“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” ―T.F. Hodge
What happens when you’ve written multiple drafts of the same novel, in a month, and you find yourself liking both versions that are relatively complete? I suspect this doesn’t happen to a lot of people, but it has happened to me.
After staring at each of them on and off for a full day, I had a little breakdown I will call my “What The FUCK?!” moment. How was it possible that I wrote two versions, each one taking a different course of action, only for me to really like both of them? I stared at all the work done and said “Okay. You can start over, taking the best of both worlds and re-fashion the story into something stronger, and or you can do another rewrite from scratch.” And then, I bitched and moaned about having to rewrite it from another perspective.
Apparently, I don’t really know how to take a break from writing when the work is good. It’s frustrating. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to these characters and I want to tell their story the best way I know how. But honestly, I’m not sure how to do that at the moment. It makes me feel like I just wasted a month of devotion and effort, when in reality, the fact that I accomplished it at all was a combination of fortitude, stubbornness, and luck.
No one ever publishes their first draft, or even their fifth. Hell, an agent won’t even touch it if it’s not the very best version you can present. Both of these were number seven, I believe (I could be wrong, statistically it happens on occasion.). So, I am opening file number eight in the hopes that this time, I nail it. However, I’m going to stop pressuring myself to write every single day. I am going to let the story shape itself and take flight. I’m giving it a pair of wings.
This time, the story is going to be permitted to take me on a natural journey. I genuinely hope this one is the winner.
copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I’m on the verge of letting go today. There’s no way to pretty it up or sugar-coat the amount of pain I am in, both physically and emotionally. I’ve had enough. Reached the boiling point. Feel as though I am trapped in a maze of never-ending bullshit, and I cannot take another second of this.
Over the past two days I’ve accessed my life and come to this conclusion: apart from my responsibilities and loyalties; my life is meaningless. Well, and truly, meaningless. If I were bleeding on the rug, someone would attend to the stain, but they wouldn’t even notice that a body was present. That’s the truth, whether some people are willing to believe it or not, or admit to it. I’ve witnessed too much to feel or believe otherwise.
I have been in a bad place for so many months now and not a single person has so much as noticed. The selfishness in my presence knows no bounds. There’s zero warmth, care, concern, or love present. And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
I’ve been in tears on and off for almost three days. No one has noticed, said a word to me, asked me if they could help, NOTHING. This is what it feels like to be “the invisible girl”.
While preparing a salad Saturday afternoon, I banged my right hip into the handle for the drawer next to me. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it hurt as if I’d just had the bone yanked out of its socket. I actually bit back 95% of what I truly felt physically in that moment, but I was admonished for being “dramatic”. Please, feel this pain for a week and then tell me how “dramatic” I’m being. Clearly, you don’t know true pain.
I am genuinely experiencing the whole “Princess & The Pea” phenomenon, which is not uncommon when you suffer from an autoimmune disorder that revolves around pain. This particular issue is killing me. I can feel every spring in a mattress in such a painful fashion that I want to hurl it out a window. I “wake up” each morning in stiff, agony. Nine out of ten nights, I haven’t truly slept, I’ve simply given up and taken to lying still, in tears, praying for the pain to stop.
I’ve taken over a hundred Aleve in the past month in the hopes that it will provide some small measure of relief, but it never does. I’ve also taken nearly an entire bottle of Ibuprofen because every flare-up makes me feel like an anti-inflammatory MIGHT help “this time”. The pain is maddening, and constant. I hurt so badly each day that I contemplate walking into the middle of traffic, not caring if I get hit or not. My only issue there is that I’d likely survive and remain in worse pain, if that’s even possible. I don’t want to know, I just want this to stop.
I struggle each day to cope with the pain, with my emotions, with stress, but most of all, the pure isolation and loneliness I am forced to carry with me, because I truly am “the invisible girl”.
When I can’t do laundry, take a shower, and do five other things in the same day, I sit here in tears over the loss of life I am experiencing. I have to set alarm clocks and timers to remind me to do things, or they will never get done. I fall at least once a week. No matter how careful I am, the pain brings me to my knees.
Occasionally, I feel okay. But here, in this moment, I’d gladly take death over this agony. Just make sure Cat and Kitten are adopted into loving homes. Cat is aggressive and a bully, so I think she’d do better in a single-cat home at this stage of her life. Kitten is a sweet little angel who loves her Mommy, but doesn’t understand why I have no energy to play and run around with her. Alas, I can’t explain these things to them. All I can do is pray for better days; just not today. Today is Hell and I am burning alive.
copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
“Your pain is challenging you. Rise up from your sadness, frustration, and low spirits, and allow the privilege of life’s challenges to be your guiding companion. We are all just humble students of the world. What lesson does this painful majesty of life have for you today? The teacher can only provide the lessons, but the student ultimately decides what to learn. Life is a procession of painful lessons, and how precious those lessons are; so precious that we rejoice in the bittersweet gift of life. If you learn to look at the worldly madness through spiritual eyes, you will begin to see divine balance and sanity. Your suffering is not senseless. Your suffering is here to help you unfold and to awaken into compassion, love, and strength. Your entire life has unfolded for your heart’s ascension to love. Are you willing to accept its challenge?” —Bryant McGill
I have some issues with this one on levels I’d debate, but it’s still worthy of being shared, as so much of Bryant’s thoughts are.
I’m a pretty dark person. I have a wicked sense of humor and I’ll say anything goofy to make someone laugh, but when it’s my life, there isn’t a lot I perceive as humorous. I’m not the kind of person who laughs at someone else’s pain or who enjoys hearing about someone’s breakups, divorces, illnesses, a death, etc. Laughing at other people’s pain is evil, in my eyes. When someone mentioned losing their Mom last week, I sat on my couch and cried. I’d already endured a rough week and hearing the words “My Mom passed away, but she’s at peace.” made me ill. I felt SO bad for this person. I was relieved that they had support from a spouse, friends, and family. That made me feel better for them, despite the fact that losing a parent at any age is one of the worst things one can go through. I should know; I’ve already lost both of mine. I’d give a lot to have even just one of them back. I spend every day of my life feeling like an absolute orphan.
I am good at listening to others and giving exceptional advice, but I’m not very good at listening to myself in an advisory capacity. The last thing I want to hear is the sound of my own voice. I spend a lot of time trying to shut the inside of my head up. I don’t do drugs, so that means I pull the covers around me (usually because I’m cold) and close my eyes. After a few minutes, kitten comes to check on me and she’ll cuddle in, which always makes me feel cared for. She’ll look at me with such loving green eyes and I know that she is conveying her concern for me. “Why are you sad, Mama? Don’t worry, I’ll stay with you. ” And she doesn’t leave my side until I leave the room. She is the epitome of loyal, and it is gratifying to see so much love from such a little person.
Cat also checks on me. These last few weeks she has been very observant of my unhappiness and has spent a lot of time watching me, cuddling with me, sitting on my lap at times, and looking for me. If I leave a room, she’ll trot after me to make sure I’m okay. She stares at me with her deeply knowing little face. I can almost hear her thinking “Mommy’s not okay. I always hear her say ‘I’m not okay.’, why doesn’t anyone listen to her?” I don’t know.
I’ve been so miserable that I’ve struggled emotionally in deep, dark places. Very few people have noticed and even fewer have shown me that they care. That’s okay, because it only proves what I already know; Most people live on their own fucking planet and aren’t aware that other people exist. Good for them, but please, stay the hell out of my lane or I will mow you down for shits and giggles. I have absolutely no tolerance for anyone who has their head that far up their own ass, though I am slightly impressed with their ability to physically aim so high. Since their heads never come out, there is no need to stock up on Listerine for the “great hose down of 2015”. I’ve decided to ignore assholes, douchebags, and vicious souls for the foreseeable future. I don’t care who the person is any more, I don’t need the stupidity and heartlessness.
Oftentimes people forget that all forms of depression can strike them down at any given moment. They can be the happiest person in the happiest place, and suddenly feel as though there are no words for their internal pain. Lying about it, pretending it does not exist, and blowing off the pain of others to make yourself seem stronger doesn’t make you better, it makes you afraid of being stigmatized. It’s 2015. Get the antiquated thinking out of your head and stop being an asshole to yourself, and others. It takes strength to treat a chemical imbalance. It takes strength to talk about it. You should be ashamed if you’re lying about it and hiding it. You should be even more ashamed if you’ve hurt friends that suffer because you can’t handle the fact that they’re stronger than you are. Yelling at someone who is suffering is not helpful. Screaming at them is even less helpful. You either want to help someone because you genuinely love and care about them or you scream because you lack proper communication skills.
I will yell when I’m frustrated, I will tell someone to back off or leave me alone when I am frustrated and need space, but the only person I abuse is myself.
I never know with any certainty if I will emerge from these dark places. Medication isn’t an option for me. I wait for new drugs to be released every few years to see if something new will be the answer. And by new, I mean NEW, I do not mean reformulated with a new name, which is what most pharmaceutical companies do when a major money-making drug is about to go generic. They will re-release it under a new name, having slightly tweaked it. If you’re not proactive in researching these drugs, you will spend years taking the same fucking crap, experiencing the same horrible side effects, wondering why you never feel better.
I am the exception, not the rule. Many people do find medication that works after some trial and error, even if only for short periods of time. I am chemically sensitive and I have been written off as “treatment-resistant”, which means that my brain doesn’t respond to all sorts of crazy chemical cocktails. No drug has ever worked for me on a long-term basis. Every time I “go dark”, it is up to me, and me alone, to try to pull myself out of the deep, dark hole before things get worse. I’m really tired of everyone’s opinions in regard to that. When you’re hurting, you want to be understood. You don’t want to hear hypocrisy or “That’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Um, NO. I will have this for the rest of my life. That my friends, is fucking permanent.
I will never be a perfect, blooming flower for anyone. I wish people understood that depression does not diminish who I am, it does not detract from what I bring to the table. It does not make me less talented, less intelligent, or less anything. If anything, it makes me the more interesting person in the room with a little more vibrancy at times because I hold a lot back daily. I don’t shine all of the time, but when I do, I highly suggest wearing sunglasses.
Here’s hoping I will soon shine again.
copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
“The Imagination merely enables us to wander into the darkness of the unknown where, by the dim light of the knowledge we carry, we may glimpse something that seems of interest. But when we bring it out and examine it more closely it usually proves to be only trash whose glitter had caught our attention. Imagination is at once the source of all hope and inspiration but also of frustration. To forget this is to court despair.” ―William Ian Beardmore Beveridge
“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known. Remember all the sadness and frustration? And let it go. Let it go.” ―Linkin Park
I am not known for my patience. If you’re not a child or a “little” (“Hello littles!” That’s how I talk to animals.), my tolerance for you is probably slim to none. God help you if slim leaves town.
People’s expectations are unreasonable, especially when I am given work that requires hours and hours of face time. There are only so many hours in a day. You can only write “rewrite” and “revise” so many times in a day. You can only make so many corrections that are crucial to the development of a story, and point out major errors before you slowly start to lose your mind. And when you do, if you’re like me, you take a few days to breathe. Unless I’m on a tight deadline, I am going to include some self-care in the mix, or I’ll kill the clients and no one wants that…or do they?
You ignore the “Is it done yet?” questions that have about as much impact as on you as “Are we there yet?” You try not to say what you really think and feel. You wait a few days and then you respond as professionally as humanly possible, but how many times do you really need to say “Please, let me work. This is way more than what I signed on for.” to the same person? How many times do you have to repeat yourself about how they should have read their work in advance of sending it to you? Yet, perhaps it’s nerves, impatience, what have you, but it is fucking annoying to constantly be asked the same damn questions. I’m exceedingly mature, so when people far older than I are immature, it’s an immense turn off, be it personally or professionally.
If you give me something and ask me to read it, be prepared for an honest answer when you inevitably ask “Is it good?” I used to ask people if they wanted my opinion or the truth, and to be careful with their choice. I no longer ask because whether it’s one or the other in terms of delivery, it is still the unadulterated truth. Dunkin Donuts and I have not teamed up to sugar coat your day. Mmm, donuts…
Editors still have lives. I work hard, but when I need a break it is usually due to my health or personal responsibilities. I cannot be glued to my laptop 24/7 looking at the same material every single moment. One, it’s not healthy and two, it’s important to get up and move when you work at a computer all day. Sitting is the new cancer, at least according to the medical professionals I know. I don’t know about all of you, but it makes me uncomfortable hearing the two words used together, so it’s not uncommon for me to walk away and do a load of laundry, or cook, watch the birds and bunnies in the backyard for a while, or simply shut the computer down for a few hours and focus on other things. I’m human. Moreover, I’m a human-being who suffers from Fibromyalgia. The days I can sit at all are miraculous. My pain gets worse each day, so I’m not receptive to whining from others.
I can either do something right the first time or not do it at all. If you consistently annoy me, you can pretty much guarantee I will be unavailable for future projects. I’ve already done enough work for 20 paychecks, not one. It’s hard not to be frustrated knowing that.
For future reference, too many people think they’re writers. Puking ideas onto paper does not make you a writer. Cohesive storytelling is a gift. Having honest people in your life who encourage the good and let you know when something is awful is also important.
There are days I wish I was an unprofessional hack. 😦
For those of you that messaged me about cutting off so much of my hair: I am almost certain today that it’s too short and I hate it, but I am trying to give myself time to get used to it. In turn, I am off to play with the Topstyler and see if that makes a difference. If it doesn’t, I am changing the color to blue until it grows back. Right now I am pretty sure I look like my brother with hair. 😦
copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.