11.11.2013

HAPPY FUZZY SELFIES FROM YALLFEST

Myra McEntire and myself. Hotel room. Taken by Myra.

Gayle Forman (bottom) and myself (top). Saddle shoes. Taken by Gayle.

Myra, Carrie Ryan, Brendan Reichs, myself. Post-festival. Taken by Brendan.

Attendees, organizers, and authors of YALLFest . . . you were as wonderful as ever! Charleston is the gorgeous-est. Benne wafers and palmettos and gas lights and dolphins and cheese grits and cemeteries and love. I'll be back soon.

11.05.2013

WHERE I'M AT IN MY HEAD, PART TWO

A gift from my husband.

I had the best intentions of returning here yesterday for an update on my workday, but . . . I fell asleep. And that's okay. That happens.

(It was also okay, because I fell asleep during a marathon of QI and thusly dreamed that Stephen Fry was my friend, so we got to hang out for a few hours in my head. That was excellent.)

I wanted the update to be a simple this-is-what-I-did-today—a public reminder for myself, a "See? Look what you accomplished even with your brain nattering away at you."—so that's what I'll do now. Keep this simple and quick.

After posting yesterday, I . . . 

Fell asleep.

Yeah. This is a bit of a thing in my life. But writing that post was exhausting, so. This nap was planned. I woke up when Jarrod popped by to deliver the above container of delicious (and funny) mac-and-cheese.

I say it often, but my husband? He's a really, really nice guy. The best guy.

After he left, I spent a few hours working on a project that I owed a friend. And I finished it. And I emailed it away, and that made me feel all puffed up and helpful and good inside. Then I took a phone call from another friend, and then I replied to some heart-swelling texts, and then—yes!—I opened up Isla.

Lately, I've been piddling around in a pretty tight section, so I put a (temporary) stop to that and forced myself into the two chapters that require the most work. This wasn't easy—in fact, this is the very thing I'd been avoiding for a week—but I had juuuuuust enough strength to do it.

Opening up to others always makes me stronger.

So . . . I did it. I worked on the Hardest Part. I didn't make it far, but that doesn't even matter. Because stepping into it is the actual hardest part of the Hardest Part. It'll be less difficult today. And even less difficult tomorrow.

Yesterday ended up being a good day. I never made it into the shower, but I did make it out of bed. And I got some work done.

That's not nothing.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and tweets and messages and emails. I feel supported and loved. And I hope those of you who shared similar stories with me feel less alone. I'm going to reply to as many of your messages as I can this morning, and then I'll disappear back into my manuscript. It's gonna be okay.

We're all gonna be okay.

One final note: Yesterday, I briefly mentioned Marc Maron as one of the people who has helped me through this sloggy morass. I want to talk about Marc and his podcast a lot more here, because I have STRONG POSITIVE FEELINGS about Marc and his podcast, but I don't have the time to do that today. For now, if you aren't familiar with him—and you're a creative, anxiety-prone, depressive type like myself—I'd like to point you toward this incredibly well-written article that explains why he's the best interviewer working today.

Marc isn't for everybody. I mean, the name of his podcast is WTF and that F comes out a lot when he speaks. So I know that automatically rules out a few of you.

But listening to Marc and his guests speak with such an astounding level of honesty has helped me more than anything else in the last year. His voice has been such a presence in my house that my husband cheerfully and routinely asks me, "What's your friend Marc up to today?"

His work feels that close to my heart.

So check out the article, and if you'd like to try his podcast, my suggestion would be to start not with the latest upload but with one where he's interviewing someone you already admire. That'll be an easier place to jump in. He can sound a bit abrasive at first, but soon you'll learn that's exactly his charm.

11.04.2013

WHERE I’M AT IN MY HEAD

Figure seen recently in Laclede's Landing Wax Museum. Also, a helpful representation of my current brainstate.

Before I get into this, a quick plug for everyone in Atlanta:

Gayle Forman and I will be at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur this Thursday, November 7th at 7:00 p.m. We’ll be discussing “What Is Love, Anyway? Teens, Romance, and Transformation.” A book signing will follow. You should come! It’ll be a great one. Gayle and I always get a little bit silly when we’re together.

After that, we’re hopping in my car and driving to YALLFest in Charleston. So if any of you are still holding out on whether or not you should make that drive yourself, STOP HOLDING OUT. Make the drive! It’s one of the best book festivals of the year.

Okay.

Today I’m trying something different here. First, I’m going to freewrite about the current state of my head. Then I’ll work for as long as I can take it. Hopefully, at least six hours. And then I’ll return here to freewrite again about today’s work experience.

The reason I’m doing this is because my head isn’t the nicest place to be right now, and I’d like to prove it wrong about a few things that it won’t shut up about.

I’m currently revising Isla and the Happily Ever After. I finally managed to turn in a full manuscript (this book’s first full manuscript) at the beginning of September, and I received some notes about it from my editor while I was on my road trip. Last Monday was the date that I was supposed to begin the revision.

Instead, this is what happened:

I woke up. And my brain started talking.

Hey. So you think you’re gonna work today, huh? You ACTUALLY think you’re going to work? Don’t you know this history of you and working? Of you starting ANYTHING on time? You’re a failure. You’re no good at this. You’ve never been good at this. Think about all those deadlines you’ve missed. All those people you’ve disappointed. You’re going to do it again, I know it, because that’s what you do.

You disappoint people.

You’re going to disappoint them with this book. It’s not great. It’s okay, yeah, but it’s not great, is it? It’s not better than your previous books. You have to be better, and you’re not. If anything, you’re worse. You’re tired. Your books have no life, because you have no life, and you’ll never have a life, because you’re always exhausted, and you hate leaving the house, and you hate replying to messages, and you want to be left alone, and you ARE alone. Look at you being alone, you sad stupid person.

HEY! I’m talking to you! We have work to do! We have to un-shit your book! We have a DISGUSTINGLY large amount of work to do, because you suck, so why are you scrolling through Twitter on your phone in bed at one in the afternoon? HELLO. CAN YOU HEAR ME? STOP IT. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME. This is SO like you to be doing this right now. You have a lot of work and not a lot of time.

Time is running out. Time is running out. Time is running out.

I’m just gonna play that on repeat, in the back of your head, for the rest of the day. No. For the rest of the year. You deserve to feel that relentless tick of doom weighing down on your stupid frail shoulders for the rest of your life, because you are such a sad pathetic self-absorbed individual who can’t get anything right.

And I do mean “individual,” because look at you. Look how alone you are.

You know that you’re ALREADY disappointing people by not working right now, right? I don’t care that you just woke up or that today is only Monday. You should’ve been awake hours ago, but you weren’t, and now your whole day is ruined. Which means your whole week will be a failure, too, because if one thing goes wrong, it all goes wrong, because THAT’S HOW YOU ROLL.

Man! I just can’t get over how much you’re going to disappoint everyone! Because I know you'll miss your deadline, because missing deadlines is what you do best now. Remember when you used to turn things in on time? Remember when you were better? You aren’t good like that anymore. You aren’t good at all. You didn’t even remember that there was a new episode of The Walking Dead on at 9:00 last night, so you had to watch the repeat at 11:00, because you are such a stupid self-absorbed fuck. You can’t even be trusted with a television or a clock or anything and I hate you, ohmygod, I hate you GO AWAY.

I suppose it took approximately one minute for all of that to go through my head. And it’s been going strong ever since.

Listen.

I know (most of it) isn’t true. I know I’m being cruel (no one will ever be harder on me than me), and I also know that I’m getting in my own way.

Self-fulfilling prophecies and all that.

But it’s also really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really difficult to stop this voice once it’s started.

I have always been my own worst enemy. I’d love to be my own biggest fan. That seems like an amazing place to live! People who have that type of headspace, that level of confidence . . . man. I’m in awe of those people.

So why am I telling you all of this?

I don’t know why.

Except . . . it feels like the right thing to do. Ever since I opened up about my depression last May, the level support and understanding and reaching-out has been incredible. Beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for. And it's further cemented this idea in my mind that we should be talking about this thing, this self-head curse, with more frequency and more honesty.

Because I am so grateful to everyone who has reached out to me—both online and in person. I'm glad we've been having these conversations.

I can’t even properly express the depth of this gratitude, so I’m grateful (again—grateful, gratitude) to know that so many of you already understand its depth. Because so many of you seemed equally grateful to hear me speak up about it. And I also know that every time someone I admire—Allie Brosh, Marc Maron, any of Marc’s guests, Stephen Fry—speaks about their own struggles with the demons of self-loathing and depression, it's like I can suddenly breathe again.

There. Tears of laughter and recognition.

Because despite what my brain—my frightening, exhausting, bully of a brain—would like me to believe, I am not alone.

You are not alone.

We are not alone.

So . . . this post got weird and motivational-speaky. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I hope none of that sounded false, because it came from a real place. Honestly, I came here to give you an update. I was going to tell you about my mean brain, get to work, and then come back with proof (look at all of the work I did!) about how dumb my bully brain is.

I also wanted to say that even though my brain bullied me for the entirety of last week (SERIOUSLY IT WAS NONSTOP), I still managed to get out of bed (some of those days) and get some work done. I’m proud of that. And I’m hopeful for this week.

There doesn’t seem to be a casual way of ending this, so I’ll just say . . . see you later. I hope your day is going well. And if your brain is being an asshole, tell it it’s being an asshole.

And then get back to work.