Nothing Like a Good List

Hi folks, a little update:

Wednesday, I had my first session of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a treatment which is truly fascinating. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure I entirely understand it yet, but basically– “when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network” (Wikipedia), and the use of bilateral stimulation (moving eyes back and forth or– as my therapist uses– two small “buzzers,” one for each hand, which alternate buzzing back and forth) allows the patient and therapist to crack into that part of the memory.

I think. On a scale of 1-10 for how much of an EMDR expert I am, I rank at about negative 3.

Talked to my editor on Thursday. It was really good. We agreed on most things, and I felt ready to move forward. It was a great feeling that faded a bit since then. (It’s one thing to feel ready for the next steps; it’s an entirely other thing to actually get myself to take them.)

Friday, I spoke at the Walker Public Library in northern Minnesota. It was a blast! People from the community as well as about twenty high schoolers came to the event, where I talked about Truest, writing, publishing, and brain disorders. Somehow, I end up speaking about OCD at almost every turn. It was one of the main players in my life prior to 2008, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised that it would come up when I discuss my history. I’m glad for the opportunities. It feels good to have a chance to share a little about it– and also to take away the stigma of mental illness being “shameful” to discuss. I think when I can mention it in the same breath as my writing life, my day job, etc., it steals away the stigma for the listeners. At least, I hope it does. It was a really fun day, plus my mom came with for the long car ride, and we laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. She’s the best.

Saturday, I needed a break. So I took one, even though I felt sort of guilty about it. I watched a trillion episodes of Criminal Minds on Netflix and took a three-hour nap. It was beautiful, even if it set me back a little bit.

So today I needed to work. I didn’t feel like working, so I called my mom, who encouraged me to make a list. YES. GREAT IDEA. I LOVE LISTS. I’m actually sort of obsessed with them. So I made a list, a long one. And I’ve been busting my butt for hours today crossing things off. When I publish this blog post, that’ll be one more thing off my list. 🙂 I’m cruising and it feels good. I’m trying to decide if I want to wait till tomorrow to work on book brainstorming or not– I need to gauge whether I am avoiding out of fear or just strategically allowing myself more time to let ideas simmer. The latter is okay; the first is not.

How are you? I’d love to hear from you with stories about what you’ve been up to. Are you excited for summer? I am excited that UNW’s graduation is over and that we’ll have a quiet summer with tons of parking … but I’m not ready for it to be in the nineties. It got that hot a week or so ago, and I thought I was melting. Oh Minnesota, land of extremes.

Victory

Today (well, it’s two am, so technically yesterday) was amazing. I spent all evening researching and brainstorming, both alone and then online with my friend Elyse (who is in my writing group), tackling the questions I’ve had about my characters, plot, timeline, and motivations in Salt Novel.

Then I wrote a rough draft of a synopsis. Tomorrow (today), I’ll revisit it to polish it up. It might not be exactly what my editor is looking for, but it was exactly what I needed to do for myself and my story.

I feel SO eager to dive back into revisions. This is the feeling I’ve been waiting to hit me for the last six weeks.

Wish me luck that my editor gets on board with my vision! And happy mothers day!

Today’s Job

To write a synopsis.

But also to think.

(And PRAY!)

Salt Novel has a lot of moving parts AND a lot of interchangeable parts. I have entire drafts where different characters fill completely separate roles depending on the draft. It’s maybe time to make some decisions.

That said, I’ve BEEN praying about these choices and so have my friends. I think I (mostly) know what I need to do.

Does that surprise you at all? It’s so easy to read a novel and assume the characters and storyline were always well established. For me, HUGE changes occur from the earliest explorations. It doesn’t feel like a waste of time to chase ideas that never come to fruition. It’s all part of my journey toward what is the nugget of truth in this fictional story.

Here I go . . . Again . . .

Review: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

rose and daggerI’ve made it no secret on this blog that The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was my favorite book of 2015The Rose & the Dagger is the sequel, and I could not WAIT to spend time with these characters again. Shazi is seriously one of my all-time favorite heroines, so fierce and stubborn and incredible. She takes zero shit, not even from the king himself.

Speaking of the king– or rather, the caliph of Khorasan– Khalid is one of my top book boyfriends. He is breathtakingly INTENSE and sexy and mature. I love him love him love him.

Plus, we are introduced to new(er) characters in this book too, a few of whom stole my heart. A few of whom broke my heart.

I’m not going to say too much about this book, just that you need to read it. The first book still takes the top spot for me, but this sequel was just the reunion I needed!

Thank You!

Hi friends. Thanks for all your support after my last post. It means so much to me. It also reminded me how freedom has always come to me from vulnerability . . . And how much I want to keep this blog space a place for honesty and struggle and transparency.

It’s easier to say, “Me too,” and I always want to give people that option. That means I am committed to speaking up first and being authentic about my fears and struggles, whether or not anyone else is.

This is the blog of a YA author/college recruiter/child of God who battles mental illness without shame and battles shame with grace. Welcome. Stay a while. You don’t have to say a word.

What’s Next for Me

Hey friends. I’m typing this on my phone because I feel stressed out by my computer.

To be honest, I’m stressed out by just about everything right now.

I’m starting EMDR therapy next week because I’m reacting to emails with the symptoms of PTSD. It’s not ok and I’m not ok. But I WILL be ok.

Some mornings I can barely get out of bed. Some mornings I can’t. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never been in such a situation, but when it feels impossible to take five steps to the shower, it’s UNFATHOMABLE to consider the drive into work.

I have a stack of mail that all requires action. I have book events coming up that I’m not prepared for. I need to write a synopsis of Salt Novel for my editor and I’m putting it off because I need to talk to God about some novel stuff first and I keep thinking I’ll find a swath of time to have that conversation and work on it. Not so far.

I’ve been getting headaches, even some migraines, and that is rare for me.

The ambien works. About 80% of the time. I still wake up repeatedly throughout the night, but it’s the best med available to me for sleep right now.

My office is going through tremendous turnover, and I’m grieving. The two coworkers I share an office with are both leaving the university and, frankly, I’m a bit devastated. These two have become MY PEOPLE. I spend forty hours a week or more with them, can tell them just about anything, and we spend our days laughing, counseling each other, and discussing theology, the world, refugees, our lack of love lives, and gargoyles. I’m kind of a mess over their imminent departures, even though they are each pursuing their dreams and I’m proud of them.

Pursuing dreams. I could have never ever imagined how hard publication would be. Had I known, I would have better treasured the days pre-contract, when I wrote only for myself, God, and John Green. I’ve written other posts about this, but I can’t stress it enough.

I connected early on with a writer who was signed for a trilogy but whose panic attacks and personal struggles prompted her to drop out of her contract after the first book came out. I identify with her so much. I have wanted to run away a hundred times from the anxiety of publication, but I always come back to wanting this writing life. The EMDR is actually in regard to this part of my life. It has nothing to do with OCD, thankfully.

I’m so grateful to have resources available to me. My therapist is a gem. Same with my chiropractor, my psychiatrist, my doctor. I started seeing a nutritionist too. But everything makes me cry or want to cry.

I’m in a rough spot, and when I look around, especially at other YA authors, I feel like everyone else has things figured out while I’m still on square one, wondering if it was a fluke I wrote a publishable book.

I always want to be honest about where I’m at and what struggles I’m facing as a writer, which is one of the reasons I wrote this post. I also wrote it to feel less alone. I also wrote it because I’m a writer and it’s how I best process things.

Thank for reading. You guys are great.