

Theresa leaned over and pushed open the window, using a stick kept on the windowsill as a prop. Cold air filled the room carrying the sounds of sirens and screams, obscenities and threats against the “scabs” working the mill.

Suddenly, Albert’s absence made sense to Theresa. Albert’s best friend, Mark, worked for the logging company and had been on strike for months, barely able to put food on the table. He, along with the other employees, were fighting against the deplorable conditions they endured at the logging camps.

Virginia joined Theresa at the window just as her bedroom door opened. Her mother came in, about to say something but stopped short when she saw Theresa.

“She’s just here for the night,” Virginia said quickly. Her mother looked at Theresa and then to the opened window.

“It’s dangerous out there tonight,” she said.

“What’s going on?”Virginia asked.

“It’s that damned union. I knew the minute they got involved with the logging camp there’d be trouble.”. It didn’t answer the question for Virginia, but Theresa had a good idea what it was all about. She watched the chaos happening outside and thought of Albert. His best friend worked at the mill and shared one of the camps with twelve other men. They suffered through the cold.nights on beds not fit for a dog. When the mill workers went on strike, Al had promised to help keep the “scabs” from doing the work.

Suddenly a shot fired. Virginia’s mother gasped and clutched her throat.

“Someone’s been shot.”

One Year Ago Today, My Mother was Dying.

I’m not going to lie; this is hard to write. In fact, I almost didn’t write it. But…here goes.

Last fall was surreal. When my father passed away, my mother was there to look after him.  I could deal with it in bits, watching from the sidelines while my mother shielded me from the brunt.  Then she got sick. Cancer, of course.  Isn’t it always cancer? That’s when I realized nobody would be there to protect me from it. I had a choice.  I could hide, and pretend it wasn’t happening.  But that really wasn’t an option, especially when she became too weak to look after herself properly.That’s when my sisters and I stepped in.

In September of 2015, we took turns spending nights at her house. In the beginning, she could still get around on her own. Although weak, she insisted on getting her hair “done” every Friday, something she’d done for the last….I don’t know….forever.  It drove me insane.  I tried to hide it from her, but I got agitated. Why couldn’t she just lie down and watch TV? It’s not that I minded driving her to get her hair done, it was just so goddamned stressful trying to get her from the wheelchair, out the backdoor, down one cement step, and into the car.  I still don’t understand why she did it. Was she in denial?  Maybe.  Stubborn?  Definitely.  She had grit, I’ll give her that.

You know, my mother and I always had a tense relationship. I came along too late in her life, grew up in an era she didn’t understand. She always wanted to stick me in a mold that I just didn’t belong in.  She loved a lot about me, but there were two things I know she hated:  My tattoos and my rejection of religion.

When I found out she had cancer, I was scared and sad. Of course I loved my mother.  Do I need to say that?  I didn’t want to lose her but she was 85-years-old.  We all knew the day would come – as it does.  So…time for me to deal with it.  What scared me was the intimacy of taking care of her.  Here she was, my larger-than-life mother suddenly reduced to bones and dry lips. I hated having to empty her porta-potty.  I hated having to get her dressed and undressed.  I am not going to lie.

Eventually, I found my rhythm. I accepted that there were some things I just could not do. Leave that to the nurses. What I COULD do, was make her feel pretty. When she was healthy, she was a pale-pink-polish kind of woman.  I’ve always been a gothic-black nail polish kind of gal.  So, one day, I got out my dark purple polish. She was too weak to argue. I held each gnarled finger, gently painting her nails the deepest colour she’d ever worn. It was hysterical. I remember her looking at her hand with interest.  She still had a little spark in her eye. When her 90-something year old “boyfriend” stopped by, she lifted her hand and said, “Look!”  He laughed and told her they were “sexy”.

My mother had three daughters and it was obvious that she knew how much each of us could handle. She cried and carried on for my oldest sister.  She never did that with me. With my other sister, she talked about the ghosts of friends whom she claimed visited her. With me, she insisted I mail all of her Publishers’ Clearinghouse envelopes because “you never know!”  OBVIOUSLY she knew I couldn’t handle very much.

She was diagnosed in June, became too sick to stay home alone by September, and died on November 20th, 2015.  I thought it would never end.  To this day I sometimes have dreams that she is still alive and it bothers me because I don’t want her to have to go through that process of dying again.  I used to have the same dream about my father.  It stops after a while.

 

With the anniversary of her death so close, I thought I’d remember her the best way I know how…through writing. I won’t go to church.  I will never visit the tombstone. I don’t have to. She’s always with me.  Both parents are always with me.

The house I grew up in belongs to someone else now. I can’t roll my eyes and say, “Well, I guess I should visit mom,” on Saturdays anymore. What I can do is move forward.  She knew I loved her.  And I know how much she loved me.  That’s all anybody can hope for, right?photo-1477160842278-0609ba502d58

 

Dr. Laura has some Serious ISSUES

Dr. Laura, and I use the term “doctor” loosely, is a supposed therapist with her own radio show.  She has a gazillion followers and I have to admit that sometimes I’m one of those listeners.  Have you heard her before?  The things she says make Trump look like an amatuer.  It’s hysterical to me that people phone her only to be subjected to humiliating verbal abuse live on air.  Why would you do that??  She doesn’t give learned, objective, clinical advice.  What she gives is her opinion.  That’s all folks.  

I just can’t imagine phoning the show.  Ever!  Sometimes I have it on at work because it’s the only PG radio show I can find.  Her energy is usually so negative that I end up shutting it off anyway.  If you haven’t heard her before, here are some of the things she says and/or believes:

1.  Women who live with their boyfriends are “unpaid whores”.  Interesting, because she never berates the man.  Wouldn’t that make him an unpaid man-whore?

2.  If you’re not married, you and/or your partner are free to screw around?   Does that make ANY sense?  In my opinion, two people are able to make a commitment to one another without a piece of paper and a make-believe god saying it is so.

3. She has a real hard-on for men in general.  A man and a woman can be in exactly the same situation and somehow she’ll turn it around to make it the woman’s fault.

4.  She thinks all pitbulls should be destroyed. Seriously.  Maybe the owners who raise nasty dogs should face consequences.  I guess she doesn’t remember that in the 50’s the American Pitbull was considered the quintessential family dog.

5.  She believes that the mom should always stay home with the kids, no matter what financial hardship they might endure.  Her attitude is to “make it work” or have your husband take on more jobs.  LOL.  I would love to see her have to budget everything down to the type of toilet paper she can afford.  She might have not always been filthy, stinking rich, but she has no idea what people endure.

I could go on and on but why bother.  Hey, I’m not saying she’s always wrong.  Lots of kids get messed up and hurt because of the stupid things parents do.  I agree with that.   But that’s about all I agree with.  If you search “The Google” for her, you’ll find information about how she used to date a married man and eventually lived with him.  Of course, I can’t say that what I read on the Internet is true, but……..

This woman is hostile and it comes out of her mouth in the form of righteous indignation.  She actually hangs up on people, makes them cry, and shouts over people. 

My “opinion” is not to phone her unless you really want to be called a whore and screamed at.  Of course, she would have a come-back for everything written here but the TRUTH is that she is completely out of touch with reality.  She’ll ramble on and on about her fantastic sailing yacht and her crew while real people are just going day by day trying to survive.  What an ass she is.  In my opinion.

Now that I’ve just given her free advertising I’ll sign off.  I think the important thing to remember is that she is paid to “entertain” us and her brand of entertainment is worthy of a sleazy talk-show.  

In my opinion.

Forrest Yoga – Ouch

After a run on the weekend I decided to try a different yoga class from YogaDownload.com. Forrest Yoga.  It started out okay with some great stretches for my hands and wrists. They get surprisingly tight from typing all day.  But then things got weird. First, the instructor lured me into a false sense of safety with her casual talk about keeping the neck relaxed.  Then, she talked me into positions a 49-year-old has no business being in.  What was I thinking?  Now, I need to see my chiropractor ASAP.  Pretty sure I’ve got a rib out of place.  Ouch!!

From now on, I’ll stick with the classes I know!

Not Ready Yet

I don’t think I’m ready to give up the sleeping pills just yet.  I’ve got lots of justifications:

  • I only take a small dose
  • I don’t seem to have any serious adverse affects after all of these years (other than being addicted to them!
  • I’m miserable with perimenopause (anxiety, mood swings, and insomnia).  Is now really a good time to try this?

Okay, well, I guess I only have three justifications, but there good ones.  Do I feel like a failure?  Yeah, I guess I do. There’s a lot going on in my mind AND body these days.  One more stress on top of it just sucks.

I guess I’ll keep trying to at least keep the dose as low as possible.  That’s the best that I can do right now.