I am Not a World Jumper

My manuscript for Yes Novel is currently with my editor. Perhaps it would make sense for me to work on the story I *believe* will be my third novel (Hair Novel), but I just can’t.

For me, writing a novel involves this full immersion into the world of the characters and the story: I live and breathe the details of their lives. Everything that happens to me in real life I view through the lens of my story. That is to say, if someone says something funny, I think immediately if I can incorporate it into my book; if a driver cuts me off, I wonder how my characters would react to the same situation; if I eat something delicious, I plan to serve it to my characters; if I enter an awesome room, I’m already translating it into an environment for my story. Basically everything.

It feels so impossible to rip myself out of the world of Yes Novel to try to dabble in the (very different) world of Hair Novel, if that makes any sense. I just find that I can’t do it. The energy needed to move between worlds is too tremendous.

I know there are a lot of authors who work on multiple projects at once. I wish I could! And maybe someday in the near future I will need to learn how to. But for now I’m comfortable with the fact that I’m situated so deep in a novel that it’s not worthwhile for me to take quick trips to the surface. So much effort!

Anyone else out there the same way?

Diving

Truest Characters Beyond the Book

Someone asked me, “Do you ever dream about where your characters are now? Who they’ve become and how they continue to grow?”

Yes. 

Mostly because I think that one day I’d like to return to Green Lake to catch up with the gang, so I always have a little part of me that is thinking about what that story would entail and would happen to them in the interim. I have a vague idea of what happens to West, Silas, Elliot, and Whit in the years after Truest ends.

Am I going to tell you those ideas?

Sorry. No. Not yet.

I leave you with this poem.

But bottom line: assume the Green Lake kids are happy unless I write another book about them someday (which would necessitate conflict, of course).

BOOK: TRUEST BY JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

Lovely review. 🙂

Venice Dela Cruz

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

One, I love the personality of Silas Hart. He was witty, confident, charming and assuming all at the same time without being too much of everything. Two, I love how their friendship developed. Third, I love how this book is filled with characters that love to read books and quote poetry. Fourth, I also want to have my own Hagrid, my own Gordon, my own adult fan. Fifth, I want to have a secret place too, somewhere I can pour out my thoughts. I want my own bell tower. Sixth, I love how…

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OCD and The Holiday Season

Love the way Janet puts it: if you have OCD, give *yourself* a gift this holiday season– ERP.

ocdtalk

Image result for happy holidays sign

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are firmly entrenched in the excitement, anticipation, and busyness of this time of year. Maybe we will visit friends or relatives. Perhaps a small army of loved ones will descend upon us in our own homes, or maybe we will be part of smaller, more intimate gatherings.

Whatever our holiday plans involve, there are bound to be changes in our routines. While this can be unsettling for many people, those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder might have a particularly tough time, especially when dealing with vacationing and traveling. It’s not hard to see why these situations might trigger all kinds of concerns for those with OCD. No matter what type of OCD they suffer from, there’s always lots to worry about when stepping out of their comfort zone. Some concerns might include:

Will I be able to use the public or…

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A Fourth Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer

“Hannah” is a former HOCD sufferer who has graciously appeared on my blog multiple other times. If you’re just joining the conversation now, I recommend you read her other interviews first.

Interview #1
Interview #2
Interview #3

A while ago, I opened up a survey so that people could leave their anonymous HOCD questions there. It’s still open here, so please feel free to leave your questions for Hannah there so she can address them in the future.

If you’re unfamiliar with HOCD, you can get a primer here. Please note that HOCD affects both straight and gay people. Since nearly 97% of people (statistics for the US only) identify as straight, the number of gay people who have HOCD is also likely to be much less than the number of straight people who do.

Let’s get started!

Hannah mentions that ERP is the best and only way to go. Can she provide more specific examples of the techniques she used or statements/phrases that resonated the most with her to accept the uncertainty? She mentions she goes back to ERP as needed and I’m curious to know her go-tos are for this.

Hannah: This is a great question, but unfortunately, what worked for me might not be exactly what would work for another HOCD sufferer. Everyone’s exposure regime might be a little bit different. For me, I listen to an audio recording that makes me visualize what I fear. For others, they read LGBT literature or look through a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Your ERP therapist will help you to come up with exposures that will work for you based off of what your obsessions are. I wish that I could be more specific with this, but I think that might not be in your best interest. I don’t want someone to simply copy my ERP because that’s not quite how this works, though, of course, there are some general exposures that tend to be used for HOCD. For me, it was an audio recording primarily.

Does watching lesbian porn as a girl mean you’re gay?

Hannah: No. I mean, I could go on about this, but why? The answer is blatantly no.

Is it possible to have HOCD while not previously being diagnosed for OCD?

Hannah: Sure! HOCD might be the way your OCD manifests itself and the first thing that signals to you that you might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, if you are asking if you can have HOCD without having OCD, that’s like asking if you can wear a blue dress without wearing a dress. Is it possible to have HOCD without any other OCD themes? Probably. For me, HOCD was just one (major) theme of my OCD, but I also experienced a lot of other obsessive thoughts– but I don’t think that means that you would have to. (Reminder: I’m not a therapist, just a former sufferer, so please make sure to ask your ERP therapist this!) But as to your question, maybe you haven’t experienced anything else that seems like OCD before and then– wham!– you’re experiencing HOCD. Is that possible? I hear from people all the time who describe it this way, yes. But I think that many of them, when they start to peel back the layers, start to see other obsessions that have bothered them before– but maybe not as much as the HOCD, and so they never sought treatment before the HOCD hit. I hope I’m making sense.

1. If you are okay with disclosing this, about how long did you suffer with hocd? 2. Was their anything that helped you remember your true identity? 3. Would you say that there is a way to overcome hocd without therapy? If so what would you reccomend? 4. Did you ever feel like you were in a tireless cycle, that it was never going to end? How did you remain hopeful?

Hannah: 1) Hmmm. The HOCD theme, for me, was an intense hell for probably under six months. My themes hopped around and changed a lot throughout the years before I went through treatment. 2) ERP therapy cemented my identity for me! 3) For most people, no. Miracles can happen, but ERP is a better option than waiting for a miracle. Meds help some people significantly, but in my opinion and experience, it’s better to pair meds with ERP. 4) Yes. And the truth of the matter is that I didn’t remain hopeful. OCD took me to some of the darkest places I’ve ever been. When I was at my lowest and there were really no other options, I started ERP– and that gave me back my life and my hope.

 

Reflection on my 2-Year Anniversary of My Book Deal

So, today is not actually the anniversary of my book deal. That was two days ago. But today is the day that I announced it on social media. And while congratulations and accolades were pouring in from all over, I was experiencing my first panic attack.

I’m still not sure if I should call those experiences in late 2013 panic attacks. They were certainly brought on by panic. And they were certainly extremely physical. If there’s a better way for me to label it, please let me know.

It’s weird to look back on it now. On this day in 2013, I talked to my beloved editor for the first time. It was a wonderful call. She told me how much she loved my characters and my story, how excited she was to work with me. And then, she mentioned– almost in passing– such a significant change to my story that, later that night, I experienced the most visceral, physical reaction I’ve maybe ever gone through.

Just another reminder how much social media lies. In my memory, I was replying to comments about how excited I was– while I was sobbing in my apartment, praying my guts out, my heart racing, my mind racing, everything racing.

This pattern would unfortunately continue for a few months. Finally, I talked to my psychiatrist about the panic, about how I wanted something– anything– that would reduce the physical reaction. That’s when I first got my prescription for Ativan (Lorezapam). I continue to take this very sparingly, usually just a few times a month, though sometimes more than once in a day.

This also prompted me to go back into therapy. I started meeting with Amanda, my darling therapist, who has been a voice of reason, a true supporter, and– best yet– someone who legitimately likes me. I am still meeting with her, although now it’s about once a month, whereas we used to meet once a week.

And here’s the thing: I survived. I learned how to communicate with my editor. I learned how we are partners. I took nearly all of her suggestions– but I held out on that one, the one thing that caused that first night of extreme panic. And in the end, I can truly say that I love my novel. I’m so happy with how it turned out, so proud of it.

I’ve learned such a tremendous amount about publishing and writing and myself over the last two years. And I’m not ashamed of the Ativan or of the therapy; how could I be ashamed of getting myself help when I recognized I needed it? I’ve learned how to partner with an editor. I’ve learned how and when to disagree with an editor. I’m a better, smarter person and a better, cleverer writer and have a better, clearer understanding of my emotional and chemical make-up.

The last two years were some of the hardest of my life. But some of the best.