Best Laid Plans (Watch This Space)

Some weeks start by slamming right into you…and only get harder from there. This was one of those weeks. I got sunburned, sick, injured, and my household’s moving budget just lost a significant portion of income that we were counting on.

So, we’ve spent the week huddling close and spending more family time together, because while we don’t know what to do, we do know that before the end of the month my sister-in-law will have headed off to a different part of the country (her travel was previously arranged).

I haven’t been able to get back into my short story writing–for those reasons, as well as other creative ones. My next couple of blog posts will help explain why. In the meantime, since I haven’t been writing, here’s an excerpt from Crossers, the book I published in 2015 on the Goodreads platform before reclaiming it for further revision.

Today’s excerpt: “You’re going to love it,” I told him, snuggling up against his side on the sagging couch.┬á

“It doesn’t sound like I’m going to love it,” Ben replied skeptically. “It sounds like we’re going to spend another two hours watching people sing about being really happy and then really sad, while no one points out how weird it is that they’re all singing in the first place.”

“That’s how musicals work! We’ve been over this.”

“But it doesn’t make any sense!” He pointed at the basement television. “Nobody actually starts dancing down the halls of our high school. Nobody ever breaks into song in the grocery store.”

Giving him my most winning smile, I fluttered my eyelashes. “But don’t you think they should?”

“No. You know, I really don’t. It’s kind of unsettling just seeing actors do it.”

I attempted to sneak the remote out of his hand, but he knew me too well. Instead of relinquishing the power, he pressed a kiss to my temple and hit play.

“Alexa,” he added as the trailers began, “I’m never going to love musicals. No matter how hard you try–or how cute you are doing it. But you know what?”

“What?”

“I’ll keep on watching them with you.”

“And you’ll keep on complaining.”

“Yes.”

“Good.” I reached over to slide my hand into his. “I’d be sad if you stopped.”

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Best Laid Plans (Watch This Space)

Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap

I have Bipolar 1 disorder. I tend to tell people this a lot, possibly more than other people with the disorder do. Probably more than people who encounter me wish I would. ­čśë But I do so for two reasons:

  1. My personal hero, Carrie Fisher, fought the same mental illness until the day she died, and she did so openly, trying to destigmatize it for others. If I can live up to her example in any way, I’ll be proud.
  2. I don’t think mental health should be a subject of shame and avoidance. I am bipolar–it’s a fact just like my height, or where I was born. If I pretended it didn’t exist, it would affect me all the same.

Having this disorder requires knowing what that means for me, and trying to work around it as best I can. Even at my healthiest, I’m still a person who will have a mental illness for the rest of my life; it’s not as though taking my medication every day makes me not bipolar.

So, what I’ve learned since I was diagnosed and began paying better attention is that I have “up” modes and “down” ones, and during the down ones I can go months unable to write at all.┬áBut today, we’re here to talk about the up times, when I’m manic or hypomanic. For me, a manic period equals less sleep, more productivity, and increased creativity. I have all the ideas! I want to do all the things! Nothing could possibly stop me!

Manic periods are temporary, and they happen this way for me because I also have ADHD–unless I’m manic, the ADHD keeps me too scattered for my work to amount to much, so I’m even more determined to Get Stuff Done once I hit an up patch. Who knows how long it’ll last?

Today, I’ll be posting my first WriteMania fanfic, and it’s based on an anonymous request I got a long time ago via tumblr. The reason I prefaced all of this with an explanation of mania is because I got this request, and a few more, after soliciting them with a specific goal in mind: to challenge myself.

If you’ve joined me for WriteMania, you’re likely noticing the pattern already. When I get manic, I want a challenge. Not just want, need–and feel I can handle. Suddenly I’m ready to do big things, and truly believe I can…which sounds inspirational, and isn’t inherently bad, but does usually lead to a downfall when I return to reality.┬áBecause if I’m manic, I’m not thinking clearly, so there’s almost always a downfall.

Now, I’m lucky, because compared to other people’s manic periods, “didn’t live up to my goal” is a harmless consequence to face. But it doesn’t change that fact that I regularly get manic–and once, when I was, I decided it was time to stretch my writing abilities and try my hand at writing “smut fic,” or I guess what could be thought of as erotic fan fiction. Even in these stories I don’t get terribly explicit, but my usual style is much tamer, so it really is a stretch for me.

However the challenges are induced, I do think stretching myself as a writer is good for me. Challenges, trying new things, improving through failure–all of it is good.

What are you doing lately to challenge yourself, and do you feel like you’ve grown as a result?

Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap